Sunday, January 31, 2021



We end the Month of January with BL. PAOLO MANNA, who was the first Superior General of PIME in Italy, although his heart remained in Myanmar.

Born in Naples, like Bl. Clement, his mother died when he was a small child. He studied in Rome  and Milan, and right after ordination was sent to Burma. He served for 12 years in Myanmar until TB forced him to permanently resign from his mission.  St Pope John XXIII attributed to him the title of “the Christopher Columbus” of missionary cooperation and Pope Paul VI described him as “one of the most effective promoters of missionary universality in the 20th century.”

He spent the following forty years of his life promoting missions to all Catholics: lay, religious, and ordained. In order to spread the mission call to all Catholics through missionary priests and religious, Bl. Paolo started the Missionary Union of the Clergy – which is now worldwide – in 1916, established the Sacred Heart Seminary in Southern Italy for overseas missions  and founded the Society of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate.

Bl. Paolo also contributed to the current understanding and expanse of missions through his publications; he started a magazine for families, as well as one for children, educating younger people about missions. He authored many books, stressing new missionary methods that possibly inspired changes brought about by Vatican II many years later. Bl. Paolo died in 1952 and was buried at the seminary he founded in Italy.  

According to the Vatican, “Fr. Manna’s greatest legacy is the example he left behind: he was driven by an overwhelming passion for the missions that  sickness, suffering and setbacks could never diminish.” 

He is also acknowledged for his “prophetic role” in promoting Ecumenism.

His book Thoughts and Reflections upon Vocations to the Foreign Missions was published in 1909. An edited version entitled “Forward with Christ” was published by Fr. Nicholas Maestrini, PIME in 1954.

Friday, January 29, 2021



An adventurous, fun-loving child who felt an early call to the missionary life, BL. MARIO VERGARA entered the PIME seminary in Monza in 1929. After enduring a life-threatening illness his first year in seminary, he finally returned to his studies in 1933.


He was ordained in August of 1934 by the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan Bl. Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, OSB and left one month later for Burma. Known for his love for children and the sick, he was always on the move, undeterred by discomforts, bad weather, and attacks of malaria.

Father Vergara was entrusted a small village and it was there that he ensured that there be regular catechesis lessons and the celebration of the sacraments. He also established various assistance services and an orphanage for children. 

When WWII broke out, and Italy declared war on England, all Italian missionaries were declared “fascists.” Bl. Mario was sent with the other missionaries to a concentration camp in India. He was released in 1944 and assigned to the mission of Toungoo. The British were no longer in control, but rebels sought to overthrow the government, where Bl. Mario was killed by the rebels, along with Isidore Ngei Ko Lat*, on May 24, 1950.

*Born in Burma in 1918 to peasant parents, Bl. Isidore was baptized into the Catholic faith. After his parents’ untimely death when he was still young, both Isidore and his younger brother were taken care of by their uncle and aunt. From an early age, Bl. Isidore expressed an interest in using his life to serve God. He began studying in the seminary and remained there for six years, up until the beginning of World War II. During World War II, he  returned to his native village, where he served as a catechist, opening a small school for the children of his region.

Thursday, January 28, 2021



The next PIME missionary on our list is, BL. CLEMENT VISMARA, who for 65 years carried out his work in Burma (now known as Myanmar)  From 1923 to 1988 he served the people there, earning for himself the unofficial title of “Patriarch of Burma.” He returned to Italy only once, in 1957, because of illness.

He was born  in Lombardy of humble stock, one of five children. His mother died when he was five and his father  when he was eight.  He was then raised by relatives.

During World War I, he was called up and sent to the front as a private of the 80th Infantry Regiment Brigade Rome. He was honorably discharged on in 1919, with three medals for bravery and the rank of sergeant major.

Ordained in 1923, he immediately set out for Burma. At the mission in Mong Lin the misery was great, the food poor and totally inadequate, and tropical diseases killed many of the missionaries (6 during the decade 1926-1936, all young people) so that in 1928 the General Superior of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), Father Paolo Manna (later Blessed), visiting Mong Lin, threatened the bishop of Kengtung that he would abandon the mission if other young missionaries died for lack of nutritious food or because they lived in huts of mud and straw.

