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Saturday, 30 December 2017

'A Christmas Gift' and other delights.

A Christmas Gift

A mother was watching, one Christmas night,

Nursing her babe by the candle-light.
And she lifted her eyes in the gathering gloom,
For the Christ-child stood in the lowly room.
"What shall I give to thy child?", He said,
softly caressing the sleeper's head.
"Nay", said the mother, "O Angel-guest 
Give her whatever Thou deemest best."

"But what shall I give her?" He spoke again,

"ask and thou shalt not ask in vain.
Shall I touch her brow that her eyes may shine
with beauty, that men will call divine?
Shall I touch her lips that they may flow
with songs of the best that the world may know?"
"Nay", said the mother, "these will not stay,
songs are forgotten, and hair turns grey".

"Then what shall I give her, O mother mild?

Ask what thou wilt for thy little child".
And the mother lifted her eyes above,
"Give her purity, truth and love".
And the Christ-Child turned to her, soft and mild,
"Thou has chosen the best for thy little child.
Be not afraid, though life be sore,
I will be with her for evermore".

                                Anon - from 'Parlour Poetry' (This England).


God Abides in Men

God abides in men.
There are some men who are simple,
they are fields of corn.
We see the soil and the stubble,
more than the green spears
and the yellow stalks.
Such men have minds
like wide grey skies,
they have the grandeur
that the fool calls emptiness.

God is clothed in homespun in such lives.
He goes with them to the field and the barn,
He comes home, when the birds,
in dark orderly flocks
cross the empty twilights of time.

God abides in men.
Some men are not simple,
they live in cities
among the teeming buildings,
wrestling with forces
as strong as the sun and the rain.
Often they must forgo dream upon dream.
The glare of the electric light
blinds their eyes to the stars.
On some nights,
the stir of life, and the lights,
is a soft fire, like wine
in their blood.

Christ walks in the wilderness
in such lives.
Wrestling with Lucifer,
the fallen angel of light,
who shows him the cities of the world,
and with brilliant and illimitable audacity,
offers to Christianity lordship of the cities
on the worlds terms.

God abides in men.
There are some men,
on whom the sins of the world are laid.
They are conscripted,
stripped, measured and weighed,
taken away from home,
and sent to the flood,
the fire, the darkness,
the loneliness of death.
In such men
Christ is stripped of His garments,
the reed is put in His hand,
the soldier’s cloak on His shoulders,
the Cross on His back.
In them He is crucified.
From the lives,
and the deaths
of those men,
cities rise from the dead.

God abides in men,
because Christ has put on
the nature of man, like a garment,
and worn it to His own shape.
He has put on everyone’s life.
He has fitted Himself to the little child’s dress,
to the shepherd’s coat of sheepskin,
to the workman’s coat,
to the King’s red robes,
to the snowy loveliness of the wedding garment,
and to the drab, simple battle dress.

Christ has put on Man’s nature,
and given him back his humanness,
worn to the shape
of limitless love,
and warm from the touch
of His life.

He has given man his crown,
the thorn that is jewelled
with drops of His blood.
He has given him
the seamless garment
of his truth.
He has bound him
in the swaddling bands
of his humility.
He has fastened his hands
to the tree of life.
He has latched his feet
in crimson sandals,
that they move not
from the path of love.

God abides in man.

Caryll Houselander (1901-1954)


Although this is not a Christmas poem, it is about a child's love for her father, originally composed perhaps for the music-hall.   I cannot resist including it!

Give Me a Ticket to Heaven

Into a railway station crept a little child one night;
The last train was just leaving, and the bustle at its height.
The station-master standing there, looked down with wondering eyes
Upon this little maid - so frail in form, so small in size.
"Where is your father, little one? Are you alone? he cried.
With tearful eyes she look'd up in his and thus replied:

        "Give me a ticket to heaven,
         That's where Dad's gone, they say,
         He'll be so lonely without me,
         Travelling all that way.
         Mother died when I was born, sir,
         And left Dad and me alone,
         So give me a ticket to heaven, please,
         Before the last train is gone."

