Saturday, January 31, 2009

498 Spanish Civil War Martyrs / Love Letter of Blessed Bartolome Blanco Marquez

498 Spanish Civil War martyrs beatified

Vatican City, Oct 29, 2007 / 02:25 pm (CNA).- Nearly five hundred victims of religious persecution before and during the Spanish Civil War were beatified Sunday, making it the largest mass beatification in history.

The crowd gathered for the ceremony included seventy-one Spanish bishops, 1,500 priests, 2,500 relatives of the martyrs, Spanish politicians and 4,000 Spanish pilgrims. St. Peter’s square was filled with pilgrims waving Spanish flags and showing their thanks for the beatification of the 498 martyrs. When Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, proclaimed the 498 martyrs beatified, the square erupted with applause.

After the beatification Mass, Pope Benedict XVI greeted the pilgrims from his studio window. He said the beatification of so many ordinary Catholics showed that martyrdom wasn't reserved for a few but is "a realistic possibility for the entire Christian people."

"This martyrdom in ordinary life is an important witness in today's secularized society," he said.

The beatified were killed in the years 1934, 1936, and 1937. They include two bishops, 24 priests, 462 members of religious orders, a deacon, a sub-deacon, a seminarian, and seven lay Catholics. The breadth of the persecution was also reflected in the range of their ages with the youngest being 16 and the oldest 71.

Seven thousand clergy are estimated to have died in the persecutions.

The violence came from leftist groups who saw the Church as a symbol of wealth, repression, and inequality. Their continual attacks helped provoke General Francisco Franco into rebellion against the elected left-wing government. The civil war lasted from 1936 to 1939, after which the victorious Franco ruled as dictator for forty years.

Franco's legacy is very controversial in Spain. The Spanish Parliament is about to pass a Socialist-backed bill seeking to make symbolic reparations to victims of the war and of the Church-supported Franco dictatorship.

Relations between the Holy See and Spain's present socialist government have been strained since the latter took power in 2004. The government has supported easy divorce, gay marriage, and abortion. It has also disrupted its preceding conservative government's plans to mandate religious education in schools.

Some Spanish critics of the beatifications interpreted them as a political rebuke to the socialists.

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Heroic Witness
Love letter from prison proof of martyrdom of Spanish youth

Madrid, Oct 29, 2007 / 10:38 am (CNA).- Bartolome Blanco Marquez is one of the youngest of the group of 498 martyrs beatified by Pope Benedict XVI this past Sunday at the Vatican. A committed Catholic, the 22 year-old layman wrote a moving letter to his girlfriend Maruja just hours before his death.

“Your memory will go with me to the tomb, and as long as my heart is beating, it will beat with love for you,” he told Maruja. “God has desired to exalt these earthly affections, ennobling them when we love each other in Him.”

Therefore, although in my last days God is my light and my longing, this does not keep the memory of the person I most love from accompanying me until the hour of my death,” he wrote in his letter.

His story

Bartolome was born in Pozoblanco on November 25, 1914. orphaned as a child, he was raised by his aunt and uncle and worked as a chair maker. He was an outstanding student at the Salesian school of Pozoblanco and also helped out as a catechist. At the age of 18 he was elected secretary of a youth division of Catholic Action in Pozoblanco.

He was imprisoned in that city on August 18, 1936, when he was on leave from military service. On September 24 he was moved to a prison in Jaen, where he was held with fifteen priests and other laymen. There he was judged, condemned to death and shot on October 2, 1936.

During his trial, Bartolome remained true to his faith and his religious convictions. He did not protest his death sentence and told the court that if he lived he would continue being an active Catholic.

The letters he wrote on the eve of his death to his family and to his girlfriend Maruja show his profound faith.

“May this be my last will: forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness; but indulgence, which I wish to be accompanied by doing them as much good as possible. Therefore, I ask you to avenge me with the vengeance of a Christian: returning much good to those that have tried to do me evil,” he wrote to his relatives.

On the day of his execution he left his cell barefoot, in order to be more conformed to Christ. He kissed his handcuffs, surprising the guards that cuffed him. He refused to be shot from behind. “Whoever dies for Christ should do so facing forward and standing straight. Long live Christ the King!” he shouted as he fell to ground under a shower of bullets.

Byzantine Saints - The Holy Wonderworkers and Unmercenary Healers Cyrus and John

Courtesy of a Byzantine Deacon...did I mention a wonderful deacon...I am thankful to learn of the following martyrs for the Faith.


January 31

The Holy Wonderworkers and Unmercenary Healers Cyrus and John.

These Saints lived during the years of Diocletian. Saint Cyrus was from Alexandria, and Saint John was from Edessa of Mesopotamia. Because of the persecution of that time, Cyrus fled to the Gulf of Arabia, where there was a small community of monks. John, who was a soldier, heard of Cyrus' fame and came to join him. Henceforth, they passed their life working every virtue, and healing every illness and disease freely by the grace of Christ; hence their title of "Unmercenaries." They heard that a certain woman, named Athanasia, had been apprehended together with her three daughters, Theodora, Theoctiste, and Eudoxia, and taken to the tribunal for their confession of the Faith. Fearing lest the tender young maidens be terrified by the torments and renounce Christ, they went to strengthen them in their contest in martryrdom; therefore they too were seized. After Cyrus and John and those sacred women had been greatly tormented, all were beheaded in the year 292. Their tomb became a renowned shrine in Egypt, and a place of universal pilgrimage. It was found in the area of the modern day resort near Alexandria named Abu Kyr.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Papal Address to Catholic-Orthodox Commission "The World Needs a Visible Sign of the Mystery of Unity"

Papal Address to Catholic-Orthodox Commission
"The World Needs a Visible Sign of the Mystery of Unity"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2009 ( Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

* * *

Dear brothers in Christ,

I extend a warm welcome to you, the members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. At the end of this week of dedicated work we can give thanks together to the Lord for your steadfast commitment to the search for reconciliation and communion in the Body of Christ which is the Church.

Indeed, each of you brings to this task not only the richness of your own tradition, but also the commitment of the Churches involved in this dialogue to overcome the divisions of the past and to strengthen the united witness of Christians in the face of the enormous challenges facing believers today.

The world needs a visible sign of the mystery of unity that binds the three divine Persons and, that two thousand years ago, with the Incarnation of the Son of God, was revealed to us. The tangibility of the Gospel message is conveyed perfectly by John, when he declares his intention to express what he has heard and his eyes have seen and his hands have touched, so that all may have fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Jn 1:1-4). Our communion through the grace of the Holy Spirit in the life that unites the Father and the Son has a perceptible dimension within the Church, the Body of Christ, "the fullness of him who fills all in all" (Eph 1:23), and we all have a duty to work for the manifestation of that essential dimension of the Church to the world.

Your sixth meeting has taken important steps precisely in the study of the Church as communion. The very fact that the dialogue has continued over time and is hosted each year by one of the several Churches you represent is itself a sign of hope and encouragement. We need only cast our minds to the Middle East -- from where many of you come -- to see that true seeds of hope are urgently needed in a world wounded by the tragedy of division, conflict and immense human suffering.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has just concluded with the ceremony in the Basilica dedicated to the great apostle Paul, at which many of you were present. Paul was the first great champion and theologian of the Church's unity. His efforts and struggles were inspired by the enduring aspiration to maintain a visible, not merely external, but real and full communion among the Lord's disciples. Therefore, through Paul's intercession, I ask for God's blessings on you all, and on the Churches and the peoples you represent.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tyburn Memorial to over 400 Catholics UK

Council plans new memorial to the Tyburn martyrs
By Simon Caldwell
30 January 2009

A monument in honour of hundreds of Catholics executed for their faith is to be erected in the heart of central London.

Consultations are underway to install a striking memorial on the former site of the Tyburn gallows at the western end of Oxford Street, the capital's busiest shopping street.

Between 1535 and 1679 nearly 400 Catholics were executed on the spot, and 105 of these have been recognised by the Vatican as martyrs, with a number canonised as saints.

Since the Fifties the site of the gallows has been marked simply by a stone roundel in a traffic island at the intersection of Edgware Road and Bayswater Road, near to Marble Arch, bearing the image of a plain black cross and the words: "The site of the Tyburn Tree."

But Westminster City Council has begun looking for ideas for a more fitting memorial.

The council's Public Art Advisory Panel has discussed some of the proposals at a private meeting, including an etching of the shadow of the Tyburn Tree into pavement brickwork.

Another proposal is understood to involve three illuminated pillars to stand above the site once occupied by the three-sided gallows.

Rosemarie MacQueen, strategic director for built environment at Westminster City Council, said funding was needed and hoped the Catholic community would be able to contribute.

"We have been looking at ways to make the memorial to the Tyburn martyrs more substantial and informative in the future provided we can secure funding for the project, as we feel that the hangings which happened there should be clearly marked for anyone who might want to understand the area's history," she told The Catholic Herald.

"We are looking at the possibility of commissioning an artist or designer who could make the plaque an even more fitting and substantial tribute to the men and women who died there from the 1500s onwards for their religious beliefs. If any of your readers would be willing to sponsor such a memorial we would be more than happy to hear from them."

Tyburn became a place of public execution in the 12th century, and, as the "King's gallows", was used in particular for those people convicted of capital offences against the Crown. The first martyrs of the Protestant Reformation - St John Houghton and companions - were executed together for treason there on May 4 1535 after they refused to accept King Henry VIII as the head of the Church in England.

In 1571 Queen Elizabeth I erected the Tyburn Tree, triangular gallows purposely built for multiple executions, with 24 men and women executed there together in one instance.

Catholics to die there included St Edmund Campion, the first English Jesuit martyr, who wrote in his "brag" to Elizabeth's Privy Council, that the Jesuits would never cease to work for the conversion of England "while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn".

The last Catholic Tyburn martyr was St Oliver Plunkett, the Archbishop of Armagh, executed on July 1 1679, the last of 25 innocent victims of the Titus Oates plot.

Most men were hanged, drawn and quartered - a slow death that involved castration and disemboweling before the head was struck off and the body quartered - but Catholic women, such as Mary Ward and Anne Line, were hanged instead.

Public executions continued for common criminals for a further century until they were transferred to the area outside Newgate Prison.

London priest Mgr Anthony Stark, the master of the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom, an organisation which leads annual pilgrimages to the site, said he was delighted that the council was planning to honour the English Catholic martyrs.

He said: "It is the one site in the country where more people died for their Catholic faith than anywhere else. It is very important."

Catholics were executed at other sites in London and in other parts of the country, most notably Lancaster, York and Chester. An unknown number died in prison while refusing to recant their faith.

The Tyburn roundel was taken up by the council last summer when road works were carried out around the traffic island, prompting an outcry from Catholics who feared that its removal was permanent.

Benedictine nuns from the nearby Tyburn Convent later succeeded in persuading the council to put the roundel back. But they were told that the stone would remain on the site only temporarily while plans for a grander memorial were being drawn up. The nuns hope to acquire the roundel for the martyrs' reliquary in the convent's crypt.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

120 Chinese Martyrs


Over a 300-year period, 120 missionaries and Chinese believers gave their lives in fidelity to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church

From the earliest beginnings of the Chinese people (sometime about the middle of the third millennium before Christ), religious sentiment towards the Supreme Being and diligent filial piety towards ancestors were the most conspicuous features of their culture, which had existed for thousands of years.

This note of distinct religiousness is found to a greater or lesser extent in the Chinese people of all centuries up to our own time, when, under the influence of Western atheism, some intellectuals, especially those educated in foreign countries, wished to rid themselves of all religious ideas, like some of their Western teachers.

In the fifth century the Gospel was preached in China, and at the beginning of the seventh century the first church was built there. During the T'ang dynasty (618-907) the Christian community flourished for two centuries. In the 13th, thanks to the understanding of the Chinese people and culture shown by missionaries like Giovanni da Montecorvino, it became possible to begin the first Catholic mission in the Middle Kingdom, with the episcopal see in Beijing.

It is not surprising, especially in, the modern era (i.e., since the 16th century, when communications between the East and West became more frequent) that there was on the part of the Catholic Church a longing to take the light of the Gospel to this people in order to enhance their treasure of cultural and religious traditions, so rich and profound.

And so, beginning with the last decades of the 16th century, various Catholic missionaries were sent to China: people like Matteo Ricci and others were chosen with great care, keeping in mind their cultural abilities and their qualifications in various fields of science, especially astronomy and mathematics, in addition to their spirit of faith and love. In fact, it was thanks to this and to the missionaries' appreciation of the remarkable spirit of research shown by the studious Chinese that it was possible to establish very useful collaborative relationships in the scientific field. These relationships served in turn to open many doors, even those of the Imperial Court, and this led to the development of very useful relations with various people of great ability.

The quality of the religious life of these missionaries was such as to lead not a few people at a high level to feel the need to know better the Gospel spirit that animated them and then to be instructed in the Christian religion. This instruction was carried out in a manner suited to their cultural characteristics and way of thinking. At the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th, there were numerous people who, having undergone the necessary preparation, asked for Baptism and became fervent Christians, while always preserving with just pride their Chinese identity and culture.

Christianity was seen in that period as a reality that did not oppose the highest values of the traditions of the Chinese people, nor place itself above these traditions. Rather, it was regarded as something that enriched them with a new light and dimension.

Thanks to the excellent relations that existed between some missionaries and the Emperor K'ang Hsi himself, and thanks to the services they rendered towards re-establishing peace between the Tsar of Russia and the "Son of Heaven", namely the Emperor, the latter issued in 1692 the first decree of religious liberty by virtue of which all his subjects could follow the Christian religion and all the missionaries could preach in his vast domains.

In consequence, there were notable developments in missionary activity and the spread of the Gospel message; many Chinese people, attracted by the light of Christ, asked to receive Baptism.

Unfortunately, however, the difficult question of "Chinese rites" greatly irritated the Emperor K'ang Hsi and prepared the persecution. This persecution, strongly influenced by the one in nearby Japan, to a greater or lesser extent, open or insidious, violent or veiled, extended in successive waves practically from the first decade of the 17th century to about the middle of the 19th. Missionaries and lay faithful were killed and many churches destroyed.

It was on 15 January 1648 that the Manchu Tartars, having invaded the region of Fujian and shown themselves hostile to the Christian religion, killed St Francis Fernández de Capillas, a priest of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans). After having imprisoned and tortured him, they beheaded him while he recited with others the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary.

St Francis Fernández de Capillas has been recognized by the Holy See as the protomartyr of China.

Towards the middle of the following century (the 18th) another five Spanish missionaries, who had carried out their activity between 1715 and 1747, were put to death as a result of a new wave of persecution that started in 1729 and broke out again in 1746. This was in the era of the Emperor Yung-Cheng and his son, K'ien-Lung.

St Peter Sans i Jordá, O.P, Bishop, was martyred in 1747 at Fuzou.

All four of the following were killed on 28 October 1748:

St Francis Serrano Frias, O.P., priest
St Joachim Royo Peréz, O.P., priest
St John Alcober Figuera, O.P., priest
St Francis Díaz del Rincón, O.P., priest.

A new period of persecution of the Christian religion occurred in the 19th century.

While Catholicism had been authorized by some emperors in the preceding centuries, Emperor Kia-Kin (1796-1821) published instead numerous and severe decrees against it. The first was issued in 1805. Two edicts of 1811 were directed against those Chinese who were studying to receive sacred Orders, and against priests who were propagating the Christian religion. A decree of 1813 exonerated voluntary apostates from every chastisement, that is, Christians who spontaneously declared that they would abandon their faith, but all others were to be dealt with harshly.

In this period the following underwent martyrdom:

St Peter Wu Guosheng, a Chinese lay catechist. Born of a pagan family, he received Baptism in 1796 and passed the rest of his life proclaiming the truth of the Christian religion. All attempts to make him apostatize were in vain. The sentence having been pronounced against him, he was strangled on 7 November 1814.

Following him in fidelity to Christ was St Joseph Zhang Dapeng, a lay catechist and merchant. Baptized in 1800, he had become the heart of the mission in the city of Kony-Yang. He was imprisoned, and then strangled to death on 12 March 1815.

In this same year (1815) there came two other decrees, by which approval was given to the conduct of the Viceroy of Sichuan who had beheaded Bishop Dufresse, of the Paris Foreign Missions Society, and some Chinese Christians. As a result, there was a worsening of the persecution.

The following martyrs belong to this period:

St Gabriel Taurin Dufresse, M.E.P., Bishop. He was arrested on 18 May 1815, taken to Chengdu, condemned and executed on 14 September 1815.

St Augustine Zhao Rong, a Chinese diocesan priest. Having first been one of the soldiers who had escorted Bishop Dufresse from Chengdu to Beijing, he was moved by his patience and had then asked to be numbered among the neophytes. Once baptized, he was sent to the seminary and then ordained a priest. Arrested, he had to suffer the most cruel tortures and then died in 1815.

St Francis Mary Lantrua, O.F.M. (John of Triora), priest. Put in prison together with others in the summer of 1815, he was later condemned to death and strangled on 7 February 1816.

St Joseph Yuan Zaide, a Chinese diocesan priest. Having heard Bishop Dufresse speak of the Christian faith, he was overcome by its beauty and then became an exemplary neophyte. Later, he was ordained a priest and, as such, was dedicated to evangelization in various districts. He was arrested in August 1816, condemned to be strangled and was killed in this way on 24 June 1817.

St Paul Liu Hanzuo, a Chinese diocesan priest, killed in 1819.

St Francis Regis Clet of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians). After obtaining permission to go to the missions in China, he embarked for the Orient in 1791. Having reached there, for 30 years he spent a life of missionary sacrifice. Upheld by an untiring zeal, he evangelized three immense provinces of the Chinese Empire: Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan. Betrayed by a Christian, he was arrested and thrown into prison where he underwent atrocious tortures. Following sentence by the emperor, he was killed by strangling on 17 February 1820.

St Thaddeus Liu Ruiting, a Chinese diocesan priest. He refused to apostatize, saying that he was a priest and wanted to be faithful to the religion that he had preached. Condemned to death, he was strangled on 30 November 1823.

St Peter Liu Wenyuan, a Chinese lay catechist. He was arrested in 1814 and condemned to exile in Tartary, where he remained for almost 20 years. Returning to his homeland, he was again arrested and was strangled on 17 May 1834.

St Joachim Hao Kaizhi, a Chinese lay catechist. He was baptized at the age of about 20. In the great persecution of 1814 he had been taken with many other faithful and subjected to cruel torture. Sent into exile in Tartary, he remained there for almost 20 years. Returning to his homeland, he was arrested again and refused to apostatize. Following that, and the death sentence having been confirmed by the emperor, he was strangled on 9 July 1839.

St Augustus Chapdelaine, M.E.P., a priest of the Diocese of Coutances. He entered the seminary of the Paris Foreign Missions Society and embarked for China in 1852. He arrived in Guangxi at the end of 1854. Arrested in 1856, he was tortured, condemned to death in prison and died in February 1856.

St Laurence Bai Xiaoman, a Chinese layman and unassuming worker. He joined St Chapdelaine in the refuge that was given to the missionary and was arrested with him and brought before the tribunal. Nothing could make him renounce his religious beliefs. He was beheaded on 25 February 1856.

St Agnes Cao Guiying, a widow, born into an old Christian family. Being dedicated to the instruction of young girls who had recently been converted by St Chapdelaine, she was arrested and condemned to death in prison. She was executed on 1 March 1856.

Three catechists, known as the Martyrs of MaoKou (in the province of Guizhou) were killed on 28 January 1858, by order of the Mandarin of MaoKou:

St Jerome Lu Tingmei
St Laurence Wang Bing
St Agatha Lin Zhao.

All three had been called on to renounce the Christian religion and, having refused to do so, were condemned to be beheaded.

Two seminarians and two lay people, one of whom was a farmer, the other a widow who worked as a cook in the seminary, suffered martyrdom together on 29 July 1861. They are known as the Martyrs of Qingyanzhen (Guizhou):

St Joseph Zhang Wenlan, seminarian
St Paul Chen Changpin, seminarian
St John Baptist Luo Tingying, layman
St Martha Wang Luo, laywoman.

In the following year, on 18 and 19 February 1862, another five people gave their lives for Christ. They are known as the Martyrs of Guizhou:

St John Peter Néel, a priest of the Paris Foreign Missions Society
St Martin Wu Xuesheng, lay catechist
St John Zhang Tianshen, lay catechist
St John Chen Xianheng, lay catechist
St Lucy Yi Zhenmei, lay catechist.

In the meantime, some incidents occurred in the political field that had notable repercussions on the life of the Christian missions.

In June 1840 the Imperial Commissioner of Guangdong, rightly wishing to abolish the opium trade that was being conducted by the British, had more than 20,000 chests of this drug thrown into the sea. This had been the pretext for immediate war, which was won by the British. When the war came to an end, China had to sign in 1842 the first international treaty of modern times, followed quickly by others with America and France. Taking advantage of this opportunity, France replaced Portugal as the power protecting the missions. A twofold decree was subsequently issued: one part in 1844, which permitted the Chinese to follow the Catholic religion; the other in 1846, which abolished the old penalties against Catholics.

From then on the Church could live openly and carry out her missionary activity, developing it also in the sphere of higher education, in universities and scientific research.

With the multiplication of various top-level cultural institutes and thanks to their highly valued activity, ever deeper links were gradually established between the Church and China with its rich cultural traditions.

This collaboration with the Chinese authorities further increased the mutual appreciation and sharing of those true values that must underpin every civilized society.

And so passed an era of expansion in the Christian missions, with the exception of the period marked by the disaster stemming from the uprising of the "Society for Justice and Harmony" (commonly known as the "Boxers"). This occurred at the beginning of the 20th century and caused many Christians to shed their blood.

It is known that mingled in this rebellion were all the secret societies and the accumulated and repressed hatred against foreigners in the last decades of the 19th century, because of the political and social changes following the Opium War and the imposition of the so-called "unequal treaties" on the part of the Western powers.

Very different, however, was the motive for the persecution of the missionaries, even though they were of European nationality. Their slaughter was brought about solely on religions grounds. They were killed for the same reason as the Chinese faithful who had become Christians. Reliable historical documents provide evidence of the anti-Christian hatred which spurred the Boxers to massacre the missionaries and the local faithful who had adhered to their teaching. In this regard, an edict was issued on 1 July 1900 which, in substance, said that the time of good relations with European missionaries and their Christians was now past: that the former must be repatriated at once and the faithful forced to apostatize, on penalty of death.

As a result, several missionaries and many Chinese were martyred. They can be grouped together as follows:

a) Martyrs of Shanxi, killed on 9 July 1900, who were Friars Minor (Franciscans):

St Gregory Grassi, Bishop
St Francis Fogolla, Bishop
St Elias Facchini, priest
St Theodoric Balat, priest
St Andrew Bauer, religious brother;

b) Martyrs of Southern Hunan, who were also Franciscans:

St Anthony Fantosati, Bishop (martyred on 7 July 1900)
St Joseph Mary Gambaro, priest (martyred on 7 July 1900)
St Cesidio Giacomantonio, priest (martyred on 4 July 1900).

To the martyred Franciscans of the First Order were added seven Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, of whom three were French, two Italian, one Belgian and one Dutch:

St Mary Hermina of Jesus (in the world: Irma Grivot)
St Mary of Peace (in the world: Mary Ann Giuliani)
St Mary Clare (in the world: Clelia Nanetti)
St Mary of the Holy Birth (in the world: Joan Mary Kerguin)
St Mary of St Justus (in the world: Ann Moreau)
St Mary Adolphine (in the world: Ann Dierk)
St Mary Amandina (in the world: Paula Jeuris).

Of the martyrs belonging to the Franciscan family, there were also 11 Secular Franciscans, all Chinese;

St John Zhang Huan, seminarian
St Patrick Dong Bodi, seminarian
St John Wang Rui, seminarian
St Philip Zhang Zhihe, seminarian
St John Zhang Jingguang, seminarian
St Thomas Shen Jihe, layman and manservant.
St Simon Chen Ximan, lay catechist
St Peter Wu Anbang, layman
St Francis Zhang Rong, layman and farmer
St Matthew Feng De, layman and neophyte
St Peter Zhang Banniu, layman and labourer.

To these are joined a number of Chinese lay faithful:

St James Yan Guodong, farmer
St James Zhao Quanxin, manservant
St Peter Wang Erman, cook.

When the Boxer uprising, which had begun in Shandong and then spread through Shanxi and Hunan, . also reached south-eastern Tcheli, which was then the Apostolic Vicariate of Xianxian in the care of the Jesuits, the Christians killed could be counted in the thousands.

Among these were four French Jesuit missionaries and at least 52 Chinese lay Christians: men, women and children - the oldest of them being 79, while the youngest were aged only nine. All suffered martyrdom in July 1900. Many of them were killed in the village church of Tchou-Kia-ho, where they had taken refuge and were praying together with the first two of the missionaries listed below:

St Leo Ignatius Mangin, S.J., priest
St Paul Denn, S.J., priest
St Remy Isore, S.J., priest
St Modeste Andlauer, S.J., priest.

The names and ages of the Chinese lay Christians were as follows:

St Mary Zhu née Wu, aged about 50
St Peter Zhu Rixin, aged 19
St John Baptist Zhu Wurui, aged 17
St Mary Fu Guilin, aged 37
St Barbara Cui née Lian, aged 51
St Joseph Ma-Taishun, aged 60
St Lucy Wang Cheng, aged 18
St Mary Fan Kun, aged 16
St MaryChi Yu, aged 15
St Mary Zheng Xu, aged 11
St Mary Du née Zhao, aged 51
St Magdalene Du Fengju, aged 19
St Mary Du née Tian, aged 42
St Paul Wu Anju, aged 62
St John Baptist Wu Mantang, aged 17
St Paul Wu Wanshu, aged 16
St Raymond Li Quanzhen, aged 59
St Peter Li Quanhui, aged 63
St Peter Zhao Mingzhen, aged 61
St John Baptist Zhao Mingxi, aged 56
St Teresa Chen Jinjie, aged 25
St Rose Chen Anjie, aged 22
St Peter Wang Zuolung, aged 58
St Mary Quo née Li, aged 65
St John Wu Wenyin, aged 50
St Zhang Huailu, aged 57
St Mark Ji Tianxiang, aged 66
St Ann An née Xin, aged 72
St Mary An née Guo, aged 64
St Ann An née Jiao, aged 26
St Mary An Lirghua, aged 29
St Paul Liu Jinde, aged 79
St Joseph Wang Kuiju, aged 37
St John Wang Kuixin, aged 25
St Teresa Zhang née He, aged 36
St Lang nee Yang, aged 29
St Paul Lang Fu, aged 9
St Elizabeth Qin née Bian, aged 54
St Simon Qin Chunfu, aged 14
St Peter Liu Ziyn, aged 57
St Ann Wang, aged 14
St Joseph Wang Yumei, aged 68
St Lucy Wang née Wang, aged 31
St Andrew Wang Tianqing, aged 9
St Mary Wang née Li. aged 49
St Chi Zhuzi, aged 18
St Mary Zhao née Guo, aged 60
St Rose Zhao, aged 22
St Mary Zhao, aged 17
St Joseph Yuan Gengyin, aged 47
St Paul Ge Tingzhu, aged 61
St Rose Fan Hui, aged 45.

The fact that this considerable number of Chinese lay faithful offered their lives for Christ together with the missionaries who had proclaimed the Gospel to them and had been so devoted to them is evidence of the depth of the link that faith in Christ establishes. It gathers into a single family people of various races and cultures, strongly uniting them not for political motives but in virtue of a religion that preaches love, brotherhood, peace and justice.

Besides all those already mentioned who were killed by the Boxers, it is necessary also to remember:

St Alberic Crescitelli, a priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions of Milan, who carried out his ministry in southern Shanxi and was martyred on 21 July 1900.

Some years later, members of the Salesian Society of St John Bosco were added to the considerable number of martyrs recorded above:

St Louis Versiglia, Bishop
St Callistus Caravario, priest.

They were killed together on 25 February 1930 at Li-Thau-Tseul.

St. Katharine Drexel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, on 26 November 1858. She was the second daughter of Francis Anthony Drexel and Hannah Langstroth. Her father was a well-known banker and philanthropist.

When the family took a trip to the western United States, Katharine saw the plight and destitution of the Native Americans. This experience aroused her desire to do something specific to help alleviate their condition. This was the beginning of her lifelong personal and financial support of numerous missions and missionaries in the United States. The first school she established was St. Catherine Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico (1887).

Later, when visiting Pope Leo XIII in Rome and asking him for missionaries to staff some of the Indian missions that she as a lay person was financing, she was surprised to hear the Pope suggest that she become a missionary herself. After consultation with her spiritual director, Bishop James O'Connor, she made the decision to give herself totally to God, along with her inheritance, through service to Native Americans and African Americans.

Her wealth was now transformed into a poverty of spirit that became a daily constant in a life supported only by the bare necessities. On 12 February 1891 she professed her first vows as a religious, founding the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, whose dedication would be to share the message of the Gospel and the life of the Eucharist among Native Americans and African Americans.

Always a woman of intense prayer, Katharine found in the Eucharist the source of her love for the poor and oppressed and of her concern to reach out to combat the effects of racism. Knowing that many African Americans were far from free, still living in substandard conditions as sharecroppers or under-paid menials, denied the education and constitutional rights enjoyed by others, she felt a compassionate urgency to help change racial attitudes in the United States.

The plantation at that time was an entrenched social institution in which people of colour continued to be victims of oppression. This was a deep affront to Katharine's sense of justice. The need for quality education loomed before her, and she discussed this need with some who shared her concern about the inequality of education for African Americans in the cities. Restrictions of the law also prevented them from obtaining a basic education in the rural South.

Founding and staffing schools for both Native Americans and African Americans throughout the country became a priority for Katharine and her congregation. During her lifetime, she opened, staffed and directly supported nearly 60 schools and missions, especially in the West and South-West United States. Her crowning educational achievement was the establishment in 1925 of Xavier University of Louisiana, the only predominantly African American Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States. Religious education, social service, visiting in homes, hospitals and prisons were also included in the ministries of Katharine and her sisters.

In her quiet way, Katharine combined prayerful and total dependence on divine Providence with determined activism. Her joyous incisiveness, attuned to the Holy Spirit, penetrated obstacles and facilitated her advances for social justice. Through the prophetic witness of Katharine Drexel's initiative, the Church in the United States was able to become aware of the grave domestic need for an apostolate among Native Americans and African Americans. She did not hesitate to speak out against injustice, taking a public stance when racial discrimination was in evidence.

For the last 18 years of her life she was rendered almost completely immobile because of a serious illness. During these years she gave herself to a life of adoration and contemplation, as she had desired from early childhood. She died on 3 March 1955.

St. Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan in 1869. This African flower, who knew the anguish of kidnapping and slavery, bloomed marvellously in Italy, in response to God's grace, with the Daughters of Charity, where everyone still calls her "Mother Moretta" (our Black Mother).

Bakhita was not the name she received from her parents at birth. The fright and the terrible experiences she went through made her forget the name her parents gave her. Bakhita, which means "fortunate", was the name given to her by her kidnappers.

Sold and resold in the markets of El Obeid and Khartoum, she experienced the physical and moral humiliations and sufferings of slavery. In the Sudanese capital, Bakhita was bought by an Italian consul, Callisto Legnani. For the first time since the day she was kidnapped, she realized with pleasant surprise that no one used the lash when giving her orders; instead, she was treated with love and cordiality. In the consul's residence Bakhita experienced peace, warmth and moments of joy, even though veiled by nostalgia for her own family whom, perhaps, she had lost forever.

The political situation forced the consul to leave for Italy. Bakhita asked and obtained permission to go with him and a friend of his, a certain Mr Augusto Michieli. On their arrival in Genoa, Mr Legnani, at the request of Mr Michieli's wife, agreed to leave Bakhita with them. She followed the new "family", which settled in Zianigo, near Mirano Veneto,

When their daughter Mimmina was born, Bakhita became her babysitter and friend. The acquisition and management of a large hotel in Suakin on the Red Sea forced Mrs Michieli to move to Suakin to help her husband. Meanwhile, on the advice of their administrator, Mimmina and Bakhita were entrusted to the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of Catechumens in Venice.

It was there that Bakhita came to know about God, whom "she had experienced in her heart without knowing who he was" since she was a child. "Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself: Who could be the Master of these beautiful things? And I felt a great desire to see him, to know him and to pay him homage...".

After several months in the catechumenate, Bakhita received the sacraments of Christian initiation and was given a new name, Josephine. It was 9 January 1890. She did not know how to express her joy that day. Her big and expressive eyes sparkled, revealing deep emotions. From then on, she was often seen kissing the baptismal font and saying: "Here, I became a daughter of God!".

When Mrs Michieli returned from Africa to take back her daughter and Bakhita, the latter, with unusual firmness and courage, expressed her desire to remain with the Canossian Sisters and to serve that God who had shown her so many proofs of his love. The young African, who by then had come of age, enjoyed the freedom of choice which Italian law guaranteed.

Bakhita remained in the catechumenate where she experienced the call to be a religious and to give herself to the Lord in the Institute of St Magdalene of Canossa. On 8 December 1896 Josephine Bakhita was consecrated forever to God, whom she called by the sweet name of "the Master!". For the next 50 years this humble Daughter of Charity, a true witness to the love of God, lived in the Schio community, involved in various services: cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to the door.

When she was on duty at the door, she would gently lay her hands on the heads of the children who daily attended the Canossian schools and caress them. Her amiable voice, which had the inflection and rhythm of the music of her country, was pleasing to the little ones, comforting to the poor and suffering and encouraging to those who knocked at the institute's door.

Her humility, simplicity and constant smile won the hearts of all the citizens. Her sisters in the community esteemed her for her constantly sweet nature, exquisite goodness and deep desire to make the Lord known. "Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know him. What a great grace it is to know God!", she said.

As she grew older she experienced long, painful years of sickness. Mother Bakhita continued to witness to faith, goodness and Christian hope. To those who visited her and asked how she was, she would respond with a smile: "As the Master desires". During her agony, she relived the terrible days of her slavery and more than once begged the nurse who assisted her: "Please, loosen the chains ... they are heavy!".

It was Blessed Mary who freed her from all pain. Her last words were: "Our Lady! Our Lady!", and her final smile testified to her encounter with the Lord's Mother.

Mother Bakhita breathed her last on 8 February 1947 at the Canossian convent in Schio, surrounded by the sisters. A crowd quickly gathered at the convent to have a last look at their "Mother Moretta" and to ask for her protection from heaven. The fame of her sanctity has spread to all the continents and many receive graces through her intercession.

Josephine Bakhita was beatified on 17 May 1992.

ST. María Josefa of the Heart of Jesus, the eldest daughter of Bernabé Sancho and Petra de Guerra, was born in Vitoria, Spain, on 7 September 1842. She was baptized the following day and confirmed two years later, a common custom at the time. Her father died when she was seven. When she was 15 she was sent to Madrid to stay with relatives to complete her education. Returning home after three years, she expressed the wish to enter a monastery. She already showed signs of a strong devotion to the Eucharist and Our Lady, a remarkable sensitivity to the poor and the sick and an inclination for solitude.

It was some time before her vocation matured. In 1860 she was actually on the point of entering the contemplative Conceptionists of Aranjuez, but was prevented by a serious bout of typhus.

