Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallows Eve

   Halloween is as exciting for me now as it was when I was a child. From my earliest memory of dressing up as Little Red Riding Hood and visiting my Aunt Violet and Uncle Frank... to when I was a 14-year-old watching the original "Halloween" when it hit the movie theaters with my friends in 1978... to, today, as I carve a huge jack-o-lantern in record time, roast pumpkins seeds, and dress for the occasion (last year, I was Blessed Kateri Tekawitha, and this year, I'm a coyote).
   Yet, the real reason for the day is more often than not overshadowed by ghosts, goblins, or princesses. It is the vigil of All Saints Day (Nov. 1): an evening that should be filled with light. In a world abundant with sin, greed, hate, and poverty, the saints will help light our way.
  In preparation for All Saints Day, I recall this quote by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta:
  "Keep in mind that our community is not composed of people who are already saints, but of those who are trying to become saints. Therefore let us be extremely patient with each other's faults and failures."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Blessed John Slade (? to Nov. 2, 1583)

  "Halloween," "The Thing," "The Bride of Chucky," "Practical Magic," and "From Dusk Till Dawn," are on 24/7 this weekend and they're all movies that people recognize. However, there's a gruesome death that really did happen and few people know about.
  Blessed John Slade was born in Manston, Dorsetshire, England. He was educated at New College in Oxford and later worked as a schoolteacher.
  But, Blessed John Slade was true to his faith and refused to accept King Henry XIII's spiritual beliefs. So, on Nov. 2, 1583 Blessed John Slade was hanged, drawn, and quartered.
  He was beatified on Dec. 15, 1929, just a week after being named a venerable. His feast day is today.

Friday, October 29, 2010

St. Stanislaw Soltys Kazimierczyk (Sept. 27, 1433 to May 3, 1489)

   A major literary agent in Boston contacted me today to say that although she loves "A Sinner's Guide to the Saints" and will continue to read it, she doesn't like Roman Catholic things. Is this because she's Jewish?
  My intent is create a body of work that is spiritual and available to people of all religions. From the feedback that I'm getting, it exceeds anything I could have imagined. The saints are available to help all of us is, in part, my mantra.
  The literary agent added that my personal anecdotes and adventures to basilicas, shrines, and such throughout Europe. Canada, and the United States would make this book one of mass appeal because it encompasses so many things that cannot be replicated.
  She closed by saying she is certain an enthusiastic editor or agent will contact me soon.
  I'm surprised that in this day and age, someone would feel a prejudice toward Roman Catholics, especially someone of a religion that is so frequently bashed. I understand she has a personal and professional bias for working with authors of her own faith, so I respect her honesty.
  However, if you insult a Jew, it's antisemitic and considered a hate crime. If you insult a Roman Catholic, it seems to be okay.
  When I was a young girl attending Mass at St. Michael's Church in Georgiaville, Rhode Island, one of the priests was the late Father Edward Flannery, author of the "Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism."
  Indeed, it was an honor to know Father Flannery.  His book was published a year after I was born in 1965 and it is still being reprinted. It was his life's mission to reconcile Christians and Jews. Sometimes I wonder if listening to Father Flannery speak influenced my decision to marry a Jewish guy (my now ex-husband who I've been divorced from for more than 20 years) when I was 22-years-old.
  There is no patron saint against religious prejudice, so I've decided to write about St. Stanislaw Soltys Kazimierczyk, one of the six most recent saints canonized on Oct. 17, 2010.
  He was born on Sept. 27, 1433 in Kazimierz, Poland. He joined the Canons Regular of the Lateran in 1456. St. Stanislaw Soltys Kazimierczyk was a priest who earned two doctorates in theology and philosophy from Jagiellonian University of Krakow. He was a good friend of St. John Cantius.
  St. Stanislaw Soltys Kazimierczyk died on May 3, 1489 and his feast day is May 5.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

St. Dionysius the Aeropagite (? to c.95)

"You shall not allow a sorceress to live." (Exodus 22:18)

It's the time of year when I wonder what it would have been like to live during the Salem Witch Trials. Being from New England, I think about visiting Salem every October although I do go there several times a year on the "off season."
Short of giving a history lesson, here's a quick refresher. In February 1692, Abigail Williams, age 11, and her cousin, Betty Parris, age 9, began throwing fits or seizures. A local doctor suggested it was "bewitchment." But, most of the townspeople said the girls were doing it for attention or had experienced food poisoning. Sometimes I think that if I were Abigail or Betty and had to live in Puritan New England, I probably would have done the same thing with my cousins, to spark some excitement.
In 1976, a scholar/scientist claimed that perhaps the strange behavior of Abigail and Betty was caused by eating fungus-infected rye.
Whatever the reason, it sparked the Salem Witch Trials, causing the deaths of 19 innocent people. The cousins soon had a following of young teenage girls who also acted in demonic fashion.
One of the first three people accused of being a witch was a slave named Tituba. Of course, she wasn't one. However, after being tormented by her accusers, she "confessed" that she had spoken with the Devil and thus set off the hysteria.
St. Dionysius the Aeropagite is the patron saint against the Devil. He lived during the time of Jesus Christ and a legend is told that he observed an eclipse during the Crucifixion (depicted above).
St. Dionysius the Aeropagite was converted by St. Paul. He was the first bishop of Athens, Greece. He died a martyr in c.95 and his feast day is Oct. 9.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

St. Candida Maria of Jesus (March 31, 1845 to Aug. 9, 1912)

  When my mother was applying to colleges, my grandfather told her she could be either a registered architect like he was, a teacher, or a nurse. That was it. She desperately wanted to move to New York and study to be an investigative reporter, but he would not hear it.
  My mother earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education and was a school teacher for 35 years. Back then, in the mid 1950s, when she graduated from high school, women were expected to get married and have a family. Men were the ones who went to college, so I've been told.
  But, one of the newest Roman Catholic saints, St. Candida Maria of Jesus, who was canonized on Oct. 17, 2010, made it part of her life's mission to help women have a proper education. And this was in the 1800s.
  She was born Juana Josefa Cipitria Barriola on March 31, 1845 in Guipuzcoa, Spain. When she was 18, she left home to work as a maid, but soon had a spiritual calling.
  St. Candida Maria of Jesus founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1871. Her spiritual teachings were based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
  She worked to help women and children through education and the establishment of schools and colleges.  St. Candida Maria of Jesus died in Salamanca, Spain on Aug. 9, 1912 and her feast day is Aug. 9.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

St. Timothy (c.17 to c.80)

    "Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you."   (Princess Diana)

   It's tough to see good people go through bad times. Eighteen months ago, my friend Liane lost her job. She had bills to pay and no other means of income. She also had family problems. But, instead of sitting around feeling sorry for herself, she made an effort to find new employment.  A few months later, she was hired by another company.
  Now, she is six months pregnant and is expecting a daughter. Liane has colitis so she's on medication and will have a C-section on Jan. 24, which is the feast day of St. Timothy, the patron saint against intestinal disease. Since there's no such thing as a coincidence, I'm certain it's an indicator she'll be fine.
  St. Timothy was born c.17 to a Christian father and a Jewish mother. At age 30, he became a follower of St. Paul the Apostle.
  St. Timothy had a strong knowledge of the Scriptures and travelled with St. Paul the Apostle who named him bishop of Ephesus in 65. He was stoned to death c.80 because he refused to recognize Dionysius, a pagan God.
  The painting above of St. Timothy and his pious grandmother is by Rembrandt.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Blessed John Licci (1400 to Nov. 14, 1511)

   On my way into the supermarket yesterday, after a hearty brunch and refreshing walk along an Aquidneck Island beach, I spoke with an acquaintance whose son had a brain injury seven years ago.
  Apparently, the kid was in a fight when he was 19-years-old and never fully recovered from the blow to his head.
  "It's something I have to deal with every day," said Pete, looking exhausted. "It's a daily battle. My son is disagreeable, confused, and he won't keep appointments. He'll be this way for the rest of his life."
  I don't know Pete that well, so I certainly couldn't offer my idea to him, lest he think I'm a religious whack job. But, I'm often asked how a blessed becomes a saint by people who know I write this blog.
  Blessed John Licci (also known as Blessed Giovanni Liccio), the patron against head injuries, needs one more miracle to reach sainthood. At this point, the number of miracles needed is two.
  Even though Pete's son already received a head injury, he could be cured by intercession through Blessed John Licci who was born in Caccamo, Palermo, Sicily, Italy in 1400.
  Blessed John Licci's mother died in childbirth and his father often had to leave him to work in the fields. The baby's diet consisted of mashed pomegranate. It was considered Italian peasant food along with polenta. Although, today, both are considered delicacies in a way, or are on menus in fancy restaurants. (I used to share pomegranates with my own grandfather when I was a  kid.)
   A legend is told that one day, the cries of  baby Blessed John Licci, who had been left unattended, were heard by a neighbor. The woman took him into her house and cared for him while his father working. She put the baby next to her paralyzed husband and his disease was cured.
  The woman told Blessed John Licci's father what had happened and at first he didn't believe her.  But, as soon as the baby went home, the husband returned to being paralyzed. When Blessed John Licci's father took him back to the neighbor's house, the man's paralysis was cured.
  So, the woman was allowed to care for the baby, so that her husband could walk.
  At age 15, Blessed John Licci joined the Dominicans. He was in the order as a priest for 96 years, thought to be the longest time ever for a member.
  Blessed John Licci founded the convent of St. Zita. He died on Nov. 14, 1511 at age 111. He was beatified on April 25, 1753.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

St. Ulrich of Augsburg (c.890 to July 4, 973)

    More than a decade before my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she and my father did a novena for a happy death. I recall her being hopeful that when her time was up, she would leave this world in a peaceful way.
  So, when I watched my mother suffer through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, lose all her hair, and dwindle down to under 70 lbs. at a very young age, it saddened me that the happy death novena didn't work. Through it all, she never complained. And, I encouraged her that the cancer would go away and she would be cured.
  I often wish that I had prayed harder to the saints or a blessed for her recovery. I spent countless nights at St. Anne's Shrine in Fall River, Mass. lighting candles and asking for divine intervention, although in my heart, I knew the cancer would take her life.
  The French essayist Jean de la Bruyere once said, "Out of difficulties grow miracles." In the situation I write about, it wasn't meant to be.
   Who knows? Maybe my mother did have a happy death and she just didn't feel the need to talk about it.  Perhaps she felt comfort from within during her final days. At least I'd like to believe that.
  The first saint to be officially canonized by the Vatican on July 4, 993, was St. Ulrich of Augsburg, the patron saint of a happy death.
  He was born c.890 in Zurich, Switzerland. St. Ulrich of Augsburg lived a life of humility, poverty, and simplicity. He studied at the monastic school of St. Gall in Switzerland. In 924, he was named the bishop of Augsburg, Germany.
  St. Ulrich of Augsburg died on July 4, 973. It only took 20 years for him to become a saint. His feast day is July 4.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

St. Mary MacKillop (Jan. 15, 1842 to Aug. 8, 1909)

   When people bash the Roman Catholic Church, one of the first things they complain about is pedophile priests. This is certainly not what the earlier popes wanted to happen when they imposed celibacy on the priesthood. However, the sin of child molestation is certainly not confined to clergymen.
   There's a much wider societal problem than that.  But, priests seem to be the easiest target. The "don't ask, don't tell" attitude has not benefitted the Roman Catholic Church. In my opinion, psychological testing during their time in the seminary might weed out potential offenders.
  Still, the problem isn't something new. Last Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010, St. Mary MacKillop, who was excommunicated for a period of five months in 1871 for exposing a pedophile priest, was canonized the first Roman Catholic saint from Australia.
  She was born in Fitzroy, Melbourne on Jan. 15, 1842, the oldest of eight children in a poverty-stricken family. St. Mary MacKillop is also known as St. Mary of the Cross. She taught Aboriginal school children for free.
   She  co-founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1866, a group of women dedicated to helping the sick and poor. St. Mary MacKillop and, more than 45 nuns in her order, were excommunicated from the church, in part, for exposing a pedophile priest. The bishop later revoked his decision.
   St. Mary MacKillop died on Aug. 8, 1909 and her feast day is Aug. 8.

Friday, October 22, 2010

St. Pharaildis (c.650 to c.740)

  After work today, I stopped by a local shoe repair store, and was greeted by a large crucifix (the size you 'd see in a church) as I entered the door.  I asked the cobbler, whose name was Mike, the story behind it (although it was my first time meeting him) and he told me he found it in a dumpster the day he was given a four percent chance of surviving melanoma.
  "The doctors told me my chances of  living were pretty slim and, the same day, I found that," Mike said, pointing to the crucifix above the doorway. "It saved me, but not my daughter or wife."
  Mike talked openly about his 8-year-old child dying from cancer (the fifth-year anniversary of her death was the next day) and how four months later, on Valentine's Day, his wife died unexpectedly from a tumor on her ovary.
  "The doctors in the emergency room kept telling her it was stress pains from the loss of our daughter," he continued. "I took her to the hospital four times and they said it was nothing. She died in the ER."
  When my shoes were ready, I thanked Mike for sharing his story and wished him well with his store. He said he works non-stop to keep his mind off depressing things like illness and death.
   "If you don't mind my asking, do you believe in God?" I said.
  Mike said he'd survived car crashes, gunshot wounds, and cancer, so his answer was "yes."
  When I left the store, I realized the insignificance of my worrying about trivial things. That Mike losing a daughter was something serious.
  St. Pharaildis is the patron saint against childhood illness. She was born in Ghent, Belgium c.650 and was the sister of St. Gudula.
  St. Pharaildis took a vow of chastity before she was forced to marry a rich nobleman. He physically abused her because she would not have sex with him. She insisted that she was "married" to God and would spend late nights praying in the church.
  Finally, her husband died, and the widowed St. Pharaildis was free. She created a well where the waters cured sick children. She died c.740 and her feast day is Jan. 4.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

St. Giulia Salzano (Oct. 13, 1846 to May 17, 1929)

  When I was a kid, the most popular catechism teachers were the ones that gave out candy at the end of class. Obviously, it was a way to keep the unruly students in line. I was one of the few who didn't need an incentive to stay in my seat and learn about the Holy Ghost, the Apostles, or the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
  Aside from loving ballet class, my second favorite "hobby" along with astrology was learning about the lives of the saints. I liked looking at their pictures in books and wondering what it would be like to be martyred.
  This week, on Oct. 17, 2010, six Roman Catholic saints were canonized. Among them were St. Andre Bessette whose home (St. Joseph Oratory in Montreal, Canada) I visited at age 12, two years before he was venerated, and St. Camilla Battista de Varano, an Italian princess, nun, and member of the Poor Clares.
  St. Giulia Salzano, was also canonized this week. She was a teacher and catechist born on Oct. 13, 1846 in Santa Maria Capua Vetere, Caserta, Italy.
  St. Giulia Salzano was raised and educated by the Sisters of Charity in the Royal Orphanage of  St. Nicola La Strada until she was in her teens. She founded the Congregation of the Catechetical Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1905. Her deepest devotion was to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
  St. Giulia Salzano died on May 17, 1929 in Casoria, Naples and her feast day is May 17.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

St. Camilla Battista da Varano (April 9, 1458 to May 31, 1524)

  "Two angels came to me, dressed in resplendent white garments which I have seen only worn by Jesus. They had wings of gold. One of them took my soul from the right side, the other from the left side, and they elevated it in the air, laying it down near the crucified feet of the Son of God made Man."
        (Camilla Battista da Varano, 1491)

  Nearly 500 years after her death, St. Camilla Battista da Varano, a princess, a member of the Poor Clares, and a prolific writer, was canonized a saint on Oct. 17, 2010. It's an exciting contrast to St. Andre Bessette, also canonized that day, who lived in the 20th century.
   St. Camilla Battista da Varano was born in Camerino, Macerata, Italy, on the Adriatic coast on April 9, 1458. Her father wanted her to have a husband, but she chose to enter the Poor Clares convent in Urbano at age 23.
  The order was founded by St. Clare of Assisi who I first learned about at age 7, when I was taken against my will to see the Franco Zeffirelli film "Brother Sun, Sister Moon." Twenty years later, as a curious skeptic, I visited Assisi, Italy because of the movie and the experience of seeing the robe, sandals, and pillow (rock) of St. Francis, changed my life.
  At age 25, St. Camilla Battista da Varano relocated to the monastery of Santa Maria Nuova in Camerino. Her father and brothers were killed under the persecution of Cesare Borgia in 1502.
  Among her many writings was an autobiography written in 1491 and cited in the quote above. She died in Macerata on May 31, 1524 and her feast day is May 31.

 (The image of St. Camilla Battista da Varano is from Frati Minori di Puglia e Molise)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

St. Laura of Cordoba (? to 864)

This lovely image of  St. Laura of Cordoba is from

"Saint Laura, in her sleep of death,
Preserves beneath the tomb
---'Tis willed where what is willed must be---
In incorruptibility
Her beauty and her bloom."
                     (from Gryll Grange by Thomas Love Peacock, 1860)
  One summer, when I was in my teens, I had just finished boiling a dozen sweet corn for a cookout and was about to pour the water out and drain the ears into a colander in the sink. Unfortunately, the pot tipped backwards onto my bikini-clad body and the scalding water went, instead, onto my stomach.
  The pain was excruciating and I've yet to feel anything quite so horrible. I remember my cousins scrambling to put cold water and ice packs on my skin. My stomach hurt for several days, but the pain I felt is nothing compared to the martyrdom of St. Laura of Cordoba.
  She was born in Cordoba, Spain and lived amongst Muslims. After being widowed, St. Laura of Cordoba became a nun then eventually abbess at Cuteclara. The Muslims captured her and threw her into a pot of boiling oil, hence, she was scalded to death.
  St. Laura of Cordoba is recognized as one of the Martyrs of Cordoba. Her feast day is today.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Our Lady of Medjugorje

    Five months before Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia (Dec. 1991), I met a young guy from Sarajevo, who was in his twenties like me, on a train to Salerno, Italy.  He noticed I was American by my sneakers (which I tossed away that afternoon and replaced with Italian leather sandals for the duration of my trip) and said he was curious to know how I felt about the war that was going in Yugoslavia.
  He and his family had escaped from the country and were now trying to set up a home in Salerno, where his mother grew up.
  "All I know about Yugoslavia is a place called Medjugorje," I said slightly embarrassed. "That people have seen a remarkable light or something like it that there has to do with the Virgin Mary. My mom's friend, Jackie, went there and the metal on her rosary beads turned to gold."
  Since I had just had a life-altering experience in Assisi, Italy (birthplace of  St. Francis) a few days earlier, I was eager to know how the young man felt about God with his country being torn to pieces as we spoke.
  He said he didn't know what to believe and advised to me to stay away from Yugoslavia whether the Virgin Mary appeared there or not. I can still remember his fearful eyes and skinny body. He's the only person, I've ever met from Sarajevo.
  Still, I was fascinated by the story. On June 24, 1981, the apparitions began. Six children claim to have seen the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje (which was then part of socialist Yugoslavia). Maria Lunetti said she saw it every 25th day of the month and Mirjana Soldo on the 2nd day of the month, respectively.
  Since that time, 30 million people have visited the site where the sun spins around turning amazing colors with hearts and crosses whizzing by. Some people have gone blind from it; others have had miracles happen to them.
   On June 4, 2008, Pope Benedict blessed a statue of Our Lady of Medjugorje in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. Even though there are still many skeptics, on March 17, 2010 the Vatican announced it would begin a formal investigation of the apparitions appearing at Medjugorje.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

St. John the Dwarf (c.339 to c.405)

    (Image of  St. John the Dwarf by Michael Goltz)
  At an art show I worked at this weekend, I met a young girl who said she was a Roman Catholic, but didn't practice it.  It's not that I have conversations with people about religion every day. She just happened to notice the pink tank tops that were for sale with "A Sinner's Guide to the Saints" printed on them.
   I explained it's my blog and I write it help people, spiritual or otherwise.  The teen said she was interested in knowing more and would definitely check it out. So, I handed her a tank top as a gift which she gladly accepted.
  Since I started promoting Roman Catholic saint through this blog back in January, I've gotten a tremendous, positive response from the people who are reading it. They have no idea who I am, yet they've sent me comments thanking me for inspiring them.
  In my own life, I've had trouble "obeying," so I've been told. And it just happens to coincide with the feast day of St. John the Dwarf (Oct. 17) who is recognized for his obedience and humility.
  He was born in Basta, Egypt in c.339 and as a young boy moved to the desert of Scetes. St. John the Dwarf was a disciple of St. Pambo who one day told him to plant a stick in the ground and water it each day.
  St. John the Dwarf did not question it and for the next three years watered the stick twice a day. It involved walking 24 miles each day to get the water.
  Then, one day. the stick sprouted into a bountiful fruit tree. St. Pambo distributed the fruit to the older monks preaching, "take, eat from the fruit of obedience."
  The tree, known as the "Tree of Obedience," is said to still exist today in the deserted St. John the Dwarf monastery in the Nitrian Desert.
  Before his death in c.405, St. John the Dwarf moved to Mount Colzim, Egypt.

(St. Andre Bessette was canonized today at St. Peter's Square, the Vatican. Please read the blog entry I wrote on Feb. 19, 2010, when the announcement was made that Blessed Brother Andre would be declared a saint, by clicking on his name in blue lettering.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

St. Wolfgang of Ratisbon (924 to 994)

   Every couple of months, I go to an open mic with musician friends who want to hang out and play. I'm not big on this type of thing, since I had my fill with an ex-boyfriend who founded a state songwriter's association more than 20 years ago.
  But, this particular open mic is always a fun night, especially since it attracts a mixed crowd. There are teenagers who want to be "discovered," older folks who can no longer find a venue that will book them, average people passing through the city, and middle-aged non-musicians who are looking to pick up a date.
  But, the most unusual part of the night is the people in their seventies and eighties that make pencil drawings of the performers. It's impressive in that the open mic participants only do two or three songs and when they're finished, the portrait is too.
  Last night, at the open mic, I witnessed something very disturbing, which is the point of today's blog entry. There's a elderly man, partially paralyzed by a stroke, that's a regular attendee. When everyone was packing up to leave, another senior citizen, who is there every week, yelled and screamed at the man, saying that he spilled coffee on one of his drawings and he had better be more careful.
   How could someone treat another person that way? The man is paralyzed so, obviously, he has a problem with motor skills. The situation reminded me of the mother I saw on Block Island last weekend yelling and swearing at her young son because he was having trouble keeping up with her on his bicycle.
  There will always be people that treat the elderly and young children with disrespect. Even if there's not much I can do about it now, I'm certain that they'll get their payback time in purgatory.
   St. Wolfgang of Ratisbon is a patron saint of stroke victims. He was born in Swabia, Germany in 924. He was bishop of Bavaria from 972 to 994.
  St. Wolfgang was a dear friend to St. Aurelia, the hermitess. He spent his days doing charitable deeds for the sick and poor, preaching, promoting education, and restoring monasteries. St. Wolfgang died in 994. His feast day is Oct. 31, All Hallow's Eve.

Friday, October 15, 2010

St. Aurelia (? to 1027)

         "I want to be alone."      (Greta Garbo in Grand Hotel, 1932)

    No one ever seems to be happy with their living situation. I know a guy who hasn't been in a relationship in several years and whenever I see him he says he'd love to have a girlfriend to share his life and make a home with. Yet, a friend who has been married for 26 years, recently confided that she would love to live by herself. Come to find out, she suspects her husband is having an affair with a much younger co-worker.
  We all have days that we want to be alone. But, if you're the person who asked someone to move in with you, and they share the expenses, you should probably keep your mouth shut instead of saying "I wish I could go away on a vacation alone and get some quiet time."
  In other words, being in a relationship is a little give and a little take. Nothing about it will ever be perfect. So, if you're fantasizing about the woman or man who's 25 years younger, they're probably not easy to get along with either.
  Personally, I don't take people for granted. Maybe it's because I've experienced the deaths of so many close relatives. So, I know how short life is. Instead of complaining about the relationship you're in, get out it if you're not happy.
  St. Aurelia, a princess, was one tough woman. She didn't want to get married so took the easy way out. She became a hermitess and lived in a Benedictine Abbey in Salzburg, Austria for more than 50 years.
  The only person that knew she existed was St. Wolfgang, Bishop of Ratisbon. Today, living like a hermit wouldn't be practical. Still, it's nice to think that's a possibility.
  St. Aurelia's life in seclusion came to an end with her death in 1027. Her feast day is today.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

St. Angadrisma (615 to 695)

        "Having money is like being a blond. It is more fun but not vital."
                                                                                          (Mary Quant)

   I love to be told that I look nice. Who doesn't appreciate a compliment every once in a while? Of course, we all know it's what's inside the person that counts. Still, I do notice that many times it's the least physically attractive people that tend to laugh outlandishly or tell dirty jokes or do something to draw attention to themselves, and it works. All eyes are on them.
   In the case of St. Angadrisma, looks really did matter. And, that worked to her advantage. She was born in 615 and it was her wish to become a nun. Yet, it was arranged as such that she would wed St. Ansbert of Chausey.
  St. Angadrisma had the idea to pray and pray and pray that she would be allowed to pursue her dream job and contracted disfiguring leprosy just long enough for St. Ansbert of Chausey to find another woman to marry.
  The legend goes that once the wedding vows were taken, St. Angadrisma's leprosy disappeared. Now, free to do as she pleased, she studied under St. Omer and her cousin, St. Iaambert, in preparation for work. Then, she became the abbess of  the Benedictine monastery in Arver, France.
  St. Angadrima's story is one of happily ever after. By purposely losing the guy, she lived on her own terms as an independent woman until her death in 695. Her feast day is today.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

St. Bartholomew the Apostle (1st century)

      "Once you begin to believe there is help 'out there,' you will know it to be true."                     (St. Bartholomew)

   After a long, beautiful beach hike earlier this week, I returned to my car in the parking lot to find an elderly man with Alzheimer's disease lost and confused. I asked him if he was okay and he said that he was but didn't know where his car was or who brought him there.
  Fortunately, a town worker was on patrol and saw which car the man had emerged from. We figured that the people who took him there were walking the beach and had told him to stay put.
  It upset me. It was irreponsible and disturbing that he was left behind since he was wandering around and could have fallen, or worse, disappeared.
  I learned that his name was Armand and that he thought he was waiting for a man who sold automobiles in Fall River, Massachusetts. He told us to look at the vehicle registration to find out who owned the car. When we did, we learned that it was a rental.
  What concerned me was how Armand got on the island in the first place. After waiting with the town worker for more than a half hour, I decided to leave.  While I assured Armand that the person he was with would return for him and to just sit tight and wait, the town worker called the police to explain the predicament.
   Then that evening as I was waiting for the ferry, I spotted the town worker. He told me that five minutes after I had left, Armand's wife and daughter showed up. They thought he would have fallen on the rocky beach and that it was better for him to wait in the car.
  I was happy that Armand was safe. It just made me aware that similar situations must be happening all over the world, every day.
  St. Bartholomew (also known as Nathaniel) is the patron saint against neurological disorders. He was born in Galilee in the 1st century. He was a friend of St. Philip the Apostle who introduced him to Jesus. 
  It is thought that St. Bartholomew wrote a gospel that was lost. He preached in Ethiopia, Asia Minor, India, and Armenia, where he was flayed alive.
  His relics are at St. Bartholomew-on-the-Tiber Church in Rome, Italy and Canterbury Cathedral in England.  St. Bartholomew's feast day is Aug. 24.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

St. Gervasius and St. Protasius (2nd century)

   Twice, in the past five years, while I was beachcombing on Block Island, Rhode Island, I found a stone rare to Rhode Island called amazonite. Its color varies, but my pieces are light turquoise with delicate white stripes.
  Yesterday, I once again walking along a beach on Block Island and I thought I would find another piece of amazonite, since that would make three pieces, although I wasn't sure when. Then, 10 minutes later, my intuition set in and I knew I'd find more amazonite before our walk was finished.
  Amazonite is believed to inspire confidence and hope, align astral bodies, make marriages happy (is it going to waste on a single gal like me?), and calm the mind. If you sleep with a piece of it under your pillow, the clarity of your dreams will be incredible.
  A couple of hours later, I found two chunks of amazonite: a vivid turquoise and a greenish-yellow. They always appear to me in technicolor which makes me certain I'm one of the few people who can spot it among millions of other stones.
  Amazonite can be found in Colorado, Russia, and Canada. It is also mined in Baveno, Italy, close to the Swiss border. Baveno is also known for its famous red granite quarries which were used to make the spectacular columns at Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral).
  The city's patron saints are twin brothers, Gervasius and Protasius. They were born in Milan, Italy in the 2nd century.
  According to legend, their parents were Sts. Vitalis and Valeria. During the reign of Emperor Nero, St. Gervasius and St. Protasius met their fate. They were scourged and beheaded. Their feast day is June. 19.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Canadian Martyrs (17th century)

  Three nights on Block Island gave me insight into why so many people make it their year-round home, or, after a decade, decide to call it quits.
  They are drawn to its magic. They connect to the landscape. It's a place to find your inner self, make art, create, or explore. Then, the people that have had enough of the solitude or wild times or whatever it is that happens on a small island between January and December, pack up and leave.
   My grandmother was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, a place where my French ancestors settled in the late 1500s. And I believe that the mystique of island life was a part of me at birth.
   I don't have to go to an island to find myself, write, feel productive, or connect with nature. It's something that's already within me, although I do enjoy waking up at the crack of dawn with an ocean view outside my window and walking the beaches for hours upon when I stay on any island.
  The Canadian Martyrs are the patron saints of Canada. They were all born in France: St. Jean de Brebeuf, St. Noel Chabanel, St. Antoine Daniel, St. Charles Garnier, St. Rene Goupil, St.  Isaac Jogues, St. Jean de Lalande, and St. Gabriel Lalemont.
  The Canadian Martyrs died in the mid-17th century in Canada and upstate New York during the wars when the Iroquois attacked the Huron. The Iroquois were convinced the Jesuit priests were like the devil or evil spirits because their arrival coincided with the small pox epidemics.
  They were canonized in 1930 and their feast day is Sept. 26.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

St. Andronicus (239 to c.304)

  After walking a secluded beach this morning, in search of horseshoe crabs to send to a friend in Alaska, who has never seen them in person, I found my own treasure imbedded in the dirt in the parking lot. Lying face down. for who knows how long, was a sterling silver link bracelet with semi-precious aquamarine-colored stones. Perfect for a person born in March (that's me).
  The island attracts daytrippers, so it wasn't like I could post an advertisement in the newspaper with hopes that owner of the sterling silver bracelet would see it.  My interpretation is that I was searching for a "gift" for a friend and, in turn, found my own . Give and you shall receive.
  St. Andronicus is the patron saint of silversmiths. He was born in 239. He was arrested, mauled by animals, and then tortured by Roman soldiers. St. Andronicus died c.304 during the persecutions of Diocletian and Maximian. His feast day is Oct. 11.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

St. Deusdedit ( ? to c.836)

   My friend, the state poet laureate, went through a tough divorce during the past two years, and, still, she plugs along immersed in new projects and activities, always welcoming others to share in her life.
  It's something that we can learn by. If you are feeling alone or misunderstood or think you can't go on, find an outlet that you are most comfortable with and that will help release the pain. Write poems or music, go for walks, mentor, or just do something to help another person. Find peace within yourself. And then, celebrate.
  The saints that were martyred endured more pain and suffering than any of us can imagine. Now they are here to help if you need of guidance. All you have to do is pray to them.
  Today is the feast St. Deusdedit, a martyr. He was a Benedictine abbot at the abbey at Monte Cassino in Italy. He was imprisoned by Sigardus of Benevento, a nobleman, who tried to get the other monks to hand over monastery funds.
  St. Deusdedit died of hunger and abuse c.836.

Friday, October 8, 2010

St. Gall (c.550 to c.646)

   While picnicking with friends at Black Rock Beach on Block Island, I watched as a fluffy bird, exhausted and fearful after being chased by a hawk, plopped down in front of us. At first it appeared to be blood splattered, but when I went to stroke its back, I noticed that some of the feathers were a speckled red color.
  It was a woodpecker which my friends believed had flown all the way from Long Island. We gave it some water in a soda bottle cap and then watched as it put its head under its wing and fell asleep, with the hawk still circling above it.
  We also built a stone barrier around the woodpecker to protect it from the wind. Forty five minutes later, when our picnic was finished, the bird awoke and flew into a hole in the cliffs, safe from harm.
  It reminded me that at times we all feel we're begin attacked by predators. Maybe not in a physical way, but in an emotional sense.
  There will always be people who will try to intimidate or make us feel insecure like the hawk looking down at the woodpecker.  How should one deal with it? Ignore it no matter how hard that might be.
  St. Gall is the patron saint of birds. He was born in Ireland c.550 and studied at Bangor Abbey as a student of St. Columba.
  St. Gall was an Irish disciple and one of the 12 companions of St. Columbanus. He followed him into exile in 610. St. Gall lived as a hermit on the Steinach River. He was a priest and exorcist who died c.646 in Switzerland. His feast day is Oct. 16.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

St. Osgyth (? to 700)

    "Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin againt your own body."           (1 Corinthians 6:18)

  We all know that premartial sex is a sin in the Roman Catholic Church. I just don't get how people are expected to hook up with a person for the first time on their wedding night. What if it's less than satisfying? What if you're not happy with the other person's body? What if they're not happy with yours?
  That's why, although I am a Roman Catholic, I write my own rules. If I don't agree with something, I don't follow it which is why this is called "A Sinner's Guide to the Saints."
  St. Osgyth (also known as St. Osyth) was forced to marry against her will and, to me, that's just as bad as "discovering" sex on your wedding night. She was born a princess and the daughter of a chieftain in Quarrendon, Buckinghamshire, England.
  Most of what is known about St. Osgyth is a mix of conflicting legends. She married King Sighere of Essex and they had a son. Some accounts say she was raised in a convent. Others relate that St. Osgyth wanted desperately to become a nun and begged King Sighere to let her enter a convent.
  What we do know is that, eventually, he allowed her to become a nun. He also gave her land on which to set up a monastery. St. Osgyth was the abbess there, until she was beheaded by Danish raiders. She died in 700 and her feast day is today.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Venerable Pierre Toussaint (June 27, 1766 to June 30, 1853)

   Slavery should never have happened. We all know that. But, instead of sitting around discussing it to no end, it's time take action.
  Venerable Pierre Toussaint was a freed slave and abolitionist who devoted his life to helping the poor, giving to charities, and spreading his faith. He was a pious and humble man and the work that he did should not be forgotten. Any recognition to Venerable Pierre Toussaint will bring him that much closer to sainthood.
  He was born in Haiti on June 27, 1766 on the plantation of Jean Berard. His grandmother taught him to read and write. Venerable Pierre Toussaint was a bright young man and Jean Berard allowed him to stay in the house to do his chores, not out in the fields.
  In 1787, Jean Berard moved to New York City and it was there that Venerable Pierre Toussaint found work as an hairdresser's apprentice.
  When Jean Berard died in 1807, he was a freed slave. Venerable Pierre Toussaint fell in love with another slave, Juliette Noel. He bought her freedom when she was 15-years-old and married her.
  The couple opened their home as a shelter for orphans, a bank, an employment agency, and a place of refuge for priests, the sick, and the poor.
  Venerable Pierre Toussaint became quite wealthy and helped fund the Old St. Patrick's Cathedral. He and Juliette raised his orphaned niece as their own child.
  Venerable Pierre Toussaint died on June 30, 1853. He was venerated in 1996.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

St. Theodore Guerin (Oct. 2, 1798 to May 14, 1856)

  Where I live, people are always trying to be a part of things that seem trendy, like performing reiki on vegetables, studying permaculture, calling themselves “poets,” or insulting the Roman Catholic Church. And, yet, these same people have probably never heard of something I find to be interesting and hip: spiritual ecology. It combines religion, spirituality, and the environment.
  St. Francis of Assisi is the first person that comes to my mind when I think of mixing the environment with religion, but St. Theodore Guerin deserves recognition as well as the foundress of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in Indiana in 1840.
  St. Theodore Guerin was born in Etables-sur-mer, France on Oct. 2, 1798. Along with five other nuns she settled in Vincennes, Indiana on Oct. 22, 1840. She helped  Establish the Academy of Saint Mary-of-the Woods, the following summer in Terre Haute. It is the first Catholic women’s liberal arts college in the United States.
  White Violet Center of Eco-Justice is a ministry of the Sisters of Providence.
  St. Theodore Guerin founded numerous schools throughout Indiana and pharmacies that dispensed free medicine to the needy.  She died in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on May 14, 1856. Canonized: 2006. Her feast day is Oct. 3.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blessed Chiara Luce Badano (Oct. 29, 1971 to Oct. 7, 1990)

  Just last week, on Sept. 25, 2010, Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, a teenager, was beatified at the shrine of Divine Love in Rome, Italy.  She was born in Sassello, Liguria, Italy on Oct. 29, 1971. Her parents had hoped for a child for more than a decade.
  Blessed Chiara was like most young girls. She enjoyed playing tennis, dancing, singing, and skating. She loved going to the ocean and climbing mountains.
  Then at age 17,  it was discovered Blessed Chiara had bone cancer. She went through chemotherapy and surgery. She lost the use of her legs.
  Blessed Chiara said "If I had to choose between walking or going to paradise, I wouldn't hesitate, I'd choose paradise."
  She was a member of the Focolare Movement which was founded by Chiara Lubich in 1943.
  Blessed Chiara died on Oct. 7, 1990.
  Since the beatification just happened, more and more people are learning about Blessed Chiara. Numerous articles are appearing on the Internet and in newspapers including this one here and there's a website devoted to here. Please click here.
  It's encouraging to see that there are modern day saints among us.
   (Happy Feast of  St. Francis of Assisi!)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (July 15, 1850 to Dec. 22, 1917)

   One evening, when I was having dinner in the hospitality center at a music festival, I noticed three adults and a little girl sitting by themselves at table. From what I could see, the other participants had no interest in speaking with them, probably because their skin was dark and they spoke minimal English.
   After filling my plate with pasta and garden salad, I joined them with three of my friends that I was at the event with. We introduced ourselves and then learned that the husband was a musician and the family was from the Cape Verde Islands. The 4-year-old girl was their granddaughter.
  They had many interesting things to talk about and I was glad that we made an effort to converse with them.  But, time and again, I notice that if people look different, be it the color of their skin or their clothing, they are often ignored.
   That was the case with my own grandfather who was an Italian immigrant that came to this country as a young boy a century ago. And just as there are people that turn away from foreigners, there are those that devote their lives to helping them have a comfortable life in a new country.
  St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (also known as Mother Cabrini) is the patron saint of immigrants. She was born Francesca Saveria Cabrini, two months premature, on July 15, 1850 in Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, Lombardy, Italy to prosperous cherry tree farmers.
  In 1877, she took her religious vows and was mother superior of the House of Providence, an orphanage in Codogno. Along with six other nuns, Mother Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1880.
  Because of her efforts with the order in opening schools and homes, Pope Leo XIII sent her to New York City to help Italian immigrants in March 1889.
  Mother Cabrini founded an orphanage in New York that is known today as the Saint Cabrini Home and 66 other institutions throughout the United States, South America, and Europe.
  In Chicago, she opened the first Italian immigrant school in 1899 and founded Columbus Hospital.
  Mother Cabrini was naturalized as a United States citizen in 1909.  She died in Chicago on Dec. 22, 1917 and her body is enshrined under glass at St. Frances Cabrini Shrine in Manhattan.  On July 7, 1946, Mother Cabrini became the first American citizen to be canonized a Roman Catholic saint. Her feast day is Nov. 13.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

St. John the Apostle (c. 6 to c.100)

"A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud."     (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

At a party last year, I had a twenty minute conversation with a guy before we both realized that we met at age 12 and sat next to each other in homeroom for six years. (Could it be that I went from a brunette to a blonde?)
We became Facebook friends and would periodically post comments or "likes" on each other's pages.
Then, this week, I started wondering why I've chosen particular paths in life to get where I am today. I'm not going through a midlife crisis. Rather, I'm thinking about certain decisions I've made. And, does any of it have to do with what I was like when I was in junior high or high school?
So, I figured what better person to ask than my Facebook friend since we saw each other every morning through good times and bad.
I sent him a message and told him why I was asking. It included something like this: "... was I sweet, kind, nice to people, mean, shy? What was I like?"
Several days have gone by and no answer. He's on the Internet all the time, so it's not like he didn't get my message. It just goes to show that sometimes talking in person beats writing an e-mail. It eliminates awkwardness and is an easier way to communicate.
It also reinforced my belief that the decisions I've made were predestined. So, had my friend written back, whatever he said wouldn't have mattered.
St. John the Apostle is the patron saint of friendship. He was an Apostle of Jesus who was called the "beloved disciple." He obviously knew Jesus so his Gospel is true.
St. John was born in Galilee c.6. On Easter Sunday, he ran to the tomb with Peter. He is the first Apostle to believe that Jesus had risen.
St. John wrote three epistles. He was the last surviving Apostle and the only one to die a natural death. He passed away c.100 in Asia Minor and his feast day is Dec. 27.

(R.I.P. Grandpa Anthony: March 29, 1904 to Oct. 2, 1979)

Friday, October 1, 2010

St. Lawrence of Brindisi (July 22, 1559 to July 22, 1619)

  "God is love and all his operations proceed from love."                                                                          (St. Lawrence of Brindisi)

   I've always found my "adrenaline high" by travelling to faraway places and most times I do it alone. I discovered early on that's the best way do things, since most people will say that they can't come along because they don't have the time or money.
  My words of advice are to take on any adventures that come your way. Do it when all is good in your life. Don't wait until you're divorced or find yourself in a state of boredom.
   That's why as I write this today, I can say I took the train to Brindisi, Italy (the heel of the boot) on the Adriatic coast, the last stop before the ferry to Greece.
  The city's patron saint is St. Lawrence of Brindisi who was born Julius Caesar Rossi on July 22, 1559. By the time he was 12-years-old, his parents had died. So, he was sent to Venice to live with his uncle and be educated at the College of St. Mark.
   St. Lawrence of Brindisi joined the Capuchin Friars in 1575. He graduated from the University of Padua and was ordained a priest at age 23.
  He spoke numerous languages including Italian, French, German, Latin, Greek, Spanish, and Hebrew which allowed him to communicate with all types of people, translate the Bible in its original form, and convert Jews and Protestants.
  In 1601, St. Lawrence of Brindisi became the Chaplain of the Army of the Holy Roman Empire. And although he was a highly educated, brilliant person, he cared about the needs of the common man.
  He died on his sixtieth birthday in 1619 in Lisbon, Portugal and is buried in Villafranca at the Cemetery of the Poor Clares.
  St. Lawrence of Brindisi was named an Apostolic Doctor of the Church in 1959 and his feast day is July 21.