Saints of America

 

 

Blessed :: Venerable

 

The United States has been blessed with many that have been proclaimed as saints by the Church. They serve as an inspiration and a reminder as to what our life's goal really should be.

 

The Church honors holy men and women by declarations of Saint, Blessed and Venerable.  The formal process of sainthood involves a complicated process taking time, testimonies, and miracles, and the church follows a strict set of rules in the process.

 

First, to determine who qualifies, the Vatican looks to its Congregation for the "Causes of Saints". Typically, a would-be candidate's "cause" is presented to the local bishop by his or her admirers who persuade him that the life of the candidate was a model of holiness.   

 

Once the applicant is approved as a candidate, an appointed postulator interviews those who knew the individual. Personal testimonies, letters, and writings of the candidate's are put together. A relater then sifts through this information and prepares a position paper. If the volumes of evidence prove a life of "heroic virtue", the person is given the title "venerable" by the Pope.  

 

The next title, beatified (blessed), is attained if it can be proven that a miracle occurred after the death of the candidate, the result of someone praying to that person for help.

 

To finalize a canonization, it must be established that a second miracle occurred.  (Martyrs are the exception. The pope can reduce their miracle requirement to one or waive it altogether.)  Most often prayer requests are for a physical healing.   Verifying a miracle is considered the most difficult hurdle in the process. Just deciding what constitutes one causes debate. A life of heroic virtue is obviously easier to establish than a healing that results from prayers.

 

St. Kateri Tekawitha :: St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton :: St. Damien the Leper

St. Marianne Cope ::  St. John Neumann ::  St. Rose Philippine Duchesne :: Saint Junipero Serra

 St. Isaac Jogues ::  St. Katherine Drexel :: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini :: Saint Anne-Thérèse Guérin

 

St. Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)

 

She is the first Native American to be given the title Saint.  She was the daughter of Kahenta (Flower of the Prairie), a native Algonquin taken on a raid to New York.  Her father was a Mohawk chief, Kenhornkwa (Beloved).  The family lived in Osserneon, what is now Auerieville, New York.  Kateri had a brother named Otsikehta.  When she was four years old, her parents and brother died from a small pox epidemic.  Although she survived the epidemic, she was left with her face permanently disfigured and her vision impaired.  Kateri was adopted by her uncle and two aunts.  She lived a secluded life, doing house chores and remaining indoors most of the time because her inability to tolerate bright sunlight.

 
The first missionaries arrived at the request of the Mohawks, who wanted the “Black Robes”, the Jesuits.  Upon arrival they were assigned to stay in the same dwelling in which she was living with her family.  After three days they left to visit other Mohawk settlements with no apparent affect on Kateri.  Upon the arrival of other Jesuit missionaries, the Mohawks converted to Catholicism and moved from the village to a mission with other Christians.  When she made known her desire for baptism, her uncle opposed.  Finally he consented but with the stipulation that she would remain in the village after baptism.


A two-year instruction period was the rule, but an exception was made for her because of her reputation of integrity.  She was baptized on Easter, April 5, 1676 and given the name Catherine (Kateri in Iroquois).  Everyone rejoiced with her.  However, the rejoicing disappeared because Kateri attempted to keep Sunday Holy by not working.  People judged her as lazy.  Others ridiculed her strong devotion to Mary and the rosary.  Her celibate lifestyle caused intense hostility.  Her aunts attempted to trick her into marrying a young warrior.  Her uncle urged others to molest her.  One aunt attempted to destroy her reputation by insisting there was an incestuous relationship between her and her uncle.  A young man attempted to kill her with a tomahawk.  Teasing, insults, mockery and harsh treatment were common in her daily life.  Despite this she remained cheerful to everyone.


Kateri decided to leave the village upon hearing about the life of a catechist, who came to the village and lived on a mission.  While her uncle was away, a few men helped her to escape.  When he returned, he left with a loaded gun in pursuit of his niece.  He gave up the chase and returned home.


Kateri arrived at the mission in the autumn of 1677.  She resided with a friend of her mother, Anastasia and with direction from a Jesuit missionary, her spiritual life continued to develop. That Christmas, over 18 months after her baptism, she made her first Communion.  Everyone who knew her, thought her deserving of becoming a member of an organization, Confraternity of the Holy Family, reserved for outstanding Catholics.  On Easter Sunday, she entered the confraternity and received Communion, the second time in her life.


Prayer became important to Kateri.  Early writings disclose that at 4:00am each morning, no matter the weather, she was in church and remained several hours in prayer.  Although Kateri lived an ordinary life, she wanted to dedicate herself to God.  She was permitted to make a vow of perpetual virginity on Mar. 25th, 1679.  A deep friendship was developed with a widow, Marie Therese.  They became spiritual companions, encouraged one another in prayer and penance, and conversed about God and spiritual matters.

Kateri became seriously ill during Holy Week of 168.  It was customary for persons who desired to receive viaticum to be brought to church: however, because of her holiness, viaticum was brought to her.  She died Wednesday, April 17th, 1680 at the age of 24.  Those who saw her after her death described a beautiful change in her features in that her facial disfigurement disappeared entirely.


She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980 and has the distinction of being the first Native American beatified by the Catholic Church.


Her name Tekakwitha has been interpreted, “that which or who puts things in order” or “one who advances and who casts something before her”.  As Kateri, she became known as a lily among thorns, the Lily of Mohawks, and “The Most Beautiful Flower that ever bloomed for the Indians.”

 

St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (1774-1821)

 

Early Years- Saint, foundress of the American Sisters of Charity.  Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was born in New York City on Aug. 28th, 1774.  She was of colonial descent and renowned family background: her father Richard Bayley, a prominent physician and professor at King’s College (later Columbia University) and their first public health officer of the Port of New York; her mother was Catherine Charlton Bayley, was father was rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church on Staten Island, New York.  She was less than three years of age when her mother died.  Shortly thereafter her father married Charlotte Amelia Barclay.  Her father’s second family numbered seven half brothers and sisters for Elizabeth and her older sister, Mary.  Her father’s second marriage was not always pleasant for her and her sister, and often lived with their Bayley relatives at New Rochelle, New York.  Meanwhile, her father provided her and her sister with a fine education, which included the study of French and piano at a private school known as “Mamma Pompelion’s” in New York City.

 

Sometime in 1791 Elizabeth was introduced to William Magee Seton.  His father was the famous Anglo-Scottish family, one of the founders and first cashier of the Bank of New York, and also the founder of Seton, Maitland, and Company which became one of New York’s largest and most prosperous shipping companies.  They were married on Jan. 25, 1794 in the Episcopalian Church.

 

The Setons made their home in New York City.  Between 1795 and 1802 Elizabeth gave birth to five children (Ann Maria, William, Richard, Catherine Josephine, and Rebecca).  Caring for the children and tending to other family responsibilities placed heavy demands on her time and energy. Her husband’s fortunes prospered and the Seton household was well staffed with servants.  She was actively involved in social affairs, frequent attendance to the theater, in charitable works, especially as a member of the Society of Widows, an association founded to help destitute widows and children and in reading and discussing in intellectual circles a wide variety of works.  As a devout Episcopalian and a member of Trinity Church, she was immersed in matters of spiritual nature, often under the guidance of a young clergyman of Trinity Church.

 

In 1799 Elizabeth and William were confronted with a critical financial situation, the result of varied factors: the continuance of declared war between England and France which threatened neutral American cargo vessels; William’s rapidly declining health as a result of tuberculosis; and his inability to adequately head the Seton, Maitland and Company since taking it over after the death of his father the previous year.  In Dec. 1880 he was forced to file a petition of bankruptcy for his firm.  

 

Until now he was not very interested in religion and seemed content with being a nominal Christian.  Elizabeth and a clergy friend was mainly responsible for a spiritual conversion he experienced at the time of his loss of fortune and worsening of health.  In an attempt to forestall his death, William, Elizabeth and their eldest child, Anna Maria, departed on a sea voyage for Leghorn Italy on Oct. 2 of 1803, having been offered hospitality by the Filicchi family.  After seven weeks of travel, they were quarantined for a month (Nov. 18 to Dec. 19) in a dungeon like building called Lazaretto, located several miles from Leghorn because of recent outbreak of yellow fever in New York.  Elizabeth offered both spiritual and physical courage for her husband and her daughter.  The three stayed at a comfortable Filicchi house in Pisa.  William died there Dec. 27 and was buried in Leghorn on the following day.  

 

Elizabeth spent her early months of widowhood with the Filicchis and became knowledgeable of Catholicism. By the time she returned to New York in June of 1804 she desired to embrace Catholicism.  Her close clergy friend, family and Protestant friends opposed her.  She was received into the Catholic Church Mar. 14, 1805 by Fr. Matthew O’Brien, pastor of St. Peter’s Church in New York City.

 

She was now in great financial need and depended on the help of such people as the Filicchis etc. until she could find the means to support herself and her children.  She undertook two projects in New York, a school and a boarding house for young children, both of which failed. She also considered relocating in Montreal Canada to assume a teaching position in what she thought was a less anti-Catholic climate.  

 

On June 16, 1808 at the invitation of the Sulpician Fr. William DuBourg, founder of Baltimore’s St. Mary’s College and with the encouragement of Bishop John Carroll, she arrived in Baltimore, where the following September she opened a school for young girls. Her first successful school was located at Paca Street, near St. Mary’s Seminary.  From the beginning of her stay in Baltimore, she desired to adopt a form of religious life.  By early March of 1809 it was apparent that property purchased for her in Emmitsburg, Maryland by Samuel Cooper, a wealthy convert and seminarian, would be the site for her religious community and new school for girls. On March 25, 1809 she professed religious vows in the presence of Bishop Carroll and received from him the title “Mother”, thus becoming the foundress and first superior of the religious community to be established in Emmitsburg.  In early June four young women presented themselves to her as candidates for her community and donned habits to what she had been wearing as a widow: a black dress, short black shoulder cape, and a white cap (later changed to black) which tied under the chin.  

 

On July 31, of the same year, after several weeks of temporary residence in a log house given them by Fr. John Dubois on the mountain overlooking his recently founded (1808) Mt. St. Mary’s College and Seminary in Emmitsburg, Elizabeth and the nucleus of her community, with her sisters-in-law, and her daughters (the sons’ were enrolled at Mount Saint Mary’s) and two students of the Paca Street school, settled into their home, a four room farm house called “Stone House” in nearby St. Joseph’s Valley.  July 31, 1809 , marked the commencement of regular community life for Mother Seton and her sisters.  It is recognized by the beginnings of her community, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph.  

The rule for the community received final approval from Bishop Carroll on Jan. 17, 1812. It was based on the St. Vincent De Paul rule for the Daughters of Charity, but with certain modifications, one of which allowed for the foundress in living out the vow of   poverty in order to care properly for her children.  By the time the rule was approved the sister were successfully operating a free day school for young girls of the area and a boarding school for daughters of families whose homes were at a distance from Emmitsburg and whose tuition and room and board fees were a vital source of income for the community.  As early as Feb. 1810, the increased numbers of the sisters and school caused them to move into a larger building known as the “White House”.  There Mother Seton worked tirelessly to assure stability for her school and community.  She observed classes, taught lessons, supervised the preparation of textbooks, conducted religious conferences and retreats for students, sisters and translated books form French to English and authored spiritual treatises.  

From the White House, she and her sister engaged in various other ministries in the neighborhood. They visited and cared for the poor and sick, gave religious instruction to children and adults and served in domestic work and as infirmarians at Mt. St. Mary’s.  In 1814 she accepted an invitation to send sisters to direct an orphanage in Philadelphia and in 1817 she responded in the same way to a similar request for New York City.  

Mother Seton overcame vast obstacles in leading her community to growth and success: conflicts, conflicts especially administrative in nature with clergy and sisters; finacial problems; sickness and death of many sisters.  At the same time she provided loving care for her children and she suffered the loss of two of them (Anna Maria and Rebecca) during their early years in Emmitsburg.  Through it all she manifested a deep spirituality, being directed for many years by the saintly Fr. Simon Brute of Mount Saint Mary’s.  Following a lengthy period of intense suffering brought on by tuberculosis, Mother Seton died in Emmitsburg on Jan. 4, 1821.  

Following her death, Mother Seton’s sisterhood underwent a remarkable expansion.  Her sisters have been serving Church and society in practically every ministry of education and charity.   In 1850 her Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, were affiliated with the Daughters of Charity in France, later four other US provinces were established: Albany, NY; Evansville, IN; Los Altos, CA; and St. Louis, MO.  Five other congregations trace their origin in North America to Mother Seton.  

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton—wife, mother, widow, convert, and foundress—was declared venerable Dec. 18, 1959, beatified on Mar 17, 1963 and canonized on Sept. 14, 1974.  She is the first native-born citizen of the United States to be canonized. 

 

St. Damien the Leper (1840-1889)

 

In 1973, Harper and Row Publishers of New York published the book, Holy Man-Father Damien of Molokai written by Gavan Da. This book reveals the life of a man who gave himself in the service of poor lepers through a life of poverty, chastity and obedience in imitation of Jesus Christ.  This paper is a book-review that contains a summary of the book and an analysis.

 

The book begins at the deathbed of Fr. Damien. A doctor comes to visit him the day before his death and photographs Fr. Damien as he lay dying on the floor with only a straw mattress, a pillow and a single blanket to keep him warm.The doctor, not knowing he had taken a picture of a one-day saint of the Catholic Church, knew that Father Damien had but a short time to live. He was dying from leprosy. The world would someday call him "Damien the Leper”.

 

The story of Fr. Damien begins Jan. 3, 1840 at his birth. He was baptized Joseph, the youngest son and seventh of eight children of Frans and Anne-Catherine De Veuster, who were small farmers at Tremeloo, near Louvain, Belgium.They were Flemish speakers, who went to Communion four times a year and confessed as regular devout Catholics would do at that time. His mother would read aloud to the children about the lives of the saints. Three of the children besides himself gave their lives in the service of the Church. As a child he was known to be sociable, competitive and a trickster. However, Joseph was also religious. His mother discovered a hard board on his bed, which he used to mortify his flesh.

 

Auguste, his brother, later taking the name Brother Pamphile, became a religious in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Meanwhile, Joseph, at the age of thirteen, was big and strong enough to work in the fields with his father. Joseph followed in his brother’s footsteps and entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He took the habit on Feb. 2, 1858 under the religious name Brother Damien. His superiors thought that he was not a good candidate for the priesthood because he lacked education. However, he was not considered unintelligent. Because he learned his Latin well from his brother, his superiors decided to allow him to become a priest.

 

During his ecclesiastical studies, he used to pray everyday before a picture of St. Francis Xavier, patron of missionaries, to be sent on a mission. His brother was assigned to the Hawaiian Islands as a missionary, but became ill. Damien asked to replace his brother even though he had not yet been ordained.The Congregation gave him permission and after a five-month voyage he arrived in Honolulu on Mar. 19, 1864.He was ordained a priest May 21, 1864 by Bishop Maigret. 

 

As a new priest, he wrote to his parents about his experience in Hawaii

 

"Here I am a priest, dear parents, here I am a missionary in a corrupt, heretical, idolatrous country. How great my obligations are! Ah! do not forget this poor priest running night and day over the volcanoes night and day in search of strayed sheep. Pray night and day for me, I beg You."

