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Chris Michalczuk

023 9282 8305||www.stswithuns.org.uk

March 2020

Saint Stephen of Mar Saba

Mar 31
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Stephen of Mar Saba’s Story (725 – 794) A “do not disturb” sign helped today’s saint find holiness and peace. Stephen of Mar Saba was the nephew of Saint John Damascene, who introduced the young boy to monastic life beginning at age 10. When he reached 24, Stephen served the community in a variety of ways, including guest master. After some time he asked permission to live a hermit’s life. The answer from the abbot was yes and no: Stephen…

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April 2020

Saint Hugh of Grenoble

Apr 1
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Hugh of Grenoble’s Story (1053 – April 1, 1132) Today’s saint could be a patron for those of us who feel so overwhelmed by all the problems in the world that we don’t know where to begin. Hugh, who served as a bishop in France for 52 years, had his work cut out for him from the start. Corruption seemed to loom in every direction: the buying and selling of Church offices, violations of clerical celibacy, lay control of Church…

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Saint Francis of Paola

Apr 2
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Francis of Paola’s Story (March 27, 1416 – April 2, 1507) Francis of Paola was a man who deeply loved contemplative solitude and wished only to be the “least in the household of God.” Yet, when the Church called him to active service in the world, he became a miracle-worker and influenced the course of nations. After accompanying his parents on a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi, he began to live as a contemplative hermit in a remote cave…

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Saint Benedict the African

Apr 3
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Benedict the African’s Story (1526 – 1589) Benedict held important posts in the Franciscan Order and gracefully adjusted to other work when his terms of office were up. His parents were slaves brought from Africa to Messina, Sicily. Freed at 18, Benedict did farm work for a wage and soon saved enough to buy a pair of oxen. He was very proud of those animals. In time, he joined a group of hermits around Palermo and was eventually recognized…

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Saint Isidore of Seville

Apr 4
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Isidore of Seville’s Story (c. 560 – April 4, 636) The 76 years of Isidore’s life were a time of conflict and growth for the Church in Spain. The Visigoths had invaded the land a century and a half earlier, and shortly before Isidore’s birth they set up their own capital. They were Arians—Christians who said Christ was not God. Thus, Spain was split in two: One people (Catholic Romans) struggled with another (Arian Goths). Isidore reunited Spain, making…

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Saint Vincent Ferrer

Apr 5
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Vincent Ferrer’s Story (January 23, 1350 – April 5,1419) The polarization in the Church today is a mild breeze compared with the tornado that ripped the Church apart during the lifetime of this saint. If any saint is a patron of reconciliation, Vincent Ferrer is. Despite parental opposition, he entered the Dominican Order in his native Spain at 19. After brilliant studies, he was ordained a priest by Cardinal Peter de Luna—who would figure tragically in his life. Of…

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Saint Crescentia Hoess

Apr 6
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Crescentia Hoess’ Story (October 20, 1682 – April 5, 1744) Crescentia was born in 1682, the daughter of a poor weaver, in a little town near Augsburg. She spent play time praying in the parish church, assisted those even poorer than herself and had so mastered the truths of her religion that she was permitted to make her first Holy Communion at the then unusually early age of 7. In the town she was called “the little angel.” As…

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Saint John Baptist de la Salle

Apr 7
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint John Baptist de la Salle’s Story (April 30, 1651 – April 7, 1719) Complete dedication to what he saw as God’s will for him dominated the life of John Baptist de la Salle. In 1950, Pope Pius XII named him patron of schoolteachers for his efforts in upgrading school instruction. As a young 17th-century Frenchman, John had everything going for him: scholarly bent, good looks, noble family background, money, refined upbringing. At the early age of 11, he received…

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Saint Julie Billiart

Apr 8
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Julie Billiart’s Story (July 12, 1751 – April 8, 1816) Born in Cuvilly, France, into a family of well-to-do farmers, young Marie Rose Julie Billiart showed an early interest in religion and in helping the sick and poor. Though the first years of her life were relatively peaceful and uncomplicated, Julie had to take up manual work as a young teen when her family lost its money. However, she spent her spare time teaching catechism to young people and…

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Saint Casilda

Apr 9
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Casilda’s Story (d. c. 1050) Some saints’ names are far more familiar to us than others, but even the lives of obscure holy persons teach us something. And so it is with Saint Casilda. Her father was a Muslim leader in Toledo, Spain, in the 10th century. Casilda was a devout Muslim but was kind to Christian prisoners. She became ill as a young woman but did not trust that any of the local Arab doctors could cure her. So she made a…

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Saint Magdalen of Canossa

Apr 10
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Magdalen of Canossa’s Story (March 1, 1774 – April 10, 1835) Wealth and privilege did nothing to prevent today’s saint from following her calling to serve Christ in the poor. Nor did the protests of her relatives, concerned that such work was beneath her. Born in northern Italy in 1774, Magdalen knew her mind—and spoke it. At age 15 she announced she wished to become a nun. After trying out her vocation with the cloistered Carmelites, she realized her desire…

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Saint Stanislaus

Apr 11
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Stanislaus’ Story (July 26, 1030 – April 11, 1079) Anyone who reads the history of Eastern Europe cannot help but chance on the name of Stanislaus, the saintly but tragic bishop of Kraków, patron of Poland. He is remembered with Saints Thomas More and Thomas Becket for vigorous opposition to the evils of an unjust government. Born in Szczepanow near Kraków on July 26, 1030, he was ordained a priest after being educated in the cathedral schools of Gniezno, then capital…

