St. Andrew the Apostle

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St. Andrew, Apostle

The holy Apostle, St. Andrew, born at Bethsaida, in Galilee, was a brother of St. Peter, and at first a disciple of St. John the Baptist. He was the first of the Apostles who had the happiness of knowing Christ, the true Messiah; for, one day, when Andrew and another disciple were standing with their master on the banks of the Jordan, St. John, pointing to Jesus, who was approaching, said: “Behold the Lamb of God!” No sooner had Andrew heard these words, than he and the other disciple followed Christ, and remained with Him that day.

On the following day, meeting his brother, Simon, afterward called Peter, he said to him: “We have found the Messiah,” and brought him to Christ. Not long after this, when Andrew and Peter were casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee, Christ called them, and said: “Come after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men!” Immediately leaving their nets, they followed Him. From that moment, Andrew left the Lord no more, except at the time when He was seized in the Garden of Gethsemane, by the Jews, when he fled like the other disciples. Continue reading

St. Saturninus

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St. Saturninus, Bishop of Toulouse, Martyr

A.D. 257.

ST. SATURNINUS went from Rome by the direction of Pope Fabian, about the year 245, to preach the faith in Gaul, where St. Trophimus, the first bishop of Arles, had some time before gathered a plentiful harvest. In the year 250, when Decius and Gratus were consuls, St. Saturninus fixed his episcopal see at Toulouse. Fortunatus tells us, 1 that he converted a great number of idolaters by his preaching and miracles. This is all the account we have of him till the time of his holy martyrdom. The author of his acts, who wrote about fifty years after his death relates, that he assembled his flock in a small church; and that the capitol, which was the chief temple in the city, lay in the way between that church and the saint’s habitation. In this temple oracles were given; but the devils were struck dumb by the presence of the saint as he passed that way. The priests spied him one day going by, and seized and dragged him into the temple, declaring, that he should either appease the offended deities by offering sacrifice to them, or expiate the crime with his blood. Saturninus boldly replied: “I adore one only God, and to him I am ready to offer a sacrifice of praise. Your gods are devils, and are more delighted with the sacrifice of your souls than with those of your bullocks. How can I fear them who, as you acknowledge, tremble before a Christian?” The infidels, incensed at this reply, abused the saint with all the rage that a mad zeal could inspire, and after a great variety of indignities, tied his feet to a wild bull, which was brought thither to be sacrificed. The beast being driven from the temple ran violently down the hill, so that the martyr’s scull was broken, and his brains dashed out. His happy soul was released from the body by death, and fled to the kingdom of peace and glory, and the bull continued to drag the sacred body, and the limbs and blood were scattered on every side, till the cord breaking, what remained of the trunk was left in the plain without the gates of the city. Two devout women laid the sacred remains on a bier, and hid them in a deep ditch, to secure them from any further insult, where they lay in a wooden coffin till the reign of Constantine the Great. Then Hilary bishop of Toulouse, built a small chapel over this his holy predecessor’s body. Sylvius, bishop of that city towards the close of the fourth century, began to build a magnificent church in honour of the martyr, which was finished and consecrated by his successor Exuperius, who with great pomp and piety translated the venerable relics into it. This precious treasure remains there to this day with due honour. The martyrdom of this saint probably happened in the reign of Valerian, in 257.  Continue reading

Saint Catharine Laboure

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Saint Catharine Laboure
by Constantine Kempf, 1916

The “Miraculous Medal” of the Immaculate Conception has found devout friends throughout the Catholic world and there is no doubt that it has been the means of great blessings for many. We need not wonder, then, that the person chosen to inaugurate this devotion to Mary was favored with extraordinary graces.

This child of predilection was the venerable Sister of Charity, Catharine Laboure. Sister Catharine was born on May 2, 1806, at Fainles-Moutier, near Dijon, and in Baptism was given the name of Zoe. The world never possessed her heart. From her earlier years she felt an attraction toward the religious life. She met with an obstinate resistance from her father because, on account of the early death of her mother, she seemed to be indispensable at home. To drive the thought of the cloister out of her mind her father sent her to Paris, where one of his sons kept a restaurant. But it was in vain. Paris simply aroused in Zoe a detestation for the ways of the world. The father finally relented and at the age of twenty-four she was permitted to take the religious habit in the convent of the Sisters of St. Vincent at Chatillon-sur-Seine. She was now named Sister Catharine.