Bl. Clement identified the pagan and fatalistic conception of life as the blocking element of tribal society: men often do not work and are addicted to opium, women and children are commonly abused, abandoned, sold or killed.

He concentrated his efforts on giving more rewarding jobs to indigenous people becoming first a farmer, then a breeder, a tailor, a barber, a mason, a lumberjack and so on. His objective was mainly to help orphans and widows, women who were abandoned by everyone and considered bearers of bad luck. Unlike other missionaries he tried, whenever possible, to maintain a healthy lifestyle: schedule of day, cleaning, suitable clothing, ordered eating, use of dishes. This behavior, along with his strength, improved his stamina.

In June 1941, while the Japanese planned to occupy Burma, Bl. Clement was interned by the British army in Kalaw with twelve other Italian missionaries because they belonged to an enemy nation. In January 1942, the Japanese army invaded Burma and in late April they freed the Italian missionaries held in Kalaw. The Mong Lin mission was intact but almost occupied by the Japanese army. Bl. Clement reopened the orphanage and undertook work as a woodcutter for the soldiers, together with his boys.

In 1945, the war ended and in 1948 Burma got its independence, followed by the beginning of separatist guerrillas which involved ethnic groups of the area (in the years 1950-1955 five brethren of PIME were murdered: Pietro Galastri, Bl. Mario Vergara,  St. Alfredo Cremonesi, Pietro Manghisi, Eliodoro Farronato). In the first 31 years of his mission Bl. Clement was able to turn Mong Lin into a town with about 4,000 baptized people.

He died on June 15, 1988, in Mong Ping, in the Diocese of Kengtung, on the border with China and Laos. He was immediately invoked as “protector of children” because of his devotion to the orphaned children of his mission. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on June 26, 2011.

Bl. Clement’s inspiring letters have been preserved in the book Clement Vismara: Apostle of the Little Ones. The children’s book ”The Man Who Never Grew Old” is a tribute to Bl. Clement.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021


Today we mark the 76th anniversary of the liberation  of  Auschwitz (which I visited in 1998), yet more dreadful news tells us that terror goes on in our world today.

Last week I did a Blog on an Ethiopian woman who was killed in Italy.  This week news of a massacre in a Church in Ethiopia.  It pains me, especially as I have come to know these people as gentle and very caring of others and with a great sense of humor.  Also we have a- now young man- on Shaw, who was adopted from Ethiopia 14 years ago.

The situation in northern Ethiopia is most alarming!  Communication is very precarious and for almost three weeks the Tigray region has been totally isolated from the rest of the world.

Then over the weekend came the news that around 1,000 people - including priests and other church leaders - have been killed in a series of attacks in Ethiopia culminating in a massacre at a church where the Ark of the Covenant is believed to be held.

Following reports that 750 people were killed in a raid on the Orthodox Maryam Tsiyon Church in Aksum, thought to contain the Ark of the Covenant, an anonymous source from inside the country spoke to Aid to the Church in Need

The attack was the latest in a long line of fatal assaults against innocent people, as part of the ongoing conflict in the Tigray region of the country.    Christianity has a long and venerable history in Ethiopia. The first community of Christians had just been established in Jerusalem, when, according to Acts 8:26-40, the Apostle Philip was sent to witness to “a eunuch of Great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians.” 

In the 4th Century, Christianity was proclaimed the official faith of the Ethiopian Aksumite Kingdom and it became the first nation in the world to use the image of the cross on its coinage.  

We can only pray that there be a cessation of killing and peace in so many parts of the world.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021



We did the Blog  Feb  2020 on Bl Alfredo Cremonesi  (d.1953), but it is interesting to note that this missionary order has no fewer than 10 either canonized or up for canonization (includes already one saint and  five  blesseds.) As we have settled into "ordinary time", I want to present a few of the men who stand out in this order.

PIME (The Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) was born in 1850 from a desire to help the poor, and the need to witness God’s love to those who have not yet heard the Word of God.

VENERABLE BISHOP ANGELO RAMAZZOTTI, along with Pope Pius IX started the first Italian Missionary Seminary in 1850. Eventually, in 1947, PIME was invited to the United States by Archbishop Cardinal Mooney and eventually settled in the Archdiocese of Detroit.  

