St. Philip of Jesus

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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.

Saint Agatha

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Saint Agatha

Virgin and Martyr
(† 251)

Saint Agatha was born in Sicily of rich and noble parents, a child of benediction from the first, for she was promised to her parents before her birth, and consecrated from her earliest infancy to God. In the midst of dangers and temptations she served Christ in purity of body and soul, and she died for love of chastity. Quintanus, who governed Sicily under the Emperor Decius, had heard the rumor of her beauty and wealth, and he made the laws against the Christians a pretext for summoning her from Palermo to Catania, where he was at the time. O Jesus Christ! she cried, as she set out on this dreaded journey, all that I am is Thine; preserve me against the tyrant.

And Our Lord did indeed preserve one who had given herself so utterly to Him. He kept her pure and undefiled while she was imprisoned for a whole month under charge of an evil woman. He gave her strength to reply to the offer of her life and safety, if she would but consent to sacrifice to the gods, Christ alone is my salvation! When Quintanus turned from passion to cruelty, and cut off her breasts, Our Lord sent the Prince of the Apostles to heal her. She told the elderly gentleman who appeared to her that she was Christian and desired no treatment, for her Lord could cure her by a single word. He smiled, identified himself as Saint Peter, and said: It is in His name that you will be healed. And when he disappeared, she saw that her wounds were healed and her flesh made whole. But when she was rolled naked upon potsherds, she asked that her torments might be ended. Her Lord heard her prayer and took her to Himself.

Saint Agatha gave herself without reserve to Jesus Christ; she followed Him in virginal purity, and then depended upon Him for protection. And to this day Christ has shown His tender regard for the very body of Saint Agatha. Again and again, during the eruptions of Mount Etna, the people of Catania have exposed her veil for public veneration, and found safety by this means. In modern times, on opening the tomb in which her body lies waiting for the resurrection, they beheld the skin still entire, and experienced the sweet fragrance which issued from this temple of the Holy Ghost.

Reflection. Purity is a gift of God: we can gain it and preserve it only by care and diligence in avoiding all that may prove an incentive to sin.

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).

Saint Andrew Corsini

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Saint Andrew Corsini

Bishop of Fiesole
(1302-1373)

Saint Andrew was born in Florence in 1301 of the illustrious Corsini family. A short time before the birth of Saint Andrew, his mother experienced a strange dream, in which she had given birth to a wolf which became a lamb upon entering a Carmelite church. After a dissolute youthful life Andrew repented, when one day in 1318 his desolate mother told him of her dream. He rose and went to the altar in the church where his parents had offered to God the child they hoped to obtain from His mercy; there he prayed to the Blessed Virgin with tears, then went to beg his admission to the Carmelite Order.

He began a life of great mortification. Ordained a priest in 1328, he studied in Paris and Avignon, and on his return became the Apostle of Florence, and Prior of his convent there. In 1360 he was consecrated Bishop of Fiesole, near Florence, and gained a great reputation as a peacemaker between rival political factions and for his love of the poor. He was also named papal nuncio to Bologna, where he pacified dissenting factions and won the hearts of the nobility with whom he was associating. He wrought many miracles of healing and conversion during his lifetime.

At the age of 71, while he was celebrating the midnight Mass of Christmas, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he would leave this world on the feast of the Epiphany, to meet the beloved Master he had served so faithfully. In effect, he died on that day in 1373, in the thirteenth year of his episcopacy. Miracles were so multiplied thereafter that Pope Eugenius IV permitted a public cult immediately. The city of Florence has always invoked him with confidence and happy results. He was canonized in 1629.

He is often represented holding his crosier, with a wolf and a lamb at his feet, or hovering over a battlefield on a cloud or a white steed — this in memory of his miraculous intervention in a battle the Florentine people won by his assistance.

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). 

Blessing of Throats on the Feast of Saint Blaise

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Blessing of Throats on the Feast of Saint Blaise

St. Blaise — one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers — during the 3rd century persecution under Licinius the holy physician who became Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia is the inspiration for the Blessing of Throats as an account given to the faithful in the Golden Legend:

There was a woman that had a son dying, in whose throat was a bone of a fish athwart, which estrangled him, and she brought him tofore his feet, praying him that he would make her son whole. And S. Blase put his hand upon him and made his prayer to God that this child, and all they that demanded benefits of health in his name, that they should be holpen and obtain it, and anon he was whole and guerished.

Because of the cure of the boy’s throat when the boy was choking, St. Blaise is patron against troubles of the throat, and today our throats are blessed at Mass.

The priest will bless two candles in honor of St. Blaise with the following prayer:

V. Our help ✠ is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit. Let us pray.
Almighty and most gentle God, Who didst create the multiplicity of things through Thine only Word, and didst will that same Word through Whom all things were made to take flesh for the refashioning of man; Thou, Who art great and without measure, terrible and worthy of praise, a Worker of wonders: the glorious martyr and bishop Blaise, not fearing to suffer all sorts of diverse tortures because of his profession of faith in Thee, was suited happily to bear the palm of martyrdom: and Thou didst grant to him, among other graces, the favor that he should by Thy power cure all kinds of illnesses of the throat: we humbly beg Thy Majesty not to look upon our sins, but to be pleased by his merits and prayers and to deign in Thy venerable kindness to bless ✠ and sanctify ✠ this creature of wax by the outpouring of Thy grace; that all whose necks in good faith are touched by it may be freed by the merits of his sufferings from any illness of the throat, and that healthy and strong they may offer thanks to Thee within Thy Holy Church, and praise Thy glorious name, which is blessed forever and ever. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
R. Amen.

Then he will hold the two, unlit blessed candles crossed over each of the faithfuls throats and invoke the blessing:

Per intercessionem S. Blasii liberet te Deus a malo gutteris et a quovis alio malo

English:
May God at the intercession of St. Blasius preserve you from throat troubles and every other evil.

Then he will make a sign of the Cross over us.

Saint Blaise

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Saint Blaise

Bishop and Martyr
(† 316)

Saint Blaise devoted the earlier years of his life to the study of philosophy, and afterwards became a physician. In the practice of his profession he saw so much of the miseries of life and the hollowness of worldly pleasures, that he resolved to spend the rest of his days in the service of God. From being a healer of bodily ailments, he became a physician of souls, then retired for a time, by divine inspiration, to a cavern where he remained in prayer.

When the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia died, Blaise, much to the gratification of the inhabitants of that city, was chosen to succeed him. Saint Blaise at once began to instruct his people, as much by his example as by his words, and the great virtues and sanctity of the servant of God were attested by many miracles. From all parts, the people came flocking to him for the cure of bodily and spiritual ills.

When the governor of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia, Agricolaus, began a persecution by order of the Emperor Licinius, Saint Blaise was seized. After interrogation and a severe scourging, he was hurried off to prison. While he was under custody, a distraught mother, whose only child was dying of a throat disease, threw herself at his feet and implored his intercession. Touched at her grief, he offered up his prayers, and the child was cured.

The prisoner was brought before Agricolaus again for further questioning, and again was whipped while tied to a pillar. He was spared from drowning when thrown into a lake; the governor ordered then that he be beheaded. At the execution site he prayed aloud to God for his persecutors, and asked that in the future those who would invoke him might be aided, as he had been permitted to assist them during his lifetime. Our Lord appeared to him and said in a voice which all bystanders heard, that He granted his prayer. Since that time his intercession has often been effectually solicited, especially in cases of all kinds of throat problems.

Reflection. There is no sacrifice which, by the aid of grace, human nature is not capable of accomplishing. When Saint Paul complained to God of the violence of temptation, God answered, My grace is sufficient for thee, for strength is made perfect in infirmity.

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