Sunday, July 29, 2018


Another laborer in the early mission fields of the USA is SERVANT of GOD DEMETRIUS AUGUSTINE GALLITZIN
With Father Peter Helbron- St. Peter's Church
, who 
was born at The Hague in 1770. He was a scion of one of the oldest, wealthiest, and most illustrious families of Russia. His father, Prince Demetrius, was Russian ambassador to Holland at the time of his son's birth.For 14 years previously he had been the Russian ambassador to France, an intimate acquaintance of Diderot, Voltaire, d'Alembert, and other rationalists of the day. 

Though nominally an Orthodox Russian, he accepted and openly professed the principles of an infidel philosophy. In 1768, he married the Countess Amalie, the only daughter of the then celebrated Prussian Field-Marshal von Schmettau. Her mother, Baroness von Ruffert, being a Catholic, Amalie was baptized in the Catholic Church, but her religious education was neglected, and it was not until 1786 that she became a fervent Catholic, which she remained until her death on April 27, 1806. 

In his youth his most constant companion was William Frederick, son of William V, then reigning Stadtholder of the Netherlands. This friendship continued even after William became King of the Netherlands and Duke of Luxemburg.  Demetri was by nature, rather reserved and timid

After his mother's return to Catholicism in 1786, he was greatly influenced by her circle of intellectuals, priests, and aristocrats. At the age of 17, Prince Dimitri was formally received into the  Church. To please his mother, whose birth and marriage occurred on 28 August, the feast of St Augustine, he assumed that name when he was confirmed, and thereafter wrote his name Demetrius Augustine.  A cousin, Elizabeth Gallitzin, would also eventually convert and join the Society of the Sacred Heart, founding a number of religious houses in the United States.

His father, who had been planning a military career for him, was quite unhappy with the change and was barely dissuaded from sending his son to Saint Petersburg, where he hoped a stint in a Russian Guards Regiment would force his son back into Orthodoxy. In 1792, his son was appointed aide-de-camp to General von Lillien, the commander of the Austrian troops in the Duchy of Brabant but, after the death of Leopold II of Austria and the murder of King Gustav III of Sweden, Prince Dimitri, like all other foreigners, was dismissed from Austrian Service.

As was the custom among young aristocrats at the time, he then set out to complete his education by travel. The French Revolution had made European tours unsafe, so his parents decided that he should spend two years in traveling through America, the West Indies, and other foreign lands. His mother provided him with letters of introduction from the prince-bishops of Hildesheim and Paderborn to Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore. With his tutor, Father Brosius, afterwards a prominent missionary in the United States, he embarked from Rotterdam in 1792,  landing in Baltimore. To avoid the inconvenience and expense of travelling as a Russian prince, he assumed the name of Augustine Schmettau. This name then became Schmet or Smith, and he was known as Augustine Smith for many years.

Not long after his arrival, he became interested in the needs of the Church in the United States. To the shock and horror of his father, Prince Dimitri decided to join the priesthood and offered to forgo his inheritance.

Demetrius Augustine entered the newly established Seminary of St. Sulpice in Baltimore being  the first to make all his theological studies in the United States. He was ordained in 1795, by Archbishop Carroll.  

In the Allegheny Mountains, in 1799, Father Demetrius founded the settlement of Loretto, Pennsylvania.  His military training had taught him engineering fundamentals. He named the town after the place of Marian devotion in Italy.

With Father Gallitzin in the lead, Loretto became the first English-speaking Catholic settlement in the United States west of the Allegheny Front. For several years St. Michael's Church was the only Catholic Church between Lancaster, Pennsylvania and St. Louis, Missouri. The church today is known as the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel.

In 1802, Father Gallitzin became a naturalized citizen of the United States under the name Augustine Smith. Seven years after he was naturalized and became a citizen of the United States, an Act passed by the General Assembly of Pennsylvania authorized him to establish his name, Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, and to enjoy all of the benefits accruing to him under the name Augustine Smith.

For twenty years Father Gallitzin  labored alone in a vast mission whose Catholic population was constantly increasing. In 1834 Father Lemke was sent to his assistance, assigned the northern part of Cambria County as his sphere of action.

In the meantime Father Gallitzin's reputation for sanctity, the fame of his talents, and the account of his labors had spread far and wide. It was his deep humility as well as his love for his community that prevented his advancement to the honors of the Church.  He accepted the office of Vicar-General for Western Pennsylvania, conferred on him by Bishop Conwell of Philadelphia, in 1827, because he felt that in that office he could promote the interests of the Church; but he strongly resisted the proposals to nominate him for the position of first Bishop of Cincinnati and first Bishop of Detroit.

For many years before his death he lived in the hope of seeing Loretto made an episcopal see, for Loretto was then a flourishing mission and the centre of a constantly increasing Catholic population, while Pittsburgh was a small town containing but few Catholics.  After forty-one years spent on the rugged heights of the Alleghenies, he died as he had lived, poor.  On coming to McGuire's Settlement he found a dense wilderness; he left it dotted with fertile farms.  

Servant of God Demetrius Gallitzin was buried, according to his desire, midway between his residence and the church (they were about thirty feet apart); in 1847 his remains were transferred to a vault in a field nearer the town, over which a humble monument was erected out of squared blocks of rough mountain stone. In 1891 his remains were taken from the decayed coffin of cherry wood and placed in a metallic casket. Iin 1899, on the occasion of the centenary celebration of the foundation of the Loretto Mission, the rude monument was capped by a pedestal of granite, and this in turn by a bronze statue of the prince-priest, donated by Charles M. Schwab, who also built the large stone church, which was solemnly consecrated October 2, 1901.

This great missionary, in spite of his noble early life, chose a path to God that has led to his sanctity, once again showing that anyone can become a saint!

Thursday, July 26, 2018


Recently made Venerable are two sisters who founded the Benedictine Sisters of Divine Providence.  

GIUSTINA SCHIAPPAROLI and MARIA SCHIAPPAROLI were born in Castel San Giovanni, Italy.  Maria in 1815 and Giustina in 1819.

In 1847  they  started  to care for abandoned  children and orphans, beginning with a small school.  Because of their work and great trust in Divine Providence, they were loved by the people and by the clergy.  In 1850 the Bishop of  Tortona,  Giovanni Negri,  accepted their  religious profession and gave them “canonical” status. 

The small religious family grew and were strengthened by the two foundresses who  welcomed all the children and the youth who knocked at the door of the “Cenobio of the Benedictines”, as it was called. A spirit of family  was the foundation stone of the educative work of the foundresses.                                              

One virtue which characterized the life of Maria was  humility. She lived a life of silence, secret prayer, and faithful obedience to the rules of her more dynamic and energetic sister, Mother Giustina, superior of the  new Institute, even though she was the elder. She shared with her the hard works and the responsibility of the foundation. She was called the “Holy Shadow” . 

At Voghera and Vespolate, where she was a superior, she was the “little servant of all”, attentive and dedicated in  serving the sisters and the children. She had great confidence in Divine Providence. Venerable Maria died  in 1882 at Vespolate, where she was buried.

Virtues which characterized the life of Giustina was charity,  humility and heroic strength. She was the driving force for the foundation of the Benedictine Sisters of Divine Providence. With the children , the postulants, and sisters she showed maternal charity, which later in her life caused her great pain and suffering.  Venerable  Giustina died in 1877 at Voghera.

Both  foundresses had a great devotion to the Eucharist as well as the Mother of God.

At present the Benedictine Sisters of Divine Providence operates in Italy, Albania, Romania, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Mexico, Argentina, India, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya,  and Malawi.

Monday, July 23, 2018


BL. TERESA BRACCO was born  in 1924 to modest farmers an Italian in  Savona.  Her family fostered her faith at a young age and she was known to pray the rosary as she went about her daily chores. Every day she would rise early in the morning to walk to Mass, often becoming entranced by Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

After learning about St. Dominic Savio she adopted his motto for her life, “Death rather than sin.” She kept a picture of the saint hanging over her bed that inspired her on a daily basis.

One day in 1944 Teresa was out in the fields when she heard gunshots. A few people ran past urging her and her sisters to take cover. The Nazi soldiers quickly found Teresa hiding in the field and one of them carried her to the forest with the intent to rape her.

She was defiant in her resistance, with the soldier became increasingly angry. He then shot her twice and left her body in the forest. The local priest searched for her remains and brought her body to a doctor, who confirmed what happened. She was 20 years old.
Teresa was beatified in 1998 on the occasion of  (St.) Pope John Paul II's visit to Turin. Her beatification was approved after it was proven that she was killed in the defense of remaining a Christian virgin.

In his homily  (St.) John Paul II gave her as an inspiration to all young people.

