The Saints of February with Chaplets:
St Blaise, Bishop & Martyr, 3rd Feb
St Agatha, Virgin & Martyr, 5th Feb
St Valentine, 14th Feb
St Gabriel Francis Possenti, 27th Feb
Bishop & Martyr
Feast Day 3rd February
Patron of Throat Infections, diseased cattle, woolcombers
Commence by kissing the medal and signing yourself with the Sign of the Cross. Say the Preparatory Prayer:
Almighty and Eternal God, with lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of the saint in whose honour I make this novena, and following his example imitate, like him, the life of Thy Divine Son.
Moreover, I beseech Thee, to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful helper, the petition which, through him, I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saying, ‘thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul. Amen
On the first bead pray the prayer in honour of Saint Blaise: O God, deliver us through the intercession of Thy holy bishop and martyr, Blaise, from all evil of soul and body, especially from all ills of the throat;
On the second bead pray the invocation of Saint Blaise:
Saint Blaise, gracious benefactor of mankind and faithful servant of God, who for the love of our Saviour didst suffer so many tortures with patience and resignation; I invoke thy powerful intercession. Preserve me from all evils of soul and body. Because of thy great merits, God endowed thee with the special grace to help those that suffer from ills of the throat; relieve and preserve me from them, so that I may always be able to fulfil my duties, and with the aid of God’s Grace perform Good Works.
I invoke thy help as special physician of souls, that I may confess my sins sincerely in the holy sacrament of Penance and obtain their forgiveness. I recommend to thy merciful intercession also those who unfortunately concealed a sin in confession. Obtain for them the grace to accuse themselves sincerely and contritely of the sin they concealed, of the sacrilegious confessions and communions they made, and of all the sins they committed since then, so that they may receive pardon, the grace of God, and the remission of the eternal punishment. Amen.
My Lord and my God, I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His immaculate and blessed Mother, Mary, every virgin, and of all the saints, particularly with those of the holy Helper in whose honour I make this Novena. Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thy grace and Thy love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen
On each of the five beads in each of the five groups say one Ave Maria…
On each single bead between the groups pray one: Pater Noster… and grant us the grace to make a good confession in the confident hope of obtaining Thy pardon, and ever to praise with worthy lips Thy most holy Name. Through Christ our Lord. Amen
created by J.S. Kotchka from the Novena of Saint Blaise
Saint Blaise or Blasius
All ancient martyrologies including the Greek Synaxaria agree that Saint Blaise came from Armenia and became the bishop of Sebaste in that region. The ninth century martyrologies of Europe give his Feast Day as the 15th February, while the Greek Synaxaria list his day as 11th February. There is no mention of a Blaise in the oldest recension of Saint Jerome (c342-420) and while all later accounts are based on legendary material, they at least agree that his martyrdom occurred during the reign of Licinius and place it around 316AD.
He is known variously as Blaise, Blasius, or Biago and appears to have endured martyrdom in the early fourth century under the Emperor Licinius of Constantinople. Licinius, was a pagan who believed in the importance of sacrificing to the ancient gods in order to secure the unity, wellbeing and security of the Empire. He was part of the Triumvirate including Maxentius and Constantine which ruled the Empire. A series of persecutions of Christians were prompted by a desire to restore the ancient gods and secure the future of the Empire. The growing Christian presence with its conversions, even among the high ranking, therefore posed a threat to this policy as no Christian was prepared to sacrifice to false gods. The problem had to be addressed and Blaise seems to have been one of the many who must suffer under this political climate.
The legend states that Blaise was a physician at Sebaste prior to his election as bishop. During the persecution initiated by Licinius, Blaise was arrested by Agricola, Governor of Cappadocia and lower Armenia. He was discovered in a cave in the forests of Argeus by huntsmen of the governor who were tracking game. Apprehending the saint at prayer, the governor tried without sucess to make Blaise deny his faith. He was taken to prison and here performed a miraculous cure on a boy who was choking on a fishbone. He suffered various tortures before being beheaded. Legend tells that he was thrown into a lake whereupon he stood on the surface and, echoing the challenge given by Elijah to the prophets of Baal, (I Kings 18:19-40) he invited his tormenters to do the same in order to prove the equal power of their gods; they tried to do so and were very nearly drowned in the process!
Returning to land Blaise was subjected to torture; being beaten and his flesh torn with wool-combs before finally being beheaded. The legend states that seven women were also martyred with him. Another strand of the Legend tells of Blaise encountering a woman whose pig had been seized by a wolf! The Saint sternly commanded the wolf who obediently released the pig unharmed! Whilst in prison he was visited later by this grateful woman who brought him candles so that he would have light by which to read the Holy Scriptures. This incident appears to form the basis for the ceremony involving candles described below.
Blaise is listed amongst the group of saints known as the Fourteen Auxiliary Saints or Fourteen Holy Helpers.This devotion was found in the German lands as early as the twelfth century and its feast day is on 8th August in the 1962 Missal.
By the Middle Ages the cult of Saint Blaise had spread through Europe where it was enthusiastically endorsed, no more so than in the German Lands. Numerous churches and altars bore his dedication and laid claim to some relics. His importance in England is seen in the instruction in 1222 of the Council of Oxford, which prohibited all servile labour upon his Feast day. In many places the custom spread of blessing throats on the day of his Feast, echoing the account of the cure of the choking boy.
On the 3rd February, blessed candles, tied with ribbon and held in the form of a cross are placed on the throat or held over the head of each worshipper. A variant of this is the dipping of a wick into consecrated oil and using it to touch throats. At the ceremony the following prayer is said:
Per intercessionem S. Blasii liberet te Deus a malo gutteris et a quovis alio malo. May God, at the intercession of S.Blasius, preserve you from throat troubles and every other evil.
The symbol of Saint Blaise is two crossed candles held in the saint’s hand, or the saint in a cave surrounded by wild beasts as he was found by the hunters.
Virgin & Martyr
Feast Day 5th February
A chaplet for victims of breast cancer – for private use only.
Patroness of: Sicily, bell founders, breast cancer, against fire, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, for rape victims, torture victims, etc
Legend says that carrying her veil, taken from her tomb in Catania, in procession has averted eruptions of Mount Etna. Her intercession is reported to have saved Malta from Turkish invasion in 1551. Saint Lucy d.c303 visited her shrine and interceded successfully for her mother, to whom Saint Agatha, by the grace of God gave healing.
Commence on the single bead of the pendant saying: O glorious Martyr, Saint Agatha, you endured assaults on your body and spirit with dignity and courage. Strengthen us now in our hour of supplication and be our advocate, that we may receive the healing grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen
On each of the three sets of beads say five times: Ave Maria…
On the small bead following the first set say: Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, You see my heart, You know my desire. Possess alone all that I am. I am Your sheep, Make me worthy to overcome the devil
On the small bead following the second set say: Lord, my Creator, You have ever protected me from the cradle; You have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer: receive now my soul.
Conclude on the medal saying: Dearest Saint Agatha, hear and sustain us!
Saint Agatha – The tradition of virgin martyrdom personified
Agatha is one of the most notable of the early virgin martyrs, put to death probably under the persecution of Decius (250-253). There remains no early or contemporary account of her martyrdom other than the witness of widespread veneration from the earliest of times. In both the Martyrologium Hieronymianum (c.6th cent) and the fifth or sixth century Martyrologium Carthaginiense, a celebration for Saint Agatha is recorded on the 5th February, while, in the sixth century Venantius Fortunatus (c.530-c.600 ) mentions her in a poem on virginity and describes her as one of the celebrated Christian virgins and martyrs. In addition to these sources, and among the poems of Pope Damasus (Pope between 366-384) is a hymn to Saint Agatha which, while not his own composition but by an unknown later author, was most probably composed for a liturgical celebration. Other references include a letter of Pope Gelasius (492-496) to one Bishop Victor which mentions a Basilica of Saint Agatha, while the letters of Gregory I (Pope between 590- 604) make mention of a church dedicated to Saint Agatha at Rome, in the Subura. It had previously been assigned to the Arian Goths for their use and later restored to Catholic worship by Pope Gregory I.
Although the story of the martyrdom of Saint Agatha and her veneration as a saint had spread from earliest times beyond her native Sicily, there remain no reliable contemporary sources for her life or death. But, according to the sixth century source known as the Latin Acts, the story is as follows: Agatha, the daughter of a distinguished family and remarkable for her beauty, was sought by the Senator Quintianus who claimed to love her. She had been consecrated as a virgin for Christ from her earliest years and consequently she refused his suit. Spurned, Quintianus sought to punish Agatha by means of the Emperor’s Edict against the Christians. He therefore had her brought before him, whereupon Agatha prayed: ‘Jesus Christ, Lord of all, Thou seest my heart, Thou knowest my desires. Do Thou alone possess all that I am. I am Thy sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil.’
The senator ordered Agatha to be handed over to one Aphrodisia, who, with six daughters, kept a brothel. Perhaps he thought that exposure to the sins of the flesh might break her resolve to remain a virgin and introduce her to sexual pleasure. Here, for a period of a month, Agatha endured assaults against her honour, but remained steadfast.
Quintianus then proceeded to threaten her with torture, to which Agatha replied that, to be a servant of Jesus Christ was to enjoy true liberty. Much angered, Quintianus ordered the cruel tortures that were to lead to her death. She was first beaten and imprisoned, whereafter she was put upon the rack and inflicted with tearing hooks and flame. Throughout this torment Agatha cried out that Jesus Christ was her light and her salvation. Further enraged by this evidence of tenacity and faith, the Governor ordered that her breasts be crushed and hacked off. This unusual torture is represented in the iconography associated with the saint. Agatha was returned to prison with neither food nor medical attention, but her Lord, who was indeed her light and her salvation gave her comfort, for, in a vision she saw Saint Peter surrounded by heavenly light. The Apostle comforted and strengthened Agatha while healing her of the wounds. But the cruelties were not over. Four days later, Quintianus had the young girl rolled naked over live coals mixed with broken pottery; she would not survive this agony. As she was returned to the prison Agatha prayed: ‘Lord, my Creator, Thou hast always protected me from the cradle, Thou hast taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Receive now my soul.’ After saying these words Agatha breathed her last.
Both Catania and Palermo in Sicily claim the honour of being the birthplace of Agatha. Though there can be no certain resolution of this rivalry! Her feast day is observed on 5th February; and her office in the Roman Breviary is drawn in part from the Latin Acts. Catania honours Saint Agatha as her patron saint, and throughout the region around Mount Etna she is invoked against the eruptions of the volcano, as elsewhere against fire and lightning. In some places bread and water are blessed during Mass on her feast after the Consecration, and called Agatha Bread. As one of the tortures she suffered was to have her breasts cut off, she has often been depicted carrying her breasts on a plate. It is thought that this blessing of bread on her feast may have come from the mistaken notion that she was carrying loaves of bread. Because she has been invoked when Mount Etna has threatened or erupted, Saint Agatha is considered a protector against the outbreak of fire. She is also the patroness of bellmakers for an unknown reason; though this may refer to the use of bells as warning against fire. In the story of Saint Lucy, another Sicilian Martyr who lived some fifty years after Agatha, there is a touching incident in which this other young martyr goes to pray at the tomb of Agatha at Catania for heavenly aid in her own struggle. The courage of Saint Agatha continues to strengthen all who seek to hold fast to the truth.
Feast Day 14th Feb
ST GABRIEL FRANCIS POSSENTI
Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows
Feast Day 27th February
Chaplet Text I
text taken from the Raccolta 1957
Commence on the medal saying: Let us adore and give thanks to God the Father everlasting, who, of the great love He bore us, was pleased to send His only-begotten Son into the world to suffer and die on the gibbet of the Cross; and let us beseech Him, for the sake of His passion and death, and by the intercession of Saint Gabriel, that most loving follower of our Crucified Lord, to grant us th favour for which we pray (here mention your petition)
On each of the three beads in turn say: Pater Noster … Ave Maria … Gloria Patri…
Before the next group of three beads say: Let us adore and give thanks to God the eternal Son, who, becoming man and dying for us upon the Cross, left us Mary most holy to be our Mother; and let us beseech Him, by the merits of this sorrowful Virgin Mother and by the intercession of Saint Gabriel, who was her most devoted servant, to grant us the favour for which we pray (here mention your petition)
On each of the three beads in turn say: Pater Noster … Ave Maria … Gloria Patri…
Before the next group of three beads say: Let us adore and give thanks to God the Eternal Spirit, who, of His infinite goodness communicates Himself to our souls to make them holy; and let us beseech Him by the merit of the same divine goodness and by the intercession of Saint Gabriel, who in a special manner shared therein, and corresponded thereto to grant us the favour for which we pray (here mention your petition)
On each of the three beads in turn say: Pater Noster … Ave Maria … Gloria Patri…
On the crucifix say: V. Pray for us, Saint Gabriel, R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray: O God, who didst teach blessed Gabriel to have the sorrows of Thy most dear Mother in perpetual remembrance, and through her didst glorify him with the fame of holiness and miracles grant unto us by his intercession and example, so to share the sorrows of Thy Mother that we may be saved by her maternal protection: who livest and reignest world without end. Amen
An indulgence of 300 days once a day. A plenary indulgence once a month, on the usual conditions, if these prayers have been recited daily with devotion. (S.P.Ap., Oct 25 1920 and July 20 1934)
Chaplet Text II
said on the Dominican Rosary
Commence on the Crucifix making the Sign of The Cross and saying: In Nomine Patri, et Filii, et Spiritui Sancti. Amen I believe in God…
Pater Noster… on the first bead
Ave Maria… on each of the group of three beads
Gloria Patri… on the Chain
Continuing on the single bead before the centrepiece, the following prayers are said:
First Single Bead: O Saint Gabriel Francis Possenti! We recall that moment when you lost your earthly mother. Following the death of your siblings how harsh a blow to strike you! Yet you turned with confidence to that other Mother of us all. In her and her Sorrows you found Our Lord. Like her you watched the one whom you loved die, listening to those final words. O Saint Gabriel, pray that we might always be resigned and accepting of the ‘adorable will of God’ and that, like you, we may seek comfort in Our Lord and His Mother.
On each bead of the first decade say: Saint Gabriel Possenti, Pray for us!
Second Single Bead: O Saint Gabriel, Passionist Brother! Calling to mind that day on which, seeing an image of Our Blessed Lady of Sorrows, you fell to your knees and heard the call to become a Passionist, we remind ourselves of the need to listen for and respond to the call of God. You were always ready to do the Will of God without hesitation or delay, help us to know and follow the Will of God in our own lives. O Saint Gabriel, we pray that many more young men might listen to God and receive the call to follow in priestly ministry, especially to the Passionists. Help all young people to be attentive to the voice of God.
On each bead of the second decade say: Saint Gabriel, Passionist Brother, Pray for us!
Third Single Bead: O Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows! You received your Name in Religion which reflected your devotion to Our Sorrowful Mother. Your devotion to her and the Passion of Her Son filled you with love for God and all men. It was at your childhood home that you first prayed before the Pieta; then your life was consumed by your love for that Mother and Her Divine Son. As a Passionist you lived with your Brothers and were a perfect example to them; you continue to be an example today. We pray that we might follow that example, and, in doing so, be brought closer to Christ Crucified, through Mary, His Sorrowful Mother and through yourself, dear Saint Gabriel!
On each bead of the third decade say: Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Pray for us!
Fourth Single Bead: Blessed Saint Gabriel! You lived as a Passionist, perfectly humble, obedient and chaste. Your community life and your conduct towards others remains a model for our own personal relationships. Your devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows, for Christ Crucified, for whom you lived and died and to God in the Blessed Sacrament were expressions of your deep love for the Almighty and His Blessed Mother. So great was this love that it entirely consumed you. You could wait no longer and went away to be with God. Look down from those lofty heights to us, dear Saint Gabriel, who remain here amongst all the temptations of the world. Help us in our daily battles against temptation. Help us to perfect ourselves as you did, and to love God with everything that is in us.
On each bead of the fourth decade say: Blessed Saint Gabriel, Pray for us!
Fifth Single Bead: O Saint Gabriel! Such was your life that our Holy Mother, the Church has raised you to the altars as a perfect example to all of us. In particular, Mother Church invokes you as Patron of young people and students. Help our young people to be like you; to respond to Our Lord and not to hesitate. Help them with their daily struggles in following the faith. May we all follow our call to become saints like you, dear Saint Gabriel. We ask that you pray to your beloved Christ Crucified for us and for all our needs; that, one day, we might be reunited with you and Our Lord for ever.
On each bead of the fifth decade say: Saint Gabriel, Pray for us!
Say the Salve Regina on the centrepiece and say the concluding prayer: O angelic young Gabriel, who with your ardent love for Jesus Crucified and your compassion for Our Lady of Sorrows, were on earth a mirror of innocence and an example of every virtue; we turn to you, full of confidence, to implore your aid. O how many evil things and afflictions, O how many dangers, assail our young people on every side, seeking to make them lose the faith. You, who lived always a life of faith, who amongst the temptations of the world maintained purity and virginity; turn your eyes to us; cast us a compassionate and pitying glance! Help us to obtain the grace to persevere in faith. We invoke your name; we cannot doubt the power of your patronage! In full confidence of our hope in you, O sweet Saint, to obtain this particular grace for the greater glory of God and for the good of souls, we ask…here mention your request… Finally, obtain for us from Jesus Christ Crucified, through Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, resignation and peace; that we might always live the Christian Life throughout all the times of this present life so that we might one day be happy with you in heaven. Amen
Gabriel Francis Possenti - History
Patron of Students, especially in Colleges and Seminaries, clergy, young people involved In Catholic Action in Italy and the Abruzzi region.
Born at Assisi on 1st March 1838, and baptised on the same day, Francis was the eleventh child born to Sante Possenti and Agnes Frisciotti. His father was a distinguished Advocate who held a series of official appointments in the Papal States. He was an older man married to a woman who would bear him thirteen children before her death on 9th February 1842, when Francis was but four years old. Several of the children were also to die in infancy. Signor Possenti had recently been appointed Grand Assessor (registrar) of Spolleto approximately eighty miles north of Rome, and it was here that Francis was to receive his education in the Jesuit College.
As a youth Francis was fond of hunting, dancing, novels and often attended the theatre. He was generally regarded as being of a cheerful disposition as well as good looking. In fact his friends referred to him as ‘il Damerino’ or, ‘the ladies’ man’! However it was the sight of another ‘lady’, the image of Our Lady of Sorrows passing in a street procession which was soon to stir in him a vocation, though it would take some time before he discerned this calling clearly.
Schooled first with the Christian Brothers and later with the Jesuits, Francis felt the promptings of the call to the Religious Life. Before his studies were completed he fell dangerously ill, but made a promise that, should he recover, he would enter religion. Like many who make promises and fail to keep them, he was restored to health and then did nothing about his vocation! At about the age of sixteen years he suffered either Laryngitis or Quincy and was again in mortal peril. Once again he renewed the promise he had previously made, but this time he made it before the relic of the newly beatified Polish Jesuit martyr, now Saint Andrew Bobola. (1591–16 May 1657). Again he returned to health. Francis was convinced that his cure was the work of heaven and so applied to and was accepted by the Jesuits. Once more he hesitated and it was to be the tragic loss of his closest sister during an outbreak of cholera that brought him to an understanding of how precarious are life and human ties. At last he was able to discern clearly the path of his vocation, though this was to be with the Passionists and not the Jesuits.
With the approval of his Jesuit confessor, Francis entered the Passionist Novitiate at Morrowvale on 10th September 1856 and was clothed on 21st September. He received his Name in Religion and henceforth was to be known as Gabriele dell’ Addolorata, Brother Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. On 2nd September 1857 the religious Profession was made and Bro Gabriel continued to observe the Rule with great attention to its detail.
After only four years, in which he had shown great promise, he exhibited the symptoms of tuberculosis. Very much against his will he was now exempted from the more arduous duties of community observance, but continued to make such a profound impression by his character and demeanour that all with whom he came into contact were impressed by his example of holiness. Bro Gabriel did not enjoy such attention and even managed to destroy all his private papers in which he had made a record of all the spiritual favours he believed God had given him. His surviving writings at least illustrate the close relationship he felt for Christ Crucified and for His Sorrowful Mother. When Gabriel made the Passionist vow to spread devotion to Christ Crucified he also vowed to spread devotion to His Sorrowful Mother. This is particularly seen in his ‘Resolutions’ in which he details his method of attaining unity with God and Our Lady.
He died peacefully on the morning of 27th February 1862 holding a picture of Our Lady of Sorrows. This was at Isola di Gran Sasso near to the town of Teramo in the Abrozzi and his body is buried in the church attached to the Retreat there. Numerous miracles and conversions have been reported. Notable amongst these is the testimony of Saint Gemma Galgani indicating that it was through the intercession of Saint Gabriel that she received a cure which led her to discern her own Passionist vocation. Such testimonies led to the Beatification of Gabriel by Pope Saint Pius X on 31st May 1908 and later to his canonisation in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV. In 1959, Pope John XXIII proclaimed him Patron of the Abruzzi region and his shrine can be found there in the church at Gran Sasso.
Cardinal Tardini, (1888-1961) Cardinal Secretary of State, had a personal devotion to Gabriel and influenced Pope Pius XI in declaring him patron of young people involved in Catholic Action in Italy. He was declared an appropriate model for students and seminarians because of his early determination to enter the religious life and the sanctity of his life before his early death. Similarly he was seen as an ideal patron for the clergy. There is currently some interest in promoting St Gabriel as the Patron of Handgunners! The basis for this movement is a fascinating story of bravery: In 1860, a band of soldiers from the army of the Italian hero, Garibaldi, entered the mountain village of Isola and were subsequently responsible for a wave of burning and pillaging along with the terrorising of the local people. Bro Gabriel, with the permission of his Seminary rector, went to the centre of town, unarmed, in order to face-down the soldiers. One of the men, about to take a young woman away mocked at the young ‘monk’. Gabriel promptly snatched the soldier’s revolver from his belt and ordered him to release the girl. The startled soldier complied as Gabriel grabbed the revolver of another soldier. Others quickly gathered at the scene and it appeared that the seminarian would soon be overcome.
At that moment a small, unfortunate lizard ran across the ground between Gabriel and the soldiers. The lizard paused briefly and Gabriel, seizing the moment took aim and killed it with a single shot! Turning his two handguns on the soldiers he commanded them to throw down their own weapons. Having just witnessed the accuracy of his shot and the fate of the poor lizard they all complied! Bro Gabriel then ordered them to extinguish the fires they had created, and when they had finished this he marched them all out of the town. The grateful townspeople escorted him back to the Seminary and thereafter he was referred to as the Saviour of Isola. The Saint Gabriel Possenti Society is dedicated to persuading the Church to grant him the title of patron of handgunners!
‘The separate acts of obedience to the will of God, good works as they are called, are of service to us, as gradually severing us from this world of sense, and impressing our hearts with a heavenly character. This transformation of the heart does not take place from one day to the next, it needs great effort and perseverance. “To obtain the gift of holiness is the work of a life.’
Blessed John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vols. I-VIII, Christian Classics, Westminster, Md. 1966 – 1968, Vol. I, p. 9 & 12