Sunday, October 28, 2018


 VENERABLE  MARY JANE WILSON  (SISTER MARY of ST. FRANCIS) was born on October 3rd 1840 in Hurryhur, Mysore, Karnataka, India of English parents.

She was orphaned in childhood and handed over to her aunt who gave her a proper education. Raised an Anglican she converted to Catholicism, joining the Church in France in 1873.

In 1881 she arrived in Madeira, Portugal where she worked as a nurse taking care of an Englishwoman. At the same time, she taught catechism to the local children, looked after the sick and supported education to the young by teaching youngsters across the island.

In 1884, she founded the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Victory who dedicated their lives to caring for children and the sick. During the destructive epidemic of 1907, the Franciscan Sisters worked by her side looking after the victims of smallpox. For this act of bravery she was awarded the"Torre e Espada" (Tower & Sword) by King D. Carlos.

In October 1910, with the republican revolution, the Congregation was extinguished and as a result, Sister Mary Jane Wilson  was expelled to England. After a year of exile she was able to return to Madeira where she gave new life to the congregation she had founded.

She died on October 18th 1916 in Câmara de Lobos due to natural causes at the age of 76.

She was also dubbed "Good Mother" due to her deep faith and caring of  the poor and the young. Enlightened by her example, the Congregation she founded now has sisters, not only in Madeira, but also in mainland Portugal and the Azores, Mozambique, England, Italy, Germany, Brazil, South Africa, Philippines, Angola, India, Congo, Timor and Tanzania.

She was venerated on 9 October 9th 2013 by Pope Francis.   There is a lovely sculpture of Venerable Mary Jane by Luís Paixão in the Santa Cruz Municipal Garden, in Madeira.

BL. MARIA EUTHYMIA UFFING, one of eleven children,  was born in Halverde Germany  in 1914. At 18 months, she developed a form of rickets that stunted her growth and left her in poor health the rest of her life. Emma worked on her parents‘ farm as a child, and by her early teens began to feel a call to religious life.

She worked as an apprentice in house keeping management at the hospital in HopstenGermany, completing her studies in May 1933.  In 1933 she entered the Sister of the Congregation of Compassion  taking the name Euthymia. At the time of her vows she wrote her mother: "I found Him who my heart loves; I want to hold Him and never let Him go" (cf. Song 3,4).

She was assigned to work at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Dinslaken. She graduated with distinction from the nursing program in 1939 and worked as nurse through World War II.

In 1943 she was assigned to nurse prisoners of war and foreign workers with infectious diseases. She worked tirelessly for her charges, caring for them, praying for them, and insuring they received the sacraments. She knew that the sick prisoners did not have to contend with physical sufferings alone. Through her warm sympathy and nearness, she instilled in them a feeling of being safe and at home. 

After the war she was given supervision of the huge laundry rooms of the Dinslaken hospital, her order’s mother-house, and the Saint Raphael Clinic in Münster, Germany; what little spare time she had was spent in prayer before the Eucharist. Many who knew her, asked her to intercede for them in her prayers. A serious form of cancer brought Bl. Euthymia to an untimely death after long weeks of illness. She died on the morning of 9 September 1955.

Her feast is September 9.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


BL. GERTRUDE PROSPERI Born to a wealthy, pious family, in 1799 in Fogliano di CasciaPerugiaItaly.

In 1820   she joined the Benedictines at the monastery of Sante Lucia di Trevi, taking the name Sister Maria Luisa Angelica. She served as a nurse as well as a novice mistress. She was elected abbess in 1837, an office she held till her death.

She was well known among her peers for strict observance to the Rule of Saint Benedict (reviving many traditions), for her ardent devotion to both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to Eucharistic adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  In her duties she was always  joyful and full of the love and care of Jesus for her charges.

For a period of five years the spiritual director and Bishop of Spoleto (and future cardinal) Ignazio Giovanni Cadolini guided her in discerning the truth of her visions and the ability to differentiate between visions and the work of Satan

Bl. Gertrude died on 13 September 1847 after a painful illness. Her writings were left preserved and were copied when her Jesuit confessor Father Paterniani wrote the first chronicle of her life in 1870.

