On May 24, 1802, the fossors who worked to free Priscilla’s catacombs from materials and rubble built up over the centuries had reached its centre, not far from the Greek Chapel, very close to the skylight (fig.5). One of them, who remains unknown, when removing the soil from one of the tunnels, hit some tiles which had kept a niche closed.
Excerpts from the Official Website of the Shrine of St. Philomena http://philomena.it
On May 24, 1802, the fossors who worked to free Priscilla’s catacombs from materials and rubble built up over the centuries had reached its centre, not far from the Greek Chapel, very close to the skylight (fig.5). One of them, who remains unknown, when removing the soil from one of the tunnels, hit some tiles which had kept a niche closed.
(Taken from a short pamphlet I have...)
His name wasn't always Maximilian. He was born the second son of a poor weaver on 8 January 1894 at Zdunska Wola near Lodz in Poland, and was given the baptismal name of Raymond. Both parents were devout Christians with a particular devotion to Mary. In his infancy, Raymond seems to have been normally mischievous but we are told that one day, after his mother had scolded him for some mischief or other, her words took effect and brought about a radical change in the child's behaviour. Later he explained this change. "That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both." Thus early did the child believe and accept that he was destined for martyrdom. His belief in his dream coloured all his future actions.
In 1907, Raymond and his elder brother entered a junior Franciscan seminary in Lwow. Here he excelled in mathematics and physics and his teachers predicted a brilliant future for him in science. Others, seeing his passionate interest in all things military, saw in him a future strategist. For a time indeed, his interest in military affairs together with his fiery patriotism made him lose interest in the idea of becoming a priest. The fulfilment of his dream would lie in saving Poland from her oppressors as a soldier. But before he could tell anyone about his decision his mother announced that, as all their children were now in seminaries, she and her husband intended to enter religious life. Raymond hadn't the heart to upset his parents' plans and so he abandoned his plans for joining the army. He was recieved as a novice in September 1910 and with the habit he took the new name of Maximilian. From 1912 to 1915, he was in Rome studying philosophy at the Gregorian College, and from 1915 to 1919 theology at the Collegio Serafico. He was ordained in Rome on 28 April 1918.
The love of fighting didn't leave him, but while he was in Rome he stopped seeing the struggle as a military one. He didn't like what he saw of the world, in fact he saw it as downright evil. The fight, he decided, was a spiritual one. The world was bigger than Poland and there were worse slaveries than earthly ones. The fight was still on, but he would not be waging it with the sword. At that time, many Catholics in Europe regarded freemasonry as their chief enemy; and it was against the freemasons that Maximilian Kolbe began to wage war. On 16 October 1917, with six companions, he founded the Crusade of Mary Immaculate (Militia Immaculatae), with the aim of "converting sinners, heretics and schismatics, particularly freemasons, and bringing all men to love Mary Immaculate".
As he entered what was to be the most creative period of his life, Fr Maximilian's health had already begun to deteriorate. He was by now in an advanced state of tuberculosis, and he felt himself overshadowed by death. His love for Mary Immaculate now became the devouring characteristic of his life. He regarded himself as no more than an instrument of her will, and the only time he was known to lose his temper was in defence of her honour. It was for her that he strove to develop all the good that was in him, and he wanted to encourage others to do the same.
When Maximilian returned to Poland in 1919, he rejoiced to see his country free once again, a liberation which he attributed to Mary Immaculate. Pius XI, in response to a request from the Polish bishops, had just promulgated the Feast of Our Lady, Queen of Poland, and Fr Maximilian wrote: "She must be the Queen of Poland of every Polish heart. We must labour to win each and every heart for her." He set himself to extend the influence of his Crusade, and formed cells and circles all over Poland. The doctors had by now pronounced him incurable; one lung had collapsed and the other was damaged. Yet it was now that he flung himself into a whirlwind of activity. In January 1922, he began to publish a monthly review, the Knight of the Immaculate, in Krakow. Its aim was to "illuminate the truth and show the true way to happiness". As funds were low, only 5,000 copies of the first issue were printed. In 1922, he removed to another friary in Grodno and acquired a small printing establishment; and from now on the review began to grow. In 1927, 70,000 copies were being printed. The Grodno Friary became too small to house such a mammoth operation, so Fr Maximilian began to look for a site nearer to Warsaw. Prince Jan Drucko-Lubecki offered him some land at Teresin, west of Warsaw, Fr Maximilian promptly erected a statue of Mary Immaculate there, and the monks began the arduous work of construction.
On 21 November 1927, the Franciscans moved from Grodno to Teresin and on 8 December, the friary was consecrated and was given the name of Niepokalanow, the City of the Immaculate. "Niepokalanow", said Fr Maximilian, "is a place chosen by Mary Immaculate and is exclusively dedicated to spreading her cult. All that is and will be at Niepokalanow will belong to her. The monastic spirit will flourish here; we shall practise obedience and we shall be poor, in the spirit of St Francis."
At first, Niepokalanow consisted of no more than a few shacks with tar-paper roofs, but it soon flourished. To cope with the flood of vocations all over Poland, a junior seminary was built at Niepokalanow "to prepare priests for the missions capable of every task in the name of the Immaculate and with her help". A few years later, there were more than a hundred seminarians and the numbers were still growing. Before long, Niepokalanow had become one of the largest (some say the largest) friaries in the world. In 1939, it housed 762 inhabitants: 13 priests, 18 novices, 527 brothers, 122 boys in the junior seminary and 82 candidates for the priesthood. No matter how many labourers were in the vineyard, there was always work for more. Among the inhabitants of Niepokalanow there were doctors, dentists, farmers, mechanics, tailors, builders, printers, gardeners, shoemakers, cooks. The place was entirely self-supporting.
Not only the friary but the printing house had been expanding. More modern machinery had been installed, including three machines which could produce 16,000 copies of the review in an hour. New techniques of type, photogravure and binding were adopted. The new machinery and techniques made it possible to meet the growing demand for Knight of the Immaculate -- which had now reached the incredible circulation figure of 750,000 per month -- and to produce other publications as well. In 1935, they began to produce a daily Catholic newspaper, The Little Daily, of which 137,000 copies were printed on weekdays and 225,000 on Sundays and holydays.
Maximilian did not rest content with mere journalistic activity. His sights were set even further. On 8 December 1938, a radio station was installed at Neipokalanow with the signature tune (played by the brothers' own orchestra) of the Lourdes hymn. And now that there was so much valuable equipment around, Niepokalanow acquired its own fire brigade to protect it against its enemies. Some of the brothers were now trained as firemen.
There was no doubt that Niepokalanow was going from strength to strength, a unique situation within Poland. The results of the work done there were becoming apparent. Priests in parishes all over the country reported a tremendous upsurge of faith, which they attributed to the literature emerging from Niepokalanow. A campaign against abortion in the columns of the Knight (1938) seemed to awaken the conscience of the nation: more than a million people of all classes and professions ranged themselves behind the standard of Mary Immaculate. Years later, after the war, the Polish bishops sent an official letter to the Holy See claiming that Fr Kolbe's magazine had prepared the Polish nation to endure and survive the horrors of the war that was soon to follow.
Fr Maximilian was a restless spirit, and his activities could not be confined to Poland. His junior seminary had been started in 1929, but he didn't intend to wait for its first priest to be trained before he himself set out for the mission lands. To those who pointed out that Niepokalonow wasn't yet up to undertaking foreign apostolic work, he quoted the example of St Francis, who had risked himself on the mission fields when the other Orders had remained uninvolved. With the blessing of his Father General, Maximilian prepared his expedition. Asked whether he had money to finance it, he replied: "Money? It will turn up somehow or other. Mary will see to it. It's her business and her Son's."
On 26 February 1930, Fr Maximilian left Poland with four brothers from Niepokalanow on a journey to the Far East. They travelled by way of Port Said, Saigon and Shanghai, and on 24 April they landed at Nagasaki in Japan. Here they were given epispcopal permission to stay. In fact Archbishop Hayasaka received them very warmly when he learned that Fr Maximilian had two doctorates and would be able to tkae the vacant chair of philosophy in the diocesan seminary in exchange for a licence to print his review.
The going was hard. The Poles' only shelter was a wretched hut whose walls and roof were caving in. They slept on what straw they could find and their tables were planks of wood. But despite such hardships, and the fact that they knew no word of the Japanese language, and had no money, on 24 April 1930, exactly a month after their arrival, a telegram was despatched to Niepokalanow: "Today distributing Japanese Knight. Have printing press. Praise to Mary Immaculate." After that, it was scarcely surprising that a year later the Japanese Niepokalanow was inaugurated -- Mugenzai no Sono (the Garden of the Immaculate), built on the slopes of Mount Kikosan. The choice of this site in the suburbs had been dictated by poverty, but it proved to be a lucky one. People thought Fr Maximilian was crazy to be building on steep ground sloping away from the town; but in 1945, when the atomic bomb all but levelled Nagaskai, Mugenzai no Sono sustained no more damage than a few broken pains of stained glass. Today it forms the centre of a Franciscan province.
Despite his passionate zeal in the cause of Mary, Fr Maximilian proved to be a wise missionary. He did not attempt to impose Western ideas on the Japanese. He respected their national customers and looked for what was good in Buddhism and Shintoism. He entered into dialogue with Buddhist priests and some of them became his friends. In 1931, he founded a novitiate, and in 1936 a junior seminary. And of course he continued to publish his beloved magazine. Seibo no Kishi, the Japanese Knight, had a circulation six times that of the nearest Japanese Catholic rival. This was because it was aimed at the whole community, not just Catholics. The first 10,000 copies had swollen to 65,000 by 1936.