Born in 1800 in Milan,  he studied in Pavia where he obtained a doctorate in both canon law and civil law on 10 August 1823. He practiced law for three years before entering the seminary.

He became well known across Venice for his love of the people and for his careful attention and consideration of the social and pastoral issues that faced the archdiocese. He brought to Venice his sense of calmness and resolve in tending to the social needs of the poor and to all people in general as a means of rekindling the Christian virtues in Venice.

He was elevated to cardinal on 27 September 1861 by Pope Pius IX, who was unaware that the bishop had died three days earlier.


Monday, January 25, 2021



This morning, the feast of the Conversion of  St. Paul, we had a visiting priest, who was ordained in our Archdiocese a few years ago.  He has come several times for  visits and retreats.  The theme of his homily reminded me of words from Pope Francis yesterday:

The history of our life has two rhythms: one, measurable, made of hours, days, years; the other, composed of the seasons of our development: birth, childhood, adolescence, maturity, old age, death. Every period, every phase has its own value, and can be a privileged moment of encounter with the Lord. Faith helps us to discover the spiritual significance of these periods: each one of them contains a particular call of the Lord, to which we can offer a positive or negative response. In the Gospel we see how Simon, Andrew, James and John responded: they were mature men; they had their work as fishermen, they had their family life.... Yet, when Jesus passed and called to them, “immediately they left their nets and followed him” (Mk 1:18).

Dear brothers and sisters, let us stay attentive and not let Jesus pass by without welcoming him. Saint Augustine said “I am afraid of God when he passes by”. Afraid of what? Of not recognizing Him, of not seeing Him, not welcoming Him.

May the Virgin Mary help us to live each day, each moment as the time of salvation, in which the Lord passes and calls us to follow him, every second of our life. And may she help us to convert from the mentality of the world, that of worldly reveries which are fireworks, to that of love and service.

(Painting:  James B. Janknegt)

Saturday, January 23, 2021




Recently, I came across a Ukrainian artist who is a master of painting on glass. Born in Lviv in 1963 OKSANA ROMANIV-TRISKA graduated from Lviv College of Applied Arts IN 1982. From 1984 till 1989 she studied at Vilnius Academy of Arts in the studio of Professor A. Stoshkus.  Her personal exhibitions were held at the Ukrainian Free University in Munich (1993), the Museum of Ethnography in Lviv (1994), as well as in Berchtesgaden, Bad Tölz, Bad Vizzey, Freilassing, Munich (all - in Germany), Kufstein ( Austria).


Painting on glass by Oksana represents an interesting approach to this ancient method – “behind the other side of glass”-  inspired by the examples of Ukrainian icon-painting of the 14th-18th centuries. She continues and develops this special art in a very individual way, exploring the folk icon on the glass of the second half of the 18th-19th centuries.Traditional Ukrainian style of painting on glass in reverse where paints are on the opposite side of the glass.

Interesting to note her style is not set, as seen in the three Madonnas and Child, yet her use of color is always bold and striking, drawing us in, as if to let us know there is more than meets the eye.


Wednesday, January 20, 2021



Message  to President Joseph Biden  from Pope Francis

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
President of the United States of America
The White House
Washington, DC

On the occasion of your inauguration as the forty-sixth President of the United States of America, I extend cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office. Under your leadership, may the American people continue to draw strength from the lofty political, ethical and religious values that have inspired the nation since its founding. At a time when the grave crises facing our human family call for farsighted and united responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by a concern for building a society marked by authentic justice and freedom, together with unfailing respect for the rights and dignity of every person, especially the poor, the vulnerable and those who have no voice. I likewise ask God, the source of all wisdom and truth, to guide your efforts to foster understanding, reconciliation and peace within the United States and among the nations of the world in order to advance the universal common good. With these sentiments, I willingly invoke upon you and your family and the beloved American people an abundance of blessing.

                                                                                                FRANCISCUS PP

Tuesday, January 19, 2021


One of the saddest stories I have read in the on-going pandemic, which has caused our world enough grief, is the senseless death of an Ethiopian migrant who became a symbol of integration in Italy by building a thriving cheese business in the Alpine countryside.  She was brutally  killed on her  goat farm in the Valle dei Mocheni of Italy on December 29, 2020.

A Ghanaian employee on the farm in northern Italy confessed to killing 42-year-old AGITU IDEO GUDETA  with a hammer in a dispute over an unpaid salary.  .

Agitu who fled Ethiopia in 2010  was seen as a shining migrant success story at a time of rising hostility towards immigrants in Italy. She had escaped from Addis Ababa after angering local authorities by taking part in protests against government 'land-grabbing'.  She had been a university student in Italy, where she studied sociology, so was already fluent in the language.

Her goats were the rare Pezzata Mochena, the ancient piebald race of the high Alpine region near the Austrian border. They come in all goat-colors, but mostly streaked and patched with black or warm red-brown. In 2010, when she bought 15, they were almost extinct; within a decade she had 180, and knew the names and characters of every one of them.


“In Ethiopia I had worked on some projects with nomadic desert shepherds and learned how to raise goats. I thought that with all these pastures it would not be difficult to make good milk.”

She was renowned for making goat's cheese and beauty products on her farm La Capra Felice - the Happy Goat - which was built on previously abandoned land.

On reaching Italy, she was able to use the common land which lay in waste in the northern mountains to build her new enterprise.  The cheeses produced by Capra Felice received several awards over the years, including an award received in 2015 by Cheese, the annual international cheese fair organized by Slow Food.

 'I created my space and made myself known, there was no resistance to me,' she told Reuters in a 2018 interview.

However, the same year she revealed that she had received racial threats, and earlier in 2020 a man was jailed for nine months for injuring her. 

Agitu employed a fellow migrant to help out at her business and was looking to hire at least two more foreigners.  Italians struggled to keep up with the grueling work day, she said, with milking starting at 5 A.M. followed by long hikes through the mountain pastures to tend the goats.  

  was known to be one of the most successful women entrepreneurs in Italy. Friends grieved at candlelit processions as a picture emerged of a remarkable woman who overcame considerable odds to find happiness in Europe. While she has been praised her as a model of integration in Italy, her courage, determination and love of her animals should inspire, not only immigrants, but all, to make room in our lives for those less fortunate.

The Piebald Mochena goat is originally from Valle dei Mocheni, a valley in eastern Trentino in northern Italy inhabited since the end of the 14th century by a population with Bavarian origins. The local goat breed was described as having the current characteristics in the first half of the 20th century. I t is a good sized goat that typically has hooves slightly larger than other breeds. The horns, almost always present, are tapered and sword-like. In most Mochena goats, the coats are of an uneven piebald or streaked pattern, with a black and white striped pattern or red and white pattern both being rather common. The length of the coat varies, with most goats having long wool. Small cheeses of pure goat’s milk or of goat’s milk mixed with cow’s milk are produced from this breed.

A smoked sausage called Kaminwurtz is produced using 60% meat from the Piebald Mochena goat and 40% pork. In 2005, this breed came very close to being lost. Thanks to the Province of Trento, some individual goats were recovered. From these, new Mochena goats could be bred.

The Piebald Mochena Goat Association was born in 2009 to promote and maintain the survival of the breed. Today, there are more than 10 breeders with 300 goats registered. The Piebald Mochena Goat Association, a non-profit organization, is responsible for bringing them all together to the pastures in the summer.


While, in winter, the association redistributes the goats to the various farmers situated from Rovereto to Trento. In Bedollo in autumn, there is a festival that centers on the Mochena goats. During the event, the best examples of the breed are exhibited in various categories, and the best goats are awarded prizes. Counting also the small number of breeders outside of the Association, about one hundred excellent examples of the breed are consistently presented. The main reason this breed is at risk of extinction is the fact that the Piebald Mochena has only an average milk production, less than many other breeds.

                                                               (From Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity)

Monday, January 18, 2021



The theme of the 2021 Week of Prayer for CHRISTIAN UNITY is “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit“ (John 15:5-9), and the biblical text is John 15:1-17.

“Today is an important day: the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins,” Pope Francis said on January 17.

“This year, the theme refers to Jesus’s counsel: ‘Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit.’.

In these days, let us pray together so that Jesus’s desire might be accomplished—that all may be one: unity, that is always superior to conflict.”

In 1964, the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council issued its Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio), and in 1995, St. John Paul II issued Ut Unum Sint, an encyclical letter on commitment to ecumenism. In a 2007 doctrinal note, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith taught that

ecumenism does not have only an institutional dimension aimed at “making the partial communion existing between Christians grow towards full communion in truth and charity.” It is also the task of every member of the faithful, above all by means of prayer, penance, study and cooperation.

Everywhere and always, each Catholic has the right and the duty to give the witness and the full proclamation of his faith. With non-Catholic Christians, Catholics must enter into a respectful dialogue of charity and truth, a dialogue which is not only an exchange of ideas, but also of gifts, in order that the fullness of the means of salvation can be offered to one’s partners in dialogue. In this way, they are led to an ever deeper conversion to Christ.

Saturday, January 16, 2021



Recently, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington D.C. noted how in that day’s Gospel reading, “the Lord casts out evil spirits, and we often, as we look at the world around us, in particular during these past several days here in our nation, we need the Lord to cast out the spirit of evil, hatred, division, bigotry, racism (and) inequity.”  I quote him directly, as he says it so well!

“But equally destructive, if not even more destructive than the virus, is the spirit of division that is so present in our society and manifested itself in horrible ways last week…

We have lots of evil spirits that somehow are destroying the harmony of the nation, making people of different races and cultures and languages and religions afraid of one another.” We need the Lord to cast out the demon of division in our nation.”

“We need the Lord to send his healing into our nation, so that we can see ourselves as one people, united in our one government under the one flag that is a symbol of the unity and preciousness of our democracy."

“Just like Jesus did in his own day we need to be healed of our illnesses and have the spirit of hatred and division cast out. Amen.”


Friday, January 15, 2021



As we await transition in government of our country, many are in fear of what may play out.  For sure, many have forgotten the word balance, which is so primary in the Rule of St. Benedict. And while many are denied the Eucharist due to the on-going crises caused by the pandemic, we must not forget the value of the Body of Christ given to us in the Eucharist. Christ’s presence in the Eucharist heals wounds and transforms bitter negativity into the joy of Lord. 

 Many are fearful still of attending Sunday Mass, but find consolation in daily Mass where there are few in attendance. 


The Holy Father has said: “The Eucharist brings us the Father’s faithful love, which heals our sense of being orphans. It gives us Jesus’ love, which transformed a tomb from an end to a beginning, and in the same way can transform our lives. It fills our hearts with the consoling love of the Holy Spirit, who never leaves us alone and always heals our wounds.

In this year dedicated to the Eucharist in our Archdiocese, I find it no coincidence, that while so many cannot partake of Christ’s Body, many who can, are offering it for those still suffering denial.

“He comes as Bread broken in order to break open the shells of our selfishness. He gives of himself in order to teach us that only by opening our hearts can we be set free from our interior barriers, from the paralysis of the heart.”

“It is especially urgent now to take care of those who hunger for food and for dignity, of those without work and those who struggle to carry on. And this we must do in a real way, as real as the Bread that Jesus gives us.”

“This is the strength of the Eucharist, which transforms us into bringers of God, bringers of joy, not negativity,” Pope Francis said.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021



SERVANT of GOD  PAUL MURPHY, an architect from Arizona,  was a lay member of Miles Jesu * (Soldier of Jesus). Those who knew him, say he practiced Christian virtues in a heroic way.

Friends say he is deserving of sainthood because of his chastity, his consistency in following God’s will, and his commitment to consecrated life, which only increased after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Two of his friends, Jacinto and Frances Herrera, former Miles Jesu members, said he was an unassuming, down-to-earth man who had a deep love of God and the Virgin Mary..

“He didn’t seem overly pious. He was not a fanatic but you knew there was something different about him by the way he acted. You knew you were in the presence of God whenever you were with him. That’s the presence he radiated. He could preach without saying anything to you,” Frances Herrera said.

Testimonies collected in a 59-page booklet on Paul’s life echo similar sentiments about the young  man who died a virgin at age 36.

Paul Murphy, the youngest of nine boys, was raised in Chicago in a strong Catholic household. His father attended Mass daily, and two of his brothers went on to become priests.

In 1962, he graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in architecture and joined the U.S. Navy. Following his service in the Navy, Lt. Murphy came to Phoenix at the invitation of his brother in 1965 to make his Cursillo, a three-day retreat on Christianity.

After the retreat, Father Alphonsus Maria Duran, who founded Miles Jesu, sensed something special in Paul.  Paul made it clear he was not called to the priesthood.

Father Duran told Paul he was meant to be an architect, as Paul had always dreamed he would be, but he must dedicate himself to God completely and absolutely through vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Those who knew him said Father Duran’s guidance and the Cursillo changed his life. Instead of returning to Chicago to marry his fiancée, he kindly broke off the engagement, and embraced consecrated life with Miles Jesu, his true vocation.

Friends say he was always upbeat and the life of the party and he had a great sense of humor, but he was known for his humility.  Despite a lucrative career, Paul dressed simply, drove an old blue car, never complained and dedicated himself completely, financially and personally, to Miles Jesu and the Cursillo movement..

“Paul offers us an example of evangelization of society from within by the laity living their faith values at work, in work and with co-workers as well as putting time and talents at the service of the Gospel, said Father Christopher Foeckler, a 25-year priest with Miles Jesu.

Nearly nine years after joining Miles Jesu, which has 30 communities around the world, Paul collapsed while attending an architect’s meeting in Tucson.

Doctors determined he had an inoperable brain tumor and warned the religious community that the pressure on his brain would cause him to be impatient and have a personality change. While his character did change, he disproved the doctors and became more patient and more dedicated to prayer than before. The tumor caused sporadic and uncontrollable seizures.

Always faithful to his life of prayer, he insisted on going to morning prayers, in spite of intense pain and shakiness, and collapsed in the chapel before the Blessed Sacrament as he began the last part of his terminal illness in a coma.
Paul died Feb. 10, 1976, on the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, after being comatose for six weeks.

Father Duran  described Paul’s life:  

The most important thing I know about him is that he was dedicated, always charitable, always loving, never put anyone down, faithful to God in every aspect of his life.
 His friend Jacinto Herrera said:He always said God comes first. That’s the way he died, too. You never saw him with a sad face, always with a smile, even in his coma.

His funeral Mass was con-celebrated by then-bishop of Phoenix, Edward McCarthy and 14 other priests and deacons, including Paul’s two brothers.

* Miles Jesu is a Catholic institute of consecrated life founded in 1964, in Phoenix, Arizona, whose membership comprises lay people and clerics who take religious vows and in addition, since it is structured as an ecclesial family of consecrated life. Miles Jesu is thus a new form of consecrated life in the Church which has been approved by the Holy See in accordance with canon 605 of the Code of Canon Law, which reserves to the Holy See approval of forms of consecrated life other than the traditional forms.


Thursday, January 7, 2021



Another religious artist, not known in our country, was  ST. ALBERT ADAM CHMIELOWSKI who was  born in 1845, near Kraków as the eldest of four children in a wealthy family.

Then, Poland formally didn’t exist: The once-mighty Polish state was partitioned between Austria, Prussia and Russia. Yet the Polish people refused to accept this, and many rebelled against the oppressors. One such upheaval was the January Insurrection of 1863-1864, directed against the Russian Empire, in which the Poles fought bravely yet were brutally suppressed.

Not yet 18, Adam took part. During one battle, a Russian grenade killed Adam’s horse and badly damaged his leg, which was amputated. Adam, however, didn’t take pity on himself; he stoically taught himself to function with a wooden limb and offered up the dismemberment to God for the cause of Polish independence.

After the uprising, Adam decided to pursue a career in painting and was accepted at the prestigious Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he studied with many famous Polish painters. Upon returning to Poland, Adam worked as a painter 1870-1885. In total, he produced 61 paintings. He quickly became one of the most feted Polish artists, living briefly in Warsaw and then in artsy, intellectual Krakow. Adam’s social circle consisted of the best-known Polish artists, actors and writers.

Yet Adam Chmielowski wasn’t happy with this glitzy life of celebrity.  He knew that he needed to grow closer to God. Adam briefly thought of becoming a Jesuit, but his enthusiasm fizzled after entering the novitiate. He kept asking God what he wanted of him.

Adam returned to Kraków and became a Secular Franciscan. In 1888, when he founded the Brothers of the Third Order of Saint Francis, Servants to the Poor, he took the name Albert. They worked primarily with the homeless, depending completely on alms while serving the needy regardless of age, religion, or politics. A community of Albertine sisters was established later. To finance the improvements, Brother Albert auctioned off his paintings to improve the material conditions. He asked the poor to work (making exceptions for the elderly and those with disabilities), teaching them practical skills, and lectured on the Catechism and the Gospels.

 Brother Albert worked to help as many poor persons as possible until his death in 1916, amidst World War I. During that bloody conflict, he sent Albertine Brothers and Sisters to the trenches to aid war invalids. After his death, thousands of Kracovians visited his tomb, convinced that he died a saint.

 Pope John Paul II beatified Albert in 1983, and canonized him six years later. His Liturgical Feast Day is June 17.

Reflecting on his own priestly vocation, Pope John Paul II wrote in 1996 that Brother Albert had played a role in its formation “because I found in him a real spiritual support and example in leaving behind the world of art, literature, and the theater, and in making the radical choice of a vocation to the priesthood” (Gift and Mystery: On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination). As a young priest, Karol Wojtyla repaid his debt of gratitude by writing “The Brother of Our God”, a play about Brother Albert’s life.

(Top painting- Leon Jan Wyczolkowski

            St. Margaret Mary  with Christ  by St. Adam

                        “Ecce Homo"  by St. Adam)

Monday, January 4, 2021



Sometimes in reading Magnificat, I get ideas for this Blog. I like doing research on saints and holy people I do not yet know. I have made some great “friends” this way.

Last month’s issue of this lovely magazine featured artists who were saints.  One I had never heard of  is  BL CLAUDIO GRANZOTTO,  born in 19 , who was the youngest of nine children. His parents were peasants who required his help in working in the fields in order for them to survive and this increased all the more after the death of his father in 1909. His poor parents were devout, instilling in their children  a great love of their faith. With  the outbreak of World War I he was drafted into the Italian armed forces in 1915 where he served until 1918 when the war concluded.

 Once he was discharged from service he was able to begin his studies, developing his talents as an artist with a passion for sculpture. He enrolled in the Art Academy  in Venice and graduated there with honors in 1929. One of the major themes of his works was religious art, but he soon felt a call to the life after meeting the Franciscan priest Amadio Oliviero in 1932 (the two became good friends).  He entered the Order of Friars Minor  in 1933.

 In his letter of recommendation his pastor wrote to the friars that "the order is receiving not only an artist but a saint". He was given the religious name of "Claudio"  making his religious vows in 1936 and being sent to the monastery of San Francesco in Vittorio Venice. 

Bl. Claudio chose not to pursue ordination and lived his life as a professed religious at the Franciscan monastery of Santa Maria della Pieve in Padua. He dedicated his life to  living the Gospel, serving the poor and his art through which he hoped to express his faith.

Most of his works are depictions of Jesus Christ and the saints. One example of it can be found in the parish church of his hometown which is a sculpted figure of the Devil which supports the baptismal font of the parish. The pastor commissioned this particular work. Another version was later sculpted for the ancient shrine of the Madonna in the care of the Franciscan friars on the island of Barbana.

 He would often spend whole nights in silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament,  which had a great devotion for. 

  Santa Lucia  with her eyes gouged out

In 1945 he developed a brain tumor, embracing the sufferings he endured from this disorder as an imitation of the Passion of Christ.  He died on the Feast of the Assumption on 15 August 1947. His remains were buried in Chiampo.

The sudden and inexplicable healing of a child was declared as the miracle attributed to his intercession. His liturgical feast is September 2 instead of the date of his death as is the norm.         


                                                               St. Bernadette in ecstasy