Monday, May 31, 2010

St. Roch (c.1295 to c.1327)

St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals but for all you canine lovers, St. Roch is the patron saint of dogs.
Also known as St. Rocco, he was born c.1295 in Montepelier, France. He made a pilgrimage to Rome, Italy to care for plague victims. He contracted the disease and survived.
St. Roch was imprisoned for five years as a spy and died there c.1327. After his death, miracle after miracle happened in his name, which led to a cult following. He is also the patron saint against the plague.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

St. Malo (c.520 to Nov. 15, 621)

As a kid, one of my favorite rerun episodes on the television series "Thriller" was the Remarkable Mrs. Hawk starring Jo Van Fleet and John Carradine. It was based on the Greek myth about the goddess Circe who turned men into pigs.
With my brothers, I memorized most of the lines and the story almost always came to mind whenever I saw a pig in a field or on a farm.
So, it's no wonder that as an adult living across the street from a woman who resides alone with a pig, Mrs. Hawk comes to mind. The most intriguing thing is that on any given day a different guy will go into her house, and I don't recall seeing him again.
"You've been bad today, Audrey," my neighbor often says to her pig as it strolls across the lawn. "There'll be no treats for you. Go back to your pen."
St. Malo, who was born in Wales c.520, is the patron saint of pig keepers. He was baptized by St. Brendan and is the founder of the walled city of Saint Malo, Brittany, France. St. Malo died on Nov. 15, 621 in Archambiac, France. His feast day is Nov. 15.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

St. Eric IX of Sweden (? to May 18, 1160)

This afternoon, when I was at Christina's clothing store in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, I found a package of tiny wax soda bottles filled with juice. It was something I hadn't seen or tasted since I was a child. And, it made me just as excited as smelling the pomegranate perfume or checking out the Free People summer dresses.
So tonight, when I showed up at my brother and sister-in-law's house at 10 p.m., I was thrilled that my young nephews, Jack and Eric, were still awake. I played Wii with them then took out the wax soda bottles.
"How do I do this?" Eric asked.
I told him to pick a color (green) and then to bite the top off the bottle and drink. Down, it went. Then he had a yellow one and a red one. Jack drank a orange one and saved the blue one.
Next, Eric decided to make alphabet letters.
"What should I write?" the four-year-old asked. "I know how to spell things."
Today's saint is Eric IX of Sweden who wrote the Code of Uppland (Eric's Law). He helped to convert pagans and spread Christianity throughout Finland. St. Eric IX of Sweden's reign was 1155 to 1160 when he was beheaded near Uppsala on May 18.
His feast day is May 18.

Friday, May 28, 2010

St. Mariana de Jesus de Paredes (Oct. 31, 1618 to May 26, 1645)

One of my favorite things to do for fun was to have tarot or regular playing card readings with my cousin Cindy. The two of us would have them done with no expectations of an outcome and then we'd discuss what the readers said afterward.
"You're going to meet a man wearing a pinky ring," a psychic named Dorothy told Cindy.
The same woman described a guy I dated for 9 years, two days before I met him. She also warned me not to get back together with him during a year-long split.
"It's going to happen in April," Dorothy predicted. "Honey, please, whatever you do, don't get back with him."
And, as much as tarot reading is a form of entertainment for some or hope for others, I believe that the cards are just a prop put in front of someone. The accurate reader is intuitive. It's something that can't be explained.
Psychic hotlines are more popular than ever. But, it's nothing new. Centuries ago people were searching for just as many answers.
St. Mariana de Jesus de Paredes, who was bestowed with the gift of prayer, was born on Oct. 31, 1618 in Quito, Ecuador. She was a prophet who could foresee the future and was especially accurate at predicting matters of the heart.
St. Mariana de Jesus de Paredes was also able to cure diseases simply by making the sign of the Cross. She died on May 26, 1645. She is the patron saint of Ecuador and loss of parents. She is known as the Lily of Quito. Canonized: 1950.
Her feast day is May 28.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

St. John Cantius (June 23, 1390 to Dec. 24, 1473)

