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St. Martin de Porres

Today is the feast of St. Martin de Porres, one of the most beloved saints in the history of the Church. I thought I would share with readers the following excerpt from the homily of Blessed John XXIII on the occasion of St. Martin’s canonization in 1962, taken from the Office of Readings for today:

The example of Martin’s life is ample evidence that we can strive for holiness and salvation as Christ Jesus has shown us: first, by loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and second, by loving your neighbor as yourself.”

When Martin had come to realize that Christ Jesus suffered for us and that he carried our sins on his body to the cross, he would meditate with remarkable ardor and affection about Christ on the cross.  Whenever he would contemplate Christ’s terrible torture he would be reduced to tears.  He had an exceptional love for the great sacrament of the Eucharist and often spent long hours in prayer before the blessed sacrament.  His desire was to receive the sacrament in communion as often as he could.

Saint Martin, always obedient and inspired by his divine teacher, dealt with his brothers with that profound love which comes from pure faith and humility of spirit.  He loved men because he honestly looked on them as God’s children and as his own brothers and sisters.  Such was his humility that he loved them even more than himself and considered them to be better and more righteous than he was.

He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves: thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: ‘Martin of Charity.’”

The virtuous example and even the conversation of this saintly man exerted a powerful influence in drawing men to religion.  It is remarkable how even today his influence can still come us toward the things of heaven.  Sad to say, not all of us understand these spiritual values as well as we should, nor do we give them a proper place in our lives.  Many of us, in fact, strongly attracted by sin, may look upon these values as of little moment, even something of a nuisance, or we ignore them altogether.  It is deeply rewarding for men striving for salvation to follow in Christ’s footsteps and to obey God’s commandments.  If only everyone could learn this lesson from the example that Martin gave us.

St. Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru in 1579 as the illegitimate son of a Panamanian mother and a Spanish father.  Having inherited the dark color of his mother, he was rejected by his father and was therefore raised in poverty.  He entered the Dominicans and became renowned for his countless works of charity. St. Martin was the friend of another great Dominican Saint from Peru, St. Rose of Lima, and his bishop for a time was St. Turibius of Mogrovejo.

Congress on St. Catherine of Siena

The Holy See Press Office reports that an international congress dedicated to St. Catherine, Doctor of the Church and co-patron of Europe will take place in Rome and Siena this week.

The congress has as its title “‘Virgo digna Coelo” (“Virgin worthy of Heaven).

Fr. Bernard Ardura, president of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences, explained in a Vatican press conference that “the figure of St. Catherine extends far beyond her own earthly existence and takes on a powerful symbolic value” for the Church today.

In his Oct. 21 announcement, Fr. Ardura said the study of St. Catherine “serves to remind us of the unshakable faith which she possessed and which made her spiritual mother to so many Christians.”

Her example is especially important, he said, as the Church prepares for the 2012-2013 “Year of Faith” announced Oct. 16.

Fr. Ardura went on to explain that the forthcoming congress will be divided into four sessions “to facilitate a more profound examination of the life and influence of the saint” who, he said, “also enjoyed great recognition among theologians, to the point that on October 4, 1970, Pope Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church, for her exalted theology and her influence in the renewal of that discipline.”

The first session of the congress will see a contribution from Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The second session will be dedicated to the cause of canonization of St. Catherine, including an examination of its documents and a review of models of female sanctity between 1300 and 1400. The third session will focus on the relationship between St. Catherine and the religious orders of her day. “In the fourth session,” Fr. Ardura continued, “we will see how it is possible to study and celebrate St. Catherine today, because her memory has remained alive among Christians and her influence has never ceased to enrich the Church, mainly though hagiographies and literary culture, and in particular thanks to her magnificent Letters.”

On its last day the congress will move to Siena for the inauguration of an exhibition entitled “Catherine of Siena and the process of canonization.” It will also hold its last session there, dedicated to “St. Catherine in art.” Professor Utro explained that the session will take place in the chapter house of the convent of St. Dominic in Siena, and will be presided by Paolo Nardi, prior general of the International St. Catherine Association and curator of the exhibition. Other art historians will also participate, including Diega Giunta, the leading specialist on artistic representations of St. Catherine.

Courtesy of the Vatican Press Office and Catholic News Agency.

American Nun’s Cause Moving Forward

Last May we noted in this blog that the relics of Blessed Marianne Cope were  being returned to Hawaii. Shortly before St. Damian of Molokai’s death, Mother Marianne and other Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse came to carry on St. Damien’s amazing work in the leper colony toward the end of the nineteenth century.

Now Catholic News Service reports that the alleged miracle in support of Mother Marianne’s canonization was approved by a Vatican medical board, an important step toward her becoming recognized as a saint. Read more about it here.

A Blessed Affair

Pope Benedict presiding at 2010 beatification of Card. Newman

Only weeks before the beatification of Pope John Paul II, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued some new procedures for beatification ceremonies that will help distinguish them from canonizations, in which the Pope infallibly declares a Servant of God to be a “saint.”

During the first Christian millennium, the cult of martyrs and other holy men and women was regulated by local Church authorities. In the 11th century, however, the principle that as universal Pastor of the Church the Roman Pontiff alone has the authority to prescribe a public devotion began to gain prominence. With a Letter to the King and Bishops of Sweden, Alexander III asserted the Pope’s authority to confer the title of Saint and the relevant public cult. This norm became a universal law with Gregory IX in 1234.

In the 1300s, the Holy See began to authorize devotions limited to specific places and to certain Servants of God whose cause for canonization had not yet been initiated or had not yet reached its conclusion. This concession, with a view to future canonization, led to the preliminary stage known as beatification, in which a holy man or woman is declared a “Blessed.”

The Vatican document highlights the essential differences between a canonization and beatification: Read the rest of this entry »