Thursday, January 24, 2013


(Vatican Radio IMAGE SHARE )Read the full text of Pope Benedict's message for the 47th World Communications Day:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As the 2013 World Communications Day draws near, I would like to offer you some reflections on an increasingly important reality regarding the way in which people today communicate among themselves. I wish to consider the development of digital social networks which are helping to create a new “agora”, an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being.

These spaces, when engaged in a wise and balanced way, help to foster forms of dialogue and debate which, if conducted respectfully and with concern for privacy, responsibility and truthfulness, can reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals and effectively promote the harmony of the human family. The exchange of information can become true communication, links ripen into friendships, and connections facilitate communion. If the networks are called to realize this great potential, the people involved in them must make an effort to be authentic since, in these spaces, it is not only ideas and information that are shared, but ultimately our very selves.

The development of social networks calls for commitment: people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how. The networks are increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society, inasmuch as they bring people together on the basis of these fundamental needs. Social networks are thus nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart.

The culture of social networks and the changes in the means and styles of communication pose demanding challenges to those who want to speak about truth and values. Often, as is also the case with other means of social communication, the significance and effectiveness of the various forms of expression appear to be determined more by their popularity than by their intrinsic importance and value. Popularity, for its part, is often linked to celebrity or to strategies of persuasion rather than to the logic of argumentation. At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner. The social media thus need the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate and logical argumentation; of people who strive to cultivate forms of discourse and expression which appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process. Dialogue and debate can also flourish and grow when we converse with and take seriously people whose ideas are different from our own. “Given the reality of cultural diversity, people need not only to accept the existence of the culture of others, but also to aspire to be enriched by it and to offer to it whatever they possess that is good, true and beautiful” (Address at the Meeting with the World of Culture, Bélem, Lisbon, 12 May 2010).

The challenge facing social networks is how to be truly inclusive: thus they will benefit from the full participation of believers who desire to share the message of Jesus and the values of human dignity which his teaching promotes. Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important. The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young. Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there.

The ability to employ the new languages is required, not just to keep up with the times, but precisely in order to enable the infinite richness of the Gospel to find forms of expression capable of reaching the minds and hearts of all. In the digital environment the written word is often accompanied by images and sounds. Effective communication, as in the parables of Jesus, must involve the imagination and the affectivity of those we wish to invite to an encounter with the mystery of God’s love. Besides, we know that Christian tradition has always been rich in signs and symbols: I think for example of the Cross, icons, images of the Virgin Mary, Christmas cribs, stained-glass windows and pictures in our churches. A significant part of mankind’s artistic heritage has been created by artists and musicians who sought to express the truths of the faith.

In social networks, believers show their authenticity by sharing the profound source of their hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Christ Jesus. This sharing consists not only in the explicit expression of their faith, but also in their witness, in the way in which they communicate “choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically” (Message for the 2011 World Communications Day). A particularly significant way of offering such witness will be through a willingness to give oneself to others by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence. The growing dialogue in social networks about faith and belief confirms the importance and relevance of religion in public debate and in the life of society.

For those who have accepted the gift of faith with an open heart, the most radical response to mankind’s questions about love, truth and the meaning of life – questions certainly not absent from social networks – are found in the person of Jesus Christ. It is natural for those who have faith to desire to share it, respectfully and tactfully, with those they meet in the digital forum. Ultimately, however, if our efforts to share the Gospel bring forth good fruit, it is always because of the power of the word of God itself to touch hearts, prior to any of our own efforts. Trust in the power of God’s work must always be greater than any confidence we place in human means. In the digital environment, too, where it is easy for heated and divisive voices to be raised and where sensationalism can at times prevail, we are called to attentive discernment. Let us recall in this regard that Elijah recognized the voice of God not in the great and strong wind, not in the earthquake or the fire, but in “a still, small voice” (1 Kg 19:11-12). We need to trust in the fact that the basic human desire to love and to be loved, and to find meaning and truth – a desire which God himself has placed in the heart of every man and woman – keeps our contemporaries ever open to what Blessed Cardinal Newman called the “kindly light” of faith.

Social networks, as well as being a means of evangelization, can also be a factor in human development. As an example, in some geographical and cultural contexts where Christians feel isolated, social networks can reinforce their sense of real unity with the worldwide community of believers. The networks facilitate the sharing of spiritual and liturgical resources, helping people to pray with a greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith. An authentic and interactive engagement with the questions and the doubts of those who are distant from the faith should make us feel the need to nourish, by prayer and reflection, our faith in the presence of God as well as our practical charity: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor 13:1).

In the digital world there are social networks which offer our contemporaries opportunities for prayer, meditation and sharing the word of God. But these networks can also open the door to other dimensions of faith. Many people are actually discovering, precisely thanks to a contact initially made online, the importance of direct encounters, experiences of community and even pilgrimage, elements which are always important in the journey of faith. In our effort to make the Gospel present in the digital world, we can invite people to come together for prayer or liturgical celebrations in specific places such as churches and chapels. There should be no lack of coherence or unity in the expression of our faith and witness to the Gospel in whatever reality we are called to live, whether physical or digital. When we are present to others, in any way at all, we are called to make known the love of God to the furthest ends of the earth.

I pray that God’s Spirit will accompany you and enlighten you always, and I cordially impart my blessing to all of you, that you may be true heralds and witnesses of the Gospel. “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15).

From the Vatican, 24 January 2013, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.