Film as Literature was the one class I looked forward to during my freshman year in college. "Stagecoach," "Carnal Knowledge," "Bullitt," "Cabaret," "Shampoo," and "Don't Look Now." The list goes on.
My Monday morning routine was as follows: U.S. History to 1877 from 8 to 9 a.m., go home and take a nap until 1 p.m., then go back to the college to watch a film at 2 p.m.
The class met two other times during the week which was usually when we'd take a test. On those days, I'd go to Burger King at the Lincoln Mall for lunch and down a Big Mac with a large order of fries and a diet Coke. I'm still thin but back then I was 92 lbs. On days when I was super hungry, I'd have two Big Macs.
My major was English and I loved the comfort of the film and writing classes which were taught by my all-time favorite college professor, Mr. Sullivan. His day off was Tuesday and he would go to the Showcase Cinemas in Seekonk, Mass. and see a first-run movie like "An Officer and A Gentlemen."
He loved writing poetry and on the day he dedicated a poem to me it was so racy I had to put my head down in embarrassment.
I took several semesters of classes with Mr. Sullivan (including Film as Literature II and II), where I excelled with straight A's, then transferred to Emerson College in Boston to study print journalism. It was a new major at the time with less than 10 students. I never forgot Mr. Sullivan's words of encouragement and his enthusiasm for my writing.
He was so in tune with things that he advised me not to marry my now ex-husband.
"You're too smart and too pretty, Marilyn. It will never last." he said. How did he know what my future held?
Right after I started this blog at the beginning of the year, I ran into Mr. Sullivan. So many years had passed, yet he remembered me.
"You look fantastic!" he said. "You still have that youthful energy."
A month or so later, Mr. Sullivan posted a comment on my blog telling me to keep up the good work. It made me feel so good to be reunited with my favorite college professor and to know that he would be following my writing.
But that all ended yesterday when Mr. Sullivan died. In his memory, I recognize the patron saint of professors, St. John Cantius. He was born on June 23, 1390 in Poland. He was a theologian and professor of Sacred Scriptures. He died on Dec. 24, 1473. Canonized: 1767. St. John Cantius's feast day is Dec. 23.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

St. Joan of Arc (c. 1412 to May 30, 1431)

On a warm and sunny day last weekend, I decided to stay inside and see "Joan of Arc: An Opera in Three Acts" by my friend, Steve Jobe, at the Blackstone River Theatre
It was worthy of a much bigger venue like the Providence Performing Arts Center.
In the program Steve wrote, "While I do not claim to understand the nature of her visions, it's clear that for a while, they were such that Joan enjoyed unprecedented success in the quest to liberate France near the end of the 100 Years War. But as we know too well in the present day, 'things fall apart.' and in most ways they did, tragically for Joan."
St. Joan of Arc was born in Domremy, France c.1412. No matter what your religion, most people are familiar with her story or have at least heard her name. She was a peasant girl responsible for many victories of the French Army and the coronation of King Charles VII.
St. Joan of Arc claimed she had visions of God telling her to save France from the British. She was burned at the stake at age 19 on May 30, 1431. Canonized: 1920. Her feast day is May 30 and she is the patron saint of France, martyrs, and militants.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dedication of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

"We praise You, Lord, for Sister Moon and the stars, in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair." (St. Francis of Assisi)

I just learned of the passing of Friar Kevin Kenny, OFM Conv., who was the director of the National Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in Fonda, New York. I met him at the there in August 2004 and kept in touch for several years. Friar Kenny was a member of the Convectual Franciscans, an order of friars founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209.
My experiences in Assisi were life altering. May 24 is the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
When St. Francis died in October 1226, he was buried at St. George Church in the medieval town. It is now St. Clare of Assisi Chapel.
In 1230, his body was brought to a new church, and 23-years-later, Pope Innocent IV consecrated the Church of San Francesco which was later named a papal chapel and patriarchal basilica.

Monday, May 24, 2010

St. Teresa of the Andes (July 13, 1900 to April 12, 1920)

A young girl I knew passed away yesterday. She was a college student who was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year. She was an artist and aspiring jewelry maker.
When you hear about a young person dying, it stops you in your tracks and, for a moment, you put life into perspective. Why did someone with a life full of promise die?
St. Teresa of the Andes is a patron saint of young people. She was born on July 13, 1900 in Santiago, Chile. St. Teresa of the Andes was a Discalced Carmelite novice who died at just 19-years-old on April 12, 1920 in Los Andes, Chile. Canonized: 1993. Her feast day is April 12.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

St. Barbara (? to Dec. 4, 306)

I grew up watching the sparkle of fireflies on warm June evenings in my yard. I'd run around in my shorts after my parents sprayed me with insect repellent and I'd get to play outside after dinner until it was time to go for ice cream.
Some nights my dad would help me catch fireflies and we'd put them in a jar. Then, I'd have to release them before going inside. One of the most exciting times was when one found its way into my bedroom. I fell asleep to its magical flicker.
Today, I read an essay by a woman who saw fireflies for the first time as an adult living in Florence, Italy. The native Californian likened them to Christmas lights and "heaven right here on Earth." She also spoke of June in Florence and celebrations with fireworks.
St. Barbara, the patron saint of fireworks. She was born in Nicomedia in the third century. Her pagan father locked her in a tower to keep her chaste. While she was in seclusion she became a Christian and refused a marriage propoal. When St. Barbara's father found out she was a Christian, he beheaded her on Dec. 4, 305.
For his wrongdoing, he was struck by lightning and died. St. Barbara is also the patron saint against lightning. Her feast day is Dec. 4.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

St. Ambrose (339 to April 4, 397)

I believe in power of candles. Green is for money or abundance. Pink is love. Red is seduction or passion. The list goes on.
Whenever my friend, Kristen, was going to pay bills, she'd light her happy home candle and she and her boyfriend, Dave, would never fight. It was an orange candle.
"It's amazing," she'd say to me. "It really works."
Kristen and I would stock up on Crystal Journey herbal magic candles. White Light Books and Grateful Heart were where we'd buy them in Rhode Island. And, although they come with an "anointment" prayer, we'd also say whatever we felt and it still worked.
Kristen and Dave became husband and wife at a National Park in Alberta, Canada, and they are still happily married (thanks, in part, to the candles)!
It doesn't matter what brand of candles you use. What matters is that you believe. Because they do work. I always have candles burning in my home. The flicker is peaceful and it's a good form of meditation. Just remember to trim the wick each time you use one and blow it out when you leave the house or go to sleep.
St. Ambrose is the patron saint of candlemakers. He was born in Trier, Germany in 339. He became a bishop of Milan, Italy and is the first doctor of the Roman Catholic Church. St. Ambrose died on April 4, 397. His feast day is December 7.

Friday, May 21, 2010

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Oct. 12, 1891 to Aug. 9, 1942)

 St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, also known as St. Edith Stein, was a Jewish woman who converted to Roman Catholicism and died in 1942. She was canonized in 1998 by Pope John Paul II. 
Born in Breslau, German Empire, on Oct. 12, 1891, she became a nun and German-Jewish philosopher. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was martyred in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, Poland on Aug. 9, 1942. She is a patron saint of the loss of parents and is often depicted in art wearing a yellow Star of David.
Her feast day is Aug. 9.

(Happy Birthday, Uncle Tony: May 21, 1939 to Oct. 8, 2002)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

St. Martin de Porres (Dec. 9, 1579 to Nov. 3, 1639)

St. Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru on Dec. 9, 1579. He was the illegimate son of a father of Spanish royalty and a mother who was a black former slave.
St. Martin de Porres, a Dominican cooperator brother, established a children's hospital and orphanage. He worked with the needy and died in Lima on Nov. 3, 1639. He is a patron saint of mixed race people, race relations, schools, and education. Canonized: 1962. His feast day is Nov. 3.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Our Lady of Aparecida

When I saw the movie "Blame it On Rio," starring Michael Caine and Demi Moore, as a 20-year-old back in 1984, Brazil became my fantasy vacation spot. Yet, every time I was ready to purchase an airline ticket, I'd be warned by friends not to go there alone since, "It's too wild and anything goes!"
"Sounds like the perfect spot to me," I thought since I wear bikinis and thong underwear, love the beach, tropical fruit cocktails, and misbehaving, but as a female traveling solo I'd chicken out when it came time to plan my itinerary and I'd find myself lying on the sand somewhere in the Mediterranean.
Since I started this blog in January, Brazil has come into play once again. I've found that I have many readers there including one person who translates my blog into Portuguese.
It would be the ultimate spot to travel to and see the 130-foot Christ the Redeemer (O Cristo Redentor) statue, check out Ipanema, and make a side trip to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, which holds an amazing story!
In October 1717, Dom Pedro de Almeida, Count of Assumar, passed through Guarantigueta on his way to Vila Rica. The townspeople wanted to hold a festival in his honor but since it wasn't fishing season, they'd need a miracle.
Enter fishermen Domigos Garcia, Joao Alves, and Filipe Pedroso who prayed to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. After several uneventful hours, they realized it wouldn't work.
Then, Joao Alves decided to cast his net one last time. He pulled and pulled and up came a headless statue. With another dip of his net, he found its head!
The men cleaned it up and discovered it was a beautiful dark-skinned statue of The Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. And behold! All the fish they needed for the feast appeared and then some.
It was never known why the statue, made by Frei Agostino de Jesus in 1650, was discarded at the bottom of the ocean. But it was known that the statue made miracles happened.
In 1978, the statue was stolen by a Protestant sect member. When he was chased by guards it was broken and needed major repair. In 1980, Pope John Paul II consecrated the basilica and Our Lady of Aparecida Feast Day became a national holiday in Brazil, celebrated on Oct. 12.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

St. Cajetan (Oct. 1, 1480 to Aug. 7, 1547)

Although I live pretty close to Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, both in Connecticut, I never went into a casino until a trip to Washington state last year. I drove from Seattle to Seaview to get to a music event at the Shelburne Inn on a Saturday at 8 p.m. Along the way, I did the Kurt Cobain/Nirvana route through Aberdeen and continued down the coast.
When I reached Tokeland, I decided it was time for me to try the slots. So I set my limit at $13 and we went inside the Shoalwater Bay Casino which I thought looked similar to a pancake house restaurant on the East Coast.
I must have lost track of time, because eventually I received a call from a friend, who was already at the event, asking where I was! Come to find out, I was given the wrong time (it started at 6:30 p.m.) and I were still far away.
For the rest of that ride, I thought about how uninteresting it is to gamble. I work too hard to throw my money away.
But, for some people it is a sickness. And, so, there is a patron saint of gamblers. St. Cajetan was born on Oct. 1, 1480 in Vicenza, Italy. He studied law in Padua and became a priest in 1516.
St. Cajetan founded the Order of the Clerics Regular (the Theatines). He had a deep interest in healing through spirituality. He died in Naples on Aug. 7, 1547. Canonized: 1671. St. Cajetan is also the patron saint of the unemployed. His feast day is Aug. 7.

(Happy Birthday, Grandpa Fred: May 18, 1892 to Aug. 30, 1976 and Grandma Isabel: May 18, 1914 to April 18, 1997)

Monday, May 17, 2010

St. Simon Stock (1165 to May 16, 1265)

Playing in a treehouse is a dream come true for so many children. I wanted to live in one like in the Swiss Family Robinson. But, for St. Simon Stock, living as a hermit in the trunk of an oak tree was a reality. When he was 12-years-old in 1177, he decided that's where he wanted to be. (The name stock means tree trunk.)
St. Simon Stock was an Englishman who went to the Holy Land to join the Carmelites. He was an early leader of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel when it was formed in Europe.
But, perhaps he is best known as the person that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to and gave the brown scapular (or habit) with the message that those who die wearing it will be saved. He will forever be associated with Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
St. Simon Stock died on May 16, 1265 in Bordeaux, France. His feast day is May 16.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

St. Honore (? to May 16, 600)

One of my cousin Dorothy's favorite things about my house was that we could eat all the sweets we wanted. Since candy was one of my mother's favorite things, along with Wise potato chips, there was always an abundance for us to choose from. But, we kids would also go to the Treasure Chest in Centredale, next to Uncle Tony's pizza, to get our fill.
We loved penny candy treats like Mary Janes and Squirrel Nuts, boxes of Black Crows and Juju fruits, shoelace stawberry licorice (and then later Twizzlers), and our favorite drink we would make with crushed up fruit flavored Certs.
We were never denied candy except for one day when we broke into the gumball machine and Dorothy got sick.
And, our favorite baked goods were my mom's black midnight chocolate cake with mocha frosting and lemon-filled pudding cupcakes.
When I decided to write about the patron saint of confectioners and bakers, I was quite surprised to find that St. Honore's (St. Honorius) feast day is today, May 16.
It was a one in 365 chance which is pretty amazing!
He was born in Port-le-Grand, France and became bishop of Amiens. Countless bakeries are named for him and the world famous boulevard in Paris. He died on May 16, 600.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

St. David (c.500 to March 1, 589)

When I was in seventh grade, I decided that I'd only eat vegetables for the rest of my life. This was because I had to dissect a frog in science class. My classmate did the cutting while I watched. It reminded me of meat so that was it.
That evening, as my mother prepared my favorite hamburgers, I made the announcement that I would never eat meat again.
"That's foolish," my mother said. "A frog looks more like a vegetable."
Maybe she was thinking of a cucumber. But, it didn't matter to me, her reverse psychologically would not work that night. So, for an indefinite amount of time, I restricted my diet to things like white rice, cheese ravioli, salad, and homemade macaroni and cheese. Eventually, the fad wore off and I was back to eating breaded chicken cutlets and roast beef with au jus.
St. David is the patron saint of vegetarians. He was born in Wales c.500. He was a Celtic monk, abbot, and bishop.
St. David died on March 1, 589 and is also the patron saint of Wales. His feast day is March 1.

Friday, May 14, 2010

St. Nicholas of Flue (1417 to March 21, 1487)

"Will I be able to find a store that sells cuckoo clocks?" I asked at the outdoor cafe in Geneva, Switzerland.
"You certainly will," said my waiter with a chuckle.
As I set out that morning to explore the city, it was like something out of a children's picture book. It seemed that around every corner was a clock shop. My mother had wanted a Black Forest cuckoo clock for so many years and now I was surrounded by them. Each shopkeeper would ask if I'd like him to wind one up, until there would be 20 going at once.
I finally decided on a brightly colored one with lumberjacks that danced around and made with the finest wood. I had it mailed back home and it arrived there safely before I returned from my vacation.
Today, it's a favorite with my little nephews Jack and Eric.
My best memories of Switzerland include milk chocolate and delicious cheeses, and of course, the Swiss Alps.
One of the patron saints is St. Nicholas of Flue. He was born in 1417 in Unterwalden, Switzerland. He was a soldier who married a farmer's daughter at age 30 and had 10 children.
St. Nicholas of Flue had many visions, one which involved a horse eating a lily. He decided to leave his family and become a hermit (his wife agreed with it). He helped a priest set up a chapel and serve Mass. For 19 years, St. Nicholas of Flue lived on the Eucharist as his only sustenance.
He died on March 21,1487 in Sachsein. Canonized: 1947. His feast day is March 21.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

St. Martina of Rome (? to c.228)

"Be sure to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain," so many people told me when they knew I was going to Rome, Italy.
Always having a mind of my own, I've never liked to be told what to do. So, I have never thrown a coin in the Trevi Fountain, and miraculously, I've been to the Eternal City three times. Everyone I know who's thrown a coin in has never returned.
My first time to Rome, I arrived by train in the middle of the night. I had my face pressed against the window as we pulled up at Roma Termini, yet the city was lit up and alive with music, food, and dance. I was whisked away in a taxi to my hotel. And, when I awoke the next morning, I was in heaven.
Gelato with breakfast, gelato with lunch, gelato with dinner.
I was told that Firenze (Florence) was much nicer and to go there. But, I wanted to see Rome. My dad who was stationed at Bentwaters Air Force Base near Ipswich, England for three years, said the best time he had in the service, was the weekend he went to Rome. His name was chosen in a lottery and the then 20-year-old and some friends took a whirlwind tour of the city.
To this day, along with neighboring Assisi, it's my favorite European city. One of its patrons is St. Martina, who was martyred under Pope Urban I. She was orphaned at an early age then tortured and beheaded for her faith c.228.
In 1634, St. Martina's relics were found near Mamertine prison at the Roman Forum. Her feast day is January 30 and the church in her honor is Santi Luca e Martina in Rome.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

St. Christopher (? to c.251)

Something terrible happened in 1969. St. Christopher's feast day was removed from the Roman Catholic calendar of saints. So, although devotion to him is recognized, the beloved patron saint of travellers is no more.
What happens to the medals and the prayer cards? Are they now collector's items? Do they no longer "work?" And, what about all the paintings of him?
St. Christopher is now a mere legend who was born in Canaan. Of the many stories that were told, my favorite is when he was crossing a river and a child stopped him and asked to be carried across.
St. Christopher picked up the young boy who was so heavy which made many people believe that it was the Christ Child carrying the weight of the world upon his back. Thus, St. Christopher became the patron saint of travellers.
He was martyred during the reign of Decius c.251. in Asia Minor. His former feast day is July 25.
The cookbook "Twelve Months of Monastery Soups" by Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette offers a St. Christopher Soup for the month of May. The ingredients include: 8 cups vegetable broth, half a medium-sized red cabbage, and 8 tablespoons of lemon juice. The mixture should sit in a bowl for an hour and be stirred from time to time.
Bring to a boil and cook for five minutes. Serve immediately. It makes six servings. This is said to be a French remedy for hangovers. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

St. Joachim (1st century)

I was fortunate to know both my grandfathers.
Grandpa Fred's parents were from Quebec, Canada and he was the eighth child. He worked in the mills in Esmond and had a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Grandpa Anthony, an architect, built homes that were affordable and he would literally give them away.
"Pay me when you have the money," Grandpa Anthony would say. He was so kind and so generous. I think he did this because he knew what it was like to go without. He came to this country in steerage.
The night before Grandpa Anthony died, Pope John Paul II's visit to Boston was televised. Grandpa Anthony did not want to see "the damn Pope. Just check my lottery tickets on the daily numbers at 7:30 p.m.," he said from his deathbed. "I might win tonight!"
St. Joachim, who was born in the first century, is the patron saint of grandfathers. He was the husband of St. Anne and the father of the Virgin Mary. He died in Jerusalem. Canonized: pre-congregation. His feast day is July 26 along with St. Anne.

Monday, May 10, 2010

St. Dymphna (7th century)

One night, nearly a decade ago, and back when there was a telephone at my house, I received a distressed call from an ex-boyfriend. It was a Friday night, so normally I wouldn't be home. But, by chance, I happened to be watching television.
In muffled and barely distinguishable voice, he said, "I just want you to know, I'm sorry for what I did to you."
It came as a surprise because he was the furthest thing from my mind and he could have been apologizing to me for any number of reasons. Besides, he was never one to admit he was wrong about anything.
Then, he said, "I've taken a bottle of pills," and dropped the telephone receiver.
Had I been a jerk, I'd have hung up the phone and forgotten about him. I'd have thought about his promiscuity and the time he said, "I'm not monogamous, but I don't sleep around" or when he broke my heart, the first time.
But, instead, I tried desperately to help. I thought, "he's a human being and I can't let him die."
I couldn't get a dial tone from my phone because he was still on it. So, I drove very quickly to the police station which was about 12 minutes from my house.
I was told to wait in the lobby, while an ambulance to his house. The dispatcher asked me if his dogs were violent. I said "no," and the EMTs managed to break open the front door to his house.
He was rushed to a local mental hospital where his stomach was pumped and he stayed there for a month under strict medical care.
He had pinned a suicide note to his shirt which his parents later told me about and, although he had a girlfriend at the time, he wrote that I was the only person who truly cared about him despite our differences.
I'm not even sure if that's true from my end, but I visited him for a week or so at the hospital (he refused to see his own parents or brother) until I couldn't take it anymore. All I could think of was what a waste of a life. Now I realize, he couldn't help himself. He's manic depressive bipolar.
I've got to give him one thing, he told me when we first started dating about his illness. But, since I knew him in high school, and he always seemed functional, I thought he was exaggerating. He was tall, dark, and handsome, so a litte bit of self-proclaimed craziness was fine with me.
We dated on and off for 9 years. We had a lot in common including no interst in marriage or children (although he did propose with an engagement ring in desperation at one point) and needing time alone.
Perhaps what I liked best about him was that he'd have sex with me whenever and wherever I wanted: at the top of Narragansett's Hannah Robinson Tower at the junction of Routes 1 and 138 in full view of traffic, driving in his truck on Route 95 in Connecticut in the high speed lane, and in a foot of snow up against a soda vending machine in the village of Harmony.
  Many years after I left him, he said, "I always thought we'd be together no matter what."
  Today, he celebrates his 49th birthday and is as confused as ever. May he find peace in some way.
St. Dymphna, who was born in 7th century Ireland, is the patron saint of depression and mental illness. Her father was an Irish pagan king and her mother a Christian.
When she was 14-years-old her mother died and her father searched far and wide for a similar wife. Since St. Dymphna was the only person like her mother, townspeople suggested to her father that she be the replacement.
The young girl fled to Belgium and her father found her a year later. He cut off her head with a sword. St. Dymphna died a martyr and her feast day is May 15.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

St. Margaret of Cortona (1247 to Feb. 22, 1297)

My mother passed away on Aug. 2, 1999. I still miss her and I always will. In some way, she is in my thoughts each day. Time does not heal all pain. My opinion is that it was said in order to calm people down when someone they love passes away.
To keep from being sad all day, I've chosen to celebrate Mother's Day in a different way. Let's reflect on single mothers for a change.
Their patron saint is St. Margaret of Cortona. She was born in Tuscany, Italy in 1247. When she was 17-years-old she moved in with a gentleman named Arsenio. He refused to marry her and she had a child out of wedlock.
One day when Arsenio didn't return home, St. Margaret of Cortona found out that he had been murdered. So, to heal her pain she joined the Third Order of St. Francis. She died in Cortona on Feb. 22, 1297. Canonized:1278. Her feast day is Feb. 22.
St. Margaret of Cortona is also the patron saint of tramps and third children.

(Mother's Day Memorial: Mom, you will always be remembered. Aug. 2, 1999)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

St. Benedict of Nursia (480 to 574)

When it came time for me to do the genealogy of my mother's family, she informed me that I wouldn't be able to get my grandfather's birth certificate or any other records because he was from Cassino, Italy which was destroyed during the Battle of Monte Cassino in WWII.
Allied air-raids mistakenly believed that Monte Cassino Monastery was a German stronghold. Instead women and children from Cassino were staying there. The monastery was later completely rebuilt.
This was always a sensitive topic at home. By the time I was able to visit Monte Cassino, in November 1991, my grandfather's cousin, Abbot Emeritus Martino Matronola, O.S.B., was 88-years-old. I took the train from Rome and then a bus to the monastery. They told me I couldn't see him because he could not have female visitors. But, I was invited to stay for vespers.
I did, although I was so disappointed that I couldn't meet my grandfather's last surviving cousin. He ended up dying in May 1994.
St. Benedict who was born in Nursia (Norcia), Italy in 480 founded Monte Cassino Monastery around 529. It had been a pagan site with a temple to Apollo.
St. Benedict was the twin brother of St. Scholastica and the founder of the Benedictine Order.
He died at the monastery in 574. Canonized: 1220. St. Benedict's feast day is July 11.

Friday, May 7, 2010

St. Francis Borgia (Oct. 28, 1510 to Sept. 30, 1572)

Many times I'd awaken in the middle of the night to the sound of my now ex-husband playing the theme music from "The Exorcist" on the piano. He knew I was afraid of the movie, like most Roman Catholics, and he being Jewish found it amusing.
So, when he cried hysterically a couple of years later when I filed for divorce, I thought about the many cruel things he had done to me and all but laughed in his face.
Although St. Francis Borgia is the patron saint against earthquakes, one of the creepiest paintings I've ever seen is by Francisco Goya which shows him performing an exorcism.
St. Francis Borgia was born in Valencia, Spain on Oct. 28, 1510. He was the third Superior General of the Society of Jesus and a Spanish Jesuit. He died in Rome, Italy on Sept. 30, 1572 and his feast day is Oct. 10.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

St. Eligius (c.588 to Dec. 1, 660)

When it's time to fill up my gas tank, I go to the full service station just down the street from my house. Usually in the early morning, there's a young girl who works the pumps.
"I'm so glad to see you," she said to me at 6:30 this morning. "How was your trip to Alaska?"
Just as I was about to say fantastic and a nice change from Narragansett, a guy in the car next to me yelled out to her "hurry the F up, I'm late for work."
"I get this all the time," she said in her always calm demeanor. "But, I love my job."
And, this got me to thinking that we should be more mindful of how we treat the people that help us each day. Gas station attendants are not slaves.
St. Eligius, who was a bishop of Noyon-Tournai, France, is the patron saint of gas station attendants. He was born in Limoges c.588 and spent 20 years converting pagans in Flanders to Christianity. He founded several monasteries. St Eligius died in Noyon on Dec. 1, 660.
He is also the patron saint of horses and goldsmiths. His feast day is Dec. 1.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12)

"She appeared to Juan Diego
And she left her image on his cape
Five hundred years of sorrow
Have not destroyed their deepest faith." (Tom Russell)

On Dec. 9, 1531, as St. Juan Diego, a peasant, made his way to daily Mass (a 15-mile walk), he heard a lovely voice as he passed Tepeyac Hill.
"Build a church," said the woman, dressed like an Aztec princess. He recognized the beautiful woman as the Virgin Mary, but when he told the bishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, the bishop insisted he ask the woman for a miraculous sign to prove it.
So, the Virgin Mary told St. Juan Diego to gather flowers at the top of Tepeyac Hill. This would be highly unlikely since the ground was covered with snow and ice.
But, behold, he found roses in full bloom which he gathered and brought to the Virgin Mary.
As we all know, she rearranged them in his cloak and miraculously the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared imprinted on it. The relic is still intact and is located at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Our Lady of Guadalupe feast day is Dec. 12.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

St. Claude de la Colombiere (Feb. 2, 1641 to Feb. 15, 1682)

"Toyland, toyland, little girl and boy land... once you pass its borders, you can never return again."

Colorforms, Lite-Brite, Candy Land, Barbie dolls, these were all my favorite toys. I loved being a kid and playing with my cousins and friends.
Today's blog entry is dedicated to St. Claude de la Colombiere, a priest and the patron saint of toymakers. He was born in Grenoble, France on Feb. 2, 1641 and entered the Society of Jesus at age 18.
St. Claude de la Colombiere died on Feb. 15, 1682. Canonized: 1992. His feast day is Feb. 15.

Monday, May 3, 2010

St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet (Jan. 9, 1843 to Aug. 26, 1897)

Some of my happiest days as a child were spent with my grandparents. I had all four of them until I was seven years old when my parental grandmother died. My parental grandfather died when I was 12, maternal grandfather when I was 15, and maternal grandmother when I was 33.
I loved climbing the cherry tree in my grandmother Isabel's yard and sitting up there for hours eating the delicious fruit. Then, when it was time for dinner she'd send me to the garden to get vegetables. One day, my grandmother sent me out to get sweet peas and I ate the entire crop.
Sometimes we would take the bus down city to Providence to go shopping and have lunch. Other days, we'd go to Centredale to buy dolls.
When we would visit my grandparents at night, as soon as I got out of the car, I would run to the window by the back door and look into the basement window which was level with the ground. If my grandfather Anthony was sitting in front of the fireplace, I'd be able to see him. Then, I'd go inside the house and downstairs to be with him.
The only time I was afraid to be in the basement, was if we were upstairs and my grandfather would say I could have soda pop but I'd have to go to the refrigerator alone which was located in the kitchen at the back of the basement.
"I'm too old," grandpa would say. "But, I will wait at the top of the stairs for you and you can talk to me while you get the soda pop."
I always got lemon and lime, and it was from the Yacht Club bottlers which was just down the street from their house.
I loved my grandparents unconditionally and they loved me.
When I got older and went away to college and then got married, I had less time to be with them. If only I could go back in time and be with all of them again. If only I'd known how short life was back when I was small child.
One of the cutest things that I ever said, I've been told, was the time my grandfather Anthony showed me a photo of himself (pictured in a detail above) with his own grandparents when he was three or four-years-old.
"That's not you," I said. "You were not a little boy."
I recently asked my Aunt Betty why she and my parents didn't tell us that we would only have our grandparents for a short time. She said that they didn't want to scare us kids and that we should be happy for all the wonderful memories that we have.
Whenever I see senior citizens finding it hard to get around or by themselves, I often help them or say hello. I should do it more often.
My own dad will be 80 next March. And, I want to spend more time with him.
St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet (also called St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet y Ibars) was the founder of the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Aged or the Little Sisters of the Poor. She helped the elderly who lived in poverty or alone.
St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet was born in Catalonia, Spain on Jan. 9, 1843. She is a patron saint of senior citizens. She died on Aug. 26, 1897. Canonized: 1974. Her feast day is Aug. 26.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

St. Anthony Mary Claret (Dec. 23, 1807 to Oct. 24, 1870)

I did something incredible this week: paid off my credit card. All $2,800 of it. Working 40 hours a week pays, literally. I slacked off somewhat during the winter. Who doesn't like to sleep in when it's cold and snowy outside? I also got rid of my credit card and changed banks.
But, now for the spiritual side. There are two ways to keep from stressing out about money. Light a green candle and believe (I do this whenever I'm home. Just remember to blow it out when you leave the house)! Think money, abundance, prosperity, and wealth.
If you don't have one handy, there's always St. Anthony Mary Claret to ask for guidance. He was an archbishop and missonary who was born in Catalonia, Spain on Dec. 23, 1807. He founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary known as the Claretians in 1849. The group's primary focus is to view life through the eyes of the poor.
St. Anthony Mary Claret taught the poor to save money. He is the patron saint of savings banks and saving money. He died on Oct. 24, 1870 in Narbonne, France. Canonized: 1950. His feast day is Oct. 24.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

St. John Vianney (May 8, 1786 to Aug. 4, 1859

All families have a favorite priest. Ours was Father Paul and we've known him for more than 35 years.
He was with us for numerous weddings and funerals, and it wouldn't be a party without him there. He loved the way my mom cooked and I still remember him calling our house to say he'd love chicken cutlets for dinner. When he was eating "light," it might be just eight meatballs with spaghetti or six hamburgers off the grill. The evening culminated with card games like High-Low-Jack, and Father Paul would be right in there cursing with everyone else.
He was also the person I could count on when I needed a new rosary blessed. When my parents put the addition on our house, I insisted Father Paul bless each and every room including the two bathrooms and the basement.
One of last times I saw him was when he served my mother's funeral Mass many years ago. I selected and did the first reading (Ecclesiastes 3), and Father Paul said in all his years, he'd never seen a daughter keep her composure at such an emotional time.
He is a very special person in our family which brings to mind the patron saint of priests.
St. John Vianney was born on May 8, 1786 in Dardilly, France. He was ordained in 1815 and could be found hearing confessions between 12 to 16 hours a day. He had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother.
St. John Vianney was known as the Cure D'Ars. He died on Aug. 4, 1859 in Ars-sur-Formans, France. Canonized: 1925. His feast day is Aug. 4.