Thursday, April 30, 2015

Peter Faber

Saint Peter Faber, S.J. (French: Pierre Lefevre or Favre, Spanish: Pedro Fabro, Latin: Petrus Faver) (13 April 1506 – 2 August 1546) was the first Jesuit priest and theologian, who was also a co-founder of the Society of Jesus. Pope Francis announced his canonization on 17 December 2013.

Faber was born in 1506 to a peasant family in the village of Villaret, in the Duchy of Savoy (now Saint-Jean-de-Sixt in the French Department of Haute-Savoie). As a boy, he was a shepherd in the high pastures of the French Alps. He had little education, but a remarkable memory; he could hear a sermon in the morning and then repeat it verbatim in the afternoon for his friends. Two of his uncles were Carthusian priors. At first, he was entrusted to the care of a priest at Thônes and later to a school in the neighboring village of La Roche-sur-Foron.

In 1525, Faber went to Paris to pursue his studies. He was admitted to the Collège Sainte-Barbe, the oldest school in the University of Paris, where he shared his lodgings with a Francis Xavier. There Faber's spiritual views began to develop, influenced by a combination of popular devotion, Christian humanism, and late medieval scholasticism. Faber and Xavier became close friends and both received the degree of Master of Arts on the same day in 1530. At the university, Faber also met Ignatius of Loyola and became one of his associates. He tutored Loyola in the philosophy of Aristotle, while Loyola tutored Faber in spiritual matters. Faber wrote of Loyola's counsel: "He gave me an understanding of my conscience and of the temptations and scruples I had had for so long without either understanding them or seeing the way by which I would be able to get peace..." Xavier, Faber, and Loyola all became roommates at the University of Paris and are all recognized by the Jesuits as founders of the Society of Jesus.

Faber was the first among the small circle of men who formed the Society of Jesus to be ordained. Having become a priest on 30 May 1534, he received the religious vows of Ignatius and his five companions at Montmartre on 15 August.

After graduation, Loyola returned to Spain for a period of convalescence, after instructing his companions to meet in Venice and charging Faber with conducting them there. After Loyola himself, Faber was the one whom Xavier and his companions esteemed the most. Leaving Paris on 15 November 1536, Faber and his companions rejoined Loyola at Venice in January 1537. When war between Venice and the Turks prevented them from evangelizing the Holy Land as they planned, they decided to form the community that became the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuit Order. The group then traveled to Rome where they put themselves at the disposal of Pope Paul III. After Faber spent some months preaching and teaching, the Pope sent him to Parma and Piacenza, where he brought about a revival of Christian piety.

Recalled to Rome in 1540, Faber was sent to Germany to uphold the position of the Catholic Church at the Diet of Worms and then at the Diet of Ratisbon in 1541. Another Catholic theologian Johann Cochlaeus reported that Faber avoided theological debate and emphasized personal reformation, calling him "a master of the life of the affections". Faber was startled by the unrest that the Protestant movement had stirred up in Germany and by the decadence he found in the Catholic hierarchy. He decided that the remedy did not lie in discussions with the Protestants, but in the reform of the Roman Catholic, especially of the clergy. For ten months, at Speyer, at Ratisbon, and at Mainz, he conducted himself with gentleness with all those with whom he dealt. He influenced princes, prelates, and priests who opened themselves to him and amazed people by the effectiveness of his outreach. Faber possessed the gift of friendship to a remarkable degree. He was famous not for his preaching, but for his engaging conversations and his guidance of souls. He crisscrossed Europe on foot, guiding bishops, priests, nobles and common people alike in the Spiritual Exercises.

As a lone Jesuit often on the move, Faber never felt alone because he walked in a world whose denizens included saints and angels. He would ask the saint of the day and all the saints "to obtain for us not only virtues and salvation for our spirits but in particular whatever can strengthen, heal, and preserve the body and each of its parts". His guardian angel, above all, became his chief ally. He sought support from the saints and angels both for his personal sanctification and in his evangelization of communities. Whenever he entered a new town or region, Faber implored the aid of the particular angels and saints associated with that place. Through the intercession of his allies, Faber could enter even a potentially hostile region assured of a spiritual army at his side. As he desired to bring each person he met to a closer relationship through spiritual friendship and conversation, he would invoke the intercession of the person’s guardian angel.

Called to Spain by Loyola, he visited Barcelona, Zaragoza, Medinaceli, Madrid, and Toledo. In January 1542 the pope ordered him to Germany again. For the next nineteen months, Faber worked for the reform of Speyer, Mainz, and Cologne. The Archbishop of Cologne, Hermann of Wied, favored Lutheranism, which he later publicly embraced. Faber gradually gained the confidence of the clergy and recruited many young men to the Jesuits, among them Peter Canisius. After spending some months at Leuven in 1543, where he implanted the seeds of numerous vocations among the young, he returned to Cologne. Between 1544 and 1546, Faber continued his work in Portugal and Spain. Through his influence while at the royal court of Lisbon, Faber was instrumental in establishing the Society of Jesus in Portugal. There and in Spain, he was a fervent and effective preacher. He was called to preach in the principal cities of Spain, where he aroused fervor among the local populations and fostered vocations to the clergy. Among them there was Francis Borgia, another significant future Jesuits. King John III of Portugal wanted Faber made Patriarch of Ethiopia. Simon Rodrigues, founder of the Jesuit province in Portugal, wrote that Faber was "endowed with charming grace in dealing with people, which up to now I must confess I have not seen in anyone else. Somehow he entered into friendship in such a way, bit by bit coming to influence others in such a manner, that his very way of living and gracious conversation powerfully drew to the love of God all those with whom he dealt." He then worked in several Spanish cities, including Valladolid, Salamanca, Toledo, Galapagar, Alcalá, and Madrid.

In 1546 Faber was appointed by Pope Paul III to act as a peritus (expert) on behalf of the Holy See at the Council of Trent. Faber, at age 40, was exhausted by his incessant efforts and his unceasing journeys, always made on foot. In April 1546 he left Spain to attend the Council and reached Rome, weakened by fever, on 17 July 1546. He died, reportedly in the arms of Loyola, on 2 August 1546. Faber's body was initially buried at the Church of Our Lady of the Way, which served as a center for the Jesuit community. When that church was demolished to allow for the construction of the Church of the Gesù, his remains and those of others among the first Jesuits were exhumed. His are now in the crypt near the entrance to the Gesù.

Faber kept a diary of his spiritual life known as his Memoriale. Most of it dates from June 1542 to July 1543, with some additional entries from 1545 and a final brief entry made in January 1546. It begins with a quotation from Psalms: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." It takes the form of a series of conversations, mostly between God and Faber with occasional contributions on the part of various saints and Faber's colleagues.

Those who had known Faber in life already invoked him as a saint. St. Francis de Sales, whose character recalled that of Faber's, never spoke of him except as a saint. He is remembered for his travels through Europe promoting Catholic renewal and his great skill in directing the Spiritual Exercises. Faber was beatified on 5 September 1872. His feast day is celebrated on 2 August by the Society of Jesus. Faber was honored as part of the 2006 Jesuit Jubilee Year which celebrated the 500th anniversary of the birth of Francis Xavier, the 500th anniversary of the birth of Peter Faber, and the 450th anniversary of the death of Ignatius Loyola.

Pope Francis, on his own 77th birthday, 17 December 2013, announced Faber's canonization. He used a process known as equivalent canonization that dispenses with the standard judicial procedures and ceremonies in the case of someone long venerated. A few weeks earlier, Francis had praised Faber's "dialogue with all, even the most remote and even with his opponents; his simple piety, a certain naïveté perhaps, his being available straightaway, his careful interior discernment, the fact that he was a man capable of great and strong decisions but also capable of being so gentle and loving." Francis also gave thanks for Faber's canonization when he celebrated Mass on January 3, 2014, at the Church of the Gesù.

The Blessed Peter Faber Jesuit Community at Boston College is a residences for priests in formation.

Creighton University confers the Blessed Peter Faber Integrity Award on a student, faculty or staff member who is involved in activities that promote integrity, social justice, peace, and religious, racial, and cultural harmony and is able to inspire and lead others to distill their values and integrity.

Blessed Peter Faber House at Gonzaga University is an extension of the University Ministry office reserved for preparing retreats and further developing University Ministry programs.

The Faber Center for Ignatian Spirituality was adopted as a ministry of Marquette University in November 2005

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Philip Evans

Saint Philip Evans was a Welsh Roman Catholic priests. He is among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Philip Evans was born in Monmouth in 1645, was educated at St Omer, joined the Society of Jesus in Watten on 7 September 1665, and was ordained at Liège and sent to South Wales as a missionary in 1675.

He worked in Wales for four years, and despite the official anti-Catholic policy no action was taken against him. When the Oates' scare swept the country both Lloyd and Evans were caught up in the aftermath. In November 1678 a John Arnold, of Llanvihangel Court near Abergavenny, a justice of the peace and hunter of priests, offered a reward of £200 (an enormous sum then) for his arrest.

Despite the manifest dangers Father Evans steadfastly refused to leave his flock. He was arrested at the home of a Mr Christopher Turberville at Sker, Glamorgan on 4 December 1678.

Evans and John Lloyd were brought to trial in Cardiff on Monday, 5 May 1679. Neither was charged with being associated with the plot concocted by Oates. Nonetheless, they were tried for being priests and coming into the principality of Wales contrary to the provisions of the law, and were declared guilty of treason for exercising their priesthood.

The executions took so long to be scheduled that it began to appear that they might not take place. The priests were allowed a good deal of liberty, even to leaving the prison for recreation. The executions took place in Pwllhalog, Cardiff on 22 July 1679

Philip Evans was the first to die. He addressed the gathering in both Welsh and English saying, ‘Adieu, Father Lloyd! Though only for a little time, for we shall soon meet again'. John Lloyd spoke very briefly saying, ‘I never was a good speaker in my life'.

On 25 October 1970, both John Lloyd and Philip Evans, S.J. were canonised by Pope Paul VI. Although they died on 22 July, this date is kept by the Catholic Church as the day of St Mary Magdalen, so their joint feast day was assigned to 23 July. The same date is the assigned day of St Bridget of Sweden, who was later designated one of six patron saints of Europe by Pope John Paul II. This means that while churches dedicated to St John Lloyd or St Philip Evans can keep their feast on 23 July, other churches must commemorate St Bridget on that date. A voluntary celebration for St John Lloyd and St Philip Evans may be kept on a nearby date at the discretion of local communities.

The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales' collective feast day was formerly kept on 25 October, but in England are now celebrated together with beatified martyrs on 4 May. In Wales, 25 October is the feast of the 'Six Welsh Martyrs and their companions'.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

John Lloyd

Saint John Lloyd was a Welsh Roman Catholic priests. He is among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Father John Lloyd, a Welshman and a secular priest (i.e., a priest not associated with any religious order), was a Breconshire man. He was educated first in Ghent, then at the English College, Valladolid, Spain, entering in 1649. He took the 'missionary oath' on 16 October 1649 to participate in England Mission. Sent to Wales in 1654 to minister to covert Catholics, he lived his vocation while constantly on the run for 24 years. He was arrested at Mr Turberville's house at Penlline, Glamorganshire, 20 November 1678, and imprisoned in Cardiff Gaol. There he was joined by the Jesuit, Philip Evans

Lloyd and Philip Evans were brought to trial in Cardiff on Monday, 5 May 1679. Neither was charged with being associated with the plot concocted by Oates. Nonetheless, they were tried for being priests and coming into the principality of Wales contrary to the provisions of the law, and were declared guilty of treason for exercising their priesthood.

The executions took so long to be scheduled that it began to appear that they might not take place. The priests were allowed a good deal of liberty, even to leaving the prison for recreation. The executions took place in Pwllhalog, Cardiff on 22 July 1679

Philip Evans was the first to die. He addressed the gathering in both Welsh and English saying, ‘Adieu, Father Lloyd! Though only for a little time, for we shall soon meet again'. John Lloyd spoke very briefly saying, ‘I never was a good speaker in my life'.

On 25 October 1970, both John Lloyd and Philip Evans, S.J. were canonised by Pope Paul VI. Although they died on 22 July, this date is kept by the Catholic Church as the day of St Mary Magdalen, so their joint feast day was assigned to 23 July. The same date is the assigned day of St Bridget of Sweden, who was later designated one of six patron saints of Europe by Pope John Paul II. This means that while churches dedicated to St John Lloyd or St Philip Evans can keep their feast on 23 July, other churches must commemorate St Bridget on that date. A voluntary celebration for St John Lloyd and St Philip Evans may be kept on a nearby date at the discretion of local communities.

The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales' collective feast day was formerly kept on 25 October, but in England are now celebrated together with beatified martyrs on 4 May. In Wales, 25 October is the feast of the 'Six Welsh Martyrs and their companions'.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Canadian Martyrs

The Canadian Martyrs, also known as the North American Martyrs or the Martyrs of New France, were eight Jesuit missionaries from Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, who were tortured and martyred on various dates in the mid-17th century in Canada, in what are now southern Ontario and upstate New York, during the warfare between the Iroquois (particularly the Mohawk people) and the Huron.

The Martyrs are St. René Goupil (1642), St. Isaac Jogues (1646), St. Jean de Lalande (1646), St. Antoine Daniel (1648), St. Jean de Brébeuf (1649), St. Noël Chabanel (1649), St. Charles Garnier (1649), and St. Gabriel Lalemant (1649).

Jesuit missionaries worked among the Hurons, in the Georgian Bay area of Central Ontario, which is called Huronia. The Hurons in this area were farmers, fishermen and traders who lived in villages surrounded by wooden palisades for protection. Sainte-Marie among the Hurons was the headquarters for the French Jesuit Mission to the Huron Wendat people.

By the late 1640s the Jesuits believed they were making more progress in their mission to the Huron, and they claimed to have made many converts at this time. But, within Huron communities, the priests were not universally trusted. Many Huron considered them to be malevolent shamans who brought death and disease wherever they travelled because their arrival had coincided with epidemics after 1634 of smallpox and other infectious diseases of Europe, to which aboriginal peoples had no immunity. (Epidemiological studies have shown the diseases were likely carried by the increased number of children immigrating after 1634 with families from cities in nations where smallpox was endemic, such as France, England and the Netherlands).

The Iroquois considered the Jesuits legitimate targets of their raids and warfare, as the missionaries were nominally allies of the Huron. French colonial attacks against the Iroquois also were a reason for their raids against the Huron and Jesuits.

The martyrs were canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1930. They are collectively the secondary patron saints of Canada. St. René Goupil, St. Isaac Jogues, and St. Jean de Lalande are the first three U.S. saints, as they were martyred at Ossernenon near the confluence of the Schoharie and Mohawk rivers. Their feast day is celebrated in the General Roman Calendar and in the United States on October 19 under the title of "John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs," and in Canada on September 26 among Traditionalist Catholics.

The Martyrs' Shrine in Midland, Ontario, the site of their missionary work among the Huron, is the National Shrine to the Canadian Martyrs. (Canada)

There is a second National Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, New York, along the Mohawk River. (United States)

Many churches are dedicated to the martyrs, including the Canadian national church in Rome; North American Martyrs Parish and School in Monroeville, Pennsylvania; North American Martyrs Catholic Church in Lincoln, Nebraska; North American Martyrs Catholic Church, a parish of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in Seattle, Washington; American Martyrs Parish in Manhattan Beach, California; and American Martyrs Roman Catholic Church in Bayside, New York.

Many schools also honor the martyrs, including the sports teams of the Pontifical North American College in Rome; a primary school named after them in Newmarket, Ontario; Jesuit High School in Sacramento, California, where each building on the campus has been named after one of the saints; Jesuit High School in New Orleans, Louisiana; Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, holds the martyrs as her patronal saints and the chapel there is named in their honor; the torture of the martyrs by the Iroquois is the subject depicted in the twelve-light World War I memorial window (1933) by Charles William Kelsey at the Loyola College (Montreal) chapel; at the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes on the campus of Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Maryland; and a side shine at Madonna Della Strada Chapel on the campus of Loyola University Chicago.

The martyrs are honored at Camp Ondessonk, a Catholic summer camp in Ozark, Illinois, where each unit of cabins is named after one of the martyrs.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Saint Antoine Daniel

Saint Antoine Daniel (May 27, 1601 – July 4, 1648) was a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, and one of the eight Canadian Martyrs.

Daniel was born at Dieppe, in Normandy on May 27, 1601. After two years' study of philosophy and one year of law, Daniel entered the Society of Jesus in Rouen on October 1, 1621. He was a teacher of junior classes at the Collège in Rouen from 1623 to 1627. In 1627 he was sent to the College of Clermont in Paris to study theology. In 1630, Daniel was ordained to the priest-hood. he then taught at the College at Eu.

In 1632, Antoine Daniel and Father Ambroise Davost set sail for New France. with Antoine's brother, Daniel's brother Charles was a sea-captain in the charge of the De Caen Company of France representing Protestant-Huguenot interests. Captain Daniel had French fort on Cape Breton Island in 1629. They arrived at St. Anne's Bay, Cape Breton, where the two Jesuits remained for a year ministering to the French who had settled there.

In the spring of 1633, Daniel and Davost joined Champlain on his way to Quebec, and arrived there on June 24. Father Davost arrived later having stopped off at Tadoussac on the way.

In 1634 he travelled to Wendake with Frs. Brébeuf and Daoust. Daniel studied the Wendat (Huron) language and made rapid progress. He translated the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and other prayers in the Huron native tongue and put them to music. For two years, in what is now Quebec, he had charge of a school for Indian boys, but returned to Huronia in 1638 to relieve Father Brébeuf at the new mission.

He returned to Teanaostaye, the chief town of the Huron, in July 1648. Shortly thereafter, the Iroquois made a sudden attack on the mission while most of the Huron men were away in Quebec trading. The priest rallied the defenders.Before the palisades had been scaled, he hurried to the chapel where the women, children, and old men were gathered. He gave them general absolution and immersing his handkerchief in a bowl of water, he shook it over them, baptizing the catechumens by aspersion

In an effort to cause a diversion, Fr. Daniel, still in his vestments, took up a cross and walked towards the advancing Iroquois. Seized with amazement the Iroquois halted for a moment, then fired on him. They flung Daniel's lifeless body into the chapel, which they had set on fire. Many of the Huron did manage to escape during this incident.

Fr. Daniel was the first martyr of the missionaries to the Hurons. Father Ragueneau, his superior, speaks of him in a letter to the Superior General of the Jesuits as "a truly remarkable man, humble, obedient, united with God, of never failing patience and indomitable courage in adversity"

Daniel and seven other martyrs were canonized by Pope Pius XI on June 29, 1930.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Claude de la Colombière

St. Claude de la Colombière, S.J., was a Jesuit priest and the confessor of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, V.H.M. His feast day is the day of his death, 15 February. He was a missionary and ascetical writer.

He was born in 1641 in the city of Saint-Symphorien-d'Ozon, then in the ancient Province of Dauphiné, the third child of the notary Bertrand de la Colombière and of Margaret Coindat. The family soon moved to the nearby city of Vienne, where he began his education, before attending the Jesuit school in Lyon for his secondary studies.

In 1658, at the age of seventeen, Colombière entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Avignon. He did this despite what he recorded as "a terrible aversion for the life embraced". When he completed the two-year novitiate, he started his higher studies in the same city. He was professed there and completed his studies. After this he spent the next five years of his Regency teaching grammar and literature at the same school.

Colombière was sent to Paris in 1666 to study theology at the College de Clermont. He was also assigned to be the tutor of the children of the Royal Minister of Finances, Jean-Baptiste Colbert. After completing his studies there, he was ordained a priest and initially assigned to teach at his former school in Lyon. He then was assigned to join the preaching team of the Jesuit community, through which he gained notice for the clarity and soundness of his sermons.

In 1674, after 15 years of life as a Jesuit, Colombière did his next period of probation known as the Tertianship, which was to prove decisive in his life. As a result of this experience of the Spiritual Exercises, he made a personal vow, as a means of attaining the utmost possible perfection, to observe faithfully the Rule and Constitutions of the Society under penalty of sin. Those who lived with him attested that this vow was kept with great exactitude.


After professing the Fourth Vow of the Society at the end of the Tertianship on 2 February 1675, Colombière was appointed the Rector of the Jesuit community at Paray-le-Monial, where he also became the spiritual director of the nuns of the Monastery of the Visitation located next to the church. In this way he came to know Sr. Margaret Mary Alacoque. The curiosity of such a promising preacher having been assigned to this remote location has led to the supposition that his superiors had her in mind in making this assignment.

Alacoque had suffered greatly from the disbelief of the other nuns of her monastery, and felt isolated in her situation of having experienced a series of private revelations from Christ in which she felt she was being called to promote devotion to his Sacred Heart. When Colombière came to the community and began to hear the confessions of the nuns, she felt that she had finally found a priest in whom she could truly confide and opened up her heart to him. She later wrote that she saw that his spiritual gift "was that of bringing souls to God along the Gospel way of love and mercy which Christ revealed to us". After speaking with her a number of times and after much prayer, as a result, he was convinced of the validity of her visions and became both her supporter and a zealous apostle of the devotion.


In 1676 Colombière was sent to England as preacher to Mary of Modena, then the Duchess of York, wife of the future King James II of England. He took up residence at the Court of St. James, where he still observed all his religious duties as a member of the Society. He was also as active a preacher and confessor in England as he had been in France. Although encountering many difficulties, he was able to guide Alacoque by letter.

Colombière's zeal and the English climate soon combined to weaken his health and a pulmonary condition threatened to end his work in that country. In November 1678, while awaiting a recall to France, he was suddenly arrested and thrown into prison, denounced as being a part of the Popish Plot alleged by Titus Oates against the English throne. Caught up in the anti-Catholic hysteria which resulted from this alleged plot, he was confined in severe conditions at the King's Bench Prison, where his fragile health took a turn for the worse. He is quoted by the historian John Philipps Kenyon as having described the effects of the situation—in which over 20 Jesuits died—on the Society of Jesus, writing:

"The name of the Jesuit is hated above all else, even by priests both secular and regular, and by the Catholic laity as well, because it is said that the Jesuits have caused this raging storm, which is likely to overthrow the whole Catholic religion".

Thanks to his position at the Royal Court and to the protection of the King of France, Louis XIV, whose subject he was, he escaped death but was expelled from Great Britain in 1679. He returned to France with his health ruined by his imprisonment.

The last two years of Colombière's life were spent at Lyon, where he was spiritual director to the Jesuit novices, and at Paray-le-Monial, where he returned to improve his health. He died on 15 February 1682, as a result of a severe hemorrage.

Colombière left a large number of writings, which, including his principal works, Pious Reflections, Meditations on the Passion, and Retreat and Spiritual Letters, were published under the title, Oeuvres du R.P. Claude de la Colombière (Avignon, 1832; Paris, 1864).

Colombière was beatified by Pope Pius XI on 16 June 1929, and canonized by Pope John Paul II on 31 May 1992. His relics are preserved in the Jesuit Church around the corner from the monastery of the Visitation nuns at Paray-le-Monial.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Peter Claver

Saint Peter Claver, S.J., (Spanish: Pedro Claver y Corberó, Catalan: Pere Claver i Corberó) (26 June 1581 – 8 September 1654) was a Spanish Jesuit priest and missionary born in Verdú (Catalonia) who, due to his life and work, became the patron saint of slaves, the Republic of Colombia and ministry to African Americans. During the 40 years of his ministry in Colombia it is estimated he personally baptized around 300,000 people. He is also patron saint for seafarers.

Claver was born in 1581 into a devoutly Catholic and prosperous farming family in the Catalan village of Verdú, Urgell, located in the Province of Lleida, about 54 miles (87 km) from Barcelona. He was born 70 years after King Ferdinand of Spain set the colonial slavery culture into motion by authorizing the purchase of 250 African slaves in Lisbon for his territories in New Spain, an event which was to shape Claver's life.

Later, as a student at the University of Barcelona, Claver was noted for his intelligence and piety. After two years of study there, Claver wrote these words in the notebook he kept throughout his life: "I must dedicate myself to the service of God until death, on the understanding that I am like a slave."

After he had completed his studies, Claver entered the Society of Jesus in Tarragona at the age of 20. When he had completed the novitiate, he was sent to do his study of philosophy at Palma, Mallorca. While there, he came to know the porter of the college, St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, a laybrother known for his holiness and gift of prophecy. Rodriguez felt that he had been told by God that Claver was to spend his life in service in the colonies of New Spain, and he frequently urged the young student to accept that calling.

Claver volunteered for the Spanish colonies and was sent to the New Kingdom of Granada, where he arrived in the port city of Cartagena in 1610. Required to wait six years to be ordained as a priest while he did his theological studies, he lived in Jesuit houses at Tunja and Bogotá. During those preparatory years, he was deeply disturbed by the harsh treatment and living conditions of the black slaves who were brought from Africa.

By this time, the slave trade had been established in the Americas for about a century. Local natives were considered not physically suited to work in the gold and silver mines and this created a demand for blacks from Angola and Congo. These were bought in West Africa for four crowns a head, or bartered for goods and sold in America for an average two hundred crowns apiece. Criminals, war captives, the mentally unstable, the sick and various social misfits were bartered to the white traders by the African chiefs. Others were captured at random, especially able-bodied males and females deemed suitable for labor.

Cartagena was a slave-trading hub. 10,000 slaves poured into the port yearly, crossing the Atlantic from West Africa under conditions so foul that an estimated one-third died in transit. Although the slave trade was condemned by Pope Paul III and Urban VIII had issued a papal decree prohibiting slavery, (later called "supreme villainy" by Pope Pius IX), it was a lucrative business and continued to flourish.

Claver's predecessor in his eventual lifelong mission, Father Alonso de Sandoval, S.J., was his mentor and inspiration. Sandoval devoted himself to serving the slaves for 40 years before Claver arrived to continue his work. Sandoval attempted to learn about their customs and languages; he was so successful that, when he returned to Seville, he wrote a book in 1627 about the nature, customs, rites and beliefs of the Africans. Sandoval found Claver an apt pupil. When he was solemnly professed in 1622, Claver signed his final profession document in Latin as: Petrus Claver, aethiopum semper servus (Peter Claver, servant of the Ethiopians [i.e. Africans] forever).


Church of St. Peter Claver is in Cartagena, Colombia, where Claver lived and ministered.
Whereas Sandoval had visited the slaves where they worked, Claver preferred to head for the wharf as soon as a slave ship entered the port. Boarding the ship, he entered the filthy and diseased holds to treat and minister to their badly treated, terrified human cargo, who had survived a voyage of several months under horrible conditions. It was difficult to move around on the ships, because the slave traffickers filled them to capacity. The slaves were often told they were being taken to a land where they would be eaten. Claver wore a cloak, which he would lend to anyone in need. A legend arose that whoever wore the cloak received lifetime health and was cured of all disease. After the slaves were herded from the ship and penned in nearby yards to be scrutinized by crowds of buyers, Claver joined them with medicine, food, bread, brandy, lemons and tobacco. With the help of interpreters and pictures which he carried with him, he gave basic instructions.

Claver had conflicts with some of his Jesuit brothers who accepted slavery. Claver saw the slaves as fellow Christians, encouraging others to do so as well. During his 40 years of ministry it is estimated that he personally catechized and baptized 300,000 slaves. He would then follow up on them to ensure that as Christians they received their Christian and civil rights. His mission extended beyond caring for slaves, however. He preached in the city square, to sailors and traders and conducted country missions, returning every spring to visit those he had baptized, ensuring that they were treated humanely. During these missions, whenever possible he avoided the hospitality of planters and overseers; instead, he would lodge in the slave quarters.

Claver's work on behalf of slaves did not prevent him from ministering to the souls of well-to-do members of society, traders and visitors to Cartagena (including Muslims and English Protestants) and condemned criminals, many of whom he prepared for death; he was also a frequent visitor at the city's hospitals. Through years of unremitting toil and the force of his own unique personality, the slaves' situation slowly improved. In time he became a moral force, the Apostle of Cartagena.


The bones of Claver are under an altar at the Church of St. Peter Claver in Cartagena
In the last years of his life Peter was too ill to leave his room. He lingered for four years, largely forgotten and neglected, physically abused and starved by an ex-slave who had been hired by the Superior of the house to care for him. He never complained about his treatment, accepting it as a just punishment for his sins. He died on 8 September 1654.

When the people of the city heard of his death, many forced their way into his room to pay their last respects. Such was his reputation for holiness that they stripped away anything to serve as a relic of the saint.

The city magistrates, who had previously considered him a nuisance for his persistent advocacy on behalf of the slaves, ordered a public funeral and he was buried with pomp and ceremony. The vast scope of Claver's ministry, which was prodigious even before considering the astronomical number of people he baptized, came to be realized only after his death.

He was canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII, along with the holy Jesuit porter, Alphonsus Rodriguez. In 1896 Pope Leo also declared Claver the patron of missionary work among all African peoples. His body is preserved and venerated in the church of the former Jesuit residence, now renamed in his honor.

The Knights of Peter Claver, Inc. is the largest African-American Catholic fraternal organization in the United States. In 2006, a unit was established in San Andres, Colombia, South America. The Order was founded in Mobile, Alabama and is presently headquartered in New Orleans.

Among the parishes dedicated to St. Peter Claver are those in Lexington, Kentucky, West Hartford, Connecticut, Macon, Georgia, New Orleans, Louisiana, Simi Valley, California, St. Paul, Minnesota, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Montclair, New Jersey, and Baltimore, Maryland.There is also a church in Nairobi, Kenya, named after St. Peter Claver.

St. Peter Claver Regional Catholic School is located in Decatur, Georgia.

The oldest African American school in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, and the oldest African American school still functioning in the State of Florida, is the St. Peter Claver Catholic School.

Claver's mission continues today in the work of the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) and his inspiration remains among port chaplains and those who visit ships in the name of the Church, through the AoS

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Noël Chabanel

Noël Chabanel (February 2, 1613 – December 8, 1649) was a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, and one of the Canadian Martyrs.