 

Fr. Damien was assigned to a large volcanic region, in which they worshipped a goddess. Because he traveled much, when a Hawaiian asked him where he lived, he pointed to his saddle and said, "this is my home.” He began to learn the local language. In his homilies he preached against the open sexual misbehavior of the natives. Adultery, concubinage and pagan customs were rampant at the time. One pagan custom involved the sacrifice of a pig or chicken to please the god aumakua. Fr. Damien suffered from loneliness and "black thoughts”, which was melancholy. He pleaded with his superiors to send him another priest. He even went so far as to send a letter requesting that his brother, no longer ill, be sent to him. Bishop Maigret asked his priests if any would be interested in serving at Molokai, the leprosy settlement.

 

The faithful had been living and dying in desperate conditions without the sacraments. Fr. Damien was ready to be the first to go and on May 10, 1873, they had their first priest.The Board of Health had been conducting a strict isolation and segregation policy to keep leprosy under control. It had become an epidemic in Hawaii and all measures were sought to contain it, thus the creation of the leprosy settlement at Molokai. The disease was believed to be the fault of the white man, haole, who brought the disease to the islands.

 

Fr. Damien was physically strong and worked hard. He was emotionally strong and overcame his fears of the disease. Most importantly, he was a strong father, who provided for the needs of his spiritual children.

He began to build hospitals, orphanages, houses and all kinds of buildings and by 1888 had helped to build many of the 374 buildings on the island. Despite the apparent contagiousness of the disease, Hawaiians needed to be touched and affirmed physically.

 

Fr. Damien saw the first hand horror of the disease by the horrible smell of rotting flesh as swarms of worms bared the intestines and ribs of the victims. At first he had a terrible repugnance to the fetid odor, the disfigured faces and the sores in which pus oozed out. A leper was considered an untouchable. Fr. Damien touched all and worked with all. He used to invite people into his house and would use it as a place for some who had no home. He made flutes for the fingerless, held races with children that had only stumps for feet and had holes cut in the floor of St. Philomena to allow the sick to spit on the ground. He tried as many innovations as possible to help the people in any way that he could.

 

He not only acted as physician but healed their souls as well. There were two hundred Catholics among the six hundred at the settlement upon Fr. Damien’s arrival. Within ten days he had twenty catechumens, the following week he performed thirty baptisms, and by the end of his first six months he had four hundred catechumens.

 

In addition to this, he began perpetual Eucharistic adoration at the settlement. This gave the lepers a place to pour out their hearts to the Lord in the midst of their sufferings. Because of his spiritual successes, the Protestants among the other islands became outraged at "the papist”. Fr. Damien, in the meantime, suffered from terrible loneliness and was unable to go to confession regularly. All his life, he begged the bishop and his superiors to send him someone.

 

Because many were fearful of the disease, Fr. Damien had to confess from the shore by shouting to a priest on a ship and then receiving absolution. Finally, Fr. Andre Burgerman, a Dutchman, was sent to help him, but he ended up being more of a thorn in the side than help. Constant disagreements and complaints occurred between the two until finally Fr. Andre was believed to have caught the disease and was removed from the settlement for care.

 

Fr. Albert Montiton, a Frenchman was assigned to help Fr. Damien. He believed that leprosy was transmitted by sexually immoral people and was the result of syphilis, and he also accused Fr. Damien of sexual immorality. Fr. Albert put Fr. Damien through a bad period by invading his territory, ordering him around and telling him how to be a priest. However, Fr. Albert was a sick man with elephantiasis and was later transferred out of Molokai for health reasons.

 

Again Fr. Damien was alone and his superiors were of no support to him. A long battle erupted between Fr. Damien and Bishop Koeckemann and his superior Fr. Fouesnel, who believed Damien to be a troublemaker, unable to get along with other priests. Fr. Damien suffered not only from his superiors. In 1882, he began to experience pain in his left leg and his feet, yet he still had not contracted the disease after ten years. Before he arrived at the settlement, he wrote to his brother and stated, "As for me, since I am coming to the leprosy settlement, I have confided to Our Lord, His Holy Mother and St. Joseph the matter of health.”

 

Walter Murray Gibson, a protestant minister and doctor became the primary political leader in Hawaii under King David Kalakaua. He allocated five percent of the nation’s resources to control the disease. This amounted to six dollars for each leper, and each person was allocated one cent per month for drugs. He made leprosy political and brought Catholicism into politics. Dr. Gibson was a thorn for Fr. Damien. Fr. Damien had to ask for supplies from him and Dr. Gibson often gave them begrudgingly.

 

There were three theories about how leprosy was transmitted: genetics, sexual misconduct and touch. Many remedies were tried including a blend of dog manure and molasses, yet nothing seemed to work. In 1883, Dr. Eduard Christian Arning, a second-generation student of Gerhard Hansen, who discovered the Bacillus leprae, came to Molokai to do research. He discredited the syphilis theory and was of great help to Fr. Damien at the settlement. By 1883, Fr. Damien had lost the feeling in his leg and redness appeared on his foot -- he had contracted leprosy. In 1885, a small leprous tubercle appeared on the left lobe of his ear and his eyebrows fell off.


He had asked Our Lady of Montaigu for the privilege of serving for twelve years in 1863 and now, twenty-two years later he had the disease. He wrote letters to his brother and mother informing them of the disease. Upon opening the letter, his mother died of a heart attack. She died with a photograph of Fr. Damien and a picture of the Blessed Virgin in her hand. Still without a priest to assist him, Fr. Damien begged for assistance. The bishop and his superior, thinking him a trouble maker, received news that he had written a personal letter, which was published in a newspaper. The letter complained that the bishop, the government and his community would not support the settlement. This problem caused him great turmoil and made his superiors reluctant to send him help.

 

Fr. Founsel, his superior, would not let Fr. Damien come to Honolulu to go to confession or seek treatment. Hundreds of people, hearing about the plight of Fr. Damien, offered to come to help him. One such person was Ira Barnes Dutton, who had fought in the American Civil War, separated from his wife, had been a heavy drinker, and who still wanted to come. Because he entered the Catholic Church and desired to do penance until his death, he came and was a big help to Fr. Damien. Still, Fr. Founsel, the Bishop, and Dr. Gibson gave him terrible trouble.

 

Fr. Conrady, hearing of his misfortune came to the island. Soon the Franciscan sisters arrived as well. Fr. Conrady began to write letters that ended up in newspapers. The letters revealed the harshness of Fr. Founsel and the gloom of the settlement. Because of the letters, many priests wanted to come to Molokai.

The bishop relented. He allowed four priests at the settlement. An arm in a sling, a foot in bandages and his leg dragging, Fr. Damien knew death was near. He was bedridden on Mar. 23, and on Mar. 30, 1889 he made a general confession and renewed his vows. April 1, he received Holy Viaticum and on April 2, he received Extreme Unction. During the following days, Fr. Conrady would walk from the Church to the house to give him Communion while the altar servers would ring the bells in a procession with lit candles. Fr. Damien told those around him that there were two figures at his bed, one at the head and the other at the foot. It is unknown who these figures were, but perhaps they could have been Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin.

 

At the age of forty-nine, on April 15, he died at 8:00am, four days short of Good Friday. He was buried with two thousand other lepers near St. Philomena’s Church. News of Fr. Damien’s death arrived at Honolulu on the same day and within a month the world knew of it. A monument was built at the settlement in Molokai in 1893. Fr. Damien’s brother, Fr. Pamphile, announced that he would publish his letters. In 1895, the Congregation asked his brother to come to Molokai and work. He arrived there but it was too difficult for him and so he returned to Belgium.

