Category Archives: February

Feb 17 – Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order, OSM: to pray or to do? And/both, not either or…

The priest who did the marriage preparation for Kelly & I, the Rev. Paul Novak, OSM, a wonderful priest, quipped the OSM stood for “Order of Sexy Men!”  🙂  Actually, and less comical, it stands for Ordo Servorum Beatae Mariae Virginis., sometimes simply referred to as “Servants of Mary”, or the Servite Order.


-by Br Bartholomew Calvano, OP, received a B.A. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry/Mathematics/Computer Science with a minor in Chemistry from Rutgers prior to joining the Order.

“To pray or do good? This seems to be the dilemma of anyone trying to live a Christian life. On the one hand St. Thomas Aquinas says that “the contemplative life is more excellent than the active,” but on the other hand St. James says that “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” This dichotomy is traditionally expressed in terms of Martha and Mary, and Jesus certainly seems to weigh in on Mary’s side. Today the church honors the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order, who illuminate the interaction of the contemplative and the active life.

The Servite Order was founded by a group of seven men, cloth merchants, from Florence. The city was torn with political strife as well as the heresy of the Cathari. They were not the kind of group you would think of to found a religious order: they were well off and highly respected men, and while three of them were celibate, two were widowed and two were married. Thus, the first thing they had to do was provide for their dependents. This being done, they went off to begin a contemplative life. They took up this life in a house just outside Florence called La Carmarzia, but it wasn’t long until they were so distracted by visitors that it was impossible to live the contemplative life. So like good monks they fled from the world into the wilderness and began living on the slopes of Monte Senario. They began under the direction of St. Peter of Verona, OP.

They remained on those slopes for a time, sending visitors quickly on their way—even those who wished to join them—until they were visited by their local bishop and a cardinal. The cardinal was impressed, but commented that “you seem more desirous of dying to time than of living for eternity.” Then the Seven Holy Founders had a vision of Mary, who told them that she wanted them to be her servants (hence their full name, the Order of the Servants of Mary), wear the black habit, and follow the Rule of St. Augustine. This was on April 14, 1240, and from that day on they began to live more like mendicant friars and less like monastics. That is to say, they began to go out from their cloister, travelling extensively to preach the Gospel. To the Servites was entrusted particularly the preaching of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, commemorating the suffering which she endured alongside her son, Jesus Christ. At the same time, they did not abandon their monastic practices but continued to pray the Divine Liturgy in common and to live in community. Their work, however, became that of preaching, and they earned their food by begging. After this transition they began to accept new companions to join them, and they quickly grew and spread throughout Europe.

It’s a pretty amazing story, and it shows how in the mixed life—contemplation paired with action—men can be drawn first to contemplation. After spending time in prayer, they are called out from contemplation into the service of their fellow men. And this should be the model of every Christian life. A man should first seek God and desire to be with Him. By being with God, a man might hear a call from God to go out to other men and draw them to God. Even those living in monasteries should hear this call to draw their brothers in the monastery closer to God by the example of their service. This is the life that St. Thomas Aquinas says surpasses even the contemplative life, although not by abandoning the contemplative life for the active life, but by uniting the two: “And this work is more excellent than simple contemplation. For even as it is better to enlighten than merely to shine, so is it better to give to others the fruits of one’s contemplation than merely to contemplate.” Hence, an active life is well lived when it flows out of a contemplative life, and there cannot be a purely active Christian life absent of any contemplation. Every Christian should be both Martha and Mary.

So if you are finding yourself “worried and distracted by many things” (Lk 10:41) while you are helping others and doing good, it might help to turn back to prayer. And if you find that your prayer life seems to be in a rut, maybe there’s an act of mercy you’ve been putting off that God is calling you to do.”


-cupola (ceiling), of the Chapel of St Joseph, Basilica of the Holy Annunciation, Florence, Italy, the Servite mother church.  Please click on the image for greater detail.


-“Founders of the Order of Servites”, by Rosselli Matteo, ~1616, fresco?, Basilica of the Holy Annunciation, Florence.  Please click on the image for greater detail.

Office of Readings

From an account of the origin of the Servite Order
-(Monumenta Ord. Serv. B. Mariae Virginis, 1, 3. 5. 6. 9. 11: pp. 71 ss)

“There were seven men worthy of all our praise and veneration, whom our Lady brought into one community to form this order of hers and of her servants. They were like seven stars joined together to form a constellation.

When I entered this order I found only one of the seven still alive, Brother Alexis, whom our Lady was pleased to preserve from death down to our own time so that we might listen to his account of the founding of the order. As I saw myself and observed at first hand, Brother Alexis led so good a life that all who met him were moved by the force of his example. Moreover, he was a living testimony to that special kind of religious perfection characteristic of that first community.

But where did these men stand before they formed their own community? Let us consider this in four respects.

First, as regards the Church. Some of them had never married, having vowed themselves to perpetual celibacy; some were married men at the time; some had lost their wives after marriage and now were widowers.

Second, regarding their status in the city of Florence. They belonged to the merchant class and engaged in buying and selling the goods of this world. But once they found the pearl of great price, our order, they not only gave all they had to the poor but cheerfully offered themselves to God and our Lady in true and loyal service.

Third, concerning their devotion and reverence to our Lady. In Florence there was an ancient guild dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Because of its age and the number and holiness of its members, both men and women, the guild had acquired a title of preeminence and was called the Major Guild of Our Blessed Lady. These seven men were devoted to our Lady and belonged to this guild before they established their own community.

Fourth, as for their spiritual perfection. They loved God above all things and dedicated their whole lives to Him by honoring Him in their every thought, word and deed.

But when by God’s inspiration and the special urging of our Lady they had firmly resolved to form a community together, they set in order everything that concerned their homes and families, left to their families what they needed and gave all the rest to the poor. Then they sought the advice of virtuous men of good judgment, and described their plans to them.

They climbed the heights of Monte Senario and built on its summit a little house that would suit their purpose, and there they lived in common. As time passed, they began to realize that they were called not simply to sanctify themselves but to receive others into their community, and so increase the membership of this new order our Lady had inspired them to found. They recruited new members; some they accepted, and thus established our present order. In the beginning our Lady was the chief architect of this new order which was founded on the humility of its members, built up by their mutual love, and preserved by their poverty.”

O Lord Jesus Christ Who,
in order to renew the memory
of the sorrows of Thy most holy Mother,
hast through the seven blessed fathers
enriched Thy Church with the new Order of Servites;
mercifully grant that we may be so united
in their sorrows as to share in their joys.
Who livest and reignest, world without end.

Amen.

Love & prayers,
Matthew

Feb 28/29 – St Auguste Chapdelaine, MEP, (1814-1856), Priest, Martyr of China, “Fr. Ma”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
-St Auguste Chapdelaine, MEP

Youngest of nine children born to Nicolas Chapdelaine and Madeleine Dodeman, 6 January 1814 at La Rochelle-Normande, France. Following grammar school, Auguste dropped out to work on the family farm. He was big and strong.  He early felt a call to the priesthood, but his family opposed it, needing his help on the farm, due to his physical abilities. However, the sudden death of two of his brothers caused them to re-think, and they finally approved. He entered the minor seminary at Mortain on 1 October 1834, studying with boys half his age. It led to his being nicknamed Papa Chapdelaine, which stuck with him the rest of his life.

Ordained on 10 June 1843 at age 29. Associate pastor from 1844 to 1851, in Boucey, France. He finally obtained permission from his bishop to enter the foreign missions, and was accepted by French Foreign Missions; he was two years past their age limit, but his zeal for the missions made them approve him anyway. He stayed long enough to say a final Mass, bury his sister, and say good-bye to his family, warning them that he would never see them again. Left Paris, France for the Chinese missions on 30 April 1852, landing in Singapore on 5 September 1852.

Due to being robbed on the road by bandits, Auguste lost everything he had, and had to fall back and regroup before making his way to his missionary assignment. Chapdelaine went illegally to the Chinese interior to proselytize Christianity. The local mandarin Zhang Mingfeng was no doubt disposed to take such a harsh line against this provocation by virtue of the ongoing, Christian-inspired Taiping Rebellion, which had originated right there in Guangxi and was in the process of engulfing all of southern China in one of history’s bloodiest conflicts.

The Taiping Rebellion, 1850–64, was a revolt against the Ch’ing (Manchu) dynasty of China. It was led by Hung Hsiu-ch’ĂŒan, a visionary from Guangdong who evolved a political creed and messianic religious ideology influenced by elements of Protestant Christianity. His object was to found a new dynasty, the Taiping [great peace]. Strong discontent with the corrupt and decaying Chinese government brought him many adherents, especially among the poorer classes, and the movement spread with great violence through the E Chang (Yangtze) valley. The rebels captured Nanjing in 1853 and made it their capital.

The Western powers, particularly the British, who at first sympathized with the movement, soon realized that the Ch’ing dynasty might collapse and with it foreign trade. They offered military help and led the Ever-Victorious Army, which protected Shanghai from the Taipings. The Taipings, weakened by strategic blunders and internal dissension, were finally defeated by new provincial armies led by Tseng Kuo-fan and Li Hung-chang. Some 20 million people died in the uprising, which was filled with acts of barbarism on both sides.

St Auguste reached Kwang-si province in 1854, and was arrested in Su-Lik-Hien ten days later. He spent two to three weeks in prison, but was released, and ministered to the locals for two years, converting hundreds. In February 1856, the pagan wife of a new convert didn’t like her husband chastising her for not being more like the Christian wives he knew. She complained to her brother and uncle, who denounced St. Auguste to the local magistrate as a Christian and prosletyzing, a capital crime outside the five open ports where it was allowed, but not in the interior.