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Saint Teresa of Los Andes

Apr 12
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Teresa of Los Andes’ Story (July 13, 1900 – April 12, 1920) One needn’t live a long life to leave a deep imprint. Teresa of Los Andes is proof of that. As a young girl growing up in the early 1900’s in Santiago, Chile, Juana Fernandez read an autobiography of a French-born saint—Thérèse, popularly known as the Little Flower. The experience deepened her desire to serve God and clarified the path she would follow. At age 19 Juana became a Carmelite nun,…

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Saint Martin I

Apr 13
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Martin I’s Story (d. September 16, 655) When Martin I became pope in 649, Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine empire and the patriarch of Constantinople was the most influential Church leader in the eastern Christian world. The struggles that existed within the Church at that time were magnified by the close cooperation of emperor and patriarch. A teaching, strongly supported in the East, held that Christ had no human will. Twice, emperors had officially favored this position:…

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Blessed Peter Gonzalez

Apr 14
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Blessed Peter Gonzalez’s Story (1190 – April 15, 1246) Saint Paul had a conversion experience on the road to Damascus. Many years later, the same proved true for Peter Gonzalez, who triumphantly rode his horse into the Spanish city of Astorga in the 13thcentury to take up an important post at the cathedral. The animal stumbled and fell, leaving Peter in the mud and onlookers amused. Humbled, Peter reevaluated his motivations–his bishop-uncle had secured the cathedral post for him– and started…

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Blessed Caesar de Bus

Apr 15
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Blessed Caesar de Bus’ Story (February 3, 1544 – April 15, 1607) Like so many of us, Caesar de Bus struggled with the decision about what to do with his life. After completing his Jesuit education he had difficulty settling between a military and a literary career. He wrote some plays but ultimately settled for life in the army and at court. For a time, life was going rather smoothly for the engaging, well-to-do young Frenchman. He was confident he…

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Saint Bernadette Soubirous

Apr 16
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Bernadette Soubirous’s Story (January 7, 1844 – April 16, 1879) Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a…

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Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

Apr 17
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre’s Story (March 25, 1748 – April 17, 1783) Benedict Joseph Labre was truly eccentric, one of God’s special little ones. Born in France and the eldest of 18 children, he studied under his uncle, a parish priest. Because of poor health and a lack of suitable academic preparation he was unsuccessful in his attempts to enter the religious life. Then, at age 16, a profound change took place. Benedict lost his desire to study and gave…

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Blessed James Oldo

Apr 18
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Blessed James Oldo’s Story (1364 – April 18, 1404) You’ve heard rags-to-riches stories. Today, we celebrate the reverse. James of Oldo was born into a well-to-do family near Milan in 1364. He married a woman who like him, appreciated the comforts that came with wealth. But an outbreak of the plague drove James, his wife, and their three children out of their home and into the countryside. Despite those precautions, two of his daughters died from the plague. James determined…

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Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Apr 19
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla’s Story (October 4, 1922 – April 28, 1962) In less than 40 years, Gianna Beretta Molla became a pediatric physician, a wife, a mother and a saint! She was born in Magenta near Milano, the 10th of Alberto and Maria Beretta’s 13 children. An active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and a leader in the Catholic Action movement, Gianna also enjoyed skiing and mountain climbing. She earned degrees in medicine and surgery from…

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Saint Conrad of Parzham

Apr 20
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Conrad of Parzham’s Story (December 22, 1818 – April 21, 1894) Conrad spent most of his life as porter in Altoetting, Bavaria, letting people into the friary and indirectly encouraging them to let God into their lives. His parents, Bartholomew and Gertrude Birndorfer, lived near Parzham, Bavaria. In those days, this region was recovering from the Napoleonic wars. A lover of solitary prayer and a peacemaker as a young man, Conrad joined the Capuchins as a brother. He made…

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Saint Anselm

Apr 21
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Anselm’s Story (1033 – April 21, 1109) Indifferent toward religion as a young man, Anselm became one of the Church’s greatest theologians and leaders. He received the title “Father of Scholasticism” for his attempt to analyze and illumine the truths of faith through the aid of reason. At 15, Anselm wanted to enter a monastery, but was refused acceptance because of his father’s opposition. Twelve years later, after careless disinterest in religion and years of worldly living, he finally…

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Saint Adalbert of Prague

Apr 22
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Adalbert of Prague’s Story (956 – April 23, 997) Opposition to the Good News of Jesus did not discourage Adalbert, who is now remembered with great honor in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Germany. Born to a noble family in Bohemia, he received part of his education from Saint Adalbert of Magdeburg. At the age of 27, he was chosen as bishop of Prague. Those who resisted his program of clerical reform forced him into exile eight years later.…

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Saint George – Patron Saint of England

Apr 23
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint George’s Story (c. 280 –  April 23, 303) Saint George is the object of a vast amount of imagination. There is every reason to believe that he was a real martyr who suffered at Lydda in Palestine, probably before the time of Constantine. The Church adheres to his memory, but not to the legends surrounding his life. That he was willing to pay the supreme price to follow Christ is what the Church believes. And it is enough. The…

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Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen

Apr 24
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen’s Story (1577 – April 24, 1622) If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis would often give the man the clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized this saint’s life. Born in 1577, Mark Rey became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed “the poor man’s lawyer,” Rey soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his colleagues. He left his law career…

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Saint Mark

Apr 25
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom
SOD-0425-Saint Mark

Saint Mark’s Story (? – c. April 25, 68) Most of what we know about Mark comes directly from the New Testament. He is usually identified with the Mark of Acts 12:12. When St. Peter escaped from prison, he went to the home of Mark’s mother. Paul and Barnabas took him along on the first missionary journey, but for some reason Mark returned alone to Jerusalem. It is evident, from Paul’s refusal to let Mark accompany him on the second journey despite…

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Saint Pedro de San José Betancur

Apr 26
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Pedro de San José Betancur’s Story (March 19, 1626 – April 25, 1667) Central America claimed its first saint with the canonization of Pedro de San José Betancur. Known as the “St. Francis of the Americas,” Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala. Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro…

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Saint Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort

Apr 27
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort’s Story (January 31, 1673 – April 28, 1716) Louis’s life is inseparable from his efforts to promote genuine devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus and mother of the Church. Totus tuus (“completely yours”) was Louis’s personal motto; Pope John Paul II chose it as his episcopal motto. Born in the Breton village of Montfort, close to Rennes, France, as an adult Louis identified himself by the place of his Baptism instead of his family name,…

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Saint Peter Chanel

Apr 28
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Peter Chanel’s Story (1803 – April 28, 1841) Anyone who has worked in loneliness, with great adaptation required and with little apparent success, will find a kindred spirit in Peter Chanel. Born in France, Peter’s interest in the missions began in school, when he read letters missionaries to America sent back home. As a young priest, Peter revived a parish in a “bad” district by the simple method of showing great devotion to the sick. Wanting to be a…

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Saint Catherine of Siena

Apr 29
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Catherine of Siena’s Story (March 25, 1347 – April 29, 1380) The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time. She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful, and intensely religious…

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Saint Pius V

Apr 30
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Pius V’s Story (January 17, 1504 – May 1, 1572) This is the pope whose job it was to implement the historic Council of Trent. If we think popes had difficulties in implementing Vatican Council II, Pius V had even greater problems after Trent four centuries earlier. During his papacy (1566-1572), Pius V was faced with the almost overwhelming responsibility of getting a shattered and scattered Church back on its feet. The family of God had been shaken by…

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May 2020

Saint Joseph the Worker

May 1
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom
Saint Joseph the Worker

The Story of Saint Joseph the Worker To foster deep devotion to Saint Joseph among Catholics, and in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists, Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker in 1955. This feast extends the long relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers in both Catholic faith and devotion. Beginning in the Book of Genesis, the dignity of human work has long been celebrated as a participation in the creative…

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Saint Athanasius

May 2
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Athanasius’ Story (c. 296 – May 2, 373) Athanasius led a tumultuous but dedicated life of service to the Church. He was the great champion of the faith against the widespread heresy of Arianism, the teaching by Arius that Jesus was not truly divine. The vigor of his writings earned him the title of doctor of the Church. Born of a Christian family in Alexandria, Egypt, and given a classical education, Athanasius became secretary to Alexander, the bishop of…

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Saints Philip and James

May 3
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saints Philip and James’ Story James, Son of Alphaeus: We know nothing of this man except his name, and, of course, the fact that Jesus chose him to be one of the 12 pillars of the New Israel, his Church. He is not the James of Acts, son of Clopas, “brother” of Jesus and later bishop of Jerusalem and the traditional author of the Letter of James. James, son of Alphaeus, is also known as James the Lesser to avoid confusing him with…

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Blessed Michael Giedroyc

May 4
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Blessed Michael Giedroyc’s Story (c. 1425 – May 4, 1485) A life of physical pain and mental torment didn’t prevent Michael Giedroyc from achieving holiness. Born near Vilnius, Lithuania, Michael suffered from physical and permanent handicaps from birth. He was a dwarf who had the use of only one foot. Because of his delicate physical condition, his formal education was frequently interrupted. But over time, Michael showed special skills at metalwork. Working with bronze and silver, he created sacred vessels,…

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Saint Hilary of Arles

May 5
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Hilary of Arles’ Story (c. 401 – May 5, 449) It’s been said that youth is wasted on the young. In some ways, that was true for today’s saint. Born in France in the early fifth century, Hilary came from an aristocratic family. In the course of his education he encountered his relative, Honoratus, who encouraged the young man to join him in the monastic life. Hilary did so. He continued to follow in the footsteps of Honoratus as…

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Saints Marian and James

May 6
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saints Marian and James’s Story (d. May 6, 259) Saints Marian, an ordained lector, and James, a deacon, were martyred during the persecution of Valerian around the year 259. Few other facts are known about them. It seems that while they were in prison, each had a vision regarding his martyrdom. They drew courage from these apparitions and were able to courageously face death. They were joined in their deaths by other Christians. Reflection The old saying that the more…

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Saint Rose Venerini

May 7
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Rose Venerini’s Story (February 9, 1656 – May 7, 1728) Rose was born at Viterbo in Italy, the daughter of a doctor. Following the death of her fiancé she entered a convent, but soon returned home to care for her newly widowed mother. Meanwhile, Rose invited the women of the neighborhood to recite the rosary in her home, forming a sort of sodality with them. As she looked to her future under the spiritual guidance of a Jesuit priest,…

