Category Archives: February

Feb 22 – Chair of Peter, Sermon by Pope St Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church, (400-461 AD)

-partial restoration Saint Peter (or Saint Peter in his throne), Grao Vasco (also known as Vasco Fernandes), 1506

The Church of Christ rises on the firm foundation of Peter’s faith.

“Out of the whole world one man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the calling of all nations, and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the Church. Though there are in God’s people many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing of His power that God in His goodness has given to this man. Whatever Christ has willed to be shared in common by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter that He has given to others what He has not refused to bestow on them.

The Lord now asks the apostles as a whole what men think of Him. As long as they are recounting the uncertainty born of human ignorance, their reply is always the same.

But when He presses the disciples to say what they think themselves, the first to confess his faith in the Lord is the one who is first in rank among the apostles.

Peter says: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus replies: Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven (cf Matthew 16:16-17). You are blessed, he means, because my Father has taught you. You have not been deceived by earthly opinion, but have been enlightened by inspiration from heaven. It was not flesh and blood that pointed me out to you, but the one whose only-begotten Son I am.

He continues: And I say to you (Matthew 16:18) In other words, as my Father has revealed to you My godhead, so I in My turn make known to you your pre-eminence. You are Peter (Matthew 16:18) though I am the inviolable rock, the cornerstone that makes both one (cf Isaiah 28:16, Ephesians 2:14), the foundation apart from which no one can lay any other, yet you also are a rock, for you are given solidity by My strength, so that which is My very own because of My power is common between us through your participation.

And upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). On this strong foundation, He says, I will build an everlasting temple. The great height of My Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith.

The gates of hell shall not silence this confession of faith; the chains of death shall not bind it. Its words are the words of life. As they lift up to heaven those who profess them, so they send down to hell those who contradict them.

Blessed Peter is therefore told: To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth is also bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven (Matthew 16:19).

The authority vested in this power passed also to the other apostles, and the institution established by this decree has been continued in all the leaders of the Church. But it is not without good reason that what is bestowed on all is entrusted to one. For Peter received it separately in trust because he is the prototype set before all the rulers of the Church.”

*From sermon 4 de natali ipsius, 2-3: PL, 54, 149-151 by Saint Leo the Great, pope.

Love & unity,

Feb 22 – Chair of Peter, The Visible Sign of Our Unity

-by Br Hyacinth Grubb, OP

“Today is the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, a celebration of the teaching authority of the Vicar of Christ. We don’t usually think of authority as a blessing, but instead as a cost worth paying for the security we enjoy—upon such philosophy was our democracy founded. Yet today we rightly revel in the great gift we have received: living under the authority of Peter.

The Church is founded upon the rock of Peter, upon his confession of Jesus as Christ and Son of the Living God, revealed to him “not by flesh and blood,” but by the Heavenly Father (Matt 16:17). Through the magisterial teaching of the popes, Peter’s headship and governance has continued through centuries and millennia, and has been brought even to us. The Rock of Peter is stable, unmovable, an anchor and comfort in an age that is unmoored and lost. It is given by Christ through the bishop of Rome, the successors of St. Peter, and against it not even the gates of the netherworld will prevail.

The authority of Peter is a spiritual inheritance, stewarded by the Holy Father and belonging to the whole Christian people as they are governed by that authority. But we have an image of it in a physical reality: Peter’s chair. Just as the throne is the place where a king sits to judge, Peter’s chair symbolizes his authority to definitively pronounce teachings. As a symbol of the original, historical chair of Peter, a 6th-century chair resides in a place of honor in Rome. Enclosed in a gilded bronze casing, it is raised in the air, halfway between heaven and earth, shielding those who shelter beneath it, visible to all who enter St. Peter’s Basilica. It is a tangible sign of the continuity in doctrine and authority that has outlived empires and despots, survived attacks physical and spiritual, and thrived amidst the challenges of erroneous philosophies and false religions. It stands fast, a rock on which we shelter and in which we can revel, thanks be to God!

Marco Zoppo (Paduan, 1433 – 1478 ), Saint Peter, c. 1468, tempera on poplar panel, Samuel H. Kress Collection 1939.1.271
-Saint Peter (c. 1468) by Marco Zoppo depicts Peter as an old man holding the Keys of Heaven and a book representing the gospel.

-“The Crucifixion of Saint Peter”, Caravaggio, 1600 until 1601, medium oil on canvas, width: 51 cm (20.1 in), of detail, Cerasi Chapel, Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome. Peter, feeling himself unworthy to be crucified, since he was not a Roman citizen, in the same orientation as the Lord, requested to be crucified upside down, which was granted.

Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that no tempests may disturb us,
for you have set us fast
on the rock of the Apostle Peter’s confession of faith.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

Love & unity,

Feb 2 – Candlemas, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – Nunc dimittis & sin’s effect…

-“Simeon’s song of praise”, by Aert de Geider, ~1700-1710, oil on canvas, Height: 94.5 cm (37.2 in). Width: 107.5 cm (42.3 in), Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Lord, now You may dismiss Your servant. (cf Lk 2:26)
For mine eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared before all people;
To be a light to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.
-Lk 2:29-32

-by Br Isidore Rice, OP

“We tend to shy away from our sins and weaknesses coming to light. When we hear of someone caught and punished for committing injustice, we might be tempted to think them worse off than those ‘lucky’ evildoers who get off scot-free. Yet, even by the light of his natural reason, Socrates saw through this instinct:

“But in my opinion, Polus, the unjust or doer of unjust actions is miserable in any case,—more miserable, however, if he be not punished and does not meet with retribution, and less miserable if he be punished and meets with retribution at the hands of gods and men.”

Socrates is motivated by the conviction that just actions are healthy for the soul while unjust actions sicken it. Whatever suffering just punishment may bring to the body, it is nothing compared to the misery caused by sin festering in the dark corners of one’s soul. Thus, for Socrates, the path forward for an evildoer is clear:

“[If anyone] does wrong, he ought of his own accord to go where he will be immediately punished; he will run to the judge, as he would to the physician, in order that the disease of injustice may not be rendered chronic and become the incurable cancer of the soul.”

All this is true, but it does not seem particularly hopeful. After all, as Socrates says, the “doer of unjust actions is miserable in any case.” For Socrates, the evildoer is still miserable even while his wrongdoing is brought to light and he receives justice.

But we have a greater light, a light which not only brings us to justice, but brings justice into our hearts. We may be tempted to shy away from this light as well, for, as the prophet says, “Who will endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?” (Malachi 3:2).

And yet, this coming light is none other than Jesus, our savior. The presentation of the baby Jesus, carried in the arms of His mother Mary into the Temple, hardly seems like a day that must be endured. Simeon and Anna did not quail in fear when this light was presented. Rather, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, they drew near and rejoiced. But, as Simeon prophesied:

“Behold, this child is destined

for the fall and rise of many in Israel,

and to be a sign that will be contradicted

and you yourself a sword will pierce

so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk. 2:34-35).

This same Jesus will soon hang on the cross between two thieves as a sign of contradiction, with Mary, her heart pierced by a sword of sorrow, at His feet. One thief, seeking merely to avoid punishment for his crimes, falls into the greater crime of blasphemy. The other, accepting justice and hoping for mercy, rises with Jesus. And the good thief is not merely brought to the state of lesser misery offered by Socrates. That very day St. Dismas entered paradise to enjoy the vision of God Himself in the light of glory (Lk. 23:43).

May the same Holy Spirit who led Simeon to encounter Jesus in the Temple and St. Dismas to turn to Jesus on the cross lead us to encounter Him in the Sacrament of Confession. Lord Jesus, give us the grace to open our hearts to your light so that you may burn out all evil lurking there. Let us then hear the wonderful words, “may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins,” so that with Simeon, we may rejoice and pray,

“Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel” (Lk. 2:29-32).”

Love, & His peace, which is beyond ALL understanding, His gift He left to us, if only we would avail,

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.


Love & prayers,

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

-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’üan, 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? Abbé 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”.

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

-Chapdelaine sentencing.

-Chinese “slow-slicing” torture, Lingchi, literally meaning “death-by-a-thousand-cuts”, an 1858 illustration from the French newspaper Le Monde Illustré, 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.

-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.

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

-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.


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 (Renée 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




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 Répin (1709-1794), Priest

Priests (11).
1. Laurent Bâtard
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 Sorinière
14. Marie-Anne Vaillot

Laymen (4).
15. Pierre Delépine
16. Antoine Fournier
17. Pierre Frémond
18. Jean Ménard

Laywomen (80).
19. Gabrielle Androuin
20. Perrine Androuin
21. Suzanne Androuin
22. Victoire Bauduceau Réveillère
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 Sorinière
42. Marie-Louise du Verdier de la Sorinière
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-Geneviève Poulain de la Forestrie
81. Marthe Poulain de la Forestrie
82. Félicité Pricet
83. Rose Quenion
84. Louise Rallier de la Tertinière Dean de Luigné
85. Renée Regault Papin
86. Marguerite Rivière 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)

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)

priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 05 October 1764 in La Flèche, Sarthe (France)
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 13 May 1766 in La Flèche, Sarthe (France)

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

priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 26 August 1709 in Thouarcé, Maine-et-Loire (France)
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)

priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 03 April 1760 in Rochefort-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 26 April 1728 in Savennières, Maine-et-Loire (France)
priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 11 May 1766 in La Trinité-d’Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)

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

layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 26 January 1736 in La Poitevinière, Maine-et-Loire (France)

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

layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1745 in Châtillon-sur-Sèvre, Deux-Sèvres (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 01 April 1752 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 04 April 1762 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1745 in Châtillon-sur-Sèvre, Maine-et-Loire (France)

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

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)

