Around the upper vault of our Church are two inscriptions in Latin. The inscription that is around the chior loft if taken from Genesis 28:17 "TERREBILIS EST LOCUS, ISTE NON EST HIC ALID NISI DOMUS DEI ET PORTA CAELI." This inscription is taken from Jacob's Vision of the "God of his fathers" while at the shrine of Bethel . Bethel was where the Israelites worshiped before establishing the Temple at Jerusalem. When Jacob awoke from the vision he cried out 'TERRIBILIS', or in English, 'AWESOME'.
"AWESOME IS THIS SHRINE! THIS IS NOTHING ELSE BUT THE ABODE OF GOD, AND THE GATEWAY TO HEAVEN! " If we may brag a little, yep, that's St. Lucy's Church!
The second inscription around the upper vault of our Church is Psalm 83:2-3, "QUAM DILECTA TABERNACULA TUA DOMINE VIRTUTUM, CONCUPISCIT ET DEFECIT ANIMA MEA IN ATRIA DOMINI". In English "How lovely your tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord." This inscription also speaks to the beauty of St. Lucy's Church- truly a tabernacle of the Lord.
The numbering of the Psalms has changed since our Church was built. In today's Bibles it is Psalm 84: 2-3. The psalm expresses the sentiments of the pilgrims eager to be in the Divine Presence that resided in the Tabernacle of the great Temple of Jerusalem. This was the Holy of Holies. We too are eager to be in the Divine Presence of the Eucharist present in the Tabernacle of St. Lucy's Church.
St. Peter is under the Tabernacle and St. Paul is under the Infant of Prague on the Baptismal font side. St. Peter is also found in the dome and above the celebrant's chair with the other Apostles.
Traditionally St. Peter is depicted with Keys. Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:18-19, "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
The Aramaic word Kepa means rock and is translated into Greek as Cephas, which is the name used in the Pauline letters (1 Cor 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:4; Gal 1:18; 2:9; 11, 14). Jesus spoke Aramaic, not Greek. The original Aramaic of Jesus' statement would have been, in English, "You are the Rock (Kepa) and upon this rock (kepa) I will build my Church. When translated into Greek, Kepa is translated as Petros (Greek for rock) and in English, Peter. The Aramaic meaning of bedrock isn't brought out in English.
The meaning of the keys can be seen in Isaiah 22:15-25 where the king appoints Eliakim master of his palace. Eliakim is given "the key of the house of David"; he authoritatively "opens" and "shuts"; he binds and looses. Clearly, no one is higher than Eliakim except the king. The promise of the keys is given to Peter alone. There is no one higher than Peter, except Christ the King. To Peter is given the supreme leadership of the Church on earth. He alone is the Vicar of Christ on earth.
We know the rest of the story. Rocky became the first bishop of Rome (pope) and the popes are his successors, all 264. Truly our first pope is the kepa upon which Jesus built his Church on earth.
St. Paul is depicted under the side altar near the baptismal font. He is often pictured with a two-edged sword that represents the Bible, the Word of God. St. Paul was the great writer and preacher of the Word of God to the gentiles. The image of the Word of God as a sword comes from Hebrews 4:12,13; "Indeed, the Word of God, [Jesus Christ] is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from Him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must render an account."
The Holy Spirit gave to the Apostles, St. Paul, and the Church the power and grace to use the Word of God as a two-edged sword. Through the Word of God many come to Jesus Christ, to repentance, and to salvation.
Picture above alter
Jesus being Baptized
The Holy Spirit
Center Isle of Church
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
Born Maria Francesca Cabrini on 15 July 1850 in the village of Sant'Angelo Lodigiano in Lombardy, near Milan, she was the 13th child of Agostino Cabrini and Stella Oldiniwho were farmers. She was the thirteenth child, born when her mother was fifty-two years old. The missionary spirit was awakened in her as a little girl when her father read stories of the missions to his children. She received a good education and received a teaching certificate. Frances persued her dream to be a nun while running the House of Providence Orphanage in nearby Cadogno. When the orphanage closed in 1877, the bishop allowed Frances to form the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. At the urging of her bishop and Pope Leo XIII, she traveled with six sisters to New York City to work with the thousands of Italian immigrants living there. It was 1899 and she suffered the same discrimination that many Italians found in New York City. Even the Archbishop of New York City wanted her to return to Italy. He did not know the little, feisty Frances. When the building intended to be her first orphanage suddenly was not available she became evenmore determined in her ministry.
When in 35 years Frances Xavier Cabrini became an American Citizen and founded 67 institutions across America dedicated to caring for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick. Seeing great need among Italian immigrants who were losing their faith, she organized schools and adult education classes. She personally began the former school here at St. Lucy's Parish that benefited so many parishioners. On December 22, 1917, suffering from maleria, she died in a wicker chair in her room at the Columbus Hospital (that she founded in 1903). On July 7, 1946 St. Frances became the first American to be canonized by Pope Pius XII.
At her canonization on July 7, 1946, Pius XII said, "Although her constitution was very frail, her spirit was endowed with such singular strength that, knowing the will of God in her regard, she permitted nothing to impede her from accomplishing what seemed beyond the strength of a woman."
ST. JUDITH The story of Judith is a dramatic inspirational story of God delivering his people by the hand of the pious widow Judith. Itis not historical but a parable of God's power.
Holofernes leads a mighty Assyrian army against the puny Judean state. They are warned about the God of the Jews but laugh. The Jewish people stubbornly resist at Bethulia, gateway to Jerusalem and hometown to Judith. After a seige of thirty-four days, the exhausted defenders are ready to surrender. Judith promises to defeat the Assyrians after rebuking the Jews for soling their faith on God when under seige. Judith is "beautifully formed and lovely to behold, a God-fearing woman" (Judith 8:7-8). After much prayer Judith formulates a plan that will prove both devious and effective. Dressed in fine garments and posing as an informer, Judith allows herself to be captured. Her striking beauty captivates Holofernes who hosts a great dinner after which he has a little romance in mind. Unknown to him, the seemingly demure Jewish widow possesses a spine of structural steel and a will to match. As a result, before the evening is out, Holofernes will take the concept of losing his head over to a woman to new heights. When the guests have left and it is time for romance, Holofernes is in a drunken stupor. Judith beheads the weakened general general and totes his head home in a bag. That does it for the Assyrians who flee. Judah is saved with great rejoicing. Fittingly, this godly woman closes the episode with a prayer thanking and praising God. All then go the Temple to offer thanks.
The main point of the story, of course, is that oppression requires both reliance upon God and human cunning to defeat it. The existance of inspiring heroines like Judith provides role models for anyone in oppressive circumstances, and it testifies to God's ability to raise up the least likely heros in time of difficulty. In some ways, we might say Judith's story is a feminine version of david and Goliath. The underdog can indeed vanquish enemies by faith and wisdom.
The Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) window is behind St. Michael the Archangel. this window depicts another ancient symbol in church art that refers to the victory of Christ on the cross over evil. the banner proclains the Cross through which the Lamb atoned to God the Father for our sins.
The symbol of the sacrificial lamb goes back to the ancient Jewish Temple in which a lamb was slain during the Passover and then eaten. The lamb of the Passover sacrifice is said to prefigure the crucifixation. Isaiah calls the expected Messiah the Lamb of God. John the Baptist meets Jesus with the words, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world," (John 1:29, 35).
The image of Jesus as Lamb is also very prominent in the Book of Revelation, where Jesus is referred to as Lamb twenty-eight times. Revelation clearly identifies this victorious lamb as having been the sacrificial offering of Jesus: "Worthy are you to receive the scroll and to break open its seals, for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation." (Rev. 5:9). The Epistle to the Hebrew's clearly teaches that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross replaces the temple service, its sacrifices and its priests. "For if by the blood of goats and bulls, men's sins can be forgiven, how much more will the blood of Christ cleanse our consciences." (Hebrews 9:13-14)
The blood of the pashal lamb of the Old Testament protected and saved the Israelites in Exodus12. This link is made explicit in 1 Corinthians 5:7, "Our Paschal Lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed." For Paul, Christians are saved by Christ as their true Paschal Lamb.
The Lamb rests on a book, the Holy Scriptures symbolizing the Church. Hanging from the Book are seven seals symbolic of the seven sacraments. Through the Church and sacraments, Jesus, the Lamb of God, brings his life giving grace to us. Thus, Jesus becomes "the way, the truth and the life" of His people. "For God so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:5).
The Two Doves window is found behind the statue of St. Michael the Archangel. This symbol is of great antiquity in catholic art. The chalice is the chalice of salvation, a symbol of the Catholic Church, through which the Holy Spirit works on earth. The chalice naturally brings us to reflect on the Holy sacrifice of the Mass that is the memorial meal of the Crucifixion. A chalice is the cup from which the consecrated wine and water, the Blood of Christ, are partaken at Holy Communion. It refers to the Last Supper and the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross, "And He took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said to them, this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many" (Mark 14: 23,24). Thus , the chalice is a symbol of the Catholic Faith. It's significance goes back to the Old Testament, where an allusion to the Eucharist is found in Psalm 116:13, "I will take the cup of salvation..." Also St. Paul conveys this idea in 1 Corthians 10:16, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?"
Acccording to Macarius in his Hagioglypta, written in 222 A.D., the doves represent the Church of the circumcision (the Jews) and that of the Gentiles.
The Chalice evokes the mystery of sacrifice, which is at the heart of t he Catholic Eucharist wherethe Son offers Himself to the Father in the love of the Holy Spirit and unites all creation on his oblation. The doves emind us that we are all called to offer ourselves with Christ to t he Father in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass...God's Chosen People and all the Gentiles.
Michael the Archangel (Hebrew for "Who is like God?") is one of the principle angels; his name was the war cry of the good angels in the battle fought in Heaven against Lucifer and his followers. He is depicted defeating Satan (below his feet) while holding a sword and the scales of justice. Four times his name is recorded in Scripture; (1) Daniel 10:13 (2) Daniel 12:1 (3) Epistle of St. Jude 1:9: and (4) Revelation 12:7.
Following these Scriptural passages, Christian tradition gives to St. Michael four offices: (a) To fight against Satan, (b) To rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death, (c) To be the champion of God's Church, and (d) bring men's souls to judgment.
In Revelation is the most dramatic reference to St. Michael recounting the great battle in Heaven, when the wicked angels under Lucifer revolted against God's plan of salvation for mankind, namely the Incarnation of Jesus, God taking on human flesh. Michael, leading the faithful angels, defends the hosts of evil and drives them out. Lucifer rebelled because he would not bow to God. Because of this victory, St. Michael is revered in Catholic tradition and liturgy as the protector of the Church. His emblems are a banner, a sword, a dragon and scales. Feast Day is September 29.
PRAYER TO SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And you, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell, Satan and the other evil spirits who prowl the world for ruin of souls. Amen.
Elias (Elijah in English) (875-845 B.C.) The greatest Old Testament prophet was a wonderworker and a zealot for faith in God, he spent his life in prayer and meditation, withdrawing often to the desert to ponder and pray in tranquility. The prophet Elijah came into the greatest conflict with the Israelite king, Ahab, and his evil wife Jezebel, for they worshipped idols and turned the people from the service of the one, living God. On top of this, Jezebel, being a Syrian, persuaded her husband to build a temple to the Syrian god, Baal, and appointed many priests to the service of this false god (1 Kings16:32). Elias performed many miracles by the power of God; he closed the heavens, that no rain should fall for three years and six months; called down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice to his God, while 500 priests of Baal were unable to do this; brought rain from the heavens at his prayers; miraculously multiplies corn and oil in the widow's house at Zarephath, and restored her dead son to life; Prophised to Ahab that the dogs would lick up his blood, and to Jezebel that the dogs would devour her-which came to pass; and performed many other miracles and foretold many other events. He talked with God on Mt. Horeb, and heard His voice in the calm after the great wind. At the time of his death, he took Elisha (Elisaeus) and appointed him his heir as a prophet; he parted the Jordon River with his mantle and was finally borne to heaven in a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses (2 Kings 2:11). Elijah fought all his life to rid Israel of the pagan religion brought in by Jezebel. The final victory though would be through his successor Elisha. Elijah appeared together with Moses, to our Lord Jesus Christ on Tabor at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-6). At the end of the world, Elijah will appear again, to break the power of the antichrist. (Rev. 11).
Elisaeus (Elisha in English) Elisha means "My God is salvation." God chose Elisha as the succesor of Elijah (11:13-15) and bestowed power on him. Elisha's work within Israel involved two areas: personel and political. He interceded in the events of life that bring anguish and crisis to ordinary people. To relieve a widow impoverished by a hard creditor, Elisha so multiplied a little oil as to enable her, not only to pay off her debt, but to provide her familys needs (2 Kings 4:1-7). To reward the rich lady of Sunman for her hospility, he obtained for her from God, at first the birth of a son, and later the resurrection of her child when the child died (2 Kings 4:8-37).
On the political scene Elisha influenced the rise and fall of four kings in Israel and even a king of Syria. By curing Naaman, who was afflicted with leprosy, Elisha unimpressed by the power and possessions of the Syrian general, intended to show "that there is a prophet in Israel." Naaman, at first reluctant, obeys the prophet, and washes seven times in the Jordon River. Finding his flesh "restored like the flesh of a child," the general was so impressed by God's power that he expresses his deep conviction that "there is no other God in all the earth, but only in Israel" (2 Kings 5:1-19). It is this Christ referred when he said: "And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian" (Luke 4:27). Through fifty years (c. 850-800 BC) and four Kings finishes Elijah's work and ends the paganism in Israel introduced by Jezebel. Elisha would die of old age. He is remembered as a man of wisdom and a worker of miracles both on behalf of his nation in times of crisis and in the lives of individuals in time of need. Like Elijah, much of his political involvement was directed at bringing the apostate monarchy and nation back to recognition of God's sovereignty in the world.
St. Anthony of Padua was born Fernando Bulhom in 1195 in Portugal. His family was related to the nobility and his father was a captain in the military.
At the age of 15, Fernando joined the Augustinian monastery in Coimbra, Italy. One day in Coimbra there was a solemn funeral procession of five Franciscans who had journeyed to Morocco as missionaries to the Muslims. They were brutally murdered for their efforts.
Fernando was filled with the desire to imitate these martyrs and go Morocco. Fernando received permission to join the Franciscan Order in 1220 and at this time changed his name to Anthony. While on route to Morocco, God would intervene and change the course of his life. Anthony became very ill as he sailed to Morocco and had to return to Portugal. However, a storm blew the ship off course and they landed in Scilicy. Here, Anthony would lead a quiet life of prayer and study. It would not be until a change accident that the holiness and intellect of Anthony would become known.
When the preacher for an ordination became ill the bishop asked five Dominicans and four Franciscans in attendance to preach. Each declined saying he was not prepared. Anthony was then asked to do his best. Not much was expected from the young, unknown Franciscan. The homily was so impressive that it changed Anthony's life and led to a renewal of Faith in Italy. His quiet, studious days were over. He was soon appointed a professor to teach Franciscan seminarians in Assisi. He began what would be over 400 preaching trips throughout Italy and southern France. Anthony is credited with ending two heresies in northern Italy and his loving and gentle preaching on Holy Scriptures. Soon, miracles began to happen. Great crowds would come to hear Anthony. The great demand and need for Anthony led to his moving to Padua. He threw himself into his preaching ministry and his intense prayer life with all his energy. In 1231 Anthony was worn out and became ill. He died on June 13, 1231.
Saint Martin of Tours is the Patron of Soldiers
Martin was born in Hungary. His father was an officer in the Roman army. He grew up in Pavia, Italy where at the age of ten Martin found God and became a catechumen or candidate for baptism against the wishes of his parents. In contemplative prayer Martin found the life he wanted, the life of prayer as a monk. However, at fifteen, as the son of a veteran officer, he was required to join the Roman Army. In 334 A.D. he was stationed in Amiens, France. It was at Amiens that the event took place that has been portrayed in art throughout the ages. On a bitterly cold winter day, the young tribune Martin rode through the gates dressed in the regalia of his unit -- gleaming, flexible armor, ridged helmet, and a beautiful red cloak whose upper section was lined with lamb’s wool. At the gate he saw a beggar, with clothes so ragged that he was practically naked. Overcome with compassion, Martin cut his mantle in two with his sword, handing half to the freezing man. Many in the crowd laughed but some realized that they were seeing Christian goodness. That night Martin dreamed that he saw Jesus wearing the half mantle he had given the beggar. Jesus said to the angels and saints that surrounded him, "See! This is the mantle that Martin, yet a catechumen, gave me." When he woke, it was the "yet a catechumen" that spurred Martin on and he went immediately to be baptized. He was eighteen years old.
Martin left the Roman Army and went Tours to became a disciple of St. Hilary, bishop of nearby Poitiers. In 361 Martin established a monastery near Tours. Martin loved the simple monastic life of prayer, but God had need of his talents. In 371 Martin was acclaimed bishop of Tours and would spend his life nourishing the Faith and converting the regions around Tours. Martin was a vigorous defender of the Faith, a friend of the needy, and a great preacher. There are many stories of his compassion and his miracles. His feast is November 11, the day he was buried, at his request, in the cemetary of the poor.
Bless Our Homes Gift of Parishoners/Behold This Heart Sacred Heart League
The Holy Family aps Jesus, the God-Man, in his humaness is beginning to understand his future. Joseph would die before Jesus begins his mission. It depicts Joseph, Mary and the child Jesus. Joseph, with saw in hand, is teaching the trade of carpenter as Mary looks on. The gesture of Mary's hand and the way Joseph is holding the saw indicate they are discussing something. Perhaps it was their recent trip to Jerusalem to eclebrate Passover. Jesus, now 12 years old stayed behind in the Temple. They frantically went back looking for Jesus. (luke 2:41-52 "After three days they found Him sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what they had said to them."
Joseph as head of the house stands. They are trying to understand Jesus. They know God has blessed him in a special way. But they do not know the future. Notice that Jesus is making a cross. "He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and Man." Perhinstry as Messiah. For Mary, all too soon the words of Simeon (Luke 2:29-32) would come true, "and you yourself a sword will pierce."
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) was a French Catholic nun and mystic, who is responsible for the today's devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Before St. Margaret the devotion to the Sacred Heart was mostly practiced in monasteries.
From early childhood Margaret was described as showing intense love for the Blessed Sacrament, and to have loved silence and prayer. When stricken with paralysis as a young girl, Margaret believed the intercession of the Virgin Mary cured her. She changed her name to Mary and vowed to devote her life to the service of Mary.
In 1671, she entered the Visitation Convent at Paray-le-Monial, France. Her visions became more and more frequent. In one vision Christ revealed to her His heart burning with divine love, and bidding her establish, on the Friday following the feast of Corpus Christi, a feast in honor of His Sacred Heart. He called her "the Beloved Disciple of the Sacred heart." St. Margaret revealed what Christ had said, "He should be honored under the figure of this Heart of Flesh, and its image should be exposed...He promised me that wherever this image should be exposed with a view to showing its special honor, He would pour forth His blessings and graces."
Although Margaret would not live to see it, thanks to her confessor, the Jesuit priest, Father Claude de la Colombiere and the Jesuits, the devotion spread throughout France and Europe. When her tomb was canonically opened in July 1830, two instantaneous cures were recorded to have taken place. Her body rests under the alter in the Chapel at Paray, France. Pope Pius IX extended the Feast to the Catholic Church. St. Margaret Mary was canonized by Benedict XV in 1920.
