Prayers in Honour of the Mysteries of the Holy Childhood

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Prayers in Honour of the Mysteries of the Holy Childhood

St. Gertrude honoured the childhood of Jesus with all possible devotion, and once on the Feast of Christmas, she saw that the Child Jesus accepted the prayers with joy which pious souls laid in His lap as an offering. (B. v. ch. 3.) By reciting the following prayers in a devout manner we can not only please the dear Jesus but gain an indulgence of 300 days, as often as the prayers are said with a contrite heart, which indulgence was granted by Pope Pius VII of holy memory on the 23d of November 1819.

V. O God, come to my assistance.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, and ever will be, world without end.
Our Father, etc. Continue reading

Saint Catherine of Ricci

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Saint Catherine of Ricci


Alexandrina of Ricci was the daughter of a noble Florentine. At the age of thirteen she entered the Third Order of Saint Dominic in the monastery of Prato, taking in religion the name of Catherine, in honor of her patron and predecessor of Siena. Her special attraction was to the Passion of Christ, in which she was permitted miraculously to participate. During the Lent of 1541, being then twenty-one years of age, she had a vision of the crucifixion so heartrending that she was prostrated and confined to bed for three weeks, and was only restored on Holy Saturday, by an apparition of Saint Mary Magdalene and the risen Jesus.

During twelve years Saint Catherine passed every Friday in ecstasy. She received the sacred stigmata, the wound in the left side, and the crown of thorns. All these favors gave her continual and intense suffering, and inspired her with a loving sympathy for the yet more bitter tortures of the Holy Souls. In their behalf she offered all her prayers and penances; and her charity toward them became so famous throughout Tuscany that after every death the friends of the deceased hastened to Catherine to secure her prayers.

Saint Catherine offered many prayers, fasts, and penances for a certain great man, and thereby obtained his salvation. It was revealed to her that he was nonetheless in purgatory; and such was her love of Jesus crucified that she offered to suffer all the pains which would be inflicted on that soul. Her prayer was granted. The soul entered heaven, and for forty days Catherine suffered indescribable agonies. Her body was covered with blisters, emitting heat so great that her cell seemed on fire. Her flesh appeared as if roasted, and her tongue like red-hot iron. She remained calm and joyful, saying, I long to suffer all imaginable pains, that souls may quickly see and praise their Redeemer. She conversed with the Saints in glory, and frequently with Saint Philip Neri at Rome without ever leaving her convent at Prato. She died, amid angels’ songs, in 1590.

Reflection: If we truly love Jesus crucified, we must like Saint Catherine, long to release the Holy Souls whom He has redeemed but has left to our charity to set free.

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).



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Alleluia, or hallelujah, is one of the few Hebrew words adopted by the Christian Church from apostolic times. It means “Praise the Lord!”

On Saturday before Septuagesima Sunday (the third Sunday before Lent) this ancient and hallowed exclamation of joy and praise in the Christian liturgy is officially discontinued in the Western Church to signify the approach of the solemn season of Lent.12 According to the regulation of Pope Alexander II (1073) the Alleluia is sung twice after the prayers of the Divine Office,13 and not heard again till the solemn vigil service of Easter, when it once more is used as a glorious proclamation of Easter joy. The Greek Church, however, still retains the Alleluia even in Lent.

USAGE OF THE WORD — Saint John the Evangelist mentioned alleluia in his Apocalypse (19, 1-6), and the early Church accepted the word from the beginning. From Jerusalem the custom of using it spread with the expanding Church into all nations. It is interesting to note that nowhere and at no time was any effort made to translate it into the vernacular, as Saint Isidore of Seville (636) mentioned in his writings.14 He explains this by the reverence for the hallowed traditions of the apostolic Church.

In addition to the official liturgy, as early as the third century the Christian writer Tertullian said in his treatise on prayer that the faithful of his time used to insert many alleluias in their private devotions.15 Saint Jerome (420) praised the pious farmers and tradesmen who used to sing it at their toil, and the mothers who taught their babies to pronounce “alleluia” before any other word.16

In the Roman Empire the Alleluia became the favorite prayerful song of oarsmen and navigators. Saint Augustine (430) alluded to this custom, saying, “Let the Alleluia be our sweet rowing-song!”17 And some years later, the Roman poet and bishop Sidonius Apollinaris (480) described how the river banks and shores of Gaul resounded with the Alleluia song of the rowing boatmen.18 Even the Roman soldiers fighting against pagan barbarians used it as battle cry and war song. Saint Bede the Venerable (735), in his history of England, reported such an “Alleluia victory” won by the Christian Bretons over the Picts and Scots in 429.19 Continue reading