Monday, February 27, 2006

Our Lady Of The Rosary Saves Lepanto

The feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary became official by Pope Pius V in remembrance of the battle of Lepanto. It is here where a vicious battle was fought and won by the Christians against the invading forces of the Islamic empire!

During the sixteenth centuries the Turks had made great inroads into European territory when they won battle after battle almost to the door of Rome itself! But under the guidance of Pope Pius V their victory would now be short-lived. This particular Pope was of the Dominican Order so he had gained a great love for the Rosary and it is the Rosary that this devout Pope turned to in order to turn back the Muslim invaders!

Pope Pius V was also able to join forces with the Spanish, Venetian and Genoese fleet under the leadership of Don John of Austria to overcome the Turks who also had amassed a huge fleet in which they hoped to gain control of the whole of 'Christiandom'.

The battle took place in the year 1571, and it was the Muslims who seemed to have the greater ability when in times of war and also a superior fleet. But things did not turn out well for the Muslim marauders, as the battle commenced and the Muslims lost 15 ships while 177 taken by the victorious Armada and hundreds of thousands of Muslim soldiers lay dying or wounded. Even though the Christian fleet lost more ships the victory of the Christians over the Muslim invaders has been attributed to the intervention of our Lady of the Rosary. It was as the battle raged that Pope Pius V and several other devout souls prayed the Rosary for the embattled soldiers to win the victory for all of Europe. And it was upon praying the Rosary that this devout Pope looked up and exclaimed to the Cardinals present, "Our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which He has just given the Catholic army." This was said before anyone knew of the victorious battle and many were stunned to learn later that the battle was won at that precise moment.

Through the intervention of our Lady of the Rosary victory won the day at the battle of Lepanto! This would be one of many defeats suffered by the Muslim invaders before they finally were driven back to their own lands.

How very powerful is Our Lady of the Rosary.

Peace of Christ to you ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Visions of Saint Gemma Galgani

Gemma Galgani was born in the year 1878 in the village Camigliano, Italy. Unlike many other Saints Gemma was born into a prestigious family, but when God touches the heart of His beloved children, wealth matters not.

From an early age the young Gemma was able to see and converse with her guardian Angel who was not adverse in correcting her when she decided to wear some jewelry which had been given to her as a gift, Gemma's Guardian Angel appeared before her and said, "Remember, the spouse of the Crucified King should wear no ornaments but thorns and crosses". Upon hearing this Gemma vowed never to wear such vanities again! Her Guardian Angel often stressed deeply the need for continual obedience and would repeat this often to her, "Obedience! You must obey! You must be like a dead body; whatever is asked of you, you must obey quickly and joyfully!" He would also warn her with these words, for Gemma was a very strong minded young lady, "If you do not obey, I will not show myself to you, again." Gemma though loved God above all and listened to her beloved Guardian Angel, even though she was going through a dark night of the soul.

As Gemma's diary reveals, " I do not know what will happen to me this year. I abandon myself to You, my God; all my hopes and affections shall be for You. I am weak, oh Jesus, but I trust in Your help and I resolve to live differently, namely, closer to You." Gemma was to suffer both spiritually and physically as her health worsened, she developed meningitis a very dangerous at times fatal illness, and also large abscesses were found covering her head, she soon also became paralyzed, as she waited for death to take her.

During this time Gemma began to pray to the then Venerable Gabriel Possenti as she lay awake at nights and read his biography. It was as her family was preparing themselves for Gemma's death that one night Gabriel Possenti appeared before Gemma and asked her, "Do you wish to recover? Pray with faith every evening to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I will come to you until the Novena is ended, and will pray together to this Most Sacred Heart." It was not long before Gemma was cured she attributed her cure to the Venerable Gabriel Possenti.

Before Mass began on Holy Thursday Gemma decided to go to Confession and as she was praying, she came to understand how sin can grievously harm the soul, and cried out in remorse for her own sins. During this time Jesus appeared before Gemma and said to her, "Look at my wounds and learn how to love. Look at this Cross, these Wounds, these nails, these bruises and lacerations, and this Blood. See to what extent I have loved you, do you want to love Me? First, learn to suffer; suffering teaches how to love."

For a while Gemma entertained thoughts of becoming a Religious, something she longed for with all her heart and soul but due to her poor health this was not to be. It was after she had attended Mass and received our Lord in Communion that our Lady appeared to Gemma that evening and said to her, "My son Jesus loves thee beyond measure and wishes to give thee a grace. I will be a mother to thee. Wilt thou be a true child?" When Gemma consented our Lady then placed her Mantle around this young girl.

Gemma herself reveals in her diary what happened next, "At that moment Jesus appeared with all his wounds open, but from these wounds there no longer came forth blood, but flames of fire. In an instant these flames came to touch my hands, my feet and my heart. I felt as if I were dying, and should have fallen to the ground had not my mother held me up, while all the time I remained beneath her mantle. I had to remain several hours in that position. Finally she kissed my forehead, all vanished, and I found myself kneeling. But I still felt great pain in my hands, feet and heart. I rose to go to bed, and became aware that blood was flowing from those parts where I felt pain. I covered them as well as I could, and then helped by my Angel, I was able to go to bed …" Many people over the following years would witness this miracle of the stigmata.

It would be soon that Jesus would request of Gemma to be a victim soul for the sins of the world, which was crying out for the Just Judgment of God, Gemma immediately acquiesced to Jesus request. So it was that in 1902 Gemma became seriously ill and began to vomit blood. It was also here that once again, desolation of soul would grip Gemma's heart and also here that the Devil tried to attack this saintly woman in whatever way he could. As a friend of Gemma's describes, "That abominable beast will be the end of our dear Gemma- deafening blows, forms of ferocious animals, etc.- I came away from her with tears because the demon is wearing her out." We also have the account of Gemma's Spiritual Director, Fr. Germano where he states, "The poor sufferer passed days, weeks and months in this way, giving us an example of heroic patience and motives for salutary fear of what may happen to us, who have not Gemma’s merits at the terrible hour of death."

Even though Gemma was in terrible suffering her Faith never wavered as she underwent her own Calvary for the salvation of sinners. Her heart was full of love for Jesus, Mary as she willingly suffered for love of God and man.

This devout soul who showed herself a true soldier of God suffered till the end and in her last words, she uttered this, "I seek for nothing more; I have made the sacrifice of everything and of everyone to God... Now it is indeed true that nothing more remains to me, Jesus. I recommend my poor soul to Thee … Jesus!"

Saint Gemma Galgani died an heroic death as was recorded by her Spiritual Director, Venerable Fr. Germanus C.P.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Our Lady of Pompei

The origins of Our Lady of Pompeii begin at the sight of the great destruction of that area by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD.

Approximately around the fourth century people once again began to inhabit the area including Christians, some centuries later a Church would be built to Worship our Lord, in which the Benedictine Order took charge. Eventually this Church too would be destroyed and after many trials and tribulations the people themselves took control of trying to restore the Church to its previous condition. But once again this endeavour nearly failed when thieves intruded to steal what they could, until a man and his wife took charge of the project. It is surprising in that the man who alongside his wife would restore the Church and also promulgate a devotion and veneration of Our Lady and the Holy Rosary, had once been involved in a 'satanic sect' and had even become a 'priest' for Satan!

But God can touch even the most hardest of hearts and he did so with Bartolo Longo when he met a very holy and devout Priest, Father Alberto Radente, who explained the Faith to Bartolo so gently that Bartolo could no longer live to hate but longed to live for love sake! He, through the example of this holy Priest embraced the Catholic Faith, and left the evil sect forever for Bartolo's heart now belonged to God and God alone!

Upon becoming Baptized Bartolo chose Maria as his 'baptismal name' for just as he had sinned against God grievously, he ran to Mary his forgiving Holy Mother and sought her protection as the 'refuge of sinners'. So began Bartolo's devotion and love for Our Lady as he worked to restore the former Church back to its former glory. Bartolo also published a small pamphlet entitled, "The Rosary of New Pompeii" as his love for our Lady grew stronger in his heart everyday, for he had attributed his conversion solely to our Blessed Mother and would forever love her dearly.

But Bartolo was still wracked with guilt over his former life and when he began to question his worthiness he had a miraculous sign as a voice said to him, "If you seek salvation, promulgate the Rosary. This is Mary's own promise." These words illumined my soul. I went on my knees: "If it is true .... I will not leave this valley until I have propagated your Rosary." Satan was not too willing to let go of Bartolo but through his conversion and our Lady's involvement Bartolo's faith was strengthened as he promised to spread this devotion to Our Lady of Pompeii.

At first it was very hard going as Bartolo began his work and even went from door to door within the village without much success, still he persevered. After many years of what seemed fruitlessness Bartolo finally succeeded and invited the Redemptorist Fathers to hold a mission festival at the Church he had restored. Upon gaining the blessing of the Bishop, who said that he could see that this would day become a place of pilgrimage.

This heartened Bartolo as he went searching for a large picture of Our Lady of the Rosary, he would be disappointed when the only one he could find was dilapidated and moth eaten. Still he bought it and tried to restore it back to its original condition. On one side of the picture was St. Dominic and on the other was St. Catherine of Sienna who were both kneeling before our Lady who held the child Jesus. Upon doing his best Bartolo then set out to take it to the Vatican for a blessing from the Pope!

This image was then placed in the restored Church but 300 people of the area pledged some money towards building a more respectable Church in honour of Our Lady. Upon laying the cornerstone miraculous miracles started to occur, four people were healed of their illnesses at the beginning, and still later there would be hundreds who claimed the image of our Lady had healed them of their various diseases and disabilities.

So it was that in 1894 both Bartolo and his wife, Marianna donated the shrine and the Church into the safe hands of the Vatican. Many cures since have been recorded after the faithful had prayed before this image of Our Lady.

But it was in 1965 that the image would be thoroughly restored by the Vatican and Pope Paul VI went on to say, "Just as the image of the Virgin has been repaired and decorated ..., so may the image of Mary that all Christians must have within themselves be restored, renovated, and enriched."

What a miracle that a man who had embraced the evil way of Satan had been restored by the love of our Blessed Mother to embrace God in his heart and live as a faithful son of the Church. Both Bartolo and his wife did corporal works of mercy including establishing orphanages for girls and boys, hospitals and visiting the imprisoned.

Let us also venerate this image which Bartolo and his wife established, Our Lady of Pompeii.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

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