Saints: August 2009 Archives

Soon-to-be-Saint Jeanne Jugan

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Today is the feast of Blessed (and soon to be Saint) Jeanne Jugan (1792-1879), foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Blessed Jeanne Jugan, in religion Soeur Marie de la Croix, will be canonized in Rome on October 11th together with Blessed Damien of Molokai, Blessed Zygmunt Felinski, Blessed Francisco Coll Guitart, and Blessed Rafael Arnaiz Baron. I take this opportunity to thank her daughters for their faithful loving service of the elderly without resources. The Little Sisters of the Poor are especially attentive to the needs of the aged parents of priests. Un tres grand merci, mes chères petite soeurs!

Blessed Jeanne Jugan's Advice for Moments of Crisis

Go and find Him when your patience and strength give out and you feel alone and helpless. Jesus is waiting for you in the chapel. Say to Him, "Jesus, you know exactly what is going on. You are all I have, and you know all. Come to my help.' And then go, and don't worry about how you are going to manage. That you have told God about it is enough. He has a good memory.

Pax tecum, Filumena

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Connecticut and Ireland

I am writing, dear readers, from Hamden, Connecticut where I am spending a few days with my parents before leaving for Ireland on Sunday. I will be traveling with a fellow priest. We will arrive on the Isle of Saints and Scholars Monday morning and repair straightaway to the little town of Drumshanbo in County Leitrim where we will lodge in the guesthouse of the Franciscan Nuns of Perpetual Adoration.

At the Court of the Eucharistic King

Drumshanbo is, I think, one of the holiest places in Ireland, sanctified by 140 years of uninterrupted Eucharistic adoration. Shortly after the introduction of Perpetual Adoration, a wondrous sign was given in the convent chapel: the apparition of a bright, snow-white cross about two and a half feet in height, with a throbbing heart at its centre. It was seen during Mass on two different occasions by several of the nuns for about eight minutes on the first time and half an hour the second time. The Convent's second Abbess, Mother Saint Joseph Horne, died on the feast of Corpus Christ 1879; her life in the cloister had been marked by an abundance of mystical graces. Mrs. Helena Concannon recounts the whole story in At the Court of the Eucharistic King (M.H. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1929).

Luminous Saints

August 11th is not only the feast of Saint Clare of Assisi, it is also the feast of the little virgin martyr Saint Philomena. The names of both saints signify light: Chiara derives from the Italian word for brightness, while Philomena is understood to mean "daughter of the light." Saint Philomena's popularity is increasing throughout the Catholic world; from Italy, France, and Ireland, devotion to her has spread to all five continents.

Patronness of the Curé d'Ars

Saint Philomena (or Filumena) emerged from centuries of obscurity when her relics were unearthed in Rome on May 24, 1802. Saint Jean Marie Vianney, the Curé d'Ars, was among the saints most devoted clients. In the parish church of Ars he had a chapel built in her honour; he called Saint Philomena. The holy priest called Saint Philomena "the new light of the Church militant." He often recommended novenas to the little saint. She worked prodigies in answer to his prayers. "To Philomena," he would say, "nothing is refused."

Saint Philomena.jpg

A Saint Among Saints

The Curé d'Ars was not the only saint devoted to Philomena. The friends of Saint Philomena include Saint Peter Julian Eymard, Saint Peter Chanel, Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, Saint Euphrasia Pelletier, Saint Francesca Xavier Cabrini, Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, Blessed Anna Maria Taigi, Blessed Pauline Jaricot, and Blessed Damien of Molokai. One who prays to Saint Philomena is in good company!

Honoured by the Popes

Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846), Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878), Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903), and Saint Pius X (1903-1914) all sought Saint Philomena's intercession. Saint Pius X erected the Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena on May 21, 1912. Saint Philomena seems to have been given to the Church in modern times in response to the challenges that face her, and as an intercessor for those engaged in defending the "Splendour of the Truth" and the "Gospel of Life."

Friend of Children

The Archconfraternity has a children's section. Saint Philomena is a heavenly advocate of children, especially of those at risk. Dr. Mark Miravalle writes, "Because Philomena said yes to Christ and to His Kingdom, it is little wonder that Jesus is making her well known again as the Patroness of Purity, for the young people of the twenty-first century."



The cord of Saint Philomena, approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1884, remains a popular sacramental. Made of red and white cotton (the colours of martyrdom and purity), the cord is carried on one's person or worn about the waist. Those who wear the cord are encouraged to pray daily, "Dear Saint Philomena, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us, so that through your powerful intercession, we may obtain that purity of spirit and of heart that leads to perfect Love of God. Amen."

A Thank You

A more personal note: when my dear fellow pilgrim to Knock Shrine,Mary Parady, was sorting through her mother, Cousin Marian Parady's things, she discovered a first class relic of Saint Philomena. The little saint has become a friend to Mary. Thank you, Saint Philomena!

Doctor Zelantissimus

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Siamo Napoletani

Given that grace builds on nature, my Neapolitan ancestry may, in some way, account for my spiritual affinity with Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori. For the long lazy days and hot nights of August I recommend a a fascinating biography of the saint: Alphonsus de Liguori, Saint of Bourbon Naples, by Frederick M. Jones, C.Ss.R.

Reparation Then and Now

Meditate the following text written by Saint Alphonsus Maria, and translated by Norman J. Muckermann, C.Ss.R. It is astonishingly relevant to the need for reparation, when one considers the current proliferation of so many outrages against the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The Sorrowful Heart of Jesus

It is impossible for us to appreciate how greatly afflicted the Heart of Jesus was for love of us and at the same time not be filled with pity for Him. . . . The principal sorrow affecting the Heart of Jesus was not so much knowing the torments and insults His enemies were preparing for Him. Rather, it was seeing how ready we would be to reject His immense love.

Desecrations of the Sacred Host

Jesus distinctly saw all the sins which we would commit even after His sufferings, even after His bitter and ignominious death on the cross. He foresaw, too, the insults which sinners would offer His Sacred Heart which He would leave on earth in the Most Holy Sacrament as proof of His love. These insults are almost too horrible to mention: people trampling the sacred hosts underfoot, throwing them into gutters or piles of refuse, and even using them to worship the devil himself!

The Pledge of His Love

Even the knowledge that these and other defamations would happen did not prevent Jesus from giving us this great pledge of His love, the Holy Eucharist. Jesus has an infinite hatred for sin; yet it seems that His great love for us even overcomes this bitterness. Because of His love, He allows these sacrileges to happen in order not to deprive us of this Divine Food. Should not this alone suffice to make us love a Heart that has loved us so much?

Jesus Forsaken on the Altar

What more could Jesus do to deserve our love? Is our ingratitude so great that we will still leave Jesus forsaken on the altar, as so many are wont to do? Rather, should we not unite ourselves to those few who gather to praise Him and acknowledge His divine presence? Should we not melt with love, as do the candles which adorn the altars where the Holy Sacrament is preserved? There the Sacred Heart remains burning with love for us. Shall we not in turn burn with love for Jesus?

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory