Saint Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo

Turibius or also known as Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo, born in 1538. He was a respected judge and law professor Spain. One day, King Philip II, who was head of the Church in Spain, appointed him Archbishop of Lima, Peru. Toribio told the king and the pope that he had never even been to South America and that he was not even a priest! But the decision had been made. The Church in Peru needed a holy man to lead the people closer to Christ. Toribio was ordained a priest and a bishop, and he soon set sail for his new land.

When he arrived in Lima, he was shocked at what he found. Priests were not caring for their people. The poor were being neglected. Rich Spanish landowners had enslaved many of the native people of Peru and treated them cruelly. Toribio saw that there was much work to be done.

Toribio decided to visit every parish in his new land. Sometimes he rode a mule from place to place, but mostly he traveled on foot. His journey through the diocese took him seven long years. At every parish, he gathered the people to celebrate the Sacraments. He preached about God’s love and how to follow Jesus. He slept on dirt floors in the homes of Catholic families, and he ate whatever food the poor but faithful people could provide. He learned the different languages spoken by his people so that he could speak to them in words they could understand.Read More »

Saint Louise de Marillac

Louise was born near Le Meux, now in the department of Oise, in Picardy, into a wealthy French family in 1591, but all the money in the world could not stop sadness from touching her life. Her mother died when was young and her father died when she was a teenager. She was raised by her aunt, a nun, and Louise felt called to religious life. She later made application to the Capuchin nuns in Paris but was refused admission. It is not clear if her refusal was for her continual poor health or other reasons, but her spiritual director assured her that God had “other plans” for her.

Devastated by this refusal, Louise was at a loss as to her next step. When she was 22, her family convinced her that marriage was the best alternative. Her uncle arranged for her to marry Antoine Le Gras, secretary to Queen Marie. Antoine was an ambitious young man who seemed destined for great accomplishments. Louise and Antoine were wed in the fashionable Church of St. Gervaise on February 5, 1613. In October, the couple had their only child, Michel. Louise grew to love Antoine and was an attentive mother to their son. Along with being devoted to her family, Louise was also active in ministry in her parish. She had a leading role in the Ladies of Charity, an organization of wealthy women dedicated to assisting those suffering from poverty and disease.

During civil unrest, her two uncles who held high rank within the government were imprisoned. One was publicly executed, and the other died in prison. Around 1621, Antoine contracted a chronic illness and eventually became bedridden. Louise nursed and cared for him and their child. In 1623, when illness was wasting Antoine, depression was overcoming Louise. In addition, she suffered for years with internal doubt and guilt for having not pursued the religious calling she had felt as a young woman. She was fortunate to have a wise and sympathetic counsellor, Francis de Sales, then in Paris, and then his friend, the bishop of Belley.Read More »

Saint Joaquina Vedruna Vidal de Mas

Joaquima Vedruna Vidal de Mas was born on 16 April 1783 in Barcelona to the nobles Lorenzo de Vedruna – who worked for the government – and Teresa Vidal. Her parents raised their eight children to be very proper and perfect little aristocrats, and never dreamed that their fifth child, little Joaquima, was anything out of the ordinary.

Joaquima was a lively and affectionate little girl, with the typically generous enthusiasm that one finds in children. She also had a fairly normal attraction to the traditional piety of the times. At the tender age of twelve, she insisted that she needed to enter the cloistered Carmelite convent, and was surprised to be turned down. Her childhood was a pious one and she fostered a special devotion to the Infant Jesus while being known for her obsessive cleanliness and she made her First Communion in 1792.

On 24 March 1799 she married the barrister and landowner Teodoro de Mas (the firstborn of his own household) with whom she had nine children; both husband and wife later became members of the Third Order of Saint Francis and she became known as “Joaquima of Saint Francis of Assisi”. Unfortunately they were not blessed with the stability of earlier times. Spain was drawn into the vortex of war and revolution when Napoleon led his French troops south in a wave of conquest. For safety, Teodoro moved his family from Barcelona to his birthplace of Vich, and then joined the Spanish forces fighting to defend their homeland. Joaquima and her children managed to avoid columns of hostile soldiers, giving the credit to divine protection and intervention. But the vicious conflict broke all bounds of violence and bloodshed, and no one in Spain would ever be the same again.Read More »

Saint Cristóbal Magallanes Jara

Cristóbal Magallanes Jara was born in Totatiche, Jalisco, Mexico on July 30, 1869. He was son of Rafael Magallanes Romero and Clara Jara Sanchez, who were farmers. He worked as a shepherd in his youth and enrolled in the Conciliar Seminary of San José in Guadalajara at the age of 19.

Cristóbal was ordained at the age of 30 at the Santa Teresa Temple in Guadalajara in 1899 and served as chaplain of the School of Arts and Works of the Holy Spirit in Guadalajara. He was then designated as the parish priest for his home town of Totatiche, where he helped found schools and carpentry shops and assisted in planning for hydrological works, including the dam of La Candelaria. He took special interest in the evangelization of the local indigenous Huichol people and was instrumental in the foundation of the mission in the indigenous town of Azqueltán. When government decrees closed the seminary in Guadalajara in 1914, Magallanes offered to open a seminary in his parish. In July 1915, he opened the Auxiliary Seminary of Totatiche, which achieved a student body of 17 students by the following year and was recognized by the Archbishop of Guadalajara, José Francisco Orozco y Jiménez, who appointed a precept and two professors to the seminary.

Cristóbal and his 24 companion martyrs lived under a very anti-Catholic government in Mexico, one determined to weaken the Catholic faith of its people. Churches, schools, and seminaries were closed; foreign clergy were expelled. Cristóbal established a clandestine seminary at Totatiche, Jalisco. He and the other priests were forced to minister secretly to Catholics during the presidency of Plutarco Calles (1924-28).Read More »

Saint Nunzio Sulprizio

Nunzio Sulprizio was born on 13 April 1817 to Domenico Sulprizio (who was born in Popoli) and Rosa Luciani just after Easter, in Pescara, Italy. His father died when Nunzio was only three years old. Nunzio’s mother remarried, but his stepfather paid no attention to him. Still, Nunzio faithfully attended Mass, prayed, and studied the lives of the saints. Their stories helped him learn how to live a holy, faith-filled life.

His mother died in 1823 and he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother Anna Rosaria Luciani del Rossi who was illiterate but firm in the faith. The two often took walks together and attended Mass on a regular basis. He also began to attend the school for poor students that Father Fantacci managed; his grandmother later died in 1826. It was following this that his uncle – Domenico Luciani took him on as an apprentice blacksmith. His uncle was harsh on him and often left him without proper nourishment and did not feed him if he perceived that Nunzio needed either discipline or correction. He sent Nunzio to run errands regardless of the distance which put a great strain upon him. He was also beaten or cursed if his uncle did not like how he did his errands. The work was too much for him due to his age and he contracted a disease in 1831. This occurred one winter morning when his uncle sent him to the slopes of Rocca Tagliata for supplies. That evening he became exhausted and had a swollen leg and a burning fever forcing him to bed. He did not mention this to his uncle though the next morning found he could no longer stand. His uncle was indifferent to his suffering. His condition was later diagnosed as gangrene in one leg. He was hospitalized first in L’Aquila between April and June and then in Naples. Despite his pain he dealt with it with patience and his offering his pain to God.Read More »

Matt Talbot

Talbot was born on 2 May 1856 at 13 Aldborough Court, Dublin, Ireland, the second eldest of twelve children of Charles and Elizabeth Talbot, a poor family in the North Strand area. He was baptised in St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral on 5 May. His father and all but the oldest of his brothers were heavy drinkers. In 1868 Matt left school at the age of twelve and went to work in a wine merchant’s store. He very soon began “sampling their wares”, and was considered a hopeless alcoholic by age thirteen. He then went to the Port & Docks Board where he worked in the whiskey stores. He frequented pubs in the city with his brothers and friends, spending most or all of his wages and running up debts. When his wages were spent, he borrowed and scrounged for money. He pawned his clothes and boots to get money for alcohol. On one occasion, he stole a fiddle from a street entertainer and sold it to buy drink.

Alcohol became the most important thing in Matt’s life. He spent all his money on liquor, and when he did not have money from his regular job, he often stood outside a pub waiting for a friend to invite him in and buy him a drink. Soon he had no friends left. Whenever he drank, he got into fights.

One evening in 1884 28-year old Talbot, who was penniless and out of credit, waited outside a pub in the hope that somebody would invite him in for a drink. After several friends had passed him without offering to treat him, he went home in disgust and announced to his mother that he was going to “take the pledge” (renounce drink). He went to Holy Cross College, Clonliffe where he took the pledge for three months. At the end of the three months, he took the pledge for six months, then for life.Read More »

Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs of Uganda

Charles Lwanga was born in Uganda on the continent of Africa in the last half of the 19th century. He and other young men and boys were required to work for King Mwanga. King Mwanga was an evil man who treated all people harshly, especially the boys who worked for him.

Charles and his friends learned about Christianity from the Society of Missionaries of Africa who were working in Uganda. They learned about Jesus and asked to be baptized. They became followers of Jesus Christ. The missionaries also tried to keep the boys safe from the king.

When King Mwanga had a visiting Anglican Bishop murdered, his chief page, Joseph Mukasa, a Catholic who went to great length to protect the younger boys from the king’s lust, denounced the king’s actions and was beheaded on November 15, 1885.

The 25 year old Charles Lwanga, a man wholly dedicated to the Christian instruction of the younger boys, became the chief page, and just as forcibly protected them from the kings advances.Read More »