The process for her beatification began by the bishop of Spoleto, Pietra Pacificia, in 1914 but was interrupted during the First and Second World Wars, only to be resumed in December 1987.

She was beatified 12 November 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. The miracle needed for her beatification was the curing of a woman from Umbria of a brain-related illness.  Her feast is  September 13.

VENERABLE NOEME CINQUE - White Angel of the Trans-Amazonian Highway-
(Sister Serafina) was born in 1913 in the Amazons in  Brazil. She was the second oldest of thirteen children. She felt called to be a nun early in her life, but she needed to work to help her family financially.

She decided to become a teacher and nurse. She would often visit the sick and elderly people in their homes. She also taught catechism locally and was a member of Catholic Action at her parish. Finally, in 1948 she joined an American  congregation of nuns – the Adorers of the Blood of Christ – who were working in Brazil missions. It was then she took the name Sister Serafina. 

She came to the United States for a few years to do her novitiate and studies and then was assigned to an area in the Amazons that had no doctors. She was the principal of a school there, but was also the medical professional for the entire region, teaching nutrition and hygiene as well as caring for the sick.  Her dedication and unselfish attitude was great.

In 1969 she fell ill with tuberculosis, but recovered. In 1971,  she was assigned to another area in  Brazil, which had a growing population due to the construction of the Trans-Amazonian Highway. With the growth of population, there was a lack of medical professionals and space in hospitals. 

Sister Serafina helped establish the Divine Providence Home for pregnant women and infants who could not be admitted to hospitals. The house could take in up to 40 women a day.  There she was able to offer special care for those who were homeless. In 1985 she built another home called the Refuge for the sick and abandoned.

She died of cancer in 1988 when she was 75 years old. She is remembered as the “Angel of the Amazons” by the local people. Pope Francis declared her venerable in 2014 because of her heroic virtues.

Monday, October 22, 2018


Beatified this past Saturday in Spain, was another holy Jesuit (and you know how I love the Jesuits).

BLESSED TIBURCIO ARNAIZ MUNOZ, SJ., one of Spain's most beloved religious figures of the 20th Century, was born in Calle de Panaderos, Valladolid, Spain. Padre Arnáiz was noted to be a tireless apostle for the Misión Popular and as a zealous worker among the poor.

Entering seminary at an early age, he was ordained to the priesthood on April 20, 1890. Appointed parish priest of Villanueva de Duero in 1893, he earned a doctorate in theology from the Primatial See of Toledo in 1896.

A parish priest of Poyales del Hoyo, following the death of his mother, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1902, doing the novitiate in Granada. His sister at this time  joined the Dominican nuns at the convent where he had once served as their sacristan.

He soon became concerned with those living in farms and in other rural locations, though he also spent some time in Loyola. He was in Cádiz from 1916 to 1917 before returning to Málaga to continue his work.  

Maria Isabel

In 1922 he co-founded the Missionaries of the Rural Parishes, alongside  Servant of God María Isabel González del Valle Sarandeses, whom he had come to know. This organization would be of use to the priest in his unwavering commitment to the moral and cultural well-being of the poor with an added emphasis on those who lived in remote and rural areas. 

Bl. Tiburcio also knew the Bishop of Málaga Saint Manuel González García who had praised him for his work and encouraged him to continue it on a grand scale.

Contracting a bronchial pneumonia, he passed away in Málaga on July 18, 1926, aged 60. After obtaining a special permission, his Jesuit brethren buried him inside the church of the Corazón de Jesús of Málaga.