In the ensuing months she felt sure that the Lord was calling her to an active form of religious life, and so entered the Institute of the Servants of Mary, recently founded in Madrid by St Soledad Torres Acosta. However, as the time of her profession approached, she was beset with grave doubts. She unburdened herself to various confessors and their advice prompted her to feel that she was indeed mistaken.

Through her contact with Archbishop Claret and conversations with St Soledad Torres Acosta, she reached the decision to leave the Institute of the Servants of Mary and to found a new religious family whose exclusive aim would be the care of the sick in hospital and at home. She shared this same ideal with three other Servants of Mary, who, with permission from the Archbishop of Toledo, left the institute with her.

The new Institute of the Servants of Jesus of Charity was founded in Bilbao in 1871, and Mother María Josefa was superior for the next 41 years. She made grueling journeys to visit the communities, until a long illness confined her to the house in Bilbao. Obliged to stay in bed or seated, she then followed events in the various communities in Spain and abroad through an abundant and valuable correspondence. When she died after a long illness on 20 March 1912, there were 43 houses with more than 1,000 sisters.

Her holy death had a great impact on Bilbao and beyond. She was buried in the municipal cemetery of Bilbao, but by 1926 the fame of her holiness had spread, and her mortal remains were transferred to the motherhouse, where they are still preserved in the chapel.

The contemporary accounts of eyewitnesses record that St María Josefa had great love for the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart, adored the mystery of Redemption and shared intimately in the sufferings of the crucified Christ. She was totally dedicated to nursing the sick in a contemplative context.

The particular hallmark which Mother Josefa imprinted on the Institute of the Servants of Jesus reflects her inner experience as a soul consecrated to the charitable service of neighbour, especially the sick, with a contemplative approach. Her ideas are clearly expressed in the Directorio de Asistencias, which she herself wrote. She says that Servants of Jesus provide a far greater blessing for the sick than that of missionaries, who with their preaching call those who have strayed back to the path of life. In his article Beata María Josefa del Corázon de Jesús, Fr Pablo B. Aristegui cites her words: "Do not believe, sisters, that caring for the sick consists only in giving them medicine and food; there is another kind of care which you should never forget, that of the heart which seeks to adapt to the suffering person, going to meet his needs" (Mensajero, 1992, p. 97).

Since Mother María Josefa's death to this day, the Servants of Jesus have continued their service, generously giving themselves to the sick, like their foundress. Today, in addition to Spain, the 1,050 religious of the Institute of the Servants of Jesus are present in Italy, France, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Columbia, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay and the Philippines.

21 May 2000


In 1917 an anticlerical Constitution was promulgated in Mexico and signed by President Venustiano Carranza, initi­ating an era of religious persecution. Through the Mexican Bishops, the Church expressed her nonconformity with these laws, which elicited a strong negative reaction from the Government.

From 1926 on, a more ferocious reli­gious persecution began with the expul­sion of foreign priests and the closing of private schools and some charitable as­sociations. A group of lay people formed an organization called the “League for the Defence of Religious Freedom” and, without involving the hi­erarchy, took up arms in a guerrilla war known as the "Cristero Movement".

The lay people sought the support of their pastors, some of whom were hos­tile to the movement, but others provid­ed spiritual support for their flocks de­spite the dangers that they knew this involved.

During the years of this cruel perse­cution numerous priests and lay people gave their lives for the Catholic faith. Of these 25 were beatified on 22 November 1992: 22 priests and three young laymen who accompanied their pastors to their martyrdom. All were assassinated by the State authorities without any trial; almost all were tortured and executed in the same place where they had been arrested during the night, for fear of the violent reaction of the faithful.

Fr Cristóbal Magallanes Jara was born on 30 July 1869 in Totatiche, Jalisco. Saying: "I pray to God that my blood serves the unity of my Mexican brethren", he was shot on 25 May 1927.

Fr Agustín Caloca Cortés was born on 5 May 1898 in Teúl, Zacatecas. He suffered martyrdom on 25 May 1927.

Fr José Maria Robles Hurtado was born on 3 May 1888 in Mascota, Jalisco.

He was hanged from an oak tree on 26 June 1927.

Fr David Galván Bermúdez was born on 29 January 1881 in Guadalajara, Jalisco. After pointing to his chest to show the executioners where to shoot, he died on 30 January 1915.

Fr Justino Orona Madrigal was born on 14 April 1877 in Atoyac, Jalisco. Greeting his executioners with "Long live Christ the King!", he was killed by a shower of bullets on 1 July 1928.

Fr Atilano Cruz Alvarado was born on 5 October 1901 in Ahuetita de Abajo, Jalisco. He gave his life for Christ at the Las Cruces ranch on 1 July 1928.

Fr Román Adame Rosales was born on 27 February 1859 in Teocaltiche, Jalisco. He was shot on 21 April 1927.

Fr Julio Álvarez Mendoza was born on 20 December 1866 in Guadalajara, Jalisco. Saying softly: "My crime is being God's minister. I forgive you all", he was shot on a pile of garbage on 30 March 1927.

Fr Pedro Esqueda Ramírez was born on 29 April 1887 in San Juan de Los Lagos, Jalisco. He was shot on 22 November 1927.

Fr Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán was born on 13 March 1875 in Sayula, Jalisco. After responding three times to the question, "Who lives?", with the answer, "Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe!", he was hanged from a mango tree on 28 October 1927.

Fr Tranquilino Ubiarco Robles was born on 8 July 1899 in Zapotlán el Grande, Jalisco. He was hanged on 5 October 1928.

Fr Jenaro Sánchez Delgadillo was born on 19 September 1876 in Zapopan, Jalisco. Saying to his executioners: "I forgive you; may God my Father also forgive you, and may Christ the King live forever!", he was hanged on 17 January 1927 with such intensity that his head hit the branch of the tree.

Fr José Isabel Flores Varela was born on 20 November 1866 in Santa María de la Paz, Jalisco. He was beheaded on 21 June 1927.

Fr Sabás Reyes Salazar was born on 5 December 1883 in Cocula, Jalisco. After three days of torture he was shot on 13 April 1927, exclaiming: "Long live Christ the King!".

Fr Toribio Romo González was born on 16 April 1900 in Santa Ana de Guadalupe, Jalisco. He was shot on 25 February 1928.

Fr Luis Batis Sainz was born on 13 September 1870 in San Miguel Mezquital, Zacatecas. He was shot on 15 August 1926.

Manuel Morales was born on 8 February 1898 in Mesillas, Zacatecas. A faithful husband and the father of three children, he tried to intercede for the release of Fr Balls, but was killed as well on 15 August 1926.

Salvador Lara Puente was born on 13 August 1905 in Berlin, Durango. An active member of Catholic Action, he was executed with Fr Batis and Manuel Morales on 15 August 1926.

David Roldán Lara was born on 2 March 1902 in Chalchihuites, Zacatecas. Also an active member of Catholic Action, he was shot with his cousin Salvador on 15 August 1926.

Fr Mateo Correa Magallanes was born on 23 July 1866 in Tepechitlan, Zacatecas. When threatened with death if he would not reveal what he heard in confession, he said: "You can do it, but don't forget that a priest must keep the secret of confession. I am willing to die". He was shot on 6 February 1927.

Fr Pedro de Jesús Maldonado Lucero was born on 15 June 1892 in Chihuahua, Chihuahua. He died on 11 February 1937.

Fr Jesús Méndez Montoya was born on 10 June 1880 in Tarimbaro, Michoacán. He was shot on 5 February 1928.

Fr David Uribe Velasco was born on 29 December 1889 in Buenavista de Cuéllar, Guerrero. He was shot on 12 April 1927.

Fr Margarito Flores García was born on 22 February 1899 in Taxco, Guerrero. He was shot on 12 November 1927.

Fr Miguel de la Mora was born on 19 June 1878 in Tecalitlán, Jalisco. He was shot while praying the Rosary on 7 August 1927.

St. María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas de la Torre was born María Natividad Venegas de la Torre in Zaplotanejo, Jalisco, Mexico, on 8 September 1868. Her father, Doroteo Venegas Nuño, was a pious middle-class man married to María de la Torre Jiménez. María was the youngest of 12. Her deep religious piety was nourished by frequent Communion and visits to the Blessed Sacrament. She devoted herself to giving private religious instruction to her neighbours and to caring for the poor. At the age of 15 she entered the Daughters of Mary, a well-known association of Catholic youth.

In November 1905, longing to consecrate her life to God, she and other girls asked Fr Antonio González for spiritual direction. He suggested that she and three other Daughters of Mary make a retreat at San Sebastián Analco, Guadalajara. After the retreat, the call to religious life became clear and definite. Among the various possibilities, she preferred to join a community of pious women who since 1886 had run a little hospital for poor people. They had received official ecclesiastical approval and their own rule. The future Bishop of Colima, Fr Atenógenes Silva, had been their founder and was their spiritual director for many years. They had chosen the title of Daughters of the Sacred Heart, and Miss Aguirre Sofía (later Sr Doloritas) was their Superior.

The saint entered religious life on 8 December 1905. In 1910 she privately took the three vows and in 1912 was appointed vicar. In 1921 she was elected Superior. That same year Bishop Miguel de la Mora of Potosí invited the new Superior to write the Constitutions for a real religious community, as a step towards getting approval as a congregation. The saint was reluctant, citing her ignorance and incompetence in such matters. But in the end she accepted. From 1921 to 1924, with the help of Mons. Atenógenes Silva and other priests, she drew up new Constitutions with three chapters.

With alms and donations a residence was built for the sisters in 1922, since other young candidates were asking to join the new institute. Meanwhile the whole of Mexico was in utter confusion because of the religious persecution undertaken by the Government. They searched everywhere for priests, arrested Bishops and confiscated seminaries,

Catholic schools and ecclesiastical property. The saint, with courage and intelligence, succeeded in saving, even in strengthening, the institute. In 1930 Archbishop Francisco Orozco y Jiménez gave his approval to the Constitutions.

From 1921 until 1954, the saint was Superior General of the institute, giving witness to all by her good example. She tried to make her feelings those of the Heart of Jesus. She loved the Church and showed great respect and obedience to the Pope and Bishops. Priests were her favourites; she prayed for them and helped seminarians to the best of her ability. She took special care of the sisters in formation. She gave them the example of her deep love for the Lord, the poor and the sick, her special devotion to the Holy Eucharist, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, and the careful observance of the vows and the rule. By her humility she was an example of fidelity to the Gospel, to the Church and to one's vocation.
She spent the last days of her life in prayer and meditation, totally obedient to the new Superior. She died in the odour of sanctity on 30 July 1959.

ST. JOSÉ MARÍA DE YERMO Y PARRES was born in the Hacienda of Jalmolonga on 10 November 1851, the son of Manuel de Yermo y Soviñas and María Josefa Parres. At the age of 16 he left his family home to enter the Congregation of the Mission in Mexico City. After a strong vocational crisis he left this religious family, but was ordained for the Diocese of León on 24 August 1879.

His first years of priesthood were filled with activity and apostolic zeal. He was an eloquent orator, promoted the catechesis of youth and efficiently discharged important responsibilities in the diocesan curia, which he was forced to give up because of illness. The new Bishop entrusted him with the care of two small churches located on the outskirts of the city: El Calvario and Santo Niño. This appointment was a hard blow for the young priest. It hurt his pride, but he decided to follow Christ in obedience, silently suffering this humiliation.

One day he unexpectedly witnessed a horrible scene: some pigs were devouring two abandoned newborns. Shocked by that terrible sight, he felt called by God to start

a home for the poor and abandoned. After receiving the Bishop's authorization, he went to work and on 13 December 1885, accompanied by four brave young women, he founded the Sacred Heart Shelter on the summit of El Calvario. This is also the start of the new religious family of the "Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Poor".

