Ignatian Spirituality at Old St. Joseph’s: God’s Creation Shines

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Image of Iganatius Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

Ignatius Loyola created a vision on the way to approach spirituality, a “way of proceeding.” These innovative ideas are showcased here in Ignatius life and his classic text, Spiritual Exercises, that today drive Jesuits, laymen and Pope Francis. Old St. Joseph’s Church guides us in our spiritual understanding of Ignatius of Loyola.

Fr. Dan Ruff S.J. pastor at Old St. Joseph’s:
David Fleming, in his book What is Ignatian Spirituality, begins by noting in the Preface that in founding the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius was “more interested in a whole-person approach than in rules” (vii). As a result, Ignatian spirituality may be understood as “a spiritual ‘way of proceeding’ that offers a vision of life, an understanding of God, a reflective approach to living, a contemplative form of praying, a reverential attitude to our world, and an expectation of finding God daily” (vii-viii). In other words, Ignatian spirituality entails a worldview and a way of life.

I. A Vision of Life, Work and Love

road and sunlight
Sunlight Around the Bend.

Ignatius compares the gifts of God as light from sun and water from a spring source. We share with God everything we have.

“God’s love shines down upon me like the light rays from the sun” says Ignatius.

Ignatius comments that life is about God in our daily lives…all the gifts to us to know God more easily and return love more readily. As good stewards and loving persons we care for God’s world. – David Flemming S.J. author of What is Ignatian Spirituality?

nature 5 oerwout God is the light of the world. Photo by Oer-Wont.

Light is beautiful and mysterious, just like God.

God as a giver of gifts speaks to us through his giving. This is a central theme of Ignatian Spirituality, love shows itself in deeds over words. We are asked to share and give what one has.

streams source of lifeThree Waterfalls.  Ignatius vision directs us to the source of life.

Our one desire: to want and choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me. –  David Fleming S.J.

Adoration_of_the_Shepherds_1482_85Domenico_Ghirlandaio Santa Trinita FlorenceAdoration by the Shepherds by Domenico Ghirlandaio 1485. Ignatius says, “Look at how God loves.”

The real source of life is the Eucharist.

Christ is in the trenches doing the evangelizing. We are asked or called to work with him. David Fleming S.J. author of What is Ignatian Spirituality says it’s the Call of the King . . . we should think of Jesus as a king, we owe reverence and obedience. This expands to reverence for all the gifts of God’s creation that are given to us.

II. God is Love Loving

1-ignatius-recovers-from-his-wounds-at-loyola.jpg!HD
Ignatius recovers from his wounds at Loyola by Carlos Saenz de Tejada.

Ignatius says God’s gift is himself in Jesus in the Eucharist. God created Jesus.

By receiving God, we become his hands, feet and voice in our world.

All the things in this world, says Ignatius, are ways to become closer to God.

Old St. Joes altar
Old St. Joseph’s Church and National Shrine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Founded by the Jesuits in 1733, Old St. Joseph’s is the oldest catholic community in Philadelphia. It is a national shrine from a historical standpoint. The current church is the third church on the site, built in 1839. St. Joseph’s University and St. Joseph’s Preparatory School were founded at Old St. Joseph’s.

III. Spirituality of the Heart

heart with old stained glass window
The Heart mosaic stained glass window at Old St. Joseph’s Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Mosaic windows were for church’s that couldn’t afford figured stained glass windows, which at several points over the centuries, Old St. Joe’s was in this category, a poor parish.  The heart referenced by Ignatius is the inner orientation of a person. Ignatius stressed the vision of God is from our hearts not our minds.

 

organ at Old St. Joesph'sOrgan at Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia PA. Ignatius had a vision of organs playing.

While praying outside a monastery, Ignatius had a mystical vision, hearing three organs playing at the same time. This was a response from God on the question of whether four prayers should be said: to the Father, Son, Holy Spirit and the One God, or three prayers: to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The three organ response was the answer from God to Ignatius.

2-ignatius-writes-the-spiritual-exercises-in-the-cave-at Manresa.jpg!HD Ignatius writes the Spiritual Exercises in the cave at Manresa. – Carlos Saenz de Tejada

Ignatius wrote the Spiritual Exercises, his landmark spiritual guide, in a Manresa cave after experiencing a vision of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus at the shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat in March 1522. This was well before Ignatius took up religious vows.

The Call of the King is a section of the Spiritual Exercises in which the goal is a response from the heart. Ignatius says, listen to the language of the heart. This is a cornerstone to the Spiritual Exercises.

IV. A Reflective Spirituality

nature 3 oer woutBench Inviting Reflection. Photo by Oer Wout.

The Examen is a method for detecting God’s presence during the day. The Jesuits believe reflective prayer at mid-day and before retiring to sleep is a core to the Spiritual Exercises.

Examen points by Ignatius:
1. be grateful for God’s Blessings
2. ask for the help of the Holy Spirit
3. review the day and determine where God is present and where God is left out.
4. express sorrow for sin
5. pray for grace

Author’s personal note – I practiced the examen technique after reading the Fleming book. It really is an effective mechanism to review the day and where God played a role. Many things quietly surface that go unnoticed without using the examen. David Fleming S.J. says if we get any one thing out of the Spiritual Exercises it should be the examen.

V. Sin – A Lack of Gratitude

washing Christ at the Home of the Pharisee by Artus Wolffort (b 1581; d 1641)
Washing Christ’s feet at the home of the Pharisee. By Artus Wolffort d 1641.

In his book What is Ignatian Spirituality, David Fleming S.J. says one of the greatest gospel stories about sin and forgiveness is Jesus’ meal at the home of Simon the Pharisee. When the woman of ill repute anoints Jesus feet with tears and fine oil, Jesus explained she had much to be thankful for: “her many sins have been forgiven, hence she has shown great love” (Luke 7:47)

Sin is a failure of gratitude. Sin is also a lack of reverence for God. We sin because we don’t fully grasp what God has done for us.

Even though we reject God, he still blesses us.

We enjoy the bounty of God’s creation, heavens, moon, sun, stars, fruits, birds, fishes and animals. – David Fleming S.J.
bird 2
Watchful Eyes in Nature.

