Nov. 1, 2013
O merciful God,
grant that I may desire ardently,
and bring to perfect completion
whatever is pleasing to You
for the praise and glory of Your name.
St Thomas Aquinas, 13th-century Dominican friar and Doctor of the Church, is well-known for his prodigious work, the Summa Theologiae. He is not, however, well-known for his prayers, and perhaps he should be. Of course, some of the prayers he wrote may be more familiar than you think—a few are used today for Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament: the O Salutaris Hostia and Tantum Ergo both came from his hand, as well as the collect for Benediction: “O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament . . . ”
But he wrote more prayers than these, and they, too, are beautiful! Above is the beginning of just one of these—it is said that he prayed this prayer before the image of Christ every single day, begging the Lord for grace and wisdom.
As we work for the promotion and defense of the truth about marriage, and as we teach others about the goodness of God in giving himself to us in the sacraments, and as we thank him for the gift of marriage, let us follow the Angelic Doctor in praying these beautiful words. Let us pray that God may transform our hearts, strengthen and encourage us in our trials, and bring us at last to that land where there is “the cheerfulness of spring, the brilliance of summer, the fruitfulness of autumn, and the gentle repose of winter,” that “life without death and that joy without sorrow where there is the greatest freedom, unconfined security, secure tranquility, delightful happiness, happy eternity, eternal blessedness, the vision of truth, and praise, O God” (from another of Aquinas’ prayers). St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!
For Ordering a Life Wisely
O merciful God, grant that I may desire ardently, search prudently, recognize truly, and bring to perfect completion whatever is pleasing to You for the praise and glory of Your name.
Put my life in good order, O my God.
Grant that I may know what You require me to do.
Bestow upon me the power to accomplish Your will, as is necessary and fitting for the salvation of my soul.
Grant to me, O Lord my God, that I may not falter in times of prosperity or adversity, so that I may not be exalted in the former, nor dejected in the latter.
May I not rejoice in anything unless it leads me to You; may I not be saddened by anything unless it turns me from You.
May I desire to please no one, nor fear to displease anyone, but You.
May all transitory things, O Lord, be worthless to me and may all things eternal be ever cherished by me.
May any joy without You be burdensome for me and may I not desire anything else besides You.
May all work, O Lord, delight me when done for Your sake and may all repose not centered in You be ever wearisome for me.
Grant unto me, my God, that I may direct my heart to You and that in my failures I may ever feel remorse for my sins and never lose the resolve to change.
O Lord my God, make me submissive without protest, poor without discouragement, chaste without regret, patient without complaint, humble without posturing, cheerful without frivolity, mature without gloom, and quick-witted without flippancy.
O Lord my God, let me fear You without losing hope, be truthful without guile, do good works without presumption, rebuke my neighbor without haughtiness, and—without hypocrisy—strengthen him by word and example.
Give to me, O Lord God, a watchful heart, which no capricious thought can lure away from You.
Give to me a noble heart, which no unworthy desire can debase.
Give to me a resolute heart, which no evil intention can divert.
Give to me a stalwart heart, which no tribulation can overcome.
Give to me a temperate heart, which no violent passion can enslave.
Give to me, O Lord my God, understanding of You, diligence in seeking You, wisdom in finding You, discourse ever pleasing to You, perseverance in waiting for You, and confidence in finally embracing You.
Grant that with Your hardships I may be burdened in reparation here, that Your benefits I may use in gratitude upon the way, that in Your joys I may delight by glorifying You in the Kingdom of Heaven.
You Who live and reign, God, world without end.
[These and other prayers by St Thomas Aquinas can be found in the volume entitled, The Aquinas Prayer Book: The Prayers and Hymns of St. Thomas Aquinas, available from Sophia Institute Press (1-800-888-9344).]
Nov. 1, 2013
Intention: We remember the saints and martyrs who were servants of the Lord during their earthly lives and ask that they pray for us to one day join them in heaven.
Reflection: The Solemnity of All Saints is a feast in the Catholic Church that was originally instituted to honor the Christian martyrs of the late Roman Empire.
Although we often associate martyrdom with events of the past, violent persecution of Christians is still happening at an alarming rate in modern times in many countries. Therefore, in praying for the martyrs of ages past, let us also pray for suffering Christians around the world who continue to be persecuted in this day and age for following Christ.
Did You Know? Many families make it a tradition on All Saints’ Day to gather at a local cemetery and decorate the graves with flowers or wreaths in anticipation of All Souls’ Day, which occurs on November 2. Catholics in many countries honor and pray for the departed souls who may have no one to pray for them.
