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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.

October 20
Blessed James of Strepar
(d. 1409?)


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James was a member of a noble Polish family. He entered the Franciscan friars at an early age, serving as guardian at a friary in Lvov and alleviating tensions between the friars and the local diocesan clergy. He showed special interest in working with the Orthodox, ministering among them for a full decade. Sent to western Russia, he served as vicar general of the Franciscans there, preached the gospel and worked to sustain the faithful in their beliefs.

Around 1360, he played a role in the organization of a special group of Franciscan missionaries, Travelers for Christ, made up of Franciscan and Dominican friars. James's work as a missionary preacher and organizer was decidedly successful. In due time he was appointed Archbishop of Galich, and took it upon himself to build new churches in remote districts and to staff them with experienced priests from Poland; he also founded and built religious houses, schools and hospitals. He had such a flair for the practical needs of his people that he often took his suggestions directly to the Polish parliament; such actions earned him the title of "protector of the kingdom."

He was an archbishop unlike many in his day, preferring to wear a simple Franciscan habit rather than ostentatious attire and to travel on foot.

He was especially devoted to the Blessed Mother. Her image was engraved on his seal and was on his pastoral ring. Each evening devotions were held in her honor at the cathedral or wherever he was visiting.

After serving 19 years as bishop, James was called to his eternal reward. He is buried in the Franciscan Church at Lvov.



Comment:

The Church today could use a lot more people like James. He reached across the only division in Christianity of his time, the split between East and West, to tend Orthodox Christians. Franciscans, Dominicans and diocesan clergy competed with one another for the hearts of believers, but James eased the tensions among them. In today’s world he might smooth the relationships between conservatives and liberals. Or perhaps we need to follow in his footsteps and take on the task.


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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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

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