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Saint Peter of Tarentaise

May 8
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Peter of Tarentaise’s Story (1102 – 1175) There are two men named Saint Peter of Tarentaise who lived one century apart. The man we honor today is the younger Peter, born in France in the early part of the 12th century. The other man with the same name became Pope Innocent the Fifth. The Peter we’re focusing on today became a Cistercian monk and eventually served as abbot. In 1142, he was named archbishop of Tarentaise, replacing a bishop who…

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Saint John of Avila

May 9
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint John of Avila’s Story (c. 1500 – May 10, 1569) Born in the Castile region of Spain, John was sent at the age of 14 to the University of Salamanca to study law. He later moved to Alcala, where he studied philosophy and theology before his ordination as a diocesan priest. After John’s parents died and left him as their sole heir to a considerable fortune, he distributed his money to the poor. In 1527, he traveled to Seville,…

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Saint Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i

May 10
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i’s Story (January 3, 1840 – April 15, 1889) When Joseph de Veuster was born in Tremelo, Belgium, in 1840, few people in Europe had any firsthand knowledge of leprosy, Hansen’s disease. By the time he died at the age of 49, people all over the world knew about this disease because of him. They knew that human compassion could soften the ravages of this disease. Forced to quit school at age 13 to work…

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Saint Ignatius of Laconi

May 11
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Ignatius of Laconi’s Story (December 17, 1701 – May 11, 1781) Ignatius is another sainted begging brother. He was the second of seven children of peasant parents in Sardinia. His path to the Franciscans was unusual. During a serious illness, Ignatius vowed to become a Capuchin if he recovered. He regained his health but ignored the promise. When he was 20, a riding accident prompted Ignatius to renew the pledge, which he acted on the second time. Ignatius’s reputation…

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Saints Nereus and Achilleus

May 12
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saints Nereus and Achilleus’ Story Devotion to these two saints goes back to the fourth century, though almost nothing is known of their lives. They were praetorian soldiers of the Roman army, became Christians, and were removed to the island of Terracina, where they were martyred. Their bodies were buried in a family vault, later known as the cemetery of Domitilla. Excavations by De Rossi in 1896 resulted in the discovery of their empty tomb in the underground church built…

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Our Lady of Fatima

May 13
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

The Story of Our Lady of Fatima Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three Portuguese children–Francisco and Jacinta Marto and their cousin Lucia dos Santos–received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria near Fatima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon. Mary asked the children to pray the rosary for world peace, for the end of World War I, for sinners, and for the conversion of Russia. Mary gave the children three secrets. Following the deaths of Francisco…

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Saint Matthias

May 14
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Matthias’ Story According to Acts 1:15-26, during the days after the Ascension Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers–about 120 of Jesus’s followers. Now that Judas had betrayed his ministry, it was necessary, Peter said, to fulfill the scriptural recommendation that another should take his office. “Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on…

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Saint Isidore the Farmer

May 15
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Isidore the Farmer’s Story (1070 – May 15, 1130) Isidore has become the patron of farmers and rural communities. In particular, he is the patron of Madrid, Spain, and of the United States National Rural Life Conference. When he was barely old enough to wield a hoe, Isidore entered the service of John de Vergas, a wealthy landowner from Madrid, and worked faithfully on his estate outside the city for the rest of his life. He married a young…

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Saint Margaret of Cortona

May 16
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Margaret of Cortona’s Story (1247 – February 22, 1297) Margaret was born of farming parents in Laviano, Tuscany. Her mother died when Margaret was seven; life with her stepmother was so difficult that Margaret moved out. For nine years she lived with Arsenio, though they were not married, and she bore him a son. In those years, she had doubts about her situation. Somewhat like Saint Augustine, she prayed for purity—but not just yet. One day she was waiting…

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Saint Paschal Baylon

May 17
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Paschal Baylon’s story (May 24, 1540 – May 15, 1592) In Paschal’s lifetime the Spanish empire in the New World was at the height of its power, though France and England were soon to reduce its influence. The 16th century has been called the Golden Age of the Church in Spain, for it gave birth to Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Peter of Alcantara, Francis Solano and Salvator of Horta. Paschal’s Spanish…

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Saint John I

May 18
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint John I’s Story (c. 470 – May 18, 526) Pope John I inherited the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ. Italy had been ruled for 30 years by an emperor who espoused the heresy, though he treated the empire’s Catholics with toleration. His policy changed at about the time the young John was elected pope. When the eastern emperor began imposing severe measures on the Arians of his area, the western emperor forced John to head a…

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Saint Theophilus of Corte

May 19
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Theophilus of Corte’s Story (October 30, 1676 – June 17, 1740) If we expect saints to do marvelous things continually and to leave us many memorable quotes, we are bound to be disappointed with Saint Theophilus. The mystery of God’s grace in a person’s life, however, has a beauty all its own. Theophilus was born in Corsica of rich and noble parents. As a young man, he entered the Franciscans and soon showed his love for solitude and prayer.…

