Relics & Saints of the Day

So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face cloths or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.

Acts 19:11-12

Beneath the altar is a golden reliquary, which simply means a container or shrine in which sacred relics are kept.  The word relic comes from the Latin relinquo, literally meaning I leave, or I abandon. A relic is a piece of the body of a saint, an item owned or used by the saint, or an object which has been touched to the tomb of a saint.  As Catholics we don’t worship the relics.  We venerate the relics of the Saints because of the way they loved; the way they lived their lives inspire us.  Clothing and personal effects of the Saints were also enshrined stemming from the widespread belief since St Paul in Acts 19:11 through the centuries of the early Middle Ages, that the wonder-working power of God through the Saint was to be found not only in the entire body but also in every part of it and in objects that had been in contact with his person.  More information on the 3 types of relics and scriptural resources are at the end of the page.

The custom of putting relics under altars goes back to the time of the catacomb when Mass was often offered over the tomb of a Saint, of martyrs, because they gave their life as a testament that Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead; they wouldn’t denounce Jesus or their faith in Him and were killed for it.

Our beautiful reliquary is a memorial gift from Christine and Bill Holbrook in memory of Bill’s brother Daniel.  We are grateful to the Holbrook family for such an incredible gift.

The reliquary is similar in shape to the great reliquary at the Cathedral in Cologne holding the relics of the Wise Men.  Our reliquary is Christ surrounded by the Apostles.  Some of the relics entombed in our reliquary are:

  • “teche” Italian word for casket containing the relics of Saint Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) and Saint Clare
  • “teche” Italian word for casket containing the relics of Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian
  • relic of Saint John Vianney
  • relic of Saint Edward the Confessor
  • relic of Saint Richard
  • relic of Saint Jerome
  • relic of Saint Maria Goretti
  • relic of Saint Lucy
  • relic of Saint Magdalene
  • relic of Saint Mary Alacoque
  • relic of Saint Nicholas
  • relic of Saint Patrick
  • relic of Saint Stanislaus
  • relic of Saint Philip Neri
  • relic of Saint Rose of Lima
  • relic of Saint John Neuman
  • relic of Saint Sebastian
  • relic of Blessed Padre Pio
  • relic of Saint Valentine
  • relic of Saint Veronica
  • relic of Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini
  • relic of Saint Pius X
  • relic of Saint Elizabeth Seton
  • relic of Saint Martha
  • relic of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, SJ
  • relic of Saint John Berchman
  • relic of Saint Martin DePores
  • relic of Saint Alphonsus Liguoori
  • relic of Saint Gerard Majellen
  • “teche” Italian word for casket containing the relics of Saint John the Baptist, Saint Elizabeth and Saint Zachary
  • relic of Saint Stephen, 1st Martyr
  • Blessed Edith Stein

3 Classes of sacred relics

  1. The first-class is a part of the saints body. It is this type which is placed in an altar stone.
  2. The second-class is a piece of the saints clothing or something used by the saint.
  3. The third-class is an object which has been touched to a first-class relic.

Scriptural passages

Isn’t the veneration of relics optional for Catholics? Must the Catholic faithful really esteem the bodies of the saints?

Once and for all, the Council of Trent (16th century) responded to the claims of the reformers that both the veneration of the saints and their relics is contrary to Sacred Scripture. The Council taught: Also the holy bodies of the holy martyrs and of the others who dwell with Christ . . . are to be honored by the faithful.  There are several scriptural passages that support the veneration of relics. For example,

  • Exodus 13:19. The Israelites took Joseph’s bones when they departed Egypt.
  • 2 Kings 13:21. The bones of Elisha came in contact with a dead person who then was raised to life.
  • 2 Kings 2:13. The same Elisha took the mantle of Elijah and fashioned a miracle with it.
  • Acts 19:12. The Christians of Ephesus, by using handkerchiefs and cloths touched to St. Paul’s skin, effected the healing of the sick.

The relics of the saints and their veneration is just another in the long line of treasures which Jesus Christ has given to His chaste bride, the Church. These relics summon us to appreciate more profoundly not only these heroes who have served the Master so selflessly and generously, but especially the love and mercy of the Almighty who called these His followers who are living a blissed out unending life in His eternal kingdom.

