Tag: St. Francis of Assisi

Stigmatic Saints You Need To Know

Stigmatic Saints You Need To Know

Stigmata is a term used to describe the manifestations of bodily wounds, scars and pain in locations corresponding to the Crucifixion, wound of Jesus Christ, such as the hands, wrists, and feet. A person bearing the wounds of stigmata is referred to as a Stigmatist or a Stigmatic. Most stigmata give out recurring bleeding that stops and then starts, at times after receiving Holy Communion and a significant portion of stigmatics have shown a strong desire to frequently receive Holy Communion.Classically, Stigmata occur at as many as five locations of the Holy Wounds, which are the hands or wrists, feet, and side (often fatal), and other wounds endured during the Passion, includes wounds caused by a Crown of thorns, though generally invisible, whip lashings or scourging on the back, a wound at his rib, caused by a spear, or lance Nail holes in the wrists, or hands. Nail holes in the ankles, or feet. Formations of the flesh which is in form of nails.Some stigmatics most times feel the pain of wounds with no external marks; this type is referred as “invisible stigmata” Some stigmatics’ wounds don’t seem to clot and seem to stay fresh and uninfected. The blood from the injuries is said, in some cases, to have a pleasant, perfumed odor, known as the Odour of Sanctity. Others were formed through the tears of blood or sweating blood, and wounds to back as from Scourging.

Few of the Stigmata you need to know:

St. Francis of AssisiFeast Day: October 4.
He turns out to be the first recorded stigmatic in Christian history. He is the founder of the Franciscans and one of the great saints of the Catholic Church. St. Francis, as is common among stigmatics, was significantly inquisitive about realizing the suffering of Christ. When he was young, he was fun loving and not particularly pious, but two brushes with death showed him the frivolity of his ways and he became extremely pious. He wanted to know the suffering of Christ. His stigmata weren’t hurt, open wounds, but scars; his flesh took on the appearance of nails.

St. Padre Pio
Feast: September 23
One of the best-known stigmatics, St.Pio of Pietrelcina bore the stigmata for over fifty years. Being that Padre Pio lived during the 20th century, and his stigmata were studied by several 20th-century physicians, his stigmata were also studied under the scrutiny of contemporary medicine. Whereas, no one has been ready to realize a natural cause for his wounds. The observations were reportedly self-contradictory and therefore the wounds never became infected. His wounds healed once but reappeared later on.

St. Catherine of Siena
Feast: April 29
St. Catherine of Siena got the stigmata in 1375.
After she received Holy Communion at the Church of St.Christina, red rays shot out from the crucifix and punctured her. St.Catherine’s wounds were invisible to individuals aside from herself until she died.

St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938)
Feast: October 5
The Polish nun St. Faustina Kowalska is a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, who was known for receiving the image of Divine Mercy and giving the church the prayer from Jesus Christ referred to as Chaplet of Divine Mercy. As a sign of her union with God, she also received the invisible stigmata in April 1936. Although invisible, the wounds remained with Faustina the rest of her relatively short life which is one among many graces from God.

St. Rita of Cascia (1381-1457)
Feast: May 22
St. Rita of Cascia received the stigmata 5 years before the end of her extraordinary life. After which she was widowed and lost her two sons, she entered the monastery of St.Mary Magdalene at Cascia, where she received the stigmata in the form of the wounds in her forehead from the Crown of Thorns after hearing a sermon in 1441 on the crown of thorns. Many witnessed a mysterious flash of light that came forth from this wound. Rita bore the stigma throughout her life.

St. Catherine of Siena
She was Dominican nun and Doctor of the Church. She received the wounds of the stigmata during a visit to Pisa in 1375. The wound is visible but it became hidden after Catherine prayed to Jesus that he should remove them so she would not be a subject of sensationalism for others. God granted her request.

St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

Doctor of the Church and author of various mystical classics such as Autobiography (1565), The Way of Perfection (1573), and the Interior Castle (1577), received a stigma of the heart known as transverberation. Her wound was examined in 1872 by three physicians from the University of Salamanca and was verified as a puncture of the heart.

St. Gemma Galgani (1878-1903)
She received the sacred stigmata on the 8th of June, 1899. At this point, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her along with her Son, Jesus. Gemma saw flames of fire issuing forth from our Lord’s wounds, which suddenly appeared on her own body in the exact locations as the wounds of Christ. Not too eager to become a showpiece for others, Gemma asked our Lord to remove the visible wounds. Her request was granted. But, she didn’t really lose her wounds at all; rather, they became invisible and lasted for succeeding 3 years till her death.

Saint Christina of Stommeln
She received wounds on her hands, feet, forehead, and side. According to legend, her wounds bled every Easter.

8 Things You Need To Know About St. Francis of Assisi

8 Things You Need To Know About St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis is one of the most popular saints in Church history.

October 4th is his memorial day.

But who was he, and what did he do?

Here are 8 things you need to know about St. Francis of Assisi:

1) How did he get the name “Francis”?

In as much as many people take new names upon entering religious life, this is not how St. Francis initially got his name.

He was born Giovanni (John) di Bernardone, but in his infancy, his father, Pietro (Peter), began calling him Francesco (“the Frenchman”).

You can read more about Assisi here.

2.) What was St. Francis’s early life like?

His family was well-to-do, his father being a wealthy silk merchant.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

He was not very studious, and his literary education remained incomplete. Although in line with his father in trade, he showed little interest for a merchant’s career, and his parents seemed to have indulged his every whim.

Thomas of Celano, his first biographer, speaks in very severe terms of Francis’s youth.

No one loved pleasure more than Francis; he had a ready wit, sang merrily, delighted in fine clothes and showy display.

Handsome, gallant, and courteous, he soon became the prime favorite among the young nobles of Assisi, the foremost in every feat of arms, the leader of the civil revels, the very king of frolic.

But even at this time, Francis showed an instinctive sympathy with the poor, and though he spent money extravagantly, it still flowed in such channels as to attest a princely magnanimity of spirit.

3) How did his life change?

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Not long after his return to Assisi [in 1205], whilst Francis was praying before an ancient crucifix in the forsaken wayside chapel of St. Damian’s below the town, he heard a voice saying: “Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin.”

Taking this behest literally, as referring to the ruinous church wherein he knelt, Francis went to his father’s shop, impulsively bundled together a load of colored drapery, and mounting his horse hastened to Foligno, then a mart  [market] of some importance, and there sold both horse and stuff to procure the money needful for the restoration of St. Damian’s.

When, however, the poor priest who officiated there refused to receive the gold thus gotten, Francis flung it from him disdainfully.

4) How did his parents react?

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The elder Bernardone, a most niggardly man, was incensed beyond measure at his son’s conduct, and Francis, to avert his father’s wrath, hid himself in a cave near St. Damian’s for a whole month.

When he came out from this place of concealment and returned to the town, emaciated with hunger and squalid with dirt, Francis was followed by a hooting rabble, pelted with mud and stones, and otherwise mocked as a madman.

Finally, he was dragged home by his father, beaten, bound, and locked in a dark closet.

Freed by his mother during Bernardone’s absence, Francis returned at once to St. Damian’s, where he found a shelter with the officiating priest, but he was soon cited before the city consuls by his father.

The latter, not content with having recovered the scattered gold from St. Damian’s, sought also to force his son to forego his inheritance.

This Francis was only too eager to do; he declared, however, that since he had entered the service of God he was no longer under civil jurisdiction.

Having therefore been taken before the bishop, Francis stripped himself of the very clothes he wore, and gave them to his father, saying: “Hitherto I have called you my father on earth; henceforth I desire to say only ‘Our Father who art in Heaven.’”

5) How did he start the Franciscan order?

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Having obtained a coarse woolen tunic of “beast cooler”, the dress then worn by the poorest Umbrian peasants, and tied it round him with a knotted rope, Francis went forth at once exhorting the people of the country-side to penance, brotherly love, and peace.

The Assisians had already ceased to scoff at Francis; they now paused in wonderment; his instance even drew others to him.

Bernard of Quintavalle, a magnate of the town, was the first to join Francis, and he was soon followed by Peter of Cattaneo, a well-known canon of the cathedral.

In true spirit of religious enthusiasm, Francis repaired to the church of St. Nicholas and sought to learn God’s will in their regard by thrice opening at random the book of the Gospels on the altar.

Each time it opened at passages where Christ told His disciples to forgo all things and follow Him.

“This shall be our rule of life”, declared Francis, and led his companions to the public square, where they forthwith gave away all their belongings to the poor.

6) Was Francis ever ordained?

Yes. He was ordained a deacon, but not a priest.

7) Did St. Francis invent the Nativity Scene we find in many Churches (and homes) at Christmas time today?

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

It was during Christmastide of this year (1223) that the saint conceived the idea of celebrating the Nativity “in a new manner”, by reproducing in a church at Greccio the praesepio [Latin, “crib,” “manger”] of Bethlehem, and he has thus come to be regarded as having inaugurated the census devotion of the Crib.

8) How did St. Francis’s death and canonization come about?

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Worn out, however, as Francis now was by eighteen years of unremitting toil, his strength gave way completely, and at times his eyesight so far failed him that he was almost wholly blind.

During access of anguish, Francis paid a last visit to St. Clare at St. Damian’s, and it was in a little hut of reeds, made for him in the garden there, that the saint created that “Canticle of the Sun”, in which his poetic genius stretches itself so gloriously.

This was in September, 1225. Not long afterwards Francis, at the urgent instance of Brother Elias, underwent an unsuccessful operation for the eyes, at Rieti.[By April, 1226] shocking dropsical symptoms [i.e., edema, abnormal bodily swelling due to water retention] had developed, and it was in a dying situation that Francis set out for Assisi. . . .

In the early autumn Francis, feeling the hand of death upon him was carried to his beloved Porziuncola, that he might breathe his last sigh where his vocation had been shown to him and whence his order had struggled into sight. . . .

Then wishing to give a last token of detachment and to show he no longer had anything in common with the world, Francis refrained  from his poor habit and lay down on the bare ground, covered with a borrowed cloth, rejoicing that he was able to keep faith with his Lady Poverty to the end.

He was canonized in 1228 by Pope Gregory IX.

Read The Powerful Dying Words of These Six Saints

Read The Powerful Dying Words of These Six Saints

“I have seen a lot of deaths but when I come here, the dying is different.”

A hospice nurse recently visited a dying sister in our convent. As she sat with the sister, she noted the peacefulness of the room. She said to me, “I have seen a lot of deaths but when I come here, the dying is different.”

Religious life naturally tends toward dying. Religious accept death in the vows, giving up good things—a life partner, material goods, and individual autonomy—as a sign that God is enough. St. John Paul II wrote in Vita Consecrata that “it is the duty of the consecrated life to show that the Incarnate Son of God is the eschatological goal towards which all things tend, the splendor before which every other light pales, and the infinite beauty which alone can fully satisfy the human heart.”

Religious life is a special sign of the life to come but living for heaven is not exclusive to any vocation. All Christians are called to live their lives in a way that declares that God is enough and that God is the goal toward which life tends.

When Christians recognize that God is the goal of life, then all of life becomes a preparation for death. Death becomes a reality that is not only integrated and accepted into one’s life but embraced. In the lives of the saints, we can be inspired by the last moments of men and women who lived completely for God. Even under the most painful and horrific circumstances, their dying words reveal a peace that can only come from knowing that they will soon see the One they lived for and loved so much.

The last moments of six saints, as recounted by witnesses:

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

“Elizabeth did not try to hide from the doctor the overflowing delight that she felt because of her faith. The doctor was so astonished at her happiness that she tried to explain it to him by speaking in a moving way about how we are all God’s children. After she finished speaking, tears flowed among many of her listeners. Exhausted by her efforts, she entered for the last time into her cherished silence. We only heard her murmur in a sort of chant: ‘I am going to the light, to love, to life!’ They were her last intelligible words.”

– excerpt from The Praise of Glory: Reminiscences of Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity

St. Ignatius of Loyola

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Ignatius called [his secretary Father Polanco], and, being left alone with him, told him to inform the pope that he was beyond recovery, and to ask for the papal blessing . . . Fr. Polanco asked in surprise if he were really so ill, assuring him that the doctors held another opinion, and that he trusted God would yet keep him for his service. Ignatius insisted. But so obstinate was Fr. Polanco in his optimistic trust of medical opinion that he asked if he could wait until the next day, as he had international letters to write that night. “No,” responded Ignatius, “I’d rather you did it today than tomorrow. And the sooner the better.” Nevertheless, Ignatius let Fr. Polanco do as he should think fit—he left himself entirely in his hands. It was a final effort of resignation and renouncement, since Ignatius surely must have known that the next day would be too late. Fr. Polanco consulted Doctor Petronio, who said that he might give an opinion the next day whether there was danger; today he would say nothing. Polanco decided to await the next day’s verdict, and he retired to write his letters. . . . That night Ignatius acted as he had before, except that he no longer called on the attendant brother as often, and, after midnight, he became quiet. From time to time, as the slow hours of his unguessed dying wore away, he was heard to cry, “Ay Dios!” (O God!).

– Saint Ignatius of Loyola by Francis Thompson

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

Then, as the hour of his departure was fast approaching, Francis called all the brethren to him. He consoled them with words of comfort about his death, exhorting them with fatherly tenderness to love God. He spoke for a long time about observing patience, and poverty, and fidelity to the Holy Roman Church . . . Then as all the brethren sat around him, he stretched his hands over them, crossing his arms in the likeness of the Cross, for he did always love that sign, and he blessed all the brethren, . . . Then as best he could, he broke forth into the words of [Psalm 141]: “I cried unto the Lord with my voice, with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication,” and went through even unto the end, saying: “The righteous shall gather round me, for you shall deal generously with me.”

– excerpt from The Life of Saint Francis of Assisi by St. Bonaventure

St. Joan of Arc

St. Joan of Arc

Joan had, at the end, such great contrition . . . that it was a thing to be admired, saying such pitiful, devout, and Catholic words, that those who saw her in great numbers wept. Even the Cardinal of England and many other English were forced to weep and to feel compassion. As I was near her at the end, the poor woman sought and humbly begged me to go into a nearby church and bring her the cross. She asked me to hold it upright on high before her eyes until the moment of death, so that the cross on which God was hanging might be continually before her eyes as long as she lived. Amidst the flames, she unceasingly called out in a loud voice the Holy Name of Jesus, imploring and invoking unceasingly the aid of the saints in paradise. As she died, she bent her head and uttered the Name of Jesus as a sign that she was fervent in the faith of God . . . Immediately after the execution, the executioner came to me and to my companion, Br. Martin Ladvenu—who was stricken and moved with a marvelous repentance and terrible contrition, quite desperate and fearing never to obtain pardon and indulgence from God for what he had done to this holy woman. The executioner said and affirmed that, despite the oil, the sulphur, and the charcoal which he had applied to Joan’s entrails and heart, he had in no way been able to burn them up, or reduce them to cinders. He was astonished at this most evident miracle.

– Br. Ysambard de la Pierre’s eyewitness testimony at her retrial in 1449

St. Thomas More

St. Thomas More

Early in the morning Sir Thomas Pope, his singular friend, came to Thomas More with a message from the king and his council, that he would suffer death before nine o’ clock the same morning . . . Thomas More replied, “Mr. Pope, for your good tidings I most heartily thank you. I have been always bound much to the King’s Highness for the benefits and honors which he has still from time to time most bountifully heaped upon me, and yet more bound am I to his Grace for putting me into this place, where I have had convenient time and space to have remembrance of my end. And so help me God most of all, Mr. Pope, I am bound to his Highness, that it pleased him so shortly to rid me of the miseries of this wretched world. And therefore I will not fail to pray most earnestly for his Grace both here and also in another world.” . . . And so was he brought by Mr. Lieutenant out of the Tower, and from there he was led towards the place of execution . . . There, he asked all of the people there to pray for him, and to bear witness with him, that he should then suffer death in and for the faith of the holy Catholic Church. Afterward, he kneeled down, said his prayers, and turned to the executioner, and with a cheerful expression said, “Pluck up your spirits, man, and be not afraid to do your office, my neck is very short. Take heed therefore you shoot not awry …” So passed Sir Thomas More out of this world to God.

– excerpt from The Life of Thomas More by his son-in-law, William Roper

St. Bernadette Soubirous

St. Bernadette Soubirous

On Easter Tuesday, [Bernadette was very ill so] the chaplain suggested to her that she prepare to make the sacrifice of her life. “What sacrifice?” Bernadette answered, “it is no sacrifice to leave this life, where it is so difficult to belong to God.” On Easter Wednesday, she requested that her crucifix to be tied to her, in case her weakening fingers became unable to hold it. She gazed at a statue of Our Blessed Lady and said, “I have seen her. How beautiful she is, and how I long to go to her.” Sister Nathalie Portat came in at about three o’clock, and Bernadette requested, “Help me to thank to the end.” Taking the crucifix, she prayed, “My God I love you, with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength.” Sister Nathalie began the Hail Mary. Bernadette answered clearly, “Mother of God, pray for me, poor sinner, poor sinner.” Now was the hour of her death, and like Jesus on the cross, she said, “I am thirsty.” The sisters brought some water. Bernadette made the Sign of the Cross for the last time as her Lady had taught her in the grotto. Silently she sipped a little water. Peacefully she bowed her head. Gently she surrendered her soul.

– excerpt from My Name Is Bernadette

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The saints lived and died for God.