Chabanel entered the Jesuit novitiate at Toulouse at the age of seventeen, and was a professor of rhetoric at several Jesuit colleges. He was highly esteemed for virtue and learning. In 1643, he was sent to New France, and after studying the Algonquin language for a time, was appointed to the mission at Sainte-Marie, where he remained till his death. In his apostolic labours he was the companion of Fr. Charles Garnier. As he felt a strong repugnance to the life and habits of the Huron, and feared it might result in his own withdrawal from the work, he bound himself by vow never to leave the mission. Chabanel was martyred on December 8, 1649, by what is described as a "renegade" Huron.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Peter Canisius

Peter Canisius, S.J. (Dutch: Pieter Kanis, 8 May 1521 – 21 December 1597) was an important Jesuit Catholic priest who supported the Catholic faith during the Protestant Reformation in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, and Switzerland. The restoration of the Catholic Church in Germany after the Protestant Reformation is largely attributed to the work there of the Society of Jesus, which he led. He is venerated in the Catholic Church as a saint and as a Doctor of the Church.

He was born in 1521 in Nijmegen in the Duchy of Guelders, which, until 1549, was part of the Habsburg Netherlands within the Holy Roman Empire and is now the Netherlands. His father was the wealthy burgermeister, Jacob Kanis; his mother, Ægidia van Houweningen, who died shortly after Peter's birth. He was sent to study at the University of Cologne, where he earned a Master's degree in 1540, at the age of 19. While there, he met Peter Faber, one of the founders of the Society of Jesus. Through him, Canisius became the first Dutchman to join the newly founded Society of Jesus in 1543.

Through his preaching and writings, Peter Canisius became one of the most influential Catholics of his time. He supervised the founding and maintenance of the first German-speaking Jesuit colleges, often with little resources at hand. At the same time he preached in the city and vicinity, and debated and taught in the university. Because of his frequent travels between the colleges, a tedious and dangerous occupation at the time, he became known as the Second Apostle of Germany.

Canisius also exerted a strong influence on the Emperor Ferdinand I. The king's eldest son (later Maximilian II) appointed to the office of court preacher, Phauser, a married priest, who preached the Lutheran doctrine. Canisius warned Ferdinand I, verbally and in writing, and opposed Phauser in public disputations. Maximilian was obliged to dismiss Phauser and, on this account, the rest of his life he harboured a grudge against Canisius.

Canisius was an influential teacher and preacher, especially through his "German Catechism", a book which defined the basic principles of Catholicism in the German language and made them more accessible to readers in German-speaking countries. He was offered the post of Bishop of Vienna in 1554, but declined in order to continue his traveling and teachings. He did, however, serve as administrator of the Diocese of Vienna for one year, until a new bishop was appointed for it.

He moved to Germany, where he was one of the main Catholic theologians at the Colloquy of Worms in 1557, and later served as the main preacher in the Cathedral of Augsburg from 1559 to 1568, where he strongly witnessed to his faith on three or four occasions each week. His preaching was said to have been so convincing that it attracted hundreds of Protestants back to Roman Catholicism.

By the time he left Germany, the Society of Jesus in Germany had evolved from a small band of priests into a powerful tool of the Counter Reformation. Canisius spent the last twenty years of his life in Fribourg, Switzerland, where he founded the Jesuit preparatory school, the College of Saint Michael, which trained generations of young men for careers and future university studies.

In 1591, at the age of 70, Canisius suffered a stroke which left him partially paralyzed, but he continued to preach and write with the aid of a secretary until his death in Fribourg. He was initially buried at the Church of St. Nicholas. His remains were later transferred to the church of the Jesuit College, which he had founded and where he had spent the last year of his life, and interred in front of the main altar of the church; the room he occupied during those last months is now a chapel open to the veneration of the faithful.

Canisius lived during the height of the Protestant Reformation and dedicated much of his work to the clarification of the Catholic faith in light of the emergence of the new Protestant doctrines. His lasting contribution is his three catechisms, which he published in Latin and German, which became widespread and popular in Catholic regions. In his fight with German Protestantism, he requested much more flexibility from Rome, arguing:

If you treat them right, the Germans will give you everything. Many err in matters of faith, but without arrogance. They err the German way, mostly honest, a bit simple-minded, but very open for everything Lutheran. An honest explanation of the faith would be much more effective than a polemical attack against reformers.

He rejected attacks against John Calvin and Melanchton: With words like these, we don’t cure patients, we make them incurable.


Canisius taught that, while there are many roads leading to Jesus Christ, for him the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the best. His sermons and letters document a clear preoccupation with Marian veneration. Under the heading "prayer" he explains the Ave Maria (Hail Mary), as the basis for Catholic Marian piety. Less known are his Marian books, in which he published prayers and contemplative texts. He is credited with adding to the Hail Mary the sentence

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners.
Eleven years later it was included in the Catechism of the Council of Trent of 1566. Theologically, Canisius defended Roman Catholic Mariology in his 1577 book, De Maria Virgine Incomparabili et Dei Genitrice Sacrosancta Libri Quinque. From today's perspective, Canisius clearly erred in some of his sources, but, because of his factual analysis of original sources, it is considered as representing one of the best theological achievements in the 16th century.

Canisius was beatified by Pope Pius IX in the year 1864, and later canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church on 21 May 1925 by Pope Pius XI. His feast day was included in the General Roman Calendar in 1926, for celebration on 27 April. In the liturgical reform of 1969, it was moved to 21 December, the anniversary of his death, the normal day for celebrating a saint's entry into heaven (although it is still kept by the Society of Jesus on 27 April).

In recognition of Canisius' early work in the establishment of Jesuit education, there are multiple educational institutions named for him. Among them is the Canisius College for seminarians in Vienna, Austria, the first institution named for him, as well as Canisius College, a Jesuit secondary school in his hometown of Nijmegen and the alma mater of Peter Hans Kolvenbach, a recent Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Another Canisius College, a university, and Canisius High School, a secondary school, are located in Buffalo, New York. Furthermore, a Jesuit-run Canisius Kolleg can be found in Berlin, Germany. There is also a secondary school named after Canisius, Kolese Kanisius (Collegium Canisianum or Canisius College), in Jakarta, Indonesia.

In addition, there is a primary school: Basisschool Petrus Canisius in Puth in Limburg, Netherlands. In 1850 the Canisius Hospital was established on the corner of the Houtmarkt and the Pauwelstraat in Nijmegen. In 1974 it merged with Wilhelmina Hospital located at the Weg door Jonkerbos in Nijmegen, to become "Canisius-Wilhemina Hospital.

The Apologetische Vereniging St. Petrus Canisius (St. Peter Canisius Association for Apologetics) was founded in the Netherlands in 1904. The purpose of this association was the defense of the Roman Catholic Church against new values of socialism and liberalism and the restoration of the society with a more Catholic way of life.


(1555) Summa doctrinae christianae (A Summary of Christian Teachings)
The longer version (with quotes from authority):

Vol. 1: Faith, Hope, Charity, the Precepts of the Church
Vol. 2: The Sacraments
Vol. 3: Christian Justification, good works, Cardinal Virtues, Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Ghost, Eight Beatitudes, Evangelical Counsels, etc.
(1556) Catechismus minor (A Smaller Catechism)
(1558) Parvus catechismus catholicorum (A Little Catechism for Catholics)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Edmund Campion

Saint Edmund Campion, S.J., (24 January 1540 – 1 December 1581) was an English Roman Catholic Jesuit priest and martyr. While conducting an underground ministry in officially Anglican England, Campion was arrested by priest hunters. Convicted of high treason, he was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. Campion was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 and canonised in 1970 by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. His feast is celebrated on 1 December.

Born in London on 24 January 1540, Campion was the son of a bookseller in Paternoster Row, near St Paul's Cathedral. He received his early education at Christ's Hospital school and, at the age of 13, was chosen to make the complimentary speech when Queen Mary visited the city in August 1553. He then attended St John's College, Oxford, becoming junior fellow in 1557 and taking the required Oath of Supremacy, probably on the occasion of his B.A. degree in 1560. He took a Master's degree at Oxford in 1564.

Two years later, Campion welcomed Queen Elizabeth to the university, and won her lasting regard. He was selected to lead a public debate in front of the Queen. By the time the Queen had left Oxford, Campion had earned the patronage of the powerful William Cecil and also the Earl of Leicester, tipped by some to be future husband of the young Queen.

When Sir Thomas White, the founder of the college, was buried in 1567, the Latin oration fell to the lot of Campion.

Religious difficulties now arose; but at the persuasion of Richard Cheyney, Bishop of Gloucester, although holding Catholic doctrines, he received Holy Orders in 1564 as a deacon in the Anglican Church. Inwardly "he took a remorse of conscience and detestation of mind." Rumours of his opinions began to spread and he left Oxford in 1569 and went to Ireland for private study and research, but not, as Simpson said (now corrected by Fr. P. Joseph's revision of Simpson, 2010) to take part in a proposed establishment of the University of Dublin.

Campion was appointed tutor to Richard Stanihurst, son of James Stanyhurst, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, and attended the first session of the House of Commons, which included the prorogation. He was transferred through Stanihurst's arrangement to the house of Christopher Barnewall at Turvey in the Pale, which he acknowledged saved him from arrest and torture by the Protestant party in Dublin. For some three months he eluded his pursuers, going by the name "Mr Patrick" and occupying himself by writing A Historie of Ireland.

In the year of 1571, Campion left Ireland in secret and escaped to Douai in the Low Countries (now France) where he was reconciled to the Catholic Church and received the Eucharist that he had denied himself for the past twelve years. He entered the English College founded by William Allen. The enrollment of the college grew, and a papal subsidy was granted a little time after Campion's arrival. Campion found himself reunited with Oxford friends. He was to teach rhetoric while there and finish studying for the degree of Bachelor of Divinity, which was granted him by the University of Douai on 21 January 1573. He received minor orders after this and was ordained sub-deacon.

Campion then travelled to Rome on foot, alone and in the guise of a pilgrim, to join the Jesuits. In April 1573, in Rome, he became the first novice accepted into the Society of Jesus by Mercurianus, the order’s fourth Superior General. He was assigned to the Austrian Province as there was not yet an English province of the Jesuits and began his two-year novitiate at Brunn in Moravia. He was ordained deacon and priest by Anthony Brus, O.M.C.R.S., Archbishop of Prague and said his first Mass on 8 September 1578. For six years, Campion taught at the Jesuit college in Prague as professor of both rhetoric and philosophy.


