Saturday, November 01, 2014

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

2013 All Saints Post

María Guadalupe García Zavala, Antonio Primaldi, Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini, Gabriel-Taurin Dufresse and Augustine Zhao Rong, Josephine Margaret Bakhita, John Chrysostom

Marie Guyart

Marie Guyart was a French woman who joined the Ursulines as Marie of the Incarnation; she then went on mission to the very earliest colonies in New France, where she and a number of others founded a convent in Quebec City in 1639. They founded the first school for women in North America. Marie was active in missions to the local natives, compiling dictionaries for Algonquin and Iroquois, a history of the Algonquin, and a Catechism in Iroquois. She died in 1672 of a liver disease from which she had suffered for years. She was canonized in 2014 and her feast day is April 30.

Alphonsa Muttathupadathu

Anna Muttathupadathu, from Kerala, India, fell into a pit of burning chaff at the age of 13, severely burning her feet, an injury from which she never fully recovered. She joined the Franciscan Clarist Convent in 1927, taking the name of Alphonsa after St. Alphonsus Liguori. She was assigned to teach at a girls' high school, where she was very popular, but fell terribly ill, and often could not teach. She would regularly suffer bouts of ill health throughout her life. She became known in the local community, however, for giving good advice on how to handle life's problems. She died in 1946 at the age of 36, and was canonized in 2008. Her feast day is July 28.

John Neumann

John Neumann was born in Bohemia (in the modern-day Czech Republic). He had a profound desire to become a priest, and was a promising seminary student, being a solid student and naturally good at languages. However, before he could take that road, the bishop of Bohemia declared a moratorium on new priests -- there was at that time such a glut of Bohemian students going into the priesthood that the bishop was running out of things to do with them. John was not to be put off so easily, however, and in 1836 he emigrated to the United States in the hope of having better luck there. And he did. New York had a dearth of priests, and since he already had the background, he was ordained almost immediately. He was assigned to minister to the very large German community in New York, which often lived in places where there was no easily accessible parish church. Because of this he was in practice an itinerant priest -- he had a church in Williamsville, but as a significant number of his parishioners lived in out-of-the-way places, he spent much of his time on the road. He did excellent work under these conditions, but he found the isolation almost unbearable. He therefore applied to join the Redemptorists and with the Redemptorists ended up transferring to Maryland. In 1852 he was appointed the bishop of Philadelphia. In that capacity he built parish churches for the diverse and burgeoning Catholic immigrant community, designed and implemented a diocesan school system, and sponsored religious institutes and the work of religious orders. He was very popular among his flock, and good at doing a great deal with the very slim budgets he had available, but he found the position extremely stressful. Philadelphia in that period was a hotbed of anti-Catholic sentiment (it was one of the major strongholds of the Know Nothing Party) and resentment against immigrants. Not a very combative person, John had difficulty handling the hostility, and he asked Rome to replace him. (Rome denied his request.) He died of stroke in 1860 at the age of 48. He was canonized in 1977 by Paul VI; his feast day is January 5.

Hildegard von Bingen

Hildegard lived in the twelfth century. She became teacher of the community of nuns at Disibodenberg. (Contrary to what is sometimes claimed, she was never officially an abbess.) She eventually pushed to have another convent established at Rupertsberg, against the preferences of the Abbot in charge of the community. A great deal of her work at Rupertsberg involved caring for the sick, and the experience is likely the foundation for her medical texts. Hildegard also composed liturgical chants and music and a hagiography of St. Rupert for the sisters in her community. She is most famous, however, for her visions, and for her insightful theological discussion of them in a number of works, the best known of which is the Scivias. Since she was self-taught in Latin, she preferred to have her works proofread by a more latinate secretary, but she generally refused to let them do more than make the sentences read more naturally -- she would not let them change the main words themselves. She corresponded with Popes, Emperors, and other people of importance. She became famous for her predictions, and we have several letters from important people remarking on their accuracy. There is no particular point at which she was canonized; she was beatified very early on, and then listed as a saint in the Roman Martyrology in the sixteenth century or so. She was placed on the universal calendar in 2012. She is a Doctor of the Church and her feast day is September 17.

Pedro de San José Betancurt

Pedro of Betancourt was from Tenerife in the Canary Islands. He spent some time as a shepherd there, but eventually decided to go to Guatemala, where he had some connections, in the hope of finding a government job. Passage was more expensive than he thought, however, and he found once he got to Cuba that all the money he had saved for the trip had run out. He managed to get to Honduras by working aboard a ship, and then walked all the way to Guatemala City. Having no money left at all, he had to get bread from the Franciscans there, who ran a sort of soup kitchen, and they helped him get a factory job. Because of the help he had received from the Franciscans, he considered becoming a priest, and began attending seminary for it. He discovered that he was not suited for it, being unable to keep the material straight, and dropped out after three years of intensive and stressful effort. He did join the Franciscans as a tertiary, however, and as a layman devoted himself to helping the sick, poor, and unfortunate, as well as to teaching children their catechisms. As part of his work for the poor and sick, he was eventually given a hut for a makeshift hospital, and by going around and asking for donations managed to collect enough a few years later to build a better building for it, dedicated to Our Lady of Bethlehem. The hospital began to collect other buildings: a homeless shelter, a school, and more. Other people started joining them. He hadn't ever thought of founding a religious community, but it soon became necessary to organize all the volunteers a bit more formally, and thus was born the Order of the Bethlehemites, the first religious order of the New World, devoted to the sick. He died in 1667 at the age of forty-one. His feast day is April 24.

Benedict the Moor

Benedict's parents were African slaves who were taken to Italy and eventually freed. Life was hard, though, and he spent much of his early years working, not under the best conditions. He also faced the burden of racial prejudice. ('The Moor' is transliteration of a false cognate, from Il Moro, meaning 'the Black'.) One day a member of a local group of religious hermits noticed how well he bore up under a racial insult, and invited him to consider joining their community. Benedict eventually did. In 1564 Pope Pius IV required all independent groups of hermits to attach themselves to some approved religious order, and thus Benedict ended up with the Franciscans, where he started out as a cook but eventually became the supervisor for the Franciscan community at Palermo, then afterward became the teacher of the novices While he was illiterate, he was respected for his teaching ability. He did not, however, like the position, which he had not wanted in the first place, and eventually got permission to become a cook again. He had become known for being a good confessor and spiritual director, however, and people regularly visited his kitchen. His feast day is April 4.


  1. Ye Olde Statistician9:04 AM

    Among the parishes that John Neumann founded while bishop of Philadelphia was the German parish of St. Joseph the Worker in Easton PA, in which parish I was born and raised. Even as bishop, he spent a great deal of time wandering around what was then pretty wild country in NE PA, all of which was then included in Philadelphia. Once he spent several hours climbing a mountain to perform a single baptism. The pastoral work was always more to his taste than the administrative duties, and when Rome declined to relieve him they did give him some relief: an auxilliary bishop who was assured of succession to the seat. (Wood was as much a genius in administration as Neumann was in pastoral work, so they made a good team.)

    His proposal had been to split the diocese and he offered to take the northern, more rural part, suggesting St. Joseph as the seat. He had three notable accomplishments in Maryland and Pennsylvania:

    1. The Baltimore Catechism, which was his project from the start;
    2. Catholic schools, which he championed not just for Philadelphia, but for the nation;
    3. The Forty Hours Devotion, which he brought over from Bohemia.

  2. branemrys9:27 AM

    I probably should have put something in about the Baltimore Catechism; you're right that it's a major accomplishment.


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