Saint Dorothy

Saint Dorothy

Virgin and Martyr
(† 304)

Saint Dorothy was a young virgin celebrated already in Caesarea of Cappadocia, where she lived, for her angelic virtue. Her parents are believed to have been martyred before her in the Diocletian persecution; thus, when the Governor Sapricius came to Caesarea and called her to appear before him, he sent this child of martyrs to the eternal home where they were waiting for her.

She explained that the God she adored was majestic — above all emperors, who were mortal, and their gods, none of whom created either heaven or earth. She was stretched upon the rack, and offered honors if she would consent to sacrifice, or death if she refused. And they waited. She asked why they delayed to torture her; they were expecting she might cede out of fright. She said to them, Do what you have to do, that I may see the One for whose love I fear neither death nor torments, Jesus Christ. She was asked, Where is this Christ? and she replied: As Almighty He is everywhere, but for weak human reason we say that the Son of God has ascended into heaven, to be seated at the right hand of the Almighty Father. It is He who invites us to the garden of His delights, where at all times the trees are covered with fruits, the lilies are perpetually white, the roses ever in their freshness. If you believe me, you too will search for the true liberty, and will labor to earn entry into the garden of God’s delights. She was then placed in the custody of two women who had fallen away from the faith, in the hope that they might pervert her; but the fire of her own heart rekindled the flame in theirs, and led them back to Christ.

When she was set once more on the rack, Sapricius himself was amazed at the heavenly expression on her face, and asked her the cause of her joy. Because, she said, I have brought back two souls to Christ, and because I shall soon be in heaven rejoicing with the Angels. Her joy grew as she was buffeted in the face and her sides were burned with plates of red-hot iron. Blessed art Thou, she cried, when she was sentenced to be beheaded, Blessed art Thou, O Lover of souls, who call me to paradise, and invite me to Thy nuptial chamber!

Saint Dorothy suffered in mid-winter, and on the road to her execution a lawyer called Theophilus, who had grown accustomed to calumniating and persecuting the Christians, asked her, in mockery, to send him apples or roses from the garden of her Spouse. The Saint promised to grant his request. Just before she died, a little child stood by her side bearing three apples and three roses. She told him to take them to Theophilus, and to tell him it was the present he sought from the garden of her Spouse. Saint Dorothy had gone to heaven, and Theophilus was still making merry over his challenge to her, when the child entered his room. He recognized that the fruit and flowers were of no earthly growth, and that the child was an Angel in disguise. He was converted to the faith, and then shared in the martyrdom of Saint Dorothy.

Reflection. Do you wish to be safe amid the pleasures and happy despite the troubles of this world? Pray for heavenly desires, and say with the Saints, Paradise, paradise!

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. 2


The Holy Martyrs of Japan

The Holy Martyrs of Japan
(† 1597)

When Saint Francis Xavier came to Japan, this empire was totally plunged in paganism; forty years later, there were more than two hundred thousand Christians, most of them animated with all the fervor of the primitive Church. The jealous demon soon raised up a persecution; a confraternity of martyrdom was at once formed, the object of which was to die for Christ. The pursuits were terrible but only served to bring into light the marvels of the holy Faith. The first martyrs were twenty-six in number: six Franciscans, three Jesuits and seventeen lay Christians, among whom were three young altar boys who had joined the confraternity.

A pious Jesuit, crucified, made a touching sermon from the heights of his glorious pulpit, to the pagans surrounding him: At the point where you see me now, he said, I do not think any of you could believe me capable of betraying the truth. Now I declare to you, there is no other means of salvation but the Christian religion! I forgive the authors of my death, I beg them to receive Baptism.

Louis, a child of eleven, when he reached the site of execution asked which cross was his; he ran to it with a joy which touched all the spectators. His face shone with a heavenly radiance as he was dying. Anthony, thirteen years old, was begged by his parents not to die so young, to wait until he was older to confess his faith. He replied: Do not expose our holy faith to contempt and the mockery of the pagans. When he was offered riches by the magistrate, he said, I scorn your promises and life itself. The cross is what I desire for love of Jesus, who chose to die on a cross to save us. Then he bade farewell to his parents and promised to pray for them in heaven. A thirteen-year-old named Anthony, from his cross sang the Psalm Laudate, pueri, Dominum, Children, praise the Lord, — and was pierced through the heart when he reached the Gloria Patri.

All of Japan became as it were a sea of the blood of some two million martyrs, according to estimates made. Finally in 1848, France overcame the terrible prejudices against Catholicism which its enemies had sown in Japan, in order to obtain commercial privileges, and was admitted and allowed to practice its religion freely.

Pius IX canonized these heroes of the Faith on June 8, 1862, amid a great concourse of bishops from all parts of the world.

Reflection. If mere children face torture and death with joy for Christ, can we begrudge the slight penance He asks us to bear?

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 2; 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).