 

Because the charity towards lepers was primarily Catholic, Protestants such as Dr. Hyde attacked Fr. Damien after his death. He accused Fr. Damien of contracting the disease by sexual relations. Robert Louis Stephens wrote the book, Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde, based on the situation. He condemned Dr. Hyde’s allegations against Fr. Damien. The annexation of Hawaii to the US in 1898 caused the Hawaiians to become American citizens. This resulted in a huge allocation by the US government to build a scientific station in Molokai. It was abandoned two years later because the lepers refused to use it. In 1936, Fr. Damien’s body was taken to Belgium and in 1938 the process of his beatification was opened. During the1940’s, a new drug called DDS became successful in curbing the disease.It was no longer a social disease because segregation was no longer required.In 1959 the territory of Hawaii became a state and each state was allowed to place two statues of their dead in the capital building of Washington DC. A statue of Fr. Damien was erected. Father Damien was declared Blessed on June 4th, 1995 and canonized in October 11, 2009.

 

Saint Mother Marianne Cope (1838-1918)

 

The "Leprosy Nun." Father Damien's replacement - She was the daughter of German immigrants living in Utica, New York. Entering the Order of St Francis, Barbara Koob took the name of Marianne. Mother Marianne was 45 years old, been in the order 21 years and supervisor at St. Joseph Hospital in Syracuse when she accepted a post in the Hawaiian Mission.

 

Father Damien had contracted leprosy and would soon die with Mother Marianne at his bedside. For the next 30 years, taking his place, she and other sisters of St. Francis worked among the lepers caring and making them comfortable as there was no cure. She managed homes for boys as well as girls leaving a legacy of schools, orphanages and hospitals on four islands.

 

Never contacting leprosy, she managed to reach the age of eighty suffering Kidney disease and confined to a wheelchair. After supper on August 8th she asked to be wheeled to the veranda of the convent. Mother Marianne raised a weak hand, looked out over the grounds and gave her blessing to the facility. Returned to her room, she died peacefully in her sleep suffering a heart attack during the night. After a funeral mass at St. Francis Church, she was interred on the grounds of the Bishop School.

 

Sister Marianne was canonized in a ceremony at St. Peter's Basilica on October 21, 2012. She follows in the footsteps of Father Damien who was canonized in 2009.

 

St. John Neumann (1811-1860)

 

A saint, missionary, Redemptorist priest, fourth bishop of Philadelphia,  John Nepomucene Neumann was born Mar. 28, 1811 in the village of Prachatiz, Bohemia.  His father, Philip Neumann, a native of Bavaria, was a weaver and his mother Agnes Lebis, was the daughter of a Czech harness maker.  He received his early education at the village school in Prachatiz and then attended the gymnasium in Budweis from 1823 to 1831.  Budweis was a German speaking city and he was culturally a German although spoke Czech fluently.  

 

In Nov. 1831 he entered a diocesan seminary in Budweis and two years later won a scholarship in Prague where he completed his studies for the priesthood in 1835.  While in the seminary, Neumann developed a desire to become a missionary in America as a result of reading descriptions of missionary activities that were published by the Leopoldinen Stiftung, the Austrian missionary-aid society.  He was also encouraged to pursue a missionary vocation by his spiritual director, Canon Hermann Dichtl, of the Budweis-Cathderal.  Although he passed the canonical examinations for priesthood in the Budweis diocese, the bishop decided to postpone temporarily the ordination of new priests to the priesthood because of a surplus in the diocese.  In Feb. 1836 Neumann left for America with only two hundred francs in his pocket, without saying farewell to his parents, without dimissorial letters from the bishop of Budweis, and without a firm commitment from any American bishop to accept him into his diocese.

Neumann arrived in New York City on June 1, 1836 and made contact with Bishop John Dubois, who was trying to provide priests for his sprawling diocese, which included all of New York state and northern half of New Jersey. Within a month of his arrival in the United States on June 25, 1836, Neumann was ordained a priest by Dubois and he celebrated his first Mass the following day in the German church of St. Nicholas.  Two days later he left for his assignment in Buffalo, New York, where he served in the outlying villages of Williamsville and North Bush.

In the summer of 1840 Neumann’s health broke down.  His problems may have been as much emotional as physical, for he complained of loneliness and may also have suffered from scrupulosity.  Among other things, he worried about the liceity of his ordination, since he had been ordained without dimissorial letters from the bishop of Budweis.  In Sept. 1840 Neumann applies for admission to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists).  He informed Bishop John Hughes, administrator of the diocese of New York of his decision.  When Neumann failed to receive a response from Hughes, he simply left the parish in Oct 1840 to join the Redemptorists in Pittsburgh.  The Redemptorists had only been established in the US for 8 years and Neumann was their first American novice.  His novitiate was a pious fiction because he changed his residence no fewer than 8 times and traveled 3,000 miles.  After six weeks of a real novitiate, he made his first profession in Baltimore on Jan. 16, 1842. His first assignment a Redemptorist was to the Church of St. James in Baltimore, a German national parish.  From 1844 to 1847 he was pastor of another German national parish, St. Philomena’s in Pittsburgh.  In March 1847 he was appointed superior of the Redemptorists in the United States, with the title of vice regent and later vice provincial. He held the post for twenty-two months, but he was unhappy dealing with financial and personnel problems.  In 1851 he received a more congenial assignment when he was made pastor of the still unfinished Church of St. Alphonsus, the main Redemptorist parish in Baltimore, which also included responsibility for two mission churches St. James and St. Michael’s in Fells Point.  One of his major accomplishments as pastor was to obtain the services of the School Sisters of Notre Dame for the parochial schools of all three churches.

On Feb. 1, 1852 Neumann was appointed the fourth bishop of Philadelphia.  Some American bishops objected to the appointment on the grounds that Neumann was not an effective public speaker in English and that he lacked the social graces that would be expected of a bishop in a sophisticated city like Philadelphia.  The decisive factors in his appointment appear to have been the desire to give the Germans a greater representation in the American Hierarchy and the influence of Rome of Archbishop Francis Patrick Kenrick of Baltimore (who had been Neumann’s predecessor in Philadelphia). Neumann was consecrated in St. Alphonse Church on Mar. 28, 1852, his forty-first birthday.  Only two bishops were present at his consecration; not one appeared at his installation in Philadelphia.

The diocese of Philadelphia contained some 170,000 Catholics spread over 35,000 square miles with 113 parishes and 100 priests to serve them.  Like most German-American clerics, Neumann was a strong advocate of parochial schools, but the claim that he established 100 parochial schools in Philadelphia seems to be a pious exaggeration.   At the time of his death in 1860, Laity’s Directory the diocese contained only 37 parochial schools of which 9 were fewer than sixty students.  He was responsible for bringing seven religious communities to the Diocese of Philadelphia, and he was instrumental in establishing a flourishing local community of Franciscan sisters.  He showed the same distaste for administrative duties as he did when he was Redemptorist superior.  He suggested that the diocese be divided in two and suggested that he be the bishop of the smaller one.  He told the Congregation de Propaganda Fide that Philadelphia “needs someone else instead of myself, who am too plain and not sufficiently talented. Besides, I love solitude.”

Archbishop Gaetano Bedini, after his American tour recommended in 1855 that Neumann be replaced as bishop of Philadelphia. Archbishop Kenrick was also critical of Neumann’s management of his diocese.  As a result Neumann was given a coadjutor, James Wood, who was appointed on Dec. 9, 1856 and consecrated on April 26, 1857.  The relationship between the two bishops was somewhat strained.  Wood was under the impression that Neumann would retire shortly but Neumann showed no disposition to do so.

Even as bishop of Philadelphia, Neumann continued, as far as possible to lead the life of a parish priest, devoting much time to hearing confessions, attending to sick calls, and teaching the Catechism to children.  On one occasion he made a trip of 25 miles over mountain roads in order to administer the sacrament of confirmation to a single child.  A gifted linguist, he was fluent in German, Czech, English, French, Italian, and Spanish and even learned enough Irish to be able to hear confession of Irish-speaking immigrants in that language.

As bishop he continued the daily round of religious devotions, especially those that were focused on the expiation of sin.  He was fond of the Forty Hours Devotion and promoted it in his diocese.  Although his confessor denied it, Neumann may have suffered from scrupulosity. On one occasion he refused to give Holy Communion to an adult covert after baptizing him for fear that the grains of salt placed on the man’s tongue had broken the Eucharistic fast.  His confessor also revealed after Neumann’s death that he had worn a girdle of iron wire that had penetrated his flesh and had chastised his innocent body with a scourge, which he had armed with a sharp nail.

In his own lifetime, Neumann’s indifference to personal honors and to his own comfort was legendary.  As bishop of Philadelphia, he sometimes spent his free days at the local Redemptorist house where he would assist the lay brothers with the kitchen chores.  At the age of forty-nine, Neumann collapsed suddenly on a street in Philadelphia and died, apparently of a heart attack, on Jan. 5, 1860.  He was buried in the Redemptorist church of St.Peter the Apostle, Philadelphia.  He was beatified Oct. 13, 1963 and was canonized by Pope Paul VI on June 19, 1977.  His feast day is celebrated on Jan. 5.

 

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769-1852)
 

Religious Missionary and Saint.  Born on Aug. 29, 1769, in Grenoble, France, she was the second of eight children of Pierre-Francois Duchesne and Rose Euphrosine Perier.  Her parents both came from well to do bourgeois clans active in mercantile and political affairs in the French Province of Dauphine.

The family was composed of fervent Catholics.  Five of the six sisters would become visitation sisters.  Her father although had ties with the Church eventually became a freethinker and devotee of the Enlightenment.  Her mother remained a devoted Catholic and sought to preserve it in the hearts of her children.

During a two-year period starting in 1781 she spent time with the Visitandines of Grenoble in preparation for her first Communion, she felt the stirrings of a religious vocation.  Her family opposed her idea of a vocation, so she waited until 1788 before entering religious life.  During this period she developed a desire to be a missionary in America.

The Grenoble Visitation was unaffected by the revolutionary decree of Feb. 13, 1790, banning all monastic orders in France.  Religious women were exempt from the order especially if the did works of charity.  The exemption was revoked on Aug. 18, 1792 by the government and all women’s religious orders were abolished.

With the closing of her convent, Philippine returned to her family.  At the country home she attempted to maintain the essence of the Visitation Rule with her cousin, Julie, who was a Visitation nun as well.  Philippine returned to Grenoble during the height of the terror to organize works of charity for the poor, as well as to offer material and spiritual support to priests in prison or in hiding.  She and her helpers would be called “Ladies of Mercy.”

Still listening to the call of religious life, she attempted to join Visitandines in exile.  The group at nearby St. Marcellin was headed by her own aunt, Mother Claire-Euphrsoine Duchesne, but her attachment to them proved short-lived.  After a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Francis Regis at LaLouvesc in 1800, she resolved to dedicate her life to the teaching of the poor.  In 1801 she arranged to rent her former monastery at Ste-Marie-d’en-Haunt and reintroduce the Visitation rule.  This ended two years later because of dissension in the community.

The four remaining nuns adopted a new name “Daughters of the Propagation of the Faith” on Mar. 3, 1803, and the following year sought admission into the Society of the Sacred Heart, founded in 1800 by Madeleine-Sophie Barat.  Mother Baret, herself acted as mistress of novices and the Ste-Marie-d’en-Haunt became the second foundation of the new community and was transferred into the novitiate.  In Jan. of 1805, the first of Mother Duchesne’s first request to serve in the American missions would be denied by Mother Barat.From 1805 to 1815. Mother Duchesne bore the responsibility for the convent school at Grenoble and had the role of mistress general as well.  In 1815 Rome adopted the Constitution and rule of the Society of the Sacred Heart and the society’s second council named her secretary general with residence in Paris .

Missionary in America-The year 1817 saw the visit to France of Louis DuBourg, bishop of Louisiana and the two-Floridas.  Because of the urgent plea for missionaries and a personal meeting between the bishop and Mother Barat, permission was obtained for Mother Duchesne and her first nuns to go to America.  After spending 10 weeks at sea, the missionaries landed in the US on May 25 in 1818.  They stayed with the Ursulines at New Orleans for several weeks before heading by boat to St. Louis.  The bishop ordered that the sisters take up residence at St. Charles Missouri.  He bishop wanted the sisters to set up school for local white children.  After traveling this great distance, Mother Duchesne, was frustrated in her immediate desire to work among the native peoples of the Mississippi River valley.

During the first decade in the New World, she suffered all the extremes of physical deprivation that the frontier had to offer.  Finances and difficulty from her family and Mother Barat compounded her worries.  After a year long stay at St. Charles, the convent school was moved to Florissant, Missouri.  The fall of 1820 witnessed the first American vocation into the society. The bishop asked her to set up a foundation in Louisiana in 1821 near Opelousas.

Mother Duchesne served as superior to the sisters in the Mississippi valley and possessed authority to buy or sell property on behalf of the society, to start new foundations, appoint religious personnel anywhere in the world, yet important executive decisions were still made by Mother Barat in France.  By the close of the 1820’s there were six institutions in the US, staffed 64 religious, educating more than 350 students.  Fourteen of the religious were from France will fifty were American born sisters.

On Nov. 30, 1831, Mother Barat acceded to Duchesne’s request and relieved her of her duties as superior in America.  Bishop Rosati of St. Louis disagreed with the decision and caused Mother Duchesne to remain in office.  In 1834 she returned to St. Charles from Florissant. With the arrival of Mother Elizabeth Galitzin, visitrix, in the fall of 1840, Mother Duschesne would be relieved of her duties as superior.  She assumed residence in the society’s “city house” in St. Louis with the only seniority being that of her years of profession.  Here she would have spent her declining years except for a happy convergence of opinions.

After Pope Gregory XVII urged the society to engage in missionary activity among the Native Americans, three sisters were appointed to this task.  Due to her advanced years, Mother Duchesne was not chosen.  The quick intercession of her Jesuit friend, Fr. Peter Verhaegen, called Mother Duschesne to be included.  There destination was a Potawatomi village at Sugar Creek, Kansas, inhabited by a people who had formerly lived in Michigan, but who had been displaced by the federal government.  A significant number of the tribe had embraced Catholicism yet, much work remained for the sisters and the Jesuit fathers.

Mother Duchesne arrived in Sugar Creek in July of 1841. Her age, her inability to master the Native tongue, and her ill health, combined to limit her material support she could offer to the missionary effort.  She spent long hours nursing sick tribe members and the  reputation of  her sanctity grew.  The Potawatatomi would christen her “Quah-Kah-Ka-num-ad” or “woman who prays always”, in honor of her extensive periods of time she spent kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament.  Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Blessed Sacrament had always indeed constituted the essence of her spirituality.  Her habit of keeping lengthy night vigils before the tabernacle had long ago been noticed by her sisters, who furthermore marveled that these extended sessions of prayer and their attendant lost hours of sleep, in no way impeded Mother Duchesne’s daytime energy.

Her evangelical poverty was also legendary.  Her repeated patched habit and veil served as a sign of her renunciation of the riches of this world.  No false dignity prevented her from embracing the most arduous of manual labor.

With the arrival of Mother Galitzin, the Sugar Creek mission on Palm Sunday 1842 marked the beginning of the end of Mother Duchesne’s work among the Potawatomi.  Mother Galitzin deemed Mother Duchesne to be too elderly and frail to continue to live at the village and decreed that she return back to St. Louis.  She died Nov. 18, 1852 having attained her eighty-third year.