Ignatius says, “If people but knew you, they would never offend you”.

As we mature as followers of Christ, we grow in our sensitivity to sin, yet even sinners can respond to God’s invitation to join him. – David Fleming S.J.

VI. Spiritual Life is a Pilgrimage

wanderer by oer woutPilgrims are people on “a way”.   Photo by Oer Wout.

Ignatius used the third person to describe himself in his autobiography, using the term, “the pilgrim”. Pilgrimage is all about following Jesus. To be a pilgrim, David Fleming S.J. says is “to let ourselves be led by the Lord.”

sailboatboats booth bay meSailboat in motion.

Stay alert for the Holy Spirit. Some are on a spiritual pilgrimage, others stationary. Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises outlined a “way of proceeding.”

VII. God Calls, We Respond

RESSURECTION 1Risen Christ by Tony Visco. Station of the Cross at Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia PA.

Ignatius pictures the risen Christ calling every person to follow him. God takes the initiative. We respond.

The Calling of St. Matthew - Hendrick Terbrugghen, 1621.jpg!BlogThe Calling of St. Matthew by Hendrick Terbrugghen, 1621

Ignatius used the call of Matthew the tax collector as an example of Jesus inviting people to follow him. Jesus said, “Follow me” and Matthew then got up and followed him.

Active passivity captures the characteristic tone of Ignatian Spirituality. The question we seek is “What more does God want of me”? – David Fleming S.J.

Magis loosely means “the greater thing” or “the better thing”. Magis comes from within the Latin phrase Ad majorem Dei gloriam (AMDG) translated means “For the greater glory of God”. St. Ignatius asked himself and those around him, “What have I done for God? What am I doing for God? and, “What more can I do for Him?” – Fr. Dan Ruff S.J.

“More” is the magis of Ignatian Spirituality.

sailboat at sunset2The Light of God. Booth Bay Harbor, Maine

Ignatius says the purpose of Spiritual Exercises is to facilitate the movement of God’s grace within us “so the light and love of God inflame all possible decisions and resolutions about life situations.”

VIII. God Communicates in Many Ways

Our God is a “media God”. Ignatius liked the theater and was media savy for his day, having put in the first printing press. God is media savy as well.

God’s voice is usually quiet, like Elijah said, “a tiny whispering sound”.

journey-of-the-magi james tissot 1894Journey of the Magis by James Tissot 1894.

God talked to the Magis and they followed.

adoration-of-the-magi-1619 peter paul rubensIncarnation. Adoration of the Magis by Peter Paul Rubens 1619

The Incarnation is the “media event” for Ignatius where God became human in Jesus Christ, according to David Fleming S.J.

Ignatius used this to show that God is present in his creation and uses all aspects of creation to speak to us.

IX. Prayer is a Conversation

our father imageFinding God in all things.

By “finding” God, means engaging God, meeting him and conversing with him.

According to Ignatius, prayer is a conversation with God, like talking to a good friend. He included conversations with other friends in ministries. To converse is one of the ways of loving.

Prayer takes many forms; mystical, devotional, liturgical and sacred reading. All are included in Ignatius “conversar” meaning to “talk with” or ” to converse” according to David Fleming S.J.

the-lord-s-prayer-1896 james tissot
The Lord’s Prayer by James Tissot 1896.

“Lord teach us to pray”.

prayer-in-the-garden-1459.Andrea MantegnaPrayer in the Garden by Andrea Mantegna 1459

Ignatius developed the Spiritual Exercises including prayer as a conversation after years of study before he was ordained to priesthood.

X. Prayer with Imagination

san-ignatius-1961 XUL SOLAR.jpg!Blog
San Ignatius de Loyola by Xul Solar (Argentinian painter) 1961.

While recovery from a battle injury, a cannonball to the leg, Ignatius read the Life of Christ by Ludolph of Saxony. Here he saw God as the God of Love. The book as Ignatius would have seen it is shown below.

Nativity vita christi ludolph of saxony
Nativity by Ludolph of Saxony from Vita Christi (Life of Christ) read by Ignatius.

Vita Christi (Life of Christ) by Ludolph of Saxony also called Ludolph the Carthusian influenced Ignatius greatly. Ludolph proposes a method of prayer which asks the reader to visualize the events of Christ’s life. A version of this was put into the Spiritual Exercises.

MaryWeaving vita christi ludolph of saxony
Mary weaving with Jesus by Ludolph of Saxony from the book Vita Christi (Life of Christ) which Ignatius studied.

Epiphany Vita Christi Ludolph of Saxony 15th cent
Epiphany by Ludolph of Saxony from Vita Christi (Life of Christ).

They Came and Sat

While meditating on the Mystery
a mild breeze seeps through
the locked front door
as Mary, Jesus and Joseph,
came in and sat.

I dreamed of this encounter,
affirming your image
to ancient paintings
with long brilliant white robes,
yet no human can capture
your supernatural mystique
I see now.

As quickly as you entered,
you left . . .

But the transfer occurred
and I know what you said,
“Stay the course and visit Me.
I will see you every day,
every minute, every second,
for I am always with you.”
– Poem by Shrinetower

Get to know Jesus through our imagination, says Ignatius.

XI. Knowing the Jesus who is Poor.

The Jesuits associate being poor with humility.

John Millais_Christ_in_the_House_of_His_Parents_1849Christ in the House of His Parents (The Carpenter’s Shop), by John Everett Millais 1849

Jesus was a common carpenter, a relatively poor and humble man.

Ignatius joins the poor in begging for alms Peter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640)Ignatius joins the poor in begging for alms by Peter Paul Rubens (1640)

presentation Our Lady of CzestohowaThe Presentation. Our Lady of Czestochowa National Shrine, Philadelphia PA

Ignatius felt we should experience the gospel stories especially those with travel and human interactions, like The Presentation seen here in life like stone figures from Our Lady of Czestochowa National Shrine.

I Have Nothing
In memory of Irene Gage (d 2011)

Nothing to call her own
she had a knack for asking
for the small conveniences of life
like a coat, slippers,
a grocery shopping bag,
a friend to talk to.

Her heart was open, unpretentious
her suffering visible in her face
she knew her situation;
married to a wheelchair
with a broken hip and the riddled life
of a retirement home – road show.

“I have nothing,” she reiterated daily
among her distant acquaintances.
Visible was her grace with God,
an inner family of two,
then a stray comment to put God first.
Like a squirrel she stored grace acorns
for the trip across the abyss,
where nothing was needed after all.
– Poem by Shrinetower

XII. Sharing in the Mission of Christ

unknownSculpture at Old St. Joesph’s Church.

Jesus takes the initiative. We work alongside Jesus.

Ignatius of Loyola FaceIgnatius of Loyola. Picture resides next to Francis Xavier icon at Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“Everything we have received is a gift from God. We respond to his love by giving it away, by showing it in a way of serving”. – David Fleming S.J. interpretation of Ignatius Spirituality.

XIII. A Way to Clarify Your Values

nature 6 Behind every tree oerwoutBattle of the Light by Oer Wout.

David Fleming S.J. says it’s the Lucifer Flag vs the Christ Flag, although the lines are not well pronounced. Ignatius talks about good and evil and the battle ensues. Our work vision is to overcome all evil in the world.

taking of christ caravaggio WSJ2Taking of Christ by Amerighi Caravaggio 1602. You are there.

Ignatius suggests we imagine we are in the Passion of Christ. In the Taking of Christ painting, Caravaggio painted himself as a witness, in the far right side with hand raised. Ignatius asks us to place ourselves in the Gospels, as witnesses of the sacred saga.

Delivering Victory

The Spirit of Darkness
despises us in victory,
deliver me
from the hands of our enemy, (1)
deliver me
from the demon Lucifer,
the fallen angel
who attacks relentlessly.
Let’s put up a shield
in the battlefield
so the Evil One doesn’t
get the victory.
(1)  Psalm 35:15
-Poem by ShrineTower

 XIV. Greatest Mark of God’s Love

Peter Paul Rubens, c.1632 The Last Supper by Peter Paul Rubens, c.1632

Everything is a gift from God. In the spiritual exercises of the third week Ignatius wants us to pray around two Gospel passages: the last supper (Matthew 26) and Christ washing the apostles’ feet (John 13), says David Fleming S.J.

The Last Supper, when Jesus gave us his body and blood, is the greatest mark of God’s love, according to David Fleming S.J.

christ-washing-the-feet-of-the-disciples Palo VeroneseChrist washing the feet of the disciples by Palo Veronese 1580s.

Jesus is willing to do whatever it takes.

Francis Xavier and the Cross 2Francis Xavier and The Cross, Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia PA.

The cross is called Christ’s glory, it is saluted as his triumph. – St. Andrew of Crete

Ignatius asks us to imaginatively come into the presence of Jesus on the Cross. We are with the disciples at the foot of the cross, seeing the face of Christ and what he did in response to sin. We are to consider what Christ did in response to sin.

at manresa vision of Jesus at Mass eter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640)Ignatius Vision at Mass in Manresa Monastery by Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640).

At Manresa, Ignatius has a vision of seeing Jesus at Mass. In his autobiography (recited in the 3rd person) Ignatius says, “at the elevation of the body of Christ our Lord he beheld, with the eyes of his soul, white rays descended from above … The manner in which our Lord Jesus Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament was clearly and visibly stamped upon his mind”.

station Jesus taken down from the crossJesus falls by Anthony Visco. Old St. Joesph’s Church, Station of the Cross Sculpture, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

We experience the pain and agony.

feast at simons
Sinner washing Jesus feet at the home of Simon the Pharisee
by Paolo Veronese 1570

Before Jesus gave the disciples the Eucharist, he washed their feet. We are called to be people who serve. – David Fleming S.J.

Eucharist stained glass window behind altarThe Eucharist. Stained glass window behind altar, Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia PA.

The Eucharist brings us to the most intimate possible relationship with Christ. The Ignatian way is the way of the heart. The Eucharist shows God to be all heart. – David Fleming S.J.

XV. Seeking the Grace of Compassion

Jesus falls -Stations of the CrossJesus Falls by Anthony Visco. Old St. Joesph’s Church, Station of the Cross Sculpture, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

Per Ignatius, our graced response to pain is called compassion. We experience the pain and agony.

Ask for the grace “to grieve, be sad and weep” over Jesus suffering. Ignatius wants us to experience it as something fresh and immediate. – David Fleming S.J.

XVI. A Way to Discern God’s Will

Bartolome Esteban Murillo Pauls SanctificationPaul’s Sanctification by Bartolome Esteban Murillo 1665.

Ignatius sites two examples of “first time” decisions, or decisions guided by our heart: the Conversion of the apostle Paul and the call of the tax collector Matthew.

MICHELANGELO conversion of st. paul 2The Conversion of St. Paul by Michelangelo 1545.

As Fr. David Fleming says in the little book we are using this year for our One Book One Parish program, Ignatius “underwent a profound conversion while recuperating from his wounds, but it was not a conversion of the intellect or will… His conversion involved his deepest desires and commitments, that essential center of the personality in which [the human person] stands before God. [Ignatius’] religious practice and intellectual understanding deepened over time, but it was his heart that was transformed.” – From the Pastor series by Fr. Dan Ruff, Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia PA.

MICHELANGELO conversion of st. paul detailConversion of St. Paul by Michelangelo 1545 – detail

“The heart has it’s reasons of which the mind knows nothing”. – Blaise Pascal 1650’s

Ignatius always envisioned Jesuits and their partners as being “contemplatives in action.” He asked his first companions to reflect and pray in order to detect the presence of God in their lives. Then, through discerning Christ’s call, to carry out His mission through action. – NJN Editor

XVII. Working With Others

Ignatius chooses companions at Paris 1528 - 1535Ignatius Chooses Companions in Paris 1528 by Peter Paul Rubens (1640)

Francis Xavier Friend of Ignatius
Francis Xavier friend of Ignatius
. Old St. Joesph’s Church, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

Francis Xavier is known as the Apostle of the Indies and patron saint of missionaries. He has been called the greatest missionary since St. Paul.

The first seven Companions pronounce vows at Montmartre 15th August 1534 rubens jesuit instituteThe first seven companions pronounce vows at Montmartre, August 1534 by Peter Paul Rubens (d.1640)

XVIII. Being Helpful

a-storta-romersk-maleri-fra-fc3b8r-1611La Storta Vision by Romersk Maleri 1611.

The dialogue of the Ignatius vision at La Storta outside Rome:

Ignatius sees God the Father and Jesus carrying a cross. “Place me with your son”, pleads Ignatius.

“We will be propitious (favorable) to you in Rome”, replies God the Father.

Then God the Father tells Jesus, “I want you to take this man to serve us”.

The Jesus says to Ignatius, “We want you to serve us”.

As prophetized, when Ignatius went to Rome, the Pope approved the Society of Jesus religious order also known as the Jesuits.

Parable of the Workers in theParable of the workers in the vineyard.Vineyard Cesare Roberti  ca. 1590Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard by Cesare Roberti  1590.

We are partners in Jesus in His work. Ignatius guide to Jesuit service is the image of laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20) where the vineyard is a symbol of God’s world. He said the work of Jesuits is to “help souls”.

laboreres in the vineyard red-vineyards-at-arles-1888 vincent van goghLaborers in the Vineyard by Vincent van Gogh 1888

jesus carrying cross?Jesus Carrying the Cross by Anthony Visco. Located behind the palms at Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia PA.

XIX. Jesus is All Heart

Sacred Heart at Old St. Joe'sSacred Heart Mosaic Window. Old St. Joseph’s Church – Detail

Jesus is all heart.

The great Suscipe prayer by St. Ignatius of Loyola:

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding, and my entire will -
all that I have and call my own.
You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours, do with it what you will
Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.

Christ's Charge to St. Peter feed m lambs (from the Sistine Chapel) - RaphaelChrist’s charge to St. Peter: Feed my Lambs by Rapael from Cistine Chapel.

Show reverence for all the gifts of God’s creation. These gifts allow us to know God more easily, so we can return that love. We are asked to collaborate with God and care for God’s world. – David Fleming S.J.

Calling_of_the_Apostles_1481 Domenico_GhirlandaioCalling of St. Peter by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Cistine Chapel 1481.

On the left are scenes from the life of Moses, and on the right scenes from the life of Christ. Also with halo is St. Andrew. There is a good chance Ignatius saw this painting on his pilgrimage to Rome.

It’s Jesus work, we just help.

XX. Conclusion – Old St. Joseph’s and Pope Francis

DSC_0133
Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia Pennsylvania – Oldest Catholic Community in US.

The Jesuits founded Old St. Joseph’s Church in 1733 making it the oldest Catholic Church in the nation. Yet, the storied Jesuit missionaries were forced to leave Philadelphia in 1799 due to the suppression of the Society. Philadelphia became a diocese in 1808 and the center of all clergy life was at Old St. Joseph’s. In 1833, after the restoration of the Society of Jesus by the Vatican, the resilient Jesuits took back the patronage of Old St. Joseph’s.

francis drexel closeup
Francis A. Drexel, Patron of Old St. Joseph’s Church.

Francis Drexel, the father of St. Katharine Drexel, was baptized and married at Old St. Joseph’s. He supplied funding to remodel the Church in 1886.

st. Joseph looking up
Apotheosis of St. Joseph. Nave ceiling Old St. Joseph’s, Philadelphia PA.

The present Church is third church built on site. It was only church on east coast where a public Mass could be held legally from 1733 until after American revolution.

“Thus at least two-thirds of the Spiritual Exercises is given over to what I call the Godspell grace – spending time in leisurely contemplation of Jesus’ life in the Gospels, seeking to see him more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly, day by day.” – Fr. Dan Ruff S.J. From the Pastor series, Old St. Joesph’s Church.

Pope Francis smiling
Pope Francis 2014  On God In All Things

“Finding God in all things is not an ‘empirical eureka.’ When we desire to encounter God, we would like to verify him immediately by an empirical method. But you cannot meet God this way. God is found in the gentle breeze perceived by Elijah. The senses that find God are the ones St. Ignatius called spiritual senses. Ignatius asks us to open our spiritual sensitivity to encounter God beyond a purely empirical approach.” – Pope Francis on Ignatian Spirituality

Papal-coat-of-arms-440x582
Pope Francis Coat of Arms. Much of the symbology reverts back to Ignatius.

The dark blue shield includes the official seal of the Society of Jesus with the blazing yellow sun and the red letters, IHS, the sign for the name of Jesus. A red cross rises up from the letter H and three black nails rest below. The bottom part of the blue shield is an eight point gold star and a gold flower, which represents Mary and St. Joseph.

The shield is surrounded a papal emblem using a gold key to represent the power in heaven and a silver key to indicate the spiritual authority of the papacy on earth united by a red cord.

Pope Francis’ motto at the bottom of the COA is the Latin phrase “Miserando atque eligendo,” which means “having mercy, he called him” (from St Bede the Venerable). The motto is based on the Gospel account of The Call of St. Matthew, the tax collector.

saile at sunsetWitness to God’s creation.

Anima Christi  by St. Ignatius of Loyola

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
Good Jesus, hear me
Within the wounds, shelter me
from turning away, keep me
From the evil one, protect me
At the hour of my death, call me
Into your presence lead me
to praise you with all your saints
Forever and ever
Amen

image of Jesuits
The Jesuit worldwide symbol.

Credits: The Jesuit pastor at Old St. Joseph’s Church, Fr. Dan Ruff, suggested the book What is Ignatian Spirituality? by David L. Fleming, S.J. (Loyola Press 2008) as part of a One Book, One Parish Program for 2014. Much of this post is attributed to the Fleming book. Also, the One Parish, One Book 2014 Study/ Discussion Guide by Fr. Dan Ruff S.J. and the From the Pastor series by Fr. Dan Ruff S.J. were used as guides. I am a visitor at Old St. Joseph’s. Selected photos by Oer Wout. For a FREE on-line copy of What is Ignatian Spirituality? by David Fleming S.J. go here.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel with St. Thérèse of Lisieux at Philadelphia Carmel

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Mount Carmel

God is love. – 1 John 4:8

Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10

With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God
 of Hosts. – 1 Kings 19:10

elijah and mary final 4
Prophet Elijah reaching for Our Lady above the cloud. The Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia.

Opening stanza of a Carmelite hymn sung on the Feast Day Mass of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, 2014:

Queen and Beauty of Mount Carmel!

Seen by prophet’s mystic gaze;

Shown above the holy mountain

As Elijah kneels and prays.

Carmel is a place near modern day Haifa, Israel on the Mediterranean Sea where hermits have lived since the time of the prophet Elijah, well before the birth of Jesus.

In the Old Testament, Elijah sends his servant Gehazi up to look out over the sea seven times for a cloud to bring rain to end a drought. Elijah prayed and up from the sea came a cloud to Mount Carmel. According to the ancient tradition of the Carmelite Order, Elijah saw the prefigurement of Our Lady.

In the early 13th century on Mt. Carmel, hermits built their cells around a small chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. These hermits became known as the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This is the origin of the devotion to Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. – Fr. Gabriel Barry, O.C.D.

In the tradition of salvation history, the Brothers of Our Lady claimed spiritual kinship with the prophet Elijah. They strove to perpetuate through their lives of prayer, poverty, and penance the great zeal of this Old Testament saint. In Mary they found the model for a life of dedication and service to Christ. In her they saw the ideal contemplative and they took her as their mother and guide. – Fr. Gabriel Barry, O.C.D.

Cloud-like rising from the ocean,
Pure and free from every stain,
She has claimed his heart’s devotion
Through the ages to remain.
(Carmelite hymn sung on the Feast Day Mass Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16, 2014.)

mary with Jesus and scapular final
Blessed Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus. Carmelite Monastery, Philadelphia Carmel in Pennsylvania.

The scapular is hanging from Mary’s right hand.

Tender Mother, she has clothed us
With a double garment fair.
Pledge of heavenly protection,
Is the scapular we wear.

On July 16, 1251, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite. During the vision, she revealed to him the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, known as the “Brown Scapular”. Mary handed Simon Stock a brown woolen scapular and promised, “Whoever dies in this garment shall not suffer eternal fire.” The feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel coincides with the July 16th date of the apparition.

The brown scapular is the principle part of the religious habit of the Order of Carmel and has had special importance since the 13th century. Just as Our Lady wrapped the Christ Child in clothing which she herself prepared, so, too, she designated the holy scapular to be a sign of her motherly protection both in life and in death. In so doing, she takes upon herself all the consequences of her spiritual motherhood, guards her children and leads them to God. They, in turn, experience her powerful intercession, for the scapular is an habitual invocation of her whose prayer is always efficacious. – Fr. Gabriel Barry, O.C.D.

There is a Scapular Confraternity of Carmel available to laypeople.

our lady w spirit final 3
The Blessed Virgin Mary; Sanctuary Window, Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Philadelphia Carmel.

Our Lady is depicted as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. – Luke 1:35

St. Therese of the Child Jesus
St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face.

Also known as St. Therese of Lisieux and the Little Flower.
The “Shower of Roses” window was installed before her beatification in 1923 in anticipation of sainthood. One angel is sheathing his sword, now that the battle is over.

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The cloistered nuns are on the other side of this separator, where they pray and celebrate Mass. The Host is passed by the priest through a section that opens within the bars.

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The new Martin Family Reliquary at The Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia. Photo credit: Fluer Nabert.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, in 2013, entrusted the relics of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin and St. Therese to the Philadelphia Carmelite Monastery. The Philadelphia Carmel were the originators of devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux in the United States, in the early 20th century.

Shown above are the three individual reliquaries, housing the relics of Therese, Louis and Azellie. This is the first family reliquary for veneration and procession. The reliquary of St. Thérèse, Doctor of the Church is placed highest. Louis and Azellie reliquary are united by wedding rings. The two white lilies are for the parents and the rose is for St. Thérèse. Design by Fluer Nabert, sculpture.

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The entrance to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Philadelphia Carmel.

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Portico detail, front entrance.

The Latin words mean:
I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer. – Is 56:7

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Portico detail.

Inscription in Latin means:
With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts – 1 Kings 19:10

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The walled Monastery is off limits to the public.

The Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia was founded in 1902, less than five years after St. Thérèse died. The Carmelites have been in the current building since 1910. The entire Monastery complex was completed in 1925.

Many archives from the beginning of the Monastery at Philadelphia Carmel to the modern day have survived and been preserved for public use. The Carmelites created one of the most inspiring religious websites in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It includes digitized historical content from their archives including “Lights on Liturgy” prayers, letters from Cardinals, YouTube video, photos and events. The link is here: Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Philadelphia.

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The altar in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.

On the left is St. Teresa of Jesus (Teresa of Avila), founder of the Discalced Carmelites along with St. John of the Cross and on the right is St. Elisha with hand outstretched, a prophet who followed in Elijah’s footsteps.

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St. Thérèse of Lisieux (January 2, 1873 – September 30, 1897) explains the Science of Love.

I desire only this science of love…I understand so well that it is only love which makes us acceptable to God that this love is the only good ambition. Jesus deigned to show me the road that leads to Divine Furnace [of God's love] and this road is the surrender of the little child who sleeps without fear in it's Father's arms. – St. Thérèse of Lisieux (SS 187-188)

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Shrine of the Holy Face of Jesus.

Original papal document dated 1895 of an appearance of the living face of Christ on a Veronicas Veil witnessed by many during veneration.

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The Holy Face of Jesus detail.
In Rome in 1849, a miracle occurred where the Face of Christ appeared during veneration of Veronica’s Veil. It lasted 3 hours with a bright illumination witnessed by a group that was present. An engraving of the image on the veil was made to commemorate the event and a reproduction, authenticated by the Vatican, is now housed at Philadelphia Carmel. In Latin it’s called Sacri Vultus, the Holy Face Relic.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face carried Jesus face close to her heart.