Let’s also pause for a moment.  Perhaps in our technological age, the whole idea of relics may seem strange.  Remember, all of us treasure things that have belonged to someone we love– a piece of clothing, another personal item, or a lock of hair.  Those “relics” remind us of the love we continue to share with that person while he was still living and even after death.  We are very proud to say, “This belongs to my mother,” for instance.  Our hearts are torn when we think about disposing of the very personal things of a deceased loved one.  Even from an historical sense, at Ford’s Theater Museum for instance, we can see things that belonged to President Lincoln, including the blood stained pillow on which he died.  With great reverence then, we treasure the relics of saints, the holy instruments of God.  In all, relics remind us of the holiness of a saint, of a hero, and his cooperation in God’s work; at the same time, relics inspire us to ask for the prayers of that hero and to beg the grace of God to live the same kind a faith-filled life.

Journey Daily with the Saints

How awesome is it that our faith has Saints; ordinary men, women, and children, known and unknown, who’ve become heroes of our faith.  They’ve each had their own unique journey of sinners-to-saints, rising up from the hardships of their lives.  Let us learn from these heroes how to continue to be saints-in-the-making, because, yes, each of us is a saint-in-the-making.

Nov 25 | Who is St Catherine of Alexandria?

According to tradition, Catherine was a young noblewoman schooled in Alexandria in Egypt, one of the great centers of learning in the ancient world.

After successfully arguing the case for Christianity with pagan philosophers before the Emperor Maxentius, she was threatened with torture on a spiked wheel. The wheel miraculously exploded, and the emperor had Catherine beheaded.

Before her death Catherine declared her intent to grant the requests of those who prayed to her. She was counted among the Fourteen Holy Helpers, the saints invoked in times of pestilence and plague by the faithful of medieval Germany. Saint John Paul II restored Catherine’s feast to the universal calendar in 2002.


Nov 24 | Who is St. Andrew Andrew Dũng-Lac and Companions?

In God’s hand is the soul of every living thing, and the life-breath of all mankind. (cf. Job 12:10)

The martyrs bear witness to the core of Christ’s sacrifice: they ­surrender their lives into God’s hands to do with as He wills. To them, the present cost of their offering counts as nothing in comparison to life with the Lord who awaits them.

On this day we remember 117 martyrs of Vietnam who lost their lives in various persecutions from 1740 to 1883. This group of ninety-six native Vietnamese and twenty-one Spanish and French missionaries suffered some of the most brutal tortures known to Christendom.

Father Paul Le-Bao Tinh testified, “The prison here is a true image of everlasting hell: to cruel tortures of every kind—shackles, iron chains, manacles—are added hatred, vengeance, calumnies, obscene speech, quarrels, evil acts, swearing, curses, as well as anguish and grief…. In the midst of these torments, which usually terrify others, I am, by the grace of God, full of joy and gladness, because I am not alone—Christ is with me.”

Nov 23 | Who is St. Columban?

Columban was born around 543, in Leinster, Ireland. Handsome and strong, he fended off the advances of young women until an elderly hermitess counseled him to go to the monastery. He was at Bangor for many years before he heard the call to go to France. There Columban founded several European monasteries one of which is the great monastery of Luxeuil and two other abbeys, although he continued to seek the solitude of a cave for prayer. Stories abound concerning his authority over wild beasts. After Columban rebuked the Burgundian king for keeping concubines, he was exiled. He found his way to Italy, where he ended his days at Bobbio in 615.
Here is a meditation of the day from him
The True Meaning of Our Whole Livelihood
Pilgrims continuously sigh for and long for our homeland, for travelers are always filled with hope and desire for the road’s end. And so, since we are travelers and pilgrims in this world, let us think upon the end of the road, that is of our life, for the end of our way is our home…. Many lose their true home because they have greater love for the road that leads them there.
Let us not love the road rather than our home, in case we should lose our eternal home, for our home is such that we should love it. Let us keep to this principle, therefore, that we should live as travelers and pilgrims on the road, as guests of the world, free of lusts and earthly desires, but let us fill our mind with heavenly and spiritual forms, singing with grace and power: For my soul thirsts for the mighty and living God. When shall I come and appear before the face of my God? (Ps 42:2-3), and My soul is like a parched land before you (Ps 143:6), and saying with Paul: I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ (Phil 1:23).
Let us know that although we are strangers to the Lord while in the body, we are present to the eyes of God. And so, turning our back on all evil and laying aside all apathy, let us strive to please him who is everywhere, so that we may joyfully and with a good conscience pass over from the road of this world to the blessed and eternal home of our eternal Father, moving from present things to absent ones, from sad things to joyful ones, from passing things to eternal ones, from earthly things to heavenly ones, from the region of death to the sphere of the living, where we shall see heavenly things face-to-face, and the King of kings, ruling his realms with an upright rule, our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory from age to age. Amen.

