Wednesday, September 24, 2014

RAGPICKER SAINT


I recently came across an interesting story- not well known in our country - of a very courageous young Japanese woman. Her story deserves to be told and maybe one day we will see her numbered among the saints- tho knowing her story we can say she has already achieved that status.



SATOKO KITAHARA
grew up with ancient Japanese religious and cultural traditions. She could trace her ancestry back one thousand years to Bushido Warrior and Shinto Priesthood.

Like most Japanese at outbreak of WWII, Satoko believed that her Nation’s military forces were honorable and acted with integrity, and understandably she wanted to fight for her country.
However, in the immediate aftermath of the War, the Japanese people learned the extent of their nation's War crimes. The ideals of their cultured society had been betrayed and many thought life was pointless.

Satoko was looking for a greater meaning in life. During the War she was employed in the Nakajima plane factory. In that unhealthy atmosphere where many had contracted tuberculosis, Satoko also became ill, but after recovery went to the university to study as a Pharmacist.

After a mysterious experience at a church in Yokohama City, Satoko contemplated more deeply the meaning of life. She had encountered an irresistible force drawing her to something she could not understand. In her search for answers, she visited some Spanish nuns and there came to understand the soul. Not long after this she converted to Christianity.


She then met the poorly educated Franciscan Missionary Brother Zeno, who took her to a community of ragpickers living on the banks of the Sumida River. Conditions in the township were deplorable. Having lost everything during the war, the residents were not even considered part of the Japanese community and had even fallen beneath society. Tokyo officials were determined to destroy the township and remove it from Sumida Park.

Ant Town,” located in the damp, dirty harbor front area of Tokyo, where the poorest of Japan’s poor, mainly women and children, struggled to eke out an existence. The more comfortable of Japanese society dubbed it “Ant Town” because they said its inhabitants were even less significant than insects.

Shaken to the core by this challenge Satoko wrote in her Diary, “I had thought I was a great Christian because I condescended to dole out some free time, helping Ant children with their homework! … “To save us, God sent His only Son to be one of us... He really became one of us! It hit me now. There was only one way to help those ragpicker children: become a ragpicker like them!" So Satoko gave up her life of wealth and privilege to really live the Gospel of Jesus with the wretchedly poor. Instead of visiting the township, she went to live in Ants' Town.

By now her health was in serious decline. She forced herself to work for the benefit of others, assisting in administration and generating income. Because her influence on town leaders was great, a Center with a classroom, bathroom and meeting hall was built. There, on special occasions, she would also attend Mass with the children and teach them the value of prayer.


Since visiting the ragpickers, Satoko wrote, "I lay down in bed but could not get to sleep. Br. Zeno, a man without formal education, unable to read Japanese, had bridged a chasm separating two nations and two cultures. He had discovered a part of Japan I did not know existed, where thousands lived in unbelievable destitution. Many of them lived less than a kilometre from my home! I had lived in the pampered, educated ignorance of an over-sophisticated world while this unlettered foreigner worked without thought of self in the world of painful reality... I lived surrounded by carpets and gas stoves while he went without even an umbrella into the terrible twilight world of destitution."

During the many challenges, difficulties and hardships the community faced, Satoko never lost faith in the power of the Rosary. She inspired town leaders to pray it with her; she encouraged despairing parents to have faith in it and demonstrated her sincere devotion to it along with her love for the people.

Finally, her spirituality became so widely known throughout Japan that she received countless letters appealing for her prayers. With her Rosary in hand, she was able to claim victory over all official attempts to evict the townsfolk before securing a dignified outcome.


On 22 January 1958 that final equitable outcome was realized when her friend Tooru Matsui announced, “We’ve done it, Satoko, we’ve done it, and it’s thanks to your prayers! Now all you have to do is ask God to get you well so we can plan the new Ants Town and move into it. We’ll get someone to drive you to see the new place as soon as you’re a little better”. With her Rosary in hand, Satoko replied: “No, that will not be necessary. God has granted us everything we’ve asked of Him. That is enough”.

The next day Satoko slipped into eternal life. She had fulfilled her stated vocation, “I want to move to Ant Town and live as the people do. I want to share the life of the Ant people, to work and suffer with them, to rejoice with them as one of them… and to die for them.”




    PRAYER for HEALING
Almighty God, we come before you with our heart-felt
request for the well-being of another person.
Through the intercession of Satoko Kitahara who led a life
of loving sacrifice for others, we pray for (intention)
We simply ask his out of love and having confidence in the
support of Satoko, we await your reply, through Jesus Christ
Our Lord, Amen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

SAINTS AND VETS



 We all suffer when our beloved pets are ailing but there are several saints, not well-known, who can help us in matters of healing these friends!

Jaime Domínguez Montes

Born in 1245 in Sant'Angelo, ST. NICHOLAS of TOLENTINO took his name from St. Nicholas of Myra, at whose shrine his parents prayed to have a child. Nicholas became a monk at 18, and seven years later, he was ordained a priest. He gained a reputation as a preacher and a confessor. Around 1274, he was sent to Tolentino, near his birthplace. The town suffered from civil strife between the Guelphs, who supported the pope, and Ghibellines, who supported the Holy Roman Emperor, in their struggle for control of Italy. St. Nicholas was primarily a pastor to his flock. He ministered to the poor and the criminal. He is said to have cured the sick with bread over which he had prayed to Mary, the Mother of God. He gained a reputation as a wonder-worker. He died in 1305 after a long illness. People began immediately to petition for his canonization. Pope Eugene IV canonized him in 1446, and his relics were rediscovered in 1926 at Tolentino.



Jànos Hajnal
On account of his kind and gentle manner his superiors entrusted him with the daily feeding of the poor at the monastery gates, but at times he was so free with the friary's provisions that the procurator begged the superior to check his generosity. Once, when weak after a long fast, he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Augustine who told him to eat some bread marked with cross and dipped in water. Upon doing so he was immediately stronger. He started distributing these rolls to the ailing, while praying to Mary, often curing the sufferers; this is the origin of the Augustinian custom of blessing and distributing bread. This bread, known as "St. Nicholas' Bread," was claimed to have caused numerous miracles including the extinguishing of fires and the healing of of sick animals.

Another story tells how St.Nicholas, a vegetarian, was served a roasted fowl over which he made the sign of the cross, and the wretched bird flew out a window.


Our second saint is more modern, and while born in Germany, is considered an American saint.

BL. FRANCIS XAVIER SEELOS (1819-1867) was a Redemptorist missionary. 
Many Veterinarians consider him to be their patron, but I have not yet discovered why.


Francis Xavier Seelos was born in Fussen, Germany, in 1819. Expressing his desire for the priesthood since an early age, he entered the diocesan seminary of Augsburg after completing his studies in philosophy. Upon learning of the charism and missionary activity of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, he decided to join and go to North America. He arrived in the United States on April 20, 1843, entered the Redemptorist novitiate and completed his theological studies, being ordained a priest on December 22, 1844. He began his pastoral ministry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he remained nine years, working closely as assistant pastor of his confrere St. John Neumann, while at the same time serving as Master of Novices and dedicating himself to mission preaching. In 1854, he returned to Baltimore, later being transferred to Cumberland and then Annapolis, where he served in parochial ministry and in the formation of the Redemptorist seminarians. 

He was considered an expert confessor, a watchful and prudent spiritual director and a pastor always joyfully available and attentive to the needs of the poor and the abandoned. In 1860, he was a candidate for the office of Bishop of Pittsburgh. Having been excused from this responsibility by Pope Pius IX, from 1863 until 1866 he became a full-time itinerant missionary preacher. He preached in English and German in the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. He was named pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he died of the yellow fever epidemic caring for the sick and the poor of New Orleans on October 4, 1867, at the age of 48. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000.


Basilica of the National Shrine of the
Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Prayer for healing of a pet:
Divine Physician, You infused Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos with the gift of Your healing. By the help of his prayers, sustain in me the grace to know Your will and the strength to overcome my [pet's] afflictions. For love of You, make [him/her] whole. May I learn from the example of Father Seelos and gain comfort from his patient endurance. Amen.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

OUR # 1 FRIENDS

St. Roch-Ann Torrini

Because DOGS are the # one pet in our country they get a separate Blog! Several interesting saints have their welfare in mind.  First is ST. HUBERT of LIEGE ( c. 656–727 ) who is the patron saint of dogs, hunters, mathematicians, opticians, and metalworkers. Known as the Apostle of the Ardennes, he was called upon, until the early 20th century, to cure rabies through the use of the traditional St Hubert's Key.


St. Hubert
Like many nobles of the time, Hubert was addicted to the chase. His wife died giving birth to their son, and Hubert retreated from the court, withdrawing into the forested Ardennes, giving himself up entirely to hunting. But a spiritual revelation was to change his life. On Good Friday morning, when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert sallied forth to the chase. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag or hart, the animal turned and, as the pious legend narrates, he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix standing between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: "Hubert, unless you turn to the Lord, and lead a holy life, you shall quickly go down into hell". Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, "Lord, what would You have me do?" He received the answer, "Go and seek Lambert, and he will instruct you."

During Hubert's religious vision, the Hirsch is said to have lectured Hubert into holding animals in higher regard and having compassion for them as God's creatures with a value in their own right. For example, the hunter ought to only shoot when a humane, clean and quick kill is assured. He ought shoot only old stags past their prime breeding years and to relinquish a much anticipated shot on a trophy to instead euthanize a sick or injured animal that might appear on the scene. Further, one ought never shoot a female with young in tow to assure the young deer have a mother to guide them to food during the winter. Such is the legacy of Hubert who still today is taught and held in high regard in the extensive and rigorous German and Austrian hunter education courses. He is almost always pictured with his hunting dog (s) and often holding them back from the kill.


St. Roch- Lynn Garlick

Our next patron, ST ROCH (1295-1327) , was a most gentle soul. On the death of his noble parents in his twentieth year he distributed all his worldly goods among the poor like Francis of Assisi and set out as a mendicant pilgrim for Rome. Coming into Italy during an epidemic of the Black plague, he was very diligent in tending the sick.  Ministering at Piacenza he himself finally fell ill.
St. Roch- Medieval

 He was expelled from the town; and withdrew into the forest, where he made himself a hut of boughs and leaves, which was miraculously supplied with water by a spring that arose in the place.He would have perished had not a dog belonging to a nobleman named Gothard Palastrelli supplied him with bread and licked his wounds, healing them. Count Gothard, following his hunting dog that carried the bread, discovered St Roch and became his acolyte. In art, he is always with his dog.




ST. VITUS was a Christian saint from Sicily. He died as a martyr during the persecution of Christians by co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in 303. Vitus is counted as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of the Roman Catholic Church.

St. Vitus
St. Vitus
He is also patron of, dogs, against animal attacks, against dog bites,  snake bites, against lightening and storms, Czech Republic, actors and dancers, epileptics, and nervous disorders and oversleeping.

I could not find anywhere why St. V is patron of dogs, unless it  has to do with the dog bites, rabies and the relation to nervous disorders- his speciality!




ST. MARTIN DE PORRES, last but not least, is our best known patron of domestic animals. He was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father was a Spanish gentleman and his mother a coloured freed-woman from Panama. At fifteen, he became a lay brother at the Dominican Friary at Lima and spent his whole life there-as a barber, farm laborer, almoner, and infirmarian- among other things.


St. Martin had a great desire to go off to some foreign mission and thus earn the palm of martyrdom. However, since this was not possible, he made a martyr out of his body, devoting himself to ceaseless and severe penances. In turn, God endowed him with many graces and wondrous gifts, such as, aerial flights and bi-location.

St. Martin's love was all-embracing, shown equally to humans and to animals, including vermin, and he maintained a cat and dog hospital at his sister's house. He also possessed spiritual wisdom, demonstrated in resolving theological problems for the learned of his Order and for bishops. A close friend of St. Rose of Lima, he died in 1639 and was canonized on May 6, 1962. His feast day is November 3.



Bella- Monastery's PWD

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NUNS AND BOOKS


We interrupt our series on animal patrons to bring an important message to all our friends! Not that this is a hint!

We learn something new everyday - even in the monastery!  September 17, the feast of St. Hildegard of Bingen, Benedictine saint and Doctor of the Church, is also INTERNATIONAL BUY A NUN A BOOK DAY. 

Joseph Brown- USA

The idea behind the day is simple. Nuns often don’t have the opportunity to choose a book for themselves or don't have the money. They have to rely on what is already in the monastery library, or on what they are given.

This is YOUR chance to show a nun that you value her by delighting her with a book. So, find a nun and ask her what book or ebook she would like and
present her with a copy on 17 September-  then pray for her.

Some will ask you for titles they can use in their work. Others may ask for poetry or a novel that would normally be unavailable to them. The requests will be as many and various as the nuns  themselves. If you are not sure what to get, give a Kindle gift card. I have never met a nun who does not like to read!





Information from iBenedictines- nuns of Holy Trinity Monastery, Howton Grove Priory, U.K       

Saturday, September 6, 2014

FOUR LEGGED FRIENDS (WELL, SOME HAVE TWO)



Carol Anne Cipriani
Several more saints in charge of animals are ST. BLAISE (our throats are blessed on his feast Feb. 3), one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. He was a 3rd century physician who became Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia. This was the time of persecution under Licinius, so St. Blaise hid out in a cave on Mt. Argeus. From the Golden Legend:

    ...the birds of heaven brought to him meat for to eat. And it seemed to him that they came to serve him and accompany him, and would not depart from him till he had lift up his hands and blessed them.
    Now it happened that the prince of this region sent his knights to hunt, and they could take nothing. But by adventure they came unto the desert place where S. Blase was, where they found great multitude of beasts which were about him, of whom they could take none, whereof they were all abashed and showed this to their lord, the which anon sent many knights for him, and commanded to bring him and all the christian men with him.


Then of course we think of  ST. ISIDORE the farmer who cared for livestock (sometimes having his angel do the plowing while he prayed!). He was known for his piety and care for the poor. The story of St. Isidore is a reminder of the dignity of work, and that ordinary life can lead to holiness. In 1947, at the request of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, he was officially named patron of farmers.

St. Isidore-Retable

ST. GERLAC of VALKENBURG
  was a 12th-century Dutch hermit. He was also a friend of St. Hildegard of Bingen. He is considered a patron of domestic animals, but I could not find a reason why.


As I have mentioned in past blogs, we traditionally bless all the animals on the feast of ST. ANTHONY the ABBOT (Jan. 17). He is called the Father of all monks. He anticipated the rule of St. Benedict who lived  200 years later; "pray and work", by engaging himself and his disciple or disciples in manual labor.  He was known to raise pigs in the Egyptian desert.

Carlotta Lorenzo- Mexico

Mother Cat would have my hide if I did not mention  ST. PHARAILDIS of GHENT as patroness of poultry. She was an 8th-century Belgian girl who was married against her will at a young age with a nobleman, even after having made a private vow of virginity. Her husband insisted that she was married to him, and her sexual fidelity was owed to him, not God.


She was therefore physically abused for her refusal to submit to him, and for her late night visits to churches. When widowed, she was still a virgin, and dedicated herself to charity. She became patroness of fowl after she  resuscitated a cooked goose, working only from its skin and bones. Such are the wonders of heaven!


But what about our most treasured pets?  We begin with my least favorite of those domestic beasts CATS.  ST. GERTRUDE of NIVELLES, who was born in Belgium in 626 and died at Nivelles, 659. Both her parents, Pepin of Landen and Itta were held to be holy by those who knew them and her sister Begga is numbered among the Saints. On her husband's death in 640, Itta founded a Benedictine monastery at Nivelles, near Brussels, and appointed Gertrude its abbess when she reached twenty Gertrude tended to her responsibilities well, with her mother's assistance, and followed her in giving encouragement and help to monks, particularly Irish ones, to do missionary work in the locale.


St Gertrude's piety was evident even when she was as young as ten, when she turned down the offer of a noble marriage, declaring that she would not marry him or any other suitor: Christ alone would be her bridegroom. She was known for her hospitality to pilgrims and her aid to missionary monks from Ireland as we indicated above. She gave land to one monk so that he could build a monastery at Fosse. By her early thirties St. Gertrude had become so weakened by the austerity of abstaining from food and sleep that she had to resign her office, and spent the rest of her days studying Scripture and doing penance. It is said that on the day before her death she sent a messenger to Fosse, asking the superior if he knew when she would die.

His reply indicated that death would come the next day during holy Mass----the prophecy was fulfilled. Her feast day of March 17 is observed by gardeners, who regard fine weather on that day as a sign to begin spring planting.

There’s no single story that links St. Gertrude to her patronage of cats. However, writings confirm that she and her nuns kept cats to control the rodent population.

Carolee Clark

Other accounts say she prayed for the mice to go away and they did. Because of the great mouse exodus, people referred to her as the patroness of cat lovers. She is often depicted with a cat near her or with mice running up her staff. The mice in her icons are said to represent souls trapped in Purgatory, whom she diligently prayed for.


Another holy woman usually depicted with her cat is JULIAN of NORWICH, an English anchoress, who is regarded as one of the most important Christian mystics. She is venerated in the Anglican and Lutheran churches, but has never been canonized, or officially beatified, by the Roman Catholic Church, probably because so little is known of her life aside from her writings. She is unofficially venerated in the Catholic Church, much as St. Hildegard of Bingen was before her de facto canonization by Pope Benedict XVI.

Juliet Venter-UK
Published in 1395, her work, Revelations of Divine Love, is the first published book in the English language to be written by a woman.

Julian never left her cell. She had a servant who brought her meals and she kept a small garden with a high wall that insulated her from the ordinary life of the time. She listened through a curtained window to those who needed counsel. The only other living soul who entered her space was her cat. She was allowed a cat for purely practical reasons, to keep the rat population at bay. Unbeknownst to the outside world however, she had a close relationship with her beloved cat. They would sit for hours in Julian's garden in contemplation and prayer.


Marchela Dimitrova

Monday, September 1, 2014

SPECIAL FRIENDS OF OUR SHEEP AND LAMBS


St. Germaine


For years I have prayed to Sts. Genevieve, Germaine and Cuthbert for safe and healthy lambs. But there are more out there waiting to be called upon for their gifts. There are patrons of the sheep themselves, of the lambs, of the ram, of the shepherd and shepherdess, and even of the vet, who may be called in for his/her earthly talents.

ST. GERMAINE COUSIN was born in the remote village of Pibrac in 1579. Germaine was a frail and sickly child. Her right arm was deformed and partially paralyzed. She was prey to every disease of the times due to the unsanitary conditions under which she lived.


Germaine was a shepherdess who lived with the animals she tended. She had a mattress of hay and twigs in the corner of the barn. She was never sent to school, merely instructed briefly in order to make her First Holy Communion. The girl was shunned by children of her own age, and ignored by adults. Her only refuge was the Church. There she heard Mass every morning.

When St. Germaine died in 1601, the animals were the only ones there to comfort her. The night she passed from this life to the next life, two monks traveling from Toulouse had a remarkable vision. At midnight, they were awakened by heavenly music overhead, accompanied by a pathway of light, inhabited by angels. A tip of the luminous pathway rested over a barn in the distance. It seemed Germaine was being escorted into heaven.

Pope Gregory XVI declared Germaine "Venerable" on May 23, 1845, stating Germaine is the saint we need." Pope Pius IX beatified Germaine on May 7, 1854. He then canonized St. Germaine on June 29, 1867. He said, "Go to Germaine. She is a new star shedding a marvelous glow over the Universal Church."

ST. SOLANGE of BOURGES  (d.. 880) was a Frankish shepherdess,  born to a poor but devout family in the town of Villemont, near Bourges. She consecrated her virginity at the age of seven and according to some, her mere presence cured the sick and exorcised devils. The son of the count of Poitiers was highly taken with the beauty and popularity of Solange and approached her when she was working on tending to her sheep, but she rejected his suit. He argued with her to no avail, and so he decided to abduct her.


At night, he came and took Solange by force, but she struggled so violently that she fell from his horse while he was crossing a stream. Her abductor grew enraged and beheaded her with his sword. Solange's severed head invoked three times the Holy Name of Jesus, according to the fully developed legend. Solange picked up her head in her own hands and walked with it as far as the church of Saint-Martin in the village of Saint-Martin-du-Crot (which now bears the name of Sainte-Solange, the only commune in France to bear this name), only dropping truly dead there.




ST. GENEVIEVE  was born about the year 422, at Nanterre near Paris. When she was little she didn’t attend school as she had to help her father with the sheep that her family owned. When she was watching the sheep, Genevieve often prayed. Sometimes she would just sit and think about how she could carry on the Lord’s mission. 

St. Genevieve

She was seven years old when St. Germain of Auxerre came to her native village on his way to great Britain to combat the heresy of Pelagius. The child stood in the midst of a crowd gathered around the man of God, who singled her out and foretold her future sanctity. At her desire the holy Bishop led her to a church, accompanied by all the faithful, and consecrated her to God as a virgin.


St. Genevieve-Louveciennes, France

When Attila was reported to be marching on Paris, the inhabitants of the city prepared to evacuate, but St. Genevieve persuaded them to avert the scourge by fasting and prayer, assuring them of the protection of Heaven. The event verified the prediction, for the barbarian suddenly changed the course of his march.

The life of St. Genevieve was one of great austerity, constant prayer, and works of charity. She died in the year 512. Her feast day is January 3rd. She is the patroness of Paris.


ST. CUTHBERT of LINDISFARNE is considered one of England's most revered saints. Although tradition says that Cuthbert was the son of an Irish king, it is most likely that he was born in the vicinity of Melrose, in present day Scotland, of poor parents. Certainly we know that he tended sheep on the hills above the abbey when he was older. The young Cuthbert may have been influenced by the nearby monks of Melrose Abbey in his choice of vocation; when he was sixteen he received a vision of the soul of St. Aidan being carried to heaven by angels. This vision may have convinced him to enter holy orders at Melrose, but he did not rush to fulfill his calling.

St. Cuthbert
Instead, Cuthbert spent several years as a soldier, probably in the service of the Kingdom of Northumbria against the attacks of King Penda of Mercia. After that conflict had ended, Cuthbert entered the monastery at Melrose, where his devotion earned him high praise.

At the Synod of Whitby in 664, a decision was made to follow the Roman liturgical customs introduced by Augustine of Canterbury in place of the Celtic practices that were formerly followed. While St. Colman, the local bishop, and his monks refused to accept the decision of the Synod of Whitby and left for Ireland, Cuthbert seemed to have accepted the introduction of the Roman practices and remained. Cuthbert, then, followed his abbot, St. Eata, from Melrose to Lindisfarne, where he became prior and later abbot.


From Lindisfarne, Cuthbert continued his missionary work southward to Northumberland and Durham. Cuthbert had become entranced with the sea and rocky lands of Lindisfarne and yearned for a solitary life there. In 676, he actively turned to such a life by retiring to a cave and shortly thereafter he moved to a cell he built on the isolated island of Inner Farne that was south of Lindisfarne. Yet he was still sought after. After being implored strongly by the king of Northumberland, Cuthbert, in tears, agreed to accept election as a bishop in 684. While initially destined for the see of Hexham, Cuthbert exchanged sees with St. Eata and was consecrated bishop of Lindisfarne in March 26, 685, on the Sunday of the Resurrection, by St. Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, and by six bishops in York.

For the next two years, Cuthbert, while maintaining an ascetic life, led his diocese by caring for the sick, distributing alms, working the many miracles that earned him the title of Wonder-worker of Britain. Then, during the Christmas season of 686 in declining health he resigned his office and retired to his cell on the Inner Farne Island where he reposed on March 20, 687.



One of my favorites, but the least known is BL. PANACEA de'MUZZI of QUARONA.  Panacea’s mother died when the girl was an infant. When she was old enough, Panacea worked as shepherdess. Her father re-married, but her step-mother, Margherita di Locarno Sesia, quickly developed a hatred of the girl, partly because she would not work as ordered, and partially because Panacea was a pious little girl and Margherita hated religion.



One spring evening of 1383 , while Panacea, fifteen at the time, was looking after the sheep, the stepmother found the girl in prayer, near the ancient church of St. John. Furious, she scolded the girl severely and, in the throes of rage, struck violently and repeatedly with a spindle, killing her instantly. The woman threw herself in despair into a nearby ravine. Panacea's father, the local priest and villagers tried to lift her off the ground but failed.  


 Finally, the body was carried downstream and placed on a cart pulled by oxen, but the oxen could not pull the wagon and  so were replaced by two heifers. They were to drive the body to a special field, but the owner opposed the burial in his field. The heifers, guided by the spirit of Panacea, resumed their journey towards the plains followed by the Bishop, the clergy and by many people. The church bells rang  and people saw the carriage stop in the cemetery where the mother of Panacea  was buried. 





ST. CUTHMAN of STEYNING  was born about 681, either in Devon or Cornwall, or more probably at Chidham, near Bosham, about 25 miles from Steyning. Most probably, Saint Wilfrid, the Apostle of Sussex (680-685) converted and baptized Cuthman and his parents.


St. Cuthman

His legend states he was a shepherd who had to care for his paralyzed mother after his father's death. When they fell on hard times and were forced to beg from door to door, he built a one-wheeled cart or wheelbarrow  in which he moved her around with him. They set out east, towards the rising sun, from his home and, even though the cart broke, he improvised a new one, deciding that when that cart broke again he would accept it as a sign from God to stop at that place and build a church. It broke at the place now called Steyning, upon which he prayed.

After building a hut to accommodate his mother and himself, he began work on the church (now St Andrew's, Steyning, which in the 20th century instituted a Cuthman chapel in his honor), with help from the locals. As the church was nearing completion and Cuthman was having difficulty with a roof-beam, a stranger showed him how to fix it. When Cuthman asked his name, he replied:

    "I am He in whose name you are building this church."

Whatever date we ascribe to Cuthman, this church was in existence by 857, for we know that King Æthelwulf of Wessex was buried there in that year.

According to one legend, one day as he was watching his sheep, he drew a line around his sheep with his staff so that he could get away to collect food. On his return, he found that the flock had not left the invisible boundary. This miracle may have taken place in a field near Chidham, which for centuries was known as ‘St Cuthman’s Field’ or ‘St Cuthman’s Dell.’ It was said that a large stone in the field, ‘on which the holy shepherd was in the habit of sitting,’ held miraculous properties.

St. Cuthman
Christopher Fry wrote a play on him in 1938 called "The Boy with a Cart", performed at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, in 1950, directed by John Gielgud and with Richard Burton as Cuthman, from which the following is a quote:
            “ It is there in the story of Cuthman, the working together
            Of man and God like root and sky; the son
            Of a Cornish shepherd, Cuthman, the boy with a cart,
            The boy we saw trudging the sheep-tracks with his mother
            Mile upon mile over five counties; one
            Fixed purpose biting his heels and lifting his heart.
            We saw him; we saw him with a grass in his mouth, chewing
            And travelling. We saw him building at last
            A church among whortleberries…"




ST. BERNADETTE SOUBIROUS is one of our more modern patronesses of sheep. Most know her story as it was to her Our Lady appeared at Lourdes, while Bernadette watched her sheep. She was born in Lourdes, France, on January 7, 1844, the daughter of Francis and Louise Soubirous. Bernadette, a severe asthma sufferer, lived in abject poverty. On February 11, 1858, she was granted a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a cave on the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. She was placed in considerable jeopardy when she reported the vision, and crowds gathered when she had further visits from the Virgin, from February 18 of that year through March 4.The civil authorities tried to frighten Bernadette into recanting her accounts, but she remained faithful to the vision. 


On February 25, a spring emerged from the cave and the waters were discovered to be of a miraculous nature, capable of healing the sick and lame. On March 25, Bernadette announced that the vision stated that she was the Immaculate Conception, and that a church should be erected on the site. Many authorities tried to shut down the spring and delay the construction of the chapel, but the influence and fame of the visions reached Empress Eugenie of France, wife of Napoleon Ill, and construction went forward. Crowds gathered, free of harassment from the anticlerical and anti-religious officials. In 1866, Bernadette was sent to the Sisters of Notre Dame in Nevers. There she became a member of the community, and faced some rather harsh treatment from the mistress of novices. This oppression ended when it was discovered that she suffered from a painful, incurable illness. 

St. Bernadette
She died in Nevers on April 16,1879, still giving the same account of her visions. Lourdes became one of the major pilgrimage destinations in the world, and the spring has produced 27,000 gallons of water each week since emerging during Bernadette's visions. She was not involved in the building of the shrine, as she remained hidden at Nevers. Bernadette was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1933 by Pope Pius XI. 

 Other patrons of sheep are: Sts. Regina, Drogo, George,  Castulus of Rome, Dominic of Silos, Julian the Hospitaller, Pascal Baylon, and Ursinus of Bourges and Raphael the Archangel.




  
St. Drogo


 
St. Pascal

Friday, August 29, 2014

OUR ANIMAL PATRONS

St. Brigid


We all know to pray to St. Francis of Assisi for protection of our pets, but there are many saints that people have prayed to, even before St. Francis' time, for intercession on behalf of domestic and farm animals. Having had a dairy cow recently come down with milk fever after she had her calf (she is doing well now), we know a thing or two about these patrons.

Who are these saints and how did they get their job as our special patrons? First we will find a few that help us with our cows/cattle.


The first saint, not well known in our country, is ST. BERLINDA of MEERBEKE (Belgium).(d. 702) a Benedictine nun of noble descent.  She is invoked against cattle diseases. She was a niece of St. Amandus and she was disinherited by her father, Count Odelard, after he became sick with leprosy and believed that she would not take proper care of him.


Berlinda fled to a Benedictine convent at Moorsel,  and became a nun. After her father died, she became a hermit at Meerbeke, where her father had been buried. Her tradition states that she spent her life helping the poor and suffering. She later became a hermitess at Meerbeke.

She is depicted as a nun with a cow and either a pruning hook or branch (she is also patroness of trees), but I could not find a reason for either. As long as she does her job helping us out, we do not care!       


ST. BRIGID of IRELAND (451–525) along with St. Patrick is the most well known patroness of cows/cattle. She was probably born at Faughart near Dundalk, Louth, Ireland. Her parents were baptized by St. Patrick, with whom she developed a close friendship. According to legend, her father was Dubhthach, an Irish chieftain of Lienster, and her mother, Brocca, was a slave at his court.

From the start, it is clear that Brigid was holy. Before a name had been given to the infant, Dubthach dreams of three clerics baptizing her. One of the clerics told her father, "Let Brigit be your name for the girl". When the druid tries to feed her, she vomits because he is impure. Dubhthach recognises his impurity and finds a white cow with red ears to sustain her instead. As she grows older, Brigid performs many miracles, including healing and feeding the poor. St Brigid is celebrated for her generosity to the poor. According to one tale, as a child, she once gave away her mother's entire store of butter. The butter was then replenished in answer to Brigid's prayers

Even as a young girl she showed an interest for a religious life and took the veil in her youth from St. Macaille at Croghan and probably was professed by St. Mel of Armagh, who is believed to have conferred abbatial authority on her. She settled with seven of her virgins at the foot of Croghan Hill for a time and about the year 468, followed St. Mel to Meath. About the year 470 she founded a double monastery at Cill-Dara (Kildare) and was Abbess of the convent, the first in Ireland. The foundation developed into a center of learning and spirituality, and around it grew up the Cathedral city of Kildare. She founded a school of art at Kildare and its illuminated manuscripts became famous, notably the Book of Kildare, which was praised as one of the finest of all illuminated Irish manuscripts before its disappearance three centuries ago.


St. Brigid was one of the most remarkable women of her times, her extraordinary spirituality, boundless charity, and compassion for those in distress was great. She died at Kildare and  she is buried at Downpatrick with St. Columba and St. Patrick, with whom she is the patron of Ireland. Her name is sometimes Bridget and Bride. St Brigid is portrayed as having the power to multiply such things as butter, bacon and milk, to bestow sheep and cattle, and to control the weather.



   
 ST. PATRICK
was born to a loving family in the British part of the ancient Roman Empire (probably in modern Wales) in 385 AD. His father, Calpurnius, was a Roman official who also served as a deacon in his local church. Patrick's life was fairly peaceful until age 16, when a dramatic event changed his life significantly.


A group of Irish raiders kidnapped many young men, including 16-year-old Patrick, taking them by ship to Ireland to be sold into slavery. After Patrick arrived in Ireland, he went to work as a slave for an Irish chieftain named Milcho, herding sheep and cattle. Patrick worked in that capacity for six years, and drew strength from the time he often spent praying. He wrote: "The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. ...I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."

One day, Patrick's guardian angel, Victor, appeared to him in human form, manifesting suddenly through the air while Patrick was outside. Victor told Patrick: "It is good that you've been fasting and praying. You will soon go to your own country; your ship is ready."

Victor then showed Patrick how to find his way  to the Irish Sea to find the ship that would take him back to Britain. Patrick successfully escaped and was united with his family. After Patrick had enjoyed several comfortable years with his family, Victor communicated with Patrick through a dream. He showed Patrick a dramatic vision that made Patrick realize that God was calling him to return to Ireland to preach the Gospel message there. So he left his comfortable life with his family and sailed to Gaul  to study to become a priest. After he was appointed a bishop, he set out for Ireland to help as many people as possible in the island nation where he had been enslaved years before.

For more than 30 years, St. Patrick served the people of Ireland, proclaiming the Gospel, helping the poor, and encouraging others to follow his example of  faith and love in action. He died in 461.

Other patrons of cows/cattle are Sts. Perpetua and Felicity and St. Cornelius.



St. Cornelius