Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Another Jesuit of note came unto my radar recently.   BL. JOSE RUBIO y PERALTA  was born in 1864 in a large farm family in Spain.  He entered the seminary in 1876 when he was only 12 years old. After ordination in 1887, he worked as a parish priest and was a professor at the seminary in Madrid.

After a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Father José asked his bishop for permission to join the Society of Jesus. Becoming a Jesuit was something he had always wanted, but he delayed this dream for many years because as a young priest he took on the responsibility of caring for an elderly priest.

Father José took his first vows as a Jesuit when he was 44. He became known as the “Apostle of Madrid.” People came from great distances to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation with him because of his compassion and healing words. He helped people to change their lives and to live for Christ.

He had a great love and concern for the poor, and he preached often about our responsibility for our brothers and sisters. Many lay people came to Father José to ask how they could help. He guided them to open tuition-free schools, to nurse the sick, to find housing for needy families and jobs for the unemployed. Father José also provided for the spiritual needs of the poor by making the Sacraments more available to them and by organizing missions where he preached about Jesus’ care for them.

At the center of the priest’s life and ministry was his love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He told the people he ministered with, that prayer must always come first. He said that it is through prayer that we receive the strength to serve others.

He died in 1929, and the Church has honored Father José Rubio as a saint since 1985. Pope St. John Paul II praised him for following the example of Christ. Bl. José’s motto was, “Do what God wants and want what God does!”

Saturday, July 27, 2019


While I search for new saints across the globe, I am especially interested when I find new saints from the New World.

Beatified on October 27th (2018)  in the city of Morales, in the Apostolic Vicariate of Izabal, Guatemala were Venerable TULLIO MARUZZO, priest of the Order of Friars Minor, and LUIS OBDULIO ARROYO NAVARRO, layman of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi and catechist.

Father Tullio  (Lapio-Italy 1929) and his twin brother Lucio were from the Veneto region in Italy; their parents were poor farmers. Father Tullio and his brother had received ordination to the priesthood by Cardinal Guiseppe Roncalli, the patriarch of Venice and future St. Pope John XXIII.

Father Lucio was sent to Guatemala days after his ordination,  but his brother had to wait seven years before he was sent in mission. Father Tullio was first assigned to Puerto Barrios, on the Atlantic coast, and helped in the construction of what is now the cathedral of the Vicariate of Izabal.

In this vast territory, amid difficulties of all kinds, he expanded his missionary action to reach the most remote villages. He had a calm and patient character as well as a profound piety and a caring charity towards the poor and the sick. He had the gift of being able to welcome everyone, and to take particular care of the formation of the area catechists, the Delegados de la Palabra, for the service of the various communities.

The conditions of the people were miserable, malaria was rife and the region was a hot-bed for the guerrilla insurgency in Guatemala, a conflict much more bloody and destructive than those of other countries in Central America, but hardly known in the U.S.

Father Tullio was not a great orator; he was reserved and peaceful, but he did an incredible amount of arduous work, traveling by foot and horseback to 72 different villages to celebrate the sacraments and give formation to the lay leaders in the communities. This made him suspect with the counter-insurgency, which viewed any leadership in the rural areas with alarm.

One year before he was killed, Father Tullio had written to his relatives in Italy, “The Church has to be with the poor. They need justice and understanding.”

Bl. Luis Obdulio Arroyo Navarro was born in Quiriguá (Guatemala) in 1950 from a modest family. Having worked for a while as a mechanic in Puerto Barrios, he accepted a job as driver at the town hall of Los Amates. At the age of twenty-six he joined the Franciscan Third Order, also becoming a catechist. Later, in deepening his own journey of faith, he participated in the Cursillos de Cristianidad movement, which Father Tullio had introduced into the parish of Quiriguá. He was a mild and helpful man, who willingly put his time and his abilities at the service of the parish community, acting as a free driver and helping out with manual work which he was particularly good at.

At the end of an intense day of apostolic work, Father Tullio decided to fulfill his last commitment by presiding at a meeting of the Cursillos de Cristianidad. The catechist Luis Obdulio offered to accompany him as driver. Both were conscious of being persecuted for the work of evangelization and promotion of human rights carried out by the Church on behalf of the poor, and had previously received explicit threats.

The preaching of truth and of evangelical justice was considered to be a subversive activity by the political regime. On the way back, the car in which Father Tullio and Luis Obdulio traveled was blocked near a banana plantation. At 10 p.m., they were passing the Mayan ruins of Quirigua, when a young boy stopped them asking for a ride. Their usual practice was not to pick up anyone, as there had been too many threats and attempts on the priest’s life, including a grenade attack at his former parish house. But a child was exceptional, and the priest decided to help.

As soon as they stopped, armed men jumped out of the bushes. They beat the priest and Luis Obdulio, and then shot them dead. That boy had been the bait for the deadly trap, set up by his father.

In the same month Bl.Father Tullio and Bl. Luis Obdulio died, Father Stanley Rother (Blog 3/15/2017), a missionary priest from what was then the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and the first U.S. citizen beatified as a martyr, was killed. 

These new world martyrs should be an inspiration to us all as they bore witness to the suffering Body of Christ and of their giveness through His Love and Mercy to all.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


Another important Catholic educator to the Caribbean  area was VENERABLE BROTHER VICTORINO ARNAUD PAGES.

Born in France in 1885, in Ozillon in the diocese of Puy-en-Velay, he joined the Brothers of Christian Schools at age 16.  Soon after he joined to the Brothers of the Christian Schools, due to the expulsion of the religious from France at the beginning of the 20th century, he was forced to go into exile in 1905 together with his brother Jean-Pierre, also a  Christian Brother. He was assigned to Canada, but soon after, at age 20,  offered to go and found new schools in Cuba.

This Caribbean island welcomed him and it was there that he worked from 1905 until 1961, when another persecution meant another bitter exile. He was the founder of the La Salle Association in 1919, of the male and female Catholic Action in 1928, of the Catholic University Hostel in 1946 and of the Catholic Family Movement in 1953.

Br. Victorino,  received important awards for his efforts for better education and in 1951 he was awarded the doctorate "Honoris Causa" of the Santo Tomás de Aquino University in Havana. In  1953 he was given the "Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice" Cross and in 1955 the Légion d'honneur by the French Government. 

Exiled a second time by the dictator Fidel Castro in 1961, he spent his remaining energy trying to reorganize the various associations he founded among Cubans scattered in New York, Miami and other Caribbean countries. He died in San Juan de Puerto Rico on April 16, 1966.

 He said of himself that he was a "Cuban born in France”. Pope Frances declared him Venerable on April 6, 2019.

Sunday, July 21, 2019


VENERABLE RAFAEL CORDERO was a  Puerto Rican  teacher born in San Juan in October 1790, popularly known as Master Rafael.  He was one of the first educators of the African community of Puerto Rico.

Painting by Francisco Oller- 1890

 Raised in a colonial society of strong prejudice toward blacks, who remained in ignorance and slavery, Rafael Cordero did not have the opportunity to attend schools, but he received a cultural base thanks to his parents, Lucas and Rita, who were well educated and loved learning.  They brought Rafael and his two sisters up as devout Catholics.

At the same time working in tobacco plantations, in 1810 he opened an elementary school with the main objective to teach literacy to black boys, while his sister Celestina opened a school for girls. He kept his school open for 58 years. 

As his fame as an educator spread, the wealthy sent their children to him to learn the three R’s, as well as the catechism.  Some of his students became well- known politicians as well as famed writers. He proved that racial and economic integration could be possible and accepted.

His humble and selfless character were legendary among those who received training at his school. He wrote: " I do not want to remember today the good I made yesterday. My wishes are that night delete deserving works that I've been able to do during the day."

Only at the end of his life did he received a general recognition, and awarded a small stipend, which he turned over to the poor.

Rafael remained celibate his whole life and had a great devotion to St. Anthony of Padua, and daily prayed the rosary.

He died in 1868, with the words, “ My God, receive me into Your bosom.” . His funeral procession was accompanied by a crowd of two thousand people.

Friday, July 19, 2019


In this day and age when so many priests are being slaughtered by mad men, I am reminded of this American martyr. Some things just never change!

SERVANT OF GOD FATHER LEO HEINRICHS served in various positions in the New York and New Jersey area including pastor at Holy Angels parish in Singac (Little Falls), New Jersey, at St. Stephen’s in Croghan, New York, and at St. Bonaventure’s between 1891 and 1907. 

Father Leo  (Joseph), born in Germany but under persecution from Otto von Bismarck's Kulturkampf, his Order Franciscan Chapter of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, fled their monastery in Fulda and settled at St. Bonaventure's Friary in Paterson, New Jersey. Although still studying in minor seminary, Joseph Heinrichs emigrated to America with them. In New Jersey, on December 4, 1886, he received the Franciscan habit and the monastic name Brother Leo. He took his final vows on December 8, 1890, and was ordained to the priesthood on July 26, 1891.

When he was pastor at Paterson,  smallpox broke out and he was known to spend many hours at a nearby "pest house" tending to the sick and the dying. In September, 1907, the Provincial Chapter appointed him pastor of St. Elizabeth’s parish in Denver, Colorado where he arrived on September 23. He had but 5 months to live. He had received permission to leave for Germany to visit his family who had not seen him for over twenty years. But he had a class of children preparing for their first Holy Communion and he was determined to give them First Communion on June 7, 1908.

A week before his death, Father Leo told the Young Ladies’ Sodality "If I had my choice of a place where I would die, I would choose to die at the feet of the Blessed Virgin."

On February 23, 1908, this Proto-Martyr for the Faith was scheduled to offer the 8 AM  Sunday Mass at St. Elizabeth of Hungary church but asked to switch to the earlier Mass so he could attend a meeting. Thus he was the priest there at 6 AM that morning. The early mass was known as the "Workingman's Mass".

Among those at Mass that morning was fifty year old Giuseppe Alia, who had recently immigrated from Italy. Alia arrived before Mass and seated himself in the third row, in front of the pulpit.

During Communion, Alia knelt at the Communion Rail and received the Host. Then, however, he spat it into his hand and flung it at Father Leo’s face. The Host fell to the floor as Alia drew his gun aiming at Father Heinrich's heart. As an altar boy screamed the man opened fire. The dying priest exclaimed, "My God, my God!," before falling to the floor. Before he died, he placed the ciborium on the step of Our Lady’s altar, and managed to place two fallen Hosts back into the ciborium  and with his last bit of strength he pointed to the spilled Hosts that he was now too weak to pick up.

Rose Fisher, an eyewitness, reported that Father Leo died smiling, at the foot of the Blessed Virgin's altar just as he had always wanted. Father Wulstan who had switched with Father Leo for the later Mass, administered the Last Rites. Father Wulstan told the Denver Post, "I would have been killed and he would be alive now. There is one way to solve the affair that I can see, and that is that God chose the better man."

Father Leo's body was transported to New Jersey for burial in a Franciscan cemetery. Saint Elizabeth of Hungary still stands, and now serves both the Roman Catholic church and Denver's Russian Catholic community.

 Guiseppe Alia attempted to flee the Church, but E.J. Quigley, a conductor for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, caught him. Then, Patrolman Daniel Cronin, an off-duty Denver police officer placed him under arrest and had him jailed.

At the police station, Alia boasted of his Anarchist beliefs, saying,
"I went over there because I have a grudge against all priests in general. They are all against the workingman. I went to the communion rail because I could get a better shot. I did not care whether he was a German priest or any other kind of priest. They are all in the same class ... I shot him, and my only regret is that I could not shoot the whole bunch of priests in the church." 

Alia was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death by hanging within weeks of the shooting. Shortly before the execution, a Franciscan priest from St. Elizabeth’s visited Alia in prison. Infuriated, Alia cursed and swore at him. Alia never expressed any remorse, and, despite the pleas of the friars at St. Elizabeth’s, he was hanged at the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City. Alia’s last words, reportedly, were "Death to the priests!"

The coroner discovered that Father Leo’s upper arms and waist were wrapped in leather straps. Each strap was studded with rows of pointed iron hooks, which pierced the skin. Around the priest’s waist the skin was calloused and scarred, but showed no sign of infection. Father Leo secretly practiced this extreme form of mortification, perhaps to help him master his quick temper. None of his confreres had any idea of his self-inflicted penances. When the friars entered Father Leo’s room after his death, they found that he slept on a wooden door."

