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Saint John Bosco

Saint John Bosco accomplished what many people considered an impossibility; he walked through the streets of Turin, Italy, looking for the dirtiest, roughest urchins he could find, then made good men of them.

His extraordinary success can be summed up in the words of his patron Saint, Francis de Sales: The measure of his love was that he loved without measure.

John’s knowledge of poverty was firsthand. He was born in 1815 in the village of Becchi in the Piedmont district of northern Italy, and reared on his parents’ small farm.

When his father died, Margaret Bosco and her three sons found it harder than ever to support themselves, and while John was still a small boy he had to join his brothers in the farm work.

Although his life was hard, he was a happy, imaginative child. Even as a boy, John found innocent fun compatible with religion.

To amuse his friends he learned how to juggle and walk a tightrope; but he would entertain them only on condition that each performance begin and end with a prayer.

As he grew older, John began to think of becoming a priest, but poverty and lack of education made this seem impossible. A kindly priest recognized his intelligence, however, and gave him his first encouragement, teaching him to read and write.

By taking odd jobs in the village, and through the help of his mother and some charitable neighbors, John managed to get through school and find admittance to the diocesan seminary of nearby Turin.

As a seminarian he devoted his spare time to looking after the ragamuffins who roamed the slums of the city.

Every Sunday he taught them catechism, supervised their games and entertained them with stories and tricks; before long his kindness had won their confidence, and his Sunday School became a ritual with them.

After his ordination in 1841, he became assistant to the chaplain of an orphanage at Valocco, on the outskirts of Turin.

This position was short-lived, for when he insisted that his Sunday-school boys be allowed to play on the orphanage grounds, they were turned away, and he resigned.

He began looking for a permanent home for them, but no decent neighborhood would accept the noisy crowd.

At last, in a rather tumbledown section of the city, where no one was likely to protest, the first oratory was established and named for Saint Francis de Sales.

At first the boys attended school elsewhere, but as more teachers volunteered their time, classes were held at the house.

Enrollment increased so rapidly that by 1849 there were three oratories in various places in the city.

For a long time Don Bosco had considered founding an Order to carry on his work, and this idea was supported by a notoriously anticlerical cabinet minister named Rattazzi.

Rattazzi had seen the results of his work, and although an Italian law forbade the founding of religious communities at that time, he promised government support.

The founder-priest went to Rome in 1858 and, at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, drew up a Rule for his community, the Society of Saint Francis de Sales (Salesians).

Four years later he founded an Order for women, the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians, to care for abandoned girls.

Finally, to supplement the work of both congregations, he organized an association of lay people interested in aiding their work.

Exhausted from touring Europe to raise funds for a new church in Rome, Don Bosco died on January 31, 1888.

He was canonized in 1934 by Pope Pius XI. The work of John Bosco continues today in over a thousand Salesian oratories throughout the world.

No modern Saint has captured the heart of the world more rapidly than this smiling peasant-priest from Turin, who believed that to give complete trust and love is the most effective way to nourish virtue in others.

(SOURCE: Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year. (Reprint of the work of John Gilmary Shea, with Appendix including recently canonized Saints) (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1955. Third Edition: Tan Books and Publishers: Rockford, Ill., 1995).)



“Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.

Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.

And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”

He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it?

It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.

But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.

Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.” -Mark 4:26-34.



(c. 634-680)

St. Bathildes was an Englishwoman, who was carried over whilst yet young into France, and there sold for a slave, at a very low price, to Erkenwald, mayor of the palace under King Clovis II.

When she grew up, her master was so much taken with her prudence and virtue that he placed her in charge of his household.

The renown of her virtues spread through all France, and King Clovis II. took her for his royal consort.

This unexpected elevation produced no alteration in a heart perfectly grounded in humility and the other virtues; she seemed to become even more humble than before.

Her new station furnished her the means of being truly a mother to the poor; the king gave her the sanction of his royal authority for the protection of the Church, the care of the poor, and the furtherance of all religious undertakings.

The death of her husband left her regent of the kingdom. She at once forbade the enslavement of Christians, did all in her power to promote piety, and filled France with hospitals and religious houses.

As soon as her son Clotaire was of an age to govern, she withdrew from the world and entered the convent of Chelles.

Here she seemed entirely to forget her worldly dignity, and was to be distinguished from the rest of the community only by her extreme humility, her obedience to her spiritual superiors, and her devotion to the sick, whom she comforted and served with wonderful charity.

As she neared her end, God visited her with a severe illness, which she bore with Christian patience until, on the 30th of January, 680, she yielded up her soul in devout prayer.

(SOURCE: Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894])



“Jesus said to his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?

For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light.

Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”

He also told them, “Take care what you hear.

The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you.

To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” -Mark 4:21-25.



SAINT GILDAS THE WISE (or Gildas of Rhuys)
(c. 500-570 or 581)

Often called “Badonicus” because he was said to be born in the same year the Saxons were defeated by the Britons in the battle of Mons Badonicus [Mount Badon], Gildas was born in the lower valley of the Clyde in central Scotland into the ruling family of a small kingdom centred around Dumbarton.

As we know few facts about this battle, the date of Gildas’ birth can only tentatively be placed to the decades either side of the beginning of the Sixth Century.

Bede indirectly suggests the year 493 for this event.

It is recorded that Gildas’ father was called Caw Cawlwyd and his sainted brothers Caffo and Maeliog.

Of his mother there is no information. A strongly held tradition in North Wales gives the brothers’ names as Huail and Celyn (ap Caw).

The brothers were said to have refused to acknowledge King Arthur and Huail was executed in Ruthin where his execution stone is still preserved in the town square.

Celyn escaped this punishment by standing guard over the Copper Mountain in Anglesey from his base at Garth Celyn in Gwynedd.

As a young man he was sent from his Clydeside home to the great monastery of Llanilltud Fawr at Llantwit Major, in South Wales, where he, with such luminaries as Saint Sampson and Saint Paul Aurelian, studied under Saint Illtyd, though he was much younger than they.

After Gildas completed his studies under Saint Illtyd in 525 he travelled to Ireland in the company of Dewi Sant (Saint David) and Saint Cadoc, moving from one monastic centre to another, in order to continue his studies.

While in Ireland he was ordained priest and thereafter returned across the Irish Sea to teach and preach around his native Clydeside.

In due time, Gildas made for Wales to stay with Saint Cadoc at Llancarfan.

From there, he went on pilgrimage to Rome meeting the pope on his arrival there. On his return, Gildas elected to settle on the tiny island of Flat Holm in the Bristol Channel where, around 540, he wrote his treatise “De Exidio et Conquestu Britanniae” [On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain] a thundering denunciation of the British clergy and secular kings. In it he blamed the laxity of the clergy and the secular rulers for the collapse of Romano-British civilisation and in so doing laid the foundation of the great monastic upsurge that was to take place a half-century or so later.

At the same time it is believed that he copied a missal for his friend Cadoc.

Hints in fragments of letters suggest that Gildas also wrote a Rule for monastics that was a little less harsh than that of David’s Rule.

Some four years later, Gildas decided to settle in Armorica (modern day Brittany) and established a hermitage on the island of Horat near the town of Vannes.

In 546 Cadoc followed him across the channel and settled as a hermit near Etel.

Although Gildas settled on an island he did not cut himself of from the world and soon established a monastery and school on the mainland nearby.

Gildas made a further visit to Rome and called on Cadoc on the way. This time he carried a sweet-toned bell as a gift for the pope.

Cadoc asked his friend for the bell but Gildas insisted that it was a gift for Saint Peter’s and carried it on to Rome.

On presenting the gift to the pope the bell would make no sound and so it was brought back to Etel where, upon giving the bell into the hands of Cadoc, it resumed its beautiful chime.

In 560 he returned to Ireland at the invitation of King Ainmeric to reorder the monasteries, restoring discipline and liturgy.

While there he taught in the great School of Armagh and visited the great monasteries of Bangor and Clonard.

For his final years Gildas once again settled in Brittany, founding a monastery at a place which bears his name: Saint Gildas-de-Rhuys in Morbihan, which, according to Peter Abelard who was later abbot there, was not a very salubrious spot.

A holy well bearing his name lies nearby.

The Wise Gildas reposed on 29th January 570 and, according to his wishes, his body was placed in a boat and allowed to drift.

Three months later his incorrupt body was discovered in a nearby creek and he was brought back to the church in Rhuys.

His tomb stands behind the altar of the present church which also contains some other relics.

(SOURCE: Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain)

Below is a picture of his relics and the Cathedral to which it is interred….





“On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea.

A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down.