Arrested on 26 February 1856 during a government crackdown due to the Taiping Rebellion, he was returned to Su-Lik-Hien and sentenced to death for his work.

Like his Master, Fr. Chapdelaine said very little in his own defense. Furious at what he considered to be disrespect, the official had him flogged 150 times on the cheeks. The very first lash drew blood. We can only imagine what damage the other 149 blows did. Next Father received 300 lashes with a cane on his back. They stopped only when they saw he could not move.

But when they went to drag him back to his cell, after only a few steps, he rose and began walking as if in perfect health. The Chinese couldn’t believe their eyes. The saint told them, “It is the good God Who protects and blesses me.”

They next placed him in a custom made cage. His head fit through a hole in the top, and it was just tall enough for him to barely touch his toes on the ground. Furthermore the cage was constructed to hold his arms in place so that he could not use them to pull himself up in order to breath more easily. Thus he was always hovering between suffocation and barely breathing.

The mandarin offered to spare his life, however, provided he came up with a ransom of 400 silver talents. “I have no money,” he said, “only books.” What about 150 talents, then? he was asked. He replied, “Let the mandarin do what he pleases with me. I am in his hands.” Thus on February 29, 1856, they beheaded him. They needn’t have bothered, though. He had been beaten so badly and his body had been so tortured, he was already dead.

He had not sought out martyrdom. Not long before his arrest, he was reputed to have said, “He Who gives us our lives demands that we should take reasonable care of the gift. But if the danger comes to us, then happy those who are found worthy to suffer for His dear sake.” Nonetheless die he did.

Martyred at around this same time was St. Agnes Tsao Kou Ying, one of his lay catechists who had been stuck in the same sort of cage as he had been. Their cages were placed side-by-side, and while they could see one another, they could not talk. Doing so was impossible.

Also giving his life was St. Lawrence Bai Xiaoman, a layman who had promised to accompany Father to death if need be for the sake of Jesus Christ and the salvation of souls.

Learning of his death, the head of the French mission at Hong Kong sent this protest to Ye Ming-Chen, governor of Guangdong:

“The captivity of Mr. Chapdelaine, the torture he suffered, his cruel death, and the violence that was made to his body constitute, noble Imperial Commissioner, a blatant and odious violation of the solemn commitments to which he was consecrated. Your government therefore needs to give [some reparation] to France. You will not hesitate to give it me fully and entirely. You will propose the terms: I will have to then decide if the honor, dignity, and interests of the Government of my great Emperor allow me to accept. My desire is also to go to Canton and to confer in person with Your Excellency. You know an hour of friendly conversation more often than not advances the solution to important affairs than a month of written correspondence.”

The Chinese were frankly tired of the foreign powers throwing their weight around. China, after all, has always been a great and mighty nation. Were it not for the Europeans’ advanced military technology—ironically, technology that had its birth in China—China would have swatted these “bearded foreign devils” away like flies.

Thus it shouldn’t surprise us that the Chinese government refused to apologize or offer compensation or any satisfaction for the life of Fr. Chapdelaine. After all, had he not clearly broken Chinese law by breaching the interior and preaching an illegal religion? He had. And was not the punishment for this beheading? It was. So for what was there to apologize? AbbĂ© Chapdelaine wasn’t the only French citizen arrested for such activity. At the time, six of his countrymen were in custody for attempting to spread the gospel.

Furthermore, Father’s activities took place in territory where rebels were active (Christianity-inspired Taiping Rebellion). How could it not be that a Frenchman – whose Christian government had not shown itself overly friendly or necessarily an ally to China – was doing something other than preaching religion? In fact, the Chinese viceroy asserted that Father’s activities had nothing whatsoever to do with religion. He was an agitating agent working against the government.

This turn of affairs was not necessarily disadvantageous to the French. Many of their countrymen had suffered martyrdom for their missionary work, and their government had never once taken action or retaliated. Now the sense was, “Enough is enough.” As the aforementioned minister wrote his nation’s Foreign Office:

“If, in a word, the Representative of His Imperial Majesty would not but fail in his duty if he did not take advantage of the opportunity offered him to fix with one blow the errors or mistakes of the past and to bring out of the martyrdom of a missionary the complete emancipation of Christianity [in China].”

As a result of the Chinese government’s refusal to apologize in any way, France thus used the incident as a pretext to join the United Kingdom in the Second Opium War. Britain’s purpose for the war was to have China legalize the opium trade (heroin comes from opium), expand its access to near-slave-wages Chinese labor (abuses of Chinese workers had led their government to cut off English access to such labor), and get China to exempt foreign imports from internal transit duties.

The war lasted until 1860. While it obtained for foreign missionaries access to China’s interior, all in all it was a shameful mess. One could say about it what the English politician Gladstone said about the First Opium War: “I feel in dread of the judgments of God upon England for our national iniquity towards China
. [This is] a war more unjust in its origin, a war more calculated in its progress to cover this country with permanent disgrace.”

Pope St. John Paul II canonized St. Auguste and other Chinese martyrs on October 1, 2000, the same day (perhaps not coincidentally) as the anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The next day the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily released an article showing all the ways those canonized were actually bandits and other types of miscreants. It accused St. Auguste of raping women, of living with a woman named Cao, and of bribing officials on behalf of “bandits”.

chapdelaide_interrogation
-Chapdelaine interrogation, please click on the image for greater detail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
-Chapdelaine sentencing.

slow_slicing
-Chinese “slow-slicing” torture, Lingchi, literally meaning “death-by-a-thousand-cuts”, an 1858 illustration from the French newspaper Le Monde IllustrĂ©, of the lingchi execution of a French missionary, Auguste Chapdelaine, in China. In fact, Chapdelaine died from physical abuse in prison, and was beheaded after death. Please click on the image for greater detail.

Martyr_chapdelaine
-Chapdelaine, further torture in a box where the victim can neither stand nor rest. If painful exertions are not made, the victim will suffocate. Please click on the image for greater detail.

chapdelaide_glass
-beheading of St Auguste Chapdeline, stained glass in the parish church of Boucey, France, where he had been associate pastor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
-statue of St Auguste Chapdelaine, parish church, Boucey, France.

“I am being sent to China. You must treat this as a sacrifice made for God, and He will reward you in eternity. At your death, you shall appear before Him in confidence [and He will remember] your generosity for His greater glory in sacrificing what is dearest to you. Please sign the letter you will send me as soon as possible as sign of your consent and also as a sign of your forgiveness for all the sorrow I have caused you. And as sign of your blessing, please add a cross after your name.” -in a letter to his mother, making her aware his foreign assignment, 1852, from Paris.

“I thank God for the wonderful family He has given me and for the conduct of all its members
. It has been my greatest happiness on earth to have had such an honorable family.” -from a letter to his brother, Nicolas, at the same time, 1852.

Almighty and ever-living God, You have raised the Chinese martyrs to be models of our faith. Through Your grace, they had the courage to witness to Your Gospel by giving up their lives. May their blood continue to nourish the seeds of faith in the Chinese people, leading them to know and love You. We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Feb 1 – Bl Guillame’ Repin, (1709-1794), Priest, & 98 Companions, Martyrs of Angers

Angers 013, Poland, Chelmno
-arrested Daughters of Charity, Srs Odile Baumgarten, DC & Marie-Anne Vaillot, DC

“First, there are the many martyrs who, in the Diocese of Angers , in the time of the French Revolution, accepted death because they wanted to, in the words of William Repin, “keep their faith and religion “firmly attached to the Roman Catholic Church; priests, they refused to take an oath considered schismatic, they would not abandon their pastoral care; laity, they remained faithful to the priests at the Mass celebrated by them, the signs of their worship to Mary and the saints.

Undoubtedly, in a context of great ideological tensions, political and military, one could pose to them infidelity suspicions to the homeland, we have them, in the “whereas” of sentences, accused of compromising with “the forces anti-revolutionary “; it is also well in almost all the persecutions, yesterday and today. But for the men and women whose names were chosen – among many others probably also deserving – they answered the interrogations of the courts, leaves no doubt about their determination to remain faithful – risking their lives – that their faith required, nor the profound reason for their condemnation, hatred of the faith that their judges despised as “unsustainable devotion” and “fanaticism.”

We remain in awe of the decisive answers, calm, brief, frank, humble, that have nothing provocative, but are clear and firm on the essential: the fidelity to the Church. So say the priests, all guillotined as their venerable dean William Repin, the nuns who refuse to even suggest they were sworn in, the four laymen: simply quote the testimony of one of them (Antoine Fournier): “so you should suffer the death in defense of your religion? ” – ” Yes “. Thus speak these eighty women, which cannot be accused of armed rebellion! Some had previously expressed a desire to die for the name of Jesus rather than renounce the religion (RenĂ©e Feillatreau).  (Fifteen, who could afford it by confiscation of their goods, were guillotined.  The eighty-four others were shot and dumped in mass graves.)

True Christians, they also evidenced by their refusal to hate their tormentors, for their pardon their desire for peace for all: “I have asked the Good Lord for the peace and unity of all” (Marie Cassin) . Finally, their last moments show the depth of their faith. Some sing hymns and psalms to the place of execution; “They ask few minutes to make to God the sacrifice of their lives, they did so fervently that their torturers themselves were astonished.” Sister Marie-Anne, Daughter of Charity, comforts and his sister, “We’ll have the joy of seeing God and possessing Him for all eternity … and we will be owned without fear of being separated” (testimony of Abbot Gruget).

Today these ninety-nine martyrs of Angers are associated, in the glory of beatification, the first of them, Father Noel Pinot beatified for almost 60 years.”
-Homily of Pope John Paul II, 19 Feb 1984, Mass of Beatification

noel-pinot

noel_pinot2

noel_pinot3

Blessed Noel Pinot, priest & martyr (feast February 21), Noel was born at Angers in 1747. He became a priest and excelled in ministering to the sick. In 1788, he was made pastor at a parish in Louroux Beconnais, which he revitalized spiritually through his piety and preaching.

Father Noel refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new French Republic which denied the authority of the Church, and was sentenced to be deprived of his parish for two years. Nonetheless, he continued to carry out his ministry in secret. Later, the holy priest even took clandestine possession of his parish and continued his pastoral work, managing to avoid capture for his defiance of the Revolutionary edict.

However, one day while fully vested for Mass, Father Noel was captured and dragged through the streets to the jeers of hostile spectators and soldiers. He remained in jail for twelve days and was given the death sentence for refusing to take the oath. The holy priest went to the guillotine still vested for Mass and uttering the words that began the pre-Vatican II Mass: “I will go to the altar of God, to God Who gives joy to my youth.” He joined his sacrifice to that of his Master on February 21, 1794, and was beatified in 1926.

Blessed Renee-Marie Feillatreau was born in Angers, France, in 1751. A wife and mother, she was accused of being involved with Catholic “brigands,” of encouraging non-conformist priests, robbing the Republic by hiding sacred vestments and vessels, and of shouting, “Long live religion! Long live the King!” Her guilt actually lay in her devotion to her Catholic faith.

Renee-Marie declared before her judges that she would rather die than renounce her faith, and that she did indeed visit and protect priests of the Roman Catholic Church and had attended their Masses.

Blessed Renee-Marie Feillatreau was guillotined on March 28, 1794, and beatified in 1984.

Angers 005

Names of the beati by canonical state:

Guillaume RĂ©pin (1709-1794), Priest

Priests (11).
1. Laurent BĂątard
2. François-Louis Chartier
3. André Fardeau
4. Jacques Laigneau de Langellerie
5. Jean-Michel Langevin
6. Jacques Ledoyen
7. Jean-Baptiste Lego
8. René Lego
9. Joseph Moreau
10. François Peltier
11. Pierre Tessier

Religious (3).
12. Odile Baumgarten
13. Rosalie du Verdier de la SoriniĂšre
14. Marie-Anne Vaillot

Laymen (4).
15. Pierre Delépine
16. Antoine Fournier
17. Pierre Frémond
18. Jean MĂ©nard

Laywomen (80).
19. Gabrielle Androuin
20. Perrine Androuin
21. Suzanne Androuin
22. Victoire Bauduceau RĂ©veillĂšre
23. Françoise Bellanger
24. Louise Bessay de la Voûte
25. Perrine Besson
26. Madeleine Blond
27. Françoise Bonneau
28. Renée Bourgeais Juret
29. Jeanne Bourigault
30. Perrine Bourigault
31. Madeleine Cady
32. Renée Cailleau Girault
33. Marie Cassin
34. Marie-Jeanne Chauvigné Rorteau
35. Simone Chauvigné Charbonneau
36. Catherine Cottenceau
37. Carole Davy
38. Louise-Aimée Dean de Luigné
39. Marie de la Dive du Verdier
40. Anne-Françoise de Villeneuve
41. Catherine du Verdier de la SoriniĂšre
42. Marie-Louise du Verdier de la SoriniĂšre
43. Marie Fasseuse
44. Renée-Marie Feillatreau
45. Marie Forestier
46. Jeanne Fouchard Chalonneau
47. Marie Gallard Queson
48. Marie Gasnier Mercier
49. Marie Gingueneau Couffard
50. Jeanne Gourdon Moreau
51. Marie Grillard
52. Renée Grillard
53. Perrine Grille
54. Jeanne Gruget Doly
55. Victoire Gusteau
56. Marie-Anne Hacher du Bois
57. Anne Hmard
58. Marie Lardeux
59. Perrine Laurent
60. Perrine Ledoyen
61. Jeanne-Marie Leduc Paquier
62. Marie Lenée Lepage Varancé
63. Marie Leroy Brevet
64. Marie Leroy
65. Carola Lucas
66. Renée Martin
67. Anne Maugrain
68. Françoise Michau
69. Françoise Micheneau Gillot
70. Jacqueline Monnier
71. Jeanne Onillon
72. Françoise Pagis Roulleau
73. Madeleine Perrotin Rousseau
74. Perrine Phélyppeaux Sailland
75. Marie Pichery Delahaye
76. Monique Pichery
77. Marie Piou Supiot
78. Louise Poirier Barré
79. Perrine-Renée Potier Turpault
80. Marie-GeneviĂšve Poulain de la Forestrie
81. Marthe Poulain de la Forestrie
82. Félicité Pricet
83. Rose Quenion
84. Louise Rallier de la TertiniÚre Dean de Luigné
85. Renée Regault Papin
86. Marguerite RiviĂšre Huau
87. Marguerite Robin
88. Marie Rochard
89. Marie Roger Chartier
90. Marie Roualt Bouju
91. Jeanne-Marie Sailland d’Epinatz
92. Madeleine Sailland d’Epinatz
93. Perrine-Jeanne Sailland d’Epinatz
94. Madeleine Sallé
95. Renée Seichet Dacy
96. Françoise Suhard Ménard
97. Jeanne Thomas Delaunay
98. Renée Valin

Angers 006

Names of beati by date of execution:

30 October 1793 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

1. JEAN-MICHEL LANGEVIN
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 28 September 1731 in Ingrandes, Maine-et-Loire (France)

01 January 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

2. RENÉ LEGO
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 05 October 1764 in La FlĂšche, Sarthe (France)
3. JEAN LEGO
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 13 May 1766 in La FlĂšche, Sarthe (France)

02 January 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

4. GUILLAUME REPIN
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 26 August 1709 in Thouarcé, Maine-et-Loire (France)
5. LAURENT BATARD
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 04 February 1744 in Saint-Maurille de Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)

05 January 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

6. JACQUES LEDOYEN
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 03 April 1760 in Rochefort-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
7. FRANÇOIS PELTIER
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 26 April 1728 in SavenniĂšres, Maine-et-Loire (France)
8. PIERRE TESSIER
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 11 May 1766 in La TrinitĂ©-d’Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

12 January 1794 in Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)

9. ANTOINE FOURNIER
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 26 January 1736 in La PoiteviniĂšre, Maine-et-Loire (France)

18 January 1794 in Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)

10. VICTOIRE GUSTEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1745 in ChĂątillon-sur-SĂšvre, Deux-SĂšvres (France)
11. CHARLOTTE LUCAS
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 01 April 1752 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
12. MONIQUE PICHERY
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 04 April 1762 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
13. FÉLICITÉ PRICET
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1745 in ChĂątillon-sur-SĂšvre, Maine-et-Loire (France)

26 January 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

14. MARIE DE LA DIVE veuve DU VERDIER DE LA SORINIÈRE
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 18 May 1723 in Saint-Crespin-sur-Moine, Maine-et-Loire (France)

27 January 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

15. ROSALIE DU VERDIER DE LA SORINIÈRE [SƒUR SAINT CELESTE]
professed religious, Benedictine Nuns of Our Lady of Calvary (n.o.)
born: 12 August 1745 in Saint-Pierre de Chemillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)