Mother Duchesne’s remains were interred in the community cemetery at St. Charles.  After lying in the ground for three years, encased in a plain wooden coffin, her body was exhumed in preparation for the reburial in a recently constructed oratory.  The corpse was found to be incorrupt at this time, although later it succumbed to the laws of nature.  Mother Rose Duchesne was beatified May 12, 1940 and on July 3, 1988 was pronounced a saint of the Church by Pope John Paul II.  Her feast day occurs on the anniversary of her death on Nov. 18.  

Some of this information was taken from:Cruz, Joan Carroll, Incorruptibles. Rockford, IL: Tan, 1977 Fr. Albert H. Ledoux.

 

Saint Junipero Serra (1713-84)

 

Franciscan Friar, missionary and founder of missions in California. He was the son of Antonio Nadal Serra and Margarita Rosa Ferrer and was born at Petra, Majorca, Spain on Nov. 24th, 1713. He was baptized on the same day in St. Peter’s Church and given the name Miguel Jose.  He was confirmed at the age of two by the bishop of Palma. He received his primary education at a school conducted by Franciscans at the friary of of San Bernardino.  When he was fifteen he was placed in charge of the canons of the cathedral in Palma and began to assist in Philosophy classes held in the Franciscan San Francisco Monastery.  Thus in his early life was deeply influenced by the Franciscans who were his teachers.

Young Friar-On Sept. 14th, 1730 at the age of 16 he became a novice at Convento de Jesus located near Palma and made his profession the following year on Sept. 15.  At his profession he chose the name Junipero, in memory of one of St. Francis Assisi’s first companions.


The young friar studied philosophy from 1731-1734 followed by four years of theology at Convento de San Francisco.  The date of his ordination is not known but it was probably occurred in Dec. of 1738.  The year following his ordination he served as friary librarian but began to teach philosophy in the fall of 1740 for three years at San Francisco.  He earned his doctorate in theology in 1742 from Lullian University in Palma and was called to the Scotistic chair of theology at the university in Jan. of 1744.  He had the reputation of being an excellent teacher and highly sought after preacher, renowned for his pulpit style and religious zeal.  But his local fame did not quench his thirst to be a missionary.  This was granted to him in 1749.

  
Missionary in America-On April 13, accompanied by his formal pupil Francisco Palou, who would later write the first biography of Serra, the companions sailed from Palma to America by way of Malaga and Cadiz.  After a perilous voyage, Vera Crux, Mexico was reached on Dec. 7, 1749.  Refusing the horses offered to him, they walked 250 miles to teach Mexico City and arrived at San Fernando College on Jan. 1, 1750.


Six months later Serra and Palou answered a call for volunteers to adminster to the Sierra Gorda missions.  Together they walked 175 miles to Jalpan, the principal mission station that served the Pame natives. For the ensuing eight years he labored to enhance and enlarge missions under his care, mastering the Otomi language.  The Sierra missions prospered and he became a champion of native rights against obstinate white abuse.


He Sept., 1758, he was summoned to San Fernando College in anticipation of being transferred to the San Saba missions in Texas which had suffered from violent attacks from the indigenous people.  The posting never came about so he stayed at the college until 1767, where he was choir director, college counselor, and confessor and Holy Office of the Inquisition, which dated back to 1752 when he was first assigned the post.


As a home missionary Serra immediately was immensely active in preaching missions in numerous areas of central Mexico, ranging from Oaxaca in the south to Valles in the north.  He was appointed to the presidency of the ex-Jesuit missions in Baja California that were placed in the hands of the Franciscans after the Jesuit expulsion from the Spanish dominions.  He took up his new post at Loreto on April 1, 1768.

The California Missions-Acting on the orders of Jose de Galvez, visitor general to New Spain (Mexico), the exploration and settlement of Alta Californina was to be implemented.  Serra volunteered to undertake the evangelization of the new territory even though not in the best of health.  Galavez accepted and the Franciscans were granted Alta California as their mission field.


He set out on Mar. 27, 1769, from Loreto to join the expedition led by Captain Gaspar de Portola and arrived in San Diego on July 1.  En route Serra established his first mission at San Fernando de Velicata on May 14, 1769.  The journey was difficult for him because he suffered from varicose ulcers in his legs, which caused him acute pain, but was not deterred by his infirmities in his quest for native converts.


In the ensuing 15yrs of his life, Serra labored without surcease in his Alta California apostolate. He founded nine missions: San Diego, July 16, 1769; San Carlos at Monterey, June 3, 1770; San Antonio, July 14, 1771; San Gabriel, Sept. 8, 1771, San Louis Obispo, Sept. 1, 1772, San Francisco, Oct. 12, 1777’ San Juan Capistrano, Nov. 1, 1776; Santa Clara, Jan. 12, 1777 and San Buenaventura, Mar 31, 1782.  At the same time, the founding of the first civilian settlements at San Jose, Nov. 29, 1777 and Los Angeles, Sept. 4, 1781 were effected.


During his apostolate, Serra traveled extensively in Alta, California administering to the native peoples and his fellow Franciscans.  His travels included major trips to Mexico city to plead for the rights of the neophytes under his care as president of California’s mission. This trip resulted in the famed Regulamento of 1773 that provided for the governance of the new province issued by Viceroy Bucareli.  Plagued by his varicose ulcers and asthma attacks he labored tirelessly in his efforts to bring Christianity to California’s native people.


By the time of his death at Mission San Carlos, Aug. 28, 1784, the nine California missions he had founded reported a total of 6,736 baptisms and 4, 646 Christian Native Americans living in the missions. He remained a model for religious despite his distractions and activity – a man of prayer and mortification. He had a consuming love for the Indians and ever defended them.  He was considered a man of saintly qualities during his life.  His cause for beatification was introduced in the diocese of Montery-Fresno in 1934 and was completed in 1949.  The Sacred Congregation of Rites declared Serra Venerable on Feb. 15, 1985. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Sept. 25, 1988.

  
Document written by Juniperra Serra-Junipero Serra Makes His Final Report on the Mission of San Carlos De Monterey, July 1, 1784.


Hail Jesus, Mary and Joseph! “On the Most Solemn Feast of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost Sunday, June 3, 1770, this mission of San Carlos de Monterey was founded to the joy of the sea and land expeditions. In a short time rejoicing was shared by the entire kingdom and eagerly celebrated in both Spains.The following day, after choosing the most likely spot on that plain, the construction of the presidio was enthusiastically begun by the men of both sea and land forces.  By the fourteenth of the same month, the most solemn feast of Corpus Chirsti, a chapel had been built, as well as it could be, at the spot of the presidio which it still occupies, and a high Mass was sung with the Blessed Sacrament exposed in its monstrance.  After the Mass there was a procession, in which His Sacramental Majesty passed over the ground that till then had been so heathen and miserable.  It was a day of great consolation for all of us who were Christians.”  

 

St. Isaac Jogues (1607-1646)


French missionary, born at Orléans, France, 10 January, 1607; martyred at Ossernenon, in the present State of New York, 18 October, 1646. He was the first Catholic priest who ever came to Manhattan Island (New York). He entered the Society of Jesus in 1624 and, after having been professor of literature at Rouen, was sent as a missionary to Canada in 1636.

He came out with Montmagny, the immediate successor of Champlain. From Quebec he went to the regions around the great lakes where the illustrious Father de Brébeuf and others were labouring. There he spent six years in constant danger. Though a daring missionary, his character was of the most practical nature, his purpose always being to fix his people in permanent habitations. He was with Garnier among the Petuns, and he and Raymbault penetrated as far as Sault Ste Marie, and "were the first missionaries", says Bancroft (VII, 790, London, 1853), "to preach the gospel a thousand miles in the interior, five years before John Eliot addressed the Indians six miles from Boston Harbour".

