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Saint of the Day—available on the iPhone!

Saint of the Day
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God's invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

July 26
Blessed William Ward
(d. 1641)


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The son of Protestant parents, William Ward was born in England about the year 1560 with the surname Webster. He was a young teacher when he journeyed to Spain with a Catholic friend. There he was received into the Church. Returning to England, he converted his own mother. Openly professing his faith, he was repeatedly imprisoned.

He was over 40 when he traveled to Belgium to study for the priesthood. Ordained and with the new name of Father William Ward, he traveled to Scotland. There he was immediately cast into prison and released three years later.

He spent the next 30 years in the vicinity of London, secretly ministering to the Catholic population and earning a reputation as a holy priest with a special love for the poor. For this he was frequently imprisoned or banished from the country. He was eventually betrayed by a priest-hunter and thrown into Newgate Prison. Condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered, he died on July 15, 1641, uttering the words: "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, receive my soul!"

William, who was a Secular Franciscan, was beatified in 1929 along with 162 other English martyrs.



Comment:

William was born before the concept of religious freedom saw the light of day. In his time, it was unthinkable that the people of any country should worship apart from one another. In the wake of the Protestant Reformation, Catholicism became a crime in England and Scotland, and clergymen paid with their lives for preaching it. We enjoy an unprecedented freedom of religion. Yet suspicion still separates us from people who follow other paths to God. We are not asked to put our lives on the line, as William did. But we can seek understanding in the name of the God he served.


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Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.



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Anthony Zaccaria: At the same time that Martin Luther was attacking abuses in the Church, a reformation within the Church was already being attempted. Among the early movers of the Counter-Reformation was Anthony Zaccaria. His mother became a widow at 18 and devoted herself to the spiritual education of her son. He received a medical doctorate at 22 and, while working among the poor of his native Cremona in Italy, was attracted to the religious apostolate. He renounced his rights to any future inheritance, worked as a catechist and was ordained a priest at the age of 26. Called to Milan in a few years, he laid the foundations of three religious congregations, one for men and one for women, plus an association of married couples. Their aim was the reform of the decadent society of their day, beginning with the clergy, religious and lay people. 
<p>Greatly inspired by St. Paul (his congregation is named the Barnabites, after the companion of that saint), Anthony preached with great vigor in church and street, conducted popular missions and was not ashamed of doing public penance. </p><p>He encouraged such innovations as the collaboration of the laity in the apostolate, frequent Communion, the Forty Hours devotion and the ringing of church bells at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. </p><p>His holiness moved many to reform their lives but, as with all saints, it also moved many to oppose him. Twice his community had to undergo official religious investigation, and twice it was exonerated. </p><p>While on a mission of peace, he became seriously ill and was brought home for a visit to his mother. He died at Cremona at the age of 36.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, help me make my life more about you and less about me. May others see you in me—your image and likeness. Teach me ways to increase my time with you, my service to others, and my love for my family, for strangers, and for the poor. You are the light in the darkness. With each new day, may we be light to one another.

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