Monday, October 22, 2012


 The past few blogs have been about the two new AMERICAN SAINTS canonized October 21, but in other parts of the world there was rejoicing as five others were canonized on this same day.


ST. JACQUES BERTHIEU was born in Polminhac, FRANCE, and was martyred June 8, 1896, in Ambiatibe, MADAGASCAR. St. Jacques was a diocesan priest for nine years before he decided to enter the Society of Jesus at age 35. He was appointed to the Madagascar mission even before he finished the novitiate. He died while he was accompanying refugees who were trying to avoid attacks from another tribe. His attackers stripped him of his cassock and beat him with clubs before forcing him to walk in the cold rain to the village where their chief lived.

 Martrydom of  St. Jacques- Eric Armusik

St. Jacques refused to accept that man’s offer of becoming a counselor to his tribe, promising to spare his life if he would renounce his faith. He replied that he would rather die than abandon his religion. Several men attacked him with clubs and a blow to the head killed him. His attackers then dumped his body into the river from which it was never recovered.

a lay catechist born in Cebu, PHILIPPINES was martyred April 2, 1672, in GUAM. He received his education from the Spanish Jesuits, learning many skills including reading, writing, carpentry, music, art, and language. He was a gifted lay catechist and sacristan with a reputation for being both cheerful and steadfast.

In those days it was not uncommon for the Jesuits to bring young catechists with them on their missionary journeys. In 1668, at the age of 13, St. Peter began the first of several journeys with Bl. Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores, the Superior of the Mission, to bring the Gospel to the Chamorro people in the Ladrones/Marianas Islands in the western PACIFIC.  

St. Joseph's, Modesto, CA

They faced many difficulties with the island's steep terrain, dense jungles and  many tropical typhoons. Added to this, the Chamorro people were known to have a violent nature. But Fr. Diego and his missionaries wished to follow the Lord faithfully bringing the Gospel and the Sacraments. Their kindness towards the Chamorro and their teachings about Jesus won many converts.
The increasing conversions and the natives’ growing affection for the missionaries sparked a deep hatred in the heart of a Chinese medicine man named Choco. Joined by the local Macanjas (sorcerers) they tried to discredit and eventually kill the missionaries.

April 2, 1672 was the Saturday before Palm Sunday. Around 7am St. Peter and Fr. Diego arrived at the village of  Tumon on the island of Guam. A baby girl had been recently born in the village and the child’s Catholic mother requested Baptism. However, the baby’s father, Matapang, once a Christian now rejected the faith.  He grew enraged when Fr. Diego arrived for the baptism. In his anger, he decided to kill Fr. Diego and St. Peter and left his hut to find his friend Hirao to help him in the attack. Hirao, while not a Christian, remembered the kindness of the missionaries and initially refused Matapang’s demands. When Matapang called him a coward, Hirao’s temper got the better of him and together they set off for the village armed with spears and machetes. They attacked Fr. Diego and St. Peter. He was only 17 years of age.


was a Spanish nun who fought for women’s rights long before it was fashionable. She  was born April 9, 1848, in Vic, SPAIN. Raised by devout Catholic parents, the second of 10 children, she grew up with a strong devotion to Our Lady. The year of 1858 was a Marian year and proved to be a pivotal time in St. Carmen’s life. It was the same year that Mary appeared in Lourdes to Bernadette and confirmed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. That year, St. Carmen went to Montserrat on pilgrimage with her family where she received her First Communion and vowed to give her life to Jesus. It was on this visit that she knelt at Mary’s feet and consecrated her life to Jesus through Mary.

St. Carmen
St. Carmen was strong in her desire and convinced her parents to break her engagement to a young Spaniard and allow her to enter the Adores Sisters. These sisters were dedicated to the recovery of women who were living on the margins after a life of crime or prostitution. She dedicated the next 22 years of her life to educating these women so they could escape their life of sin and achieve a dignified place in society. She ran day schools for the children of working mothers and night schools for the mothers.

St. Carmen eventually founded a new order, the Missionary Conceptionists of Hope, and became a well-known pioneer in proclaiming equality between men and women and in defending the dignity of women in the home and in society at large.

St. Carmen died in Madrid at the age of 63 in 1911. Her final miracle was a three year old Brazilian girl who was dying of acute cerebral ischaemia which left her with paralysis and facial deformities.

The healing occurred when all treatment options were exhausted and her parents, who were both doctors, brought the little girl home to die. The family and little Maria’s classmates began a novena to St. Carmen  for a miraculous cure which occurred on the fifth day of the prayer.

Doctors remained skeptical of her cure and said she was at serious risk of epilepsy and other secondary illnesses. However, she has undergone 27 different medical examinations and no long-term effects have been reported. Maria now 15, is reportedly a brilliant student.

ST. GIOVANNI BATTISTA PIAMARTA  was born into a poor family in Brescia, ITALY in 1841. He entered the seminary in 1860 and was ordained a priest in 1865. St. Giovanni focused on young people, work and families. The surrounding social scene spurred him to create an institution for workers' children so  he founded the Istituto Artigianelli. Its aim was to give boys, especially the destitute, a Christian and professional training with which to face the new industrial society. In spite of many great difficulties, he organized workshops for the different skills and built housing for 100 children.

St. Giovanni

He was like a father to his boys and gave them a deeply religious upbringing. To alleviate the extreme poverty of the peasants who were emigrating to distant America, he founded an agricultural colony in Remedello to teach and experiment with new farming techniques, which notably increased the productivity of the soil and attracted farmers from Italy and abroad. To ensure the continuity of this work, he founded the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth in 1902. With his mother, he also paved the way for the foundation of a congregation for women. St. Giovanni relied on continuous prayer and total trust in divine Providence and always gave priority to the spiritual and material well-being of others. He died in 1913, surrounded by his brothers. He can be considered a father for the young, an example for priests and religious, a model for teachers, an intercessor for families and the defender of workers. He is Italy's "Father Flanagan".


ST. ANNA SCHAFFER  was born in 1882 in BAVARIA. A quiet, reserved child, she learned the love of God from her mother, who raised her to be a good Christian. After making her First Communion, she offered herself to the Lord. She wanted  to enter an order of missionary sisters and after she finished
school she went to work to earn her dowry.

In 1898 the stovepipe over the laundry boiler where she worked had become detached from the wall, but in trying to fix it, St. Anna unfortunately slipped into a vat of boiling lye, scalding both legs to above the knees. Despite intensive treatment, the doctors were unable to heal her injuries. After she was released from the hospital as an invalid in 1902, her condition continued to worsen, confining her completely to bed. To her painful infirmity was added extreme poverty. After futile attempts at rebellion, the saint learned to recognize God's will in her suffering and to accept it with joy. In weakness and poverty she heard the loving call of the Crucified One to become like him. She had found her mission in life. She would generously  offer her life and sufferings to God.

St. Anna

In  1910 she began to have visions, first of St Francis, then the Redeemer, who was ready to accept her sacrifice of reparation. From that time, and few people knew it, she bore the wounds of Christ. Later, in order to suffer in secret and to avoid any sensationalism, she asked the Lord to remove the visible stigmata. She was now ready to accept even greater sufferings. At the same time, St. Anna intensified her spiritual apostolate, promising her intercessory prayer and offering consolation in word or letter to all who turned to her.

In 1923, St. Anna was permitted to live the events of Good Friday: her condition considerably worsened. Her legs became completely paralyzed. This was followed by painful cramps due to a stiffening of the spinal cord and, finally, by cancer of the rectum. In a letter of 29 January 1925 she wrote: "The most important thing for me is to pray and suffer for the holy Church and her Pastors. Whenever I receive Holy Communion, I fervently pray to our beloved Redeemer to continue protecting his holy Church and her Pastors, to grant me the most agonizing martyrdom and to accept me as a little victim of reparation". St. Anna was known for her devotion to the Sacred Heart.

After accidentally falling out of bed five weeks before her death, St. Anna suffered a brain injury, causing her to lose her voice; thus she became even more a "silent victim". On 5 October 1925 she received her last Communion. As she was making the Sign of the Cross and saying "Jesus, I live in you" she passed to the Father.

We first knew of St. Anna Schaffer through a young German, the grand niece of the saint. She entered our monastery in Italy and became Mother Anna. She attended the beatification of her relative in 1999.  Several years later she visited us here on Shaw.

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