01 February 1794 in Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)

16. MARIE-ANNE VAILLOT
vowed member, Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul
born: 13 May 1736 in Fontainebleau, Maine-et-Loire (France)
17. ODILE BAUMGARTEN
vowed member, Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul
born: 15 November 1750 in Gondrexange, Moselle (France)
18. GABRIELLE ANDROUIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 06 September 1755 in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, Maine-et-Loire (France)
19. PERRINE ANDROUIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 31 August 1760 in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, Maine-et-Loire (France)
20. SUZANNE ANDROUIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 16 March 1757 in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, Maine-et-Loire (France)
21. VICTOIRE BAUDUCEAU Ă©pouse RÉVÉLIÈRE
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 20 September 1745 in Thouars, Deux-SĂšvres (France)
22. FRANÇOISE BELLANGER
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 24 June 1735 in La TrinitĂ©-d’Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
23. PERRINE BESSON
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1742 in Essarts, Vendée (France)
24. MADELEINE BLOND
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1763 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
25. FRANÇOISE BONNEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1763 in Saint-LĂ©ger-en-Anjou (a.k.a. Saint-LĂ©ger-sous-Cholet), Maine-et-Loire (France)
26. JEANNE BOURIGAULT
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 24 October 1757 in Chaudefonds, Maine-et-Loire (France)
27. RENÉE CAILLEAU Ă©pouse GIRAULT
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 06 July 1752 in Saint-Aubin-de-Luigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
28. MARIE CASSIN Ă©pouse MOREAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 21 January 1750 in Chanteloup, Maine-et-Loire (France)
29. SIMONE CHAUVIGNÉ veuve CHARBONNEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 12 March 1728 in Chaudefonds, Maine-et-Loire (France)
30. MARIE-JEANNE CHAUVIGNÉ Ă©pouse RORTEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 21 February 1755 in La JumelliĂšre, Maine-et-Loire (France)
31. CATHERINE COTTANCEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1733 in Bressuire, Deux-SĂšvres (France)
32. CHARLOTTE DAVY
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 19 October 1760 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
33. LOUISE DÉAN DE LUIGNÉ
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 17 November 1757 in Argeton-Notre-Dame, Mayenne (France)
34. ANNE-FRANÇOISE DE VILLENEUVE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 11 September 1741 in Seiches-sur-le-Loir, Maine-et-Loire (France)
35. MARIE FAUSSEUSE Ă©pouse BANCHEREAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1740 in Boësse, Deux-SÚvres (France)
36. JEANNE FOUCHARD Ă©pouse CHALONNEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 10 September 1747 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
37. MARIE GALLARD Ă©pouse QUESSON
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1739 in Saint-Laurent-de-la-Plaine, Maine-et-Loire (France)
38. MARIE GASNIER Ă©pouse MERCIER
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 08 November 1756 in MĂ©nil, Mayenne (France)
39. MARIE GRILLARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 05 October 1753 in Saint-Pierre de Cholet, Maine-et-Loire (France)
40. RENÉE GRILLARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 10 February 1766 in Saint-Pierre de Cholet, Maine-et-Loire (France)
41. PERRINE GRILLE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 06 February 1742 in Rochefort-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
42. JEANNE GRUGET veuve DOLY
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1745 in ChĂątillon-sur-Sevre, Deux-SĂšvres (France)
43. ANNE HAMARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1742 in Saint-Clément, Maine-et-Loire (France)
44. PERRINE LEDOYEN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 16 September 1764 in Saint-Aubin-de Luigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
45. MARIE LENÉE Ă©pouse LEPAGE DE VARANCÉ
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 14 July 1729 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
46. MARIE LEROY Ă©pouse BREVET
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1755 in (?)
47. MARIE LEROY
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 19 May 1771 in Montilliers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
48. RENÉE MARTIN Ă©pouse MARTIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1752 in (?)
49. FRANÇOISE MICHAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1765 in (?)
50. JACQUINE MONNIER
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 16 January 1726 in Saint-Melaine, Maine-et-Loire (France)
51. FRANÇOISE PAGIS Ă©pouse RAILLEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 14 October 1732 in Gouis, Maine-et-Loire (France)
52. MADELEINE PERROTIN veuve ROUSSEAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 30 March 1744 in Saint-Germain-des-PrĂšs, Maine-et-Loire (France)
53. PERRINE-CHARLOTTE PHELIPPEAUX Ă©pouse SAILLAND D’EPINATZ
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 13 May 1740 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
54. MARIE ANNE PICHERY Ă©pouse DELAHAYE
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 30 July 1754 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
55. ROSE QUENION
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 20 January 1764 in Mozé-sur-Louet, Maine-et-Loire (France)
56. LOUISE-OLYMPE RALLIER DE LA TERTINIÈRE veuve DÉAN DE LUIGNÉ
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 24 April 1732 in ChĂąteaugontier, Mayenne (France)
57. MARGUERITE RIVIÈRE épouse HUAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 20 August 1756 in La FerriÚre-de-Flée, Maine-et-Loire (France)
58. MARIE ROUAULT Ă©pouse BOUJU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 26 October 1744 in Vezins, Maine-et-Loire (France)
59. PERRINE SAILLAND D’EPINATZ
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 24 March 1768 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
60. JEANNE SAILLAND D’EPINATZ
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 03 July 1769 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
61. MADELEINE SAILLAND D’EPINATZ
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 09 August 1770 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
62. RENÉE VALIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 08 March 1760 in Chaudefonds, Maine-et-Loire (France)

10 February 1794 in Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)

63. LOUISE BESSAY DE LA VOUTE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 22 August 1721 in Saint-Mars-des-Prés, Vendée (France)
64. CATHERINE DU VERDIER DE LA SORINIÈRE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 29 June 1758 in Saint-Pierre de Chemillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)
65. MARIE-LOUISE DU VERDIER DE LA SORINIÈRE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 27 June 1765 in Saint-Pierre de Chemillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)
66. PIERRE FRÉMOND
layperson of the diocese of Angers
Marie-Anne Hacher du Bois born: 16 September 1754 in Chaudefonds, Maine-et-Loire (France)
67. MARIE-ANNE HACHER DU BOIS
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 03 April 1765 in Jallais, Maine-et-Loire (France)
68. LOUISE POIRIER Ă©pouse BARRÉ
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 22 February 1754 in Le Longeron, Maine-et-Loire (France)

22 March 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

69. FRANÇOIS CHARTIER
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 06 June 1752 in Marigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)

28 March 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

70. RENÉE-MARIE FEILLATREAU Ă©pouse DUMONT
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 08 February 1751 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

16 April 1794 in Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)

71. PIERRE DELÉPINE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 24 May 1732 in Marigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
72. JEAN MÉNARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 16 November 1736 in Andigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
73. RENÉE BOURGEAIS veuve JURET
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 12 November 1751 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
74. PERRINE BOURIGAULT
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 07 August 1743 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
75. MADELEINE CADY Ă©pouse DESVIGNES
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 07 April 1756 in Saint-Maurille de Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
76. MARIE FORESTIER
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 16 January 1768 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
77. MARIE GINGUENEAU veuve COIFFARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1739 in (?)
78. JEANNE GOURDON veuve MOREAU
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 08 October 1733 in Sainte-Christine, Maine-et-Loire (France)
79. MARIE LARDEUX
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1748 in (?)
80. PERRINE LAURENT
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 02 September 1746 in Louvaines, Maine-et-Loire (France)
81. JEANNE LEDUC Ă©pouse PAQUIER
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 10 February 1754 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
82. ANNE MAUGRAIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 12 April 1760 in Rochefort-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
83. FRANÇOISE MICHENEAU veuve GILLOT
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 19 May 1737 in Chanteloup-les-Bois, Maine-et-Loire (France)
84. JEANNE ONILLON veuve ONILLON
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 19 April 1753 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
85. MARIE PIOU Ă©pouse SUPIOT
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 19 May 1755 in Montrevault, Maine-et-Loire (France)
86. PERRINE POTTIER Ă©pouse TURPAULT
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 26 April 1750 in Cléré-sur-Layon, Maine-et-Loire (France)
87. MARIE-GENEVIEVE POULAIN DE LA FORESTRIE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 03 January 1741 in Lion-d’Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
88. MARTHE POULAIN DE LA FORESTRIE
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 02 October 1743 in Lion-d’Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
89. RENÉE RIGAULT Ă©pouse PAPIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 14 May 1750 in Saint-Florent-le-Vieil, Maine-et-Loire (France)
90. MARGUERITE ROBIN
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 22 December 1725 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
91. MARIE RECHARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 29 April 1763 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
92. MARIE ROGER veuve CHARTIER
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 14 January 1727 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
93. MADELEINE SALLÉ Ă©pouse HAVARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1751 in (?)
94. RENÉE SECHET veuve DAVY
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 28 December 1753 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
95. FRANÇOISE SUHARD veuve MÉNARD
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: February 5, 1731 in Saint-Gemmes-d’AndignĂ©, Maine-et-Loire (France)
96. JEANNE THOMAS veuve DELAUNAY
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1730 in (?)

18 April 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

97. JOSEPH MOREAU
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 21 October 1763 in Saint-Laurent-de-la-Plaine, Maine-et-Loire (France)

24 August 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

98. ANDRÉ FARDEAU
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 19 November 1761 in Soucelles, Maine-et-Loire (France)

14 October 1794 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

99. JACQUES LAIGNEAU DE LANGELLERIE
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 17 April 1747 in La FlĂšche, Sarthe (France)

The hospital of Saint-Jean was one of the oldest hospitals in France, founded in 1175 by Henri Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and King of England, to expiate for the murder of Thomas Becket. By the seventeenth century it needed restructuring, as the mayor, aldermen, and townspeople attested. The Bishop of Angers, Claude de Rueil, and the Abbe de Vaux, addressed themselves to Saint Vincent de Paul with the request for the Daughters of Charity. In December 1639 Saint Louise de Marillac herself brought there the first Daughters of Charity, the first to leave the environs of Paris and the Motherhouse. The contract between the Company of the Daughters of Charity and the administrators of the hospital was signed February 1, 1640.

In the rules which he wrote in collaboration with Saint Louise, Saint Vincent specified the reasons for the mission to Angers:

“The Daughters of Charity of the poor sick have gone to Angers to honor Our Lord, the Father of the Poor and His Blessed Mother, to assist, both bodily and spiritually, the sick poor of the Hotel Dieu in that city. Corporally by ministering to them and providing them with food and medicine, and spiritually by instructing the sick in the things necessary to salvation and, when they need a confession of their whole past life, by arranging the means for it, for those who would die in this state and for those who would be cured by resolving never more to offend God.”

Saint Vincent then proposed for them the means to be faithful to God and to become Good Servants of the Poor:

“The first thing Our Lord asks of them is that they love Him above all and that all their actions be done for love of Him. Secondly, that they cherish each other as Sisters whom He has united by the bond of His love, and the sick poor as their masters since Our Lord is in them and they in Our Lord.”

In 1790 the revolutionary Assembly in France ordered the confiscation of all religious property and on July 12, 1790 promulgated the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which made the clergy functionaries of the state and the Church a national church.

In November the government demanded that the clergy take a prescribed oath: “I swear to be faithful to the nation, to the law, to the king, and to uphold with all my power the Constitution decreed by the National Assembly and accepted by the king.”

The Reign of Terror in Angers

On September 2, 1793, local revolutionaries were annoyed to hear that the Sisters were still working peacefully at the hospital of Saint-Jean. A petition was sent to the municipality: at all cost, and as soon as possible, the Sisters must be made to take the oath and shed their habit. The Sisters replied that the oath was meant only for public ofïŹce holders; that their sole function was to look after the sick; that up to this time they had not disturbed public order; that, for these reasons, they considered themselves dispensed from all oaths, and that they would not take any. Yet, some weeks later the sisters were made to change their habits. From Sister Marie-Anne’s own words, on the day of her interrogation: the sacriïŹce of the holy habit was one of the most painful of her life. On their new headdress the Sisters had to wear the national cockade, which had been made obligatory for women by law.

french_female_cockade

The year 1793 drew to a close amidst continual alarms. On the night of November 11, the cathedral of Angers was pillaged, the statues mutilated or broken, the tombs desecrated. The clock of the church of the Trinity, close by the hospital, was pulled down, the cruciïŹx destroyed. Christmas passed without Mass. The very name of Christmas had been eliminated from the Republican calendar.”