Pope John Paul II proclaimed Thérèse of Lisieux a Doctor of the Church in October 1997, the year of her 100th anniversary of her death, making her the youngest and most contemporary of all Doctors of the Church. Her sisters, also religious, lived to be in their 90’s. If Therese had also lived that long, she would have lived to 1963. That would put her in the same era as Padre Pio, who was born fourteen years after Thérèse in 1887 and passed in 1968 at age of 81 years old.

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Thérèse of Lisieux, a Professed Discalced Carmelite Nun at the Monastery of Lisieux.

I understand that all souls cannot be the same, that is necessary that there be different types in order to honor each of God’s perfections in a particular way. To me He has granted His infinite mercy, and through it I contemplate and adore the other divine perfections! (SS180) – Therese of Lisieux from Walking the Little Way of Thérèse of Lisieux, Discovering the Path of Love. Joseph F. Schmidt FSC 2012

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From the Side Shrine in Honor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

St. Thérèse was canonized in 1925. The statue of St. Thérèse with the face of Jesus was donated in 1997, the same year Therese was honored as Doctor of the Church by St. John Paul II. She is holding a Doctoral biretta in her right hand.

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At the time of her death, Therese knew no more than 50 people, having lived in a cloistered, contemplative convent. As she studied and prayed the science of love from her own experiences, her wisdom blossomed.

I wanted Carmel as soon as I learned of it; I find that all the aspirations of my heart are fulfilled in this Order. – Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

“I am not dying; I am entering into life,” wrote Thérèse of Lisieux a few weeks before her death in Carmel on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24.

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Chapel of the Holy Spirit after Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast Day Mass, July 16, 2014.

The Carmelites host an Public Novena in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel each July. Most recently, the 111th year of the Public Novena was celebrated during July 2014.

From the Novena:

Mary, be mindful of us as we kneel before you.
By your love of God, hear us; by your fidelity to God, intercede for us;
by your power over the devil, protect us.

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Trinity Window – Pater, Flius, Spiritus Sanctus

Latin for Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

Closing Prayers:

O Mary, conceived without sin, 
pray for us who have recourse to Thee! From the Flos Carmeli Prayer, Latin for “Flower of Carmel” by St. Simon Stock (1165 – 1265), a Carmelite. This prayer is also a favorite at the Miraculous Medal Shrine, Philadelphia.

Several prayers said by the Nuns at Philadelphia Carmel:

On behalf of those who have said no prayers today, let us say: Our Father… Hail Mary…

On behalf of those who neglect to praise God and thank Him, let us say: Blessed be God. Blessed be His holy name.

On behalf of those who blaspheme and neglect the Blessed Sacrament, let us say: Blessed, praised, worshiped and adored be Jesus Christ on His Throne of Glory and in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. – from Night Litany for Our City.

Aura of Saints Peter and Paul on their Feast Day at the Cathedral Basilica

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Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things. Who is like you, God? – Psalm 71:19

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At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones”. – Matthew 11:25

It’s the Solemnity of Peter and Paul, June 29th, a feast day of the highest magnitude at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Saint Peter.

From marble mosaic on the Sanctuary wall at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia PA. In the background is Saint Peter’s Basilica, a major basilica in Vatican City, Rome.

You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:18

And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” – Luke 9:20

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Saint Paul.

From marble mosaic on the Sanctuary wall at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia PA. In the background is Outside-the-Walls Basilica, a major basilica in Rome.

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. – Galatians 1:12

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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.

Inside the great dome, at the center, is Mary ascending into Heaven. Around Mary are panel paintings called the “Angels of The Passion. Within each group of angels is an emblem of the Passion; the cross, crown of thorns; twelve in total. The stained glass windows, detail is not shown, are of Blessed Mary holding the Child Jesus, with Saint Peter and Saint Paul on each side. The remaining stained glass windows are Doctors of the Church, including friends of ShrineTower; St. Augustine and St. Basil. The four pillars of the great dome are the four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (cont’d).

Closer view of the great dome of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Several of the “Angels of The Passion” panel paintings can be seen.

Mary Mother of God is the patroness of the United States of America.

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Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the patron of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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The Umbralino. (Italian for “umbrella”)

The umbralino in the Sanctuary next to the Cathedra or Bishop’s chair. Whenever a Pope visits a basilica, its umbralino is opened. It could possibly be opened if Pope Francis visits Philadelphia for the “World Meeting of Families” event, planned for September, 2015.

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The Tintinnabulum.

A small gold bell is hanging below an enamel plate with a picture of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. On the other side of the plate is a picture of the Cathedral Basilica. At the top of the tintinnabulum is the papal tiara and Keys of Heaven. If Pope Francis were to celebrate the Mass at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral Basilica, the tintinnabulum would be used to lead the procession down the Basilica’s main aisle.

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Ciborium – View Looking Up.

In the center of the underside of the ciborium is the Holy Spirit symbolized as a dove. The mosaic carries in Latin an inscription which translates: “In every place there is offered and sacrificed in My Name a clean oblation.” From Malachias 1:11.

Story of St. Paul follows from a stained glass window in the apse:
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Paul’s Conversion

As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” – Acts 9:3-4

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. – Acts 26:15-16

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Paul Preaching to the Athenians (Pagens in Greece).

Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you.” Acts 17:22-23

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Paul was beheaded in Rome.

“These are the ones, who living in the flesh, planted the Church with their blood; they drank the chalice of the Lord, and became friends with God.” Entrance Antiphon, Feast Day Mass, June 29, 2014.

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Saint Paul at the front entrance to the Basilica Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

In Archbishop Chaput’s sermon on the Feast day Mass of June 29th at the Basilica, he said most people think of Paul’s symbol, the sword, for his martyrdom, since he was beheaded by the Romans. It really is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God where the sword penetrates our heart.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:17

Story of St. Peter follows from a stained glass window in the apse:
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Jesus Giving Peter the Keys to Heaven.

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16:19

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Peter Being Called by Jesus.