Fr. Maximilian's health was rapidly deteriorating, but he didn't allow this fact to diminish his zeal -- or his restless energy. Although he often complained of the lack of manpower and machines needed to serve the people of Japan, in 1932 he was already seeking fresh pastures. On 31 May he left Japan and sailed to Malabar where, after a few initial difficulties, he founded the third Niepokalanow. But his superiors requested him to return to Japan, and as no priests could be spared for Malabar, that idea had to be given up. On another of his journeys, he travelled through Siberia and spent some time in Moscow. Even here, he dreamed of publishing his magazine -- in Russian. He had studied the language and had a fair acquaintance with marxist literature. Like Pope John XXIII, he looked for the good elements, even in systems he believed to be evil; and he tried to teach his friars to do likewise.
In 1936, he was recalled to Poland, and left Japan for the last time. He had thought that he would find martyrdom there; and indeed he had found martyrdom of a kind. He was racked by violent headaches and covered with abscesses brought on by the food to which he could not grow accustomed. But these things were only pinpricks: the real martyrdom awaited him elsewhere.
Just before the Second World War broke out, Fr Maximilian spoke to his friars about suffering. They must not be afraid, he said, for suffering accepted with love would bring them closer to Mary. All his life, he had dreamt of a martyr's crown, and the time was nearly at hand.
By 13 September 1939, Niepokalanow had been occupied by the invading Germans and most of its inhabitants had been deported to Germany. Among them was Fr Maximilian. But that exile did not last long and on 8 December (the feast of the Immaculate Conception) the prisoners were set free. From the moment that he returned to Niepokalanow, Fr Maximilian was galvanised into a new kind of activity. He began to organize a shelter for 3,000 Polish refugees, among whom were 2,000 Jews. "We must do everything in our power to help these unfortunate people who have been driven from their homes and deprived of even the most basic necessities. Our mission is among them in the days that lie ahead." The friars shared everything they had with the refugees. They housed, fed and clothed them, and brought all their machinery into use in their service.
Inevitably, the community came under suspicion and was watched closely. Early in 1941, in the only edition of The Knight of the Immaculate which he was allowed to publish, Fr Maximilian set pen to paper and thus provoked his own arrest. "No one in the world can change Truth," he wrote. "What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?"
He would never know that kind of defeat; but a more obvious defeat was near. On 17 February 1941, he was arrested and sent to the infamous Pawiak prison in Warsaw. Here he was singled out for special ill-treatment. A witness tells us that in March of that year an SS guard, seeing this man in his habit girdled with a rosary, asked if he believed in Christ. When the priest calmly replied, "I do", the guard struck him. The SS man repeated his question several times and receiving always the same answer went on beating him mercilessly. Shortly afterwards the Franciscan habit was taken away and a prisoner's garment was substituted. On 28 May, Fr Maximilian was with over 300 others who were deported from Pawiak to Auschwitz. There he received his striped convict's garments and was branded with the number 16670. He was put to work immediately carrying blocks of stone for the construction of a crematorium wall. On the last day of May he was assigned with other priests to the Babice section which was under the direction of "Bloody" Krott, an ex-criminal. "These men are layabouts and parisites", said the Commandant to Krott, "get them working." Krott forced the priests to cut and carry huge tree trunks. The work went on all day without a stop and had to be done running --- with the aid of vicious blows from the guards. Depsite his one lung, Father Maximilain accepted the work and the blows with surprising calm. Krott conceived a relentless hatred against the Franciscan and gave him heavier tasks than the others. Sometimes his colleagues would try to come to his aid but he would not expose them to danger. Always he replied, "Mary gives me strength. All will be well." At this time he wrote to his mother, "Do not worry about me or my health, for the good Lord is everywhere and holds every one of us in his great love."
One day, Krott found some of the heaviest planks he could lay hold of and personally loaded them on the Franciscan's back, ordering him to run. When he collapsed, Krott kicked him in the stomach and face and had his men give him fifty lashes. When the priest lost consciousness Krott threw him in the mud and left him for dead. But his companions managed to smuggle him to the Revier, the camp hospital. Although he was suffering greatly, he secretly heard confessions in the hospital and spoke to the other inmates of the love of God. In Aushcwitz, where hunger and hatred reigned and faith evaporated, this man opened his heart to others and spoke of God's infinite love. He seemed never to think of himself. When food was brought in and everyone struggled to get his place in the queue so as to be sure of a share, Fr Maximilian stood aside, so that frequently there was none left for him. At other times he shared his meagre ration of soup or bread with others. He was once asked whether such self-abnegation made sense in a place where every man was engaged in a struggle or survival, and he answered: "Every man has an aim in life. For most men it is to return home to their wives and families, or to their mothers. For my part, I give my life for the good of all men."
Men gathered in secret to hear his words of love and encouragement, but it was his example which counted for most. Fr Zygmunt Rusczak remembers: "Each time I saw Fr Kolbe in the courtyard I felt within myself an extraordinary effusion of his goodness. Although he wore the same ragged clothes as the rest of us, with the same tin can hanging from his belt, one forgot his wretched exterior and was conscious only of the charm of his inspired countenance and of his radiant holiness."
There remained only the last act in the drama. The events are recorded in the sworn testimonials of former inmates of the camp, collected as part of the beatification proceedings. They are as follows:
Tadeusz Joachimowski, clerk of Block 14A: "In the summer of 1941, most probably on the last day of Juyl, the camp siren announced that there had been an escape. At the evening roll-call of the same day we, ie Block 14A, were formed up in the street between the buildings of Blocks 14 and 17. After some delay we were joined by a group of the Landwirtschafts-Kommando. During the count it was found that three prisoners from this Kommando had escaped: one from our Block and the two others from other Blocks. Lagerfuhrer Fritzsch announced that on account of the escape of the three prisoners, ten prisoners would be picked in reprisal from the blocks in which the fugitives had lived and would be assigned to the Bunker (the underground starvation cell)"
Jan Jakub Zegidewicz takes up the story from there: "After the group of doomed men had already been selected, a prisoner stepped out from the ranks of one of the Blocks. I recognized Fr Kolbe. Owing to my poor knowledge of German I did not understand what they talked about, nor do I remember whether Fr Kolbe spoke directly to Fritzsch. When making his request, Fr Kolbe stood at attention and pointed at a former non-commissioned officer known to me from the camp. It could be inferred from the expression on Fritzsch's face that he was surprised at Fr Kolbe's action. As the sign was given, Fr Kolbe joined the ranks of the doomed and the non-commissioned officer left the ranks of the doomed Firzsch had consented to the exchange. A little later, the doomed men were marched off in the direction of Block 13, the death Block."
The non-commissioned officer was Franciszek Gajowniczek. When the sentence of doom had been pronounced, Gajowniczek had cried out in despair, "Oh, my poor wife, my poor children. I shall never see them again." It was then that the unexpected had happened, and that from among the ranks of those temporarily reprieved, prisoner 16670 had stepped forward and offered himself in the other man's place. Then the ten condemned men were led off to the dreaded Bunker, to the airless underground cells were men died slowly without food or water.
Bruno Borgowiec was an eyewitness of those last terrible days, for he was an assistant to the janitor and an interpreter in the underground Bunkers. He tells us what happened: "In the cell of the poor wretches there were daily loud prayers, the rosary and singing, in which prisnoers from neighbouring cells also joined. When no SS men were in the Block, I went to the Bunker to talk to the men and comfort them. Fervent prayers and songs to the Holy Mother resounded in all the corridors of the Bunker. I had the impression I was in a church. Fr Kolbe was leading and the prisoners responded in unison. They were often so deep in prayer that they did not even hear that inspecting SS men had descended to the Bunker; and the voices fell silent only at the loud yelling of their visitors. When the cells were opened the poor wretches cried loudly and begged for a piece of bread and for water, which they did not receive, however. If any of the stronger ones approached the door he was immediately kicked in the stomach by the SS men, so that falling backwards on the cement floor he was instantly killed; or he was shot to death ... Fr Kolbe bore up bravely, he did not beg and did not complain but raised the spirits of the others. ...Since they had grown very weak, prayers were now only whispered. At every inspection, when almost all the others were now lying on the floor, Fr Kolbe was seen kneeling or standing in the centre as he looked cheerfully in the face of the SS men. Two weeks passed in this way. Meanwhile one after another they died, until only Fr Kolbe was left. This the authorities felt was too long; the cell was needed for new victims. So one day they brought in the head of the sickquarters, a German, a common criminal named Bock, who gave Fr Kolbe an injection of carbolic acid in the vein of his left arm. Fr Kolbe, with a prayer on his lips, himself gave his arm to the executioner. Unable to watch this I left under the pretext of work to be done. Immediately after the SS men with the executioner had left I returned to the cell, where I found Fr Kolbe leaning in a sitting position against the back wall with his eyes open and his head dropping sideways. His face was calm and radiant."
The heroism of Fr Kolbe went echoing through Auschwiz. In that desert of hatred he had sown love. Mr Jozef Stemler, former director of an important cultural institute in Poland, comments: "In those conditions ... in the midst of a brutalization of thought and feeling and words such as had never before been known, man indeed became a ravening wolf in his relations with other men. And into this state of affairs came the heroic self-sacrifice of Fr Maximilian. The atmosphere grew lighter, as this thunderbolt provoked its profound and salutary shock." Jerzy Bielecki declared that Fr Kolbe's death was "a shock filled with hope, bringing new life and strength. ...It was like a powerful shaft of light in the darkness of the camp."
His reputation spread far and wide, through the Nazi camps and beyond. After the war newspapers all over the world were deluged with articles abouth this "saint for our times", "saint of progress", "giant of holiness". Biographies were written, and everywhere there were claims of cures being brought about through his intercession. "The life and death of this one man alone," wrote the Polish bishops, "can be proof and witness of the fact that the love of God can overcome the greatest hatred, the greatest injustice, evern death itself." The demands for his beatification became insistent, and at last on 12 Augsut 1947 proceedings started. Seventy-five witnesses were questioned. His cause was introduced on 16 March 1960. When all the usual objections had been overcome, the promoter spoke of the "charm of this magnificent fool." On 17 October 1971, Maximilian Kolbe was beatified. Like his master Jesus Christ he had loved his fellow-men to the point of sacrificing his life for them. "Greater love hath no man than this ..." and these were the opening words of the papal decree introducing the process of beatification. Fr Kolbe's canonisation was not long delayed. It was the Pope from Poland, John Paul II, who had the joy of declaring his compatriot a saint on 10 October 1982.
St Maximilian Kolbe's feast day is 14 August, the day before the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady.
St Maximilian Mary Kolbe, pray for us.
Ordinary Public Consistory
VATICAN CITY - At 10:00 a.m., in the Concistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis held an ordinary public consistory during the celebration of midmorning prayers for the canonization of Blesseds:
Brother Rafael was not and could not be other than young. His life of only 27 years was framed between a Palm Sunday and an Easter Sunday. His life is condensed principally in his youth, because it is in youth that the most promising hopes are sown and germinated. What is seed and germ today will be flower and fruit tomorrow. With a brilliant intelligence, distinguished manners, a jovial character, frank and happy, but still, with all this, extremely simple, Rafael, as he grew in age and in development of his personality grew also in spiritual experience and in the Christian life, toward which he felt drawn from his earliest childhood, giving clear signs of an attraction toward the things of God. The Lord roused within Rafael's well-disposed heart the invitation to give himself completely to God by means of a special consecration in the monastic life. It happened that one day Christ crossed his path, and Rafael, following Him very closely, tried to overtake Him, leaving behind his promising career as architect, with all its dreams and prospects, and entering not only once but twice, three, and four times the Cistercian Monastery of San Isidro de Duenas, first as a Novice, then as an Oblate, so that he might be, within the simplicity of the hidden life, a heroic witness of the Passion of Jesus Christ.
In his incurable illness of diabetes, he embraced the Cross with an almost savage love and came to desire the will of God with such a deep-seated determination that he made of it his only norm and rule: "I want nothing other than God, and His Will shall be my will . . ." "Happy the man who sees nothing more than the will of God...." "My only desire is to unity myself absolutely and entirely with the will of Jesus...." "I want to die loving the will of God."
The perfume of his life and his numerious writing continues to spread in all directions and to be well received for the good of all those who, through them, enter into contact with his spirituality. It is a spirituality rich in nuances, but it can be condensed within a phrase, which for him covered everything: "God alone!" Fascinated by God, he consumed his life in love. A very significant trait of his spirituality was his heart-felt love for Mary. She was his help and his light, and in her he took shelter with tenderness, confidence, and simplicity.
Taken from http://www.trappists.org/
Saint of the Month: St. Joseph
St. Joseph, in all likelihood, was born in Bethlehem, and it is generally assumed that he died at Nazareth before Jesus began his ministry. The Bible tells us very little of Joseph, but from the early chapters of Matthew and Luke we glean that he was a carpenter by trade, a just and pious man, and a most excellent husband and father. The genealogy given in Matthew i, 1-17, traces his line from Abraham and King David. In accordance with the Jewish ritual, he was betrothed to the Virgin Mary, who was also of the race of David. Later, having learned that she was with child, though he had not been near her, he was privately considering putting her away. Yet he hesitated, for he was a kindly man, and he did not wish to expose the young woman to the reproach which such an action would bring. It was at this time of uncertainty that the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and revealed to him the Mystery of the Incarnation. "Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David," said the angel, "to take to thee Mary thy wife, for that which is begotten of her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shall call his name Jesus; for he shall save the people from their sins" (Luke i, 20-21).
Joseph now accepted without question the two-fold office with which he was charged, protector of Mary's honor and foster father of the child that was to be born. He took Mary with him from Nazareth to Bethlehem, when, in compliance with the Roman edict, it was necessary to return there for the census-taking. Then came the birth of the Lord. We know that Joseph was at the stable of the inn beside his wife when the three wise men, following a star, came there out of the East to honor the newborn child with precious gifts. The infant was duly circumcized, and when the forty days prescribed by Mosaic law were passed, Joseph and Mary took him to the temple in Jerusalem. A certain holy man named Simeon, to whom it had been revealed that he would not die until he had seen the Christ, was in the temple on that day, and when he saw Jesus, he knew that this was the promised Messiah. The priest blessed Joseph and Mary and spoke of the glory that had come to them.
The angel of the Lord again appeared to Joseph to tell him to flee with his family into Egypt to escape the wrath of the jealous King Herod. Obediently Joseph hastened to comply, and the family stayed in Egypt until word came of Herod's death, when it was safe for them to return to their homeland. Back in the pleasant hill-town of Nazareth, Joseph carried on his trade, teaching it to Jesus as the boy grew older. The important event of every year was the Passover, when the pious traveled to Jerusalem to share in the ceremonies. Joseph and Mary were in the habit of going on this journey, and we are told that Joseph shared his wife's anxiety when, on one such occasion, the twelve-year-old Jesus became separated from them, and was later found debating with the learned men in the temple. Thus all we know of Joseph adds to the picture of the gentle, protective father and husband.
Veneration of this saint played no part in primitive Christianity. Recognition seems to have developed first among the Copts, a branch of Eastern Christendom. Devotion to St. Joseph was practiced from very early times in Ireland, and in the Middle Ages in Europe many fanciful stories were woven about his name. In spite of this popularity, it was not until 1870, under Pope Pius IX, that he was proclaimed patron of the Universal Church, and Wednesdays in March were set for special devotion to him. The great number of churches dedicated to St. Joseph is an indication of the breadth and depth of this veneration. St. Joseph is patron of carpenters and of a happy death; his symbols are the rod and the plane.
Saint Joseph, Foster Father of the Lord. Scriptural Saint. Celebration of Feast Day is March 19.
Taken from "Lives of Saints", Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc.
Saint of the Month: St. Walburga
St. Walburga was born around 710. She is the daughter of St. Richard and the niece of St. Boniface. When St. Richard set out for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with his sons, Ss. Willibald & Winibald, he entrusted 11 year old Walburga to the monastery school at Wimborne. She remained as a nun, spending a total of 26 years there. When St. Boniface put out an appeal for nuns to help him in the evangelization of Germany, St. Walburga answered the call. On the way to Germany, there was a terrible storm at sea. Walburga knelt on the deck of the ship and prayed. The sea immediately became calm. Some sailors witnessed this and spread the word that she was a wonderworker, so she was received in Germany with great respect.
At first, she lived at Bischofsheim, under the rule of St. Lioba. Then she was made abbess at Heidenheim, near to where her brother, Winibald served as an abbot over a men's monastery. After his death, she ruled both monasteries. She worked many miracles in the course of her ministry. She wrote a biography of her brother, Winibald, and of Willibald's travels in Palestine, in Latin. She is regarded as the first woman author in both England and Germany.
On September 23, 776, she assisted Willibald in translating the uncorrupt relics of their brother, Winibald, to a new tomb in the church at Heidenheim. Shortly after this, she fell ill. Willibald cared for her until she died on February 25, 777, then placed her next to Winibald in the tomb.
After St. Willibald's death in 786, people gradually forgot St. Walburga and the church fell into disrepair. In 870, Bishop Oktar was having Heidenheim restored. Some workmen desecrated Walburga's grave. She appeared in a dream to the bishop, who then translated her relics to Eichstadt. In 893, St. Walburga's body was found to be immersed in a mysterious sweet-smelling liquid. It was found to work miraculous healings. The liquid, called St. Walburga's oil, has flowed from her body, ever since, except for a brief period when the church was put under the interdict after robbers shed the blood of a bell-ringer in the church. Portions of St. Walburga's relics have taken to several other cities and her oil to all parts of the world.
Taken from CatholicCulture.Org
Born in poverty. Cared for the poor in the hospital in Medina del Campo, Spain. Carmelite lay brother in 1563 at age 21, though he lived more strictly than the Rule required. Studied at Salamanca, Spain. Carmelite priest, ordained in 1567 at age 25. Persuaded by Saint Teresa of Avila to begin the Discalced or barefoot reform within the Carmelite Order, he took the name John of the Cross. Master of novices. Spiritual director and confessor at Saint Teresa‘s convent. His reforms did not set well with some of his brothers, and he was ordered to return to Medina del Campo. He refused, and was imprisoned at Toledo, Spain, escaping after nine months. Vicar-general of Andalusia, Spain. His reforms revitalized the Order. Great contemplative and spiritual writer. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI on 24 August 1926.
This saint, the first United States citizen to be canonized, was born in Italy of parents who were farmers. She was the thirteenth child, born when her mother was fifty-two years old. The missionary spirit was awakened in her as a little girl when her father read stories of the missions to his children. She received a good education, and at eighteen was awarded the normal school certificate. For a while she helped the pastor teach catechism and visited the sick and the poor. She also taught school in a nearby town, and for six years supervised an orphanage assisted by a group of young women. The bishop of Lodi heard of this group and asked Frances to establish a missionary institute to work in his diocese. Frances did so, calling the community the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. An academy for girls was opened and new houses quickly sprang up.