“What a significant Gospel witness for the young generations who are approaching the third millennium! What a message of hope for those who are striving to run counter to the spirit of the world! To young people in particular, I hold up this young woman whom the Church is proclaiming blessed today so that they may learn from her clear faith, witnessed to in daily commitment, moral consistency without compromises and the courage of sacrificing even life if necessary, in order not to betray the values that give it meaning.

She stands with St. Maria Goretti as a patron of rape victims.”

Friday, July 20, 2018


 VENERABLE BENEDETTA BIANCHI PORRO born in 1936 was an Italian Roman Catholic. Born in the Romagna, she became ill with polio as a teenager. She pursued a medical career and was perceived to be a brilliant student, but the aggressive progression of her illness forced her to abandon all hopes for a medical career. She instead devoted herself to surgeries for her own health but failed to cure her ailments; instead her health took on a rapid decline.

Daughter of Guido Bianchi Porro and Elsa Giammarchi, the second of six children. Afflicted with polio at an early age, leaving her with a crippled left leg and a need to wear a brace to prevent her spine from deforming. A clever and happy child, she began keeping a diary at age five; it became a lifelong record of her faith and the way she carried the cross of her disability. Much of her primary education was provided by Ursulines. In her teens she began to lose her hearing, and her overall health continued to deteriorate.

At age 17 she enrolled in the University of MilanItaly with a plan to study physics, but later changed to medicine. Some teachers objected to having a pre-med student who was so deaf that had to have written questions during an oral examination, but Benedetta was an excellent student.

In 1957 her studies had reached a point that she was able to diagnose herself finding  she had Recklinghausen Disease­-Neuro-Fibromatosis which leads to paralysis of the nervous system. She had surgery in 1958 to treat part of the condition, but it was of little benefit, and left the left side of her face paralyzed. She continued her studies, but in 1959 she began losing the sense of touch, taste and smell, was completely deaf, and had to give up the idea of a medical career.

Benedetta had further surgery in August 1959; it left both legs paralyzed, and the young woman wheelchair bound. She then turned her sick room into a center of support and communication for others. Her friends from medical school were frequent visitors, and she began correspondences; in person or in print she was uniformly optimistic about life and the love of God. Benedetta and her family visited Lourdes in May 1962 in search of a cure.  She took the hand of a paralyzed girl lying next to her, who was completely healed, but there was no change for Benedetta.

In 1963 Benedetta had another operation which it left her blind. She could barely speak, and could only move her right hand. However, the number of her visitors increased as word of her holiness and her gentle understanding of to love God even these circumstances. Patience, said Benedetta, was “the weapon with which Christ conquered the darkness”.

To a visiting priest she explained: “In living we must make known to him, and to him only, the meaning of our lives, which sometimes he lets us catch a glimpse.”

She went again to Lourdes and as her family waited for her to be healed, she received her own miracle – the understanding that she would not change a thing about her condition. She died in 1964 at the age of  28.  Her father said that her deformed face, tired from the long suffering,returned to being as beautiful as it was when she was young. 

She was proclaimed Venerable on 23 December 1993 on the account of her good deeds and model life.

Sometimes I find myself defeated under the weight of this heavy cross. Then, I call upon Jesus and lovingly cast myself at His feet; He kindly permits me to rest my head on His lap. (Venerable Benedetta in a letter to a friend)

Sunday, July 15, 2018


These past BLOGs have been dedicated to holy lay people: doctors, an engineer and now a politician.  A politician?  How can anyone in politics be holy?  With God nothing is impossible.

Recently made venerable is  GIORGIO LA PIRA  who was known as  the “holy mayor” of Florence.
Giorgio was born  in 1904 in Pozzallo to a Sicilian packing-house worker the first of six children.  His Catholic upbringing and in particular the teachings of St Francis of Assisi had a vital role in shaping his political and philosophical beliefs. He saw all that he did and each position he took as an expression of his spiritual beliefs. In 1924 he experienced a profound religious calling that would forever set the pattern for his life. Giorgio became a Third Order Dominican in his early twenties.

 He studied accounting in Messina and  received a law degree from the Florence college in 1925. He became professor of Roman Law there in 1933 and his openness made him popular with the students.
As the mayor of Florence from 1951 to 1965, Giorgis’s influence extended well beyond his municipality. He made several official trips behind the Iron Curtain to Russia, China and Vietnam during the Cold War to promote peace and human rights. Before traveling to Moscow,  he visited Fatima and wrote to cloistered religious orders asking for their prayers for his journey.
At home in Italy, Giorgio advocated for the poor and for workers rights. He also contributed to the writing of the Italian Constitution after World War II.
His political perspectives were controversial in Italy, and some have criticized his openness to dialogue with communist parties and leaders.
However, he was  well-respected by religious leaders, even beyond Catholicism. In 1960, he began a friendship with Athenagoras I, the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, who famously asked the mayor to bring an unprecedented gift of candy to Pope John XXIII, as a way to foster relations between the two churchmen. Four years later, Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI held a historic meeting in Jerusalem, which led to the rescinding of excommunications issued after the Great Schism in 1054.
He chose to live in simplicity in a cell in the monastery of San Marco in Florence until bronchitis forced him to move out.
After La Pira died in 1977, Pope Paul VI honored him in an Angelus address.
Pope Saint John Paul II spoke of the important role Giorgio La Pira played in the reconstruction of Europe, and chose to celebrate the “Jubilee of Governors” in 2000 on the date of  Giorgio’ s death, Nov. 5. 

 A quote from the former mayor of Florence was also selected as the motto for the celebration, “Our participation in a Holy Year is not an act of piety but a political act, because it must contribute to the realization of God’s plan in history.”

Thursday, July 12, 2018


We have been dealing with saintly physicians in the past Blogs, now here is another profession, which I am sure needs a patron.

As a student, SERVANT of GOD MARIO HIRIART’s spirituality began to radically transform his life and nature. As an engineer and later as university professor, he felt called to live a radical Christian life and to unite work, faith, apostolic commitment, leisure, and prayer in an organic way. As promoter of a distinctive lay spirituality he decided to join the Institute of the Brothers of Mary. He wanted to commit all his time, energy, and talents to make God present and able to be experienced in the contemporary world marked by the rhythm and laws of industry, research, and technical enhancement.  

In his lessons, in his apostolate among youth, and in his personal reflections he worked on an deeper understanding of and convincing response to the challenges imposed on Christian lay persons in a growingly secularized world.

At the same time he grew into a deep personal relationship with Jesus to whom he offered his life as a living sacrifice.  At age 33, he accepted his terminal illness of cancer as a final possibility to give all for the Lord whom he desired to emulate.

Mario was born in Santiago, Chile in 1931 in an affectionate family with ethical principles, but not religious. His maternal grandmother, an invalid aunt and his "nanny" Teresa communicated taught him the faith and how to pray. He studied at the school of the Marist Brothers of Santiago, where he stood out as a good student. In the last years of the study he joined a youth group of Catholic Action, where he began to grow towards a more active Catholicism.

The year that he began his university studies at the School of Engineering of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, he formed with some friends the first group of young people of the Schoenstatt movement in the capital. He was able to meet the founder, Father Joseph Kentenich in those foundational years. Father Jose  taught him fidelity to the Lord and His Blessed Mother. 

(The Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt was founded in Germany in 1914 by Father Joseph Kentenich, who saw the movement as being a means of spiritual renewal in the Catholic Church.The movement is named Schoenstatt, which means "beautiful place", after a small village close to the town of Vallendar near Koblenz in Germany.)

His great love for Mary deepened his relationship with Christ in the Eucharist, and ignited his dedication to others.  He was a brilliant working for a top engineering firm, but decided to devote himself to the education of youth, so he could lead them to Christ.

Understanding with pain that the path of marriage was not for, he decided to follow the Lord's call to be a lay saint, to dedicate himself exclusively to serving Him, yet staying in the world, doing the ordinary extraordinarily.

He left his home, to do his novitiate at the Secular Institute of the Brothers of Mary. There he served young workers in a technical school and traveled, encouraging many young people and couples to make a radical choice to live their faith and to engage in the construction of a Christian order of society and in public service.

After his return to Chile, he began to do classes at the engineering school of the Catholic University. He created a book bank to facilitate his acquisition to the most needy students and  was an example, a teacher and a friend. Mario  is still remembered for his smile, his love of poetry, music and singing. He played guitar and had a special joy in the contemplation of nature.

The Holy Spirit led him to a fullness of the Christian life according to the ideal he had assumed: to be " like Mary, living Chalice, bearer of Christ ". He knew suffering and loneliness. His bad health martyred him with permanent ailments, until a hidden cancer ended up totally undermining his physique.

With Father Joseph

On a trip to then USA to speak with Father Jose, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died the day after meeting Father Joseph. He died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 15, 1964 at the age of 33, accepting  his terminal illness of cancer as a final possibility to give all for the Lord whom he desired to emulate. 
His remains rest after the Schoenstatt Shrine in Bellavista, La Florida, Santiago de Chile. 

He will become the first lay saint of Chile, being an example to all lay people, that holiness in the secular world is not impossible!  Maria lived out  the aim of Schoenstatt  which seeks to grow as free, dedicated, and active witnesses of Christ in modern life by uniting the faith with  everyday life, seeing Mary guide.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


This  week our youth group who come annually, are here with many projects,  from building to bringing in over 1,000 bales of hay. So it is appropriate that news of a new venerable is given to youth around the world.
CARLOS ACUTIS ( see BLOG  12/7/13), who died of leukemia at the age of 15, offering his suffering for the Holy Father and for the Church, was recently ungraded to Venerable.

Venerable Carlos was born in London in 1991, to Italian parents who soon returned to Milan. He was a pious child, attending daily Mass and frequently praying the rosary.
Exceptionally gifted in working with computers, Carlos developed a website which catalogued Eucharistic miracles. This website was the beginning of The Eucharistic Miracles of the World, an international exhibition which highlights such occurrences.
Carlos said that “To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan. I'm happy to die because I've lived my life without wasting even a minute of it doing things that wouldn't have pleased God.”  Don’t we all wish we could say that before we die?
He also said that “our aim has to be the infinite and not the finite. The Infinite is our homeland. We have always been expected in Heaven,” He called the Eucharist “my highway to heaven.”
Venerable Carlos died of leukemia in Monza, near Milan, Oct. 12, 2006

Abbot Michelangelo Tiribilli, the then-Abbot of the Territorial Abbey of Montel Oliveto Maggiore, wrote in the foreword to a biography of Carlos Acutis that “By looking at this adolescent as one of them and as someone who was captivated by the love of Christ, which enabled him to experience pure joy, today's adolescents will be in contact with an experience of life that doesn't take anything away from the richness of their teenage years, but which actually makes them more valuable.”

May he be the patron of so many youth who are addicted to new technology! 

Sunday, July 8, 2018


On May 19, Pope Francis issued a decree that recognized the heroic virtues of BROTHER NORBERT McAULIFFE, an American missionary in Africa,, granting him the title of “venerable”.

The new Venerable was born in 1886 in Manhattan, New York, and eventually joined the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, a relatively new religious congregation at the time. The congregation was founded by in 1821 by Fr. André Coindre in France and by the time of his death was beginning to spread around the world.

Father Coindre had envisioned a community of brothers trained to work with the poor through the establishment of schools. The congregation is primarily made up of religious brothers, with only a few members being ordained priests.

According ot their Rule of Life, “Our love for our brothers and the young people in our care radiates from the love Jesus has for us. Our dedication to others, marked by respect, kindness, and concern, will be a sign to them of the compassion of Christ.”

Brother McAuliffe served as a director of their house in Metuchen, New Jersey, for  six years before being sent as a missionary to Uganda, Africa. There he established the congregation’s first mission. The country at the time was under British rule and the people were receptive to Brother McAuliffe’s missionary activities. He remained there for 20 years until his death on July 3, 1959 at the age of 72.

During the slaughter of people in Uganda in 2003, Archbishop John Baptist Odama prayed that Brother McAuliffe among others would intercede for the people:  Many of us have been forced to abandon their flock and have suffered even death in this conflict. This is devastating. I cannot ignore your sufferings but please… Servant of God Brother Norbert McAuliffe (Dano ma lego)… and others are all with us and praying for us."  

“We are only earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us. We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered; we see no answer to our problems, but never despair; we have been persecuted , but never deserted; knocked down, but never killed, always wherever we may be we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too may always be seen in our body” (2Cor. 4:7-13).

Venerable Norbert's  legacy lives on in Uganda and his life is still an inspiration to the African people he ministered to in the region. Interestingly enough it is the bishops of Uganda who are leading the cause for his canonization, not his American Community.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018


Several weeks ago seven young priests came to our monastery for a much needed break.  The Holy Father's prayer intention for the universal Church for the month of July is  for "Priests and their Pastoral Ministry".

Let us pray together that priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests.