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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC
"Life in all its fullness“(John. 10,10)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

Saint of the month Archives


Saint Maximilian Kolbe
Feast Day - August 14


Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Conventual Franciscan priest, most famous for volunteering to die in place of a stranger at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Kolbe (born January 8, 1894; died August 14, 1941) was born as Rajmund Kolbe and was later also known as Maksymilian or Massimiliano Maria Kolbe and “Apostle of Consecration to Mary." He was canonised by the Catholic Church as Saint Maximilian Kolbe on October 10, 1982 by Pope John Paul II, and declared a martyr of charity.

Maximilian Kolbe was born in January 1894 in Zduńska Wola, which was at that time part of Russian Empire. Maximilian was the second son of Julius Kolbe and Maria Dabrowska. His father was an ethnic German and his mother of Polish origins. He had four brothers, Francis, Joseph, Walenty (who lived a year) and Andrew (who lived 4 years). His parents moved to Pabianice where they worked first as basket weavers. Later his mother worked as a midwife (often donating her services), and owned a shop in part of her rented house which sold groceries and household goods. Julius Kolbe worked at the Krushe and Ender Mill and also worked on rented land where he grew vegetables. In 1914 Julius joined Józef Piłsudski’s Polish Legions and was captured by the Russians for fighting for the independence of a partitioned Poland.

In 1907 Kolbe and his elder brother Francis decided to join the Conventual Franciscans. They illegally crossed the border between Russia and Austria-Hungary and joined the Conventual Franciscan junior seminary in Lwów. In 1910 Kolbe was allowed to enter the novitiate. He professed his first vows in 1911, adopting the name Maximilian, and the final vows in 1914, in Rome, adopting the names Maximilian Maria, to show his veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1912 he was sent to Kraków, and in the same year to a college in Rome, where he studied philosophy, theology, mathematics, and physics. He earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1915 at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and the doctorate in theology in 1919 at the Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure. During his time as a student, he witnessed vehement demonstrations against Popes St. Pius X and Benedict XV in Rome and was inspired to organise the Militia Immaculata, or Army of Mary, to work for conversion of sinners and the enemies of the Catholic Church through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. The Immaculata friars utilised the most modern printing and administrative techniques in publishing catechetical and devotional tracts, a daily newspaper with a circulation of 230,000 and a monthly magazine with a circulation of over one million. In 1918 Kolbe was ordained a priest. In 1919 he returned to the newly independent Poland, where he was very active in promoting the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, founding and supervising the monastery of Niepokalanów near Warsaw, a seminary, a radio station and several other organisations and publications. Between 1930 and 1936 he took a series of missions to Japan, where he founded a monastery at the outskirts of Nagasaki, a Japanese paper and a seminary. The monastery he founded remains prominent in the Roman Catholic Church in Japan. Kolbe decided to build the monastery on a mountain side that, according to Shinto beliefs, was not the side best suited to be in tune with nature.

When the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Kolbe’s monastery was saved because the blast of the bomb hit the other side of the mountain, which took the main force of the blast. Had Kolbe built the monastery on the preferred side of mountain as he was advised, his work and all of his fellow monks would have been destroyed. During the Second World War he provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland, including 2,000 Jews whom he hid from Nazi persecution in his friary in Niepokalanów. He was also active as a radio amateur, with Polish call letters SP3RN, vilifying Nazi activities through his reports. On February 17, 1941 he was arrested by the German Gestapo and imprisoned in the Pawiak prison, and on May 25 was transferred to Auschwitz I as prisoner #16670. In July 1941 a man from Kolbe’s barracks vanished, prompting SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Fritzsch, the deputy camp commander, to pick 10 men from the same barracks to be starved to death in Block 13 (notorious for torture), in order to deter further escape attempts. (The man who had disappeared was later found drowned in the camp latrine.) One of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, lamenting his family, and Kolbe volunteered to take his place. During the time in the cell he led the men in songs and prayer. After three weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe and three others were still alive. Finally he was murdered with an injection of carbolic acid.

