Five First Saturdays
In Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

By Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC
Spiritual Director of the Thirteenth of the Month Club

Are you sick of turning on the news and seeing nothing but violence and mayhem? Well, there’s something we can do to bring about peace.

‘War is your fault’
My fellow Marian Fr. Seraphim Michalenko sometimes tells a story that a priest ministering in Japan shared with him in Rome. This priest was at an international gathering of Christians from across the world, attended by foreign dignitaries. The ambassador from Japan approached the priest, verified that the priest served in Japan and was a Catholic priest, and then said, “War is your fault.”

The priest was surprised and asked what the ambassador meant. The ambassador said, “You Catholics, all of you — we do not have peace in the world. It is your fault.”

The priest said, “Ambassador, why do you blame us?”

The ambassador said, “I’ve read about this. The Lady came to you at Fatima, right? That’s what you believe? She told you what to do to secure peace in the world. Well, there’s no peace in the world, so obviously you Catholics haven’t done it.”

The priest had to acknowledge that the ambassador was correct, but still tried to protest, saying, “Isn’t peace everyone’s responsibility?”

The ambassador was vehement. “No, she came to you Catholics. Not to Buddhists. Not to Hindus. She came to you, and it is your responsibility.”

That ambassador had more faith than a lot of Catholics! But he’s right – Our Lady came and asked for specific things at Fatima. If we listened to her and did what she asked, there would be peace in the world. Among her requests:

•pray the Rosary every day for peace in the world;

•the consecration of Russia and each of us individually to Mary’s Immaculate Heart;

•do our daily duties out of love, dedicating everything to God; and

•make reparation for sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary by observing the “Five First Saturdays of Reparation.”

What are the Five First Saturdays?
Our Lady explained those Five First Saturdays to Sr. Lucia dos Santos, one of the Fatima visionaries, on Dec. 10, 1925, in the following way:

See, my daughter, my Heart encircled by thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. Do you, at least, strive to console me. Tell them that I promise to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation all those who, in order to make reparation to me, on the First Saturday of five successive months, go to Confession, receive Holy Communion, say five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for a quarter of an hour, meditating on the … mysteries of the Rosary.

Why five First Saturdays in particular? Jesus explained this to Sr. Lucia on May 29-30, 1930, saying:

Daughter, the motive is simple: There are five kinds of offenses and blasphemies spoken against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

First: blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception

Second: against her Virginity

Third: against the Divine Maternity, refusing, at the same time, to receive her as the Mother of mankind

Fourth: those who seek publicly to implant, in the hearts of children, indifference, disrespect, and even hate for this Immaculate Mother

Fifth: those who revile her directly in her sacred images

Here, dear daughter, is the motive that led the Immaculate Heart of Mary to petition Me to ask for this small act of reparation. And, out of regard for her, to move My mercy to pardon those souls who have had the misfortune to offend her. As for you, seek endlessly, with your prayers and sacrifices, to move Me to mercy in regard to these poor souls.

Do they still matter?
Now, a lot of people have forgotten about the Five First Saturdays devotion, but it’s still relevant today – wars are still going on! We still haven’t seen the fulfillment of Our Lady’s promise that “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” According to Sr. Lucia, St. John Paul II consecrated Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart on March 25, 1984. The USSR fell shortly afterwards. And yet there’s still not peace in the world. Why? Ask yourself: Have most of us been faithful to her requests, especially the First Saturdays of Reparation?

So I call on everyone who loves Mary to start making the Five First Saturdays a regular part of their prayer life. For anyone who visits the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, on the First Saturday of each month, it’s easy! Pilgrims can go to Confession, pray the Rosary for Life, and attend Mass with the intention of making reparation to Our Lady – as she requested. To fulfill the requirement to meditate for 15 minutes on the Mysteries of the Rosary, you can prayerfully walk the Stations of the Cross on Eden Hill for at least 15 minutes, remaining aware of keeping Our Lady company in spirit throughout her Son’s Passion and Death.

One and done?
If we’ve made the Five First Saturdays once, are we done for life? No! You can and should make the Five First Saturdays more than once. In fact, I highly recommend it as a great spiritual practice! Get a monthly tune-up with Confession, Mass, Communion, and immersing yourself in the Mysteries of the Rosary, all offered in reparation for the many serious offenses committed against Our Lady. Make the First Saturdays throughout your life for love of Our Lady and reap huge spiritual rewards.