[From Celtic Spirituality, translated and introduced by Oliver Davies, with the collaboration of Thomas O’Loughlin. © 1999 by Oliver Davies. Published by Paulist Press, Inc., New York/Mahwah, NJ. Used with permission.]

Nov 21 | Why the Memorial Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary?

My food is to do the will of the one who sent me. (John 4:34)

The story of the presentation of Mary in the Temple as a child ­captures the essential Gospel portrait of Mary as a woman entirely dedicated not merely to doing but to living the will of God. Her own willing obedience, unhesitatingly given and never revoked, lies at the heart of her life of self-sacrifice offered in love.

“O Virgin Mother of God,” the Byzantine liturgy sings, “you are the subject of the preaching of the prophets and the glory of the apostles. You are the pride of the martyrs and the cause of the renewal of the entire human race, for through you we have been reconciled with God. Wherefore we honor your entrance into the temple of the Lord, repeating to you the salutation of the angel, for we are saved through your intercession, O most honorable one!” “The heavens opened up,” Saint Francis de Sales said, and the whole choir of angels “leaned over the balustrades of the heavenly Jerusalem to see and admire this darling child.”


Here is a meditation of the day we can reflect on as we seek Mary’s intercession and join her in offering ourselves to the Lord.

The Perfectly Presentable Mother of God

Due to his Son’s dignity, God had to give beauty to Mary [to make her] the mold from which the most perfect body of the Word Incarnate would come…. Mary is the faithful mirror where God contemplates and recognizes the beauty of his Son.

Cardinal Cajetan states: “We must believe that the Blessed Virgin has been, as far as possible, like unto Christ in all things.” Just as spiritual beauty is realized in the soul of Christ and of his Mother, sensible beauty has found its complete expression in the body of Jesus and the body of Mary.

The Blessed Virgin has collected to herself the perfections of the exalted women of the Old Testament: the grace of Rebecca, the charm of Rachel, the beauty of Judith, the majestic sweetness of Esther. Her mere presence is an apparition of immaculate beauty. From Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Saint John Damascene, Richard of Saint Victor, Denis the Carthusian, Gerson, and all the way up to the most recent authors writing of Mary, the Fathers and churchmen are unanimous in affirming that the Blessed Virgin is perfectly beautiful…. Both miracle and grace were added to nature so as to form in Mary an array of beauty never before seen and never seen since: the charm of the virgin, the majesty of the mother, perfect integrity and fecundity without equal. She possesses at once both the grace of spring and the riches of summer….

She is beautiful in the Temple of Jerusalem where the divine spirit prepares her for her mysterious destiny. She is beautiful in her maiden chambers where she lives in meditation and prayer. She is beautiful when she cradles the Infant-God or when she caresses him on her breast. She is beautiful in the home at Nazareth, next to the gracious youth who is her son and her God. She is beautiful on the roads of Judah and Galilee, accompanying the heavenly preacher and meditating upon his parables. She is beautiful on the mount of Calvary, when she assists the dying divine one and where she becomes the mother of humanity. She is beautiful in the upper room, where she instructs the Apostles and protects the infant Church. Finally, she is beautiful on the throne of glory where she reigns at the side of Jesus, above all the choirs of angels. She is assuredly the living apparition of beauty, and I understand that the poet has represented the archangel in ecstasy in contemplating Mary’s eyes…. She is one part of the happiness which awaits us in eternity.

By Father Édouard Hugon, o.p.

Father Hugon († 1929) was a Dominican priest, theologian, and retreat preacher. He taught in Rome for many years. [From Mary, Full of Grace: plena sibi, superplena nobis, John G. Brungardt, Tr. © 2019 by Cluny Media, P.O. Box 1664, Providence, RI 02901. Used with permission.]

Nov 18 | Who is St. Rose Philippine Duchesne?

Born in Grenoble, France, Rose entered the Sisters of the Visitation at eighteen, but the French Revolution cut short her novitiate. Eleven years passed before she was able to join the Society of the Sacred Heart at Amiens.

At the age of forty-nine, she made the arduous journey to Saint Charles, Missouri, where the first house of the order was an unheated hut. Schools for girls were established despite a dearth of funds; Saint Rose († 1852) founded the first houses in America of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Rose’s missionary labors on the frontier were capped with a decade of infirmity—and almost continual prayer. A contemporary said: “She was the Saint Francis of Assisi of the Society. Everything in and about her was stamped with the seal of a crucified life.”

Here is a meditation of the day from her (from Philippine Duchesne: Frontier Missionary of the Sacred Heart 1769-1852, Louise Callan, r.s.c.j. © 1957, The Newman Press, Westminster, MD.)

The Prayer of a Good Servant

O my God, I desire to live as a victim offered in a spirit of penance and love. Then let me prepare all that is needed for a sacrifice of love whose perfume will rise even to the Heart of Jesus. May my whole being be the victim, all that I am and all that I have. May my own heart be the altar, my separation from the world and all earthly pleasures the sacrificial knife. May my love be the consuming fire, and my yearning desires the breeze that fans it.

Let me pour on it the incense and perfume of all virtues, and to this mystical sacrifice let me bring all that I cling to, that I may offer all, burn all, consume all, keeping back nothing for self. O Divine Love, my very God, accept this sacrifice which I desire to offer you at every instant of my life.


Nov 17 | Who is St. Elizabeth of Hungary?

If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. (Matthew 19:21)
Saint Elizabeth found her one treasure not in her aristocratic heritage or wealth but in Jesus Christ, whom she found and loved in her family and in the poor.
Of Hungarian royal birth, Elizabeth grew up at the court of Thuringia, in Germany, where she married the kindly Ludwig when she was but fourteen. Her piety and preference for the poor drew the ire of the courtiers, but Elizabeth’s desire to follow Christ did not waver. After Ludwig’s unexpected death in 1227, Elizabeth modeled her life on that of Saint Francis of Assisi. She founded a hospital at Marburg, where she personally tended the sick and the dying. When her spiritual director questioned her, she told him that she “received from the poor special grace and humility.” Elizabeth died in 1231. She was twenty-four.
You know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake He became poor although He was rich, so that by His poverty you might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Once free of family responsibilities, Saint Elizabeth chose to become poor with the poor despite opposition and persecution. In their name she prayed; to their needs, she devoted all her energies and ­possessions; in their presence, she found joy in the Lord whom she loved.

Nov 16 | Who is St. Gertrude the Great?

Saint Gertrude the Great through her writing helped spread devotion to the Sacred Heart. She entered the monastery of Helfta, Germany, at the age of five. At twenty-five, having already excelled in her scholarly studies, she underwent a conversion. In a vision, a young man took her by the hand. Gazing at his palm, Gertrude saw “the precious traces of the wounds that abrogated all the acts of accusation of our enemies.” It was Christ Himself who led Gertrude into the prayer of union. Intimacy with His human heart was the hallmark of her writings. Gertrude died in 1301, at the age of forty-six. Saint Gertrude, taught Pope Benedict XVI, “shows us that the heart of a happy life, of a true life, is friendship with the Lord Jesus”

Here is a meditation of the day from her (from the book Gertrud the Great of Helfta: The Herald of God’s Loving-Kindness: Books One & Two)

The Plea of Faith

Hail, my salvation and the light of my soul. May all that is encompassed by the path of heaven, the circle of the earth and the deep abyss give you thanks for the extraordinary grace with which you led my soul to experience and ponder the innermost recesses of my heart…. I became anxiously aware of the many things in my heart which would be offensive to your most chaste purity, and of all the other things so disordered and chaotic that my heart could offer no resting place to you who wished to dwell there. But no more…did this drive you away, Jesus my most beloved, or prevent your honoring me frequently with your visible presence on those days when I came to the life-giving food of your Body and Blood. Though I could see you no more clearly than one sees things at dawn, nonetheless with kindly condescension you induced my soul to exert itself, that it might be united with you more closely…. I cannot find the words to describe how you, the Dayspring from on high…visited me through the depths of your loving-kindness and sweetness.

Giver of gifts, give me this gift: may I henceforward offer on the altar of my heart a sacrifice of joy, that by my supplication I may win for myself and all those whom you have chosen the privilege of enjoying often that sweet union and unifying sweetness…. You endowed me with a clearer light of knowledge of you, in which the sweet love of your loveliness always attracted me more greatly than the harsh punishment I deserved ever castigated me. I do not remember, however, having ever enjoyed such fulfillment except on the days when you invited me to taste the delights of your royal table.

Nov 13 | Who is St. Frances Xavier Cabrini?

I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me. (Mt 25:35)

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, herself an immigrant, was the first United States citizen to be canonized. Her Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart continue the many works she began in order to make the love of Christ visible in care for the multiple needs of immigrants, the sick, the poor, and the uneducated.

Frances Cabrini was born in the Lombardy region of Italy. She took private religious vows at age twenty-seven, adding “Xavier” to her name in honor of the great Jesuit missionary to the East. In 1880, she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the aim of evangelizing in China, yet Pope Leo XIII advised her to go “not to the east, but to the west.” Arriving in New York in 1889, she founded an orphanage for children of Italian immigrants. Schools, hospitals, and a prison ministry followed. Frances died in 1917, having established sixty-seven institutes of the order in the United States, Europe, and Central and South America. She is the patroness of immigrants.


Here is a meditation of the day by her

Seeking to Lose…and Save

O Lord, your mercy has urged me to wish to suffer for the love of you, Jesus, and to imitate your life, which was a continual martyrdom. Give me the desire to humble myself for your love…. When I do not feel inclined to follow your holy inspirations, help me to do so. O Heart of Jesus, by the agonizing abandonment which you experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane…which made you sweat blood, help me and give me courage to overcome those obstacles which would make me less pleasing to you.

Yes, yes, O most beloved Jesus, allow me to keep you company in the Garden in place of your disciples who slept. My Jesus, I long…to wipe from your brow the drops of precious blood, with the hope of securing my salvation and the utmost perfection. Lord, unite me closely to you, never let me go away from you, my Love: O Heart of my heart, Life of my life! O most comforting sweetness of my soul! As you have always inspired me, O my God, behold that I offer myself to you today and for all my life as a sacrifice to share your painful agony in the Garden of Gethsemane; and for the dying, that they may obtain the grace to expire in your arms, humbly and contritionally for their sins….

My sweet Immaculate Mother, shelter me with your mantle today; and please accept my vow, which on your feast I shall renew and promise to keep forever, so that I may be guided by your intentions and thereby merit your unfailing protection in my needs and your assistance at my death. Jesus and Mary, in you both I shall find peace for my soul. Amen.

[From Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, Rose Basile Green, Tr. © 1984, The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Chicago, IL. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.]

Nov 12 | Who is St. Josaphat?

Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. (John 17:11)

Saint Josaphat, bishop and shepherd of his flock, labored and gave his life in tireless pastoral service and in martyrdom for the peaceful unity of the Churches of East and West.

Josaphat was born to Ruthenian Orthodox parents in 1580, in present-day Ukraine. He entered the monastery only a few years after the Ruthenian Orthodox metropolitan had brought the entire church back into communion with Rome, a move that sadly lacked popular support. The young monk worked tirelessly to promote union. After he was elected Archbishop of Polotsk, Josaphat drew many to the Catholic Church by dint of a good example.

On November 12, 1623, supporters of a rival bishop overwhelmed the house where Josaphat was staying. “My children,” he said, “if you have anything against me, here I am.” A bullet ended his life. Josaphat is hailed as the “Martyr of Unity.”

Nov 11 | Who is St. Martin of Tours?

The weapons of our battle are not of flesh but are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses. (2 Cor 10:4)

Saint Martin translated his long military career into a campaign of spiritual warfare against the paganism and the temptations to worldly wealth that threatened the people of the Church he served as monk and as bishop.

Martin was born in Pannonia (modern Hungary), and became a catechumen at the age of ten. While serving in the Roman army, he met a poor, half-clothed man outside the city gate of Amiens. Martin drew his sword and divided his own cloak in two, giving half to the naked man. That night, he saw Jesus in a vision. “Martin, who is still but a catechumen, gave me this robe,” our Lord told the angels. After this, Martin “flew to be baptized.” After he resigned from the army, he founded a monastic community in Gaul (modern France). In 372, he was elected Bishop of Tours, where he served his flock with great care until his death in 397.

Saint Martin is perhaps best remembered for the story noted above; for tearing his warm cloak in half and sharing it with a shivering beggar, only to discover later in a dream that the beggar was Christ. He never lost this love for the poor or for a life of personal poverty in service of the Gospel.

Today is Veterans Day where we honor all the military men and women who have put aside their own lives to protect our freedom. It is known internationally as Armistice Day.

World War I, or “The Great War,” as it was known at the time, officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside of Versailles, France.

In actuality, fighting had ceased seven months before that — on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month — Nov. 11, 1918. An armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on that day, and for that reason Nov. 11 came to be known as Armistice Day.

Saint Martin testifies to the fact that faithful service also can lead to sanctity.

He shows us that there are other ways to die for Christ.

Here’s one of his most famous quotes “Lord, if your people still have need of my services, I will not avoid the toil. Your will be done. I have fought the good fight long enough. Yet if you bid me continue to hold the battle line in defense of your camp, I will never beg to be excused from failing strength. I will do the work you entrust to me. While you command, I will fight beneath your banner.”

I will not avoid the toil. Six little words that say volumes.

Not avoiding the toil means hanging in there, day after day, through thick and thin, and remaining faithful to my Christian ideals and all that the Church — that Christ himself — asks of me.

It means not shirking my responsibilities to my fellow man and not skimping on my prayer and sacramental life.

It means following God’s every command without question and to the best of my ability, regardless of whether I agree with it or not.

It means showing fervor and love of Christ in all I do, in spite of human frailty, laziness, or indifference.

Sounds a lot like the life of a soldier, doesn’t it?

It is. It’s the life of a soldier for Christ.

That’s what Saint Martin of Tours was and still is. He’s a great example for all of us and the perfect patron for our military men and women who face the toil of military life day in and day out.

So let us pray for the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual safety of all our military personnel. Pray for the repose of the souls of the departed military. And pray, for ourselves and for the entire Church, that we may be given the grace and strength to fight the good fight and not avoid the toil.

Nov 10 | Who is St. Leo the Great?

Jesus said, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” (cf. Matthew 7:24)

Saint Leo the Great prayed, lived, and taught the wisdom of God’s Word made flesh. On that rock he sought to build up the faith of the Church, God’s house, which he served as pope.

A native of Tuscany in Italy, Leo the Great was elected pope in 440. He considered himself to be Saint Peter’s unworthy heir as Bishop of Rome. His epistle 28, known as the Tome to Flavian, authoritatively taught the Church’s faith in Jesus Christ. After it was read at the Council of Chalcedon (451), the shout “Peter has spoken through Leo” was heard from the Council Fathers. Leo’s preaching stirred his people to greater faith in Christ and care for Christ’s poor. In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church still reads from several of his sermons, including this passage on Christmas Day: “Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition.”

Nov 9 | Why the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica?

You are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of the nether world shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

The basilica of Saint John Lateran, the cathedral of the pope as Bishop of Rome, is called the “mother church” of Rome and of the world. As such, it is a visible symbol of the universal Church. It calls us to look toward the house of God in the new Jerusalem, toward which the earthly Church is on pilgrimage.

The first basilica of Rome, a renovated palace of the Lateran family, was consecrated on this date in 324 as the Church of the Most Holy Savior. Nearby communities of monks lent it the name of Saint John. Saint John Lateran is the pope’s basilica. Fire and earthquake have repeatedly destroyed the structure; each time it has been rebuilt with care. “The beauty and the harmony of churches, destined to render praise to God, invite us human beings too, though limited and sinful, to convert ourselves to form a ‘cosmos,’ a well-ordered construction, in close communion with Jesus, who is the true Holy of Holies” (Saint John Paul II).

Nov 4 | Who is St Charles Borromeo?

As both a civil and a canon lawyer, as well as a bishop, Saint Charles understood the pastoral work of law-giving according to the model of Christ. His unflagging efforts to promote Christian life and Church reform were prompted by a profoundly self-sacrificing love of Christ living in the Church.

Born at the Castle of Arona in northern Italy, Charles Borromeo studied canon and civil law. After his uncle was elected Pope Pius IV, Charles received a number of powerful preferments, yet his energies were bent toward reform. He guided the final session of the Council of Trent. When he was appointed to Milan, a diocese that had lacked a resident bishop for eighty years, Charles renewed catechesis and led the mostly lax clergy by his own austere example and diligent preaching: “We ought to walk in front,” he told his priests, “and our spiritual subjects will follow us more easily.”

When the plague hit Milan, he nursed the sick and even saw that the curtains in his palace, his clothes and other possessions were turned into money for medicine for the poor. Charles, the Archbishop of Milan, was usually seen in rags. He taught catechism, found the sick and elderly places to stay, established schools and ran the diocese. He lived a life of prayer, slept little and ate less. He once said, “Here all kinds of poor will be housed, outsiders as well as Milanese; men, women, children because charity knows no distinction of nations, and we are all brothers and sisters in the Lord.” Work and the heavy burdens of his high office began to affect Archbishop Borromeo’s health, leading to his death at the age of 46, Charles died in 1584.

For further reflection, read “How St. Charles Borromeo braved the epidemic of his time”


Nov 3 | Who is St. Martin de Porres?

