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.


Our Lady of Good Counsel


Our Lady of Good Counsel

The apparition of Our Lady of Good Counsel is so celebrated, Her picture so well known and so honored in the Church, that it is very fitting to allot a place to this devotion.

The little city of Gennazano, situated on the mountains of the former Sabina province, about ten leagues from Rome, for a thousand years already had honored the Blessed Virgin asOur Lady of Good Counsel.

In the 15thcentury, the church of that city was dilapidated and about to collapse.

A pious woman of advanced age named Petruccia desired to provide for its reconstruction, but the gift of her entire fortune, which she made for this purpose, proved insufficient.

Petruccia foretold that the Blessed Virgin would Herself finish the work.

Then on April 25, 1467, at the hour of Vespers, a celestial harmony was heard in the air, and the crowd saw a brilliant cloud coming down through the air, which came to rest over the altar in the Chapel of Saint Blaise in the Gennazano Church, where the restoration had begun.

At the same time, all the church bells began to ring joyously.

The cloud disappeared, and the marveling crowd saw a picture of Mary holding the Child Jesus, painted on a prepared surface, suspended in the air over the altar near the wall, without any natural support.

It was duly verified that this picture had been miraculously transported from a church of Scutari, a city of Albania.

Providence, wishing to preserve it from profanation by the Turks who were controlling that land, sent it as a reward for the faith of Petruccia and her fellow citizens of Gennazano.

A history of the marvels of all kinds which have been wrought since that time near this miraculous picture, suspended in the air, would require volumes.

Often the picture has been seen to change its expression, the eyes of the Blessed Virgin taking on an appearance of joy or sorrow.

How many illnesses and infirmities have been cured!

How many spiritual graces have been obtained!

Gennazano in Italy is still a venerated pilgrimage site, much frequented by the people of that land, and many pious pilgrims from other nations, when time permits it for them, arrange to visit this blessed sanctuary.

The Sovereign Pontiffs have granted many indulgences to devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel, and the title Mother of Good Counselwas included in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin by Pope Leo XIII.

(SOURCE: Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).)


Lord Shepard 2

“Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd.

A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them.

This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.

I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.

These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.

This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.

No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.

I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.

This command I have received from my Father.”” -John 10:11-18.



Saint Benedict Menni
Priest, O.H.,
Founder of the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Benedict Menni, who is being raised to the altars today, was a faithful follower of Saint John of God and, through his words and deeds, was a Herald of the Gospel of Mercy and a new Prophet of Hospitality.

His origins and his Hospitaller vocation

The city of Milan was his cradle: he was born there on 11 March 1841 and baptized the same day. He was named Angelo Ercole, almost as a portent of the Herculean spirit and strength that was to characterize his whole personality.

He was the fifth of 15 children born to Luigi Menni and Luisa Figini. His warm and hospitable home gave him the support and stimulus he needed to develop his intellectual powers and his personality. God’s call came early on: faithful to his conscience, he gave up a good position in a bank, and with his selfless attitude to the suffering he volunteered to work as a stretcher-bearer to assist the soldiers wounded on the battlefield at Magenta, near Milan.

Attracted by the spirit of dedication and self-denial which he discovered in the Brothers of St John of God, at the age of 19 he applied to enter the Hospitaller Order. He began his Religious life taking the name Benedict, and consecrated himself to God and to the care of the sick. And today we venerate him with the same name: Saint Benedict Menni.

His Hospitaller formation and mission

It was during his nursing and priestly studies that his Religious Hospitaller personality was gradually fashioned, which he placed at the disposal of his Superiors, embracing the cause of helping the most needy members of society, so many of whom were sick.

At that time Spain, the cradle of the Hospitaller Order, was embroiled in political strife, with open hostility to all the Religious Orders, and the work of St John of God was practically dead. It needed a new lease of life, and Benedict Menni was to be the man of providence to bring it about.

He was sent to Spain in 1867, and it was there that he performed his two great works: he restored the Order of St John of God and founded the Congregation of the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Thanks to his magnanimous spirit, his great capabilities and state of mind, he overcame many difficulties and did so much good to help the sick, providing them with comprehensive care.

The Restorer of the Hospitaller Order

Sent to Spain by the Prior General of the Order, Fr Giovanni M. Alfieri, who always supported him, and with the blessing of Pope Visitor and Prior General of the Order Pius IX, even before he left Rome Benedict Menni demonstrated a will of iron and a determined spirit. Only a few months after his arrival in Spain he set up his first children’s hospital in Barcelona (1867), marking the beginning of his extraordinary work of restoration, which he was to carry through over the next 36 years.

From the first moment, thanks to his commitment to his vocation, numerous generous followers rallied around him, and it was through them that he was able to guarantee continuity to his new Hospitaller institutions that were springing up in Spain, Portugal and Mexico, to spread subsequently throughout the New World.

The Founder of the Hospitaller Sisters

When he arrived in Granada (1878), Benedict Menni came in contact with two young women, Maria Josefa Recio and Maria Angtistias Gimenez, who set up a new women’s hospital specifically to provide psychiatric care in 1881.

It was at Ciempozuelos, Madrid, that the Mother House of the “Congregation of the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” was founded, receiving the approval of the Holy See in 1901. Six words summarize their identity in the Hospitaller service: “pray, work, endure, suffer, a love God and silence”.

The new Institution soon spread its wings of merciful charity by becoming established in several countries in Europe and Latin America, and later on in Africa and Asia. At the present time, as the Congregation celebrates the canonization of its founder, Benedict Menni, the Sisters are present in 24 countries, with over 100 Hospitaller Centres.

Benedict Menni, their Founder and spiritual Father, imbued them with his own charismatic spirit of St John of God and for over 30 years continued to provide them with his guidance and formation in Hospitaller ascetics.

Visitor and Prior General of the Order

The opera magna wrought by Benedict Menni as a Restorer and Founder spread, at the request of the Holy See, to the whole Order when he was appointed Apostolic Visitor (1909-1911) and subsequently Prior General (1911), which he had to resign one year later as a result of misunderstandings, and for health reasons.

He spent the last two years of his life in humility and purification, and died a holy death at Dinan, France, on 24 April 1914. His mortal remains were taken by the Spanish Brothers to Ciempozuelos, and today are venerated under the high altar in the Founders’ Chapel in the Hospitaller Sisters’ Mother House there.

In the glory of the saints

The process to acknowledge his holiness opened in the diocese of Madrid where he is buried, in 1945-1947, and his virtues were recognized as heroic by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints on 11 May 1982, so that he was able to be called ” Venerable”. After official acceptance of the miraculous healing of Asuncion Cacho thanks to his intercession, he was proclaimed “Blessed” in St Peter’s Basilica on June 23, 1985 and « Saint » on November 21, 1999 by Pope John Paul II.

His message of Hospitality

In addition to his total dedication which bore such fruit, his holy and sanctifying conduct, his life offered entirely to God and to the sick with total generosity, the witness borne by Benedict Menni has regained all its topical relevance today with his canonization, which is offering him to the universal Church as a model and an example to be followed, particularly by those working in health care.

Humanization and evangelization are challenges to the new millennium. St Benedict Menni recalls to us and enlightens the words of our Lord, “I was sick and you visited me… Come, O blessed of my Father”.

Health care uses the benefits brought by scientific and technological progress, but frequently it is the “heart” which is missing in patient care. Health care is often concerned more with the sickness than the sick, who are often viewed as numbers or clinical cases rather than as brothers and sisters to be cared for and ministered to, as persons made in the image of a suffering God.

(SOURCE:  – Libreria Editrice Vaticana)