Wednesday, January 31, 2024

John Bosco

Saint John Bosco
Also known as:
Don Bosco

Memorial January 31

Our saint today was the son of Venerable Margaret Bosco, he was born 16 August, 1815 in Piedmont, Italy. John’s father died when the boy was two years old; and as soon as he was old enough to do odd jobs, he went to work to help support his family.

When I was a kid, there were various brands of syrup to make chocolate milk; Coco Marsh, Fox-UBet, and one called Bosco. I always thought of Our Saint this week whenever I saw Bosco chocolate syrup, even though I was a Fox-UBet kid. Bosco Chocolate syrup was purportedly invented in 1928 in Camden, New Jersey, by an unknown physician.[ The William S. Scull Company, founded in 1931 in Camden, acquired the manufacturing license. The Scull Company's most famous product was Boscul Coffee, which gave the product its brand name, "Bosco. " The name recalls the Ancient Greek word bosko, which means “I nourish.” So Bosco syrup has nothing to do with our saint this week…..

Anyhoo, John was fascinated by magic and would go to circuses, fairs and carnivals, to see the magicians there. He would then practice the tricks that he saw magicians perform. When he got good at them he would put on one-boy shows for his fellow guttersnipes. After his performance, while he still had an audience of boys, he would repeat the homily he had heard earlier that day in church. I think the real magic was these urchins didn’t pelt him with rotten fruit…..

To pay his way through school he worked as a baker, tailor, shoemaker and at other odd jobs. After he was ordained he was a teacher, working with young people. He was interested in finding places where they could meet, play and pray. He would use his magic to catch their attention then slip in the religion thing slyly.

His big claim to fame was the founding of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in 1859, priests who work with and educate boys, under the protection of Our Lady, Help of Christians. He was so well respected for his work in life he was called Don (a minor informal title of nobility in many European countries, like but also unlike Don Vito Corleone.

I went to Camp Don Bosco at age 8 up in Goshen NY. I remember at lunch once a Salesian brother scolding my friend Paul, for not breaking his slice of Wonder Bread into 4 pieces before he ate it. They cared…… Ironically, at Camp Don Bosco we were never served chocolate milk. For some reason Don Bosco is also venerated by the Anglican. He died, 31 January, 1888.

His patronage includes: Christian apprentices, chocolate milk drinkers, editors, publishers, catholic schoolchildren, young people, and magicians.

Friday, January 26, 2024


Saint Timothy

Also known as
• Timotheus
The guy next to Paul

• 26 January

His father was a Greek gentile, his mother Eunice was Jewish. We know that the Greek dad had his way as Tim was never circumcised as a child. The depth of his strict Jewish upbringing is debatable, but his mother and grandmother had faith which they passed on to him. He was converted to Christianity by Saint Paul the Apostle around the year 47, he became a partner, assistant and close friend of Paul accompanying him on many missions along with Titus, whose feast is also today, and Mark.

He and Paul fervently defended Gentile converts not having to undergo Mosaic Law especially circumcision in order to follow “The Way”. In Galatians 2:11-22 Paul even recounts how he rebuked Peter the Prince of the Apostles for eating with the Jewish Christian population instead of the Gentile folk in order to make a more satisfying appearance to the Jews. Yet Paul forced Timothy to get circumcised as an adult in order to placate the indigenous Jewish population because they were going to be in an area of devout Jews. Can you imagine that conversation?

“But Paul, you said…”
“I know what I said, Tim, but can you please be practical? These guys are very serious when it comes to this stuff.”
“You just got through hollerin’ at Peter for trying to make nice with these folk…..That’s easy for you to say we’re not discussing you and your anatomy are we?.…”
“I know, we can discuss this later, I’ll write you a letter...”
And so on…

In spite of the forgoing or maybe because of the forgoing Tim settled down, stopped wandering and was appointed the head (i.e. BISHOP) of the Church in Ephesus. Titus was the bishop in Crete. In the Bible we find two canonical letters from Saint Paul to Timothy and one to Titus. In the second letter he tells Timothy: “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpas at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments,” (2 Tim 4:13). When asked to provide a bible verse for reflection I give that one.

He was martyred for opposing the worship of the goddess Diana some sources say Dionysis. Does it really matter? The hunt or wine Tim still got whacked……He was stoned to death about the year 97

• against intestinal disorders
• against stomach diseases

Friday, January 12, 2024

Benedict Biscop

Saint Benedict Biscop
Also known as
Benet Biscop
Biscop Baducing

memorial 12 January


Benet was raised in privilege as an Anglo-Saxon noble. Grew up and held high offices in the court of the King of Northumbria.

