Ordinary Time: October 9th
Optional Memorial of St. Denis, bishop and martyr and companions, martyrs; St. John Leonardi, priest
Other Commemorations: St. Louis Bertrand, Priest (Hist) ; Other Titles: Denys; Dionysius; John Leonard; John Newman
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St. John Leonardi (1543-1609), a zealous Italian apostle, founded the congregation of the Mother of God, whose priest-members traveled throughout Tuscany urging the people to a stronger interest in their religion. Fr. John Leonardi longed to convert pagans, but his spiritual director, St. Philip Neri, told him to remain in Italy. So instead he founded a seminary in Rome to train young men for the priesthood from all the mission lands.
St. Denis, a third-century apostle of Gaul, and now one of the "Fourteen Holy Helpers" became first bishop of Paris. He suffered martyrdom there, together with his priest Rusticus and his deacon Eleutherius.
St. John Henry Cardinal Newman
John Henry Newman, one of the great Christian intellectuals of the nineteenth century, was born in London in 1801. His spiritual quest having begun in adolescence, he later went on to study theology at Oxford University. Subsequently, he became an Anglican pastor, a fellow of Oriel College, and leader of the Oxford Movement which studied the Catholic roots of the faith in England. In 1842, while writing his "Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine", he began to mature his conversion to Catholicism. He was admitted into the Catholic Church in 1845 and ordained a Catholic priest in Rome on 1 June 1847. Following his ordination, and with the encouragement of Pope Pius IX, he founded the first Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England. In 1852 he was appointed rector of the Catholic University of Dublin, Ireland, a post he held until 1854. Pope Leo XIII made him a cardinal in 1879 and he died in 1890 at the Oratory of Edgbaston. The process for his beatification began in 1958. Newman's miraculous intercession in the cure of Dean Jack Sullivan, who suffered a serious complaint of the spinal column, was officially recognized and approved by Benedict XVI in July 2009 and beatified on September 19, 2010. Pope Francis canonized John Henry Newman on October 13, 2019.
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Read more about St. John Henry Cardinal Newman here and here.
- Read some of his works at The National Institute for Newman Studies.
- Purchase a copy of Heart to Heart: A Cardinal Newman Prayer Book.
- Read this book for children published by Scepter, Brave Leader, Big Heart: St. John Henry Newman's Adventures by Fr. Juan R. Velez.
St. John Leonardi
St. John Leonardi was born in Tuscany, Italy in 1541, during the time of upheaval in the Church due to Martin Luther. He studied to be a pharmacist, then became a priest. As a young priest, he devoted himself to teaching catechism to youths. In 1574, he founded the Order of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of Lucca, a congregation of diocesan priests. He suffered many tribulations for this work, including exile. His contemporary, St. Philip Neri, was a great friend and spiritual guide, and helped him particularly in his time of exile.
Gradually his influence as a champion of the Catholic faith against Protestantism became known throughout Italy. He later founded in Rome what became the Institute De Propaganda Fide (Society for the Propagation of the Faith) and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine for the promotion of the Catholic Faith and the formation of missionaries. St. John Leonardi died at Rome, in 1609, the victim of his devoted care for the sick and plague-stricken.
Symbols and Representation: book (to symbolize rules of Congregation he founded); the coat of arms of the order is azure (blue), Our Lady Assumed into Heaven; and its badge and seal the monogram of the Mother of God in Greek characters.
Highlights and Things to Do:
- St. John promoted the teaching of the Catholic faith. We should study our faith, perhaps by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church a little each day.
- Try to understand more deeply the historical context during St. John's life — he was fighting the effects of the Lutheran Reformation of the Church. Could we refute the teachings of Luther?
St. Denis was born in Italy. In 250 he was sent to France with six other missionary bishops by Pope Fabian. Denis became the first bishop of Paris. He was beheaded in 258 with the priest Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius at Catulliacum, now Saint-Denis. One of the many legends about his torture and death was that his body carried his severed head some distance from his execution site. St. Denis is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers who was invoked particularly in the Middle Ages against the Black Plague. See August 8 for more information.
Patronage: against frenzy; against strife; headaches; against diabolical possession; France; Paris, France.
Symbols and Representation: beheaded bishop carrying his head — sometimes a vine growing over his neck; mitered head in his hand or on book; white chasuble; tree or stake; sword; Our Lord with chalice and host.
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Learn more about the Fourteen Holy Helpers and their historical context.
- Bake a French (or Parisian) pastry. Cooking with the Saints by Ernst Schuegraf has 3 recipes for St. Denis — St. Denis Turnovers, Saint Denis Tartlets and Brioche Saint-Denis (Praline Cake).
- Read in The Golden Legend for some of the legends or stories about St. Denis.
St. Louis Bertrand
St. Louis Bertrand was born at Valencia, in Spain, in 1526, of the same family as St. Vincent Ferrer. In 1545, after severe trials, he was professed in the Dominican Order, and at the age of twenty-five was made master of novices, and trained up many great servants of God.
When the plague broke out in Valencia he devoted himself to the sick and dying, and with his own hands buried the dead. In 1562 he obtained leave to embark for the American mission, and there converted vast multitudes to the Faith. He was favored with the gift of miracles, and while preaching in his native Spanish was understood in various languages.
After seven years he returned to Spain, to plead the cause of the oppressed Indians, but he was not permitted to return and labor among them. He spent his remaining days toiling in his own country, till at length, in 1580, he was carried from the pulpit in the Cathedral at Valencia to the bed from whence he never rose.
He died on the day he had foretold-October 9, 1581.
—Excerpted from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed.