Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle
"How then are they to call upon Him in whom they have not believed? But how are they to believe Him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear, if no one preaches?" ROM 10:14
There are many ways to preach and evangelize. It is not just reserved for the Evangelicals or perhaps, the St Pauls.
We will see many brave men and women through the ages evangelize: some quite boldly, some creatively, and others quite quietly.
St. Anthony of Padua
(August 15, 1195 - June 13, 1231)
Anthony of Padua
(August 15, 1195 - June 13, 1231)
He was born and raised by a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal, and died in Padua, Italy. Noted by his contemporaries for his powerful preaching, expert knowledge of scripture, and undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick, he was one of the most quickly canonized saints in church history. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 16 January 1946. He is also the patron saint of lost things.
Fernando was strongly attracted to the simple, evangelical lifestyle of the friars, whose order had been founded only 11 years prior. News arrived that five Franciscans had been beheaded in Morocco, the first of their order to be killed.
King Afonso ransomed their bodies to be returned and buried as martyrs in the Abbey of Santa Cruz. Inspired by their example, Fernando obtained permission from church authorities to leave the Canons Regular to join the new Franciscan order. Upon his admission to the life of the friars, he joined the small hermitage in Olivais, adopting the name Anthony (from the name of the chapel located there, dedicated to Saint Anthony the Great), by which he was to be known.
Anthony then set out for Morocco, in fulfillment of his new vocation. However, he fell seriously ill in Morocco and set sail back for Portugal in hope of regaining his health. On the return voyage, the ship was blown off course and landed in Sicily.
From Sicily, he made his way to Tuscany, where he was assigned to a convent of the order, but he met with difficulty on account of his sickly appearance. He was finally assigned to the rural hermitage of San Paolo near Forlì, Romagna, a choice made after considering his poor health. There, he had recourse to a cell one of the friars had made in a nearby cave, spending time in private prayer and study.
Later, he was known for his preachings and sermons.
Anthony was canonized by Pope Gregory IX on 30 May 1232, at Spoleto, Italy, less than one year after his death.
"The richness of spiritual teaching contained in the Sermons was so great that in January 1946 Venerable Pope Pius XII proclaimed Anthony a Doctor of the Church, attributing to him the title Doctor Evangelicus ["Evangelical Doctor"], since the freshness and beauty of the Gospel emerge from these writings."
Venerated in: Anglican Communion, Coptic Orthodox Church, Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodox Churches, Roman Catholic Church
Apollos, was a 1st-century Alexandrian Jewish Christian mentioned several times in the New Testament. A contemporary and colleague of Paul the Apostle, he played an important role in the early development of the churches of Ephesus and Corinth.
Acts of the Apostles
Apollos is first mentioned as a Christian preacher who had come to Ephesus (probably in AD 52 or 53), where he is described as "being fervent in spirit: he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John". Priscilla and Aquila, a Jewish Christian couple who had come to Ephesus with the Apostle Paul, instructed Apollos:
"When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more adequately."
The differences between the two understandings probably related to the Christian baptism, since Apollos "knew only the baptism of John".
As a new Christian, Apollos was still learning but he learned and grew in wisdom and grace.
Later, during Apollos' absence, the writer of the Acts of the Apostles recounts an encounter between Paul and some disciples at Ephesus:
And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.
Before Paul's arrival, Apollos had moved from Ephesus to Achaia  and was living in Corinth, the provincial capital of Achaia. Acts reports that Apollos arrived in Achaia with a letter of recommendation from the Ephesian Christians and "greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus."
Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (AD 55) mentions Apollos as an important figure at Corinth. Paul describes Apollos' role at Corinth:
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
Saint Augustine of Hippo
Saint Augustine of Hippo, (13 November 354 – 28 August 430 AD) was a Roman African, early Christian theologian and philosopher from Numidia whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy.
He was the bishop of Hippo Regius in north Africa and is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers in Western Christianity for his writings in the Patristic Period. Among his most important works are The City of God, De doctrina Christiana and Confessions.
St. Augustine: "Bishop of Hippo", Augustine was known for his life of lavious indulgences prior to his conversion. His conversion gives hope and inspiration to many and to many parents, even to this day. His writings were famous, especially, his "Confessions".
Venerated in: Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches, Anglican Communion, Lutheran Church
Attributes: Red Martyr, Pilgrim's staff; olive branch; holding the Gospel of Matthew
Patronage: Cyprus, Antioch, against hailstorms, invoked as peacemaker
Barnabas, born Joseph, was an early Christian, one of the prominent Christian disciples in Jerusalem. According to Acts 4:36, Barnabas was a Cypriot Jew.
Named an apostle in Acts 14:14, he and Paul the Apostle undertook missionary journeys together and defended Gentile converts against the Judaizers. They traveled together making more converts (c. 45–47), and participated in the Council of Jerusalem (c. 50) Barnabas and Paul successfully evangelized among the "God-fearing" Gentiles who attended synagogues in various Hellenized cities of Anatolia.
Barnabas' story appears in the Acts of the Apostles, and Paul mentions him in some of his epistles.
Tertullian named him as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, but this and other attributions are conjecture. Clement of Alexandria and some scholars have ascribed the Epistle of Barnabas to him, but his authorship is disputed.
Christian tradition holds that Barnabas was martyred at Salamis, Cyprus, in 61 AD. He is traditionally identified as the founder of the Cypriot Orthodox Church. The feast day of Barnabas is celebrated on June 11.
