Select language
Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

“I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

Saint of the month Archives

Saint Rose of Viterbo

Saint Rose of Viterbo
Feast Day - September 4

Saint Rose of Viterbo was a Franciscan tertiary. At age three she brought a person back from death. Preached in the streets from age ten and led public processions praising Christ. Prophetess and subject to visions. Had the friendship of birds. Was repeatedly refused entrance to the Poor Clares, and in 1250 she was exiled for supporting the pope against Frederick II. After her death, Pope Alexander IV ordered her body laid to rest in the convent that had refused her.

Rose of Viterbo (1251) was born in Viterbo, then a contested commune of the Papal States. She spent her brief life as a recluse, who was outspoken in her support of the papacy. Otherwise leading an unremarkable life, she later became known for her mystical gifts of foretelling the future and having miraculous powers.

Born of poor and pious parents, even as a child Rose had a great desire to pray and to aid the poor. When but three years old, she allegedly raised to life her maternal aunt. At the age of seven, she had already lived the life of a recluse, devoting herself to penances. She prayed much for the conversion of sinners. Rose was not yet 10 years old when the Blessed Virgin Mary is said to have instructed her to enter the Third Order of St. Francis and to preach penance in Viterbo, at that time under the rule of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor.

Rose was soon admitted to the Franciscan Third Order and adopted its religious habit, a simple tunic with a cord around her waist. While walking the streets with a crucifix in her hand, she would exhort others to be faithful to the Catholic Church.

Rose attempted at age 15 to found a monastery. The effort failed and she returned to a life of prayer, penance and solitude in her father's home.

Every now and then she would emerge from her solitude to entreat the people to do penance. Her mission seems to have lasted for about two years. In January 1250, Viterbo, her native city, was then in revolt against the pope. When Rose took the pope’s side against the emperor, she and her family were exiled from the city and took refuge in Soriano nel Cimino. When the pope’s side won in Viterbo, Rose was allowed to return.

On December 5, 1250, Rose allegedly foretold the speedy death of the emperor, a prophecy fulfilled on December 13. Soon afterwards she went to Vitorchiano, whose inhabitants, according to surviving reports, were affected by a supposed sorceress. Rose secured the conversion of all, even of the sorceress, reportedly by standing unscathed for three hours in the flames of a burning pyre.

Rose wished to enter the Poor Clare Monastery of St. Mary in the city, but was refused because of her poverty, as she was not able to provide the dowry required for admission. She accepted her rejection, nonetheless foretelling her admission to the monastery after her death.


The process of Rose's canonisation was opened in the year of her death by Pope Innocent IV, but was not definitively undertaken until 1457. Originally buried at the parish church of Santa Maria in Poggio, in 1257 Pope Alexander IV ordered it moved to the monastery she had desired to enter, at which time it was renamed in her honour.

On September 3, the eve of the feast of St. Rose, the people of Viterbo follow the transportation of La Macchina (the Machine of St. Rose” ) a massive 28 metre high tower, illuminated with 3,000 tiny electric lights and 880 candles, and topped off with a statue of her, which is carried for 1,200 metres through the darkened streets of the old medieval town on the backs of around 100 volunteers called “facchini.” The tradition goes all the way back to September 4, 1258, when the body of the saint was exhumed and transported to the Monastery of Saint Damian; but it was not until 1664, following seven years of plague in the city, that a “machine” first appeared. In gratitude for having survived such a terrible pestilence the citizens voted to renew the veneration of their saint every year.

Saint Rose of Viterbo is the patron saint of people in exile, people rejected by religious orders; Franciscan youth and Viterbo, Italy.

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard
Feast Day - August 20

St. Bernard was born of noble parentage in Burgundy, France, in the castle of Fontaines near Dijon. He had six brothers and sisters and they were very well educated. Under the care of his pious parents he was sent at an early age to a college at Chatillon, where he was conspicuous for his remarkable piety and spirit of recollection. At the same place he entered upon the studies of theology and Holy Scripture.

He was only 17 years old when his mother died and his heart was broken.

His lively sister Humbeline did not let him remain sad and she did whatever she could to cheer him up. Soon Bernard became a very popular man. He was handsome and intelligent, full of fun and good humour and people enjoyed being with him.

Then one day, Bernard surprised all his friends by telling them he was going to join the very strict Cistercian order and become a priest. They did all they could to make him give up the idea. But in the end, Bernard convinced his brothers, an uncle and twenty-six friends to join him.

As Bernard and his brothers left their home, they said to their little brother Nivard, who was playing with other children: "Good-bye, little Nivard. You will now have all the lands and property for yourself." But the boy answered: "What! How can all of you go to heaven and leave me here on earth? Do you call that fair?"

And when Nivard was older he too joined his brothers in the monastery. St. Bernard became a very good monk. After three years, he was sent to start a new Cistercian monastery and to be its abbot (like a parish priest).

The new monastery was in the Valley of Light which in French is called "Clairvaux" and Bernard was the abbot there for the rest of his life. After the death of his mother, fearing the snares and temptations of the world, he had resolved to embrace the newly established and very austere institute of the Cistercian Order, of which he was destined to become the greatest ornament.

It was in 1113 that St. Bernard, with thirty young noblemen, presented himself to the holy Abbot, St. Stephen, at Citeaux. After a novitiate spent in great fervor, he made his profession in the following year. His superior soon after, seeing the great progress he had made in the spiritual life, sent him with twelve monks to found a new monastery, which afterward became known as the celebrated Abbey of Clairvaux.

St. Bernard was at once appointed Abbot and began that active life which has rendered him the most conspicuous figure in the history of the 12th century. He founded numerous other monasteries, composed a number of works and undertook many journeys for the honour of God. Several Bishoprics were offered him, but he refused them all.

The reputation of St. Bernard spread far and wide; even the Popes were governed by his advice. He was commissioned by Pope Eugene III to preach the second Crusade.
He traveled through France and Germany, and aroused the greatest enthusiasm for the holy war among the masses of the population. The failure of the expedition raised a great storm against the saint, but he attributed it to the sins of the Crusaders. St. Bernard was eminently endowed with the gift of miracles.

He died on August 20, 1153. His feast day is August 20.

Bernard died in the sixty-third year of his age, after forty years spent in the cloister. He founded one hundred and sixty-three monasteries in different parts of Europe; at his death they numbered three hundred and forty-three.

He was the first Cistercian monk placed on the calendar of saints and was canonised by Alexander III, 18 January 1174.

Pope Pius VIII bestowed on him the title of Doctor of the Church.

The Cistercians honour him as only the founders of orders are honoured, because of the wonderful and widespread activity which he gave to the Order of Cîteaux.

He is the patron saint of beekeepers, bees, candlemakers, chandlers, the Knights Templar, wax-melters and wax refiners.


Saint Veronica
Feast Day - July 12

Saint Veronica was a pious woman of Jerusalem in the first century AD, according to Christian tradition.