Father Kolbe was beatified as a confessor by Pope Paul VI in 1971 and was canonised by Pope John Paul II on October 10, 1982 in the presence of Franciszek Gajowniczek. Upon canonisation, the Pope declared St. Maximilian Kolbe not a confessor, but a martyr. Although the canonisation of St. Maximilan Kolbe is uncontroversial, his recognition as a martyr is, given that a Christian martyr is one who is killed in odium Fidei, and Kolbe wasn’t assassinated strictly out of hatred for the Faith. He is one of ten 20th-century martyrs from across the world who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London Maximilian Kolbe is remembered for his heroic actions during one of the cruelest periods of modern history.

He is the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners and the pro-life movement. Pope John Paul II declared him the “The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century”.


Saint Thomas
Feast Day - July 3

Saint Thomas the Apostle, also called Doubting Thomas or Didymus (meaning "Twin," or "Thomas" in Aramaic) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. He is best known for questioning Jesus' resurrection after death when first told of it, followed by his confession of faith as both "My Lord and my God" on seeing and touching Jesus' tangible and physical wounded body in Gospel of Saint John 20:28.

Traditionally he is said to have traveled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, traveling as far as India.

St. Thomas is believed to have sailed to India in to spread the Christian faith among the Jews, some of whom had migrated to Kerala. St. Thomas landed in Kodungallur in 52 AD, in the company of a Jewish merchant Abbanes (Hebban) He is supposed to have landed at the ancient port of Muziris (which was destroyed in 1341 AD due to a massive flood that realigned the coasts) near Kodungalloor. According to tradition, the apostle baptised several people who are today known as Saint Thomas Christians or Nasranis. He went to Palayoor (near present-dayGuruvayoor), a Hindu priestly community at that time. He left Palayoor in 52 AD for the southern part of what is now Kerala State, where he established the Ezharappallikal, or "Seven and Half Churches". These churches are at Kodungallur, Kollam, Niranam (Niranam Church), Nilackal (Chayal), Kokkamangalam, Kottakkayal (Paravoor), Palayoor (Chattukulangara) and Thiruvithamcode Arappally – the half church.

St. Thomas was killed in India in 72 AD, attaining martyrdom at St. Thomas Mount near Mylapore (part ofChennai, capital of Tamil Nadu). He was buried on the site of Chennai's San Thome Basilica in the Dioceses of Saint Thomas of Mylapore. The Acts of Thomas and oral traditions (only recorded in writing centuries later) provide weak and unreliable evidence but the tradition is that Thomas, having aroused the hostility of the local priests by making converts, fled toSt. Thomas's Mount four miles (6 km) southwest of Mylapore. He was supposedly followed by his persecutors, who transfixed him with a lance as he prayed kneeling on a stone. His body was brought to Mylapore and buried inside the church he had built. The present Basilica is on this spot. It was first built in the 16th century and rebuilt in the 19th.

After his murder and death by spear in India, the remaining relics of Saint Thomas the Apostle were enshrined as far as Mesopotamia in the 3rd century, and later moved to various places. In 1258 they were brought to Abruzzo, in Ortona, 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 Thomas remains quite popular among Saint Thomas Christians of India. Remains of some of his buildings, influenced by Greek architecture, indicate that he was a great builder.