Monument in Malaga
The miracle required for his beatification was investigated in Málaga, concerning the mid-1990s cure of a man who had been in a coma for a week and was on the verge of death; he likewise suffered from a cardiorespiratory arrest

Saturday, October 20, 2018


Last Sunday Pope Francis canonized  Nazania Mesa  who was a nurse. As  I have written in past Blogs, one of my favorite saints is St. Marianne of Molokai (Cope) (see Blog  10/21/12), who was also a trained nurse.  This prompted me to find other saints who were nurses in modern times.  From what I can find there are many, from various countries, who are unknown outside their area.

A few of the  saints who were nurses we wrote of in past Blogs:   Bl. Maria Troncatti  (Blog 11/23/12) "Mammacita of the Andes",  Ven. Leonella  Sgorbati (Blog 11/11/17) murdered in Somalia,  and the Polish Benedictine Oblate, Bl. Hanna Chrzonauska  (Blog 4/6/18).

Two who were martyred by the Nazis are:

One of ten children born in Slovakia in 1916 she studied nursing and radiology. Known as a pious child, she early felt a call to religious life. At age 15 she requested entry to the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Holy Cross, and made her first vows on 30 January 1937.

While she was assigned to Bratislava, the Communists seized power and began a systematic persecution of the Church and its members. Many were arrested and tortured for their faith, and some of these were brought to Bl. Cecilia’s hospital for treatment. In early 1952 she helped a condemned priest escape from certain death in Siberia. Later she tried to help three priests and three seminarians escape, but she failed, and was arrestedtortured, and sentenced to twelve years in prison and ten years of loss of civil rights.

For the next three years she was shipped from prison to prison, regularly beaten and tortured; some of her wounds were never permitted to heal. She was released from prison in 1955, nine years early, so that she would not die on the government’s hands. Due to police harassment, she was turned away from her congregation’s motherhouse, and from the hospital where she used to work. She died a few months later, her health broken by the abuse, but never losing her faith.

Considered a martyr, she was beatified in 2003 by St. John Paul II.  Her feast is November 23.

BL.  MARY RESTITUTA KAFKA  was the sixth daughter of a shoemaker. Born in Brno, Czechoslovakia she grew up in Vienna, and was a trained surgical nurse. She joined the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in 1914, taking the name Restituta after an early Church martyr.  She was known as a protector of the poor and oppressed and was a vocal opponent of the Nazis after Anschluss, the German take over of AustriaSister was tough  and people called her “Sr. Resolute” because of her stubbornness. Mostly, however, she was easy-going and funny. 

Sister Restituta hung a crucifix in every room of a new hospital wing. The Nazis ordered them removed. Refusing this, she was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942. She was sentenced to death on 28 October 1942 for “aiding and abetting the enemy in the betrayal of the fatherland and for plotting high treason”.

She spent her time in prison caring for other prisoners.  Even the Communist prisoners spoke well of her. She was offered her freedom if she would abandon her religious community, which she declined and was beheaded. her last words were, “I have lived for Christ; I want to die for Christ.”

She was beatified by St. John Paul II  June 1998. Her feast is March 30.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


John Nava Tapestry- Our Lady of the Angeles

Speaking of the seven saints recently canonized, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles said  young people should look to the “saints of our times,” as models of holiness.  
“In looking to saints, of which there are examples from every continent, young people will be inspired to live their vocation as “everyday saints” in their own unique way,

Speaking at the Synod of Bishops in Rome he added: “We need to show young people what holiness looks like, by living the Gospel we preach, proclaiming Jesus Christ by the way we live. We need to call young people to be saints - and we need to be saints ourselves.”

Archbishop Gomez with Youth (Victor Aleman photo)

The Archbishop emphasized that calling young people to “conversion and new life in Christ” should be a priority in the synod’s final conclusions, and that the Church is called to serve and accompany young people on that journey.

This involves, he said, setting an example of how to pray, helping young people meet the Lord in the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession, encouraging them to perform works of mercy for the poor, and cultivating a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“Sadly, young people today do not know how to live authentic human lives because the adults of our secular society have not shown them the way.”

“The vision for life offered to young people in Western societies does not call them to goodness or beauty or truth. Instead, what is offered are various life ‘styles’ and alternatives for self-creation rooted in the restless consumption of material comforts, virtual entertainments, and passing pleasures,” he said.

The archbishop said that in his conversations with young people in his own diocese he came to see that the Church did offer the answers they were seeking.

"In the Incarnation of the Son of God and in his Passion and Resurrection, we see revealed the dignity and destiny of the human person, created in God’s image and called to live by his Spirit as a child of God and to be saints - to be holy as our Father in heaven is holy,” he said.

Saturday, October 13, 2018


St. Paul VI

St. Oscar

On Sunday  (Oct. 14)  the Holy father will canonize seven new saints.  Two of whom we already know are  ST POPE PAUL VI  (see Blog 2/7/2018)   and ST OSCAR ROMERO. The others are less known to us in the USA.   

ST VINCENT ROMANO   was born in 1751 and ordained a priest in 1775. He had studied the writings of St. Alphonsus de Liguori and developed a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. He spent his whole life as a priest in Torre del Greco and was known for his simple ways and his care for orphans. He worked to rebuild his parish, often with his bare hands, after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1794. He died in December 1831 of pneumonia and was beatified by Paul VI in 1963.

St. Vincent

ST  FRANCESCO SPINELLI   was born in Milan in 1853 and was ordained a priest in 1875. He began his apostolate educating the poor, also serving as a seminary professor, spiritual director, and counselor for several women's religious communities. In 1882, Fr. Spinelli met  (St.) Caterina Comensoli (see Blog 9/25/2018), with whom he would found the Institute of the Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. The sisters dedicated themselves to Eucharistic adoration day and night, which inspired their service to the poor and suffering.

He died in 1913. Today his institute has around 250 communities in Italy, Congo, Senegal, Cameroon, Colombia, and Argentina. Their ministries include caring for people with HIV, orphans, drug addicts, and prisoners.

St. Francesco

(see Blog 12/31/2013) was b
orn in Pescosansonesco, Italy in 1817. He lost both of his parents at age six and was brought up by an uncle who exploited him for hard labor. Fatigued and often given dangerous assignments, he developed gangrene and eventually lost his leg. Despite his tremendous suffering, he would reportedly make statements such as: “Jesus suffered a lot for me. Why should I not suffer for Him? I would die in order to convert even one sinner.”
He recovered from the gangrene and dedicated himself to helping other patients before his health deteriorated again. He died of bone cancer in 1836, when he was only 19 years old.

ST NAZARIA IGNACIA MARCH MESA  was born in 1889 in Madrid, Spain,  the fourth of 18 children. Growing up, her family was indifferent and sometimes even hostile to her desire to enter religious life. Eventually she led several family members back to the Church when she entered the Franciscan Third Order. Her family moved to Mexico in 1904, and Nazarie met sisters of the Institute of Sisters of the Abandoned Elders, who inspired her to join their order. In 1915, she chose to take perpetual vows with the order in Mexico City and was assigned to a hospice in Oruro, Bolivia for 12 years.
St. Nazaria
Beginning in 1920, she felt a call to found a new order dedicated to missionary work. In 1925, she founded the Pontifical Crusade, later renamed the Congregation of the Missionary Crusaders of the Church, with the mission to catechize children and adults, support the work of priests, conduct missions, and to print and distribute short religious tracts. Many opposed her work, but Bl. Nazaria pressed on. Her order cared for soldiers on both sides of the 1932-35 war between Paraguay and Bolivia, and she herself survived persecutions in Spain during the Spanish Civil war. She died in July 1943.
ST MARIA KATHARINE KASPER  was born in Dembach, Germany in 1820. She attended very little school because of poor health. Despite this, she began to help the poor, the abandoned, and the sick at a young age. Her mother taught her household chores, as well as how to spin and weave fabric. After her father died when she was 21, Catherine worked the land as a farm hand for about 10 cents a day. Her helpfulness toward others attracted other women to her, and she felt a call to the religious life, but knew she needed to stay and support her mother, who was in poor health.

After her mother died, Catherine started, with the approval of the bishop of Limburg, Germany, a small house with several friends who also felt the call. In 1851 she and four other women officially took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and formed the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. Catherine, known in the religious community as Mother Mary, served five consecutive terms as superior of the house and continued to work with novices and to open houses for their order all over the world.  She died of a heart attack in February 1898.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


When I was in college in the Midwest, there was an observatory on campus.  On the coldest  (and I mean cold) darkest nights, one of the Jesuits would take us in and let us stargaze.  This in the days when we only had seven planets (how much simpler life was, though maybe not as exciting).  I have always been interested in astronomy, perhaps because I grew up near Griffith Park  observatory in Los Angeles,  and we had many school excursions to this wondrous place.  So it was with interest that I  found this article recently on another Jesuit astronomer.

ANGELO SECCHI was an Italian Jesuit and scientist from northern Italy. He dedicated his life to the study of the stars and planets, making huge advances in various branches of science. 200 years after his birth, the Vatican Observatory  celebrated his life and work.

Before Angelo Secchi, the main focus of astronomers was to find out the precise location of each star and planet. Their aim was to unveil the mysteries of navigation in order to use them in daily life. Secchi had a different aim in mind. His curiosity was not roused by the question of where the planets were but rather why the planets were. Through his innovative thoughts, which went hand in hand with his new tools, he applied his knowledge to the study of stars. 200 years later, much of the work we see today, related to meteorology, astrophysics and earth sciences can be linked back to Secchi’s research.

Much of what we take for granted today is the product of Angelo Secchi’s discoveries. Secchi was part of the developing and understanding of weather patterns. He was a prime mover in producing the first weather maps.

 He was a pioneer in astronomical spectroscopy, and was one of the first scientists to state authoritatively that the Sun is a star. . He invented the heliospectrograph, star spectrograph, and telespectroscope. He showed that certain absorption lines in the spectrum of the Sun were caused by absorption in the Earth's atmosphere.

Who was this man? Secchi was born in Reggio Emilia, where he studied at the Jesuit gymnasium. At the age of 16, he entered the Jesuit Order in Rome. He continued his studies at the Roman College, and demonstrated great scientific ability. In 1839, he was appointed tutor of mathematics and physics at the College. In 1841, he became Professor of Physics at the Jesuit College in Loreto. In 1844, he began theological studies in Rome, and was ordained a priest on 12 September 1847. In 1848, due to the Roman Revolution, the Jesuits had to leave Rome. Fr. Secchi spent the next two years in the United Kingdom at Stonyhurst College, and the United States, where he taught for a time at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He also took his doctoral examination in theology there.

During his stay in America, he met Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury, the first Director of the United States Naval Observatory in Washington. He studied with Maury and corresponded with him for many years.

He returned to Rome in 1850. On the recommendation of his late colleague Francesco de Vico, he became head of the Observatory of the College at age 32. In 1853, under his direction, the crumbling Observatory was relocated to a new facility on top of the Sant'Ignazio Church (the chapel of the College). Secchi served as Director until his death.

His position was challenged after 1870, when the remnant of the Papal States around Rome was taken over by the Kingdom of Italy. In 1873, the College was declared property of the Italian government. When the government moved to take over the Observatory as well, Secchi protested vigorously, and threatened to leave the Observatory for one of several positions offered to him by foreign observatories. He was offered important scientific positions and political dignities by the government, but refused to pledge allegiance to the Kingdom in place of the Pope. The royal government did not dare to interfere with him, and he continued as Director.
He died in 1878 at age 59, in Rome. Had he lived longer who knows what else he would have discovered!

Father Christopher  Corbally, S.J. of the Vatican observatory speaks about the link between Secchi’s innovative questions and his faith. For Secchi, science is a gift from God. Father Corbally compares this with the work done at the Vatican Observatory: enjoying this gift of God in using science to find out about the world. Adding Secchi’s work to their findings has enabled wonderful things to happen, such as predicting the weather. Some of these lessons learnt from Secchi have also affected studies regarding climate change.