Martin was born the son of a Spanish nobleman and a former slave in Peru. As a young man, he trained as a barber and applied to be a servant at the Dominican Convent of the Holy Rosary, where he eventually took vows as a lay brother. Martin loved the menial tasks: cooking, cleaning, and feeding the unwanted and the abandoned. In the infirmary he cured the sick, and in the backyard he fed the mice, whose language he seemed to know. Martin died in 1639 at the age of sixty. His attributes in art are a broom and the mice that hearkened to his word. _________

“He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves: thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: ‘Martin of Charity.'” — Pope John XXIII regarding St. Martin de Porres

For more about this awesome hero of our faith see the following


Nov 2 | Why All Souls Day?

In his encyclical Spe Salvi [Saved in Hope], Pope Benedict XVI says that when we come face-to-face with Jesus, “all falsehood melts away.” As we encounter Him whose love has conquered all evil, “we absorb the overwhelming power of His love” into our hearts. That love is so strong that it burns away whatever evil or sin remains in us. Pope Benedict calls this “the pain of love” (47). It’s something that can be painful—but joyful too—because it ultimately brings us salvation. We can look at it as God’s way of loving the sin out of us.

So take heart! God wants to keep cleansing you, even after death. He wants to bring you into the joys of heaven—you and all your loved ones. So pray for your loved ones. Ask the Holy Spirit to help them pass through this “pain of love” so that they can see God face-to-face!

“Lord, bring all those who have died in friendship with you into heavenly joy!”

The commemoration of All Souls is rooted in the Church’s strong conviction that we, the living, have a serious responsibility in charity to pray for those who have died but who must yet complete the purification every human being needs to be able to enjoy the vision of God.

“In praying for the dead, the Church above all contemplates the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ, who obtains salvation and eternal life for us through his Cross…. To believe in the resurrection of the flesh is to recognize that there is a final end, an ultimate goal for all human life, which so satisfies man’s appetite that nothing else is left for him to desire…. Joined to the merits of the saints, our fraternal prayer comes to the aid of those who await the beatific vision. Intercession for the dead, just as the life of those living according to the divine commandments, obtains the merits that serve the full attainment of salvation. It is an expression of the fraternal charity of the one family of God…. Contemplation of the lives of those who have followed Christ encourages us to lead a good, upright Christian life so that we can prepare ourselves each day for eternal life.”—Saint John Paul II


Oct 28 | Who are Saints Simon and Jude?

Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my ­people. (Jer 7:23)

The voice of the Lord is full of power! He calls each of us, like the Apostles Simon and Jude, to be His voice to the world, knowing that wherever we go, He will follow.

Simon and Jude were among the twelve men Jesus chose to lead His Church. Tradition holds that after Pentecost Simon preached the Gospel in Edessa and Jude in Egypt. The two Apostles met in Persia, where they suffered martyrdom on the same day. “Our Lord has appointed certain men to be guides and teachers of the world and stewards of his divine mysteries. Now he bids them to shine out like lamps and to cast their light over every country. These holy men become the pillar and mainstay of the truth, and Jesus said that he was sending them just as the Father had sent him” (Saint Cyril of Alexandria).

Oct 24 | Who is St Anthony Mary Claret?

Ordained in 1835, Anthony Claret was appointed apostolic missionary to his native region of Spain, Catalonia, where he founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Claretians) for the work of evangelization.

Shortly thereafter he was appointed Archbishop of Santiago, Cuba, an assignment he did not want. “My spirit goes out to all the world,” he told the apostolic nuncio. Yet, after prayer, discernment, and consultation with friends, Anthony accepted. At his episcopal ordination, he added “Mary” to his name: “She is my Mother, my protector, my teacher, my all, after Jesus.” After six years of fruitful work in Cuba, he was recalled to serve Queen Isabella in Spain. He died in 1870.

Oct 23 | Who is St John of Capistrano?

In the United States, the name of Capistrano evokes the celebrated story of the swallows that return yearly on March 19 to nest in the California Mission named after the Franciscan Saint John.

Born in Capistrano, Italy, in 1385, John was trained in civil and ecclesiastical law. He left behind a promising career to enter the Franciscans. He preached to great crowds throughout Europe before he was tapped to serve in a series of diplomatic roles for the Holy See.

At the age of seventy, he helped to plan a crusade against the Ottomans who threatened Belgrade, leading soldiers into battle under a standard bearing the Holy Name of Jesus. He died a few months later.

May we profess in word and deed the faith for which blessed John of Capistrano never ceased to labor and for which he spent his whole life.

St. John of Capistrano, pray for us!

Oct 22 | Who is St John Paul?

