Biographies of Catholic Saints

Saints are men and women who live their life as followers of Christ in their ordinary life and a source of wisdom for those who would like to be faithful to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. May their examples inspired us to live the way of life Jesus has taught us

Archive for March, 2008

Blessed Marie-Eugénie of Jesus

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(1817-1898)
Anne-Eugénie Milleret was born in 1817 in Metz after Napoleon’s complete defeat and the restoration of the monarchy. She belonged to a nonbelieving and financially comfortable family and it seemed unlikely that she would trace a new spiritual path across the Church of France.

Her father, a follower of Voltaire and a liberal, was making his fortune in the banking world and in politics. Anne-Eugénie’s mother provided the sensitive daughter with an education, which strengthened her character and gave her a strong sense of duty. Family life developed her intellectual curiosity and a romantic spirit, an interest in social questions and a broad worldview.

Like her contemporary, George Sand, Anne-Eugénie went to Mass on feast days and received the sacraments of initiation, as was the custom, but without any real commitment. However, her first Communion was a great mystical experience that foretold the secret of her future. She did not grasp its prophetic meaning until much later, when she recognized it as her path toward total belonging to Jesus Christ and the Church.

Her youth was happy but not without suffering. She was affected when still a child by the death of an elder brother and a baby sister. Her health was delicate and a fall from a horse left serious consequences. Anne-Eugénie was mature for her age and learned how to hide her feelings and to face up to events.

Later, after a prosperous period for her father, she experienced the failure of his banks, the misunderstanding and eventual separation of her parents and the loss of all security. She had to leave her family home and go to Paris while Louis, closest to her in age and faithful companion, went to live with their father. Anne-Eugénie went to Paris with the mother she adored, only to see her die from cholera after a few hours of illness, leaving her alone at the age of 15 in a society that was worldly and superficial. Searching in anguish and almost desperate for the truth, she arrived at her conversion thirsty for the Absolute and open to the Transcendent.

When she was 19, Anne-Eugénie attended the Lenten Conferences at Notre Dame in Paris, preached by the young Abbé Lacordaire, already well-known for his talent as orator.

Lacordaire was a former disciple of Lamennais — haunted by the vision of a renewed Church with a special place in the world. He understood his time and wanted to change it. He understood young people, their questions and their desires, their idealism and their ignorance of both Christ and the Church.

His words touched Anne-Eugénie’s heart, answered her many questions, and aroused her generosity. Anne-Eugénie envisaged Christ as the universal liberator and his kingdom on earth established as a peaceful and just society.

“I was truly converted,” she wrote, “and I was seized by a longing to devote all my strength or rather all my weakness to the Church which, from that moment, I saw as alone holding the key to the knowledge and achievement of all that is good.”

Just at this time, another preacher, also a former disciple of Lamennais, appeared on the scene. In the confessional, Father Combalot recognized that he had encountered a chosen soul who was designated to be the foundress of the congregation he had dreamed of for a long time. He persuaded Anne-Eugénie to undertake his work by insisting that this congregation was willed by God who had chosen her to establish it. He convinced her that only by education could she evangelize minds, make families truly Christian, and thus transform the society of her time. Anne-Eugénie accepted the project as God’s will for her and allowed herself to be guided by the Abbé Combalot.

At 22, Marie Anne-Eugénie became foundress of the Religious of the Assumption, dedicated to consecrate their whole life and strength to extending the Kingdom of Christ in themselves and in the world. In 1839, Anne-Eugénie, with two other young women, began a life of prayer and study in a flat at rue Ferou near the church of St. Sulpice in Paris. In 1841, under the patronage of Madame de Chateaubriand, Lacordaire, Montalembert and their friends, the sisters opened their first school. In a relatively short time there were 16 sisters of four nationalities in the community.

Marie Anne-Eugénie and the first sisters wanted to link the ancient and the new — to unite the past treasures of the Church’s spirituality and wisdom with a type of religious life and education able to satisfy the demands of modern minds. It was a matter of respecting the values of the period and at the same time, making the Gospel values penetrate the rising culture of a new industrial and scientific era. The spirituality of the congregation, centered on Christ and the incarnation, was both deeply contemplative and dedicated to apostolic action. It was a life given to the search for God and the love and service of others.

Marie Anne-Eugénie’s long life covered almost the whole of the 19th century. She loved her times passionately and took an active part in their history. Progressively, she channeled all her energy and gifts in tending and extending the congregation, which became her life work.

God gave her sisters and many friends. One of the first sisters was Irish, a mystic and her intimate friend whom she called at the end of her life, “half of myself.” Kate O’Neill, called Mother Thérèse Emmanuel in religion, is considered as a co-foundress.

Father Emmanuel d’Alzon, who became Marie Anne-Eugénie’s spiritual director soon after the foundation, was a father, brother or friend according to the seasons. In 1845, he founded the Augustinians of the Assumption and the two founders helped each other in a multitude of ways over a period of 40 years. Both had a gift for friendship and they inspired many lay people to work with them and the Church. Together, as they followed Christ and labored with him, the religious and laity traced the path of the Assumption and took their place in the great cloud of witnesses.

In the last years of her life, Mother Marie Anne-Eugénie experienced a progressive physical weakening, which she lived in silence and humility — a life totally centered on Christ. She received the Eucharist for the last time on March 9, 1898, and on March 10, she passed over to the Lord. She was beatified by Pope Paul VI on Feb. 9, 1975, in Rome.

Today, the Religious of the Assumption are present in 34 countries — eight in Europe, five in Asia, 10 in America and 11 in Africa. Almost 1,200 sisters form 170 communities throughout the world.

The Lay Assumption — Assumption Together — made up of Friends of the Assumption and Communities or Fraternities of the Assumption, are numerous: Thousands of Friends and hundreds of Lay Assumption are committed to live according to the Way of Life.

Charles of St. Andrew

Fr. Charles of St. Andrews
Father Charles of St. Andrew, known in secular life as John Andrew Houben, was born on Dec. 11, 1821, in Munstergeleen, in the diocese of Ruremond, Holland, the fourth of 11 children.
He was baptized the same day with the name John Andrew. He received his first Communion on April 26, 1835, and the sacrament of confirmation on June 28 in the same year.He began his formal education in Sittard and then in Broeksittard. In 1840 he had to interrupt his studies to enter the military. It was during this latter period that he first heard about the Congregation of the Passion.

At the end of his military service he completed his studies and requested to be admitted to the congregation. He was received by Blessed Dominic Barberi, Passionist, and he entered the novitiate in the Belgium city of Ere, near Tournai on Nov. 5, 1845.

In December of that same year he was vested with the Passionist religious habit and was given the name of Charles of St. Andrew. Having completed the canonical year of novitiate, he professed first vows on Dec. 10, 1850. At the conclusion of his studies, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Labis, the ordinary of Tournai.

Immediately he was sent to England where the Passionists had founded three monasteries and it was here that, for a period of time, he undertook the ministry of vice master of novices in the monastery of Broadway. He also did parochial ministry in the Parish of St. Wilfred and neighboring areas until 1856 when he was transferred to the newly established monastery of Mount Argus, on the outskirts of Dublin.

Blessed Charles Houben lived almost the remainder of his life in this retreat and was greatly loved by the Irish people to point that they referred to him — a native of Holland — as Father Charles of Mount Argus. He was a pious priest, outstanding in exercising obedience, poverty, humility and simplicity and to an even greater degree, devotion to the Passion of the Lord.

Due to his poor mastery of English, he was never a formal preacher and he never preached missions. Rather he successfully dedicated himself to spiritual direction, especially through the sacrament of reconciliation.

The fame of his virtue was such that crowds of people would gather at the monastery to seek his blessing. There are also numerous testimonies to the miraculous cures that he worked, to the extent that even during his lifetime he was known as a miracle worker.

Precisely because of this fame that extended throughout all of Great Britain as well as in America and Australia, in 1866, to give him time to rest, he was transferred to England where he lived for a time in the communities at Broadway, Sutton and London. There he ministered as usual and there too, inside and outside the monastery, he was sought by the faithful, both Catholics and non-Catholics.

He returned to Dublin in 1874 where he remained until his death on Jan. 5, 1893.

During his funeral, there was proof of the popular devotion that had surrounded him throughout his life. A newspaper of the time reported: “Never before has the memory of any man sparked an explosion of religious sentiment and profound veneration as that which we observed in the presence of the mortal remains of Father Charles.”

The superior of the monastery wrote to his family: “The people have already declared him a saint.”

The cause of his beatification and canonization was introduced on Nov. 13, 1935, and on Oct. 16, 1988, Pope John Paul II proceeded with the beatification.

The miracle that led to his canonization was obtained through his intercession on behalf of Adolf Dormans of Munstergeleen, the birthplace of the blessed.

The diocesan inquiry “super miro” was also undertaken in the Diocese of Roermond, Holland, from Nov. 6, 2002, until Feb. 19, 2003, at which time the validity of the miracle was recognized by a decree from the Congregation for Saints’ Causes on Nov. 7, 2003.

The medical consultation board was convoked on Nov. 24, 2005, and following the investigation of the matter, the members unanimously expressed that the cure of Dormans of “perforated, gangrenous appendicitis with generalized peritonitis that was multi-organically compromising and included extenuating and prolonged agony” was “not scientifically explainable.”

The theologian consultors, in the particular congress of Feb. 21, 2006, and the Ordinary Congregation of Cardinals and Bishops of Dec. 12, 2006, also gave their unanimous approval of the supernatural aspect of the said healing.

The decree concerning the miracle was given in the presence of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI last Dec. 21.

For more information:

Passionist

Mount Argus

To Heal The Broken Hearted