Franciscan Saints and Blessed
January 3 - HOLY NAME OF JESUS
The name "Jesus" proclaims that 'God is with us' and through Him, we are saved
The name "Jesus" not only identifies him as someone; it also specifies his relationship with his people. It says both who he is and what he is, namely a brother and Savior. Salvation is not found in any other person or any human achievement. Jesus is the sole Mediator and Savior.
St. Bernadine of Siena, from 1417 onwards, popularized devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus using tiles and banners depicting four angels presenting the sky with the sun at its center. Within the sun are the letters IHS (the first three letters of Jesus as spelled in Greek) illustrating that Jesus our brother and Savior is the center of the universe, and the light and sustenance of our lives, and indeed Life itself. The memorial was authorized for the Franciscan Order in 1530.
(First Reading: Phil. 2: 5-11; Gospel: Mt. 1: 18-23)
January 4 - BL. ANGELA OF FOLIGNO (1248-1309)
Third Order Regular. Widow
After leading a sinful life, even as wife and mother, Angela was converted in 1285. Following the death of her husband, her children and her mother, she became a Franciscan tertiary in Foligno and established a community of Sisters of the Third Order Regular. Directed by the friar, Arnold of Foligno, she was endowed with great mystical gifts. Her spirituality is strongly centered in Christ, leading to union with the Most Holy Trinity. Her writings, translated into Latin by Friar Arnold, have been praised by St. Francis de Sales, St. Alphonsus Ligouri and Pope Benedict XIV. She was beatified in 1693.
(First Reading: Phil. 3: 8-14; Gospel: Mt. 11: 25-30)
January 7 - ST. CHARLES OF SEZZE (1613-1670)
Giancarlo Marchionni joined the friars at San Francesco a Ripa in Rome at the age of 22, taking the name Carlo (Charles). He worked in the kitchen and garden of many friaries around Italy. As cook, gardener, sacristan and questor of alms, he sanctified his daily actions with spiritual thoughts and intentions. He never denied those who came begging to the friary, and sometimes with the sign of the cross, he was able to multiply food for those who needed it. Rewarding his prayers and mortifications, the Lord gave him many charisms which he tried to hide. He received inner stigmata and had gifts of miracles and prophecies. He worked tirelessly to help the victims of the plague of 1656. He was canonized in 1959 by Bl. John XXIII.
(First Reading: Is. 58: 6-11; Gospel: Mt. 25: 31-40)
January 11 - ST. THOMAS OF CORI (1655-1729)
Francesco Antonio Placidi entered the friars at Orvieto, Italy aged 22 and became known as Tommaso (Thomas). Ordained in 1683 at Velletri, he was soon nominated as assistant master of novices. Known for his fidelity to the Rule, he was drawn to the contemplative dimension and drew up Constitutions for hermitages. These were approved for the whole Order by the General Chapter held at Murcia in 1756. The last 20 years of his life were spent in the hermitage of Bellegra. From there, he preached the Gospel around the diocese of Subiaco. He was renowned for his spiritual direction, his healing powers and his ability to spread peace, joy and reconciliation despite his personal poor health. He was canonized by John Paul II in 1999.
(First Reading: 1 Kings 19: 4-9, 11-15; Gospel: Mk. 10: 17-27)
January 14 - BL. ODORIC OF PORDENONE (c.1285-1331)
Little is known of the early life of Oderic Mattiuzzi. He was ordained a Franciscan priest and served in Udine not far from his native Pordenone in north-east Italy. In 1318, he set sail from Venice to Istanbul en route to China. He preached Christianity among the Medes and Persians. Proceeding through the Persian Gulf, he moved to India basing himself near Mumbai. He then went to Indonesia and finally reached Khanbaliq (modern Beijing) in 1325 where his evangelical endeavors during the next three years merited him the title of the Apostle of the Chinese. To keep Pope John XXII and the Minister General informed about missionary possibilities and needs, he returned to Europe via Tibet in 1330. Worn out by his missionary toils, he died at Udine the following year. His veneration as blessed was approved by Benedict XIV in 1755.
