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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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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire, therefore, of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

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