Notre PĂšre qui ĂȘtes aux cieux, que votre nom soit sanctifiĂ©, que votre rĂšgne arrive, que votre volontĂ© soit faite sur la terre comme au ciel. Donnez nous aujourd’hui notre pain quotidien; pardonnez nous nos offenses comme nous pardonnons Ă  ceux qui nous ont offensĂ©s; et ne nous laissez pas succomber Ă  la tentation; mais dĂ©livrez nous du mal. Ainsi soit-il.

Je vous salue Marie, Marie pleine de grĂące, le Seigneur est avec vous, Vous ĂȘtes bĂ©nieentre toute les femmes, et JĂ©sus, le fruit de vos entrailles, est bĂ©ni. Sainte Marie, MĂšre de Dieu, priez pour nous, pauvres pĂ©cheurs, maintenant et Ă  l’heure de notre mort. Ainsi soit-il

Je crois en Dieu, le PĂšre tout puissant, CrĂ©ateur du ciel et de la terre, et en JĂ©sus-Christ son fils unique, Notre-Seigneur, qui a Ă©tĂ© conçu du Saint Esprit, est nĂ© de la Vierge Marie, a souffert sous Ponce Pilate, a Ă©tĂ© crucifiĂ©, est mort, a Ă©tĂ© enseveli; est descendu aux enfers; le troisiĂšme jour, est ressucitĂ© des morts, est montĂ© aux cieux, est assis Ă  la droite de Dieu le PĂšre tout-puissant, d’oĂč il viendra juger les vivants et les morts.

Je crois au Saint Esprit, à la Sainte Eglise Catholique, à la communion des Saints, à la rémission des péchés, à la résurection de la chair, à la vie éternelle. Ainsi soit-il

Merci, Le Sacré Coeur de Jésus!

Dieu Le Roy!

Love,
Matthew

Feb 10 – Bl Jose’ Sanchez del Rio, (1913-1928) – Martyr

2012_for_greater_glory_036-copy

Anyone who saw the 2012 film For Greater Glory will recall the brutal, bloody martyrdom scene of a teenager in 1920s Mexico. That was a true story, and that teenager, José Luis Sånchez del Río, is on his way to being canonized.

On Thursday, Pope Francis approved several decrees presented to him from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, including a miracle attributed to Blessed JosĂ©, a young member of the Cristero movement that fought for religious freedom when Mexico’s government was severely restricting the activities of the Catholic Church.

In the film version of his story, Blessed JosĂ©, played by Mauricio Kuri, is seen as constantly repeating the Cristero cry, “Viva Cristo Rey!” or “Long Live Christ the King.” That’s the same phrase Blessed Miguel Pro and others shouted as they were killed by Mexican government officials.

Pope Benedict XVI beatified him in 2005. The Vatican website has this for Blessed José’s biography:

JosĂ© SĂĄnchez del RĂ­o was born on March 28, 1913, in Sahuayo, MichoacĂĄn, Mexico. Wanting to defend the faith and rights of Catholics, he followed in the footsteps of his two older brothers and asked his mother for permission to join the Cristeros. She objected, telling him he was too young. “Mama,” he replied, “do not let me lose the opportunity to gain heaven so easily and so soon.”

On February 5, 1928, the young boy was captured during a battle and imprisoned in the church sacristy. In order to terrorize him, soldiers made him watch the hanging of one of the other captured Cristeros. But JosĂ© encouraged the man, saying, “You will be in heaven before me. Prepare a place for me. Tell Christ the King I shall be with him soon.”

In prison, he prayed the Rosary and sang songs of faith. He wrote a beautiful letter to his mother, telling her that he was resigned to do God’s will. José’s father attempted to ransom his son but was unable to raise the money in time.

On February 10, 1928, the teenager was brutally tortured and the skin of the soles of his feet was sheered off; he was then forced to walk on salt, followed by walking through the town to the cemetery. The young boy screamed in pain but would not give in.

At times the soldiers stopped him and said, “If you shout, ‘Death to Christ the King,’ we will spare your life.” But he answered: “Long live Christ the King! Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe!”

Once he arrived at the cemetery, JosĂ© was asked once more if he would deny his faith. The 14-year-old shouted out: “Long live Christ the King!” and was summarily shot.

Blessed Jose’, pray for us, that we, too, may obtain the grace of final perseverance.

Love,
Matthew

Feb 17 – Bl William Richardson, (1572-1603), Priest & Martyr, Last Clerical Victim of Elizabeth I

william_r

“…What could be more honourable or more glorious than to die for the confession of the true Faith and the Christian religion?” -Bl William Richardson

(Alias Anderson.) Last martyr under Queen Elizabeth I; b. according to Challoner at Vales in Yorkshire (i.e. presumably Wales, near Sheffield), but, according to the Valladolid diary, a Lancashire man; executed at Tyburn, 17 Feb., 1603. He arrived at Reims 16 July, 1592 and on 21 Aug. following was sent to Valladolid, where he arrived 23 Dec. Thence, 1 Oct., 1594, he was sent to Seville where he was ordained.

According to one account he was arrested at Clement’s Inn on 12 Feb., but another says he had been kept a close prisoner in Newgate for a week before he was condemned at the Old Bailey on the 15 Feb., under stat. 27 Eliz., c. 2, for being a priest and coming into the realm. He was betrayed by one of his trusted friends to the Lord Chief Justice, who expedited his trial and execution with unseemly haste, and seems to have acted more as a public prosecutor than as a judge. At his execution he showed great courage and constancy, dying most cheerfully, to the edification of all beholders. One of his last utterances was a prayer for the queen.

from http://www.hallamnews.com/blessed-william-richardson/

“On Saturday, 15 February, 2014 in the chapel dedicated to Blessed William Richardson, Fr Don Stoker blessed a picture and a poem dedicated to the martyr.

Blessed W RichardsonThe blessing came just a year after the former St Augustine’s Chapel, Kiveton Park, was rededicated to Blessed William Richardson on 15 February, 2013.  This previously almost unknown local martyr grew up close to where the South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire borders meet.

Margaret and Terry Murphy worked tirelessly for many years to bring about a wider recognition of William.  Sadly, Margaret’s husband, Terry, did not live to see the rededication of the chapel but Margaret shared her memories and reflections during the Mass of Dedication.

“It will come as no great surprise when I say to you that today has seen a hope fulfilled and many prayers answered, and at last Blessed William Richardson can now be honoured in this village of Wales, a man who gave his life, like so many others, so that we can meet and worship in peace.

William’s father came into this area from Lancashire to find work, and settled in Waleswood, at what is now known as the far side of Rother Valley Park and that long time residents knew as the hamlet of Bedgreave (William’s birthplace).  As the medieval mill still stands in the same place, it is perhaps safe to say that his father’s employment was that of a miller and that William himself received some elementary education at the hands of a parish curate.

We know from the Entry Book in the English College in Spain that William was a convert to the Catholic faith and was received into the Church by one of the clergy at Wiesloch, where at that time he was working.  He was called to the priesthood, attended the English College in Spain, studying Philosophy and Theology, and was ordained priest there in 1594 and then returned to England.

Most of William’s life was spent working in London often with the legal profession in the Inns of Court.  He visited prisons as an ordinary visitor, to take Mass to Catholics imprisoned for their faith, and he was sentenced to death after being betrayed by a priest catcher.  His execution took place on Tyburn Gallows, by the barbaric act of being hung, drawn and quartered on 17 February in 1603.  There is no knowledge of his last resting place, but if we can find a King under a car park, we may one day learn of his last resting place.

William’s death was in the reign of Elizabeth I and he was the last priest to be murdered at that time.  Elizabeth I died one week later.  Bishop Challoner tells us he accepted his death with such constancy and faith, and praying for the Queen, that impressed his executioners.  I hope we can make his name well known in this area and beyond.

It is a sad fact that we had no knowledge in this area, in spite of the teaching in school.  We knew a lot of Catholic history, by learning about the monks of Roche Abbey and the monastic settlement situated on the right hand side of the road leading to Todwick from Kiveton Park.  As school children, we were taken to visit the five pre-Reformation churches: Aston church, Todwick, Harthill, Wales and Thorpe Salvin.  You can see even today in Thorpe Church the Chained Bible and the Leper’s Squint.  We are indebted to the monks for the footpaths leading to the churches and villages that we use for the Five Churches Walk.  The monks lodged at the farm house across the road from Wales Church.

So how did we come to know about William Richardson?

Whilst the M1 was being built through the village, a large number of Irish people were employed and they came with their families and caravans (which were housed on a farmer’s field down Manor Road).  Also a number of very welcome people came from the North of England, the men to work in the Kiveton Pit, and they settled with their families in the new houses we know as the White City.  Both the Irish M1 people and the folk from Newcastle brought with them good Catholics, but we had no Mass centre in this area and I think it was Fr Cavanagh who approached the landlord of The Lord Conyers to see if the concert room could be used.  Permission was given.  What a joy.  Mass to be celebrated in this village for the first time since the Reformation and for us, Terry and I, our eldest son serving at that first Mass, what a privilege.

Now we had a Mass centre, but what about a priest!!  Fr Cavanagh was already saying Mass at Thurcroft and Dinnington, so we turned to St Mary’s College at Spinkhill and Fr Peter McArdle came to our aid and said Mass for us.

Men in the congregation took turns in bringing Father to The Conyers and it was one Sunday that after Mass, he said he didn’t feel well and it was our turn to take him back.  We took him to our house for a hot drink, and it was whilst he was with us, he said he had been doing some research into the village history and had come across the family of William Richardson.

I could hardly believe my ears, so in my excitement I said that we had a very active Union of Catholic Women/Mothers, would he come one evening to give us a talk and let us learn more.  Bless him, he did and it is due to Fr Peter we got to know about Blessed William.

Soon afterwards we acquired the Salvation Army building, the present building, and Fr Peter became our regular visiting priest, much loved and when he retired, our Mass was and is celebrated on Saturday evenings.

Before I close I would like to pay tribute to Fr Brian Green who sadly did not live to see this day, but I know he will be in our thoughts and prayers and he will be with us in spirit.  We have a lot to thank him for.  By his gentle ways, he made us the caring parish we are today and I am sure he will be saying,

‘All will be well, all will be well and all manner of things will be well’.

Also to Bishop John, may I thank you on behalf of all of us here tonight for the pleasure it has given us to welcome you and the happiness this evening’s Dedication of this chapel to Blessed William Richardson has been.”

BLESSED  (The Last Martyr)

How blessed is a martyr’s heart?  How feared is he of the Lord?

To live a life of the Father’s will.

And not be a-feared of the sword.

I hailéd from this pleasant Vale.

A settler of Bedgreave ville.

Lived and learned of the Father’s love.  Thus called to do God’s will.

To Rheims I ventured so to go.  With true fellows of the Word, I trained.

My time was well and truly served.  And in blessed Seville was ordained.

My soul was complete as I ministered help to common Spanish folk.

But my heart lay in England.  That danger-full land.

For ‘twas to be my yoke.

This millers lad with a converts zeal.  In the time of her Tudor reign.

A recusant born to serve and pray.  Aware of past brothers, slain.

To London, then.  Richard Anderson, I, did seek out a place to pray.

Though I feared I must hide in this protestant town.

Who’d have a poor priest to stay?

Soon treachery tore my soul apart at the Inn of the Court.

A seer.

Betrayed at The Gray’s by an unknown voice.

My countenance did show no fear.

The crime of priesthood lies upon my head.

‘Tis no crime to serve you, O Lord.

My trial was swift in this heartless place.  No defence could I afford.

“Treason”, they said.  Treason, the charge.

Guilt in my Catholic way.

Oh, heart, stay cheered.  Oh, will be strong.  Stay with me, Lord. I pray.

What fate will lie before me now?

Is death now soonest near?

Although my heart and soul may bleed, these eyes will shed no tear.

Sent hence to Tyburn to please the crowds.

I prayed openly as I was led.

For the queen I prayed.

For her heart and soul.

All heard the words I said.

The ‘Triple Tree’ Gallows be my darkest fate.

The ‘Deadly Never Green’.

As town folk came to jeer in haste they stared at this witnessed scene.

The noose came down and held its grip on this wintry February Day.

Though ‘fore death was mine and my Lord I saw, they did not let me sway.

Let down was I, to bear more pain.  Cut asunder.  Disembowelled.

Set apart.

Though death is mine, eternal life will live once again in my heart.

No matter where my body lies in the bitterest forgotten earth.

Lord consecrate my joyful soul.

And bring it to rebirth.

How blessed is a martyr’s heart?  How feared is he of the Lord?

To live a life of the Father’s will.

And not be a-feared of the sword.

Dedicated to Blessed William Richardson, 1572 – 1603

-Margaret Edge 2013″

Love,
Matthew

Feb 9 – St Apollonia of Alexandria, (d. 249 AD) – Virgin & Martyr, Patroness of Dentistry

Is it safe?

Recently, our financial advisor here in Madison requested prayers for his son, Ethan, 9, as he was to have certain remaining child teeth, having not fallen out naturally, removed to make room for adult teeth.  We did offer prayers to St Apollonia on that weekend for Ethan.

Saint Apollonia was one of a group of virgin martyrs who suffered in Alexandria during a local uprising against the Christians prior to the persecution of Decius. According to legend, her torture included having all of her teeth violently pulled out or shattered. For this reason, she is popularly regarded as the patroness of dentistry and those suffering from toothache or other dental problems.

martyrdom-of-st-apollonia

-French court painter Jehan Fouquet painted the scene of St. Apollonia’s torture in The Martyrdom of St. Apollonia, ca 1452-1460.

Ecclesiastical historians have claimed that in the last years of Emperor Philip the Arab (reigned AD 244–249), during otherwise undocumented festivities to commemorate the millennium of the founding of Rome (traditionally in 753 BC, putting the date about 248), the fury of the Alexandrian mob rose to a great height, and when one of their poets prophesied a calamity, they committed bloody outrages on the Christians, whom the authorities made no effort to protect.

Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria (247–265), relates the sufferings of his people in a letter addressed to Fabius, Bishop of Antioch, of which long extracts have been preserved in Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiae.  After describing how a Christian man and woman, Metras and Quinta, were seized and killed by the mob, and how the houses of several other Christians were pillaged, Dionysius continues:

“At that time Apollonia, parthĂ©nos presbytis (mostly likely meaning a deaconess) was held in high esteem. These men seized her also and by repeated blows broke all her teeth. They then erected outside the city gates a pile of fagots and threatened to burn her alive if she refused to repeat after them impious words (either a blasphemy against Christ, or an invocation of the heathen gods). Given, at her own request, a little freedom, she sprang quickly into the fire and was burned to death.”

Apollonia and a whole group of early martyrs did not await the death they were threatened with, but either to preserve their chastity or because they were confronted with the alternative of renouncing their faith or suffering death, voluntarily embraced the death prepared for them, an action that runs perilously close to suicide, some thought. St Augustine of Hippo touches on this question in the first book of The City of God, apropos suicide:

“But, they say, during the time of persecution certain holy women plunged into the water with the intention of being swept away by the waves and drowned, and thus preserve their threatened chastity. Although they quitted life in this wise, nevertheless they receive high honor as martyrs in the Catholic Church and their feasts are observed with great ceremony. This is a matter on which I dare not pass judgment lightly. For I know not but that the Church was divinely authorized through trustworthy revelations to honor thus the memory of these Christians. It may be that such is the case. May it not be, too, that these acted in such a manner, not through human caprice but on the command of God, not erroneously but through obedience, as we must believe in the case of Samson? When, however, God gives a command and makes it clearly known, who would account obedience there to a crime or condemn such pious devotion and ready service?”

The narrative of Dionysius does not suggest the slightest reproach as to this act of St. Apollonia; in his eyes she was as much a martyr as the others, and as such she was revered in the Alexandrian Church.

Tooth-of-saint-apollonia

-Reliquary containing a tooth reputedly that of Saint Apollonia, in the Cathedral of Porto, Portugal.

The island of Mauritius was originally named Santa ApolĂłnia in her honor in 1507 by Portuguese navigators.

Francisco_de_ZurbarĂĄn_035

Saint Apollonia, 1635, by Francisco de ZurbarĂĄn, Museum of Louvre, from the Convent of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy and the Redemption of the Captives Discalced of Saint Joseph (Seville, Spain).

Heilsbronn_MĂŒnster_-_11000_Jungfrauen-Altar_02

-1513, Heilsbronn Cathedral, Bavaria, Germany, from the Eleven Thousand Virgins Altar

Illustrious virgin martyr, Apollonia,
Pray to the Lord for us
Lest for our offenses and sins we be punished
By diseases of the teeth.

0 Glorious Apollonia, patron saint of dentistry and refuge to all those suffering from diseases of the teeth, I consecrate myself to thee, beseeching thee to number me among thy clients. Assist me by your intercession with God in my daily work and intercede with Him to obtain for me a happy death. Pray that my heart like thine may be inflamed with the love of Jesus and Mary, through Christ our Lord. Amen. 0 My God, bring me safe through temptation and strengthen me as thou didst our own patron Apollonia, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Feb 6 – St Paul Miki, SJ & Companions; Christian Martrydom? Is it REALLY about death?

Japanese Martyrs


-by Br Bonaventure Chapman, OP (prior to joining the Order, Br Bonaventure received an M.Th. in Applied Theology from Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, where he studied for the Anglican priesthood.)

“Thanks to secularization, modern people easily forget the true meaning of Christian words. Take, for instance, the saints we celebrate today: St. Paul Miki and his companions were martyred in 1597 on the outskirts of Nagasaki, Japan. A witness to the execution records St. Paul Miki’s final sermon:

‘As I come to this supreme moment of my life, I am sure none of you would suppose I want to deceive you. And so I tell you plainly: there is no way to be saved except the Christian way. My religion teaches me to pardon my enemies and all who have offended me. I do gladly pardon the Emperor and all who have sought my death. I beg them to seek baptism and be Christians themselves.’

St. Paul Miki, a martyr for the faith; and yet I find many people don’t understand what martyrdom is about. Perhaps you have had this experience, but on a number of occasions people have asked me why Christian martyrdom is okay but Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombing is not. “They are both about dying for faith,” one hears. Leaving aside for now the issue of Islamic fundamentalists, this is a good time to reflect on why Christian martyrdom is not really about death.

St. Thomas follows the classical tradition in classifying actions according to their object, or end. So the act of eating is about food, the act of reading is about words on a page, the act of shooting is about hitting a target. Ends are essential in the definition of the act. Now, this doesn’t mean that circumstances are unimportant; it just means they are extrinsic to the act itself. So, for instance, the act of reading is essentially the same whether one reads a book, magazine, computer screen, billboard, etc. The circumstances can add moral qualifications to the action (shooting skeet with a bazooka is morally different when it is done in the middle of a country field rather than at a busy airport), but the essence of the act remains the same. Make sense? Good.