(First Reading: 1 Thess. 2: 2-8; Gospel: Mk. 16: 15-20)
January 16 - Ss. BERARD & COMPANIONS (+1220)
Friars Minor. Protomartyrs
Berard, Peter, Accursius, Adjutus and Otto, first martyrs of the Franciscan Order, were all natives of Umbria. Berard, born in Calvi (Narni), was received into the Order by St. Francis in 1213; Peter, a native of San Gemini, became a friar in 1211; Otto was a native of Stroncone. Sent by Francis in 1219 to preach to the Moors, they arrived in Coimbra, Portugal where they were received by Queen Uraca, wife of Alphonsus II. Their first mission to the Moors in Seville was unsuccessful, and they crossed to Morocco where they preached in the presence of King Mira-ma-Molin. The king had them expelled but the friars evaded the guard at Ceuta and returned to their mission. Infuriated by their insistence, the king had them put to death by the sword on 16th January, 1220. Their remains were brought back to Europe and rested in the church of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine of the Holy Cross at Coimbra where St. Anthony of Padua - not yet a friar - was a member of the community. Berard and his companions were canonised in 1481 by Sixtus IV.
(First Reading: 1 Cor. 4: 9-13; Gospel: Mt. 10: 16-22)
January 19 - ST. EUSTOCHIA CALAFATO (1434-1485)
Poor Clare. Virgin
Smeralda Calafato was born in Messina (Sicily). Her mother was an enthusiastic admirer of the reform of the strict observance - especially regarding poverty - of the first rule of St Clare which was gaining ground in the area. Smeralda in her early teens joined the monastery where she was given the name of Eustochia. With zeal and commitment, she dedicated herself to prayer and mortification and constant meditation on the Passion of Christ. However, some of the sisters including Eustochia became disillusioned with how the stricter observance of the Rule was being lived. Having obtained the necessary papal authorization, they moved into the premises of an old hospital attached to the monastery. Soon they had to leave the old hospital and in 1464 found generous hospitality in the home of a congregation of the Franciscan Third Order at Montevergine. As abbess here Eustochia drew more sisters to a Christocentric spirituality with great devotion to the Eucharist, nutrients to an intense and heartfelt liturgical life. By the time she died there in 1485, there was a fervent and respected religious community of some 50 nuns and Eustochia was renowned for the fragrance of her virtues and the fame of her holiness. She was canonized by John Paul II in 1988.
(First Reading: 1 Peter 4: 7-11; Gospel: Mt. 16: 24-27)
January 30 - ST. HYACINTH MARISCOTTI (1585-1640)
Third Order Regular. Virgin
Clarice, daughter of Marc Antonio Mariscotti and Ottavia Orsini, was born in Vignanello near Viterbo. Disappointed in a love affair, she entered the Third Order Regular in Viterbo, taking the name of Hyacinth. Here she led a very comfortable life for fifteen years. A severe illness led to her conversion. Deep humility, poverty and penance characterized her life from then on. She also turned her attention to social work for the poor, the infirm, and prisoners. Others whom she in turn converted, were influenced to promote institutions for the old and the sick, Hyacinth's own life was marked by an intense love for the Blessed Eucharist and the B.V.M. She was canonized in 1807 by Pius VII.
(First Reading: 2 Cor. 10: 17-11, 2; Gospel: Mt. 16: 24-27)
February 6 - SS. PETER BAPTIST, PAUL MIKI & COMPANIONS (+1597)
Friars Minor & Secular Franciscans. Martyrs
Franciscans were among the first martyrs in the Far East: Peter Baptist Blasquez, Martin Aguirre, and Francis Blanco were priests; Mexican-born Philip de las Casas was an acolyte; and Francis de San Miguel and Indian-born Gonzalo Garcia were lay brothers. Seventeen Japanese Secular Franciscans ranging in age from 12 to 40 years were among this group of martyrs. Paul Miki was one of three Jesuits. The Friars had been sent from the Philippines to Japan in 1593, eventually imprisoned by the emperor in 1596, and they together with the others were crucified on the seashore near Nagasaki in 1597. They were canonized in 1862 by Bl. Pius IX.
(First Reading: Rom. 8: 31-39; Gospel: Mt. 16: 24-27)
February 7 - ST. COLETTE OF CORBIE (1381-1447)
Poor Clare. Virgin
Nicolette, only offspring of Robert Boylet and Marguerite Moyon, was born in Corbie in the north-west of France on 13thJanuary, 1381. By the age of 21 she had unsuccessfully tried religious life three times. Within the next few years, she experienced a divine call to reform both the Friars Minor and Poor Clares in France. Authorized and encouraged by Pope Benedict XIII in 1406, Colette spent the rest of her life bringing many Poor Clare monasteries back to the original Rule of St. Clare, as well as in reforming several communities of the Friars Minor. Before her death in 1447, she had founded and won seventeen Poor Clare monasteries back to the ideal of St. Clare. To her contemporaries, she was a woman of prayer and austerity, allied to great courage and attractiveness of character. She was canonized in 1807 by Pius VII.
(First Reading: Hosea 2: 16-17, 21-22; Gospel: Luke 10: 38-40)
February 7 - ST. GILES MARY OF ST JOSEPH (1729-1812)
Born in Taranto (Italy), Francesco Antonio Pontillo joined the Franciscans in the Province of Lecce receiving the name of Giles Mary of St Joseph. In 1759 he moved to the friary of Chiaia in Naples where he remained for the rest of his life. There he performed the duties of cook, porter and seeker of alms and built up a remarkable relationship with the destitute and the suffering of Naples. He carried the love of God to the marginalized and the forgotten but even the nobility of the kingdom of Naples liked to meet and talk with this Franciscan brother of simple words and a vibrant faith. He nourished this faith with prolonged prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, his love for the Infant Jesus, his tender devotion to the Mother of God and his special honoring of St Joseph and St Paschal Baylón. He died as the Angelus bell of the Church rang out on February 7 1812. John Paul II canonized him in 1996.
(First Reading: 1 John 3: 14-18; Gospel: Mark 3: 31-35)
February 7 - ST. JOHN OF TRIORA (1760-1816)
Friar minor. Martyr
Francesco Maria Lantrua came from Molini di Triora (Italy) and joined the Franciscans of the Roman Province in 1777, receiving the name of John. Ordained in 1784, he ministered in a number of friaries, teaching philosophy and theology and serving as guardian. He volunteered for the mission to China. He renewed the Christian communities there, spreading especially devotion to the Way of the Cross. Denounced as a minister of a European religion amid a persecution against Christianity, he was imprisoned and condemned to death. He was fixed to a cross where he was strangled. His body was translated to the basilica of Santa Maria in Aracaeli in Rome. Together with 119 other martyrs in China from the 17th to the 20th centuries (87 Chinese and 32 Europeans), he was canonized by John Paul II in the Holy Year of 2000.
(First Reading: 2 Chron. 24: 18-22; Gospel: Mt. 10: 17-22)
February 25 - BL. SEBASTIÁN OF APARICIO (1502-1600)
Sebastián del Prado came from a farming background in La Gudiña in Galicia and at the age of 15 wandered into Spain in search of work. Trusted always for his honesty and integrity, he worked as a farmer and tended the vines in Andalusía, while at the same time helping the poor and the sick around him. In 1533 he immigrated to Mexico where he found work rounding up wild cattle which he then trained to pull a cart. He was the first Mexican cowboy. He teamed up with a carpenter and they built some oxcarts and went into the transportation business. He worked at that business for 18 years and took those carts to many places and where there were no roads, he made his own roads, in fact some 960km of them. By now a rich man, Sebastián retired and moved to farms outside Mexico City where his reputation for prayer and charitable works spread widely. At the age of 60, he entered a virginal marriage. When his first wife died shortly afterwards, he entered a similar second marriage; his second wife also died young. Desiring greater holiness, he wished to serve in a monastery of Poor Clares and donated all his worldly goods to them in 1573. In his 70s, he was admitted to the novitiate in the Church of S. Francesco in Mexico City where he was professed. In 1576 he moved to the convent of Aparicio in Puebla de Los Ángeles where working as gardener, cook, infirmarian, porter and sacristan, he spent the rest of his life, practicing mortifications and renowned for his holiness and love for the needy. He died at the age of 98, his eyes fixed on the Crucifix. He was beatified in 1789 by Pius VI. He is regarded as the patron of transport in Mexico.
(First Reading: Eccles. 3: 17-24; Gospel: Mt. 25: 31-40)
March 2 - ST. AGNES OF PRAGUE (BOHEMIA) (1205-1282)
Poor Clare. Virgin
Agnes was born in Prague in 1205, daughter to Premysl Ottokar I of Bohemia, her mother being Constantia, sister of King Andrew II of Hungary. Some of her early education was entrusted to St. Hedwig of Silesia, a grand-aunt on her mother's side. Agnes was also a first cousin to St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Rejecting two offers of marriage, Agnes entered the Poor Clare Convent of Prague on 11th June 1234 and was made abbess on 31st August of the same year. Close friend and ally of St. Clare, she dedicated herself to a literal following of the poor Christ. Clare spoke of Agnes as her “dearest mother and most beloved daughter of all” (Letter IV). Agnes died in 1282 and was canonized by John Paul II in 1989.