It was the beginning of a long, constant ascent of self-giving to God in his brothers and sisters, marked by sacrifice and self-denial, joy and suffering, peace and disappointment, poverty and misery, honours and calumnies, friendships and betrayals, obedience and humiliation. His life was very afflicted, but the tribulations and difficulties could not dampen the ardent soul of an apostle of Gospel love. In his short life (1851-1904) he founded schools, hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages and a home for rehabilitating women. Shortly before his holy death on 20 September 1904 in Puebla de los Angeles, he took his religious family to the difficult mission among the Tarahumara Indians in northern Mexico. His fame of sanctity spread rapidly among the People of God, who asked for his intercession. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 6 May 1990.
30 April 2000

ST. MARY FAUSTINA KOWALSKA was born on 25 August 1905 in Głogowiec, Poland, to a poor, religious family of peasants, the third of 10 children. She was baptized with the name Helena in the parish church of Swinice Warckie. From a very tender age she stood out because of her love of prayer, work, obedience and her sensitivity to the poor. At the age of nine she made her First Holy Communion and attended school for three years. At the age of 16 she left home and went to work as a housekeeper in Aleksandrów, Lódz and Ostrówek in order to support herself and to help her parents.

At the age of seven she had already felt the first stirrings of a religious vocation. After finishing school, she wanted to enter the convent but her parents would not give her permission. Called during a vision of the suffering Christ, on 1 August 1925 she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and took the name Sr Mary Faustina. She lived in the congregation for 13 years, residing in Kraków, Płock and Vilnius, where she worked as a cook, gardener and porter.

Externally, nothing revealed her rich mystical interior life. She zealously performed her tasks and faithfully observed the rule of religious life. She was recollected, yet very natural, serene and full of kindness and disinterested love for her neighbour. Although her life was apparently insignificant and monotonous, she hid within herself an extraordinary union with God.

It is the mystery of God's mercy, which she contemplated in the word of God as well as in her everyday activities, that forms the basis of her spirituality. The process of contemplating and getting to know the mystery of God's mercy helped to develop within Sr Mary Faustina the attitude of childlike trust in God and of mercy towards her neighbour. "O my Jesus, each of your saints reflects one of your virtues; I desire to reflect your compassionate heart, full of mercy; I want to glorify it. Let your mercy, O Jesus, be impressed upon my heart and soul like a seal, and this will be my badge in this and the future life" (Diary 1242). Sr Faustina was a faithful daughter of the Church. Conscious of her role in the Church, she cooperated with God's mercy in the task of saving lost souls. At the specific request of the Lord Jesus and following his example, she made a sacrifice of her own life for this very goal. Her spiritual life was also distinguished by a love of the Eucharist and a deep devotion to the Mother of Mercy.

The years she spent in the convent were filled with extraordinary gifts, such as revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, bilocation, the reading of human souls, prophecy and the rare gift of mystical espousal and marriage. Her living relationship with God, the Blessed Mother, the angels, the saints, the souls in purgatory — with the entire supernatural world — was as real for her as the world she perceived with the senses. In spite of being so richly endowed with extraordinary graces, Sr Mary Faustina knew that they do not in fact constitute sanctity. In her Diary she wrote: "Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God" (Diary 1107).

The Lord Jesus chose Sr Mary Faustina as the apostle and "secretary" of his mercy, so that she could tell the world about his great message. "In the Old Covenant", he said to her, "I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to my people. Today I am sending you with my mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my merciful Heart" (Diary 1588).

The mission of Sr Mary Faustina consists in three tasks:

— reminding the world of the truth of our faith revealed in the Holy Scripture about the merciful love of God towards every human being;

— entreating God's mercy for the whole world and particularly for sinners, among others through the practice of new forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy presented by the Lord Jesus, such as: the veneration of the image of the Divine Mercy with the inscription: "Jesus, I trust in you"; the feast of the Divine Mercy celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter; chaplet to the Divine Mercy and prayer at the Hour of Mercy (3 p.m.). The Lord Jesus attached great promises to the above forms of devotion, provided one entrusted one's life to God and practised active love of neighbour;

— initiating the apostolic movement of the Divine Mercy, whose task is to proclaim and entreat God's mercy for the world and to strive for Christian perfection, following the precepts laid down by Sr Mary Faustina. The precepts in question require the faithful to have an attitude of childlike trust in God, expressed in fulfilling his will, and an attitude of mercy toward one's neighbour. Today millions of people throughout the world are involved in this Church movement: it includes religious congregations, lay institutes, religious, confraternities, associations, various communities of apostles of the Divine Mercy, as well as individuals who take up the tasks which the Lord Jesus communicated to them through Sr Mary Faustina.

Sr Mary Faustina's mission was recorded in her Diary, which she kept at the specific request of the Lord Jesus and her confessors. In it she faithfully wrote down all of the Lord's wishes and described the encounters between her soul and him. "Secretary of my most profound mystery", the Lord said to Sr Faustina, "know that your task is to write down everything that I make known to you about my mercy, for the benefit of those who by reading these things will be comforted in their souls and will have the courage to approach me" (Diary 1693). Sr Mary Faustina's work sheds light on the mystery of the Divine Mercy. It delights not only simple, uneducated people, but also scholars, who look upon it as an additional source of theological research.

Sr Mary Faustina, consumed by tuberculosis and innumerable sufferings, which she accepted as a voluntary sacrifice for sinners, died in Kraków at the age of 33 on 5 October 1938, with a reputation for spiritual maturity and a mystical union with God. Her reputation for holiness grew, as did the devotion to the Divine Mercy and the graces received from God through her intercession. Pope John Paul II beatified Sr Faustina on 18 April 1993. Her mortal remains rest at the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Kraków-łagiewniki.

21 November 1999

ST CIRILO BERTRAN (Jose Sanz Tejedor), born in Lerma (Burgos) on 20 March 1888;

ST. MARCIANO JOSE (Filomeno Lopez Lopez), born in El Pedregal (Guadalajara) on 17 November 1900;

ST. VICTORIANO PIO (Claudio Bernabe Cano), born in San Millan de Lara (Burgos) on 7 July 1905;

ST. JULIAN ALFREDO (Vilfrido Fernandez Zapico), born in Cifuentes de Rueda (Leon) on 24 December 1903;

ST. BENJAMIN JULIAN (Vicente Alonso Andres), born in Jaramillo de la Fuente (Burgos) on 7 October 1908;

ST. BENITO DE JESUS (Hector Valdivielso Saez), born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 31 October 1910;

ST. ANICETO ADOLFO (Manuel Seco Gutierrez), born in Celada Marlantes (Santander) on 4 October 1912;

ST. AUGUSTO ANDRES (Roman Martinez Fernandez), born in Santander on 6 May 1910; and

ST. INOCENCIO DO LA INMACULADA (Manuel Canoura Arnau), a Passionist priest, born in S. Cecilia del Valle de Oro (Galicia), on 10 March 1887.

The martyrs canonized on 21 November were nine Brothers of the Christian Schools and a Passionist priest. Eight of these brothers formed a community that ran a school in Turon, in the mining valley of Asturias in north-eastern Spain; they were martyred in 1934. The ninth brother was from Catalonia and was martyred in 1937 near Tarragona. The Passionist priest had come to the school in Turon, to hear the children's confessions. The Church honours them because they remained faithful to their consecration, even to the point of giving their lives for the faith and their evangelizing mission. For the most part they were young religious: four were under 26 and the eldest was barely 46.

The martyrdom of the nine religious of Turon, did not happen unexpectedly. Freemasons and communists wanted to seize power in Spain at all costs and destroy the religious traditions of the country. They fostered a hate campaign against the Church, aimed particularly at priests and religious, resulting in ferocious massacres.

Asturias was a mining region with many immigrants leading a hard life, uprooted from their familiar surroundings and traditions. The campaign against the middle class and the Church found a sympathetic audience. At dawn on 5 October 1934, a group of rebels forced their way into the brothers' school in Turon, The brothers and the Passionist priest were imprisoned in the "People's House", while awaiting a decision from the Revolutionary Committee. Under pressure from extremists, the. Committee, decided to condemn them to death: the religious had a notable influence in the country because a great many people sent their children to the brothers' school.

In the early hours of 9 October the little group was taken to the cemetery, where a large grave was already prepared: the condemned persons were lined up in front of it. Two rifle salvos ended their earthly life. Their serenity in facing death made an impression on their executioners, which some of them acknowledged afterwards.

ST. JAIME HILARIO BARBAL (Manuel Barbal Cosan) was born in Enviny (Lerida) on 2 January 1889. A hearing problem prevented him from becoming a priest, so he sought admission to the Brothers of the Christian Schools. He began his apostolate in 1918; despite difficulties he proved a good teacher, but as his illness advanced he had to be content with working in the garden. After working in France for a while, he returned to Spain and devoted himself to manual labour and to fostering vocations. He was arrested at Mollerusa in December 1936 and interned on the prison ship Mahon.

A show trial condemned him to death and he was shot on 16 January 1937. The squad was three metres away, but at the first salvo no bullet hit him. After the second salvo the brother was still standing. The terrified militiamen dispersed, while their leader, blaspheming, discharged his pistol at the brother's temple. His dying words were: "My friends, to die for Christ is to reign!".

ST. THOMAS OF CORI St Thomas of Cori was born at Cori (Latina), Italy, on 4 June 1655. Having lost both parents by the age of 14, he was left alone to look after his younger sister. While shepherding sheep, he learned wisdom from the simplest things. Once his sisters were married, he decided to join the Franciscans. He made his novitiate in Orvieto and, after professing his vows and completing his theological studies, he was ordained a priest in 1683. He was immediately appointed assistant novice master at Holy Trinity Friary in Orvieto.

After a short time Fr Thomas heard of the hermitages that were beginning to bloom in the order and the intention of the superiors of the Roman Province to establish one at the friary in Civitella (today Bellegra). His request was accepted, and the young friar thus knocked at the door of the poor friary in 1684, saying: "I am Fr Thomas of Cori, and I have come here to become holy!". He was anxious to live the Gospel radically in the spirit of St Francis.

From then on, Fr Thomas lived at Bellegra until death, with the exception of six years in which he was guardian of the friary in Palombara, where he established a hermitage modeled on the one in Bellegra. He wrote the Rule first for one and then for the other, observing it scrupulously and strengthening by word and example the new institution of the two hermitages.

St Thomas of Cori was not so much a man who prayed as a man who became prayer. This dimension animated the entire life of the hermitage founder. The most obvious aspect of his spiritual life was the centrality of the Eucharist, seen in his intense celebration of Mass and in his silent adoration during the long nights after the Divine Office had been celebrated at midnight. His life of prayer was marked by persistent aridity. The total absence of sensible consolation in prayer lasted for a good 40 years, but he was always serene and absolute in living the primacy of God.

St Thomas did not close himself up in the hermitage, forgetting the good of his brothers and sisters or the heart of the Franciscan vocation, which is apostolic. He was deservedly called the Apostle of Sublacense (the Subiaco region): he traversed the area, tirelessly preaching the Gospel, administering the sacraments and working miracles, a sign of the presence of the kingdom. His preaching was clear and simple, convincing and strong. He lived the Franciscan vocation in lowliness and a concrete option for the poorest.

St Thomas of Cori was a very gentle father to his brothers. To those who resisted his will to live the Franciscan ideal radically, he responded with patience and humility. He had understood well that all true reform begins with oneself.

Rich in merits, he fell asleep in the Lord on 11 January 1729.

ST. BENEDICT MENNI Angelo Ercole was born in Milan, Italy, on 11 March 1841 and baptized the same day. He was the fifth of 15 children born to Luigi Menni and Luisa Figini. His warm and hospitable home gave him the support and stimulus he needed to develop his intellectual abilities and personality.

God's call came early, on: faithful to his conscience, he gave up a good position in a bank and volunteered as a stretcher-bearer for the soldiers wounded on the battlefield at Magenta.

Attracted by the spirit of dedication and self-denial which he discovered in the Brothers of St John of God, at the age of 19 he sought entry into the Hospitaller Order, taking the name Benedict and consecrating himself to God and to the care of the sick.

At that time Spain, the cradle of the Hospitaller Order, was embroiled in political strife and St John of God's work was practically dead. It needed new fervour, and so Benedict Menni was sent there in 1867. There he performed his two great works: he restored the Order of St John of God and founded the Congregation of the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Only a few months after his arrival in Spain he set up his first children's hospital in Barcelona (1867), marking the beginning of his extraordinary work of restoration, which he was to carry through over the next 36 years. From the start, thanks to his commitment to his vocation, numerous generous followers joined him, and it was through them that he was able to guarantee continuity to his new Hospitaller institutions in Spain, Portugal and Mexico

When he arrived in Granada (1878), Benedict Menni came in contact with two young women, Maria Josefa Recio and Maria Angustias Gimenez, who set up a new women's hospital specifically for psychiatric care in 1881. It was at Ciempozuelos, Madrid, that the motherhouse of the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was founded. Six words summarize their identity in the Hospitaller service: "pray, work, endure, suffer, love for God and silence".

The new institution soon spread to Europe and Latin America, and later to Africa and Asia. At the present time the sisters are present in 24 countries, with over 100 Hospitaller centres.

Benedict Menni's work spread to the whole order when he was appointed Apostolic Visitor (1909-11) and later Prior General (1911), which he had to resign one year later for reasons of health and as a result of misunderstandings. He spent the last two years of his life in humility and purification, and died a holy death at Dinan, France, on 24 April 1914.

His mortal remains are venerated under the high altar in the Founders' Chapel at the Hospitaller Sisters' motherhouse. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 23 June 1985.

16 June 1999

ST. KINGA On Wednesday morning, 16 June, Pope John Paul II traveled from Krakow to Stary Sacz for the canonization of Bl. Kinga, daughter of the King of Hungary and Princess of little Poland. Known for her generosity to the poor, she founded the Poor Clare monastery in Stary Sacz.

18 April 1999
ST. MARCELLIN JOSEPH BENOIT CHAMPAGNAT was born on 20 May 1789 in Marlhes, France. He was the ninth child of a very Christian family, from whom he received his basic education. When he was 14, a priest passing through the village helped him to see that God was calling him to the priesthood. Marcellin, whose formal schooling was practically non-existent, began to study because "God wills it!". The difficult years he spent in the minor seminary in Verrieres were a time of real human and spiritual growth.

Among his companions in the major seminary of Lyons were Jean-Marie Vianney, the future cure of Ars, and Jean-Claude Colin, who was to become the founder of the Marist Fathers. He joined a group of seminarians whose goal was to found a congregation bearing Mary's name for the re-Christianization of society. Deeply aware of the cultural and spiritual poverty of the children of the countryside, Marcellin felt a strong urge to include a branch of brothers for the Christian education of young people. The day after their ordination on 22 July 1816, these priests consecrated themselves to Mary and put their project under her protection.

Marcellin was sent as curate to the parish of La Valla. His simple direct style of preaching, his deep devotion to Mary and his apostolic zeal made a profound impression on his parishioners.

On 2 January 1817 Marcellin brought together his first two disciples; the congregation of the Little Brothers of Mary, or Marist Brothers, was born in poverty, humility and total trust in God under Mary's protection. While still carrying on his parish ministry, he went to live with his brothers, whom he trained and prepared for their mission as Christian teachers, catechists and educators of young people. Marcellin turned these uncultured country lads into generous apostles.

He lost no time in opening schools. Vocations arrived and the first little house, even though enlarged by Marcellin himself, was soon too small. There were many difficulties. The clergy in general did not understand what this inexperienced young priest with no material resources was trying to accomplish. However, the nearby villages continually requested brothers to see to the Christian education of their children.

Freed from his parish duties in 1825, he devoted himself totally to his congregation: the spiritual, pedagogical and apostolic formation and guidance of his brothers, visits to the schools and the opening of new ones.

"To make Jesus Christ known and loved" is the brothers' mission. Marcellin taught his disciples to love and respect children, and to give special attention to the poor, the most ungrateful and the most neglected, especially orphans. In 1836 the Church recognized the Society of Mary and entrusted it with the missions of Oceania. Marcellin took his vows as a member of the Society of Mary, and sent three brothers with the first missionary Marist Fathers to the islands of the Pacific.

A lengthy illness steadily took its toll on his robust constitution. Worn out by his labours, he died at the age of 51 on 6 June 1840.

ST. GIOVANNI CALABRIA was born on 8 October 1873 in Verona, Italy. He was the seventh child of a cobbler and a maid. Poverty was his companion from birth. After his father's death, he had to interrupt his fourth year of elementary school to find a job. The rector of San Lorenzo, Fr Pietro Scapini, noticing the virtues of this boy, prepared him privately for the admission examination into the seminary. Having passed his exams, he was admitted to the school but his studies were interrupted by two years of military service.

Having terminated his military service, he resumed his studies. One very cold night in 1897, as he was returning home from a visit. to the sick, he found a boy crouching on the doorstep of his house; he had run away from the Gypsies. Fr Calabria picked him up, took him in, kept him in his house and shared his room with him. It was the beginning of his work for orphaned and abandoned boys.

A few months later he founded the Pious Union for Assistance to the Sick". These were only the beginnings of a life marked by charity. "Every instant of his life was a personification of St Paul's marvellous hymn on charity", wrote a Jewish woman doctor in her Lettera Postulatoria to Paul VI about Fr Calabria. She had been in hiding from Nazi-Fascist persecution in one of his religious institutes.

After being ordained a priest on 11 August 1901, he was appointed confessor of the seminary and curate of St Stephen's Church. He devoted himself to hearing confessions and to charitable works, helping the poor and marginalized.

In 1907 he was appointed vicar of St Benedict "al Monte". On 26 November 1907 he founded the "Casa Buoni Fanciulli". The following year it moved definitively to Via San Zeno in Monte, today their motherhouse.

The Lord also sent him lay people wishing to offer their lives to the Lord. With this handful of men totally given to God in the service of the poor, he revived the apostolic spirit of the Church in Verona. This nucleus of men was the foundation of the Congregation of the Poor Servants of Divine Providence, approved by the Bishop of Verona on 11 February 1932 and receiving pontifical approval on 25 April 1949.

Immediately after the diocesan approval, the Congregation spread to various parts of Italy—serving the poor, the abandoned and the marginalized. It also extended its works to the elderly and to the sick. In 1910 he founded the female branch, which later became a congregation of diocesan right on 25 March 1952 with the name of Poor Sister Servants of Divine Providence; on 25 December 1981 it obtained pontifical approval.

He became a prophetic voice. Bishops, priests, religious and the laity found in him a sure guide for themselves and their projects. He understood that even the laity could be involved in this radical spiritual renewal and in 1944 founded the "Family of Extern Brothers", made up solely of laymen.

On the eve of his death he made his last act of charity, offering his life to God for the dying Pope Pius XII. The Lord accepted this offer, for while he was dying, the Pope mysteriously and unexpectedly recovered and lived for another four years. Fr Calabria died on 4 December 1954.

ST. AGOSTINA LIVIA PIETRANTONI was born on 27 March 1864 and baptized with the name of Livia at Pozzaglia Sabina in the area bordered geographically by Rieti, Orvinio and Tivoli, Italy. She was the second of 11 children born to farmers. Livia's childhood was imbued with the values of an honest, hardworking and religious family.

She worked in the fields and looked after the animals, thus attending school very irregularly. At the age of seven she went to work with other children, transporting sacks of stones and sand for construction of the road from Orvinio to Poggio Moiano. At 12 she left with other young "seasonal workers" who went to Tivoli during the winter months for the olive harvest. Precociously wise, Livia took moral and religious responsibility for her young companions.

An attractive young woman, Livia nevertheless chose Christ as her Spouse. To those who tried to dissuade her by saying she was running away from hard work, she replied: "I wish to choose a congregation in which there is work both day and night". After an initial disappointment, the Superior General of the Sisters of Charity of St Joan Antida Thouret let her know that she was expected at their generalate.

Livia was 22 when she arrived in Rome at Via S. Maria in Cosmedin. A few months as a postulant and novice were enough to prove that the young girl had the makings of a Sister of Charity, that is, of a "servant of the poor" in -the tradition of St Vincent de Paul and St Joan Antida. On receiving the habit she was given the name of Agostina.

Sr Agostina was sent to Santo Spirito Hospital, where 700 years of glorious history had led it to be called "the school of Christian charity". Following the saints who had preceded her, including Charles Borromeo, Joseph Calasanctius, John Bosco and Camillus de Lellis, Sr Agostina made her personal contribution and In this place of suffering gave expression to heroic charity.

The atmosphere in the hospital was hostile to religion. The Capuchin Friars were expelled, the crucifix and all the other religious signs were forbidden. The hospital even wanted to send the sisters away but was afraid of becoming unpopular. Instead, their lives were made "impossible" and they were forbidden to speak of God.

But first in the children’s' ward and later in the tuberculosis ward, a place of despair and death, where she caught the mortal contagion of which she was miraculously healed, Sr Agostina showed an extraordinary dedication and concern for each sick person, even the most violent, like Giuseppe Romanelli.

How many times she offered Romanelli to Our Lady! He was the worst of them all, the most vulgar and insolent, especially towards Sr Agostina, who was more and more attentive towards him and welcomed his blind mother with great kindness when she came to visit. When, after the umpteenth provocation at the expense of the women working in the laundry, the director expelled him from the hospital, he sought a target for his fury and poor Agostina was the victim. "I will kill you with my own hands. Sr Agostina, you only have a month to live!", were the threats he sent to her in little notes.

Romanelli was not joking, but Sr Agostina was prepared to pay the price for love with her own life. When Romanelli caught her unawares on 13 November 1894 and cruelly stabbed her before she could escape, her lips uttered nothing but invocations to the Virgin Mary and words of forgiveness.

11 October 1998

ST. TERESA BENEDICTA of the CROSS, Edith Stein, was born in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), on 12 October 1891, the youngest of 11, as her family was celebrating Yom Kippur, that most important Jewish festival, the Day of Atonement. "More than anything else, this helped make the youngest child very precious to her mother". Being born on this day was like a fore-shadowing to Edith, a future Carmelite nun.

Edith's father, who ran a timber business, died when she had just turned two. Her mother, a very devout, hard-working and strong-willed woman, now had to look after the family and their large business. However, she did not succeed in keeping up a living faith in her children. Edith lost her faith in God. "I consciously decided, of my own volition, to give up praying", she said.

In 1911 she enrolled at the University of Breslau to study German and history, but her real interest was philosophy and women's issues. She became a member of the Prussian Society for Women's Suffrage. "When I was at school and during my first year at university", she wrote later, "I was a radical suffragette. Then I lost interest in the whole issue. Now I am looking for purely pragmatic solutions".

In 1913 Edith Stein transferred to Gottingen University, to study under Edmund Husserl. She became his pupil and teaching assistant, and he later tutored her for a doctorate. At the time, anyone who was interested in philosophy was fascinated by Husserl's new view of reality. His pupils saw his philosophy as a return to objects: "back to things". Husserl's phenomenology unintentionally led many of his pupils to the Christian faith. In Gottingen Edith Stein also met the philosopher Max Scheler, who turned her attention to Roman Catholicism. Nevertheless, she did not neglect her studies and took her degree with distinction in January 1915.

"I no longer have a life of my own", she wrote at the beginning of the First World War, having taken a nursing course and gone to serve in an Austrian field hospital. This was a hard time for her, as she looked after the sick in the typhus ward, worked in an operating theatre and saw young people die. When the hospital was closed in 1916, she followed Husserl as his assistant to Freiburg, Germany. where she received her doctorate summa cum laude in 1917, after writing a thesis on "The Problem of Empathy".

Her first encounter with the Cross and its power

During this period she went to Frankfurt cathedral and saw a woman with a shopping basket going in to kneel for a brief prayer. "This was something totally new to me. In the synagogues and Protestant churches I had visited people simply went to the services. Here, however, I saw someone coming straight from the busy marketplace into this empty church, as if she was going to have an intimate conversation. It was

something I never forgot". Towards the end of her dissertation she wrote: "There have been people who believed that a sudden change had occurred within them and that this was a result of God's grace". How could she come to such a conclusion?

