Wednesday, October 21, 2009
St Magdalene of Nagasaki (died 1634), an Augustinian Tertiary in Japan, in spite of great danger and difficulty, remained faithful to Jesus Christ until her martyrdom.
Born in the early seventeenth century, Magdalene belonged to a devout Christian family. Her parents were martyred around 1620, when Magdalene was in her teens.
It was around this time that the first Augustinians arrived in Japan. As a committed Catholic Christian, Magdalene made herself known to them. She served as a catechist and interpreter for the early Augustinian missionaries.
She found their Augustinian spirituality appealing, with its emphasis on the search for God, interior life, and community. She asked to be accepted into the Order of Saint Augustine, and in 1625 was formally received into the Augustinian Third Order.
Being a Christian in Japan became more and more difficult, and with the growth of Christianity persecution became stronger. Magdalene fled to the hills, where she worked at bringing the Word of God to those who did not know Jesus, and strengthening the faith of those who did.
In 1632 the Augustinians Francis of Jesus Terrero and Vincent of Saint Anthony Simoens, who had been her first counsellors, were burned to death by the pagan Japanese government because of their Christian faith. This only served to make Magdalene's faith and commitment to Christ even stronger. She located two other Augustinian Friars, Martin of Saint Nicholas Lumbreras and Melchior of Saint Augustine Sánchez. They mutually encouraged each other in persevering in the faith..
Eventually these two Friars were also martyred. Magdalene then took as her spiritual guide Jordan of Saint Stephen, a Dominican. Dominicans also follow a variant of the Rule of St Augustine.
She considered becoming a full-fledged Dominican sister, but continued religious persecution kept her from doing so.
Moved by her strong Christian conviction, and when she could hide no more, Magdalene voluntarily declared herself a follower of Jesus. She was arrested, threatened, ridiculed and tortured, but her Christian witness was strong and unfailing.
After 13 days of torture, wearing her Augustinian habit, Magdalene was suspended upside down in a pit of garbage and eventually died of her tortures. Then her body was burned and her ashes scattered.
Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1981 and canonized her in 1987.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Succumbed to pneumonia on this date back in 1959 in a Czechoslovakian prison. Illness was contracted when confined to solitary confinement as punishment for singing a Christmas carol.
Blessed Metod, pray for us!
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Paulos Faraj Rahho was born to a Chaldean family in 1942 in Mosul. He spent nearly all his life in Mosul, a city with one of the largest and oldest Christian populations in Iraq. In 1954 he entered the St. Peter's junior and major seminary in Baghdad in order to become a priest. After his ordination on June 10, 1965 he briefly worked in Baghdad before being appointed to St. Isaiah's Church in Mosul. Between 1974 and 1976, Rahho completed his religious studies in Rome. Rahho later founded the church of the Sacred Heart in Tel Keppe, a town some 20 kilometers north of Mosul. "He also opened an orphanage for handicapped children".
In 2001, Pope John Paul II appointed him archbishop of the Archeparchy of Mosul. On February 16, 2001, he was ordained Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, giving him responsibility for around 20,000 Catholics in ten parishes. He was ordained by the Patriarch of Babylon. His church is known in Mosul as Safina (The Ship), but parishioners called it the Holy Spirit Church.
Rahho expressed disquiet at the moves to incorporate Sharia law more fundamentally into the Iraqi constitution, and continued throughout his life to lead worship in difficult situations. During his 2007 trip to Rome, with the patriarch of Babylon Emmanuel III Delly who was then appointed cardinal, Rahho confided that he had been threatened by gunmen in his native town. Following the start of the Iraq war, persecution of Christians in Iraq increased dramatically. Rahho commented on the precarious situation of Mesopotamian Christians in an interview with Asia News shortly before his kidnapping.
Late on February 29, 2008, according to a report given by the Catholic News Service, Archbishop Rahho was kidnapped from his car in the Al-Nur district of the city; his bodyguards and driver were killed. According to church officials, "gunmen sprayed the Archbishop's car with bullets, killed two bodyguards and shoved the bishop into the trunk of a car. In the darkness, he managed to pull out his cellphone and call the church, telling officials not to pay a ransom for his release, they said. "He believed that this money would not be paid for good works and would be used for killing and more evil actions," the officials said". Other reports stated that also investigators believed the archbishop may have been shot at the time of the kidnapping.
The kidnappers demanded Christians contribute to the jihad, through jizya.  The captors also demanded the release of Arab (Non-Iraqi) detainees and that they be paid three million dollars for Rahho's release. The kidnappers also demanded that Iraqi Christians form a militia to fight the US forces.
On March 13, 2008, it was reported that the Archbishop's body had been found buried in a shallow grave near Mosul. Officials of the Chaldean Church in Iraq said they had received a call telling them where the body was buried. Reports over the cause of death were contradictory. An official of the morgue in Mosul said the archbishop, who had health problems, including high blood pressure and diabetes, might have died of natural causes. Police at the Mosul morgue said the Archbishop "appeared to have been dead a week and his body bore no bullet wounds". Nineveh Deputy Governor Khasro Goran stated that when relatives and authorities went to the location specified by the kidnappers and found the body, it had "gunshot wounds".
Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho is believed to be the highest-ranking Chaldean Catholic clergyman to have been killed in the current Iraq war. The funeral services were held in the town of Karamlesh, with Chaldean Catholic Cardinal Emmanuel Delly in presence.
"Ordained on 28 October 1915. Auxiliary Bishop of Esztergom, Hungary and Titular Bishop of Sinope on 22 September 1937. Martyred in the anti-Christian persecutions of the Communists."
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Thank you and God bless
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The end of World War II was the beginning of a terrible period in the history of Ukraine, of the Greek-Catholic Church, and of the Lviv Province of CSsR. Having arrested all the Greek-Catholic bishops, in the spring of 1946 Soviet secret police gathered Redemptorists from Ternopil, Stanislaviv, Lviv, and Zboiska to Holosko, and placed them in a non-heated wing of the monastery. Fr. Ziatyk was among those gathered in Holosko. Redemptorists stayed there for two years under constant surveillance of the secret police. Their presence was checked three or four times a week. The confreres were often taken for interrogation, in the course of which they were promised various benefits in exchange for betrayal of their faith and monastic vocation. On 17 October 1948 all the Redemptorists staying in Holosko were told to board trucks which transported them to the Studite monastery in Univ.
The verdict was announced to Fr. Ziatyk in Kiev on 21 November 1951. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for “cooperating with anti-Soviet nationalistic organization and anti-Soviet propaganda”. The term was to be served in the Ozernyi Lager prison camp near the town of Bratsk in Irkutsk region.
During his imprisonment, Fr. Ziatyk suffered terrible tortures. According to witnesses, on Good Friday 1952 Fr. Ivan Ziatyk was heavily beaten with sticks, soaked in water, and left unconscious outside, in the Siberian frost. Beating and cold caused his death in a prison hospital three days later, on 17 May 1952. Fr. Ziatyk was buried in the Taishet district of Irkutsk region. The Great Architect laid another precious tile into the great mosaic of martyrdom…
Monday, October 12, 2009
He was born at Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, in 1616 and raised as a Protestant.
At sixteen years of age, while visiting Paris, he converted to Catholicism and subsequently went to study in Rome, where in 1642 he was ordained as a Catholic priest. Three years later, he became a Jesuit.
He was arrested in November 1678, at Llantarnam in Monmouthshire, and condemned as a Roman Catholic priest and for saying Catholic masses, at the Assizes in Monmouth in March 1679. Like St John Wall and St John Kemble, he was then sent to London to be examined by Titus Oates (the originator of the Popish Plot) and others.
He was brought for trial at the Lenten Assizes in Monmouth on 16 March 1679. He was brought to the bar on a charge of High Treason – for having become a Catholic priest and then remaining in England.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge of being an accessory to the Popish Plot, but five or six witnesses claimed they had seen him say Mass and perform other priestly duties. For this Lewis was found guilty and sentenced to death by Sir Robert Atkins. The condemned priest was brought to Newgate Prison in London with John Kemble (Herefordshire) and questioned about the "plot". Oates, William Bedloe, Dugdale and Prace were unable to prove anything against him. Lord Shaftesbury advised him that if he gave evidence about the "plot" or renounced his Catholic faith, that his life would be spared and he would be greatly rewarded. Lewis said in his dying speech, "discover the plot I could not, as I knew of none; and conform I would not, for it was against my conscience". He was returned to Usk and waited for three months for his call to death by execution.
He was finally brought back to Usk in Monmouthshire for his execution, and was hanged on 27 August 1679. After the Titus Oates affair (1679–80), the remaining Welsh-speaking Catholic clergy were either executed or exiled.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Franz Jägerstätter (May 20, 1907 — August 9, 1943; born as Franz Huber) was an Austrian conscientious objector during World War II and has been declared Blessed by the Roman Catholic Church. As in most countries at the time, refusal to serve mandatory military service in war time was a criminal offense in Germany, and Jägerstätter was sentenced to death and executed.
Franz Jägerstätter (in English also spelt Franz Jaegerstaetter) was born in Sankt Radegund, Austria, a small village near Salzburg and Braunau am Inn. He was the illegitimate child of Rosalia Huber and Franz Bachmeier. The child was first brought up by his grandmother, Elisabeth Huber. Franz's natural father was killed in World War I when he was still a child, and when his mother married, Franz was adopted by her husband, Heinrich Jägerstätter.
In his youth, Franz had gained a reputation for being a wild fellow, but, in general, his daily life was like that of most Austrian peasants. In 1933, he fathered an out of wedlock daughter, Hildegard Auer.
In 1936, he married Franziska Schwaninger, a girl from a nearby village, and they went to Rome on their honeymoon. A Catholic by birth, he experienced a religious awakening - apparently about the time of his marriage – and later served as sexton of his parish church.
When German troops moved into Austria in 1938, Jägerstätter was the only person in the village to vote against the Anschluss. Although he was not involved with any political organization, and did undergo one brief period of military training, he remained openly anti-Nazi, and publicly declared he would not fight in the war.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
“A teacher from Poznan & a leader in the apostolate of lay people. During the occupation, she volunteered to leave for the Third Reich together with of ther women condemned to do heavy work in order to give them spiritual comfort. When the Gestapo found out, she was arrested, tortured and humiliated in public and was condemned to death in the Rawensbruck camp. On Good Friday, with the strength that was still in her, she climbed a stool in the hut and gave a talk to the prisoners on the passion and resurrection of Jesus. Two days later, they brought her to die in a gas-chamber.”
The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth arrived in Nowogródek in 1929 at the behest of Bishop Zygmunt Lozinski.The Sisters became an integral part of the life of the town. During the Nazi and Soviet occupation of Poland, the Sisters invested great effort in preparing for the religious services - for the residents of the town, liturgical prayer became a beacon of hope amid the hopelessness of the occupation.
The Nazi terror in Nowogródek began with the 1942 extermination of the Jews. Of the 20,000 inhabitants of the town before the war, approximately half were Jews. The Germans murdered about 9,500 of the Jews in a series of "actions" and sent the remaining 550 Jews to slave labor camps. This was followed by a surge in Polish arrests, then the slaughter of 60 people, including two priests. This situation was repeated on 18 July 1943, when more than 120 people were arrested and slated for execution.
The Sisters unanimously expressed their desire to offer their lives in sacrifice for the imprisoned. Sister Maria Stella shared the Sisters' decision with their chaplain Father Zienkiewicz and rector, saying, "My God, if sacrifice of life is needed, accept it from us and spare those who have families. We are even praying for this intention." Almost immediately, the plans for the prisoners were changed - they were deported to work camps in Germany, and some of them were even released. When the life of Father Zienkiewicz was threatened, the Sisters renewed their offer, saying, "There is a greater need for a priest on this earth than for us. We pray that God will take us in his place, if sacrifice of life is needed."
Without warning or provocation, on 31 July 1943, eleven of the sisters were imprisoned, loaded into a van and driven beyond the town limits. The eleven nuns were killed on 1 August 1943 in the woods 5 km (3 mi) beyond Nowogródek, and buried in a common grave. After the execution, Sister M. Malgorzata Banas, the community's sole surviving member, located the place of the martyrdom, and remained the guardian of their common grave until her own death in 1966. The Church of the Transfiguration, known as Biała Fara, or "White Church", now contains the relics of the eleven martyrs.
Monday, October 5, 2009
A portrait painted in the northern French town of Douai of Saint John Ogilvie, Roman Catholic martyr.
John Ogilvie claimed to be from a noble family in the North East and to have been raised as a Protestant. He was educated on the continent, converted to Roman Catholicism and was ordained as Jesuit priest at Paris in 1610. He travelled back to Scotland in 1613 disguised as a soldier, John Watson, one of three priests who returned as missionaries ut dedocerem haeresim (“to unteach heresy") in a country where the celebration of mass had been banned. However, in 1614 he was betrayed to the authorities in Glasgow, arrested and interrogated in prison there and in Edinburgh. After three trials, Ogilvie was convicted of high treason for refusing to accept the supremacy of King James in spiritual matters. He was hanged at Glasgow Cross on 10 March 1615.
In 1967, John Fagan, a former docker living in Easterhouse (the only parish in the world named after the martyr Ogilvie) made a remarkable recovery from stomach cancer. Claims were made for the miraculous intervention of John Ogilive and these were accepted by the Roman Catholic authorities after a lengthy investigation. In 1976, at a ceremony in Rome attended by over 4,000 people from Scotland, John Ogilvie was canonised by Pope Paul VI and became Scotland's first saint for over 700
Friday, October 2, 2009
“Blessed Fr. Oleksa Zarytsky was born in 1912 in the village of Biche, in the Lviv Region. In 1931, he entered the seminary in Lviv. He received his ordination to the priesthood from Metropolitan Andrei Sheptyts’kyi in 1936. In 1948, he was imprisoned for ten years and deported to Karaganda. After his early release in 1957, he was named Apostolic Administrator of Kazakhstan and Siberia, but was shortly thereafter imprisoned again for a three-year term. He died as a martyr for the faith on 30 October 1963 in the Dolynka concentration camp near Karaganda.”
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, S.J. (January 13, 1891 – November 23, 1927) was a Mexican Roman Catholic Jesuit priest, executed during the persecution of the Catholic Church under the presidency of Plutarco Elías Calles after trumped up charges of involvement in an assassination attempt against former President Álvaro Obregón. Fr. Pro was beatified by John Paul II as a martyr on September 25, 1988.
The Following photographs are genuine and captured all that took place: