Franciscan Saints & Blessed


 

JANUARY

 


 

January 3Go to top of page

 

HOLY NAME OF JESUS
The name “Jesus” proclaims that ‘God is with us’ and through Him, we are saved

 

The name “Jesus” not only identifies him as someone; it also specifies his relationship with his people. It says both who he is and what he is, namely a brother and Saviour. Salvation is not found in any other person or any human achievement. Jesus is the sole Mediator and Saviour.

 

St. Bernadine of Siena, from 1417 onwards, popularized devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus using tiles and banners depicting four angels presenting the sky with the sun at its centre. Within the sun are the letters IHS (the first three letters of Jesus as spelled in Greek) illustrating that Jesus our brother and Saviour is the centre of the universe, and the light and sustenance of our lives, and indeed Life itself. The memorial was authorised for the Franciscan Order in 1530.

 

First Reading: Phil. 2: 5-11; Gospel: Mt. 1: 18-23

 

January 4Go to top of page

 

BL. ANGELA OF FOLIGNO (1248-1309)
Third Order Regular. Widow

 

After leading a sinful life, even as wife and mother, Angela was converted in 1285. Following the death of her husband, her children and her mother, she became a Franciscan tertiary in Foligno and established a community of Sisters of the Third Order Regular. Directed by the friar, Arnold of Foligno, she was endowed with great mystical gifts. Her spirituality is strongly centred in Christ, leading to union with the Most Holy Trinity. Her writings, translated into Latin by friar Arnold, have been praised by St. Francis de Sales, St. Alphonsus Ligouri and Pope Benedict XIV. She was beatified in 1693.

 

First Reading: Phil. 3: 8-14; Gospel: Mt. 11: 25-30

 

January 7Go to top of page

 

ST. CHARLES OF SEZZE (1613-1670)
Friar Minor.

 

Giancarlo Marchionni joined the friars at San Francesco a Ripa in Rome at the age of 22, taking the name Carlo (Charles). He worked in the kitchen and garden of many friaries around Italy. As cook, gardener, sacristan and questor of alms, he sanctified his daily actions with spiritual thoughts and intentions. He never denied those who came begging to the friary, and sometimes with the sign of the cross, he was able to multiply food for those who needed it. Rewarding his prayers and mortifications, the Lord gave him many charisms which he tried to hide. He recieved inner stigmata and had gifts of miracles and prophecies. He worked tirelessly to help the victims of the plague of 1656. He was canonised in 1959 by Bl. John XXIII.

 

First Reading: Is. 58: 6-11; Gospel: Mt. 25: 31-40

 

January 11Go to top of page

 

ST. THOMAS OF CORI (1655-1729)
Friar Minor

 

Francesco Antonio Placidi entered the friars at Orvieto, Italy aged 22 and became known as Tommaso (Thomas). Ordained in 1683 at Velletri, he was soon nominated as assistant master of novices. Known for his fidelity to the Rule, he was drawn to the contemplative dimension and drew up Constitutions for hermitages. These were approved for the whole Order by the General Chapter held at Murcia in 1756. The last 20 years of his life were spent in the hermitage of Bellegra. From there, he preached the Gospel around the diocese of Subiaco. He was renown for his spiritual direction, his healing powers and his ability to spread peace, joy and reconciliation despite his personal poor health. He was canonised by John Paul II in 1999.

 

First Reading: 1 Kings 19: 4-9, 11-15; Gospel: Mk. 10: 17-27

 

January 14Go to top of page

 

BL. ODORIC OF PORDENONE (c.1285-1331)
Friar Minor

 

Little is known of the early life of Oderic Mattiuzzi. He was ordained a Franciscan priest and served in Udine not far from his native Pordenone in north-east Italy. In 1318, he set sail from Venice to Istanbul en route to China. He preached Christianity among the Medes and Persians. Proceeding through the Persian Gulf, he moved to India basing himself near Mumbai. He then went to Indonesia and finally reached Khanbaliq (modern Beijing) in 1325 where his evangelical endeavours during the next three years merited him the title of the Apostle of the Chinese. To keep Pope John XXII and the Minister General informed about missionary possibilities and needs, he returned to Europe via Tibet in 1330. Worn out by his missionary toils, he died at Udine the following year. His veneration as blessed was approved by Benedict XIV in 1755.

