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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.


Sunday, July 26, 2015
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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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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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