Saint Prisca

We don’t know the actual birth or death dates of Saint Prisca. She was a young Roman woman tortured and executed for her Christian faith. Legend says that Saint Prisca was of a noble family. She was thirteen when she was accused of being a Christianity before Emperor Claudius. He ordered her to make a sacrifice to the god Apollo. She refused because of her Christian faith.  She was then beaten and sent to prison. After her release from prison, she kept her faith in Jesus Christ. This time her punishment included flogging, the pouring of boiling tallow on her, and second imprisonment. Finally, she was at last thrown to a lion in the amphitheater, but it quietly lay down at her feet.

She was starved for three days in a slaves’ prison-house and tortured on the rack. Pieces of flesh were torn from her body with iron hooks, and she was thrown on a burning pile.  She miraculously stayed alive but was beheaded at the tenth milestone on the road from Rome to Ostia. Christians buried her body in a catacomb where she died.  The church of St. Prisca now stands there.   She is honored as a child martyr.

Saint Nino

Saint Nino was a woman who preached Christianity in the country of  Georgia. According to tradition, she belonged to a Greek-speaking Roman family from Cappadocia, It is believed she was a Saint George and came to Georgia from Constantinople. According to legend, she performed miraculous healings and converted the Georgian queen, Nana, and eventually, the pagan king Mirian III of Iberia, who, lost in darkness and blinded on a hunting trip, found his way only after he prayed to “Nino’s God”. King Mirian declared Christianity the official religion around 327,  Nino continued her missionary activities among Georgians until her death.

Her tomb is still shown at the Bodbe Monastery in Kakheti, eastern Georgia. St. Nino has become one of the most venerated saints of the Georgian Orthodox Church and her attribute, a grapevine cross, is a symbol of Georgian Christianity.

Nino was born inthe Roman province of Cappadocia.  The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have different traditions.  According to the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition, she was the only child of a famous family. Her father was Roman general Zabulon and her mother Sosana (Susan). On her father’s side, Nino was related to St. George, and on her mother’s, to the patriarch of Jerusalem, Houbnal I.

During her childhood, Nino was brought up by the nun Niofora-Sarah of Bethlehem Nino’s uncle, who was the patriarch of Jerusalem, oversaw her traditional upbringing. Nino went to Rome with the help of her uncle where she decided to preach the Christian gospel in Iberia, known to her as the resting place of Christ’s tunic. According to the legend, Nino received a vision where the Virgin Mary gave her a grapevine cross and said:

“Go to Iberia and tell there the Good Tidings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and you will find favor before the Lord, and I will be for you a shield against all visible and invisible enemies. By the strength of this cross, you will erect in that land the saving banner of faith in My beloved Son and Lord.”

Saint Nino entered the Iberian Kingdom in the Caucasus from Armenia, where she escaped persecution at the hands of the Armenian King Tiridates III. She had belonged to a convent preaching Christianity in the Armenian Kingdom. All except Nino were tortured and beheaded by Tiridates. All 35 of the virgins were canonised by the Armenian Apostolic Church, including Nino, as St. Nune.

The Roman Catholic tradition says Nino was brought to Iberia as a slave Nino arrived in Georgia about 320. There she placed a Christian cross in a  small town and started preaching the Christian faith in she reached the capital. The Iberian King Mirian III and his nation worshiped the gods Armazi and Zaden. Soon after the arrival of Nino in Mtskheta, Nana, the Queen of Iberia requested an audience with her.

Queen Nana,  had some knowledge of Christianity but had not yet converted suffered from a severe illness.  Nino restored the Queen’s health, won disciples from the Queen’s attendants, including a Jewish priest and his daughter.  Nana, the queen officially converted to Christianity and was baptized by Nino herself. Mirian, the king, didn’t tolerate his wife’s religious conversion and threatened to divorce his wife if she did not leave the faith. While on a hunting trip, he was suddenly struck blind as total darkness emerged in the woods. In a desperate state, King Mirian uttered a prayer to the God of St Nino:

If indeed that Christ whom the Captive had preached to his Wife was God, then let Him now deliver him from this darkness, that he too might forsake all other gods to worship Him.

As soon as he finished his prayer, a light appeared and the king hastily returned to his palace in Mtskheta. The King of Iberia gave up idolatry because of St Nino’s teachings and was baptized as the first Christian King of Iberia. Soon, the whole of his household and the people of his Kingdom adopted Christianity. In 326 King Mirian made Christianity the state religion of his kingdom, making Iberia the second Christian state after Armenia.

In 334, King Mirian had the first Christian church in Iberia built.  It was completed in 379.  The  Svetitskhoveli Cathedral now stands there. .

After the conversion of Iberia to Christianity Nino, withdrew to the mountain pass. St Nino died soon after.  King Mirian has a monastery built there, where her tomb can still be seen in the churchyard.  Nino is one of the most popular name for women and girls in the Republic of Georgia.

Patron Saint of Oblate sisters of Sant Francis de Sales – Saint Francisca Salesia

Saint.Francisca Salesia was born on September 16, 1844,  in France, She received her education from a convent school of the Visitation in Troyes from 1845 to 1860, where she was guided by Maria de Sales Chappuis and Chaplain Louis Brisson. She received her first communion and confirmation  July 2, 1856. Her parents planned for her to marry a wealthy man when she finished her education.  She wanted a religious life, and in 1866, she went on retreat 

She asked both Brisson and Chappuis who advised her to wait. This vocation solidified further when she visited one of the factories where glasses were made and repaired.  She advised the workman to do their jobs for God while telling them of the importance of their work.

Brisson was concerned for the men and women who had moved from the rural areas to the cities to find work in factories and textile mills. These people were often homeless.  He wanted to form a new religious congregation dedicated to helping them. He consulted with Francisca hoping she would help him. She began her path to religious life on 11 April 1866, together with her friend Lucie Caneut, a school companion. Francisca and Brisson together founded the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales on 30 October 1868 and to oversee the education of girls.

On October 30, 1868, with Caneut (who became Jeanne-Marie), she to received the habit of the new congregation from Bishop Gaspard Mermillod, along with the new religious name: “Françoise de Sales”. She went on to establish parish schools and a female boarding school in Paris.  Francisca received the sacrament of holy orders and made her profession of her vows on October 11, 1871. She became the first Superior General of this congregation and served two terms in office, the first being from 20 September 1872 until 8 October 1879, when she gladly stepped down. In 1873, she was credited with curing the abscessed heel bone of a postulant, using a relic of St. Francis de Sales.
But the new Superior General demonstrated a clear lack of respect and consideration for Francisca. She didn’t complain nor mention it and offered her suffering to God. In 1881, the Superior General resigned, and the new one sent Francisca to Paris to run a boarding school.

Francisca earned respect through a commitment to her work. On September 15, 1884, her old friend Jeanne-Marie was appointed a, s Superior General, but even she was not nice, to Francisca.  In 1889, she was replaced as the head of the Parisian boarding school, She returned to Troyes. One night in September 1893 she was in Paris for the order’s General Chapter and heard a clear voice saying she would be chosen as the next Superior General once again. Francisca found she was alone in her room.  The next morning she was re-elected as Superior General, She understood this as a sign that Jesus wanted to govern the order through her. There was an outburst of happiness at her election, as many loved and respected Aviat and her work.

The secularization of France in 1905 began with the secularization of the religious houses and the exiling of the occupants. On April 11, 1904, she and the other religious transferred to Italy to escape and remain active, despite not knowing Italian.
In 1908, she had a terrible feeling Brisson was nearing the end of her life, and she began to weep. Two religious sisters came to her room and tried to reassure her, but a short while later she received a telegram informing her of his condition. She rushed to his bedside, and the priest died shortly after.   She attended the funeral though not in her religious habit so as not to draw attention to herself.

The constitutions of the order received papal approval from Pope Pius X in April 1911. On December 26, 1913, she became bedridden with a high fever.  She worsened on January 9,
1914, so she received the last rites. She died of pneumonia on January 10, 1914.

In 1992, Pope John Paul II beatified Francisca.  Her canonization miracle was the cure of Bernadette McKenzie from Drexel Hill, PA in the United States of America from paralyzing spinal disease. John Paul II canonized Francisca in Saint Peter’s Square on November 25, 2001.

Our Lady of Prompt Succor

During the French Revolution 1789-1790, many priests, nuns, and religious brothers were persecuted.  They often had to go into hiding in order to administer the Sacraments and keep their vocation. This is what happened with the Ursuline nuns of the Convent of Pont-Saint-Esprit. One of the nuns, Agathe Gensoul, couldn’t use her religious name any longer.  Mother St. Michel, still lived her vocation, starting a school with another Ursuline, Sophie Ricard. Agathe had a cousin who was an Ursuline also, but who lived in America, in New Orleans, which had been under Spanish rule but was now under French rule. The Spanish Ursulines, in New Orleans, feared persecution by the French, so they went back to Spain.  This left the convent in need of more nuns.

So Agathe or Mother St. Michel applied to her bishop for the transfer to New Orleans.  The bishop refused her request because of troubles in France. He told her the Pope would have to approve her move. The pope couldn’t approve her move because he was under house arrest.  The situation appeared impossible. Agathe, was not easily discouraged. She wrote a letter to Pope Pius VII, but after three months she didn’t have the ability to send it. 

One day, while praying before a statue of Mary, she was inspired with this prayer:  “O Most Holy Virgin Mary, if you obtain a prompt and favorable answer to my letter, I promise to have you honored in New Orleans under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor.”

She not only found a way to send the letter a few days later, but the Pope replied within a month! He granted permission and gave his blessing for her new undertaking.  This surprised the bishop who asked to bless the statue that Mother St. Michel had carved to take with her to New Orleans.  The statue was enshrined in the Ursuline convent in New Orleans on December 30, 1810. 

Two years later, in 1812, there was a terrible fire at the Vieux Carre. The wind was driving the fire toward the Ursuline convent.  It was facing immediate danger. The nuns were told to evacuate.  Sister St. Anthony, placed a small statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor on a window seat and St Michel began to pray aloud.  Immediately the wind that threatened to set their convent ablaze immediately switched direction and a couple of buildings, including theirs, were spared from the inferno. This was the first major historical miracle.

Three years later, America’s 6000 troops, under General Andrew Jackson were to face 15000 British soldiers. On the eve of the battle of New Orleans, the residents joined the sisters of the Ursuline convent to pray overnight with Our Lady of Prompt Succor. The Superior had made a vow to have a thanksgiving mass sung annually if the American forces win.  During a mass, at the time of communion, a courier ran into the chapel to inform all present that the British had been defeated. Ever since then, on January 8, an annual thanksgiving mass has been sung.

Mary’s help has been sought from the shrine ever since, both in times of war, during the Battle of New Orleans, and during the threat of the frequent hurricanes. 

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was the first person born in the United States to be made a saint by the Catholic Church. She was born two years before the American Revolution, to an upper-class family in New York society.  

Elizabeth’s early life was quiet, simple, often lonely.  As she grew up she spent more and more of her time reading the Bible. 

In 1794 she married William Seton. She was very much in love and happy. In the next four years, Williams’s father died. The young couple was left in charge of Williams’s seven half brothers and sisters and the family business. 

The business did not do well and closed. William became ill with tuberculosis. They went to Italy for help with the business, but William died there. Elizabeth’s concern for the spiritual well-being of her family led her to the Catholic Church. Elizabeth’s friends in Italy taught her the Catholic faith. 

Elizabeth’s own mother had died when she was three. She felt like Mary was truly her mother. She officially joined the Church in 1805. 

Because she joined the Church, her father was upset. Also, she was not welcome many places, she had been before. In 1806, Elizabeth’s sister-in-law, Cecilia Seton became ill and begged to see Elizabeth. Elizabeth began to regularly visit Cecilia.  Cecilia told Elizabeth she wanted to become Catholic. When Cecilia’s decision became known, threats were made against Elizabeth to have her expelled from the state of New York. 

A priest from Baltimore met her in New York and talked to her about starting a school in Maryland. So Elizabeth and two other young women established the first free Catholic school in the United States. The small community made allowances for Elizabeth to continue raising her children. On March 25, 1809, Elizabeth became a sister, in the Sisters of Charity in the United States, and was called Mother Seton. By 1818, the sisters had begun two orphanages and another school. She died at the age of 46 in 1821. She was made a saint by Pope Paul VI in 1975. She is the patron saint against in-law problems, against the death of children, and against the death of parents.