Category: Saints

Saint Of The Day – St. Lidwina Of Schiedam

Saint Of The Day – St. Lidwina Of Schiedam

Today’s Saint – St. Lidwina (Lydwine).

Born March 18, 1380
Schiedam, County of Holland,
Holy Roman Empire
Died April 14, 1433 (aged 53)
Schiedam, County of Holland,
Holy Roman Empire
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Canonized cultus confirmed March 14, 1890 by Pope Leo XIII
Major shrine Schiedam, South Holland, Netherlands
Feast April 14
Patronage chronically ill, ice skaters, town of Schiedam

Lidwina was born at Schiedam, Holland, on April 18, 1380. Her father, Peter, came of a noble family while her mother Petronella, born in Kethel, Holland, was a country girl from a poor family. 

Very early in her life, St. Lidwina was drawn towards the Mother of God and prayed a great deal before the miraculous image of Our Lady of Schiedam. During the winter of the year of 1395, Lidwina went skating with her friends, one of whom caused her to fall upon some ice with such violence that she broke a rib in her right side. Her martyrdom starts here. No medical skill availed to cure her. Gangrene appeared in the wound caused by the fall and spread over her entire body. For years she lay in pain which seemed to increase steadily. Some looked on her with suspicion, as being under the influence of the evil spirit. 

Her pastor, Andries, brought her an unconsecrated host, but the saint distinguished it at once. But God rewarded her with a beautiful gift of prayer and also with visions. Numerous miracles took place at her bedside. The celebrated preacher and seer, Wermbold of Roskoop, visited her after previously beholding her in spirit. The pious Arnold of Schoonhoven treated her as a friend. Hendrik Mande wrote a pious consolation tract in Dutch. When Joannes Busch brought this to her, he asked her what she thought of Hendrik Mande’s visions, and she answered that they came from God. 

In a vision, she was shown a rose-bush with the words, “When this shall be in bloom, your suffering will be at an end.” In the spring of the year 1433, she exclaimed, “I see the rose-bush in full bloom!” From her fifteenth to her fifty-third year, she suffered every imaginable pain; she was one sore from head to foot and was greatly emaciated. On the morning of Easter-day, 1433, she was in deep contemplation and beheld, in a vision, Christ coming towards her to administer the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. 

She died on April 14, 1433, and not long after, her grave became a place of pilgrimage, and the following year later (1434), a chapel was built over it. In 1615 her relics were conveyed to Brussels, but in 1871 they were returned to Schiedam. On March 14, 1890, Leo XIII put the official sanction of the Church upon that veneration which had existed for centuries.

St. Lidwina (Lydwine), Pray for us!

St. Padre Pio’s “Domestic Sanctuary”

St. Padre Pio’s “Domestic Sanctuary”

Pope Francis praying in St Padre Pio’s Cell

On Saturday, March 17, 2018, the Pope prayed in Padre Pio’s room. A memorable moment in the pilgrimage of Francis to San Giovanni Rotondo, southern Italy, a small homeland of the Capuchin friar. After having prayed in front of the crypt containing the body of the saint, the Pope greeted the sick friars, then moved to the convent of the Capuchins to retire in the place of the last dwelling of the stigmatized religious.

The capuchin friar gathered in prayer in less than 7 square meters. The Pope wanted to visit this special ‘simple sanctuary’,  where Padre Pio prayed for all souls: “Pray a lot, my children, pray always, without getting tired” (May 5, 1966), he recommended.

Francisco recalled that prayer is an act of love and St. Padre Pio knew it; Jesus taught to pray to the Father in the secret of the room without indiscreet eyes: “When you pray , do not do like the hypocrites: they like to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, to be seen. I assure you, they have their reward. You, on the other hand, when you pray, retreat to your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.” 

Saint Padre Pio initiated the work of the “prayer circles”, but he also transformed the prayer into contemplation and help of those who suffer through the work of the Hospital “Casa Alivio del Sufrimiento”. The Pope recalled on several occasions: “Padre Pio has been a servant of mercy.” For that reason, he has placed it as a symbol of the monolithic confessor, rigorous, but merciful and ready to listen always.

