The Fourteen Holy Helpers

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The Fourteen Holy Helpers

A group of saints invoked with special confidence because they have proven themselves efficacious helpers in adversity and difficulties, are known and venerated under the name Fourteen Holy Helpers. Devotion to these fourteen as a group spread in response to the Black Plague which devastated Europe from 1346 to 1349. Among its symptoms were the tongue turning black, a parched throat, violent headache, fever, and boils on the abdomen. It attacked without warning, robbed its victims of reason, and killed within a few hours; many died without the last Sacraments. Brigands roamed the roads, people suspected of contagion were attacked, animals died, people starved, whole villages vanished into the grave, social order and family ties broke down, and the disease appeared incurable. The pious turned to Heaven, begging the intervention of the saints, praying to be spared or cured. This group devotion began in Germany–the Diocese of Wurzburg having been renowned for its observance. Pope Nicholas V attached indulgences to devotion of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in the 16th century. Continue reading

Saint Favre of Villaret

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Saint Favre of Villaret

First Jesuit Priest
(1506-1546)

Born in 1506 of poor Savoyard shepherds, Peter placed himself under the protection of the Blessed Virgin. At his earnest request, he was sent to school, and in later years to the University of Paris. There he became acquainted first with Saint Francis Xavier, then with Saint Ignatius Loyola and his other first companions. Ordained in 1534, it was he who received their vows at Montmartre on the day of the Assumption, 1534. He joined them and was sent first by the Pope to two cities of Italy, then to Germany, where he supported the Faith with gentleness and founded several secondary schools.

Until the end of his brief life he was ever on the front lines of the Church’s battles with falsehood and sin. Facing the ravages of heresy in Germany, he labored primarily through the Exercises of Saint Ignatius to arouse the dormant faith and charity of Catholic courts in Catholic lands. The odor of Blessed Peter’s virtues drew after him into religion the Duke of Gandia, Francis Borgia, and a young German student, Peter Canisius, both of whom became canonized Saints like their master.

Pope Paul III had chosen Blessed Favre to be his theologian at the Council of Trent, and King John III of Portugal was hoping to send him as patriarch and apostle to Abyssinia. Sick and worn with his labors in Germany, Portugal and Spain, but obedient unto death, the good priest hastened to Rome, and there his last illness came upon him. He died in his fortieth year, as one would wish to die, in the arms of his best friend and spiritual father, Saint Ignatius. His companions called him Blessed at once and invoked him. Saint Peter was formally beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1872.

Reflection: As the body sinks under fatigue unless supported by food, so external works, however holy, wear out the soul which is not regularly nourished by prayer. In the most crowded day we can still make time secretly to lift our soul up to God and draw new strength from Him.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 9; The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C. G. Herbermann with numerous collaborators (Appleton Company: New York, 1908); 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).

Saint Cyriacus and his Companions

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Saint Cyriacus and his Companions

Martyrs
(† 303)

Saint Cyriacus, born of a noble patrician family, embraced the Christian religion and gave all his wealth to the poor. He was ordained a deacon at Rome, under Pope Marcellinus. Diocletian was emperor at that time, assisted by Maximian, his favorite. The latter decided to build a beautiful palace for the emperor, with magnificent baths, and to make the Christians work at the construction. Among the new slaves were elderly gentlemen and persons of the highest rank, clerics and priests. The labor was hard and the food scanty. A Roman nobleman desired to relieve the sufferings of these laborers and sent four Christians with alms and encouragements; these were Saint Cyriacus, Saint Sisinius, Saint Largus and Saint Smaragdus. They pursued their charities at the risk of their lives, and they worked vigorously alongside those who were growing very weak. When Maximian heard of it, he had Saint Sisinius and an old gentleman whom he had helped, decapitated.
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Mary’s Pure Heart

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Mary’s Pure Heart

We present here a beautiful, profound, Scriptural and easy to understand Rosary meditation on the fourth Joyful Mystery by one of the most-beloved Saints and Doctors of the Catholic Church. He explains the great sacrifice Mary made of Her Immaculate Heart when, in the Temple, She solemnly offered up the life of Her Divine Son Jesus, to God the Father. There is a prayer at the conclusion.

By St. Alphonsus de Liguori

Under the Old Law there were two precepts concerning the birth of first-born sons. One was that the mother was regarded as unclean and was to remain in her house for forty days and then purify herself in the Temple. The other was that the parents of the first-born son should take him to the Temple and offer him there to God. Continue reading