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St. Felicity and her Seven Sons

Name: St. Felicity and her Seven Sons
Date: 10 July

Saint Felicity was a noble Roman matron, distinguished above all for her virtue. This mother of seven children raised her sons in the fear of the Lord, and after the death of her husband, servedGod in continence, concerning herself only with good works. Her good examples and those ofher children brought a number of pagans to renounce their superstitions, and also encouraged theChristians to show themselves worthy of their vocation. The pagan priests, furious at seeing theirgods abandoned, denounced her. She appeared with her pious sons before the prefect of Rome,who exhorted her to sacrifice to idols, but in reply heard a generous confession of faith.

“Wretched woman,” he said to her, “how can you be so barbarous as to expose your children to torments and death? Have pity on these tender creatures, who are in the flower of their age and can aspire to the highest positions in the Empire!” Felicity replied, “My children will live eternally with Jesus Christ, if they are faithful; they will have only eternal torments to await, if they sacrifice to idols. Your apparent pity is but a cruel impiety.” Then, turning to her children, she said: “Look towards heaven, where Jesus Christ is waiting for you with His Saints! Be faithful in Hislove, and fight courageously for your souls.”

The Judge, taking the children one by one, tried to overcome their constancy. He began withJanuarius, but received for his answer: “What you advise me to do is contrary to reason; Jesus,the Saviour, will preserve me, I hope, from such impiety.” Felix, the second, was then brought in. When they urged him to sacrifice, he answered: “There is only one God, and it is to Him that wemust offer the sacrifice of our hearts. Use all artifices, every refinement of cruelty, you will notmake us betray our faith!” The other brothers, when questioned, answered with the samefirmness. Martial, the youngest, who spoke last, said: “All those who do not confess that JesusChrist is the true God, will be cast into a fire which will never be extinguished.”

When the interrogation was finished, the Saints underwent the penalty of the lash and then were taken to prison. Soon they completed their sacrifice in various ways: Januarius was beaten untilhe died by leather straps capped with lead; Felix and Philip were killed with bludgeons; Sylvanuswas thrown headfirst from a cliff; Alexander, Vitalis and Martial were beheaded. Felicity, themother of these new Maccabees, was the last to suffer martyrdom.

Sources: 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.

St. James of Nisibis

Name: St. James of Nisibis
Date: 11 July

This eminent Saint and glorious Doctor of the Syrian Church was a native of Nisibis, a city near the border of the Roman Empire and Persia. In his youth, entering the world, he trembled at thesight of its vices and the slippery downhill path of its pleasures. He thought it wise to adoptretirement, that he might gain strength and afterwards be better able to stand his ground in thefield. He therefore chose the highest and most inaccessible mountain for his dwelling place, witha cave for shelter in winter, while for the rest of the year he lived in the forest, continuallyexposed to the open air. Notwithstanding his desire to live unknown to men, he was discovered. He was highly favored with the gifts of prophecy and miracles, and many were not afraid to climbthe rugged rocks that they might recommend themselves to his prayers, and receive the comfortof his spiritual advice.

After a number of years he left his solitude to enter Persia, where he knew that there was avirtually infinite multitude of idolaters. There his prayers wrought miracles which changed theattitude of a considerable number. When he returned to Nisibis, he found the bishop’s palacevacant after the death of the prelate. The clergy and people unanimously chose Saint James toreplace him, overcoming his humility by their persistent persuasion.

One day, as the bishop was traveling, he was accosted by a gang of beggars intending to extort money from him under the pretext of having to bury one of their companions. The latter hadstretched out on the ground as though dead. The holy man gave them what they asked, and“offering up supplications to God as for a soul departed, he prayed that His Divine Majesty wouldpardon that man the sins he had committed while he lived, and admit him into the company of theSaints.” As soon as the Saint had passed on, the beggars called out to their companion to get upand receive his share of the booty. How amazed they were to find him genuinely dead! Seizedwith sudden fear and grief, they cried out in the utmost consternation and immediately ran afterthe man of God, casting themselves at his feet and confessing their fraud. They begged hisforgiveness and besought him by his prayers to restore their unhappy companion to life, and thisthe Saint did.

The most famous miracle of our Saint was that by which he protected his native city from thebarbarians. Sapor II, the haughty King of Persia, was besieging Nisibis with the whole strength ofhis empire while Saint James was its bishop. The prelate would not pray for the destruction ofanyone, but implored divine Mercy that the city might be delivered from the calamities of soterrible a siege. Then, going to the top of a high tower and turning his gaze towards the enemy,he looked down upon the prodigious multitude of men and beasts, covering the whole country. He prayed, “Lord, Thou art able by the weakest means to humble the pride of Thy enemies; defeatthese multitudes by an army of gnats.” God heard the humble prayer of His servant. He hadhardly finished speaking these words, when whole clouds of gnats and flies came pouring downupon the Persians, entering into the elephants’ trunks and the horses’ ears and nostrils. Theanimals chafed and foamed and threw their riders, and the entire army was cast into confusion anddisorder. A famine and pestilence followed and carried off a great number of the invaders. TheKing of Persia, after remaining more than three months before the walls, set fire to all his enginesof war and abandoned the siege; he retreated, having lost twenty thousand of his men.

When Sapor was again repulsed from outside the walls of Nisibis in 359, he turned his armsagainst the neighboring city of Amidus, seized that stronghold, and put the garrison and most ofthe inhabitants to death by the sword. The citizens of Nisibis attributed their preservation fromthis second attack to the intercession of their glorious patron, Saint James, although he hadalready gone to his reward. He died in the year 350.

