Friday, December 25, 2009

Saint Cyriacus Deacon and Martyr

Torre le Nocelle, Festival of San Ciriaco

San Ciriaco Diacono e Martire

Feast Day:  8 August
Patronage: Eye Diseases, Diabolical Possession, Epilepsy, Comune of Torre le Nocelle, Italy
Other Names: Cyriacus, Cyriac, Ciriaco

San Ciriaco was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.  Born to a noble patrician family, he embraced the Christian religion and gave his wealth to the poor. He was ordained a deacon at Rome, under Pope Marcellinus.

The emperor at that time was Diocletian, assisted by Maximian, who happened to be his favorite. In honor of Diocletian, Maximian decided to build a gorgeous palace, complete with magnificent baths, constructed by the Christian.  Among the slaves were elderly men, as well as high-ranking priests and clerics.

A Roman nobleman, wanting to relieve the sufferings of these poor laborers, sent four Christians with alms and encouragement: Saint Cyriacus, Saint Sisinius, Saint Largus and Saint Smaragdus. They pursued their charities at the risk of their lives, and they worked vigorously alongside those who were growing very weak. When Maximian heard of it, he had Saint Sisinius and an old gentleman whom he had helped, decapitated.

San Ciriaco was well known to Diocletian, who was fond of him. Suddenly Diocletian’s daughter became possessed by a furious demon, and she announced that only Ciriaco could deliver her. Diocletian sent for him, and he cured her. She became a Christian like her mother, who is today Saint Serena.

A short time later the daughter of the king of Persia also became possessed, and cried out like Diocletian’s daughter that she could be delivered only by Ciriaco, who was in Rome. A message was sent to Diocletian, who asked his wife to persuade the deacon to go to Persia for this purpose. He did so with his two remaining Christian companions, and again cast out the demon, thus bringing about the conversion of the king, his family and four hundred persons, whom he baptized.

The three confessors returned to Rome, having refused all compensation for their services, saying that they had received the gifts of God gratuitously and wished to share them gratuitously, not deriving profit from them. The barbarous Maximian, hearing of their return in 303, had them seized, imprisoned and tortured, and finally decapitated with twenty other courageous Christians. Their bodies were first buried near the place of their execution on the Salarian Way, but were later removed to the city. An abbey in France, at Altorf in Alsace, possesses relics of Saint Cyriacus and bears his name.

Chiesa San Ciriaco in Torre le Nocelle, Italy

Novena Prayer to San Ciriaco

Preparatory Prayer:

Almighty and eternal God! With lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy Divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy Heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy Divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of the Saint in whose honor I make this novena, and following his example imitate, like him, the life of Thy Divine Son.

Moreover, I beseech Thee to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful Helper, the petition which through him I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saying, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul. Amen.

Prayer In Honor of San Ciriaco:
O God, Who didst grant to San Ciriaco the grace of heroic charity and trustful resignation to Thy holy will; bestow upon us, through his intercession, the grace to walk before Thee in self-denying charity and to know and fulfill Thy will in all things. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Invocation of San Ciriaco: 
San Ciriaco, great servant of God, loving Christ with all thy heart, thou didst for His
sake also love thy fellow men, and didst serve them even at the peril of thy life, for which charity God rewarded thee with the power to overcome Satan, the arch-enemy, and to deliver the poor obsessed from his dreadful tyranny; implore for me of God an effective, real, and true charity. Show thy power over Satan also in me; deliver me from his influence when he tries to tempt me. Help me to repel his assaults and to gain the victory over him in life and in death. Amen.

My Lord and God! I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His immaculate and blessed Mother, Mary ever virgin, and of all the Saints, particularly with those of the holy Helper in whose honor I make this novena.

Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thy grace and Thy love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Padre Pio's Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena Chaplet

Chaplet available for purchase at

The chaplet  consists of fifteen beads (three groups of five beads each), a Padre Pio medal and a Sacred Heart of Jesus medal.  Saint Pio recited this Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus every day for all those who asked for his prayers.

Prayer Instructions:

On the Padre Pio medal say the prayer of the glorification of Padre Pio:

Oh Jesus, full of grace and charity, victim for sinners, so impelled by Your love for us that You willed to die on the Cross, I humbly beseech You to glorify in heaven and on earth, the Servant of God, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who generously participated in Your sufferings, who loved You so much, and labored so faithfully for the glory of Your Heavenly Father and for the good of souls. With confidence, I beseech You to grant me, through His intercession, the grace of (mention your request) which I ardently desire.

First Set:
On the first bead say:
O my Jesus, You have said: "Truly I say to you, ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you." Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of (name you request).
Second bead: Our Father.
Third bead: Hail Mary.
Fourth bead: Glory be to the Father.
Fifth bead: Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You.

Second Set:
On the first bead say:
O my Jesus, You have said: "Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in My Name, He will give it to you." Behold in Your Name I ask the Father for the grace of (name your request).
Second bead: Our Father.
Third bead: Hail Mary.
Fourth bead: Glory be to the Father.
Fifth bead: Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You.

