30 December 2012 to 5 January 2013

The round up of the week from 30 December 2012 to 5 January 2013.  No scheduled beatifications of which I’m aware.

Sunday 30 December, the memorial of the repose in 2000 in Michigan of the Servant of God John Hardon.  A Jesuit priest and theologian from Pennsylvania, he is best known as a writer.  His cause was opened in 2007 and is still in the diocesean phase.

Monday 31 December, I have nothing.

Tuesday 1 January, the anniversary of the martyrdom in 1947 in China of Benedict.  Born John Jenson in Copenhagen, he grew up in California and went on to become a Franciscan lay brother.  He and a German Franciscan were staffing a mission in China.  After World War II, when China was falling in pieces to the Communists, his mission was attacked.  The two Franciscans were bound, beaten and stabbed to death.  I am not aware of a cause for his canonization.

Wednesday 2 January and Thursday 3 January I have nothing.

Friday 4 January, the feast of S Elizabeth Ann Seton.  The first native born American saint and the foundress of the first American-established religious order, she was actually a convert from Episcopalianism, making it seem somewhat perverse that the Episcopalians added her to their own calendar in 2009.  She was married to a businessman who was doing poorly in both his trade and his health when they set out to Europe.  He died there, but she was introduced to Catholicism and was received into the Church when she returned to New York, where it may have been legal to be Catholic but it hurt her socially.  She would go on to work in charity and teaching for the rest of her life.  She was canonized by the Venerable Servant of God Paul VI in 1975.

Saturday 5 January is the feast of S John Neumann.  A Bohemian priest from the Redemptorists,  he traveled to America to become a priest as there were so many in Bohemia the local Bishop had called a halt to ordinations.  Here his affinity for languages made him able to work in the immigrant communities, in New York and then Pennsylvania.  He became the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia — he is still the only American Bishop to be canonized — though he asked Rome to relieve him of his duties when the bigotry and terrorism of the anti-Catholics began to wear on him emotionally.  Rome refused, and he persevered in his post until his death at 48.  He was also canonized by the Venerable Servant of God Paul VI, in 1977.

Finally, also 5 January, among the Breton, the memory of the martyrdom in 1945 in Bergedorf, Germany, of the Finistere-born Trappist priest Gwenael.  Born Jean-Mathurin Thomas, he was a priest and a professor before becoming a Trappist.  He was associated with the Trappist monastery of Notre-Dame de Timadeuc in Brehan, Morbihan.  (It still exists, and currently has twenty-three brothers.)  During World War II, the abbey was a safe house for the Resistance and a transit point for helping downed Allied aviators to get out of German hands.  When this was discovered, he was deported to the concentration camp at Neuengamme, Bergedorf, where he suffered under a particularly sadistic commander.  I don’t have much information about what happened there, but he seems to have died of dysentery and exhaustion, due in part to the fact he was giving half of his rations away to the younger prisoners.  I’m not aware of an open cause for his canonization.

S Elizabeth Ann Seton, ora pro nobis.

S John Neumann, ora pro nobis.

All the saints and martyrs, ora pro nobis.

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