Saint John Paul II liked to quote Saint Augustine: “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!” Through years of painful unity with Christ’s cross, he focused always on the Resurrection. Just as every Sunday is a little Easter, so is every single sunrise a reminder of God’s glorious victory over sin and death.

John Paul II was born Karol Wojtyła in Wadowice, Poland, in 1920. He labored in a quarry during the Nazi occupation of Poland. He served as a priest and then a bishop under the succeeding Soviet regime. He has lived and suffered under two successive socialist regimes, so he had no difficulty identifying its errors and falsehoods. His experience immunized him against claims that socialism is the path to justice and peace

Upon his election as pope in 1978, his first words were those of Christ: “Be not afraid.” Later he wrote, “Peoples and nations of the entire world need to hear these words. Their conscience needs to grow in the certainty that Someone exists who holds in his hands the destiny of this passing world…. And this Someone is Love—Love that became man, Love crucified and risen, Love unceasingly present among men.” John Paul II died on April 2, 2005.

Oct 20 | Who is St. Paul of the Cross?

St. Paul Francis Daneii was born in northern Italy in 1694. His parents were deeply devoted Catholics who raised him in the faith. He lived at a time when many regarded Jesus as a great moral teacher but no more. After a brief time as a soldier, he turned to solitary prayer, developing a devotion to Christ’s passion. Paul saw in the Lord’s passion a demonstration of God’s love for all people. In turn that devotion nurtured his compassion and supported a preaching ministry that touched the hearts of many listeners. He was known as one of the most popular preachers of his day, even hardened men wept at his words, he was known both for his words and for his generous acts of mercy.

He received a vision from God, and founded the Barefoot Clerks of the Cross and the Passion (or the Passionists), to preach about Christ’s Passion and death. Because of their devotion to Christ’s passion, they add a fourth vow to the traditional three of poverty, chastity, and obedience, to spread the memory of Christ’s passion among the faithful. Paul was elected superior general of the Congregation in 1747, spending the remainder of his life in Rome.
Paul of the Cross died in 1775, and was canonized in 1867. Over 2,000 of his letters and several of his short writings have survived.

Let us model St. Paul of the Cross today, here is what he says— “When you are alone in your room, take your crucifix, kiss its five wounds reverently, tell it to preach to you a little sermon, and then listen to the words of eternal life that it speaks to your heart; listen to the pleading of the thorns, the nails, the precious Blood. Oh, what an eloquent sermon!”

Oct 19 | Who are Saints John de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues, and Companions?

For the North American martyrs whom we honor today, the pain of exile, torture, and even death was transformed into joy by their love for Christ and for the peoples to whom they were sent to proclaim his Good News.
Father John de Brébeuf and his seven companions, all associated with the Jesuits, were among the first missionaries to the native peoples of North America. Their work among the Huron, Iroquois, and Mohawks saw little progress while they lived; the natives blamed the “blackrobes” for every misfortune.

The missions grew, watered by their blood, which was spilled in various massacres from 1642 to 1649. In the years that followed, many of the natives accepted Christ, most notably Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, who was born in the same village near Auriesville, New York, where three of the martyrs attained their crowns.


O God of the martyrs, You called and strengthened Saints Isaac, John, and their companions to preach the Gospel by their steadfastness in fidelity, even unto death. Through their example and their intercession, strengthen us in faithfulness to live the Good News of salvation, through Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Oct 18 | Who is St. Ignatius of Antioch?

Tradition holds that Ignatius was instructed by St. John the Apostle before he became Bishop of Antioch. Of Syrian origin, Ignatius served as the third Bishop of Antioch for forty years until he was arrested and escorted to Rome, where he died for sport, torn apart by lions, in the amphitheater around the year 107. The seven letters he composed on this journey inspired generations of persecuted Christians. “Let me be food for the wild beasts,” he begged his brethren in Rome, “for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ’s pure bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God.”

Prayer to Our Lady of Mercy

St. Augustine of Hippo

Blessed Virgin Mary, who can worthily repay you with praise and thanks for having rescued a fallen world by your generous consent! Receive our gratitude, and by your prayers obtain the pardon of our sins. Take our prayers into the sanctuary of heaven and enable them to make our peace with God.

Holy Mary, help the miserable, strengthen the discouraged, comfort the sorrowful, pray for your people, plead for the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God. May all who venerate you feel now your help and protection. Be ready to help us when we pray, and bring back to us the answers to our prayers. Make it your continual concern to pray for the people of God, for you were blessed by God and were made worthy to bear the Redeemer of the world, who lives and reigns forever.