Third Set:
On the first bead say:
O my Jesus, You have said: "Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but My words will not pass away." Encouraged by Your infallible words I now ask for the grace of (mention your request).
Second bead: Our Father.
Third bead: Hail Mary.
Fourth bead: Glory be to the Father.
Fifth bead: Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You.

On the Sacred Heart medal say:
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for Whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of You, through the sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Your tender Mother and ours.

Say the Hail Holy Queen and add: Saint Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.

Saint Padre Pio da Pietrelcina

Saint Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione on 25 May 1887 in the small comune of Pietrelcina, Italy. His parents, Grazio Forgione and Maria Giuseppa de Nunzio, were contadini – poor peasant farmers.

Francesco was said to be a quiet, religious child and at the age of five dedicated his life to God. When not tending sheep near the rented family farm in Piana Romana, his days were spent in quiet prayer.
As a youth he experienced heavenly visions and ecstasies and at an early age began to inflict penances on himself. Preferring not to use his bed, which he considered to be too comfortable, his mother would often find him asleep on the floor in the morning, having used a stone for a pillow.

The kitchen of the Forgione home and Padre Pio's bedroom.

 On 22 January 1903, at the age of fifteen, Francesco entered the novitiate of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. To begin the six-year journey to priesthood he travelled to the Friary by oxcart.

Pietrelcina farmer with donkey taken Spring 2007.

Due to Padre Pio’s on-going poor health he was not able to stay within the religious community. Between late 1910 and early 1916 he was permitted to live near his family in Pietrelcina, while still retaining the Capuchin Habit.

During this time he celebrated Mass, heard confessions and taught school. He would often spend time praying in the countryside near the farm at Piana Romana. It was there on 7 Sept 1910, while deep in prayer, that Jesus and Mary approached him and gave him the wounds of Christ, the Stigmata. so terrified by the phenomenon he begged the Lord to withdraw them. He did not wish the pain to be removed, only the visible wounds.

The rented Forgione farmhouse at Piana Romana, Pietrelcina. 

 In 1916 Padre Pio was ordered to return to community life and was assigned to San Giovanni Rotondo, located in the Gargano Mountains of Italy in the province of Foggia. With the exception of a year spent in the Italian army, Padre Pio would spend the remainder of his life here, at the Friary of La Madonna della Grazie.

Chiesa SS Madonna Della Grazie in San Giovanni Rotondo. 

On the 5th, 6th and 7th of August, 1918 Padre Pio began to experience the phenomenon of transverberation. In a letter from Padre Pio to Padre Benedetto, dated August 21, 1918, Padre Pio writes of his experiences during the transverberation:

“While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th (of August) I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person who presented himself to my mind’s eye. He had in his hand a sort of weapon like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boy to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, and nothing was spared. From that day on I have been mortally wounded. I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony.”

On 20 September 1918, as Padre Pio was engaged in prayer in the choir loft in the Chiesa Madonna della Grazie, the same Being who had appeared to him and given him the transverberation, and who is believed to be the Wounded Christ, appeared again and Padre Pio had another experience of religious ecstasy. When the ecstasy ended, Padre Pio had received the Visible Stigmata, the five wounds of Christ. This time, however, the stigmata were permanent and would stay on him for the next fifty years of his earthly life.

Though Padre Pio would have preferred to suffer in secret, by early 1919, news about the stigmatic friar began to spread in the secular world. People from around the world began to flock to San Giovanni Rotondo, approximately 8 million pilgrims per year. In his lifetime he reconciled thousands of Christians back to their faith through confession and prayer.In addition to the Stigmata, he was also blessed with the gifts of healing, bilocation, levitation, the ability to read hearts and souls, and the gift of tongues.

Padre Pio loved people, loving them truly as God’s children and as his own brothers and sisters. For this reason he devoted much of his life to prayer and became “the scapegoat” of his fellow-beings to ensure their spiritual well-being. In order to soothe physical pain and wounds, he set up his very own “cathedral of charity” known as the “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” or “House for the Relief of Suffering” in San Giovanni Rotondo.

Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italia

The first stone of the hospital was laid on May 1947 and the doors of the wards were opened 26 July 1954. The spirit and aim of Padre Pio in building the hospital, as in all his work, was the spirit motivated by his love and charity. It is considered one of the most modern and efficient hospitals in all of Itay.

On 23 September 1968, at the age of eighty-one, Padre Pio returned to God, with his rosary in his hands. His last words were “GesĂș, Maria…” By the time of his burial, all visible marks of the Stigmata had disappeared. He was canonized on 16 June 2002 by Pope John Paul II at Rome, Italy.

Padre Pio is currently known as the patron saint of civil volunteer workers.

Chiesa SS Maria Degli Angeli, Pietrelcina, Italia

Piana Romana, Pietrelcina.  The little chapel of Saint Francis of Assisi that sits near the site where Padre Pio first received the Stigmata.

(L) Pietrelcina - view of main piazza from the steps of the church. (C) View of Pietrelcina from Piana Romana (R) Pietrelcina window