Saints Edmund Campion, Robert Southwell and Their Companions

Celebrated December 1

Saints Edmund Campion, Robert Southwell, Priests and Martyrs, and Their Companions, Martyrs
Today we commemorate the ten canonised and eighteen beatified Jesuit martyrs of England and Wales. 
All of them were martyred on their native soil between 1581 and 1679, at a time when the Catholic Church was the object of fierce persecution.
St. Edmund Campion was born in London on June 25, 1540, and for a time taught at Oxford University. After becoming reconciled in 1572 to the Catholic Church, he entered the Society of Jesus in Rome, and was one of the first Jesuits to be assigned to the English Mission. 
England, at the time of his arrival there, was a land where the Mass was prohibited and priests were hunted as traitors. 
He secretly ministered to English Catholics for a year, and he was then captured on July 16, 1581, and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Because he refused to apostatise and accept the religion established by Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558–1603), he was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn, London, on December 1, 1581.
St. Robert Southwell, one of England’s better poets, was born at Horsham St. Faith, near Norwich, in 1561. 
He became a Jesuit in Rome in 1578, and he returned to England as a missionary in 1586. He secretly laboured among the English Catholics for six years, until he was captured on June 25, 1592. 
He suffered imprisonment for two and a half years, during which time he was brutally tortured. He was condemned to death because he was a priest, and he was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn, London, on February 21, 1595.
The ten saints commemorated today were canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970; of the eighteen blessed, three were beatified in 1886, thirteen in 1929, and two in 1987.

Edmund Campion
December 1, 1581
Alexander Briant
December 1, 1581
Robert Southwell
February 21, 1595
Henry Walpole
April 7, 1595
Nicholas Owen
March 2, 1606
Thomas Garnet
June 23, 1608
Edmund Arrowsmith
August 28, 1628
Henry Morse
February 1, 1645
Philip Evans
July 22, 1679
David Lewis
August 27, 1679
Thomas Woodhouse
June 19, 1573
John Nelson
February 3, 1578
Thomas Cottam
May 30, 1582
John Cornelius
July 4, 1594
Roger Filcock
February 27, 1601
Robert Middleton
April 3, 1601
Francis Page
April 20, 1602
Ralph Ashley
April 7, 1606
Edward Oldcorne
April 7, 1606
Thomas Holland
December 12, 1642
Ralph Corby
September 7, 1644
Peter Wright
May 19, 1651
William Ireland
January 24, 1679
John Fenwick
June 20, 1679
John Gavan
June 20, 1679
William Harcourt
June 20, 1679
Anthony Turner
June 20, 1679
Thomas Whitbread
June 20, 1679
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Saint Andrew – Apostle

El Greco – Apostle St Andrew

Celebrated November 30

Holy Apostle Andrew the First-called
A native of Bethsaida (John 1:44), he was the brother of Simon Peter and a fisherman (Mark 1:16) with him on the Sea of Galilee. He was a disciple of St. John the Baptiser and through John’s witness of Jesus, became Jesus’ first follower (John 1:35–36), believing Him to be the Messiah.
When Christ called him and Peter from their life as fishermen to be His disciples, they immediately left all and followed Him. He was one of the Twelve and seems to have had a special knack for engaging individuals and introducing them to Christ. 
Thus, he brought his brother Simon to Christ, introduced a little lad with five loaves and two fishes to Christ and even, with Philip, introduced some Greeks to Him. In his later apostolic travels, he went as far as Scythia near the Black Sea (and is therefore hailed by Russians as their national patron) and established a church in Byzantium on his return. 
He then went to preach in Greece. He was finally martyred by being tied to an X-shaped cross, lingering for some time and preaching to all who saw him. This martyrdom took place probably in Patras in Achaia. His relics were at length translated to Constantinople. 
Some relics were taken by St. Regulus to Scotland in about the fourth century so that Scotland looks to him as their patron as well.
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Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and His Companions

Celebrated November 24

St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Martyr, and His Companions, Martyrs

Today we commemorate 117 saints who were martyred in the territory we now know as Vietnam. Christianity was first established in that land during the early years of the seventeenth century, but the succeeding years were far from peaceful for Catholics.

Between 1625 and 1886, about 260 years, 53 different decrees of persecution were promulgated and about 130,000 Catholics were martyred for their faith.

Of the 117 canonized in 1988 by Pope John Paul II, 6 died between the years 1745 and 1799, and the other 111 between 1835 and 1862.

The manner of their deaths varied; 74 were beheaded, others were crucified, strangled, burned alive, quartered, or died in prison because of torture.

Of the 117, 96 were Vietnamese, 11 were Spaniards, and 10 French. In the group, there were 8 bishops, 50 priests, 1 seminarian, 16 catechists, and 42 lay people, one of whom was a woman.

St. Andrew Dung-Lac, who heads the list of these martyrs, was born in 1795 in Bac Ninh, in the north of Vietnam (then known as Tonkin). His parents were so poor that they sold him to a catechist, who took the child to the Catholic mission.

There the child was baptised, given the name Andrew, and reared. In time, he became a catechist, then studied theology, and eventually was ordained (1823). His priestly years coincided with the years of brutal persecution under the Tonkinese ruler Minh Mang (1820–41).

While serving as a pastor in a small village, Andrew was arrested, but his parishioners secured his release after paying a ransom to city officials.

Andrew then changed his name from Dung to Lac and went to another part of Tonkin to continue ministering to Catholics. There he was again arrested (November 10, 1839). His release was once more secured by paying a ransom.

His freedom was short-lived, however, for soon afterward, as he was getting off a river boat, a man offered his hand to help him get ashore. The man, a government official, recognised the priest and called out: “Look! We have caught a master of religion!”

Andrew was immediately arrested (November 16, 1839) and taken to a prison in Hanoi. Because he refused to deny his faith by stepping on a crucifix, he was beheaded on December 21, 1839. The memorial of these 117 Vietnamese martyrs is celebrated on November 24, because several of them were martyred together on that day.

A description in French or Spanish can be found on the Vatican web site. An interesting and detailed history of the Catholic Church in Vietnam can be found in this blog entry. It includes an English translation of the Vatican text.

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Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro

Celebrated November 23

He was born into a mining family in the Mexican state of Zacatecas. He joined the Jesuits in 1911. Government persecution forced the Jesuits to flee to California in 1914, from where he went to study at Granada in Spain. He left there in 1919 and taught in Nicaragua until 1922. 
Because of his mining background and his natural ability to get on with people, he was sent to Enghien in Belgium to study Catholic labour movements. After his ordination in 1925 he worked among the miners in Charleroi.
He returned to Mexico in 1926 because it was thought that his health (which was always poor) would improve in the warm climate. At this time the Church was being severely persecuted. 
Mexico was under rule of the fiercely anti-clerical and anti-Catholic President Plutarco Elías Calles who had begun what writer Graham Greene called the “fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth.”
Under the Mexican constitution religious education was banned, and priests were forbidden to wear clerical clothes, speak in public, or vote. In some Mexican states, all churches had been closed, many priests had been killed, and the few remaining ones had to work underground at the risk of their lives.
Pro celebrated the Eucharist clandestinely and administered the other sacraments to small groups of

Catholics. He was arrested once in October 1926, and then in November 1927 he was falsely accused of an assassination attempt on the ex-president and executed without trial.

Detailed photographs of his execution were widely published in Mexican newspapers to intimidate
Mexican Catholics, but they were treated as holy pictures by the faithful and had the opposite effect.

Miguel Pro was beatified on September 25, 1988 by Pope John Paul II as a Catholic martyr, killed in odium fidei (in hatred of the faith).

Miguel Pro’s last request prior to execution on November 23, 1927 was to be allowed to kneel and pray.

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Saint Cecilia


Celebrated NOVEMBER 22.

ON the evening of her wedding-day, with the music of the marriage-hymn ringing in her ears, Cecilia, a rich, beautiful and noble Roman maiden, renewed the vow by which she had consecrated her virginity to God.

“Pure be my heart and undefiled my flesh; for I have a spouse you know not of—an angel of my Lord.” The heart of her young husband Valerian was moved by her words; he received baptism, and within a few days he and his brother Tiburtius, who had been brought by him to a knowledge of the faith, sealed their confession with their blood. Cecilia only remained.

“Do you not know,” was her answer to the threats of the prefect, “that I am the bride of my Lord Jesus Christ?” The death appointed for her was suffocation, and she remained a day and a night in a hot-air bath, heated seven times its wont. But “the flames had no power over her body, neither was a hair of her head singed.”

The lictor sent to dispatch her struck with trembling hand the three blows which the law allowed, and left her still alive. For two days and nights Cecilia lay with her head half severed on the pavement of her bath, fully sensible, and joyfully awaiting her crown; on the third the agony was over, and A.D. 177, the virgin Saint gave back her pure spirit to Christ.

Cecilia was buried at the Catacombs of St. Callistus, and then transferred to the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. In 1599, her body was found still incorrupt, seeming to be asleep.
The church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is reputedly built on the site of the house in which she lived.

The original church was constructed in the fourth century; during the ninth century,
Pope Paschal I had remains which were supposedly hers buried there. In 1599, while leading a renovation of the church, Cardinal Paolo Emilio Sfondrati had the remains, which he reported to be incorrupt, excavated and reburied.

“The Shrine of Saint Cecilia” Song
Our home is in shambles
All I’ve treasured is gone
The town seems deserted
Everyone’s so forlorn
A storm came from up above
But somehow it missed
The Shrine of St. Cecilia
The bells in the chapel
Never ring anymore
The clock in the steeple
Can’t tell time as before
But up on the hillside
That is blessed
The Shrine of St. Cecilia
[Verse 5]
Each day at even five
When I seek haven from my daily care
You’ll find me by her side
It seems so peaceful there
[Verse 6]
I kneal in my solitude and silently pray
That heaven will protect you, dear
And there’ll come a day
The storm will be over and we’ll meet again
At the Shrine of St. Cecilia


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Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

Celebrated November 18

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne was a courageous pioneer and persevering missionary. She was born in Grenoble, France, on August 29, 1769, and despite her father’s opposition, she entered (1788) the Visitation Convent of Sainte-Marie-d’en-Haut.

Later, because of the French Revolution, the community was dispersed (1792) and, thus, she returned home and spent her time teaching neglected children and caring for the sick.

When peace returned, she purchased the convent building from the government and tried to bring the Visitation Sisters together again, but this proved impossible. Having heard of a new congregation, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, she offered herself and the building to the founder, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat.

Then, in 1818, her dream of missionary work in the New World came true. Bishop Louis Du Bourg of the Louisiana Territory requested sisters to teach Indian and French children in his diocese. Mother Rose Philippine asked to go; she and four companions landed in New Orleans in May 1818.

They made their way to St. Louis, and that September she opened, at St. Charles, near St. Louis, the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi. Life on the frontier was far from easy; the sisters lived and taught in unheated log cabins. In succeeding years, more schools were opened; parish schools, schools for Indian girls, and schools for boarding students.

In 1840, when Mother Rose Philippine was in her seventies, she was sent to help start a school among the Potawatomi Indians in Sugar Creek, Kansas. She did not teach—she was never able to learn their language—but she cared for their sick. The Indians called her “Woman-Who-Prays-Always.”  While others taught, she prayed. Legend has it that Native American children sneaked behind her as she knelt and sprinkled bits of paper on her habit, and came back hours later to find them undisturbed. In 1842, she was recalled to St. Charles, and she died there on November 18, 1852. She was canonised by Pope John Paul II in 1988.


Divine grace channelled her iron will and determination into humility and selflessness, and to a desire not to be made superior. Still, even saints can get involved in silly situations. In an argument with her over a minor change in the sanctuary, a priest threatened to remove the tabernacle. She patiently let herself be criticised by younger nuns for not being progressive enough. For 31 years, she hewed to the line of a dauntless love and an unshakeable observance of her religious vows.

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Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

Pope saint Leo the Great, Artist: Francisco Herrera the Younger, ‎Date: 17th century

Celebrated 10th November

Saint Leo was probably born in Rome about 400. He was a deacon under popes Celestine I 422–32 and Sixtus III 432–40, both of whom had entrusted him with diplomatic missions. He was elected pope in August – September 440, while on a mission to Gaul (today’s France), and he was consecrated September 29, 440 on his return to Rome.
There arose the new heresy of Eutyches, who confounded the two natures of Christ. At once the vigilant pastor proclaimed the true doctrine of the Incarnation in his famous “tome;” but fostered by the Byzantine court, the heresy gained a strong hold amongst the Eastern monks and bishops. After three years of unceasing toil, Leo brought about its solemn condemnation by the Council of Chalcedon, the Fathers all signing his tome, and exclaiming, “Peter hath spoken by Leo.” 
Leo is one of the three popes designated as “the Great,” and he merits this title because of his teaching and his governance. His teaching is found in ninety-six sermons, which explain the major tenets of the Catholic faith. Regarding governance, he was the best administrator of the ancient Church: he consolidated Church administration and stressed the primacy of the Roman See in his dealings with the rest of the Catholic world. He likewise urged liturgical as well as canonical and pastoral uniformity. 
Francesco Solimena – The Meeting of Pope Leo and Attila
Near Mantua in 452, he confronted Attila the Hun and persuaded him to withdraw, and on meeting Gaiseric outside Rome in 455, he induced him to spare the city from fire and massacre. St. Leo died on November 10, 461. Pope Benedict XIV declared him a doctor of the Church in 1754. The opening prayer today echoes St. Leo’s constant teaching that the Church is founded on the rock of Peter.

the Vandal

O God, who never allow the gates of hell
to prevail against your Church,
firmly founded on the apostolic rock,
grant her, we pray,
that through the intercession of Pope Saint Leo,
she may stand firm in your truth
and know the protection of lasting peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
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