St. Philip of Jesus

Image may contain: outdoor

St. Philip of Jesus

Born in Mexico, date unknown; died at Nagasaki early in February, 1597. Though unusually frivolous as a boy, he joined the Discalced Franciscans of the Province of St. Didacus, founded by St. Peter Baptista, with whom he suffered martyrdom later. After some months in the Order, Philip grew tired of monastic life, left the Franciscans in 1589, took up a mercantile career, and went to the Philippines, where he led a life of pleasure. Later he desired to re-enter the Franciscans and was again admitted at Manila in 1590. After some years he was to have been ordained at the monastery in Mexico, the episcopal See of Manila being at that time vacant. He sailed, 12 July, 1596, but a storm drove the vessel upon the coast of Japan. The governor of the province confiscated the ship and imprisoned its crew and passengers, among whom were another Franciscan, Juan de Zamorra, two Augustinians, and a Dominican. The discovery of soldiers, cannon, and ammunition on the ship led to the suspicion that it was intended for the conquest of Japan, and that the missionaries were merely to prepare the way for the soldiers. This was also said, falsely and unwarrantably, by one of the crew (cf. JAPAN). This enraged the Japanese Emperor Hideyoshi, generally called Taicosama by Europeans. He commanded, 8 December, 1596, the arrest of the Franciscans in the monastery at Miako, now Kyoto, whither St. Philip had gone. The religious were kept prisoners in the monastery until 30 December, when they were transferred to the city prison. There were six Franciscans, seventeen Japanese tertiaries, and the Japanese Jesuit, Paul Miki, with his two native servants. The ears of the prisoners were cropped on 3 January, 1597, and they were paraded through the streets of Kyoto; on 21 January they were taken to Osaka, and thence to Nagasaki, which they reached on 5 February. They were taken to a mountain near the city, “Mount of the Martyrs”, bound upon crosses, after which they were pierced with spears. St. Philip was beatified in 1627 by Urban VIII, and, with his companions, canonized 8 June, 1862, by Pius IX. He is the patron saint of the city of Mexico.

RIBADENEGRA, Historia de las Islas del Archipielago y Reynos de la Gran China, Tartaria . . . y Japon, V, VI (Barcelona, 1601); these are sometimes wrongly cited as Actas del martirio de San Pedro Bautista y sus companeros (Barcelona, 1601); Archivum franc. hist., I (Quaracchi, 1908), 536 sqq.; FRANCISCO DE S. ANTONIO, Chron. de la apostol. prov. de S. Gregorio . . . in Las Islas Philipinas, III (Manila, 1743), 31 sqq.; Acta SS., Feb.I, 723 sqq.; GERONIMO DE JESUS, Hist. della Christandad del Japon (1601); DA CIVEZZA, Saggio di Bibliog. Sanfrancesc. (Prato, 1879), 250, 590 sqq., 523; IDEM, Storia univ. delle missioni franc., VII, ii (Prato, 1891), 883 sqq.; DA ORIMA, Storia dei ventitre Martiri Giapponesi dell’ Ord. Min. Osserv. (Rome, 1862); MELCHIORRI, Annal. Ord. Min. (Ancona, 1869), 101 sqq. 218 sqq., 260 sqq.

APA citation. Bihl, M. (1911). St. Philip of Jesus. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Bihl, Michael. “St. Philip of Jesus.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

St. Agatha

Image may contain: 2 people

St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

One of the most celebrated Christian heroines who, on account of their faith, have suffered with most invincible fortitude, is the saintly virgin Agatha. She was born at Palermo, or, according to others, at Catania, in Sicily. She was of illustrious parentage, and was piously educated in the Christian faith. When Quintianus, Governor under the Emperor Decius, was commanded to uproot Christianity in Sicily, he repaired to Catania. Soon after his arrival he was informed that a noble lady, of the name of Agatha, resided there, who, for wealth and beauty, had no superior, and who was also the most fervent of all the Christians. The Governor caused her to be brought before him, and, on first seeing her, he fell so deeply in love with her that he hesitated not to try to induce her to listen to his shameful designs. Agatha, who united with beauty the most angelic chastity, was terrified at his wickedness, and would have preferred death rather than allow the least liberty with her person. Quintianus, who would not use force, deprived her of her liberty, under the pretext that she was a Christian, and gave her into the charge of Aphrodisia, an infamous old prostitute, who had led her own daughters into the path of shame and wickedness, and lived by means of their vices. He supposed that Agatha, living with a person so vile, would, by her persuasions, lose her love of chastity, and, at the same time, abjure her faith. But he soon found that he was mistaken. The chaste virgin, armed by the thought of God’s presence, by prayers and by fasting, bore a mighty shield against all flatteries, persuasions, and promises. For thirty days she had to remain upon this dangerous field of battle; but God gave her strength, and she conquered. Aphrodisia herself had at last to confess this to Quintianus, and would have nothing further to do with the maiden.  Continue reading