Barnabas is usually identified as the cousin of Mark the Evangelist on the basis of Colossians 4. Infrequent occurrence in the Septuagint to its presence in Josephus and Philo, "anepsios" consistently carries the connotation of "cousin". Some traditions hold that Aristobulus of Britannia, one of the Seventy Disciples, was the brother of Barnabas.
Acts 11:24 describes Barnabas as "a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith".
Barnabas appears mainly in Acts, a history of the early Christian church. He also appears in several of Paul's epistles.
Barnabas, a native of Cyprus and a Levite, is first mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as a member of the early Christian community in Jerusalem, who sold some land that he owned and gave the proceeds to the community (Acts 4:36-37). When the future Apostle Paul returned to Jerusalem after his conversion, Barnabas introduced him to the apostles (9:27). Easton, in his Bible Dictionary, supposes that they had been fellow students in the school of Gamaliel.
The successful preaching of Christianity at Antioch to non-Jews led the church at Jerusalem to send Barnabas there to oversee the movement (Acts 11:20–22). He found the work so extensive and weighty that he went to Tarsus in search of Paul (still referred to as Saul), "an admirable colleague", to assist him. Paul returned with him to Antioch and labored with him for a whole year (Acts 11:25–26). At the end of this period, the two were sent up to Jerusalem (44 AD) with contributions from the church at Antioch for the relief of the poorer Christians in Judea.
They returned to Antioch taking John Mark with them, the cousin or nephew of Barnabas. Later, they went to Cyprus and some of the principal cities of Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Lycaonia (Acts 13:14). After recounting what the governor of Cyprus Sergius Paulus believed, Acts 13:9 speaks of Barnabas's companion no longer as Saul, but as Paul, his Roman name, and generally refers to the two no longer as "Barnabas and Saul" as heretofore (11:30; 12:25; 13:2, 7), but as "Paul and Barnabas" (13:43, 46, 50; 14:20; 15:2, 22, 35). Only in 14:14 and 15:12-25 does Barnabas again occupy the first place, in the first passage with recollection of 14:12, in the last 2, because Barnabas stood in closer relation to the Jerusalem church than Paul. Paul appears as the more eloquent missionary (13:16; 14:8-9; 19-20), whence the Lystrans regarded him as Hermes and Barnabas as Zeus. The King James Version renders the Greek name "Zeus" by the Latin name "Jupiter" (14:12).
Returning from this first missionary journey to Antioch, they were again sent up to Jerusalem to consult with the church there regarding the relation of Gentiles to the church (Acts 15:2; Galatians 2:1). According to Galatians 2:9-10, Barnabas was included with Paul in the agreement made between them, on the one hand, and James, Peter, and John, on the other, that the two former should in the future preach to the pagans, not forgetting the poor at Jerusalem. This matter having been settled, they returned again to Antioch, bringing the agreement of the council that Gentiles were to be admitted into the church without having to adopt Jewish practices.
After they had returned to Antioch from the Jerusalem council, they spent some time there (15:35). Peter came and associated freely there with the Gentiles, eating with them, until criticized for this by some disciples of James, as against Mosaic law.
Upon their remonstrances, Peter yielded apparently through fear of displeasing them, and refused to eat any longer with the Gentiles. Barnabas followed his example. Paul considered that they "walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel" and upbraided them before the whole church (Galatians 2:11-15).
Paul then asked Barnabas to accompany him on another journey (15:36). Barnabas wished to take John Mark along, but Paul did not, as he had left them on the earlier journey (15:37-38). The dispute ended by Paul and Barnabas taking separate routes. Paul took Silas as his companion, and journeyed through Syria and Cilicia; while Barnabas took John Mark to visit Cyprus (15:36-41). John Francis Fenlon suggests that Paul may have been somewhat influenced by the attitude recently taken by Barnabas, which might have proven prejudicial to their work.
Barnabas is not mentioned again in the Acts of the Apostles. However, Gal. 2:11-13 says, "And when Kephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews (also) acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy." Barnabas is also mentioned in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, in which it is mentioned that he and Paul funded their missions by working side jobs and (it is implied) went without wives and other benefits other apostles received (1 Cor. 9:6); Paul states that he and Barnabas forsook those benefits "that we may cause no hindrance to the Good News of Christ" (1 Cor. 9:12).
Council of Jerusalem
Barnabas participated in the Council of Jerusalem, which dealt with the admission of Gentiles into the Christian community, a crucial problem in early Christianity. Paul and Barnabas proposed that Gentiles be allowed into the community without being circumcised.
It relates that certain Jews coming to Syria and Salamis, where Barnabas was then preaching the gospel, being highly exasperated at his extraordinary success, fell upon him as he was disputing in the synagogue, dragged him out, and, after the most inhumane tortures, stoned him to death. His kinsman, John Mark, who was a spectator of this barbarous action, privately interred his body.
St. Francis of Assisi
Francis considered his stigmata
part of the Imitation of Christ. Cigoli, 1699
St. Francis of Assisi – (1181/1182 – 3 October 1226), was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women's Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.
Francis enjoyed a very rich easy life growing up because of his father's wealth and the permissiveness of the times. From the beginning everyone loved Francis. He was constantly happy, charming, and a born leader. If he was picky, people excused him. If he was ill, people took care of him. If he was so much of a dreamer he did poorly in school, no one minded. In many ways he was too easy to like for his own good. No one tried to control him or teach him.
Most of the troops from Assisi were butchered in the fight.
Only those wealthy enough to expect to be ransomed were taken prisoner. At last Francis was among the nobility like he always wanted to be...but chained in a harsh, dark dungeon. All accounts say that he never lost his happy manner in that horrible place. Finally, after a year in the dungeon, he was ransomed. Strangely, the experience didn't seem to change him. He gave himself to partying with as much joy and abandon as he had before the battle.
The experience didn't change what he wanted from life either: Glory. Finally a call for knights for the Fourth Crusade gave him a chance for his dream. But before he left Francis had to have a suit of armor and a horse -- no problem for the son of a wealthy father. And not just any suit of armor would do but one decorated with gold with a magnificent cloak. Any relief we feel in hearing that Francis gave the cloak to a poor knight will be destroyed by the boasts that Francis left behind that he would return a prince.
But Francis never got farther than one day's ride from Assisi. There he had a dream in which God told him he had it all wrong and told him to return home. And return home he did. What must it have been like to return without ever making it to battle -- the boy who wanted nothing more than to be liked was humiliated, laughed at, called a coward by the village and raged at by his father for the money wasted on armor.
Francis' conversion did not happen over night. God had waited for him for twenty-five years and now it was Francis' turn to wait. Francis started to spend more time in prayer. He went off to a cave and wept for his sins. Sometimes God's grace overwhelmed him with joy. But life couldn't just stop for God. There was a business to run, customers to wait on.
One day while riding through the countryside, Francis, the man who loved beauty, who was so picky about food, who hated deformity, came face to face with a leper. Repelled by the appearance and the smell of the leper, Francis nevertheless jumped down from his horse and kissed the hand of the leper. When his kiss of peace was returned, Francis was filled with joy. As he rode off, he turned around for a last wave, and saw that the leper had disappeared. He always looked upon it as a test from God...that he had passed.
His search for conversion led him to the ancient church at San Damiano. While he was praying there, he heard Christ on the crucifix speak to him, "Francis, repair my church." Francis assumed this meant church with a small c -- the crumbling building he was in. Acting again in his impetuous way, he took fabric from his father's shop and sold it to get money to repair the church. His father saw this as an act of theft -- and put together with Francis' cowardice, waste of money, and his growing disinterest in money made Francis seem more like a madman than his son.
Pietro dragged Francis before the bishop and in front of the whole town demanded that Francis return the money and renounce all rights as his heir.
The bishop was very kind to Francis; he told him to return the money and said God would provide. That was all Francis needed to hear. He not only gave back the money but stripped off all his clothes -- the clothes his father had given him -- until he was wearing only a hair shirt.
Miracles for Animals
Francis saw animals as his brothers and sisters and prayed that God would work through him to help them. Birds sometimes gathered while Francis spoke, and listened to Francis’ sermon. Francis began preaching to them about the ways that God had blessed them.
The RABBIT & The FISH
One day a brother brought a rabbit who had been caught in a trap to Francis. Francis advised the rabbit to be more alert in the future, then released the rabbit from the trap and set it on the ground to go its way. But the rabbit hopped back up onto Francis’ lap, desiring to be close to the saint.
Francis took the rabbit a few steps into the woods and set it down. But it followed Francis back to his seat and hopped on his lap again! Finally Francis asked one of his fellow friars to take the rabbit far into the woods and let it go. That worked. This type of thing happened repeatedly to Francis—which he saw as an opportunity to praise the glory of God. If the simplest creatures could be so endowed with God’s wonder, how much the more so we humans!
Fish were also known to obey Francis. Whenever a fish was caught and Francis was nearby, he would return the fish to the water, warning it not to be caught again. On several occasions the fish would linger awhile near the boat, listening to Francis preach, until he gave them permission to leave. Then they would swim off. In every work of art, as Saint Francis called all creation, he would praise the artist, our loving Creator.
When Francis lived in Gubbio, in the province of Perugia, a wolf was attacking people and other animals. He met the wolf to try to tame it. The wolf charged Francis, but Francis prayed and moved toward the wolf. The wolf obeyed Francis' commands, closing his mouth and lying at Francis' feet. Francis promised that the townspeople would feed the wolf regularly if it promised never to injure another person or animal. The wolf never harmed people or animals again.
On the Need to Evangelize the Muslim World – "We may think that the struggle with the Muslim world is new, but it is not. In his life, St. Francis decided to go to Syria to convert the Moslems (the preferred term until about 1940) while the Fifth Crusade was being fought.
In the middle of a battle, Francis decided to do the simplest thing and go directly to the sultan, Melek-el Kamel, in order to make peace. He and his companion were captured and Francis was taken to the sultan. Francis challenged the Moslem scholars to a true test of religion by fire, but they refused. Francis proposed to enter the fire first, under the condition that if he left the fire unharmed, the sultan would have to recognize Christ as true God. Although the sultan turned down the challenge, he was so impressed that he allowed Francis to preach to his subjects.
While Francis did not succeed in converting him, the sultan’s last words to Francis were these: Pray for me that God may deign to reveal to me that law and faith which is most pleasing to him.This work of Francis’ and his attempted rapprochement with the Moslem world had far reaching consequences, long past his own death: after the fall of the Crusader Kingdom, it was the Franciscans, of all Catholics, who were allowed to stay on in the Holy Land and were recognized as “Custodians of the Holy Land” on behalf of Christianity .
Today, with the emergence of extremist forms of Islam, we need more than ever to have the courage of St. Francis to engage the Muslim world and try to bring them to Christ. It may be difficult work and successes may be few at this stage, but God calls us to be faithful, not necessarily successful. Ultimately, success is up to God."*
In his last years, Francis popularized the living creche to highlight the poverty into which Christ was born. In 1224, on a mountaintop retreat, Francis had a mystical encounter that left him with bleeding wounds in his feet, hands, and side—the first recorded instance of stigmata.
Francis considered all nature as the mirror of God and as so many steps to God. He called all creatures his “brothers” and “sisters,”
"Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light …"
"Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no man can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will. …" *
Francis preached to townspeople—even though as a layperson he was without license to do so—and he soon attracted followers. In 1209 he composed for his mendicant disciples, or friars, a simple rule (Regula primitiva, “Primitive Rule”) drawn from passages in the Bible: “To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps.”
Probably no one in history has set out as seriously as did Francis to imitate the life of Christ and to carry out so literally Christ’s work in Christ’s own way. This is the key to the character and spirit of St. Francis and helps explain his veneration for the Eucharist (the body and blood of Christ) and respect for the priests who handled the elements of the communion sacrament. To neglect this point is to present an unbalanced portrait of the saint as a lover of nature, a social worker, an itinerant preacher, and a celebrant of poverty.
Francis of Assisi lived the Gospel by giving up his comforts to be poor. He had great empathy and love for the poor, the outcasts, and enemies, and his love and kindness extended to animals and birds. When the church had fallen into ruin; the Lord had told him to build His church. St Francis did not hesitate.
* St Francis of Assisi
St. Juan Diego
St. Juan Diego- (1474–1548), a native of Mexico, is the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint from the Americas. He was granted an apparition of the Virgin Mary on four separate occasions in December 1531 at the hill of Tepeyac, then outside but now well within metropolitan Mexico City.
He was recognized for his religious fervor, his respectful and gracious attitude toward the Virgin Mary and his Bishop Juan de Zumarraga, and his undying love for his ill uncle.
December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was in a hurry to make it to Mass. But, he was stopped by the beautiful sight of a radiant woman who introduced herself, in his native tongue, as the "ever-perfect holy Mary, who has the honor to be the mother of the true God."
Mary told Juan Diego she was the mother of all those who lived in his land and asked him to make a request to the local bishop. She wanted them to build a chapel in her honor there on Tepeyac Hill.
But, upon the news the Bishop had doubts and told Juan to give him time to think about it.
Juan Diego saw the Virgin Mary a second time and told her he failed. He tried to explain to her he was not an important person, and not the one for the task, but she insisted he was the man she wanted.
Juan Diego returned to the Bishop the next day and repeated his request, but now the Bishop asked for proof or a sign the apparition was real and truly of heaven.
Juan Diego went straight to Tepeyac and, once again, encountered the Virgin Mary. After explaining to her what the Bishop asked, she agreed and told him she'd provide him with proof on the next day, December 11.
But on the next day, Juan Diego's uncle became very sick and he was obligated to stay and care for him. Then on the day after, he was determined to quickly find a priest for his uncle and he wanted to avoid seeing the Virgin Mary because he felt ashamed for missing the previous day's meeting.
But the Virgin Mary intercepted him and asked what was wrong. He explained his situation and promised to return after he found his uncle a priest.
She looked at him and asked "No estoy yo aqui que soy tu madre?" (Am I not here, I who am your mother?) She promised him his uncle would be cured and asked him to climb to the hill and collect the flowers growing there. He obeyed and found many flowers blooming in December on the rocky land. He filled his tilma (cloak) with flowers and returned to Mary.
The Virgin Mary arranged the flowers within his cloak and told him this would be the sign he is to present to the bishop. Once Juan Diego found the bishop, he opened his cloak, and the bishop was presented with a miraculous imprinted image of the Virgin Mary on the flower-filled cloak.
The next day, Juan Diego found his uncle fully healed. His uncle explained he, too, saw the Virgin Mary.
Blessed Pope John Paul II named Our Lady of Guadalupe the patroness of the Americas in 1999 and canonized Juan Diego in 2002.
St. Ignatius of Loyola
Portrait by Peter Paul Rubens
Saint Ignatius of Loyola (23 October 1491 – 31 July 1556) was a Spanish Basque Catholic priest and theologian, who founded the religious order called the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and became its first Superior General at Paris in 1541.
The Jesuit order served the Pope as missionaries, and they were bound by a vow of special obedience to the sovereign pontiff in regard to the missions. They therefore emerged as an important force during the time of the Counter-Reformation.
Ignatius is remembered as a talented spiritual director. He recorded his method in a celebrated treatise called the Spiritual Exercises, a simple set of meditations, prayers, and other mental exercises, first published in 1548.
As a young man Íñigo had a great love for military exercises as well as a tremendous desire for fame. He framed his life around the stories of El Cid, the knights of Camelot, and the Song of Roland. He joined the army at seventeen, and according to one biographer, he strutted about "with his cape slinging open to reveal his tight-fitting hose and boots; a sword and dagger at his waist".
According to another he was "a fancy dresser, an expert dancer, a womanizer, sensitive to insult, and a rough punkish swordsman who used his privileged status to escape prosecution for violent crimes committed with his priest brother at carnival time."
Upon encountering a Moor who denied the divinity of Jesus, he challenged him to a duel to the death, and ran him through with his sword. He dueled many other men as well.
In 1509, at the age of 18, Íñigo took up arms for Antonio Manrique de Lara, 2nd Duke of Nájera. His diplomacy and leadership qualities earned him the title "servant of the court", which made him very useful to the Duke. Under the Duke's leadership, Íñigo participated in many battles without injury.
But at the Battle of Pamplona in 1521 he was gravely injured when a French-Navarrese expedition force stormed the fortress of Pamplona on 20 May 1521.
A cannonball hit him in the legs, wounding his right leg and fracturing the left in multiple places. Íñigo was returned to his father's castle in Loyola, where, in an era that knew nothing of anesthetics, he underwent several surgical operations to repair his legs, having the bones set and then rebroken.
In the end these operations left one leg shorter than the other: Íñigo would limp for the rest of his life, and his military career was over.
While recovering from surgery, Íñigo underwent a spiritual conversion which led to his experiencing a call to religious life. Hospitals in those days were run by religious orders, and the reading material available to bedridden patients tended to be selected from scripture or devotional literature.
This is how Íñigo came to read a series of religious texts on the life of Jesus and on the lives of the saints, since the "romances of chivalry" he loved to read were not available to him in the castle.
The religious work which most particularly struck him was the De Vita Christi of Ludolph of Saxony. This book would influence his whole life, inspiring him to devote himself to God and follow the example of Francis of Assisi and other great monks. It also inspired his method of meditation, since Ludolph proposes that the reader place himself mentally at the scene of the Gospel story, visualising the crib at the Nativity, etc.
This type of meditation, known as Simple Contemplation, was the basis for the method that St. Ignatius would promote in his Spiritual Exercises.
Aside from dreaming about imitating the saints in his readings, Íñigo was still wandering off in his mind about what "he would do in service to his king and in honor of the royal lady he was in love with".
Cautiously he came to realize the after-effect of both kinds of his dreams. He experienced a desolation and dissatisfaction when the romantic heroism dream was over, but, the saintly dream ended with much joy and peace. It was the first time he learned about discernment.
After he had recovered sufficiently to walk again, Íñigo resolved to begin a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to "kiss the earth where our Lord had walked", and to do stricter penances.
He thought that his plan was confirmed by a vision of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus he experienced one night, which resulted in much consolation to him.
In March 1522, he visited the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat. There, he carefully examined his past sins, confessed, gave his fine clothes to the poor he met, wore a "garment of sack-cloth", then hung his sword and dagger at the Virgin's altar during an overnight vigil at the shrine.
"Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ."
St. Jerome – (Fourth Century Doctor of the Church) 27 March 347 – 30 September 420 AD) was a Christian priest, confessor, theologian, and historian. He was born at Stridon, a village near Emona on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia.
Jerome translated the Bible into Latin from the original Hebrew and Greek. (The translation became known as the Vulgate), and he wrote commentaries on the Gospels. His list of writings is extensive.
In or around the year 366, Jerome decided to become a Christian and was baptized by Pope Liberius.
Pope Damasus died in 384, and this exposed Jerome to criticism and controversy. Jerome was a sarcastic man of great wit. He became unpopular because of his attitude and made a number of enemies. While Pope Damasus was alive, he could shield Jerome from criticism, but now Jerome faced the vengeance of the enemies he made. Both prominent pagans who resented his promotion of the faith and fellow Christians who lacked his wit attacked him with vicious rumors.
Jerome was a hard worker and he wrote extensively defending the virginity of Mary, which some clerics dared to question.
ST JEROME AND THE LION
One day, as Jerome was sitting in his cell with the other monks, a lion walked through the open door. The others quickly ran toward the window and clambered outside. But Jerome sat quietly, watching the stately lion as he walked to him.
When the creature was close, he suddenly held up his paw.
Jerome took the paw in his hand and studied the lion's eyes -- they were full of sorrow and pain. He noticed the pad was swollen, so he carefully examined the paw until he found a thorn stuck near a nail. He slowly removed it. Then he boiled water with healing herbs. With this potion, he bathed the lion's paw until the swelling subsided.
Afterward, he wrapped a linen cloth around the paw so the wound would not get dirty. When he was done, the lion sighed with gratitude, and Jerome's heart swelled with joy. He waited for the lion to depart. Instead, the creature stretched out on the floor and fell fast asleep.
After a while, Jerome lay down beside him and slept.
When they woke, Jerome said to the lion, "I see you plan to stay here with me." The lion wagged his tail.
"Well, then," Jerome said, "you must understand that everyone who lives here has to work, so I shall give you a job."
Again the lion wagged his tail.
Jerome decided the lion must accompany the monastery's donkey down to the forest each day. There an old woodcutter loaded up the donkey's panniers with wood, and the donkey carried it back to the monastery. The lion was assigned to protect the donkey from robbers and wolves on her journey.
For many months the lion and the donkey walked together to the forest. There the lion lay down and watched as the woodsman heaped the donkey's panniers with wood until the donkey could carry no more. Sometimes the lion fell asleep, and when the donkey was loaded down, she brayed to wake him, and together they walked back to the monastery.
But one hot morning in late summer, the lion fell asleep as usual and did not hear two men creep up beside the woodsman and the donkey. They tied a cloth over the man's mouth and over the donkey's mouth, too. Then they drove them away to their caravan, wood and all.
When the lion woke, he noticed the sun was low and he wondered why the donkey had not woken him. He looked around and saw no one there, and he thought she must have walked home alone. He searched for her footsteps and saw the footprints of three men instead. He then understood that the donkey had been stolen.
With a heavy heart, the lion walked home, going directly to Jerome's cell.
"What's wrong?" Jerome asked when the creature walked in.
The lion bowed, his tail between his legs, awaiting punishment.
When Jerome noticed the donkey had not returned, he and the other monks thought the lion must have eaten her. As punishment, the monks wished to banish the lion. But Jerome refused. Instead, he put the panniers upon the lion's back. "From now on, you shall carry the wood from the forest," he said.
The lion sighed with gratitude, for he loved Jerome and the monastery, and he did not wish to leave.
One day, as the lion stood in the forest and the old man loaded him with wood, the caravan of thieves returned from Damascus, passing through Bethlehem on their way to Egypt.
The lion heard them before he saw them, and he turned to see the caravan coming toward him. But then, he nearly fainted with joy when he recognized his friend the donkey among them.
He leapt toward the caravan -- knocking the old man down. The wood flew in every direction. The caravan drivers were terrified when they saw a lion charging toward them. But before they could run away, the lion approached, growling, and managed to shepherd the whole caravan to the monastery.
Jerome was sitting in his cell reading when he saw the caravan coming, the lion in the lead. Puzzled, he walked outside. To his astonishment, he recognized his old donkey.
The merchants fell to their knees. "Oh, holy father," they said, "please ask this lion to spare our lives. We confess. We stole the donkey while her guardian was asleep. We will gladly return her if you let us go on our way."
Jerome smiled. "Go on your way," he said.
The very next day, the donkey and the lion, two old friends, walked into the forest together. Jerome and all the monks rejoiced. From that day and forever after, the lion remained a faithful friend to Jerome, seldom leaving his side.*
St. John the Evangelist
Miniature of Saint John from the Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany (1503–8) by Jean Bourdichon
John the Evangelist is the name traditionally given to the author of the Gospel of John. Christians have traditionally identified him with John the Apostle, John of Patmos, or John the Presbyter,.
The Gospel of John refers to an otherwise unnamed "disciple whom Jesus loved", who "bore witness to and wrote" the Gospel's message. The author of the Gospel of John seemed interested in maintaining the internal anonymity of the author's identity.
St John was the only one of the disciples that did not run when Jesus was seized in the Garden of Gethsemane. He stood by Jesus's side under the cross with the Lord's earthly mother, Mary.
Christian tradition says that John the Evangelist was John the Apostle. The Apostle John was a historical figure, one of the "pillars" of the Jerusalem church after Jesus' death. He was one of the original twelve apostles and is thought to be the only one to have lived into old age and not be killed for his faith. It is believed that he was exiled (around 95 AD) to the Aegean island of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation.
In his old age, when unable to do more, he was carried into the assembly of the Church at Ephesus, and his sole exhortation was, "Little children, love one another."
The date of his death cannot be fixed with anything like precision, but it is certain that he lived to a very advanced age. He is represented holding a chalice from which issues a dragon, as he is supposed to have been given poison, which was, however, innocuous to him, a holy man . Also his symbol is an eagle.
St. Luke the Evangelist
Luke the Evangelist is one of the Four Evangelists—the four traditionally ascribed authors of the canonical Gospels. The Early Church Fathers ascribed to him authorship of both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, which would mean Luke contributed over a quarter of the text of the New Testament, more than any other author.
The Roman Catholic Church and other major denominations venerate him as Saint Luke the Evangelist and as a patron saint of artists, physicians, bachelors, surgeons, students and butchers; his feast day takes place on 18 October.
The New Testament mentions Luke briefly a few times, and the Pauline Epistle to the Colossians refers to him as a physician (from Greek for 'one who heals'); thus he is thought to have been both a physician and a disciple of Paul.
In our day, it would be easy to assume that someone who was a doctor was rich, but scholars have argued that Luke might have been born a slave. It was not uncommon for families to educate slaves in medicine so that they would have a resident family physician. Not only do we have Paul's word, but Eusebius, Saint Jerome, Saint Irenaeus and Caius, a second-century writer, all refer to Luke as a physician.
Luke is the loyal comrade who stays with Paul when he is imprisoned in Rome about the year 61: "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers" (Philemon 24). And after everyone else deserts Paul in his final imprisonment and sufferings, it is Luke who remains with Paul to the end: "Only Luke is with me" (2 Timothy 4:11).
Reading Luke's gospel gives a good idea of his character as one who loved the poor, who wanted the door to God's kingdom opened to all, who respected women, and who saw hope in God's mercy for everyone.
Since the early years of the faith, Christians have regarded him as a saint. He is believed to have been a martyr, reportedly having been hanged from an olive tree.
St. Mark the Evangelist
Miniature of Saint Mark from the Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany (1503–8) by Jean Bourdichon
Venerated in All Christian churches, Patronage: Barristers, Venice, Egypt, Mainar
Mark the Evangelist, is the traditionally ascribed author of the Gospel of Mark. Mark is said to have founded the Church of Alexandria, one of the most important episcopal sees of early Christianity. His feast day is celebrated on April 25, and his symbol is the winged lion.
According to William Lane (1974), an "unbroken tradition" identifies Mark the Evangelist with John Mark, and John Mark as the cousin of Barnabas.
"There is a tradition which says that Mark was the youth who witnessed Judas' betrayal of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Of the four evangelists, only St. Mark relates the incident: And there followed Him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked (Mark 14:51-52). His mother had a house in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 12:12), which some suppose to have been in or near the Garden. Perhaps the youth was awakened-the betrayal occurred at night-and ran out to see what the commotion was about. It is, in any case, a plausible explanation of why he was undressed."*
Peter went to Antioch, then through Asia Minor (visiting the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, as mentioned in 1 Peter 1:1), and arrived in Rome in the second year of Emperor Claudius (AD 42; Eusebius, Eccl, Hist. 2.14.6).
Somewhere on the way, Peter encountered Mark and took him as travel companion and interpreter.
Mark the Evangelist wrote down the sermons of Peter, thus composing the Gospel according to Mark (Eccl. Hist. 15–16), before he left for Alexandria in the third year of Claudius (43).
According to the Bible, Mark went to Cyprus with Barnabas after the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:39).
According to tradition, in AD 49, about 19 years after the Ascension of Jesus, Mark travelled to Alexandria and founded the Church of Alexandria – today, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria, and the Coptic Catholic Church claim to be successors to this original community. Aspects of the Coptic liturgy can be traced back to Mark himself.
He became the first bishop of Alexandria and he is honored as the founder of Christianity in Africa.
According to Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. 2.24.1), Mark was succeeded by Annianus as the bishop of Alexandria in the eighth year of Nero (62/63), probably, but not definitely, due to his coming death. Later Coptic tradition says that he was martyred in 68.
[" When Mark returned to Alexandria, the idolators of the city resented his efforts to turn the Alexandrians away from the worship of their traditional gods. In AD 68 they placed a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he was dead. His relics were kept in Egypt until they were transferred to Venice where they are venerated till this day".
...."Utterly spent, the meek sufferer eventually collapsed and his soul, released from its earthly tabernacle, ascended to heaven. The pagans, not content with having killed the Saint, wanted to destroy also his lifeless body, but they had scarcely lit the bonfire that was to have consumed the body before there was a mammoth thunderclap; the earth shook and the sky loosed a storm of hailstones. The fire was quenched and the pagans dispersed, allowing the Christians to come and collect the sacred remains of their martyred bishop and father in the Faith. These they placed in a stone coffin in the place where they gathered for common prayer. Later, in the ninth century, Islamic incursions caused the relics to be transferred to Venice, where they are preserved to this day in the magnificent basilica dedicated to this holy Apostle and Evangelist.
Compiled from The Lives of the Holy Apostles (from the Menology of St. Dimitri of Rostov), Holy Apostles Convent; the Life of St. Mark by Nun Barbara in Pravoslavnaya Zhizn, Jordanville; and The Prologue of Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, Lazarica Press."]*
St. Matthew the Apostle
Venerated in: Eastern Orthodox Church, Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches
Oriental Orthodoxy, Church of the East, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism
Patronage: Accountants; Salerno, Italy; bankers; tax collectors; perfumers; civil servants
Matthew the Apostle Greek: [also known as Saint Matthew and as Levi] was, according to the Christian Bible, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to Christian tradition, one of the four Evangelists.
In the New Testament
Among the early followers and apostles of Jesus, Matthew is mentioned in Matthew 9:9 and Matthew 10:3 as a publican or tax collector who, while sitting at the "receipt of custom" in Capernaum, was called to follow Jesus. He is also listed among the twelve, but without identification of his background, in Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13. In passages parallel to Matthew 9:9, both Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27 describe Jesus' calling of the tax collector Levi, the son of Alphaeus, but Mark and Luke never explicitly equate this Levi with the Matthew named as one of the twelve.
Levi was a 1st-century Galilean (presumably born in Galilee, which was not part of Judea or the Roman Iudaea province), the son of Alphaeus. As a tax collector he would have been literate in Aramaic and Greek. His fellow Jews would have despised him for what was seen as collaborating with the Roman occupation force.
After his call, Matthew invited Jesus home for a feast. On seeing this, the Scribes and the Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners. This prompted Jesus to answer, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32)
The New Testament records that as a disciple, he followed Jesus, and was one of the witnesses of the Resurrection and the Ascension of Jesus. Afterwards, the disciples withdrew to an upper room (Acts 1:10–14) (traditionally the Cenacle) in Jerusalem. The disciples remained in and about Jerusalem and proclaimed that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
In the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 43a) "Mattai" is one of five disciples of "Jeshu".
Matthew died as a martyr.
It is said in the Constitutions of Pope St. Clement that Saint Matthew instituted holy water, for protection of soul and body.
Many years following the death of Christ, around 41 and 50 AD, Matthew wrote his gospel account. He wrote the book in Aramaic in the hope that his account would convince his fellow people that Jesus was the Messiah and that His kingdom had been fulfilled in a spiritual way. It was an important message at a time when almost everyone was expecting the return of a militant messiah brandishing a sword.
The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew
According to tradition, the saint was killed on the orders of the king of Ethiopia while celebrating Mass at the altar. The king lusted after his own niece, and had been rebuked by Matthew, for the girl was a nun, and therefore the bride of Christ.
St. Patrick – (Fifth Century, 387-461 AD) (Ireland) St. Patrick is known for using the shamrock to illustrate the Trinity.
According to the Confessio of Patrick, when he was about 14, he was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Britain and taken as a slave to Ireland, looking after animals; he lived there for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After becoming a cleric, he returned to northern and western Ireland.
"The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."
He was known to have driven the snakes of Ireland into the sea to their destruction.
Patrick himself wrote that he raised people from the dead, and a 12th-century hagiography places this number at 33 men, some of whom are said to have been deceased for many years.
He also reportedly prayed for the provision of food for hungry sailors traveling by land through a desolate area, and a herd of swine miraculously appeared.
St Peter and St Paul
St Peter and St Paul
Saint Peter (c. 1468) by Marco Zoppo depicts Peter as an old man
Saints Peter and Paul, of course were the first evangelists, bringing the word of God through their travels and suffering much persecution.
Peter was the first to proclaim Jesus, the Son of God. Peter became the first Pope, fulfilling Jesus's words: 17 "Then Jesus answered and said, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but My Father in heaven. 18 And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." MT 16:17-18
Both of these two saints, our forefathers, preached the word of God without wavering and both died the martyrs' death. Peter felt unworthy to be crucified like our Lord, Jesus Christ. He requested to be crucified upside down on the cross. He was taken out to death [2 Peter 1:14,15]. They were going to nail him to a cross, and Peter said, “No, no! My Lord died like that. I am not worthy to die as He did.” Then Peter said, “Hang me on that cross head downward.”
In the epilogue of the Gospel of John, Jesus hints at the death by which Peter would glorify God,
saying "when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go." Jn. 21:18–19 This is interpreted by some as a reference to Peter's crucifixion.
St. Paul's Death
Evidence highly suggests the apostle Paul's death occurred after his fifth missionary journey ended in 67 A.D. Paul was likely beheaded by the Romans, under Emperor Nero, sometime around May or June of 68 A.D. Nero himself died by suicide on June 9th of the same year.
St Paul died close to the same time as St Peter and in Rome, as well. St Paul wrote: 6 "As for me, I am already being poured out in sacrifice, and the time of my deliverance is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith." 2 Tim 4: 6-7
How many of us could say that, or better yet, how many of us would want to be able to say what St Paul said?
The Beheading of Saint Paul by Enrique Simonet, 1887
Catholic Bible: Confraternity Text
Michele or Michael Ruggieri (1543 – 11 May 1607), born Pompilio Ruggieri and known in China as Luo Mingjian, was an Italian Jesuit priest and missionary. A founding father of the Jesuit China missions, co-author of the first European–Chinese dictionary, and first European translator of the Four Books of Confucianism, he has been described as the first European sinologist.
St. Thomas the Apostle
Martyrdom of St. Thomas by Peter Paul Rubens
Thomas the Apostle also called Didymus which means Twin was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, according to the New Testament.
Thomas is informally referred to as "Doubting Thomas" because he doubted Jesus' resurrection when first told (in the Gospel of John account only), followed later by his confession of faith, "My Lord and my God," on seeing Jesus' wounded body.
Traditionally, Thomas is believed to have travelled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, travelling as far as Tamilakam which are the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in present-day India.
According to tradition, Thomas reached Muziris, (modern-day North Paravur and Kodungalloor in the state of Kerala, India) in AD 50 and converted several people, founding what today are known as Saint Thomas Christians or Mar Thoma Nazranis.
After his death, the reputed relics of Saint Thomas the Apostle were enshrined as far as Mesopotamia in the 3rd century, and later moved to various places. In 1258, some of the relics were brought to Ortona, in Abruzzo, Italy, where they have been held in the Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle.
He is often regarded as the Patron Saint of India, and the name Thoma remains quite popular among Saint Thomas Christians of India.
Gospel of John
Thomas first speaks in the Gospel of John. In John 11:16, when Lazarus had recently died, the apostles do not wish to go back to Judea, where some Jews had attempted to stone Jesus. Thomas says: "Let us also go, that we may die with him".
Thomas speaks again in John 14:5. There, Jesus had just explained that he was going away to prepare a heavenly home for his followers, and that one day they would join him there. Thomas reacted by saying, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
John 20:24–29 tells how doubting Thomas was skeptical at first when he heard that Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to the other apostles, saying, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." But when Jesus appeared later and invited Thomas to touch his wounds and behold him, Thomas showed his belief by saying, "My Lord and my God". Jesus then said, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed."
Witness to the Assumption of Mary
Thomas was in India, but after her first burial, he was transported to her tomb, where he witnessed her bodily assumption into heaven, from which she dropped her girdle. In an inversion of the story of Thomas' doubts, the other apostles are skeptical of Thomas' story until they see the empty tomb and the girdle.
Thomas' receipt of the girdle is commonly depicted in medieval and pre-Tridentine Renaissance art, the apostle's infamous doubting reduced to a metaphorical knot in the Bavarian baroque Mary Untier of Knots.
According to Syrian Christian tradition, Saint Thomas was allegedly killed at St.Thomas Mount, in Chennai, in 72 A.D July 3rd. and his body was interred in Mylapore. Ephrem the Syrian states that the Apostle was martyred in India, and that his relics were taken then to Edessa. This is the earliest known record of his martyrdom.
St. Francis Xavier
A painting of Saint Francis Xavier,
held in the Kobe City Museum
St. Francis Xavier - (7 April 1506 – 2 December 1552) was a great missionary to Asia, visiting India, Indonesia, Japan and other countries, and co-founder of the Society of Jesus.
Xavier ministered first to the sick and the children. Then he learned about the native people of the Pearl Fishery Coast, which had been baptized a decade earlier, but were never taught their faith. Xavier began ministering to them. He spent three years among them, but was often embarrassed by the conduct of his Portuguese countrymen who were already Catholic, but frequently misbehaved.
Xavier built 40 churches for the people of the Pearl Fishery Coast. Xavier encountered difficulty in his mission because he usually worked to convert the people first, instead of their leaders.
He was a companion of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits who took vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre, Paris, in 1534.
He was named the patron of Catholic missions by Pope Pius XI.