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1. All Saints’ Day
2. All Souls’ Day
3. St. Martin de Porres
4. St. Charles Borromeo
5. St. Bertilla
6. St. Theophane Venard
7. Blessed Giuseppe Antonio Tovini
8. St. Philip Howard
9. Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran
10. St. Leo the Great
11. St. Martin of Tours
12. St. Josaphat
13. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
14. St. Lawrence O’Toole
15. St. Albert the Great
16. St. Margaret of Scotland
17. St. Elizabeth of Hungary
18. St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
19. Blessed Victoria Rasoamanarivo
20. St. Edmund
21. Presentation of Mary
22. St. Cecilia
23. Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro
24. St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions
25. St. Catherine of Alexandria
26. Blessed James Alberione
27. St. John Berchmans
28. St. Catherine Labouré
29. Blessed Francis Anthony of Lucera
30. St. Andrew
November 1
All Saints’ Day
On this day, we remember all the men, women, and children who followed Christ faithfully and heroically during their lives and who now enjoy the presence of God in heaven. Some saints have been singled out for their own feast day. The Church offers their witness of heroic, joyful lives for Jesus. But there aren’t enough days of the year to fit all the countless saints who walked through this life witnessing to Jesus. Some kept close to the Lord all their lives. Others found him along the way. Some led good lives without major difficulties. Others made big mistakes, but found the Lord on the road of repentance and genuine sorrow. They made it! And we ask them to intercede for us so that we will live holy lives, too, and reach our heavenly homeland. We celebrate their journey that led to eternal happiness with God. We celebrate our own family members, relatives, neighbors, and friends whom we believe to be in heaven.
Today we can rejoice in our hearts with all the saints in heaven. We can speak to them, thanking them for the witness of their lives. We can thank them, too, for helping us overcome our difficulties and temptations. Let’s ask them to help us on our own journey through life.
November 2
All Souls’ Day
This feast day is one of the most loving celebrations in the Church’s liturgy. It is the day that we especially remember all the faithful departed—those who have passed from this life into the next. We don’t know how long a particular individual spends in purgatory. However, we do know that purgatory is real. Today we stop to remember all who have died. We especially pray for our own ancestors, relatives, and friends who have died. We pray for those who taught us good things. We pray for those who made sacrifices for us. We pray for those who prayed for us while they were on this earth. We pray for the most forgotten souls. We pray for those who had great responsibilities while they were on earth. We think of those holy souls in purgatory and we realize that they are saved. Now they wait, being puri- fied, until the moment when they can be with God, face to face.
We can pray for the souls in purgatory and hasten their journey to God: Eternal rest, grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
November 3
St. Martin de Porres
Martin was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father was a knight from Spain. His mother was a freed slave from Panama. At first, his father left Martin and his mother and sister without support. They were very, very poor. Martin grew up devout and good. When he was twelve, he was sent to learn the trade of a barber. He also learned how to cure many diseases. Martin’s father finally decided to provide for his son’s education. However, Martin wanted to give himself to God as a Dominican brother. Brother Martin soon proved to be a wonderful religious. No one was kinder, holier, or more obedient. He served his fellow religious as a barber and infirmarian. He was also in charge of giving food to the poor who came to the doors of the Dominican house. He founded an orphanage and a hospital, and he cared for the sick around the city of Lima. Before long, he became well known for his kindness to the poor and sick. People admired him for his holiness of life. Everyone in the city of Lima would send for Brother Martin when there was sickness. He loved all people as his brothers and sisters in Christ. Great sums of money were given to this good, lovable brother for his charities. People recognized how well he could organize works of charity. Not even animals were forgotten by this kindhearted saint. He excused the comings and goings of rats and mice by saying, ”The poor little things don’t have enough to eat.” In his sister’s house, he kept a “home for wandering cats and dogs.” Despite his fame in Lima, St. Martin always had a very humble opinion of himself. His name for himself was, in fact, “Brother Broom.” Martin died on November 3, 1639. When he died, this beloved saint was carried to his tomb by bishops and noblemen. They wanted to honor the humble and holy brother. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope John XXIII in 1962.
Our Heavenly Father has no preference when it comes to the color of a person’s skin. Instead, he looks into our hearts. We can ask St. Martin de Porres to give us his love for all people. He’ll help us to see people of all races, nationalities, and religions as children of God.
November 4
St. Charles Borromeo
Charles lived in the sixteenth century. He was the son of a rich Italian count and the nephew of Pope Pius IV. Like other wealthy young men, he went to the University of Pavia. Unlike many of them, however, he would have nothing to do with sinful activities. He seemed to be a slow student because he was not a good speaker, but he made good progress. He was only twenty-three when his uncle, Pope Pius IV, gave him many important duties. Charles managed to handle all his affairs well. He was always afraid that he might stray from God because of the many temptations around him. For this reason, he was careful to focus his attention on prayer and his duties and to make the effort to be humble and patient. As a priest and later as the cardinal archbishop of Milan, St. Charles was a model for his people. He gave away great amounts of money to the poor. He dressed as simply as he could, but with the respectability expected of a cardinal. He attended with great care to the dignity owed to Church ceremonies. In Milan the people had many bad practices and much superstition. By wise laws, by gentle kindness, and by his own marvelous example, St. Charles made his diocese a model for the whole Church. He was never a good speaker—people could barely hear him—yet his words took effect. When a terrible disease caused many deaths in Milan, Cardinal Borromeo thought only of caring for his people. He prayed and did penance. He organized crews of attendants and went into debt to feed the hungry. He even had altars set up in the streets. This was for the benefit of the sick, who could assist at Mass from their windows. This great man was never too busy to help simple people. He once stayed with a little shepherd boy until he had taught him the Our Father and the Hail Mary. As he lay dying at the age of forty-six, St. Charles said peacefully, ”Behold, I come!” He died on November 3, 1584, and was proclaimed a saint by Pope Paul V in 1610.
If we are tempted to seek only comfort and fun in our lives, we can say a prayer to St. Charles Borromeo. We can ask him for a selfless generosity in doing our duties and in reaching out to those in need. Our lives will be more purposeful if we each aim at doing something to make the world a better place.
