A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

St. Maria Goretti

Santa Maria Goretti (St Maria Goretti, the Saint Agnes of the 20th Century) (1890-1902). Optional memorial and General Roman and Passionist Feast Day commemorating the death of the martyred poor Italian Catholic child who captured the love and affection of thousands of people by the simplicity and purity of her life. Living with another family from the age of 9, when her father died from malaria Maria took over the household duties whilst her mother, brothers and sister worked in the fields. The twenty-year-old son of the other family made sexual advances to eleven-year-old Maria and, when she refused to submit to this mortal sin that would send him to Hell, he stabbed her fourteen times. Taken to hospital for surgery without anaesthesia, she died forgiving him whilst he was arrested, convicted, jailed and repented. After 27 years, he was released, visited Maria’s mother to beg forgiveness, which she granted, and later became a lay brother of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, living in a monastery and working as its receptionist and gardener until he died at 87. One of the youngest saints to be canonised. Venerated in Catholic Church and especially venerated in the Congregation of the Passion (Passionists). Major shrine Passionist Basilica di Nostra Signora delle Grazie e Santa Maria Goretti, Nettuno, Lazio. Patron of chastity, victims of rape, crime victims, teenage girls, modern youth, poverty, purity, forgiveness, the Children of Mary. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.

Heilige Godelieve van Gistel

Sint-Godelieve (St Godelieve, Godeliève, Godeliph) (c1052-70). Feast Day commemorating the death of the beautiful and pious Flemish girl who became much sought-after by suitors but wanted to become a nun. A nobleman was determined to marry her, kidnapped her and ordered that she should only be given bread and water, which Godelieve even shared with the poor. She managed to escape to the home of her father but the Bishops of Tournai and Soissons and the Count of Flanders had Godelieve returned to her captor, who ordered her strangled by two servants and the martyress was thrown into a pool to make it appear that she had died a natural death. Godelieve’s suitor then married and had a blind daughter who was cured through the intercession of St Godelieve. Godelieve’s abuser then went to Rome to obtain absolution, made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and became a monk at St Winoc’s Abbey, Bergues. His daughter founded a Benedictine monastery at Gistel, which was dedicated to Saint Godelieve and which the daughter joined as a nun. Godelieve’s body was exhumed in 1084 by the Bishops of Tournai and Noyon, in the presence of the wife of the Count of Flanders, the Abbot of St Winoc’s and a number of clergymen. The Bishops of Noyon and Tournai consecrated Godelieve’s relics and Godelieve’s popular cult then developed. About ten years after her death, a monk of St Winoc’s Abbey wrote Godelieve’s Vita Godeliph. Ten Putte Abbey south of Ostend was dedicated to her. Every year, on the Sunday following 5 July, a procession celebrating Saint Godelieve takes place in Gistel. Godelieve’s Feast Day is connected with the weather and she is thus considered to be one of the weather saints, sharing a weather augury with: the Ninth-Century Saint Swithun (Swiþhun) on 15 July in England and 2 July in Norway; the Sixth-Century St Cewydd on 1 July in Wales; in France, the Sixth-Century Sts Gildas and Medard (Méard) and the Fourth-Century St Urban; the Second-Century Milanese martyrs Sts Gervase and Protais; and in Germany the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus on the 27 July Seven Sleepers’ Day (Siebenschläfertag). Venerated in Roman Catholic Church. Alternative Feast Day 30 July. Patron of the weather, peaceful marriage, invoked against throat troubles. Image: cordisjesu.blogspot.com.

Prayer We request from You, God the Almighty that, after having unceasingly honoured the glorious sufferings with holy Godelieve, we may deserve her intercession near You in order to obtain Your curing kindness by her prayers. May we bring blessings to those who have wronged us and to their families so that they may proclaim Your infinite forgiveness and devote their lives to good works in memory of Saint Godelieve so that she will always be remembered, come rain come shine. Amen

Saint Valentine Icon from Legacy Icons

San Valentino (St Valentine, Martyr at Rome, Valentinus, Saint Valentin, Śv Valentin, worthy, strong, powerful) (c226-269). Eastern Orthodox Feast Day for Italian presbyter and priest who ministered to persecuted Christians. Whilst Bishop of Terni and under house arrest, he restored the sight of the judge’s adopted daughter, writing a note to her, signed From Your Valentine, that inspired romantic missives. Valentinus was again arrested, condemned to death in Rome, beaten with clubs, beheaded on 14 February and buried at a Christian cemetery north of Rome. A Third-Century legend was that he secretly performed Christian weddings for couples, giving them hearts cut from parchment and allowing the husbands to escape conscription into the pagan army. Lupercalia was an annual pre-Roman pastoral festival, observed in Rome on 15 February to avert evil spirits and purify the city to release health and fertility. Venerated in Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism. Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Feast Day 14 February, which has been observed as Saint Valentine’s Day since 496 and from the High Middle Ages was associated with a tradition of courtly love. Eastern Orthodox alternative Feast Day 30 July for the Feast of Hieromartyr Valentine, Bishop of Interamna. Patron of affianced couples, happy marriages, love, Lesvos (Lésvos, for Catholics), beekeepers, against fainting, epilepsy, plague. Image: legacyitems.com.