Presentation of the LordThis feast commemorates the presentation of the young Jesus in the temple by his parents in accordance with Jewish custom. The aged Simeon and Anna recognize in him the longed-for messiah of Israel, and Simeon proclaims, “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.” Because of the association of this feast with Christ the Light, it is customary to bless candles as part of the liturgy.
St. BlaiseSaint Blase was the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia during the fourth century. His cult spread throughout the entire Church in the Middle Ages.
St. AnsgarSaint Ansgar was born in France at the beginning of the ninth century and educated in the monastery of Corbie. In 826 he preached the faith in Denmark with little success but later labored to greater effect in Sweden. Appointed bishop of Hamburg by Pope Gregory IV, he was sent as a legate to Denmark and Sweden. There he met with many difficulties in the work of preaching the Gospel but bravely overcame them. Saint Ansgar died in 865.
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. AgathaAgatha suffered martyrdom at Catania in Sicily, probably during the persecution of Decius. From antiquity her cult spread throughout the Church; her name was therefore inserted into the Roman Canon.
St. Paul Miki and CompanionsSaint Paul was born in Japan between 1564 and 1566. Entering the Society of Jesus, he preached the Gospel to the people with great success. But when persecution against Catholics became oppressive, he was arrested along with twenty-five others. After enduring torment and derision they were finally taken to Nagasaki and there suffered crucifixion in 1597 on the vigil of this day.
St. Jerome EmilianiJerome was born at Venice in 1486. He first embraced the military life but later dedicated himself to helping the poor, distributing to them his own possessions. He founded the Order of Clerks Regular of Somascha, which supported orphan boys and the poor. Jerome died in Somascha in the Bergamese District in 1537.
St. Josephine BakhitaSaint Josephine was a young Sudanese girl sold into slavery and brought to Italy where, while serving as a nanny, she was sent to live with the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of the Catechumens in Venice. There she was baptized, and, having reached majority age, was granted her freedom by Italian law. In 1896 she joined the Canossian Daughters of Charity where she served humbly for the next twenty-five years. She died after a long and painful illness, during which she would cry out to the Lord: “Please loosen the chains ... they are so heavy!” Her dying words were “Our Lady! Our Lady!”
St. ScholasticaScholastica, a sister of Saint Benedict, was born in Nursia, Italy about the year 480. She vowed herself to God and followed her brother to Monte Cassino. She died there around the year 547.
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Commemoration of Seven Founders of the Order of ServitesSeven men, born at Florence, began a life on Monte Senario with a particular veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Later they preached throughout Tuscany and founded the Order of Servites of the Blessed Virgin Mary, approved by the Holy See in 1304. Alexis Falconieri, one of the seven, died on this day in 1310.
1st Sunday of Lent
Commemoration of St. Peter DamianSaint Peter Damian was born at Ravenna in 1007. After completing his studies he began to teach, but soon abandoned this and entered the hermitage of Fonte Avellana where, once elected prior, he promoted the religious life with such fervor that all of Italy was affected by his renewal. During calamitous times he helped the Roman Pontiffs through his works and writings and by various missions on behalf of Church reform. He was created bishop and cardinal of Ostia by Pope Stephen IX. Peter Damian died in 1072 and soon afterward was venerated as a saint.
Chair of St. PeterSince the fourth century, the feast of the Chair of Peter has been celebrated at Rome as a sign of the unity of the Church founded upon that apostle.
Commemoration of St. PolycarpSaint Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna and a disciple of the apostles, accompanied Saint Ignatius of Antioch to Rome to confer with Pope Anicetus concerning the celebration of Easter. About the year 155 he suffered martyrdom by burning at the stake in the amphitheater at Smyrna.
2nd Sunday of Lent