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Saint Bernardine of Siena

May 20
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Bernardine of Siena’s Story (September 8, 1380 – May 20, 1444) Most of the saints suffer great personal opposition, even persecution. Bernardine, by contrast, seems more like a human dynamo who simply took on the needs of the world. He was the greatest preacher of his time, journeying across Italy, calming strife-torn cities, attacking the paganism he found rampant, attracting crowds of 30,000, following St. Francis of Assisi’s admonition to preach about “vice and virtue, punishment and glory.” Compared with…

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Saint Cristobal Magallanes and Companions

May 21
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Cristóbal Magallanes and Companions’ Story (d. between 1915 and 1937) Like Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro, S.J., Cristóbal and his 24 companion martyrs lived under a very anti-Catholic government in Mexico, one determined to weaken the Catholic faith of its people. Churches, schools, and seminaries were closed; foreign clergy were expelled. Cristóbal established a clandestine seminary at Totatiche, Jalisco. He and the other priests were forced to minister secretly to Catholics during the presidency of Plutarco Calles (1924-28). All of…

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Saint Rita of Cascia

May 22
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Rita of Cascia’s Story (1381 – May 22, 1457) Like Elizabeth Ann Seton, Rita of Cascia was a wife, mother, widow, and member of a religious community. Her holiness was reflected in each phase of her life. Born at Roccaporena in central Italy, Rita wanted to become a nun but was pressured at a young age into marrying a harsh and cruel man. During her 18-year marriage, she bore and raised two sons. After her husband was killed in…

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Saint Gregory VII

May 23
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Gregory VII’s Story (c. 1025 – May 25, 1085) The 10th century and the first half of the 11th were dark days for the Church, partly because the papacy was the pawn of various Roman families. In 1049, things began to change when Pope Leo IX, a reformer, was elected. He brought a young monk named Hildebrand to Rome as his counsellor and special representative on important missions. Hildebrand was to become Gregory VII. Three evils plagued the Church then:…

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Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

May 24
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi’s Story (April 2, 1566 – May 25, 1607) Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the “ecstatic saint.” Catherine de’ Pazzi was born into a noble family in Florence…

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Saint Bede the Venerable

May 25
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Bede the Venerable’s Story (c. 672 – May 25, 735) Bede is one of the few saints honoured as such even during his lifetime. His writings were filled with such faith and learning that even while he was still alive, a Church council ordered them to be read publicly in the churches. At an early age, Bede was entrusted to the care of the abbot of the Monastery of St. Paul, Jarrow. The happy combination of genius and the instruction…

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Saint Philip Neri

May 26
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Philip Neri’s Story (July 21, 1515 – May 26, 1595) Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy: the whole post-Renaissance malaise. At an early age, Philip abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence, and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were…

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Saint Augustine of Canterbury

May 27
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Augustine of Canterbury’s Story (? – May 26, 605) In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to Gregory the Great—the pope who had sent them—only to be…

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Venerable Pierre Toussaint

May 28
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Venerable Pierre Toussaint’s Story June 27, 1766 – June 30, 1853) Born in modern-day Haiti and brought to New York City as a slave, Pierre died a free man, a renowned hairdresser, and one of New York City’s most well-known Catholics. Plantation owner Pierre Bérard made Toussaint a house slave and allowed his grandmother to teach her grandson how to read and write. In his early 20s, Pierre, his younger sister, his aunt, and two other house slaves accompanied their…

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Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat

May 29
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat’s Story (December 12, 1779 – May 25, 1865) The legacy of Madeleine Sophie Barat can be found in the more than 100 schools operated by her Society of the Sacred Heart, institutions known for the quality of the education made available to the young. Sophie herself received an extensive education, thanks to her brother Louis, 11 years older and her godfather at baptism. Himself a seminarian, Louis decided that his younger sister would likewise learn Latin,…

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Saint Joan of Arc

May 30
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Joan of Arc’s Story (? January 6, 1412 – May 30, 1431) Burned at the stake as a heretic after a politically-motivated trial, Joan was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. Born of a fairly well-to-do peasant couple in Domremy-Greux southeast of Paris, Joan was only 12 when she experienced a vision and heard voices that she later identified as Saints Michael the Archangel, Catherine of Alexandria, and Margaret of Antioch. During the Hundred Years War, Joan led French troops against the…

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Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

May 31
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

The Story of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary This is a fairly late feast, going back only to the 13th or 14th century. It was established widely throughout the Church to pray for unity. The present date of celebration was set in 1969, in order to follow the Annunciation of the Lord and precede the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. Like most feasts of Mary, it is closely connected with Jesus and his saving work. The more…

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June 2020

Saint Justin Martyr

Jun 1
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Justin Martyr’s Story (c. 100 – 165) Justin never ended his quest for religious truth even when he converted to Christianity after years of studying various pagan philosophies. As a young man, he was principally attracted to the school of Plato. However, he found that the Christian religion answered the great questions about life and existence better than the philosophers. Upon his conversion he continued to wear the philosopher’s mantle, and became the first Christian philosopher. He combined the…

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Saints Marcellinus And Peter

Jun 2
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saints Marcellinus and Peter’s Story Marcellinus and Peter were prominent enough in the memory of the Church to be included among the saints of the Roman Canon. Mention of their names is optional in our present Eucharistic Prayer I. Marcellinus was a priest and Peter was an exorcist, that is, someone authorized by the Church to deal with cases of demonic possession. They were beheaded during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian. Pope Damasus wrote an epitaph apparently based on the…