She was the woman of Jerusalem who wiped the face of Christ with a veil while he was on the way to Calvary. According to tradition, the cloth was imprinted with the image of Christ's face.

Unfortunately, there is no historical evidence or scriptural reference to this event, but the legend of Veronica became one of the most popular in Christian lore and the veil one of the beloved relics in the Church.

According to legend, Veronica bore the relic away from the Holy Land, and used it to cure Emperor Tiberius of some illness. The veil was subsequently seen in Rome in the eighth century, and was translated to St. Peter's in 1297 by command of Pope Boniface VIII.

Nothing is known about Veronica, although the apocryphal Acts of Pilate identify her with the woman mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew who suffered from an issue of blood. Her name is probably derived from Veronica , as was reported by Giraldus Cambrensis. The term was thus a convenient appellation to denote the genuine relic of Veronica's veil and so differentiate from the other similar relics, such as those kept in Milan.

The relic is still preserved in St. Peter's, and the memory of Veronica's act of charity is commemorated in the Stations of the Cross.According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the name "Veronica" comes from the Latin vera, meaning "true" or "Truthful", and the Greek eikon, meaning "image"; the Veil of Veronica was therefore largely regarded in medieval times as the "true image", the truthful representation of Jesus, preceding the Shroud of Turin.

Saint Veronica was mentioned in the reported visions of Jesus by Sister Marie of St Peter, a Carmelite nun who lived in Tours, France, and started the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. In 1844, Sister Marie reported that in a vision, she saw Saint Veronica wiping away the spit and mud from the face of Jesus with her veil on the way to Calvary. She said that sacrilegious and blasphemous acts today are adding to the spit and mud that Saint Veronica wiped away that day.

According to Sr Marie of St Peter, in her visions Jesus told her that He desired devotion to His Holy Face in reparation for sacrilege and blasphemy. Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ are thus compared to Saint Veronica wiping the face of Jesus. The Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus was eventually approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1885.

While she is not included in the Roman Martyrology, she is honoured with a feast day. St Veronica is commemorated on 12th July. Her symbol is the veil bearing the face of Christ and the Crown of Thorns.

She is the patron saint of photographers and laundry workers.

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
Feast Day - June 21

Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J. (Italian: Luigi Gonzaga; March 9, 1568 – June 21, 1591) was an Italian aristocrat who became a member of the Society of Jesus. While still a student at the Roman College, he died as a result of caring for the victims of an epidemic. He was beatified in 1605, and canonised in 1726.

Gonzaga was born the eldest of seven children, at his family's castle in Castiglione delle Stiviere, between Brescia and Mantua in northern Italy in what was then part of the Duchy of Mantua, into the illustrious House of Gonzaga. "Aloysius" is the Latin form of Gonzaga's given name in Italian, Luigi.[2] He was the oldest son of Ferrante Gonzaga (1544–1586), Marquis of Castiglione, and Marta Tana di Santena, daughter of a baron of the Piedmontese Della Rovere family. His father had been offered the position of commander-in-chief of the cavalry of Henry VIII of England, but preferred the Spanish court. His mother was a lady-in-waiting to Isabel, the wife of Philip II of Spain.

As the first-born son, he was in line to inherit his father's title of Marquis. His father assumed that Aloysius would become a soldier, as the family was constantly involved in the frequent minor wars in the region. His military training started at an early age, but he also received an education in languages and the arts. As early as age four, Luigi was given a set of miniature guns and accompanied his father on training expeditions so that the boy might learn “the art of arms.” At the age of five, Aloysius was sent to a military camp to get started on his career. His father was pleased to see his son marching around camp at the head of a platoon of soldiers. His mother and his tutor were less pleased with the vocabulary he picked up there.

He grew up amid the violence and brutality of Renaissance Italy and witnessed the murder of two of his brothers. In 1576, at the age of 8, he was sent to Florence, along with his younger brother, Rodolfo, to serve at the court of the Grand Duke Francesco I de' Medici and to receive further education. While there, he fell ill with a disease of the kidneys, which was to trouble him throughout his life. While he was ill, he took the opportunity to read about the saints and to spend much of his time in prayer. He is said to have taken a private vow of chastity at the age of 9. In November 1579, the brothers were sent to the Duke of Mantua. Aloysius was shocked by the violent and frivolous lifestyle he encountered there.

Aloysius returned to Castiglione where he met Cardinal Charles Borromeo, and from him received First Communion on July 22, 1580. After reading a book about Jesuit missionaries in India, Aloysius felt strongly that he wanted to become a missionary himself. He started practicing by teaching catechism classes to young boys in Castiglione in the summers. He also repeatedly visited the houses of the Capuchin friars and the Barnabites located in Casale Monferrato, the capital of the Gonzaga-ruled Duchy of Montferrat where the family spent the winter. He also adopted an ascetic lifestyle.

In July 1584, a year and a half after the Infante's death, the family returned to Italy. Aloysius still wanted to become a priest but several members of his family worked hard to persuade him to change his mind. When they realised there was no way to make him give up his plan, they tried to persuade him to become a secular priest, and offered to arrange for a bishopric for him. If he were to become a Jesuit he would renounce any right to his inheritance or status in society. His family was afraid of this, but their attempts to persuade him not to join the Jesuits failed; Aloysius was not interested in higher office and still wanted to become a missionary.

The family was called to Spain in 1581 to assist the Holy Roman Empress Maria of Austria. They arrived in Madrid in March 1582, where Aloysius and Rodolfo became pages for the young Infante Diego (1575–82). At that point, Aloysius started thinking in earnest about joining a religious order. He had considered joining the Capuchins, but he had a Jesuit confessor in Madrid and decided instead to join that order. His mother agreed to his request, but his father was furious and prevented him from doing so.

In November 1585, Aloysius gave up all rights of inheritance, which was confirmed by the emperor. He went to Rome and, because of his noble birth, gained an audience with Pope Sixtus V. Following a brief stay at the Palazzo Aragona Gonzaga, the Roman home of his cousin, Cardinal Scipione Gonzaga, on 25 November 1585 he was accepted into the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Rome. During this period, he was asked to moderate his asceticism somewhat, and to be more social with the other novices.

Aloysius' health continued to cause problems. In addition to the kidney disease, he also suffered from a skin disease, chronic headaches and insomnia. He was sent to Milan for studies, but after some time he was sent back to Rome because of his health. On November 25, 1587, he took the three religious vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. In February and March 1588, he received minor orders and started studying theology to prepare for ordination. In 1589, he was called to Mantua to mediate between his brother, Rodolfo, and the Duke of Mantua. He returned to Rome in May 1590. It is said that later that year, he had a vision in which the Archangel Gabriel told him that he would die within a year.

In 1591, a plague broke out in Rome. The Jesuits opened a hospital for the stricken, and Aloysius volunteered to work there. He was allowed to work in a ward where there were no plague victims, as they were afraid to lose him. As it turned out, a man on his ward was already infected, and on March 3, 1591 (six days before his 23rd birthday), Aloysius showed the first symptoms of being infected. It seemed certain that he would die in a short time, and he was given Extreme Unction. To everyone's surprise, however, he recovered, but his health was left worse than ever.

While he was ill, he spoke several times with his confessor, the cardinal and later saint, Robert Bellarmine. Aloysius had another vision, and told several people that he would die on the Octave of the feast of Corpus Christi. On that very day, which fell on June 21 that year, he seemed very well in the morning, but insisted that he would die before the day was over. As he began to grow weak, Bellarmine gave him the last rites, and recited the prayers for the dying. He died just before midnight.

Aloysius was buried in the Church of the Most Holy Annunciation, which later became the Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in Rome. His name was changed to "Robert" before his death, in honour of his confessor. Many people considered him to be a saint soon after his death, and his mortal remains were moved to the Sant'Ignazio church in Rome, where they now rest in an urn of lapis lazuli in the Lancelotti Chapel. His head was later translated to the basilica bearing his name in Castiglione delle Stiviere. He was beatified only fourteen years after his death by Pope Paul V, on October 19, 1605. On December 31, 1726, he was canonized together with another Jesuit novice, Stanislaus Kostka, by Pope Benedict XIII.

In art, St Aloysius is shown as a young man wearing a black cassock and surplice, or as a page. His attributes are a lily, referring to innocence; a cross, referring to piety and sacrifice; a skull, referring to his early death; and a rosary, referring to his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In 1729 Pope Benedict declared Aloysius to be the patron saint of young students. In 1926 he was named patron of all Christian youth by Pope Pius XI.

Owing to the manner of his death, he has always been considered a patron saint of plague victims. For his compassion and courage in the face of an incurable disease, Aloysius Gonzaga has become the patron both of AIDS sufferers and their caregivers.

Aloysius is also the patron of Valmontone, a town not far from Rome. Saint Aloysius' feast day is celebrated on June 21, the date of his death.

Purity was his notable virtue.

Saint Joan of Arc

Saint Joan of Arc

Feast Day - May 30

Saint Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" (French: La Pucelle d'Orléans), is considered a heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. She was born to Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle, a peasant family, at Domrémy in north-east France, on January 6, 1412.

Jacques d'Arc, her father, was a hard working farmer. Her mother was gentle and loving. She taught Joan many practical things. "I can sew and spin as well as any woman," she once said. Joan loved to pray, especially at the shrines of Our Blessed Mother. This honest little peasant girl was to become a heroine.

One day while she was watching her sheep, St. Michael the Archangel, the patron of her country, told her, "Daughter of God, go save France!" For three years she heard the voices of saints calling her to action. When she was sixteen, she began her mission.

At that time, there was a war going on between France and England. It was called the Hundred Years' War. England had won so much French land that the king of England called himself the king of France, too. The real French king was weak and fun-loving. He thought the French armies would never be able to save the country. With his permission, St. Joan led an army into the city of Orleans, which the English had almost captured.

Joan said she received visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War.

The uncrowned King Charles VII had sent Joan to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief mission.

In her white, shining armor, this young heroine rode with her banner flying above her. On it were the names of JESUS and MARY. She was hit by an arrow in the great battle of Orleans, but she kept on urging her men to victory. At last they won! She gained prominence after the siege was lifted in only nine days. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII's coronation at Reims. This long-awaited event boosted French morale and paved the way for the final French victory.

St. Joan and her army won more and more battles. The English armies had to retreat.

After the victories, Joan's time of suffering began. She was captured by the enemy.
The ungrateful French king did not even try to save her. She was put in prison and after an unfair trial, was burned at the stake. Joan was only nineteen. She had a great horror of fire. Yet she went bravely to her death on May 29, 1431. Her last word was "Jesus."
Four hundred and eighty-nine years later, on May 16, 1920, Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Joan a saint.
Twenty-five years after her execution, an inquisitorial court authorised by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, debunked the charges against her, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. Joan of Arc was beatified in 1909 and canonised in 1920.
Joan of Arc has been a popular figure in literature, painting, sculpture, and other cultural works since the time of her death, and many famous writers, filmmakers and composers have created works about her. Cultural depictions of Joan of Arc have continued in films, theatre, television, video games, music, and performances to this day.


She is one of the nine secondary patron saints of France, along with St. Denis, St. Martin of Tours, St. Louis, St. Michael, St. Remi, St. Petronilla, St. Radegund and St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She is also the patron saint of martyrs; captives; military personnel; people ridiculed for their piety; prisoners; soldiers, women who have served in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service); and Women's Army Corps


Saint Zita
Feast Day - April 27

Saint Zita is an Italian saint, the patron saint of maids and domestic servants. She is often appealed to in order to help find lost keys.

Zita was born in Tuscany in the village of Monsagrati, not far from Lucca where, at the age of 12, she became a servant in the Fatinelli household.

For a long time, she was unjustly despised, overburdened, reviled, and often beaten by her employers and fellow servants for her hard work and obvious goodness. The incessant ill-usage, however, was powerless to deprive her of her inward peace, her love of those who wronged her, and her respect for her employers.

By humble self-restraint, Zita at last succeeded in overcoming the malice of her fellow-servants and her employers, so much so that she was placed in charge of all the affairs of the house. Her faith had enabled her to persevere against their abuse, and her constant piety gradually moved the family to a religious awakening.

Zita often said to others that devotion is false if slothful.
She considered her work as an employment assigned to her by God, and as part of her penance, and obeyed her master and mistress in all things as being placed over her by God. She always rose several hours before the rest of the family and employed in prayer a considerable part of the time which others gave to sleep. She took care to hear Mass every morning with great devotion before she was called upon by the duties of her station, in which she employed the whole day, with such diligence and fidelity that she seemed to be carried to them on wings, and studied when possible to anticipate them.

One anecdote relates a story of Zita giving her own food or that of her master to the poor. One morning, Zita left her chore of baking bread to tend to someone in need.

Some of the other servants ensured the Fatinelli family was aware of what happened; when they went to investigate, they claimed to have found angels in the Fatinelli kitchen, baking the bread for her.

St. Zita died peacefully in the Fatinelli house on April 27, 1272. It is said that a star appeared above the attic where she slept at the moment of her death. She was 60 years old and had served and edified the family for 48 years. By her death, she was practically venerated by the family.

After one hundred and fifty miracles wrought in the behalf of such as had recourse to her intercession were juridically proven, she was canonised in 1696.

Her body was exhumed in 1580, discovered to be incorrupt, but has since become mummified. St. Zita's body is currently on display for public veneration in the Basilica di San Frediano in Lucca.

Her feast day in the Roman Catholic Church is April 27. To this day, families bake a loaf of bread in celebration of St. Zita's feast day.

