Saint Albert The Great

Born on earth around 1200 and in heaven in 1280, Saint Albert the Great of the Order of Preachers is a great saint for our time so badly in need of his preaching and teaching. We live in a world where many scientists proclaim their lack of belief in God and increasing numbers of young people declare they believe in science rather than religion, assuming in the ignorance of their miseducation that the two must be opposed. As Pope Saint John Paul II declared in 1998 in his Fides et Ratio (on the relationship between faith and reason), we live in a day when scientism grows rampant and many people believe that science and technology provide all the answers to all the problems that plague humanity. On the other hand, some Christians who recognize that science can certainly tell us how to do things, but not whether we ought to do them, fall into the opposing error of fideism, “which fails to recognize the importance of rational knowledge and philosophical discourse for the understanding of faith, indeed for the very possibility of belief in God.” We live in a day of increasing polarization, presented with the false dichotomy of having to choose between the scientism of the intelligent, courageous, and godless secular scientists and the fideism of ignorant, benighted, and bigoted fundamentalist Bible-thumpers.

The saint and doctor of the Church who would be known as Albertus Magnus was born in Bavaria, a fact we infer because he referred to himself as “Albert of Lauingen,” a town which still stands today in southern Germany. He attended the University of Padua where he learned about Aristotle and his writings. He excelled in his studies and later became a lecturer for the Dominicans at Cologne. He also travelled around the region to lecture gaining regional, then international acclaim. At the same time he started lecturing, Albert produced “Summa de Bono,” after collaboration with Phillip the Chancellor, who was a renown theologian from France.Read More »

Saint Josaphat Kuntsevych

St. Josaphat was born John Kuncevic about 1580 in Vladimir, a village of the Lithuanian Province of Volhynia (then a part of the Polish Kingdom begun under the Jagellonian Dynasty). His parents belonged to the Eastern Rite Church of Kyiv (Ukraine) which was then separated from Rome.

When John was just a child, his mother explained the icons in church. Years later he told a friend that he felt a spark of fire leave the wounded side of the Crucified and enter his own heart, which was filled with joy. This event influenced the rest of his life. He began to memorize the Church rituals and psalms. Within him grew the desire to suffer poverty and death for his Savior.

John’s father sent him to Vilno in Lithuania to learn more about the family business. Nevertheless, he spent much of his leisure in reading the lives of the Saints and observing the religious ferment in the local church. The Ruthenians (the ethnic origin of his family) had been evangelized from Constantinople-modern Istanbul-and generally followed the lead of the Byzantine Church there. But because of the absorption of the Ruthenians into the Polish Kingdom, always staunch Roman Catholics, the question of reunion with Rome was hotly debated.Read More »

Saint Narcissus of Jerusalem

Saint-Narcissus-
Saint-Narcissus-

Born toward the end of the first century, Narcissus was advanced in age when he was elected bishop of Jerusalem. Life in second- and third-century Jerusalem couldn’t have been easy, but St. Narcissus managed to live well beyond 100.

Many miracles were attributed to the saintly prelate, one of which the historian Eusebius relates: the deacons being out of oil for the lamps to be used in the Easter Vigil liturgical solemnities, the bishop bade them draw water from a well.

Pronouncing a blessing over this water, he poured it into the lamps, and it immediately turned to oil to the astonishment of all the faithful. Some of this oil was still preserved when Eusebius wrote of the miracle.

The general veneration of all good men for this holy bishop could not shelter him from evil tongues. Three incorrigible sinners, resentful of Narcissus’ strictness in the observance of ecclesiastical discipline, accused him of an atrocious crime, which Eusebius does not specify.Read More »

Saint Frumentius of Ethiopia

Saint Frumentius was still a child when his uncle, a Christian philosopher of Tyre in Phoenicia, took him and his brother Edesius on a voyage to Ethiopia. In the course of their voyage the vessel anchored at a certain port, and the barbarians of that country slew with the sword all the crew and passengers, except the two children.

