THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH: JULY 2017:

“It was to a land of dark people that Thomas was sent, to clothe them by Baptism in white robes. His grateful dawn dispelled India's painful darkness. It was his mission to espouse India to the One-Begotten. The merchant is blessed for having so great a treasure. Edessa thus became the blessed city by possessing the greatest pearl India could yield. Thomas worked miracles in India; and was destined to baptize people; perverse and steeped in darkness.” St. Ephrem, Third Century Syriac Hymnographer & Doctor of the Church.

SAINTS/ SAGES/ EVENTS: JULY 2017:

July 01. Bl. Junipero Sera: (1713-1784): Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca on November 24, 1713, and took the name of Junipero when in 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order. Junipero was a dedicated religious and missionary. He was imbued with a penitential spirit and practiced austerity in sleep, eating, and other activities. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988. His statue, representing the state of California, is in National Statuary Hall. July 02.

St. Otto of Bamberg: (1060-1139): He was a medieval German bishop and missionary who, as papal legate, converted much of Pomerania to Christianity. In honor of his work, he is known as the Apostle 87of Pomerania.

July 03. St. Thomas: (Martyred at Mylapore, India in 74): He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. He is best known for questioning Jesus' resurrection after death when first told of it, followed by his confession of faith as both "My Lord and my God" on seeing and touching Jesus' tangible and physical wounded body in Gospel of Saint John 20:28. Traditionally he is said to have traveled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, traveling as far as India. According to tradition, the Apostle reached Muziris, India in 52 AD and baptized several people who are today known as Saint Thomas Christians or Nasranis. After his murder and death by spear in India, the remaining relics of Saint Thomas the Apostle were enshrined as far as Mesopotamia in the 3rd century, and later moved to various places. In 1258 they were brought to Abruzzo, in Ortona, Italy, where they have been held in the Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle. He is often regarded as the Patron Saint of India, and the name Thomas remains quite popular among Saint Thomas Christians of India.

July 04. St. Elizabeth of Portugal: (1271-1336): Elizabeth was a Spanish princess who was given in marriage to King Denis of Portugal at the age of twelve. She was very beautiful and very lovable. She was also very devout, and went to Mass every day. Religious fervor was common in her family, as she could count several members of her family who were already venerated as saints. The most notable example is her great-aunt, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, T.O.S.F., after whom she was named.

July 05. St. Athanasius the Athonite: (920-1003): He was a Byzantine monk who founded the monastic community on Mount Athos, which has since evolved into the greatest centre of Eastern Orthodox monasticism.

July 06. St. Maria Goretti: (1890-1902): She is an Italian virgin-martyr of the Roman Catholic Church, and is one of its youngest canonized saints. She died from multiple stab wounds inflicted by her attempted rapist after she refused to submit to him. She is the patron saint of youth, young women, purity, and victims of rape.

July 07. Bl. Ralph Milner: ( Martyred in 1591): The greater part of his life was probably passed in his native village, where, being practically illiterate, he supported his wife and eight children by manual labour. He was brought up an Anglican, but became a Catholic convert. On the very day of his first Communion, however, he was arrested for changing his religion and committed to Winchester jail. The judge urged Milner to attend even once the Protestant church and thus escape the gallows. He refused and began to prepare for death. Every effort was made to persuade him to change his purpose and renounce the Catholic faith. When he was approaching the gallows with Father Dicconson, his children were led to him in the hope that he might even then relent. He was unshaken in his resolution, and gave his children his last blessing.

July 08. St. Grimwald: (821-901): He was a 9th-century Benedictine monk. In AD 885 King Alfred the Great was en route to Rome when he met Grimbald at the Abbey of Saint Bertin in Saint-Omer, France. Grimbald is credited with restoring learning to England.

July 09. St. Veronica Giuliani: (1660-1727): She was an Italian Capuchin nun and mystic. She was the recipient of a stigmata in 1697 and visions, the accounts of which are quite detailed. She impressed her fellow nuns by remaining remarkably practical despite her numerous ecstatic experiences. After Veronica's death a figure of the Cross was supposedly found impressed upon her heart, and her body has been noted as being incorrupt.

July 10. Sts. Perpetua & Felicity: (Martyred in 203): Perpetua (born around 181) was a 22-year old married noblewoman and a nursing mother. Her co-martyr Felicity, an expectant mother, was her slave. They suffered together at Carthage in the Roman province of Africa, during the reign of Septimius Severus.

July 11. St. Benedict of Nursia: (480-547): He is a Christian saint, honored by the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church as the patron saint of Europe and students. St. Benedict is known as the father of Western Monasticism and is also the brother of St. Scholastica.

July 12. St. John Gaulbert: (985-1073): He was an Italian Roman Catholic saint, the founder of the Vallumbrosan Order. His charity for the poor caused him to make a rule that no indigent person should be sent away without an alms. He founded several monasteries, reformed others, and succeeded in eradicating the vice of simony from the part of the country where he lived.

July 13. St. Henry: (973-1024): He was Holy Roman Emperor from 1014 until his death in 1024. The last member of the Ottonian dynasty of Emperors, Henry II became king of Germany following the sudden death of his second-cousin Emperor Otto III in 1002 and was crowned as Emperor in 1014. Both he and his wife, St. Cunegundes, lived in perpetual chastity, to which they had bound themselves by vow. The Saint made numerous pious foundations, gave liberally to pious institutions and built the Cathedral of Bamberg.

July 14. St. Kateri Tekakwitha: (1656-1680): Known as the ‘Lilly of the Mohawaks’, St. Kateri Teckakwitha is the first Native American to be declared a Saint. Canonized on 10/21/2012 by Pope Benedict XVI, she is the patroness of the environment and ecology as is St. Francis of Assisi.

July 15. St. Bonaventure: (1221-1274): was an Italian medieval scholastic theologian and philosopher. The seventh Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, he was also a Cardinal Bishop of Albano. He was canonised on 14 April 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV and declared a Doctor of the Church in the year 1588 by Pope Sixtus V. He is known as the "Seraphic Doctor" (Latin: Doctor Seraphicus).

July 16. Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: The Order of Carmelites takes its name from Mount Carmel, which was the first place dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and where a chapel was erected in her honor before her Assumption into Heaven. On that day in 1251, pious tradition says, the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock, General of the Carmelites at Cambridge, England, showed him the scapular and promised supernatural favors and her special protection to his Order and to all persons who would wear the scapular.

July 17. The Carmelite Nuns of Compiegne: (Martyred in 1794): They were the sixteen members of the Carmel of Compiègne, France: eleven Discalced Carmelite nuns, three lay sisters, and two externs (tertiaries of the Order, who would handle the community's needs outside the monastery). During the French Revolution, they refused to obey the Civil Constitution of the Clergy of the Revolutionary government, which mandated the suppression of their monastery. The Carmelite community was transported to Paris, where they were condemned as a group as traitors and sentenced to death. They were sent to the guillotine on 17 July 1794. They were notable in the manner of their deaths, as, at the foot of the scaffold, the community jointly renewed their vows and began to chant the Veni Creator Spiritus, the hymn sung at the ceremony for the profession of vows. They continued their singing as, one by one, they mounted the scaffold to meet their death. The novice of the community, Sister Constance, was the first to die, then the lay Sisters and externs, and so on, ending with the prioress, Mother Teresa of St. Augustine, O.C.D.

July 18. St. Frederick of Utrecht: (Martyred in 838): Frederick was born around 780 in Friesland and was a grandson of the Frisian King Radboud. After the death of Ricfried in 815/816, Frederick was chosen as Bishop of Utrecht. He was known for his piety and erudition. Legend tells that he was stabbed by two men after the offering of the Mass on 18 July 838. Shortly after his death, Frederick was canonized. His feast day is 18 July and he is the patron saint of the deaf. He was buried in St. Salvator's Church in Utrecht.

July 19. St. Arsenius the Great: (354-450): He was a Roman imperial tutor who became an anchorite in Egypt, one of the most highly regarded of the Desert Fathers, whose teachings were greatly influential on the development of asceticism and the contemplative life. Saint Arsenius was a man who was very quiet and often silent. He is most famous for always saying, “Many times I spoke, and as a result felt sorry, but I never regretted my silence.”

July 20. St. Margret of Antioch: (Martyred in 304): Olybrius, the Governor of the Roman Diocese of the East, asked to marry her but with the price of her renunciation of Christianity. Upon her refusal, she was cruelly tortured, during which various miraculous incidents occurred. One of these involved being swallowed by Satan in the shape of a dragon, from which she escaped alive when the cross she carried irritated the dragon's innards. She was put to death in A.D. 304. She is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and hers was one of the voices heard by Joan of Arc.

July 21. St. Victor: (Martyred in 290): aint Victor is said to have been a Roman army officer in Marseilles, who publicly denounced the worship of idols. For that, he was brought before the Roman prefects, Asterius and Eutychius, who later sent him to the Emperor Maximian. After refusing to offer incense to the Roman god Jupiter, Victor kicked it over with his foot and was then crushed under a millstone.

July 22. St. Mary Magdeline: She has been called the second-most important woman in the New Testament after Mary the mother of Jesus. Mary Magdalene traveled with Jesus as one of his followers. She was present at Jesus' two most important moments: the crucifixion and the resurrection. Within the four Gospels, the oldest historical record mentioning her name, she is named at least 12 times, more than most of the apostles. The Gospel references describe her as courageous, brave enough to stand by Jesus in his hours of suffering, death and beyond.

July 23. St. Bridget of Sweden: (1303-1373): She was a mystic and saint, and founder of the Bridgettines nuns and monks after the death of her husband of twenty years. She was also the mother of Catherine of Vadstena. She is one of the six patron saints of Europe, together with Benedict of Nursia, Saints Cyril and Methodius, Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein.

July 24. St. John Boste: (1544-1594): He is a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, and one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. John Boste was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929. He was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

July 25. St. James the Greater: (Martyred in 44): He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was a son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of John the Apostle. He is also called James the Greater to distinguish him from James, son of Alphaeus, who is also known as James the Less.

July 26. Sts. Joachim & Anne: By tradition Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. We have no historical evidence, however, of any elements of their lives, including their names. Any stories about Mary's father and mother come to us through legend and tradition.

July 27. St. Pantaleon: (275-303): Counted in the West among the late-medieval Fourteen Holy Helpers and in the East as one of the Holy Unmercenary Healers, he was a martyr of Nicomedia in Bithynia during the Diocletian persecution of 303 AD. There has been strong devotion in past ages to this Saint. He is the Patron of Physicians, midwives, livestock, invoked against headaches, consumption, locusts, witchcraft, accidents and loneliness, and helper for crying children.

July 28. St. Alphonsa: (1910-1946): She is the first woman of Indian origin to be canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church and the first canonized saint of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Church of the Saint Thomas Christian community. Venerable Sister Alphonsa was beatified along with Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara, T.O.C.D., at Kottayam, on 8 February 1986 by Pope John Paul II during his Apostolic Pilgrimage to India. During his speech at Nehru Stadium, the Pope said that: "From early in her life, Sister Alphonsa experienced great suffering. With the passing of the years, the heavenly Father gave her an ever fuller share in the Passion of his beloved Son. We recall how she experienced not only physical pain of great intensity, but also the spiritual suffering of being misunderstood and misjudged by others. But she constantly accepted all her sufferings with serenity and trust in God, ... She wrote to her spiritual director: "Dear Father, as my good Lord Jesus loves me so very much, I sincerely desire to remain on this sick bed and suffer not only this, but anything else besides, even to the end of the world. I feel now that God has intended my life to be an oblation, a sacrifice of suffering" (20 November 1944). She came to love suffering because she loved the suffering Christ. She learned to love the Cross through her love of the crucified Lord."

On Sunday, 12 October 2008, Pope Benedict XVI announced her canonization at a ceremony at Saint Peter's Square. In the homily, Pope Benedict XVI recalled Saint Alphonsa's life as one of "extreme physical and spiritual suffering." "This exceptional woman ... was convinced that her cross was the very means of reaching the heavenly banquet prepared for her by the Father", the pope stated. "By accepting the invitation to the wedding feast, and by adorning herself with the garment of God's grace through prayer and penance, she conformed her life to Christ's and now delights in the 'rich fare and choice wines' of the heavenly kingdom." "(Her) heroic virtues of patience, fortitude and perseverance in the midst of deep suffering remind us that God always provides the strength we need to overcome every trial", the pope stated before the ceremony ended.

July 29. St. Olaf of Norway: (995-1030): He was King of Norway from 1015 to 1028. He was posthumously given the title Rex Perpetuus Norvegiae (English: Norway's Eternal King) and canonised in Nidaros (Trondheim) by Bishop Grimkell, one year after his death in the Battle of Stiklestad on 29 July 1030. His remains were enshrined in Nidaros Cathedral. Olaf's local canonisation was in 1164 confirmed by Pope Alexander III, making him a universally recognised saint of the Catholic Church.

July 30. St. Peter Chrysologus: (380-450): Petros Chrysologos meaning Peter the "golden-worded"), was Bishop of Ravenna from about 433 until his death. He is revered as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIII in 1729.

July 31. St. Ignatius Loyola: (1491-1556): was a Spanish knight from a local Basque noble family, hermit, priest since 1537, and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and was its first Superior General. Ignatius emerged as a religious leader during the Counter-Reformation. Loyola's devotion to the Catholic Church was characterized by absolute obedience to the Pope. Saint Ignatius is venerated as the patron saint of Catholic soldiers, the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Basque country and various towns and cities in his native region.