Saint Dominic Savio
Feast Day - March 9

On April 2, 1842 in the village of Riva, 3 km from the town of Chieri, in Piedmont, northern Italy, a son was born to Carlo and Brigitta Savio. He was given the name Domenico at baptism. The name Domenico means "belonging to God" and the name Savio means "wise". His parents had ten children in all. His father was a blacksmith and his mother, a seamstress. They were poor, hardworking and pious.
When he was two years old, his parents returned to their native place at Murialdo on the outskirts of Castelnuovo d'Asti (which was the birthplace of John Bosco), and from where they had gone to Riva in 1841. His parents took great care to give him a Christian upbringing. By the age of four, Dominic was able to pray by himself and was occasionally found in solitude, praying. In his biography of Dominic, John Bosco records that Savio's parents recollect how he used to help his mother around the house, welcome his father home, say his prayers without being reminded, (even reminding others when they forgot) and say Grace at mealtimes unfailingly. He would always pray before meals and when guests came and ate without praying, he would leave the table and go to a corner. Later when his mother would come to him he would say,"I refuse to eat at the table with animals."
Fr. Giovanni Zucca from Murialdo, who was then the chaplain at Murialdo when Dominic was five years old, notes in a statement to John Bosco that he came to notice Dominic due to his regular church attendance with his mother, and his habit of kneeling down outside the church to pray (even in the mud or snow) if he happened to come to Church before it had been unlocked in the morning. The chaplain also notes that Savio made good progress at the village school not merely due to his cleverness, but also by working hard. He would not join the other boys in doing something that he believed to be morally wrong and would explain why he thought a particular deed was wrong. At the age of five, he learned to serve Mass, and would try to participate at Mass every day as well as go regularly toConfession. Having been permitted to make his First Communion at an early age, he had much reverence for the Eucharist.
At that time, it was customary for children to receive their First Communion at the age of twelve. (Pope Pius X would later lower this age to seven) After initial hesitation, and subsequent consultation with other priests, the parish priest agreed to permit Dominic to receive his First Communion at the age of seven, since he knew the catechism and understood something of the Eucharist. He spent much time praying and reading in preparation, asking his mother's forgiveness for anything he might have done to displease her and then went to Church.
At the Oratory, two of his friends had a disagreement and decided to fight each other by throwing stones. They being older and stronger than Dominic (his hard work and intelligence had caused him to be promoted from the first form to the second form), physical intervention was not possible. He tried to reason with them but with no positive result. Thus, on the day of the fight, he went with them to the site where the fight was to take place, and just before they could start, he placed himself between them, and holding up his crucifix, requested that they throw their first stones at him. Ashamed, the two boys gave up their fight. Dominic then persuaded them to go to Confession.
In his biography of Dominic Savio, John Bosco devotes a chapter to tell of Dominic's First Communion.
He says that several years later, whenever Dominic talked of the day of his First Communion, he said with joy: "That was the happiest and most wonderful day of my life".
Young Dominic joined St. John Bosco as a student at the Oratory in Turin at the age of 12. He impressed John with his desire to be a priest and to help him in his work with neglected boys. A peacemaker and an organiser, young Dominic founded a group he called the Company of the Immaculate Conception which, besides being devotional, aided John Bosco with the boys and with manual work. All the members save one, Dominic, would in 1859 join John in the beginnings of his Salesian congregation. By that time, Dominic had been called home to heaven.As a youth, Dominic spent hours rapt in prayer. His raptures he called "my distractions." Even in play, he said that at times "It seems heaven is opening just above me. I am afraid I may say or do something that will make the other boys laugh." Dominic would say, "I can't do big things. But I want all I do, even the smallest thing, to be for the greater glory of God."
Dominic's health, always frail, led to lung problems and he was sent home to recuperate. As was the custom of the day, he was bled in the thought that this would help, but it only worsened his condition.
He died on March 9, 1857, after receiving the Last Sacraments. St. John Bosco himself wrote the account of his life. Some thought that Dominic was too young to be considered a saint. St. Pius X declared that just the opposite was true, and went ahead with his cause.
Dominic was canonised on June 12, 1954, by Pope Pius XII, making him the youngest non-martyr to be canonised in the Catholic Church.
He is the patron saint of choirboys, falsely accused people and juvenile delinquents.

Saint Brigid of Ireland

Feast Day - February 1

Saint Brigid of Ireland, is one of Ireland's patron saints along with Patrick and Columba. Her name is also variously spelled as Brigid, Bridget, Bridgit, Bríd, and Bride and she is sometimes known as Brigit of Kildare.

Irish hagiography makes her an early Irish Christian nun, abbess, and founder of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare in Ireland, which was famous and was revered.

Her feast day is 1 February, formerly celebrated as the Imbolc quarter-day of the pagan Irish year, which marked the beginning of spring, lambing, lactation in cattle, etc.

A few years after St. Patrick arrived in Ireland, the little girl Brigid was born, probably at Faughart near Dundalk, Louth, Ireland. Her parents were baptised by St. Patrick, with whom she developed a close friendship. According to legend, her father was Dubhthach, an Irish chieftain of Lienster, and her mother, Brocca, was a slave at his court. As Brigid grew up, she deepened her love for Jesus. The vitae say that Brigid's mother was a slave, and Dubthach's wife forced him to sell her to a druid when she became pregnant. Brigid herself was born into slavery. 

From the start, it is clear that Brigid is holy. When the druid tries to feed her, she vomits because he is impure. A white cow with red ears appears to sustain her instead. As she grows older, Brigid performs many miracles, including healing and feeding the poor. According to one tale, as a child, she once gave away her mother's entire store of butter. The butter was then replenished in answer to Brigid's prayers.

Around the age of ten, she was returned as a household servant to her father, where her habit of charity also led her to donate his possessions to anyone who asked. In two vitae, Dubthach was so annoyed with her that he took her in a chariot to the king of Leinster, to sell her. While Dubthach was talking to the king, Brigid gave away his jewelled sword to a beggar to barter it for food to feed his family. The king recognised her holiness and convinced Dubthach to grant his daughter her freedom.

She looked for Jesus in the poor and often brought food and clothing to them. It has been said that one day she gave away a whole pail of milk. Then she began to worry about what her mother would say. She prayed to the Lord to make up for what she had given away. When she got home, her pail was full again.

Brigid was very pretty. Her father thought that it was time for her to marry. However, she had decided in her heart to give herself entirely to God. She did not want to marry anyone. When she learned that her beauty was the reason young men were attracted to her, she made an unusual request to God. She asked that her beauty be taken from her. God granted her request. Seeing that his daughter was no longer pretty, Brigid's father gladly agreed when Brigid asked to become a nun. The girl did follow her call to religious life. She even started a convent so that other young women could become nuns, too. It seems that after she consecrated her life to God in the convent, a miracle happened. Brigid became beautiful again! She reminded people of the Blessed Mother because she was so lovely and gentle. Some called her the "Mary of the Irish."

St. Brigid died in 525.

Saint John the Merciful
Feast Day - January 23

Saint John the Merciful, also known as Saint John the Almsgiver, was a dedicated Christian nobleman. He used his wealth and position to help poor people.

After his wife passed away, John became a priest and bishop. In 608, he was consecrated the patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt. What could people expect of this man who now had such an important position? St. John went to his new ministry focused on healing the divisions among his people. He pledged himself to practice a "charity without limits."

One of the first steps he took was to make a list of several thousand needy persons, whom he took under his especial care. When they were counted, the poor of Alexandria numbered 7,500. St. John pledged to be their personal protector. He always referred to the poor as his "lords and masters", because of their mighty influence at the Court of the Most High. He assisted people of every class who were in need.

He was a reformer who attacked simony, and fought heresy by means of improvements in religious education. He also reorganised the system of weights and measures for the sake of the poor, and put a stop to corruption among the officials. He increased the number of churches in Alexandria from seven to seventy.

The ministry of Vitalis, a monk who worked among the prostitutes of the city, was a noteworthy episode of John's reign. The patriarch was considered to have behaved with wisdom for not punishing this monk who was notorious for visiting the seedy part of town, and his judgment was vindicated only after the death of Vitalis when the story of the monk's mission of mercy became known.

As patriarch, St. John proclaimed laws and issued reforms. He was respectful and kind, but firm. He devoted two days each week, Wednesday and Friday, to making himself available for anyone who wished to see him. People lined up and waited patiently for their turn. Some were rich. Some were homeless and destitute. All received the same respect and attention. When he found out that the church treasury had eighty thousand pieces of gold, he divided it all among the hospitals and monasteries. He set up a system so that poor people received adequate money and means to support themselves. Refugees from neighbouring areas were welcomed warmly. After the Persians had plundered Jerusalem, St. John sent money and supplies to the suffering people. He even sent Egyptian workmen to assist in rebuilding the churches there.

When people wanted to know how St. John could be so charitable and unselfish, he had an amazing answer. Once when he was very young he had a dream or vision. He saw a beautiful girl and he realised that she represented "charity." She told him: "I am the oldest daughter of the King. If you are devoted to me, I will lead you to Jesus. No one is as powerful with him as I am. Remember, it was for me that he became a baby to redeem humankind." St. John never tired of telling about that vision. He gently led the rich to be generous. He helped the poor trust that God would always be there for them.

St. John died peacefully on November 11, 619. Because of his great charity, he is called "the almsgiver."

Reflection: How often do I close my eyes to the need of people who cry for help? Do I seriously heed Jesus’ invitation to be aware of his presence in others?


Our Lady of Guadalupe
Feast Day - December 12

Our Lady of Guadalupe (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe (Spanish: Virgen de Guadalupe), is a title of the Virgin Mary associated with a celebrated pictorial image housed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in México City. Mexican national identity is entwined with that of Guadalupe.

Official Catholic accounts state that on the morning of December 9, 1531, Juan Diego saw an apparition of a young girl at the Hill of Tepeyac, near Mexico City. Speaking to him in Nahuatl, the girl asked that a church be built at that site in her honor; from her words, Juan Diego recognized the girl as the Virgin Mary. According to the account, Diego told his story to the Spanish Archbishop of Mexico City, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, who instructed him to return to Tepeyac Hill, and ask the "lady" for a miraculous sign to prove her identity.

The first sign was the Virgin healing Juan's uncle. The Virgin told Juan Diego to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill. Although December was very late in the growing season for flowers to bloom, Juan Diego found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, on the normally barren hilltop. The Virgin arranged these in his peasant cloak or tilma. When Juan Diego opened his cloak before Bishop Zumárraga on December 12, the flowers fell to the floor, and on the fabric was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Juan Diego was canonized in 2002, and his tilma (cloak) is displayed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the most visited Marian shrine in the world.

Pope Leo XIII granted a Canonical Coronation towards the image on 12 October 1895. The representation of the Virgin on the tilma is Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural image, and under this title the Virgin has been acclaimed as "Queen of Mexico", "Patroness of the Americas" (1945), "Empress of Latin America", and "Protectress of Unborn Children" (the latter two given by Pope John Paul II in 1999). Under this title, she was also proclaimed "Heavenly Patroness of the Philippines" in July 1935 by Pope Pius XI both witnessed and signed by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, a designation he later rescinded in September 1942 upon becoming Pope Pius XII. On 25 March 1966, Pope Paul VI presented a Golden Rose to the sacred image while Pope Francis gifted a second award on 22 November 2013.

Saint Josaphat Kuntsevych
Feast Day - November 12

Josaphat Kuntsevych was a monk and the archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, who died at Vitebsk in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (now in Belarus), on 12 November 1623, killed by a mob of Orthodox Christians. He has been declared a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church.

He was born Ioann (John) Kuntsevych in 1580 or 1584 in the city of Volodymyr in the province of Volhynia, now in Ukraine. His birth occurred while the Ruthenian Church was nominally unified. It had belonged to theRussian Orthodox Church, but in 1596 come under the authority of the pope through theUnion of Brest.

Although of noble Belarusian descent (szlachta, Kuncewicz family), his father had embarked in business, and held the office of town-councilor. Both of Kuntsevych's parents encouraged religious participation and Christian piety in the young John. In the school at Volodymyr he gave evidence of unusual talent; he applied himself to the study of the Church Slavoniclanguage, and learned almost the entire horologion by heart, which from this period he began to read daily. From this source he drew his early religious education, because the clergy seldom preached or gave catechetical instruction in that period.

As a boy Kuntsevych was said to have shunned the usual games of childhood, prayed much, and lost no opportunity to assist at the Church services. Children especially regarded him with affection. As an apprentice, he devoted every leisure hour to prayer and study. At first Papovič viewed this behavior with displeasure, but Josaphat gradually won such a position in his esteem, that Papovič offered him his entire fortune and his daughter's hand. But Josaphat's love for the religious life never wavered. Kuntsevych's favourite devotional exercise was the traditional Eastern monastic practice of making prostrations, in which the head touches the ground, while saying the Jesus Prayer: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' Never eating meat, he fasted much, wore a hair shirt and a chain around his waist. He slept on the bare floor, and chastised his body until the blood flowed. The Jesuits frequently urged him to set some bounds to his austerities.

Owing to the straitened financial circumstances of his parents, Kuntsevych was apprenticed to a merchant named Papovič in Vilnius. In this Polish-Lithuanian city, divided through the contentions of the various religious sects, he became acquainted with men, such as Josyf Veliamyn Rutsky, who supported the recent union with Rome, and under whose direction he furthered his interest in the Catholic Church.

n 1604, in his early 20s, Kuntsevych entered the Monastery of the Trinity of the Basilian monks in Vilnius, at which time he was given the religious name of Josaphat. Stories of his sanctity rapidly spread and distinguished people began to visit the young monk. After a notable life as a layman, Rutsky also joined the Order. When Josaphat was ordained to thediaconate, his regular services and labor for the Church had already begun. As a result of his efforts, the number of novices to the Order steadily increased, and under Rutsky—who had meanwhile been ordained a priest—there began the revival of Eastern Catholic monastic life among the Ruthenians (Belarusians and Ukrainians).

