May 3 - Bl. Arthur Bell, Henry Heath, John Woodcock, et
Martyrs of England, Scotland and Wales, are found the Blessed Thomas
Bullaker, Henry Heath, John Woodcock, Charles Meehan, all Franciscan
priests. John Woodcock was born at Leyland, Lancashire, 1603; suffered at
Lancaster, 7 August, 1646. He was converted about 1622, and after studying
at Saint-Omer for a year was admitted to the English College, Rome, 20
October, 1629. On 16 May, 1630, he joined the Capuchins in Paris, but soon
afterwards transferred himself to the English Franciscans at Douai. He
received the habit from the Venerable Henry Heath in 1631 and was professed
by the Venerable Arthur Bell a year later. For some years he lived at Arras
as chaplain to Mr. Sheldon. Late in 1643 he landed at Newcastle-on- Tyne,
and was arrested on the first night he spent in Lancashire. After two years'
imprisonment in Lancaster Castle, he was condemned, on his own confession,
for being a priest, together with two seculars, Edward Bamber and Thomas
Whittaker, 6 August, 1646. When he was flung off the ladder the rope broke.
Having been hanged a second time, he was cut down and disemboweled alive.
The Franciscan nuns at Taunton possess an arm-bone of the martyr. (from
Catholic Encyclopedia Online Edition © 2003 by K. Knight) - These martyrs
have been beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.
May 7 - Blessed Agnellus of Pisa
Friar Minor and
founder of the English Franciscan Province, born at Pisa c. 1195, of the noble
family of the Agnelli; died at Oxford, 7 May, 1236. In early youth he was
received into the Seraphic Order by St. Francis himself, during the latter's
sojourn in Pisa, and soon became an accomplished model of religious
perfection. Sent by St. Francis to Paris he erected a convent there and became
custos. Having returned to Italy, he was present at the so-called Chapter of
Mats, and was sent thence by St. Francis to found the Order in England.
Agnellus, then in deacon's orders, landed at Dover with nine other friars, 12
September, 1224, having been charitably conveyed from France by the monks of
Fecamp. A few weeks afterwards they obtained a house at Oxford and there laid
the foundations of the English Province, which became the exemplar for all the
provinces of the order. Though not himself a learned man, he established a
school for the friars at Oxford, which was destined to play no small part in
the development of the university. But his solicitude extended beyond the
immediate welfare of his brethren. He sent his friars about to preach the word
of God to the faithful, and perform the other offices of the sacred ministry.
Agnellus wielded considerable influence in affairs of state and in his efforts
to avert civil war between the King and the Earl Marshal, who had leagued with
the Welsh, he contracted a fatal illness. Eccleston has left us a brief
account of his death. Agnellus's body, incorrupt, was preserved with great
veneration at Oxford up to the dissolution of the religious houses in the time
of Henry VIII. The cultus of Blessed Agnellus was formally confirmed by Leo
XIII in 1882, and his feast is kept in the Order on 7 May. (From Catholic
May 8 -- Bl. Jeremiah of Valacchia
Bl. Jeremiah of
Valacchia was a Capuchin brother. In a letter from Pope Paul II to the
Romanians he makes reference to St. Jeremiah. We are still searching for
May 10 -- Ivo of Brittary
St. Ives, born at Kermartin, near Tréguier, Brittany, 17 October, 1253; died
at Louannee, 19 May, 1303, was the son of Helori, lord of Kermartin, and Azo
du Kenquis. In 1267 Ives was sent to the University of Paris, where he
graduated in civil law. He went to Orléans in 1277 to study canon law. On
his return to Brittany having received minor orders he was appointed
"official", or ecclesiastical judge, of the archdeanery of Rennes (1280);
meanwhile he studied Scripture, and there are strong reasons for holding
that he joined the Franciscan Tertiaries sometime later at Guingamp. He was
soon invited by the Bishop of Tréguier to become his "official", and
accepted the offer (1284). He displayed great zeal and rectitude in the
discharge of his duty and did not hesitate to resist the unjust taxation of
the king, which he considered an encroachment on the rights of the Church;
by his charity he gained the title of advocate and patron of the poor.
Having been ordained he was appointed to the parish of Tredrez in 1285 and
eight years later to Louannee, where he died. He was buried in Tréguier, and
was canonized in 1347 by Clement VI, his feast being kept on 19 May. He is
the patron of lawyers, though not, it is said, their model, for — "Sanctus
Ivo erat Brito, Advocatus et non latro, Res miranda populo." (from Catholic
Encyclopedia Online Edition
© 2003 by K. Knight)
Saint Leopold Mandic of Herzegovina
His feast is celebrated May
12. Herceg Novi (Castelnovo in Italian), is located in Bosnia-Hercegovina,
near Kotor Bay on the Adriatic coast of Dalmatia. The territory once belonged
to the Austrio-Hungarian Empire. Capuchins from the Venetian Province had
established a presence in Herceg Novi in 1688, first as naval chaplains, and
subsequently as preachers. They retained a small hospice at Herceg Novi even
after the fall of the Venetian Republic. The local populace was marked by
ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. The cultural and ethnic mix included
native Croats, Greeks, Serbs, Bulgars, Russians, and Turks. Besides Roman
Catholics, there were Orthodox, Nestorians, Monophysites, and Moslems. The
Venetian Capuchins were instrumental in keeping Roman Catholicism vibrant.
It was into this environment that Bogdan John Mandich, the twelfth and last
child of Carlotta Zarevich and Peter Mandich, was born on May 12, 1866. Peter
was descended from an ancient noble family of Bosnia. His father owned an
Adriatic fishing fleet. Carlotta's mother was the Countess Eleanor Bujovich.
Caught in the web of political upheaval, the family had lost its fortune over
the years. Early on, Bogdan learned empathy for those who had lost their
dignity, either social or moral. He understood their pain because of his own
family's experience. He always remembered his mother as the person "to whom I
owe everything that I am." At 16 years of age, on November 16, 1882, Bogdan
went to Udine to enter the seminary of the Venetian Capuchins. On May 2, 1884,
he was invested at the friary at Bassano del Grappa (Vicenza), and took the
name, Leopold. He made his first profession of vows on May 4, 1885. Profession
of perpetual vows followed at Padua on October 28, 1888.
In the mid-1880s, Bishop Joseph Juraj Strossmayer began an ecumenical movement
which focused on unity in diversity, consecrating the cathedral of Djakovo i
Srijem (Bosnia) "for the glory of God, church ecumenism, and the peace and
love of my people." Leopold dedicated himself to the same end. At age 24, on
September 20, 1890, Leopold was ordained to the presbyterate at Venice.
Since Leopold did not have Italian citizenship and refused to renounce his
homeland, he was exiled to southern Italy during the world war. Desirous of
returning to his homeland, he hoped to be repatriated after the war. He wanted
to work for the return of his co-patriots to the Catholic Church. Although a
member of the Venetian Province, Leopold always retained a desire to return
among his own people in a ministry of evangelization. Realistically, however,
Leopold was not able to preach because his speech was slow, jagged, and
belabored, almost stuttering. His health always posed a legitimate concern.
His body was short in stature (4' 6"), curved, pallid, and extremely fragile.
He suffered from poor eyesight, stomach ailments, and crippling arthritis.
Despite his enthusiastic desire to return to his homeland to work for church
unity, the Capuchin ministers judged Leopold unfit for that ministry and
assigned him instead to the ministry of sacramental reconciliation.
Nonetheless, everything Leopold did was done for the unity of the church. He
repeatedly prayed, "One flock, one shepherd." Recognizing charity as the road
paving the way to unity, he decided to become a good shepherd in the
For 34 years he heard confessions. He was always quick, serene, affable,
available for any sacrifice for the good and service of others. Wherever he
was assigned over the years, Leopold was greatly admired and loved by the
people. Despite being hidden in the darkness of the confessional, he was known
to everyone. His fierce Dalmation temperament notwithstanding, he always
controlled himself, was generous in forgiving, and never harbored resentment.
Among his Capuchin brothers, Leopold was the object of much misunderstanding
and negative criticism. His ministry often prevented him from being present at
communal gatherings. Some friars objected to the largesse Leopold showed to
penitents. Leopold transformed the confessional into an experience of human
dignity, a personal encounter of compassion, respect, and understanding. There
every penitent experienced the mercy of God and the kindness of a priest.
Leopold once remarked, "Some say that I am too good. But if you come and kneel
before me, isn't this a sufficient proof that you want to have God's pardon?
God's mercy is beyond all expectation." When accused of leniency in assigning
penances, Leopold would respond, "If the Lord wants to accuse me of showing
too much leniency toward sinners, I'll tell him that it was he who gave me
this example, and I haven't even died for the salvation of souls as he did."
Leopold would often remark, "Be at peace; place everything on my shoulders. I
will take care of it." He once explained, "I give my penitents only small
penances because I do the rest myself." At nighttime, he would spend hours in
prayer, explaining: "I must do penance for my penitents."
Despite his inbred severity and Capuchin austerity, Leopold had a big heart,
full of understanding and sensitivity. He was very vocal about pro-life issues
and was instrumental in inspiring a teacher to found "Little Homes" for
orphans where they could experience a parent's love. Perhaps his greatest
personal penance was living in an extremely small room (6'7" in width and 4'3"
in length) which was an icebox in winter and an oven in summer.
Leopold had a deep devotion to the Virgin Mary whom he called (in Venetian
dialect), "Parona benedeta," (i.e., "my holy boss"). He celebrated daily
eucharist at the side altar of the Immaculate Conception, recited the Little
Office of the Virgin Mary, and prayed the rosary often. He had a special love
for expectant mothers and for children. He would visit the sick, in Padua and
the surrounding area, in nursing homes and private houses. He often visited
the Capuchin infirmary to comfort the sick and senior friars. His constant
refrain was, "Have faith! Have faith!" He had a special captivation with
doctors, reminding them often, "God is both the physician and the medicine."
He once said of priests, "A priest must die from apostolic hard work; there is
no other death worthy of a priest."
Cancer of the esophagus led to Leopold's death. On July 30, 1942, he was
vesting for liturgy when he collapsed on the sacristy floor. He was brought to
his cell where he was anointed. Friars gathered at his cell and began to pray
the "Salve Regina" with Leopold. When they got to the words, "O clement, O
loving, O sweet Virgin Mary," Leopold died. He was 76 years old, 60 of which
were spent as a Capuchin, and 52 as a priest.
Leopold's cell and confessional were spared the bombing of World War II, even
though the church and part of the friary were demolished. Leopold had
predicted it, "The church and the friary will be hit by the bombs, but not
this little cell. Here God exercised so much mercy for people, it must remain
as a monument to God's goodness." Paul VI beatified Leopold on May 2, 1976. He
was canonized by John Paul II on October 16, 1983 during the Synod of Bishops
considering the theme of reconciliation. Leopold is hailed as the "Apostle of
Source: Capuchin Order, San Franciscan, California
May 19 --St. Crispin of Viterbo, OFMCap
His feast is celebrated on
May 19th. Peter Fioretti was born at Viterbo, Italy, on November 13, 1668. His
father, Ubald, died when Peter was very young. The raising of the boy and his
stepsister was left in the hands of his mother, Marsha, who had already been
widowed once when she married Ubald. When Peter was five years old, his mother
dedicated him to the Virgin Mary at the shrine of Our Lady of the Oaks near
Viterbo. "Look," she told her son, "this is also your mother. I have made you
a gift to her." Peter never forgot that experience, and throughout his life
referred to Mary as his "momma." Since his mother could not afford to educate
him, Peter's paternal uncle, Francis, provided for his schooling. After
working as a cobbler for his uncle, the frail, lean 25-year-old Peter asked to
join the Capuchins, desiring to imitate Felix of Cantalice.
May 19 -
The provincial minister, Angelo of Rieti, immediately accepted him for the
novitiate. However, Peter met with opposition from his family, especially from
his mother. Reminding her that she had already given him to the Virgin Mary,
she consented to his going to "serve the Madonna." Having gotten to the
novitiate, Peter also met with resistance from the novice director who, seeing
how frail Peter appeared, advised him to return home. The novice director
allowed him to remain as a guest while awaiting a decision from the provincial
The provincial minister reminded the novice director that it was the
provincial minister's prerogative to accept novices and the director's
responsibility to discern the vocation of those accepted. Peter was received
into the Roman Capuchin province on July 22, 1693, taking the name, Crispin
(after the patron of cobblers). Despite his prior training as a cobbler, in
all his 57 years as a Capuchin, Crispin was never assigned as cobbler for the
friars. After professing vows on July 22, 1694, he was assigned to Tolfa as
cook for three years and then passed through a series of assignments:
infirmarian at Rome, cook at Albano, orchardkeeper at Monterotondo, and
finally, questor at Orvieto for 38 years. Crispin knew everyone and everyone
knew him, considering him a close personal friend. He possessed an amazing
ability to integrate a life of feverish activity, on the one hand, with a
solid interior life. Without concern for his own wellbeing, Crispin cared for
those stricken during the epidemics at Farnese, Gallese and Bracciano. As
questor, he begged for food not only on behalf of his Capuchin brothers, but
also to provide for all the needy of his "big Orvietan family." For the
friars, he would only beg for necessities, nothing more.
Crispin accomplished a remarkable amount of good in the area of social and
spiritual assistance, energetically ministering among the sick, the
imprisoned, sinners, unwed mothers, families experiencing hardship, and those
on the brink of despair. He was a skilled peacemaker both within his own
Capuchin community and with others. Before beginning any task, Crispin always
prayed first to Mary, his mother. He possessed a contagious joviality and his
ministry was marked by a profound sense of joy. Nothing escaped his notice,
particularly in discerning what people really needed. Daily he visited the
sick and local prisoners, pleading their cause, urging the guards to respect
their human dignity, bringing them bread, chestnuts and tobacco, and arranging
for families to take turns providing the prisoners with good, homecooked
meals. Babies were often abandoned on the doorstep of the friary and then
placed in the care of Our Lady of the Star Shelter. Crispin took a personal
interest in these foundlings, arranging for their being apprenticed in one or
the other trade, and keeping in touch with many of them well into their adult
lives. Crispin was filled with intuition and insight which prompted many
learned people to seek his counsel.
Crispin was convinced that much of human misery, both material and spiritual,
was due to injustice. He therefore set about to confront social injustice by
admonishing merchants, reminding people of workers' rights, and asking
forgiveness of debts whenever possible. He used his sense of humor to lighten
people's burdens. Every little occurrence found its way quickly to Crispin's
ears. Without hesitation, he would offer himself as a mediator, friend, and
counselor. Nonetheless, he was not without his critics and crosses, both
within and outside the friary. Some called him opinionated and aggressive;
others, a hypocrite. Some friars expected Felix to make their life easier.
When their expectations were not met, they became embittered.
Besides many letters, Crispin left a treasury of maxims, among them, "One
doesn't get to heaven in a taxi."
During the winter of 1747-48, Crispin fell gravely ill and was transferred to
the provincial infirmary at Rome. Recovery was but temporary, and on May 19,
1750, the 82-year-old Crispin died of pneumonia at the friary of the
Immaculate Conception located near the Piazza Barberini on Rome's famous via
Veneto. Among the many sayings attributed to him was the exhortation, "Let us
love God who deserves it!"
Beatified by Pius VII on September 7, 1806, Crispin was canonized by Pope John
Paul II on June 20, 1982.
Source: Capuchin Order, San Francisco, California
Born in Corte,
Corsica, 1676; died in 1740; canonized in 1930; feast day May 19. Biagio Arrighi joined the Franciscans in 1693 and took the name Theophilus.
He was ordained priest at Naples and taught theology at Civitella in the
Roman Campagna. Later, Theophilus was a famous missioner throughout Italy
and Corsica and a zealous worker for the revival of Franciscan observance
May 21 - Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, SFO
Born in 1907 at St. Radegund in Austria, Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, SFO, refused to cooperate with the Nazi regime which had seized power in Austria in 1938; when repeatedly called up for military service, he declared himself bound to refuse by conscience and because of the commandment of the love for God and one’s neighbor, for “we must obey God rather than people”.
It was during this time that Blessed Franz joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Condemned to death in 1943 for undermining military discipline, he was beheaded on August 9 in Germany, and merited being united to the passion of Christ. Pope Benedict XVI having issued a decree declaring him to be a martyr, on October 26, 2007 beatified him in Linz, Austria. His feast day is May 21. (See also: http://www.franciscan-sfo.org/fe/fe070626.htm)