Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help

Today, my mom, grandma, and myself went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, WI, about a half hour from my house. It is the FIRST approved Marian apparition in the U.S.A.

Our Lady of Good Help: 1859

Sister Adele Brise - Visionary

From the Shrine website:

“ She [Adele] was going to the grist mill about four miles from here [Champion] with a sack of wheat on her head […]. As Adele came near the place, she saw a lady all in white standing between two trees, one a maple, the other a hemlock. Adele was frightened and stood still. The vision slowly disappeared, leaving a white cloud after it. Adele continued on her errand and returned home without seeing anything more. She told her parents what had happened, and they wondered what it could be — maybe a poor soul who needed prayers?

“On the following Sunday, she had to pass here again on her way to Mass at Bay Settlement, about eleven miles from her home [...]. This time, she was not alone, but was accompanied by her sister Isabel and a neighbor woman [Mrs. Vander Niessen]. When they came near the trees, the same lady in white was at the place where Adele had seen her before. Adele was again frightened and said, almost in a tone of reproach, 'Oh, there is that lady again.'

“Adele had not the courage to go on. The other two did not see anything, but they could tell by Adele’s look that she was afraid. They thought, too, that it might be a poor soul that needed prayers. They waited a few minutes, and Adele told them it was gone. It had disappeared as the first time, and all she could see was a little mist or white cloud. After Mass, Adele went to confession and told her confessor how she had been frightened at the sight of a lady in white. He [Father William Verhoef] bade her not to fear, and to speak to him of this outside of the confessional. Father Verhoef told her that if it were a heavenly messenger, she would see it again, and it would not harm her, but to ask in God’s name who it was and what it desired of her. After that, Adele had more courage. She started home with her two companions, and a man who was clearing land for the Holy Cross Fathers at Bay Settlement accompanied them.

"As they approached the hallowed spot, Adele could see the beautiful lady, clothed in dazzling white, with a yellow sash around her waist. Her dress fell to her feet in graceful folds. She had a crown of stars around her head, and her long, golden, wavy hair fell loosely around her shoulders. Such a heavenly light shone around her that Adele could hardly look back at her sweet face. Overcome by this heavenly light and the beauty of her amiable visitor, Adele fell on her knees.

" 'In God’s name, who are you and what do you want of me?’ asked Adele, as she had been directed.

“ ‘I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning, and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession, and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners. If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them’

“ 'Adele, who is it?'' said one of the women. 'O why can't we see her as you do?' said another weeping.

“ ‘Kneel,’ said Adele, ‘the Lady says she is the Queen of Heaven.’ Our Blessed Lady turned, looked kindly at them, and said, ‘Blessed are they that believe without seeing. What are you doing here in idleness…while your companions are working in the vineyard of my Son?’

“ ‘What more can I do, dear Lady?’ said Adele, weeping.

“ ‘Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation’

“ ‘But how shall I teach them who know so little myself?’ replied Adele.

“ ‘Teach them,’ replied her radiant visitor, ‘their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing. I will help you.’ "

The manifestation of Our Lady then lifted her hands, as though beseeching a blessing for those at her feet, and slowly vanished, leaving Adele overwhelmed and prostrate on the ground.

When the news spread about Adele Brise’s vision of the Blessed Virgin, most people believed the account and were astonished. Some considered the event a demented delusion. Adele Brise, however, considered it a commission to catechize the children and admonish the sinners of the Bay Settlement. To honor the alleged apparition, Adele’s father erected a makeshift chapel near the spot of Adele’s vision.

Commission of Investigation and Final Decree
God in His Mercy continues to reveal Himself to individuals "not indeed for the declaration of any new doctrine of faith, but for the direction of human acts" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II-II q174 a6 reply 3).

In 2009, the most Reverend David L. Ricken, Bishop of Green Bay, opened a formal Church investigation into the Marian apparitions that occurred in 1859 on the site of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. While considered private revelation, the task of the commission was to review all the historical information on the apparitions, as well as the life of the visionary Sister Adele, and test their consistency with Public Revelation as guarded by the Catholic Church. Based on the findings of the commission, on Wednesday, December 8, 2010, the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop Ricken gave official Church approval of the Marian apparitions that occurred in the month of October at Robinsonville, now known as Champion, Wisconsin.