"My Daddy worked upon the line, but when I went tonight
To take his tea, he lay there on a shutter - oh! so white.
Then to a great big building his mates carried him away;
'He's booked for Heaven, poor old Dick!" I heard one of them say.
A station this must be - I thought to find the train I'd wait;
But finding none I ran on here - I hope I'm not too late."

        "Give me a ticket to heaven,
         That's where Dad's gone, they say,
         He'll be so lonely without me,
         Travelling all that way.
         Mother died when I was born ,sir,
         And left Dad and me alone,
         So give me a ticket to heaven, please,
         Before the last train is gone."

The station-master said, "Come, little one I'll see you right.
A ticket to your father you shall have this very night."
He took her to the hospital; they let her see her Dad.
Though injured, he had not been killed, and oh! her heart was glad.
Then turning to that kind friend who had brought her all the way,
She said, "If I lose Dad again, I'll come to you and say -

        "Give me a ticket to heaven,
         That's where Dad's gone, they say,
         He'll be so lonely without me,
         Travelling all that way.
         Mother died when I was born ,sir,
         And left Dad and me alone,
         So give me a ticket to heaven, please,
         Before the last train is gone."

                               Anon - from 'Parlour Poetry'(This England).


"God, who is unchangeable, would appear now as a child in a stable, now as a boy in a workshop, now as a criminal on a scaffold, and now as bread upon the altar.  In these various guises Jesus chose to exhibit Himself to us;  but whatever character He assumed, it was always the character of a lover." 

ack. 'Thoughts from St Alphonsus' - compiled by Rev C McNeiry  C.SS.R

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

'Simply a Letter'

Reproduced below is an extract from a letter written by a Catholic father to his family. The letter covers many matters of general interest, but includes this extract which deals very briefly with the founding and growth of the Church over the centuries, and more specifically the need for each member of the family to live and persevere in the practice of the faith, which will lead to eternal happiness with God. 

'Mum and I consider ourselves fortunate and very blessed to have been baptised Catholics, and brought up in the one, true faith. The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ who appointed Peter, a fisherman, to be the Head.  Peter was the first in a line of Popes continuing to the present day. Needless to say not all Popes have been good men!  After Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection from the dead, Peter and the remaining apostles and other disciples travelled throughout the Near and Middle East preaching Christianity and converting thousands to the Christian faith. Over the years many suffered torture and martyrdom for their beliefs, with periods of persecution lasting intermittently over several centuries. It is easy to forget that in England, for a period of 1500 years until the time of the Reformation, there was only one Christian faith, and that was Catholicism. If you were a Christian, you were a Catholic. Today the Catholic Church teaches the same faith and has the same beliefs as it has always done, and this will continue to the end of the world. The Protestant Church, which came into being at the Reformation, is now divided into hundreds of Sects, none of which recognises the Pope as their Head and none of which teach the Catholic faith, and all of which teach their own versions of Christianity. None can claim that protection given by Christ to Peter when he founded His Church - ‘Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it……. To thee I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound, even in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed, even in heaven.” 

Today (November 2nd) is ‘All Souls’ day, when we remember and pray for the souls of deceased family and friends, and ask God to forgive them their sins in this life, and welcome them into His heavenly kingdom. Death is certain for all of us, and if we do not set our sights on doing our best to live our lives in the friendship of God, how can we expect to be welcomed by Him when we die? As baptised Catholics we have been specially favoured by Christ as belonging to Him, and if we persevere in our loyalty to Him, after death we will be with Him for all eternity.
However Christ did not promise an easy ride, as we can see by His words:- “Enter by the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who enter that way. How narrow the gate and close the way that leads to life! And few there are who find it”.(Mathew 7//13)   
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For he who would save his life will lose it; but he who loses his life for my sake will find it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul” (Mathew 16//24-26)ow narrow the gate and close the waythat leads to lif! 