On May 15, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter to the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, on the 50th Anniversary of the encyclical Haurietis Aquas (about the Sacred Heart) by Pope Pius XII reaffirming the importance of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Moses, the great leader, lawgiver, and prophet is most known of the Old Testament prophets. A princess of Egypt saves the infant boy from drowning in the Nile River and adopts him and names him Moses(meaning "is drawn from'). Moses is raised as one of the royal family.
When Moses kills a cruel Egyptian Guard for beating a Hebrew slave, he spends 40 years in exile before God, manifested in a burning bush, appoints Moses as His prophet to free God's people in Egypt.
After the Ten Plagues, Moses leads the Israelites out of slavery to the Red Sea, which he parts, and then into the desert for forty years (the Exodus). In the desert God reveals to Moses the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The Torah would define Jewish belief and practice until this very day.
While the Israelites grumbled and abandoned God, serpents came and many died. Moses made a brass serpent and mounted it on a pole. If one who was bitten looked at it , they did not die (Numbers 21:4-9). Later, when Moses faltered in faith, he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land and died on its border. It fell to Joshua to lead the people into the Promised Land. .
If you have seen the movie The Ten Commandments you know Moses was larger than life. Moses is prototype for Jesus. As Moses freed his people from physical slavery, Jesus frees his people from slavery to sin and eternal death. Indeed the whole theme of the Gospel of Matthew is that Jesus is the new Moses predicted in Duteronomy 18:18, "I shall raise a prophet to them anong their brothers, like you; and I will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak to them all that I command Him." In John 3:14-16, Jesus made the astounding statement. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up. That every one who believed in Him may have eternal life.
Depictions of the Infant Jesus became very popular in the 14th. The devotion became widespread because of the preaching of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony of Padua who is often depicted as holding the Infant Jesus. St. Teresa of Avila made the devotion popular throughout Spain
Due to a royal marriage, a statue of the Infant Jesus was brought from Spain to Prague, the capitol of the Czech Republic. After the death of the royal couple, the statue was given to Discalced Carmelites and statue was set up in the oratory of the monastery church, the Church of the Virgin Mary Victorious. In 1628, the Protestant Saxons and Swedes invaded Catholic Prague, plundered the monastery forced the sisters to flee. The veneration of the Infant Jesus ceased until 1638 when a young priest named Fr. P. Cyril found the Infant Jesus statue, buried in a pile of debris behind the main altar with its hands destroyed. Fr. Cyril cleaned the statue and placed on a side altar for worship. While he was praying before the Infant Jesus, he heard the Infant Jesus say, "Have pity on Me and I will have pity on you. Give Me my hands and I will give you peace. The more you honor Me, the more I will bless you."
Miracles soon began to happen and the statue was repaired. In 1651 the Infant Jesus was taken in procession, by the bishop, to all the churches in Prague and enthroned in the Church of the Virgin Mary Victorious. As the pilgrims and miracles began to multiply, the Holy Infant became known as the Infant of Prague.
The Church of the Virgin Mary Victorious was officially returned back to the Discalced Carmelites in 1993. The tradition of the Infant Jesus procession and the coronation continues to this day on the third Sunday of May.
On February 11, 1858 the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous, age 14. The 18 apparitions that year took place in the grotto of Massabielle. The description of the Lady by Bernadette became the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Bernadette described the Lady as: "While I was saying the Rosary, I was watching as hard as I could. She was wearing a white dress reaching down to her feet, of which only the toes appeared. The dress was gathered very high at the neck by a hem from which hung a white cord. A white veil covered her head and came down over her shoulders and arms almost to the bottom of her dress. On each foot I saw a yellow rose. The sash of the dress was blue, and hung down below her knees. The chain of the rosary was yellow; the beads white, big and widely spaced."
Bernadette was told to pray and do penance for sinners. Following the instruction of the Lady, Bernadette dug into the muddy earth and an unknown stream began to flow. The stream was discovered to have miraculous healing powers.
The skeptical village priest asked Bernadette to ask the Lady who she was. On March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation, the Lady told Bernadette that, "I am the Immaculate Conception." Pope Pius IX had declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception only a few years earlier. The dogma affirms what the Church always taught; Mary had been conceived without the stain of original sin.
Miracles still flow from the miraculous waters of Lourdes — but many more of the miracles occur during the blessing of the sick with the Most Holy Eucharist in the monstrance. This underscores a profound truth of the spiritual life: Mary leads her children to her Divine Son, especially to His Eucharistic Heart. The message of Our Lady of Lourdes is always the same; pray the rosary for sinners that they may seek the healing mercy of God. St. Bernadette lived the rest of her life in humble prayer and suffering in a convent in France. She died on April 16 1879.
Our Lady of Fatima appeared six times to three shepherd children at Fátima, Portugal starting on May 13, 1917. The children, Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto, related that Mary specifically identified herself as "the Lady of the Rosary".
Lúcia described seeing Mary as "brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun." Mary also asked them to say the Rosary every day, reiterating many times that the Rosary was the key to personal and world peace. On October 13, 1917, the final apparition, Mary had promised a miracle. A crowd believed to be approximately 70,000 in number, including newspaper reporters and photographers, gathered at the apparition site. Countless observers reported that the rain clouds broke, revealing the sun as an opaque disk spinning in the sky and radiating various colors of light upon the surroundings, then appearing to detach itself from the sky and plunge itself towards the earth in a zigzag pattern, finally returning to its normal place, and leaving the people's once wet clothing now completely dry. The event is known as the "Miracle of the Sun". This miracle was seen for many miles around Fatima.
Lúcia's cousins, Francisco (1908–1919) and Jacinta Marto (1910–1920), were both victims of the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1919. Lúcia had joined the Carmelite order in a convent in Coimbra, Portugal. Sister Lúcia died on February 13, 2005, at the age of 97.
Today, Fatima is a great place of pilgrimage and healing, especially spiritual healing. The promise of the Blessed Virgin Mary was to assist anyone who would devoutely and faithfully pray the Rosary.
ST. MARIA GORETTI Maria Goretti was born on Oct 16, 1890 to a loving but poor family. In Nettuno, Italy (near Anzio) when she was nine, her father died of malaria. Maria's mother took her husband's place in the fields, while little Maria took care of her five siblings. The family lived in the same boarding house as the farm manager Giovanni Serenelli and his teenager son Alessandro.
Through all the difficulties, Maria did her best. Cheerful and intelligent, Maria was also beautiful, with chestnut hair complementing her delicate features. Her family being too poor to pay for Masses in her father's memory, every night Maria would recite the five Mysteries of the Rosary for the repose of her father's soul.
In June of 1902, 20-year-old Alessandro Serenelli began making sexual advances on the now 11-year-old Maria. She rebuffed them all as sinful, but, unfortunately, said nothing to her mother, for fear of causing trouble. On July 5, Alessandro assaulted Maria and when again rebuffed stabbed her 14 times. As she lay dying, Maria forgave her murderer. She replied, "Yes, for the love of Jesus I forgive him...and I want him to be with me in Paradise." Maria died on July 6.
In the sixth year of his 30-year sentence, Maria appeared to Alessandro. She smiled at Alessandro and was surrounded by lilies, the flower symbolic of purity. Alessandro's unrepentant heart changed as he found God. After serving 27 years, Alessandro’s first act was to beg forgiveness from Maria’s mother. He then found a job as a gardener in a Capuchin monastery, a job he held until his death on May 6, 1970.
Alessandro testified to Maria's sanctity and was present with Maria’s mother on June 24, 1950, when Pope Pius XII declared Maria a saint in front of a quarter million people. The canonization of Maria Goretti honors the innumerable other courageous men, women, and children who "preferred death to dishonor."
July 6th is her feast Day. Maria is buried in the Shrine of St. Maria Goretti in Nettuno, Italy.