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Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions

Jun 3
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions’ Story (d. between November 15, 1885 – January 27, 1887) One of 22 Ugandan martyrs, Charles Lwanga is the patron of youth and Catholic action in most of tropical Africa. He protected his fellow pages, aged 13 to 30, from the homosexual demands of the Bagandan ruler, Mwanga, and encouraged and instructed them in the Catholic faith during their imprisonment for refusing the ruler’s demands. Charles first learned of Christ’s teachings from two retainers in…

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Blessed Angeline of Marsciano

Jun 4
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Blessed Angeline of Marsciano’s Story (1377 – July 14, 1435) Blessed Angeline founded the first community of Franciscan women other than Poor Clares to receive papal approval. Angeline was born to the Duke of Marsciano near Orvieto. She was 12 when her mother died. Three years later, the young woman made a vow of perpetual chastity. That same year, however, she yielded to her father’s decision that she marry the Duke of Civitella. Her husband agreed to respect her previous…

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Saint Boniface

Jun 5
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Boniface’s Story (c. 675 – June 5, 754) Boniface, known as the apostle of the Germans, was an English Benedictine monk who gave up being elected abbot to devote his life to the conversion of the Germanic tribes. Two characteristics stand out: his Christian orthodoxy and his fidelity to the pope of Rome. How absolutely necessary this orthodoxy and fidelity were is borne out by the conditions Boniface found on his first missionary journey in 719 at the request…

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Saint Norbert

Jun 6
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Norbert’s Story (c. 1080 – June 6, 1134) In the 12th century in the French region of Premontre, Saint Norbert founded a religious Order known as the Praemonstratensians or the Norbertines. His founding of the Order was a monumental task: combating rampant heresies–particularly regarding the Blessed Sacrament, revitalizing many of the faithful who had grown indifferent and dissolute, plus effecting peace and reconciliation among enemies. Norbert entertained no pretensions about his own ability to accomplish this multiple task. Even with…

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Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter

Jun 7
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

 Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter’s Story ( May 20, 1907 – August 9, 1943) Called to serve his country as a Nazi solider, Franz eventually refused, and this husband and father of three daughters–Rosalie, Marie and Aloisia–was executed because of it. Born in St. Radegund in Upper Austria, Franz lost his father during World War I and was adopted after Heinrich Jaegerstaetter married Rosalia Huber. As a young man, he loved to ride his motorcycle and was the natural leader of a…

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Saint William of York

Jun 8
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint William of York’s Story (c. 1090 –  June 8, 1154) A disputed election as archbishop of York and a mysterious death. Those are the headlines from the tragic life of today’s saint. Born into a powerful family in 12th-century England, William seemed destined for great things. His uncle was next in line for the English throne—though a nasty dynastic struggle complicated things. William himself faced an internal Church feud. Despite these roadblocks, he was nominated as archbishop of York…

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Saint Ephrem

Jun 9
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Ephrem’s Story (c. 306 – June 9, 373) Poet, teacher, orator, and defender of the faith, Ephrem is the only Syrian recognized as a doctor of the Church. He took upon himself the special task of opposing the many false doctrines rampant at his time, always remaining a true and forceful defender of the Catholic Church. Born in Nisibis, Mesopotamia, he was baptized as a young man and became famous as a teacher in his native city. When the…

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Blessed Joachima

Jun 10
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Blessed Joachima’s Story (1783-1854) Born into an aristocratic family in Barcelona, Spain, Joachima was 12 when she expressed a desire to become a Carmelite nun. But her life took an altogether different turn at 16 with her marriage to a young lawyer, Theodore de Mas. Both deeply devout, they became secular Franciscans. During their 17 years of married life they raised eight children. The normalcy of their family life was interrupted when Napoleon invaded Spain. Joachima had to flee with…

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Saint Barnabas

Jun 11
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Barnabas’ Story (c. 75) Barnabas, a Jew of Cyprus, comes as close as anyone outside the Twelve to being a full-fledged apostle. He was closely associated with Saint Paul–he introduced Paul to Peter and the other apostles–and served as a kind of mediator between the former persecutor and the still suspicious Jewish Christians. When a Christian community developed at Antioch, Barnabas was sent as the official representative of the church of Jerusalem to incorporate them into the fold. He…

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Blessed Jolenta (Yolanda) of Poland

Jun 12
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Blessed Jolenta of Poland’s Story (c. 1235 – June 11,1298) Jolenta was the daughter of Bela IV, King of Hungary. Her sister, St. Kunigunde, was married to the Duke of Poland. Jolenta was sent to Poland where her sister was to supervise her education. Eventually married to Boleslaus, the Duke of Greater Poland, Jolenta was able to use her material means to assist the poor, the sick, widows, and orphans. Her husband joined her in building hospitals, convents, and churches…

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Saint Anthony of Padua

Jun 13
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom
SOD-0613-SaintAnthonyofPadua

Saint Anthony of Padua’s Story (1195 – June 13,1231) The gospel call to leave everything and follow Christ was the rule of Anthony’s life. Over and over again, God called him to something new in his plan. Every time Anthony responded with renewed zeal and self-sacrificing to serve his Lord Jesus more completely. His journey as the servant of God began as a very young man when he decided to join the Augustinians in Lisbon, giving up a future of…

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Saint Albert Chmielowski

Jun 14
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Albert Chmielowski’s Story (August 20, 1845 – December 25, 1916) Born in Igolomia near Kraków as the eldest of four children in a wealthy family, he was christened Adam. During the 1864 revolt against Czar Alexander III, Adam’s wounds forced the amputation of his left leg. His great talent for painting led to studies in Warsaw, Munich, and Paris. Adam returned to Kraków and became a Secular Franciscan. In 1888, when he founded the Brothers of the Third Order…

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Saint Marguerite d’Youville

Jun 15
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Marguerite d’Youville’s Story (October 15, 1701 – December 23, 1771) We learn compassion from allowing our lives to be influenced by compassionate people, by seeing life from their perspectives, and reconsidering our own values. Born in Varennes, Canada, Marie Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais had to interrupt her schooling at the age of 12 to help her widowed mother. Eight years later she married François d’Youville; they had six children, four of whom died young. Despite the fact that her husband…

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Saint John Francis Regis

Jun 16
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint John Francis Regis’ Story (January 31, 1597 –  December 30, 1640) Born into a family of some wealth, John Francis was so impressed by his Jesuit educators that he himself wished to enter the Society of Jesus. He did so at age 18. Despite his rigorous academic schedule, he spent many hours in chapel, often to the dismay of fellow seminarians who were concerned about his health. Following his ordination to the priesthood, John Francis undertook missionary work in…

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Saint Joseph Cafasso

Jun 17
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Joseph Cafasso’s story (January 15, 1811 – June 23, 1860) Even as a young man, Joseph loved to attend Mass and was known for his humility and fervor in prayer. After his ordination, he was assigned to a seminary in Turin. There he worked especially against the spirit of Jansenism–an excessive preoccupation with sin and damnation. He used the works of Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Alphonsus Liguori to moderate the rigorism popular at the seminary. Joseph recommended…

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Venerable Matt Talbot

Jun 18
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Venerable Matt Talbot’s story (May 2, 1856 – June 7, 1925) Matt can be considered the patron of men and women struggling with alcoholism. He was born in Dublin, where his father worked on the docks and had a difficult time supporting his family. After a few years of schooling, Matt obtained work as a messenger for some liquor merchants; there he began to drink excessively. For 15 years—until he was almost 30—Matt was an active alcoholic. One day he decided…

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Saint Romuald

Jun 19
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Romuald’s Story (c. 950 – June 19, 1027) In the midst of a wasted youth, Romuald watched his father kill a relative in a duel over property. In horror he fled to a monastery near Ravenna. After three years, some of the monks found him to be uncomfortably holy and eased him out. Romuald spent the next 30 years going about Italy, founding monasteries and hermitages. He longed to give his life to Christ in martyrdom, and got the…

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Saint Paulinus of Nola

Jun 20
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Paulinus of Nola’s Story (354 – June 22, 431) Anyone who is praised in the letters of six or seven saints undoubtedly must be of extraordinary character. Such a person was Paulinus of Nola, correspondent and friend of Saints Augustine, Jerome, Melania, Martin, Gregory the Great, and Ambrose. Born near Bordeaux, he was the son of the Roman prefect of Gaul, who had extensive property in both Gaul and Italy. Paulinus became a distinguished lawyer, holding several public offices…

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Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

Jun 21
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga’s Story (March 9, 1568 – June 21, 1591) The Lord can make saints anywhere, even amid the brutality and license of Renaissance life. Florence was the “mother of piety” for Aloysius Gonzaga despite his exposure to a “society of fraud, dagger, poison, and lust.” As a son of a princely family, he grew up in royal courts and army camps. His father wanted Aloysius to be a military hero. At age 7 Aloysius experienced a profound spiritual…

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Saint Thomas More

Jun 22
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Thomas More’s Story (February 7, 1478 – July 6, 1535 ) His belief that no lay ruler has jurisdiction over the Church of Christ cost Thomas More his life. Beheaded on Tower Hill, London, on July 6, 1535, More steadfastly refused to approve King Henry VIII’s divorce and remarriage and establishment of the Church of England. Described as “a man for all seasons,” More was a literary scholar, eminent lawyer, gentleman, father of four children, and chancellor of England.…

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Saint John Fisher

Jun 23
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint John Fisher’s Story (1469 – June 22, 1535) John Fisher is usually associated with Erasmus, Thomas More, and other Renaissance humanists. His life therefore, did not have the external simplicity found in the lives of some saints. Rather, he was a man of learning, associated with the intellectuals and political leaders of his day. He was interested in the contemporary culture and eventually became chancellor at Cambridge. He had been made a bishop at 35, and one of his interests was…

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Saint John the Baptist

Jun 24
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint John the Baptist’s Story Jesus called John the greatest of all those who had preceded him: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John….” But John would have agreed completely with what Jesus added: “Yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28). John spent his time in the desert, an ascetic. He began to announce the coming of the Kingdom, and to call everyone to a fundamental…

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Blessed Jutta of Thuringia

Jun 25
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Blessed Jutta of Thuringia’s Story (d. c. 1260) Today’s patroness of Prussia began her life amidst luxury and power but died the death of a simple servant of the poor. In truth, virtue and piety were always of prime importance to Jutta and her husband, both of noble rank. The two were set to make a pilgrimage together to the holy places in Jerusalem, but her husband died on the way. The newly widowed Jutta, after taking care to provide…

