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St. Philip Benizi

Name: St. Philip Benizi
Date: 23 August

Saint Philip Benizi was born in Florence on the Feast of the Assumption, 1233. That same daythe Order of Servites was founded by the Mother of God. As an infant one year old, Philip spokewhen in the presence of these new religious, and announced the Servants of the Virgin. Amid allthe temptations of his youth, he longed to become a Servant of Mary, and it was only the fear ofhis own unworthiness which made him yield to his father’s wish and begin to study medicine. Hereceived the bonnet of a doctor of medicine at Padua.

After long and weary waiting, his doubts were solved one day by Our Lady Herself, who in avision during a Mass in Florence offered in the Servite Chapel, bade him enter Her Order. StillPhilip dared only offer himself as a lay brother; and saying nothing of his studies, in this humblestate he strove to do penance for his sins. Two Dominican Fathers traveling with him one dayrecognized the great talents, wisdom and knowledge which he had succeeded in concealing. Theytalked to his Superiors, and he was told to prepare for the priesthood. As a priest he did immensegood. He pacified many dissensions, common among the city-states of those days. One day hemet a leper, almost naked, and having no money gave him his tunic. When the leper put it on, hewas instantly cured.

Thereafter honors were accorded him in rapid succession; he became General of the Order andonly by flight did he escape elevation to the Papal throne; he retired to a grotto in the mountainsuntil the conclave had ended. His preaching restored peace to Italy, wasted by civil wars. He wassent not only to various cities of that country but to the Netherlands and Germany, where heconverted many, not without opposition and even a flogging by rebels. At the Council of Lyons,he spoke to the assembled prelates with the gift of tongues. Amid all these favors Philip lived inextreme penitence, constantly examining his soul before God, and condemning himself as only fitfor hell.

Saint Philip, though he was free from every stain of mortal sin, was never weary of beseeching God’s mercy. From the time he was ten years old he daily prayed the Penitential Psalms. On his deathbed he recited verses of the Miserere, his cheeks streaming with tears; during his agony hewent through a terrible contest to overcome the fear of damnation. But a few minutes before hedied, all his doubts disappeared and were succeeded by a holy trust. He uttered the responses tothe final prayers in a low but audible voice; and when at last the Mother of God appeared beforehim, he lifted up his arms with joy and breathed a gentle sigh, as if placing his soul in Her hands. He died on the Octave of the Assumption, 1285.

Source: 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. Bartholomew

Name: St. Bartholomew
Date: 24 August

Saint Bartholomew, Bar-Tolmai or son of Tolmai, was one of the twelve Apostles called to the apostolate by our Blessed Lord Himself. His name is more adequately rendered by his givenname, Nathanael. If one wonders why the synoptic Gospels always call him Bartholomew, itwould be because the name Nathanael in Hebrew is equivalent to that of Matthew, since both inHebrew signify gift of God; in this way the Evangelists avoided all confusion between the twoApostles. He was a native of Cana in Galilee, a doctor of the Jewish law, and a friend of Philip.

Philip, advised by Peter and Andrew, hastened to communicate to his friend the good news of his discovery of Christ: “We have found Him whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, wrote! Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold a true Israelite, inwhom there is no guile.” (Cf. John 1:45-49) His innocence and simplicity of heart deserved to be celebrated with this high praise in the divine mouth of Our Redeemer. And Nathanael, whenJesus told him He had already seen him in a certain place, confessed his faith at once: “Rabbi,Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel!”

Being eminently qualified by divine grace to discharge the functions of an Apostle, he carried the Gospel through the most barbarous countries of the East, penetrating into the remoter Indies,baptizing neophytes and casting out demons. A copy of the Gospel of Saint Matthew was foundin India by Saint Pantænus in the third century, taken there, according to local tradition, by Saint Bartholomew. Saint John Chrysostom said the Apostle also preached in Asia Minor and, with Saint Philip, suffered there, though not mortally, for the faith. Saint Bartholomew’s last mission was in Greater Armenia, where, preaching in a place obstinately addicted to the worship of idols, he was crowned with a glorious martyrdom. The modern Greek historians say that he wascondemned by the governor of Albanopolis to be crucified. Others affirm that he was flayed alive,which treatment might well have accompanied his crucifixion, this double punishment being in usenot only in Egypt, but also among the Persians.

Sources: Dictionnaire de la Bible, Ed. F. Vigouroux (Letouzey et Ané: Paris, 1912), Vol. 5, “Philippe, Apôtre”; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s

St. Emily de Vialar

Name: St. Emily de Vialar
Date: 24 August

Saint Emily de Vialar was born on September 12, 1797 at Gaillac in southern France, a small city about 45 km. northeast of Toulouse. Her family was a well-known one in the region andelsewhere; her maternal grandfather, the Baron Portal, raised to nobility by Louis XVI, becameroyal physician to Louis XVIII and Charles X. Emily’s mother, Antoinette Portal, a very piousChristian, married the Baron Jacques de Vialar, and Emily and her two younger brothers wereraised in Gaillac, near Albi, a city where their father served in the municipal administration,concerning himself in particular with that of the local hospital.

Emily was placed in a local school at the age of seven. As a child she made efforts to overcome her natural vanity, which by a special grace she recognized clearly. She did not permit herself tolook in the mirror when her mother gave her a new dress, and often left aside the ornaments shewas offered. When she was thirteen, she was sent to the boarding convent of Abbaye-au-Bois inParis, returning to Gaillac at the age of 15. She had lost her mother in 1810, and for twenty yearswas destined to preside over the paternal household. Desiring to repair the ruins effected by theRevolution, she undertook to catechize the local children and win back souls which had lost theirfaith through its ravages. She refused a suitor and made a private vow to consecrate her life toGod in the state of virginity, and to conserve at all times in her soul the memory of His presence. When she and her brothers inherited their grandfather’s large fortune in 1832, she decided, notwithout sorrow, to leave her father’s house. She was free to do so, since her brother Maximinhad brought his new wife to take her place there. The separation from her widowed father wasdifficult for her; “it was only in doing violence to my heart that I decided to leave him, knowingwhat affliction it would cause him.”

She went to reside in a large edifice she bought in the same city of Gaillac, with three other young women who shared her concern for children and the sick poor. Soon they were joined by eightothers who had become acquainted with their work and their aspirations. Aided by the assistantparish priest of Saint Peter’s Church, whose sacerdotal soul saw the value of their “mission” — for no one yet called it a religious institute — on March 19, 1833, they received a religious habit. In June of the same year there were already twenty-six young apostolic souls being formed in Gaillac. They made religious vows two years later, in 1835. Thus was born the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition, which their foundress conceived as ready to assume “all works of charity”, in particular the instruction of children and the care of the sick at home, in hospitals and in prisons. Father Louis Mercier continued his encouragement to the Sisters and directed them, with the support of Monsignor de Gualy, Archbishop of Albi, who in December of1835 approved the Constitutions drafted by Mother Emily.

Earlier in that same year the Mother Superior, accompanied by three nuns, had gone to found ahospital in Algeria. Her brother Augustine had settled in its capital city and bought numerousterrains in the region, and the prevalence of malaria there decided him to build a hospital at hisown expense. He needed nuns to staff it and appealed to his sister. Their charity won all heartswhen a cholera epidemic broke out in Alger and the nuns worked day and night in improvisedconditions, and lacking remedies. It was not long before thirty of them were working in threeregions of Algeria. But many trials followed for the Sisters of the African foundation, when thebishop of Alger wanted to modify their Rule and assume government of the African group,detaching it from the Institute. They were eventually expatriated. The confidence of theirFoundress in the aid of Providence did not waver when calumnies followed them to France and amember of their own Institute defrocked and opposed it, with collaborators, by several lawsuits. Through these, the Foundress lost her original fortune and the Community was reduced toextreme poverty. God would prove that He alone was its inspiration and that He would not allowHis work to perish. Forced by ill-will in the region to change the site of their mother house, theSisters went for a time to Toulouse, without finding there the stability of direction the Instituterequired. Finally Monsignor Eugene de Mazenod, Founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate,welcomed them in Marseille and took the new Order under his beneficent protection. In 1842Rome issued a decree praising the Institute; in 1870 it was definitively approved.

When Saint Emily died on August 24, 1856, she left as her precious heritage to the Church and its children, already forty-two foundations of her Order, not only in Western and Eastern Europe andAfrica, but in the Middle East, the Far East, and Australia. Four years after her death, her mortalremains were found intact. In 1959, the Congregation was working from the base of one hundredand twenty-eight houses. Its Foundress was beatified in 1939 and canonized in 1951, by PopePius XII.

Sources: Saint Emily de Vialar, by Father Clement, O.D.M. (Magnificat: St. Jovite, 1993); Sainte Émilie de Vialar, by Gaetan Bernoville (Fayard: Paris, 1953);

St. Mary Micaela

Name: St. Mary Micaela
Date: 24 August

Maria Soledad Micaela Desmaisieres y Lopez de Dicastillo, often called Madre Sacramento because she founded a religious Order of Sisters consecrated especially to the Blessed Sacrament, was born in Madrid on the first day of January, 1809, during a time of political unrest. From theage of nine to twelve, she was a pupil of the Ursulines of the city of Pau in France. At the age ofthirteen, she lost her noble father, a general in the royal army. Her life as she grew older wasdivided between religious duties, which attracted her, and social ones involving trips, festivals andvisits. In 1844, when she visited the Hospital of Saint John of God in Madrid, she saw withcompassion the plight of young girls living a disordered life, and in 1845 established a school tore-educate them. She personally took on the direction of the school in January of 1849, and gaveit new force.

She resolved in 1847 to live for God alone, and in Paris, during the same year on Pentecost,received a mystical grace of union with God. She was drawn to an ardent love for Our Lord inthe Blessed Sacrament, as well as to an apostolate for the feminine youth of Madrid. Until 1856,she dedicated herself entirely to the school she had founded there, and then founded the Instituteof Religious Adorer-Slaves of the Most Blessed Sacrament and of Charity. She was directed bySaint Anthony Mary Claret for several years after 1857; and the foundations multiplied. Shepromoted and animated various apostolic works for the laity — the Conferences of Saint Vincentde Paul, Sunday Schools for public school children; she counseled the Sisters of the Love of Godat Zamora, at the request of their founder. Her Institute of the Blessed Sacrament was definitivelyapproved by the Holy See in 1866, a year after the death of the Foundress on August 24, 1865, avictim of her charity for the cholera victims of Valencia.

For Madre Sacramento, religious consecration is a service of love. The religious is at thedisposition of God to procure His glory; and God gives Himself to her, as she has given herself toHim. For God she loves suffering as a proof of love. The Foundress herself, in the last four yearsof her life, made the exceptional vow to choose what appeared to her as most perfect, in thepractice of her vows of poverty, chastity and obedience; this vow requires a total and heroic giftof self. She was beatified in 1925 and canonized on March 4, 1934 by Pope Pius XI.

Source: Dictionnaire de Spiritualité.

St. Louis, King of France

Name: St. Louis, King of France
Date: 25 August

The mother of the incomparable Saint Louis IX of France, Blanche of Castille, told him when he was still a child that she would rather see him dead in a coffin than stained by a single mortal sin. He never forgot her words. Raised to the throne and anointed in the Rheims Cathedral at the ageof twelve, while still remaining under his mother’s regency for several years, he made the defenseof God’s honor the aim of his life.

Before one year of their mutual sovereignty had ended, the Catholic armies of France, by aparticular blessing, had crushed the Albigensians of the south who had risen up under a hereticalprince, and forced them by stringent penalties to respect the Catholic faith. Amid the cares ofgovernment, the young prince daily recited the Divine Office and heard two Masses. The mostglorious churches in France are still memorials to his piety, among them the beautiful SainteChapelle of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, where the Crown of Thorns, the great relic which hebrought back from the Holy Land, is enshrined. When his courtiers remonstrated with Louis forhis law that blasphemers must be branded on the lips, he replied, “I would willingly have my ownlips branded if I could thereby root out blasphemy from my kingdom.” A fearless protector of theweak and the oppressed, a monarch whose justice was universally recognized, he was chosen toarbitrate in all the great feuds of his age.

In 1248, to rescue the land where Christ had walked, he gathered round him the chivalry ofFrance, and embarked for the East. He visited the holy places; approaching Nazareth hedismounted, knelt down to pray, then entered on foot. He visited the Holy House of Nazarethand on its wall a fresco was afterwards painted, still visible when the House was translated toLoreto, depicting him offering his manacles to the Mother of God. Wherever he was: at homewith his many children, facing the infidel armies, in victory or in defeat, on a bed of sickness or asa captive in chains, King Louis showed himself ever the same — the first, the best, and the bravestof Christian knights.

When he was a captive at Damietta, an Emir rushed into his tent brandishing a dagger red with the blood of the Sultan, and threatened to stab him also unless he would make him a knight. Louiscalmly replied that no unbeliever could perform the duties of a Christian knight. In the samecaptivity he was offered his liberty on terms lawful in themselves, but enforced by an oath whichimplied a blasphemy, and although the infidels held their swords’ points at his throat andthreatened a massacre of the Christians, Louis inflexibly refused.

The death of his mother recalled him to France in 1252; but when order was re-established heagain set out for a second crusade. In August of 1270 his army landed at Tunis, won a victoryover the enemy, then was laid low by a malignant fever. Saint Louis was one of the victims. Hereceived the Viaticum kneeling by his camp bed, and gave up his life with the same joy in whichhe had given all else for the honor of God.

Source: 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).

Other Highlights
»The Eternal Father
»The Circumcision of Our Lord
»St. William Berruyer
»St. Theodosius
»St. Alfred or Aelred
»St. Margaret Bourgeois
»St. Veronica of Milan
»The Baptism of Our Lord
»St. Hilary of Poitiers
»St. Paul the First Hermit
»St. Honoratus
»St. Marcellus, Pope
»Blessed Stephanie Quinzani
»St. Anthony Abbott
»St. Peters' Chair at Rome
»St. Canutus
»St. Fulgentius
»St. Macarius
»St. Fabien
»St. Sebastian
»St. Agnes
»St. Vincent, martyr
»St. Raymond of Pennafort
»St. Timothy
»St. Paul, The Conversion of
»St. Polycarp
»St. John Chrysostom
»St. Peter Nolasco
»St. Francis de Sales
»St. Genevieve
»St. Martina
»St. John Bosco
»St. Gregory, Bishop of Langres
»St. Angela of Foligno
»St. Simeon Stylites
»The Epiphany of Our Lord
»St. Lucian
»St. Claude Apollinaire
»St. Julian the Hospitalarian
»St. Basilissa
»St. Remi or Remigius
»St. Francis Borgia
»St. Tarachus
»The Divine Maternity of Mary
»St. Wilfrid
»Bl. Jane Leber
»St. Edward
»St. Callistus I
»St. Teresa of Avila
»St. Gall

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