What is the essential act of martyrdom? What is its end? Here’s the point: it is not death. The martyr does not seek death as the end or object of his or her act. That is called suicide, no matter how noble the cause. The martyr would be just as happy not dying because of a confession of faith. Witness Peter and John in Acts 5, first being let out of prison by an angel and then rejoicing after only a slight beating upon recapture. They were ready to die for the faith (and Peter eventually would), but they didn’t stay in jail in the hopes of death, nor did they leave the Sadducees downcast because they only received a good drubbing. They had preached and witnessed to Christ; that was the essential part.

St. Thomas highlights this aspect in his discussion of martyrdom in the Summa Theologiae:

“Martyrdom consists essentially in standing firmly to truth and justice against the assaults of persecution” (ST II-II, q. 124, a. 1, corpus). Martyrdom, for St. Thomas, is a special act of fortitude, a “standing firm” in the face of death. But death is not the goal. St. Thomas explains: “endurance of death is not praiseworthy in itself, but only in so far as it is directed to some good consisting in an act of virtue, such as faith or the love of God” (ST II-II, q. 124, a. 3, corpus). Now, of course, death is rightly associated with martyrdom, wherein the Christian’s virtuous “endurance” is rendered in the most perfect fashion. St. Thomas explains: “A martyr is so called as being a witness to the Christian faith, which teaches us to despise things visible for the sake of things invisible
 therefore the perfect notion of martyrdom requires that a man suffer death for Christ’s sake” (ST II-II, q. 124, a. 4, corpus).

A (Christian) martyr is one who dies not for death’s sake, but for Christ’s sake, which makes all the difference in the world. Fr. Romanus Cessario, O.P., explains: “Theological faith provides the specific adherence that distinguishes Christian martyrdom from political assassination or dying for an ideological cause.” There is a certain passivity in the martyr, which is absent in the suicide bomber: something akin to the passivity of Christ on the cross. The martyr suffers death; he does not seek it.  (Ed. heretic Montantists actively sought martyrdom from the Romans.  Catholics were discouraged by the Church from actively seeking this.  Accept if unavoidable in witness to Christ, but do NOT pursue death FOR ITS OWN SAKE.  Never.)

This understanding of martyrdom raises two important points. First, every Christian should have a bit of martyr in him or her, at least by way of similitude. Whenever we are called to witness to the difference Christ makes in our lives – in word or deed, and in the face of opposition – we can, like St. Paul Miki and his Companions, ask for the gift of fortitude, in whatever dose we need for the situation. Second, this brings a new seriousness to any act of witness. One of the crucial theological debates of the early Church was what to do with Christians who failed to witness to the faith during persecution. The early Church took witnessing to Christ seriously, even if it did not always end in death. Do we?”

What martyrdom are we/am I willing to endure for Him?  Time?  Work?  Convenience? Comfort? Legal?  Opposing unjust laws?  Seeking equity in society and resources?  Arrest?  Record?  Incarceration?  Social?  Professional?  Reputational?  Familial?  Financial?  Ecclesial? Political?  Paternal/Maternal/Fraternal?  Marital? (reading Matt’s prattling blog?)  🙂

As gentle, edifying Lenten sacrifice/mortification approaches, let’s give this important/vital/life giving thought some solemn, quiet consideration, and respond as the Spirit directs.  All grace required to accomplish will be supplied.  I promise.  🙂  Phil 3:8.

Prayer

O Christ, the source of endless life,
We bring you thanks and praise today
That martyrs bold your name confessed
And, through their pain, held to your Way.

The gospel preached within Japan
Converted both adult and child,
And flourished there by your rich grace
Despite oppression fierce and wild.

When hatred for this infant church
Broke out in persecution’s might,
Your martyrs knew You as their Lord
Who shined in darkness as their Light.

O Father, Son, and Spirit blest,
To You all glory now is due.
As were the Martyrs of Japan,
May we to Christ be ever true!

Love,
Matthew

Feb 4 – St Catharine de Ricci, OSD(OP) & Lent approacheth…

Sr Mary of the Compassion, OP

Given the brutality we have witnessed of late on the news, I turned off the sound so Mara wouldn’t hear.  Her reading is not to a discomforting level yet for her parents.  I can’t help but feel human suffering is more palpable now, than perhaps I have felt before?  We NEED to pray!  I NEED to pray!  It gets me through the day.  It really does.  Lord, keep us ever mindful of Your Passion.  Ever Mindful.

BrIrenaeusDunlevy-160x160
– by Br Irenaeus Dunleavy, OP

Today the Dominican Order celebrates the feast of St. Catherine de Ricci. She’s known for her mysticism and her devotion, as found in her Canticum de Passione Domini. The studentate has translated and recorded the chant for you.

Watch the video above, sung by the student brothers in Ireland, of the canticle of the Passion of Our Lord. It was revealed to Catherine immediately after her first great ecstasy of the Passion. Our Lady desired Catherine to spread it as a form of prayer and contemplation for the salvation of souls. Below is the text from the canticle which is traditionally chanted by Dominicans on Good Friday.

My friends and loved ones
draw near to me and stand aloof

I am shut up and I cannot come forth
mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction

and my sweat became
like drops of blood falling down on the ground

For dogs have compassed me
the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me

I gave my back to the smiters
and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair

I hid not my face from shame
and from those who spit on me

I am feeble and sore broken
I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart

The soldiers platted a crown of thorns
and put it on my head

They pierced my hands and my feet
I may tell all my bones

They gave me poison to eat
and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink

All they that see me laugh me to scorn
they shoot out the lip, they shake the head

They look and stare upon me
they part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture

into your hands I command my spirit
redeem me, Lord, God of truth.

Remember your servant, O Lord.
when you come into your kingdom

Jesus cried with a loud voice
yielded up the ghost

The Mercy of the Lord
I will sing for ever

Surely he hath borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows

He was wounded for our transgressions
he was bruised for our iniquities

All we like sheep gave gone astray
we have turned every one to his own way

And the Lord hath laid on him
the iniquities of us all

Awake, why do you sleep, O Lord?
arise, and do not cast us off for ever

Awake, why do you sleep, O Lord?
arise, and do not cast us off for ever

Behold, God is my Savior
I will trust, and not be afraid

We ask you, come to help your servants
whom you have redeemed by your perilous blood.

V. Have mercy on us, O benign Jesus. R. Who in Thy clemency didst suffer for us.

Look down, we beseech Thee, O Lord, on this Thy family for which Our Lord Jesus Christ did not hesitate to be delivered into the hands of the wicked, and suffer the torments of the Cross. Amen.

The Canticum de Passione Domini consists of two-line verses from Scripture, both from the Old and New Testaments, which a solo cantor chants in Gregorian mode II (2) while kneeling before the crucifix. The solemn, sorrowful melody pulses like the heavy breathing of the dying Christ, and the silence between verses hangs with the gravity of Calvary. The span of time that passes between the verses communicates the reality that God inspired the words of David, always knowing that Christ’s crucifixion would fulfill them. As God was granting the Israelites their kingdom and building the temple, He was also announcing that He, the true King and Temple, would be torn down.

Yet, Christians know that what was torn down was rebuilt in three days. Friday is perfected by Sunday. Those who die with Christ also rise with Him. From the moment of Baptism we are taken up into the Body of Christ. We begin to live like St. Paul who says, “And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me” (Gal 2:20).

Christ’s presence within St. Paul was so profound that Paul bear[s] the marks of the Lord Jesus in [his] body (Gal 6:17). He is possibly the first saint of the Church to bear the stigmata. Another popular account of the stigmata is that of the Dominican St. Catherine of Siena, but less known are the wounds of her religious sister St. Catherine de Ricci.

There’s an interesting relationship between the two Dominican saints. They share the same name, the same mystical visions, and the same wounds. Look for a painting of St. Catherine de Ricci and try to distinguish her from St. Catherine of Siena. They almost seem to be the same person. This is because both women had a devotion to Christ crucified. Just as Christ was joined to the cross with His wounds, so too these saintly women were joined to Jesus by His wounds. It was de Ricci’s love and union with Christ Crucified that led her to compose the devotion we shared above.

The divine favors that both Catherines received announce the presence of Christ, suffering in His Body the Church. While you or I will likely never encounter such miracles, the reality of Christ’s presence within His faithful people should not be overlooked. It should be seen through the eyes of faith. The baptized are taken up into Christ and adjured to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice. By this, the sufferings of this world are no longer meaningless. God has taken on our sufferings and transformed them into the bridge that connects man to God.

Those who mocked Christ on the Cross, beckoning Him to come down, were ignorant of what was being accomplished – His life was not being taken, but He was laying it down for His friends. What kept Jesus on the Cross was not the nails, but His love. No one else possesses the power to choose his or her own afflictions; we are passive in suffering. Yet, the baptized can join St. Catherine’s example. She meditated on the Passion of Our Lord not because it was something that happened in the past, but it was an event that pervaded time, up to her present and up to our present. Christ continues to suffer in His members. Those in the Church, who unite their sufferings to His wounds, are brought up into something greater than themselves.

Pope Benedict explains,

This liberation of our “I”
 means finding oneself within the vastness of God and being drawn into a life. . . . [By the Resurrection] we are associated with a new dimension of life into which, amid the tribulations of our day, we are already in some way introduced. . . . This is the meaning of being baptized, of being Christian.

St. Paul’s own words, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me,” were taken up again by St. Catherine of Siena and St. Catherine de Ricci, marking their own lives. Their similarity of life, their union in the wounds of Christ, bear great witness to the living reality of Jesus in His mystical Body, the Church. They also beckon us all to look to the Passion in prayer. Then, seeing what Christ did two thousand years ago, we can see what Jesus continues to do within us.