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Blessed Raymond Lull

Jun 26
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Blessed Raymond Lull’s Story (c. 1235 – June 28, 1315) Raymond worked all his life to promote the missions and died a missionary to North Africa. Raymond was born at Palma on the island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean Sea. He earned a position in the king’s court there. One day a sermon inspired him to dedicate his life to working for the conversion of the Muslims in North Africa. He became a Secular Franciscan and founded a college where…

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Saint Cyril of Alexandria

Jun 27
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Cyril of Alexandria’s Story (378 – June 27, 444) Saints are not born with halos around their heads. Cyril, recognized as a great teacher of the Church, began his career as archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt, with impulsive, often violent, actions. He pillaged and closed the churches of the Novatian heretics–who required those who denied the faith to be re-baptized–participated in the deposing of Saint John Chrysostom, and confiscated Jewish property, expelling the Jews from Alexandria in retaliation for their attacks…

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Saint Irenaeus

Jun 28
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Irenaeus’ Story (c. 130 – c. 202) The Church is fortunate that Irenaeus was involved in many of its controversies in the second century. He was a student, well trained no doubt, with great patience in investigating, tremendously protective of apostolic teaching, but prompted more by a desire to win over his opponents than to prove them in error. As bishop of Lyons he was especially concerned with the Gnostics, who took their name from the Greek word for…

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Saints Peter and Paul

Jun 29
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom
Saint Peter and Paul

Saints Peter and Paul’s Story Peter (d. 64?). Saint Mark ends the first half of his Gospel with a triumphant climax. He has recorded doubt, misunderstanding, and the opposition of many to Jesus. Now Peter makes his great confession of faith: “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29b). It was one of the many glorious moments in Peter’s life, beginning with the day he was called from his nets along the Sea of Galilee to become a fisher of men for Jesus.…

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First Martyrs of the Church of Rome

Jun 30
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

First Martyrs of the Church of Rome’s Story There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the “Apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 15:20). Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in 57-58 A.D. There was a large Jewish population in Rome. Probably as a result of controversy between Jews and Jewish Christians, the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews…

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July 2020

Saint Junipero Serra

Jul 1
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Junipero Serra’s Story (November 24, 1713 – August 28, 1784) In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the…

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Saint Oliver Plunkett

Jul 2
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Oliver Plunkett’s Story (November 1, 1629 – July 1, 1681) The name of today’s saint is especially familiar to the Irish and the English—and with good reason. The English martyred Oliver Plunkett for defending the faith in his native Ireland during a period of severe persecution. Born in County Meath in 1629, he studied for the priesthood in Rome and was ordained there in 1654. After some years of teaching and service to the poor of Rome he was…

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Saint Thomas the Apostle

Jul 3
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Thomas the Apostle’s Story (1st Century – December 21, 72) Poor Thomas! He made one remark and has been branded as “Doubting Thomas” ever since. But if he doubted, he also believed. He made what is certainly the most explicit statement of faith in the New Testament: “My Lord and My God!” and, in so expressing his faith, gave Christians a prayer that will be said till the end of time. He also occasioned a compliment from Jesus to…

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Saint Elizabeth of Portugal

Jul 4
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Elizabeth of Portugal’s Story (1271 – July 4, 1336) Elizabeth is usually depicted in royal garb with a dove or an olive branch. At her birth in 1271, her father, Pedro III, future king of Aragon, was reconciled with his father, James, the reigning monarch. This proved to be a portent of things to come. Under the healthful influences surrounding her early years, she quickly learned self-discipline and acquired a taste for spirituality. Thus, fortunately prepared, she was able…

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Saint Anthony Zaccaria

Jul 5
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Anthony Zaccaria’s Story (1502  – July 5, 1539) At the same time that Martin Luther was attacking abuses in the Church, a reformation within the Church was already being attempted. Among the early movers of the Counter-Reformation was Anthony Zaccaria. His mother became a widow at 18 and devoted herself to the spiritual education of her son. He received a medical doctorate at 22 and, while working among the poor of his native Cremona in Italy, was attracted to…

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Saint Maria Goretti

Jul 6
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Maria Goretti’s Story (October 16, 1890 – July 6, 1902) One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members…

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Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions

Jul 7
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions’ Story (1804 – 1860) Not much is known of the early life of Emmanuel Ruiz but details of his heroic death in defense of the faith have come down to us. Born of humble parents in Santander, Spain, he became a Franciscan priest and served as a missionary in Damascus. This was at a time when anti-Christian riots shook Syria and thousands lost their lives in just a short time. Among these were Emmanuel, superior…

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Saint Gregory Grassi

Jul 8
St Swithun’s Church, 105 Waverley Road
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO5 2PL United Kingdom

Saint Gregory Grassi and Companions’ Story (d. July 9, 1900) Christian missionaries have often gotten caught in the crossfire of wars against their own countries. When the governments of Britain, Germany, Russia and France forced substantial territorial concessions from the Chinese in 1898, anti-foreign sentiment grew very strong among many Chinese people. Gregory Grassi was born in Italy in 1833, ordained in 1856 and sent to China five years later. Gregory was later ordained Bishop of North Shanxi. With 14 other…

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