Saints celebrated this week
Ss. Perpetua & Felicity – 7th March
Perpetua and Felicity were two 3rd century Christian martyrs venerated as saints. Perpetua was a 22-year old married woman, while her co-martyr Felicity was her slave. They suffered together at Carthage and their sufferings in prison, the angry and then despairing attempts of Perpetua’s father to induce her to renounce Christianity, the vicissitudes of the martyrs before their execution, the visions of Saturus and Perpetua in their dungeons, were all committed to writing by the last two, in a genre of text that is technically called a “Passion.” The date of their martyrdom is traditionally given as March 6, 203, and took place in the public stadium at Carthage during the persecution of Septimus Severus. Perpetua and Felicita are two of seven women, excluding the Blessed Virgin, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.
S. John of God – 8th March
John was born in Portugal in 1495 and became one of Spain’s leading religious figures. He was born into a once prominent family that was impoverished but had great religious faith. His mother died when he was only a small child and his father joined a monastic order. He spent an adventurous youth as a soldier, but a sermon of S. John of Avila turned his mind to the sufferings of the sick and poor and he devoted the rest of his life to their care. He established hospitals for the outcasts of society, and those who followed him established the Order of the Hospitallers of S. John. He died on March 8, 1550, his 55th birthday. He was canonized by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690, and later named the patron saint of hospitals, the sick, nurses, firefighters, alcoholics, and booksellers.
S. Frances of Rome – 9th March
S. Frances was born in Rome of wealthy parents, in 1384. When she was eleven years old, she decided to be a nun, but within two years her parents married her off to Lorenzo Ponziano commander of the papal troops of Rome. She had three children and the marriage was a happy one. They lost two of their three children to the plague and Frances devoted herself to the care of the needy. In 1425 she founded a Congregation of Oblates, following the rule of S. Benedict. She died in 1440 and on May 9, 1608 she was canonized by Pope Paul V. Peculiarly, in 1925 Pope Pius XI declared her the patron saint of automobile drivers.
S. John Ogilvie – 10th March
John Ogilvie was a Scottish Catholic martyr born in 1579 into a respected Calvinist family. The son of a wealthy laird living near Keith in Banffshire, Scotland, he was educated in Europe where he attended a number of Catholic educational establishments, under the Benedictines at Regensburg in Germany and with the Jesuits at Olomouc and Brno. In the midst of the religious controversies and turmoil that engulfed the Europe of that era he decided to become a Catholic and was received into the church at Leuven, Belgium in 1596 aged just 17. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1608 and was ordained a priest in Paris in 1610. After ordination he made repeated entreaties to be sent back to Scotland to minister to the few remaining Catholics in the Glasgow area and eventually returned to Scotland in November 1613 disguised as a soldier. Here he began to preach in secret, celebrating mass clandestinely in private homes. However, his ministry was to last less than a year. In 1614, he was betrayed and arrested in Glasgow and taken to jail in Paisley. He suffered terrible tortures, including being kept awake for eight days and nine nights, in an attempt to make him divulge the identities of other Catholics. He never relented and was convicted of high treason for refusing to accept the King’s spiritual jurisdiction. On 10th March 1615, aged 36 years, John Ogilvie was paraded through the streets of Glasgow and hanged at Glasgow Cross.
His last words were “If there be here any hidden Catholics, let them pray for me but the prayers of heretics I will not have”.
As a martyr of the Counter-Reformation he was beatified in 1929 and canonised in 1976. He is the only post-Reformation saint from Scotland.