In 1580, the Jesuit mission to England began. The mission was strictly forbidden, according to Campion's Brag, "to deal in any respects with matters of state or policy of this [English] realm..." Campion accompanied Fr. Robert Persons who, as superior, was intended to counterbalance his own fervour and impetuousness. He had been surprised to learn that he was chosen to take part in the mission, and expressed the fear that he lacked constitutional courage. The members of the mission were instructed to avoid the company of boys and women and to avoid giving the impression of being legacy hunters. Before embarking, the members of the mission were embarrassed to receive news of a landing by papal-sponsored forces in the Irish province of Munster in support of the Irish rebel James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald. They also learned that a letter detailing their party and mission had been intercepted and that they were expected in England.

Campion finally entered England in the guise of a jewel merchant, arriving in London on 24 June 1580, and at once began to preach. His presence soon became known to the authorities and to his co-religionists lying in London's prisons. Among the latter was Thomas Pounde in the Marshalsea, where a meeting was held to discuss means of counteracting rumours circulated by the Privy Council to the effect that Campion's mission was political and treasonous. Pounde rode in haste after Campion and explained the need for Campion to write a brief declaration of the true causes of his coming. The diffusion of this declaration, known as the Challenge to the Privy Council, or, Campion's Brag, made his position more difficult. He led a hunted life, administering the sacraments and preaching to Catholics in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, and Lancashire.

During this time he wrote his Decem Rationes ("Ten Reasons"), arguments against the validity of the Anglican Church. This pamphlet, in Latin, was printed in a clandestine press at Stonor Park, Henley, and 400 copies were found on the benches of St Mary's, Oxford, at the Commencement, on 27 June 1581. It caused great sensation, and the hunt for Campion was stepped up. On his way to Norfolk, he stopped at Lyford Grange, the house of a certain Francis Yate, then in Berkshire, where he preached on 14 July and the following day, by popular request. Here, he was captured by a spy named George Eliot and taken to London with his arms pinioned and bearing on his hat a paper with the inscription "Campion, the Seditious Jesuit".

Imprisoned for four days in the Tower of London in a tiny cell called "Little-ease", Campion was then taken out and questioned by three Privy Councillors—Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas Bromley, Vice-Chamberlain of the Royal Household Sir Christopher Hatton and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester—on matters including whether he acknowledged Queen Elizabeth to be the true Queen of England. He replied that he did, and was offered his freedom, wealth and honours, including a possibility of the Archbishopric of Canterbury, which he could not accept in good conscience.

Campion was imprisoned in the Tower more than four months and tortured on the rack two or three times. False reports of a retraction and of a confession by Campion were circulated. He had four public disputations with his Anglican adversaries, on 1, 18, 23 and 27 September 1581, at which they attempted to address the challenges of Campion's Brag and Decem Rationes. Although still suffering from the effects of his torture, and allowed neither time nor books for preparation, he reportedly conducted himself so easily and readily that "even the spectators in the court looked for an acquittal".

He was arraigned and indicted on 14 November 1581 with several others at Westminster on a charge of having conspired, in Rome and Reims, to raise a sedition in the realm and dethrone the Queen.

The trial was held on 20 November 1581. After hearing the pleadings for three hours, the jury deliberated an hour before delivering its verdict: Campion and his fellow defendants were found guilty of treason. He answered the verdict: "In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors, all our ancient bishops and kings, all that was once the glory of England — the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter."

Lord Chief Justice Wray read the sentence: "You must go to the place from whence you came, there to remain until ye shall be drawn through the open city of London upon hurdles to the place of execution, and there be hanged and let down alive, and your privy parts cut off, and your entrails taken out and burnt in your sight; then your heads to be cut off and your bodies divided into four parts, to be disposed of at Her Majesty’s pleasure. And God have mercy on your souls. ."

On hearing the death sentence, Campion and the other condemned men broke into the words of the Te Deum. After spending his last days in prayer he was dragged with two fellow priests, Fathers Ralph Sherwin and Alexander Briant, to Tyburn where the three were hanged, drawn and quartered on 1 December 1581. Campion was 41 years of age.

Edmund Campion was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on 9 December 1886. Blessed Edmund Campion was canonised nearly eighty-four years later in 1970 by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales with a common feast day of 4 May. His feast day is celebrated on 1 December, the day of his martyrdom.

The actual ropes used in his execution are now kept in glass display tubes at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire; each year they are placed on the altar of St Peter's Church for Mass to celebrate Campion's feast day—which is always a holiday for the school.

Schools named for Campion
St Edmund's Catholic Academy, Wolverhampton, England
St Edmund Campion RC Primary School, West Bridgford, Nottingham, England
Campion Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, India
Campion College, Gisborne, New Zealand
Campion School, Hornchurch, England
Campion School, Mumbai, India
Campion School Bhopal, India
St Edmund Campion Catholic School, Erdington, Birmingham England
St. Edmund Campion Secondary School, Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Campion Hall, Oxford
Campion College, Jamaica
Campion College, Australia
Campion School, Kochi, India
Campion College, Regina, Canada
Campion School, Athens, Greece

Monday, April 20, 2015

John de Brito

Saint John de Brito (Portuguese: João de Brito; also spelled Britto), also known as Arulanandar, (born in Lisbon, Portugal, on March 1, 1647 – died at Oriyur, Tamil Nadu, India, on February 11, 1693) was a Portuguese Jesuit missionary and martyr, often called "the Portuguese St. Francis Xavier" by Indian Catholics.


John de Brito was the scion of a powerful aristocratic Portuguese family; his father, Salvador de Brito Pereira, died while serving as Viceroy of the Portuguese colony of Brazil. He joined the Jesuits in 1662, studying at the famous University of Coimbra. He traveled to the missions of Madurai, in Southern India, present-day Tamil Nadu, in 1673 and preached the Christian religion in the region of the Maravar country. He renamed himself Arul Anandar (அருளானந்தர்) in Tamil. The ruler of the Maravar country imprisoned him in 1684. Having been expelled, he returned to Lisbon in 1687 and worked as a missions procurator. King Pedro II wanted him to stay, but in 1690 he returned to the Maravar country with 24 new missionaries.

The Madurai Mission was a bold attempt to establish an Indian Catholic Church that was relatively free of European cultural domination. As such, Brito learned the native languages, went about dressed in yellow cotton, and lived like a தமிழ் Thuravi/Sanyaasi, abstaining from every kind of animal food and from wine. St. John de Brito tried to teach the Catholic faith in categories and concepts that would make sense to the people he taught. This method, proposed and practiced by Roberto de Nobili, met with remarkable success. Britto remained a strict vegan until the end of his life, rejecting meat, fish, eggs and alcohol, and living only on legumes, fruits and herbs.


John de Brito's preaching led to the conversion of Thadiyathevan (தடியத் தேவன்), a Marava prince who had several wives. When Thadiyathevan was required to dismiss all his wives but one, a serious problem arose. One of the wives was a niece of the neighboring king, the Sethupathi (சேதுபதி) who took up her quarrel and began a general persecution of Christians. De Brito and the catechists were taken and carried to the capital, Ramnad, the Brahmins clamouring for his death . Thence he was led to Oriyur (ஓரியூர்), some thirty miles northward along the coast, where he was executed on 4 February 1693.

Brito was beatified by Pope Pius IX on August 21, 1853. He was canonized by Pope Pius XII on June 22, 1947. St. John de Brito's feast day is February 4.


During his pastoral visit to India in 1986, Pope John Paul II honoured John de Brito at a solemn Mass he celebrated on 4 February, the saint's feast day:

Saint John de Britto, whom we are remembering in today’s liturgical celebration, was born in Lisbon in 1647. After entering the Society of Jesus he followed the footsteps of Saint Francis Xavier to India where he chose to work for the humble and needy in what was then called the Madurai Mission. His patient labours, selfless zeal and genuine love for the poor won for him their confidence. Like Jesus he was "a sign of contradiction" and his success created jealousy and opposition. As a result, John de Britto died a martyr on 11 February 1693, bearing witness to Christ."

His name was given to Jesuit-run Colégio de São João de Brito, one of the most famous Portuguese schools


There is a shrine to Brito in Oriyur, where he is a significant figure revered by the Kallar, Maravar and AgaMudayar castes who together are often referred to as the Theavers.

There is only one Church In Coimbatore, dedicated to St.John De Britto located at R.S.Puram and is one of the largest parishes in the diocese of Coimbatore.

One of the four houses in the Jesuit school, St. Xavier's, Calcutta, is named after John de Brito. In the Campion School of Mumbai, there is a house named after Brito (Britto House). The other two houses are named for St. Francis Xavier (Xavier House) and St. Ignatius Loyola (Loyola House).

One of the three houses in the Infant Jesus Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School Tangasseri, Kollam is named after John de Brito (Brittos). The other two houses are named for St. Don Bosco (Boscos) and St. John Berchmans (Berchmans).

St Britto High School in Goa is named after Brito as he lived there for seven months to complete his theological studies at St Paul's College in Old Goa. The school is administered by the Jesuits. There is an Anglo-Indian Boys High School in the Diocese of Cochin, in the old Portuguese city of Fort Cochin, named after St John de Britto, nearby the Bishop's House, in Cochin.

Brito is the patron Saint (referred as Pathukavul) of Sakthikulangara Parish in Kollam Diocese, Kerala. Every year, Brito's feast day is celebrated in Sakthikulanagara with a big procession (prathikshanam). The St John De Britto Anglo-Indian High School is named after him. One of the jesuit colleges established in Tamil Nadu is named after St. Britto as Arul Anandar College (Arts & Science) which is in Karumathur, Madurai. The college was established by the Jesuits to promote college education in the rural parts of Madurai.

In the Philippines, Brito is honoured with several class sections named after him in the Jesuit-run schools:

Section 8-De Brito in Ateneo de Manila Grade School
Four high school class sections in Ateneo de Davao University (1-De Brito; 2-De Brito; 3-De Brito; 4-De Brito)
A Grade 9 level (formerly third-year high school) class section in Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan
In Yogyakarta, Indonesia, a Jesuit school for boys was named after him, SMA Kolese De Britto

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Alexander Briant

Saint Alexander Briant (17 August 1556 – 1 December 1581) was an English Jesuit and martyr, executed at Tyburn.

He was born in Somerset, and entered Hart Hall, Oxford (now Hertford College), at an early age. While there, he became a pupil of Father Robert Parsons and he completed his studies with him at Balliol College, which, along with his association with Richard Holtby, led to his conversion. After leaving university, he entered the English College at Reims then went to the English College, Douai, and was ordained priest on 29 March 1578. Assigned to the English mission in August of the following year he labored with zeal in his own county of Somerset.

A party of the persecution, searching for Father Parsons, placed Alexander Briant under arrest on 28 April 1581, in the hope of extorting information. After fruitless attempts to this end at Counter Prison, London, he was taken to the Tower where he was subjected to torture. With six other priests he was arraigned on 16 November 1581, in Queen's Bench, Westminster, on the charge of high treason, and condemned to death. In his letter to the Jesuit Fathers he says that he felt no pain during the various tortures he underwent, and adds: "Whether this that I say be miraculous or no, God knoweth." He was twenty-five years old when he was executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered on 1 December 1581; Edmund Campion and Ralph Sherwin were also executed with him.

Alexander Briant was declared venerable on 8 December 1921 by Pope Pius XI and beatified one week later on 15 December. Blessed Alexander Briant was canonized nearly forty-nine years later in 1970 by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales with a common feast day of 25 October. His feast day is celebrated on 1 December, the day of his martyrdom.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jean de Brébeuf

Saint Jean de Brébeuf  ( Brebeuf ) (March 25, 1593 – March 16, 1649) was a French Jesuit missionary who travelled to New France (Canada) in 1625. There he worked primarily with the Huron for the rest of his life, except for a few years in France from 1629 to 1633. He learned their language and culture.

In 1649 Brébeuf and several other missionaries were captured when an Iroquois raid took over a Huron village. Together with Huron captives, the missionaries were ritually tortured and eight were killed, martyred on March 16, 1649. Brébeuf was beatified in 1925 and canonized as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church in 1930.


Brébeuf was born 25 March 1593 in Condé-sur-Vire, Normandy, France. (He was the uncle of poet Georges de Brébeuf). He joined the Society of Jesus in 1617 at the age of 24, spending the next two years under the direction of Lancelot Marin. Between 1619 and 1621, he was a teacher at the college of Rouen. Brébeuf was nearly expelled from the Society when he contracted tuberculosis in 1620—a severe and usually fatal illness that prevented his studying and teaching for the traditional periods.

His record as a student was not particularly distinguished, but Brébeuf was already beginning to show an aptitude for languages. Later in New France, he would teach Native American languages to missionaries and French traders. Brébeuf was ordained as a priest at Pontoise in February 1622.


After three years as Steward at the College of Rouen, Brebeuf was chosen by the Provincial of France, Father Pierre Coton, to embark on the missions to New France.

In June 1625 Brébeuf arrived in Quebec with Fathers Charles Lalemant and Énemond Massé, together with the lay brothers Francois Charton and Gilbert Burel. For about five months Brébeuf lived with a tribe of Montagnais, who spoke an Algonquian language. He was later assigned in 1626 to the Huron with Father Anne Nouée. From then on Brébeuf worked mostly as a missionary to the Huron, who spoke an Iroquoian language. Brébeuf briefly took up residence with the Bear Tribe at Toanché. Brébeuf met with no success in trying to convert them to Catholicism. He was summoned to Quebec because of the danger to which the entire colony was then exposed by the English. He reached Quebec on 17 July 1628 after an absence of two years. On 19 July 1629, Champlain surrendered, and the missionaries returned to France.

In Rouen, Brébeuf served as a preacher and confessor, taking his final Jesuit vows in 1630. Between 1631 and 1633, Brébeuf worked at the College of Eu in northern France as a steward, minister and confessor. He returned to New France in 1633, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life.

Along with Antoine Daniel and Ambroise Davost, Brébeuf chose Ihonatiria (Saint-Joseph I) as the centre for missionary activity with the Huron. At the time, the Huron suffered epidemics of new Eurasian diseases contracted from the Europeans. Their death rates were high, as they had no immunity to the diseases long endemic in Europe. They blamed the Europeans for the deaths, with none of the parties understanding the causes.

Called ‘Echon’ by the Hurons, Brébeuf was personally involved with teaching. His lengthy conversations with Huron friends left him with a good knowledge of their culture and spirituality. He learned their language and taught it to other missionaries and colonists. Fellow Jesuits such as Rageuneau describe his ease and adaptability to the Huron way of life.

His efforts to develop a complete ethnographic record of the Huron has been described as ‘the longest and most ambitious piece of ethnographic description in all the Jesuit Relations. Brébeuf tried to find parallels between the Huron religion and Christianity, to facilitate conversion of the Huron to the European religion. Brébeuf was known by the Huron for his apparent shamanistic skills, especially in rainmaking. The priest had an ambivalent relationship with the Natives. Despite his efforts to learn their ways, he considered Huron spiritual beliefs to be undeveloped and ‘foolish delusions,’ and was determined to convert them to Christianity. Brébeuf did not enjoy universal popularity with the Huron, as many believed he was a sorcerer. By 1640, smallpox had killed as many as half the Huron. The disease devastated Huron society, killing children and elders. With their loved ones dying before their eyes, many Huron began to listen to the words of Jesuit missionaries who, unaffected by the disease, appeared to be men of great power.

Brébeuf's progress as a missionary in achieving conversions was slow. Not until 1635 did some Huron agree to be baptized as Christians. He claimed to have made 14 converts as of 1635, and by the next year, he claimed 86. Among his important descriptions of Huron ceremonies was his detailed account in 1636 of The Huron Feast of the Dead, a mass reburial of remains of loved ones after a community moved the location of its village. It was accompanied by elaborate ritual and gift-giving. In the 1940s, an archeological excavation was made at the site Brébeuf had described, confirming many of his observations.

In 1638, Brébeuf turned over direction of the mission at Saint-Joseph I to Jerome Lalemant; he was called to become Superior at his newly founded Saint-Joseph II. In 1640, after an unsuccessful mission into Neutral Nation territory, Brébeuf broke his collarbone. He was sent to Quebec to recover, and worked there as a mission procurator. He taught the Huron, acting as confessor and advisor to the Ursulines and religious Hospitallers. On Sundays and feast days, he preached to French colonists.

The educational rigor of the Jesuit seminaries prepared missionaries to acquire native languages. But, as they had learned the classical and romance languages, they must have had difficulty with the very different conventions of the New World indigenous languages.  Brébeuf's study of the languages was also shaped by his religious training. Current Catholic theology tried to reconcile knowledge of world languages with accounts in the Bible of the tower of Babel, as this was the basis of European history. This influence can be seen in his discussion of language in his accounts collected in the Jesuit Relations.

Jean de Brébeuf had a remarkable facility with language, which was one of the reasons he was chosen for the Huron mission in 1626. Brébeuf is distinguished for his commitment to learning the Huron language. Linguistic data suggests that people with a strong positive attitude towards the language community often learn the language much more easily.

Brébeuf was widely acknowledged to have best mastered the Native oratory style, which used metaphor, circumlocution and repetition. Learning the language was still onerous, and he wrote to warn other missionaries of the difficulties.

To explain the low number of converts to possibly disappointed readers in France, Brébeuf suggested this was due to the missionaries first having to master the Huron language. His commitment to this work demonstrates he understood that mutual intelligibility was vital for communicating complex and abstract religious ideas; he believed it imperative for the future of the Jesuit missions. Also, it was so difficult a task that it consumed most of the priest’s time. Brébeuf felt his primary goal in his early years in New France was to learn the language.

With increasing proficiency in Wyandot, Brébeuf became optimistic about communicating with the Huron and advancing his missionary goals. With a greater capacity to understand Huron religious belief and to communicate Christian fundamentals, he could secure converts to Christianity, although he realized the people would not give up all their traditional beliefs.

Brébeuf worked tirelessly as well to record his findings for the benefit of other missionaries. He built on the work of Recollet Priests, but significantly advanced the study, particularly in his representations of sounds. He discovered and reported the feature of compound words in Huron, which may have been his major linguistic contribution. This breakthrough had enormous consequences for further study, becoming the foundation for all subsequent Jesuit linguistic work.

He translated Ledesma's catechism from French to Huron, and arranged to have it printed, as the first printed text in that language (with French orthography). He also compiled a dictionary of Huron words, emphasizing translation of religious phrases, such as from prayers and the Bible.

Brébeuf is credited with composing the "Huron Carol", Canada's oldest Christmas song, written around 1642. Brébeuf wrote the lyrics in the native language of the Huron/Wendat people. The song's melody is based on a traditional French folk song, "Une Jeune Pucelle" ("A Young Maid").


Brébeuf was killed at St. Ignace in Huronia on March 16, 1649. He had been taken captive with Gabriel Lalemant when the Iroquois destroyed the Huron mission village at Sainte-Louis. The Iroquois took the priests to the occupied village of Taenhatenteron, where they subjected the French men to ritual torture. The Iroquois finally killed them. Five Jesuits: Antoine Daniel, Lalement, Charles Garnier, Noel Charbanel, and Brébeuf, were killed in this conflict. The Jesuits considered the priests' martyrdom as proof that the mission was blessed by God and would be successful.

Throughout the torture, Brébeuf was reported to have been more concerned for the fate of the others and of the captive Native converts than for himself. As part of the ritual, the Iroquois drank his blood, as they wanted to absorb Brébeuf’s courage in enduring the pain. The Iroquois mocked baptism by pouring boiling water over his head.

The Jesuits Christophe Regnault and Paul Ragueneau provided the two accounts of the deaths of Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalement. According to Regnault, the Jesuits learned of the tortures and deaths from Huron refugee witnesses, who had escaped from Saint-Marie. Regnault went to see the bodies to verify the accounts, and his superior Rageuneau's account was based on his report. The main accounts of Brébeuf’s death come from the Jesuit Relations. Jesuit accounts of his torture emphasize his stoic nature and acceptance, claiming that he suffered silently without complaining.

Potential martyrdom was a central component of the Jesuit missionary identity. Missionaries going to Canada knew they were at risk from harsh conditions, as well as from confronting alien cultures. They expected to die in the name of God; they believed the missionary life and its risks was a chance to save converts and be saved. Martyrdom was associated with holiness. Both were associated with the expansion of Christendom throughout the world. "What might otherwise have looked like a career of failure and futility could, after a martyr's death, be seen as a program devised by God to temper the faith and and test the resolve of his chosen one." The Jesuit missionaries were perfectly prepared by their training and ethos to meet and endure the Iroquois rituals of torture, which were part of their warfare and cosmology; in this sense, the cultures recognized and respected each other. A Jesuit's life could be perfected by the nature of his death and afterlife, which could reveal a higher purpose.

Father Brébeuf and Lalement were buried together in a Sainte Marie cemetery after their deaths. However, Brébeuf's relics became important objects within Catholic New France. Historian Allan Greer notes that "his death seemed to fit the profile of a perfect martyr's end" and were preceded by what were considered religious signs pointing to correspondences with the Passion of Christ, which added to the significance of Brébeuf. On 21 March 1649, Jesuit inspectors found the bodies of Brébeuf and Lalement. Their exhumation coincided with the 1649 withdrawal of the Jesuits from New France, and Christophe Regnault prepared the remains of Brébeuf for transportation to Québec for safekeeping. Regnault boiled away any remaining flesh, scraped the bones and dried them in an oven, wrapped each relic in separate silk, deposited them in two small chests, and sent them to Québec.

Brébeuf's family later donated his skull in a silver reliquary to the Catholic church orders in Quebec. It was held by the nuns of the Québec Hôtel-Dieu and the Ursuline convent from 1650 until 1925, when the relics were moved to the Québec Seminary for a ceremony to celebrate Brébeuf's beatification. According to Catholic belief, these relics provide physical access to the influence of the saint of whom they are a part.

In 1652 Paul Raguenau went through the Relations and pulled out material relating to the martyrs of New France. He formalized this material in a document, to be used as the foundation of canonization proceedings, entitled Memoires touchant la mort et les vertus (des Pères Jesuits), or the Manuscript of 1652. The religious communities in New France considered the Jesuit martyrs as imitators of previous saints in the Catholic Church. In this sense, Brébeuf in particular, and others like him, reinforced the notion that "...Canada was a land of saints".

Catherine de Saint-Augustine said that Brébeuf appeared to her in a vision at the Québec Hôtel-Dieu while she was in a state of "mystical ecstasy," and he acted as her spiritual advisor. According to one account, Catherine de Saint-Augustine ground up part of Brébeuf's relic bone and gave it in a drink to a heretical and mortally ill man. It is said that the man was cured of his disease. In another instance, in 1660–61, a possessed woman was exorcised by the aid of one of Brébeuf's ribs, again while under the care of Catherine de Saint-Augustine. The exact circumstances of this event are disputed. Brébeuf's relics were also used by nuns who were treating wounded Huguenot (Protestant) soldiers, and they "reported that his assistance [bone slivers put in soldiers' drinks] helped rescue these patients from heresy".

Jean de Brébeuf was canonized by Pope Pius XI on 29 June 1930, and proclaimed one of the patron saints of Canada by Pope Pius XII on 16 October 1940. A contemporary newspaper account of the canonization declares: “Brébeuf, the ‘Ajax of the mission’ stands out among them [others made saints with him] because of his giant frame, a man of noble birth, of vigorous passions tamed by religion,” describing both the man and his defining drive according to formal terms of hagiography.(New York Times, 19 June 1930)

It is said that the modern name of the Native North American sport of lacrosse was first coined by Brébeuf who thought that the sticks used in the game reminded him of a bishop's crosier (crosse in French, and with the feminine definite article, la crosse).

He is buried in the Church of St. Joseph at the reconstructed Jesuit mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons across Highway 12 from the Martyrs' Shrine Catholic Church near Midland, Ontario. A plaque near the grave of Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant was unearthed during excavations at Ste Marie in 1954. The letters read "P. Jean de Brébeuf /brusle par les Iroquois /le 17 de mars l'an/1649" (Father Jean de Brébeuf, burned by the Iroquois, 17 March 1649.

In September, 1984, Pope John Paul II prayed over Brébeuf's skull before saying an outdoor Mass on the grounds of the Martyrs' Shrine. Thousands of people came to hear him speak from a platform built especially for the day.

Many Jesuit schools are named after him, such as Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal, Brébeuf College School in Toronto and Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, Indiana.

St. John Brebeuf Regional Secondary School in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada and St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada are also named in his honour.

There is a high school St-Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. There is also Eglise St-Jean de Brebeuf in Sudbury, Ontario. There is also an elementary school in Brampton, Ontario, Canada named after him; called St. Jean Brebeuf Roman Catholic Elementary School as well as one in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada called St. John Brebeuf Catholic School which is part of the St. John Brebeuf Catholic Parish. Also one French elementary school in Gatineau, Quebec, called École Jean-de-Brébeuf. Also included is St. Jean Brebeuf Junior High School, located in Calgary, Alberta.

There is also a unit at Camp Ondessonk in the Shawnee National Forest named after Jean de Brébeuf. The Catholic camp is named for all of the North American Martyrs and those who helped them.

The parish municipality of Brébeuf, Quebec is named after him, as is rue de Brébeuf on the Plateau Mont-Royal in Montreal.

The Orenda, a 2013 novel by Joseph Boyden, is said to be based on the life of Jean de Brebeuf. The novel won the 2014 Canada Reads competition.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Francis Borgia, 4th Duke of Gandía

Saint Francis Borgia, S.J., 4th Duke of Gandía (Valencian: Francesc de Borja, Spanish: Francisco de Borja) (28 October 1510 – 30 September 1572) was a Grandee of Spain, a Spanish Jesuit, and third Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He was canonized on 20 June 1670 by Pope Clement X.

He was born Francesco Borgia de Candia d'Aragon in the Duchy of Gandía, Valencia on 28 October 1510. His father was Juan Borgia, 3rd Duke of Gandía, the son of Giovanni Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia). His mother was Juana, daughter of Alonso de Aragón, Archbishop of Zaragoza, who, in turn, was the illegitimate son of King Ferdinand II of Aragon. His brother, Tomás de Borja y Castro, also became a clergyman, becoming the Bishop of Málaga, and later the Archbishop of Zaragoza.

Although as a child he was very pious and wished to become a monk, his family sent him instead to the court of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (who was also King Charles I of Spain), where he was welcomed as a kinsman. He distinguished himself there, accompanying the Emperor on several campaigns.

In September 1529, he married a Portuguese noblewoman in Madrid, Leonor de Castro Mello y Meneses. They had eight children: Carlos in 1530, Isabel in 1532, Juan in 1533, Álvaro circa 1535, Juana also circa 1535, Fernando in 1537, Dorotea in 1538, and Alfonso in 1539. Charles V appointed him Marquess of Lombay, master of the hounds, and equerry to the empress.

In 1539, he convoyed the corpse of Isabella of Portugal, Philip II of Spain's mother, to her burial place in Granada. In that same year (1539), he became Viceroy of Catalonia, replacing Fadrique de Portugal y Noroña, though he was only 29.

He delighted above all in ecclesiastical compositions, and these display a remarkable contrapuntal style and bear witness to the skill of the composer, justifying indeed the assertion that, in the sixteenth century and prior to Palestrina, Borgia was one of the chief restorers of sacred music.

In 1543 upon the death of his father, the 3rd Duke, Francis became the 4th Duke of Gandía. Francis’ diplomatic abilities came into question when his attempt to arrange a marriage between Prince Philip and the Princess of Portugal failed, thus ending an attempt to bring these two countries together and resulting in his retirement. By then 33 years old he had retired to his native place and devoted himself to religious activities.

In 1546 his wife Eleanor died, and Francis then decided to enter the newly formed Society of Jesus, after making adequate provisions for his children. He put his affairs in order circa 1551, renounced his titles in favour of his eldest son Luis de Borja-Aragon y de Castro-Melo, and became a Jesuit priest. He helped in the establishment of what is now the Gregorian University in Rome. Upon Francis’ return from a journey to Peru, Pope Julius III made known his intention to make him a cardinal. To prevent this, Borgia decided, in agreement with St. Ignatius, to leave the city secretly and go to the Basque Country, where it was thought he would be safe from the papal desires. He felt drawn to spend time in seclusion and prayer, but his administrative talents also made him a natural for other tasks. In time, however, his friends persuaded him to accept the leadership role that nature and circumstances had destined him for: in 1554, he became the Jesuit commissary-general in Spain, where he founded a dozen colleges. After only two years, St. Francis was also given responsibility for missions in the East and West Indies. In 1565, he was elected the third "Father General" or Superior General of the Society of Jesus, after the death in January 1565 of Diego Laynez, (Almazán, Spain, 1512 - January 1565).

His successes during the period 1565-1572 have caused historians to describe Francis as the greatest General after Saint Ignatius. He founded the Collegium Romanum, which was to become the Gregorian University, advised kings and popes, and closely supervised all the affairs of the rapidly expanding order. Yet, despite the great power of his office, Francis led a humble life, and was widely regarded in his own lifetime as a saint.

Francis Borgia died on 30 September 1572, in Rome. He was beatified in Madrid on 23 November 1624, by Pope Gregory XV. He was canonized nearly 35 years later on 20 June 1670, by Pope Clement X. His liturgical feast was inserted into the General Roman Calendar in 1688 for celebration on 3 October, the date then free from other celebrations that was closest to that of his death. Owing to the limited importance of his feast worldwide, his commemoration was removed in 1969 from the General Roman Calendar, but kept in the Roman Martyrology for celebration on his dies natalis (his birth into Heaven), 30 September.

Parishes are dedicated to St. Francis Borgia in Chicago, Illinois, Sturgis, Kentucky, Washington, Missouri, Nebraska, and Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Also the village of Isio in the town of Cauayan, Negros Occidental, Philippines. The jesuit-founded city of São Borja, in southern Brazil, is named after him.

Saint Francis Borgia Regional High School is located in Washington, Missouri.

Descendants
Juan de Borja y Castro
Tomás de Borja y Castro
Gaspar de Borja y Velasco
As the great-great grandfather of Doña Luisa de Guzman, queen consort of King John IV of Portugal, he is an ancestor of many of the royal houses of Europe.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Andrew Bobola

Andrew Bobola, S.J. (Polish: Andrzej Bobola, 1591 – 16 May 1657) was a Polish missionary and martyr of the Society of Jesus, known as the Apostle of Lithuania and the "hunter of souls"

Bobola was born in 1591 into a noble family in the Sandomir Palatinate in the Province of Lesser Poland of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, then a constituent part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1611 he entered the Society of Jesus in Vilnius, then in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the other part of the Commonwealth. He subsequently professed solemn vows and was ordained in 1622, after which he served for several years as an advisor, preacher, Superior of a Jesuit residence, etc., in various places.

From 1652 Bobola also worked as a country "missionary", in various locations of Lithuania: these included Polotsk, where he was probably stationed in 1655, and also Pinsk, (both now in Belarus). On 16 May 1657, during the Khmelnytsky Uprising, he was captured in the village of Janów (now Ivanava, Belarus) by the Cossacks of Bohdan Chmielnicki and, after being subjected to a variety of tortures, killed.

One description of Bobola's death written in 1865 states:

In the same year, the Cossacks surprised a holy Polish Jesuit, in the town of Pinsk, and conferred on him the palm of martyrdom, on the 16th of May, 1657. Father Andrew Bobola, whose untiring zeal had rendered him obnoxious to the schismatics, had just offered up the holy sacrifice, when a horde of Cossacks attacked the town. On beholding the barbarians, Father Bobola fell upon his knees, raised his eyes and his hands toward heaven, and, having a presentiment that his hour had arrived, exclaimed, "Lord, thy will be done!" At that moment, the Cossacks rushed upon him, stripped him of his holy habit, tied him to a tree, placed a crown upon his head, as did the Jews upon the head of our adorable Saviour, after which they scourged him, tore out one of his eyes, burned his body with torches, and one of the ruffians traced, with his poignard, the form of a tonsure on the head of the venerable Father, and on his back the figure of a chasuble! To do this, the executioner had to strip off the skin of the holy martyr! But this was not yet all. The fingers of the apostle had received the priestly unction. The executioner tore from them the skin, and forced needles under his nails! And during this indescribable torture, the hero prayed for his tormentors; he preached, both by word and example, until the schismatics tore out his tongue and crushed his head. Father Andrew Bobola, whom the Church declared Blessed, the 30th of October, 1853, was sixty-five years of age.


Bobola's body was originally buried in the Jesuit church in Pinsk. It was later moved to their church in Polotsk. By the beginning of the 18th century, however, nobody knew where Bobola's body was buried. In 1701 Father Martin Godebski, S.J., the Rector of the Pinsk College, reputedly had a vision of Bobola. This caused him to order a search for the body. It was reportedly found completely incorrupt, which was recognized by the Church and its supporters as proof of holiness. In 1719 the casket was officially reopened and the body inspected by qualified medical personnel (five physicians and pharmacists). It was reportedly still completely incorrupt: pliable and with soft flesh.


In 1922, the Bolsheviks moved the corpse, later described by an American journalist as a "remarkably well-preserved mummy", to the Museum of Hygiene of People's Commissioners of Health in Moscow. The whereabouts of the remains was not known to the Catholic authorities, and Pope Pius XI charged the Papal Famine Relief Mission in Russia, headed by American Jesuit Father Edmund A. Walsh, with the task of locating and "rescuing" them. In October 1923—as a kind of "pay" for help during famine—the remains were released to Walsh and his Assistant Director, Father Louis J. Gallagher, S.J. Well packed by the two Jesuits, they were delivered to the Holy See by Gallagher on All Saints' Day (1 November) 1923. In May 1924, the relics were installed in Rome's Church of the Gesù, the main church of the Society of Jesus.

Since 17 June 1938 the body has been venerated at a shrine in Warsaw, with an arm remaining at the original shrine in Rome.

Declared Blessed by Pope Pius IX on 30 October 1853, Bobola was canonized by Pope Pius XI on 17 April 1938. His feast day was originally celebrated by the Jesuits on 23 May, but it is now generally celebrated on 16 May. On his feast day in 2002, Pope John Paul II declared Bobola a patron saint of Poland and of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Warsaw.

Today some join Bobola with St. Peter the Aleut, an alleged martyr for the Orthodox faith at the hands of Roman Catholics, in a special devotion for the reunion of the two branches of Christianity. However, the historicity of the martyrdom of Peter the Aleut is not clearly established.

It is assumed that a part of the Bobola family exists to this day under the name of Bobola; they currently live mainly in Warsaw (about 30 persons), with the exception of one branch which currently resides in Paxton, Massachusetts. This is a part which, precisely, seems to have been rooted in Pinsk for some time. In the 17th century, a nobleman from Pinsk signing himself as Bobola used the Leliwa coat of arms, the same as that of Saint Andrew Bobola. Nevertheless, most of them still bear the name of Bobola and are spread all over Poland (more than 200 persons. the family now named Bobolia lives in California.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Jacques Berthieu

Saint Father Jacques Berthieu (born November 27, 1838, at Polminhac, Cantal, France; died June 8, 1896, at Ambiatibe, Madagascar), was a French Jesuit saint, priest and missionary in Madagascar. He died for the Christian faith during the Menalamba rebellion of 1896. He was 57 years old. He is the first martyr of Madagascar to be beatified (made a blessed). He was canonized a saint at the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI, along with some others, at papal canonization Mass on October 21, 2012, in the middle of a meeting of the Catholic Synod of Bishops.

Jacques Berthieu was born on November 27, 1838, in the area of Montlogis, in Polminhac, in the Auvergne in central France, the son of deeply Christian farmers of modest means. His childhood was spent working and studying, surrounded by his family. The early death of an older sister made him the oldest of six children. He studied at the seminary of Saint-Flour and was ordained to the priesthood for this diocese on May 21, 1864. His bishop, Monseigneur de Pompignac, named him vicar in Roannes-Saint Mary, where he replaced an ill and aged priest. He served as a diocesan priest for nine years.

Because of his desire to evangelize distant lands, and to ground his spiritual life in the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, he sought admission to the Society of Jesus and entered the novitiate in Pau on October 31, 1873 at the age of thirty-five.

He sailed from the port of Marseille in 1875 to two islands in the vicinity of Madagascar that were then under French jurisdiction, Réunion and Sainte-Marie, where he studied Malagasy and prepared himself for the mission. The beginnings of his missionary life were not easy for this 37-year-old Jesuit. Climate, language, culture were all totally new things which made him exclaim, "My uselessness and my spiritual misery serve to humiliate me, but not to discourage me. I await the hour when I can do something, with the grace of God".  Mindful of his farming background, he was happy to cultivate the kitchen garden that supplied the station. He and two other Jesuits and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny formed a missionary team. There he was engaged in pastoral work for five years, until March 1880.

In 1881, French legislation closed French territories to Jesuits, a measure which compelled Jacques Berthieu to relocate to the large island of Madagascar, an independent kingdom at that time. Jacques Berthieu went first to Tamatova and then to Tananarive until his superiors sent him to the far-off mission of Ambohimandroso, near Betsileo.

The outbreak of the first French-Malagasy war in 1883 forced him to depart. From 1886 on, he supervised the mission of Ambositra, 250 km south of Antananarivo. After a stay in Ambositra of five years, he went to Andrainarivo in 1891. This post was northeast of the capital and had 18 mission-stations to look after, situated in the most remote and inaccessible places.

France captured the royal palaces in September 1894 and declared Madagascar its possession, sparking the Menalamba (“red shawl”) revolt against European influence. Europeans and Malagasy Christians were targeted by organized and armed Hova units. Jacques Berthieu sought to place the Christians under the protection of French troops. Deprived of this protection by a French colonel whom Berthieu had chastised for his behavior with the women of the country, Berthieu led a convoy of Christians towards Antananarivo and stopped in the village of Ambohibemasoandro. On 8 June 1896, Menalamba fighters entered the village and found Jacques Berthieu hiding in the house of a Protestant friend. They seized him and stripped him of his cassock. One of them snatched his crucifix from him, saying: “Is this your amulet? Is it thus that you mislead the people? Will you continue to pray for a long time?” He responded: “I have to pray until I die.” One of them then struck Berthieu’s forehead with a machete; Berthieu fell to his knees, bleeding profusely. The Menalamba then led him away for what would be a long trek.

After about a ten kilometer march, they reached the village of Ambohitra where the church Berthieu had built was located. Someone insisted that it would not be possible for Berthieu to enter the camp because he would desecrate the nearby sampy, the idols held sacred by traditional communities at that time. They threw a stone at him three times, and the third time Berthieu fell prostrate. Not far from the village, since Berthieu was sweating, a Menalamba took Berthieu’s handkerchief, soaked it in mud and dirty water, and tied it around Berthieu’s head, as they jeered at him, shouting: “Behold the king of the Vazaha (Europeans)”. Some then went on to emasculate him, which resulted in a fresh loss of blood that exhausted him.

As night drew near, in Ambiatibe, a village 50 kilometers north of Antananarivo, after some deliberation, a decision was made to kill Berthieu. The chief gathered a platoon of six men armed with guns. At the sight, Jacques Berthieu knelt down. Two men fired simultaneously at him, but missed. Berthieu made the sign of the cross and bowed his head. One of the chiefs approached him and said: “Give up your hateful religion, do not mislead the people anymore, and we will make you our counselor and our chief, and we will spare you.” He replied: “I cannot consent to this; I prefer to die.” Two men fired again. Berthieu bowed his head in prayer once more, and they missed him. Another fired a fifth shot, which hit Berthieu without killing him. He remained on his knees. A last shot, fired at close range, finally killed Jacques Berthieu. His body was dumped into the Mananara River and was never recovered.

The priest was declared venerable in 1964, and was beatified by Paul VI on October 17, 1965. He has been celebrated liturgically on June 8 by the French Province of the Society of Jesus, and February 4 by the rest of the society. Jacques Berthieu was canonized on October 21, 2012, Mission Sunday, by Pope Benedict XVI.

"God knows I love and if I still love and patriae fine dulcis Alverniae arva (the native soil and the beloved land of Auvergne). And yet God gives me the grace to love more these uncultivated fields of Madagascar, where I can only catch (and painfully well) to the line a few souls for our Lord." "The mission progresses, while the fruits are still in hope and in many places barely visible in others. But what does it matter, as long as we are good sowers, God will push his time "