Monday, December 11, 2017

Our Lady of La Salette - Marian Aparition

The vision of Our Lady of La Salette occurred to two children, Melanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud, while they were tending cattle at La Salette-Fallavaux, France, in 1846.  They saw a bright light, then a lady with her head in her hands.  When she stood up, the children saw that she had been crying.  She told them not to be afraid, that "She had come here to tell them great news".  She spoke to the children in their local dialect about the importance of being reconciled to God, repsecting the Sabbath, and praying the Rosary.  She encouraged them to tell everyone to do penance for their sins and pray regularly, then entrusted each child with a secret.  When she was through speaking, the lady rose into the air and vanished.  The children siffered greatly from teasing and persecution and were accused of lying when they told their story, but they never deviated from it.  After intense scrutiny, the local bishop recognized the apparition at La Salette as the Virgin Mary.

Antique medals showing Our Lady of La Salette still can be found today, mainly in France.  They typically show a woman with a tiara-type headdress.  She has her head in her hands and may be showing speaking to two young children, or sometimes rising in the air as the children look on.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

St Anne vs St Monica - Patron Saint of Mothers Smackdown!

So, I've been working a little in my online shop (Rosa Mystica Religious Medals) (shameless product placement!) and rearranging my medals and I'm wondering - who is thought of more as the patron saint of mothers:  St Monica or St Anne?  When it comes to antique religious medals, St Anne medals are much easier to find that St Monica medals.   In all my years of searching for medals, I've only found one antique St Monica, but quite a few St Annes. As for being patrons of mothers, I know that really they BOTH are patrons of moms, just for the sake of argument let take a look at both of them.

Here's the
Cliff Notes version of their lives:

St Anne was the mother of the Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus. Although they are not mentioned in the Bible, Catholic tradition states that Anne and her husband Joaquim had a difficult time conceiving a child. Like several old testament mothers, Anne was visited by an angel who told her that they would have a baby. She then promised to dedicate her child to God. In fulfillment of that vow, her daughter, Mary, was dedicated to the Lord in the temple in Jerusalem at age 3. Images of St Anne traditionally show her teaching Mary since there is a tradition that Mary was an educated young woman

St Monica was born in 330.  Although she was a Christian, she was married to Patricius, an older pagan man with a violent temper.  Their oldest child, Augustine, caused her a great deal of heartache with his wild living.  He joined a strange religious sect, lived with a wo
man out of wedlock, had a child with her, and led an immoral life.  Monica prayed for his conversion for 17 years, although she thought it was hopeless.  A priest eventually told her "It is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish."  Augustine did convert and was baptized in 387.  Monica died later that year.  Augustine went on to become a great saint and doctor of the church.

Personally, I relate more to St Monica because after raising three teenagers, I know what it feels like to pray and pray and pray for a child and feel like the situation is hopeless.  Monica had to deal with a lot of problems that we still see in the modern world - her child making poor decisions that have serious consequences.

When I think of Anne, to be honest, I think "How hard could it have been to raise the Virgin Mary?" S
eriously! What I think was hard for Anne was the fact that she had to face the difficulty of not being able to get pregnant for years and then the heartache of giving her little girl over to the temple at age three.  She can relate to any mother who had trouble getting pregnant or who is separated from her child by death or distance.

So, being a mom definitely comes with heartache.  Monica had to deal with the heartache of presence - raising a child, setting an example, trying to do it all right only to see you child choose to do it all wrong.  Anne had to deal with the heartache of absence - giving her child over to God's plan and allowing Mary to live a life that was out of Anne's control.  But both must have had amazing trust in God in their difficulties.  And I'm sure both prayed for the best for their children - and ultimately that's what happened - the best thing that could have, which is always the fulfillment of God's plan in God's time.  (Now if I could just get past wanting my plan done in my own time....)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

St Expedite - The Patron Saint of Procrastinators

April 19th is the feast day of St Expedite (or Expeditus), the patron saint of procrastinators.  No, I did not make that up!  There's a long tradition of praying to St Expedite for help in getting things done in a hurry simply because of his name.  Here's the definition from Websters: Expedite - To make (an action or process) happen sooner or be accomplished more quickly.  He was a natural to be picked for those who "put off until tomorrow what can be done today."

It appears that his cult began in Europe, then spread to the US with the immigrant population.  Tradition says that he was a Roman centurion who was killed for his Christian faith, but the truth is hard to pin down and he may have been legendary. He's typically portrayed as a young Roman soldier holding a cross with the word "HODIE" (Latin for "today").  Beneath his foot is a crow calling out "CRAS" (Latin for "tomorrow".  Apparently Roman crows don't say "CAW".)  When St Expedite decided to convert to Christianity, the devil came to him in the form of a crow, calling out "Cras! Cras! Cras!" urging him to put off his conversion until tomorrow.  St Expedite crushed the crow under his foot and didn't delay his baptism.  It's easy to see how this story would make him popular for procrastinators!

An alternate beginning for St Expedite came from my mother-in-law in New Orleans who told me that a church there ordered several saint's statues and one crate holding a likeness of a Roman soldier was only marked "EXPEDITE" on the exterior of the box.  The priest at the church assumed this was the name of the saint and he was venerated accordingly.  Sort of like the movie "A Christmas Story" where Ralphie's dad gets a mysterious box labeled "FRAGILE".  Dad assumes the box is from Italy - it's marked "FRA-JEE-LAY"after all!  Ok, that's where the similarities end because a statue of St Expedite really isn't like a leg lamp, but I'm sure you get the picture.

