St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. John Vianney, St. Damien of Molokai, St. Andre Bessette, Bl. Solanus Casey
Diane Allen the author of the popular Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1 and Book 2, spent four years in the research and writing of her latest book, They Walked with God.
Bernadette Soubirous was born in Lourdes, France in 1844. Between February 11 and July 16, 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette eighteen times at the grotto of Massabielle. Bernadette was 14 years old at the time. When Bernadette was twenty-two years old, she entered the Sisters of Charity Religious Order in Nevers, France. She passed her remaining years in prayer and seclusion despite almost constant sickness and pain. To this day, Lourdes remains one of the greatest healing centers in the world.
At the Capuchin monastery in Detroit, Michigan, where Father Solanus Casey (1870-1957) served for many years, he was given the job of doorkeeper. It was as doorkeeper that his amazing spiritual gifts came to be known and recognized. People of all ages, creeds, and economic backgrounds found themselves drawn to him and they sought him out. He was known for his remarkable abilities as a spiritual counselor, as well as for his great attention to the sick, to whom he directed his attention and his prayers. The great love and compassion which he manifested extended even to the animal kingdom. Countless people were healed by his touch.
Brother Andr Bessetteserved as a lay brother in the Congregation of the Holy Cross. He was known during his lifetime as a wonder worker and had gift of prophecy, reading of hearts and more. Thousands of miraculous healings were attributed to his prayerful intercession and he became commonly known as the "miracle man of Montreal." Through his efforts, the largest shrine in the world dedicated to St. Joseph was built. When he passed away on January 6, 1937, over a million people attended his funeral.
Not long after Father John Marie Vianney had been ordained to the priesthood, the tiny parish of Ars became vacant and needed a pastor. It was the poorest and most remote parish in the diocese of Lyons, France. The bishop assigned Father John Marie to the parish of Ars and said to him, "There is hardly any love in that parish. It will be up to you to bring love there." Paradoxically, the parish of Ars, so small and so poor, through the continuous efforts of Father John Marie became the focal center of spirituality for all of France. The mayor of Ars described it correctly when he said, "We have a poor church but a holy priest" and a visitor to Ars was so impressed by the saintly priest that he said of him, "I have seen God in a man." During the last year of his life,100,000 people traveled to the tiny village to make their confession to Father John Marie and to receive his blessing.
Father Damien of Molokaihas been described as a "martyr to charity." He volunteered to serve at the leper settlement on the island of Molokai, well-aware that his service there was a potential death sentence, since leprosy at that time was both contagious and incurable. To the lepers confined to Molokai, Father Damien became their doctor, their nurse, their advocate, their counselor, their father and their friend. He brought order and peace to an island where there had been no law and no hope. Like the Good Samaritan, Father Damien is an example for all who wish to be involved in the struggle for a more just, more humane world. He died of leprosy after serving 16 years at Molokai and 25 years in all in the Hawaiian Islands.
"We should foster a social consciousness which will help us to meet the needs of our neighbors, and to discern and seek to remove the sources of injustice in society. . .No human anxiety or sorrow should leave the disciples of Christ indifferent. But the world needs more than just social reformers. It needs saints. Holiness is not the privilege of a few; it is a gift offered to all." - Pope John Paul II