*Note on fasting: On the Solemnity of All Saints, we honor all of the saints and continue to join in prayer for the building up of a culture of life, marriage, and religious liberty. Since this feast day is a solemnity, it is not appropriate to fast on All Saints’ Day.
- Learn about the Bishops’ Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty
- Sign the pledge to fast on Fridays for life, marriage, and religious liberty
- Join the Call to Prayer Facebook event
May. 5, 2013
In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI gave a conference at a General Audience on Saint Bridget of Sweden, because “this holy woman has much to teach the Church and the world.” A married woman, she reflected sanctity in her domestic life. Forming families is something that can truly make us holy.
Pope Benedict XVI: “We can distinguished two periods in this Saint’s life.
“The first was characterized by her happily married state. Her husband was called Ulf and he was Governor of an important district of the Kingdom of Sweden. The marriage lasted for 28 years, until Ulf’s death. Eight children were born, the second of whom, Karin (Catherine), is venerated as a Saint. This is an eloquent sign of Bridget’s dedication to her children’s education. Moreover, King Magnus of Sweden so appreciated her pedagogical wisdom that he summoned her to Court for a time, so that she could introduce his young wife, Blanche of Namur, to Swedish culture. Bridget, who was given spiritual guidance by a learned religious who initiated her into the study of the Scriptures, exercised a very positive influence on her family which, thanks to her presence, became a true “domestic church”. Together with her husband she adopted the Rule of the Franciscan Tertiaries. She generously practiced works of charity for the poor; she also founded a hospital. At his wife’s side Ulf’s character improved and he advanced in the Christian life. On their return from a long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, which they made in 1341 with other members of the family, the couple developed a project of living in continence; but a little while later, in the tranquility of a monastery to which he had retired, Ulf’s earthly life ended. This first period of Bridget’s life helps us to appreciate what today we could describe as an authentic “conjugal spirituality”: together, Christian spouses can make a journey of holiness sustained by the grace of the sacrament of Marriage. It is often the woman, as happened in the life of St Bridget and Ulf, who with her religious sensitivity, delicacy and gentleness succeeds in persuading her husband to follow a path of faith. I am thinking with gratitude of the many women who, day after day, illuminate their families with their witness of Christian life, in our time too. May the Lord’s Spirit still inspire holiness in Christian spouses today, to show the world the beauty of marriage lived in accordance with the Gospel values: love, tenderness, reciprocal help, fruitfulness in begetting and in raising children, openness and solidarity to the world and participation in the life of the Church.”
- Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, October 27, 2010 (emphasis added)
Jul. 26, 2012
Today is the feast day of St. Joachim and St. Anne, the married couple traditionally honored as the parents of Mary, which makes them the grandparents of Jesus.
Grandparents and the Incarnation
How wonderful that Jesus has grandparents! St. Joachim and St. Anne remind us of the mystery of the Incarnation: God truly became man and entered into a human family that included not only his mother Mary and father Joseph but their parents, and their parents, and their parents, all the way back to Adam (and Eve) at the dawn of creation, according to St. Luke’s chronology (Luke 3:23-38). Like all of us, Jesus was born into a web of relationships, the “cradle of life and love” that is the family (John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, no. 40).
The burden of infertility
However, becoming grandparents – or even parents – must have seemed like a far-off dream for much of Joachim and Anne’s married life. Tradition holds that these saints struggled with infertility and were childless for decades. Like other barren couples in Scripture (eg. Abraham and Sarah, Elkanah and Hannah), sterility was a great burden to Joachim and Anne and even a hindrance to their participation in community life. A story told of St. Joachim relates that he wanted to offer sacrifice in the temple but was turned away because of his childlessness. He retreated into the mountains to air his grievance with God, and during this time both he and his wife received an angelic prophecy of Anne’s pregnancy. We can picture her thanking God in the same words used by Hannah when she became a mother:
“My heart exults in the Lord,
my horn is exalted in my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies;
I rejoice in my victory.
. . .
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes.”
- 1 Samuel 2: 1, 5
Their steadfast faith during the trial of infertility explains why they are often invoked by married couples struggling to conceive a child.
A model for parents
Tradition depicts St. Joachim and St. Anne as loving and dedicated parents to their daughter, Mary. Artwork often shows Mary on her mother’s lap, learning how to read. It is no stretch to imagine that St. Joachim and St. Anne laid the groundwork for Mary’s faith, preparing her to answer one day to the angel Gabriel “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to thy word.”
A model for marriage
Finally, St. Joachim and St. Anne are a particularly special married couple for the Marriage: Unique for a Reason project, seeing how they are the couple featured in the Marriage: Unique for a Reason logo and artwork. As the website says:
Saints Joachim and Anne are the father and mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is the fruit of their marriage. By a singular grace of God in view of the merits of Jesus, she was preserved from all stain of Original Sin from the moment of her conception. Thus it is in the context of married life and conjugal love that Mary is prepared to receive the Divine Logos, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus is the Logos, the “Reason” at the heart of all reason and truth, including the truth of marriage. The marriage between Joachim and Anne is a significant witness to why marriage is “unique for a reason.”
St. Joachim and St. Anne are the patron saints of grandparents and infertile couples.
St. Joachim and St. Anne, pray for us!
- Novena to St. Joachim and St. Anne from the USCCB: “Saints Anne and Joachim are powerful intercessors for all married couples, expectant mothers and married couples who are having difficulty conceiving, as well as all who have grown old.”
- Novena to St. Ann from EWTN
- Prayer to St. Joachim from About.com (Catholicism)
Jun. 22, 2012
England has no lack of married saints, or saints that were martyred for defending religious liberty. Earlier, we profiled St. Philip Howard, one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI. And today, on the second day of the Fortnight for Freedom, we celebrate the feast of St. Thomas More, husband, father, and martyr under King Henry VIII in 1535. (Today is also the feast day of St. John Fisher, a bishop also martyred in 1535, but here we confine ourselves to married saints.)
- Born February 7, 1478, in London
- Married Jane Colt in 1505; she died in 1511
- Married Alice Middleton in 1511
- Father of four children
- Imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1534
- Executed by beheading on July 6, 1535
- Canonized May 19, 1935 by Pius XI
The Fortnight for Freedom began yesterday, on the vigil of today’s feast day of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher. The timing is intentional. Both men faced suffering, imprisonment, and ultimately death because of their allegiance to their faith.
The contours of St. Thomas More’s life are familiar to many, thanks in large part to the 1966 movie A Man for All Seasons. Born into a well situated family, St. Thomas was educated at Oxford University and, after a period of discerning the religious life, became a lawyer and married Jane Colt, daughter of a country nobleman. The two lived an exceptionally happy marriage and welcomed four children into their family, but their life together on earth was cut short with Jane’s death at the age of twenty-two. For the sake of the children, St. Thomas remarried quickly and his new wife, Alice Middleton, proved to be a more than capable stepmother and household manager. St. Thomas grew to love Alice as well, and in his epitaph wrote, “This one [Jane] so lived with me, and the other one [Alice] now so liveth, that it is doubtful whether this or the other were dearer to me” (as quoted by Ferdinand Holbock in Married Saints and Blesseds Through the Centuries, 323).
Difficulties began to besiege St. Thomas in 1522. The current ruler of England, King Henry VIII, was seeking to annul his marriage with his wife Catherine and marry a lady-in-waiting by the name of Anne Boleyn. Catherine, the widow of King Henry’s brother, had borne a number of children, but each died at birth or shortly thereafter, with the exception of Princess Mary. Seeking an heir to the throne, King Henry petitioned Rome in vain to grant him an annulment.
Enter Thomas More. As a well-respected lawyer, St. Thomas was asked by the King for counsel in the “Great Matter” of his desire for an annulment. After reflection and consultation, St. Thomas replied that his opinion was with the pope – the marriage was valid and could not be annulled. This was not the answer King Henry was hoping to hear. And yet not long after, the King appointed St. Thomas to the weighty position of Lord Chancellor, promising him that his conscience in the matter of the marriage would be respected.
Unfortunately for St. Thomas, his stance became a very lonely one, and the King’s promise of protection began to seem very thin. In short order, leading English lords petitioned Rome to change its decision on the marriage; the bishops (save St. John Fisher) officially broke with Rome; Archbishop Cranmer declared the King’s marriage to Catherine annulled; and in 1533 King Henry’s new bride Anne Boleyn was declared Queen of England. St. Thomas declined to attend the coronation.
Finally, events came to a head for St. Thomas. In March 1534 a law was passed that declared potential heirs only the offspring of King Henry and his new wife Anne. The law also declared the King’s marriage to Catherine invalid and blatantly rejected papal authority. All citizens of England – including Thomas More – were obliged to assent to the so-called Succession Oath. On April 13, St. Thomas appeared before the archbishop of Canterbury and refused to take the oath, saying that he could not swear to it without imperiling his eternal soul. The former lord chancellor of England was then thrown into the Tower of London.
There St. Thomas languished, besieged by constant visitors trying to elicit a treasonous statement against the King of England, now declared the head of the newly formed Church of England. All attempts were unsuccessful. Finally, on the basis of false testimony from one Master Rich, St. Thomas was convicted guilty and sentenced to be hung, drawn, and quartered. King Henry altered this punishment to beheading, and on July 6, 1535, St. Thomas More was martyred.
A faithful husband and father, and a faithful witness to the indissolubility of marriage against immense political pressure, St. Thomas stands as a model for husbands, fathers, lawyers, and all those seeking to preserve the precious right of religious liberty.
Prayer Resource: St. Thomas More holy card from Fortnight for Freedom
Patron of: lawyers, politicians
St. Thomas More, pray for us!
Apr. 28, 2012
Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, a 20th century wife, mother, and doctor who sacrificed her life for the sake of her unborn daughter. St. Gianna, pray for us!
- Born October 4, 1922 near Milan, Italy
- Married Pietro Molla on September 24, 1955
- Mother of six children (including two lost before birth): Pierluigi, Mariolina, Laura and Gianna Emanuela
- Died April 28, 1962 in Ponte Nuovo di Magenta, Italy
- Beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994
- Canonized by Pope John Paul II on May 16, 2004
Read St. Gianna’s biography (on the Vatican website).
- A model of discernment: After earning her medical degree in 1949, St. Gianna actively discerned whether God was calling her to join two of her brothers in the mission fields of Brazil, or to marry Pietro Molla, an engineer and fellow member in the charitable group Catholic Action. Gianna sought God’s will in prayer and spiritual direction and eventually, during a pilgrimage to Lourdes on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, it became clear that her vocational call was to marriage and the family. Pietro and Gianna were engaged on Easter Sunday of 1955 and married that September.
- A heroic witness to life: After being blessed with three children (and suffering two miscarriages), St. Gianna was again with child in 1961. Early in the pregnancy, a dangerous cyst was discovered on her uterus. Choosing the route of treatment least dangerous to her unborn child, Gianna underwent a risky and painful surgery to remove the cyst. Thankfully the baby was unharmed, and the pregnancy continued. When it came time for her to give birth, Gianna said to the delivering doctor, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child.” Little Gianna Emanuela was born on April 21, 1962. A week later, her heroic and self-sacrificing mother died at home after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you.”
- “Love is the most beautiful sentiment the Lord has put into the soul of men and women.” – St. Gianna, in a letter to her future husband a few days before their wedding (as quoted in Bl. John Paul II’s homily at her canonization mass)
- “Gianna Beretta Molla was a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love…Following the example of Christ, who ‘having loved his own…loved them to the end‘ (Jn. 13:1), this holy mother of a family remained heroically faithful to the commitment she made on the day of her marriage. The extreme sacrifice she sealed with her life testifies that only those who have the courage to give of themselves totally to God and to others are able to fulfill themselves.” – Bl. John Paul II, homily at St. Gianna’s canonization mass
- “A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation.” – Pope Paul VI, Angelus, September 23, 1973 (quoted in the Vatican biography; original in Italian)
- “All my mother’s life has been a hymn to life, to joy, to God’s love, to Our Lady, to her family, to her very near, to her beloved husband, my daddy, her beloved children and her dear patients.” – Gianna Emanuela, St. Gianna’s daughter, in a 2011 interview
Patron saint of mothers, physicians, preborn children
Pray: Litany of St. Gianna Beretta Molla
Apr. 12, 2012
Who are the saints featured in the Marriage: Unique for a Reason logo…and why were they chosen? Let us explain:
Saints Joachim and Anne are the father and mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is the fruit of their marriage. By a singular grace of God in view of the merits of Jesus, she was preserved from all stain of Original Sin from the moment of her conception. Thus it is in the context of married life and conjugal love that Mary is prepared to receive the Divine Logos, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus is the Logos, the “Reason” at the heart of all reason and truth, including the truth of marriage. The marriage between Joachim and Anne is a significant witness to why marriage is “unique for a reason” (from the home page, emphasis added).
St. Joachim and St. Anne provide for us an example of holiness (see CCC, no. 2030) and as a married couple, they provide in a particular way an example of holiness as a married couple. The portion of the mosaic featured at the top of the website brings out the beauty of marriage’s unity, depicted here as the intimate face-to-face encounter between husband and wife. And in the larger version of the mosaic found on the old USCCB defense of marriage site, the river that streams behind St. Joachim and St. Anne recalls their fruitfulness, the life-giving love that took form in their daughter Mary, the mother of our Redeemer.
St. Joachim and St. Anne serve as inspiring models of a holy marriage and as the informal “patron saints” of the Marriage: Unique for a Reason initiative. We ask for their intercession in the defense of marriage prayer: Sts. Joachim and Anne, pray for us!
Mar. 9, 2012
Today the Church honors St. Frances of Rome, an Italian married woman who lived an exemplary life as a wife and mother during difficult times of plague and war. She serves as a model for all married women who strive to integrate their devotion to God with their vocation as a wife and mother.
- Born in 1384 in Rome
- Married Lorenzo dei Ponziani in 1396
- Mother of six children
- Died March 9, 1440
- Canonized May 29, 1608
Read the story of St. Frances of Rome in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
St. Frances’ sufferings:
- Five out of her six children did not survive childhood. Two died during the plague of 1410.
- During a war between the Papal States and Naples, her surviving child, Battista, was taken hostage, and her husband suffered a serious stab wound. Also during this war, St. Frances’ husband’s ancestral palace burnt to the ground.
- Her son Battista married an arrogant woman who deliberately insulted and offended her mother-in-law. St. Frances eventually won her over through patience and humility.
- Despite her high birth, St. Frances dressed simply and modestly. She was known to travel the streets of Rome in shabby attire, collecting alms and firewood for the poor.
- Stories relate that St. Frances enjoyed mystical experiences, in which she would talk with Jesus, Mary, and her own guardian angel.
- In her later years, St. Frances formed a community of Roman women who cared for the poor, sick, and homeless of Rome.
- A church in the Roman Forum section of Rome is dedicated to St. Frances: Santa Francesca Romana. Relics of the saint are housed here.
- “A married woman must leave all her devotions when the household demands it.” – St. Frances
- “She did not cease to be mindful of the things of God during her marriage, so that she pleased God in her husband and her husband in God.” – from the prayer book of the community founded by St. Frances
Patron saint of those who lose a child to death, people ridiculed for their piety, lay people, and taxi drivers. (About the latter – while St. Frances never even saw a car, legend says that when she walked the streets of Rome at night, her guardian angel went before her, lighting the roads and keeping her safe.)
St. Frances of Rome, wife and mother, pray for us!
Feb. 17, 2012
- Born June 28, 1557, in London
- Died October 19, 1595, in the Tower of London
- Canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI
- Father of one son
- Patron of betrayal victims and separated spouses
An image of St. Philip Howard.
In 1970, St. Philip Howard was named by Pope Paul VI one of the “Forty Martyrs of Wales and England.” Yet as with many martyrs, St. Philip’s early life was little indication of the supreme honor he would one day receive, dying for the sake of Christ.
Philip Howard was born in 1557 in an England that was still reeling from King Henry VIII’s establishment of the Church of England. During Philip’s childhood, “Bloody” Queen Mary was on the throne, a Catholic ruler who rejected the Church of England. Accordingly, Philip was baptized as a Catholic by the archbishop of York. He later pursued his education at Cambridge.
However, times were soon to change. Queen Elizabeth I succeeded Queen Mary, and the country once again became Protestant; more than that, Catholicism was strictly forbidden. As with so many Englishmen at the time, Philip’s father took the family with him back into the Church of England. Change was also happening in Philip’s home: his father remarried a woman with three daughters. At the young age of 14, St. Philip was given in marriage to one of these daughters, Anne; his other two brothers married the other two daughters.
St. Philip’s early years as a husband were none too pious. Climbing the career ladder was forefront in his mind, while family and faith fell by the wayside. His young wife, Anne, stayed admirably devoted to her inattentive and often moody husband, even as he spent more and more time at the Queen’s court, seeking to build his prestige and affluence. And yet it was here at Court that the seeds were sown for Philip’s later years of discipleship.
At the Queen’s court one day, Philip witnessed a theological debate between Anglican theologians and the Jesuit priest St. Edmund Campion. (St. Edmund would be martyred as a result of this dispute.) The words of St. Edmund took three years to penetrate Philip’s heart and mind, but when they did, he was solidly convinced of the truth of the Catholic faith. His conversion led him to devote more time to his wife and to prayer, and to generally amend his life. But it also caught the attention of the Queen who, recall, had outlawed Catholicism. After Philip wrote Her Majesty a letter – with feeling! – about his newfound faith, she had him thrown into the Tower of London.
In the Tower, Philip suffered all of the usual indignities. Confined to a small, unappealing space, and forbidden from seeing his wife or his newborn son, Philip suffered patiently, often repeating Jesus’ words from the Cross “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” Finally, on October 19, 1595, 38-year-old Philip took leave of this life to receive the crown of a martyr. He left his last testament on the wall of his cell, as if to remove any doubt about why and for whom he died: Quanto plus afflictions pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro (“The more afflictions we bear for Christ in this world, the more glory we attain with Christ in the world to come.”)
St. Philip Howard, husband and martyr, pray for those who are persecuted because of their faith in Jesus and their love of His Church. Give strength especially to those husbands and wives who are separated from each other under difficult circumstances. Pray in a particular way for the faithful of England, that they may stay rooted in the love of Christ.
St. Philip Howard, pray for us!
National Marriage Week: An example of faithful love, enduring unto death (Bl. Elizabeth Canori Mora)
Feb. 9, 2012
- Born November 21, 1774, in Rome
- Died February 5, 1825, in Rome
- Married January 10, 1796
- Mother of two daughters
- Beatified April 24, 1994, by Pope John Paul II
A holy card of Blessed Elizabeth.
In Blessed Elizabeth Canori Mora, we have a stunning example of married love that endures “unto death,” even in the midst of profound suffering. Born into a wealthy Roman family in 1774, Elizabeth spent much of her childhood in the care of Augustinian nuns in the countryside of Cascia. In her happy years there, her love for Jesus blossomed, and many thought that she might have a religious vocation.
However, in her teen years, Elizabeth developed tuberculosis and returned to her parents’ home to recuperate. Away from the convent, her desire for religious profession faded just as her interest in a certain young law student, Cristoforo Mora, grew. Discerning that God was calling her to the married state, Elizabeth exchanged marriage vows with Cristofero in 1796.
The first few months of their married life were sweet and joyful. Cristoforo delighted in showing off his young, beautiful bride. However, his affections started to become overshadowed by jealousy, and he began to restrict Elizabeth’s correspondences, wanting to have his wife “all to himself.” Jealously eventually degenerated into disinterest, and disinterest into rejection, and so yet within a few short years, Cristoforo grew cold toward his wife, and began what would be a long chain of infidelities.
A young mother now with two daughters, Elizabeth bore the cruelty and rejection of her husband bravely, offering all of her sufferings for his repentance and conversion. As Cristoforo spent his time philandering and squandering their resources, Elizabeth patiently struggled to make ends meet and ensure that their daughters, Marianna and Lucina, were properly cared for and educated. Even as friends and advisors urged Elizabeth to leave her unfaithful husband, she clung to the vows she had made and the grace of God that she trusted to sustain her.
Drawing her strength from prayer, mass, and her devotion to the Holy Trinity, Elizabeth never ceased loving Cristoforo and praying for him. She encouraged her daughters to do the same, never permitting rancor or anger to be directed at her husband and their father. Faithful until the last, Elizabeth offered her dying words for her husband’s conversion. And finally, after witnessing his holy wife’s holy death, Cristoforo experienced profound remorse for the anguish he had caused his family. Repenting of his sins, he amended his life, and in a turn of events that was due in no small measure to his wife’s intercession, Cristoforo lived the remaining years of his life as a Franciscan priest.
At Elizabeth’s beatification on April 24, 1994 (during the Year of the Family), John Paul II said this about the saintly wife and mother:
“For her part Elizabeth Canori Mora, amidst a great many marital difficulties, showed total fidelity to the commitment she had made in the sacrament of marriage, and to the responsibility stemming from it. Constant in prayer and in her heroic dedication to her family, she was able to rear her children as Christians and succeeded in converting her husband” (original source, in Italian).
And during the recitation of the Regina Caeli on Elizabeth’s beatification day, the Holy Father pointed to Elizabeth as a reminder to all that “love is stern as death” (Song of Songs 8:6) (original source available in Italian or Spanish).
A prayer: St. Elizabeth Canori Mora, we entrust to you all struggling marriages, and especially spouses who have been abandoned. May they know that their witness to marital fidelity is a treasure for the world and a sign of God’s never-failing love for his beloved children. Bring faithless spouses back to their families, and heal all of the wounds of sin and betrayal.
St. Elizabeth, pray for us!