In 1609, after private study under Jesuit priest Blessed Peter Faber, Josaphat was ordained a priest by a Catholic bishop. He subsequently became the hegumen (prior) of several monasteries. On November 12, 1617, he was consecrated as the bishop of the Eparchy of Vitebsk (possibly a titular see created for him), and coadjutor for the Archeparchy of Polotsk. He succeeded as archeparch in March 1618.

Kuntsevych faced a daunting task of bringing the local populace to accept union with Rome. He faced stiff opposition from the monks, who feared the Latinisation of the liturgy of the Church. As archeparch, he restored the churches: he issued a catechism to the clergy, with instructions that it should be learned by heart; composed rules for the priestly life, entrusting to the deacons the task of superintending their observance; assembled synods in various towns in the dioceses, and firmly opposed the Polish Imperial Chancellor Sapieha who wished to make too many concessions to the Eastern Orthodox. Throughout all his strivings and all his occupations, he continued his religious devotion as a monk, and never abated his desire for self-mortification. Through all this he was successful in winning over a large portion of the people.

Kuntsevych's activity provoked a strong reaction. The suppression caused Kuntsevych to be even more fiercely resisted by the Orthodox. The inhabitants of Mogilev revolted against him in October 1618 and chased him out of the city. Kuntsevych then sent a complaint to King Sigismund and the Orthodox revolt was brutally suppressed. All leaders of the revolt were executed, including Bohdan Sobol, the father of Spiridon Sobol, while all Orthodox churches were taken away and given to the Greek-Catholics.

During November 1623, despite warnings, he went to Vitebsk. There, on November 12, the Orthodox sent to his residence a priest who stood in the courtyard of his house shouting insults at him. Archbishop Josaphat had the priest taken away and confined to his house. In response, the town bell was rung, which summoned a mob. The mob attacked the archbishop's residence, and in the course of the attack an axe-stroke and a bullet ended his life. His body was tossed into the river. It was recovered and honored—eventually transported to Rome and given the honour of burial within St. Peter's Basilica In response to the murder, the Government executed about 100 people,and town hall and church bells were removed.

From Kuntsevych's zealous study of the Slavonic-Byzantine liturgical books he drew many proofs of Catholic doctrine. Throughout his adult life, he was distinguished by his extraordinary zeal in performing the Church services and by extraordinary devotion during the Divine Liturgy. Not only in the church did he preach and hear confessions, but likewise in the fields, hospitals, prisons, and even on his personal journeys. This zeal, united with his kindness for the poor, won great numbers of Orthodox Ruthenians for the Catholic faith and Catholic unity. Among his converts were included many important personages such as Patriarch Ignatius, former Patriarch of Moscow, and Manuel Kantakouzenos, who belonged to the imperial family of the Byzantine Emperor Palaeologus.

After numerous miracles attributed to Kuntsevych were claimed and reported to Church officials, a commission was appointed by Pope Urban VIII in 1628 to start inquire for his possible canonisation, for which they examined under oath 116 witnesses. Although five years had elapsed since Josaphat's death, his body was claimed to still be incorrupt. In 1637, a second commission investigated his life and, in 1643, twenty years after his death, Josaphat was beatified. He was canonised on June 29, 1867 by Pope Pius IX.

St. Josaphat Kuntsevych is the patron saint of a number of Polish and Ukrainian churches and parishes in the United States and Canada.

There is a relic of the saint in the "catacombs" of Holy Trinity Polish Mission in Chicago.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Feast Day - October 1

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (Born Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, January 2, 1873 – September 30, 1897), or Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, O.C.D., was a French Discalced Carmelite nun. She is popularly known as "The Little Flower of Jesus".

She was born in Rue Saint-Blaise, Alençon, in France on January 2, 1873, the daughter of the Blessed Marie-Azélie Guérin, usually called Zélie, a lacemaker and the Blessed Louis Martin, a jeweler and watchmaker. Both her parents were devout Catholics. Louis had tried to become a canon regular, wanting to enter the Great St Bernard Hospice, but had been refused because he knew no Latin. Zélie, possessed of a strong, active temperament, wished to serve the sick, and had also considered entering consecrated life, but the prioress of the canonesses regular of the Hôtel-Dieu in Alençon had discouraged her enquiry outright.

Louis and Zélie met in early 1858 and married on July 13 of that same year at the basilica Notre Dame of Alençon. Both of great piety; at first they decided to live as brother and sister in a perpetual continence, but when a confessor discouraged them in this, they changed their lifestyle and had 9 children. From 1867 to 1870 they lost 3 infants and 5-and-a-half-year-old Hélène. All 5 of their surviving daughters became nuns.

Soon after her birth in January 1873, the outlook for the survival of Thérèse Martin was very grim. Enteritis, which had already claimed the lives of four of her siblings, threatened Thérèse, and she had to be entrusted to a wet nurse.

On Holy Thursday April 2, 1874, when she was 15 months old, she returned to Alençon where her family surrounded her with affection. She was educated in a very Catholic environment, including Mass attendance at 5:30 AM, the strict observance of fasts, and prayer to the rhythm of the liturgical year. The Martins also practiced charity, visiting the sick and elderly and welcoming the occasional vagabond to their table. Even if she wasn't the model little girl her sisters later portrayed, Thérèse was very sensitive to this education. She played at being a nun. One day she went as far as to wish her mother would die; when scolded, she explained that she wanted the happiness of Paradise for her dear mother.

Described as generally a happy child, she was emotional too, and often cried. At 22, Thérèse, then a Carmelite, admitted: "I was far from being a perfect little girl".

On August 28, 1877, Zélie Martin died of breast cancer, aged 45. Thérèse was barely 4 1/2 years old. Her mother's death dealt her a severe blow and later she would consider that the first part of her life stopped that day. She wrote: "Every detail of my mother's illness is still with me, specially her last weeks on earth." She remembered the bedroom scene where her dying mother received the last sacraments while Thérèse knelt and her father cried.

Three months after Zélie died, Louis Martin left Alençon, where he had spent his youth and marriage, and moved to Lisieux in the Calvados Department of Normandy, where Zélie's pharmacist brother Isidore Guérin lived with his wife and their two daughters, Jeanne and Marie. In Lisieux, Pauline took on the role of Thérèse's Mama. She took this role seriously, and Thérèse grew especially close to her, and to Céline, the sister closest to her in age.

Thérèse was taught at home until she was eight and a half, and then entered the school kept by the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of Notre Dame du Pre in Lisieux. Thérèse, taught well and carefully by Marie and Pauline, found herself at the top of the class, except for writing and arithmetic. However, because of her young age and high grades, she was bullied. The one who bullied her the most was a girl of fourteen who did poorly at school. Thérèse suffered very much as a result of her sensitivity, and she cried in silence. Furthermore, the boisterous games at recreation were not to her taste. She preferred to tell stories or look after the little ones in the infants class.

When she was nine years old, in October 1882, her sister Pauline who had acted as a "second mother" to her, entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux. Thérèse was devastated. She understood that Pauline was cloistered and that she would never come back. "I said in the depths of my heart: Pauline is lost to me!" The shock reawakened in her the trauma caused by her mother's death. She also wanted to join the Carmelites, but was told she was too young. Yet Thérèse so impressed Mother Marie Gonzague, prioress at the time of Pauline's entry to the community that she wrote to comfort her, calling Thérèse "my future little daughter."

At this time, Thérèse was often sick; she began to suffer from nervous tremors. The tremors started one night after her uncle took her for a walk and began to talk about Zélie. Assuming that she was cold, the family covered Therese with blankets, but the tremors continued; she clenched her teeth and could not speak. The family called Dr. Notta, who could make no diagnosis. In 1882, Dr Gayral diagnosed that Thérèse "reacts to an emotional frustration with a neurotic attack." An alarmed, but cloistered, Pauline began to write letters to Thérèse and attempted various strategies to intervene. Eventually Thérèse recovered after she had turned to gaze at the statue of the Virgin Mary placed in Marie's room, where Thérèse had been moved. She reported on 13 May 1883 that she had seen the Virgin smile at her. She wrote: "Our Blessed Lady has come to me, she has smiled upon me. How happy I am." However, when Thérèse told the Carmelite nuns about this vision at the request of her eldest sister Marie, she found herself assailed by their questions and she lost confidence. Self-doubt made her begin to question what had happened. "I thought I had lied - I was unable to look upon myself without a feeling of profound horror."

In October 1886 her oldest sister, Marie, entered the same Carmelite monastery, adding to Thérèse's grief. Christmas Eve of 1886 was a turning point in the life of Therese; she called it her "complete conversion." Years later she stated that on that night she overcame the pressures she had faced since the death of her mother. After nine sad years she had "recovered the strength of soul she had lost when her mother died and, she said, she was to retain it forever.

Before she was fourteen, when she started to experience a period of calm, Thérèse started to read The Imitation of Christ. In May 1887, Thérèse approached her 63-year old father Louis, who was recovering from a small stroke, while he sat in the garden one Sunday afternoon and told him that she wanted to celebrate the anniversary of "her conversion" by entering Carmel before Christmas. Louis and Thérèse both broke down and cried, but Louis got up, gently picked a little white flower, root intact, and gave it to her, explaining the care with which God brought it into being and preserved it until that day.

During the summer, French newspapers were filled with the story of Henri Pranzini, convicted of the brutal murder of two women and a child. To the outraged public Pranzini represented all that threatened the decent way of life in France. In July and August 1887 Thérèse prayed hard for the conversion of Pranzini, so his soul could be saved, yet Pranzini showed no remorse. At the end of August, the newspapers reported that just as Pranzini's neck was placed on the guillotine, he had grabbed a crucifix and kissed it three times. Thérèse was ecstatic and believed that her prayers had saved him. She continued to pray for Pranzini after his death.

In November 1887, Louis took Céline and Thérèse on a diocesan pilgrimage to Rome for the priestly jubilee of Pope Leo XIII. The youngest in the pilgrimage, bright and pretty, Thérèse did not go unnoticed. In Bologna a student boldly jostled against her on purpose. Visits followed one after another: Milan, Venice, Loreto; finally the arrival in Rome. On November 20, 1887, during a general audience with Leo XIII, Thérèse, in her turn, approached the Pope, knelt, and asked him to allow her to enter Carmel at 15. The Pope said: "Well, my child, do what the superiors decide....You will enter if it is God's Will" and he blessed Thérèse. She refused to leave his feet, and the Swiss Guard had to carry her out of the room. The pilgrimage of nearly a month came at a timely point for her burgeoning personality. She learnt more than in many years of study. For the first and last time in her life, she left her native Normandy. Notably she, "who only knew priests in the exercise of their ministry was in their company, heard their conversations, not always edifying - and saw their shortcomings for herself."

She had understood that she had to pray and give her life for sinners like Pranzini. But she prayed especially for priests and this had surprised her since their souls seemed to her to be as pure as crystal.
A month spent with many priests taught her that they are weak and feeble men. She wrote later: "I met many saintly priests that month, but I also found that in spite of being above angels by their supreme dignity, they were none the less men and still subject to human weakness. If the holy priests, 'the salt of the earth', as Jesus calls them in the Gospel, have to be prayed for, what about the lukewarm? Again, as Jesus says, 'If the salt shall lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?' I understood my vocation in Italy."

For the first time too she had associated with young men. "In her brotherless existence, masculinity had been represented only by her father, her Uncle Guérin and various priests. Now she had her first and only experiences - troublesome and tempting ones. Céline declared at the beatification proceedings that one of the young men in the pilgrimage group fell in love with Thérèse ("developed a tender affection for her"). Soon after that, the Bishop of Bayeux authorised the prioress to receive Thérèse, and on April 9, 1888 she became a Carmelite postulant.

Thérèse's time as a postulant began with her welcome into the Carmel, Monday April 9, 1888, the Feast of the Annunciation. She felt peace after she received communion that day and later wrote, "At last my desires were realised, and I cannot describe the deep sweet peace which filled my soul. This peace has remained with me during the eight and a half years of my life here, and has never left me even amid the greatest trials."

She chose a spiritual director, a Jesuit, Father Pichon. At their first meeting, May 28, 1888, she made a general confession going back over all her past sins. She came away from it profoundly relieved. The priest who had himself suffered from scruples, understood her and reassured her. A few months later, he left for Canada, and Thérèse would only be able to ask his advice by letter and his replies were rare. (On 4 July 1897, she confided to Pauline, 'Father Pichon treated me too much like a child; nonetheless he did me a lot of good too by saying that I never committed a mortal sin.' She absorbed the work of John of the Cross, spiritual reading uncommon at the time, especially for such a young nun. "Oh! what insights I have gained from the works of our holy father, St. John of the Cross! When I was seventeen and eighteen, I had no other spiritual nourishment..." She felt a kinship with this classic writer of the Carmelite Order (though nothing seems to have drawn her to the writing of Teresa of Avila). During the course of her novitiate, contemplation of the Holy Face had nourished her inner life. This is an image representing the disfigured face of Jesus during His Passion. And she meditated on certain passages from the prophet Isaiah.

Thérèse prayed without great sensitive emotions, she multiplied the small acts of charity and care for others, doing small services, without making a show of them. She accepted criticism in silence, even unjust criticisms, and smiled at the sisters who were unpleasant to her. She prayed always much for priests, and in particular for Father Hyacinthe Loyson, a famous preacher who had been a Sulpician and a Dominican novice before becoming a Carmelite and provincial of his order, but who had left the Catholic Church in 1869. Three years later he married a young widow, a Protestant, with whom he had a son. After major excommunication had been pronounced against him, he continued to travel round France giving lectures. While clerical papers called Loyson a renegade monk and Leon Bloy lampooned him, Thérèse prayed for her brother. She offered her last communion, 19 August 1897, for Father Hyacinthe.

Thérèse entered the Carmel of Lisieux with the determination to become a saint. But, by the end of 1894, six full calendar years as a Carmelite made her realise how small and insignificant she was. She saw the limitations of all her efforts. She remained small and very far off from the unfailing love that she would wish to practice. She understood then that it was on this very littleness that she must learn to ask God's help.
In October 1895 a young seminarian and subdeacon of the White Fathers, Abbé Bellière, asked the Carmel of Lisieux for a nun who would support - by prayer and sacrifice - his missionary work, and the souls that were in the future to be entrusted to him. Mother Agnes designated Thérèse. She never met Father Bellière but ten letters passed between them.A year later Father Adolphe Roulland (1870–1934) of the Society of Foreign Missions requested the same service of the Lisieux Carmel. Once more Thérèse was assigned the duties of spiritual sister. "It is quite clear that Thérèse, in spite of all her reverence for the priestly office, in both cases felt herself to be the teacher and the giver. It is she who who consoles and warns, encourages and praises, answers questions, offers corroboration, and instructs the priests in the meaning of her little way.

Thérèse's final years were marked by a steady decline that she bore resolutely and without complaint. Tuberculosis was the key element of Thérèse's final suffering, but she saw that as part of her spiritual journey.

As a result of tuberculosis, Thérèse suffered terribly. When she was near death “Her physical suffering kept increasing so that even the doctor himself was driven to exclaim, "Ah! If you only knew what this young nun was suffering!”. During the last hours of Therese’s life, she said, "I would never have believed it was possible to suffer so much, never, never!”. In July 1897, she made a final move to the monastery infirmary. On August 19, 1897, Therese received her last communion. She died on September 30, 1897 at the young age of 24. On her death-bed, she is reported to have said, "I have reached the point of not being able to suffer any more, because all suffering is sweet to me."

Her last words were, "My God, I love you!"

Thérèse was buried on October 4, 1897, in the Carmelite plot in the municipal cemetery at Lisieux, where Louis and Zelie had been buried. Her body was exhumed in 1910; not Incorrupted, but had the pleasant Odour of Sanctity. In March 1923, however, before she was beatified, her body was returned to the Carmel of Lisieux, where it remains.

At fourteen, Thérèse had understood her vocation to pray for priests, to be "an apostle to apostles." In September 1890, at her canonical examination before she professed her religious vows, she was asked why she had come to Carmel. She answered "I came to save souls, and especially to pray for priests." Throughout her life she prayed fervently for priests, and she corresponded with and prayed for a young priest, Adolphe Roulland, and a young seminarian, Maurice Bellière.

St. Thérèse is known today because of her spiritual memoir, L'histoire d'une âme (The Story of a Soul), which she wrote upon the orders of two prioresses of her monastery because of the many miracles worked at her intercession.

Thérèse of Lisieux is the patron saint of aviators, florists, illness(es) and missions. She is also considered by Catholics to be the patron saint of Russia, although the Russian Orthodox Church does not recognise either her canonisation or her patronage. In 1927, Pope Pius XI named Thérèse a patron of the missions and in 1944 Pope Pius XII decreed her a co-patron of France with St. Joan of Arc.

For many years Thérèse's relics have toured the world, and thousands of pilgrims have thronged to pray in their presence.

On June 27, 2010, the relics of St. Thérèse made their first visit to South Africa in conjunction with the 2010 World Cup. They remained in the country until October 5, 2010.
Page 2 of 4
Divine Updates


Divine comes to Chennai with the 'Magnificat on March 10, 2018. Fr. Jacob Arimpur VC will lead the services. With special sessions for children.

Venue: Stella Maris College, Cathedral Road

MAGNIFICAT in Bangalore

Celebrate an evening with our Lord in Bangalore at the 'Magnificat' on March 17, 2018. Services to be led by Fr Jacob Arimpur VC. All are welcome. Music by Glen and Teresa La'Rive.

Venue: St. Joseph's Boys' School Chapel, Museum Road, Bangalore

38th National Youth Retreat

Our annual National Youth Retreat will be held at the Divine Retreat Centre. Come and let the word of God refresh you. Simultaneous retreats for couples, children and Bible nursery to be held. Contact Divine Youth for more details.

Date: May 20 - 25, 2018

Kannada Convention 2018

Divine Retreat Centre will conduct our annual Kannada convention in May, 2018 The convention will be blessed by the vibrant preaching of many anointed servants of God. Please come.

Date: May 6 - May 11, 2018

Konkani Convention - Kuttumb Utsov 2018

Divine Retreat Centre's annual Konkani Convention will be held at the centre. The convention will be led by Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC, Director. Talks to focus mainly on the renewal of the family. All are welcome.

Date: April 22 - April 27, 2018

Retreats at the Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby, Sydney

Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby to hold retreats throughout 2017. For bookings, email Fr Roni George, Director - Hurry, as admission is limited.

Date: January 2018 - December, 2018

Retreats in Divine Retreat Centre, UK

Divine Retreat Centre, Ramsgate UK, has announced several English and Malayalam language retreats to be led by Fr. George Panackal VC and Fr. Joseph Edattu VC. All are welcome.

Dates: Jan - Dec, 2018

Hindi Convention Ojas 2018

The Divine Retreat Centre will conduct our eighth Hindi convention, in 2018. Two retreats will be held simultaneously on the campus; one for adults and another for couples and youth. All are welcome.

Date: May 27 - June 1, 2018

Divine Retreats in Australia

Fr. Michael Payyapilly will lead several special retreats across Australia - in Brisbane, Hobart, Sydney and Melbourne. Please bring your family and friends. Hear the Word and be refreshed. 

Date: February 19 - March 4, 2018

Divine Retreat Schedules


English retreats are held every week from Sunday to Friday. Special retreats are conducted for priests, religious and laity as well. Come and experience the Lord and grow in Him.


Inner healing retreats, growth retreats, couples' retreats and youth retreats in Malayalam, are led by Fr. Mathew Elavumkal, Fr. Mathew Naickomparambil and Fr. Binoy Chackanikunnel.


Retreats in Konkani, Kannada, Tamil, Hindi and Telugu

Every week, retreats are held in five different regional languages of India, apart from in the local language - Malayalam. The retreats are led by Vincentian priests and supported by powerfully anointed laity of God.

Facebook Twitter Blog 
Online Donation
We run purely on your contributions.

We invite you to donate and spread the Good News to millions
Read more about it
Copyright © Divine Retreat Centre, All Rights Reserved
Web design and maintenance by Preigo Fover Technologies