 "The holy souls are consoled by the remembrance of the Passion of Jesus Christ and of the Blessed Sacrament, because through the Passion they are now saved, and through the Communions of the faithful and the Masses celebrated throughout the Church, they have received and receive so many graces.  But they are tormented by the thought of having been ungrateful during life for these two great benefits of the love of Jesus Christ."   (November 7th)
  ack. 'Thoughts from St Alphonsus for every day of the year' -compiled by  Rev. C McNeiry  C.SS.R

Friday, 29 September 2017

Divine Authority and the Catholic Church

                                                  St Peter - Paolo Besenzi  (17th c)

(the following, with slight modification, is taken from an article in the latest edition of  ‘The Flock’, the newsletter of Pro Ecclesia and Pro Pontifice,  editor Graham Moorhouse (Le Tocsin) -  with thanks)


- Graham Moorhouse

Man's attitude to religion can be put into three broad categories: atheism, natural religion and revealed religion.


Atheists are simply materialists who deny the existence of the divine. Today, the ranks of atheists have been swelled by a world -wide flight from Islam. Sadly, many, possibly most, ex-Muslims finish up as atheists. This, while regrettable, is very understandable. People leave Islam because of the conflict between God's law written on their hearts and the laws of the sick deity preached by Islam's homicidal, misogamist, paedophilic, "prophet". Unfortunately, because they have had the laws of this sick deity rammed down their throats from birth, their subconscious concept of God is very negative indeed, so many, understandably, abandon God when they leave Islam. A God who loves man, His creature, so much that He became man and died for him, is not something they can easily get their heads round, when they have all their life been instructed to worship a God who calls for the slaughter of non-believers, war, rape, legalised adultery (for men, not women), sex slavery, the beating of wives and the death penalty for apostates, etc.

Natural Religion

Those that believe in natural religion, hold that man has an innate desire for the divine. For the believer in natural religion, the different creeds are merely different traditions that have evolved over time in different cultures as a result of this inherent longing. The believers in natural religion tend towards pantheism, i.e. the god within, not a being who exists outside of His creation. For the believer in natural religion it makes absolutely no sense to talk of one religion being true or another false. All religions are merely human traditions, and therefore just a matter of choice or custom.
Most ecumenists are believers in natural religion. What they hope to achieve by jaw-jaw is that the different religions will slowly morph one into the other, so that what we will finally end up with is a sort of one-world homogenised religion - which will, of course, serve the ends of Masonic, globalist masters.

Believers in natural religion hate miracles. And when I say "hate", I mean really hate with a passion that borders on the demonic. That is why some of our post-Conciliar "shepherds" have torn down any sign of the miraculous from Catholic places of pilgrimage. The Holywell shrine (on the Dee Estuary, northern Wales) is a case in point. Before the Council it was bedecked with abandoned crutches and similar artefacts. Today, it is has been stripped bare of any hint of the miraculous. The miraculous, you see, exposes their philosophy as a sham. The miraculous requires a God who is outside nature, who is the author of the laws of nature, and who is consequently capable of suspending those same laws.

One of the great mysteries of the post-Conciliar Church is why churchmen who apparently embrace natural religion, which is the clear antithesis of the Catholic faith, continue in their positions. 

In my opinion, an example  of a believer in natural religion is  Cardinal Walter Kasper. He is actually on record of having said something to the effect that a God who reveals Himself is theological nonsense. Nearer home, Fr Rolheiser who writes in the Universe, is in my view, another believer in natural religion. He will write ecumaniac-gibberish like, ‘if we dig wells with the devotees of other religions we will find God together at the bottom of the well.’ How that is supposed to work is anyone's guess, and is never, of course, explained.

As matters stand, the as yet, unclarified and contentious papal encyclical 'Amoris Laetitia', suggests the Pope may be inclined in this direction, aware of it or not. His attempt to update and amend Christ's teaching on the indissolubility of marriage makes perfect sense from the perspective of natural religion. If religion is just man-made traditions, and Christ was merely a Rabbi, of course you can, and perhaps even should, update His teachings to better fit the spirit of the age. Pope Francis's constant banging on about rigidity also fits into this picture. If religion is merely  the blind stumbling of man towards the divine, than inflexibility makes little sense.

At the Last Supper, Christ said to the Apostles, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." Listen to their responses carefully. All the Apostles, except Judas, replied, "Is it I Lord?" But Judas replied instead, "Is it I, Rabbi (teacher)?" At that moment, Judas revealed himself as a believer in natural religion. While one may have enormous respect for a teacher, one does not worship a teacher. Teachers are ultimately merely human. Human knowledge advances and the teachings of even the greatest teachers of antiquity have to be viewed through the lenses of modernity.
We should see Judas Iscariot not just as an individual but as a type. Judas Iscariot will always be with the Church. The Venerable Fulton Sheen wrote, "The Mystical Body on earth today will have its Judas Iscariot, and he will be the false prophet. Satan will recruit him from our bishops."

Revealed Religion

The final category is revealed religion. For the believer in revealed religion, a certain rigidity makes perfect sense, because the believer in revealed religion holds that true religion is the result, not of man seeking God, but of God revealing Himself to man. There are four main factions claiming such revelation: Protestantism, Islam, Judaism and Catholicism.

The differences between Protestantism and Islam are of course huge, nevertheless, they have one quaint idea in common: the belief that God has revealed Himself through a book, and this book is the foundation stone of their respective belief systems. It is difficult to convey just how irrational this idea is. For starters, it is not just one article of blind faith, it is at least three articles of blind faith: one must first embrace the assertion that there is actually such a thing as a book dictated or inspired by God; secondly one must embrace the idea that either the Koran or the Bible is so inspired; and finally, that other books are not so inspired.

The only possible basis for such an utterly improbably notion, is if someone or something with the requisite authority should reveal it to be so. To claim that the book itself claims to be inspired is a logical non-starter. It is the intellectual equivalent of carrying oneself around by one's own bootlaces. Muslims, for example believe that Muhammad is the most perfect man to have ever lived, because the Koran, a book purportedly written by Muhammad, says he is the most perfect man who has ever lived. How nuts is that? Yet followers of this barbaric creed will kill you for merely questioning it!

 Protestantism is, from this perspective, even more irrational than Islam, for the Bible  is not one book but seventy-three books written at different times, in different places by different men. On what possible basis can any mere man know that these particular seventy-three books are inspired, or even special?

The original canon, i.e. list of books to be included in the Bible, was drawn up by the Church, but Protestants reject the Church, so what possible rational grounds do they have for retaining the list? It gets even sillier, because Luther, the inventor of Protestantism, took five books out of the Bible because he didn't like what they taught! If Luther, a mere man, can take out these five books simply because he didn't like what they taught, why can't Joe take out another dozen or so for similar reasons - or Mary add half a dozen other books for that matter? The original canon took some time to be universally agreed in the Church. The inspiration of the book of Revelations, the last book of the Bible, was rejected by some early Christians. And a beautiful letter from St Clement, the third pope, was regarded as inspired and worthy of inclusion in the Scriptures by some Christians. In fact, in the early Church, it was regularly read out at Mass as if it was Scripture.

Judaism and Catholicism

Judaism and Catholicism can be considered as one thing. Judaism looked forward to the coming of the Messiah and of His kingdom, i.e. the coming of Jesus Christ and the founding of His Church, whereas the Church looks back to the coming of Jesus Christ and Her founding and commissioning by Him. The founding of the Catholic Church by Christ rendered Judaism fulfilled and in that sense obsolete.

