Archive for October 2008

Pope John Paul II – A Life of Heroic Humility and Obedience

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. I am pleased to offer you a cordial welcome and to express to you my joy at the special event which has brought us together here. You have come in large numbers to make your pilgrimage to Rome and to pass through the Holy Door of the Great Jubilee. I greet Cardinal Sodano, Secretary of State. I greet dear Archbishop Riccardo Fontana of SpoletoNorcia and thank him for the words and good wishes he addressed to me on your behalf. I greet Cardinal Opilio Rossi, the Armenian Patriarch and all the Bishops present. I greet the Fathers General, the religious and nuns of the Order of Saint Augustine, as well as the authorities of every order and rank. Your presence reminds me of the visit I made 20 years ago to the town of Cascia to visit the people struck by the earthquake of 1979. Saint Rita knew the sufferings of the human heart Among us today is an illustrious pilgrim who joins us from heaven in our prayer. It is Saint Rita of Cascia, whose mortal remains, brought to Rome by the Italian Police, accompany the crowds of those who devotedly call upon her with affectionate familiarity and confidently bring to her the problems and anxieties that weigh upon their hearts. Today it is as if the shrine of Cascia had been moved to Saint Peter’s Square. And you have come to venerate her, dear pilgrims, from every part of the world. Together with her you intend to renew your deepest sentiments of fidelity and communion to the Pope, as she did in her lifetime. The mortal remains of Saint Rita, which we venerate here today, are a significant sign of what the Lord accomplishes in history when he finds humble hearts open to his love. Here we see the frail body of a woman who was small in stature but great in holiness, who lived in humility and is now known throughout the world for her heroic Christian life as a wife, mother, widow and nun. Deeply rooted in the love of Christ, Rita found in her faith unshakeable strength to be a woman of peace in every situation. In her example of total abandonment to God, in her transparent simplicity and in her unflinching fidelity to the Gospel, we too can find sound direction for being authentic Christian witnesses at the dawn of the third millennium.

2. But what is the message that this saint passes on to us? It is a message that flows from her life: humility and obedience were the path that Rita took to be ever more perfectly conformed to the Crucified One. The mark which shines on her forehead is the verification of her Christian maturity. On the Cross with Jesus, she is crowned in a certain way with the love that she knew and heroically expressed within her home and by her participation in the events of her town. Following the spirituality of Saint Augustine, she became a disciple of the Crucified One and an “expert in suffering”; she learned to understand the sorrows of the human heart. Rita thus became the advocate of the poor and the despairing, obtaining countless graces of consolation and comfort for those who called upon her in the most varied situations. Rita of Cascia was the first woman to be canonized in the Great Jubilee at the beginning of the 20th century, 24 May 1900. In decreeing her sainthood, my predecessor Leo XIII observed that she pleased Christ so much that he chose to imprint upon her the seal of his charity and his passion. This privilege was granted to her for her exceptional humility, her interior detachment from earthly desires and the admirable penitential spirit which accompanied her at every moment of her life.

3. Today, 100 years after her canonization, I am pleased to offer her again as a sign of hope, especially to families. Dear Christian families, by imitating her example, may you also know how to find in your fidelity to Christ the strength to fulfil your mission of service to the civilization of love! If we ask Saint Rita for the secret to this extraordinary work of social and spiritual renewal, she replies: fidelity to the Love that was crucified. Rita, with Christ and like Christ, goes to the Cross always and only through love. Like her, then, let us turn our eyes and hearts to Jesus, who died on the Cross and rose for our salvation. It is he, our Redeemer, who makes the family’s mission of unity and fidelity possible, as he did for this beloved saint, even in moments of crisis and difficulty. And it is he who gives concrete form to the Christian commitment to building peace by helping them to overcome the conflicts and tensions which unfortunately are so frequent in daily life. Live as witnesses to a hope that never disappoints

4. The saint of Cascia belongs to the great host of Christian women who “have had a signifiant impact on the life of the Church as well as of society”. Rita well interpreted the “feminine genius” by living it intensely in both physical and spiritual motherhood. On the sixth centenary of her birth I recalled that her lesson “is concentrated on these typical elements of spirituality: the offer of forgiveness and the acceptance of suffering, not through a form of passive resignation … but through the strength of that love for Christ who, precisely in the episode of his being crowned, suffered, along with other humiliations, an atrocious parody of his kingship”. Dear brothers and sisters, the worldwide devotion to St Rita is symbolized by the rose. It is to be hoped that the life of everyone devoted to her will be like the rose picked in the garden of Roccaporena the winter before the saint’s death. That is, let it be a life sustained by passionate love for the Lord Jesus; a life capable of responding to suffering and to thorns with forgiveness and the total gift of self, in order to spread everywhere the good odour of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 2:15) through a consistently lived proclamation of the Gospel. Dear devoted pilgrims, Rita offers her rose to each of you: in receiving it spiritually strive to live as witnesses to a hope that never disappoints and as missionaries of a life that conquers death.

5. I now extend my cordial greeting to the members of the Italian National Federation of the Knights of Labour, who have come to Rome to celebrate their Jubilee. I welcome you all. Dear friends, your activity seeks to improve the economic and social standing of workers. I hope that through your efforts you can always contribute to the common good, to the formation of young people who will have a place in the world of production, to the gradual elimination of unjust inequalities and to the solution of the worrying problem of unemployment. As you face the rapid changes affecting modern society, be ready to meet the current challenges of economics and globalization, without ever losing sight of the fundamental values of human dignity, solidarity with the weakest, the humanization of labour and the social nature of work.

6. Dear brothers and sisters, I invoke Mary’s protection on you in this month which is particularly dedicated to her. Through her intercession and through the intercession of Saint Rita and Saint Benedict, may you and your loved ones be granted all the graces you need. I assure you of my prayer for this, as I cordially bless you all.

– Address on the 100th anniversary of the canonization of Saint Rita of Cascia, by Pope John Paul II, 20 May 2000.


crown of thorns

crown of thorns illustration from the New Catholic Dictionary, artist unknownArticle

The thorny wreath plaited by the soldiers of Pilate and put on the head of Jesus, when they mocked Him as king of the Jews (Matthew 27; Mark 15; John 19). For centuries it was venerated at Jerusalem. Probably during the 11th century it was conveyed to Constantinople. In 1238 Baldwin II pawned it to the Venetians, from whom Saint Louis IX, King of France, redeemed it, 1239, and built in its honor the magnificent Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. Since 1806 it has been preserved in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Single thorns, too numerous to be all authentic, are found throughout Christendom. A replica in gold and rubies of the real crown, as reconstructed by Rohault de Fleury, was placed on the statue of Our Lady of Martyrs at Auriesville, New York, the site of the martyrdom of Saint Isaac Jogues and his companions.

Associated in Art

Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “crown of thorns“. CatholicSaints.Info. 16 April 2019. Web. 26 February 2020. <>

MLA Citation

  • “crown of thorns”. Emblems of the Faith. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 May 2012. Web. 26 February 2020. <>

Pontius Pilate

Pontius PilateArticle>

Roman procurator of Judea from 26 to 36; of equestrian rank. He tried and condemned Jesus Christ to death. He is the subject of many legends. The Abyssinian and Coptic churches believe that he afterwards became a Christian and was martyred; they venerate him as a saint.

MLA Citation

  • “Pontius Pilate”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 16 November 2010. Web. 26 February 2020. <>

Auriesville, New York

Site of Mohawk village of Ossernenon, Montgomery County, New York, where Saint Isaac Jogues, Saint Rene Goupil and Lalande, were martyred by Indians, Goupil in 1642, Jogues and Lalande, 1646. In 1884 Father Joseph Loyzance, SJ, erected a small shrine on the hill, with the title of Our Lady of Martyrs. The first pilgrimage was in August of that year.

Parable of the Barren Fig-tree

fig treeThe parable is given in Luke 13:1-9 in connection with the call to repentance, inspired by recent misfortunes which should cause the nation of Israel to think, else destruction awaits them.

The parable speaks of a fig-tree, planted in a vineyard. After a lapse of time which would allow the tree to grow to the bearing stage, the owner comes three years in succession, but finds no fruit. Disappointed by continual failure which leaves no hope for the future, the owner orders the tree cut down, but at the request of the vine dresser he consents to try again and to spare the tree for another year. The vine dresser hopes that additional care may help the tree to bear fruit.

The application of the parable to the case of Israel is sufficiently clear to need no further explanation. Like the fig-tree Israel receives special care from God; the mission of Christ is the last of those proofs of the Divine love for the nation, and if the people fail to respond and to heed the call, they are doomed to destruction.

There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Silo’am fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’

And he answered him, ‘Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”


The term is here used in its narrower sense to stand for the Christian polity, an ideal which lasted for many centuries. Its foundations are to be found in Jewish traditions of a theocracy. From the Peace of the Church proclaimed by Constantine to the inroads of the barbarians, Christendom was all but conterminous with the Roman Empire, but imperial traditions were so strong that the ideal was not perfectly realized. At first the Christian polity seemed to perish with the empire. The subsequent ideal of the Middle Ages was influenced by De Civitate Dei (The City of God) of Saint Augustine. Charlemagne again made Christendom a temporal polity in the West. The revived empire in the 10th century was an imperfect copy of the Carlovingian. Otto III tried to make the empire more spiritual. In the 12th century the ecclesiastical body became a real society, cosmopolitan through the universal language, Latin; and the papacy was the head in temporal as well as spiritual things. An important part was played by the religious orders in unifying thought. The Franco-Norman civilization which developed in France, England, and southern Italy, created Gothic architecture and epic and lyric poetry. Clergy and laity have probably never since been so united. Pope Innocent III failed to realize his ideal of Christian cosmopolitanism, and after him the power of the papacy declined. The 14th century was a time of national wars, the Great Schism, and the unimpeded progress of the Turk. The development of nationality and of secular law proved factors in the Reformation. The Church lost influence over thought, and heresy affected faith and morals. Since the confusion caused by the Reformation the word Christian has come to express our common civilization, rather than a religion which so many Europeans no longer profess.


fig treeThe Bible supposes the presence of the fig-tree throughout all Palestine, and regards it as one of the characteristic products of the land (Deuteronomy 8), together with the vine, so that a land which has neither fig-tree nor vine is considered wretched (Numbers 20). Figs, with other fruit, were brought back from Palestine by the envoys of Moses to give an idea of the fertility of the land (Numbers 13). The tree loses its leaves during the winter, but these begin to grow again towards the end of March, or the beginning of April. As early as the end of February, little figs grow at the junction of the old wood and the leaves, but they develop only to the size of a cherry, are inedible, and soon fall for the most part. The few that continue to develop ripen in June, and are “the figs of the first season,” described as “very good” (Jeremiah 24). In the meantime other buds grow which form the real crop, ripe in August. Figs were eaten fresh or dried, and in the latter case were pressed into solid cakes (1 Kings 25). Figs were also used for medicinal purposes as in the poultice which healed the boil of Ezechias (4 Kings 20). Both the sweet fruit and the abundant foliage, which protects from the sun, are often referred to in Scripture, in descriptions of peace and prosperity (Judges 9; 3 Kings 4). The fig-tree figures in the New Testament in the symbolic action of Our Lord (Matthew 21; Mark 11), which is a reminder of the symbolic actions of the prophets of the Old Testament. Other references in the New Testament to the fig-tree and figs are in Matthew 7 and 24; John 1; James 3; Apocalypse 6.

Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus

detail of the painting Adoration of the Name of Jesus, c.1604, University Chapel, Seville, SpainMemorial


A remembrance and celebration of the conferral of the Holy Name of Jesus. It is celebrated on 3 January. A separate votive Mass under this title is found in the revised Roman Missal, and may be used for an annual celebration (e.g. titular of a Church), or as an expression of devotion which is part of the tradition and spirituality of a religious order. It was formerly listed as the Sunday between 1 and 6 January, if one occurs. Instituted in the 15th century by the bishops of Germany, Scotland, England, and Belgium. It was extended to the universal Church in 1721. There is a commemoration in the Mass of the Octave of Saint Stephen if the feast is kept on the second, of Saint John on the third, and of the Holy Innocents on the fourth of January.


Additional Information


O God, who hast caused the most glorious name of thine only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to be loved by thy faithful people with the greatest affection ; and hast made it to all evil spirits a source of terror and dismay : grant that all those who devoutly venerate this holy name of Jesus here on earth may in this present life enjoy therefrom the sweetness of holy consolation, and in the life to come may obtain the joy of never-ending gladness. – Sarum Missal

MLA Citation

  • “Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus“. CatholicSaints.Info. 1 December 2019. Web. 26 February 2020. <>

Book of Deuteronomy

Greek: deuteros, second; nomos, law

The fifth Book of the. Bible. The name is a misnomer, since the book does not contain any new laws, but is a partial repetition of the foregoing legislation, with an urgent exhortation to be faithful to it. It is made up principally of three discourses, the contents of which are as follows

  • The first discourse, comprising chapters 1-4, is a review of the events which followed the promulgation of the Law (1-3), and an exhortation to keep it (4).
  • The second discourse forms the bulk of the book (5-26) and rehearses the whole Covenant in two parts:
    • (a) a general discourse concerning the duties of the Hebrews towards God (5-11);
    • (b) a special discourse in which fundamental points of the Law are rehearsed, concerning duties towards God, God’s representatives, and the neighbor (12-26).
  • The third discourse (27-30) contains new exhortations to keep the Law; chapters 27 and 28 (renewal of the alliance, blessings, and curses) are extremely dramatic.
  • The concluding chapters (31-34) constitute an historical appendix: Moses designates Josue as his successor, recites his magnificent prophetic canticle (32), blesses the twelve tribes, views the Promised Land from the top of Mount Nebo, and dies.