 The rich then, and now, travel.  As I have said in the past, the thing to do in the 7th century, with no Disney Worlds anywhere, was to go on religious pilgrimages.   Sometimes they work, and folk experience an epiphany…. For our hero, following a pilgrimage to Rome, something hit home.   He renounced his wealth and position, and dedicated himself to prayer and scripture study. He became a monk in France in 666, taking the name Benedict. In 668 the pope sent Benedict as an advisor to Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury England.

 Benedict was a guy who liked to build stuff to last.   Until his time in England churches were wooden thatched structures.   He introduced the construction of stone churches and glass church windows to England, and brought in many foreign craftsmen to do the work and teach the English.

 He tried to introduce more Universal Roman rituals to English worship, like the rest of Europe used instead of the Saxon rites and other mumbo jumbo the locals stuck to.   He founded monasteries and built a large library and scriptorium.

In late life Benedict suffered a painful paralysis, and was confined to his bed for his last three years. He continued to work from his bed, buying books, establishing the Benedictine Rule. Generally doing the Lord’s work…..


12 January 690 of natural causes

English Benedictines

Friday, January 5, 2024

John Nepomucene Neumann


Saint John Nepomucene Neumann

 Also known as

·           Jan Nepomucký Neumann

Memorial          5 January


This is not the same guy as Blessed John Henry Cardinal Neuman, the British Saint who pronounces his last name NEW-mann.  This John was a quiet boy son of a German father and a Czech mother, born in 1811 in Bohemia; he pronounced his last name NOY-mann.   He was quite intelligent studying botany and astronomy as well as theology, graduating in 1833.

When time came for John’s ordination, his bishop was sick; the ordination was never re-scheduled as Bohemia had an over-abundance of priests.   Can you imagine… too many priests?   John decided to go to America to ask for ordination, and to work with émigrés.    He walked most of the way to France, from Bohemia then took ship for America.

 In 1836 in all of New York and New Jersey there were a total of 36 priests and 200,000 Catholics. When John arrived in Manhattan the third, and to date still the only non Irish,  Bishop of New York, John Dubois was overjoyed to see him.   Bishop Dubois quickly laid on the hands so John was ordained and quickly shuffled off to Buffalo.   

Once in Buffalo the other parish priest offered John the choice to work in the city itself (before the wings or the Anchor Bar were invented) or in the rural areas.    John chose the more difficult country area.

  He stayed in small towns with various church buildings in different stages of completion.   He built himself a small log cabin, rarely lit a fire, slept little, often lived on bread and water, and walked miles to visit farm after remote farm.   John spoke 12 languages and was able to communicate with the diverse population in the region.  New York State back then was a real melting pot.  

 John joined the Redemptorists, the first Redemptorist to take vows in the U.S. (These are the dudes with C.Ss.R. after their name)

He did various jobs and held many offices throughout the east: Home missioner in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia; Rector of Saint Philomena church in Pittsburgh; Vice-regent and superior of the Redemptorists in America.    John became a naturalized citizen of the United States in Baltimore on February 10, 1848, renouncing allegiance to the Emperor of Austria.   On his 41st birthday, he was consecrated bishop of Philadelphia by Archbishop Francis Kenrick at St. Alphonsus Church in Baltimore, in 1852.  

Those of Italian extraction remember Bishop Neumann as the founder of the first national parish for Italians in the United States.  At a time when there was no priest to speak their language, no one to care for them, Bishop Neumann, who had studied Italian as a seminarian in Bohemia, gathered them together in his private chapel and preached to them in their mother tongue. 

In total Bishop John built fifty churches and a cathedral; He opened almost one hundred schools; and the number of parochial school students in his diocese grew from 500 to 9,000.   He wrote newspaper articles, two catechisms, and many works in German. He was always humble and self effacing so he probably would not even mention all he has done, or he would credit everyone else.   He was the first American man and first American bishop to be canonized. 

 On 5 January, 1860, the Bishop of Philadelphia was on his way to his new Cathedral on Logan Square when the Archangel Uriel finally caught up to him.    He lay crumpled in the snow only a few blocks away.    By the time a priest reached him with the holy oils, Bishop Neumann was dead.   He had a stroke on the corner of 13th and Vine Streets in Philly.   This before cheese steaks.     

 At his own request Bishop Neumann was buried in a basement crypt in Saint Peter's Church, in Philadelphia.   The Saint is still in the basement, though now it is a lower church. The slab that lay over his tomb still rests in the floor. His remarkably incorrupt body, however, lies beneath the main altar under glass. People still come right up and press their hands against the glass of the altar to better see the saint.  

His name is misspelled in the church where his body lies in Philly (Neuman) and in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome (Newman).   He was Canonized 19 June 1977 by Pope Paul VI; the first American Man and Bishop canonized


Since every man of whatever race is endowed with the dignity of a person, he has an inalienable right to an education corresponding to his proper destiny and suited to his native talents, his cultural background, and his ancestral heritage. At the same time, this education should pave the way to brotherly association with other peoples, so that genuine unity and peace on earth may be promoted. For a true education aims at the formation of the human person with respect to the good of those societies of which, as a man, he is a member, and in whose responsibilities, as an adult, he will share. - Saint John Neumann

A man must always be ready, for death comes when and where God wills it. - Saint John Neumann

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Catherine of Alexandria

Saint Catherine of Alexandria
Memorial 25 November

Our Saint for today a wealthy Christian noblewoman; intelligent and well educated. Her stories are buried in many legends and apocryphal musings; she was quite popular in the Middle Ages. She is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and in addition to this, she was reported as one of the divine advisors to Saint Joan of Arc before the French made Joan an ember.

When Catherine was the tender age of 18 the Emperor Maximinus began, yet another series of persecutions against Christians. Catherine was perturbed at this idiocy and so she offered to debate the pagan philosophers. Many of the court ordered philosophers were converted by her arguments, and immediately martyred. For the outrage of being persuasive and intelligent Maximinus had her scourged and imprisoned.

The Empress and the leader of the army of Maximinus were amazed by the stories, who could be this intelligent and persuasive? So they saddled up and went to see Catherine in prison. They were also convinced, converted and were martyred. Emperor Maximinus was at least fair.

Maximinus decided, enough of this tomfoolery so he ordered her broken on the wheel, this is like the torture the Riddler put Batman and Robin through. She was to be strapped to a spiked wheel and rolled until she broke down one way or another. Unlike the Caped Crusaders, though she did not use the utility belt to get out she touched it and the wheel was broken apart; destroyed. So much for the torture at this point, She was eventually simply beheaded, in a most convincing way, and her body whisked away by angels.

There may be more to this, though as Eusebius writes: Maximinus conceived an 'insane passion' for a Christian girl of Alexandria, who was of noble birth noted for her wealth, education, and virginity – Saint Catherine of Alexandria. When the girl refused his advances, he had her beheaded, and then seized all of her wealth and assets. Maximinius, apparently, was also a creep.....

Her reputation for learning and wisdom led to her patronage of libraries, librarians, teachers, archivists, and anyone associated with wisdom or teaching. Her debating skill and persuasive language has led to her patronage of lawyers. And her torture on the wheel led to those who work with wheels of all types asking for her intercession.

As she is the Patron Saint of Philosophers, there is a statue of her in the Dining Room of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception. Not many can Identify who she is though……pity. There is another Statue on the other side of the dining room of Thomas Aquinas patron of Theologians. As Philosophy and Theology are the sciences taught at all Seminaries I found this very appropriate.

In 1969 amid much hoopla and fanfare the Church removed from the calendar in an ongoing effort to make Roman Catholicism less fun quite a few of the most popular saints. BUT! Like St. George and others, in 2002 Pope John Paul II had her name placed back in the revised Roman Missal giving her back her universal feast day, quietly. And as a result we get a more fun Church. God Bless Pope Saint John Paul II

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Memorial 21 November

Today is the feast of the presentation of the BVM in the Temple at the age of three.   This story is from the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal book written in the second century.   In the Middle Ages its stories bordered on the sacred to people thirsty for knowledge of the Church.  Much like the Clone Wars Saga and Jedi “new order” books, geeks buy and devour thirsty for more Star Wars stories…… It is quite a good read if you can find a copy. The Protoevangeliun I mean, the Star Wars stuff stinks after the Luke Skywalker movies ended, let’s face it.   Attack of the Clones may be the worst movie ever made.   I actually liked “The Force Awakens.” When it Cme out…but the others?   WOOO boy!   But Mark Hamel is right, a Jedi wouldn’t act like that….but I digress

 Anyhoo…  The story goes St. Anne and St. Joachim were the parents of Mary in their old age.   They prayed to God asking for a child, and promised to consecrate that child to God if he answered their prayers.   God naturally did, and as a result when she was only three Ann and Joachim brought a young Mary to the Temple to serve……This day celebrates that event.  The Greeks call this the “Entry of the Holy Theotokos” but they do so while wearing those dopey hats.  

Mary remained in the temple until puberty, at that time she was promised to Joseph in marriage;   which is another good story in the Protoevangelium involving a lineup of worthy men and the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, landing on Josephs’ head.     

The Nuns that taught me in Our Lady of Solace (OLS) in the Bronx were from the religious order of the Presentation; so they’re names were things like “Sister Mary Muriel PVBM”. The Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary were founded in Ireland in 1775 by Nano Nagle to teach children.   All the presentation Nuns were Irish with the exception of Sister Helen Parisi (formerly known as Sister Mary Dominic Joseph) who died in 2008 at the age of 83, I wept when I found out.   Sister Helen loved me; Italian kid in an Irish school, what’s not to love?     I didn’t bring my lunch one day and she made me a bologna sangwich on wonder bread with pickles, potato chips, and mayo.   She included a Twinkie on the side…the first Twinkie I had ever eaten…it was wonderful and that sangwich is still one of my favorites.

Anyway, the Presentation of the BVM is a pious story; like Fatima and Lourdes and Saint Denis walking around holding his severed head, you are not required to believe it.   I like it, so why not?   It’s easier to buy than 25 fully trained Jedi with The Force as their ally, getting beaten by a bunch of robots in an arena after all.    

Monday, November 13, 2023

Mother Cabrini

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Also known as
Francesca Saverio Cabrini
Mother Cabrini


13 November. On November 13th Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence……..that request came from his wife. Deep down he knew she was right but he also knew that some day he would return to her. With nowhere else to go he appeared at the home of his [childhood] friend Oscar Madison. Sometime earlier Madison’s wife had thrown him out requesting that he never return. Can 2 divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy? Sorry force of habit……anyhoo: before 1970 it was celebrated 22 December

Our Saint today was one of thirteen children who was sent to Catholic School for her education eventually becoming a teacher in her home town in Italy.

As was the case with a lot of these youth with a calling, when she tried to enter the convent at age 18, poor health prevented her taking the veil. A priest asked her to teach at an orphanage school for girl‘s in Cadagono, Italy, which she did for six years.

Eventually her health improved enough that she was able to join the religious order running the school in 1877, and was such a natural leader doing so well herself at her work, when the orphanage closed in 1880, her bishop asked her to found the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for poor children in schools and hospitals. Pope Leo XIII then sent her to the United States to carry on this mission.

She and six Sisters arrived in New York in 1889. They worked among immigrants, especially Italians. Mother Cabrini founded 67 institutions, including schools, hospitals, and orphanages in the United States, Europe and South America. She was a very forceful, some say difficult person to deal with. She had arguments with her superiors and even the Pope quite often; these “discussions” were said to be legendary at times.

Like many of the people she worked with, Mother became a United States citizen. Although they try to soften her image in the holy cards she comes across to me as a stern woman, sometimes sporting a nice moustache, not unlike my wizened grandmother “Mary Goodwill”. She makes the holy card images of Louise de Merrilac look good…..She was the first American citizen to be canonized a saint. She died in the USA, Chicago, of malaria in 1917. Her miracles included restoring sight to a child iatrogenically blinded by silver nitrate, and healing of a terminally ill nun.

Her shrine is uptown in Manhattan, 701 Fort Washington Avenue, The A train stops almost across the street from it. Her, sadly not incorrupt body, is on display, daily in a glass altar in the church there. The head of her remains looks like a wax fake…it is, the real head was sent to Rome as a relic there. After a nice walk through Fort Tryon Park and a visit to the Cloisters you may want to stop in and see her body on display, rotting away. The gift shop for the shrine is full of nice Catholic voodoo stuff like sanitaria statues, and holy oils and holywaters, and the like so fondly favored by the neighborhood locals The sign said “Holy Water for Sale / Agua Bendita para venta”; as you know selling a blessed item is the sin of simony. Being the wiseacre that I am, I pointed out to the lady in there that she can’t sell holy water, she must be selling the container not the water, right? She didn’t care one way or the other…. She said “$7.50… do you want it or not?” (Actually it was “Siete cinquenta.. quieres eso, si o no?”)

against malaria
against blindness
hospital administrators
invoked by commuters to have a bus or train come quickly while waiting. Try this if you are waiting for the A train to her shrine:

“Mother Cabrini
send a machini.”