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Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009

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Sophie
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:20:12 (permalink)
another version reminds us that Euphrosyne's story about gender bending was popular:

St. Euphrosyne of Alexandria

Saint Euphrosyne of Alexandria was born at the beginning of the fifth century in the city of Alexandria. She was the only child in her family of illustrious and rich parents. Since her mother died early, she was raised by her father, Paphnutius, a deeply believing and pious Christian. He frequented a monastery, the igumen of which was his spiritual guide.

When Euphrosyne turned eighteen, her father wanted her to marry. He went to the monastery to his spiritual guide to receive his blessing for the planned wedding of his daughter. The igumen conversed with the daughter and gave her his blessing, but St Euphrosyne yearned for the monastic life.

She secretly accepted tonsure from a wandering monk, left her father's house and decided to enter a monastery in order to lead her life in solitude and prayer. She feared, however, that in a women's monastery her father would find her. Calling herself the eunuch Smaragdos, she went to the very same men's monastery which she had visited with her father since childhood.

The monks did not recognize Euphrosyne dressed in men's garb, and so they accepted her into the monastery. Here in a solitary cell, St Euphrosyne spent 38 years in works, fasting and prayer, and attained a high level of spiritual accomplishment.

Her father grieved over the loss of his beloved daughter and more than once, on the advice of the igumen, he conversed with the monk Smaragdos, revealing his grief and receiving spiritual comfort. Before her death, the nun Euphrosyne revealed her secret to her grieving father and asked that no one but he should prepare her body for burial. Having buried his daughter, Paphnutius distributed all his wealth to both the poor and to the monastery, and then he accepted monasticism. For ten years right up to his own death, he laboured in the cell of his daughter.
Sophie
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:24:50 (permalink)
On January 2 in 1873:  One of three woman Doctors of the Church, Saint Therese of Lisieux, is born!  She discerns in herself a call to priesthood...

 
St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Icon by Robert Lentz


I sense in myself the vocation
of Warrior, Priest, Apostle,
Doctor, and Martyr.

In the heart of the Church,
my Mother,
I will be love.


St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Sophie
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:25:25 (permalink)
Dear friends,

St. Therese's vocation to the priesthood preoccupied her to the end of her life.  She wrote about it, spoke boldly about it and believed that she would be a good preacher...mentioning sometimes that she would be even better than some priests that she heard.


Saint Therese of Lisieux

Well known lecturer, writer and preacher from Stockholm, Sweden, Catherine Broome, OP contributes to our dialogue with her article, The Priestly Vocation of Therese of the Child Jesus.  As Broome points out, when Pope John Paul II proclaimed Therese a Doctor of the Church in 1997 (the third woman in Christian history to be honoured this way) through his words and deeds and guided by the Holy Spirit,  when Pope John Paul II proclaimed Therese a Doctor of the Church in 1997, he confirmed that Therese was sent by God to help our Church interpret the signs of the times and come ‘closer to the will of God.’

Besides examining Therese's vocation to priesthood, Broome includes plenty of discussion about the three of our women doctors of our Church (Saints Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Therese of Lisieux). Broome notes notes, "A long tradition was broken when, within a short period of time, three women were named Doctors of the Church."  In her article, Broome looks at:



  • women Doctors as spiritual authorities
  • highlights of some of their writings
  • Teresa, Catherine and Therese's vocational callings
  • explores how both Catherine and Therese strongly and clearly expressed their callings to be priests
  • examines qualities that distinguish a Doctor
I welcome you -- dive into the article! You can connect with it here:
If you have any questions, please let me know.

With love and blessings,

~Sophie~
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:28:56 (permalink)


Saint Therese dressed like Joan of Arc
 
Thérèse's admiration of Saint Joan of Arc is apparent when one learns that Joan is the title character in two small dramas that Thérèse staged in her religious community during the last four years of her life. The fact that Thérèse chose to appear in the title role makes it all the more evident that Joan was a long-standing role model for this future Doctor of the Church.
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:32:03 (permalink)
Dear friends,

In his article, St. Thérèse and the Question of Ordination of Women, our site founder, Dr. Wijngaards shares some of his perspectives about this mighty saint.
 

Saint Therese of Lisieux
 
On October 19, 1997, Thérèse of Lisieux was officially declared a Doctor of the Church. Although Vatican authorities may not have appreciated what this would recognition would do for the cause, their endorsement of her orthodox faith and soundness of teaching has consequences for the ordination of women.
 