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)

vowed member, Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul
born: 13 May 1736 in Fontainebleau, Maine-et-Loire (France)
vowed member, Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul
born: 15 November 1750 in Gondrexange, Moselle (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 06 September 1755 in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 31 August 1760 in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 16 March 1757 in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 20 September 1745 in Thouars, Deux-Sèvres (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 24 June 1735 in La Trinité-d’Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1742 in Essarts, Vendée (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1763 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1763 in Saint-Léger-en-Anjou (a.k.a. Saint-Léger-sous-Cholet), Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 24 October 1757 in Chaudefonds, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 06 July 1752 in Saint-Aubin-de-Luigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 21 January 1750 in Chanteloup, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 12 March 1728 in Chaudefonds, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 21 February 1755 in La Jumellière, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1733 in Bressuire, Deux-Sèvres (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 19 October 1760 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 17 November 1757 in Argeton-Notre-Dame, Mayenne (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 11 September 1741 in Seiches-sur-le-Loir, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1740 in Boësse, Deux-Sèvres (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 10 September 1747 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1739 in Saint-Laurent-de-la-Plaine, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 08 November 1756 in Ménil, Mayenne (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 05 October 1753 in Saint-Pierre de Cholet, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 10 February 1766 in Saint-Pierre de Cholet, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 06 February 1742 in Rochefort-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1745 in Châtillon-sur-Sevre, Deux-Sèvres (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1742 in Saint-Clément, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 16 September 1764 in Saint-Aubin-de Luigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 14 July 1729 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1755 in (?)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 19 May 1771 in Montilliers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1752 in (?)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1765 in (?)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 16 January 1726 in Saint-Melaine, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 14 October 1732 in Gouis, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 30 March 1744 in Saint-Germain-des-Près, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 13 May 1740 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 30 July 1754 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 20 January 1764 in Mozé-sur-Louet, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 24 April 1732 in Châteaugontier, Mayenne (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 20 August 1756 in La Ferrière-de-Flée, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 26 October 1744 in Vezins, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 24 March 1768 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 03 July 1769 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 09 August 1770 in Saint-Nicolas de Saumur, Maine-et-Loire (France)
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)

layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 22 August 1721 in Saint-Mars-des-Prés, Vendée (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 29 June 1758 in Saint-Pierre de Chemillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 27 June 1765 in Saint-Pierre de Chemillé, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
Marie-Anne Hacher du Bois born: 16 September 1754 in Chaudefonds, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 03 April 1765 in Jallais, Maine-et-Loire (France)
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)

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)

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)

layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 24 May 1732 in Marigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 16 November 1736 in Andigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 12 November 1751 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 07 August 1743 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 07 April 1756 in Saint-Maurille de Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 16 January 1768 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1739 in (?)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 08 October 1733 in Sainte-Christine, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: ca. 1748 in (?)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 02 September 1746 in Louvaines, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 10 February 1754 in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 12 April 1760 in Rochefort-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 19 May 1737 in Chanteloup-les-Bois, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 19 April 1753 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 19 May 1755 in Montrevault, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 26 April 1750 in Cléré-sur-Layon, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 03 January 1741 in Lion-d’Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 02 October 1743 in Lion-d’Angers, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 14 May 1750 in Saint-Florent-le-Vieil, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 22 December 1725 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers
born: 29 April 1763 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 14 January 1727 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1751 in (?)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: 28 December 1753 in Montjean, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: February 5, 1731 in Saint-Gemmes-d’Andigné, Maine-et-Loire (France)
layperson of the diocese of Angers; married
born: ca. 1730 in (?)

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

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)

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)

priest of the diocese of Angers
born: 17 April 1747 in La Flèche, 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 office 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 sacrifice 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.


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 crucifix destroyed. Christmas passed without Mass. The very name of Christmas had been eliminated from the Republican calendar.”

Notre Père qui êtes aux cieux, que votre nom soit sanctifié, que votre règne arrive, que votre volonté soit faite sur la terre comme au ciel. Donnez nous aujourd’hui notre pain quotidien; pardonnez nous nos offenses comme nous pardonnons à ceux qui nous ont offensés; et ne nous laissez pas succomber à la tentation; mais délivrez nous du mal. Ainsi soit-il.

Je vous salue Marie, Marie pleine de grâce, le Seigneur est avec vous, Vous êtes bénieentre toute les femmes, et Jésus, le fruit de vos entrailles, est béni. Sainte Marie, Mère de Dieu, priez pour nous, pauvres pécheurs, maintenant et à l’heure de notre mort. Ainsi soit-il

Je crois en Dieu, le Père tout puissant, Créateur du ciel et de la terre, et en Jésus-Christ son fils unique, Notre-Seigneur, qui a été conçu du Saint Esprit, est né de la Vierge Marie, a souffert sous Ponce Pilate, a été crucifié, est mort, a été enseveli; est descendu aux enfers; le troisième jour, est ressucité des morts, est monté aux cieux, est assis à la droite de Dieu le Père tout-puissant, d’où 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!


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


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 Sánchez 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 José, 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 José, 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:

José Sánchez del Río was born on March 28, 1913, in Sahuayo, Michoacán, 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 José 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, José 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.


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


“…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.


“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″


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.


-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, parthénos 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.


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

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


Saint Apollonia, 1635, by Francisco de Zurbarán, 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).


-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.


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.


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!