St. Helena

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St. Helena, Empress and the Holy Youth, Agapitus, Martyr

The Roman Martyrology mentions these Saints today in terms of great praise. We will therefore say a few words about each of them. St. Helena the spouse of Constantine Chlorus, and mother of Constantine the Great, is one of the most celebrated Catholic empresses. It was greatly due to her influence that her son Constantine became converted to the Christian faith, built so many churches to the honor of the Almighty, and not only fearlessly protected the Christian faith, but spread it through many countries. By divine inspiration, she went to Jerusalem, to visit the Holy places, and seek the cross on which our Saviour had died. She happily succeeded in finding the cross, though not without great hardship. She erected many magnificent temples in the Holy Land and endowed them richly.  Continue reading

St. Hyacinth

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St. Hyacinth, Confessor

St. Hyacinth, a great ornament of the celebrated Order of Preachers, was born in Poland. He was the son of illustrious parents, who educated him according to the dictates of Christianity. During the years devoted to his studies, he was an example of innocence, piety and industry. His uncle, the bishop of Cracow, appointed him canon in his cathedral, so that he might employ him in the administration of his See. When he left for Rome, on account of troubles at home, he took Hyacinth with him. St. Dominic, so celebrated for his apostolic zeal, and for the miracles he wrought, was there at the time. Hyacinth, observing the wonderful zeal and piety of this holy man and of his companions, felt a growing desire to join them. He and three of his fellow-travelers, who had the same inclination, went to St. Dominic and begged him to receive them into his newly founded Order. The Saint received them willingly, and instructed them how to lead a religious life, to preach in a Christian spirit, and to labor successfully for the spiritual welfare of men. After a few months, the holy founder had so thoroughly imbued them with his spirit, that he did not hesitate, after they had taken their vows, to send them into their native country, to preach the word of God and promote the salvation of souls.  Continue reading

St. Joachim

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St. Joachim, Father of the Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Joachim, the father of the Blessed Virgin, was a native of Nazareth, a little town in Galilee. His parents, though occupying an humble position in the world, were descendants of the holy king David. It was not without inspiration that, at his circumcision, the name of Joachim was given him; it means “Preparation for the Lord,” or, as others translate it, a preparation for the arrival of the Lord; and it has been understood by several teachers to signify that he would have a daughter whom he would prepare, by a holy education, to be the dwelling of the Redeemer of the world. Arriving at the years of manhood, he married Anna, a virtuous and chaste maiden of Bethlehem, whom, without doubt, God had gifted with especial graces, as she was chosen by Him to be the Mother of the Queen of Heaven.

Joachim and Anna continued, after their union, to serve God with the greatest fidelity. The most perfect charity and harmony reigned in their dwelling. They had divided their possessions into three parts. The first they devoted exclusively to the honor of God and to the adornment of the temple; the second, to the poor; and the third they kept for themselves. One thing saddened the lives of Joachim and Anna. They had been married many years without being blessed with a child, and their advancing age made them despair of ever having one. Barrenness was, among their people and at their time, considered a great disgrace and a curse from Heaven, and Joachim lived under that cross for many years. He never ceased to implore God with tears, prayers and fasts, to remove it from him; but it seemed that he was not heard, which gave him great grief. He, however, never murmured against the Almighty, but, submitting to His will, continued his prayer. It is also believed, that he and his spouse made a vow, that if they were blessed with a child, they would consecrate it to His service.  Continue reading

Saint Roch

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Saint Roch

Confessor, Patron of Invalids
(† 1327)

Saint Roch was the son of a governor of Montpellier. His pious parents, already advanced in age, obtained his birth by their persevering prayers, promising to give to God the child He would grant them. This miraculous infant was born with a red cross on his breast, sign of a very particular predestination.

From the age of five he began to chastise his little body by privations. As he grew in age and in grace, he was noted for his gracious hospitality for the poor and travelers. He was not yet twenty years old when he experienced the grief of losing both his father and his mother. He immediately sold all his property and made himself poor to follow Christ. He entered the Third Order of Saint Francis and dressed as a pilgrim, traveled on foot to Rome, asking alms.

A pestilence was then devastating Italy; he devoted himself to caring for the sick. Passing alongside their beds, he would take their hand, and with them make the sign of the Cross, and all rose up cured. In Rome, miracles multiplied where he passed. He lived there for three years without making known his name and his origins, even to the Holy Father. Then, returning to his native region, he was suddenly seized by the plague and withdrew into a cabin on the borders of a forest, where a dog brought him a small loaf of bread every day. Cured by the graces of heaven, he entered Montpellier like a stranger; and his uncle, the governor, not recognizing him, cast him into prison as a spy. After five years there he died, stretched out on the ground, after receiving the Last Sacraments. He was recognized by the red cross on his breast, and his funeral was a triumph. His cult became very popular and has remained so for the entire Church. We always see him pictured with his famous little dog.

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).

Ave Maris Stella

Ave Maris Stella is a popular liturgical hymn of unknown origin. It can be dated back to at least the 9th century for it is preserved in the Codex Sangallensis, a 9th century manuscript now in the Swiss Monastery of St. Gallen. Its appearance in the Codex points to a composition possibly in the 8th century. The hymn is frequently attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) and sometimes has been attributed to King Robert (1031), both of whom are too late to have authored it. It has also been attributed to Venantius Fortunatus (d 609) and Paul the Deacon (d 787). It is found in ancient codices of the Divine Office for Vespers on Marian feasts. Today it is still in use in the Divine Office and in the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin.
AVE maris stella,
Dei Mater alma,
atque semper Virgo,
felix caeli porta.
HAIL, O Star of the ocean,
God’s own Mother blest,
ever sinless Virgin,
gate of heav’nly rest.
Sumens illud Ave
Gabrielis ore,
funda nos in pace,
mutans Hevae nomen.
Taking that sweet Ave,
which from Gabriel came,
peace confirm within us,
changing Eve’s name.
Solve vincula reis,
profer lumen caecis
mala nostra pelle,
bona cuncta posce.
Break the sinners’ fetters,
make our blindness day,
Chase all evils from us,
for all blessings pray.
Monstra te esse matrem:
sumat per te preces,
qui pro nobis natus,
tulit esse tuus.
Show thyself a Mother,
may the Word divine
born for us thine Infant
hear our prayers through thine.
Virgo singularis,
inter omnes mites,
nos culpis solutos,
mitis fac et castos.
Virgin all excelling,
mildest of the mild,
free from guilt preserve us
meek and undefiled.
Vitam praesta puram,
iter para tutum:
ut videntes Iesum
semper collaetemur.
Keep our life all spotless,
make our way secure
till we find in Jesus,
joy for evermore.
Sit laus Deo Patri,
summo Christo decus,
Spiritui Sancto,
tribus honor unus. Amen.
Praise to God the Father,
honor to the Son,
in the Holy Spirit,
be the glory one. Amen.