One day Bishop Scalabrini, founder of the Missionaries of Emigration, described to Mother Cabrini the wretched economical and spiritual conditions of the many Italian immigrants in the United States, and she was deeply moved. An audience with Pope Leo XIII changed her plans to go to the missions of the East. "Not to the East, but to the West," the Pope said to her. "Go to the United States." Mother Cabrini no longer hesitated. She landed in New York in 1889, established an orphanage, and then set out on a lifework that comprised the alleviation of every human need. For the children she erected schools, kindergartens, clinics, orphanages, and foundling homes, and numbers of hospitals for the needy sick. At her death over five thousand children were receiving care in her charitable institutions, and at the same time her community had grown to five hundred members in seventy houses in North and South America, France, Spain, and England.
The saint, frail and diminutive of stature, showed such energy and enterprise that everyone marveled. She crossed the Atlantic twenty-five times to visit the various houses and institutions. In 1909 she adopted the United States as her country and became a citizen. After thirty-seven years of unflagging labor and heroic charity she died alone in a chair in Columbus Hospital at Chicago, Illinois, while making dolls for orphans in preparation for a Christmas party. Cardinal Mundelein of Chicago officiated at her funeral and in 1938 also presided at her beatification by Pius XI. She was canonized by Pius XII in 1946. She lies buried under the altar of the chapel of Mother Cabrini High School in New York City.
— A Saint A Day, Berchmans Bittle, O.F.M.Cap.
Born to a pious middle-class French family of tradesmen; daughter of Blessed Louis Martin and Blessed Marie-Azelie Guérin Martin, and all four of her sisters became nuns. Her mother died when Francoise-Marie was only four, and the family moved to Lisieux, Normandy, France to be closer to family. Cured from an illness at age eight when a statue of the Blessed Virgin smiled at her. Educated by the Benedictine nuns of Notre-Dame-du-Pre. Confirmed there at age eleven. Just before her 14th birthday she received a vision of the Child Jesus; she immediately understood the great sacrifice that had been made for her, and developed an unshakeable faith. Tried to join the Carmelites, but was turned down due to her age. Pilgrim to Rome, Italy at for the Jubilee of Pope Leo XIII whom she met and who knew of her desire to become a nun. Joined the Carmelites at Lisieux on 9 April 1888 at age 15, taking her final vow on 8 September 1890 at age 17. Known by all for her complete devotion to spiritual development and to the austerities of the Carmelite rule. Due to health problems resulting from her ongoing fight with tuberculosis, her superiors ordered her not to fast. Novice mistress at age 20. At age 22 she was ordered by her prioress to begin writing her memories and ideas, which material would turn into the book History of a Soul. Therese defined her path to God and holiness as The Little Way, which consisted of child-like love and trust in God. She had an on-going correspondence with Carmelite missionaries in China, often stating how much she wanted to come work with them. Many miracles attributed to her. Declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997 by Pope John Paul II.
Taken from www.SAINTS.SQPN.com
Bl. Sigmund Felix Felinski (1822-1895) Archbishop of Warsaw and Founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary. He was born on 1 November 1822 to Gerard Felinski and Eva Wendorff, in Wojutyn in Volinia (present-day Ukraine), in what was then Russian territory. He was Archbishop of Warsaw for 16 months, spent 20 years in exile in Siberia, spent 12 years in semi-exile as tit. Archbishop of Tarsus and parish priest in the country. He died in Kraków, which then belonged to Austria, on 17 September 1895. Indeed, he spent 58 of his 73 years in territory that belonged to the Russian Empire.
Spiritual and national figure
He is venerated as Shepherd in exile, an apostle of national harmony and unity in the spirit of the Gospel, a model of priestly dedication. As Archbishop of Warsaw and founder of a religious congregation, he exercised his duties and role as "Good Shepherd" with great strength, love and courage, always keeping careful watch over himself. "I am convinced that by keeping my heart uncontaminated, living in faith and in fraternal love towards my neighbour, I will not go off the path. These are my only treasures and are without price", he wrote.
The third of six children, of whom two died at an early age, he was brought up with faith and trust in Divine Providence, love for the Church and Polish culture. When Sigmund was 11 years old his father died. Five years later, in 1838, his mother was arrested by the Russians and sent into exile in Siberia for her involvement in patriotic activity. Her patriotic activity was working for the improvement of the social and economic conditions of the farmers.
Education and background
Sigmund was well educated. After completing high school, he studied mathematics at the University of Moscow from 1840-1844. In 1847 he went to Paris, where he studied French Literature at the Sorbonne and the Collège de France. He knew all the important figures of the Polish emigration, e.g. Adam Mickiewicz. He was a friend of the nationalist poet Juliusz Slowacki who died after the revolt of Poznan. In 1848, he took part in the revolt of Poznan which failed. From 1848-50 he was tutor to the sons of Eliza and Zenon Brzozowski in Munich and Paris. In 1851 he returned to Poland and entered the diocesan seminary of Zytomierz. He studied at the Catholic Academy of St Petersburg. On 8 September 1855 Archbishop Ignacy Holowinski, Archbishop of Mohilev ordained him. He was assigned to the Dominican Fathers' Parish of St Catherine of Siena in St Petersburg until 1857, when the bishop appointed him spiritual director of the Ecclesiastical Academy and professor of philosophy. In 1856 he founded the charitable organization "Recovery for the Poor" and in 1857 he founded the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary.
Archbishop of Warsaw
On 6 January 1862, Pope Pius IX appointed Sigmund Felinski Archbishop of Warsaw. On 26 January 1862 Archbishop Zylínski consecrated him in St Petersburg. On 31 January he left for Warsaw where he arrived on 9 February 1862. The Russians, brutally suppressed the Polish uprising against Russia in Warsaw in 1861 creating a state of siege. In response to the harsh measures of the Russians, the ecclesial authorities closed all the churches for four months. On 13 February 1862, the new Archbishop reconsecrated the cathedral of Warsaw; the Russian Army had profaned it on 15 October 1861. On 16 February he opened all of the churches in the city with the solemn celebration of the Forty Hours Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
Sigmund Felinski was Archbishop of Warsaw for 16 months, from 9 February 1862 to 14 June 1863. Times were difficult since there were daily clashes between the occupying Russian power and the Nationalist Party. Unfortunately, he was met by an atmosphere of distrust on the part of some citizens and even clergy, since the Russian government deceived them into thinking that he was secretly collaborating with the government. The Archbishop always made it clear that he was only at the service of the church. He also worked for the systematic elimination of governmental interference in the internal affairs of the church. He reformed the diocese by making regular visits to the parishes and to the charitable organizations within the diocese so that he could better understand and meet their needs. He reformed the programmes of study at the Ecclesiastical Academy of Warsaw and in the diocesan seminaries, giving new impetus to the spiritual and intellectual development of the clergy. He made every effort to free the imprisoned priests. He encouraged them to proclaim the Gospel openly, to catechize their parishioners, to begin parochial schools and to take care that they raise a new generation that would be sober, devout and honest. He looked after the poor and orphans, starting an orphanage in Warsaw which he entrusted to the Sisters of the Family of Mary.
In political action he tried to prevent the nation from rushing headlong into a rash and inconsiderate position. As a sign of his own protest against the bloody repression by the Russians of the "January Revolt" of 1863, Archbishop Felinski resigned from the Council of State and on 15 March 1863 wrote a letter to the Emperor Alexander II, urging him to put an end to the violence. He likewise protested against the hanging of the Capuchin Fr Agrypin Konarski, chaplain of the "rebels". His courage and interventions quickly brought about his exile by Alexander II.
Exile in Siberia for 20 years
In fact, on 14 June 1863, he was deported from Warsaw to Jaroslavl, in Siberia, where he spent the next 20 years deprived by the Czar of any contact with Warsaw. He found a way to organize works of mercy to help his fellow prisoners and especially the priests. Despite the restrictions of the Russian police, he managed to collect funds to build a Catholic Church which later became a parish. The people were struck by his spiritual attitude and eventually began calling him the "holy Polish bishop".
Semi-exile in Kraków region
In 1883, following negotiations between the Holy See and Russia, Archbishop Felinski was freed and on 15 March 1883, Pope Leo XIII transferred him from the See of Warsaw to the titular See of Tarsus. For the last 12 years of his life he lived in semi-exile, in southeastern Galizia at Dzwiniaczka, among the cropfarmers of Polish and Ukrainian background. As chaplain of the public chapel of the manor house of the Counts Keszycki and Koziebrodzki, he launched an intense pastoral activity. Out of his own pocket, he set up in the village the first school and a kindergarten. He built a church and convent for the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary.
In his leisure, he prepared for publication the works he had written during his exile in Jaroslavl. Here are some of them: Spiritual Conferences, Faith and Atheism in the search for happiness, Conferences on Vocation, Under the Guidance of Providence, Social Commitments in view of Christian Wisdom and Atheism; Memories (three editions),
Remains in Warsaw
He died in Kraków on 17 September 1895 and was buried in Kraków on 20 September. Later he was buried at Dzwiniacza (10 October 1895). In 1920 his remains were translated to Warsaw where, on 14 April 1921, they were solemnly interred in the crypt of the Cathedral of St John where they are now venerated.
Taken from the Vatican