the year 1268 in the Tuscan village of Gracchiano-Vecchio, a child was
born to a well-to-do couple, a little girl who was to become one of the
great women saints of the Dominican Order.
Attracted to prayer
from an early age, even as a child Agnes would spend hours on her knees
praying the Our Father and Hail Mary. At nine years of age, she
convinced her parents to place her in the nearby Franciscan monastery at
Montelpuciano. In the austerity of monastic life, she advanced in
virtue by leaps and bounds.
Five years later, Agnes was called
upon to leave Montepulciano to assist in the foundation of a new convent
in Proceno. As soon as it was known that Agnes was at Proceno, several
girls offered themselves as postulants. With special papal dispensation,
the fifteen-year-old Agnes was elected abbess.
From that day
onwards, she redoubled her austerities, living for fifteen years on
bread and water, and sleeping on the ground with a stone pillow.
the inhabitants of Montelpuciano pined for their now famous saint, and
on the plans to build a new convent for her, she returned. The
establishment flourished under her rule and guidance, and she remained
prioress of this convent until her death.
In her later years, she
suffered from a painful illness but did not allow this condition to
interfere with her duties. She died at the age of forty-nine.
a youth, Alphege became a monk in the monastery of Deerhurst in
Gloucestershire, England, afterwards an anchorite and later an abbot in a
monastery in Bath. At thirty, at the insistence of St. Dunstan and to
his great consternation, he was elected Bishop of Winchester. As bishop,
he maintained the same austerity of life as when a monk. During his
episcopate he was so generous toward the poor that there were no beggars
left in the diocese of Winchester.
Alphege served twenty-two
years as bishop of this see and was then translated to the see of
Canterbury at the death of Archbishop Aelfric.
period, England suffered from the ravages of the Danes who joined forces
with the rebel Earl Edric, marched on Kent and laid siege to
Canterbury. When the city was betrayed, there was a terrible massacre,
men and women, old and young, dying by the sword.
hastened to the defense of his people, and pressing through the crowd
begged the Danes to cease the carnage. He was immediately seized,
roughly handled, and imprisoned.
A mysterious and deadly plague
broke out among the Danes, and, despite the fact that the holy prelate
had healed many of their own with his prayers and by giving them blessed
bread, the Danes demanded an exorbitant ransom for his release. As the
Archbishop protested that the country was too poor to pay such a price,
he was brutally assassinated.
St. Alphege was the first
Archbishop of Canterbury to die a violent death. In 1023, the martyr's
body was translated with great ceremony to Canterbury accompanied by the
Danish King Canute. Although he did not die directly in defense of the
Faith, St. Alphege is considered a martyr of justice.
Our Lady’s action upon the three Fatima children in a broader sense,
the changes she brought about in them was something extraordinary —
something far beyond their capacity. From this, we gather that Our Lady
suddenly and suavely transformed them through her repeated apparitions.
St. Francisco Marto
St. Jacinta Marto
Here we discover something akin to the
“Secret of Mary,” of which Saint Louis de Montfort speaks. We see grace
working profoundly in souls, and we see how it works silently, without
the person perceiving it. As a result, the person feels truly free. More
than ever, the person feels inspired to practice virtue and reject the
evil chains of sin; consequently, their love of God blossoms.
Their desire to serve Him increases, and so does their hatred of sin.
This marvelous transformation of soul occurs in such a way that the
person does not experience the systematic uphill struggle of those who
follow the classical system of the spiritual life to obtain virtue,
sanctity, and Heaven. Much to the contrary, Our Lady changes them
The changes in the two children Our Lady called to Heaven, Jacinta
and Francisco, was particularly striking. What does this mean? Does this
mean Our Lady will perform the same transformation upon us? Is it a foretaste of how Our Lady intends to change Humanity when she fulfills her Fatima promises?
Can I say that the transformation in the souls of Jacinta and
Francisco are the beginning of Our Lady’s reign? Is this not her triumph
over the souls of Jacinta and Francisco, heralds of Our Lady’s message,
who helped others accept the Fatima message through their prayers and
sacrifices? And who still help us today through their prayers in Heaven?
If this is true, it is logical that Jacinta and Francisco be our
intercessors before Our Lady and obtain the coming of her reign in our
hearts. Is this not the mysterious transformation that we call the
“Secret of Mary”?
I firmly believe that we must ask Jacinta and Francisco to transform
us, to grant us the same gifts they received, and to guide us, whose
mission it is to live and to preach the Fatima message. Adapted from a lecture of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira on October 13, 1971.
Galdinus was born about the year 1096 into the Della Salla family, of minor Milanese nobility.
lived in a tumultuous time for the Church in Italy with the Emperor
Frederick Barbarossa causing trouble. Opposed to the election of Pope
Alexander III in 1159, Barbarossa proceeded to rally a few dissident
cardinals that elected another Pope. When the people of Milan sided with
the legitimate Pope, the Emperor invaded.
Galdinus, who occupied
the post of chancellor and archdeacon under Hubert, the Archbishop of
Milan, was obliged to follow the prelate into exile.
Galdinus was created Cardinal, and upon the death of Archbishop Hubert,
was consecrated his successor by Pope Alexander III himself. The new
prelate went about comforting his war-weary people and gathering his
dispersed flock. He also re-enforced discipline among his clergy who
had, during the troubled times, become lax.
heart and soul into the new undertaking, Galdinus preached constantly,
not only healing the spiritual wounds caused by the schism but
clarifying the faith to those confused by the heretical doctrine of the
Cathars, then widely prevalent in the north of Italy. The Cathari, or
Albigensians, rejected the seven sacraments, had special hatred for the
Holy Eucharist and Matrimony, and believed that the physical world was
all evil. Among their bizarre beliefs was that women must be reborn as
men in order to achieve salvation.
On the last day of his life,
too weak to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the ardent
shepherd could not be kept from his pulpit. When the zealous preacher
came to the end of his discourse, he simply died at his post.
Harding was an Englishman of an honorable family, and heir to a large
estate. Born in Dorset, he was educated at the monastery of
Sherborne and spoke English, Norman, French and Latin.
of seeking a more perfect way of Christian perfection, he, with a devout
companion, traveled into Scotland and afterwards to Paris and to Rome.
On their return journey, the two travelers chanced upon a collection of
huts in the forest of Molesme in Burgundy, where monks lived in great
austerity. Struck by their way of life and finding kindred spirits in
Robert the Abbot, and Alberic the Prior, he bid his friend goodbye and
threw in his lot with the monks.
After some years, finding that
religious fervor had waned considerably, Stephen, Robert, Alberic and
others went to Lyons and with the support of Bishop Hugh struck a new
foundation in the forest of Citeaux sponsored by Rainald, Lord of
Beaune, and Odo, Duke of Burgundy.
Later Robert returned to his
monks of Molesme who reclaimed him as their abbot, and upon the death of
Alberic, in 1109, Stephen succeeded him as Abbot of Citeaux.
immediately instituted such austere measures to keep the spirit of the
world out that he alienated the support of many who had helped to
establish the abbey. Novices ceased applying, and to make matters worse,
a mysterious disease decimated his monks to the point that even
Stephen’s stout heart began to quiver wondering if he were really doing
God answered him dramatically when thirty noblemen
knocked at the abbey’s door seeking admittance. They were headed by
young St. Bernard who in his zeal had convinced his brothers, uncles and
a number of his acquaintances to give up the world with him.
numbers called for additional foundations and the first two were made
at Morimond and Clairvaux. To the general surprise, Stephen appointed
twenty-four-year-old Bernard as Abbot of Clairvaux. When nine abbeys had
sprung from Citeaux, Stephen drew up the statutes of his Charter of Charity which officially organized the Cistercians into an order.
Stephen Harding died in 1134, advanced in age and nearly blind, and having served as Abbot of Cîteaux for twenty-five years.
Soubirous, baptized Marie Bernarde, was the oldest of a family of six,
the daughter of a miller, François Soubirous and his wife, Louise
Casteròt. They lived in Lourdes, a small town in the French Pyrenees.
by hard times, her father had to give up the mill and move the family
into the only lodging available, a former prison. "Le cachot" or "the
dungeon," was damp and cold. Always sickly, Bernadette had contracted
cholera as a child and suffered from severe asthma attacks. Considered a
slow learner, she had the simplicity of a dove, was good, patient, and
nothing but honest.
On February 11, 1858 while out with her
sister and two friends, her companions skipped over stones to cross the
River Gave to gather sticks for fuel near the grotto of Massabielle.
about wading into the frigid water, the asthmatic Bernadette was seated
on a rock when a sudden gust of wind made her look up. In the grotto
she beheld a luminous lady, dressed in white with a blue sash around her
waist, golden roses on her feet and a rosary over her arm.
of the vision caused a commotion, and people began to accompany
Bernadette to the grotto where, altogether, there were eighteen
apparitions in a period of two months. On March 25 the lady revealed
herself as “The Immaculate Conception”, four years after the definition
of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The Virgin’s message was one
of prayer and personal conversion and she also asked for a church to be
built and that people come on pilgrimage.
During one of the
apparitions, Bernadette suddenly began to dig inside the grotto, from
whence emerged a fountain that flows abundantly today. Its water has
worked countless cures, though only 67 are officially recognized by the
Church and medicine.
After the apparitions, though her father’s
life improved with offers of work, Bernadette’s was continuously
harassed by visitors and ecclesiastical inquiries.
1866 she entered the convent of Notre Dame de Nevers where, despite her
delicate health, she served as infirmarian and sacristan. Developing
painful, fatal tuberculosis of the bone, Bernadette suffered patiently
until her death at age thirty-five on April 16, 1879. She died
reaffirming the veracity of the apparitions.
Today, Lourdes is
one of the most visited and beloved Catholic shrines in the world.
Bernadette’s body lies in the convent chapel in Nevers, miraculously
is known about St. Hunna other than that she was an aristocratic lady
from the royal family of Alsace and married to a nobleman, Huno of
Hunnaweyer, a small village in the diocese of Strasbourg. She was known
to be so caring of the poor around her that she even lent a hand in
doing the washing for her neighbors in need. Because of this she was
known as “the holy washerwoman”.
She also donated properties to monasteries and financed the construction of churches.
had a son who was baptized by the holy bishop of Nevers, St. Deodatus,
and was given his name in Baptism. This son later entered a monastery
founded by the same St. Deodatus at Ebersheim.
Hunna was canonized in 1520 by Pope Leo X at the instance of Duke Ulric of Wurtemberg.
Some seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge: that is curiosity. Others seek knowledge that they may themselves be known: that is vanity. But there are still others who seek knowledge in order to serve and edify others, and that is charity.
or “Little Benedict” was a French lad, pious and thoughtful beyond his
years who minded his mother’s sheep. He was deeply concerned about how
dangerous it was for poor people to cross the unpredictable Rhône River.
is said that during an eclipse, in the year 1177, he heard a voice that
said to him: "Bénézet, take your rod and go down to Avignon, the
capital's waterfront: talk to people and tell them that we must build a
In the Middle Ages the construction and repair of
bridges was considered a work of mercy. Though Bénézet knew nothing of
building bridges, he took his staff and obeyed the call.
the bishop of Avignon dismissed him as being daft, but after witnessing
several miracles performed by the holy shepherd lad, he supported the
enterprise, and the Brotherhood of Bridge Builders was formed with
wealthy sponsors. For seven years Bénézet conducted the operations.
Provençal shepherd-turned-bridge-builder died in 1184 when most of the
difficulties with the construction had been overcome. The mighty bridge,
completed four years later, measured 900 meters long and spanned the
river with 22 arches, connecting one of the main pilgrimage routes from
Italy to Covadonga on the Atlantic coast of Spain.
was interred in a small chapel on the bridge itself. This chapel,
standing on one of the bridge's piers, was dedicated to St. Nicholas,
the patron saint of the Rhône boatmen. In 1669, when part of the bridge
collapsed from the force of the current, his coffin was taken up and in
1670 opened before the Grand Vicar. The body was found to be intact,
even the bowels were sound and the color of his eyes fresh. The body was
first translated to the Cathedral of Avignon and finally interred in
the Church of St. Didier in the city.
The fame of Bénézet's bridge in Avignon was spread far beyond the borders of France by the children’s song, Sur le Pont d’Avignon, which is sung all over the world, even in China. Photo on Left by: Elliott BrownPhoto on Right by: Charles Greenhough
Martin I is historically acclaimed as a heroic defender of the Faith, a
man of exalted virtue and untiring courage. Born in Umbria, his
biographer Theodore describes him as “of noble birth, a great student,
of commanding intelligence, of profound learning, and of great charity
to the poor.”
Elected as the successor of the Fisherman in 649,
Martin governed the Church during a time when the Emperor of
Constantinople, Constans II, supported Paul, the Patriarch of
Constantinople and others in the Monothelite heresy, which proposed that
Christ had a reduced human nature and human will.
patriarch's adamant refusal to recant his heretical doctrine, the Pope
refused to remain silent, issued an excommunication against the
Patriarch Paul and summoned a Lateran Council which formally condemned
the heresy. Infuriated at this “slap in the face” Constans II sent a man
to Rome to assassinate the Pope, but Martin was protected by God and
the attempt failed. After this, many calamities befell the Emperor, but
obstinate, he ordered his governor and soldiers in Italy to arrest the
Pope and bring him to Constantinople, which, after some difficulties,
was finally carried out.
In Constantinople the Pope was subject
to public ridicule, extreme ill treatment and then a cruel imprisonment.
Lastly, Constans II exiled him to the Crimea where he suffered from the
famine of the land, from total friendlessness and abandonment of his
own. He died two years later in 656 a martyr to the right of the Church
to define and uphold doctrine even in the face of Imperial power. Photo by: Wolfgang Sauber
and his brother Reccared were the sons of Leovigild, a Visigothic King
of Spain and his first wife, Theodosia. Leovigild shared his kingdom
with his two sons, placing Hermenegild upon the throne of Seville. Both
had been raised as Arians, a heretical sect that denied the divinity of
Hermenegild, the elder, was married to Inguthis, a
daughter of the Frankish King Sigibert I. Whereas he was Arian, she was a
zealous Catholic, and her patient fortitude in the persecutions and
torments inflicted on her by Leovigild’s second wife, Gosvint, as well
as the instructions and exhortations of the Bishop of Seville, St.
Leander, eventually lead to Hermenegild’s conversion.
father’s rage at his decision and the pressure from his family,
Hermenegild held firm in his newfound Catholic faith. As the sovereign
King of Seville, Hermenegild defended himself and his subjects against
Leovigild’s attacks. However, being much too weak to withstand the
sieges of such a strong power, and having been unable to secure any
assistance from Constantinople and, subsequently, suffering a bitter
betrayal at the hand of the Roman generals, Hermenegild fled, seeking
refuge in a much venerated church in Osseto. King Leovigild refused to
violate this sanctuary and, instead, sent Hermenegild’s brother Reccared
in to promise him pardon should he submit and come out. Hermenegild
complied and came out to the convincing pretense of sincerity and joy
from his father. However, once back in Leovigild’s camp, the king
ordered him stripped of his royal robes, bound, and imprisoned in the
tower of Seville, where the young prince had reigned for two short
His father's cruelty failed to move the young king from
his resolve. Hermenegild was unwavering in his faith and even imposed
additional austerities and penances upon himself during his imprisonment
in spite of his already intense suffering. The last straw came
for Leovigild when his son refused Communion from the hand of an Arian
bishop who came to visit him during the solemnity of Easter. He was
subsequently beheaded on this day in the year 586.
often happens that while traveling with the Fatima statue we get into
conversations with host families about the Fatima message. Such was the
case one evening in Atlanta, Georgia while chatting with one father and
his 12 year old daughter, Lillie.
The last time I had seen this
girl was close to five years ago. In the interim, she has developed into
a lovely respectful young lady with an artistic talent matched by her
keen desire for knowledge.
The subject that evening was children who had attained sanctity. This
naturally led to a conversation about the heroic sacrifices of the
youngest seer at Fatima, Blessed Jacinta Marto. I never tire of telling
the story of her heroism that was so well recounted by William Thomas
Walsh in his masterful book, Our Lady of Fatima. One of the stories that
particularly touched me was Jacinta’s final illness with the dreaded flu
of the time and her death — alone in a hospital far from home. It was
actually there in the hospital that she had a private apparition in
which Our Lady asked her if she would undergo such suffering for poor
sinners. Jacinta unhesitatingly accepted but in her weak moments, she
would break down in tears as she contemplated her situation. She was,
after all, only 8 years old, dying in a strange hospital, far away from her mother and Lucia, whom she loved so much.
However, she had an iron will and she would regain her composure the
minute she remembered the good she was capable of doing for poor sinners
by her suffering. Immediately she would wipe away her tears and offer
up her suffering.
Telling this story, I noticed that Lillie was
paying close attention absorbing it in all its details. Realizing this, I
made it a point not to leave out any detail in the narration of the
life of this heroic little girl. When I finished, Lillie asked a simple
yet pungent question: “Why don’t they tell us these things?”
“That is a very good question,” I responded.
although I don’t know if I know the answer, one thing I do know: young
people are starving for marvelous examples like that of Blessed Jacinta
Marto. Written by Norman Fulkerson Invitation to learn more about Blessed Jacinta Marto: Jacinta’s Story is the Fatima story imaginatively told
through the eyes of Blessed Jacinta Marto, the youngest of the three
seers to whom Our Lady appeared in 1917 to deliver the most important
message of our times. The book is hardbound and richly illustrated by
author Andrea F. Phillips. Jacinta’s Story contains many vital lessons for children—why
it is so important that they pray the Rosary, obey their parents and
follow the difficult but rewarding road of virtue in this life.
Visit our On-Line store to place your book order:http://store.tfp.org
Love TRUTH. Show yourself as you are, without pretense, without fears and cares. And if the truth means your persecution, accept it; if it means your torment, bear it. And if for the truth's sake, you should sacrifice yourself and your life, be strong in your sacrifice.
Alferius was born in 930 into the Pappacarboni family which descended from the ancient princes of Lombardy.
the year 1002, at the age of seventy-two, Alferius was sent to France
by Guaimaro the Duke of Salerno as an ambassador to the court of King
Henry II. Falling gravely ill on the way, before crossing the Alps, he
took refuge in the monastery of San Michele della Chiusa. While the rest
of the delegation continued on their journey, Alferius remained behind
in the care of the monks and vowed to enter religious life should he be
cured. Upon recovering, he joined the Abbey of Cluny under the great St.
Odilo. A few years later, he was recalled by Duke Guaimaro who wished
Alferius to reform the monasteries of his own principality.
himself unprepared for the task, Alferius retired to a secluded
location in the mountains northwest of Salerno. There, after a while,
many sought to join him but initially he only accepted twelve disciples.
From this first nucleus developed the famous Abbey of La Trinità della
Cava, which became the principal center of monastic reform of its time.
It was modeled on the Abbey of Cluny and the Duke of Salerno became its
greatest patron and benefactor.
Alferius is said to have lived to
the great age of 120. Just a few years after his death there were in
southern Italy and Sicily 30 abbeys dependent on the Abbey of La Trinità
della Cava and 3000 monks. The first four abbots are canonized saints
and eight of their immediate successors are beatified. One of the
Saint’s disciples was Desiderius, who became Blessed Pope Victor III.
Galgani is one of the Church’s mystics. She was born in Camigliano,
Italy on March 12, 1878 of devout parents. The fifth child and eldest
daughter in a family of eight, she was given the name “Gemma” meaning
“gem”. The family later moved to Lucca where Enrico Galgani practiced as
Gemma’s beloved mother was the first to show her
the way of Christian piety. “It was Mamma,” Gemma was to say, “who made
me desire to go to heaven”. But tuberculosis took Aurelia Galgani when
Gemma was only seven. This great grief was softened by Gemma’s first
mystical communication which assured the little girl that her mother was
Gemma began to attend school with the Sisters of St.
Zita and was considered bright. She longed to receive Holy Communion and
so begged and pleaded that she was granted the favor at age nine, then
an early age for first communicants. “I feel a fire burning here” was
her comment as she pointed to her heart.
At home, Gemma worked
diligently to fill her mother’s shoes. She loved the poor, giving them
what she could. She also taught religion to children, and visited the
sick in hospitals.
By age nineteen, Gemma was doubly orphaned by the death of her father, and had also lost two brothers and a little sister.
the while she made great strides in her spiritual life, her desire to
suffer with Jesus for the good of souls increasing. Gemma came down with
a spinal meningitis that almost took her life, but was healed through
the intercession of St. Gabriel Possenti of the Passionist Order who
appeared to her and to whom she became greatly attached.
entry into a Passionist convent, partially because of her health, Gemma
submitted to God’s will. From the time of her healing she began to
experience mystical graces that eventually led to her receiving the
stigmata of Christ. At this time she and other family members were
living with an aunt, and as her ecstasies became more frequent, she had
little privacy or understanding.
Through the influence of the
Passionists, she was introduced to the exceptionally devout Giannini
family, who ultimately adopted her as a daughter. The Gianninis became
the “reliquary” that enshrined the “gem” so her sanctity could develop
to the fullest.
Two other great friends were to accompany Gemma
during her life: her confessor Fr. Germanus, who guided her wisely and
securely, and her Guardian Angel, whom she saw often, and who instructed
and admonished her, delivered letters and messages to Fr. Germanus for
her, and who even brought her coffee in bed during her illnesses.
Pentecost Sunday in 1902, Gemma was stricken with a mysterious illness
which led to her death on Holy Saturday in 1903. She was twenty-five.
is said to have been born in Italy of poor parents. As a student at the
Cathedral School of Rheims, he was purportedly one of its most
distinguished scholars for when the celebrated Gerbert d'Aurillac, professor of mathematics, became Pope Sylvester II, he summoned Fulbert to Rome.
his return to France, Bishop Odo of Chartres appointed him Chancellor.
Under Fulbert's care and direction, the cathedral schools became the
greatest educational center in Europe. His pupils esteemed him so highly
as a teacher that they called him “venerable Socrates”.
Bishop Odo’s death, Fulbert was consecrated Bishop of Chartres, and came
to be recognized as the counselor of the spiritual and temporal leaders
When the Cathedral of Chartres burned down, he
immediately set to rebuilding it, harnessing the financial help of
several kings of Europe. Still, this is not the sacred edifice we now
Fulbert had a great devotion to Our Lady and composed many
hymns in her honor. When the beautiful new cathedral was consecrated, he
celebrated the recently introduced feast in honor of her nativity with
great solemnity. He was an outspoken opponent of simony and of bestowing
ecclesiastical endowments upon laymen. Fulbert was also a prolific
writer and his epistles have great historical value, especially on the
subject of the liturgical practices of the eleventh century.
After nearly twenty-two years as Bishop of Chartres, he died on April 10, 1029.
Out of love for us, the Eternal Word was made flesh in the chaste
womb of Mary. His plan was marvelously arranged. From all eternity, He
chose a man after His heart who would be the virginal spouse of His
divine Mother, His adopted father on earth, and the guardian of His
While not granting Joseph the same privileges He had granted our
Blessed Mother, the Lord adorned his soul with the rarest virtues and
raised him to great holiness.
When Our Lady had completed her education in the Temple, she was wed
to this humble artisan. Like her, Saint Joseph belonged to the royal
race of David, then fallen from its ancient splendor. Also like her, he
had consecrated his virginity to God and ardently desired to see with
his own eyes the promised Messias, the salvation of Israel.
The Most High had prepared this excellent union by revealing His
will to these humble and obedient souls. Mary accepted Joseph as the
guarantor of Divine Providence, while Joseph received Mary as a precious
treasure entrusted to him by Heaven. Neither one nor the other
suspected what blessings the Lord would lavish on their modest dwelling.
The young spouses had lived but a short time in the little house of
Nazareth when the scene of the Annunciation took place in all of its
The last days of March had brought the return of spring to the
Galilean countryside. The fig trees had begun to unfold their ample
leaves and the doves to build their nests in the hollows of the rocks.
Flowers dotted the rejuvenated fields. Soon another flower, infinitely
more precious, would blossom from the root of Jesse.
In Heaven, the Holy Ghost acclaimed the spotless conception of the
Immaculate Virgin with admiration and seemed impatient for the hour when
the work of His infinite charity would be fulfilled. No longer did the
Divine Spouse wish to delay. He resolved to send an extraordinary
messenger to her whom He called "My Spouse" —Soror mea, sponsa. 1 God chose the Archangel Gabriel
from among the princes of the celestial court who remained constantly
before the throne of the Almighty. He entrusted to him the most
important and glorious assignment ever confided to a creature, the
mission of announcing to the Virgin the awesome mystery of the
All Heaven now looked upon that simple house of Nazareth, where a
profound peace reigned. Joseph probably rested from his hard labor. In
the adjoining room, his virgin spouse was praying. The angel appeared
and respectfully bowed before his Queen. His countenance resplendent
with supernatural joy, he said to her, "Hail, Mary, full of grace, the
Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." 2 Saint Gabriel uttered but the strictest truth.
the moment of Mary's conception, divine grace flooded her magnificent
soul. Ever since then, this grace had grown ceaselessly in proportions
far surpassing our feeble understanding. Now, at this moment, the
adorable Trinity wanted this already extraordinary holiness to shine
with even greater brilliance: Our Lady would shelter in her womb the
very Author of grace.
Yet, the Archangel's salutation troubled the Immaculate Virgin. By
divine enlightenment she had long understood the immensity of God and
the nothingness of creatures. In her prodigious humility, she considered
herself the lowliest of creatures and thus wondered at receiving such
praise. She pondered what hidden meaning could be shrouded in such
Seeing this most incomparably perfect of all creatures with such a
humble opinion of herself, the celestial ambassador exulted with
admiration. "Mary," he said to the trembling Virgin, "fear not, for thou
hast found grace with God."3
Then slowly, majestically, in the name of the Eternal God, he
communicated his sublime message: "Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy
womb and shalt bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He
shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the
Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father, and He
shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there
shall be no end."4
These words were far too clear to Our Lady for any hesitation in
grasping them. She immediately understood the incomparable honor
reserved for her. It seems that she experienced no hesitation on account
of her virginity. Indeed, it would be a gratuitous insult to her
intelligence to suspect her of such ignorance. She was aware of the
prophecy of Isaias that the Emmanuel would be born of a virgin.
Rather, she simply sought to know how God, so rich in miracles, would
accomplish such a marvel. "How shall this be done," she asked the
angel, "for I know not man?"5
"The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High
shall overshadow thee. Therefore, the child which shall be born of thee
shall be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth,
she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth
month with her who is called barren; for nothing shall be impossible
Profound silence filled that small room in Nazareth, one of those
dramatic silences wherein the world's destiny hangs in the balance.
The angel had ceased speaking and Mary was quiet. How many thoughts
crowded in upon her! In her mind's eye, she saw the resplendent crown
divine motherhood would place on her head, yet she remained too
profoundly humble for any complacency about this singular grandeur. She
saw the indescribable joys that would surely fill her heart when holding
her dear treasure against her bosom, her Jesus, both God and infant.
Yet again, her self-mortification would not allow that she be guided by
the allure of joy alone, even the most holy of joys.
She also saw the awful martyrdom that would rend her soul. Through
Holy Scripture she knew that the Messias would be delivered to His death
like a tender lamb to the slaughter. She foresaw and heard the mournful
cry: "I am a worm, and no man; the reproach of men, and the outcast of
Yet, such was her fortitude that she would not allow future sorrow to
dishearten her. Above everything, she saw the extremely lofty, fatherly,
and holy will of God. She owed obedience to Him; she did not hesitate.
The Immaculate Virgin at last broke the solemn silence. The angel
waited to receive her consent in the name of the Holy Ghost. In
accepting, she pronounced one of those sublime expressions that only the
genius of humility can find. It was the most simple and modest formula
of a soul completely submissive to the will of God: "Behold the handmaid
of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word."8At
that, the grandest of all miracles took place. From the very flesh of
the Immaculate Virgin, the Holy Ghost formed a small human body. To this
body He joined a human soul; to this body and soul He united the Second
Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the Word of God.
Although it is necessary to explain these three facts separately to
make clear what took place, the three took place completely
simultaneously as a single act. Not even for a second were this small
body and soul separated from the Word. From that first instant the Child
formed in the womb of Our Lady was the Word Incarnate. Without losing
her virginity, Mary became the Mother of God, and in becoming the Mother
of Christ, our Head, she also became the Mother of men—our Mother.
In this chapter I have simply followed the Gospel narrative step by
step. We will later study the nearly infinite dignity the Immaculate
Virgin confers on divine motherhood. We shall see how this privilege
should inspire our Christian hearts to great respect, deep gratitude,
limitless confidence, and filial devotion. But let us first complete our
meditation on this mystery.
God's infinite love for us, the Word utterly humbled Himself in the
womb of the Virgin. At the same time, other events took place in her
soul. When God entrusts a mission to one of His creatures, He also
provides the grace to accomplish it fully. Thus, the Most High, having
granted a double motherhood to the Blessed Virgin Mary (to be mother of
God and of men), conferred upon her a love that was doubly maternal.
Such was the splendor in this work of grace that we will never perfectly
understand it. Never will we completely understand the ardor of Mary's
love for Jesus or the merciful goodness by which the Virgin loves each
one of us in particular. Indeed, were we to further reflect upon this
mystery, we would pray to her with greater fervor, and serve her with
greater zeal. She, in turn, would lavish torrents of grace on us. The Incarnation had just been
completed. Our Lady remained in ecstasy. Every theologian agrees that
during this thrice-holy moment God raised her to the most sublime
contemplation a pure creature can attain upon earth. Perhaps she was
even granted a momentary glimpse of the beatific vision. The Archangel
Gabriel had fulfilled his mission. Upon his arrival he had respectfully
bowed before the Queen of heaven. Before departing, he prostrated
himself, for Mary was no longer alone. In true justice, the Child she
bore in her womb merited the adoration of the archangel, who adored the
God-made-man and then returned to Heaven.
From this mystery, we must draw a stronger and deeper devotion to the
Blessed Virgin. The Church, which encourages us to pay special honor to
the Immaculate Mother, does not wish to place her on the same level as
the Most High. While Mary reigns over all the angels and saints in
Heaven, she is still but a simple creature and, accordingly, an infinite
distance stands between her and her adorable Son. Nevertheless, God has
united Jesus and Mary so intimately that we cannot separate Them. By
consenting to the work of the eternal God, Our Lady has become ipso
facto the moral cause of our salvation. She is morally necessary for us
to go to Jesus.
Souls today are powerfully attracted to the Heart of Jesus. To
penetrate this adorable Heart, the sanctuary of the Divinity, more
fully, we must go through Mary. Let us ask Our Lady for the sovereign
grace of placing us confidently in the arms of Jesus and there, upon His
heart, let us rest both in time and in eternity.
Written by Father Thomas de Saint-Laurent Notes: 1. Canticle of Canticles 4:9. [back] 2. Luke 1:28. [back] 3. Luke 1:30. [back] 4. Luke 1:31-33. [back] 5. Luke 1:34. [back] 6. Luke 1:35-37. [back] 7. Psalm 21:7. [back] 8. Luke 1:38. [back]
Outpourings of affection for God, of resting in His presence, of good feelings toward everyone and sentiments and prayers like these … are suspect if they do not express themselves in practical love which has real effects.
or Waudru in French, was the daughter of the Duke of Lorraine, St.
Walbert and his wife St. Bertilia and closely related to the Merovingian
royal family. Her sister, St. Aldegundis of Maubeuge, was a foundress
was married to the noble St. Vincent Madelgar, Count of Hainault with
whom she had four children, all of them canonized saints.
her family life was serene and exemplary, she suffered much from the
slander of others, and from severe interior trials and temptations. God,
after some years, recompensed her fidelity with a holy peace, and great
Sometime after the birth of their fourth
child, the Count Madelgar withdrew into the Benedictine Abbey of
Haumont which he had founded, taking the name of Vincent. Waldedrudis
retired to a small house where she lived a life of prayer, poverty and
simplicity. Such was the influx of people seeking her counsel, however,
that the holy matron eventually founded a convent around which grew the
city of Mons in Belgium.
St. Waudru, as she is known in Belgium,
was renowned for her works of charity and for the numerous miracles she
performed during her life and after death. She is the patroness of Mons. Photos by: Guy Debognies
Every virtue in your soul is a precious ornament which makes you dear to God and to man. But holy purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue, is a jewel so precious that those who possess it become like the angels of God in Heaven, even though clothed in mortal flesh.
on July 12, 1751 in Cuvilly, France, Marie Rose Julie Billiard was the
daughter of fairly well-to-do peasant farmers who also owned a small
shop. From early childhood Julie had a keen interest in spiritual things
and by seven years of age she had memorized the catechism and attained
an understanding of it beyond her years.
During her youth, her
father’s shop was robbed and her father attacked. This so traumatized
his daughter that she became ill and gradually a physical paralysis took
hold of her. Deprived of the use of her legs, she eventually had great
difficulty in even speaking. Julie's paralysis lasted for twenty-two
years, and throughout this whole trial she continued to teach her
beloved catechism to children and to trust unwaveringly in the
everlasting goodness of “le bon Dieu”. Her infirmities drove her to an
even deeper life of prayer and union with God.
During the Reign
of Terror of the French Revolution when the pastor of Cuvilly was
superseded by a constitutional priest sworn to the new atheistic
government, Julie influenced her friends and neighbors to boycott the
intruder. Though an invalid herself, she worked to hide and assist
fugitive priests who remained loyal to the Catholic Church, and for this
charitable work she was herself persecuted and obliged to escape from
place to place – on one occasion, hiding all night under a haystack.
taking refuge with the aristocratic family of Gézaincourt, Julie met
Françoise Blin de Bourdon, a noblewoman who had barely escaped the
guillotine by the fall of Robespierre before her execution. The two
became close friends and collaborators.
After the Terror, they
both dedicated themselves to the spiritual care of poor children, and
the Christian education of girls in a generation sorely neglected by the
ravages of the Revolution.
In 1804, after a novena to Him, Julie
Billiart was miraculously healed of the paralysis of her legs on the
feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus. Now physically free to pursue a full
range of activity, her educational work increased rapidly.
odds with the bishop of Amiens through the meddling influence of a
misguided young priest, Julie and Françoise were obliged to move to
Namur, in present-day Belgium, where with the full support of the local
bishop, they proceeded with their work, eventually founding the
Institute of Notre Dame de Namur, today in sixteen countries around the
Julie Billiart died on April 8, 1816 while praying the Magnificat. She was canonized in 1969.
de la Salle, the famous founder of the Brothers of the Christian
Schools, or the Christian Brothers, was born in Rheims of the noble
family of la Salle. Showing signs of a rare piety from an early age,
Jean-Baptiste was destined for the priesthood, which fit well with his
own inclinations regarding the future. He entered the seminary in 1670
at nineteen and was ordained in 1678.
A young man of refinement
and good connections, he seemed to be destined for high office in the
Church. But in 1679 he met a layman, Adrian Nyel, who had the idea of
starting a school for poor boys in Rheims. The newly-ordained Fr.
Jean-Baptiste became engrossed in the project and began to guide Nyel
and seven schoolmasters in the high educational ideals taking shape in
his own mind. He even invited the group into his paternal home to live.
But there, unwilling to submit to the discipline for which they had not
bargained, they took leave.
the reformer waited patiently. Soon, he was joined by another group of
interested men. To these Fr. Jean-Baptiste imparted a new method of
teaching, which revolutionized the elementary schooling of the day.
Until then, children had been taught on an individual basis.
Jean-Baptiste introduced into education the classroom setting, silence
during lessons, and teaching in the vernacular rather than in Latin.
requests began to arrive for teachers trained in the new method. Parish
priests also began to send young men to the institute to be trained as
masters for their own parish schools.
In time, Fr. Jean-Baptiste
formed a novitiate and a rule of religious life. After much prayer, he
also established that his teaching institute would be constituted of lay
brothers and not priests. From France the Christian Brothers spread
throughout Europe and the world.
1717 the founder resigned the headship of his institute and lived like
the humblest of brothers. Suffering from asthma and rheumatism, Fr.
Jean- Baptiste gave up none of his austerities. Early in 1719 he met
with an accident which ultimately led to his death on Good Friday of
that year. He was sixty-eight years of age.
The Catholic Church
set her seal of approval upon the life and apostolate of this man, a
reformer and innovator of primary importance in the history of
education, by canonizing him in 1900. In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared
him patron of all school teachers.
Patriarch of Constantinople, relates the following well-known story of
Theophilus (6th century). The Patriarch was an eyewitness of the fact
which we relate here, and which is also confirmed by St. Peter Damian,
St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Antoninus, and others.
Theophilus was an archdeacon of the Church of Adanas, a city of
Cilicia, and was so well esteemed that the people wished him to become
their bishop, but his humility prevented his consent.
Afterwards, some malicious persons slandered him, and he was deposed
from his office. Upset and blinded by passion, he went to a magician,
who induced him to apply to Satan for help in his misfortunes. The devil answered that if he
wished his assistance, he must renounce Jesus, and Mary his mother, and
hand over to him the act of renunciation, written with his own hand.
Theophilus executed the vile document. On
the following day the bishop, having heard of the wrong done him by his
calumniators, asked his forgiveness, and restored him to his office. But Theophilus began to feel so
tortured by the pangs of remorse over the great crime he had committed,
that he wept continually.
Entering a church, he prostrated himself in tears before an altar of
the Blessed Virgin, exclaiming: “O, mother of God, having you who art so
merciful, I will not despair of your help.”
Thus he persevered for forty days, weeping and praying to the Holy Virgin.
Behold, one night the mother of mercy appeared to him and said: “O,
Theophilus, what have you done? You have renounced my friendship and
that of my Son, and for whom, but for the sake of your enemy and mine!”
“O, Lady,” answered Theophilus, “it is in thy hand to pardon me, and to obtain my pardon from thy Son.”
Then, Mary, seeing his confidence, answered, “Take courage and I will pray for thee.”
Theophilus, encouraged by these words, redoubled his tears, his
penance, and his prayers, remaining constantly at the foot of the altar.
And, behold, Mary appeared to him again, and with a joyful countenance
said to him:
“Theophilus, rejoice, I have presented thy tears and thy prayers to
God; He hath accepted them, and hath already pardoned thee; henceforth
be grateful and faithful.”
“Lady,” replied Theophilus, “this is not sufficient to console me;
the enemy still possesses the impious deed, by which I have renounced
thee and thy Son; thou canst obtain it for me.”
After three days, Theophilus awoke one night, and found the paper on his breast.
The next day, when the bishop with a large assembly were present in
church, Theophilus cast himself at his feet, related the whole story,
weeping bitterly, and handed him the infamous writing, which the bishop
immediately ordered to be burned in the presence of the congregation.
The people wept for joy, praising the goodness of God, and the mercy of
Mary towards that miserable sinner.
Theophilus returned to the church of the Virgin, and there, three
days later, died happily, with thanksgivings to Jesus and his holy
mother on his lips. References: Glories of Mary, New Revised Edition of 1888, p.196
The Five First Saturdays devotion is one of the principal
points of the Fatima message. It centers on the urgent need for mankind
to offer reparation and expiate for the many injuries that the
Immaculate Heart of Mary suffers from the hands of both impious and
On the First Saturday during 5 Consecutive Months, the Devotion consists of:
1. Going to Confession, 2. Receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion, 3. Saying five decades of the Rosary, 4. Meditating for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary.
All this offered in REPARATION for the sins of blasphemy and ingratitude committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
During the third apparition on July 13, 1917, Our Lady revealed that
she would come to ask for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate
Heart and for the Communion of Reparation of the Five First Saturdays.
Consequently, she asked for the devotion in 1925 and the consecration in
While staying at the House of the Dorothean Sister in Pontevedra,
Portugal, Sister Lucia received a vision on December 10, 1925 where the
Blessed Mother appeared alongside a Boy who stood over a luminous cloud.
Our Lady rested one hand on the Boy’s shoulder while she held on the
other hand a heart pierced with thorns around it. Sister Lucia heard the Boy say,
"Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother which is covered with
thorns with which ingrate men pierce it at every moment with no one to
make an act of reparation to pull them out."
Our Lady expressed her request in the following words,
"See, my daughter, My Heart surrounded with thorns with which
ingrates pierce me at every moment with blasphemies and ingratitude.
You, at least, make sure to console me and announce that all those who
for five months, on the first Saturdays, go to confession, receive
Communion, say five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for 15
minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of
making reparation to Me, I promise to assist them at the hour of death
with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls."
A few days afterward, Sister Lucia detailed this vision in a letter
addressed to Monsignor Manuel Pereira Lopes, her confessor when she
resided in the Asylum of Vilar in the city of Oporto, Portugal.
Why Five Saturdays?
Sister Lucia’s confessor questioned her about the reason for the five
Saturdays asking why not seven or nine. She answered him in a letter
dated June 12, 1930. In it she related about a vision she had of Our
Lord while staying in the convent chapel part of the night of the
twenty-ninth to the thirtieth of the month of May, 1930. The reasons Our
Lord gave were as follows:
The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and
blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are:
a. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception b. Blasphemies against her virginity c. Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men d. Instilling , indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children e. Direct insults against Her sacred images
Let us keep the above reasons firmly in our minds. Devotions have
intentions attached to them and knowing them adds merit and weight to
Modifications to the Five First Saturdays Devotion to facilitate its observation
The original request of Our Lady asks one to confess and receive
Communion on five consecutive first Saturdays; to say five decades of
the Rosary; to meditate during 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary
for the purpose of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in
reparation for the sins of men.
In subsequent private visions and apparitions however, Sister Lucia
presented to Our Lord the difficulties that devotees encountered in
fulfilling some conditions. With loving condescension and solicitude,
Our Lord deigned to relax the rules to make this devotion easy to
Confession may be done on other days other than the First Saturdays
so long as one receives Our Lord worthily and has the intention of
making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Even if one forgets to make the intention, it may be done on the
next confession, taking advantage of the first occasion to go to
Sister Lucia also clarified that it is not necessary to meditate on
ALL mysteries of the Rosary on each First Saturdays. One or several
With much latitude granted by Our Lord Himself, there is no reason
for the faithful to hesitate or delay this pious practice in the spirit
of reparation which the Immaculate Heart of Mary urgently asks.
This devotion is so necessary in our days
The culture of vice and sin remains unabated even as one reads this.
Abortion, blasphemy, drug abuse, pornography, divorce and bad marriages,
religious indifference, the advances of the homosexual agenda and
others are just some of society’s many plagues that cut deeply into the
Immaculate Heart of Mary.
We must console Our Lady amidst all these insults and injuries to her
and her Divine Son. She asks for reparation, she pleads for our
prayers, she hopes for our amendment of life. Let us listen to her
maternal pleas and atone for the ingratitude of men.
The First Five Saturdays devotion stimulates the spirit of
reparation; it instills a tender love for the Holy Sacraments of
Confession and the Blessed Eucharist. It nurtures a holy affection for
the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Rosary. Above all, it is an
excellent means to maintain one in the state of grace while immersed in
the daily spiritual battles and prosaic existence in the neo-pagan world
that we live in.
Let us not delay in observing this devotion for it too gives us hope for eternal salvation.
REFERENCE: Solimeo, Luiz Sergio, Fatima, A Message More Urgent than Ever (Spring Grove, PA: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property-TFP, 2008.)
was born into an illustrious French family and raised in the
Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés under the tutelage of his
uncle, Abbot Hugh. The regularity of his conduct and virtuous life
earned him the admiration of the community.
After being ordained a
sub-deacon, he was appointed a canon of the Church of
Sainte-Geneviève-du-Mont in Paris where the sanctity of his life greatly
annoyed his worldly and lax fellow-canons. They mocked him for his more
disciplined life and so persecuted him that William was forced to
resign his canonry. However, in 1148, during a visit to Paris by Blessed
Pope Eugene III, the latter observed the canonical laxity that reigned
at Sainte-Geneviève-du-Mont and replaced the canons with more observant
men thus vindicating William’s reputation. Under the direction of the
famous Abbot Suger a new canonry with a stricter set of rules was
established. William rejoined the community and, in a short time, became
William tempered his zeal for regular discipline with
so much sweetness and humility that he led all to practice the rule
with joy. The fame of his wisdom and sanctity even reached the ears of
Absalon, the Bishop of Roskilde in Denmark, who sent his provost, the
historian Saxo the Grammarian, to ask William to come to Denmark to help
with the much-needed reforms there.
The prospect of hardships
and challenges in the service of Our Lord inspired William to accept the
invitation, and he cheerfully traveled to Denmark. There, he was
appointed Abbot of Eskilsoë and, although he faced many difficulties
both from powerful people and from within himself, he triumphed through
prayer and patience. His apostolic zeal and perseverance bore much fruit
for the Catholic Faith in Denmark during the thirty years he lived
among the Danes. He also founded the Abbey of St. Thomas in Aebelhold
(Ebelholt) in Zeeland and traveled to Rome to intercede with the Pope on
behalf of the king’s sister, Ingelburga, who had been repudiated by her
royal husband, King Philip Augustus of France.
William died in Denmark on April 6, 1203 and was canonized in 1224 by Pope Honorius III.
survivor’s gripping account gives a convincing testimony of the power
of the Rosary. A 25 year-old female student who lost her brother and her
mother in the terrorists attack in the Chaldean Catholic Church in
Baghdad on October 31, 2010 relates: “Next to my brother, there was also a woman who was bleeding
profusely. She asked the terrorist: ‘Kill me, please, do not let me
suffer any more.’ He answered her: "No, suffer; that way you will
experience hell on earth and after your death." And he repeated: "You
are infidels, Allah ou akbar!" And I, then, prayed the rosary, with my
head bent down towards the floor. A terrorist came and asked me: "What
are you praying? What do you venerate? Do you venerate Christ?" And
then, some grenades exploded and we truly had the impression that the
church was going to collapse on us. I myself absolutely did not think
that I would survive. I prayed as if I was about to die. It is Our
Mother who saved us.” Needed more than ever in our times Amid that horrific bedlam and terrible carnage, the student
courageously hung on to her rosary and prayed even as the Islamic
terrorist accosted her. By the grace of God, she was spared from death. Story II
Austria, September 12, 1955: After World War II, Austria was divided
between four countries: America, France, the United Kingdom, and Russia,
which was still communist. The section of Austria controlled by the
communists was the richest, and included the city of Vienna. The
Viennese were subject to all the atrocities and tyrannies of communism. With all of his country’s problems weighing heavily on his heart,
Capuchin Fr. Petrus Pavlicek made a pilgrimage to Mariazell, the
principle Marian shrine in Austria. While deep in prayer before the
miraculous image of Our Lady above the shrine’s high altar, he was told
by an interior voice: “Do as I say and there will be peace.” To
obey this inspiration of Our Lady, Fr. Pavlicek founded the Holy Rosary
Crusade of Reparation in 1947. His Crusade consisted of the Viennese
faithful coming out of their homes in order to participate in a public
Rosary procession in the streets of the city. The intentions of the
Rosary were for the end of communism in their country and in the world.
Father traveled throughout Austria with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima
promoting the Rosary Crusade. At first, the processions were miniscule,
but in time they grew to staggering proportions. The Prime Minister and
other members of the Austrian government soon joined the ranks, along
with all of the nation’s bishops. In 1955, after eight years spreading the word about the Crusade
throughout Austria, the Rosary processions would reach the size of half a
million people, about one-tenth of the Austrian population. Finally, through the help of Our Lady, the Soviet forces pulled out of Austria in October of 1955, leaving the country for good. Each year on September 12th, the feast of the Holy Name of Mary,
thousands gather in Vienna to thank the Mother of God for her
intercession in freeing their country from communist domination. Story III
It was a cold, wintry night in Ohio when homes used coal for fuel. One
home had only enough to make it till dawn. Young Mary, who writes this
story, tells us her family was going through hard times as her Dad had
lost his job. As she sat around the kitchen table with her parents, there was talk
that she and her eight siblings might have to go to the Children’s Home
on the morrow. They could only hope the relief truck would come in the
morning. But there was no guarantee. It was then they decided to say a
Rosary. As they finished, there was the rumble of a motor in the lane. The
coal truck! Mary’s Dad ran out to help unload. Back in, he remarked,
“Funny, I've never seen that man, and he didn't give me a paper to sign
or anything.” That night they slept warm, and worriless. But next morning there was
the coal truck again. Mary's Mom informed the driver, a cousin, that
they had a delivery the night before. The cousin chuckled, “Mine is the only relief truck in the area…If you got a load last night, St. Joseph must have brought it!” Mary’s family never knew who the delivery man was…It didn't help that they never got a bill.
“I promise you, in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my
all powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on
the first Friday for nine consecutive months, the grace of final
repentance; they shall not die in my disgrace nor without receiving the
sacraments; my divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in that last
moment.” — Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary
How to complete the First Friday’s Devotion:
Receive Holy Communion on each First Friday;
The nine Fridays must be consecutive;
They must be made in honor and in reparation to His Sacred Heart.
ACT OF REPARATION TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
Sacred Heart of Jesus, animated with a desire to repair the outrages
unceasingly offered to Thee, we prostrate before Thy throne of mercy,
and in the name of all mankind, pledge our love and fidelity to Thee!
The more Thy mysteries are blasphemed, the more firmly we shall believe them, O Sacred Heart of Jesus!
The more impiety endeavors to extinguish our hopes of immortality, the more we shall trust in Thy Heart, sole hope of mankind!
The more hearts resist Thy Divine attractions, the more we shall love Thee, O infinitely amiable Heart of Jesus!
The more unbelief attacks Thy Divinity, the more humbly and profoundly we shall adore It, O Divine Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy holy laws are transgressed and ignored, the more we shall delight to observe them, O most holy Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Sacraments are despised and abandoned, the more
frequently we shall receive them with love and reverence, O most liberal
Heart of Jesus!
The more the imitation of Thy virtues is neglected and forgotten, the
more we shall endeavor to practice them, O Heart of Jesus, model of
The more the devil labors to destroy souls, the more we shall be
inflamed with desire to save them, O Heart of Jesus, zealous Lover of
The more sin and impurity destroy the image of God in man, the more
we shall try by purity of life to be a living temple of the Holy Spirit,
O Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Holy Church is despised, the more we shall endeavor to be her faithful children, O Sweet Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Vicar on earth is persecuted, the more we will honor him
as the infallible head of Thy Holy Church, show our fidelity and pray
for him, O kingly Heart of Jesus!
O Sacred Heart, through Thy powerful grace, may we become Thy
apostles in the midst of a corrupted world, and be Thy crown in the
kingdom of heaven. Amen.
12 Promises of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary
1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will give peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9. I will bless those places wherein the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12. In the excess of the
mercy of my heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant
to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine
consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in
my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will
be their secure refuge in that last hour.
Ferrer, although born in Valencia in Spain, was from Scotch-English
descent on his father’s side. His parents instilled in him a deep
devotion to Our Lord and Our Lady and a tremendous love for the poor.
1367 he entered the Dominican Order, and before he reached the age of
twenty-one was already teaching philosophy at Lérida, the most famous
university in Catalonia.
Transferred to Barcelona to preach to
the public, he arrived in the coastal city to find the citizens ravaged
by hunger. A famine was raging through that region and the people were
desperate for the arrival of a ship of corn. Vincent foretold that the
ship would be in harbor before nightfall, and so it happened, at which
the people acclaimed the young Dominican preacher a prophet and his
superiors cautiously moved him to Toulouse.
souls with the ardor of his preaching, rousing sinners to penance, lax
Catholics to fervor, and converting a number of Jews to the Faith, one
of them the Rabbi of Burgos who went on to become a bishop.
was the time of the great schism with a pope in Rome and another in
Avignon, a time when even saints were confused. For a time Vincent
favored Benedict XIII, or Peter de Luna, as he was popularly known, who
ruled from the French city of Avignon. Vincent was also de Luna's
confessor. But as the Church began moving to rule against the claim of
Peter de Luna, and the latter remained obstinate, Vincent distanced
himself from the claimant, and, eventually, played a major role in
Benedict XIII’s abdication in favor of Church unity.
Ferrer preached throughout Europe as far north as the Netherlands, and
his learning, ardent preaching and miracles worked numerous
conversions. In one location Vincent worked so many miracles that an
hour was reserved every day for healing the sick. At Liguria in Italy he
convinced the ladies to modify their fantastic headdress, which one of
his biographers calls “the greatest of all his marvelous deeds”.
In Granada in Spain, then under Moorish rule, 8000 Muslims asked for Baptism after hearing him preach.
spent the last three years of his life in France, where he became ill
after preaching a sermon in 1419, and died on Wednesday of Passion Week.
He was canonized in 1455 by Pope Calixtus III.