The murder of Father Leo  made headlines throughout the United States. After St. Elizabeth’s Church was re-consecrated, thousands of people attended his funeral, including the Governor of Colorado.

Sunday, July 14, 2019


VENERABLE PETAR BARBARIC  born in 1874 was a Herzegovinian Roman Catholic novice who was in the midst of his studies for the priesthood before he died of tuberculosis. He made his solemn profession as a Jesuit prior to his death upon the realization of his condition. Venerable Petar was known for his devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ and for his charismatic nature among his peers.

He had eight brothers; one of whom was a Franciscan. Mate (religious name Marko) Barbarić-Lesko (1865-1945)** who was killed and whose cause for sainthood has begun. Venerable Petar spent his childhood on the farm with the sheep and was known for being an avid reader of religious texts. While in the fields he had his staff in one hand and recited rosaries in the other.

In school he studied  Italian French and German as he believed that it would help him in the future for hearing confessions. He was appointed as the prefect of his class and he encouraged his peers to receive the Eucharist at the end of the first week of each month on the date of the Lord's Passion. In 1896 he made the decision not to become a diocesan priest but rather a Jesuit.

He demonstrated initial signs of influenza after he returned from an out-of-town trip with his friends on 7 April 1896. It was less than a week after Easter when the group spent their vacation on a picnic and were caught in a storm. However this transcended into tuberculosis unbeknownst to specialists who prescribed him to summer's rest at his home. Venerable Petar spent a serene summer at home but was unaware of his condition which grew worse when he returned for his studies. He didn't know he had contracted tuberculosis until he was re-examined once he returned to resume his studies. He had difficulties walking and had to use a cane to move about a room and was forced to drop his studies in order to recuperate.

 On 11 March 1897 he said to his confessor: "I did a novena to St Francis Xavier to ask for healing and tomorrow we'll start a novena to St Joseph asking for a good death". He received the Anointing of the Sick on the following 10 April. A special dispensation was given for him to make his solemn profession as a Jesuit.  He professed his solemn vows on the evening of 13 April 1897 at 9:00 pm and  died on 15 April 1897  on the feast of the Last Supper. He could not speak much at this point and could not eat. In the first hours of the afternoon he asked for a crucifix in which he kissed it and said: "Jesus".

On 18 March 2015 the title of Venerable was conferred upon him once Pope Francis had signed a decree that recognized the fact that he had lived a model Christian life of heroic virtue.

** FRIAR MARKO BARBARIC was 80 when he was murdered.  Devoted to Our Lady, he had a reputation for sanctity among the students and seminarians, who witnessed that while walking in the park, he often spoke with the birds. As soon as they saw him, they hastened to greet him, perching on the hand he extended to them. He had lost his memory and was unaware of the war. On  February 7, 1945 he was in his cell, sick with typhus. The Communist officials ordered that he be brought out with his brothers, and so he was carried outside on a blanket. Then he was killed and thrown in the fire with the others.

The THIRTY FRANCISCAN MARTYRS of SIROKI BRIJEG is a well known site where thousands of pilgrims visit the Franciscan Monastery every year. It is about one hour distant from Međugorje.  On 7th February 1945, Communist soldiers arrived and said “God is dead, there is no God, there is no Pope, there is no Church, there is no need of you, you also go out in the world and work.” The communists forgot that the Franciscans were working, teaching in the adjoining school. Some of the Franciscans were famous professors and had written books. The Communists asked them to remove their habits. The Franciscans refused. One angry soldier took the Crucifix and threw it on the floor. He said, “you can now choose either life or death.” Each of the Franciscans knelt down, embraced the Crucifix and said, “You are my God and my All.” The thirty Franciscans were taken out and slaughtered and their bodies burned in a nearby cave where their remains lay for many years. Today they are buried inside the Franciscan church.

One of the soldiers in the firing squad at Široki Brijeg later said, “Since I was a child, in my family, I had always heard from my mother that God exists. To the contrary, Stalin, Lenin, Tito had always asserted and taught each one of us: there is no God. God does not exist! But when I stood in front of the martyrs of Široki Brijeg and I saw how those friars faced death, praying and blessing their persecutors, asking God forgive the faults of their executioners, it was then that I recalled to my mind the words of my mother and I thought that my mother was right: God exists!” That soldier converted and now he has a son who is a priest and a daughter a nun.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019


As we prepare for the great feast of our patron St. Benedict, I present this possibly next Benedictine saint. SERVANT OF GOD  BROTHER MARINUS LEONARD LaRUE, could be the latest Benedictine to be canonized, if not the first American Benedictine.

Brother Marinus Leonard LaRue, who as a merchant marine captain in the Korean War, evacuated 14,000 refugees from a besieged North Korean port.

Three days before Christmas 1950, Captain LaRue came upon what he likened to ''a scene of Dante's Inferno'' at the port. On Christmas Day, he delivered all 14,000 refugees to safety on a South Korean island some 500 miles away aboard a freighter designed to hold only 60 people. The United States Maritime Administration called his feat ''the greatest rescue by a single ship in the annals of the sea.''

Captain LaRue was the skipper of the 455-foot Meredith Victory, a Moore-McCormack Lines freighter that had been carrying supplies to American servicemen in Korea on behalf of the Navy.

In December 1950, the Meredith Victory was summoned to the North Korean port Hungnam, which was jammed with 105,000 American and South Korean marines and soldiers and more than 90,000 North Korean civilians retreating from a Chinese Communist onslaught at the Chosin Reservoir. About 200 American vessels had converged on Hungnam for evacuation while American ships and planes bombarded the perimeter to hold off Communist troops.

When Captain LaRue was peering through his binoculars, he surveyed the heartbreaking scene from the deck of his ship.  Thousands upon thousands of Koreans, men, women and children, with their eyes filled with fear,  were crammed onto the docks of the City of Hungnam, desperate to flee the invading Chinese and North Korean communist forces that were closing in quickly during those early months of the Korean War. Captain   LaRue made the decision to unload nearly all of the arms and supplies on the ship in order to board as many refugees as possible, ordering the ship to be made ready to hold the refugees, so that they could evacuate as many as possible out of Hungnam.  

Time was of the essence for Captain LaRue and the brave crew of his U.S. Merchant Marine cargo freighter, the SS Meredith Victory, to save as many of those ragged and frightened refugees as possible. Artillery fire roared above them, as they wasted no time in loading their new passengers, who took only what they could into the ship’s hold and on deck and then steamed out of port and imminent danger. Armed with courage and compassion, the captain and crew risked their lives to transport their new precious cargo, the last remaining 14,005 refugees,  on a perilous 450-mile voyage through treacherous mine- and submarine-infested waters to the safety of Geoje Island.  The mission, undertaken against all odds, has been called a “Christmas Miracle” by historians, in fact, the largest humanitarian rescue operation by a single ship in world history.

Aboard the Meredith Victory

The refugees had little food or water and there were no blankets or sanitary facilities. The crewmen gave their coats to the women and children, but the misery was unrelieved. At one point, young men came topside seeking food, and a riot seemed imminent.

After a treacherous voyage though the Sea of Japan, the freighter arrived at Pusan on Christmas Eve, only to be turned away by South Korean officials, who were trying to cope with refugees already there. Captain LaRue was  told to head for the island of Koje Do, 50 miles to the southwest.

The SS Meredith Victory had sailed south with no equipment for mine, no doctor or interpreter on board, no lighting or heat in the holds, no sanitation facilities, and no military escort. The only gun on the entire ship as it traveled south was the pistol in Captain LaRue’s pocket.  In spite of the fact that the refugees were packed together tightly, with most people having to stand up, shoulder-to-shoulder silently and nearly motionless in freezing weather conditions during the entire voyage, there was not a single injury or casualty on board.  Five babies were born during the rescue sailing.  

The people were virtually unable to move, and there was very little food or water.  The ship arrived in Busan on Christmas Eve and then headed to its final destination, Geoje Island, arriving there on Christmas Day.

Not one refugee died in the evacuation; the number of Koreans aboard had, in fact, increased by five babies.

Captain LaRue, a Philadelphia native and a veteran of World War II merchant marine operations in the Atlantic, remained in command of the Meredith Victory until it was decommissioned in 1952. He received American and South Korean government citations for his rescue work, and the Meredith Victory was designated a Gallant Ship by Congress.
In 1954, Captain LaRue left the sea to join the Benedictine congregation of St. Ottilien at St. Paul’s Abbey in Newton, New Jersey. He made his first profession on Christmas Day, 1956, and took his final vows at the Christmas midnight Mass three years later. The name he chose, Marinus, was both a tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary and an appropriate appellation for a man of the sea. He performed the menial tasks of washing dishes, working in the gift shop and ringing the abbey’s bell each morning. After having suffered for years from a lack of mobility and dementia, Brother Marinus died on 14 October 2001.

“He always had a soft spot for the downtrodden,” recalls his last abbot, Father Joel Macul, OSB. “If a poor person would come to the door, he always would want to help. Sometimes he would go to the kitchen after hours and maybe put a food bag or something together.”

Brother Marinus spent his days serving others at the monastery. Rarely did he speak of his heroic rescue of 14,000 people and preferred that others not ask about it.

''I was always somewhat religious,'' he reflected a decade after carrying out the Korean evacuation. ''All the things in my life helped to cement my determination to enter the monastery.''

But he looked back on the rescue as a turning point in his life. ''I think often of that voyage. I think of how such a small vessel was able to hold so many persons and surmount endless perils without harm to a soul. The clear, unmistakable message comes to me that on that Christmastide, in the bleak and bitter waters off the shores of Korea, God's own hand was at the helm of my ship.'' 

This statement is an example of Brother Marinus’ humbleness. I do not think it is a coincidence that Captain LaRue saved 14,000 Korean refugees and, decades later, Brother Marinus’ Abbey is saved from closing by the arrival of Korean monks,” Bishop Arthur Serratelli  (Bishop of Paterson, NJ) wrote.

War Memorial in  Geoje-HuengNam

Sunday, July 7, 2019


Here are on Shaw, we  have always prided ourselves that we never saw a rat- field mice yes and they freely roam, never doing much damage, but rats???  Never, until this year and they seem to have invaded our small paradise, especially in the chicken feed shed!  We have set out traps but they seem to be too wily for our schemes. So I am praying to ST. GERTRUDE of NIVELLES a 7th century Benedictine Abbess who lived in present day Belgium. She is not to be confused with another Benedictine, Gertrude who has the title of “the Great.”

St. Gertrude of Nivelles was born around 626 in present-day Belgium into a well-connected noble family. When she was 10, Gertrude reportedly refused to be married to the son of a duke. In fact, she insisted that she would never marry at all.

When her father died, Gertrude and her mother, Itta, moved to Nivelles to set up a monastery, where she became an abbess. She became known for her devotion to scholarly and charitable works, and for taking care of orphans, widows, and pilgrims. She was also visited by spiritual visions and was said to know most of the Bible by heart. But her ascetic lifestyle, which included long periods without food or sleep, took a toll on her health, and she resigned as abbess at the age of 30. She died three years later, and St. Patrick himself is said to have watched over her on her deathbed.
Creator Mundi

 The connection between St. Gertrude and rodents became solidified as veneration of her spread throughout northern Europe, and little silver or gold statues of mice were left at a shrine to her in Cologne as late as 1822. By then, she had become the saint one asked to intercede in the case of a rodent infestation. It was said that the water from her abbey’s well would chase away rats and mice.

Her feast is March 17 also the feast day of St. Patrick, who seems to have overtaken her in popularity.  St Gertrude is  also the patron saint of cats, but I am not praying for cats at this point.  We have several, and all but one seem to have lost their appetite for rodents.

Friday, July 5, 2019


Another child recently made venerable is SILVIO DISSEGNA an Italian  child who died from bone cancer.

He was born  in 1967 in Turin  the first of two children to Ottavio Dissegna and Gabriella Martignon. His little brother was Carlo was just a year younger.

Silvio was a popular child known for his constant smile and deep love for Jesus and His Blessed Mother and was known for being full of life. He wanted to become a school teacher when he was older. His teachers perceived him to be clever in his class and his notebooks were full of descriptions about nature and games as well as his future aspirations.

With his Parents & Carlo
He developed bone cancer in 1978 just before he turned eleven when he began to suffer terrible and constant pain in his legs. He made several doctor visits who prescribed certain medications to him. But the pain grew more intense over time which led to several tests being performed.

Unlike his parents, he did not despair at the diagnosis but said to his distressed father: "Papa, have courage! Jesus will not abandon us". He said to his mother: "If I die it is not important. I will suffer to the end".

He asked his friends: "Tell Don Luigi to bring me Communion at home every day" (which the priest did). Silvio dedicated his time to reciting rosaries and offering his sufferings for missionaries and the conversion of sinners as well as for the three popes who reigned in his life.
With Carlo

He received his Confirmation in a wheelchair. He had seven hospitalizations in Paris where he went for treatment with his father remaining at his side on these trips. On one such trip the individual in the bed next to him was in pain and began cursing. This upset Silvio who wept at the person's obscenities.

 Ottavio sent a touching letter to Pope Paul VI  asking for "a prayer and a blessing for Silvio". Paul VI responded with a letter assuring Ottavio of his support while exhorting the Dissegna's "to trust in divine goodness".

Silvio lost his sight in 1979 following swelling which caused deteriation to the left pupil. A few months after this he lost his hearing.  He suffered large sores across his body after his left leg broke due to the weakening bone.

Venerable Silvio died in his home with a smile on his face in the evening on 24 September 1979. He had received the Anointing of the Sick the morning of his death. His funeral was celebrated in the Poirino parish church on 26 September. Thirty priests and around a thousand people attended his funeral.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019


We have our youth group here this week doing the many work projects, bringing in the hay, the winter's wood supply, building a new shed for farm equipment, etc. , so I am reminded of some new children being considered for sainthood- examples to all youth today!

In April Pope Francis recognized the heroic virtue of  a nine-year old Brazilian boy, who “never complained” during cancer treatments, instead offered his suffering to Jesus.

VENERABLE NELSON SANTANA was born on the Ronca Farm in Ibitinga, Sao Paulo in 1955, the third of eight children of farmers, João Joaquim and Ocrécia Aparecida. Because the family lived far from the city, the children received  very rudimentary religious instruction from the parents. Nelson went to school only for a few years, on the farm where he lived. 

In 1964 Nelson was admitted to the Santa Casa de Araraquara Pediatrics because he had pain in his left arm. In the hospital he received the sympathy and love of the doctors, nurses and other children who were hospitalized, particularly Sister Gennarina Gecchele of the Congregation of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who noticed the boy's purity and innocence. 

She began to teach him the catechism. Nelson responded with great enthusiasm and interest in catechesis. He loved to learn the things of God. He made his first Communion on June 15, 1964, in the chapel of the Holy House of Mercy of Araraquara, where he was hospitalized. 

Diagnosed with osteosarcoma, Nelson asked his mother in the hospital one day to “promise Jesus not to complain in the face of suffering and pain.”

His Parents

 A nurse and religious sister who cared for Nelson noted the child’s “extraordinary ability” to understand the meaning of the suffering of Christ. The sister made sure the boy continued to receive religious instruction in the hospital, where he also received his first Communion.

When told that his cancerous arm had to be amputated, Nelson that “pain is very important to increase true love and courageously maintain the love already conquered.”  (Where do children get these ideas? if not inspired!)

Sr. Genarina had the mission of telling Nelson the seriousness of the situation.  Nelsinho (as he was lovingly called) understood very well and answered with confidence: "Jesus can take my arm, because everything that is mine is His too."

Other boys who were hospitalized with Nelsinho understood how much he was suffering and wept, keeping him company by his bed. 

Every day he received the Eucharistic  and when he could no longer walk alone, he asked to be taken to the hospital chapel, where he stayed in prayer for a long time, as he said "to be closer to Jesus Who is in the Tabernacle." 

Those who knew him witnessed in the beatification process that Nelsinho had a great devotion for the Holy Eucharist. He faced with serenity the moment he received the Anointing of the Sick and responded with extraordinary devotion to the prayers of the ritual. 

He died on Christmas eve 1964, predicting that Jesus would call him on Christmas Eve.  His parents sold everything they owned to pay for medical expenses. 

Last Sunday 13 children from a neighboring island made their first Communion (an amazing number for our non-Catholic area). They came to our monastery  a few days before for their first Confession and a mini retreat.  Venerable Nelson is a good model, so we asked his intercession that these local children grow in their faith and love of Jesus in the Eucharist.