The Pope also pulled a little the ears to the faithful: ” It is not enough to click me ‘like’ to the page (in social networks) of the Saint: you have to imitate his life”.

Death With Dignity: A Friend Recounts St. Pope John Paul II’s Last Moments Of Life, 13yrs After 

Death With Dignity: A Friend Recounts St. Pope John Paul II’s Last Moments Of Life, 13yrs After 

St Pope John Paul II

A once avid outdoors-man whose final years were marked by disability and suffering, Saint John Paul II witnessed to what it truly means to die with dignity, says a close friend who was with him until the end.  

“He gave us tranquility and peace even up to the last day,” Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was present at the Polish pope’s death 13 years ago, told CNA in an interview in 2015.

“He restored dignity to death.”

Cardinal Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, who at the time was serving as an aide to John Paul II, recalls singing the Te Deum – a hymn of praise to God – moments after the pope died, because those in the room “were convinced that he had died a holy man.”

“A man prepares for a lifetime for this important moment, this passage from one life to another for the encounter with God,” he said.

John Paul II died at 9:37 p.m. on April 2, 2005, the day before Divine Mercy Sunday – a feast he established during his pontificate – after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Throughout his pontificate, the Polish pope spoke out against what he referred to as the “culture of death” which promotes ideologies such as abortion and euthanasia, and in turn championed for the promotion of human life and dignity.

Cardinal Dziwisz recalled the Pope’s last words to him before he died. “I kissed his hands and he told me ‘Thank you’ and gave me his blessing,” he recounted.

He also remembered how John Paul II, while on his deathbed, asked those who had come to say their farewells to read the Gospel to him.

“Priests read nine chapters of the Gospel of John for the love of God, and so he prepared for his encounter,” the Polish prelate said.

Karol Jozef Wojtyla, who would later choose the name John Paul II upon his election to the papacy, was born the youngest of three children in the Polish town of Wadowice, a small city 50 kilometers from Krakow, on May 18, 1920.

In 1942, at the height of World War II, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of Krakow, and was eventually ordained in 1946.

He took part in Vatican Council II (1962-1965), being appointed archbishop of Krakow in 1964, and contributed to drafting the Constitution Gaudium et spes.

On Oct. 16, 1978, Cardinal Wojtyla was elected pope at the age of 58.

Over the course of his 27 year pontificate – one of the longest in Church history – he traveled to 129 countries, and was instrumental in the fall of Communism in Europe in the 1980s.

“He did not create resentment, but instead knocked down the walls between people,” Cardinal Dziwisz said, observing he had close friends who were Jews, Muslims, and other religions. “Everyone was important for him because everyone was created in the image of God.”

The archbishop of Krakow also spoke of John Paul II’s strong sense of discipline throughout his life, which was always centered on prayer.

“He was a very disciplined man from the point of view of moral ethics,” he said. “Even at work, he never wasted time. He always had time for prayer.”

In fact, for John Paul II, prayer was never separated from work, Cardinal Dziwisz said. “He was immersed in God and in everything he did, he always walked with God and in prayer.”

He always kept this intimate relationship with God, of contemplation, of contact with God, and here was his strength: peace of mind. God exists, God commands, God, we must follow him. If you follow God, you see peace, even in difficult times, which as Pope, he had many.”

John Paul II was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday, at a ceremony which saw an estimated two million pilgrims flock to Rome. He was canonized April 27, 2014 in Saint Peter’s Square by Pope Francis on the same feast day.

Cardinal Dziwisz touched on the impact that John Paul II being declared a saint had upon the faithful.

I think people were convinced of his sanctity, that the supreme authority had approved the road of holiness, because we are sure that we could imitate his holiness.”

‘St. Charbel Cured My Blindness’ – Phoenix Mother 

‘St. Charbel Cured My Blindness’ – Phoenix Mother 

After praying before the relics, confession and being blessed with holy oil, Dafne Gutierrez experienced profound healing.


Phoenix Mother: St. Charbel Cured My Blindness

PHOENIX — After a Phoenix mother lost her eyesight due to a rare medical condition, she feared she would never be able to see her four children again. But then St. Charbel came to her rescue.

Dafne Gutierrez suffered from benign intracranial hypertension (BIH), a condition that causes increased pressure in the brain. In 2012, the increased pressure caused her to lose vision in her right eye. Three years later, in November 2015, the Catholic mother lost sight in her left eye, as well.

Phoenix’s local CBS affiliate, KPHO, quoted Gutierrez’s plea to God:

“For me, I was like, ‘Please God, let me see those faces again. Let me be their mother again.’ Because I feel like [my kids] were watching me, taking care of me 24/7.”

For more than a year, Gutierrez struggled to adjust to her disability, which now included occasional seizures, as well as blindness. Then, in January 2016, when Phoenix’s St. Joseph Maronite Church announced that the relics of St. Charbel Makhlouf (also spelled “Sharbel”) would be visiting the church, Gutierrez’s sister encouraged her to visit and to pray for the saint’s intercession.

Although she is not a member of the Maronite rite, Gutierrez visited the church Jan. 16, prayed before the relics, went to confession and was blessed with holy oil by the pastor, Father Wissam Akiki. Gutierrez recalled that, immediately afterward, her body felt “different.”

The following morning, she rose and returned to the church for Sunday Mass. Again, she experienced a different sensation.

And early in the morning Jan. 18, Gutierrez awoke with a searing pain in her eyes. She remembers how much they burned. And when her husband turned on the lights, she said the brightness hurt her eyes. She claimed, at 4am, that she could see shadows; but her husband insisted that was impossible because she was blind. He later described what he called “an odor of burned meat” coming from her nostrils.

According to The Maronite Voice, the newsletter of the Maronite Eparchies of the U.S., “That morning she called her ophthalmologist, and she was evaluated the next day. Her exam showed that she was still legally blind, with abnormal optic nerves. Two days later, she saw a different ophthalmologist, and her vision was a perfect 20/20, with completely normal optic nerves. Subsequently, she saw her original ophthalmologist one week later, and her vision was documented to be normal, with completely normal exam.”

No Medical Explanation

Dr. Anne Borik, a board-certified internal medicine physician who later testified regarding Gutierrez’s healing, was called in by the Church to review the case. Earlier this month, Borik — a member of St. Timothy’s Roman Catholic parish nearby, but who attends St. Joseph Maronite frequently — talked by phone with the Catholic Register about her findings. She explained that the brain condition Gutierrez suffered from causes the optic nerve to constrict. Once the optic disc — the spot at which the optic nerve enters the eyeball — is damaged, it’s too late to fix. Because, when the pressure in the brain reaches high levels, as it did in Gutierrez’s case, the optic nerves become strangulated.

“Unfortunately, once the blindness occurs,” said Borik, “it’s irreversible.”

Images of Gutierrez’s optic disc revealed significant damage: “We have pictures,” said Borik, “to confirm that the optic disc was chronically atrophied. There was significant swelling, or papilledema.”

But after Gutierrez’s vision returned, Borik reported, there was no evidence of the aberrations that were evident on earlier images. “In the post-healing pictures,” Borik said, “her optic disc is back to normal. Her vision is completely restored. She has no more seizures. That is why I, as a medical doctor, have no explanation.”

A medical committee, led by Borik, undertook a thorough review of Gutierrez’s medical records, as well as repeated examinations. The committee wrote, “After a thorough physical exam, extensive literature search and review of all medical records, we have no medical explanation and therefore believe this to be a miraculous healing through the intercession of St. Charbel.”

Unexpected Healing Strengthens Faith.

Borik is enthusiastic about the healing, telling the Register, “It has changed my practice! It has changed how I relate to patients. Now,” she said, referring to her relationship with those entrusted to her care, “prayer is such an important part of what we do.”

Father Wissam Akiki, pastor of St. Joseph Maronite Church, had a devotion to St. Charbel, and he installed a large picture of the saint in the parish shortly after his arrival in 2014. Then, in 2016, he arranged to bring St. Charbel’s relics to his parish as part of a U.S. tour.

Father Akiki remembers when Gutierrez showed up to venerate the relics. Father Akiki approached her. “I heard her confession,” he told the Register. “We prayed together, and I said to her daughter, ‘Take care of your mom, and your mom is going to see you soon.’ Then, in only three days, she called the church to report that she could see.”

Father Akiki acknowledged that Gutierrez’s healing has strengthened the faith and changed the face of St. Joseph Maronite Church. “People are coming here to pray, traveling from Germany, Bolivia, Canada, Australia, Jerusalem.”

Following the healing, Father Akiki planned to erect a shrine to St. Charbel at his parish, with a two-ton sculpture of the saint cut from a single stone and imported from Lebanon. The shrine will be open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Father Akiki expected that the dedication of the shrine March 26, 2016, would draw crowds, including Maronite Bishop A. Elias Zaidan, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted and many local dignitaries.

Bishop Zaidan attributed Gutierrez’s recovery to the intercession of St. Charbel. “May this healing of the sight of Dafne,” he wrote in The Maronite Voice, “be an inspiration for all of us to seek the spiritual sight, in order to recognize the will of God in our lives and to act accordingly.”

Cristofer Pereyra, director of the Hispanic Office of the Phoenix Diocese, told Fox News that Bishop Olmsted spoke with the doctors and reviewed the case. “The bishop wanted to make sure there was no scientific explanation for the miraculous recovery of Dafne’s sight,” Pereyra reported.

The greatest change, of course, has been for Gutierrez and her children. Since her eyesight was restored, Dafne’s life has changed dramatically: She can once again check her children’s homework, watch them at play with friends, and manage her household chores without extra assistance.

Her prayer was answered.


Who Was St. Charbel?

Born Youssef Antoun Makhlouf in the high mountains of northern Lebanon in 1828, St. Charbel (also spelled Sharbel) was the youngest of five children in a poor but religious family. His baptismal name was Joseph; only when he entered a monastery at the age of 23 was he given the name Charbel, after an early martyr. He studied in seminary and was ordained a priest in 1858. For 16 years, Father Charbel lived with his brother priests; theirs was a communal life of prayer and devotion to God.

St. Charbel

In 1875, Father Charbel was granted permission to live a hermit’s life. In his rugged cabin, for the next 23 years, he practiced mortification and sacrifice — often wearing a hair shirt, sleeping on the ground, and eating only one meal a day. The Eucharist was the focus of his life. The holy priest celebrated daily Mass at 11am, spending the morning in preparation and the rest of the day in thanksgiving.

Father Charbel was 70 years old when he suffered a seizure while celebrating Mass. A priest assisting him was forced to pry the Eucharist out of his rigid hands. He never regained consciousness; and eight days later, on Christmas Eve in 1898, Father Charbel died. His body was interred in the ground without a coffin and without embalming, according to the monks’ custom, dressed in the full habit of the order.

For the next 45 nights, a most unusual event occurred: According to many local townspeople, an extraordinarily bright light appeared above his tomb, lighting the night sky. Finally, after the mysterious light persisted, officials at the monastery petitioned the ecclesiastical authorities for permission to exhume Charbel’s body. When the grave was opened four months after Charbel’s death, his body was found to be incorrupt. Twenty-eight years after his death, in 1928, and again in 1950, the grave was reopened, and his body was also found to be without decay.

Numerous medical researchers were permitted to examine the remains, and all confirmed that the saint’s body was preserved from decay. For 67 years, the body remained intact, even when left outdoors unprotected for an entire summer — although it consistently gave off a liquid that had the odor of blood. Finally, though, Charbel’s body followed the natural course. When the tomb was again opened at the time of his beatification in 1965, it was found to be decayed, except for the skeleton, which was deep red in color.

The inexplicable restoration of Dafne Gutierrez’s eyesight is not the first healing credited to St. Charbel. Dr. Anne Borik reported that there have been hundreds — perhaps thousands — of miracles attributed to the saint.

Pope Francis is said to have a deep devotion to St. Charbel. On the Christmas of 2016, Borik reported, the Holy Father asked to have a relic of St. Charbel sewn into the hem of his vestments.

Source:

National Catholic Register 

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