SS. Cyprian and Justina

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SS. Cyprian and Justina, Martyrs

A.D. 304.

ST. CYPRIAN, surnamed the Magician, was an illustrious instance of the divine grace and mercy. He was a native of Antioch, (not the capital of Syria, but a small city of that name, situated between Syria and Arabia,) which the Romans allotted to the government of Phœnicia, to the jurisdiction of which province this martyr was subject. The detestable superstition of his idolatrous parents put them upon devoting him from his infancy to the devil, and he was brought up in all the impious mysteries of idolatry, judicial astrology, and the black art. In hopes of making great discoveries in these infernal pretended sciences, he left his native country, when he had grown up, and travelled to Athens, Mount Olympus in Macedon, Argos, Phrygia, Memphis in Egypt, Chaldæa, and the Indies, places at that time famous for superstition and magical arts. When Cyprian had filled his head with all the extravagances of these schools of error and delusion, he stuck at no crimes, blasphemed Christ, and committed secret murders, to offer the blood, and inspect the bowels of children, as decisive of future events. His skill was employed in attempting the modesty of virgins; but he found Christian women proof against his assaults and spells. 1 Continue reading

St. Isaac Jogues

St. Isaac Jogues

French missionary, born at Orléans, France, 10 January, 1607; martyred at Ossernenon, in the present State of New York, 18 October, 1646. He was the first Catholic priest who ever came to Manhattan Island (New York). He entered the Society of Jesus in 1624 and, after having been professor of literature at Rouen, was sent as a missionary to Canada in 1636. He came out with Montmagny, the immediate successor of Champlain. From Quebec he went to the regions around the great lakes where the illustrious Father de Brébeuf and others were labouring. There he spent six years in constant danger. Though a daring missionary, his character was of the most practical nature, his purpose always being to fix his people in permanent habitations. He was with Garnier among the Petuns, and he and Raymbault penetrated as far as Sault Ste Marie, and “were the first missionaries”, says Bancroft (VII, 790, London, 1853), “to preach the gospel a thousand miles in the interior, five years before John Eliot addressed the Indians six miles from Boston Harbour”. There is little doubt that they were not only the first apostles but also the first white men to reach this outlet of Lake Superior. No documentary proof is adduced by the best-known historians that Nicholet, the discoverer of Lake Michigan, ever visited the Sault. Jogues proposed not only to convert the Indians of Lake Superior, but the Sioux who lived at the head waters of the Mississippi.
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Saint Vincent Strambi

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Saint Vincent Strambi

Passionist Priest, Bishop of Macerata and Tolentino
(1745-1824)

Born in 1745 at Civitavecchia near Rome, the son of a wealthy businessman, Saint Vincent Strambi never showed any inclination for any occupation other than the service of God. He found his vocation when after his ordination as a deacon in 1767, he made a retreat amid the Passionists of Monte Fogliano, where Saint Paul of the Cross, their founder, was residing at the time. The Passionist houses are called retreats, and by their Rule must be situated outside cities. Saint Paul of the Cross told his brethren on his deathbed, as he had taught them during his active years, to conserve always the spirit of prayer, solitude and poverty; in that way the apostolic success of their works would also be conserved. The life of contemplation, essential formation for any fruitful works, was what Saint Vincent Strambi already desired.

It was formally declared by his last secretary, Monsignor Catervo Serrani, that it would not be temerity to believe that he knew by heart all the works of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The same might have been said of his knowledge of Sacred Scripture. His studies of religion, ever an inexhaustible wealth, continued throughout his lifetime, yet his preaching was so simple that all could easily grasp his thought. He never used notes, but taught according to the needs of his listeners, which he always discerned with exactitude after praying intently at the foot of the crucifix. As he studied, he seemed to see around his desk the faces of his spiritual children, waiting for the bread of life he was destined to break for them. This method of study has been preserved among his followers in the Order; the Passionists think of, and pray for, their future spiritual children before they study.

Saint Vincent became a bishop after many years of preaching missions all over Italy. But never could he forget his Order, though he had to put aside its habit. Saint Paul of the Cross on his deathbed had said to him several times: Padre Vincenzino, I recommend to you the poor Congregation. When Saint Vincent asked what he wished him to do, Saint Paul replied: You will do great things! You will do great good! I recommend to you this poor Congregation!

As bishop of Macerata and Tolentino, he continued whenever possible to rise at midnight for the divine office, and regretted being unable to dedicate more than five hours to prayer each day. He called in the poor and gave them alms; he visited the hospitals and the prisoners, blessed, embraced and helped them. He visited every religious house of his diocese, then the Canons and the parish priests. He preached for his clergy a beautiful mission, then organized specialized services for the various professions of the laity, saying, the lawyers need different instruction and different sowings than the merchants or the physicians, for example; to each his own portion of the truth! His table was very frugal; never did he permit more than two dishes. He reduced expenditures to a minimum, to be able to give more to the poor.

He wished to resign as bishop at the age of seventy-eight, and Pope Leo XII ceded to his wish, but asked him to come to Rome as his counselor. That his life was soon to end was revealed to him, and when the Holy Father was about to die that same year, he offered his life to save that of the Vicar of Christ. He did not say so directly, but told everyone not to be anxious, because the Pope would live. Someone he knew had offered his life for him, he added. The prayer was answered on the very day he said this, December 24th; the Pope rose, suddenly cured. Three days later Saint Vincent was struck by apoplexy, and died on January 1, 1824. He was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1950.

Saint Vincent-Marie Strambi, Passioniste, by Maria Winowska (Éditions Passionistes: Nantes, 1951).

Our Lady of Ransom

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Our Lady of Ransom

By the special intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymond of Penafort, and King James of Aragon established an Order under the name of Our Lady of Mercy for the ransom of Christian captives from the Muslim marauders in the 13th century. Under Our Lady’s special protection the Order grew rapidly. These devoted religious dedicated themselves not only to collecting alms for the ransom of Christian captives, but even, as a last resort, gave themselves up to voluntary slavery in order to rescue those languishing in the Moorish prisons. One of these heroic religious, St. Raymond Nonnatus (Aug. 31), after having delivered many Christian slaves in Africa from the Mohammedans, gave himself up as a hostage. His vicious captors so hated his fearless witness to Christ, that they closed his mouth with a padlock which pierced his lips. He died in 1240. It was to return thanks to God and the Blessed Virgin for the miraculous institution of this Order that the feast of Our Lady of Ransom was instituted. Let us ask Our Lady of Mercy to console and strengthen all those who are suffering under the sway of present-day Islamic tyranny, and to ransom poor sinners from their captivity to Satan in the cruel slavery of sin and vice, and to free the Poor Souls suffering in Purgatory.

“He hath given help to Israel His servant, mindful of His mercy.” (Luke 1:54)

O Mary, thou art favored more than all other women on earth, for in the presence of our God thou hast aided us in our weakness. Rule over us, thou and thy Son, because thou hast freed us from the hands of our enemies! Hail Mary…

Mary speaks:
“He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.” (Prov. 8:35)

Let us Pray: O God, Who through the most glorious Mother of Thy Son wast pleased to give new children to Thy Church for the deliverance of Christ’s faithful from the power of the heathen, grant, we pray Thee, that we who affectionately honor her as the Foundress of so great a work, may, by her merits and intercession, be delivered from the slavery of sin and the eternal flames of Hell. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the Unity of the Holy Ghost, One God, forever, unto ages of ages. Amen.