English  ·  Français   ·   Italiano   ·   中文  

St. Josephina Bakhita – Model of True Emancipation

JosephineBahkita
Called the “Madre Moretta” (the Black Mother), Josephina Bakhita was a former slave who became a Canossian Sister (Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa) in Italy. She was born in the Sudan, in northeastern Africa, about 1870, and at the age of nine was stolen by slavers. The slave traders gave her the name Bakhita, meaning “the Lucky One.” She escaped from these slavers only to be caught by another, who took her as a gift to his daughter in El Obeid. There she was treated well until she broke a vase. Then she was sold to a Turkish officer who sold her again in the market in Khartoum. She was brought by the Italian vice-council, who returned to Italy, taking Josephine with him. There she was given to a Signora Michieli in Genoa. She was sent to a convent by her new owner, to be educated in the school operated by the Daughters of Charity of Canossa. Josephina became a Christian on January 9, 1890, and was baptized by the cardinal patriarch. She refused to leave the convent after discovering her religious vocation, despite the demands of Signora Michieli, who claimed ownership. The cardinal patriarch and the king’s procurator were called upon to mediate the matter, and they decided in favor of Josephina’s vocation. Josephina was welcomed into the Canossian convent, and she made her novitiate and took religious vows. Her holiness and devotion were demonstrated in her labors as a cook, gate keeper, and keeper of linens. It was obvious that God had brought Josephina out of Africa to glorify him among the Europeans. With this in mind, Josephina, the Madre Moretta, traveled throughout Italy to raise funds for the missions. She served as a Canossian for half a century, dying in Schio, Italy, on February 8, 1947, and was revered by the people of her adopted land. She has not been forgotten by the Sudanese either. Her portrait hangs in the cathedral at Khartoum.

Pope John Paul II beatified Josephina on May 17, 1992, in the presence of three hundred Canossian Sisters and pilgrims, many from the Sudan. The Holy Father declared:

In our time, in which the unbridled race for power, money, and pleasure is the cause of so much distrust, violence, and loneliness, Sister Bakhita has been given to us once more by the Lord as a universal sister, so that she can reveal to us the secret of true happiness: the Beatitudes….Here is a message of heroic goodness modeled on the goodness of the Heavenly Father.

During his homily at her canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II said that in St. Josephine Bakhita:

We find a shining advocate of genuine emancipation. The history of her life inspires not passive acceptance but the firm resolve to work effectively to free girls and women from oppression and violence, and to return them to their dignity in the full exercise of their rights.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.
Former National Director and C.E.O., World Youth Day 2002
C.E.O., Salt and Light Catholic Television Network, Canada

Connect5: Pierluigi Molla, on his mother, St. Gianna

molla-610x343

Pierluigi Molla, son of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, shares memories of his mother and the lessons Catholics can learn from her life.


How are you going to spend the next five minutes of your time?  You could browse social media or check your email, but how about meeting a fascinating person and learning something relevant that will broaden your perspective?  Sit down with host Sebastian Gomes and his various guests, and go straight to the heart of the matter.  It will be five minutes well spent…

Connect5 airs on our network every Friday at 8:25 pm ET, immediately following Vatican Connections. Catch a new episode of Connect5 online every Wednesday.

Behind Vatican Walls: Apple vs. Android?

5979571763_b076cb4368_o

This week the Pope’s message for the World Day for Social Communication was released with some fanfare at the Vatican. The real fanfare, however, was going on inside the Apostolic Palace. Pope Francis met with Apple CEO Tim Cook. The meeting comes one week after the pope met with Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The meetings have set off a storm of speculation: Is the Vatican hoping to work with the two tech giants in some capacity? If so, what is this project?

Both executives are also philanthropists: Schmidt and his wife founded the Schmidt Family Foundation to support initiatives focused on renewable energy, ecological agriculture and human rights. Meanwhile Cook quietly announced in 2015 that he plans to give away most of his fortune and has reportedly spoken about human rights, immigration reform and HIV transmission as issues he is passionate about.

Much ado was also made about the fact that Cook is openly gay, with some reporters saying it is the first official audience the pope has held with an openly gay person. Such statements ignore a big part of the Church’s message on sexuality issues: a person is not defined by that one trait. Almost certainly Cook’s sexuality had nothing to do with the whatever was discussed during his meeting with Pope Francis.