St. Thérèse  professed a profound and deep longing to be a priest.  Through her writings, she gives testimony to her deep ‘Catholic sense’ that women can and should be priests.  In his article, Dr. Wijngaards examines:
  • Thérèse's longing for the priesthood
  • the reasons of the heart
  • Therese's enduring testimony

The direct link to the article is here: http://www.womenpriests.org/teaching/therese.asp. Please enjoy! If you have any questions, as always, let me know.

With love and blessings,

~Sophie~
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:36:32 (permalink)
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
(1873-1897)
Doctor of the Church

On 19th October 1997, just 100 years after her death, St. Thérèse of Lisieux (the "Little Flower") was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. She was the third woman to receive this title, which has been conferred on 30 men. Less publicised is the fact that Thérèse felt a strong calling to the priesthood.

Among the testimonies from the process of her beatification there is a long and detailed statement by her sister, Céline Martin, whose name in religion was Sister Genevieve of St. Teresa. She gave her testimony from 14 to 28 September 1910 before a diocesan tribunal, set up by the bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux. Sister Genevieve bore witness under oath that:

In 1897, but before she was really ill, Sister Thérèse told me she expected to die that year. Here is the reason she gave me for this in June. When she realised that she had pulmonary tuberculosis, she said: 'You see, God is going to take me at an age when I would not have had the time to become a priest ... If I could have been a priest, I would have been ordained at these June ordinations. So, what did God do? So that I would not be disappointed, he let me be sick: in that way I couldn't have been there, and I would die before I could exercise my ministry.' The sacrifice of not being able to be a priest was something she always felt deeply. During her illness, whenever we were cutting her hair she would ask for a tonsure, and then joyfully feel it with her hand. But her regret did not find its expression merely in such trifles; it was caused by a real love of God, and inspired high hopes in her. The thought that St Barbara had brought communion to St Stanislas Kostka thrilled her. 'Why must I be a virgin, and not an angel or a priest?' she said. 'Oh! what wonders we shall see in heaven! I have a feeling that those who desired to be priests on earth will be able to share in the honour of the priesthood in heaven.'

from: St. Thérèse of Lisieux by those who knew her: Testimonies from the Process of Beatification, ed. and trans. by C. O'Mahony, OCD (Dublin, 1975) pp155-6 as quoted in The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church, by Eric Doyle OFM

For further reading on this subject, see The Priestly Vocation of Therese of the Child Jesus by Catherine Broome OP, SPIRITUALITY Volume 6, No. 30 + 31, Dominican Publications, 42 Parnell Square, Dublin 1

Also available here: http://www.womenpriests.org/called/broome.asp
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 06:53:36 (permalink)
Geneviève of Paris V
also known as Genovefa

Feastday January 3

Born in Nanterre near Paris, France, c. 422; died in Paris, c. 500 Geneviève was born in a village on the outskirts of Paris during the time of Attila the Hun. She was a shepherdess, the only child of Severus and Gerontia, hardworking peasants. Geneviève was so bright and attractive that when Saint Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, was visiting the village with Saint Lupus on their way to Britain in 429 to squelch Pelagianism, he took special notice of the seven-year-old. After his sermon, the inhabitants flocked about them to receive their blessings. Germanus beckoned for her parents and foretold her future sanctity. When he asked Geneviève if she wished to be a spouse of Christ and serve God only, she asked that he bless her and consecrate her from that moment.


Saint Genevieve
by Charles Sprague Pearce
http://www.erasofelegance.com

Taking a gold coin from his purse, he gave it to her, telling her to keep it always as a reminder of that day and of God to whom her life belonged. Although in later years Geneviève was often hungry and had no other money, she never parted with the coin. Another version recorded by Constantius tells how the holy bishop went to the church, followed by the people, and during the long singing of Psalms and prayers, "he laid his hand upon the maiden's head." In either case, she continued tending the sheep and helping her blind mother in spinning and weaving.

When Geneviève was 15, her parents died and she went to live in Paris, where she repeated her vows and the bishop of Paris gave her and two other girls the veil. She settled with her godmother Lutetia in Paris. In the course of time, she became famous for her sanctity. She frequently ate only twice a week--sparingly (a small portion of barley bread and some beans). (This fasting she continued until age 50 when her bishop commanded her to alter her diet.)

She experienced visions and prophecies, which initially evoked hostility from Parisians--to the point that an attempt was made to take her life. But the support of Germanus, who visited her again, and the accuracy of her predictions eventually changed their attitudes. (Germanus also corrected some of her harsher penances during this visit.)



The young girl loved to pray in church alone at night. One day a gust of wind blew out her candle, leaving her in the dark. Geneviève merely concluded that the devil was trying to frighten her. For this reason she is often depicted holding a candle, sometimes with an irritated devil standing near.

Her bravery rallied the city in 451, when Attila II the Hun's army marched on the city in an attempt to wrest Gaul from the Visigoths. The citizens were ready to evacuate the city. As the Huns battered at the gates of Paris, Geneviève persuaded the men to stay and gathered the women of the city for prayer. Her courage depended on complete trust in God, and as Attila and his army approached she encouraged the Parisians to fast and pray in the hope that God would avert disaster. Many citizens spent whole days in prayer with her in the baptistery. It is from this that the devotion to Saint Geneviève, formerly practiced at Saint- Jean-le-Rond, the ancient public baptistery of the church of Paris, appears to have originated. She reassured the people that they had the protection of heaven. She cared for the sick, fed the poor, and everywhere inspired confidence. "God will protect you," she said, "we must trust in Him."

At one point, however, when the crisis was at its height and the people were panic-stricken, they turned against her, wanting to stone her and saying that she was a false prophet who would bring about their destruction, and they threatened to stone her. But the good Bishop Germanus had not forgotten her, and though he lay dying in Ravenna, Italy, he sent his archdeacon Sedulius to pacify the people. Sedulius persuaded the panic-stricken people that Geneviève was not a prophetess of doom, and to listen to her counsel not to abandon their homes. Many of the inhabitants lost heart and fled in panic, but Geneviève again gathered the women around her, and led them out on to the ramparts of the city, where in the morning light and in the face of the spears of the enemy they prayed to God for deliverance. Providentially, the same night, the invader turned south to Orleans, and again the city was saved, since when Geneviève, who was venerated even by the enemy, has been acclaimed as a savior and heroine of her people.

In 486 the saint's bravery proved invaluable for the people of Paris for the second time. The Frankish King Clovis killed Syragrius, the Roman representative in Soissons, ending the Roman governance of Gaul. King Childeric of the Franks besieged the Paris, bringing its inhabitants to the point of starvation.

One night, when the city was blockaded and there was a serious shortage of food, Geneviève took a boat and rowed out alone (more likely at the head of a company) upon the river into the darkness to Arcis-sur-Aube and Troyes. She slipped silently and secretly past the lines of the enemy, landing at dawn far outside the city, where she went from village to village imploring help and gathering food, and returned to Paris--again successfully evading the enemy--with eleven boatloads of precious corn. (Other sources say that nightly she captained eleven barges to collect grain in the Champagne region.)


Saint Genevieve
http://notredamecroixparis.free.fr

When the siege was over, Childeric, the ever-pagan conqueror, in admiration of her courage, sent for her and asked what he might do for her. "Release your prisoners," she replied. "Their only fault was that they so dearly loved their city." And this he granted.


St. Genevieve on the Boat

When, on the death of Childeric, Clovis succeeded him and consolidated control of the land from the Rhine to the Loire. He married Childeric's elder daughter, Clothilde, who was a Christian and tried to convert her husband without success. Clovis allowed his first son to be baptized, but the child died. The second son was baptized and came close to death, but recovered at the prayers of Clothilde and Remi.

Meanwhile, Geneviève became his trusted counsellor. Clovis entered a harsh battle and promised to be baptized, if he should win. He won and under the influence of Geneviève, he converted in 496. His people and servants followed suit. Clovis, like Childeric, released many prisoners at her request. Later, however, fresh troubles came to the city, and once more it was threatened by an invading army.

Geneviève also initiated the interest of many people in building a church in honor of Saint Denis, which was afterward rebuilt with a monastery by King Dagobert in 629. Geneviève made many pilgrimages in the company of other maidens to the shrine of Saint Martin of Tours. Her reputation for sanctity is so great that it even reached Saint Simeon the Stylite in Syria (he asked to be remembered in her prayers).

By the time she died King Clovis of the Franks had grown to venerate the saint. It was at Geneviève's suggestion that Clovis began to build the church of SS. Peter and Paul in the middle of Paris, where they interred her body. Later the church was renamed Sainte Geneviève and it was rebuilt in 1746.


St. Genevieve Watches over the Sleeping City of Paris, 1898
by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
 
From the time of her burial, miracles performed at her tomb made her and the Church famous all over France. The most famous instance of all is the so-called miracle des Ardens or burning fever (ergot-poisoning) in 1129. Bishop Stephen of Paris had her shrine carried through the streets in solemn procession. Many thousands of the sick who saw or touched the shrine were immediately cured, and only several deaths from the plague were said to have occurred thereafter. In the following year, Pope Innocent II ordered that date to be kept annually in commemoration of the miracle.

In times of national crisis the French have often turned to Geneviève for help. In 1741, Louis XV came to her church to thank her for a cure wrought at her intercession. When the Bastille was taken, people again came to thank her. In 1790, the Commune went to her church for Mass. In 1793 the body of Saint Geneviève was taken from her shrine and publicly burned at the Place de Greve. At the time of the French Revolution, the church was secularized and is now called the Pantheon, a burial place for French worthies. But some of the relics were spared and later placed in the Church of Saint Etienne (Stephen) du Mont, where thousands visit them each year.

Most of the information about Geneviève derives from a Life that claims to be by a contemporary; its authenticity and value are the subject of much discussion. The idea that she was a shepherdess is recent and without authority; the evidence suggests that she came from a family of good position. She was a real person, however; her name is entered in Saint Jerome's Martyrology, which makes her cultus very ancient. (Attwater, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer, Gill, Encyclopedia, Martindale, Walsh, White).

In art she is shown as a shepherdess, usually holding a candle-- which the devil is trying to extinguish, while an angel guards it-- or a book or torch. She may have a coin suspended around her neck (the one Germanus gave her). Sometimes she may be shown as a nun with sheep near her, with the devil at her feet with bellows, a key in one hand and candle in the other, or restoring sight to her mother (Benedictines, Roeder, White).

Many miracles in favor of Paris have been attributed to her intercession. She is the patron saint of Paris, of disasters, of drought and excessive rain, of fever, and of the French security forces. Her efforts to maintain the safety of Paris led to her being made the patron of French security forces (White).

http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0103.shtml
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 07:11:34 (permalink)
Sainte Geneviève (Nanterre, c. 419/422 - Paris 502/512) is the patron saint of Paris in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox tradition. Her feast is kept on January 3.


Saint Genevieve, nineteenth century painting
 
Life
 
Though there is a "vita" that purports to be written by a contemporary, Geneviève's history cannot be separated from her hagiography. She was described as a peasant girl born in Nanterre to a Frankish father and a Gallo-Roman mother. One day Germanus (Saint Germain of Auxerre) came to Nanterre, and Genevieve confided in him that she wanted to live only for God. He encouraged her and at the age of fifteen, Genevieve became a nun. On the deaths of her parents, she went to live with her godmother Lutetia in Paris. (Since "Lutetia" was the former name of the city of Paris, this has symbolic weight.) There the young woman became admired for her piety and devotion to works of charity, which included corporal austerities, and a vegetarian diet which allowed her to sup but twice per week. "These mortifications she continued for over thirty years, till her ecclesiastical superiors thought it their duty to make her diminish her austerities," the Catholic Encyclopedia reports. She did encounter opposition and criticism for her activities, both before and after she was again visited by Germanus.

Like many of her Gallic neighbors, Geneviève had frequent communication with the other world and reported her visions and prophesies, until her enemies conspired to drown her. Through the intervention of Germain of Auxerre, their animosity was finally overcome. The bishop of the city appointed her to look after the welfare of the virgins dedicated to God, and by her instruction and example she led them to a high degree of sanctity.

Shortly before the attack of the Huns under Attila in 451 on Paris, with the help of Germanus' archdeacon, the panic-stricken people of Paris were persuaded not to leave their homes. Genevieve's prayers were said to divert Attila's army to Orléans. During Childeric's siege and blockade of Paris in 464, Geneviève passed through the siege lines in a boat to Troyes, bringing grain to the starving city. She also pleaded to Childeric for the welfare of prisoners of war, and met with a favorable response.

Later, Clovis I liberated captives and showed greater lenience to wrongdoers after Genevieve urged him to do so.

Ste. Geneviève's death and burial
 
Under the care of the Benedictines, who established a monastery there, the church witnessed numerous miracles wrought at her tomb. Ste. Genevieve was canonized and the church was rededicated in her name. People enriched the church with their gifts. In 847 it was plundered by the Vikings and was partially rebuilt, but was completed only in 1177.



In 1129, when the city was suffering from an epidemic of ergot poisoning, this "burning sickness" was stayed after Ste. Geneviève's relics were carried in a public procession. The saint's relics were carried in procession yearly to the cathedral; Mme de Sévigné gave a description of the pageant in one of her letters. The relief from the epidemic is still commemorated in the churches of Paris.
 
After the old church fell into decay, Louis XV ordered a new church worthy of the patron saint of Paris; he entrusted the Marquis of Marigny with the construction. The marquis gave the commission to his protégé Jacques-Germain Soufflot, who planned a neo-classical design. After Soufflot's death, the church was completed by his pupil, Jean-Baptiste Rondelet.

The Revolution broke out before the new church was dedicated. It was taken over in 1791 by the National Constituent Assembly and renamed the Panthéon, to be a burial place for distinguished Frenchmen. It became an important monument in Paris.

Though the relics of Ste. Geneviève had been publicly burnt at the Place de Grève in 1793, the Panthéon was restored to Catholic purposes in 1821. In 1831 it was secularized again as a national mausoleum, but restored to the Catholic Church in 1852. Though the Communards had dispersed the relics, in 1885 the Catholic Church reconsecrated the structure to Ste. Geneviève. Today the Panthéon serves both liturgical and secular functions.


The Pantheon
 
Canons of St. Geneviève

About 1619 Louis XIII named Cardinal François de La Rochefoucauld abbot of St. Genevieve's. The canons had been lax and the cardinal selected Charles Faure to reform them. This holy man was born in 1594, and entered the canons regular at Senlis. He was remarkable for his piety, and, when ordained, succeeded after a hard struggle in reforming the abbey. Many of the houses of the canons regular adopted his reform. In 1634, he and a dozen companions took charge of Sainte-Geneviève-du-Mont of Paris. This became the mother-house of a new congregation, the Canons Regular of Ste. Genevieve, which spread widely over France.

The institute named after the saint was the Daughters of Ste. Genevieve, founded at Paris in 1636, by Francesca de Blosset, with the object of nursing the sick and teaching young girls. A somewhat similar institute, popularly known as the Miramiones, had been founded under the invocation of the Holy Trinity in 1611 by Marie Bonneau de Rubella Beauharnais de Miramion. These two institutes were united in 1665, and the associates called the Canonesses of Saint Genevieve. The members took no vows, but merely promised obedience to the rules as long as they remained in the institute. Suppressed during the Revolution, the institute was revived in 1806 by Jeanne-Claude Jacoulet under the name of the Sisters of the Holy Family.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genevieve
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/03 07:19:54 (permalink)

The painting of St. Therese that hung on my
grandmother's wall when I was a child! ~s~
 
Dear friends,

ps about Saint Therese: Our dedicated dialogue thread about St. Therese is found here: Saint Therese of Lisieux: Called to Priesthood.
 
If you are doing research about her, you will also find information of interest in our now archived thread: St Therese of Lisieux was called to be a priest.  Because it is in archives, it is available in read only format.
 
If you have any questions, please let me know.
 
with love and blessings,
 
~Sophie~  
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/08 06:14:42 (permalink)
Born on January 7 in 1844 - Bernadette Soubirous, French saint (d. 1879)
Feastday April 16


Bernadette of Lourdes
 
Saint Bernadette (born Marie-Bernarde Soubirous; January 7, 1844 – April 16, 1879), was a miller's daughter from the town of Lourdes in southern France. From February 11 to July 16, 1858, she reported eighteen apparitions of "a Lady." Despite initial skepticism from the Vatican, these claims were eventually declared to be worthy of belief after a canonical investigation, and the apparition is known as Our Lady of Lourdes. After her death, Bernadette's body reportedly remained incorrupt, and the shrine at Lourdes went on to become a major site for pilgrimage, attracting millions of Catholics each year. On December 8, 1933 she was canonised as a saint.  Her Feast Day is celebrated on April 16.
 
Bernadette (the sobriquet by which she was universally known) was the daughter of François Soubirous (1807–1871), a miller, and his wife Louise (née Castérot) (1825–1866), a laundress, and was the eldest of five children who survived infancy. Louise actually gave birth to nine children (Bernadette, Jean died when born, Jean-Marie 1848–1851, Toinette 1846, Jean-Marie b. 1851, Justin 1855–1865, Bernard-Pierre b. 1859, Jean 1864–1864 and a baby girl named Louise 1866–1866). Bernadette was baptized at the local parish church, St. Pierre's, on January 9, which was her parents' wedding anniversary. Bernadette's godmother was Bernarde Casterot, her mother's sister. Hard times had fallen on France and the family lived in extreme poverty. Neighbours reported that the family lived in unusual harmony, apparently relying on their love and support for one another and their religious devotion.
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernadette_Soubirous
post edited by Sophie - 2009/01/08 06:27:36
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/08 06:18:57 (permalink)
 
Illuminated page from Gengenbach/Baden Evangelistery (Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart), Germany, dated ca. 1150 AD.

The Angel Gabriel appears to Mary who is dressed in priestly vestments. In tradition, theologians often remark on the fact that Mary’s response: “Let it be done to me according to your word”, caused the Incarnation to take place, and so her words made Christ present, just as the priest’s words of consecration make Christ present in the Eucharist.

See
St. Antoninus of Florence OP, J. Duvergier de Hauranne and Bishop J.Nazlian.

The Virgin Mary a Priest? Learn more, see here:
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/08 14:40:42 (permalink)
Blessed Angela of Foligno
Feastday: January 4
1309



A Franciscan tertiary and mystic, Angela was born in Foligno, Italy.  In 1248 she married and had several children. Wealthy, she took part in the social events of the city until 1285 when she had a vision. Following that mystical experience, Angela became a member of the Franciscan Third Order. When her husband died, she gave away her possessions and started a community of tertiaries devoted to the care of the needy. Her visions were recorded by her confessor and demonstrated a mature mystical union with Christ and the gift of revelation. She is sometimes called "the Mistress of Theologians." Her tomb is in the church of St. Francis in Foligno.
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/08 14:41:16 (permalink)
January 4 marks the feastday and 1821 death of Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native born United States citizen to be named a saint (b. 1774)



Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (RM)

Born in New York, New York, United States of America, August 28, 1774; died in Emmitsburg, Maryland, USA, January 4, 1821; beatified by Pope John XXIII; canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975.

When I consider the life of Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, I am reminded that we must be ever conscious that we are children of the King and Queen. With that in mind, we must act with the magnanimity of our Father because we never know when God will use us to draw others to Himself.

Elizabeth Seton, the first native-born citizen of the United States ever to be canonized, was born into the devout Episcopalian family headed by her father Dr. Richard Bayley, a well-known physician and professor of anatomy at King's College (now Columbia), and her mother Catherine Charlton, who was the daughter of the Anglican rector of Saint Andrew's Church, Staten Island. Her mother died when Elizabeth was three-years-old. Although her father remarried, Elizabeth and her younger sister Mary were his favorites.

Her unusual, but far-reaching, education and character formation were his supreme concerns. He taught her to curb her natural vivaciousness. Dr. Bayley's second wife had seven children, so these two were under the special care of their father. (It may be worth noting that one of Elizabeth's stepbrothers became the Catholic Archbishop James Roosevelt Bayley of Baltimore.) Elizabeth was 11-years-old when the Revolutionary War ended. Bayley was a Loyalist during the British occupation of New York.

Even in childhood, Elizabeth delighted in prayer and in spiritual reading, especially the lives of the saints, the Bible, and Imitation of Christ. She was also devoted to her Guardian Angel.

After the war, Bayley was made Inspector General in the New York Department of Health. In 1792, he was appointed to the Anatomy Chair in the Department of Medicine at Columbia College.

At 19 (in 1794), Elizabeth married William Magee Seton, a first- generation American of English parentage and heir-apparent to a rich shipping firm. After her marriage, Elizabeth became an active philanthropist, so active that she became known in New York as the "Protestant Sister of Charity."

In 1797, already the mother of two, she was one of the founders of a society designed to help poor widows with small children.

William and Elizabeth were deeply in love and gave life to five children: Anna Maria was born in 1795; William, Jr. in 1796; Richard; Catherine; and Rebecca (b. 1802). Financial calamity visited the family business in the form of the war between France and England--many of their ships were seized--and the business failed. William's father died leaving him to look after his siblings. Then his health, too, failed--he contracted tuberculosis. In 1802, her father, Dr. Bayley, who had pioneered research in surgery, diphtheria, and yellow fever, contracted yellow fever and died.

Because of his tuberculosis, William's doctors felt he should spend winter in sunny Italy in 1803-1804. He had been a guest there of the Filicchi brothers in Leghorn several years before his marriage. So Elizabeth, William, and the eldest daughter Anna Maria arranged to spend several months with the Filicchi's.

Due to a yellow fever epidemic in New York, they were quarantined on the ship for four weeks after the seven-week voyage. Elizabeth never complained about the sad state of affairs, even in her diary. She took everything cheerfully as permitted by a loving God for their good. William Seton died in Pisa, Italy, in December 1803-- nine days after their release from quarantine--but had progressed much spiritually during their confinement.

Elizabeth converted to Catholicism primarily due to God, but instrumentally due to the Filicchi family, especially Antonio. They visited Florence. She went to church with Signora Filicchi and experienced a crisis when she saw the elevated Host one Sunday. Living with the Filicchi's dispelled her myths regarding Catholicism, because of their piety, virtue, love for one another, and charity. "If the practice of the Catholic faith could produce such interior holiness," she felt she must learn more about their Church. Sra. Filicchi kept a strict Lenten fast--allowing nothing until after 3:00 p.m. Elizabeth liked going to Mass every day.

Antonio Filicchi advised her that only the Catholic Church had the true faith and asked her to seek and pray for enlightenment. Elizabeth returned to New York on June 3, 1804, and put herself under instruction. Unfortunately, she advised her Rector Hobart and her family of her decision. All tried to sway her. She fell into despair until Epiphany 1805, when her reading roused her to action.

She was received into the Catholic Church on the March 14, 1805, with Antonio Filicchi as her sponsor. Elizabeth had returned to a bankrupt firm, so she was entirely dependent upon her relatives for her support. It would have been easy, if she had remained an Episcopalian. Instead, she was ostracized by her family and friends when she became a Catholic, except by her two sisters-in- law, Harriet and Cecilia Seton.

Antonio, Father O'Brien (the Dominican Rector of Saint Peter's Church), and Father Cheverus of Boston helped her financially. She decided to teach at a new girls' school, but it was rumored that she would instill Catholicism among her students and after three months, the school lost all its pupils and had to close. So, she arranged another teaching position. Fifteen-year-old Cecilia Seton announced then that she was becoming Catholic and was thrown out of her home. Cecilia sought refuge with Elizabeth setting off a storm that had Elizabeth lose this second job.

Elizabeth sought a new calling. A new, very holy priest came into her life--Father William Valentine du Bourg (Dubourg), a Sulpician Father, who was President of the Sulpician College of Saint Mary in Baltimore. He said Mass at Saint Peter's in New York in August 1807, when the woman in widow's dress came to receive Communion with tears streaming down her face in rapt devotion.

A few hours later, she called the rectory and requested the privilege of meeting Father du Bourg, who recognized her at once and listened attentively to the story of her conversion and present difficulties. Father du Bourg had been contemplating establishing a Catholic girls' school in Baltimore and proposed that she found a religious community to take up this work, since there was none in Baltimore for teaching.

Bishop John Carroll, Father Cheverus, and Father Matignon were consulted and encouraged her, but they thought she should wait. She waited one year. In June 1808, Father du Bourg met with her in New York again at the home of Mrs. Barry. She immediately went to Baltimore and opened Saint Joseph's School for girls next to the chapel of Saint Mary's Seminary. This marked the beginning of the Catholic system of parochial schools in America.

She and her associates lived as religious under a rule and wore habits. Cecilia Conway of Philadelphia joined her. Another recent convert, Mr. Cooper of Virginia, died leaving money for the education of poor children. With this they bought a farm near Emmitsburg, Maryland. Elizabeth's sisters-in-law Cecilia and Harriet also joined them. Elizabeth and her daughter Anna Maria took private vows before Archbishop Carroll.

In December 1809, Harriet Seton died, Cecilia followed in April 1810. In 1810, Bishop Flaget obtained in France the rule of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, changed the rule somewhat. Three sisters were selected to train them, but Napoleon forbade them to leave. The revised rule was approved by Archbishop Carroll in January 1812 and Elizabeth was elected as the Superior of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Joseph. Anna Maria died during her novitiate in 1812, taking her final vows on her deathbed, but Mother Seton and 18 sisters made their vows on July 19, 1813. Thus was founded the first American religious society.

The sisters were very active, establishing a free schools, orphanages, and hospitals. They became most well-known, however, for their work with the then growing parochial school system, which became one of the glories of the Catholic Church in the United States. In addition to her responsibilities to the congregation, Mother Seton personally worked with the poor and sick, composed music, wrote hymns, and penned spiritual discourses.

Of Elizabeth's children, Rebecca died in 1816; Richard died in Italy in 1821 (the same year as his mother Elizabeth); William, Jr. entered the Navy and died in 1868. Mother Catherine Seton, daughter of the saint and the first postulant of the New York Sisters of Mercy, died at age 91 in 1891, she prepared many condemned criminals for death.

Saint Elizabeth was a charming and cultivated woman of determined character. In the face of all the social pressures her 'world,' Elizabeth was devout and comfortable as an Episcopalian, but she persevered in religion and responded to God's call for her to extend and develop the Catholic Church in the United States. Of all the attendant discouragements and difficulties she faced, the hardest to bear were interior to herself; for example, she detested having to exercise authority over others and she suffered much from bouts of spiritual aridity. But she conquered in the Sign she had chosen and conquered heroically.

By the time of her death, her inspiration spread to the founding of nearly two dozen sister communities around the U.S. Today the congregation is one of the most numerous and influential of its kind. Her cause was introduced in 1907 by Cardinal Gibbons, archbishop of Baltimore. Impressive cures claimed as miraculous during her cause include one from leukemia and another from severe meningitis.

In his canonization allocution, at which 1,000 nuns of her order from North and South America, Italy, and missionary countries were represented, the pope stressed her extraordinary contributions as a wife, mother, and consecrated sister; the example of her dynamic and authentic witness for future generations; and the affirmation of "that religious spirituality which your (i.e., American) temporal prosperity seemed to obscure and almost make impossible."

One by one, God took away the foundations on which Elizabeth's comfortable life was built, substituting a faithful Catholic family in Italy, a new faith, and new spiritual guides distinguished for their holiness and wisdom, and led her, like Abraham, into a strange new land (Attwater, Bentley, Cushing, J. Delaney, S. Delany, Farmer, Walsh, White).

http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0104.shtml
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/08 14:41:56 (permalink)
 
 



Blessed Oringa of the Cross, OSA V (AC)
(also known as Christiana)

Feastday:  January 4

Died 1310. A Tuscan farm girl and serving maid who, in spite of the fact that she passed most of her life in domestic service, succeeded in leading a band of devout women and founded a convent at Castello di Santa Croce in the Arno valley, to which she gave the Augustinian Rule.

Christiana was noted for her spirit of extreme poverty and for her great dedication to prayer (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Gill).

http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0104.shtml
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/08 14:43:08 (permalink)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Saint Pharaildis
Feastday: January 4
740

Also called Vareide, Varelde, Veerle, and Verylde, a patron saint of Ghent. A Flemish maiden, she was compelled to marry against her will and was subsequently abused by her husband for refusing to consummate the union. She also apparently irritated her husband with her nighttime visits to churches. Pharaildis is honored as a miracle worker.
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/08 14:43:44 (permalink)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hermitess and Gender Bender, Saint Apollinaris Syncletica
Feastday: January 5
unknown

Hermitess listed in the Roman Martyrology and having a somewhat romantic origin. Apollinaris was supposedly the daughter of an emperor of Rome; she put on male clothes and lived as hermit called Dorotheus in the desert. Apollinaris lived in Egypt as a disciple of St. Macrius. Her true story was revealed at her death.

Her existence is disputed.
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/08 14:44:23 (permalink)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Diplomat, Mediator and Territorial Peacemaker, Saint Paula, osb
Feastday: January 5
14th century

Born in Tuscany in 1318, Paula died in 1368. In childhood, she was entrusted to the Camaldolese nuns and remained with them her entire life. She was instrumental in bringing the feuds between Pisa and Florence to a peaceful settlement (Benedictines).

http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0105.shtml
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/08 14:44:48 (permalink)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Woman Leader, Saint Talida of Antinoë 
Feastday: January 5
4th century

As an Abbess, Talida was the head of a group of convents in Egypt.  Palladius relates that she was abbess of one of the twelve convents at Antinoë, Egypt, and that she had already lived 80 years at her convent when he visited her (Benedictines).
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/08 14:45:38 (permalink)
On January 6 in 1929 - Mother Teresa arrives in Calcutta to begin a her work amongst India's poorest and diseased people.


Mother Teresa in 1988

 
Mother Teresa (Albanian: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, 1910-1997) was an Indian Roman Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity who founded the Missionaries of Charity and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work. For over forty years she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying in Kolkata (Calcutta), India.

As the Missionaries of Charity grew under Mother Teresa's leadership, they expanded their ministry to other countries. By the 1970s she had become internationally famed as a humanitarian and advocate for the poor and helpless, due in part to a documentary, and book, Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge. Following her death she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/01/08 14:48:52 (permalink)
Born January 6 in 1412 - Joan of Arc, national heroine of France and patroness of conscience and those who challenge Church authorities,  She burned at the stake in 1431 as a result of a wrongful ecclesiastical conviction for heresy and witchcraft.  In addition to being burned to death, she was also excommunicated.  Exhonerated by the Church 24 years later. 

 
Joan of Arc 
 
Joan of Arc was tried for heresy and witchcraft and burned at the stake after leading the French to several victories over the English during the Hundred Years War, notably in Orleans, south of Paris.


I will maintain what I have always said at my trial. And if I were to be condemned and saw the fire lit and the wood prepared and the executioner who was to burn me ready to cast me into the fire, still in the fire would I not say anything other than I have said. And I will maintain what I have said until death.

- Joan of Arc testifying at her heresy trial on May 24, 1431, one week before her conviction and execution.
post edited by Sophie - 2009/01/08 16:31:05
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