Tuesday, December 31, 2013


SERVANT of GOD ANFROSINA BERARDI was born 1920  in Italy. She was brought up according to the religious and moral principles of his family.

A fundamental feature of the life of Anfrosina  was the long suffering caused by a serious illness that led to her death within a few years. Despite the suffering, she lived a life of prayer and sacrifice by example and word.

Initially she became ill with appendicitis. After being operated on she continued to suffer, having trouble swallowing. Due to yet another problem she had another operation, with little chance of survival.

After receiving  her First Communion and Confirmation, on 13 October 1932, Anfrosina spent the last five months of her life in bed, almost without being able to feed.

She died on 13 March 1933, surrounded by her family and many people, attracted by the fame of her spiritual life.

Despite her young age, she demonstrated a surprising capacity to endure suffering and due to her relation with Jesus and Mary is considered a mystic.


Mario di Donato, 1980
My God-son James loves this saint, BLESSED NUNZIO SULPRIZIO, who was born in Sulmona in central Italy in 1817. He was the son of a poor cobbler. Orphaned at the age of nine, he was first cared for by a grandmother, and later went to live with an uncle, a blacksmith. For six years Nunzio suffered patiently and meekly the harsh treatment and abuse of his coarse and brutal guardian. Worked beyond the strength of his weak constitution and often deprived of food, he was reduced to a pitiful condition.  Wounded in the foot or left leg, he was sent to the hospital for three months. God himself through suffering and the cross carved a saint.

After a difficult and painful return to his uncle's workshop he received a call  from his uncle Francis Sulprizija to come to Naples. There he was again admitted to the hospital for incurable diseases. His uncle loved him as his own son. He did not get better and the doctors decided to amputate his leg but he was too weak.

M. di Donato, 1990
He suffered with patience and holiness never forgetting Jesus. He died at the age of 19 in 1836. His body is in Naples in the church of St. Mary Advocate, where a portrait made at the request of his uncle hangs.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


For this feast, one of my favorites, I present modern day martyrs!  I pray you all had a blessed and joyfilled Christmas!  This blog got behind as I was hospitalized 5 days before Christmas with cellulitis in the leg that had the knee replacement in October. All is well now, but I must keep leg up most of the time, which gives me more quiet and prayer time than usual!

Antonia was born in Sardinia in 1919, the second-born of ten children. She was forced to leave elementary school, only after taking four years of classes, in order to take over the household duties from her mother, Grazia. She often called Antonia "the flower of my life."

Her mother developed a heart condition that prevented her from continuing to perform her domestic chores. Grazia claimed that Antonia "never once went against me". Antonia was obedient and hard working. She willingly and diligently performed her duties and took on responsibilities as if she were already an adult. For instance, she cooked, baked, cleaned, washed clothes, cared for the children, carried water into the house, and gathered wood for baking.

When she was ten years old, she joined a youth group called "Catholic Action". She thought it was a beautiful experience and said that it "helps one to be good". She was well-liked by her peers and encouraged others to join Catholic Action because they received spiritual benefits from good works and received good catechesis.  Antonia renounced her personal pleasures and sacrificed her wants for that of her family members needs and others.

While coming home from gathering wood in a forest with a friend, Antonia was attacked by a teenage boy from behind. The attacker grabbed her by her shoulders and tried to force her to the ground while her friend screamed and ran for help. Antonia managed to escape twice but was knocked down the third time and severely beaten on the head and face with a rock. Though mortally wounded, Antonia resisted the would-be rapist. At autopsy, the doctors determined that Antonia's body had not been sinfully violated. The beautiful and virtuous, Antonia, died a martyr of holy purity at age 16 similar to St. Maria Goretti who died at age twelve.

SERVANT of GOD ELENA SPIRGEVICIUTE born in Lithuania and died 1944 defending her purity.
She wrote in a journal about the events of her city of Kaunas during this period of war, but also revealed her spiritual life.  Elena, shaken by the circumstances that the country is experiencing, confesses that a crisis: "I decided to be a good Catholic, but it is difficult without the help of the Lord, and I feel lost ... Would you be good, do not want lead a bleak existence, but contribute something good, be helpful. "
The conflict between Nazi and communist partisans spread an atmosphere of terror in her city. September was the massacre of local Jews, shocking the entire population. Elena's diary reveals her despair. This tragedy led her to wonder about her vocation in this broken world.

In February 1942, she writes: "My heart is full of anything. I am glad that you understand what happiness is. But seriously I think I can find a greater peace of cloistered convent. The term evokes the solitude, the silence, the peace. Lord, behold, serious dreams. I want Him, surely. I want to live something. Oh, how I wish the war was over! To finish my studies and devote myself  to God.

On January 3, 1944 four armed and drunken men break into the house, declaring themselves Soviet partisans. They tried to harass Elena who opposed them. They threaten her with death. Unyielding: "I'd rather die"  resisting the violence of her assailants she is shot.

Lithuanians consider her a symbol of national resistance, recognizing her as a martyr.

  (1898- 1914) was a Polish teenager who has been beatified as a virgin-martyr by the Roman Catholic Church. She died while resisting an attempted rape by a Russian soldier.  She was almost immediately venerated by people in her hometown following her death.   She is sometimes called the Polish Maria Goretti.

She grew up in a Catholic family who prayed everyday and displayed the love of God to her. Often, Karolina would gather neighbors and relatives, mainly children, and they would read the Scriptures together under a pear tree near her home.  She loved praying the rosary, using the beads given to her by her mother. Her prayers often caused her to get less sleep than she needed. “Often during the day she quietly whispered the words, ‘Hail Mary!’ as she herself often said, because they made her ‘feel a great joy in her heart’”.

She would pray the rosary constantly, and even though it was a long walk to Mass, she would go during the week, in addition to Sunday.]Karolina’s uncle, Franciszek Borzecki, was one inspiration for her faith. Because of her love for serving, she helped her uncle in the library, and she also helped organize things at her parish. In addition to serving the Church, she taught her younger siblings and the children of the area their catechism.

In 1914, World War I broke out in Poland, affecting the Kozka family forever. The Russian army began capturing cities, and in November 1914, they controlled Wal-Ruda. The situation grew worse as stories spread of the soldiers stealing possessions and raping women. Fear spread through the city. On November 18, an armed Russian soldier came to their house, and he ordered Karolina and her father to go with him, saying he was taking them to the commanding officer.

When the trio reached the edge of the forest, the soldier commanded Karolina’s father to return home. The man went back to his home, leaving his daughter in the clutches of the Russian. Two boys on their way back from the village witnessed the attack of the soldier on Karolina. He attempted to force himself on her, but she struggled and refused to give in. Angered, the man stabbed her with his bayonet multiple times. Karolina ran towards the swamps, which saved her from further attacks since the chase was difficult for the soldier. When he saw her fall, he gave up the chase. But it was too late for Karolina; the wounds inflicted on her by the soldier had caused too much blood loss. She died in the swamps, her purity intact.
She is the patron of youths and farmers.


Emulating St. Maria Goretti, she was born in 1923  and died  in 1943.
"... I wanted to preserve my honor, to die a martyr and not fall into the hands of the Germans ...".
These words spoken by Rosa Del Bene in her agony, testify to her voluntary choice to sacrifice herself to the death in defense of  purity, in honor of freedom and justice.

Those who knew Rosa testified to the sanctity of her life, especially in prayer. At the end of her life she voluntarily chose, with courage and unshakable faith, to live out her faith rather than to give into the against the overbearing, unjust Nazi cruelty during the painful, humiliating period of military occupation of the territory of Palena.

Coming from a deeply Christian family  she joined the militant Catholic Action in Palena. During the war she chose martyrdom to the loss of her purity against the impending violence of an Austrian soldier. Her brother, Salvatore,  and others were at her death bed and testified to the holiness of her death.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


BLESSED CHIARA BADANO was born in 1971 in Italy. Her mother tried to teach her daughter to love and serve those in need. By the time she was in kindergarten, Chiara was saving up her money to donate to the African Missions. In elementary school, she would give away her lunch snack to another less fortunate classmate. Even when her mother started to pack her two snacks, Chiara would simply give both away.  At age nine she joined the Focolare Movement and received the nickname "Luce" by the founder Chiara Lubich. The group focused on the image of the forsaken Christ as a way to make it through difficult times. Chiara later wrote that, “I discovered that Jesus Forsaken is the key to unity with God, and I want to choose Him as my only spouse. I want to be ready to welcome Him when he comes. To prefer Him above all else".

While Chiara was a conscientious student, she struggled in school and even failed her first year of high school. She was often teased in school for her strong beliefs and was given the nickname “Sister.”  She also enjoyed the normal teenage pastimes such as listening to pop music, dancing, and singing. Chiara was also an avid tennis player and she enjoyed hiking and swimming.

When she was 16 she was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, a painful bone cancer. Chiara’s faith and spirit never dwindled even after the cancer left her unable to walk and a CAT scan showed that any hope of remission was gone. In response, she simply said, “If I had to choose between walking again and going to heaven, I wouldn’t hesitate. I would choose heaven.  Chiara died of the cancer in 1990 after a two-year-long battle. Two thousand people attended her funeral and  the mayor of Sassello shut down the town so people would be able to attend.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


On this Gaudate or Rejoice Sunday, as my godson made his First Holy Communion ( a very moving experience for us all)  we present our next child saint, BLESSED CECILIA EUSEPI
who was born in 1910.  She has been compared to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, whose book The Story of a Soul she read as a young girl, and strove to follow the Little Flower's "little way." When she was already dying of tuberculosis, Cecilia's confessor instructed her to keep a diary of her own life, which was called Story of a Clown. She considered herself a "little clown" and wrote that it must be her extreme weakness that appealed to God.

She was born in Monte Romano, Italy, the youngest of eleven children and was sent to a convent school at age six. When she was twelve, she joined the Order of the Servants of Mary as a tertiary.

 At age thirteen she received permission from the bishop to join the order as a postulant. She studied at Rome. She had hoped to become a missionary, but her poor health prevented her from doing so and she returned home two years prior to her death. During her final illness her religious practice was a comfort and she was frequently visited by members of Catholic Action and seminarians and priests who sometimes asked her for her opinion on their homilies. She died singing hymns to the Virgin Mary, on the date that she had predicted she would die after having a dream about Thérèse of Lisieux. People said her funeral was like the feast day of a saint.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Our next child "saint" as we progress through Advent is VENERABLE ANTONIETTA MEO. She was born in 1930 in Italy and may become the youngest saint who is not a martyr ever canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

Antonietta was raised in an upper middle class household in Rome as the younger daughter of Michele and Maria Meo. She was nicknamed "Nennolina". She attended Catholic schools and stood out as an active, charismatic little girl who led her playmates in all their games, even after she became ill. She was noted for her kindness. Her teachers said she was a child like other children, but stood out because of her personal charm and her sense of humor and the joyousness of her personality.

She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer, at the age of five after she fell and injured her knee. When her leg had to be amputated, she bore the ordeal "cheerfully." She was fitted with a heavy, artificial leg so she could keep playing with other children. Catholic theologians have called her a "mystic" because the six-year-old wrote "extraordinary" letters to Jesus Christ in the last months of her life that displayed understanding and actions beyond the norm for a child of her age. "Dear baby Jesus, you are holy, you are good," she wrote in one of the letters. "Help me, grant me your grace and give me back my leg. If you don't want to, then may your will be done."

At first she dictated letters to her mother; later she wrote poems and letters herself and left each at the foot of her crucifix.  She wrote or dictated more than 100 letters to Jesus or to the Virgin Mary, describing "holy visions" in many of them. After Mass, people sometimes saw her approach the tabernacle and say, "Jesus, come and play with me!"

Antonietta made her first Communion in December 1936. The people who were at the ceremony were deeply impressed, because the child was transfigured, in an ecstatic adoration of her Lord, which happened every time she received the Eucharist.
First Communion

A letter to Jesus
 The child viewed the loss of her leg as a sacrifice to Jesus for the conversion of sinners. "I am very happy that Jesus gave me this problem so that I may be his dearest one," she told her father, Michele, after her leg was amputated. "Pain is like fabric, the stronger it is, the more it's worth," she told her father. She told her mother: "When you feel pain, you have to keep quiet and offer it to Jesus for a sinner. Jesus suffered so much for us, but He hadn't committed any sin: He was God. How could we complain, we who are sinners and always offend him?"

She insisted on writing a last letter to Jesus a few days before her death, even though it was interrupted when she had to vomit. In it, she asked Jesus to take care of everyone she loved, and asked for strength to bear her pain. She finished the letter with the words "Your little girl sends you a lot of kisses." She told her mother when it was time for her to die. "In a few hours, I will die, but I will not suffer anymore, and you shouldn't cry. I should have lived a few days longer, but St. Theresa of the Child Jesus said, "it's enough!" After the child's death, her mother had a vision of Antonietta in a glorified state that reassured her that the child was now in heaven. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Carlos in Assisi

As we enter into the season of Advent, which is the time for children, we march ahead to the Birth of  The Child. I am also preparing my godson for his first Holy Communion on Gaudate (Rejoice) Sunday. In this Holy Season I am reminded of how many children and teens have been added to the roster of saints or are considered for sainthood.

In our age, most children are not aware of saints as heroes, as their focus is on sports or TV or movie heroes. In preparing James, I am weekly introducing him to two young people whom he can look to for sanctity in their lives, so he has guidelines for his own life.

The first we present this week is VENERABLE CARLO ACUTIS  (1991-2006)  who was only 15 years-old when he researched and compiled a book on the miracles of the Eucharist. His mother,  Antonia,  helped him in the project.

Carlo was an exceptional young man. He was very pious, but knew how to live with the modern devices, including computers. He was very good in this area, and even created a website talking about the holiness and duties of Christians. In high school, he liked to make friends with people who had a lack of social spirit. He was highly acclaimed by his teachers. During the holidays, he liked to go to Assisi to visit and pray at the places where St. Francis lived.

He was a great friend of Jesus Christ and daily received Holy Communion.He had a great love of the Virgin Mary. Dying of leukemia at the age of 15, he offered his life for the Pope and for the Church.”The heroism with which he faced his illness and death has convinced many that he was truly somebody special. When the doctor that was treating him asked him if he was suffering a lot, Carlo answered: ‘There are people who suffer much more than me!’”

He is remembered as being a pleasant and thoughtful boy who had a variety of interests. His strong faith manifested itself in daily Mass and in the way he defended the moral teachings of the Church whenever they were contested in school. 

He is called “a teen of our times.” “He is still spreading his faith and devotion universally as a youthful eucharistic evangelizer, especially helping those who are skeptical about the sacramental realities of our faith.

Carlos as a child