The Church treats the intellect of non-believers with respect and therefore does not require them to do anything quite so daft as embrace, without any rational basis for so doing, the dogma that a bunch of old books are the inspired word of God. The Church treats the Bible, especially the four Gospels, as historical books. She invites you to evaluate those four books using the same criteria as a professional historian would use to evaluate any other historical document.

Once one has satisfied oneself as to the validity of these books as historical records, we quickly learn that the "hero" portrayed therein claimed divinity. We further learn that he validated his claim with miracles, especially His own resurrection from the dead. We also learn from this and other sources that some twelve of His closest followers gave their lives for the truth of what they had witnessed and to which they had testified.

                                                                             The Four Evangelists
Detail in stained glass window, Bosbury church
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in stained glass east window of Bosbury church.
© Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

We further learn that Jesus Christ founded a Church and bestowed on that Church His own authority and mission. That Church teaches that everything passed down to us from the early Church constitutes sacred tradition and must be revered. Further, some of that sacred tradition has been codified, i.e. written down for our edification. Further still, just some of these written, i.e. codified, records, the Church further teaches, were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Now, at last, because the Church teaches with the authority of Christ, we have a rational reason for accepting the inspiration of the Scriptures.

Without that authority, unless we were to wake up one morning and find the entire canon of the Scripture written in the sky by a miraculous cloud formation, or learn  that something like this was witnessed, like the miracle of the sun at Fatima, by 10,000s of people, belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures, without the authority of a divinely commissioned Church, is mere superstition - and, moreover, can, in the wrong hands, be dangerous superstition.
                                   (ack. Graham Moorhouse (Le Tocsin)
Feast of St Michael - 29 September.    

                          St Michael the Archangel  - Guido Reni (1636)

'In the Mass for the dead, the Church prays:  May the standard bearer, St Michael, bring them into the holy light.   The learned explain this prayer by saying that St Michael has the honourable office of presenting to Jesus Christ, the Judge, all the souls that depart this life in the Grace of God.'

(ack. Thoughts from St Alphonsus.- compiled by Rev C McNeiry C.SS.R)

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

900th anniversary of the death of St Magnus, patron saint of Orkney. (AD 1117-2017)

‘Diocesan pilgrimage hailed as historic’ was the headline on page 5 of the ‘Orcadian’ newspaper of 3rd August, which referred to the visit to Orkney the previous weekend, of three Catholic Archbishops and nine Bishops, together with priests and many  Catholic laity, who had travelled to Orkney to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the death of St Magnus, the patron saint of Orkney. 

                      St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney.

This unique diocesan pilgrimage involved all of the bishops and archbishops from the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland; also a Scandinavian contingent which included the Bishop of Oslo, Bernt  Eidsvig, and the Bishop of Copenhagen, Czeslaw Kuzo;  also Bishop Nicholas Hudson, auxiliary Bishop of Westminster.

 Hierarchy and priests outside St Magnus Cathedral, 30 July 2017.(ack. Tom O'Brien, 'Orcadian')

On the  Friday, the ‘Magnus 900’ commemorations  included a series of talks in the St Magnus Centre, on the theme of St Magnus, and his legacy, including a talk by Orkney- based Catholic philosopher and musicologist, Dr Ben Whitworth.   

On the Saturday, there was a choice of two local pilgrimages, one  to  St Magnus Kirk, Birsay, along a section of the new St Magnus Way pilgrimage route; the other  a visit by ferry and on foot to St Magnus Kirk, on the isle of Egilsay. 

                 Interior of St Magnus Cathedral  (Expedia)

Probably the highlight of the weekend was on the Sunday, with the celebration of High Mass in St Magnus Cathedral, accompanied  by the Aberdeen Diocesan Choir. Surely never before has there been an occasion when the sanctuary of this great Cathedral accommodated so many Roman Catholic prelates, participating together in the celebration of Holy Mass. In addition to this I would suggest that the last time High Mass was offered in the Cathedral must be prior to the Reformation, some 500 years ago.

 High Mass, St Magnus Cathedral, 30 July 2017.(ack. Tom O'Brien 'Orcadian')

Bishop Hugh Gilbert O.S.B., Bishop of Aberdeen, described the occasion as holy and historic, and a privilege and delight for him. He commented on the friendliness and helpfulness of the people of Orkney, with special mention of those from the Council and the Cathedral, and he emphasized the importance of the  commemoration which underlined  the iconic significance of Saint Magnus, still an inspirational figure 900 years after his death.

Bishop Hugh Gilbert O.S.B.  Bishop of Aberdeen (ack. Tom O'Brien, 'Orcadian')

Father Peter Kelly, the parish priest of Our Lady and St Joseph Church, Kirkwall, afterwards commented, “This has not just been a once-in-a-lifetime event, but an historic event. Never in the history of Orkney has there been an occasion like this.”   The Mass in the Cathedral , he described as  “a very, very moving experience.”

The Cathedral Minister, the Rev. Fraser Macnaughton, also commented on the historic nature of the occasion, describing it as very fitting and appropriate for the Magnus900 festival, and expressing pleasure at the welcome he and other non-Catholics had received from those on the pilgrimage.

Leaving St Magnus Cathedral with processional banner depicting Aberdeen diocese coat-of-arms. (30 July 2017) (ack.Tom O'Brien, 'Orcadian'.)

The commemoration of Saint Magnus, the patron saint of Orkney, was truly an historic and memorable occasion, and a valuable reminder of Orkney's strong Catholic heritage, of which the magnificent Cathedral  is symbolic, as are numerous other early Christian sites around the county.

St Magnus was killed in Egilsay by his cousin Haakon, believed in 1117, and was buried at Birsay. He was canonised about 20 years later, with several miracles being attributed to him. In his memory, his nephew, St Rognvald, then commenced the building of St Magnus Cathedral, where, when consecrated, the relics of St Magnus  were transferred. Several centuries later, in 1919, a casket containing bones and a damaged skull, believed to be the relics of St Magnus, was found hidden in a stone column in the Cathedral, where they remain to this day.


 Abridged extract from Wikipedia concerning St Magnus.

"According to the 'Orkneyinga Saga', Magnus had a reputation for piety and gentleness. He refused to fight in a Viking raid in AngleseyWales, because of his religious convictions, and instead stayed on board ship singing psalms. He subsequently fled to Scotland, returning to Orkney in 1105 to claim his right of accession to the Earldom of Orkney. His cousin Haakon disputed this, and the matter was settled by King Eystein 1 of Norway, who ruled that he and Haakon should rule jointly, which lasted satisfactorily until 1114, when their respective followers fell out and determined on war.
 Peace was negotiated and the Earls arranged to meet each other on the island of Egilsay at Easter, each bringing only two ships. Magnus arrived with his two ships, but then Haakon treacherously turned up with eight ships.
Magnus took refuge in the island's church overnight, but the following day he was captured and offered to go into exile or prison, but an assembly of chieftains, tired of joint rule, insisted that one earl must die. Haakon's standard bearer, Ofeigr, refused to execute Magnus, and an angry Haakon made his cook Lifolf kill Magnus by striking him on the head with an axe. It was said that Magnus first prayed for the souls of his executioners.

Magnus was first buried on the spot where he died. According to his legend, the rocky area around his grave miraculously became a green field. Later Thora, Magnus' mother, asked Haakon to allow her to bury him in a Church. Haakon gave his permission and Magnus was then buried at Christchurch at Birsay.
The ruins of St Magnus Church, on the island of EgilsayThere were numerous reports of miraculous happenings and healings. William the Old, Bishop of Orkney, warned that it was "heresy to go about with such tales" and was then struck blind at his church but subsequently had his sight restored after praying at the grave of Magnus, not long after visiting Norway (and perhaps meeting Earl Rognvald Kolsson).
In 1136 Bishop William of Orkney sanctified the murdered Earl Magnus, making him Saint Magnus. It is thought probable that St Magnus Church, Egilsay, was constructed on the island shortly afterwards, at or near the supposed site of the murder.This may have replaced an earlier church which could have already been there at the time of the murder of Magnus.
Magnus's nephew, Rognvald Kali Kolsson, laid claim to the Earldom of Orkney, and was advised by his father Kol to promise the islanders to "build a stone minster at Kirkwall" in memory of his uncle the Holy Earl, and this became St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall. When the cathedral, begun in 1137, was ready for consecration the relics of St Magnus were transferred, and in 1919 a hidden cavity was found in a column, containing a box with bones including a damaged skull. These are held without (much) doubt to be the relics of St Magnus, and were replaced in the column where they remain to this day.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                          Relics of Saint Magnus 

In composing this post, my thanks to Andrew Stewart 'Orcadian' for much of the information shown therein, and to Tom O'Brien 'Orcadian'  for permission to reproduce several of the photographs. A wider selection of photographs can be found on the Orcadian website, all of which are available for purchase.

Friday, 28 July 2017

'Fourteen Holy Helpers'

In my Saint Andrew Daily Missal, 1952 edition, July 25 is the feast day of St James, Apostle, and St Christopher. The latter is described as one of the ‘Fourteen Auxiliary Saints’, also known as 'Fourteen Holy Helpers', who were particularly noted for the efficacy of their intercession.  They were often represented together, and in my Missal there is a striking engraving by Cramer, depicting St Christopher bearing the Child Jesus on his right shoulder, surrounded by the remaining thirteen Auxiliary Saints.

"The Fourteen Holy Helpers are a group of saints venerated together in Roman Catholicism because their intercession is believed to be particularly effective, especially against various diseases. This group of Nothelfer ("helpers in need") originated in the 14th century at first in the Rhineland, largely as a result of the epidemic (probably of bubonic plague) that became known as the Black Death.
It should be noted that seven of the saints are regarded as historical figures, (Blaise, Cyriacus, Erasmus, George, Giles, Pantaleon, and Vitus) while the others may only be legends (Agathius, Barbara, Catherine of Alexandria, Christopher, Denis, Eustace, Margaret of Antioch)."   (Wikipedia)

The ‘Fourteen Auxiliary Saints’ or 'Holy Helpers' each has their own symbol in religious art, commensurate with an incident during their life or their manner of death, and all but one - St Giles, died a martyr for their Catholic faith.
    Whether historical or legendary, it should be remembered that devotion to all these Saints existed over many centuries throughout Western and Orthodox tradition, and involved generations of holy men and women who practised their faith in accordance with the example and teaching of these 'Holy Helpers'. Many churches and religious institutions were dedicated to them, and many were chosen as Patron Saints for nations. Long may devotion to these 'Holy Helpers' continue, to the glory of God. 

                                 'St George' - Hans von Kulmbach c.1510 (att)

    Saint George, lived c280-303, a Roman soldier of Greek origin, who converted to Christianity resulting in his execution. His feast- day April 23; symbolised by the dragon he strikes down.   Invoked against herpetic diseases, and with St. Sebastian and St. Maurice, he is the patron of soldiers.
                                                                  'Saint Blaise'

St.Blaise, born 3rd century died 316, feast-day February 3. Bishop and martyr in Armenia. Symbolised by two crossed candles, also various animals.  He is invoked against diseases of the throat.

       'Martyrdom of St Elmo (Erasmus)'   -  by unknown Dutch painter c 1474

    Saint Erasmus, also known as Elmo, born 3rd century died 303 A.D. feast-day June 2. Bishop and martyr in Campagnae, Italy. Symbolised by entrails wound round a windlass.  He is invoked against diseases of the  stomach.  He is the patron of mariners and seamen.


                                                                'St Pantaleon'

    Saint Pantaleon,  lived 275-305 in Nicodemia, feast-day July 27; a physician and martyr. Symbolised by medicine box and sometimes nailed hands.  Invoked against consumption.  He is, with St Luke and SS. Cosmas and Damian, patron of medical men.

                            'Saint Vitus' from the Nuremberg Chronicle 1493

    Saint Vitus, lived c290-303, Sicily and Luciana, martyr, feast day June 15; symbolised by cross and animal.  Invoked against chorea (St Vitus dance), lethargy, the bite of venomous or mad beasts.

.                            'St Christopher with the Child Jesus' - Titian 1524
    Saint Christopher, lived and died in 3rd century in Asia Minor. Martyr, feast-day July 25. Symbolised as carrying the Child Jesus across a raging river. He is invoked in storms, tempests, plagues, and for the avoidance of accidents in travelling. 

    'Statue of St Denis, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris' (photo- 'the supermat')

    Saint Denis (Dionysius) 3rd century Martyr and Saint, Bishop of Paris, feast day October 9. Symbolised by holding his head in his hands after decapitation. Invoked for people possessed of devils.

                 'Saint Cyriacus, ordained deacon by Pope Marcellus' - Bartholomew Bruin 1532

    Saint Cyriacus, born 3rd century died 303. Roman nobleman who converted to Christianity and was martyred. Feast-day August 8. Symbolised by his deacon’s vestments. Invoked against diseases of the eye and diabolical possession.

                                                     'Saint Achatius' - stained glass

    Saint  Achatius, born Cappodocia late 3rd century, died 311, martyr. Roman soldier and convert. Feast-day May 8. Symbolised  by his crown of thorns. Invoked against headaches.

                'Saint Eustace' - from a 13th century English manuscript

    Saint Eustace, born 1st century died 118, Roman general who converted to Christianity, subsequently martyred. Feast-day September 20. Symbolised by stag and hunting equipment. Invoked for preservation from fire, eternal or temporal.

'                     'Saint Giles' (Aegidius) by Master of St Giles 1500

      Saint Giles (Aegidius), lived 650-710, Greek Christian hermit saint,founded an Abbey in south of France; feast-day September 1. Symbolised by his Benedictine cowl and his hind. Invoked against panic, epilepsy, madness, nocturnal  terrors.

     'Saint Margaret of Antioch' by Peter Candid (2nd half of 16th century)

     Saint Margaret of Antioch, born 289 died 304. Daughter of pagan priest, she converted to Christianity, but suffered martyrdom having refused to denounce her faith as a condition of marriage to the Roman governor; feast day July 20. Symbolised by the dragon she keeps in chains. Invoked by expectant mothers. 
    N.B. In 1969 the Catholic cult was suppressed by Pope Paul VI on the grounds of lack of historical credibility.(Wikipedia)


                  'Saint Barbara' (273-306) by Giovanni Boltrafio 1502
    Saint Barbara, lived mid 3rd century to early 4th century, in Nicomedia, Greece. She converted to Christianity, refused to renounce her faith, and as a result was imprisoned and killed by her father. Her feast-day is December 4. Symbolised by a tower in which she was imprisoned, and the ciborium surmounted by a sacred host.  Invoked against lightning and sudden death. Patron of miners and artillery men.

   'Saint Catherine of Alexandria' (287-305) by Carlo Crivelli 1470

St.Catherine of Alexandria, born 285 died 305. A Princess and scholar, she became a Christian around the age of 14 years, and as a result of her strong faith and eloquence converted many to follow her example, including the Emperor's wife, who as a result was subsequently executed by her husband. Catherine refused an offer of marriage to the Emperor and was tortured and martyred. Her feast day is November 25.                                            


"What is prayer?  It is a secure anchor for him who is in peril of shipwreck;  it is a treasury of immense wealth for him who is poor;  it is a most efficacious medicine for him who is sick; and it is a certain preservative for him who would keep himself well"

(thoughts from St Alphonsus for every day of the year-compiled by Rev C McNeiry C.SS.R.)