And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land.

And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, Hear this! A sower went out to sow.

And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.

And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain.

And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit.

It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables.

He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you.

But to those outside everything comes in parables,so that ‘they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.'”

Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables?

The sower sows the word.

These are the ones on the path where the word is sown.

As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them.

And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy.

But they have no root; they last only for a time.

Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Those sown among thorns are another sort.

They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit.

But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” -Mark 4:1-20.



“The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house.

Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him.

A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers (and your sisters) are outside asking for you.”

But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and (my) brothers?”

And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.

(For) whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” -Mark 3:31-35.



Saint Thomas Aquinas
Doctor of the Church

The great Saint Thomas was born of noble parents at Aquino near Naples in Italy, in 1225; his century was replete with great names and Christian works, yet he dominates it by the power of his thought and the perfection of his works.

In his childhood he was the provider for the poor of the neighborhood during a famine; his father, meeting him in a corridor with the food he had succeeded in taking from the kitchen, asked him what he had under his cloak; he opened it and fresh roses fell on the ground.

The nobleman embraced his son and amid his tears, gave him permission to follow thereafter all inspirations of his charity.

The young student, like the holy man Job, made a pact with his eyes and forbade them to see anything which might favor in his heart any desires for a life of ease.

At the University of Naples he led a retired life of study and prayer, and continued his charities, giving all he had which was superfluous.

He was recognized already by his professors as a genius, but it was Saint Albert the Great who later said of his disciple whom some called the mute ox, that some day the lowing of this ox will resound throughout the entire world.

At the age of seventeen he received the Dominican habit at Naples. His family opposed this choice, and he was set upon by his brothers on his way to Paris.

They attempted in vain to remove his holy habit, but he was taken in custody and obliged to suffer a two years’ captivity in their castle of Rocca Secca.

Neither the caresses of his mother and sisters, nor the threats and stratagems of his brothers, could shake him in his vocation.

His older sister was won over by him and renounced a brilliant marriage to embrace religious life; later she was Abbess of her convent in Capua.

While Saint Thomas was in confinement at Rocca Secca, his brothers endeavored to entrap him into sin, but the attempt only ended in the triumph of his purity.

Snatching from the hearth a burning coal, the Saint drove from his chamber the courtesan whom they had concealed there. Then marking a cross upon the wall, he knelt down to pray.

Immediately, while he was rapt in ecstasy, an Angel girded him with a cord, in token of the gift of perpetual chastity which God had given him.

The pain caused by the girdle was so sharp that Saint Thomas uttered a piercing cry, which brought his guards into the room.

But he never related this grace to anyone save Father Raynald, his confessor, a short time before his death.

Thus originated the Confraternity of the Angelic Warfare, for the preservation of the virtue of chastity.

Having at length escaped, Saint Thomas went to Cologne to study under Blessed Albert the Great, and afterwards was sent with him to Paris, where for several years he taught philosophy and theology.

The Church has ever venerated his numerous writings as a treasure of sacred doctrine; in naming him the Angelic Doctor she has indicated that his science is more divine than human.

The rarest gifts of intellect were combined in him with the most tender piety.

Prayer, he said, had taught him more than study. His singular devotion to the Blessed Sacrament shines forth in the Office and hymns which he composed for the feast of Corpus Christi.

To the words miraculously uttered by a crucifix at Naples, Well hast thou written concerning Me, Thomas.

What shall I give thee as a reward? he replied, Naught save Thyself, O Lord.

Saint Thomas was loved for his unfailing gentleness and his readiness to lend his services or great lights to all who sought them.

He died at Fossa Nuova in 1274, on his way to the General Council of Lyons, to which Pope Gregory X had summoned him.

(SOURCE: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).)



(C. 1470-1540)

St. Angela Merici was born at Desenzano, near Brescia, about 1470. Her parents had died when she was ten and she had gone to live with an uncle.

When her uncle died, she returned to her hometown and began to notice how little education the girls had; so Angela saw her task as the formation of Christian women.

In 1535 she founded the institute of the Ursulines, who were devoted to the education of poor girls as Christians, and to the missions.

It was the first group of women religious to work outside the cloister and the first teaching order of women.

She died in 1540.



“The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan?

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.

And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him.

But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man.

Then he can plunder his house.

Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them.

But whoever blasphemes against the holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”

For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” -Mark 3:22-30.