What is clear though is that something is brewing involving the digital world. Whatever it is should be very interesting.

* * * *

A more usual type of audience happened at the Apostolic Palace: Pope Francis met with Cardinal Angelo Amato of the Congregation for Saints Causes. As usual Cardinal Amato came with a list of potential saints whose heroic virtues, holy deaths, or miracles need to be recognized by the pope. Among the causes that moved forward as a result of this audience:

-Blessed José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero

 Brochero was a diocesan priest from Córdoba, Argentina who is often referred to as the “gaucho priest”. He founded a house for spiritual exercises and dedicated himself to being available to all the faithful wherever they lived and in whatever circumstances they lived. He got the nickname “gaucho priest” precisely because he would travel by mule, as far as needed, to minister to whomever needed him. Pope Francis recognized the miraculous healing of an eight year old girl who suffered a stroke and should have been left severely, permanently brain damaged.

– Blessed José Sanchez del Rio

The fourteen year old Mexican was put to death during the Cristero war after refusing to renounce his faith. A miracle attributed to his intercession was approved by the Congregation for Saints Causes and accepted by Pope Francis.

-Venerable Engelmar Unzeitig

The Czech born priest was a member of the Marianhill Missionary Society. Ordained in 1939 he was sent to Austria and assigned to a parish. In 1941 he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Dachau concentration camp. Unzeitig ultimately died in Dachau of Typhoid, which he contracted after volunteering to live in the Typhoid barrack so that he could minister to those in need. Pope Francis recognized his martyrdom.

-Takayama Ukon

Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of this Japanese Samurai who died in 1614. Takamaya refused to give up his faith, which led him to disobey his chief. His decision led to him being forced into exile. He led a group of 300 Catholics to the Philippines, but died shortly after settling in Manila as a result of the journey.

Watch this week’s episode of Vatican Connections below!

Photo/Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/incredibleguy/5979571763)


Alicia

Every week brings new, exciting, and sometimes juicy headlines from behind Vatican walls and every week Alicia delves deeper into one of those headlines. For a full run down of what’s been happening behind Vatican walls, watch Vatican Connections. Already watch the program? Come back every Friday for an in-depth look at an issue, headline or person. Season 4 of Vatican Connections airs every Friday at 8:00 pm ET.

Move WYD – City of Saints

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 7.01.21 PM

Check the new Move WYD (Mów ?DM) video with Fr. Jonathan Kalisch O.P. Fr. Jonathan talks about how he found his vocation in Kraków, memories from previous WYD, the Knights of Columbus and their mission during WYD, St. John Paul II and the people who were healed thanks to St. Faustina.

The interview was recorded during II International Preparatory Meeting in Wadowice in November 2015.

Behind Vatican Walls: Saint Mother Teresa

MamaTeePope

Call it an early Christmas Gift, call it a message about the kind of mercy Pope Francis wants us to show to the world. Whatever you want to call, the end result is the same: Mother Teresa is going to be canonized. A second miracle attributed to her intercession has been approved by Pope Francis.

The miracle involves the unexplainable healing of a then-35 year old man suffering from “multiple cerebral abscesses with hydrocephalus obstruction.”  He had undergone a kidney transplant and was on immune suppressors. He was in a coma with little hope for survival when his wife and family began praying to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

According to a report in the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, the man was scheduled to undergo surgery. There was a 30 minute delay in the surgery and when the surgeon finally arrived in the operating room the man was awake and asking what was going on. Upon examination the surgeon found no sign of any major health problem. His family was in the hospital chapel praying to Blessed Mother Teresa.

Vatican officials travelled to the diocese of Santos, Brazil where the man lives to study the case. It was forwarded to the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints Causes where a medical panel found there was no explanation for the man’s healing. A Theological panel also approved the miracle. Pope Francis accepted the congregation’s report on the miracle in a private audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the congregation, December 18.

No date was announced for Blessed Mother Teresa’s canonization, but Archbishop Rino Fisichella who is overseeing Jubilee Year events, stated earlier in the year that she could be canonized September 4, 2016. That would be one day before the anniversary of her death on September 5, 1997.

Fraudulent Blessings

This week 3,500 fake papal blessing parchments were seized from souvenir shops around the Vatican. While blessings cannot be sold or purchased, an official commemorative parchment communicating the blessing can be purchased. Those parchments are sold only by the Office of the Papal Almoner. The money from the sale of these parchments goes to the papal charity fund and helps finance the various projects the pope undertakes to help the poor.

There are several ways to order a papal blessing: in person, by fax, by mail (regular mail, not e-mail). Typically a papal blessing costs between 13 and 25 euros, depending on the type of parchment chosen. If you’re ordering a blessing for a special event, i.e. wedding, anniversary, ordination, be sure to do so several weeks in advance.

For full details on ordering a papal blessing visit the website for the Office of the Papal Charities.

CNS photo/Paul Haring

This week’s episode of Vatican Connections will be available below shortly.


Alicia

Every week brings new, exciting, and sometimes juicy headlines from behind Vatican walls and every week Alicia delves deeper into one of those headlines. For a full run down of what’s been happening behind Vatican walls, watch Vatican Connections. Already watch the program? Come back every Friday for an in-depth look at an issue, headline or person. Season 4 of Vatican Connections airs every Friday at 8:00 pm ET.

 

Fr. Rosica on CNN: Mother Teresa’s Second Miracle

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 3.21.57 PM

On Friday, December 18, 2015, Fr. Thomas Rosica appeared on the CNN International Desk to discuss Pope Francis’ recent announcement on the approved second miracle for Mother Teresa, confirming her path to sainthood. See the full clip here.

Read more about Mother Teresa.

 

The Face of Mercy in Calcutta’s Gutters: Mother Teresa to be proclaimed a Saint

MamaT

Teresa Calcutta window detailBlessed Teresa of Calcutta will be proclaimed a saint in 2016. On Thursday afternoon, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate a decree regarding a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Teresa (nee Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu). The Pope’s approval for these decrees came during a private audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato SDB, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Blessed Teresa, known around the world as Mother Teresa was born August 26, 1910 in Skopje, then part of the Kosovo Vilayet in the Ottoman Empire, into a Kosovar Albanian family. She was foundress of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity and the Missionaries of Charity. It’s been eighteen years since Mother Teresa suffered a heart attack and died at 87 years old on Sept. 5, 1997 in Calcutta.  She would have turned 105 years old this year. The day after she died, she was set to lead an interfaith memorial prayer service in Calcutta for her friend, Diana, Princess of Wales, who had been tragically killed in a car accident one week earlier.

I commentated her funeral for several national television networks in Canada, which marked my first time ever doing commentary on television!  The pomp, precision and somber majesty of Princess Diana’s London farewell one week earlier were hardly visible in the chaotic scenes of Mother Teresa’s simple wooden casket riding on a gun carriage through the mobbed and chaotic streets of Calcutta for her State funeral.

Mother Teresa’s life was not a sound byte, but rather a metaphor for selfless devotion and holiness.  Her most famous work began in 1950 with the opening of the first Nirmal Hriday (Tender Heart) home for the dying and destitute in Calcutta.  Mother’s words remain inscribed on the walls of that home: “Nowadays the most horrible disease is not leprosy or tuberculosis. It is the feeling to be undesirable, rejected, abandoned by all.”

MamaT1

There are critics in the Church who say that Mother Teresa personified a “pre-Vatican-Council” view of faith and did not address systemic evils.  She is politely and sometimes unpolitely dismissed because her life is hardly “prophetic” in the eyes of some people.  In fact, many saints and blessed are dismissed by such folks who have no understanding of the meaning of biblical prophecy.  They criticize Mother and her followers for their relentless condemnation of abortion.  Some have said that in Mother Teresa, there was no element of prophetic criticism in her teachings and her lifestyle.  Instead of acting sensibly by applying for government grants to create programs to eliminate poverty, Mother Teresa and her sisters moved into neighborhoods and befriended people.  Their houses often become oases of hope and peace, like the ones in Canada. When Mother Teresa speaks of ‘sharing poverty,’ she defies the logic of institutions that prefer agendas for the poor, not communion with individual poor people. Agents and instruments of communion are often called irrelevant and not considered by the world.

Mother Teresa holding childn in armsThough Mother Teresa left this world scene eighteen years ago, this tiny nun made the news big time several years ago with the publication of her letters. Many journalists, magazine editors, television newscasters and bloggers completely distorted the story with their sensational headlines: “Mother Teresa’s secret life: crisis and darkness,” or  “Calcutta’s Saint was an atheist,” or even “Mother and the Absent One.”  Some commentators wrote: “She lost her faith and the Church rewards her for it.” These people seem unaware that those who prepared Mother’s Beatification in 2003 cited the letters as proof of her exceptional faith and not the absence of it.

Mother Teresa tells us in those deeply personal messages that she once felt God’s powerful presence and heard Jesus speak to her. Then God withdrew and Jesus was silent. What Mother Teresa experienced thereafter was faith devoid of any emotional consolation. In the end Mother Teresa had to rely on raw faith, hope and charity. These are the virtues of all Christians, not just the spiritual elite. She was one of us after all.

What the Church looks for in saints is not just good works – for that there are Nobel Peace Prizes and other such worldly awards – but solid evidence that the candidate for canonization or beatification was transformed, inwardly and outwardly, by God’s grace and embodied a deep love of God and neighbour.

Years ago, during my graduate studies in Rome, I met Mother Teresa of Calcutta several times while I was teaching her sisters in a slum neighborhood on the outskirts of the Eternal City. At the end of our first visit, she blessed my forehead before placing into my hands one of her famous business cards unlike any I had ever seen.

On one side of the card were these words: “The fruit of silence is PRAYER. The fruit of prayer is FAITH. The fruit of faith is LOVE. The fruit of love is SERVICE. The fruit of service is PEACE. God bless you. –Mother Teresa.”

I still carry that card with me. There was no address, phone number, e-mail FAX number, or Twitter handle on the card. Mother Teresa didn’t need an address back then. Today, we don’t need any of her contact information, as she is available to all of us in the communion of saints. Everyone knows where she is and how to reach her.  She still has her hands full with our requests.

TR Mother Teresa May 20, 1989 sm

Mother Teresa was proclaimed blessed by her friend, St. John Paul II, on October 19, 2003. A crowning gift of the Jubilee of Mercy will be Mother Teresa’s canonization by Pope Francis in 2016. Let us ask this great woman of faith to intercede for a world at war, nations filled with fear, terror and dread. May this tiny woman and towering spiritual giant help us to open the doors of our nations, communities, homes and hearts to welcome strangers and offer them hospitality and love. May soon-to-be St. Teresa of Calcutta pray for us and teach us how to love God and neighbor in unity and harmony. May she teach us how to be the face of mercy and charity in our world today.

Vatican Promotes the Cause of American Brother William Gagnon

BroWill

This morning the Vatican promoted the cause of American Hospitaller Brother William Gagnon, who died ministering in Vietnam during war:

The heroic virtue of the Servant of God William Gagnon, professed Religious of the Hospitaller Order of St John; born in Dover, USA, 16 May 1905 and died in Hô Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Vietnam, 28 February 1972.

Servant of God William Gagnon
(Canadian and American roots)

Born and baptized May 16, 1905 at Dover, New Hampshire, U.S.A. of French Canadian parents, living both in New England and Quebec, Canada. He was called from his youth to take care of others. He discovered the fulfillment of this call when he entered the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God. He took vows on 20 November 1932 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. His dedication to those who were sick and suffering energized his life quest.

After having occupied various functions, his dream of being a missionary became a reality when he arrived with two other Canadian Brothers at the Bui-Chu Mission, in the North of Vietnam, January 18, 1952.

During 17 years, his apostolic action concentrated on the implementation of the Order in Vietnam and ministering to thousands of refu gees. Hospitality as a way of being and acting toward those in need was empowered by a deep sense of reverence for life and a devotional life of prayer. He was enlived daily by his devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Exhausted after having given of himself totally, Brother William Gagnon died in Saigon, Vietnam on February 28, 1972.

Prayer of Intercession:

Lord, Jesus, Your mercy inspired the Servant
of God William Gagnon to live hospitality
with the ill, the refugees and the poor.
Grant that we may always minister to all
suffering people with Charity, as did this
Son of St. John of God.
Lord, hear the prayer that we address to
you (personal intention) by the intercession
of the Servant of God William Gagnon,
in order that we may be affirmed
in our faith and that Your glory and the
joy of the Church be proclaimed.
Our Father, Hail Mary,
Glory be to the Father.
Glory be to the Father.

Pope Francis’ Homily during Canonization of Four Saints

PopeCM

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis

Mass of the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Canonization of Four Saints

Sunday October 18, 2015

On Sunday, October 18, 2015, Pope Francis celebrated the Canonization Mass of four Saints: Saint Vincent Grossi, Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception and Saints Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin. Read the full text of his homily below:

Today’s biblical readings present the theme of service.  They call us to follow Jesus on the path of humility and the cross. The prophet Isaiah depicts the Servant of the Lord (53:10-11) and his mission of salvation.  The Servant is not someone of illustrious lineage; he is despised, shunned by all, a man of sorrows. He does not do great things or make memorable speeches; instead, he fulfils God’s plan through his humble, quiet presence and his suffering.  His mission is carried out in suffering, and this enables him to understand those who suffer, to shoulder the guilt of others and to make atonement for it.  The abandonment and sufferings of the Servant of the Lord, even unto death, prove so fruitful that they bring redemption and salvation to many.

Jesus is the Servant of the Lord.  His life and death, marked by an attitude of utter service (cf. Phil 2:7), were the cause of our salvation and the reconciliation of mankind with God.  The kerygma, the heart of the Gospel, testifies that his death and resurrection fulfilled the prophecies of the Servant of the Lord.  Saint Mark tells us how Jesus confronted the disciples James and John.  Urged on by their mother, they wanted to sit at his right and left in God’s Kingdom (cf. Mk10:37), claiming places of honour in accordance with their own hierarchical vision of the Kingdom.  Their horizon was still clouded by illusions of earthly fulfilment.  Jesus then gives a first “jolt” to their notions by speaking of his own earthly journey: “The cup that I drink you will drink… but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared” (vv. 39-40).  With the image of the cup, he assures the two that they can fully partake of his destiny of suffering, without, however, promising their sought-after places of honour.  His response is to invite them to follow him along the path of love and service, and to reject the worldly temptation of seeking the first place and commanding others.

Faced with people who seek power and success, the disciples are called to do the opposite.  Jesus warns them: “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.  But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant” (vv. 42-44).  These words show us that service is the way for authority to be exercised in the Christian community. Those who serve others and lack real prestige exercise genuine authority in the Church.  Jesus calls us to see things differently, to pass from the thirst for power to the joy of quiet service, to suppress our instinctive desire to exercise power over others, and instead to exercise the virtue of humility.

After proposing a model not to imitate, Jesus then offers himself as the ideal to be followed.  By imitating the Master, the community gains a new outlook on life: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (v. 45).  In the biblical tradition, the Son of Man is the one who receives from God “dominion, glory and kingship” (Dan 7:14).  Jesus fills this image with new meaning.  He shows us that he enjoys dominion because he is a servant, glory because he is capable of abasement, kingship because he is fully prepared to lay down his life.  By his passion and death, he takes the lowest place, attains the heights of grandeur in service, and bestows this upon his Church.

There can be no compatibility between a worldly understanding of power and the humble service which must characterize authority according to Jesus’ teaching and example.  Ambition and careerism are incompatible with Christian discipleship; honour, success, fame and worldly triumphs are incompatible with the logic of Christ crucified.  Instead, compatibility exists between Jesus, “the man of sorrows”, and our suffering.  The Letter to the Hebrews makes this clear by presenting Jesus as the high priest who completely shares our human condition, with the exception of sin: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin” (4:15).  Jesus exercises a true priesthood of mercy and compassion.  He knows our difficulties at first hand, he knows from within our human condition; the fact that he is without sin does not prevent him from understanding sinners.  His glory is not that born of ambition or the thirst for power; it is is the glory of one who loves men and women, who accepts them and shares in their weakness, who offers them the grace which heals and restores, and accompanies them with infinite tenderness amid their tribulations.

Each of us, through baptism, share in our own way in Christ’s priesthood: the lay faithful in the common priesthood, priests in the ministerial priesthood. Consequently, all of us can receive the charity which flows from his open heart, for ourselves but also for others.  We become “channels” of his love and compassion, especially for those who are suffering, discouraged and alone.

The men and women canonized today unfailingly served their brothers and sisters with outsanding humility and charity, in imitation of the divine Master. Saint Vincent Grossi was a zealous parish priest, ever attentive to the needs of his people, especially those of the young.  For all he was concerned to break the bread of God’s word, and thus became a Good Samaritan to those in greatest need.

Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception devoted her life, with great humility, to serving the least of our brothers and sisters, especially the children of the poor and the sick.

The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin practised Christian service in the family, creating day by day an environment of faith and love which nurtured the vocations of their daughters, among whom was Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.

The radiant witness of these new saints inspires us to persevere in joyful service to our brothers and sisters, trusting in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary.  From heaven may they now watch over us and sustain us by their powerful intercession.

A Holy Couple – Canonization Mass

“The good Lord gave me a father and a mother more worthy of Heaven than of earth”. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

These words come to us from Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Carmelite nun and youngest daughter of Louis and Zélie Martin. Their names will soon be added to the book of saints next October during the Synod on the Family. They are the first couple to be canonized together. A holy couple, their story has a modern twist.

Louis and Zélie Martin met on the Saint Leonard Bridge in Alençon, France. It was an unexpected encounter. Both had previously contemplated entering the religious life. But as it became clear neither one of them were called to a life of celibacy, they vowed to offer their future marriage to God. When Zélie saw Louis, she heard a voice tell her this man was the one God had prepared for her. This conviction deepened the more they spent time together. They got married three months later on July 13th, 1858. Zélie was 27 years old and Louis 35.

Zélie already managed her own lacemaking business which she started at only 20 years old. She regularly received clients who needed her skillful hand to create or repair pieces of lace. She eventually opened a lacemaking factory that allowed her to take in apprentices. Her business was thriving. Apart from her leadership and goodwill, Zélie was an anxious woman. This is a character trait she attributed to her difficult childhood.

But if Zélie dealt with worry, Louis on the other hand was a gentle and patient man.  His talent lied in clock making.  He also held his own shop. Louis got into the trade starting at 19 years of age. Despite his excellent reputation, he retired from the clock making business to dedicate himself to his wife’s lacemaking factory, by becoming its client manager and bookkeeper. 

Career wasn’t everything to them. They were as much accomplices in their marriage as in their work. Both desired a holy marriage. They considered virginity to be an invaluable virtue even between husband and wife and so they practiced abstinence their first years of marriage. They had nine children, four of which died at a very young age. Louis and Zélie raised five girls, Pauline, Céline, Léonie, Marie, and Thérèse. They raised them in the faith and inspired in them charity and holiness. All of them eventually joined the Carmelites, except Léonie who joined the Sisters of the Visitation.

The Martins did face challenges, namely sickness. It started with Zélie when she was diagnosed with cancer. The pain intensified every day, without any hope of a cure, until she died at the age of 46. Through her suffering, Zélie held fast to prayer and patiently accepted God’s will and wisdom.

“If the Virgin Mary does not heal me, it is because I have done my time and that the good Lord wants me to find rest elsewhere” (last letter from Zélie to her brother Isidore Guerin, August 16th, 1877).

Some years after the death of his wife, Louis also fell ill. He had periods of forgetfulness or hallucinations and attacks of paralysis. After several episodes, he was taken to an asylum. He stayed there three years before going back home. Despite his evident weakness, he showed great strength, patience and perseverance.

“The things of this earth seemed to barely touch him; he overcame any difficulty that life gave him” (Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, Autobiographic Manuscripts, 1895).

Louis and Zélie Martin call us to a total submission to God’s will and providence. God was first in everything they did. Their unity of heart showed itself in their work, their family life and in their generosity towards friends and neighbours. Having known the loss of four children and of a spouse, and endurance in the face of sickness and suffering, Louis and Zélie “were witnesses to the radical gospel engagement of the vocation of marriage, to the point of heroism […] The Martins were not afraid to do violence to themselves in order to possess the Kingdom of Heaven” (Homily, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, Beatification of Louis and Zélie Martin, Lisieux, 2008).

EmilieBlogPicWritten by Emilie Callan.


This piece was originally published in the new 2015 Salt + Light Magazine. Order your copy of the magazine by phone 1.888.302.7181 x238 or by email info@saltandlighttv.org today!

Tune in for LIVE coverage of Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin’s Canonization Mass from the St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, October 18, 2015 at 12:00 pm ET, 9:00 am Pt. Pope Francis will preside.