 

First Reading: 1 Thess. 2: 2-8; Gospel: Mk. 16: 15-20

 

January 16Go to top of page

 

Ss. BERARD & COMPANIONS (+1220)
Friars Minor. Protomartyrs

 

Berard, Peter, Accursius, Adjutus and Otto, first martyrs of the Franciscan Order, were all natives of Umbria. Berard, born in Calvi (Narni), was received into the Order by St. Francis in 1213; Peter, a native of San Gemini, became a friar in 1211; Otto was a native of Stroncone. Sent by Francis in 1219 to preach to the Moors, they arrived in Coimbra, Portugal where they were received by Queen Uraca, wife of Alphonsus II. Their first mission to the Moors in Seville was unsuccessful, and they crossed to Morocco where they preached in the presence of King Mira-ma-Molin. The king had them expelled but the friars evaded the guard at Ceuta and returned to their mission. Infuriated by their insistence, the king had them put to death by the sword on 16th January, 1220. Their remains were brought back to Europe and rested in the church of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine of the Holy Cross at Coimbra where St. Anthony of Padua – not yet a friar – was a member of the community. Berard and his companions were canonised in 1481 by Sixtus IV.

 

First Reading: 1 Cor. 4: 9-13; Gospel: Mt. 10: 16-22

 

January 19Go to top of page

 

ST. EUSTOCHIA CALAFATO (1434-1485)
Poor Clare. Virgin

 

Smeralda Calafato was born in Messina (Sicily). Her mother was an enthusiastic admirer of the reform of the strict observance – especially regarding poverty – of the first rule of St Clare which was gaining ground in the area. Smeralda in her early teens joined the monastery where she was given the name of Eustochia. With zeal and commitment, she dedicated herself to prayer and mortification and constant meditation on the Passion of Christ. However, some of the sisters including Eustochia became disillusioned with how the stricter observance of the Rule was being lived. Having obtained the necessary papal authorisation, they moved into the premises of an old hospital attached to the monastery. Soon they had to leave the old hospital and in 1464 found generous hospitality in the home of a congregation of the Franciscan Third Order at Montevergine. As abbess here Eustochia drew more sisters to a Christocentric spirituality with great devotion to the Eucharist, nutrients to an intense and heartfelt liturgical life. By the time she died there in 1485, there was a fervent and respected religious community of some 50 nuns and Eustochia was renowned for the fragrance of her virtues and the fame of her holiness. She was canonised by John Paul II in 1988.

 

First Reading: 1 Peter 4: 7-11; Gospel: Mt. 16: 24-27

 

January 30Go to top of page

 

ST. HYACINTH MARISCOTTI (1585-1640)
Third Order Regular. Virgin

 

Clarice, daughter of Marc Antonio Mariscotti and Ottavia Orsini, was born in Vignanello near Viterbo. Disappointed in a love affair, she entered the Third Order Regular in Viterbo, taking the name of Hyacinth. Here she led a very comfortable life for fifteen years. A severe illness led to her conversion. Deep humility, poverty and penance characterised her life from then on. She also turned her attention to social work for the poor, the infirm, and prisoners. Others whom she in turn converted, were influenced to promote institutions for the old and the sick, Hyacinth’s own life was marked by an intense love for the Blessed Eucharist and the B.V.M. She was canonised in 1807 by Pius VII.

 

First Reading: 2 Cor. 10: 17-11, 2; Gospel: Mt. 16: 24-27

 


 

FEBRUARY

 


 

February 6Go to top of page

 

SS. PETER BAPTIST, PAUL MIKI & COMPANIONS (+1597)
Friars Minor & Secular Franciscans. Martyrs

 

Franciscans were among the first martyrs in the Far East: Peter Baptist Blasquez, Martin Aguirre, and Francis Blanco were priests; Mexican-born Philip de las Casas was an acolyte; and Francis de San Miguel and Indian-born Gonzalo Garcia were lay brothers. Seventeen Japanese Secular Franciscans ranging in age from 12 to 40 years were among this group of martyrs. Paul Miki was one of three Jesuits. The Friars had been sent from the Philippines to Japan in 1593, eventually imprisoned by the emperor in 1596, and they together with the others were crucified on the seashore near Nagasaki in 1597. They were canonised in 1862 by Bl. Pius IX.

 

First Reading: Rom. 8: 31-39; Gospel: Mt. 16: 24-27

 

February 7Go to top of page

 

ST. COLETTE OF CORBIE (1381-1447)
Poor Clare. Virgin

 

Nicolette, only offspring of Robert Boylet and Marguerite Moyon, was born in Corbie in the north-west of France on 13thJanuary, 1381. By the age of 21 she had unsuccessfully tried religious life three times. Within the next few years, she experienced a divine call to reform both the Friars Minor and Poor Clares in France. Authorized and encouraged by Pope Benedict XIII in 1406, Colette spent the rest of her life bringing many Poor Clare monasteries back to the original Rule of St. Clare, as well as in reforming several communities of the Friars Minor. Before her death in 1447, she had founded and won seventeen Poor Clare monasteries back to the ideal of St. Clare. To her contemporaries, she was a woman of prayer and austerity, allied to great courage and attractiveness of character. She was canonised in 1807 by Pius VII.

 

First Reading: Hosea 2: 16-17, 21-22; Gospel: Luke 10: 38-40

 

February 7Go to top of page

 

ST. GILES MARY OF ST JOSEPH (1729-1812)
Friar Minor

 

Born in Taranto (Italy), Francesco Antonio Pontillo joined the Franciscans in the Province of Lecce receiving the name of Giles Mary of St Joseph. In 1759 he moved to the friary of Chiaia in Naples where he remained for the rest of his life. There he performed the duties of cook, porter and seeker of alms and built up a remarkable relationship with the destitute and the suffering of Naples. He carried the love of God to the marginalised and the forgotten but even the nobility of the kingdom of Naples liked to meet and talk with this Franciscan brother of simple words and a vibrant faith. He nourished this faith with prolonged prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, his love for the Infant Jesus, his tender devotion to the Mother of God and his special honouring of St Joseph and St Paschal Baylón. He died as the Angelus bell of the Church rang out on February 7 1812. John Paul II canonised him in 1996.

 

First Reading: 1 John 3: 14-18; Gospel: Mark 3: 31-35

 

February 7Go to top of page

 

ST. JOHN OF TRIORA (1760-1816)
Friar minor. Martyr

 

Francesco Maria Lantrua came from Molini di Triora (Italy) and joined the Franciscans of the Roman Province in 1777, receiving the name of John. Ordained in 1784, he ministered in a number of friaries, teaching philosophy and theology and serving as guardian. He volunteered for the mission to China. He renewed the Christian communities there, spreading especially devotion to the Way of the Cross. Denounced as a minister of a European religion amid a persecution against Christianity, he was imprisoned and condemned to death. He was fixed to a cross where he was strangled. His body was translated to the basilica of Santa Maria in Aracaeli in Rome. Together with 119 other martyrs in China from the 17th to the 20th centuries (87 Chinese and 32 Europeans), he was canonised by John Paul II in the Holy Year of 2000.

 

First Reading: 2 Chron. 24: 18-22; Gospel: Mt. 10: 17-22

 

February 25Go to top of page

 

BL. SEBASTIÁN OF APARICIO (1502-1600)
Friar minor

 

Sebastián del Prado came from a farming background in La Gudiña in Galicia and at the age of 15 wandered into Spain in search of work. Trusted always for his honesty and integrity, he worked as a farmer and tended the vines in Andalusía, while at the same time helping the poor and the sick around him. In 1533 he emigrated to Mexico where he found work rounding up wild cattle which he then trained to pull a cart. He was the first Mexican cowboy. He teamed up with a carpenter and they built some oxcarts and went into the transportation business. He worked at that business for 18 years and took those carts to many places and where there were no roads, he made his own roads, in fact some 960km of them. By now a rich man, Sebastián retired and moved to farms outside Mexico City where his reputation for prayer and charitable works spread widely. At the age of 60, he entered a virginal marriage. When his first wife died shortly afterwards, he entered a similar second marriage; his second wife also died young. Desiring greater holiness, he wished to serve in a monastery of Poor Clares and donated all his worldly goods to them in 1573. In his 70s, he was admitted to the novitiate in the Church of S. Francesco in Mexico City where he was professed. In 1576 he moved to the convent of Aparicio in Puebla de Los Ángeles where working as gardener, cook, infirmarian, porter and sacristan, he spent the rest of his life, practising mortifications and renowned for his holiness and love for the needy. He died at the age of 98, his eyes fixed on the Crucifix. He was beatified in 1789 by Pius VI. He is regarded as the patron of transport in Mexico.

 

First Reading: Eccles. 3: 17-24; Gospel: Mt. 25: 31-40

 


 

MARCH

 


 

March 2Go to top of page

 

ST. AGNES OF PRAGUE (BOHEMIA) (1205-1282)
Poor Clare. Virgin

 

Agnes was born in Prague in 1205, daughter to Premysl Ottokar I of Bohemia, her mother being Constantia, sister of King Andrew II of Hungary. Some of her early education was entrusted to St. Hedwig of Silesia, a grand-aunt on her mother’s side. Agnes was a also a first cousin to St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Rejecting two offers of marriage, Agnes entered the Poor Clare Convent of Prague on 11th June 1234 and was made abbess on 31st August of the same year. Close friend and ally of St. Clare, she dedicated herself to a literal following of the poor Christ. Clare spoke of Agnes as her “dearest mother and most beloved daughter of all” (Letter IV). Agnes died in 1282 and was canonised by John Paul II in 1989.

 

First Reading: 1 Cor. 7: 25-35; Gospel: Mt. 25: 1-13

 

March 3 Go to top of page

 

BL. LIBERATUS WEISS AND COMPANIONS (+1716)
Friars Minor. Martyrs

 

Johannes Laurentius Weiβ, born at Konnersreuth in Germany, joined the Franciscans in the Austrian Province of St Bernardine in 1693, receiving the name Liberatus. He was ordained five years later. While in Graz in 1703, he responded to an appeal to serve as a missionary in Ethiopia. He was named in 1711 by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith as the head of a missionary endeavour and was joined by two other Italian Franciscan priests, Michele Pio Fasoli from Zerbo, and Samuele Marzorati from Biumo. In defence of the Catholic faith, they were stoned to death at Gondar in 1716 and beatified by John Paul II in 1988.

 

First Reading: 2 Macc. 7: 1-2, 9-14; Gospel: John 12: 24-26

 

March 5Go to top of page

 

ST. JOHN JOSEPH OF THE CROSS (1654-1734)
Friar Minor

 

Carlo Gaetano Calosirto came from Ischia, a volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples, and became a Franciscan in Naples in 1670 among the Spanish Alcantarines with the name John Joseph of the Cross. After his ordination in 1677, he spent the early years of his priesthood in a small hermitage. He served as Provincial for three years from 1703. In his work he suffered much and became the victim of numerous calumnies. Throughout his life, he devoted himself to contemplative prayer, about which he wrote intensely. He was always a friend of the poor and the estranged and was a counsellor of illustrious contemporaries like St Alphonsus Maria Ligouri. As an old man, he was severely troubled with leg ulcers so he could hardly take a step without using a stick. He was canonised with his friend St Alphonsus by Gregory XVI in 1839.

 

First Reading: Eccles. 2: 7-13; Gospel: Mt. 22: 35-40

 

March 18Go to top of page

 

ST. SALVADOR OF HORTA (1520-1567)
Friar Minor

 

Born at Santa Colomba de Farnés in Catalonia (Spain), the family of Salvador Grionesos worked in a small local hospital helping the sick. Seeking to serve the Lord more closely, Salvador became a shoemaker and joined the famous Benedictine Abbey of Montserrat. He felt called, however, to a more intense life of humility and poverty and in 1541 became a Franciscan in Barcelona where he was professed a year later and sent to the convent of Tortosa, renowned for its observance and austerity. Working as porter and questor of alms, daily he met the local people with whom he frequently prayed and many of whom he cured with a simple sign of the cross. His reputation caused crowds to come to the friary, disturbing the peace of the cloister. His superiors then moved him out of Tortosa and he went eventually in 1559 to Horta some 10 km away. From being a tiny unknown village, Horta became known throughout Spain as Salvador attracted thousands in pilgrimage for cures of all kinds. Again Salvador was moved to other friaries, always obedient to his superiors who even tried to hide his presence by giving him a false name Alphonsus. The Lord continued to work miracles through him. He suffered and was completely misunderstood because of his charism. As the crowds continued to seek him out, he was moved out of Spain in 1565 to Italy where in Cagliari he had comparative peace for the last 15 months of his life. He was canonised by Pius XI in 1938.

 

First Reading: 1 Kings 19: 4-9, 11-15; Gospel: Mt. 11: 25-30

 

March 22Go to top of page

 

ST. BENVENUTE SCOTIVOLI OF OSIMO (about 1188-1282)
Friar Minor

 

Benvenute Scotivoli became a priest and then Bishop of Osimo in Italy. He was born in Ancona and studied theology and law at the University of Bologna. He was archdeacon of Ancona before being appointed Bishop of Osimo. He was known as a great reformer and peacemaker. Realising that his death was near, he distributed all his goods to the poor, and after his death he was buried in the Cathedral crypt. Miracles occurred around his tomb. Tradition backed by the Franciscan historian Luke Wadding claims that he requested Pope Urban IV to profess the Franciscan Rule before he became bishop and the Pope granted this. Other authors dispute this and the claim remains open. He was canonised by Pope Martin IV in the 13th century.

 

First Reading: Is. 61: 1-3; Gospel: John 10: 11-16

 


 

APRIL

 


 

April 4Go to top of page

 

ST. BENEDICT OF SAN FRATELLO (1524-1589)
Friar Minor

 

The parents of Benedict were native Ethiopians who had been brought as slaves to San Fratello, a village in Sicily. There they became Christians and lived such exemplary lives that their master gave Benedict, their eldest son, his freedom. Getting to know some hermits who followed the Rule of St Francis, he joined them and led the life of a hermit for 17 years with meekness and cheerfulness. In 1562, Pope Pius IV decreed that the hermits join established friaries of the Franciscans and Capuchins. Benedict went to the convent of the friars in Palermo. There he continued his former pious exercises and took on other heavy work. Though without any schooling, he was appointed guardian of the house and guided the community with wisdom, prudence and charity for three years. The fame of his sanctity and the miracles he performed attracted many, even the nobility of Sicily, to visit him for guidance and advice. A new wing had to be built on to the friary to accommodate the many men who joined. At the end of his term of office, Benedict went back with joy to his ordinary duties in the kitchen. He died at the hour he had foretold and his veneration spread from Europe to Brazil, Mexico and Peru. He was canonised in 1807 by Pius VII.

 

First Reading: 1 Kings 19: 16, 19-21; Gospel: Luke 6: 27-38

 

April 21Go to top of page

 

ST. CONRAD OF PARZHAM (1818-1894)
Friar Minor. Confessor

 

John Birndorfer was one of ten children born to Bartholomew Birndorfer and Gertrude Niedermaier in Parzham, Bavaria. After his parents’ death he continued to work on the family farm until 1849, when he decided to become a lay friar in the Capuchin Order taking the name of Conrad. Following his profession in 1852, Conrad was sent to the Marian shrine in Altoetting where he worked as porter at the friary until the end of his life. Prayer, work, patience, and affability characterized him, and he drew strength from the Blessed Eucharist, the Passion, and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He also found time to work for abandoned children. Conrad was canonised by Pius XI in 1934.

 

First Reading: Apoc. 3: 14, 20-22; Gospel: Luke 11: 9-13

 

April 23Go to top of page

 

BL. GILES OF ASSISI (+1262)
Friar Minor

 

Giles was the third of the first twelve companions of St. Francis, joining him in 1209. He headed a group of missionaries to Tunis in 1219, a project that had to be soon abandoned because of local hostility. After the death of St. Francis, Giles remained a tireless and outspoken upholder of the primitive form of life (forma vitae). He was highly esteemed by St. Bonaventure because of his spirit of prayer and simplicity. Giles died in 1262 at a small friary in Monteripido (Perugia, Italy), where he had spent the last twenty-eight years of his life. His cult as Blessed was approved in 1777 by Pius VI. Apart from St. Clare of Assisi, Giles is the only companion of St. Francis to be thus honoured by the Church.

 

First Reading: Eph. 3: 14-19; Gospel: John 15: 1-8

 

April 24Go to top of page

 

ST. FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN (1578-1622)
Friar Minor. Martyr

 

Mark Roy, son of John Roy, mayor of Sigmaringen north of Lake Constance (Germany) took out his degrees in philosophy and civil and ecclesiastical law in Freiburg-im-Breisgau in the years 1603-1611. He spent the intervening years acting as tutor to sons of noblemen and travelling a great deal in France, Spain and Italy. After practising civil law for a short period he was ordained priest, and then entered the Capuchin Order in 1612, taking the name Fidelis. He exercised his apostolate of preaching particularly in Switzerland, where his natural abilities and his life of prayer helped to bring many Calvinists back to the Church. Fearing his influence, a group of Calvinists attacked and killed him as he was preaching after Mass in Seewis, Switzerland. Fidelis was canonised in 1746 by Benedict XIV. He was declared Protomartyr of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in 1771, because his final mission was undertaken by authority of that Congregation.

 

First Reading: Apoc. 3: 7-8, 10-12 ; Second Reading: 2 Tim. 2: 8-13 & 3: 10-12;
Gospel: John 10: 11-16

 

April 28Go to top of page

 

BL. LUCHESIUS (about 1181-1260)
Secular Franciscan

 

Luchesius, born in Gaggiano (Siena, Italy), spent an early part of his life as a soldier, then turned to farming and trading in grain, being particularly avaricious. He is said to have been converted to a new life by St. Francis in Poggibonsi, and became the first Secular Franciscan along with his wife, Bounadonna dei Segni, whom he in turn had converted. They gave away their wealth and engaged in works of charity for the poor. Pius VI is recorded as approving the veneration accorded to Luchesius from time immemorial.

 

First Reading: Jas. 2: 14-17; Gospel: Mt. 13: 44-46

 


 

MAY

 


 

May 4Go to top of page

 

BL. THOMAS BULLAKER, HENRY HEATH, ARTHUR BELL, JOHN WOODCOCK AND CHARLES MEEHAN
Friars Minor. Martyrs in England and Wales

 

During the persecutions of King Henry VIII and his successors in England in the course of the 16th and 17th centuries, many Catholics were martyred. Among them were these Franciscan priests. Thomas Bullaker (in religion John Baptist) studied at Valladolid in Spain. He was ordained in 1628 and returned to England where he worked as a priest, often secretly. He was guardian of Oxford and provincial secretary. He was betrayed in 1642 and dragged through the streets of Tyburn where he was hanged, drawn and quartered. Henry Heath was a Protestant who studied at Cambridge before he became a Catholic. He then studied at Douai and became a friar, taking the name Paul of St Magdalene. Moving back to England, he was arrested for being a priest and imprisoned at Newgate. He died a martyr’s death in 1643. Arthur Bell came from a Catholic family and, as the persecutions increased, he fled to the continent. He was ordained at Valladolid in Spain in 1618. Shortly afterwards, he joined the fiars receiving the name, Francis. At Douai, he became guardian and definitor. Returning to England in 1634, he did his best to solidify the Franciscan presence among the suffering. Captured in 1643, he was tried, found guilty and hanged at Tyburn. John Woodcock joined the friars in 1631 with the name, Martin of St Felix and was ordained four years later in Douai. His health was not good but he was allowed to return to England. He was arrested and held in Lancaster Castle and he was hanged in 1646. Charles Meehan belonged to the Irish Province of Franciscans and spent some of 1676 at St Isidore’s College in Rome. Attempting to return to Ireland from the continent where he had been ordained, he was shipwrecked and landed in Wales. He was arrested in 1678 and imprisoned at Denbigh. He went on trial the following year at Ruthin in north Wales where he was condemned and hanged. Charles, as well as Henry, Arthur and John, were among 85 martyrs beatified in 1987 by John Paul II, while Thomas was among 135 martyrs beatified in 1929 by Pius XI.

 

First Reading: Heb. 10: 32-36; Gospel: Luke 9: 23-26

 

May 8 Go to top of page

 

OUR LADY MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACES

 

A long Franciscan tradition holds that Our Lady’s unique role in the redemption is worthy of this special feast. Mary herself was redeemed by Christ, her Son. Then through her powerful intercession, she obtains for us the graces that God wishes to bestow on the human race. In the 15th century, the Franciscan friar, St Bernardine of Siena wrote: “I do not hesitate to say that she (Mary) has received a certain jurisdiction over all graces… They are administered through her hands to whom she pleases, when she pleases, as she pleases and as much as she pleases.” In the Constitution on the Church, Vatican II states: “In the work of the Saviour, she (Mary) cooperated in an altogether singular way, by her obedience, faith, hope and burning love, to restore supernatural life to souls.”

 

First Reading: Gal. 4: 4-7; Gospel: Luke 1: 39-47

 

May 9Go to top of page

 

ST. CATHERINE OF BOLOGNA (1413-1463)
Poor Clare. Virgin

 

Daughter of John de’ Vigri and Benvenuta Mammolini, Catherine was born in Bologna, and later educated at the court of d’Este family in Ferrara. She then joined a group of Secular Franciscans in Ferrara who embraced the Rule of St. Clare in 1431. As mistress of novices in Ferrara, she wrote some spiritual books. At Christmas 1445, she experienced an intimate vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Divine Child. Artistic and of lively temperament, obedience and charity came only with years of struggle. In 1456, she founded in Bologna another Poor Clare Convent, a real centre of spirituality. Catherine was canonised in 1712 by Clement XI.

 

First Reading: Song of Songs 8: 6-7; Gospel: Mt. 16: 24-27

 

May 12Go to top of page

 

ST. LEOPOLD MANDIĆ OF HERCEG NOVI (1866-1942)
Friar Minor

 

Eleventh of twelve children to Peter Anthony Mandić and Carol Zarević, Bogdan (=Deodatus), John Mandić was born in Herceg Novi, Montenegro next to the Adriatic Sea on 12th May 1866. He took the name Leopold on becoming a Capuchin in 1882, and was ordained a priest in 1890. Leopold’s prayer life was directed towards the union of the Oriental and Catholic Churches. Administration of the sacrament of penance formed his lifelong apostolate, in Venice, Zara, Capodistria and finally in Padua where he spent most of the last 31 years of his life. Leopold suffered from oesophagus cancer which eventually led to his death on 30th July 1942. Canonised in 1983 by John Paul II, St. Leopold is hailed as the apostle of unity.

 

First Reading: 1 John. 4: 7-16; Gospel: John 10: 11-16

 

May 13Go to top of page

 

ST. PETER REGALADO (1390-1456)
Friar Minor

 

Born of wealthy and devout parents at Valladolid in Spain, Peter Regalado, from an early age loved quiet places where he would sit for hours in prayer and devotion. Not too unusual in those times, he was allowed to enter the Franciscan convent at the age of 13. A stricter observance of the Rule was introduced into Spain at this time and Peter attached himself to it with enthusiastic zeal. In the small friary of Aguilar in the diocese of Osma, he prepared for the priesthood with deep study and constant prayer. Ordained in 1413, he founded other friaries of the reform movement. Whatever he taught, his brother friars saw him observe most perfectly in his own life. God rewarded him with extraordinary graces of levitation and bilocation. His love of neighbour was so great that he often brought the poor and sick with him into the friary and cared for them with great love. Immediately after his death, his grave became the location for many miracles. He was canonised by Benedict XIV in 1746.

 

First Reading: Acts 4: 32-35; Gospel: Mt. 25: 14-23

 

May 16Go to top of page

 

ST. MARGARET OF CORTONA (1247-1297)
Secular Franciscan. Penitent

 

Margaret was born in Laviano in the province of Perugia, Italy. She was neglected by her father, and by her step-mother on her father’s re-marriage following the death of her mother. She left home at 18 years of age, lived with a young nobleman, Arsenius, in Montepulciano for nine years, bearing him a son out of wedlock. The murder of her lover shocked Margaret into a change of life. She became a Secular Franciscan, and her son subsequently joined the Friars Minor. Her life of penance and reparation was accompanied by assistance to the poor for whom she founded a hospital and a special group of women to look after it. She received great mystical graces, and was a messenger of peace to citizens at war with each other. Margaret died in Cortona on 22nd February 1297. She was canonised in 1728 by Benedict XIII.

 

First Reading: Ezek. 18: 21-23, 27-28; Gospel: Luke 15: 1-10

 

May 17Go to top of page

 

ST. PASCHAL BAYLÓN (1540-1592)
Friar Minor

 

Paschal was born on 24th May 1540 in Torre Hermoso in Aragon, his parents being Martin Baylon and Elizabeth Jubeira. Lacking any formal education, he succeeded in teaching himself. When he joined the Alcantarine Franciscans at Monteforte in 1564, he opted to be a lay friar rather than an ordained one, as he had been invited. His main work was that of porter at the friary. The dominant features of Paschal’s life were extreme penance, prayer, and devotion to the Eucharist. His insight into religious matters was penetrating. Canonised in 1690 by Alexander VIII, he was also declared patron of Eucharistic societies and congresses in 1897 by Leo XIII.

 

First Reading: 1 Cor. 1: 26-31; Gospel: Mt. 11: 25-30

 

May 18Go to top of page

 

ST. FELIX OF CANTALICE (1515-1587)
Friar Minor

 

Felix was the third of four sons born to Santi and Santa Porri on 18th May 1515 in Cantalice in the Rieti valley, Italy. He was a farm worker until 28 years of age. In 1543 he entered the Capuchins keeping his baptismal name. From 1547 onwards, Felix was a familiar figure in Rome as he quested for the friary. His simplicity and open innocence of life influenced many towards leading a good Christian life. Friend of the poor, he was well known to people like St. Philip Neri and St. Charles Borromeo. He died in Rome on his 72nd birthday, 18th May 1587, and was canonised by Clement XI in 1712, the first Capuchin to be so honoured.

 

First Reading: Acts 2: 44-47; Gospel: Luke 12: 22-31

 

May 19Go to top of page

 

ST. THEOPHILUS OF CORTE (1676-1740)
Friar Minor

 

Biagio de Signori was born at Corte in Corsica of a rich and noble family. As a youth, he joined the Franciscans, receiving the name of Theophilus. After profession, he went to Aracaeli in Rome where he studied philosophy with distinction. He did his theology in Naples, blending virtue with learning. Shortly after his ordination, he went to Bellegra, a friary renowned for austerity and prayer. He thrived in this atmosphere. After 34 years away, in 1730 Theophilus returned to Corsica where he set up a new “ritiro” in Zuani and was guardian there. He was recalled to Rome in 1734 and spent the remainder of his life setting up retreat houses in many parts of Italy. No difficulties would ever stop him when it came to doing good, visiting the sick, assisting the needy, hearing confessions. He was canonised by Pius XI in 1930.

 

First Reading: 1 John 3: 14-18; Gospel: John 15: 1-8

 

May 20Go to top of page

 

ST. BERNARDINE OF SIENA (1380-1444)
Friar Minor

 

Bernardine was the only child of Tollo Albizzeschi and Rainera degli Avveduti, born on 8th September 1380 at Massa Marittima in the province of Siena, Italy. He enered the friars in 1402 and was ordained priest in 1405. A noted preacher of popular style, he denounced the extravagances of the socially and politically powerful and the immoral customs of his day. From 1417 onwards he propagated devotion to the holy Name of Jesus. Apart from being one of the pillars of the movement among the friars towards a more radical observance of the Rule, he was also influential in the reform of the Poor Clare Convent of St. Ursula in Milan around 1418. Bernadine died at L’Aquila in 1444 and was canonised in 1450, six years after his death, by Nicholas V.

 

First Reading: Acts 4: 8-12; Gospel: John 14: 12-17

 

May 24Go to top of page

 

DEDICATION OF BASILICA OF ST FRANCIS

 

Gregory IX laid the foundation stone of what is called the lower church on 17th July 1228. When construction was finished, the remains of St. Francis were brought secretly from St. George’s church and buried deep in the new crypt on 25th May 1230, remaining undiscovered until 1818. When the upper church was completed, Innocent IV solemnly consecrated the whole edifice on 25th May 1253. It was given the rank of papal chapel by Benedict XIV on 25th March 1754.

 

First Reading: Apoc. 21: 1-5; Gospel: John 10: 22-30

 

May 30Go to top of page

 

ST. BAPTISTA VARANO (1458-1524)
Poor Clare. Virgin

 

Camilla da Varano, daughter of Julius Caesar da Varano and Joanna Malatesta, was born in Camerino, 9th April 1458. On hearing a sermon on the Passion when she was 18 years of age, she resolved to meditate on the sufferings of Christ every Friday. Camilla took the name Baptista on entering the Poor Clares in Urbino in 1481. Three years later, she was one of the founding sisters of a new convent in her native Camerino, where she served as abbess on several occasions. Her father and three brothers were murdered in a popular uprising in 1502 though her mother and youngest brother escaped. She is best known for her work, “The Mental Sufferings of Jesus in his Passion” (1488). Baptista died in Camerino on 31st May 1524 and was canonised by Benedict XVI in 2010.

 

First Reading: Song. 8: 6-7; Gospel: Lk. 10: 38-42

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