Let’s make reparation together to the Immaculate Heart by being faithful to the Five First Saturdays, and help Our Lady spread grace, peace, and healing throughout all the world.

Father Donald Calloway,  MIC, is the spiritual director of the Marian Fathers’ Thirteenth of the Month Club, a group of Marian Helpers committed to answering the call of Our Lady of Fatima. For membership information on the Thirteenth of the Month Club, email [email protected], visit the club webpage; or call 1-800-462-7426.

For more about Our Lady’’s apparitions at Fatima, Fr.  Donald recommends Fatima for Today (Product Code: FATIM2) by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, as well as Fr. Donald’s books Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon and Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest, all available through ShopMercy.org or by calling 1-800-462-7426.

First Saturdays
in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary include the following elements, performed with the intention of reparation for blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart, for at least five consecutive months:

•Confession (shortly before or after the First Saturday — so long as the person receives Holy Communion in a state of grace);

•Holy Communion received on the First Saturday of each month;

•the Holy Rosary, five decades recited sometime during the day; and

•meditating for 15 minutes on the Mysteries of the Rosary (one or more).

With Ecclesiastical Approval
© 2016 Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.

by Edward Sri, Franciscan Media

Many great popes, saints, and Christian leaders have exhorted us to pray the rosary. It’s a powerful prayer, they say, one that can change your life, strengthen the family, bring peace to the world, convert entire nations, and win the salvation of souls.

But does the average person experience the rosary this way?

Many Catholics, unfortunately, have the impression that the rosary is not relevant for them. It might be a sacred prayer for very religious people—priests, religious sisters, and exceptional Catholics—but not for “an ordinary lay person like me.” Even some devout Catholics admit that they are a bit intimidated by this prayer. They have tremendous respect for the rosary, know it’s important, but feel bad that they don’t love it more. Many view it as the marathon of Catholic devotions. “I know it’s an important prayer, but it takes fifteen to twenty minutes. I’m too busy. I don’t have time for that.” “It’s too hard to stay focused for that much time. I prefer shorter prayers.”

Some have questions about the rosary: Does all this attention to Mary distract us from a relationship with God? Why do we repeat the same prayers over and over? Are we supposed to concentrate on the prayers, the mysteries, or both? Still others think the rosary is just plain boring—a monotonous, dry, mechanical way of talking to God, not as personal and meaningful as other forms of prayer. “It’s like taking the garbage out for your wife. You know you should do it, but date night is more exciting.” “Sure, the rosary might be good for you—like flossing your teeth—but it’s not as interesting and meaningful to me as spiritual reading or adoration.”

Others wonder if all the repetition has any meaning. “I know the rosary is important, but it just seems like rote prayer,” one young adult said. “It’s like saying magical words and something good is supposed to happen. What’s the point? Is simply saying these words actually doing anything for me spiritually?”

But what if I were to show you that there is a lot more going on in the rosary than simply saying these words and counting them with beads? What if I were to tell you that the rosary is not beyond you—that you, wherever you may be in your relationship with God, can actually experience a profound, intimate, personal encounter with Jesus through this devotion? And what if you were to discover that there are many different ways to pray the rosary—indeed, some that can easily fit within your schedule and help you with whatever challenges you face right now in your life.

Think of the rosary as being like the ocean: There’s something in it for everyone, whether you consider yourself a veteran mystic longing to go deeper in prayer with our Lord, a novice struggling to learn how to pray, or someone seeking the Lord’s help, right now, with something going on in your life. The deep-sea explorer and the child making sand castles on the beach can fully enjoy the same ocean while playing at different levels. And this is true with the rosary.

Getting Your Feet Wet

If the rosary is not a part of your regular prayer life right now, it’s easy to get your feet wet with this devotion. Here are five key things you need to know to get started.

First, we don’t have to pray the rosary all at once. Sure, some people might sit down and quietly pray a whole rosary in one sitting. But we can also choose to divide it up, saying just a decade or two at a time at different points throughout the day: on the way to work, in between errands, in between meetings, while folding laundry or doing dishes. Many holy men and women and even popes have prayed the rosary this way and have found it manageable and fruitful for their busy lives.

Second, we can pray it anywhere! The rosary is like a portable chapel we can keep in our pocket and pull out anytime, anyplace. Whether we have a sudden, urgent situation to present to God in prayer or we just want to fill some of our day with thoughts of God, all we need to do is pull out our beads and turn to the Lord in this prayer. Indeed, the rosary is always accessible.

We might pray it in a church, in our room, in our office. Or we might pray it in the car, on the exercise machine, in the grocery store line, or while cutting the grass or going for a walk. Bringing our hearts into the rhythm of the rosary is something we can do intermittently throughout the day.

Third, we can pray the rosary in different ways, customizing it to fit the needs of the moment. Sometimes we might focus on the words of the prayers, thinking, for example, of Gabriel’s greeting to Our Lady as we slowly say with great devotion, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” At other times, we might reflect on the mysteries of Christ’s life, prayerfully contemplating scenes such as his birth in Bethlehem, his transfiguration, or his death on the cross, etching the Gospel on our hearts. At still other times, we might focus on the holy name of Jesus at the center of each Hail Mary, speaking his name tenderly with love as the pulse of our rosary.

Two and-a-Half Minutes That Can Change Your Day

Fourth, it’s easy to fit the rosary into your schedule. Do you have two and-a-half minutes in your day that you can give to God? is is the beauty of the rosary.

If I need a quick pause in my busy life—just a two-and-a-half-minute break—I can pull out my beads and pray a decade in order to regroup with the Lord and be nourished spiritually. That’s all a decade takes: one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and one Glory Be. I can do that easily, pausing for a moment in between emails, in the car, in my office, in between meetings, in between errands. I don’t even have to stop some things I’m doing: I can pray a decade while cooking dinner, sweeping the floor, holding a baby, or walking to my next appointment.

If an urgent need comes up in the day—someone is in an accident, I’m about to begin a big project, my spouse is having a rough day, I have an important decision to make, I need to have a difficult conversation with someone, my child is taking an exam—I can say a quick decade right on the spot. In just two and-a-half minutes, I can offer a special gift to God—one decade of the rosary—for that particular intention.

Fifth, even if I’m not able to give the rosary my full attention, it’s still worth praying. I might not always be able to completely unplug mentally from the concerns of the day. I might be exhausted, too tired to pray well. I might be distracted and unable to reach the heights of contemplation. But still, the words themselves are biblical and holy. Offering God a decade or two in the midst of my daily life gives him something beautiful, even if I give it without my full, relaxed, undivided attention. I’m giving God some space in my day and filling it with words of praise for him.

Going Deeper

But the rosary can take us deeper—a lot deeper. When we pray the rosary in its ideal setting, doing a whole set of mysteries, the prayer can slow us down, calm our hearts, and enable us to rest in God’s presence. It draws out the deepest desires in our souls, desires for God and God alone.

The rhythm of the repetitious prayers can have a profound spiritual effect. In this, it is much like the traditional “Jesus Prayer” many early Christians recited: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” They would slowly repeat these words over and over again throughout the day, such that the rhythm of this prayer was linked to the rhythm of their breathing.

As John Paul II explained, this loving repetition “embodies the desire for
 Christ to become the breath, soul and all of one’s life” (RVM, 27). In the same way, the repeated prayers in the rosary help us get more in touch with the deepest desires in our souls for God.

We as human persons are made with infinite desires that only God can fulfill. But because we’re fallen, we tend to live at the level of our superficial desires—desires for comfort, fun, fame, wealth, pleasure, success. These desires are not bad, but the rosary helps us be more aware of the soul’s deepest desires, which are for God. As St. Catherine of Siena taught, the greatest gift we can give to God in prayer is not the finite work of saying the words but our “infinitely desirous love” for God that is expressed in those words and that is being drawn out of our souls in prayer.

How might this happen in the rosary? As we’ll see more in my book, when we pray the rosary, we can focus on the name of Jesus at the center of every Hail Mary. We can simply speak Jesus’s name with fervent, heartfelt love. We can gather all our desires into that one word, his beautiful, holy name. And with each Hail Mary, we can call out to him, like a lover speaking to the beloved: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…Jesus…Jesus.”

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Saying goodbye (more like good riddance!) to one of the most trying years we faced with a worldwide pandemic, let us welcome 2021 by welcoming God into our homes in a very special, unique way. This year we invite you to take part in an old tradition of “chalking the door” to celebrate the Epiphany, the day that marks the arrival of the magi, to the place where Jesus was born! The Epiphany will be celebrated on Sunday, January 3 as the 12th day of Christmas. All you need are the prayers (see below), chalk and holy water for your own celebration!

What is “Chalking the Door”?

“Chalking the door” is a sign and symbol of asking God’s blessing upon those who live, work or visit throughout the coming year. In Exodus, the Israelites marked their doors with blood so that the Lord would pass over their homes; but in this service, we mark our doors with chalk as a sign that we have invited God’s presence and blessing into our homes.

In Deuteronomy 6:9, God tells the people of Israel, “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house… You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Chalking the door is a tangible way to honor God in our lives.

How to Participate

  1. Using chalk, write on the outside of house or inside above the front main entrance, above or next to an entrance: +20 Christus Mansionem Benedicat 21+ or  +20 C M B 21+
  2. Pray (and sprinkle the entrance with holy water): Lord God of heaven and earth, You revealed Your only begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who live here and all who visit. May we be blessed with health, kindess of heart, gentleness and the keeping of Your law. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our love for each other may go out to all. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

+20 C M B 21+

The letters C M B come from the traditional names for the three kings, Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. It is also an abbreviation for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” which means, “May Christ bless this dwelling”! The first and last numbers simply refer to the current year.

When we’re depressed or feeling blue, this prayer from Padre Pio is a way to reach out

Aletia: Margaret Rose Realy, Obl.OSB | Jan 10, 2018

If you find yourself in a state of darkness, the key is “to reach.”

The small framed unsigned print reads “Reach up as high as you can today, and God will reach down the rest of the way.” It’s my go-to quote for those times when I feel an emotional darkness—depression—coming on. For many of us this darkness is a familiar not-so-good old friend, the Black Dog mentioned by Sir Winston Churchill—or seasonal affective disorder.The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has clinical definitions for depression, and there is as well the spiritual darkness that St. John of the Cross writes about in Dark Night of the Soul. However you’ve come to a depressive state, and for whatever history brought you there, the key in both of those dark times is to reach.

The state of darkness and depression is not a void. It is a space filled with insights that we are momentarily blinded to. When we try to go it alone, we are often too wearied to keep from going under, instead succumbing to the waves of hopelessness.

To reach is not an intuitive movement when psychologically and/or spiritually sinking into depression. Even though we’ve been taught that to despair is to turn our backs to God—which is a sin—there is another element to despairing that is sometimes overlooked. It comes from the Rule of St. Benedict, “In all things may God be glorified.”

The Prayer from Padre Pio

In a recent confession, when I was in a season of depression, the priest gave me a very specific penance. I was to read about Jesus walking on stormy seas, and Peter’s fear in Matthew 14:30-31. Then reflect, specifically, on that moment when Peter is desperately reaching out to Our Lord—that second just before Jesus takes his hand.

It was a dark and doubt-filled moment for Peter, whose faith had faltered. It was also an intuitive response to a person physically drowning — reaching out, trying to grasp at anything to save his life.

Assured that the Lord had taken my hand so I will not drown, I often read this prayer, sometimes three times through!

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have you present so that I do not forget you. You know how easily I abandon you.
Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak, and I need your strength, so that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me, Lord, for you are my life, and without you, I am without fervor.
Stay with me, Lord, for you are my light, and without you, I am in darkness.
Stay with me, Lord, to show me your will.
Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear your voice and follow you.
Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love you very much, and always be in your company.
Stay with me, Lord, if you wish me to be faithful to you.
Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I want it to be a place of consolation for you, a nest of love. Amen.
~St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Prayer After Communion

Depression is a battle, and for some of us a lifelong cross to bear. In bearing it as best we can while reaching up and out for help, we are led in to a deeper maturity of faith—which like most virtues, is not easily won.

THE HOLY FATHER’S PRAYER INTENTIONS
ENTRUSTED TO HIS WORLDWIDE PRAYER NETWORK FOR THE YEAR 2020

August

Universal prayer intention – The Maritime World
We pray for all those who work and live from the sea, among them sailors, fishermen and their families.

September

Universal prayer intention – Respect for the Planet’s Resources
We pray that the planet’s resources will not be plundered, but shared in a just and respectful manner.

October

Prayer intention for evangelisation – The Laity’s Mission in the Church
We pray that by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church.

November

Universal prayer intention – Artificial Intelligence
We pray that the progress of robotics and artificial intelligence may always serve humankind.

December

Prayer intention for evangelisation – For a life of prayer
We pray that our personal relationship with Jesus Christ be nourished by the Word of God and a life of prayer.

Here are some suggestions for a more meaningful virtual participation of the liturgy created by a Paulist priest:

As we consider what it might mean to celebrate the Eucharist virtually, it is important also to reflect deeply on what being present to one another in virtual spaces actually means. Just as it’s possible to be in close physical proximity with others while simultaneously being absent mentally or spiritually, it’s also possible to be virtually present to one another in profound, meaningful, and real ways even when we’re physically distant. The following suggestions are ways to help us celebrate in this new paradigm in our “home” sanctuaries:

  • Read the scripture for the upcoming celebrations beforehand. You can easily access all readings from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website. www.usccb.org/bible. You can also access the readings on apps such as Laudate and MyParish App. Readings are also listed in the bulletin each week.
  • Create a setting for the celebration. For example, use your dining table as the place from which you participate. Light a candle. Have a cross, crucifix, or religious icon on hand. If you are fortunate to be with others, have a loaf of bread that can be broken at the time of communion.
  • Observe familiar postures. Standing and sitting at appropriate times throughout the celebration can enhance our prayer. (See Catholic Apologist Gus Lloyd’s explanation of “Catholic Calesthenics” HERE.)
  • Remove distractions. Turn off cell phones (unless of course that is your source of participating) and refrain from snacking.
  • Dress up. Sleepwear *probably* isn’t the most appropriate attire for church!

Soon we will come back together to celebrate the Eucharist at the Lord’s table at Assumption!

So, do I *have* to watch Mass since I can’t go?

A post by Aleteia, Thursday, March 13, 2020

There’s no requirement to watch Mass when the obligation has been dispensed, but yes, the 3rd Commandment still applies!

In light of the suspension of public worship in many places, some Catholics have found themselves asking, “Am I required to watch Mass”? In other words, since it is impossible to get to Mass, is it a sin to not try to attend virtually?

No, it is not required to watch Holy Mass online or on television (or to listen on the radio for that matter). To those who have already expressed their frustration at slow or over-crowded streaming services or inadequately announced worship schedules, you’re in the clear.

Even though many bishops have dispensed us from our Sunday obligation (dispensation is the legal term for the relaxing of our normal practice), we should still, to the best of our ability, keep Sunday holy.

To that end, I recommend the following practices:

DO NOT WORK ON SUNDAY
The temptation, while working from home, will be very great to allow Sunday to be like other days. Fight this with your whole heart. Sunday belongs to the Lord. Do not allow yourself on Sunday to slip into the rhythm of other days.

DO WATCH OR LISTEN TO MASS
No, you do not have to, but it is praiseworthy. If you cannot watch it at the “live” time, watch it later in the day. Many places have made archived video available. If that’s the case, you could watch the Mass after it happens; no need to worry that it’s not a “live” celebration.

READ THE SUNDAY READINGS
It may be the case that in your house, watching Mass is too much like other activities (movies, video games, etc.). I could understand children participating better in a family prayer service. To that end, read the Sunday readings aloud. Perhaps listen to a recorded homily or have a family member give a reflection. Share prayer intentions.

PRAY THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS
The Liturgy of the Hours, also called the Divine Office, is the Church’s rhythm of biblical and monastic prayer. Grounded in the traditions of the first Christians who gathered to recite Psalms and the Our Father, this method of prayer continues unabated. See this article for more on the Liturgy of the Hours.

CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE
Maybe on Sunday you could make a “no TV” rule or have a game night. Go for a walk as a family. Take up another Lenten devotion together, such as praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary or the Stations of the Cross.

Keeping Sunday holy means claiming time for God. This is done principally in the formal, official worship of the Church, the Mass. The priest stands in for Christ and offers back to the Father every prayer and heavenly blessing. We can still unite our hearts to the sacrifice of the Mass. We are still called to keep Sunday holy.

This is a time of difficulty, deprivation, and sorrow. It is part of our Lent: heading to the desert to sacrifice and pray as Christ did. Let us ask God to make these days fruitful. His grace will be at work in many quiet and surprising ways! Let us beg the Lord that we don’t miss it!

The Blessed Virgin Mary promised to Saint Dominic and to all who follow that “Whatever you ask in the Rosary will be granted.” She left for all Christians Fifteen Promises to those who recite the Holy Rosary.

Imparted to Saint Dominic and Blessed Alan:

  1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.
  2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
  3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
  4. The Rosary will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
  5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.
  6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
  7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
  8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenititude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
  9. I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
  10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
  11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
  12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
  13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
  14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of my only Son Jesus Christ.
  15. Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

Basically every situation we face in life has a heavenly intercessor specifically linked to it.

Public Domain | Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P./Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 | Public Domain

Public Domain | Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P./Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 | Public Domain

We Catholics have a lot of patron saints, such that basically every facet of life experience is covered by some saint who has a connection to it.Even if a situation looks plain impossible, we can always turn to St. Jude, the patron of Impossible.

The reasons that saints are connected to their patronages can be obvious and direct, or sometimes quite humorous. But it’s consoling to know that a heavenly intercessor is always at the ready to present our needs to the Lord.

 It’s not surprising, then, that we have a handful of saints to call on in pandemics. Since coronavirus is on everyone’s mind, here are a few saints with whom we can strike up a conversation about our present needs.

Let us start with the Four Holy Marshals. Of the four, we are only including two: St. Quirinus of Neuss, a patron saint for fighting smallpox, and St. Anthony the Great, a patron saint for combating the plague.

St. Quirinus of Neuss – Patron for those affected by bubonic plague and smallpox

Quirinus was born in the first century and died in the year 116 A.D.  Legend has it that he was a Roman tribune and was ordered to execute Alexander, Eventius, and Theodolus. These men had been arrested on orders of the emperor. Their crime: being Christian.

But Quirinus witnessed miracles performed by the three men and was baptized into the faith along with his daughter, Balbina. He and Balbina were decapitated for becoming Christian and buried in the catacomb on the Via Appia.

Move ahead 1,500 years. Documents from Cologne, dated 1485, say Quirinus’ body was donated in 1050 by Pope Leo IX to his sister, the abbess of Neuss. Soon after, Charles the Bold of Burgundy laid siege to Neuss with his army spreading from western Germany, the Netherlands, and as far south as Italy. The citizens of Neuss invoked Quirinus for help, and the siege ended. Wellsprings popped up and were dedicated to him. He was then called on to fight against bubonic plague and smallpox.

This saying by farmers is associated with Quirinus’ feast day of March 30, a similar tradition to Groundhog Day. It reads, “As St. Quirinus Day goes, so will the summer.”  

St. Anthony the Great – Patron of those affected by infectious diseases

One of the greatest saints of the early Church, Anthony was one of the first monks and is considered the founder and father of organized Christian monasticism.

He organized disciples into a community and these communities eventually spread throughout Egypt. Anthony is known as Anthony the Great, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony of the Desert, and Anthony of Thebes.  He is also known as the Father of All Monks. His feast day is celebrated on January 17.

St. Anthony the Great is also invoked as a patron against infectious diseases.

Edwin the Martyr (St. Edmund) — Patron for victims of pandemics

Edmund is an acknowledged patron against pandemics. Much is written about this saint from the 9th century who died in 869. Interestingly though, hardly anything is known for certain about him. Yet there are churches all over England dedicated to him. The Danes murdered him when they conquered his army in 869.

Edmund the Martyr, in addition to being the patron saint invoked against pandemics, is also the patron of torture victims and protection from the plague.

We might mention a few more saints who are patrons for those who struggle with familiar illnesses and afflictions:

    • St. Damien of Molokai: Patron saint of those with leprosy (Hansen’s disease)
    • St. Dymphna: The 15-year-old Irish girl who is patroness of emotional disorders
    • The Fourteen Holy Helpers: Epidemics, especially the bubonic plague (the Black Death)
    • StMatthias: Patron saint of alcoholics and those with smallpox
    • St. Tryphon:  Patron to aid us in fighting off bed bugs, rodents, and locusts

The list is endless. What’s certain is that the saints are waiting for your call.