Easter: May 21st
Solemnity of the Ascension or the Optional Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs; Optional Memorial of St. Eugene de Mazenod, bishop (Canada)
In 1815, St. Eugene de Mazenod founded the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to evangelize the poorest populations of Provence that were being neglected. He then sent his missionaries to proclaim the Gospel in America, South Africa and Asia. Later on, he was appointed Vicar General of Marseilles and, in 1836, Bishop of this same diocese. Until his death on May 21, 1861, he was at the service of his people with an extraordinary pastoral charity, nourished by an intense interior life. In his city, rapidly developing at the time, he created numerous parishes, built new churches and installed new Religious Institutes. — Cardinal Bernard GantinSaint Christopher Magallanes was joined in martyrdom by twenty-one diocesan priests and three devout laymen, all members of the Cristeros movement, who rose up in rebellion against the anti-Catholic Mexican government during the 1920s. Having erected a seminary at Totatiche, he secretly spread the Gospel and ministered to the people. Captured by government authorities, he was heard to shout from his jail cell: "I am innocent and I die innocent. I forgive with all my heart those responsible for my death, and I ask God that the shedding of my blood serve the peace of our divided Mexico." This optional memorial is new to the USA liturgical calendar and will be inscribed on May 21. The ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and Omaha have retained the celebration of the Ascension of the Lord on the proper Thursday, while all other provinces have transferred this solemnity to the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
St. Eugene de Mazenod
St. Eugene De Mazenod, refused to follow the established modes expected of someone born into nobility. From an early age, Eugene was troubled by the living conditions of the poor and their degraded status in society. When he became a priest, Eugene was not satisfied to accept the traditional role of a pastor serving a large, affluent parish. Instead, he sought out the poor laborers and preached the message of God’s love — a message they had not heard before.
St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions
Like Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, S.J. (November 23), Cristobal and his twenty-four companion martyrs lived under a very anti-Catholic government in Mexico, one determined to weaken the Catholic faith of its people. Churches, schools and seminaries were closed; foreign clergy were expelled. Cristobal established a clandestine seminary at Totatiche, Jalisco. Magallanes and the other priests were forced to minister secretly to Catholics during the presidency of Plutarco Calles (1924-1928).