(First Reading: 1 Cor. 7: 25-35; Gospel: Mt. 25: 1-13)
March 3 - BL. LIBERATUS WEISS AND COMPANIONS (+1716)
Friars Minor. Martyrs
Johannes Laurentius Weiβ, born at Konnersreuth in Germany, joined the Franciscans in the Austrian Province of St Bernardine in 1693, receiving the name Liberatus. He was ordained five years later. While in Graz in 1703, he responded to an appeal to serve as a missionary in Ethiopia. He was named in 1711 by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith as the head of a missionary endeavor and was joined by two other Italian Franciscan priests, Michele Pio Fasoli from Zerbo, and Samuele Marzorati from Biumo. In defense of the Catholic faith, they were stoned to death at Gondar in 1716 and beatified by John Paul II in 1988.
(First Reading: 2 Macc. 7: 1-2, 9-14; Gospel: John 12: 24-26)
March 5 - ST. JOHN JOSEPH OF THE CROSS (1654-1734)
Carlo Gaetano Calosirto came from Ischia, a volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples, and became a Franciscan in Naples in 1670 among the Spanish Alcantarines with the name John Joseph of the Cross. After his ordination in 1677, he spent the early years of his priesthood in a small hermitage. He served as Provincial for three years from 1703. In his work he suffered much and became the victim of numerous calumnies. Throughout his life, he devoted himself to contemplative prayer, about which he wrote intensely. He was always a friend of the poor and the estranged and was a counsellor of illustrious contemporaries like St Alphonsus Maria Ligouri. As an old man, he was severely troubled with leg ulcers so he could hardly take a step without using a stick. He was canonized with his friend St Alphonsus by Gregory XVI in 1839.
(First Reading: Eccles. 2: 7-13; Gospel: Mt. 22: 35-40)
March 18 - ST. SALVADOR OF HORTA (1520-1567)
Born at Santa Colomba de Farnés in Catalonia (Spain), the family of Salvador Grionesos worked in a small local hospital helping the sick. Seeking to serve the Lord more closely, Salvador became a shoemaker and joined the famous Benedictine Abbey of Montserrat. He felt called, however, to a more intense life of humility and poverty and in 1541 became a Franciscan in Barcelona where he was professed a year later and sent to the convent of Tortosa, renowned for its observance and austerity. Working as porter and quaestor of alms, daily he met the local people with whom he frequently prayed and many of whom he cured with a simple sign of the cross. His reputation caused crowds to come to the friary, disturbing the peace of the cloister. His superiors then moved him out of Tortosa and he went eventually in 1559 to Horta some 10 km away. From being a tiny unknown village, Horta became known throughout Spain as Salvador attracted thousands in pilgrimage for cures of all kinds. Again Salvador was moved to other friaries, always obedient to his superiors who even tried to hide his presence by giving him a false name Alphonsus. The Lord continued to work miracles through him. He suffered and was completely misunderstood because of his charism. As the crowds continued to seek him out, he was moved out of Spain in 1565 to Italy where in Cagliari he had comparative peace for the last 15 months of his life. He was canonized by Pius XI in 1938.
(First Reading: 1 Kings 19: 4-9, 11-15; Gospel: Mt. 11: 25-30)
March 22 - ST. BENVENUTE SCOTIVOLI OF OSIMO (about 1188-1282)
Benvenute Scotivoli became a priest and then Bishop of Osimo in Italy. He was born in Ancona and studied theology and law at the University of Bologna. He was archdeacon of Ancona before being appointed Bishop of Osimo. He was known as a great reformer and peacemaker. Realizing that his death was near, he distributed all his goods to the poor, and after his death he was buried in the Cathedral crypt. Miracles occurred around his tomb. Tradition backed by the Franciscan historian Luke Wadding claims that he requested Pope Urban IV to profess the Franciscan Rule before he became bishop and the Pope granted this. Other authors dispute this and the claim remains open. He was canonized by Pope Martin IV in the 13th century.