Edith Stein had been a friend of Husserl's Gottingen assistant, Adolf Reinach, and his wife. When Reinach died in Flanders in November 1917 Edith went to Gottingen to visit his widow. The Reinachs had converted to Protestantism. Edith felt uneasy about meeting the young widow at first, but was surprised when she actually met a woman of faith. "This was my first encounter with the Cross and the divine power it imparts to those who bear it ... it was the moment when my unbelief collapsed and Christ began to shine his light on me - Christ in the mystery of the Cross". Later, she wrote: "Things were in God's plan which I had not planned at all. I am coming to the living faith and conviction that - from God's point of view - there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God's divine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God's all-seeing eyes".

In autumn 1918 Edith Stein left her job as Husserl's teaching assistant. She wanted to work independently. It was not until 1930 that she saw Husserl again after her conversion, and she talked with him about her faith, as she would have liked him to become a Christian too. Then she wrote down the amazing words: "Every time I feel my powerlessness and inability to influence people directly, I become more keenly aware of the necessity of my own holocaust".

Edith Stein wanted to obtain a professorship, a goal that was impossible for women at the time. Husserl wrote the following reference: "Should academic careers be opened up to women, I can recommend her wholeheartedly", Later, she was refused a professorship on account of being Jewish.

Baptized on the feast of the Circumcision

Back in Breslau, Edith Stein began to write articles about the philosophical foundation of psychology. However, she also read the New Testament, Kierkegaard and Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises. She felt that one could not just read a book like that, but had to put it into practice.

In the summer of 1921 she spent several weeks in Bergzabern at the country estate of Hedwig Conrad-Martius, another of Husserl's students. Hedwig had converted to Protestantism with her husband. One evening Edith picked up an autobiography of St Teresa of Avila and read this book all night. "When I had finished the book, I said to myself: this is the truth". Later, looking back on her life, she wrote: "My longing for truth was a single prayer".

On 1 January 1922 Edith Stein was baptized. It was the feast of the Circumcision of Jesus, when Jesus entered into the covenant of Abraham. Edith Stein stood at the baptismal font, wearing Hedwig Conrad-Martius' white wedding cloak. Hedwig was her godmother. "I had given up practising my Jewish religion when I was a 14-year-old girl and did not begin to feel Jewish again until I had returned to God". From this moment on she was continually aware that she belonged to Christ not only spiritually, but also through blood. On the feast of the Purification of Mary another day with an Old Testament connection - she was confirmed by the Bishop of Speyer in his private chapel.

After her conversion she went straight to Breslau: "Mother", she said, "I am a Catholic". The two women wept. Hedwig Conrad-Martius wrote: "Behold, two Israelites in whom there is no guile!" (cf. Jn 1:47).

Immediately after her conversion she wanted to join a Carmelite convent. However, her spiritual mentors, Vicar General Schwind of Speyer and Erich Przywara, S.J., stopped her from doing so. Until Easter of 1931 she taught German and history at the Dominican Sisters' school and teacher-training college at St Magdalen's Convent in Speyer. At the same time she was encouraged by Archabbot Raphael Walzer of Beuron Abbey to accept extensive speaking engagements, mainly on women's issues. "During the time immediately before and quite some time after my conversion I ... thought that leading a religious life meant giving up all earthly things and having one's mind fixed on divine things only. Gradually, however, I learnt that other things are expected of us in this world ... I even believe that the deeper someone is drawn to God, the more he has to 'go beyond himself' in this sense, that is, go into the world and carry divine life into it".

She translated the letters and dairies of Cardinal Newman from his pre-Catholic period as well as Thomas Aquinas' Quaestiones Disputatae de Veritate. The latter was a very free translation, for the sake of dialogue with modern philosophy. Erich Przywara also encouraged her to write her own philosophical works. She learnt that it was possible to "pursue scholarship as a service to God". To gain strength for her life and work, she frequently went to the Benedictine monastery of Beuron to celebrate the great feasts of the Church year.

In 1931 Edith Stein left the convent school in Speyer and devoted herself to working for a professorship again, this time in Breslau and Freiburg, though her endeavours were in vain. It was then that she wrote Potency and Act, a study of the central concepts developed by Thomas Aquinas. Later, at the Carmelite convent in Cologne she rewrote this study to produce her main philosophical and theological study, Finite and Eternal Being. But by then it was no longer possible to print the texts.

She successfully combined faith and scholarship

In 1932 she accepted a teaching post in the Roman Catholic division of the German Institute for Educational Studies at the University of Munster, where she developed her anthropology. She successfully combined scholarship and faith in her work and teaching, seeking to be a "tool of the Lord" in everything she taught. "If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to him".

In 1933 darkness broke out over Germany. "I had heard of severe measures against Jews before, but now it dawned on me that God had laid his hand heavily on his people, and that the destiny of these people would also be mine". The Nazis' Aryan Law made it impossible for Edith Stein to continue teaching. "If I cannot go on here, then there are no longer any opportunities for me in Germany", she wrote. "I had become a stranger in the world".

Archabbot Walzer of Beuron now no longer stopped her from entering Carmel. While in Speyer, she had already taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. In 1933 she met the Prioress of the Carmelite convent in Cologne. "Human activity cannot help us, but only the suffering of Christ. It is my desire to share in it".

Edith Stein went to Breslau for the last time, to say goodbye to her mother and her family. Her last day at home was her birthday, 12 October, which was also the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Edith went to the synagogue with her mother. It was a hard day for the two women. "Why did you become acquainted with 'it [Christianity]?", her mother asked. "I don't want to say anything against him. He may have been a very good person. But why did he make himself God?". Edith's mother cried. The following day Edith was on the train to Cologne. "I did not feel any passionate joy. What I had just experienced was too terrible. But I felt a profound peace - in the safe haven of God's will". From now on she wrote to her mother every week, though she never received any replies. Instead, her sister Rosa sent her news from Breslau.

'A very poor and powerless little Esther'

Edith Stein entered the Carmelite convent of Cologne on 14 October and was clothed in the habit on 15 April 1934. The Mass was celebrated by the Archabbot of Beuron. Edith Stein was now known as Sr Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. In 1938 she wrote: "I understood the Cross as the destiny of God's People, which was beginning to be apparent at the time (1933). I felt that those who understood the Cross of Christ should take it upon themselves on everybody's behalf. Of course, I know better now what it means to be wedded to the Lord under the sign of the Cross. However, one can never comprehend it, because it is a mystery". On 21 April 1935 she took her temporary vows. On 14 September 1936 the renewal of her vows coincided with her mother's death in Breslau. "My mother held on to her faith to the last moment. But as her faith and her firm trust in her God ... were the last thing that was still alive in the throes of her death, I am confident that she will have met a very merciful judge and that she is now my most faithful helper, so that I can reach the goal as well".

When she took her perpetual vows on 21 April 1938, she had the words of St John of the Cross printed on her devotional picture: "Henceforth my only vocation is to love". Her final work would be devoted to this author.

Edith Stein's entry into the Carmelite Order was not escapism. "Those who join the Carmelite Order are not lost to their near and dear ones, but have been won for them, because it is our vocation to intercede with God for everyone". In particular, she interceded with God for her people: "I keep thinking of Queen Esther who was taken away from her people precisely because God wanted her to plead with the king on behalf of her nation. I am a very poor and powerless little Esther, but the King who has chosen me is infinitely great and merciful. This is a great comfort" (31 October 1938).

On 9 November 1938 the anti-Semitism of the Nazis became apparent to the whole world. Synagogues were burnt and the Jewish people were terrorized. The Prioress of the Cologne Carmel did her utmost to take Sr Teresa Benedicta of the Cross abroad. On New Year's Eve 1938 she was smuggled across the border into the Netherlands, to the Carmelite convent in Echt. This is where she wrote her will on 9 June 1939: "Even now I accept the death that God has prepared for me in complete submission and with joy as being his most holy will for me. I ask the Lord to accept my life and my death ... so that the Lord will be accepted by his people and that his kingdom may come in glory, for the salvation of Germany and the peace of the world".

In Echt, Edith Stein hurriedly completed her study of "The Church's Teacher of Mysticism and the Father of the Carmelites, John of the Gross, on the Occasion of the 400th Anniversary of His Birth, 1542-1942". In 1941 she wrote to a friend, who was also a member of her order: "One can only gain a scientia crucis (knowledge of the cross) if one has thoroughly experienced the cross. I have been convinced of this from the first moment onwards and have said with all my heart: 'Ave, Crux, Spes unica' (I welcome you, Cross, our only hope)". Her study on St John of the Cross is entitled: Kreuzeswissenschaft "The Science of the Cross".

Edith Stein was arrested by the Gestapo on 2 August 1942, while she was in the chapel with the other sisters. She was to report within five minutes, together with her sister Rosa, who had also converted and was serving at the Echt convent. Her last words to be heard in Echt were addressed to Rosa: "Come, we are going for our people".

Together with many other Jewish Christians, the two women were taken to a transit camp in Amersfoort and then to Westerbork. This was an act of retaliation against the protest letter written by the Dutch Catholic Bishops against the pogroms and deportations of Jews. Edith commented: "I never knew that people could be like this, neither did I know that my brothers and sisters would have to suffer like this.... I pray for them every hour. Will God hear my prayers? He will certainly hear them in their distress". Prof. Jan Nota, who was greatly attached to her, wrote later: "She is a witness to God's presence in a world where God is absent".

On 7 August, early in the morning, 987 Jews were deported to Auschwitz. It was probably on 9 August that Sr Teresa Benedicta of the Gross, her sister and many others of her people were gassed.

When Edith Stein was beatified in Cologne on 1 May 1987, the Church honoured "a daughter of Israel", as Pope John Paul II put it, "who during the Nazi persecution remained united, as a Catholic, in fidelity and love to the crucified Lord Jesus Christ, and, as a Jew, to her people.

10 June 1997

ST. JOHN OF DUKLA (1414-1484) was born to middle-class family of Dukla, a small town in Galicia. As a young man he lived as a hermit in his native town and later joined the Conventual Franciscans (1440-1463). While a Conventual he served as a preacher and local superior. In 1463 he joined the Observant Franciscans, who were known in Poland as Bernardines. He spent the rest of his life as a Bernardine, preaching to German burghers in what is now Lviv, Ukraine. A model of patience and charity, he continued to preach and hear confessions even after losing his sight. He died in Lviv in 1484 and was buried there in the order's church. In 1945 his body was taken first to Rzeszow and then to Dukla. Beatified in 1733, the canonization process was halted due to the partition of Poland (feast day 10 July).

8 June 1997

ST. HEDWIG of ANJOU (1374-1399), Queen of Poland, was born in Hungary to Louis, King of Hungary and Poland, and Elizabeth, Princess of Bosnia. After her father's death in 1382 she was chosen, with the consent of the Polish nobility, for the throne of Poland, as her older sister Maria was destined for the Hungarian throne. Crowned Queen of Poland at the age of 10 (1384), she was married at the age of 12 (1386) to Grand Duke Jogaila (Jagiello in Polish) of Lithuania, on condition that he and his nation would convert to the Christian faith. She was not only the King's wife, but had a chancellery of hew own and actively participated in the life of the enormous Polish-Lithuanian State. In 1397 she received permission from Pope Boniface IX to establish the Theology Faculty of the University of Krakow. She founded several hospitals and defended the rights of peasants against the Polish magnates. A woman of extraordinary piety and kindness, she died on 17 July 1399. Her cultus was approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 1979 (feast day 17 July).

2 June 1996

ST. EDIGIO MARIA of ST JOSEPH was born into a poor family in Taranto, Italy, on 16 November 1729 and was baptized Francesco Antonio Pontillo. His father, died when he was 18, leaving him to provide for the family.

