A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Robert Reid Kalley (1809-88). Commemoration of the 1846 flight from Madeira of the expatriate Glasgow Presbyterian doctor, clergyman and religious dissenter who had arrived on the island in 1838 with his convalescing wife but found the poverty-stricken peasantry in need of enlightenment and abandoned his original intention of undertaking missionary work in China. He obtained a Portuguese medical qualification and returned briefly to London to be ordained by a Congregationalist minister. Returning to Madeira to preach, using translated versions of the Bible in Portuguese, he founded a small hospital and financed seventeen elementary schools. Proselytising was forbidden and the Catholic Church forbade Kalley’s religious lectures in 1841 and in 1843 his Bibles. In 1845, he founded in Funchal the first Presbyterian Church of Portugal but Protestantism was not permitted for Portuguese citizens and he faced charges of blasphemy and heresy, all the schools he had founded being closed in 1846. Kalley left the island in disguise heading for the United States, his followers becoming labourers in Trinidad. 150 of them moved to New York with funding from the American Protestant Society and were invited to make their home in Jacksonville, Illinois in an area known as Portuguese Hill, their numbers increasing to 1,000 by 1853. Kalley went to the British Crown Colony of Malta and in 1851 to Beirut before arriving in Brazil in 1854 to found in Rio de Janeiro the Scottish Congregational Igreja Evangélica Fluminense, still the oldest Portuguese-speaking church in Brazil, and in Pernambuco the Igreja Evangélica Pernambucana, with baptism by immersion. Called locally Igreja Cristã Evangélica, these became part of one of the greatest denominations in Brazil until the early 1990s. Kalley became a close friend of the Brazilian Emperor, with whom he often argued against slavery and the prohibition of non-Catholic public worship. Retiring to Edinburgh in 1876, as a director of the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society Kalley prioritised medical help as well as missionary zeal. He died at his home in Edinburgh and his wife continued their work and supported the Help for Brazil charity. Kalley is buried with his family on the hidden southern terrace of Dean Cemetery in western Edinburgh. The grave is flanked by plaques from his parishioners in Madeira and Brazil. Image: youtube.com.
St Romanus Ostiarius (d258). Feast Day for legendary saint of the Catholic Church, a soldier in the Emperor’s legion in Rome converted to Christianity by the example of St Lawrence. Romanus, at the time of the prosecution and interrogation of St Lawrence, witnessed the joy, constancy and absolute silence of that holy martyr during Lawrence’s first torments and Romanus could not understand how a creature of flesh and blood could be thus tormented without complaining. He was moved to embrace the Faith and spoke to Lawrence, asking to become a Christian. The Saint was permitted to respond to the pressing request from the soldier, who brought to him in prison the water for his baptism. Romanus became a church ostiary (doorman) in Rome and was summoned before the tribunal himself, saying fearlessly and joyfully what he had said elsewhere: “I am a Christian!”. He was condemned and immediately beheaded, on 9 August 258, the day before the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence. The body of St Romanus was buried by a priest in the Catacomb of the Cyriaca on the Via Tiburtina, along with St Lawrence, on the road to Tibur (Tivoli) but his remains were translated to Lucca, where they are kept under the high altar of the church that bore his name. Venerated in Catholic Church. Romanus’ cult has been confined to local calendars since 1969. Major shrines in the churches of San Lorenzo and Santa Catarina dei Funari, Rome. Image: alamy.com.
Prayer Fear not, My servant, for I am with you, says the Lord. If you pass through fire, the flame will not hurt you and the odour of fire will not be in you. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you out of the hand of the mighty. Sublime is the prayer of the just man which pierces the clouds and we can say with the Church: “His seed will be mighty upon earth.” The seed of new Christians springs from the blood of martyrdom and today we greet the first fruits thereof in the person of Romanus, the neophyte for whom his first torments won him to Christ, Who preceded him to Heaven. Amen
Our Lady of the Burning Cloud. On Thursday 9 August 1945, a blinding flash split the sky above Nagasaki. A great ball of fire appeared and stretched to a purple column 10,000 feet high and from its top burst a gigantic mushroom. A grey-white cloud rushed down on the city of 253,000 people to bring darkness, a colossal wind swept over the rooftops and the whole city became a mass of flames with, hours after the explosion, the dust and smoke rising to 20,000 feet. This was the Fat Man implosion-type atom bomb. Only the blackened head of the 1930s 2 metre wooden Marian statue of the Madonna of Urakami donated by the Italian Catholic Medical Association to the Nineteenth-Century Urakami Cathedral survived the blast that killed the two priests and about thirty Roman Catholics who were in the old Urakami Chapel for confession. Buried in the rubble, it was later found by a recently-discharged Japanese soldier who was a Trappist monk and he testified that the crystal eyes were in the face of the bombed Mary when he found it. Upon this scene Our Lady stretched out her hand in pain and pity and Catholic missionaries arrived after centuries of prohibition. Seeing their rosaries, the people fell to their knees, thanking God for answering years of prayer in this ancestral seat of Japanese Catholicity where in the absence of priests they had gathered at the church and prayed the rosary. Knowing that the inscrutable will of God permitted even such sufferings as the atom bomb to come to His beloved children, Mary would not stop it. But that did not mean that her Motherly care did not instantly bend to the stricken city where so many of her children cried day and night, as somehow this cloud of suffering must be pierced by the great fire of love. Dr Takashi Nagai (博士) (1908-51), a Catholic physician, lost his wife but survived to become the Saint of Urakami and Servant of God whose devotion to Mary was childlike and entire. Her rosary was his constant prayer and its mysteries formed a large part of the subject matter for his books and water colours. His spiritual attitude to the bomb had much to do with the spiritualising of the minds of the Japanese in general on that tragic weapon. Death from leukaemia came to Paul Nagai on the first day of May 1951, Mary Day, after he had waited to see the head of the statue of Our Lady, as out of the burning cloud had stretched the hand of his Mother. Out of the same symbol of destruction she reached down and from such a devastation of many may come through Mary the resurrection of many to Eternal Life. The head of Our Lady with its dark, hollow gaze is one of the few religious relics that survived for the rebuilding of the Urakami Cathedral and it rests there in a special chapel, except for when it is taken outside each year to mark the anniversary of the bombing. Image: immaculate.one.