Tag Archives: Religious

St. Martin de Porres

November 3, 2019


St. Martin de Porres was born on November 9, 1579, in Lima, Peru. He was born outside of wedlock, the son of John de Porres, a Spanish knight, and Anna, a freed black slave from Panama. His father was mortified when he observed how his newborn son had inherited his mother’s African features and dark complexion, and he refused to acknowledge him. Martin’s baptismal records show him listed as the “son of an unknown father,” and as a result he was considered “illegitimate,” a terrible social stigma in Peruvian society. He was raised in the faith by his Christian mother.

As a boy St. Martin studied medicine and was an apprentice to a barber-surgeon. He also became a Third Order Dominican, a person who adopts Dominican spirituality as an associate member while still a lay person. In 1595 he moved into Rosary Convent in Lima as a helper, and in 1603 he joined the Dominican Order and made his religious profession as a Brother.

Brother Martin distinguished himself in personal holiness. He had a great devotion to the Eucharist and prayed regularly in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. He was strict and highly disciplined with himself, performed rigorous acts of penance, was exceptionally humble, and gladly performed menial tasks. Within the community he served as the infirmarian, the community’s caretaker of the sick and disabled, the barber, the wardrobe keeper, and the gardener, and he swept the floors and cleaned the toilets. He operated the community’s food shelf and distributed food, clothing, and medicine to the needy.

Brother Martin also ventured out of the convent to serve the poor in the city of Lima. He put his medical training to good use with his competent and compassionate care for the sick. Because of his expanding reputation, more and more people came to him for help. For some he administered medical treatment, for others it was a handshake or a simple touch, and there were so many healings and such remarkable cures that the people considered him a miracle worker.

Brother Martin also had a special place in his heart for African slaves that had been forced to come to Peru, and he conducted a special outreach to them. He also founded an orphanage and a hospital for them.

St. Martin was immensely popular with the people of Lima because of his tremendous dedication to the poor and his exemplary personal holiness. He also was held in high regard by his fellow Dominicans who called him the “father of charity,” a title he shunned, and out of self-deprecation he referred to himself as a “mulatto dog.”

St. Martin was a close friend of St. Rose of Lima. He reportedly had the supernatural gifts of bilocation and aerial flight.

St. Martin de Porres died of a raging fever at Rosary Convent in Lima on November 3, 1639, at the age of sixty. He was beatified in 1837 and canonized by Pope John XXIII on May 6, 1962. He is the patron saint of hairdressers, public health workers, social justice, and race relations.

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St. Scholastica, Virgin and Religious

February 8, 2013


St. Benedict speaking to St. Scholastica detail at Seven Dolors in Albany

St. Benedict speaking to St. Scholastica detail at Seven Dolors in Albany

St. Scholastica (480-547) was born in Nursia, Italy, in 480 AD.  She is the twin sister of St. Benedict.  As a young woman she consecrated herself to God, and she remained at home to assist her father while her brother Benedict went to Rome to study.

St. Benedict is the founder of Western monasticism, the one who developed the concept of men living together in a religious community in a monastery for a spiritual purpose under a rule of life.  Upon his return from Rome he founded a monastery at Monte Casino.

In parallel fashion, St. Scholastica founded a house for women religious or a convent at Plombariola only five miles south of Monte Casino.  Previously women who wished to live a more intense spiritual life did so on their own in seclusion and occasionally a few women would live together.  St. Scholastica expanded the communal life dimension.  She gathered women who wished to focus more exclusively on God into larger groups, usually younger virgins and older widows.  In the convent they were able to separate themselves from the concerns and temptations of the world to concentrate on a life of prayer, mutual support, and good works.

St. Benedict was the abbot or superior of the monastery, and St. Scholastica was the abbess or superior of the convent.  Even though they lived separately they stayed in close communication and shared a strong spiritual bond.  Once each year they met for a single day to pray and discuss spiritual matters, and because Scholastica was not permitted to enter the monastery, their meeting took place at a home between the two.

They had a remarkable final meeting.  Scholastica was advanced in age and had a premonition that her time was short, so after dinner she asked her brother to stay longer.  The Benedictine Rule requires a monk to be in the monastery every night, so Benedict declined.  Scholastica said a quick prayer and almost instantly a violent thunderstorm broke out which forced Benedict to remain indoors.  Benedict exclaimed, “Sister, what have you done?”  She answered, “I asked a favor of you and you refused it.  I asked it of God and he has granted it.”

Three days later St. Scholastica died and St. Benedict, who was praying at that moment, looked up and saw her soul ascending to heaven in the form of a dove.

St. Scholastica is considered the founder of the Benedictine sisters; her symbols are a dove, the book of the Benedictine Rule, and a pastoral staff; she is the patron saint of women religious; and she is a special intercessor against storms and lightening, and for children suffering convulsions.

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Martin Sheen & Emilio Estevez made a great movie in ‘The Way’

September 14, 2011

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Catholics won’t want to miss this very spiritual film

Martin Sheen fans will have yet another reason to value this actor who happens to be Catholic when they see “The Way.”

The premier is set for Oct. 7 in New York City — ironically — because Emilio Estevez, the writer/director, is quick to say that the movie is for people who live between Manhattan and Glendale, California. He said that, as he pitched this movie about a pilgrimage to movie industry execs in both New York and Hollywood, he could see their eyes glaze over. They’re not interested in making movies for thinking people, preferring films with nudity and things blowing up.

“They call this fly-over country,” Estevez said during a promotional stop in the Twin Cities. “I call it the United States.”

“The Way” is terrific, a great story superbly told and acted, with great scenery, with touching drama, with verbal and visual humor, with clever casting, with crisp, believable, thought-provoking dialogue, perfect soundtrack, characters you want to know better — the whole enchilada of what makes a satisfying evening before the big screen. Catch the trailer.

Here’s the gist of it: Sheen plays a curmudgeon of a California country club ophthalmologist who doesn’t approve of his adult son going off to see the world. There’s a poignant scene at the start when Sheen is driving his son to the airport and Sheen’s character, Tom Avery, is defending the life he’s chosen. Son Daniel, played by Estevez (Sheen’s real-life son), responds, “You don’t choose a life, dad. You live it.” That’s what this movie is about, although of course it’s much more complex and fulfilling than that.

The way of the film’s title is the Camino de Santiago, the thousand-year-old pilgrimage route from southern France through the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Blessings are said to come to those who complete the journey to where tradition holds the remains of the Apostle James (Santiago in Spanish) are preserved in the Cathedral of Santiago. Daniel Avery sets out to walk the 480 miles but dies in a storm shortly after starting. When father Tom comes to claim his body, he decides to complete the journey his estranged son started.

Journey as metaphor

What Tom Avery learns along the way about himself and the difference between a life you choose and a life you live, makes for great movie watching. The reasons one walks the Camino — as played out by a wonderful cast — have a lot to say to everyone about our own journey through life and the approach we take on our journey: Do we walk it alone or do we jump in with others and accept both the rich rewards and the potential hurts?

Along with “The Help,” this new Sheen-Estevez vehicle could help Hollywood see that people are tired of the crap, to use Estevez’ word, that is on today’s movie screens. That there was something religious and spiritual about the movie he was pitching scared away agents and producers alike.

The reaction “The Way” is receiving as Sheen and Estevez make a 35-city bus tour to screen the movie before live audiences is telling them — and hopefully film executives — that this type of movie plays well to the majority of the country who don’t sit in filmdom’s isolated offices on the East or West Coast.

“The Way” will be in theaters around North America October 7. You won’t want to miss it.

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Sister Teresita, 103 years old, world’s longest serving recluse

July 15, 2011


Wonderful video.

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