A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

Santa Restituta d’Africa (St Restituta, Sainte Restituta d’Afrique, Sancti Restituta) (d255). Roman Catholic Feast Day for Tunisian virgin martyr put to death during the Roman persecutions at Carthage. One of the Martyrs of Abitinae, the Roman Province of Africa, a group of North Africans that included in 304 St Dativus, St Saturninus et al. After being horribly tortured, Restituta was placed in a blazing boat loaded with oakum and resin but was unharmed by the fire and asked God for aid. He sent an angel to guide her boat to the island of Aenaria (Ischia) in the Gulf of Naples, where a local Christian woman who had dreamt of the angel and the boat found the resplendent and incorrupt body of the now dead Restituta, whom she was solemnly buried at the foot of Monte Vico to the south. In the 5th-Century, Restituta’s cult spread in Italy with the expulsion of Catholics from North Africa by the Arian Vandals. The Santa Restituta 6th-Century paleochristian church was built in her honour in Naples, her sanctuary on the same site later being incorporated into the 13th-Century Cathedral of Naples. There is a crypt associated with Restituta in Cagliari, Sardinia. Venerated in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Patron saint of Lacco Ameno, Ischia, where there is normally a 3-day celebration from 16 to 18 May. Image: napolimonitor.it.

San Pascual Baylon (St Paschal pf Baylon) (1540-92). Local Feast Day for Franciscan lay brother and mystic, born to an Aragon peasant family on Whit Sunday and christened Pascua in honour of the feast. During his early life, Paschal laboured for his father as a shepherd, performed miracles and was noted for his austerity. He taught himself to read and, after receiving a vision telling him to enter a nearby Franciscan community, he joined the Alcantrine reform at 24 and spent most of his life as a humble doorkeeper. He practised rigorous asceticism and displayed a deep love for the Blessed Sacrament, so much so that whilst on a mission to France he defended the doctrine of the Real Presence against a Calvinist preacher and faced threats from other irate Calvinists. Paschal died at a Friary in Villareal, north of Valencia, where the Basílica de Sant Pasqual (Saint Paschal’s Basilica) was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War but rebuilt later in the 20th-Century. Patron of all eucharistic confraternities and congresses. Image: roman-catholic-saints.com.

Our Lady of Walsingham. In 1942, as part of the national military strategy of training for the later invasion of Europe during the Second World War, Walsingham was a restricted zone closed to visitors but many service men and women showed interest in the Shrine. On 17 May 1945, American Forces organised the 1st Mass since the Reformation in the c1150 Priory grounds. The 1st Cross Carrying Pilgrimage for Peace, Penance and Prayer began a tradition that continues today, with pilgrims walking to the Shrine during Holy Week. Our Lady of Walsingham had once been one of the great pilgrimage sites of England, along with Canterbury and Glastonbury, and in Europe was the 3rd most popular after Rome and Santiago de Compostela. The 1538 Protestant Revolution suppression of devotion to the image of Our Lady of Walsingham, who was according to the Protestant Bishop Latimer: “The Devil’s instrument,” caused the Priory to be handed over to the King’s Commissioners and the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was burnt at Chelsea. King Henry VIII confiscated the jewels from the shrine and all devotion was done in secret until after the 1829 Catholic Emancipation, when public expressions and manifestations of the Catholic faith were once again allowed in England. In 1896, the 14th-Century Slipper Chapel, the last of the wayside chapels en route to Walsingham, was restored to Catholic use. The following year, the Slipper Chapel became a Roman Catholic shrine, with public pilgrimages to Walsingham that by 1934 saw 10,000 pilgrims going to the National Shrine of Our Lady for Roman Catholics in England. Our Lady of Walsingham was formerly celebrated on the 25 March Lady Day (Feast of the Annunciation) but for ecumenical reasons was in 2002 moved to 24 September (Feast of Our Lady of Ransom, the principal patron of Barcelona). Image: walsingham.org.uk.