Love,
Matthew

Feb 2 – St Jean-Theopane Venard, MEP, (1829-1861), Priest & Martyr, Inspiration of “The Little Flower”

Jean-Theophane_Venard

On February 2, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Jean-Théophane Vénard, a French missionary to Vietnam who was martyred for the faith.

Even as a youngster this holy French priest dreamed of witnessing to the Gospel of Christ. He went to study for the priesthood. Then he entered a college for missionaries in Paris, France. His family, whom he dearly loved, was greatly saddened to think that after he became a priest he would leave them. Theophane realized that the long ocean voyage to the Far East would most probably separate him from his family for the rest of his life.

“My darling sister,” he wrote in a letter, “how I cried when I read your letter. Yes, I well knew the sorrow I was going to bring on my family. I think there will be a special sorrow for you, my dear little sister. But don’t you think it cost me bloody tears, too? By taking such a step, I knew that I would give all of you great pain. Whoever loved his home more than I do? All my happiness on this earth was centered there. But God, who has united us all in bonds of most tender affection, wanted to draw me from it.”

After being ordained a priest, Theophane set out for Hong Kong. He sailed in September 1852. He studied languages for over a year there. Then he went on to Tonkin, present-day Vietnam. Two obstacles were in the way of this zealous missionary: his poor health and a terrible persecution. Yet he struggled bravely on. Often he wrote to tell his beloved sister in France all his adventures and narrow escapes from his persecutors.

Famous for having inspired St. Therese of Lisieux, who said of St. Jean-Théophane that he was someone who had lived her own image of a martyr and missionary, St. Jean was born in France, became a priest in the Society of Foreign Missions, and was sent to Vietnam.

Due to the persecutions of the anti-Christian Vietnamese Emperor Minh-Menh, priests were forced to hide in the forest and live in caves. They were able to sneak out at night and minster to the people. Eventually someone betrayed St. Jean, and he was arrested. During his trial, he refused to renounce his faith in order to save his life. He was condemned to death, and spent the last few weeks of his life locked in a cage.

His gentle ways won even his jailers. He managed to write a letter home in which he said: “All those who surround me are civil and respectful. A good many of them love me. From the great mandarin down to the humblest private soldier, everyone regrets that the laws of the country condemn one to death. I have not been put to the torture like my brethren.” But their sympathy did not save his life. After he had been beheaded, crowds rushed to soak handkerchiefs in his blood. Bishop Retord, the local bishop, wrote of him, “Though in chains, he is happy as a bird!”

It was during his incarceration that he wrote many letters, some to his family. His most famous line is from a letter to his father in which he said, “A slight sabre-cut will separate my head from my body, like the spring flower which the Master of the garden gathers for His pleasure.  We are all flowers planted on this earth, which God plucks in His own good time: some a little sooner, some a little later . . . Father and son may we meet in Paradise. I, poor little moth, go first. Adieu.”

In reading these letters, St. Therese the Little Flower came to understand and use the image of being a little flower, whom God nevertheless cared for and cultivated, despite her minute size.

On the way to martyrdom Father VĂ©nard chanted psalms and hymns. To his executioner, who coveted his clothing and asked what he would give to be killed promptly, he answered: “The longer it lasts the better it will be”.

St. Jean-Théophane Vénard was beheaded Feb. 2, 1861.

His severed head was later recovered and is preserved as a relic in Vietnam. The rest of his body rests in the crypt of the Missions EtrangĂšres in Paris.

http://saints.sqpn.com/thoughts-from-modern-martyrs-jean-theophane-venard/

Love,
Matthew

Feb 18 – St Francis Regis Clet, CM, (1748-1820) – Priest, Missionary & Martyr

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Being a “cradle”, learning how “non-cradles” come to understand Catholicism is a process.  What for me is normal, usual, every day, reflexive, from childhood, is absolutely inscrutable to others, I have come to realize.  In college, a dear friend of mine, Jeanie, decided to become a Catholic albeit with full-immersion, somewhat unusual at that time, perhaps even so now.  And she often asked me, “How do you know which of the (Memorial Acclamations) to use?”  Practice, was my unsatisfactory answer.  So, I have learned the importance of helping those who wish to understand Catholicism to learn to speak “Catholic” – partially a motivation for my being a catechist, which I love.  Maybe you can tell? 🙂

One of the most wonderful things about being Catholic is one could spend several lifetimes and never learn ALL there is to learn about Catholicism.  After two thousand years, there is ALWAYS another “treasure” hiding up in the attic.  How thrilling! 🙂  At least for me!  And, so helping others untangle the alphabet soup of religious congregations is an especial reward.  Trying to figure out the difference between a “Venetian”, 🙂 , and a Vincentian, is a teachable moment!  And, being a Blue Demon, a graduate of DePaul’s Graduate School of Computer Science, I have another especial duty to help in this regard.  Lazarist, Vincentian, Congregation of the Mission:  it’s the same.  Lazarist because St Lazare in Paris became the headquarters.  Vincentian because of their founder.  And CM, as their formal name in the Church.

The Vincentian mission is the alleviation of poverty.  Ignorance, in the Vincentian imagination, is a form of poverty.  My CM confreres, please, humbly, gratefully correct me, if even now, my understanding is incomplete.

“Give me a man of prayer and he will be capable of everything; he can say with the Apostles: ‘I can do all things in Him who sustains and comforts me.’ The Congregation of the Mission will last as long as the exercise of mental prayer is faithfully carried out in it, because prayer is an impregnable rampart which will shield Missionaries from all sorts of attacks. It is a Mystical arsenal, a Tower of David, which will furnish them with all sorts of arms, not only for the purpose of defense but also of attack.”  -St Vincent DePaul.

The tenth of 15 children, was born into a farm family in Grenoble in the southwest corner of France in 1748 and was named for the recently canonized fellow-Grenoblian, Jesuit Jean Francois Regis, SJ. After completing studies at the Royal College (founded by the Jesuits), he followed his elder brother and sister into vowed religious life. In Lyons in 1769, he entered the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians).

After ordination, Francis served as professor of moral theology at the Vincentian seminary in Annecy where he was affectionately called “the walking library” because of his encyclopedic knowledge and academic discipline. In 1786, he became Rector of Annecy and two years later, Director of Novices in Paris.

Francis Regis petitioned to go to China as a missionary several times, but his superiors did not accede to his request until 1791. At the age of 43, he replaced another priest who had to withdraw from the assignment at the last minute. A confrere, in writing about Clet’s assignment to China, noted: “He has everything you could ask for: holiness, learning, health and charm.”

After a six month sea journey from France and some transition time in Macao, which included assuming the dress and customs of the Chinese people, the new missioner arrived in Kiang-si in October of 1792 as the only European in the area. Clet’s acculturation was hampered by his life-long difficulty with the language. In 1793 Clet joined two Chinese confreres in Hou-Kouang in the Hopei Province where both of his companions died within his first year, one in prison and one from exhaustion. In that year, Clet became superior of an international group of Vincentian missioners scattered over a very large territory, and he himself pastored an area of 270 thousand square miles. In that leadership capacity, he developed standards so that there would be a uniform approach to ministry (sacramental and catechetical) among the missioners.

In 1811, the anti-Christian persecutions in China intensified with the Christians being accused of inciting rebellion against the ruling dynasty. For several years, Clet endured abuse and attacks, which frequently forced him to find refuge in the mountains. In 1819, with a generous reward on their heads, Clet and a Chinese confrere became fugitives. Like Jesus, he was finally betrayed by one of his own, a Catholic schoolmaster whom Clet had challenged for his scandalous behavior. Like the missionary St. Paul, Clet endured ignominy and forced marches in chains over hundreds of miles.

On January 1, 1820, Clet was found guilty of deceiving the Chinese people by preaching Christianity and was sentenced to strangulation on a cross. On February 18, age 72, after approval of his sentence by the Emperor, Francis Regis Clet was executed. He was tied to a stake erected like a cross, and was strangled to death, the rope having been relaxed twice to give him a three-fold death agony, a traditional Chinese execution.

As in the case of Jesus, Christians took his body and buried it on a hillside where it rested until it was returned to the Vincentian motherhouse in Paris several decades later and is now honored at St. Lazare.  His holy life and death were the inspiration of Blessed John Gabriel Perboyre, CM, Sep 11, also a Lazarist, who was martyred in China in 1840.

Clet canonization medallion

Francis Regis Clet

“You can easily imagine that a journey as long as the one I’m making calls for an exceptional sum of money.  I need 1000 francs, and Fr Daudet, our Bursar, is willing to advance me this sum on the understanding I gave him that you would repay him in a short time…I could, of course, be making a mistake, but at least I’m in good faith.  If God doesn’t bless my attempt, I’ll cut my losses, admit I was wrong, and in future be more on my guard against the illusion of my imagination or vanity; the experience will teach me a bit of sense.” – St Francis Regis Clet, in a letter to his older sister, Marie-Therese, upon letting her know he was to be missioned to China.

“At the moment, I’m living in a house which is rather large but totally dilapidated; they’re going to start repairing it at once, and as it’s wooden it won’t be unhealthy in the winter, which, anyway, isn’t very bad in these parts.  A new life is starting for me, re-awakening religion in former Christians who have been left to themselves for several years, and also converting pagans; that, I hope, will be my work till death.” – Francis’ 1st letter to his sister, Oct 15, 1792, letting her know he’d arrived in Kiang-si.

“The Chinese language is hopeless.  The characters which make it up don’t represent sounds, but ideas; this means that there’s a huge number of them.  I was too old on coming to China to get a good working knowledge of them…I know barely enough for ordinary daily living, for hearing confessions and for giving some advice to Christians.” – a 1798 letter to his brother

Love,
Matthew