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).