On February 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a poor, fourteen-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubiroux. There were eighteen visits of Our Lady to Bernadette at this place known as Lourdes. The last visit took place 16 July, of the same year. Bernadette often fell into an ecstasy during these visits. The mysterious vision she saw in the hollow of the rock Massabielle was that of a young and beautiful lady. “Lovelier than I have ever seen” said the child.
During one of these visits, Mother Mary revealed to Bernadette that She was the Immaculate Conception. Our Lady also told her to drink of a mysterious fountain, in the grotto itself, the existence of which was unknown, and of which there was no sign, but which immediately gushed forth. On another occasion during the apparition Mary asked Bernadette go and tell the priests she wished a chapel to be built on the spot and processions to be made to the grotto. Four years later, in 1862, that the bishop of the diocese declared the faithful “justified in believing the reality of the apparition”. A basilica was built upon the rock of Massabielle by the parish priest. In 1873 the pilgrimages began. The estimate that about 4000 cures have been obtained at Lourdes within the first fifty years of the pilgrimage is undoubtedly considerably less than the actual number. Millions of pilgrims have visited the Lourdes since 1858.
Curé of Ars, born at Dardilly, near Lyons, France, on 8 May, 1786; died at Ars, 4 August, 1859; son of Matthieu Vianney and Marie Beluze. His childhood was marked by the tragic events of the French Revolution. During this time, Jean-Marie was studying catechism in secret and fell in love with Jesus. “The Crucified One must indeed deserve all if so many thousands of youth and adults, priests and lay people were giving their lives for him, tolerating even the most atrocious torture.” Overcoming enormous difficulties, he was ordained to the priesthood on 13 August 1815. He recognized the sins of his parishioners in Ars so he began a ruthless fight against these evils with prayer, fasting and penance, offering his whole life to God with the Crucified One. Little by little, the tiny town was transformed and came to Our Lord.
This young deacon and heroic martyr is numbered among those saints who were most highly venerated by the ancient Roman Church. Next to the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, that of St. Lawrence ranked highest in the Roman sanctoral cycle. St. Lawrence was arrested for being a Christian and placed under the watch of a certain Hippolytus. He ordered Lawrence to surrender the treasures of the Church, Lawrence asked for two days time during which to gather them. The request was granted and he brought together before Hippolytus the poor and the sick whom he had supported. “Here are the treasures of the Church!” Lawrence was tortured, scourged, and scorched with glowing plates. In the midst of excruciating pain he prayed: “Lord Jesus Christ, God from God, have mercy on Your servant!”
Pope John XXIII was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli at Sotto il Monte, Italy, on November 25, 1881. He was the fourth in a family of 14. St. John XXIII was the 260th successor of St. Peter, serving as pope from October 1958 to June 1963. He was an authentic image of the Good Shepherd. Meek and gentle, enterprising and courageous, simple and active, he carried out the Christian duties of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy: visiting the imprisoned and the sick, welcoming those of every nation and faith, bestowing on all his exquisite fatherly care. He is best known for convening the Second Vatican Council.
St. Pope John Paul II had a tremendous devotion to Our Lady (as illustrated by his coat of arms and motto on the front of our church building). This love was instilled by his parents. His beautiful encyclical on the rosary, in which he shared the Mysteries of Light or Luminous Mysteries, continue to strengthen the devotion to Our Blessed Mother. His love for young people and to spread the faith led to the creation World Youth Day which gathers millions of young people from around the world. He also defended life from conception until death, particularly through his encyclical Evangelium Vitae. JPII wrote and spoke about the theology of the body and offered the most profound teaching on the dignity of women. I treasure his first words after his election, “Be Not Afraid!” Those words summarize his entire life, and call us to do the same!
At a young age, St. Gerard entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in 1749 and professed of perpetual vows under the Redemptorist’s founder, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, in 1751.
He served as tailor and infirmarian and became known for his extraordinary supernatural gifts of bilocation, prophecy, ecstasies, visions, and infused knowledge. Though not ordained a priest, his spiritual direction and advice were sought by many among the clergy and communities of nuns, to which he also gave conferences. He was most successful in converting sinners, and was widely known for his sanctity and charity. He also served as the porter and ministered to the poor. He is the patron saint of mothers, motherhood, expectant mothers, childbirth, children, pregnant women, unborn children, the pro-life movement, the falsely accused, good confessions, and lay brothers.
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, more popularly known as “the Little Flower.” Although just an obscure cloistered Carmelite nun, she very popular since her death in 1897. St. Thérèse is the patroness of all foreign missions and patroness of France. Her feast day was formerly October 3. She attained a very high degree of holiness by carrying out her ordinary daily duties with perfect fidelity, having a childlike confidence in God’s providence and merciful love and being ready to be at the service of others at all times. She also had a great love of the Church and a zeal for the conversion of souls. She prayed especially for priests. She died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24, and was canonized in 1925. She has never ceased to fulfill her promise: “I will pass my heaven in doing good on earth.” Her interior life is known through her autobiography called Story of a Soul. Pope Saint John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church in 1997.
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