St. Ephraem, the great doctor of the Syrian Church, writes in the forty-second of his "Carmina Nisibina" that the Apostle was put to death in India, and that his remains were subsequently buried in Edessa, brought there by an unnamed merchant. A Syrian ecclesiastical calendar of an early date confirms the above and gives the merchant a name. The entry reads: "3 July, St. Thomas who was pierced with a lance in 'India'. His body is at Urhai [another name for Edessa or Urfa] having been brought there by the merchant Khabin. A great festival." St. Ephraem, the great doctor of the Syrian Church, noted that relics of Thomas were held in Edessa. A long public tradition in the church at Edessa honouring Thomas as the Apostle of 'India' resulted in several surviving hymns that are attributed to Ephrem, copied in codices of the 8th and 9th centuries. References in the hymns preserve the tradition that Thomas' bones were brought from 'India' to Edessa by a merchant, and that the relics worked miracles both in 'India' and at Edessa. A pontiff assigned his feast day and a king and a queen erected his shrine.The Thomas traditions became embodied in Syriac liturgy, thus they were universally credited by the Christian community there. There is also a legend that Thomas had met the Biblical Magi on his way to 'India'.

He is the patron saint of architects, construction workers, cooks.


Saint Anthony
Feast Day - June 13

St. Anthony of Padua is one of the most famous disciples of St. Francis of Assisi. He was a famous preacher and worker of miracles in his own day, and throughout the eight centuries since his death he has so generously come to the assistance of the faithful who invoke him, that he is known throughout the world.

St. Anthony was born in the year 1195 A. D. at Lisbon (Portugal) where his father was a captain in the royal army. Already at the age of fifteen years, he had entered the Congregation of Canons Regular of St. Augustine and devoted himself with great earnestness both to study and to the practice of piety in the Monastery at Coimbra (Portugal). About that time some of the first members of the Order of Friars Minor, which St. Francis has founded in 1206 A. D. came to Coimbra. They begged from the Canons Regular a small and very poor place, from which by their evangelical poverty and simplicity they edified everyone in the region.

In 1219 A. D. some of these friars, moved by divine inspiration, went as missionaries to preach the Gospel of Christ to the inhabitants of Morocco. There they were brutally martyred for the Faith. Some Christian merchants succeeded in recovering their remains; and so brought their relics in triumph back to Coimbra. The relics of St. Bernard and companions, the first martyrs of the Franciscan Order, seized St. Anthony with an intense desire to suffer martyrdom in a like manner. So moved by their heroic example he repeatedly begged and petitioned his superiors to be given leave to join the Franciscan Order. In the quiet little Franciscan convent at Coimbra he received a friendly reception, and in the same year his earnest wish to be sent to the missions in Africa was fulfilled. But God had decreed otherwise. And so, St. Anthony scarcely set foot on African soil when he was seized with a grievous illness. Even after recovering from it, he was so weak that, resigning himself to the will of God, he boarded a boat back to Portugal. Unexpectedly a storm came upon them and drove the ship to the east where it found refuge on coast of Sicily. St. Anthony was greeted and given shelter by the Franciscans of that island, and thus came to be sent to Assisi, where the general chapter of the Order was held in May, 1221 A. D. Since he still looked weak and sickly, and gave no evidence of his scholarship, no one paid any attention to the stranger until Father Gratian, the Provincial of friars living in the region of Romagna (Italy), had compassion on him and sent him to the quiet little convent near Forli (also in Italy).

There St. Anthony remained nine months as chaplain to the hermits, occupied in the lowliest duties of the kitchen and convent. He was put to work in the kitchen, while being allowed to spend much time in private prayer and study.

One day, on the occasion of an ordination, a great many visiting Dominican friars were present, and there was some misunderstanding over who should preach. The Franciscans naturally expected that one of the Dominicans would occupy the pulpit, for they were renowned for their preaching; the Dominicans, on the other hand, had come unprepared, thinking that a Franciscan would be the homilist. In this quandary, the head of the hermitage, who had no one among his own humble friars suitable for the occasion, called upon Anthony, whom he suspected was most qualified, and entreated him to speak whatever the Holy Spirit should put into his mouth. Anthony objected but was overruled, and his sermon created a deep impression. Not only his rich voice and arresting manner, but the entire theme and substance of his discourse and his moving eloquence, held the attention of his hearers.

At that point, Anthony was commissioned by Brother Gratian, the local Minister Provincial, to preach the Gospel throughout the area of Lombardy, in northern Italy. In this capacity he came to the attention of the founder of the order, Francis of Assisi. Francis had held a strong distrust of the place of theological studies in the life of his brotherhood, fearing that it might lead to an abandonment of their commitment to a life of real poverty. In Anthony, however, he found a kindred spirit for his vision, who was also able to provide the teaching needed by young members of the order who might seek ordination. He thereby entrusted the pursuit of studies for any of his friars to the care of Brother Anthony. From then on his skills were used to the utmost by the Church. Occasionally he took another post, as a teacher, for instance, at the universities of Montpellier and Toulouse in southern France, but it was as a preacher that Anthony revealed his supreme gift.

In 1226, after attending the General Chapter of his order held at Arles, France, and preaching in the French region of Provence, Anthony returned to Italy and served as envoy from the general chapter to Pope Gregory IX. At the Papal court, his preaching was hailed as a "jewel case of the Bible" and he was commissioned to produce his collection of sermons, Sermons for Feast Days (Sermones in Festivitates).

Anthony became ill with edema and, in 1231, went to the woodland retreat at Camposampiero with two other friars for a respite. There Anthony lived in a cell built for him under the branches of a walnut tree. Anthony died on the way back to Padua on 13 June 1231 at the Poor Clare monastery at Arcella (now part of Padua), aged 36. Due to his taxing labors and his austere penance, he soon felt his strength so spent that he prepared himself for death. After receiving the last sacraments he kept looking upward with a smile on his countenance. When he was asked what he saw there, he answered: "I see my Lord." He breathed forth his soul on June 13, 1231 A. D., being only thirty six year old. Soon the children in the streets of the city of Padua were crying: "The saint is dead, Anthony is dead." Pope Gregory IX enrolled him among the saints in the very next year. At Padua, a magnificent basilica was built in his honor, his holy relics were entombed there in 1263 A. D. From the time of his death up to the present day, countless miracles have occurred through St. Anthony's intercession, so that he is known as the Wonder-Worker. In 1946 A. D. St. Anthony was declared a Doctor of the Church.

Various legends surround the death of Anthony. One holds that when he died, the children cried in the streets and that all the bells of the churches rang of their own accord. Another legend regards his tongue. Anthony is buried in a chapel within the large basilica built to honor him, where his tongue is displayed for veneration in a large reliquary. When his body was exhumed thirty years after his death, it was found to have returned to dust, but the tongue was claimed to have glistened and looked as if it was still alive and moist; apparently a further claim was made that this was a sign of his gift of preaching.

Anthony was canonized by Pope Gregory IX on 30 May 1232, at Spoleto, Italy, less than one year after his death. His fame spread through Portuguese evangelization, and he has been known as the most celebrated of the followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. He is the patron saint of his adopted home of Padua, as well as of his native Lisbon, not to mention many other places in Portugal and in the countries of the former Portuguese Empire. He is especially invoked for the recovery of lost items.

Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII on 16 January 1946, he is sometimes called the "Evangelical Doctor".

St. Anthony should be the patron of those who find their lives completely uprooted and set in a new and unexpected direction. Like all saints, he is a perfect example of turning one's life completely over to Christ. God did with Anthony as God pleased—and what God pleased was a life of spiritual power and brilliance that still attracts admiration today. He whom popular devotion has nominated as finder of lost objects found himself by losing himself totally to the providence of God.

In his sermon notes, Anthony writes: "The saints are like the stars. In his providence Christ conceals them in a hidden place that they may not shine before others when they might wish to do so. Yet they are always ready to exchange the quiet of contemplation for the works of mercy as soon as they perceive in their heart the invitation of Christ."

He is the patron saint of lost items, the poor and travellers.

Saint Rita

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Saint George

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Saint Joseph

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Saint Polycarp

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Saint Mary, the Mother of God

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Saint Francis of Assisi

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Saint Michael, the Archangel

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