Despite his responsibilities, in 1754 he joined the Alcantarine Franciscans in Galatone, Lecce, Italy. He made his religious profession in 1755 and was sent as a cook to the friary in Squinzano. While staying a few days at the monastery of Capurso near Bari, he was assigned to St Paschal's Hospice, Naples, where he remained for 53 years, alternately serving as cook and porter, and begging for alms, to the edification of all but especially to the poor who flocked to the friary for help and whom, with Franciscan concern and active charity, he devoted all his energy to serving.

Bro. Edigio Maria's mission was marked by so many miracles that, while he was still alive, he earned the popular title "Consoler of Naples".

"Love God, love God", he would repeat to all he met on his daily pilgrimage through the streets of Naples. The noble and learned used to enjoy. talking to this Franciscan, whose words were simple but imbued with faith. The sick found in him the strength and counsel to bear their sufferings. The poor, the outcasts and the exploited discovered God's merciful face in this humble man who begged for alms.

His life was essentially contemplative and he would spend nights in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He had a special love for the Redeemer's birth and professed a tender devotion for Our Lady, Mother of God, and for the saints. His "contemplation in action" was precisely what enabled him to see his brethren's suffering and misery and made him burn with tenderness and love.

He died in the odour of sanctity on 7 February 1812, the First Friday of the month, as the bells of the Franciscan church pealed their invitation to venerate the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God in the Virgin Mary's womb.

Proclaiming God's love of man was the mission Providence had given this humble Franciscan in a social context torn by fighting and discord. In him the Father showed forth his love for the outcast and the forsaken. He bore witness to love in his simple words, and especially in his poor and joyful life, which strengthened his brethren in the certainty that God is alive and active among his people. His heroic virtues were declared by Pius IX in 1868 and he was beatified by Leo XIII in 1888.

ST. JEAN-GABRIEL PERBOYRE was born in Montgesty, France, on 6 January 1802. He followed his brother, Louis, to the seminary of the Congregation of the Mission and soon became aware of his vocation.

He was ordained a priest in 1826 and became responsible for the seminarians formation. When his brother died on his voyage to the missions in China, Jean-Gabriel asked to replace him.

He arrived in China in August 1835. After getting his bearings in Macao, he made a long trip by canoe, on foot and on horseback to Nanyang, Hunan, where he concentrated on learning Chinese.

After five months, when he was already at ease with the language, he began his ministry, visiting the small Christian communities. He was then transferred to Hu-pei, in the region of the lakes formed by the Yang Tze River.

A persecution of Christians broke out unexpectedly in 1839. On 16 September that same year, Fr Jean-Gabriel was arrested by a group of soldiers, who by using threats forced a catechumen to reveal the missionary's hiding place. Totally defenceless and at the mercy of wardens and judges, the missionary's sad Calvary began. He was subjected to a string of trials and endless questioning. He was pressed to betray his companions in the faith but he stood firm and said nothing.

The missionary was obliged to suffer deeply for his fidelity to Christ: he was hung by his thumbs and beaten mercilessly with bamboo rods. His cruelest judge was the viceroy, who turned brutally against him, personally beat him and finally condemned him to death by strangulation.

The emperor's approval was required, but the war between China and the English prevented the emperor from taking any benevolent step. Thus, on 11 September 1840 an imperial legate arrived with the decree confirming the sentence.

That same day the missionary was taken to a hill called the "Red Mountain". There, while they executed the outlaws, Jean-Gabriel meditated and prayed, inspiring admiration in all those present. When his turn came, they lashed him to a cross, put a rope round his neck and strangled him.

Many of the circumstances of his martyrdom closely resemble those of the passion and death of Christ, such as his betrayal, his imprisonment, his death on a cross and even the time of day. He was a faithful witness and disciple of Christ throughout his life.

Fr Jean-Gabriel Perboyre was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on 10 November 1889.

ST. JUAN GRANDE ROMAN was born in Carmona, Seville, Spain, on 6 March 1546, and received a Christian education at home, in the parish, and later in Seville where he was taught to weave.

Aged 17, he worked selling cloth in his native town but later left home to live as a hermit. After a year seeking his vocation in prayer, he consecrated himself totally to God and took the name of "John the Sinner", by which he was later known. He then began to care for the elderly poor and begged alms for their maintenance.

In 1566 he moved to Jerez de la Frontera, and at the Royal Prison worked for the poor whom he tended in a room next to the chapel of La Virgen de los Remedios.

When the number of sick increased, he sought to enlarge the premises, but was prevented from doing so by the local confraternity. So he set up a hospital next to the Church of San Sebastian to care for the neediest sick and convalescents, the incurables and those too proud to beg. As they increased in number, his new hospital, named Our Lady of Candlemas, came into being.

Admired by all in Jerez, John the Sinner continued his charitable activities. In 1574 he sent the town council a petition calling for greater concern for the sick, forced onto the streets during a widespread epidemic.

His dedication to the sick was accompanied by an equally intense prayer life. 'God and the poor were his raison d'etre, the focus of his life. He was also famous for his outstanding devotion to the Eucharist. Hearing of St John of God's work in Granada, he visited it and joined it in 1574, applying specific aspects of its rule to his own hospital and way of life. His exemplary devotion attracted others and his work spread.

Witnesses claim that he lived in extreme austerity while caring for his poor. He possessed almost nothing, slept on a mat and ate frugally. His charitable work also extended to ill soldiers from the port of Cadiz and he cared for the prostitutes of Jerez.

In the spring of 1600 a plague epidemic broke out in Jerez. Unstinting in his efforts for the victims, John the Sinner finally fell prey to it. He offered himself to God as a victim of atonement so that it would end, convinced that "no one has greater love than he who gives his life for those he loves". He died a week after falling ill on Saturday, 3 June 1600 at the Candlemas Hospital. He was buried without pomp in the hospital courtyard.

Pope Pius VI proclaimed his heroic virtues in 1775, and Pius IX celebrated his beatification in 1853.

3 December 1995

ST. CHARLES JOSEPH EUGENE de MAZENOD was born in Aix-en-Provence on 1 August 1782, the eldest of the three children of Rose Joannis and Charles Antoine de Mazenod, President of the State Audit Board of Provence. He was baptized on 2 August. Eugene had a happy childhood. All seemed peaceful, but a revolution was brewing and broke out in 1789. When he returned from Paris, where he had been a deputy to the Estates General on 13 December 1790 President de Mazenod was forced to flee to Nice, still part of the Italian duchy of Savoy. He was joined there a few months later by his family.

Their emigration to Italy lasted 10 years. In Turin for two years, Eugene studied at the school for nobles. In Venice, where they stayed for four years, the president and his brothers had to resort to trade in order to survive, while Eugene had the good fortune to be educated by an excellent priest, Fr Bartolo Zionelli. In 1797 Napoleon's troops invaded the Republic. The de Mazenods fled to Naples where Eugene spent a year of boredom and forced idleness. On the other hand, the three years they spent in Palermo enabled him to make friends with rich and noble Italian and French families, and especially with the family of the Duke of Cannizzaro.

In 1802 the young man returned to France. He was soon disappointed with his town and his post-revolutionary homeland. He found material and moral decadence everywhere.

After several years of a personal crisis, in 1805 Eugene began to be interested in the life of the "neglected Church". He taught the catechism and engaged in prison work. On Good Friday 1807, at the foot of the crucifix he shed "bitter tears" over his past life and human ambitions and decided to become a priest. He studied at the seminary of Saint-Sulpice in Paris from 1808 to 1812.

When he returned to his home town, Aix, he began his ministry by preaching in Provencal during Lent 1813 to workers and the poor. He later founded the Christian youth association of Aix, which in a few years numbered 400 young people. He also carried his ministry in the prison, where in 1814 he contracted typhus and for a few months hovered between life and death.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate

The Emperor fell in 1814. The political restoration also brought a movement of religious renewal. Together with a few priests, in 1816 Eugene began to preach missions in the rural parishes of Provence where religious ignorance was most common. The congregation developed rapidly and in 1826 was approved by Pope Leo XII. While continuing to preach missions in the Dioceses of southern France and then all over France, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate became missionaries abroad. In 1841 they went to England and Canada, where in 10 years they founded missions from the Atlantic to the Pacific, especially among the American Indians of the North-West and Oregon. In 1847 they went to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and in 1849 to South Africa. The founder and Superior General governed his congregation firmly but kindly. He wrote hundreds of letters requiring that the Rule be observed; he guided the superiors and encouraged the fathers and brothers. At his death in 1861, his institute included 6 Bishops and 414 professed religious.

Diocese of Marseilles (1823-1861)

In 1823 the Diocese of Marseilles, which had been joined to that of Aix during the Revolution, was restored with the appointment of Bishop Fortune de Mazenod. The prelate was approaching the age of 75, and accepted the office on condition that his nephew be Vicar General. Reorganization of the Diocese soon began and the projects were beginning to bear fruit when the Revolution of July 1830 broke out. It lasted for several years and was radically anticlerical, causing great harm to the Church.

In 1837, Eugene was appointed Bishop of Marseilles. In 25 years, he transformed the Diocese, creating 23 new parishes and building or repairing about 50 churches. He also started work on the construction of the cathedral and shrine of Notre-Dame de la Garde, which dominates the city. Thirty-three religious congregations were welcomed to the Diocese: nine male, and 24 female. The Bishop sought to be close to the people, and was available to visitors every day for four hours. He visited all his parishes every year, preaching in Provencal. He regularly administered the sacrament of Confirmation to adults in his chapel, and for this reason also visited the sick at home. He celebrated all ordinations personally and made a day of recollection every time with the ordinands. He supervised the seminaries, and the number of priests increased from less than 200 to over 400.

Illness and death

In 1856, Napoleon III named the Bishop of Marseilles a Senator of the Empire, and in 1859 proposed him as a Cardinal to Pope Pius IX. Illness overtook him unexpectedly at the peak of his activity, in January 1861. In just a few months a tumour took him from his Diocese and from his institute. He was still conscious when he received viaticum and the sacrament of the sick. In his agony, he told those who were with him: "If I start to fall asleep, awaken me; I want to die knowing that I am dying". He gave up his soul to God on 21 May 1861.

Fr Nicola Ferrara, O.M.I.

16 June 1993

ST. ENRIQUE DE OSSO Y CERVELLO was born near Tarragona on 16 October 1840 the youngest of the three children of Jaime de Osso and Micaela Cervello, where he grew up in a family with strong Christian faith and deep Catalan roots. When he was 11 years old, Enrique was sent to his uncle near Barcelona, as an apprentice to learn a trade. He fell gravely ill, and received his First Communion as Viaticum. When he was cured, he returned home, going first to the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar to offer thanks for his recovery. After some rest he went to Reus where he was apprenticed to another businessman; there his knowledge and spirituality deepened. The death of his mother seemed to cause a certain amount of restlessness and searching in him; he went to Montserrat for a retreat, and decided that he was being called to the priesthood. He returned home and began studies in the seminary of Tortosa, and later Barcelona, where he was ordained a subdeacon. While still a seminarian, he was brought back to Tortosa to teach in the seminary; there he was ordained a priest in 1867. His ideal was always to love Jesus more each day, and to make him known and loved by all, to spread his message, the Good News of the love of God the Father who wants us all to be his children in the Son.

He was put in charge of catechesis in the city of Tortosa. At that time the Church in Spain, as in many parts of Europe, was under attack from anti-clerical forces; Enrique did not ignore the attacks but confronted them, teaching the faith to seminarians, children and families.

In 1873 he founded the Association of Young Catholic Daughters of Mary and Saint Teresa of Jesus, calling young women in the secular state to perform a Christian apostolate in their own environment. In 1876 he founded the Josephine Sisterhood, the "Little flock of the Child Jesus", and the Society of St Teresa of Jesus, which was dedicated to Christian education for all. Christian education, he said, is the only thing that can transform society, drawing it to Christ. The Society of St Teresa of Jesus grew quickly and extended to Portugal and Latin America. However, in 1895 a misunderstanding with the superior general of the community he had founded caused him to leave the city; he went to the Franciscan friary of the Holy Spirit in Gilet, near Valencia, where he was given hospitality. He died there several months later, on 27 January 1896.
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