(First Reading: Is. 61: 1-3; Gospel: John 10: 11-16)
April 4 - ST. BENEDICT OF SAN FRATELLO (1524-1589)
The parents of Benedict were native Ethiopians who had been brought as slaves to San Fratello, a village in Sicily. There they became Christians and lived such exemplary lives that their master gave Benedict, their eldest son, his freedom. Getting to know some hermits who followed the Rule of St Francis, he joined them and led the life of a hermit for 17 years with meekness and cheerfulness. In 1562, Pope Pius IV decreed that the hermits join established friaries of the Franciscans and Capuchins. Benedict went to the convent of the friars in Palermo. There he continued his former pious exercises and took on other heavy work. Though without any schooling, he was appointed guardian of the house and guided the community with wisdom, prudence and charity for three years. The fame of his sanctity and the miracles he performed attracted many, even the nobility of Sicily, to visit him for guidance and advice. A new wing had to be built on to the friary to accommodate the many men who joined. At the end of his term of office, Benedict went back with joy to his ordinary duties in the kitchen. He died at the hour he had foretold and his veneration spread from Europe to Brazil, Mexico and Peru. He was canonized in 1807 by Pius VII.
(First Reading: 1 Kings 19: 16, 19-21; Gospel: Luke 6: 27-38)
April 21 - ST. CONRAD OF PARZHAM (1818-1894)
Friar Minor. Confessor
John Birndorfer was one of ten children born to Bartholomew Birndorfer and Gertrude Niedermaier in Parzham, Bavaria. After his parents' death he continued to work on the family farm until 1849, when he decided to become a lay friar in the Capuchin Order taking the name of Conrad. Following his profession in 1852, Conrad was sent to the Marian shrine in Altoetting where he worked as porter at the friary until the end of his life. Prayer, work, patience, and affability characterized him, and he drew strength from the Blessed Eucharist, the Passion, and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He also found time to work for abandoned children. Conrad was canonized by Pius XI in 1934.
(First Reading: Apoc. 3: 14, 20-22; Gospel: Luke 11: 9-13)
April 23 - BL. GILES OF ASSISI (+1262)
Giles was the third of the first twelve companions of St. Francis, joining him in 1209. He headed a group of missionaries to Tunis in 1219, a project that had to be soon abandoned because of local hostility. After the death of St. Francis, Giles remained a tireless and outspoken upholder of the primitive form of life (forma vitae). He was highly esteemed by St. Bonaventure because of his spirit of prayer and simplicity. Giles died in 1262 at a small friary in Monteripido (Perugia, Italy), where he had spent the last twenty-eight years of his life. His cult as Blessed was approved in 1777 by Pius VI. Apart from St. Clare of Assisi, Giles is the only companion of St. Francis to be thus honored by the Church.
(First Reading: Eph. 3: 14-19; Gospel: John 15: 1-8)
April 24 - ST. FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN (1578-1622)
Friar Minor. Martyr
Mark Roy, son of John Roy, mayor of Sigmaringen north of Lake Constance (Germany) took out his degrees in philosophy and civil and ecclesiastical law in Freiburg-im-Breisgau in the years 1603-1611. He spent the intervening years acting as tutor to sons of noblemen and travelling a great deal in France, Spain and Italy. After practicing civil law for a short period he was ordained priest, and then entered the Capuchin Order in 1612, taking the name Fidelis. He exercised his apostolate of preaching particularly in Switzerland, where his natural abilities and his life of prayer helped to bring many Calvinists back to the Church. Fearing his influence, a group of Calvinists attacked and killed him as he was preaching after Mass in Seewis, Switzerland. Fidelis was canonized in 1746 by Benedict XIV. He was declared Protomartyr of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in 1771, because his final mission was undertaken by authority of that Congregation.
(First Reading: Apoc. 3: 7-8, 10-12 ; Second Reading: 2 Tim. 2: 8-13 & 3: 10-12; Gospel: John 10: 11-16)
April 28 - BL. LUCHESIUS (about 1181-1260)
Luchesius, born in Gaggiano (Siena, Italy), spent an early part of his life as a soldier, then turned to farming and trading in grain, being particularly avaricious. He is said to have been converted to a new life by St. Francis in Poggibonsi, and became the first Secular Franciscan along with his wife, Bounadonna dei Segni, whom he in turn had converted. They gave away their wealth and engaged in works of charity for the poor. Pius VI is recorded as approving the veneration accorded to Luchesius from time immemorial.
(First Reading: Jas. 2: 14-17; Gospel: Mt. 13: 44-46)