Church Triumphant: St. Agnes of Rome

It’s saint time! Tiffany and I always look to the saints for inspiration, help and friendship. Most of all, we love to collaborate and share our findings with our readers. This month, she will be sharing a wonderful post on St. Blaise. Here, we will learn about St. Agnes of Rome, a virgin martyr. I knew nothing of her until I received the January Magnificat. I always read the last few pages first. It’s the only time I can! They share a beautiful painting featuring a saint within the respective month. I saw this painting and loved it immediately. When I read the account of the saint, I had to share it with all of you.

Church Triumphant: St. Agnes of Rome a new post by @fillpraycloset
St. Agnes in Prison (1641), Jusepe de Ribera, (1591-1652)

St. Agnes was born c. 291 A.D. Her feast day is January 21st, but before 1970, an additional feast was celebrated on January 28th. More important than when St. Agnes was born was when and how she died. When St. Agnes was thirteen years old, she refused Eutropius, then the son of the prefect of Rome. Eutropius fell in love (some say lust) with the young girl and just had to have her. He tried to win her over with gold and jewels, asking her parents for Agnes’ hand in marriage. She flatly refused claiming that she already belonged to someone else. How could this be? How could anyone in 304 A.D. refuse precious jewels, and status to boot? Who would refuse that now?

Eutropius was lovesick and fell ill and told his father, the prefect, that he had to do everything in his power to change her mind, or he would die. He just had to have her. Eutropius’ father tried to persuade her and she replied with complete and utter refusal. The prefect was outraged and jealous for his son that she would prefer another so he inquired as to who this “other” could be. He found out that the “other” she preferred was Jesus Christ. (But we already knew that. Doesn’t this read like a novel?!)

Sadly, at the time, there was an official order banning Christianity so the prefect knew that he could “get back at her” for her “insolence”. In retribution he threatened to torture her should she not submit to the gods of Rome. The torture was horrid. Remember, this is a 13 year old girl. He had her dragged through the streets of Rome, naked to a brothel, where she would be made to witness all the debauchery that went on inside. When the guards saw her naked body, she only bent her head in shame as her the hair on her head grew to cover her.

Legend says that when she was sent to prison, Eutropius tried to rape her but was killed by an angel only to be revived by St. Agnes. Eutropius paid her in kind by condemning her to death for using magic. She went to her death a happy bride, knowing she would see her betrothed, Jesus Christ in just moments.

According to New Advent:

Since the Middle Ages St. Agnes has been represented with a lamb, the symbol of her virginal innocence. On her feast two lambs are solemnly blessed, and from their wool are made the palliums sent by the Pope to archbishops.

St. Agnes is also the patron saint of young girls. It was custom to practice a ritual on January 20th, St. Agnes Eve, where young girls would view their future husbands. This custom is captured in a poem by John Keats, The Eve of St. Agnes. A snippet:

   They told her how, upon St. Agnes’ Eve,
       Young virgins might have visions of delight,
       And soft adorings from their loves receive
       Upon the honey’d middle of the night,
       If ceremonies due they did aright;
       As, supperless to bed they must retire,
       And couch supine their beauties, lily white;
       Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.

I shared that I am using a Busy Mom devotional this year, and I have been keeping to it. Just recently, I read the scripture attached to the devotion that related so well to this saint.

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.
John 10:27-28

St. Agnes was offered jewels, wealth and probably great notoriety for her time. She knew His voice, and followed Him, regardless of the earthly gifts offered to her, of the earthly pain, shame and death that no doubt she knew would await her. Her steadfast faith, her flat replies of no on earth, led her to eternity in heaven and the communion of saints. Thinking about celebrity, the viral nature of social media, which we all know I love. Can we remember what we are meant for? Can we remember His voice in those moments when we are tempted by the world in whatever capacity. I’m not saying that we need to perfect. I am saying that we need to be still enough to hear Him, and remember what He sounds like for those moments where we feel like we’re bombarded by everything.

Please head over and celebrate St. Blaise, patron saint of throats at Tiffany’s place.

St. Agnes of Rome, pray for us!


Church Triumphant: Feast of the Holy Family

Today is our saint day. Tiffany and I are sharing these a week early in anticipation of the upcoming holiday festivities that will be spent with family and friends (and not reading blogs!).

In case you missed the last few installments of this series, head there and have a look! Tiffany at Life of a Catholic Librarian, is writing about St. Stephen while I will settle in with The Holy Family. Please head over for her part of this post.

The Feast of The Holy Family is celebrated on December 28th and it’s purpose is to celebrate the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) and present them as the example we, as faithful Catholics should endeavor to emulate.

As I think about this Feast, I can hear my boys sing a song they are learning for their Christmas mass.

We are one body, one body in Christ;
and we do not stand alone.

Family is such a treasure. We all have family whether we have children, or not. We come from parents. We are witnesses to one another of the gift of love that the Holy Family shared so perfectly. We, are not so perfect, right? We have fragmented relationships and estranged loved ones that with good reason, we cannot remain connected to. This is where the need for family is so apparent:

Church Triumphant where we chat about the saints and special feast days. This edition is about The Holy Family by @fillpraycloset

Isn’t that the love of the family? The ability to see past one’s needs and focus on the other? This is how families continue, this is how the thread of the first Holy Family continues to sew generation after generation. I have “family” like this. Friends that embrace my brokenness and love me anyway. To those select people, I say thank you. Why not show your family, both by blood and not, that you appreciate the special role they play in your life? Tell them you are enriched by them. He is the vine and we are the branches. We are all one body, one family in Christ.

Church Triumphant where we chat about the saints and special feast days. This edition is about The Holy Family by @fillpraycloset

In his Letter to Families, St. John Paul II notes

The love with which God “loved the world” (Jn 3:16), the love with which Christ loved each and every one “to the end” (Jn 13:1), makes it possible to address this message to each family, as a living “cell” of the great and universal “family” of mankind. The Father, Creator of the Universe, and the Word Incarnate, the Redeemer of humanity, are the source of this universal openness to all people as brothers and sisters, and they impel us to embrace them in the prayer which begins with the tender words: “Our Father“. (February 2, 1994)

A wonderful way to incorporate this feast day in your home is to make a family meal together. Catholic Culture shares that a typical Lebanese meal of stuffed cabbage rolls would work nicely as it’s the kind of food Mary would have served Jesus. My grandmother made stuffed cabbage on my stepfathers side and it was always a favorite. Catholic Cuisine shares a tasty recipe here.

In my research, I also found another great liturgical resource from Veronica at My Catholic Kitchen. She suggests making chicken and dumplings with the family. It looks easy, and who doesn’t love a warm bowl of delicious when it’s cold out?

Say a prayer dedicating your family to the Holy Family. There are a few lovely options here. Personally, we are using this prayer:

A Prayer to the Holy Family, for One‘s Family

Dear Lord, bless our family. Be so kind as to give us the unity, peace, and mutual love that You found in Your own family in the little town of Nazareth.

Saint Joseph, bless the head of our family. Obtain for him the strength, the wisdom, and the prudence he needs to support and direct those under his care.

Mother Mary, bless the mother of our family. Help her to be pure and kind, gentle and self-sacrificing. For the more she resembles you, the better will our family be.

Lord Jesus, bless the children of our family. Help them to be obedient and devoted to their parents. Make them more and more like You. Let them grow, as You did, in wisdom and age and grace before God and man.

Holy Family of Nazareth, make our family and home more and more like Yours, until we are all one family, happy and at peace in our true home with You. Amen.

Head over and read Tiffany’s post about St. Stephen.

Holy Family, pray for us!

Church Triumphant: St. Catherine of Alexandria

Today is our saint day. In case you missed the last few installments, head there and have a look!

Tiffany at Life of a Catholic Librarian, is blogging about St. Cecilia and I am taking a Dominican saint again , with St. Catherine of Alexandria. Please head over for her installment as her saint is very much connected to mine today – as we were both very surprised to find for these posts. It’s truly amazing how we’re all so connected!

St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (c. 282 – c. 305) is one of the Patronesses of the Order of Preachers. Born of noble blood and well educated in the sciences, she is one of the fourteen Holy Helpers (The others are: St. Acacius, St. Barbara, St. Blaise, St. Christopher , St. Cyriacus, St. Dionysius of Paris, St. Erasmus, St. Eustace, St. George, St. Margaret, St. Pantaleon, St. Vitus and St. Giles. This feast was suppressed in 1969.). As a young woman of about eighteen, she gave herself to Catholicism and was a defender of the faith and Church teachings in a debate against Emperor Maxim’s 50 philosophers. The Emperor was obviously upset, and imprisoned her. During her imprisonment, she converted the Emperess and those philosophers she converted in the debate. The Emperor sentenced her to die on a spiked wheel.  Touching the wheel, St. Catherine of Alexandria shattered it. The second time the Emperor succeeded and had her beheaded.

St. Catherine of Alexandria is the patron saint of apologists, lawyers, librarians, libraries, maidens, philosophers, students, teachers and preachers to name but a few.

A few of the symbols attributed to St. Catherine of Alexandria are broken wheels, a sword, a crown at her feet a book and woman arguing with pagan philosophers.

The subject of many artists, I chose this one by Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina

Church Triumphant: St. Catherine of Alexandria a cross post with @CatholicTiffany on #saints #faith #catholic by @fillpraycloset
Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In researching this saint, I found out that she is part of the vision St. Dominic had as he was praying from (Lives of the Brethren, part 3, ch. 7):

“Once when St. Dominic was passing the night in the church in prayer, about midnight he went out and entered the dormitory. After looking at his brethren he resumed his prayer at the entrance of the dormitory. While standing erect as he prayed, he chanced to glance to the other end of the dormitory and saw three very comely ladies advancing towards him, of whom the central figure seemed to be a lady more dignified and of higher rank than the others.

One of the two attendants carried a beautiful and resplendent vessel of holy water, and the other a sprinkler, which she presented to the third who walked between them. This one sprinkled the brethren and blessed them, but as she passed along doing so there was one friar whom she neither blessed nor sprinkled.

St. Dominic observed this attentively, and noting whom it was, followed the lady as far as the lamp which hung in the middle of the dormitory: there he threw himself at her feet and began earnestly to beg her to say who she was, although he knew very well all the while. Now at that time the beautiful and devout anthem, the Salve Regina, was not sung in the convents of our brethren and sisters in Rome, but merely said kneeling. Then the lady addressed St. Dominic and said: ‘I am she whom you greet every evening, and when you say “Turn then our Advocate,” I prostrate myself before my Son for the preservation of this Order.’

St. Dominic then enquired who her companions might be, whereunto she made answer: ‘One of them is Cecilia and the other Catherine.’ Upon this St. Dominic made further enquiry touching the brother whom she had passed by, and why she had neither sprinkled nor blest him with the rest: at this she answered: ‘Simply because he was unworthy of it.’ Then she resumed sprinkling and blessing the remaining friars, and went away.”

St. Catherine of Alexandria, pray for us.

Head over and read Tiffany’s post all about her confirmation saint, St. Cecelia.

Church Triumphant: Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien

Today is our saint day In case you missed the last few installments, head there and have a look!

Tiffany at Life of a Catholic Librarian, is blogging about Pope St. John Paul II and I am taking a Dominican saint (of course!) with Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien, a timely saint for the upcoming Solemnity of All Saints. Please head over for her installment.

You may be wondering why I chose this Blessed. There is a connection to Tiffany’s saint. In 1992, then Pope John Paul II beatified 17 Irish martyrs, two of which were Dominican, with Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien being one of them. Let’s dig in…

Church Triumphant: Bl. Terrence Albert O'Brien #OP #catholic #irishmartyr
Stained glass of Emly Parish “The Window of the Saints in St. Ailbe’s Church. Featured are, Bl. Terence Albert O’Brien, St. Patrick, St. Ailbe, St. Bridget, Bl. Dermot O’Hurley.”

Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien’s was born in Limerick in 1600 taking the name “Albert” for the Dominican saint St. Albert the Great. He is also known as Toirdhealbhach Albert Ó Briain. He was raised by his mother and an aged priest. No doubt that’s where he got the first stirrings of devoting himself to God. Later, he reached out to his uncle, already a prior in the Dominican Convent of Limerick, and was soon received into the Friars Preachers. When he turned 20, he went to the Dominican School of Toledo where he spent 8 years studying and was ordained. He was then sent back to Limerick to assist his Dominican brothers in mission and lived with them for 15 years. During this time, he was elected prior of his convent in Limerick. In 1647, he was made Bishop of Emly. Throughout this time, there was political upset (especially for the Franciscans who were, at the time, more politically engaged).

In 1651, Ireton, an English general in the Parliamentary army during the English Civil War, took over his town of Limerick. It’s recorded that 8,000 people died of a “pestilence” during this time as well and where the missionaries of St. Vincent de Paul attended to the sick and dying.  On October 27th of that year, the town was compelled to surrender to Ireton. Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien knew what was coming, as 24 others were arrested, and so he returned to where the sick were, to spend whatever time he had left helping the sick. Officers eventually found him and Ireton informed him he would be court-martialed and imprisoned until his sentence (read DEATH!) was to be pronounced because he refused to accept the Crown than to renounce his Catholic faith. What did he ask for? His confessor. BOOM.

According to The Acts of the General Chapter in 1656 stated that, “he went with joy to the place of execution and there with a serene countenance, turning to his Catholic friends, who stood in the crowd inconsolable and weeping.” Once he arrived at the gallows, he gave his own final testament and prayer.

Jesus despised the shame for me upon the Cross, and God forbid but I should despise the shame for him upon the Gallows….I am not in love with this passage through the Red Sea, for I have the weakness and infirmity of flesh and blood in me, and I have prayed as my Savior taught me, and exampled me: ut transiret calix ista, that this cup might pass away from me; but since it is not, that my will may, his will be done; I shall most willingly drink of it as deep as he pleases, and enter into this Sea, and I pass through it, in the way that he shall be pleased to lead me.

He was martyred on the Vigil of All Saints Day. In Lives of the Irish Martyrs and Confessors  it states that Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien “summoned” Ireton to answer for his crimes and just 18 days after O’Brien’s martyrdom, he was “seized with the plague” and died 16 days after that. I was also able to find Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien’s execution speech in The Harleian Miscellany, Or, A Collection of Scarce, Curious, and Entertaining Pamphlets and Tracts

Church Triumphant: Bl. Terrence Albert O'Brien #OP #catholic #irishmartyr‘O Lord, I beseech Thee, give grace of repentance to all people that have a thirst for blood; but if they will not repent, then scatter their devices so, and such as are, or shall be, contrary to: the glory of Thy great Name, the truth and sincerity of the ancient Catholic religion, the establishing of the Royal Posterity in their just rights and liberties, the preservation of this poor Church in her truth, peace, and patrimony; and the settlement of this distracted and distressed people under their ancient laws and in their native liberties.

‘And when Thou hast done this in mere mercy for them, O Lord, fill their hearts with thankfulness and with religious dutiful obedience to Thee and Thy Commandments, all their days.

‘So Amen, Lord Jesus; and I beseech Thee receive my soul to mercy.’

When he had finished his prayer, he took his leave of some friends there present, saying, “God’s blessing and His mercy be upon you all;” and so went up to the ladder, where he again prayed as followeth.

‘Lord, I am coming as fast as I can. I know I must pass through the shadow of death before I can come to see Thee, but it is but “umbra mortis”, a mere shadow of death, a little darkness upon nature. But Thou, by Thy merits and Passion, hast broke the jaws of death. So Lord, receive my soul, and have mercy upon me.’

No sooner had he uttered these expressions, but immediately he was turned off the ladder.

Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien, pray for us.

Head over and read Tiffany’s post all about Pope St. John Paul II.