Reading from his decree, the Bishop stated, “I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.”

This declaration makes the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion the first and only Marian shrine in the United States that is on the site of an approved apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I'll post the Pictures next

Shrine Pictures

Note: Some of these pictures are out dated, like they repainted some of the outdoor statues. Also some of these aren't mine, some are from the Badger Catholic and Edward Looney's photos

Shrine church


Crypt Apparition Site

Close up of Our Lady's face (One of my favorites) 

Stained Glass from the old chapel

Pieta (behind the statue are crutches that were left here)

Upper Church



Sacred Heart Statue

St. John Vianny

Processional Statue

Relic of the Veil of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the back

The room into the crypt

"Our Lady of Good Help"

St. Therese of Lisieux


Grave of Sr. Adele

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto

Probably my favorite picture, tied with Mary's face

Our Lady of Grace Memorial

The statue

Crucifixion Scene 

The 12th Station of the Cross (I wish I took a picture of the whole thing instead of the statues)

Statue behind the outdoor altar

Fatima Grotto

Our Lady of Fatima


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

THE STORY GOES that John the Baptist was arrested for preaching on the evils King Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee, had recently committed with Herodias, the wife of his brother, Philip. As scripture says:

"But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. For when Hero'di-as' daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, 'Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.' And he vowed to her, 'Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.' And she went out, and said to her mother, 'What shall I ask?' And she said, 'The head of John the baptizer.' And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, 'I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.' And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb."

- Mark  6: 21 - 29

Litany of St. John the Baptist

Lord, have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Pray for us.
Queen of Prophets, Pray for us.
Queen of Martyrs, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, glorious forerunner of the Sun of Justice, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, minister of Baptism to Jesus, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, burning and shining lamp of the world, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, angel of purity before thy birth, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, special friend and favorite of Christ, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, heavenly contemplative, whose element was prayer, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, intrepid preacher of truth, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, voice crying in the wilderness, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, miracle of mortification and penance, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, example of profound humility, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, glorious martyr of zeal for God's holy law, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, gloriously fulfilling thy mission, Pray for us.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

St. Augustine

Today is the feast day of St. Augustine of Hippo, Convert, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (some of this is similar from yesterday, because it affected both St. Monica and Augustine).

Born on November 13, 354 in North Africa, son of Patritius and St. Monica, he had two other siblings, a brother and a sister, named Perpetua.

In his youth Augustine lived in Carthage and began a relationship with a young woman, with whom he shared a son. St. Monica, horrified, sent the local bishop to talk him out of this kind of life, but Augustine refused. The bishop told Monica: "It is impossible that the son of so many tears should perish." She continued tirelessly to pray for his conversion.

Monica met St. Ambrose in Milan, and through him Augustine was converted. Mother and son were at peace for six months.

Augustine was ordained a priest at the port city of Hippo, and was made a bishop four years later. His greatest works are Confessions, De Trinitate, and De Civitiate Dei. He died on August 28, 430 during the siege of Hippo by vandals.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Our Lady of Czestochowa

Our Lady of Czestochowa , or known simply as "The Black Madonna", is a revered icon of the Blessed Mother that is housed in Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, Poland, and is a great devotion among the Polish people and those of Polish descent. According to tradition, it was painted by St. Luke himself. From Wikipedia:

The difficulty in dating the icon stems from the fact that the original image was painted over, after being badly damaged by Hussite raiders in 1430. Medieval restorers unfamiliar with the encaustic method found that the paints they applied to the damaged areas "simply sloughed off the image" according to the medieval chronicler Risinius, and their solution was to erase the original image and to repaint it on the original panel, which was believed to be holy because of its legendary origin as a table top from the home of the Holy Family. The painting displays a traditional composition well known in the icons of Eastern Orthodoxy. The Virgin Mary is shown as the "Hodegetria" ("One Who Shows the Way"). In it the Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the child extends his right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of gospels in his left hand. The icon shows the Madonna in fleur-de-lys robes.

