Friday, November 01, 2019

All Saints III

But these were men of mercy, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten; their prosperity will remain with their descendants, and their inheritance to their children’s children. Their descendants stand by the covenants; their children also, for their sake. Their posterity will continue for ever, and their glory will not be blotted out.


Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan

Born in the little village of Puthenchira in Kerala, Thresia was devoted to penance from an early age. She felt very strongly that she was called to some such life, but it took her many years to find the life for which she was seeking. She tried doing it alone, and found that it wasn't practicable. She gathered a group of friends and tried to start a spiritual retreat, and the retreat building burned down. The bishop suggested that she join a religious congregation instead, and she looked into the Franciscan Clarists, and found that it was not at all a good fit. She tried to join the Carmelites, and that didn't work, either. And finally in 1913, she tried to set up another religious house of her own, a small, unambitious affair, and the Congregation of the Holy Family was founded. Her spiritual life was equally complicated. In 1904, she had a vision of the Virgin Mary, and from then on called herself Mariam in honor of the Virgin. She then is said to have suffered a series of demonic attacks, which required formal exorcism; that problem over, she devoted her life to prayer and began to develop stigmata, which she tried to hide. In 1826, her leg was severely wounded and she could not get treatment quickly enough; the wound became septic, and she died on June 8, which would become her feast day. She was beatified by John Paul II in 2000 and canonized by Francis in 2019.

Gregory II and Gregory III

Gregorius Sabellus was a Roman who early in life became a significant figure at the papal court, where he ended up having several important roles, including treasurer and the head of the Vatican library. When Pope Constantine was summoned to Constantinople by the Emperor Justinian in 711, he went along as papal secretary and played a significant role in the negotiations over whether Rome would accept the canons of what was known as the Council in Trullo. After Constantine's death, he was elected Pope Gregory II. He would have a remarkably busy pontificate. He turned his family estate into a monastery, St. Agatha in Suburra. He found himself in an on-again, off-again battle with Monothelitism almost immediately. He rebuilt Monte Cassino, which had been severely damaged by a Lombard attack. He had to deal repeatedly with the restless and unruly Lombards. He began to have problems with the Byzantine Emperor, Leo III the Isaurian, in 722, when Leo attempted to tax lands that the popes were using to support Rome; in response Gregory raised the Roman populace and had the Imperial governor thrown out of the city. The Emperor in response tried to have him assassinated in 725, but the conspiracy was uncovered and the conspirators executed. And then in 726, Leo began actively advocating Iconoclasm. Leo was not in a position to enforce his decrees in the West, but Gregory lost no time in denouncing them, and because of this, much of the Western Roman Empire was encouraged into revolt against Leo, including the important Exarchate of Ravenna, of which Rome was a part. (Gregory, however, dissuaded the armies of Ravenna from marching on Constantinople.) In 727, Gregory held a synod condemning iconoclasm and sent copies to Leo. In response, Leo appointed a new Exarch of Ravenna, Eutychius, whose first act was to try to assassinate Gregory (it failed) and who then tried to pull together an alliance with several Lombard Dukes to march on Rome (the Lombards wouldn't have known iconoclasm from an icicle, so they didn't know what to make of this and were reluctant to provide him any help). Finally Eutychius managed to get King Liutprand of the Lombards to form a military alliance, but his attempt to use the alliance against Rome failed when Gregory convinced Liutprand to go back to Pavia. Gregory in turn supported St. Germanus when he was the beleaguered, and later exiled, Patriarch of Constantinople. The further missionary activities of his pontificate were also extensive. He sent missionaries to Bavaria; one of his achievements would be to force St. Corbinian (who wanted just to be a monk) to become bishop of Freising. He supported St. Boniface's missionary work in Germany (and actually gave him the name 'Boniface'; the monk's name had originally been Winfrid). Gregory died in 731; his feast day is February 11 or February 13, depending on the calendar.

When Gregory II, Gregory III was almost immediately elected. He was a member of a Syrian family, for which reason he was sometimes called Gregorius Syrus. At the time, it had been custom for the Pope to wait on formal consecration as Pope until certification from the Exarch of Ravenna was received. The Exarch did so, but if he thought that Gregory III was going to change the policy of Gregory II, he was mistaken; Gregory III immediately began his opposition to the iconoclastic policies of the Emperor and called a synod to condemn iconoclasm. Leo retaliated by trying to invade (his fleet was broken up by a storm) and then by appropriating the papal territories in Sicily and Calabria. He continued Gregory II's missionary policies, supporting St. Boniface and St. Willibald. His major challenge, however, was King Liutprand, who had captured Ravenna from the Byzantines in 738 (which ironically, yet perhaps fittingly, had been possible because Emperor Leo had divided the papal lands in retaliation for papal opposition to iconoclasm) and saw an opportunity to consolidate control throughout Italy; he now only had scattered Lombard Dukes and the Pope as his major rivals. By supporting various rebellions, Gregory managed to hold him off a while, but Liutprand was not to be deterred. Gregory attempted to get help from Charles Martel, but nothing came of it, and Gregory ran out of options and time. He died in 741. His successor, Pope St. Zacharius, was fortunately a clever diplomat who was able to make peace with Liutprand. Gregory III's feast day is December 10.

Katarina Ulfsdotter

The daughter of St. Birgitta of Sweden and Ulf Gudmarsson, Katarina was married to Lord Eggert Lydersson van Kyren at an early age. She convinced him to make it a Josephite, i.e., unconsummated, marriage, and the two instead devoted themselves to charity and religious devotion. In 1350, she accompanied her mother on pilgrimmage to Rome; St. Bridget was trying to get the rules of her new order approved. It was a long and trying process to get that permission, and the Pope was also not in Rome at the time, because it was the time of the Avignon papacy, so all communication ended up being quite indirect. While in Rome, she helped her mother do charitable works for the people of Rome and pray regularly for the return of the Pope to his proper see, and the visit to Rome became a relatively permanent thing, punctuated only by the occasional pilgrimage. Catherine herself seems to have not liked Rome; she hated the weather. When St. Bridget died, St. Catherine took the body back to Sweden and spent some years carrying forward her mother's work by becoming abbess of Vadstena Abbey. When the inquiry for her mother's canonization began to pick up, St. Catherine returned to Rome to assist in it; there she seems to have met St. Catherine of Siena, and they became good friends, and pooled their efforts in attempting to convince the Pope to return to Rome. She returned to Vadstena in 1381 and died the next year. When St. Bridget was formally canonized by the Pope in 1391, St. Catherine of Vadstena seems to have quietly been placed in the Roman Martyrology for March 24, and there she has been ever since, a quieter and more self-effacing reflection of her more widely venerated mother.

Marko Stjepan Krizin, István Pongrácz, and Melchior Grodziecki

Born in Križevci in the Kingdom of Croatia, St. Marko Krizin was a Jesuit who was living a fairly ordinary life until in 1619 he was sent to look after the affairs of the Benedictine Abbey of Széplak. The abbey was near Kassa, in Hungary (Košice in modern-day Slovakia). It was a tumultuous time for the area, which was seeing an uprising of Calvinists against Catholics, led by Gabor Bethlen, Prince of Transylvania. While in the area of Kassa, Marko met István Pongrácz and Melchior Grodziecki, who were also fairly ordinary Jesuit priests living fairly ordinary lives before coming to Kassa. Kassa was then a significant Calvinist stronghold with a government appointed by Catholics, and when a rumor went around the city that the Catholics in Kassa had been involved in schemes of arson, the equivalent in that time of what a terrorist activity would be in ours, the whole city went into a state of high tension, worsened by a siege against the city by a Calvinist army. The city's mercenary defenders betrayed the city government and delivered the city to the besiegers. Marko and two other Jesuit priests were arrested by the Calvinist army and were held for three days without food or water while the new Calvinist city government had a heated debate over whether all the Catholics of Kassa should be executed or just the Catholic priests. Moderation won out, I suppose we could say, and the city chose to execute only the priests. The priests were promised leniency if he would become a Calvinist, but they refused and were beheaded on September 7, 1619. Catholic Hungary was outraged by the execution, and became even more so when the decision was made not to give them a Christian burial. (The authorities eventually relented on the burial, but only after some months had passed.) The Košice martyrs were beatified in 1905 by Pius X and canonized in 1995 by John Paul II. They all share September 7 as their feast day.

Amandus and Bavo of Ghent

Amandus was a young man from a noble family who, against his family's wishes, became a monk, almost a hermit. He spent some time following a strict rule, but then went on pilgrimage with a protege who, being from a wealthy family, was having second thoughts about the monastic life. The pilgrimage would change the course of his life, because he was soon made a missionary bishop and went on mission to Ghent and Flanders, preaching the gospel to the largely pagan folk there. While he was engaged in a large-scale project of creating monasteries throughout Ghent, he met a young and very wild nobleman named Allowin, also known as Bavo, who was son of St. Itta of Metz and Pippin of Landen, the Mayor of the Palace (and who himself is on some local calendars of saints). But Bavo one day heard a sermon by St. Amand on the vanity of the material life, and was utterly astounded by it. He returned home, distributed much of his wealth to the poor, donated his land to Amand for a monastery, and became a monk himself. Amand continued his missionary work, helped now by Bavo. On one of these trips, though, Bavo met a man who had been captured by Bavo in his soldiering days and sold into slavery, and thereafter devoted his life to the severest forms of eremitic penance for the misdeeds of his former life. He eventually died, with St. Amand at his bedside, and his feast day is October 1. Amand eventually made a very unsuccessful missionary trip to Slovakia, and on his return holding a number of councils for the Pope. He helped St. Itta and her daughter, Bavo's sister, St. Gertrude of Nivelles, to establish the monastery of Nivelles, and then made his way to Basque country to evangelize the people there. Amand died at the age of ninety, famous across Europe for his hospitality, and his feast is February 6.

Zhang Huailu

In early 1900 at the age of 57, Huailu Zhang became interested in Christianity and began to attend catechism classes. It was not a good time to be Christian and his family protested vehemently, but he insisted on continuing. He had considerable difficulty with the classes; he could not read, and found the prayers complicated and hard to remember. That same year, a major uprising occurred in China, the Boxer Rebellion; the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists, better known as the Boxers, began a reign of terror in the attempt to stamp any and all foreign influence, of which the Christian missions were a very prominent example. Some local thugs went through the more Christian communities of the area, demanding protection money, or else they would report the locations and identities of Chinese Christians. Mr. Zhang paid the protection money, but the thugs reported everybody anyway. When the Boxers came, instead of trying to hide or lie, he boldly said that he was a Christian and made the sign of the Cross, the prayer he could most easily remember. He was executed. Beatified by Pius XII and canonized by Benedixt XVI, he is commemorated with the other Holy Chinese Martyrs on July 9.

Colette of Corbie

Nicole Boellet was born in Corbie, France, in 1381. According to stories told, her parents had always wanted a child, but they never had one and were beginning to get on in years, so they prayed to St. Nicholas to intercede for them, and Nicole, named after the saint, was born to her mother when her mother was sixty years old. Nicole became Nicolette, which became Colette, and thus she got the name by which she is known. Her parents died when she was 18 years old, and she is said to have tried both the Beguines and the Benedictines, and found neither of them suitable for her. Finally she joined the Third Order of Saint Francis, and started living as a hermit; while she was living this life, though, she began to have visions that she interpreted as suggesting that she was called to contribute to and reform the Second Order of St. Francis, returning it to the Franciscan emphasis on poverty. In 1406, she decided to take action, and turned to the pope. This was the time of the Western Schism, so there was considerable confusion over who was pope. Pope Innocent VII was the pope in Rome, but Colette was a Frenchwomen, and the French generally supported the claims of the antipope, Benedict XIII in Avignon. So Colette went to Benedict XIII to get permission to join the Order of the Poor Clares. Benedict XIII must have been quite impressed by her, because he put his full backing behind her, helping her to found new monasteries and to create a reform branch of the Poor Clares, who today are known as the Colettine Poor Clares. With his support, and later the support of others, especially her confessor, Bl. Henry of Beaume, she ended up founding eighteen monasteries, all devoted to the strictest interpretation of the Franciscan vow of poverty. The Avignon schism was healed in 1429, when Benedict XIII's successor, Clement VIII, abdicated in favor of the Roman pope, Martin V. Colette herself died in 1447. She was beatified in 1740 by Pope Clement XII and canonized in 1807 by Pius VII. Her feast is March 6.

Alphonsus Rodriguez

Alfonso Rodriguez was the son of a wool merchant. At the age of 14, he left school to help his mother with the business when his father died; he eventually married a woman named Maria Suarez and had three children; but his wife and his three children all died, one by one, from various causes. The Rodriguez family had long had an association with the Jesuits -- St. Peter Faber had given Alfonso his First Communion -- so when Rodriguez began considering the possibility of entering a religious order or society, the Jesuits were an obvious choice. However, because he had spent all of his life working, he did not have the education required for life with the Jesuits. He tried to make it up by enrolling in school at the age of 39, but it was too much for him. He was very well liked by the Jesuits, though, and he was allowed to become a lay brother the next year. He was sent to the college of Montesión at Majorca, where he became the porter. And he would be doorkeeper there for 46 years, admitting guests, handling luggage, delivering messages, and performing errands; it is said that his guideline for doing it was to assume, whenever the doorbell rang, that Christ had come to the door. He was also often asked to give the dinner sermon. As he grew older, he had increasing physical difficulties, probably not helped by his intensive mortifications, and in the last few years of his life he began to lose his memory. He died October 31, 1617. He was beatified by Leo XII and canonized by Leo XIII in 1888; his feast day is October 30.

Marie-Margeuerite d'Youville

Marie-Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais was born in Varennes, Quebec, in 1701. The family was poor, and its social standing collapsed when Marguerite's mother married an Irish doctor. In 1722, Marguerite was married to a trapper and bootlegger, François d'Youville; they had six children by the time François died in 1730. A few years after, she got together with a few other women to devote themselves to providing homes for the poor of Montreal. In many ways, it did not go well; the group was mocked throughout the overly snobbish Montreal for their oddity and for Marguerite's past association with the disreputable François, and given the nickname Les Grises, which literally means 'The Grey Women' but in the slang of the day also meant 'The Drunks'. But the women persevered, and became a formal religious order, the Order of Sisters of Charity of Montreal, which became widely known as the Grey Nuns. In 1747, the Grey Nuns received a charter to run the General Hospital of Montreal, which had been on the verge of bankruptcy. D'Youville died in 1771. She was beatified by John XXIII and canonized by John Paul II, the first native-born Canadian to be canonized. Her feast is Oxtober 16.

Anthony of the Caves

Born in Lyubech in the Principality of Chernigov in Kievan Rus, Anthony made his way early in life to the Esphigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos. There he spent some years as a cave-dwelling hermit, but in his late twenties, the abbot sent him back to Kiev to establish monasteries there. He established several, but in 1015, the death of Vladimir the Great plunged Kiev into civil war, and he returned to Mount Athos until it was over. He did go back, and this time spent most of his time again as a cave-dwelling hermit. Slowly a number of others began to join him, and thus the first community began in the monastic community of the Far Caves, perhaps the most influential community in Kievan monasticism. He died in 1073, and his feast is celebrated in the Roman Martyrology on May 7.

Teresa of Calcutta

Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu was born to an Albanian family in Skopje in 1910. She had a desire to be a religious missionary from a very early age and to this end joined the Sisters of Loreto in 1928, with whom she began to learn English, and was sent to India in 1929. After her formal vows, she began teaching school in Calcutta and was greatly disturbed at the severe poverty of the city, which she saw during the Bengal famine and the 1946 Calcutta Killings. It was shortly after the Killings that she had what she would call the 'call within the call', and determined to leave the convent to live among the poor. In 1948 she began wearing the white sari with blue border and started a number of projects; she was soon joined by other women, and the Missionaries of Charity were born, receiving formal recognition by the Holy See in 1950. In 1952 she founded one of her most famous ventures, Kalighat, the Home of the Pure Heart, as a hospice to care for the dying with respect. The sisters also formed hospices for lepers and orphanages. Soon the Missionaries were also expanding outside of India. When she was featured in a documentary by Malcolm Muggeridge in 1969, she became recognizable all over the world. She received a vast number of awards, and was able to use this as a basis for fundraising for the Missionaries of Charity; she was so good at this, in fact, that it became a common complaint of the sort of critics who tend to complain when nuns are good at raising money for projects. Teresa herself, however, was not finding life easy; she was repeatedly plagued by a feeling of isolation from God in a spiritual aridity that lasted, with only a few brief pauses, for nearly fifty years. Beginning in 1983, with a heart attack, she began to have serious health problems, including another heart attack in 1989 and a broken collarbone in 1996. In 1996 she became one of the eight people who have been honored by the United States with honorary citizenship, one of its highest honors for non-citizens, and one of the only two to receive it while still alive (the other being Winston Churchill). She died September 5, 1997. She was beatified in 2003 by John Paul II and canonized in 2016 by Francis.



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2019 All Saints Post, Part II
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2019 All Saints Post, Part I
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2013 All Saints Post
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2012 All Saints Post
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2011 All Saints Post
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2010 All Saints Post
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