There is little doubt that they were not only the first apostles but also the first white men to reach this outlet of Lake Superior. No documentary proof is adduced by the best-known historians that Nicholet, the discoverer of Lake Michigan, ever visited the Sault. Jogues proposed not only to convert the Indians of Lake Superior, but the Sioux who lived at the head waters of the Mississippi. His plan was thwarted by his capture near Three Rivers returning from Quebec. He was taken prisoner on 3 August, 1642, and after being cruelly tortured was carried to the Indian village of Ossernenon, now Auriesville, on the Mohawk, about forty miles above the present city of Albany. There he remained for thirteen months in slavery, suffering apparently beyond the power of natural endurance.

The Dutch Calvinists at Fort Orange (Albany) made constant efforts to free him, and at last, when he was about to be burnt to death, induced him to take refuge in a sailing vessel which carried him to New Amsterdam (New York). His description of the colony as it was at that time has since been incorporated in the Documentary History of the State. From New York he was sent; in mid-winter, across the ocean on a lugger of only fifty tons burden and after a voyage of two months, landed Christmas morning, 1643, on the coast of Brittany, in a state of absolute destitution. Thence he found his way to the nearest college of the Society. He was received with great honour at the court of the Queen Regent, the mother of Louis XIV, and was allowed by Pope Urban VII the very exceptional privilege of celebrating Mass, which the mutilated condition of his hands had made canonically impossible; several of his fingers having been eaten or burned off. He was called a martyr of Christ by the pontiff. No similar concession, up to that, is known to have been granted.

 

In early spring of 1644 he returned to Canada, and in 1646 was sent to negotiate peace with the Iroquois. He followed the same route over which he had been carried as a captive. It was on this occasion that he gave the name of Lake of the Blessed Sacrament to the body of water called by the Indians Horicon, now known as Lake George. He reached Ossernenon on 5 June, after a three weeks' journey from the St. Lawrence. He was well received by his former captors and the treaty of peace was made. He started for Quebec on 16 June and arrived there 3 July. He immediately asked to be sent back to the Iroquois as a missionary, but only after much hessitation his superiors acceded to his request. On 27 September he began his third and last journey to the Mohawk. In the interim sickness had broken out in the tribe and a blight had fallen on the crops. This double calamity was ascribed to Jogues whom the Indians always regarded as a sorcerer. They were determined to wreak vengence on him for the spell he had cast on the place, and warriors were sent out to capture him. The news of this change of sentiment spread rapidly, and though fully aware of the danger Jogues continued on his way to Ossernenon, though all the Hurons and others who were with him fled except Lalande. The Iroquois met him near Lake George, stripped him naked, slashed him with their knives, beat him and then led him to the village. On 18 October, 1646, when entering a cabin he was struck with a tomahawk and afterwards decapitated. The head was fixed on the Palisades and the body thrown into the Mohawk. In view of his possible canonization a preliminary court was established in Quebec by the ecclesiastical authorities to receive testimony as to his sanctity and the cause of his death. [Note: Isaac Jogues was canonized by Pope Pius XI on June 29, 1930, with seven other North American martyrs. Their collective feast day is October 19.]

St. René Goupil (1607-1642)


Jesuit missionary; born 1607, in Anjou; martyred in New York State, 23 September, 1642. Health preventing him from joining the Society regularly, he volunteered to serve it gratis in Canada, as a donné. After working two years as a surgeon in the hospitals of Quebec, he started (1642) for the Huron mission with Father Jogues, whose constant companion and disciple he remained until death. Captured by the Iroquois near lake St. Peter, he resignedly accepted his fate. Like the other captives, he was beaten, his nails torn out, and his finger-joints cut off. On the thirteen days' journey to the Iroquois country, he suffered from heat, hunger, and blows, his wounds festering and swarming with worms. Meeting half way a band of two hundred warriors, he was forced to march between their double ranks and almost beaten to death.

Goupil might have escaped, but he stayed with Jogues. At Ossernenon, on the Mohawk, he was greeted with jeers, threats, and blows, and Goupil's face was so scarred that Jogues applied to him the words of Isaias (liii, 2) prophesying the disfigurement of Christ. He survived the fresh tortures inflicted on him at Andagaron, a neighbouring village, and, unable to instruct his captors in the faith, he taught the children the sign of the cross.

This was the cause of his death. returning one evening to the village with Jogues, he was felled to the ground by a hatchet-blow from an Indian, and he expired invoking the name of Jesus. He was the first of the order in the Canadian missions to suffer martyrdom. He had previously bound himself to the Society by the religious vows pronounced in the presence of Father Jogues, who calls him in his letters "an angel of innocence and a martyr of Jesus Christ."

 

St. Katherine Drexel (1858-1955)
 

Dubbed by journalists as the “millionaire nun”, St. Katherine Drexel died Mar. 3, 1955 but left behind a profound legacy of a true Christ-filled life.  On Nov. 26, 1858, Catherine Mary was born to Francis Martin Drexel, a noted Philadelphia banker, and Hannah Langstreth Drexel.  Shortly after Catherine’s birth, her mother died and then Francis married Emma Bouvier, who became a very devoted mother to Catherine and her sister, Elizabeth.  She had no formal education in schools having been instructed by governesses at her home in Philadelphia.  Her intellectual faculties were extensively developed by her numerous travels abroad and in the United States as well as her participation in many social activities.

At the death of her stepmother (1883) and her father (1885), she inherited a sizable fortune, which she ultimately used for her missionary endeavors in the community of sisters, which she established. During a personal visit with Pope Leo XIII in 1883 Catherine asked His Holiness what could be done for the “Indians and Colored People” in the United States. The Pope answered, “Daughter, why don’t you become a missionary?”  She left in tears.  Upon returning to Philadelphia,  she consulted her spiritual director, Bishop James O’Conner of Omaha, Nebraska about entering a cloistered contemplative community because of her contemplative nature and because she was attracted to this way of life and their daily reception of Holy Communion.  At that time, religious communities, other than contemplatives, could approach Communion only three times weekly.  The bishop insisted that Catherine establish her own community to respond to the specific request of the Pope and assured her permission would be given her community of daily reception of Holy Communion.  To prepare for this task, she entered the novitiate of Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburgh, PA.  Although it was customary for sisters to adopt a new name other than their baptismal name, she assumed the name Katherine.  As head of the community she often signed the correspondence to those who knew her as “M.K.D.”, Mother Katherine Drexel.

New Foundation-Her own foundation, known as the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People, but now officially called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, was canonically founded on Feb. 12, 1891.  Because of her considerable financial holdings reconciliation was necessary with the vow of poverty.  Archbishop Patrick Ryan of Philadelphia settled the issue and informed Katherine, “You can retain the possession and the administration, but you have to promise in case of my requiring it, that you would renounce your possessions”.  

 

In her lifetime she expended nearly twenty million dollars from the income of her parents estate by establishing sixty missions to care for the education of Native and African Americans to whom she and her sisters dedicated their lives.  She focuses her work and her love of the nation’s poorest and most oppressed.  She met with fierce opposition in her work, never, however, fleeing a battle, but conducted her battles with refinement and style such that she won respect by her enemies. One of her greatest triumphs was her establishment of Xavier University in New Orleans, the only Catholic university for blacks in America.

When she died in 1955, at the age of 97, she left a great legacy of solid accomplishments.  She founded 49 convents for her sisters, set up training courses for catechists and teachers, and built 62 schools and Xavier University. At the time of her death, her reputation for holiness was so all pervasive that people in great numbers began visiting her burial place at the motherhouse in Cornwell Heights (Bensalem), PA and insisted that her beatification and canonization be under taken.  John Cardinal Krol, archbishop of Philadelphia, opened the cause in 1964 and the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints on Nov. 9, 1973 approved her writings.  The results of the preliminary searching inquiry were sent to Rome, and Pope John Paul II officially introduced the cause of this holy woman (the official beginning of the apostolic process) on Nov. 17, 1979.  Pope John Paul II beatified her on Nov. 20, 1988 and her feast day is Mar. 3.  She was canonized in the year of the Jubilee, 2000.