Vatican City, 24 January 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolence to Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw, Poland for the death of Cardinal Jozef Glemp, archbishop of that archdiocese from 1981 to 2006. Cardinal Glemp died yesterday at the age of 83.
Following are ample excerpts from his telegram.
"'Caritati in iustitia'—for charity in justice—this episcopal motto accompanied him throughout his entire life and guided his way of thinking, of judging , of making decisions, and in offering guidelines of pastoral outreach. He was a 'just' man, in the spirit of St. Joseph, his patron, and those who, in biblical tradition, knew how to listen to the voice of God's call, addressed not just to them personally, but also to the communities to which they were sent. Such justice, full of humble obedience to God's will, was the basis of his deep love for God and man, which was his light, inspiration, and strength in the difficult ministry of leading the Church at a time when significant social and political transformations were affecting Poland and Europe."
"The love of God and of Church and his concern for the life and dignity of every person made him an apostle of unity against division, of harmony in the face of confrontation, of the building of a happy future based on the past joyous and sorrowful experiences of the Church and the nation. Continuing the work of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, in constant communion with and spiritually connected to Pope John Paul II, he resolved many issues and problems in the political, social, and religious life of the Polish people with great prudence. Trusting in Divine Providence, he looked hopefully toward the new millennium into which he led the community of believers in Poland."
"The last stage of his life was tried by suffering, which he endured with a serenity of spirit. Even in this test he remained a witness to trusting in the goodness and love of omnipotent God."
"Personally, I always appreciated his sincere goodness, his simplicity, his openness, and his cordial dedication to the cause of the Church in Poland and in the world. Thus will he remain in my memory and my prayers. May the Lord welcome him in His glory."
Vatican City, 24 January 2013 (VIS) – Benedict XVI's message for the 47th World Communications Day was presented this morning in the Press Office of the Holy See. The Day, which will take place this year on Sunday, 12 May, has the theme of "Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelisation". Participating in the presentation were Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of that same dicastery.
"The message of this World Communications Day," said Archbishop Celli, "presents a positive assessment, though not a naive one for that matter, of social media. They are considered an opportunity for dialogue and debate and capable of strengthening the bonds of unity among people and effectively promoting the harmony of the human family. However, this positive character requires that one's actions be conducted with concern for privacy, with responsibility and dedication to the truth, and with authenticity, given that it has to do not only with information and knowledge but, essentially, with communicating a part of our very selves."
"The social dynamic of the social media, it is appropriate to point out, lies within the even richer and more profound dynamic of the human heart's existential search. There is an interweaving of questions and answers that gives meaning to the human person's path. In this context, the Pope touches upon a delicate aspect of the matter when he speaks of the ocean of excessive information that overwhelms 'the gentle voice of reason'."
"The theme of the Day speaks of new spaces for evangelisation: evangelisation that announces the Word, that proclaims Jesus Christ. In this regard we must remember what Benedict XVI wrote in his message for the World Communications Day in 2011, when he emphasized that it was not only an explicit expression of the Faith, but essentially, an effective witness 'in the way one communicates choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically'."
Following Archbishop Celli's address, Msgr. Tighe explained that "the Pope takes for granted the importance of the digital environment as a reality in the lives of many people. It is not some sort of parallel or merely virtual world but an existential environment where people live and move. It is a ‘continent’ where the Church must be present and where believers, if they are to be authentic in their presence, will seek to share with others the deepest source of their joy and hope, Jesus Christ. The forum created by the social networks allows us to share the truth that the Lord has passed to His Church, to listen to others, to learn about their cares and concerns, to understand who they are and for what they are searching."
Likewise, the Holy Father "identifies some of the challenges that we must address if our presence is to be effective. We must become more fluent in the language of the social networks; a language that is born of the convergence of text, image and sound, a language that is characterized by brevity and that seeks to engage hearts and minds as well as the intellect. In this regard, the Pope reminds us to draw on our Christian heritage which is rich in signs, symbols and artistic expression. We need to remember a basic truth of communications: our witness – our actions and our patterns of behaviour – is often more eloquent than our words and proclamations in expressing who we are and what we believe. In the digital arena, the Pope suggests that our willingness to engage patiently and respectfully with the questions and doubts of those we encounter in the networks can be a powerful expression of our care and concern for them. Notwithstanding the challenges, we should always be hopeful."

Vatican City, 24 January 2013 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone ,S.D.B., sent a telegram in the Holy Father's name to Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, Italy for the memorial Mass of Sen. Giovanni Agnelli, president of the Fiat automobile manufacturer, on the tenth anniversary of his death.
In the text the Pope recalls the senator who, "over more than a half century, was the centre of national and international attention for his remarkable entrepreneurial skills" as well as "his Christian faith, which crowned a long and fruitful existence."
Vatican City, 24 January 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father appointed as members of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology: Dr. Carlo Ebanista, associate professor of Christian and Medieval Archaeology in the Humanities and Social Sciences faculty of the University of Molise, Italy and professor of Antiquities and Medieval Archaeology in the Arts and Philosophy department of the Federico II University in Naples, Italy; Dr. Emilio Marin, tenured professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Split, Croatia and member of the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres of the Institut de France.



March With Us

March for Life Rally (January 25, 2013)
March For Life Rally
The location this year will be on the National Mall between 7th & 9th Streets, the same place as last year. The rally will begin at 12:00 PM and continue until about 1:30 PM, followed immediately by the March. Please dispose of your trash properly. Use the receptacles on the mall. If you can't find a receptacle, or if the receptacles are full, please take your trash with you--do not leave it on top of, or on the ground next to, a full trash can. Do not leave trash anywhere on the mall where someone else will have to pick it up.
The March will begin immediately after the rally and follow its customary route up Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill. If you are returning to the Hyatt Regency or Union Station upon completion of the March, please continue past the Supreme Court building, turn left on East Capitol Street and left again on 2nd Street. That will allow you to proceed to your destination without going against the flow of marchers who are still arriving at the Supreme Court. Please do not leave your signs, or trash of any kind, on the streets or anywhere along the route of the March. Take it with you to your destination and dispose of it properly.
Click here to view the route map for the March for Life. Bus captains, please be sure to print this map to take with you.

Hotel Reservations

Sorry, our hotel blocks are closed. We can add you to a waiting list in case additional rooms come available. Our rooms are at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, and at the Washington Court Hotel across the street from the Hyatt. The rate at both hotels is $173 plus tax for a total of $198.09 per night. We also have some information on other hotels in downtown Washington and in the Virginia suburbs. Hotels in the suburbs are located near subway lines and are significantly less expensive than downtown locations. Please send your inquiry to

Rose Dinner

The Rose Dinner will be held on the evening of January 25, 2013, the same day as the March for Life. Our keynote speaker will be announced as soon as possible. The social hour will begin at 6:00 PM and dinner will be served at 7:00 PM. More information will be posted on our website as soon as it becomes available. Tickets are $85. You can click on the Rose Dinner button in the upper left corner of the home page and follow the links to purchase tickets on line. On-line ticket sales will end mid-day on Wednesday, January 23, 2013. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door for $100.

Youth Rally

The MARCH FOR LIFE Youth Rally will be held on Thursday, January 24, 2013, in the Regency Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency hotel, from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. A speakers schedule and additional information is posted at Tickets are not required. There is no cost to participate.

Law of Life Summit:

The Law of Life Summit "3" will be held on Thursday, January 24, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency hotel, from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. It is being presented by Ave Maria School of Law in cooperation with the MARCH FOR LIFE Education and Defense Fund. There is no cost to participate but space is limited. Please register at
Youth Rally and Mass for Life, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington: Friday, January 25, 2013: Go to

March for Life Convention

Information will be posted on our website as it becomes available.
MARCH FOR LIFE Exhibit Hall: The Exhibit Hall will be located on the lower lobby level of the Hyatt Regency hotel. The hours of operation are 12:00 PM to 9:00 PM on Thursday, January 24, 2013; and from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM and approximately 3:00 PM (following the March) until 6:00 PM on Friday, January 25, 2013.
Tour Bus Information: The following links should answer most of your questions.
Subway and Public Transportation Information: for general information and for subway routes and stations. The closest Metro Stations to the Rally site are Smithsonian and L'Enfant Plaza.

The Inaugural Nellie Gray 5K (January 26, 2013)

The Inaugural MARCH FOR LIFE 5K will be held at 8:00 AM on Saturday, January 26, 2013 in West Potomac Park, Washington, DC. The event is hosted by the National LIFE Runners Team. Check out related events for more information.

March for Life Annual Report Messages

Please download this form. You can place messages through the website, or by fax or mail. Deadline has been extended to January 3, 2013.

National Prayer Vigil, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Thursday, January 24, 2013: Go to


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
24 Jan 2013

Australia's new co-aptron.
A formal decree approving St Mary of the Cross MacKillop as second patron of Australia has been received by Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC).
The Pontifical Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Cañizares Llovera has issued the decree in response to a request from Archbishop Hart and the ACBC.
Although many Catholics and non-Catholics already consider St Mary of the Cross MacKillop a patron of Australia, the formal process was initiated by ACBC as further official recognition of the nation's first saint.
"In many ways, the process of officially naming her as a second patron was simply confirming what Australian Catholics already see, that the example and vision of Mary MacKillop is our modus operandi as a Church, particularly in our service of the poor and marginalised, and our commitment to Catholic education. This confirmation from the Holy See is most welcome", Archbishop Hart said this morning.
Since 1844, when Australians invoked the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady Help of Christians, the Holy Mother has been patron of Australia. Her title as Mary Help of Christians came about in the 16th Century when Pope Pius V included it in the Litany of Loreto. In 1815, Pope Pius VII proclaimed May 24 a feast day for Mary Help of Christians after returning to Rome after years in captivity imposed by Napoleon Bonaparte.

St Mary of the Cross Mackillop
Our Lady Help of Christians remains a patron of Australia together with the just-announced second patron, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.
For many years St Francis Xavier and St Therese of Lisieux co-patrons of universal missions, were also patrons of Australia. But the patronage of both was removed when Australia ceased to be a mission country in 1976.
The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, the congregation co-founded by St Mary of the Cross MacKillop with Father Julian Tenison Woods, are delighted at the decree from the Holy See.
"This is another important honour for Australia's first saint," says Sister Anne Derwin, Congregational leader of the Sisters of St Joseph and expressed her pleasure and gratitude at the news.
Our Lady Help of Christians patron of Australia since 1844
"We realise since her canonisation in October 2010 many, many Australians have come to admire and appreciate her strong dedication to people in society, especially the most vulnerable, that they have a fair deal, that children receive education and love, and that every person is recognised and valued", she says. "We are all delighted and hope that Mary's values of generosity, inclusion, kindness, commitment and reliance on God's Providence and Goodness, become the hallmarks of our country."



BAMAKO, January 22, 2013 (CISA) -A missionary priest in Mali ministering to displaced people has described their desperate struggle to flee fighting and Islamist extremism as violence intensifies in key parts of the country.
In a message sent to Aid to the Church in Need, Fr Zacharie Sorgho described the events that led to the liberation of the strategically important town of Diabaly on Thursday January 18.
Fr Sorgho, whose parish of Nioro du Sahel in north-west Mali has welcomed people fleeing the conflict, said: “One morning, there was an armed assault [by Islamist rebels] in the city of Konna… and other southern cities. This created a great fear in the city and everyone was in a state of confusion. People were fleeing and there were cries of despair.”
Fr Sorgho praised the intervention of French troops who were crucial to the liberation of the city. “After intense fighting, Konna was freed from the hands of the jihadist Muslims. But then they attacked the town of Diabaly and took it. They used people as human shields.”
The priest related how Islamists had confiscated mobile phones, preventing people from communicating with the outside world, and mingled with residents, stopping the French and Malian soldiers from conducting targeted strikes against them.
“After intense fighting, the city of Diabaly was retaken by French and Malian soldiers. Everyone is rejoicing.”
Describing the background of the conflict, he said: “For a long time rebel groups in northern Mali imposed their laws and spread terror among the northern people by amputating hands, giving strokes of the lash, committing sexual violence against women and girls, and so forth.
“The misery was great and the media spoke about the situation every day, but nothing was done at either national or international level. Rebel groups and Islamists thought they were already victors and masters of the country. They really want to impose laws and apply Shari‘a throughout the country.”
It is estimated that up to 400,000 people have fled from northern Mali or other conflict areas.
Fr Sorgho said: “We have welcomed those displaced by the war. Many people had already fled – following the attacks of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal – and they had found refuge in our area on the border of Mauritania and Senegal. So far a number of families have welcomed these refugees as guests and helped them. But, with multiple air strikes and armed interventions, we are seeing many more people coming to us. They are taking their children and parents and fleeing the conflict in the north. Many have come to us with nothing – except a backpack containing a few personal items.”
In 2011 Aid to the Church in Need gave more than £135,000 (€160,000) to help projects in Mali and is preparing to send emergency help for refugees in the Diocese of Mopti, in the centre of the country, where thousands of displaced persons have gathered.


Mark 3: 7 - 12

7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed; also from Judea
8 and Jerusalem and Idume'a and from beyond the Jordan and from about Tyre and Sidon a great multitude, hearing all that he did, came to him.
9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they should crush him;
10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him.
11 And whenever the unclean spirits beheld him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God."
12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.


St. Francis de Sales
Feast: January 24

Feast Day: January 24
21 August 1567, Château de Thorens, Savoy
Died: 28 December 1622, Lyon, France
Canonized: 19 April 1665, Rome by Pope Alexander VII
Major Shrine: Annecy, France
Patron of: Catholic press; confessors; deaf people; educators; writers; journalists
Bishop of Geneva, Doctor of the Universal Church; born at Thorens, in the Duchy of Savoy, 21 August, 1567; died at Lyons, 28 December, 1622. His father, Francois de Sales de Boisy, and his mother, Francoise de Sionnaz, belonged to old Savoyard aristocratic families. The future saint was the eldest of six brothers. His father intended him for the magistracy and sent him at an early age to the colleges of La Roche and Annecy. From 1583 till 1588 he studied rhetoric and humanities at the college of Clermont, Paris, under the care of the Jesuits. While there he began a course of theology. After a terrible and prolonged temptation to despair, caused by the discussions of the theologians of the day on the question of predestination, from which he was suddenly freed as he knelt before a miraculous image of Our Lady at St. Etienne-des-Gres, he made a vow of chastity and consecrated himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1588 he studied law at Padua, where the Jesuit Father Possevin was his spiritual director. He received his diploma of doctorate from the famous Pancirola in 1592. Having been admitted as a lawyer before the senate of Chambery, he was about to be appointed senator. His father had selected one of the noblest heiresses of Savoy to be the partner of his future life, but Francis declared his intention of embracing the ecclesiastical life. A sharp struggle ensued. His father would not consent to see his expectations thwarted. Then Claude de Granier, Bishop of Geneva, obtained for Francis, on his own initiative, the position of Provost of the Chapter of Geneva, a post in the patronage of the pope. It was the highest office in the diocese, M. de Boisy yielded and Francis received Holy Orders (1593).

From the time of the Reformation the seat of the Bishopric of Geneva had been fixed at Annecy. There with apostolic zeal, the new provost devoted himself to preaching, hearing confessions, and the other work of his ministry. In the following year (1594) he volunteered to evangelize Le Chablais, where the Genevans had imposed the Reformed Faith, and which had just been restored to the Duchy of Savoy. He made his headquarters in the fortress of Allinges. Risking his life, he journeyed through the entire district, preaching constantly; by dint of zeal, learning, kindness and holiness he at last obtained a hearing. He then settled in Thonon, the chief town. He confuted the preachers sent by Geneva to oppose him; he converted the syndic and several prominent Calvinists. At the request of the pope, Clement VIII, he went to Geneva to interview Theodore Beza, who was called the Patriarch of the Reformation. The latter received him kindly and seemed for a while shaken, but had not the courage to take the final steps. A large part of the inhabitants of Le Chablais returned to the true fold (1597 and 1598). Claude de Granier then chose Francis as his coadjutor, in spite of his refusal, and sent him to Rome (1599).
Pope Clement VIII ratified the choice; but he wished to examine the candidate personally, in presence of the Sacred College. The improvised examination was a triumph for Francis. "Drink, my son", said the Pope to him. "from your cistern, and from your living wellspring; may your waters issue forth, and may they become public fountains where the world may quench its thirst." The prophesy was to be realized. On his return from Rome the religious affairs of the territory of Gex, a dependency of France, necessitated his going to Paris. There the coadjutor formed an intimate friendship with Cardinal de Berulle, Antoine Deshayes, secretary of Henry IV, and Henry IV himself, who wished "to make a third in this fair friendship" (). The king made him preach the Lent at Court, and wished to keep him in France. He urged him to continue, by his sermons and writings, to teach those souls that had to live in the world how to have confidence in God, and how to be genuinely and truly pious—graces of which he saw the great necessity.
On the death of Claude de Granier, Francis was consecrated Bishop of Geneva (1602). His first step was to institute catechetical instructions for the faithful, both young and old. He made prudent regulations for the guidance of his clergy. He carefully visited the parishes scattered through the rugged mountains of his diocese. He reformed the religious communities. His goodness, patience and mildness became proverbial. He had an intense love for the poor, especially those who were of respectable family. His food was plain, his dress and his household simple. He completely dispensed with superfluities and lived with the greatest economy, in order to be able to provide more abundantly for the wants of the needy. He heard confessions, gave advice, and preached incessantly. He wrote innumerable letters (mainly letters of direction) and found time to publish the numerous works mentioned below. Together with St. Jane Frances de Chantal, he founded (1607) the Institute of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin, for young girls and widows who, feeling themselves called to the religious life, have not sufficient strength, or lack inclination, for the corporal austerities of the great orders. His zeal extended beyond the limits of his own diocese. He delivered the Lent and Advent discourses which are still famous—those at Dijon (1604), where he first met the Baroness de Chantal; at Chambery (1606); at Grenoble (1616, 1617, 1618), where he converted the Marechal de Lesdiguieres. During his last stay in Paris (November, 1618, to September, 1619) he had to go into the pulpit each day to satisfy the pious wishes of those who thronged to hear him. "Never", said they, "have such holy, such apostolic sermons been preached." He came into contact here with all the distinguished ecclesiastics of the day, and in particular with St. Vincent de Paul. His friends tried energetically to induce him to remain in France, offering him first the wealthy Abbey of Ste. Genevieve and then the coadjutor-bishopric of Paris, but he refused all to return to Annecy.
In 1622 he had to accompany the Court of Savoy into France. At Lyons he insisted on occupying a small, poorly furnished room in a house belonging to the gardener of the Visitation Convent. There, on 27 December, he was seized with apoplexy. He received the last sacraments and made his profession of faith, repeating constantly the words: "God's will be done! Jesus, my God and my all!" He died next day, in the fifty-sixth year of his age. Immense crowds flocked to visit his remains, which the people of Lyons were anxious to keep in their city. With much difficulty his body was brought back to Annecy, but his heart was left at Lyons. A great number of wonderful favours have been obtained at his tomb in the Visitation Convent of Annecy. His heart, at the time of the French Revolution, was carried by the Visitation nuns from Lyons to Venice, where it is venerated to-day. St. Francis de Sales was beatified in 1661, and canonized by Alexander VII in 1665; he was proclaimed Doctor of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX, in 1877.
The following is a list of the principal works of the holy Doctor: (1) "Controversies", leaflets which the zealous missioner scattered among the inhabitants of Le Chablais in the beginning, when t hese people did not venture to come and hear him preach. They form a complete proof of the Catholic Faith. In the first part, the author defends the authority of the Church, and in the second and third parts, the rules of faith, which were not observed by the heretical ministers. The primacy of St. Peter is amply vindicated. (2) "Defense of the Standard of the Cross", a demonstration of the virtue of the True Cross; of the Crucifix; of the Sign of the Cross; an explanation of the Veneration of the Cross. (3) "An Introduction to the Devout Life", a work intended to lead "Philothea", the soul living in the world, into the paths of devotion, that is to say, of true and solid piety. Every one should strive to become pious, and "it is an error, it is even a heresy", to hold that piety is incompatible with any state of life. In the first part the author helps the soul to free itself from all inclination to, or affection for, sin; in the second, he teaches it how to be united to God by prayer and the sacraments; in the third, he exercises it in the practice of virtue; in the fourth, he strengthens it against temptation; in the fifth, he teaches it how to form its resolutions and to persevere. The "Introduction", which is a masterpiece of psychology, practical morality, and common sense, was translated into nearly every language even in the lifetime of the author, and it has since gone through innumerable editions. (4) "Treatise on the Love of God", an authoritative work which reflects perfectly the mind and heart of Francis de Sales as a great genius and a great saint. It contains twelve books. The first four give us a history, or rather explain the theory, of Divine love, its birth in the soul, its growth, its perfection, and its decay and annihilation; the fifth book shows that this love is twofold—the love of complacency and the love of benevolence; the sixth and seventh treat of love, which is practised in prayer; the eight and ninth deal with love, that is, conformity to the will of God, and submission to His good pleasure. The last three resume what has preceded and teach how to apply practically the lessons taught therein. (5) "Spiritual Conferences"; familiar conversations on religious virtues addressed to the sisters of the Visitation and collected by them. We find in them that practical common sense, keenness of perception and delicacy of feeling which were characteristic of the kind-hearted and energetic Saint. (6) "Sermons".—These are divided into two classes: those composed previously to his consecration as a bishop, and which he himself wrote out in full; and the discourses he delivered when a bishop, of which, as a rule, only outlines and synopses have been preserved. Some of the latter, however, were taken down < in extenso> by his hearers. Pius IX, in his Bull proclaiming him Doctor of the Church calls the Saint "The Master and Restorer of Sacred Eloquence". He is one of those who at the beginning of the seventeenth century formed the beautiful French language; he foreshadows and prepares the way for the great sacred orators about to appear. He speaks simply, naturally, and from his heart. To speak well we need only love well, was his maxim. His mind was imbued with the Holy Writings, which he comments, and explains, and applies practically with no less accuracy than grace. (7) "Letters", mostly letters of direction, in which the minister of God effaces himself and teaches the soul to listen to God, the only true director. The advice given is suited to all the circumstances and necessities of life and to all persons of good will. While trying to efface his own personality in these letters, the saint makes himself known to us and unconsciously discovers to us the treasures of his soul. (8) A large number of very precious treatises or opuscula.
Migne (5 vols., quarto) and Vives (12 vols., octavo, Paris) have edited the works of St. Francis de Sales. But the edition which we may call definitive was published at Annecy in 1892, by the English Benedictine, Dom Mackey: a work remarkable for its typographical execution, the brilliant criticism that settles the text, the large quantity of hitherto unedited matter, and the interesting study accompanying each volume. Dom Mackey published twelve volumes. Father Navatel, S.J., is continuing the work. We may give here a brief resume of the spiritual teaching contained in these works, of which the Church has said: "The writings of Francis de Sales, filled with celestial doctrine are a bright light in the Church, pointing out to souls an easy and safe way to arrive at the perfection of a Christian life." (Breviarium Romanum, 29 January, lect. VI.)
There are two elements in the spiritual life: first, a struggle against our lower nature; secondly, union of our wills with God, in other words, penance and love. St. Francis de Sales looks chiefly to love. Not that he neglects penance, which is absolutely necessary, but he wishes it to be practised from a motive of love. He requires mortification of the senses, but he relies first on mortification of the mind, the will, and the heart. This interior mortification he requires to be unceasing and always accompanied by love. The end to be realized is a life of loving, simple, generous, and constant fidelity to the will of God, which is nothing else than our present duty. The model proposed is Christ, whom we must ever keep before our eyes. "You will study His countenance, and perform your actions as He did" (Introd., 2nd part, ch. i). The practical means of arriving at this perfection are: remembrance of the presence of God, filial prayer, a right intention in all our actions, and frequent recourse to God by pious and confiding ejaculations and interior aspirations.
Besides the Institute of the Visitation, which he founded, the nineteenth century has seen associations of the secular clergy and pious laymen, and several religious congregations, formed under the patronage of the holy Doctor. Among them we may mention the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, of Annecy; the Salesians, founded at Turin by the Venerable Don Bosco, specially devoted to the Christian and technical education of the children of the poorer classes; the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, established at Troyes (France) by Father Brisson, who try to realize in the religious and priestly life the spirit of the holy Doctor, such as we have described it, and such as he bequeathed it to the nuns of the Visitation.

Transcribed by Frank O'Leary







(IMAGE SHARE GOOGLE) Vatican City, 23 January 2013 (VIS) - "I believe in one God", the first article of the profession of faith that accompanies our lives as believers, was the theme of Benedict XVI's catechesis during this morning's general audience. This sentence is "a fundamental affirmation, seemingly simple in essence, but which opens us to the infinite world of a relationship with the Lord and with His mystery. Believing in God means adherence, … acceptance, … and obedience … Faith is a personal act and a free response... Being able to say that you believe in God is thus both a gift and … a human responsibility in an experience of dialogue with God who, out of love 'speaks to men and women as friends'."
Where can we hear the voice of God who speaks to us? "Fundamentally," the Pope said, in "Sacred Scripture, … which speaks to us of faith … narrating a story in which God carries out His plan of redemption and draws near to humanity through … persons who believe in Him and who entrust themselves to Him." One of these persons is Abraham, "the first great role model in speaking about faith in God." Abraham, who was able to leave his homeland, trusting in God alone and His promise, is considered the "father of all believers". His was a leap in darkness, "but the darkness of the unknown is illuminated by the light of a promise. … In the divine plan he was destined to become 'father of a multitude of nations' and to enter a new land to live in."
"Faith," the pontiff continued, "leads Abraham along a paradoxical path. He will be blessed, but without the visible signs of blessing. He receives the promise of becoming a great nation, but has a life marked by the sterility of his wife, Sarah. He is led to a new land, but will have to live there as a foreigner." … Nevertheless, "Abraham is blessed because, with faith, he is able to discern the divine blessing, going beyond appearance, trusting in God's presence even when His paths seem mysterious."
That is why, "when we affirm that 'I believe in God', we are saying, as does Abraham, 'I trust in You. I entrust myself to You, Lord'. … Saying 'I believe in God' means basing my life on Him, letting His Word guide me every day in my concrete choices, without fear of losing something of myself. … Abraham, the believer, teaches us faith and, like a foreigner on earth, points out our true homeland. Faith makes us pilgrims on earth, situated in the world and in history, but on the path toward our heavenly homeland. Believing in God thus makes us heralds of values that often do not coincide with fashion or the opinion of the moment. … In many societies, God has become the 'great absentee' and many idols have taken His place, above all the desire for possessions and the autonomous 'I'. Also, the significant and positive progress in science and technology has given humanity the illusion of omnipotence and self-sufficiency and a growing selfishness has created many imbalances in personal relationships and in social behaviour."
"And yet," the Holy Father emphasized, "the thirst for God is not quenched and the Gospel message continues to resonate through the words and deeds of many men and women of faith. Abraham, the father of all believers, continues to be the father of the many children who are willing to walk in his footsteps and who make their way in obedience to the divine call, trusting in the Lord's benevolent presence and accepting His blessing in order to become a blessing for all. It is the blessed world of faith to which we are all called, to walk without fear following the Lord Jesus Christ."
"Affirming that 'I believe in God', then, compels us to leave, to continuously go out of ourselves just as Abraham did, in order to bring the certainty that comes to us from faith into our daily realities. It is the certainty of God's presence in history, even today; a presence that brings life and salvation."
Vatican City, 23 January 2013 (VIS) – Following the Wednesday catechesis of this morning's general audience, the Holy Father made an appeal for assistance to Indonesia, which has been struck by a wave of bad weather. "I am following with concern," he said, "the news arriving from Indonesia", where a flood has devastated the capital, Jakarta, "causing casualties, leaving thousands of people homeless, and creating massive damage. I want to express my nearness to the people affected by this natural disaster, assuring them of my prayers, and I ask for assistance so that no one may be left without the necessary help."
Vatican City, 23 January 2013 (VIS) – According to information made public by the Press Office of the Holy See today, on Monday, 21 January, at the headquarters of the Central American Integration System (SICA) in San Salvador, El Salvador, an agreement was signed between the Holy See and SICA that makes the Holy See an extra-regional observer of that organization. The signatories were, for the Holy See, Archbishop Luigi Pezzuto, apostolic nuncio to El Salvador and, for SICA, Juan Daniel Aleman, secretary general of SICA. Many ambassadors to the nations of the South American continent attended the ceremony.
Previously, the Ordinary Summit of heads of state and government of the countries of SICA, which took place in Managua, Nicaragua, this past December, had welcomed the Holy See's interest in participating in SICA as an extra-regional observer owing to the contribution that the Holy See and the Catholic Church offer to development in the social, cultural, and educational sectors as well as those of human rights and democratic security.
Vatican City, 23 January 2013 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received in audience six prelates from the Calabria region of the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:
- Archbishop Vittorio Luigi Mondello of Reggio Calabria-Bova,
- Archbishop Santo Marciano of Rossano-Cariati,
- Bishop Luigi Renzo of Mileto-Nicotera-Tropea,
- Bishop Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini, O.M., of Locri-Gerace,
- Bishop Nunzio Galantino of Cassano all’Jonio, and
- Bishop Francesco Milito of Oppido Mamertina-Palmi.
Vatican City, 23 January 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father appointed Archbishop Francesco Gioia, O.F.M. Cap., as president of the "Peregrinatio ad Petri Sedem" (Pilgrimage to the See of Peter) for the next three years. Archbishop Gioia, emeritus of Camerino-San Severino Marche, Italy, is also the pontifical delegate to the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua, Italy.




WASHINGTON—Over 10,000 pilgrims, many of them youth from schools around the nation, are expected to gather in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to pray for an end to abortion at the Opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life, Thursday, January 24, at 6:30 p.m., the eve of the annual March for Life. The vigil coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision on January 22, 1973, which legalized abortion nationwide. Since the decision was handed down, an estimated 55 million abortions have been legally performed in the United States.
“Marking the anniversary of the Roe decision each year could be disheartening in light of the lives lost and the lives shattered by abortion,” said Susan Wills, assistant director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, “but this Mass and events this week are also a time to pray with faith and hope in God’s mercy.”

“The commitment and energy of hundreds of thousands of young people who are here to pray and to march on behalf of unborn children and grieving post-abortive mothers is proof that the pro-life movement is alive and growing and stronger than ever,” she added.  

Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, will be the principal celebrant and homilist at the Vigil Mass, concelebrated by fellow cardinals and many of the nation's bishops and priests. Following the Opening Mass, the Vigil will continue in the Crypt Church of the Basilica with confessions, a National Rosary for Life, Night Prayer according to the Byzantine Rite, and holy hours led by seminarians from across the country from midnight until 6 a.m. 

That same evening, The Catholic University of America will host more than 1,200 pilgrims overnight. 
On Friday, January 25, the Basilica will host Morning Prayer at 6:30 a.m. in the Crypt Church and the Closing Mass at 7:30 a.m. in the Great Upper Church. Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of Dallas, will be the principal celebrant and homilist. 

The National Prayer Vigil for Life is co-sponsored by the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and The Catholic University of America.
Media are welcome to attend the Mass and speak with and interview pilgrims. 

Media should check in at the Basilica’s Great Upper Church Sacristy and present press credentials to Jacquelyn Hayes or a designated Basilica press representative to receive a press pass. Advance registration is preferred. Footage from the Mass may also be obtained by satellite feed courtesy of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). For coordinates, or to register, contact Jacquelyn Hayes, director of communications for the Basilica, at 202-281-0615 or




NAIROBI, January 22, 2013 (CISA) -The United Nations and the Sports Association in conjunction with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Google Kenya, have launched The Sports for Peaceful Elections Campaign. The campaign is aimed at rallying Kenyans to participate peacefully in the March 4 General Elections.
The Campaign dubbed “Shabikia Amani Na Kura yako” seeks to break the post election violence cycle as witnessed in 1992, 1997 and 2007/08, and complement existing peace campaigns.
The campaign seeks collaboration between various sporting disciplines including athletics, rugby, football, basketball, volleyball, cricket and swimming.
The campaign that will run for 8 weeks, aims to encourage healthy competition as demonstrated through sports and urge Kenyans to maintain peace before and after the General Elections. It will also involve the social media to shape perceptions and to encourage Kenyans to uphold mature democracy, respect for human rights and personal freedom.
The United Nations Peace and Development Advisor, James Odong said that it is engaging in sustained peace messages with structure in the grassroots.
“We have district peace committees in all the 47 counties and also want to involve the youth through sports and preach peace through civic education,’’ he said.
The Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) , Nasser Ega-Musa, said “The UN is keen to promote a personal pledge amongst Kenyans to uphold peace during the ongoing electoral process.”
He further urged Kenyans to embrace peace since Kenya has the potential to compete with leading countries.
“Let us not destroy the future of the young generation who have a long life ahead of them through violence,’’ he said.
Speaking at the launch, the chairman of Kenya Football Federation (KFF) Sam Nyamweya expressed the federation’s commitment in preaching peace through sports.
Nyamweya said the federation will organize tournaments to preach peace ahead of the elections.
Google Kenya is involved in the campaign to ensure that messages sent in the social media do not spread hate by monitoring communication online.
“We are going to use Harambee Stars players to give peace messages and ensure that in every match there will be peace slogans to preach peace,’’ said Google Kenya country Manager, Joseph Mucheru adding that “when there is violence people suffer including sports men and women, children and the elderly.”
In his closing remarks Ega-Musa said, “Let us do all we can to champion for peace.”


by Simone Cantarini 
Fleeing the war they have walked hundreds of kilometers and are now in danger of dying of hunger, thirst and burns. Many refugees pregnant women and young mothers. The story of Sister Alessandra Fumagalli, an Italian Comboni and director of Karak Hospital. 150 km from Amman, the clinic is the only one able to provide help to these people. Sister Alessandra: "We want the world to know of their existence which is likely to go unnoticed"

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Thousands of Syrian women and pregnant mothers with very young children are likely to die of hunger, thirst and burns in the desert in southern Jordan. Fleeing from Syria they have found no shelter in the regular camps set up in the north of the country. Together with their children, they walked across the desert". This is the dramatic story of Sister Alessandra Fumagalli, a Comboni religious and director of the Italian Hospital Karak (about 150 km from the capital) for months engaged in assisting these forgotten refugees. According to the religious there are more than 10 thousand refugees in the Syrian region of Karak and their only point of reference is the clinic run by the nuns.
"The area in which they are allocated - the religious sister tells AsiaNews - is too decentralized to access aid from international organizations and the Jordanian government, which cover only the northern part of the country.' The nearest equipped hospital is in Amman. To get even trivial medical care they would have to travel some 300 km in the desert. For this reason they have come to our center, but being a non-profit organization, we need continuous donations to meet this emergency". The nun adds: "we want the world to know of their existence which is likely to go unnoticed."
Many of the women who come to the hospital are pregnant and want to have a safe place to give birth to their children. However, because of the long journey from Syria, most of them have problems, even serious health concerns. "Some are forced to give birth in the desert - explains Sister Alessandra - and come to us to treat and rehabilitate these children, but sometimes it's too late and they die from dehydration, malnutrition and burns caused by the hot sun of the desert." To avoid these situations, the hospital staff has to intervene in a timely manner, sometimes on the spot. But their resources are insufficient.
Founded in 1939, the Italian Hospital of Karak is the only clinic facility in the region and has about 40 beds. It is supported by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), the special Vatican agency for aid to Catholic churches and the people of the Middle East.
Six Comboni Sisters and 80 employees work in the hospital. 90% of them are Muslim. "The refugees are all Muslim - the religious says - the area of ​​Karak, is not Amman, but it is mostly inhabited by Bedouin tribes, it is inhospitable and for these people, even our employees are not used to helping those who suffer in a selfless manner. " In recent years the hospital has run several training courses for the staff, especially on ethical and assistance to patients. "Our nurses and doctors have learned that every life has value - she continues - for this reason, our clinic has become a point of reference for the local population. We welcome anyone who requests it, without any distinction. Here people feel accepted. "

In a year, about 300 thousand Syrians have crossed the border with Jordan. The country has responded by creating equipped camps, enough for less than half of the people. According to government figures, at least 2 thousand refugees have crossed the border in recent weeks.




Youth gather in 'One' voice

Thursday 24 January 2013

By Edwina Hall
YOUTH from across Melbourne gathered for the inaugural event 'One' last Friday night, enjoying a time of spirit-filled Christian worship and preaching. The title of the event 'One' represents the notion of one God, one spirit and one church.

Part of the organising team, Lily Rattray said that over 300 people gathered at Central Hall in Fitzroy to hear international guest speaker Mark Nimo, an evangelist from Ghana and a fusion of Melbourne’s hottest musical talent.  The event however is the brainchild of Lenyce Willason, one of the coordinators of the Catholic Charismatic renewal in Melbourne.

'She had heard Mark Nimo talk in Singapore at a youth event and was inspired to organise a similar event in Melbourne,' Lily said.
'Lenyce invited young people from different parishes and communities around Melbourne to help organise it. The night was an amazing display of unity and included a 12-piece band made up of members from St Augustine’s in the city, Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community in Burwood and emPower youth group at St Simons in Rowville.

Hospitality and welcome was taken care of by the Indonesian youth and the Flame youth group in Keilor. The MCs for the night were an MGL seminarian and a parishioner from St Benedicts in Burwood. Also helping out were Kerygma teams, Catholic Charismatic Renewal and lots of other young people from around Melbourne.
According to Lily, the purpose of this event was to evangelise young people. 'As committed young Catholics ourselves, we felt inspired to present our faith in a way that would inspire young people, to try and bridge the gap in culture young people often feel at church and to present the Gospel in a way that is relevant to their lives and really engaged them.

'To do that it’s really important to have good music, and to have other young people there and some really inspiring preaching from someone who has struggled with the same issues that they do. We wanted to present Jesus in a new way, in a language that they understand, in a way that is relevant–but it’s the same Jesus, it’s the same Spirit.
'Sometimes in church the message can be so gentle that people never really hear it, they never realise you need to make a personal decision about following Jesus. We wanted to make it real and raw. Jesus died for you so that you could have life in its fullness, so what’s your response? Christianity is a challenging message and a challenging way to live–you don’t need to hold back from that when you are preaching to young people, if there is anything they really want, it’s to be challenged!'

Lily said that young people from parishes across the state attended this event. 'One young woman saw it on Facebook and drove down from Myrtleford for the night. Another young woman I spoke to was visiting from Ireland and saw a flyer in the Cathedral and came over to see what was happening.
'The youngest participant was 7 weeks old and the oldest was a grandmother, most people were 15 to 35 years, with about equal men and women.'

Lily said that Mark Nimo’s preaching was inspiring, the music amazing and that it was great to meet so many new people. 'Mark has recently completed a masters in theology in Chicago, so had been living there for the past 8 years. He is married with three daughters and travels the world preaching as a Catholic lay-missionary.

'Mark’s main message was that God has given us gifts, and he wants us to use them in reaching out to the world. He encouraged us to give our whole lives to over to God, and to become holy so that God could use us in his work.
'He told us that when we live our lives only for ourselves, it leads to deep unhappiness. He said people are often scared of giving their lives to God because they think it won’t be fun anymore–but the opposite is true. When we give our lives to God, he does more with it than we could ever image, and we also find true joy.

'Mark told us his testimony as an example; he went from thinking about committing suicide, to being married with three beautiful children, travelling the world and studying for a masters in America.

A personal highlight for Lily was seeing so many young people really convicted by the preaching, and making a decision to commit their lives to Jesus.
To keep up to date with future events like this visit: email:

To read more of Mark Nimo’s testimony visit:

Photos courtesy Lily Rattray.


Mark 3:
 1 - 6

1Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand.
2And they watched him, to see whether he would heal him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him.
3And he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come here."
4And he said to them, "Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent.
5And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
6The Pharisees went out, and immediately held counsel with the Hero'di-ans against him, how to destroy him.



St. John the Almsgiver
Feast: January 23

Feast Day:January 23
Born:550 at Arnathus, Cyprus
Died:616 at Arnathus, Cyprus
Patron of:Knights Hospitaller
Patriarch of Alexandria (606-16), b. at Amathus in Cyprus about 550; d. there, 616. He was the son of one Epiphanius, governor of Cyprus, and was of noble descent; in early life he was married and had children, but they and his wife soon died, whereupon he entered the religious life.

On the death of the Patriarch Theodorus, the Alexandrians besought Emperor Phocas to appoint John his successor, which was accordingly done. In his youth John had had a vision of a beautiful maiden with a garland of olives on her head, who said that she was Compassion, the eldest daughter of the Great King. This had evidently made a deep impression on John's mind, and, now that he had the opportunity of exercising benevolence on a large scale, he soon became widely known all over the East for his munificent liberality towards the poor. One of the first steps he took was to make a list of several thousand needy persons, whom he took under his especial care. He always referred to the poor as his "lords and masters", because of their mighty influence at the Court of the Most High. He assisted people of every class who were in need. A shipwrecked merchant was thus helped three times, on the first two occasions apparently without doing him much good; the third time however, John fitted him out with a ship and a cargo of wheat, and by favourable winds he was taken as far as Britain, where, as there was a shortage of wheat, he obtained his own price. Another person, who was not really in need, applied for alms and was detected by the officers of the palace; but John merely said "Give unto him; he may be Our Lord in disguise." He visited the hospitals three times every week, and he freed a great many slaves. He was a reformer who attacked simony, and fought heresy by means of improvements in religious education. He also reorganized the system of weights and measures for the sake of the poor, and put a stop to corruption among the officials. He increased the number of churches in Alexandria from seven to seventy.

John is said to have devoted the entire revenues of his see to the alleviation of those in need. A rich man presented him with a magnificent bed covering; he accepted it for one night, but then sold it, and disposed of the money in alms. The rich man "bought in" the article, and again presented it to John, with the same result. This was repeated several times; but John drily remarked: "We will see who tires first." It was not John. Another instance of his piety was that he caused his own grave to be dug, but only partly so, and appointed a servant to come before him on all state occasions and say "My Lord, your tomb is unfinished; pray give orders for its completion, for you know not the hour when death may seize you." When the Persians sacked Jerusalem in 614, John sent large supplies of food, wine, and money to the fleeing Christians. But eventually the Persians occupied Alexandria, and John himself in his old age was forced to flee to his native country, where he died.

His body was brought to Constantinople, thence to Ofen by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary; thence in 1530 to Toll near Presburg, and finally in 1632 to Presburg cathedral. He was the original patron saint of the Hospitallers, and was commemorated by the Greeks on 12 Nov. His life, written by Leontius of Neapolis, in Cyprus, was translated into Latin by Anastasius the Librarian in the ninth century and was referred to at the Seventh General Council.



St. Ildephonsus
Feast: January 23

Feast Day:January 23
607 at Toledo, Spain
Died:January 23, 667
Archbishop of Toledo; died 23 January, 667. He was born of a distinguished family and was a nephew of St. Eugenius, his predecessor in the See of Toledo. At an early age, despite the determined opposition of his father, he embraced the monastic life in the monastery of Agli, near Toledo. While he was still a simple monk, he founded and endowed a monastery of nuns in Deibiensi villula. We learn from his writings that he was ordained a deacon (about 630) by Helladius, who had been his abbot and was afterwards elected Archbishop of Toledo. Ildephonsus himself became Abbot of Agli, and in this capacity was one of the signatories, in 653 and 655, at the Eighth and Ninth Councils of Toledo. Called by King Reccesvinth, towards the end of 657, to fill the archiepiscopal throne, he governed the Church of Toledo for a little more than nine years and was buried in the Basilica of Saint Leocadia. To these scanty but authentic details of his life (they are attested by Ildephonsus himself, or by his immediate successor, Archbishop Julianus, in a short biographical notice which he added to the "De viris illustribus" of Ildephonsus) some doubtful or even legendary anecdotes were added later. At the end of the eighth century Cixila, Archbishop of Toledo, embellished the biography of his predecessor. He relates that Ildephonsus was the disciple of Isidore of Seville, and recalls in particular two marvellous stories, of which the second, a favourite theme of hagiographers, poets, and artists, has been for ages entwined with the memory of the saint. Ildephonsus, it is said, was one day praying before the relics of Saint Leocadia, when the martyr arose from her tomb and thanked the saint for the devotion he showed towards the Mother of God. It was related, further, that on another occasion the Blessed Virgin appeared to him in person and presented him with a priestly vestment, to reward him for his zeal in honouring her.

The literary work of Ildephonsus is better known than the details of his life, and merits for him a distinguished place in the roll of Spanish writers. His successor, Julianus of Toledo, in the notice already referred to, informs us that the saint himself divided his works into four parts. The first and principal division contained six treatises, of which two only have been preserved: "De virginitate perpetuâ sanctae Mariae adversus tres infideles" (these three unbelievers are Jovinianus, Helvidius, and "a Jew"), a bombastic work which displays however a spirit of ardent piety, and assures Ildephonsus a place of honour among the devoted servants of the Blessed Virgin; also a treatise in two books: (1) "Annotationes de cognitione baptismi", and (2) "Liber de itinere deserti, quo itur post baptismum". Recent researches have proved that the first book is only a new edition of a very important treatise compiled, at the latest, in the sixth century, Ildephonsus having contributed to it only a few additions (Helfferich, "Der westgothische Arianismus", 1860, 41-49). The second part of his works contained the saint's correspondence; of this portion, there are still preserved two letters of Quiricus, Bishop of Barcelona, with the replies of Ildephonsus. The third part comprised masses, hymns, and sermons; and the fourth, opuscula in prose and verse, especially epitaphs. The editions of the complete works of Ildephonsus contain a certain number of writings, several of which may be placed in either of the last two divisions; but some of them are of doubtful authenticity, while the remainder are certainly the work of another author. Moreover, Julianus states that Ildephonsus began a good number of other works, but his many cares would not permit of his finishing them. On the other hand, he makes no mention of a little work which is certainly authentic, the "De viris illustribus". It may be considered as a supplement to the "De viris illustribus" of Isidore of Seville, and is not so much a literary historical work as a writing intended to glorify the Church of Toledo and defend the rights of the metropolitan see.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)