Because of their youth and beauty they were taken to the king at Axuma, who, charmed with the wit and sprightliness of the two boys, took special care of their education, and later made Edesius his cup-bearer and Frumentius, who was a little older, his treasurer and secretary of state. The king, on his deathbed, thanked them for their services and in reward gave them their liberty.

After his death the queen begged them to remain at court and assist her in the government of the state until the young prince came of age; this they did, using their influence to spread Christianity. When the young king reached his majority, Edesius desired to return to Tyre, and Frumentius accompanied him as far as Alexandria. With the blessing of Saint Athanasius, Frumentius was elevated to become Bishop of Abyssinia and he returned to that country, which had sheltered him from his childhood.

After he returned from his consecration, Saint Frumentius began to perform miracles, bringing many people to the Church. The emperor said to him, “You have lived among us for many years, yet we never saw you perform such wonders. Why is it that you do so now?” The saint replied, “This has nothing to do with me, but is due to the grace of the priesthood.” Then the emperor and many of his subjects received holy Baptism.

Having accomplished the apostolic task of converting the Abyssinian nation to Christ, Saint Frumentius zealously and fruitfully guided the Church entrusted him by God for many years. Vested with this sacred character he gained great numbers to the Faith by his discourses and miracles, and the entire nation embraced Christianity with its young king, thus fulfilling a famous prophecy of Isaiah, uttered 800 years before Christ. (Isaiah 45:14) Saint Frumentius continued to feed and defend his flock until it pleased the Supreme Pastor to call him home and reward his fidelity and labors, in about the year 383.

Saint Hedwig of Silesia

Hedwig was born in Andechs Castle in the Duchy of Bavaria, Germany, the daughter of Count Berthold IV of Andechs and his second wife Agnes of Wettin. She was the aunt of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

At the age of twelve, Hedwig was married to Duke Henry of Silesia, the head of the Polish Royal family. As soon as Henry succeeded his father in 1201, he had to struggle with his Piast relatives, at first with his uncle Duke Mieszko IV Tanglefoot who immediately seized the Upper Silesian Duchy of Opole.  In 1229 Henry was captured and arrested at Płock Castle by rivaling Duke Konrad I of Masovia. Hedwig proceeded to Płock pleading for Henry and was able to have him released.

Her actions promoted the reign of her husband: Upon the death of the Polish High Duke Władysław III Spindleshanks in 1231, Henry also became Duke of Greater Poland and the next year prevailed as High Duke at Kraków. In 1238, upon his death, Henry was buried at a Cistercian monastery of nuns, Trzebnica Abbey (Kloster Trebnitz), which he had established in 1202 at Hedwig’s request. Hedwig accepted the death of her beloved husband with faith. She said:

Would you oppose the will of God? Our lives are His.

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Saint Gerard Majella

San_Gerardo_MaiellaGerard Majella was born in the South of Italy in a small town called Muro on the sixth of April. It was in the year 1726. His father, Domenico, was a tailor. His mother, Benedetta, had already borne three daughters. Gerard was the youngest – the only son. They were an ordinary hard-working Italian family. Pious too. Donna Benedetta often brought her three youngest to Mass with her at the shrine of Our Lady of Graces at nearby Capotignano. And, like thousands of other small boys, then and now, Gerard was all eyes for the strange new things he saw. Not quite four, he was too young to know what was going on. But he did know this: he liked the “pretty lady with the baby.”

“Mama, Mama, see what I got from the little boy.” In his hand he clutched a small roll of bread. Nobody paid him a bit of attention as he chattered about a pretty lady and her baby who had given him the bread. Small boys love to make up stories! But the next day he brought back another white roll, and again the next day, and the next. His mother decided to investigate. Next morning she followed her son. Off he ran the two miles to Capotignano, making straight for the chapel. Benedetta followed. It was then she saw who his playmate was – the Christ-Child himself. The statue of Our Lady of Graces had come to life. The infant climbed down from his Mother’s arms to romp with Gerard. A bewildered Benedetta ran home to Muro. At mealtime, little Gerard came back with another roll of bread.Read More »