If you're interested in a St Expedite medal to help you or your procrastinating friends out, please just click on this link to go to my Esty shop - Rosa Mystica - where I sell reproductions of antique religious medals.  
Don't put it off!  Do it now!

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Obsession with St Joan of Arc

I admit that I just can't get enough of St Joan of Arc.  She just seems to be such an awesome saint in so many ways!  The medal on the left is one of my favorites of her - but only one - I really every one that I've collected.

Here are just a few of the things that I think make her so cool:

  • Heard heavenly voices from not just one saint, but three: St Michael the archangel, St Margaret of Antioch, and St Catherine of Alexandria.
  • Picked the king of France, Charles VII, out of a crowd without ever having seen him before! (Nice try to trick our Saint, Charles, nice try....)
  • Led an army at the age of 16.  (I was lucky to get my drivers license at 16.)
  • Wore pants before it was allowed.  (Just because she could.)
  • Had her own set of armor! (Useful for every girl who does battle.)
  • Had her own battle flag. (Some days I need a battle flag.)
  • Gave as good as she got from the judge at her trial in Rouen.  So good that they ultimately they could only sentenced her to death on the charge of wearing men's clothes instead of anything relating directly to heresy!  (Strange but true!)
  • She totally rocked the pageboy haircut.
These are just a few of the reasons that I not only think of St Joan as the patron of France and soldiers, but of cool girls and strong women.  Please chime in with your comment if you agree!

The St Joan medal pictured above and two others are available in my Etsy shop.  Click here if you would like to take a look.  If you would like to learn more about St Joan of Arc, then click on this link to visit The History Channel.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Miracle of the Blood of San Gennaro

I love miracles.  I mean I really LOVE them! I love learning about them, hearing about them, and on rare occasions, possibly witnessing one.
Today the congealed blood of San Gennaro (or St Januarius) liquified in response to the prayers of the faithful in the presence of Pope Francis.

San Gennaro was an early martyr of the church who was beheaded during the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian around 350.  According to legend, a fellow Christian collected a bottle of his spilled blood, and it is this same blood that we see today in a sealed glass reliquary.  Every year on the first weekend of May, the blood is carried in procession to the cathedral of Naples and prayers are said for the intercession of St Gennaro.  In response his blood changes from a congealed black mass to to liquid red blood.  It typically happens every year and failure to do so is said to portend a misfortune for the city, for example,  the blood remained congealed in 1980
and an earthquake happened soon after, killing over 2000 people.

This antique medal is part of my personal collection and has a great detailed portrayal of St Gennaro.  I thought today was a perfect day to share it!

I enjoyed this article from The Vatican Insider about today's miracle, "The Blood of St Gennaro Liquifies in Francis' Presence" and thought this was an interesting article the The Catholic Herald about a priest's personal account of witnessing the miracle, The Day I Saw A Saint's Blood Become Liquid.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

St Christopher - Patron Saint of Safe Driving

I purchased the original of the beautiful art nouveau St Christopher medal in from France.  So many people look to St Christopher for safety during travel - especially for teenagers and young adults!  And as mom to three young adults, I'm right there with you!

I like this medal because St Christopher is perched on the hood or a car, clearing the way of danger or trouble for the occupants.  Usually St Christopher is shown walking through water because in his legend, it was believed that he carried the Christ Child on his back across a deep river.  As he walked, the burden of the child grew heavier and heavier, it was only on reaching the far shore that Christopher discovered that his passenger was young Jesus himself and the weight he carried was the weight of our sins.

Is St Christopher really still a saint?  Absolutely!  His feast day was removed from the liturgical calendar because so little is known about him.  During early Christian times a saint might be made through popular acclamation rather than a formal canonization process, and that's how Christopher became a saint.  He is still the patron saint of travelers, lifeguards, and bachelors and many people celebrate his feast day today (July 24).

If you would like to see this medal in my shop, please click here:  Rosa Mystica Religious Medals

Monday, February 3, 2014

Happy Feast Day, St Blaise!

Today is the feast day of St Blaise.  I really love this feast day because it's when the priests perform "the blessing of the throats" at mass.

Why is St Blaise the patron of throat problems? It all goes back to an 8th century legend about the saint which describes how a mother brought her little son to St Blaise because he had a fish bone stuck in his throat and was about to die.  St Blaise blessed the boy's throat, the bone dislodged, and he was cured!

I relate to this story because I hate having a fish bone stuck in my throat.  It used to happen when I was little and my grandfather brought fish home for us to eat, but the last time it happened was in Brazil.  I was on a mission trip and on anight out I was chowing down on some Piranha soup.  (Yes the man-eating scary type of Piranha.) You might think it's not easy to choke on soup, but I did it - a fish bone from the Piranha lodged in my throat! Did I pray to St Blaise? I wish I could say that I did, but my first thought was - I need a piece of bread!  It finally dislodged and dinner went on, but I was done with the soup.

The way throats are blessed on the Feast of St Blaise works like this:  The priest might hold two candles in an open "X" formation (like a cross), or he might have a cool St Blaise candle made especially for this purpose.  (No, they are not lit, but that would inject an exciting element of danger to the whole proceeding.)
He puts the candles on either side of your neck and says

"Through the intercession of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness:  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."