November 5
St. Bertilla
Bertilla lived in the seventh century. The first biography of her life appeared in Latin in the year 800. She was born in Soissons, France. While a teenager, she felt the call to grow closer to God. She began to realize that the life of prayer and sacrifice that she wanted could be found in a monastery. She went to her bishop, St. Ouen, and asked his advice. He encouraged her to follow her calling. Her parents sent her to a monastery of nuns who followed the Rule of an Irish monk, St. Columban. When she arrived, she knew that she had found peace. Years passed. Bertilla spent her time praying and doing various tasks. She was especially good at offering hospitality to travelers and the sick who came to the monastery. She also cared for the children who were being educated at the monastery. St. Bathildis, the wife of King Clovis II, started a new monastery. She asked the abbess at Soissons to send some nuns to begin the community. Bertilla was among those chosen and she was appointed abbess. She was very surprised but decided to do the best she could. She knew that the Lord would help her in every way. The community of nuns grew. Queen Bathildis herself became a nun after her husband died. Then, another queen, Hereswitha, widow of the king of the East Angles, became a nun, too. Abbess Bertilla must have been amazed to have two queens in her community. But everyone lived in peace because the queens were as humble as the abbess. Bertilla lived a long life and ruled the monastery of Chelles for forty-six years. She died around the year 705.
The Lord has a plan for each of us. He offers us some task or path in life. Like St. Bertilla, we have to give Jesus the chance to speak to us. We have to let him be heard. We can ask St. Bertilla to help us recognize and follow God’s will for us.
November 6
St. Theophane Venard
Even as a youngster this holy French priest dreamed of witnessing to the Gospel of Christ. He went to study for the priesthood. Then he entered a college for missionaries in Paris, France. His family, whom he dearly loved, was greatly saddened to think that after he became a priest he would leave them. Theophane realized that the long ocean voyage to the Far East would most probably separate him from his family for the rest of his life. “My darling sister,” he wrote in a letter, “how I cried when I read your letter. Yes, I well knew the sorrow I was going to bring on my family. I think there will be a special sorrow for you, my dear little sister. But don’t you think it cost me bloody tears, too? By taking such a step, I knew that I would give all of you great pain. Whoever loved his home more than I do? All my happiness on this earth was centered there. But God, who has united us all in bonds of most tender affection, wanted to draw me from it.” After being ordained a priest, Theophane set out for Hong Kong. He sailed in September 1852. He studied languages for over a year there. Then he went on to Tonkin, present-day Vietnam. Two obstacles were in the way of this zealous missionary: his poor health and a terrible persecution. Yet he struggled bravely on. Often he wrote to tell his beloved sister in France all his adventures and narrow escapes from his persecutors. At last, after serving the many Christians in Tonkin, Theophane was captured and chained in a small cage for two months. His gentle ways won even his jailers. He managed to write a letter home in which he said: “All those who surround me are civil and respectful. A good many of them love me. From the great mandarin down to the humblest private soldier, everyone regrets that the laws of the country condemn one to death. I have not been put to the torture like my brethren.” But their sympathy did not save his life. After he had been beheaded, crowds rushed to soak handkerchiefs in his blood. He was martyred on February 2, 1861. Father Venard was declared a saint by Pope John Paul II on June 19, 1988. He is one of the martyrs of Vietnam celebrated on November 24.
St. Theophane didn’t spend a long time in China and Tonkin. The great gift that he gave to the people was his witness to the teachings of Christ as a martyr. He teaches us that good example is a wonderful influence on people. We can ask St. Theophane to give us the courage to be witnesses for Jesus by the way we live.
November 7
Blessed Giuseppe Antonio Tovini
Giuseppe was born on March 14, 1841, in Italy. His parents were loving and devout Catholics, who made sure their children received a good education and Christian upbringing. Giuseppe’s father died when he was eighteen, so he helped his mother financially in raising his younger brothers and sisters. In the meantime, he continued his education. He received a law degree at about the same time that his mother died. Soon after he began practicing law, he took a position as assistant principal and teacher in a technical school. He was well known for bringing out the best in each of his students and in helping them realize and use their own special talents. In 1867, he met a young woman named Emilia Corbolani. They soon fell in love and after a while they got married. In the meantime, Giuseppe had become the mayor of his hometown, devoting his political career to helping improve the living conditions of the people he was sworn to serve. As a Third Order Franciscan, he especially felt the need to give his attention to helping the poor and needy. He constructed railroads to link rural areas with the city, and improved people’s financial lives by founding banks and credit unions, which focused on people instead of money. He opened schools and supported the publication of several newspapers. Giuseppe and Emilia started a family, which in time grew to include ten children. They were good parents and set an example of faith and mutual love and respect. Three of their children devoted themselves to the religious life when they grew up. Giuseppe was unstoppable in his activities for social justice and service to the needy. But he received the strength for this demanding activity in prayer. He read the Bible every day, and drew inspiration for his life from the Word of God. He attended Mass each day and received Holy Communion with reverence and love. He was very devoted to the Eucharist and started the practice of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the parish church where he was later to be buried. On January 16, 1897, worn out from his unceasing activity, Giuseppe Tovini died at the age of fifty-six. He was beatified on September 20, 1998, by Pope John Paul II.
Blessed Giuseppe Antonio Tovini had a talent for seeing the needs of others around him and thinking up practical solutions to help. Let’s pray to him and ask him to show us one small thing we can do today to make someone’s life a little better.
November 8
St. Philip Howard
Philip was the son of Thomas, duke of Norfolk. He was born on June 28, 1557 when Queen Mary was reigning and England had once again become Catholic. Philip was baptized in the Catholic Church. But the following year, Queen Elizabeth I took the throne. She reestablished the Church of England, forbidding anyone to practice the Catholic religion. Philip’s father, Thomas, and his family joined the Church of England. When Thomas remarried, it was to a widow named Elizabeth. It was arranged that Thomas’ three sons would marry Elizabeth’s three daughters. So Philip, then fourteen years old, married Anne. Philip only cared about his social and political life, and thought little about God or Anne. He became earl of Arundel in 1580 and was welcome at the English court as a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. But one day in 1581, Philip was at court to witness a debate between the theologians of the Anglican Church and a Catholic Jesuit priest named Edmund Campion.(You can read about St. Edmund Campion on December 1.) The words of this priest, who was martyred after speaking them, were the beginnings of faith for Philip. He gradually thought more and more of what it means to be a Christian and gave less importance to his career. He felt himself drawn to the Catholic faith, and, at the same time, he realized how he had made his wife suffer by neglecting her for so many years. Anne became Catholic, and in 1584 so did Philip. He became devoted to God, to the Church, and to his wife. At the same time, he began to notice that he was no longer Queen Elizabeth’s favorite. He knew that his conversion to the Catholic Church would mean danger for him. He wrote a letter to the queen, explaining the reasons for his choice, and then he left England. He was captured at sea and brought to the Tower of London. Because he was an earl, he avoided execution, but he would never leave his prison. Philip’s cell became his chapel. He devoted hours each day to meditation and prayer. This is how he spent the last ten years of his life. He begged to be allowed to see his wife and son, who was born after he was imprisoned, but this was refused. The only way he would be allowed to see his family would be to renounce his Catholic faith. But the faith of Philip and Anne was capable of seeing past the few short years they would have enjoyed together on earth to the eternal happiness of heaven. Philip died in his prison on October 19, 1595, at the age of thirty-eight. He was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of Wales and England.
After his death, these words were found scratched by Philip into the wall of his cell: “The more hardships we suffer for Christ in this world, the more glory we have with Christ in the world to come.” Does thinking of heaven help us get through hard times?
November 9
Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran
The Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome is the pope’s own church. It is considered the head and mother of all the churches in the world. It is enriched with relics of Christ’s suffering and death and of many martyrs. Originally, this basilica was the palace of a rich Roman senator named Plautius Lateranus. When he died, the emperor Constantine inherited the house. Constantine built a chapel in its walls, which he had dedicated to St. John the Baptist. There was a second altar dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. The popes lived at the Lateran Basilica until the time of Pope Gregory XI. When this pope returned from Avignon, he took up residence in St. Peter’s Basilica, or the Vatican, and the popes have resided there ever since. Today’s feast day reminds us to value the church buildings dedicated to the service and worship of God.
When we see a beautiful church, it should remind us of all the people called together to worship God. We, the People of God, are the living stones of Christ’s Church. It is our lives of holiness and service that make the Church most beautiful.
November 10
St. Leo the Great
St. Leo, a Roman, lived in the fifth century. After the death of Pope Sixtus, he became pope. Those were hard times for the Church. Barbarian armies were attacking Christians in many places. Within the Church, some people were spreading errors about the faith, too. But St. Leo was one of the greatest popes the Church has known. He was absolutely unafraid of anything or anyone. He had great trust in the help of the first pope, St. Peter the apostle. He prayed to St. Peter often. To stop the spread of false teachings, St. Leo explained the true faith with his famous writings. He called a Council to condemn the wrong doctrines. Those who would not give up their mistaken beliefs were put out of the Church. And Pope Leo received back into the Church those who were sorry. He asked people to pray for them. When a large army of barbarians, called the Huns, came to attack Rome, all the people were filled with fear. They knew that the Huns had already burned many cities. To save Rome, St. Leo rode out to meet the fierce leader, Attila. The only weapon he had was his great trust in God. When they met, something wonderful happened. Attila, the cruel pagan leader, showed the pope great honor. He made a treaty of peace with him. Attila said afterward that he had seen two mighty figures standing by the pope while he spoke. It is believed that they were the great apostles, Peter and Paul. They had been sent by God to protect Pope Leo and the Christians. Because of his humility and charity, Pope Leo was loved by all. He was pope for twenty-one years. He died on November 10, 461.
We often read that the Church is suffering persecution in some countries around the world. We can ask St. Leo to protect the pope, bishops, priests, religious, and lay people. We can ask him to help all Catholics be courageous as he was.
November 11
St. Martin of Tours
This soldier saint lived in the fourth century. He joined the Roman army in Italy when he was only fifteen. Although his parents were pagans, he began to study the Christian religion. Those who study the Christian religion are called catechumens until they are baptized. One very cold winter day, Martin and his companions came upon a beggar at the gate of the city of Amiens. The man’s only clothes were rags, and he was shaking with cold. The other soldiers passed by him, but Martin felt that it was up to him to help the beggar. Having nothing with him, he drew his sword and cut his long cloak in half. Some laughed at his funny appearance as he gave one half to the beggar. Others felt ashamed of their own selfishness. That night, Jesus appeared to Martin. He was wearing the half of the cloak that Martin had given away. “Martin, still a catechumen, has covered me with this garment,” Jesus said. Right after this wonderful event, St. Martin went to be baptized. Soon after, he left the army. He became a disciple of St. Hilary, the bishop of Poitiers, France. Because of his strong opposition to the false Arian teaching in various cities, Martin had to go into exile. But he was happy to live in the wilderness with other monks. When the people of Tours asked for him as their bishop, he refused. The people would not give up, however. They got him to come to the city to visit a sick person. Once he was there, they took him to the church. He was named bishop of Tours in 371. As bishop, St. Martin did all he could to rid France of paganism. He prayed, worked, and preached everywhere. Our Lord let Martin know when his death was near. As soon as his followers heard of it, they began to weep. They begged him not to leave them. So the saint prayed: ”Lord, if your people need me yet, I will not refuse the work. Your will be done.” He was still laboring for the Divine Master in a far-off part of his diocese when death finally came in 397. St. Martin’s tomb became one of the most famous shrines in all of Europe.
It’s so easy to be concerned only about our own interests. But, like St. Martin, we want to be aware of the needs of others, too. We can ask St. Martin to help us notice when the people around us need our help and to do what we can to help them.
