Saint Catherine of Siena


Saint Catherine of Siena

Catherine, the daughter of a humble Christian tradesman, was raised up to be the guide and guardian of the Church in one of the darkest periods of its history, the fourteenth century.

As a child, prayer was her delight.

She would say the Hail Mary on each step as she mounted the stairs, and was granted in reward a vision of Christ in glory.

And He revealed to her the secrets of Christian perfection.

When only seven years old she made a vow of virginity, afterwards enduring bitter persecution for refusing to marry.

Her parents persisted long in their refusal to allow her to enter religious life, her only ambition; but she made a kind of spiritual and penitential convent cell in her heart’s depths, and there she found her Beloved and conversed with Him each day.

At the age of fifteen she was permitted to enter the Third Order of Saint Dominic, but continued to reside in her father’s house, where she united a life of active charity to the prayer of a contemplative Saint.

Our Lord bestowed on her His Heart in exchange for her own, gave her Communion with His own hands, and imprinted on her body the marks of His wounds.

From this obscure home the seraphic virgin was taken by Providence to defend the Church’s cause. Her life became a continuing miracle.

Armed with Papal authority and accompanied by three confessors, she traveled through Italy, reducing rebellious cities to the obedience of the Holy See, and winning hardened souls to God.

In the sight of virtually the whole world she sought out Gregory XI at Avignon, brought him back to Rome, and by her letters to the kings and queens of Europe made good the Papal cause.

She was the counselor of Urban VI, and sternly rebuked the disloyal cardinals who took part in electing an antipope.

Long had the holy virgin foretold the terrible schism which began before she died. Day and night she wept and prayed for unity and peace.

But in spirit she saw the entire city of Rome full of demons, who were tempting the people to revolt and even to slay the Vicar of Christ.

With intense earnestness Saint Catherine begged Our Lord to prevent this enormous crime.

Their seditious temper was subdued by her prayers, but they vented their rage by scourging the Saint herself, who gladly endured all for God and His Church.

She died in Rome in 1380, at the age of thirty-three.

(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); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 5)



“When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.

If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.

I am not speaking of all of you.

I know those whom I have chosen.

But so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.’

From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”” -John 13:16-20.


Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo


Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo

Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo was born in 1786 at Bra in Piedmont, Italy.

As a secular priest in Turin, he showed a special concern for the sick poor, receiving them into a small house.

This Little House of Divine Providence, thePiccola Casa, as he called it, was the beginning of an entire city of more than 7,000 poor persons, orphans, sick and lame, retarded, penitents, served by several religious Orders.

These were distinguished by their names and their religious habits, each group being dedicated to a specific work they were assigned to do.

And of this Piccola Casa, as it is still called, one can say what Saint Gregory Nazienzen said in his funeral eulogy of his friend Saint Basil’s large hospital: Go a little way outside the city and se, in this new city storehouses of piety, the common treasure of the owners, where a surplus of wealth has been laid up, where sickness is borne with patience, misfortune is considered happiness, and compassion is efficaciously practiced.

For this ever more pressing work, the Saint founded fourteen religious communities which today are still very widespread, especially in Italy.

Among them were some which were purely contemplative; the life of prayer its members led was destined to draw down upon the others the blessing of heaven, thus completing by a spiritual work of mercy the corporal works exercised there.

These religious prayed in particular for those who have the greatest need of assistance, the dying and the deceased.

The Saint trusted totally in the infinite kindness of God, and as one of his friends said, he had more confidence in God than did the entire city of Turin.

When he was asked about the source of his revenues, he answered, Providence sends me everything.

Confidence in God did not, however, cause him to cross his arms and observe.

He slept only a few hours, often on a chair or bench, and then returned to his daily labor, work and prayer.

But Saint Joseph Benedict was exhausting his strength.

In 1842, the doctors decided that he should go to visit his brother in Chieri.

When he entered the carriage, one of the Sisters cried out in tears: Father, you are sick; what will become of us?

Be at peace, he answered. When I am in heaven, where one can do everything, I will help you more than now I do. I will hold to the cloak of the Mother of God and keep my eyes fixed on you. Do not forget what I, a poor old man, say to you today!

A few days later, on April 30, 1842, death came.

The final word of this great Saint was that of the Psalm: I rejoiced when it was said unto me, Let us go unto the House of the Lord!

Saint Joseph Benedict was canonized by Pope Pius XI, March 19, 1934.

(SOURCE: Le vrai visage des Saints, by W. Schamoni (Desclée De Brouwer: Bruges, 1955).)



Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me,and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.

I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.

And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.

Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.

And I know that his commandment is eternal life.

So what I say, I say as the Father told me.”” -John 12:44-50.


Blessed Luchesio

Confesseur, First Franciscan Tertiary
(† 1241)

Blessed Luchesio

Luchesio was a merchant of Poggibonzi, a city not far from Siena, Italy, who found politics and commerce more interesting than the service of God and the salvation of his soul.

This man had a very dear wife by the name of Bona Dona, and he possessed a prosperous business. But neither the joys of his home life nor the success of his commerce had satisfied his ambition, since he felt destined for a brilliant public life, and desired to enter into the society of the rich.

To attain that goal, he was striving to increase his receipts by unjust practices and rash speculations.

To make matters worse, he joined the fratricidal combats between the city-states which were wreaking havoc and ruin on the Italian peninsula.

Saint Francis of Assisi was traveling about in Toscany, however, announcing the Word of God and calling souls to penance. Sometime around 1221 he came to Poggibonzi, and the whole population turned out to hear him, including the merchant Luchesio.

The gift to touch his heart was given Saint Francis, with the grace of God.

How fail to be touched, indeed, hearing the Saint preach on “that Being without beginning or end, immutable and inexpressible, ineffable, incomprehensible, beyond the grasp of creatures, Who is blessed, praised, glorious, exalted, sublime, most-high, lovable, delectable, and forever worthy above all else, of being sought and desired!

And after his sermon Francis saw Luchesio come to introduce himself, asking what he should do to gain Heaven.

Saint Francis at that moment had a revelation from on High.

By it he understood that Luchesio was to be the one who first of all would adopt the Rule of the third Order, which for some time he had been intending to initiate.

And he went to visit Luchesio at his home and made known his plans to him and his wife: “For quite some time I have been thinking of establishing a Third Order, by means of which people living in the world, and in particular those who are married ,will be enabled to serve God more perfectly. I think you could do no better work than to inaugurate it.Immediately Luchesio and Bona Dona accepted the proposition.

Soon afterward, the Saint received them with joy and gave them habits made of a plain cloth, with a cord for cincture.

He also gave them the rules which later were approved by Pope Nicolas IV, and of which it has been said that justice and democracy in Italy had their source in the little notebook where the Saint wrote down the Rule of the Third Order.

The happy new tertiaries resolved to give all their fortune to the poor, reserving for themselves only their house and a garden which they could maintain without hired help.

After this, Luchesio completely abandoned politics and business to concern himself only with his salvation and the works of mercy.

This speculator well-known as such to his co-citizens, this man formerly so harsh towards others and avid for profit, became the just and charitable Christian of that city, and his house, which was the place of reunion for the first Fraternity, also became known as”The Inn for the Poor.

He not only received the poor into his house, he went out to search for the sick in swampy regions infected with malaria, and became their Providence also in their abandonment.

He would go out with a little donkey to procure, or beg if necessary, what was needed for their convalescence.

In this Bona Dona seconded him with all her strength.

He was a great penitent, and had the gift of mental prayer extending even to ecstasy; yet it was charity which remains his most memorable quality.

He and his beloved spouse fell ill on the same day; declining rapidly, Luchesio sent for their Franciscan chaplain.

Having received from the priest the Last Sacraments, he heard that Bona Dona was in agony.

He found the strength to go to her and take her hands in his, encouraging her to her very last breath.

Carried back to his bed, he gave up his blessed soul to God, without further delay.

The only glory that Luchesio could not evade was that of having been the first member of the Third Order of Saint Francis which has saved so many souls: he stands at the head of the providential offshoot planted at Poggiabonsi. In the 13th century already, fourteen beatified or canonized tertiaries are counted.

In 1694 the Friars Minor obtained from Pope Innocent XII permission to celebrate a feast day in honor of Blessed Luchesio, on the 28thof April.

He was chosen by his native city as its patron, and his feast day is one of obligation there.

(SOURCE: Mgr Paul Guérin, Les Petits Bollandistes, Vol. V, p. 65. Revue du Tiers-Ordre et de la Terre-Sainte, 1902, “Le bienheureux Luchesio, p. 150-154; 1911, p. 443. R.P. Damase Danveau, O.F.M., À la suite de Saint François: le Tiers-Ordre. Éditions o.f.m. de Paris, 1941; p. 44, 64.)


Saint Zita

(† 1278)

Saint Zita

Saint Zita for forty-eight years was employed in the service of a citizen of Lucca, Italy.

During this time she rose each morning to hear Mass while all in the household were asleep, and then toiled incessantly until night came, doing the work of others as well as her own.

Once Zita, absorbed in prayer, remained in church past the usual hour of her bread-making.

She hastened home, reproaching herself with neglect of duty, but found the bread made and ready for the oven.

She did not doubt that her mistress or one of her servants had kneaded it, and going to them, thanked them.

They were astonished, for no human being had made the bread; Angels had made it during her prayer.

For years her master and mistress treated her as a mere drudge, while her fellow-servants, resenting her diligence as a reproach to themselves, insulted and struck her.

Saint Zita offered these sufferings with those of Christ her Lord, never changing the sweet tone of her voice or forgetting her gentle and quiet ways.

At length her employer, seeing the success which attended her undertakings, gave her charge of his children and the household.

She dreaded this dignity more than the worst humiliation, but scrupulously fulfilled her trust.

By her holy economy her master’s goods were multiplied, while the poor were fed at his door.

Gradually her unfailing patience conquered the jealousy of her fellow-servants, and she became their advocate with their hot-tempered master, who dared not give way to his anger before Zita.

In the end her prayer and toil sanctified the entire house, and drew down upon it the blessings of Heaven.

She died in 1278, and at the moment of her death, a bright star appearing above the attic where she slept showed that she had gained eternal rest.

(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).)



“Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.

But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.

But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”

Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep.

All who came (before me) are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.

I am the gate.

Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.

A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”” -John 10:1-10.