Friday, November 01, 2013

All Saints

2010 All Saints Post
Moses the Black of Ethiopia, Micae Hồ Đình Hy, Katherine Mary Drexel, Robert Southwell, Lojze Grozde, Andrew Kim Tae Gon

2011 All Saints Post
Bonifacia Rodríguez de Castro, Celestine V, Olga of Kiev, Cyril of Jerusalem, Joseph Mukasa and Charles Lwanga

2012 All Saints Post
Jadwiga of Poland, Kateri Tekakwitha, André Bessette, Rafqa Pietra Choboq Ar-Rayès, Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga

María Guadalupe García Zavala

Mother Lupita, as she was usually known, lived a relatively quiet life, but she did so under extraordinary circumstances. She lived in the Mexican state of Jalisco, where she founded a congregation of sisters, the Handmaids of St. Margaret Mary and of the Poor, who lived exactly as their name suggests: they devoted themselves to assisting the poor in any needs that came up, deliberately living the life of poverty in order that the poverty of others might not be so severe. They were particularly concerned with helping the poor who were sick, and began creating hospitals; Mother Lupita herself served as one of the nurses. When resources for the hospital grew too tight, she would go out and beg until she had collected enough money to meet the need, and she was always careful never to ask for more than was strictly necessary. During her lifetime tensions between the Mexican government and the Catholic Church grew very high; she lived during the Cristero War. At great risk to herself she would often hide priests who were being hunted down, including the Archbishop of Guadalajara himself. She died at the age of 85 in Guadaljara, and her feast day is June 24.

Antonio Primaldi

The fifteenth century saw the beginning of the ascension of the Ottoman Empire. The Byzantine Empire, its major Eastern opponent, was finally crushed completely in 1453 after having been slowly beaten back, and the Ottoman armies began to spread into Europe. On July 28, 1480, the Ottomans invaded Otranto in southern Italy with a large fleet and well-discipline army. The citizens retreated the Castle of Otranto, but they could not hold out long, and by August 11 the Ottomans held the fortress. The precise details of what happened next are a matter of dispute; Italian accounts from the period claim, and Turkish accounts deny, that the Turks massacred several thousand citizens; and according to local legend 813 men were given the choice of converting to Islam or dying, and chose death. There is reason to think that this number is a legendary rather than exact number or else that it may include people who fell in battle or in its immediate aftermath. Among the men who fell, regardless of the exact circumstance, was Antonio Primaldi, called Antonio Pezzulla in some sources, an aged and respected tailor who, according to the legend, was chosen as the spokesman for the town. He died of beheading. The Ottoman army began to use Otranto as a foothold for a further invasion of Italy, but the Italian city states rallied and beat them back, and Otranto was recaptured in 1481. The feast day of Antonio Primaldi and the Martyrs of Otranto is August 14.

Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini

Born Youssef Kassab in Lebanon, Nimatullah took the name 'Nimatullah' when he joined the Lebanese Maronite Order. He became a seminary teacher and was active in the Order, although he vigorously refused to be made Abbot General. He became renowned for his piety, and was commonly called the Saint of Kfifan, and people came from miles around asking for his advice and prayers. His students became important in an upsurge of Maronite spiritual life, and included St. Charbel Makhluf. He died in 1858 and his feast day is December 14.

Gabriel-Taurin Dufresse and Augustine Zhao Rong

The position of Catholics in China during the Qing dynasty was often precarious; but after toleration under several emperors, things took a turn for the worse under the Jiaqing Emperor, who added Christianity to the list of capital offenses. In practice, Chinese Christians were often not killed, but simply sold into slavery to Muslims, who had a limited license for practice in China at that time; but European missionaries were, as well as some Chinese Christians who were made special examples. On May 18, 1815, Monsignor Dufresse was rounded up with a number of other priests and ultimately executed later that year. One of the soldiers who had been assigned to escort Dufresse from Chengdu to Beijing was so impressed by Dufresse's calm and patience that he became Catholic; this was Augustine Zhao Rong, who was baptized and then began to attend seminary. He was arrested and executed, also later in 1815.