Father Corbally believes there is absolutely no difference in the way religious and non-religious scientists approach their research. The tools are the same, the mathematical equations are the same, and they both try to develop observations that stem from consistent theories. The spirit with which it is done is what makes it different.

For the person of faith, it is a way to connect with the Creator, to join in with the light and the enjoyment of creation. Chapter 8 of the Book of Proverbs talks about how the Creator found joy in creation, and Father Corbally believes that  Father Secchi  shares this joy.

Saturday, October 6, 2018


Another Hildegard dear to my heart for the work she is doing to promote quality art into our Catholic churches and homes, is HILDEGARD LETBETTER.

In a recent talk to patrons of the arts the Holy Father said: Throughout history, art has been second only to life in bearing witness to the Lord. It was, and remains, a majestic road allowing us more than by words and ideas to approach the faith, because it follows the same path of faith, that of beauty. The beauty of art enriches life and creates communion, because it unites God, man and creation in a single symphony. It connects the past, the present and the future, and it attracts – in the same place and with the same gaze – different and far-off peoples.

Hildegard grew up a child without enough to eat or drink in the aftermath of World War II in Cologne, Germany. Her family received care packages from the United States. Since she was a small child she dreamed of going to America where she was sure they had enough food.

Her older brothers later studied in the U.S., staying with different households. A family from Indiana visited the Letbetters and offered to bring Hildegard to the USA, but her parents didn't have the means. The next month, a ticket from the family arrived in the mail. The year after, in 1964, she taught at DePauw University in Indiana after getting an assistantship offer. She met her husband during that time, and after he served a stint in the Vietnam War, they relocated and she taught German at the University of Texas.

In 1970-71, there was an economic downturn so she and her husband  went to Denver and started over. In 1987,  she started her religious-gifts business in her home later opening on Main Street in Littleton in the early '90s.

From the beginning Hildegard  wanted to start something special. “I went around, and I only saw items that didn't make you feel good about your faith, or were kitschy, as we say in Germany.” Next time she went to Germany, she made connections, offering to sell items from Maria Laach Abbey. They sold fast, and during the next trip, Hildegard visited other places with items she could bring to the U.S. Today, her store sells art from other countries such as Poland, Italy, Austria, Ireland and Canada. Hildegard has run Creator Mundi for 30 years now. It is a place where someone can not only buy religious art, but can learn about the artists from around the world creating it.  Hildegard makes sure her staff are well educated in the arts!

Hildegard says she is not an artist herself but has “an eye” for it. She studied theology in Germany and grew up inspired by experiences she had in the Cologne Cathedral around the time of World War II.

Through the years, she's seen change in how people interpret both religion and the art that comes from it. “Today, it's not about the theology,  but how people live together and how you fashion your life in the spirit of Jesus.”
Driftwood Madonna from Italy

While holding dearly to our Catholic heritage, roots and traditions, Hildegard sees her missions as reaching out ecumenically.

“My hope and prayer for you is that you find your own treasure among our ever-growing and changing collection of distinctive, religious sacred art and gifts. Distinctive sacred art that is artistically beautiful, culturally authentic and biblically based, creating lasting heirlooms for your family. May our pieces stir and awaken your mind and your soul.

Hildegard  visited us soon after we built our new chapel 21 years ago and was so impressed by the simplicity and beauty that she made it possible for us to obtain our stations of the cross from Maria Laach Abbey. She herself donated the 15th station (The Resurrection), which hangs next to the Tabernacle.

Egino Weinert
Over the years I have done a Blog and used the art of Egino Weinert to illustrate other Blogs. He is one of Hildegard’s favorite artists.

"In today’s troubled world, unfortunately so often torn and damaged by selfishness and the thirst for power, art represents, perhaps even more than in the past, a universal need because it is a source of harmony and peace, and it expresses the dimension of generosity." (Pope Francis)