It is said to have arrived at the monastery of Jasna Gora in 1382 by the Duke of Opole.  The image is credited with saving the monastery from a Swedish invasion in the 17th century, which turned the tide of the battle in favor of the Poles, so the image was crowned as "Queen and Protectress of Poland". 

"The legend concerning the two scars on the Black Madonna's right cheek is that the Hussites stormed the Pauline monastery in 1430, plundering the sanctuary. Among the items stolen was the icon. After putting it in their wagon, the Hussites tried to get away but their horses refused to move. They threw the portrait down to the ground and one of the plunderers drew his sword upon the image and inflicted two deep strikes. When the robber tried to inflict a third strike, he fell to the ground and squirmed in agony until his death. Despite past attempts to repair these scars, they had difficulty in covering up those slashes (as they found out that the painting was painted with tempera infused with diluted wax). In commemoration of the attack, two slashes on her right cheek were made by a pen.

Another legend states that, as the robber struck the painting twice, the face of the Virgin Mary started to bleed; in a panic, the scared Hussites retreated and left the painting."

Bl. John Paul the Great being embraced by Our Mother of Czestochowa. This image was designed shortly after the attempted assassination. 

It should also be mentioned that the image darkened by the use of incense and the burning of candles throughout the centuries, so the skin on Our Lady and Christ where much lighter at one time.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

St. Louis IX of France

Today is the Memorial of St. Louis IX, King of France, and patron of the city of St. Louis, MO. To find out more on Catholic St. Louis, go to my favorite blog, Rome of the West. The current post is also on St. Louis IX, so you can read it there :).

Friday, August 24, 2012

Change of Plans

In my 'trip' post, I mentioned my family and I were going to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help this week. My aunt couldn't find a good time to go this week, as everybody was kind of busy, so we're planning for this Thursday.

St. Bartholomew

Today is the feast day of St. Bartholomew, Apostle and Martyr.

He was introduced to Our Lord through St. Philip, by the name of Nathaniel. Scholars have assumed that Nathaniel of the gospel of St. John is the same man as Bartholomew of the synoptic gospels.

Tradition has it that after the Ascension of Christ St. Bartholomew went on missions to India, Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, and Parthia. He along with St. Jude brought Christianity to Armenia. It is said that there he was flayed alive (ew) and crucified upside down (Like St. Peter). Tradition also has it that before his death he converted the king of Armenia, but the order of his death was given by his brother, who was of some royalty in order to give such an order.

He has been revered in the Church since he was martyred, as where the other Apostles.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

St. Rose of Lima

Today is also the memorial of St. Rose of Lima, virgin and first saint of the Americas.

Born in Lima (obviously), she was from a large family, and her baptismal name was Isabel (in English Elizabeth), and her nickname was Rose because, while an infant, a servant claimed to see her face transform into a rose. She officially took the name Rose at her confirmation in 1597.

From young on, she fasted three times a week performed severe penances such as burning her hands. When she was admired for her beauty, she cut her hair, as she wanted to ward off any suitors as she had taken a vow of virginity.

Her fasting turned to abstinence from meat daily, and she was known to perform charitable acts, feeding and caring for the sick and those in poverty. Her nights were filled with prayer and she only left her room to go to the local church. Her holiness spread so that the Dominican friars caught her attention and she sought to become a nun. Her father refused, and, out of obedience, entered the Third Order of St. Dominic, and took the perpetual vow of virginity which she had waited since childhood to take.

She lived 11 more years that were filled with self-martyrdom, caring for others, and ecstasy. She died on August 24, 1617, at the age of 31. She was canonized by Pope Clement X on April 12, 1671.

Rest in Peace, First Year

Hi all. Today is the 1 year anniversary of my Uncle Russ' passing from this life. My family all went to Mass this morning for his special intention. Please pray for his soul (We've had a lot of Masses offered for him in this past year, and lots of prayers...I feel he is in Eternal Bliss, but prayers will help, since I'm not sure).

Eternal Rest Grant unto him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and all the souls of the faithful
departed through the mercy of God  
rest in peace.


Song of Farewell - Old Hundreth
(This video was made for this man's mother, so instead of 'mother' and 'her' imagine 'uncle' and 'him'. also, ignore the picture of his mother at the end. Pray for her too, though)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

August Queen of Heaven, sovereign Mistress of the Angels, who didst receive from the beginning the mission and the power to crush the serpent’s head, we beseech thee to send thy holy angels, that under thy command and by thy power, they may pursue the evil spirits, encounter them on every side, resist their bold attacks, and drive them hence into the abyss of woe.

Today is the feast of the Queenship of Our Blessed Mother. Tradition has it, as represented by the 5th Glorious Mystery, Our Lady was crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth (the universe, for that fact). According to doctrine, Mary was assumed into heaven and is with her son, Christ, Our Lord, as represented in Revelation 12:

"A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who 'will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.'And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days."

- Revelation  12: 1-6

The Church teaches that, in this confusing passage, that it is Our Lady who is the woman, and Christ who is her child. The dragon who seeks to devour her child is Herod the Great, and by the child being brought to God and his throne, is the Paschal Mystery. Not in this passage, but as the chapter goes on, it mentions that, with the help of St. Michael, the children of the woman defeat the dragon. It is interpreted that the children of the woman, Mary, are Christians, who defeat the dragon, Satan. Other opinions state that the woman is the Church itself.

In England and other monarchies, the mother of the ruler (either king or queen) is called the queen mother. Since Christ is our King, and his mother is Mary, wouldn't she be the Queen Mother? Just sayin'.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our Lady of Knock

Today is the anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin in Knock, Ireland, in 1879.

From Catholic Tradition:

On the evening of August 21, 1879 Mary McLoughlin, the housekeeper to the parish priest of Knock, County Mayo, Ireland, was astonished to see the outside south wall of the church bathed in a mysterious light; there were three figures standing in front of the wall, which she mistook for replacements of the stone figures destroyed in a storm. She rushed through the rain to her friend Margaret Byrne's house.

After a half hour Mary decided to leave and Margaret's sister Mary agreed to walk home with her. As they passed the church they saw and amazing vision very clearly: Standing out from the gable and to the west of it appeared the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and St. John. The figure of the Blessed Virgin was life-size, while the others seemed to be neither as large nor as tall. They stood a little away from the gable wall about two feet from the ground. The Virgin was erect with her eyes toward Heaven, and she was wearing a large white cloak hanging in full folds; on her head was a large crown.

Mary Byrne ran to tell her family while Mary McLoughlin gazed at the apparition. Soon a crowd gathered and all saw the apparition. The parish priest, Archdeacon Cavanaugh, did not come out, however, and his absence was a disappointment to the devout villagers. Among the witnesses were Patrick Hill and John Curry. As Patrick later described the scene: 'The figures were fully rounded, as if they had a body and life. They did not speak but, as we drew near, they retreated a little towards the wall.' Patrick reported that he got close enough to make out the words in the book held by the figure of St. John.

An old woman named Bridget Trench drew closer to embrace the feet of the Virgin, but the figure seemed always beyond reach. Others out in the fields and some distance away saw a strange light around the church. The vision lasted for about three hours and then faded.

The next day a group of villagers went to see the priest, who accepted the their report as genuine; he wrote to the diocesan Bishop of Tuam; then the Church set up a commission to interview a number of the people claiming to witness the apparition. The diocesan hierarchy was not convinced, and some members of the commission ridiculed the visionaries, alleging they were victims of a hoax perpetrated by the local Protestant constable! But the ordinary people were not so skeptical, and the first pilgrimages to knock began in 1880. Two years later Archbishop John Joseph Lynch of Toronto made a visit to the parish and claimed he had been healed by the Virgin of Knock.

In due course many of the witnesses died. But Mary Byrne married, raised six children, living her entire life in Knock. When interviewed again in 1936 at the age of eighty-six, her account did not vary from the first report she gave in 1879.

The village of Knock was transformed by the thousands who came to commemorate the vision and to ask for healing for others and themselves. The local church was too small to accommodate the crowds. In 1976 a new church, Our Lady Queen of Ireland, was erected. It holds more than two thousand and needs to, for each year more than a half million visitors arrive to pay their respects to the Blessed Virgin.

The Church approved the the apparition in 1971 as being quite probable, although it has never been formally stated. The Shrine at Knock is opened year round. In 1994 three life-sized statues were erected of Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John.

Apparition spot at Knock (See the original church wall?)

I also feel to mention that I read in Bob and Penny Lord's book, The Many Faces of Mary: A Love Story: Book I, that it was raining that day, and after the apparitions faded away, the wall behind the church was still dry. Also, in the middle, as shown in the shrine photo, the Lamb of God was in the center of the altar with angels adoring.

Lady of Knock sung by Daniel O'Donnell, my Grandma's favorite singer :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Today is the memorial of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot and Doctor of the Church.

Born in 1090 into a noble family, St. Bernard had a great taste for literature and wrote many poems. He often read scripture and had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. When he got older, he sought admission into the Cistercian Order, and became the abbot of the reformed Benedictines at Clairvaux.

Due to laziness, you can read the rest here:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

St. Helena

Today the church celebrates St. Helena, widow, mother of Constantine the Great, and Founder of the True Cross.

Born in the mid third century, Helena married Constantius Chlorus, heir to the mighty Roman Empire. She gave birth to a son, Constantine, who stayed with her even when her husband was with another woman. When Constantius died, her son took over the Empire, and decreed that his mother be commended as mother of the sovereign (face on coins, etc.). Her son embraced Christianity through her influence, and they declared the Roman Empire for Christianity, finally putting an end to the persecution.

It is said that Helena went on many pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and had many Churches built over the sites where Christ died, was born, etc. There she discovered the very cross of Our Lord himself, and brought it back to Rome for veneration.

She is also well-known for her charitable works, and she died at the age of 80 around 330.

Friday, August 17, 2012

St. Hyacinth

Today we remember St. Hyacinth, O.P.

 Born in Poland in about 1185, he received a good education in Paris and Bologna, and became well known for his studies and works to reform women's monasteries in Poland. He went to Rome and witnessed St. Dominic perform a miracle, so he decided to become a Dominican Friar, receiving his habit from St. Dominic himself. He along with a companion went back to their home in Poland to establish the Dominican Order there. 

Hyacinth about to take the statue (notice the burning monastery in the background?)

A popular miracle attributed to St. Hyacinth is the story of the attack on the monastery by the Mongols. St. Hyacinth heard about the attack after celebrating Mass, and went to the tabernacle to save the host in the ciborium (or the monstrance, it depends), when, while passing the statue of the Blessed Mother, heard a voice say, " Hyacinth, My son, why do you leave Me behind? Take Me with you."  He went to pick the heavy alabaster statue up, and it was as light as a feather.

He was advised of his coming death on the eve of the Assumption. Although sick with a strong fever, he celebrated Mass. He was given last rites at the foot of the altar and died on the great feast of Our Lady, 1257.

Upcoming "Trip"

Hi all! Sometime next week my family (Me, mom, sister, grandma, aunt, and some cousins) will be going to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, WI (It's only a half hour from my house...I don't know why we don't go more often...). I've gone there 3 times, last June, October, and this past June with Grandma and Grandpa. I'll be sure to post pictures!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Assumption

Assumpta est Maria in cælum : gaudent Angeli, laudantes benedicunt Dominum.

Mary is taken up into heaven, the Angels rejoice, praise and bless the Lord.

Today is the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an ancient tradition in the church. It is somewhat of a confusing dogma, though, because no one knows how it happened. Did Our Lady die, or was she taken up before death could touch her, as she is the "Immaculate Conception"? Nevertheless, the dogma was confirmed by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950.

He states: "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." In theory, this is all that really matters. It also IS a Holy Day of Obligation!!

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, 
hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. 
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: 
to thee do we send up our sighs, 
mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. 
Turn then, most gracious Advocate, 
thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, 
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, 
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! 


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe

Today the Church celebrates St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, O.F.M. Conv., Missionary and Martyr. Born on January 8, 1894, he was born Raymund Kolbe in part of the Russian Empire at that time. His father was German and mother Polish, and was the second of five children. His father was later hanged by the Russians for fighting for independence for Poland.

While a child, St. Maximilian had a vision of Our Lady that he described later in his life:

"That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me, a Child of Faith. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both."

In 1907, He and his brother Francis joined the Conventual Franciscans, and took final vows in 1914, adopting the name Maximilian Mary. He organized the Militia Immaculata, or Army of Mary, to help stop the enemies of the church through the Blessed Mother. He even had his own radio license, using it to condemn the Nazi regime (Is it a coincidence that he and St. Teresa Benedicta's feast days are only five days apart? I think not). 

He became a priest in 1918 and returned to the newly independent Poland and supervised a monastery there, and later founded one in 1927. During the Jewish persecution in Europe under the Nazi party, it is said that St. Maximilian sheltered Jewish refugees from Germany. In 1930 - 1936 he traveled to Japan to teach the faith and founded a monastery there. He returned to Poland and helped hide Jews after the Nazi occupation. In February he was arrested and sent to a concentration camp, later transferred to the notorious Auschwitz (The same camp as St. Teresa Benedicta...). 

From wikipedia:

"At the end of July 1941, three prisoners disappeared from the camp, prompting the deputy camp commander to pick 10 men to be starved to death in an underground bunker in order to deter further escape attempts. When one of the selected men cried out, 'My wife! My children!', Kolbe volunteered to take his place.

In the starvation cell, he celebrated Mass each day and sang hymns with the prisoners.

He led the other condemned men in song and prayer and encouraged them by telling them they would soon be with Mary in Heaven. Each time the guards checked on him, he was standing or kneeling in the middle of the cell and looking calmly at those who entered. After two weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe remained alive. The guards wanted the bunker emptied and they gave Kolbe a lethal injection of carbolic acid. Some who were present at the injection say that he raised his left arm and calmly waited for the injection. His remains were cremated on 15 August, the feast of the Assumption."

He was canonized on October 10, 1982, by Pope John Paul II as a martyr to the faith.

Monday, August 13, 2012

St. Clare of Assisi

Saturday (August 11) was the feast day of St. Clare, virgin and founder of the Second Order of St. Francis, informally known as the Poor Clare nuns. She is also the patron of my home parish, and one of my favorite saints.

St. Clare was born into a rich family in Assisi, Italy. Her mother was a very pious woman, making pilgrimages to places such as Rome and the Holy Land. Always devoted to prayer, her parents wanted her to marry at 15, but she persuaded them to wait until she was 18. Her plans changed when she heard Francis of Assisi preach, when she then decided to become a nun, devoting herself to God. She originally went to live with the Benedictine sisters, but was almost pulled out by her father, who wanted her to marry. 

St. Clare's Tunic and Mantle

Later, she was joined by her sister, Agnes, and they moved to the church of San Damiano, which Francis rebuilt. Other women joined them, eventually her own mother, and they became known as the "Poor Ladies."  Unlike the Franciscan Friars, the sisters stayed enclosed inside the convent. She took the position of Mother Superior after Francis had stepped down to lead the friars.

St. Clare defending the convent with the Blessed Sacrament

Legend has it that a band of attackers came to Assisi, and as they where about to attack the convent, Clare went out with the monstrance with the Body of Christ in it, and the attackers fled. This is the reason she is shown with the monstrance.

Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi

Body of St. Clare

Clare died on August 11, 1253, and was canonized 2 years later on September 26 by Pope Alexander IV.

St. Lawrence

Friday (August 10) was the memorial of St. Lawrence of Rome, deacon and martyr.

According to lore, Lawrence was entrusted the Holy Chalice, the cup in which Jesus and the Apostles drank from at the Last Supper. It is now venerated at the Cathedral of Valencia in Spain.

Tradition has it that Lawrence was grilled to death by the order of the Emperor Valerian in 258.

The Grill used to grill Lawrence to death

Devotion to him spread widely in the fourth century, and he is one of the patrons of Rome.

Read more here.