Tag Archives: Catholic martyrs

St. Charles Lwanga and Companions

St. Charles LwangaToday, June 3rd, the Universal Church honors St. Charles Lwanga and Companions.  Charles is the patron of youth and Catholic action in Africa.

Charles is one of 22 courageous individuals who were martyred for refusing to commit immoral homosexual acts as directed and required by the Bagandan ruler, Mwanga.

Charles learned of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s teachings from retainers in the court of Chief Mawulugungu.  He entered the royal household as an assistant to Joseph Mukaso, who was leader of the court pages, and while serving in this capacity, he was a catechumen.

St. Charles Lwanga and CompanionsThere were 13 to 30 pages Charles protected from Mwanga, who demanded of these individuals to perform deviant sexual activities.  Charles and his companions were imprisoned and during this time, Charles taught the Catholic Faith to them.

On June 3, 1886, Charles continued to encourage his companions to resist such mortal sin.  He was baptized Catholic on this day, and Charles remained the inspiration for his friends, showing his courage, loyalty and faithfulness, and his love of His Catholic Faith.  His example helped to motivate them to resist Mwanga’s ongoing sexual demands, wherein they remained chaste and faithful.  On this same day, Mwanga saw to it that Charles was burned to death at Namugongo; and the rest of his companions were also martyred.

On October 18, 1864, all twenty-two Ugandan martyrs were canonized, and Pope Paul VI referred to the Anglican pages martyred for the same reason.

We must remain firm and well-grounded in our Faith, and must practice our Faith not only in proclaiming it, but living it.  Clearly, there is a blind eye in today’s society to sexual deviancy, and in fact, individuals are encouraged to practice homosexual activities and various other deviant sexual activities because we live in a dictatorship of moral relativism.  If a person opposes such behavior, they are called “homophobic” and are shunned and ridiculed.  Nevertheless, we must continue to practice our Christian Faith, while still praying for all souls, that they come to Jesus Christ, especially those who are lost.  We ask Our Lord Jesus to help us change our proclivities to sin, and to strengthen us in character and especially, in love for God who must come first in our lives.

Thank you dear St. Charles Lwanga and Companions for being our examples!   We ask your intercession before the Triune God to help us live our lives as you did, with superb courage motivated by absolute Love of God.

~Joan

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St. Sigfrid of Sweden, Missionary Bishop

St. SigfridStatue of St. Sigfrid at the Vaxjo Cathedral, Växjö, Sweden

Today, February 15th, the universal Church honors St. Sigfrid of Sweden, a courageous and determined missionary bishop.

The place and date of this saint’s birth are undocumented.  Nevertheless, in or about the 11th century, Sigfrid, a priest of York and/or Glastonbury, England, was sent by King Olaf Tryggvason of Norway, to spread the Gospel to all of Norway.  Two other bishops, John and Grimkel, accompanied him to Norway and also to Sweden.  They worked under the protection of the archbishop of Bremen.  Sigfrid chose to make his headquarters at Vaxjo.  Olaf, the king of Sweden, was converted to Christianity by Sigfrid who also baptized him at Husaby in a spring, which place was the scene of various miracles.  Sigfrid worked many years as a bishop missionary, with his three nephews assisting him in this regard, Unaman, a priest, Sunaman, a deacon, and Vinaman, a subdeacon.

Sigfrid entrusted the care of his diocese to these three nephews, whilst he carried the Gospel to other provinces.  While he was gone, a troop which hated Christianity and also desired money, plundered and destroyed the church of Vaxjo and murdered Sigfrid’s three nephews, burying their bodies in a forest and placing their cut off heads in a box which sunk in a pond.  The heads were recovered and placed in a shrine.  The king desired to execute the evildoers, but Sigfrid, although greatly grieved and heartbroken, advocated to spare their lives.  Olaf ordered the murderers to pay a heavy fine, but Sigfrid would not accept their money or goods.  This he did in spite of the great hardship and economic difficulties he experienced in rebuilding the church.

Much like the first apostles of Jesus, Sigfrid had that same spirit, preaching the Gospel also in Denmark.  It is through saints like St. Sigfrid, that the Gospel lives and thrives.  Clearly, we can know Jesus through his apostles and/or disciples.

St. Sigfrid died in 1045 and was most probably canonized by Pope Adrian IV, an Englishman, who also brought the Faith to the North over one hundred years after St. Sigfrid.

This saint was a tough man, much like the persona of St. Peter, who brought the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ to Norway and Sweden, with zeal and discipline.  One can only imagine the difficult circumstances he experienced during his life as a missionary bishop.  Even though his nephews were brutally  murdered, he kept the love of Jesus for the murderers and went on to build another church for the people.  What comes to my mind is what a Jesuit priest said to me many years ago, one of my mentors: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  That is what St. Sigfrid did:  Jesus was tough – He was not a wimp, nor were his apostles or disciples.  Let us have that same strong determination, that same “toughness,” motivated by pure love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, so that we can accomplish much good for Our Lord and His people.

St. Sigfrid, pray for us!

With respect and love,

Joan

Sources:  Vatican website; Butler’s Lives of the Saints, edited by Michael Walsh

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Blessed William Carter

 
Today, January 11th, the universal Church honors a most courageous English martyr, Blessed William Carter.
Blessed William was born in London, England in 1549 and at an early age, entered the printing business.  He served as an apprentice to well-known Catholic printers, one of whom served his sentence in prison for persisting in his Catholicism.  Indeed and in fact, it was a crime of high treason punishable by death to practice the Catholic Faith in Queen Elizabeth I’s realm.  One could imagine, therefore, how dangerous it was for any Catholic printer in such circumstances.  Blessed William himself served prison time for printing what the realm called “lewd” literature, or Catholic literature and for possessing Catholic books upholding Catholicism.
What offended the English officials was that Blessed William continued to publish inspirational works to help Catholics remain in their Faith.  English officials searched his home and found vestments for Mass left with him for safe keeping and other “suspect” books.  These officials went so far as to attempt to obtain information from his distraught wife.  Over the next 18 months, Blessed William remained in prison, learned of his wife’s death and suffered unspeakable torture.
The English court charged Blessed William with printing and publishing the “Treatise of Schisme,” which according to their interpretation, incited violence by Catholics and which was said to have been composed by a traitor and addressed to traitors.
The jury deliberated for 15 minutes, whilst Blessed William trusted Our Lord Jesus Christ as His servant.  Their verdict was guilty.  Blessed William made his final confession to a priest who was also being tried alongside him.  On January 11, 1584 at Tyburn, London, Blessed William was hanged, drawn and quartered.  Frankly, I believe that such a death was one of the cruelest ever invented by humankind.  Clearly, Blessed William carried on the Faith with the same spirit of St. Thomas More, whose last words were, “I am the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”
I have always felt the greatest empathy and love for the English martyrs all of my life and throughout all of my studies of the saints.  For some special reason, I have a special kinship with these incredibly brave people.
Several centuries later, on November 10, 1986, Pope John Paul II venerated Blessed William and consequently, on November 22, 1987, Pope John Paul beatified Blessed William.
May we attempt to have the same courage, determination and love that Blessed William had, and may we follow his example to remain tenacious and bold, always trusting in Our Lord Jesus Christ no matter what the consequences. . .
Respectfully,
Joan
Sources:  americancatholic.org; saints.sqpn.com; Wikepedia

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