Blessed Pica Bernardone
Though never formally beatified, Pica Bernardone is blessed in the popular mind as the mother of St. Francis of Assisi.
Pica was a noble French lady who married the wealthy Italian cloth merchant, Pietro Bernardone. The story is told that when she was in difficult labor with her first child, a stranger in pilgrim's attire appeared who told her and her husband that the child would not be born until she had been transported to a stable. A little chapel is now built on the spot of that stable where Francis Bernardone, now known as Francis of Assisi, was born.
It was Pica who taught Francis his faith by both her word and example. It was she who gave him his love of poverty. And it was she who set him free after his father had locked him up for selling his horse and his father's cloth to rebuild a small church.
After the death of her husband, Pica went to Francis for spiritual guidance, wore the penitential garb of the Third Order of St. Francis and devoted her life to works of charity and piety.
St. Pacifico of San Severino (1653-1721)
Pacifico was born into a distinguished family in San Severino in the Marche of Ancona in central Italy. After joining the Friars Minor, he was ordained. He taught philosophy for two years and then began a successful preaching career.
Pacifico was an ascetic man. He fasted perpetually, eating no more than bread, soup or water. His "hair shirt" was made of iron. Poverty and obedience were two virtues for which his confreres especially remembered him.
At the age of 35, Pacifico contracted an illness that eventually left him deaf, blind and crippled. He offered his sufferings for the conversion of sinners, and he cured many of the sick who came to him. Pacifico also served as the superior of the friary in San Severino. He was canonized in 1839.
St. Elzear and Blessed Delphina
This is the only Franciscan couple to be canonized or beatified formally.
Elzear came from a noble family in southern France. After he married Delphina, she informed him that she had made a vow of perpetual virginity; that same night he did the same. For a time Elzear, Count of Ariano, was a counselor to Duke Charles of Calabria in southern Italy. Elzear ruled his own territories in the kingdom of Naples and in southern France with justice.
Elzear and Delphina joined the Secular Franciscans and dedicated themselves to the corporal works of mercy. Twelve poor people dined with them every day. A statue of Elzear shows him curing several people suffering from leprosy.
Their piety extended to the running of their household. Everyone there was expected to attend Mass daily, go to confession weekly and be ready to forgive injuries.
After Elzears death, Delphina continued her works of charity for 35 more years. She is especially remembered for raising the moral level of the king of Sicilys court.
Elzear and Delphina are buried in Apt, France. He was canonized in 1369, and she was beatified in 1694.
Sts. Cosmas and Damian - (d. 303?)
Nothing is known of their lives except that they suffered martyrdom in Syria during the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian.
A church erected on the site of their burial place was enlarged by the emperor Justinian. Devotion to the two saints spread rapidly in both East and West. A famous basilica was erected in their honor in Constantinople. Their names were placed in the canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I) , probably in the sixth century.
Legend says that they were twin brothers born in Arabia, who became skilled doctors. They were among those who are venerated in the East as the "moneyless ones" because they did not charge a fee for their services. It was impossible that such prominent persons would escape unnoticed in time of persecution: They were arrested and beheaded.
Nine centuries later, Francis of Assisi (October 4) rebuilt the dilapidated San Damiano chapel outside Assisi.
Patron Saint of:
St. Vincent de Paul - (1580?-1660)
The deathbed confession of a dying servant opened Vincent's eyes to the crying spiritual needs of the peasantry of France. This seems to have been a crucial moment in the life of the man from a small farm in Gascony, France, who had become a priest with little more ambition than to have a comfortable life.
It was the Countess de Gondi (whose servant he had helped) who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among poor tenant farmers and country people in general. Vincent was too humble to accept leadership at first, but after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.
Later, Vincent established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity, "whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city." He organized the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.
Most remarkably, Vincent was by temperament a very irascible personeven his friends admitted it. He said that except for the grace of God he would have been "hard and repulsive, rough and cross." But he became a tender and affectionate man, very sensitive to the needs of others.
Pope Leo XIII made him the patron of all charitable societies. Outstanding among these, of course, is the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, founded in 1833 by his admirer Blessed Frdric Ozanam (September 7).
Patron Saint of:
If saints have been falsely characterized as "other worldly," the life of Wenceslaus stands as an example to the contrary: He stood for Christian values in the midst of the political intrigues which characterized 10th-century Bohemia.
He was born in 907 near Prague, son of the Duke of Bohemia. His saintly grandmother, Ludmilla, raised him and sought to promote him as ruler of Bohemia in place of his mother, who favored the anti-Christian factions. Ludmilla was eventually murdered, but rival Christian forces enabled Wenceslaus to assume leadership of the government.
His rule was marked by efforts toward unification within Bohemia, support of the Church and peace-making negotiations with Germany, a policy which caused him trouble with the anti-Christian opposition. His brother Boleslav joined in the plotting, and in September of 929 invited Wenceslaus to Alt Bunglou for the celebration of the feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian (September 26). On the way to Mass, Boleslav attacked his brother, and in the struggle, Wenceslaus was killed by supporters of Boleslav.
Although his death resulted primarily from political upheaval, Wenceslaus was hailed as a martyr for the faith, and his tomb became a pilgrimage shrine. He is hailed as the patron of the Bohemian people and of former Czechoslovakia.
Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael
Angelsmessengers from Godappear frequently in Scripture, but only Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are named.
Michael appears in Daniel's vision as "the great prince" who defends Israel against its enemies; in the Book of Revelation, he leads God's armies to final victory over the forces of evil. Devotion to Michael is the oldest angelic devotion, rising in the East in the fourth century. The Church in the West began to observe a feast honoring Michael and the angels in the fifth century.
Gabriel also makes an appearance in Daniel's visions, announcing Michael's role in God's plan. His best-known appearance is an encounter with a young Jewish girl named Mary, who consents to bear the Messiah.
Raphael's activity is confined to the Old Testament story of Tobit. There he appears to guide Tobit's son Tobiah through a series of fantastic adventures which lead to a threefold happy ending: Tobiah's marriage to Sarah, the healing of Tobit's blindness and the restoration of the family fortune.
The memorials of Gabriel (March 24) and Raphael (October 24) were added to the Roman calendar in 1921. The 1970 revision of the calendar joined their feasts to Michael's.
Patron Saint of: