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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.


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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Giles: Despite the fact that much about St. Giles is shrouded in mystery, we can say that he was one of the most popular saints in the Middle Ages. Likely, he was born in the first half of the seventh century in southeastern France. That is where he built a monastery that became a popular stopping-off point for pilgrims making their way to Compostela in Spain and the Holy Land.<br /><br />In England, many ancient churches and hospitals were dedicated to Giles. One of the sections of the city of Brussels is named after him. In Germany, Giles was included among the so-called 14 Holy Helpers, a popular group of saints to whom people prayed, especially for recovery from disease and for strength at the hour of death. Also among the 14 were Sts. Christopher, Barbara and Blaise. Interestingly, Giles was the only non-martyr among them. Devotion to the "Holy Helpers" was especially strong in parts of Germany and in Hungary and Sweden. Such devotion made his popularity spread. Giles was soon invoked as the patron of the poor and the disabled.<br /><br />The pilgrimage center that once drew so many fell into disrepair some centuries after Giles' death. American Catholic Blog The ascension is about the final reunion of what appeared to be separated for a while: earth and heaven, human and divine, matter and Spirit. If the Christ is the archetype of the full human journey, now we know how it all resolves itself in the end. “So that where I am, you also will be” (John 14:3).

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