From Mother Katherine Drexel’s Draft of the Constitutions of Her Congregation-1. The primary object which the Sisters of this religious Congregation purpose to themselves is their own personal sanctification.2. The secondary & special object of the members of the Congregation is to apply themselves zealously to the service of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament by endeavoring to lead the Indian & Colored Races to the knowledge & love of God, & so make them living temples of Our Lord’s Divinity. 

 

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917)

 

Missionary and saint.  The first American citizen to be canonized a saint (1946).  Mother Cabrini came to the US in 1889 to help Italian immigrants.  She died at Chicago in 1917.  Together with her Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a religious community she had founded in Italy in 1880, Mother Cabrini established a network of educational, health care and social service institutions and programs for Italians across the United States.

 

Early Life- Maria Francesca Cabrini was born in 1850 at Sant’ Angelo Lodiginano in the province of Lombardy in northern Italy.  From infancy she experienced delicate health and remained frail throughout her life.  Her father, a prosperous farmer, was able to provide a good education for his children.  In 1868 she became a licensed public education teacher.  Third Order Franciscan and active laywoman in parish ministry, she held in heart a dream to become a religious sister and a missionary to the Orient.

 

She realized part of her dream in 1880 when she established a new sisterhood dedicated to the missions.  Mother Cabrini relinquished her desire to evangelize to the east when urged by Bishop John Baptist Scalabrini of Piacenzaa to go to the aid of the Italian immigrants in America, and mandated to do so by Pope Leo XIII who knew the needs of those who had gone West to the US to build new lives in a new land.

New York-On Mar. 31, 1889, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini and six missionary Sister companions arrived in Manhattan. The first works entrusted to them included an orphanage for daughters of Italian immigrants and ministry among poor Italians in St. Joachim’s Parish.  Hearts aflame with love, she and her sisters cared for the poor orphans and began religious instruction for children and adults in the parish.  They also visited poor families in their homes, the sick in hospitals and the incarcerated in city jails.  Elementary education was started in the orphanage and the parish.   Additional sisters were called to help in the works.  An American novitiate was soon opened in West Park, New York.  New York city became the site of the first of Cabrini’s Columbus Hospitals, intended primarily for immigrants but opened to all nationalities.  It was also in New York that she took on the administration of additional parochial schools and industrial schools, where embroidery and other practical arts were taught.  She and her sisters assumed responsibilities for religious societies for boys and girls, retreats for women and begging expeditions among the poor to provide the wherewithal for the works on their behalf.

Mother Cabrini was not one to stay put.  Determined to be a bearer of the love of Christ to mankind despite a strong fear of water growing out of a near drowning accident as a child, would in her lifetime undertake twenty-three ocean voyages to Europe, North, Central, and South America bringing the Good News of God’s love to those in need.  Her main focus of attention was, however, the United States of America and her nine missionary journeys to the USA were marked by prodigious accomplishments on behalf of her beloved immigrants.  After New York, the outreach went to New Orleans, which followed a lynching of eleven Italian men.  They gave courageous service to two yellow fever epidemics, set up an orphanage and schools and visited immigrants in rural Louisiana.   In response to pleas from Italian clergy, parish schools were opened in Newark, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.  With fathers becoming victims in coal mining accidents while mothers were succumbed to tuberculosis, orphanages were set up in Denver, Arlington, New Jersey, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.

Additional hospitals were opened in Chicago and Seattle and included outpatient dispensaries and training for nurses.  To generate income for the medical care of the poor, private facilities were furnished for paying patients.  Sisters assigned to the hospitals, like those associated with schools and orphanages, took on catechetics in Italian parishes and visited Italian prisoners.  Mother Cabrini made frequent visits to all of her foundations in the United States and paid careful attention to the details of administration and the expansion of facilities.

While responsible for healthcare, childcare and social service institutions, Mother Cabrini remained first and foremost educator.  Her philosophy of education was based on pedagogy of love.  Her profound religious faith gave her vitality to her educational ideals. All education was to be God-centered.  She adopted a holistic approach to education, advocating instruction in science, math, art, language, sports etc.  She did not separate intellectual education from what she termed “education of the heart”.  She characterized this by stating, “feeling for God in an environment of affective relationships in which education becomes an act of love.”  She wanted both her sisters and lay teachers to speak not just of values but to create an environment of love.  She was also an advocate to a degree for bilingual education. While English was to be a basis of all instruction, some time was devoted to learning to read and write in Italian. She wanted to give them a deeper sense of their cultural heritage.  

The institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was founded to spread the reign of Jesus Christ by means of evangelization, which Mother Cabrini saw as inflaming all those with whom they came in contact with the love of Christ.  Italian immigrants who had little instruction in their faith were prepared for the sacraments of penance, Holy Communion, and Confirmation. Those who knew their faith were gently evangelized.  They encouraged baptism of children, regularizations of marriage in their church and the return to the practice of the Catholic religion.  The sisters bought clothing, groceries for the poor and helped the unemployed to obtain jobs. They became advocates among the immigrants.

During her years in the United States, Mother Cabrini extended her contacts throughout the country with members of the American clergy, hierarchy, civil leaders, and Italian American Communities, where she was much loved.  She took pride in the fact that graduates of her schools and orphanages were making their way in life.

Mother Cabrini brought hope and help to those in many countries, but her greatest achievements, and the ones for which history will remember her, are her pioneering missionary works among the Italian immigrants in the United States.

Following exhaustive Vatican processes of beatification and canonization, Mother Cabrini was declared Blessed on Nov. 13, 1938, only twenty-one years after her demise at Columbus Hospital, Chicago, and July 7, 1946, she became the first United States citizen to become a saint.  In 1950 Pope Pius XII formerly proclaimed St. Frances Xavier Cabrini the “Patroness of Immigrants.”  

 

Saint Anne-Thérèse Guérin (1798-1856)

 

Born at Etables (Côte du Nord), Brittany, France, 2 October, 1798; died 14 May, 1856. She entered the Community of Sisters of Providence, Ruillé-sur-Loire, in 1823, received the religious habit and, by dispensation, made profession of vows, 8 September, 1824, being appointed the same day to the superiorship of the convent at Rennes. She was transferred to Soulaines in 1833, chosen foundress of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Diocese of Vincennes, Indiana, in 1840, and at the same time declared superior general of the Sisters of Providence in America. The "Life and Life-Work" (1904) of [Bl.] Mother Theodore Guérin reveals her to have been, in the words of [James] Cardinal Gibbons, who furnishes the introduction:

 

A woman of uncommon valour, one of those religious athletes whose life and teachings effect a spiritual fecundity that secures vast conquests to Christ and His holy Church. . . . Not the least glory encircling the diocese was its possessing such a magnanimous pioneer Religious. . . . She was distinctively a diplomat in religious organizations and eminently a teacher.

Father Charles Coppens, S.J., adds: She was a very superior woman both in natural gifts and in supernatural virtues. She lived a life of extraordinary union with God and conformity to His holy will, and she practised these virtues under the most difficult circumstances, where they required heroic faith, hope and charity. A perfect model of consummate virtue for all classes of the faithful, but especially for religious men and women.

[Bl.] Mother Theodore's mental attainments were of a superior order. The French Academy recognized her scholarship by according her medallion decorations. She was skilled in medicine and was a thorough theologian. As foundress of an institution whose expansion is evidence of her energetic and penetrating spirit, her whole history is a record of the power of holy souls who live but for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind.

 

Anne-Thérèse (Mother Theodore) Guérin was canonized Rome by Pope Benedict XVI on October 15, 2006.

 

 


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