Josephine Margaret Bakhita

Josephine Bakhita was born in the Sudan, in the late nineteenth century, a free and happy girl; but somewhere between the ages of seven and nine she was kidnapped by slave traders. She was bought and sold, and bought and sold, and bought and sold, and through all the suffering and beatings and cruel treatment she forgot her original name, and only went by a nickname one of the slave traders gave her: Bakhita, 'lucky'. In 1883 she was bought by the Italian Vice Consul, and when he fled to avoid the Mahdist revolution, Bakhita went with them. When in Italy, Bakhita was temporarily housed with the Canossian Sisters as the family was trying to handle some real estate issues; but when the Italian family returned to reclaim her, Bakhita refused to go. The family had recourse to the courts, but the courts ruled that since slavery had been illegal in both Italy and the Sudan, she had never legally been a slave. Thus Bakhita was free to choose her own way of life; and she chose to stay with the Canossian Sisters who had supported her. She was baptized as Josephine Margaret Fortunata. She became actively involved in the missionary work of the Canossian Sisters, telling them about her experiences and preparing them for missionary work in Africa. Because she served as cook and porter of the local convent, she was in constant contact with the townspeople, who continued to remember her even after her death. She died in 1947 and her feast day is February 8.

John Chrysostom

'Chrysostomos' is Greek for 'golden-mouthed'. Young John in the fourth century studied in the finest rhetorical schools of his day, under the pagan rhetorician Libanius. According to the story that has come down to us, Libanius on his deathbed was asked who should be his successor, and Libanius replied that it should be John, if the Christians hadn't stolen him. John originally wanted to be hermit, but nearly ruined his health by rushing into ascetic practices (a common problem in the day), and was forced to return to the city. There he eventually became right-hand man to the Bishop of Antioch, and was instrumental in helping to restore Antioch to communion with Rome and Alexandria, with which it had been estranged. These were, of course, the days when the Rome-Alexandria alliance was the bulwark of the faith, and this alliance would play a significant role in Chrysostom's life. He became very popular among the people for his earnest and beautiful sermons urging people to remember the poor. In 397 he was, through the peculiarities of politics in the capital of the Empire, appointed Bishop of Constantinople, entirely against his will -- he hadn't even known that he had been nominated, and didn't want to leave Antioch, where things were going very well. But the appointment came with the backing of the Emperor, so John couldn't refuse; and he was forced to leave Antioch in secret because there were fears that the people of Antioch would riot in an attempt to keep him. It was not a good start, and things would get worse. John was an eloquent and inspiring speaker, but diplomatic and politic he was not; throwing him into the perpetual political struggles of the Imperial court was like taking a match to a powder keg. It was not long before he had earned the enmity of the Empress, who came to think that his many sermons against the wealthy and in favor of the poor were not-too-subtle attacks on her. This would be bad enough, but the worst of it all is that becoming Bishop of Constantinople put him on a collision course with the most savvy ecclesiastical politician of the day, Bishop Theophilus of Alexandria, nicknamed the Egyptian Pharaoh for his uncanny capacity to use practically any opportunity that came up to increase the power of the See of Alexandria. John's nomination had come about in part as a politically attempt to outmaneuver Theophilus's attempt to get an ally named Bishop of Constantinople; it was a rare political loss for the Egyptian Pharaoh, and John's episcopacy was an impediment to Theophilus's plans. This was made worse when certain monks who had been sharply disciplined by Theophilus fled to Constantinople and put themselves under John's protection. They accused Theophilus of various malfeasances and the Emperor summoned Theophilus to Constantinople to stand trial before Chrysostom on the charges. The Egyptian Pharaoh, cunning as always, came to Constantinople, but on his terms, not the Emperors. Rather than coming immediately, by sea, he took the land route, which took much longer. It gave him time to start pulling in favors, to get on the good side of bishops all through the Syrian regions of the Empire, to convince Rome that here was yet another upstart Bishop of Constantinople pretending that he was bishop of the entire Church, and to make arrangements with people favorable to his cause in the Imperial court. Theophilus had been summoned to come alone, but instead he came with an entourage. The result, which shows the extent to which Theophilus was the grandmaster of ecclesiastical politics, was that when he entered Constantinople, he did so as a celebrity, in the favor the Empress, with a large number of character witnesses, and instead of simply submitting to a trial presided over by Chrysostom, he held a synod, the Synod of the Oak, and deposed and banished John; the Emperor himself consenting to the banishment because John refused to come before the synod. The deposition and banishment did not last long, because people rioted in the city over it and the Empress became suddenly convinced, for reasons that are a bit obscure, that God was going to judge her for her treatment of John. Theophilus cut and ran, and the whole project, which had come so close to succeeding, weakened the Rome-Alexandria alliance, because it led Rome to worry that Alexandria, its primary source of information about what was going on in the East, was deliberately misleading it when it began receiving letters from John over the situation. In any case, despite having, by luck or miracle, survived Theophilus, John stuck his foot in his golden mouth again and, at a dedication of a statue of the Empress, made comments that convinced her he was attacking her again and trying to turn the people against her, and he got banished once more, and died on the road to his place of exile. He is known as a Doctor of the Church and one of the Three Holy Hierarchs. His feast day on the Roman calendar is September 13.

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