Sources: 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:

St. Pius I

Name: St. Pius I
Date: 11 July

Saint Pius I, born in the State of Venice, succeeded Saint Hygin in the year 142 as the ninthsuccessor to Saint Peter, during the reign of the emperor Antoninus the Pious. Throughout hispontificate he took great care to make the religion of Christ flourish, and published many beautifulordinances for the utility of the universal Church. In his decrees he was severe towardsblasphemers and with the clergy who showed negligence for the divine Mysteries of the altar. Saint Pius ordained that Easter be celebrated on a Sunday; in this way the custom which theApostles had already observed became an inviolable law of the Church.

His pontificate was marked by the efforts of various heretics in Rome, among them the gnostics Valentinian, Cerdon, and Marcion, to sow their errors in the Church’s center. The last-named,when excluded from communion by Saint Pius, founded the heretical group which bears his name. Saint Justin and other Catholic teachers assisted the Pontiff in defending Christian doctrine andpreserving it from corruption. After having governed the Church for fifteen years Saint Pius Iobtained the crown of martyrdom by the sword, in the year of Our Lord 150.

Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 8.

St. John Gualbert

Name: St. John Gualbert
Date: 12 July

Saint John Gualbert was born in Florence in the year 999. He was raised with care in piety and the study of the humanities, but no sooner had he entered adult life than he acquired a taste forpleasures. God, desiring to save and sanctify him, found a means to open his eyes. He wasfollowing the profession of arms at that troubled period, when on Good Friday, as he was ridinginto Florence accompanied by armed men, he encountered his brother’s murderer in a place whereneither could avoid the other. John would have slain him, according to the customary vengeanceof those times; but his adversary, who was totally unprepared to fight, fell upon his knees with hisarms outstretched in the form of a cross, and implored him, for the sake of Our Lord’s holyPassion, to spare his life. Saint John said to his enemy, “I cannot refuse what you ask in Christ’s name. I grant you not only your life, but my friendship. Pray that God may forgive me my sin!” They embraced and parted; grace had triumphed.

A humble and changed man, he went to a nearby abbatial church, and while he prayed with fervor for forgiveness, the figure of our crucified Lord, before which he was kneeling, bowed its headtoward him, as if to confirm His pardon and manifest His gratitude for the generous pardon Johnhimself had granted. Abandoning the world then, Saint John devoted himself to prayer andpenance in the Benedictine Order. His virtue and austerity were so great that when his abbotdied, he was unanimously chosen to replace him; but he could not be prevailed upon to acceptthat honor. He retired to Vallombrosa, which became the cradle of a new Order which followedthe Rule of Saint Benedict in all its austerity. It was from this shady valley, a few miles fromFlorence, that the Order spread over Italy.

Once during a time of famine, he went to the nearly empty storeroom, and at his prayer theprovisions multiplied to the point that he could distribute grain to all his houses and to all the poorwho presented themselves. On an occasion when he found one of the monasteries too rich, heprayed a stream flowing past it to take on the violence of a torrent and overturn the building. This was done without delay. Another time, the enemies of the Saint came to his convent ofSaint Salvi, plundered it and set fire to it and, after treating the monks with ignominy, beat themand injured them. Saint John rejoiced. “Now,” he said, “you are true monks. Oh, how I envy your lot!”

Saint John Gualbert fought vigorously against simony, and in many ways promoted the interestsof the Faith in Italy. After a life of great austerity, he died while Angels were singing near hisbed, on July 12, 1073.

Sources: Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950); Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Sain

St. Anacletus

Name: St. Anacletus
Date: 13 July

Saint Anacletus was the second successor to Saint Peter, by whom he was converted to the faith. He was also ordained a deacon and consecrated priest by Christ’s own first Vicar, as SaintIgnatius of Antioch affirms. He was Greek by origin, born in Athens; in the year 83 he waschosen to succeed Saint Cletus, who had been martyred. The emperor Domitian had begun aviolent persecution which increased in fury as time passed; but the faith of the Christians did notdiminish, only receiving new force from the blood of the martyrs.

This holy Pontiff omitted no solicitude which could animate the faithful to expose their lives generously for the glory of Jesus Christ. During his nine years of reign, he consecrated sixbishops. The last of these bishops was Saint Evaristus, who would succeed him; Saint Anacletus consecrated him the year before his death, foreseeing he could not long escape the fate of all the first Vicars of Christ.

One of his enduring ordinances was the law that for the consecration of a bishop, three bishops must participate; that practice had been established by Saint Paul. He also required that allordinations be accomplished in public. He built a church in honor of Saint Peter, to whom heowed his conversion, at the site of Saint Peter’s burial; the original structure was conserved byProvidence amid many tempests. He reserved burial sites for future martyrs in the Christiancemeteries, because multitudes were being condemned under Domitian. He also designated andadorned sites for the interment of future Pontiffs in the Vatican. Saint Anacletus was highlypraised by Saint Ignatius of Antioch in a well-known letter. He died on July 13th in the year 96,and was buried in the Vatican.

Certain authors would confound Saint Cletus and Anacletus and make of them one person. Theirfather’s names are known, however, as well as their place of birth — the one in Italy, the other in Greece; moreover, Saint Cletus was consecrated bishop by Saint Peter, saint Anacletus wasordained a priest by him.

Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 8.

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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