In the following year, 1831, we find her in the hospital of Enghien at Paris, where she served in the humblest duties for forty-five years until her death on December 31, 1876. It was in the second year of her religious life that Sister Catharine was thrice favored with apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, who commissioned her to have medals made representing the apparition and bearing the legend “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Her director proved rather skeptical and at first had only scoff and contempt for these extraordinary manifestations. But the conviction grew that the sister was not at all a victim of a delusion. The archbishop of Paris, Monsignor de-Quelen, soon became an advocate of the “Miraculous Medal,” which now entered upon a victorious course throughout Catholic countries. Among many other remarkable events, the sudden conversion of the Jew, Alphonse Ratisbonne, has an intimate connection with this medal.

Leo XIII, after a careful examination of the facts and a scrutiny by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, approved a Mass and an Office commemorating the apparition of the Blessed Virgin of the Miraculous Medal.” Though Sister Catharine, in accomplishing the desire of the Mother of God, did very much to spread the Miraculous Medal, she nevertheless found ways and means in her humility to keep secret from the world the fact that she was the chosen soul favored with the apparition of the Immaculate Conception. Yet, while unaware of the many extraordinary favors she had received, her sisters in religion, and all who became acquainted with her, were thoroughly persuaded of her sanctity. At her death there was great emotion among the people and two Sisters were kept busy for a day applying to the corpse of the Venerable Catharine objects of devotion brought by the great numbers of visitors.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Saint Catharine Laboure, pray for us.

The Miraculous Medal

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The Miraculous Medal

(1830)

The Miraculous Medal comes directly from the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother; it is a gift from heaven which has never ceased to effect marvels of grace throughout the entire world. This medal is a very simple and very efficacious means to benefit from the protection of Mary in all our necessities, both spiritual and temporal.

On November 27, 1830, in a residence of the Daughters of Charity, at the Chapel of the Rue du Bac in Paris, the Most Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Catherine Labouré (1806-1876) for the second time. On this day the Queen of Heaven was seen with a globe under Her feet and holding in Her hands, at the level of the heart, another smaller globe, which She seemed to be offering to Our Lord in a gesture of supplication. Suddenly, Her fingers were covered with rings and beautiful jewels; the rays from these streamed in all directions…

The Blessed Virgin looked down on the humble novice who was contemplating Her. Behold, She said, the symbol of the graces that I bestow on those who ask Me for them. The jewels which remain in the shadows symbolize the graces that one forgets to ask Me for, the Virgin continued. And Catherine Labouré wrote later, She made me understand how generous She is towards persons who pray to Her, how many graces She grants those who ask Her for them, and what joy She has to bestow them! Then there formed around the Mother of God an oval background on which was written in gold letters:

O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

In a gesture which invited recourse and confidence, the hands of Mary descended and were extended as we see them represented on the medal.

Sister Catherine Labouré beheld this vision with happiness. A voice said to her: Have a medal struck on this model; the persons who will wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck. These graces will be abundant for those who wear it with confidence. The picture seemed to turn around, and Sister Catherine saw, on its reverse side, the letter M surmounted by a little cross, and below it the holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the first surrounded by a crown of thorns, and the second transfixed by a sword. Twelve stars surrounded the monogram of Mary and the two holy Hearts.

Sister Catherine faithfully accomplished the mission Heaven had entrusted to her. In 1832 the medal was struck and immediately underwent a extraordinary diffusion throughout the world, accompanied by unceasing prodigies of cures, protection and conversion. Thus it came to be known as the Miraculous Medal. Let us wear this medal of the Most Blessed Virgin with respect, and often repeat with confidence and love, the invocation by which Our Heavenly Mother desires that we implore favors: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

A leaflet on the Miraculous Medal (Editions Magnificat: St. Jovite, 1999)