November 12
St. Josaphat
Josaphat was born in Poland in 1580 and was baptized John. He became a monk in the Ukrainian Order of St. Basil and chose the name Josaphat. He was a self-sacrificing, brave man. Because of his many natural qualities, he was chosen for leadership roles. This would eventually cost him his life. Josaphat became an apostle of ecumenism. He preached union among the Christian churches of the Ukraine. There were three main categories of Christians: the Latin Church, which was united with the pope, the Orthodox Greek Church, and the Greek Catholic Church. Josaphat became a bishop and took over the diocese of Polotsk in 1617. He spent the next ten years helping the people to know and love their Catholic faith better. He organized celebrations of prayer and religion classes. He called clergy meetings and worked with the priests to put into effect rules that helped the people live closer to Jesus. Archbishop Josaphat had great positive influence on people. He was a dynamic leader. But some people who did not want the Church to be under the authority of the pope stirred up a mob against him. Josaphat was murdered on November 12, 1623. His body was thrown into a nearby river. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius IX in 1867.
St. Josaphat was a peacemaker and a healer. He wanted to bring people together to live in peace. He believed in stressing what unites people, not what divides them. We can ask St. Josaphat to help us be like him.
November 13
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
Frances was born on July 15, 1850. As a child growing up in Italy, she dreamed about being a missionary to China. She sailed paper boats down a stream, pretending they were ships bringing missionaries to China. She also gave up eating candy because, she reasoned, if she lived in China, she probably wouldn’t be able to have any. When she grew up, Frances tried to join two different convents. Because of her poor health, she was not accepted. She taught school for a while. Then a priest asked her to help out in a small home for orphans. Things were very hard for Frances because of the lady who ran the house. Eventually, the bishop had to close the orphanage because of this difficult woman. At the same time, he asked Frances to begin a community of sisters dedicated to teaching. Without hesitating, Frances started at once. Before long, the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart began to grow, first in Italy and then in many other countries. Frances, whom everyone called Mother Cabrini, had always had her heart set on going to China, but it seemed that God wanted her to go to America instead. When Pope Leo XIII told her, “Go West, not East,” the matter was settled. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini sailed for the United States and became an American citizen. She especially helped large numbers of Italian immigrants. She was a real mother and friend to them. Mother Cabrini and her sisters had a very hard time in the beginning. The archbishop of New York even suggested that they go back to Italy. But Mother Cabrini answered, “Your Excellency, the pope sent me here and here I must stay.” The archbishop admired her pioneer spirit, and so she and her sisters were permitted to begin their great work for God. Schools, hospitals, and homes for children were opened up in different states. As the years passed, Mother Cabrini made many trips to spread her congregation and its works. There were always difficulties, but she put all her trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. ”It is he who is doing everything, not us,” she would say. Mother Cabrini died in Chicago on December 22, 1917. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XII in 1946.
Where did this frail, sickly woman get the strength to do all that she did? Through prayer. We can ask Mother Cabrini to teach us to value prayer as she did.
November 14
St. Lawrence O’Toole
Lawrence was born in Ireland in 1128. He was the son of a chief. When he was only ten years old, a neighboring king made a raid on his father’s territory and carried him away. The boy suffered for two years. Then his father forced the king to give him up to the care of a bishop. When he did, Lawrence’s father hurried to see his son. He gratefully brought him home. The chief wanted one of his sons to enter the service of the Church. While he was wondering which one it might be, Lawrence told him with a laugh that he need not wonder anymore. “It is my desire,” said Lawrence, ”to have for my inheritance the service of God in the Church.” So his father took him by the hand and gave him into the care of the bishop. Lawrence became a priest and the abbot of a great monastery. When food became very scarce in the whole neighborhood of the monastery, the good abbot gave great quantities away to keep the people from starving. He had many problems to handle as head of the monastery, too. Some of the monks criticized him for being too strict. But Lawrence kept right on guiding the community in the way of self-sacrifice, despite the criticism. Then there was the problem of the robbers and outlaws who lived in the nearby hills. Yet nothing discouraged the fearless Lawrence O’Toole. He became so famous that before long he was chosen to be archbishop of Dublin. In this new position, he lived as holy a life as ever. Every day, he invited many poor people to be his guests. He helped many others besides. Lawrence dearly loved his people and Ireland, his country, and he did all he could to keep it at peace. Once, an enemy attacked him as he was going up to the altar to say Mass. He was knocked to the floor unconscious, but he came to his senses right away. He had the wound washed at once, and then continued with the Mass. After years of labor for the Church, St. Lawrence O’Toole became very ill. When he was asked if he wanted to make a will, the holy archbishop smiled. He answered, ”God knows that I don’t have a penny in the world.” He had long ago given everything he had to others, just as he had given himself completely to God. St. Lawrence O’Toole died on November 14, 1180. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Honorius III in 1225.
By the way he lived his life, St. Lawrence O’Toole reminds us that our main concern in all we do should be to please God. We can ask St. Lawrence to help us to do what’s right even if we’re criticized for it.
November 15
St. Albert the Great
This saint lived in the thirteenth century. He was born in a castle on the Danube River in Swabia, in southwest Germany. Albert went to the University of Padua in Italy. There he decided to become a Dominican. His uncle tried to persuade him not to follow his religious vocation. Albert did anyway. He felt that this was what God wanted. His father, the count of Bollstädt, was very angry. The Dominicans thought that he might make Albert come back home. They transferred the novice to a location farther away, but his father did not come after him. St. Albert loved to study. The natural sciences, especially physics, astronomy, geography, and biology also interested him. He wrote a great number of books on these subjects. In one of his works, he proved that the earth was round. He also wrote on philosophy, mathematics, the Bible, and theology. He was a popular teacher in different schools. One of St. Albert’s pupils was the great St. Thomas Aquinas. These two saints became lifelong friends. St. Albert had guided St. Thomas in beginning his great works in philosophy and theology. He also defended his teachings after Thomas died. As St. Albert grew older, he became more holy. Before, he had expressed his deep thoughts in his writings. Now he expressed them in his whole way of living for God. Two years before his death, St. Albert’s memory failed him. His end came very peacefully, as he sat in his chair talking with his fellow Dominicans. St. Albert is the patron saint of students and of the natural sciences.
We can learn from St. Albert to appreciate and use our minds. Let’s pray to St. Albert, asking him to help us acquire a healthy curiosity about the world around us, and especially about God, who created all things and set the laws that govern nature.
November 16
St. Margaret of Scotland
Margaret was an English princess born in 1045. She and her mother sailed to Scotland to escape the king who had conquered their land. King Malcolm of Scotland welcomed them. He fell in love with the beautiful princess. Margaret and Malcolm were married before long. As queen, Margaret changed her husband and the country for the better. Malcolm was good, but he and his court were very rough. When he saw how wise his wife was, he willingly listened to her good advice. Margaret helped him control his temper and practice the Christian virtues. She made the court beautiful and civilized. The king and queen were wonderful examples because of the way they prayed together and treated each other. They fed crowds of poor people. They tried very hard to imitate Jesus in their own lives. Margaret was a blessing for all the people of Scotland. Before she came, there was great ignorance. Many people had bad habits that kept them from growing closer to God. Margaret worked hard to obtain good teachers and she encouraged education. She and Malcolm had new churches built. She loved to make the churches beautiful to honor God. In fact, Queen Margaret embroidered some of the priests’ vestments herself. Margaret and Malcolm had six sons and two daughters. They loved all their children very much. The youngest boy became St. David. But Margaret had sorrows, too. In her last illness, she learned that both her husband and her son, Edward, had been killed in battle. She died four days later, on November 16, 1093. Margaret was proclaimed a saint by Pope Innocent IV in 1250.
St. Margaret shows us the importance of doing the right things for the right reasons. Her good example was a genuine reflection of her faith in Jesus. Her good deeds weren’t done to win praise. She did what was right in order to please Jesus. We can ask her to help us do the same. The Church also celebrates the feast of St. Gertrude on this day.
November 17
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
This daughter of the king of Hungary was born in 1207. She married Louis, the ruler of Thuringia, while she was very young. Elizabeth was a beautiful bride who dearly loved her handsome husband. Louis returned her affection with all his heart. God sent them three children and they were very happy for six years. Then St. Elizabeth’s sorrows began. Louis died of the plague. She was so heartbroken that she cried, “The world is dead to me, and all that is joyous in the world!” Louis’ relatives had never liked Elizabeth because she had given so much food to the poor. While Louis was alive, they had not been able to do anything to her. Now, however, they could, and they did. Within a short time, this beautiful, gentle princess and her three children were sent away from the castle. They suffered hunger and cold. Yet Elizabeth did not complain about her terrible sufferings. Instead she blessed God and prayed with great fervor. She accepted the sorrows just as she had accepted the joys. Elizabeth’s relatives came to her rescue. She and her children had a home once more. Her uncle wanted her to marry again, for she was still very young and attractive, but the saint had determined to give herself to God. She wanted to imitate the poverty of St. Francis of Assisi as a member of the Franciscan Third Order. She went to live in a poor cottage and spent the last few years of her life serving the sick and the poor. She even went fishing to try to earn more money for her beloved poor. St. Elizabeth was only twenty-four when she died. On her deathbed, she was heard to sing softly. She had great confidence that Jesus would take her to himself. Elizabeth passed away in 1231. She was pro- claimed a saint in 1235. She is the patroness of the Franciscan Third Order.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary is a model of family love. Husbands, wives, parents, and children can learn from her that by loving God above all things, we’ll have a marvelous store of love and affection for the members of our family. It was this love that Elizabeth had for her husband and children that kept her going in spite of difficulties and loss.
November 18
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
This saint labored for Jesus in the United States. She was born into a wealthy French family in 1769. As a youngster, there was nothing especially holy about Rose. In fact, she often did her best to get her own way. She ordered everyone else to do what she wanted. In school, her favorite subject was history. She later became very interested in stories about Native Americans. At the age of seventeen, Rose entered the convent. She was not allowed to take her vows when the time came because of the French Revolution. All the professed sisters were forced by the revolutionaries to leave the country, and Rose had to return to her family. Still, she did not give up her desire to belong to Jesus. Several years later she joined the newly formed Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mother Rose Philippine Duchesne’s great desire was to be a missionary. However, she was fifty before she was sent to the United States. It was still a mission land at this time. In Mississippi, she and a small group of sisters started a free school for the children of poor families. The work was hard because of the different languages and ways of the people. Despite the many difficulties, Mother Duchesne never lost her youthful enthusiasm. As she grew older, she became less commanding and more gentle. Mother Duchesne was a real heroine. She nearly died from yellow fever. She overcame all kinds of obstacles to open convents in the New World. Then, when she was seventy-one, she resigned her position as superior. She went to Kansas to open a school among her beloved Native Americans. She died in 1852 at the age of eighty-three. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope John Paul II in 1988.
Sometimes we can have a way of postponing hard duties. We can ask Mother Duchesne to inspire us to put energy and love of God into what we do. The Church also celebrates the feast of the Dedication of the Basilicas of the Apostles Peter and Paul in Rome on this date.
November 19
Blessed Victoria Rasoamanarivo
Blessed Victoria Rasoamanarivo is the first person from Madagascar to be beatified. She was born in 1848, a princess of a ruling family of the Hovas tribe. She was educated, and she followed the pagan religion of her tribe. The Sisters of St. Joseph came to Madagascar, and Victoria was admitted to their school for girls. She was impressed by the faith and lifestyle of the nuns and asked to be instructed in the Catholic faith. When she was fifteen, she asked to be baptized. Victoria’s uncle, who was responsible for her, did not approve of her new religion and tried to get her to give it up. She remained steadfast and even wanted to join the sisters and consecrate herself to God in the religious life. But the sisters thought it would be better for her to live a Christian life among her family and people. They knew it would only make Victoria’s powerful uncle angry if she became a nun. A marriage was arranged for Victoria without her consent, but she was allowed to have a Catholic priest present for the ceremony. The husband that was chosen for her was addicted to alcohol and lived a scandalous lifestyle. Victoria’s uncle and the queen tried to persuade Victoria to divorce him. But Victoria did not want to give bad example to her fellow Christians. As a princess, she could teach by her life how to observe the laws of God, especially when it came to the Sacrament of Marriage. She remained a faithful wife, praying for her husband and offering her sufferings for his conversion. Before he died in 1887, she was able to convince him to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. Victoria lived seven more years as an exemplary Christian widow. Her virtuous life won her the respect and admiration of important people in the ruling class and as well as of simple people. By her holiness of life, she was a convincing promoter of the Catholic faith in Madagascar. She devoted herself to hours of prayer each day, as well as to helping the poor, the imprisoned, and lepers. She died at the age of forty-six on August 21, 1894. Pope John Paul II declared her blessed on April 30, 1989, during a visit to Madagascar.
Blessed Victoria was true to her Catholic faith even when it meant putting up with difficulties. Our faith can be a source of consolation and strength for us. But are we also ready to meet the challenges that come as part of our faith commitment?
November 20
St. Edmund
Edmund was an English king who lived in the ninth century. He became king when he was only fourteen. Yet his high position did not make him proud or conceited. Instead, he took as his model the Old Testament king, David. Edmund tried to serve God as well as David had. In fact, Edmund even learned David’s psalms by heart. The psalms are beautiful hymns of praise to God contained in the Holy Bible. King Edmund governed wisely, showing kindness to all his subjects. When Danish barbarians invaded his land, he fought them bravely. Their army was much larger than his. At last, the English king was captured. The barbarian leader offered to spare Edmund’s life if he would agree to certain terms. However, since these terms were opposed to his country and his religion, the king refused. He declared he would never save his life by offending God and his people. In anger, the pagan chief condemned him to death. St. Edmund was tied to a tree and then cruelly whipped. The holy king endured it all patiently, calling on Jesus for strength. Next, his torturers shot arrows into every part of his body. They were care- ful not to hit any vital organ, so his sufferings would be prolonged. At last he was beheaded. King Edmund died in 870. Devotion to St. Edmund the Martyr became very popular in England. Many churches were dedicated in his honor.
We can pray to St. Edmund for the loyalty to God and our country that he had. We can also follow his example by reading and praying the psalms from the Bible.
November 21
Presentation of Mary
he Bible does not tell us anything about the childhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But tradition tells us that she was the daughter of St. Joachim and St. Anne. (We celebrate their feast day on July 26.) While still a young child, her parents brought Mary to the Temple in Jerusalem and presented her to the Lord. Mary’s whole life was to belong to God. He had chosen her to be the Mother of his Son, Jesus. The Blessed Virgin was happy to begin serving God in the Temple. And St. Joachim and St. Anne were pleased to offer their saintly little girl to God. They knew that God had sent her to them. In the Temple, the high priest received the child Mary. She was placed among the girls who were dedicated to prayer and Temple service. While Mary received an education at the Temple, she also must have been a wonderful example to her companions of goodness and joy. St. Joachim and St. Anne went back home. They praised and thanked God for their blessed daughter. And Mary remained in the Temple, where she grew in holiness. She spent her days reading the Bible, praying, and serving the Temple priests. She made beautiful linens and splendid vestments. Mary tried to do each of her duties well to please God. She grew in grace and gave great glory to the Lord.
Mary lived her whole life to please God. She was always aware of his divine presence. We can ask our heavenly Mother Mary to teach us how to stay close to Jesus every day.
November 22
St. Cecilia
This patroness of music lived in early times. What we know about her goes back to the fourth century. Cecilia was a Roman noblewoman who had given her heart to Christ. She wanted to be his bride, but Cecilia’s father gave her in marriage to a young pagan nobleman. It is said that during the wedding celebration, the lovely bride sat apart. She was singing to God in her heart and praying for his help. When she and Valerian, her husband, were alone, she gathered up her courage and said to him: ”I have a secret to tell you. You must know that I have an angel of God watching over me. If you let me keep my promise to be Christ’s bride only, my angel will love you as he loves me.” Valerian was convinced by Cecilia to honor her vow of virginity and to become a Christian. His brother, Tiburtius, also learned of the Christian faith from Cecilia. She spoke so beautifully of Jesus that before long he, too, was baptized. Together the two brothers performed many works of charity. When they were arrested for being Christians, they went bravely to death rather than give up their new faith in Jesus. St. Cecilia lovingly buried their bodies before she, too, was arrested. She converted the very officers who tried to make her sacrifice to false gods. When she was put into a fire, it did not harm her. At last, a man was sent to behead her. He struck her neck three times, but Cecilia did not die right away. She lay on the floor of her own home unable to move. Yet, by holding out three fingers of one hand and one of the other, she still professed her belief in the Blessed Trinity: that there is one God in three divine Persons.
St. Cecilia’s faith was strong enough to convince others to believe in Jesus. Her love was strong enough to make her remain faithful to Christ even in the face of danger. We can pray to St. Cecilia for the same faith and love that made her a saint.
November 23
Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro
Miguel Pro was born in Guadalupe, Mexico, in 1891. He was destined to become a martyr of the twentieth century. The Mexican government’s persecution of the Church began in 1910. Miguel joined the Jesuit novitiate in 1911. He was twenty years old, generous, courageous, and lively. By 1914, the revolution had become severe. Jesuit novices were slipped out of the country. They were sent to foreign seminaries for their training. Miguel completed his priestly studies in Belgium, and he was ordained in 1926. The young priest’s health was poor. He was especially troubled with constant stomach pains. His return to Mexico was a joy on the one hand and suffering on the other. He saw his people suppressed by the government that should have been serving them. Father Pro realized that he could bring them spiritual comfort. He could bring them God’s forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He could bring them the Eucharistic Jesus to be their strength. Like all priests in Mexico at this time, he was hunted by the secret police. Because of this, he had to disguise himself. He slipped in and out of buildings and rooms and lives. He was always just on the verge of getting caught. Then he would slip out of sight. Father Pro performed his ministry heroically until November 23, 1927. He was caught and, without a trial, condemned for being a Catholic priest. As he faced the firing squad, he stretched out his arms until his whole body was a living cross. Then he called in a loud clear voice: “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” (Long live Christ the King!) President Calles forbade a public funeral. He threatened punishment for anyone who might attend. Yet people lined up along the streets where the body of the slain priest passed. They stood and prayed in their hearts, thanking God for the life and witness of Father Miguel Pro. He was proclaimed blessed by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988.
Blessed Miguel Pro lived at a time when Catholics were persecuted in Mexico. But he chose to follow his religious vocation just the same. We can ask Blessed Miguel Pro to give us the grace to love our Catholic faith as much as he did. On this date, the Church also honors St. Clement I and St. Columban.
November 24
St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions
Christian missionaries first brought the Catholic faith to the people of Vietnam during the sixteenth century. In the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, Christians suffered persecution for their beliefs. Many were put to death, especially during the reign of Emperor Minh-Mang (from 1820 to 1840). Today we commemorate the 117 martyrs who bore witness to their faith in the Gospel in Vietnam. They were proclaimed saints by Pope John Paul II on June 19, 1988. This heroic group includes ninety-six people from Vietnam, eleven from Spain, and ten from France. There were eight bishops in the group. Of the fifty who were priests, some belonged to the Dominican Order and others were diocesan priests of the Paris Mission Society. St. Andrew Dung-Lac, who represents this group of heroes, was a Vietnamese diocesan priest. St. Theophane Venard, whose feast we celebrate on November 6, was also one of these diocesan priests. There were also fifty-nine laypeople in the group. The martyrs of Vietnam suffered in order to preserve and pass on the greatest treasure that they possessed: their Catholic faith.
We can join our prayers to the prayers of these martyrs for the Catholic Church in Vietnam. We can ask the Lord to bless this land that has suffered so much for centuries.
November 25
St. Catherine of Alexandria
Catherine lived in early Christian times. She was the daughter of a wealthy pagan couple of Alexandria, Egypt. She was a very beautiful girl whose great interest was in learning. Catherine loved to study deep questions of philosophy and religion. One day she began to read about Christianity. Soon she became a Christian. St. Catherine was only eighteen when Emperor Maxentius began persecuting the Christians. Fearlessly, the lovely, young Christian woman went to tell him what she thought of his cruelty. When he spoke of the pagan gods, she very plainly showed him that they were false. Maxentius could not answer her arguments. Therefore, he sent for fifty of his best pagan philosophers. Once again, it was Catherine who proved the truth of her religion. All fifty philosophers were convinced that she was right. In a great fury, Maxentius had every one of them killed. Next, he tried to win her by offering her a queen’s crown. When Catherine absolutely refused it, he had her beaten and thrown into prison. While Maxentius was away at camp, his wife and an officer were very curious to hear this amazing Christian girl speak. They went to her cell. The result was that they and 200 soldiers of the guard were converted. For this, they were all put to death. Catherine herself was placed on a wheel full of spikes to be tortured to death. When the wheel began to spin, it mysteriously snapped in two and fell apart. Finally, St. Catherine was beheaded. She is honored as the patroness of Christian philosophers.
St. Catherine of Alexandria appreciated the beauty of her Christian beliefs. That’s why she could so effectively convince others. We can ask St. Catherine to help us grow in love for the truths of our faith as she did.
November 26
Blessed James Alberione
James Alberione was born on April 4, 1884 in northern Italy, the fifth child of hardworking farmers. He grew up in a deeply Christian atmosphere, where faith was not only taught; but also lived. At school one day, when he James was six years old, his teacher asked her students what they wanted to be when they grew up. When it was James’ turn, he thought for a moment and then announced, “I am going to be a priest.” At sixteen, he entered the seminary of Alba, arriving with his father in a cart pulled by an ox. Some of the seminarians laughed, saying, ”He comes to study with an ox!” But James, quick-witted and a good sport, replied, ”As long as the ox doesn’t eat my books!” On the night of December 31, 1900, the night that marked the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, James received an unmistakable call. After the midnight Mass, the seminarians were free to remain in church as long as they wished. The Blessed Sacrament was solemnly exposed, and James stayed to pray for four hours. During that time, he received a special light from the Eucharist. He heard Jesus calling all people to himself, and he felt the obligation to do something to bring the people of the new century to the Lord. James was ordained to the priesthood on June 29, 1907. He gave himself wholeheartedly to his priestly ministry. He was spiritual director of the seminary of Alba, as well as a history professor and a catechist. In 1913, he was also asked to direct the publication of the weekly diocesan newspaper. In the midst of all this activity, he prayed and waited for God to guide him in his particular mission in the Church. He realized that he was being called to begin a religious community dedicated to spreading the Word of God using modern technology, in particular, the printed word. His dream started out small, like a seed, with a handful of boys learning to run a printing press in a rented building. But time and prayer and faith made the seed grow into an enormous tree. The priest and brothers of the Society of St. Paul, and the sisters of the Daughters of St. Paul increased in numbers, and in time they spread to other countries. They used modern technology to bring the Gospel to modern people: publications, radio programs, television. And as new technology is invented, they continue to put it at the service of Christ and his Church. These two congregations were just the beginning. Father James Alberione founded ten religious communities and secular institutes, which make up the Pauline Family. He became a spiritual father to all his sons and daughters, passing on to them his unwavering trust in divine providence and his devotion to the Eucharist, the Word of God, the Church, and the apostolate of the media. When Vatican Council II was opened in 1962, Father Alberione was one of the superiors general invited to attend. From October 11, 1962 until December 8, 1965, he attended all the Council meetings. He sat silently, mostly unnoticed, listening and praying. He was particularly interested in the document on the media of social communications, discussed by the Council fathers. It was a confirmation of the work he and his Pauline Family had been carrying out in the Church for the past fifty years. As Father Alberione advanced in age, his activity and energy continued to amaze those who knew him. It was especially impressive considering he suffered from acute spinal arthritis. It was only when he turned eighty that a slow and steady decline was noticed. As he was forced to give up more and more of his active work, he devoted more time and energy to prayer, which he called “working with his knees.” Even when he could no longer read, he continued to pray the Rosary. From November 24 to 26, 1971, he suffered from his final illness—bronchial pneumonia and kidney blockage. He slipped into a coma and was unaware when Pope Paul VI stopped in for an unscheduled visit. The pope had a great amount of respect and gratitude for Father Alberione and all that he had accomplished during his life for the Church and the world. About half an hour after the pope’s visit, Father James Alberione died. He was proclaimed blessed by Pope John Paul II on April 27, 2002.
Blessed James Alberione understood the value of modern technology when properly used. Do we use media in a way that will open our minds to what is useful and good? Do we avoid media that will not help us to become better?
November 27
St. John Berchmans
This Belgian saint once said, ”If I do not become a saint when I am young, I shall never become one.” In fact, he died at the early age of twenty-two—and he had, without any doubt, reached his goal of sanctity. John was born in 1599. As a child, he stayed very close to his sick mother. Still, he liked to join his young friends in putting on plays about Bible stories. He was especially good at playing the part of Daniel defending the innocent Susanna. By the time he was thirteen, he wanted to begin studying for the priesthood. However, his father, a shoemaker, needed his help in supporting the family. Finally, Mr. Berchmans decided to let John become a servant in the household of a priest. From there he could go to classes in the seminary. Three years later, John Berchmans entered the Society of Jesus. He prayed, studied hard, and enthusiastically acted out parts in religious plays. He made a motto: ”Have great care for little things,” and he lived up to it. St. John Berchmans never performed any great, heroic deeds, but he did every little thing well, from waiting on tables to taking notes in class. When he became sick, no doctor could discover what illness he had. Yet John knew he was going to die. He was very cheerful as always. When the doctor ordered that his forehead be bathed with wine, John joked: “It’s lucky that such an expensive sickness is not going to last long.” John Berchmans died in 1621. Miracles took place at his funeral. Right away people began to call him a saint. He was canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII.
This saint can be a model for every young person. He was a good son, a diligent student, and a dedicated Christian. John worked hard to become a saint. He prayed, especially to the Blessed Mother. We, too, can pray to Mary, and ask her to show us the way to be cheerful and helpful in our everyday lives.
November 28
St. Catherine Labouré
Zoe Labouré, born in 1806, was the daughter of a French farmer. Her mother died while she was still very young. Zoe had to run the house when her older sister became a nun. Because of this, she was the only one of her large family who did not go to school. She could not read or write. Zoe, too, would have liked to enter the convent when she was in her early teens. However, because she was needed at home, she waited until she was twenty-four. Zoe became a Sister of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, taking the name Catherine. Shortly after she finished her training as a postulant, Sister Catherine received a special privilege. One night, she was awakened from sleep. A “shining child” led her to the chapel. There, our Lady came to talk to her. The Blessed Mother, in another vision, showed herself standing on a globe with streams of light coming from her hands. Underneath were the words: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who turn to you.” Mary told Sister Catherine that a medal was to be made of this picture. She was also told that all who wore it would receive many graces from Jesus through his Mother’s prayers. Sister Catherine told her confessor and he later told the bishop. So it was that the medal, that we call the Miraculous Medal, was made. Soon many, many people all over the world were wearing it. Yet no one in the convent knew that humble Sister Catherine was the one to whom our Lady had appeared. She spent the remaining forty-five years of her life doing ordinary convent tasks. She answered the door. She looked after the hens that provided the nuns with eggs. She also took care of elderly and sick people. She was happy to keep her special privilege hidden, and she was only interested in serving God as best she could. Catherine died in 1876. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XII in 1947.
We can wear the Miraculous Medal and often repeat the prayer: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who turn to you with trust.”
November 29
Blessed Francis Anthony of Lucera
This saint, born in 1681, was nicknamed Johnny as a child. He was the son of an Italian farmer. His father died before he was ten. His mother’s second husband was good to him. He sent the boy to be educated by the Franciscans. When he was fifteen, Johnny asked to be admitted to the Order. He became Brother Francis Anthony. He did very well in all his studies and became a priest. Father Francis Anthony became famous as a preacher and teacher. He also was elected superior. He tried his best to be of loving service to all the friars. Father Francis Anthony had a special interest in helping prisoners. The prisons of his day were terrible places. He did his best to help the poor prisoners in every way. His love went out to everyone in need. It was he who began the custom of collecting gifts at Christmas time for poor families. In Lucera, the city in which he spent his life, it was said: ”If you want to see St. Francis of Assisi, just look at Father Francis Anthony!” Blessed Francis Anthony had a great devotion to Mary. He loved to pay special honor to her Immaculate Conception. It was at the beginning of the solemn novena for this feast that he died. Some time before, when he was in good health, he had said he would die soon. He had even suggested to a priest friend that he come along. This good priest replied a bit excitedly, ”Listen, Father, if you want to die, that is your affair, but I’m in no hurry!” To this the saint replied, ”We must both make this journey, I first and you afterward.” And that is just what happened. The other priest lived only two months after Blessed Francis Anthony passed to his eternal reward. Father Francis Anthony died in 1742 and was proclaimed blessed by Pope Pius XII in 1951.
The saints were not afraid to die because they had a lively faith in heaven. Heaven is a real place where we’ll be happy forever with God. We can ask Blessed Francis Anthony to show us how to make each day a preparation for heaven.
November 30
St. Andrew
Andrew, like his brother, Simon Peter, was a fisherman. He became a disciple of St. John the Baptist. However, when John pointed to Jesus and said, “There is the Lamb of God,” Andrew left John at once to follow the Divine Master. Jesus knew that Andrew was walking behind him. Turning back, he asked, “What are you looking for?” Andrew answered that he would like to know where Jesus stayed. Our Lord replied, ”Come and see.” Andrew had been with Jesus only a little while when he realized that this was truly the Messiah. From then on, he decided to follow Jesus. He became the first disciple of Christ. Next Andrew brought his brother Simon (St. Peter) to Jesus. The Lord received him, too, as his disciple. At first the two brothers continued to carry on their fishing trade and family affairs. Later, the Lord called them to leave their way of life behind and be his full-time followers. He promised to make them fishers of men, and this time they left their nets for good. It is believed that after our Lord ascended into heaven, St. Andrew preached the Gospel in Greece. He is said to have been put to death on an X-shaped cross, to which he was tied not nailed. He lived two days in that state of suffering. Andrew still found enough strength to preach to the people who gathered around their beloved apostle. Two countries have chosen St. Andrew as their patron—Russia and Scotland.
When St. Andrew saw the cross on which he was to die, he exclaimed: ”Welcome, O good cross, made beautiful by Christ’s body!” We can ask St. Andrew to help us recognize our particular cross. He’ll strengthen us to accept that cross generously.