And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

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Peter’s crucification.

Peter was crucified upside down, at his request, according to Origen of Alexandria.

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Saint Peter at the front entrance to the Basilica Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

Peters symbol are keys, which represent Jesus’ saying, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

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Peter in chains teaching the other prisoners.

On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands.- Acts 12:6-7

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Successor to St. Peter: Pope Francis.

Pope Francis at Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Photo credit – VaticanRadio.com

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Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Building community.

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St. Peter.

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Aura of St. Peter

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Aura of St. Paul

I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. – St. Paul 2 Timothy 4:7

Basil’s Family at the Basilian Spirituality Center

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Basilian Spirituality Center.

Located in Fox Chase Manor, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, the Basilian Spirituality Center is part of the Eastern Byzantine Ukrainian Catholic Church, under the umbrella of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.

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The Basilian Family at the Basilian Spirituality Center.

Icons play a significant role in the Eastern Byzantine rite.

The “Basilian Family” icon, located on a wall within the retreat center is especially core to the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great. Central in the Basilian Family is Mary, her arms outstretched and the name of her Son, “IXC”, radiating from her body. In Eastern Byzantine rite this is called The Theotokos, Mary Mother of God. Macrina The Elder is to the right of Mary, to whom St. Basil attributed much of his spiritual formation. She is dressed in green, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, a woman of spiritual gifts and the wisdom of God. To the right of Macrina the Elder is St. Gregory of Nyssa, brother of St. Basil, holding the gospels as a symbol of his preaching abilities and is dressed in the ecclesiastical garb of a Bishop. To the left of The Theotokos is Macrina the Younger, Basil’s sister, in monastic garb as a foundress of the community of Neocaesarea and next to her is St. Basil also dressed as a Bishop carrying the gospel.

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Song of Songs poem.

Inscribed above the wall of the Basilan Family, is the love poem from Song of Songs v8:6-7
“Set me as a seal on your heart, for love is as strong as death, its flames are flames of fire, many waters cannot quench love.”

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Holy Trinity Chapel. The Solemnity of the Holy Trinity was celebrated here on June 15th.

The Byzantine rite is one of several Eastern rites recognized in full communion with the Bishop of Rome; Pope Francis. Its origin can be traced to the ancient city of Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul), renamed Constantinople when the emperor Constantine relocated his capital city there from Rome in A.D. 330.

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The Theotokos.

On the rear wall of the Holy Trinity Chapel, the Chapel of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Basil the Great, is the “Theotokos” icon, meaning “God Bearer” or ‘Mother of God’. Mary is the Theotokos, the one who gave birth to God. This was the Council of Ephesus (in 431) and the Council of Nicea’s definition of Mary since Jesus was true God and true Man, so Mary could be called “Mother of God”. It appeared in the Archbasilicas of Rome, built by Constantine in one of the first churches ever built.

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Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane

The Eastern Ukrainian Byzantine Church has 5.5 million followers. Typically the sanctuary is separated from the congregation by an iconostasis, a screen covered with icons. Leavened bread is used for the consecration of the body of Christ in the liturgy (not called the “Mass” in Eastern rites), which is either the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom or that of St. Basil the Great. Communion is received under both kinds and administered by the priest using a spoon to the faithful.

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The Pantocrator.

Located on the ceiling in the nave of the Chapel is the Pantocrator Icon, “Ruler of All”, Christ blessing his people. The Pantocrator is present in most Eastern Byzantine churches along with the Theotokos described earlier.

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Byzantine Catholics operate under a different code of canon law. They also celebrate a somewhat different liturgical year with some unique feasts and saints. Latin-rite Catholics can attend a Byzantine liturgy to fulfill their obligation to attend Mass.

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Two at the Tomb icon.

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Pysanky eggs photo on display at the Basilian Spirituality Center.

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Entrance to the Basilian Spirituality Center complex.

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Creating an icon.

Each year an icon presentation and icon writing workshops are held at the Basilian Spirituality Center in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. This year (2014), famed iconographer Rev. Damian Higgins conducted the icon workshop. Rev Damien is from the Holy Transfiguration Monastery also known as Mt. Tabor Monastery in Redwood Valley, California.

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One of the all time famous icons every created, “The Holy Trinity” by Russian iconographer Andrei Rublev (1360-1370).

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Symbolism in the three spires on Holy Trinity Sunday.

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” St. Basil the Great

Norbert on his Feast Day at Daylesford Abbey

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Daylesford Abbey, Paoli Pennsylvania, with bronze sculpture, the Abbey Church, and the bell tower.

The bell tower consists of three bells that chime and resonate throughout the day. From any angle in looking at the bell tower, you see a cross.

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Detail: Bronze sculpture on Daylesford Abbey grounds.

Blessed Hugh is the lower figure. He was one of St. Norbert’s first disciples and later became first abbot of Prémontré. Above Hugh is Norbert, pointing upward to Jesus. And Jesus is the upright figure with hands raised to heaven.

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St. Norbert, founder of the Norbertine Order, at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.

Norbert in his own side chapel at the Abbey. The light above is from a skylight opening. It’s June 6th, the feast day of St. Norbert.

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Detail of Norbert’s right hand holding the Monstrance with the Host embedded with the insignia JHS.

The most common Christogram is “IHS” or “IHC”, denoting the first three letters of the Greek spelling of the name of Jesus. In Greek capitals Jesus name is ΙΗΣΟΥΣ or IHSOUS in Latin letters. Shortened this becomes IHS(ous) or IHS. In Latin the I and J are interchangeable, therefore JHS is an equivalent meaning of the Holy Name.

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Norbert painting at Daylesford Abbey, Paoli Pennsylvania.

Norbert in a state of ecstasy, receiving a vision from the Lord.
On the right is his Archbishop mitre.

On one occasion, while Norbert was celebrating Mass, a spider fell into the already consecrated chalice. To avoid desecrating the precious blood of Jesus, Norbert swallowed the large spider whole, only to have it expelled through his nose with a sneeze.

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Saint Norbert painting by Marten Pepijn 1637, oil on panel a O.L. Vrouwekathedraal Cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium.

The Norbertines at Daylesford Abbey have a deep sense for community. They use the term communio, and practice it by living in open dialogue and consultation individually and collectively with the local community. Being canons regular the Norbertines combine community activity with the contemplative life. Yet unlike monks who live in cloistered, contemplative life and sometimes engage in the community, Daylesford canons regular preach, teach, and administer the sacraments for all who participate when at the Abbey.

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Entrance to Daylseford Abbey complex.

The Daylesford Abbey Spirituality Center brings diverse and innovative programs, from world renowned national speakers like Fr. Richard Rohr, to how to write a collect for the opening prayer of a Mass. Of course the collect written won’t get into the Roman Missal, but understanding the process is fascinating. For some of the larger programs, like conferences and retreats, the Abbey offers 36 rooms for overnight guests with home cooked meals. Dinners before spirituality programs are a nice addition to the Abbey culture.

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The Daylesford Abbey nave. Like Katharine Drexel’s Shrine monastery in Philadelphia, the pews arranged in the foreground face each other.

There are several Norbertine Abbeys in the US. In addition to Daylesford Abbey, there is St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere Wisconsin and St. Michaels Abbey in California. Each Abbey operates autonomous of one another, with their own unique culture. The Daylesford Abbey would be considered left and liberal of other Norbertine Abbeys. This also differentiates the forward thinking Daylesford Abbey from other religious in the Philadelphia area.

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Cross at Daylesford Abbey Church

Since Norbert left no writings except for one small prayer, his legacy is the religious community he left behind. Following St. Augustine “those who sing pray twice” the Norbertines sing their prayers in the Divine Office and have a special devotion to the Holy Eucharist.

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Norbert with Monstrance and Staff, Daylesford Abbey, Philadelphia, PA

Norbert was devoted to the Holy Eucharist and defended the sanctity of the Blessed Sacrament. He is credited for driving a heretic from Antwerp who repeatedly blasphemed the Blessed Sacrament and had it removed from the cathedral and hidden. As part of this miracle Saint Norbert rescued the monstrance, returning it unharmed to the cathedral. We typically see the Monstrance being held by Norbert in paintings of the saint.

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Artwork in one of the several courtyards throughout the Abbey.

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Photo taken near the stream running through the Abbey grounds in Paoli, Pennsylvania.

Goodbye to Norbert and the Abbey on Norbert’s feast day. It’s a special place for prayer, meditation and learning.

St. Philomena, The Daughter of Light

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Philomena statue Philomena in Saint Philomena Roman Catholic Church
 Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Today, May 25, is the feast of the discovery of the relics of St. Philomena.

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Catacombs where St. Philomena was found.

St. Philomena was a second century girl whose remains were discovered in 1802 in an ancient catacomb in Rome.

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The three tiles on the tomb: LUMENA / PAX TE / CUM FI.

In Latin the tomb read, “Pax tecum, Filumena”, which translates “Peace be with you, Philomena”. It also contained a vile of her dried blood and bone relics.

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Tomb of St. Philomena at the International Sanctuary in Mugnano del Cardinale, Avellino, Italy.

Several years later Philomenia’s remains were enshrined in a village in Mugano, Italy and there begins the interventions and unusual events surrounding this girl of fourteen or fifteen. So great were here intersessions and miracles, that many religious and lay people began following her spirit.

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Painting of Philomena at Saint Philomena Roman Catholic Church
 in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

She was made a saint in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI. She is the only person recognized as a saint based solely on her intersessions, since little is know of her otherwise. On the spirituality side, Philomena revealed her story to Mother Maria Luisa di Gesu, Foundress of the Oblates of Our Lady of Sorrows on August 3, 1833. Here is the story of what St. Philomina said of her background.

Philomeia Church PA Exterior of St. Philomena Church in the suburbs of Philadelphia Pennsylvania. The church was dedicated on May 27, 1900.

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St. John Neumann while bishop of Philadelphia, was a true promoter of St. Philomena. He said of Philomena, “to whom God denies nothing for whoever invokes her.”

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini carried a small statue of Philomena on her numerous journeys. The Blessed Pius IX (1792-1878) also had a deep and sincere devotion to St. Philomena.

side shrine The side shrine of St. Philomena, with a first class relic below, brought from the Shrine in Mugnano del Cardinale, near Naples, Italy.

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Philomena up close.

St. Padre Pio called Philomena the “Princess of Heaven”. Padre Pio used to reply to those who doubted the existence of the Saint: “for the love of God!  It might well be that her name is not Philomena, but this Saint has performed many miracles and it is not the name that did them.”

ist class relic Closeup of the first class relic at St. Philomena Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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The Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena, with the National Center for the United States, is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“My children, St. Philomena has great power with God. Her virginity and generosity in embracing heroic martyrdom has rendered her so agreeable to God that He will never refuse anything that she asks for us.” by St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars.

St. Rita of Cascia’s Powerhouse National Shrine on Her Feast Day

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St. Rita and the roses, outside the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia complex in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

May 22 is the feast day of St. Rita. Like Elizabeth Ann Seton, Rita of Cascia was a wife, mother, widow and member of a religious community, in her case the Augustinians. Each year, a Solemn Novena from May 13 to May 21 precedes the feast day.

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St. Augustine on watch at St. Rita’s Shrine.

St. Augustine is the founder of the order to which St. Rita belonged. The shrine complex (Upper Church and Lower Crypt) is managed and cared for by the Augustinians.

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St. Patrick on watch at St. Rita’s Shrine.

Irish Americans in the South Philly area were the first benefactors of St. Rita, just before the immigration of Italian Americans.

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The Augustinians friars wanted a parish with Rita as patroness and therefore had the church built in 1907. St. Rita had been canonized a few years earlier in 1900.

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The main Upper Church of the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

The left side of the nave are Augustine themed stained glass windows. On the right side of the nave are Rita of Cascia themed stained glass windows.

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Rita supported by patron saints window.

Rita approaching the entrance of the Augustinian Convent with her three powerful patrons; St. John the Baptist, St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Nicholas of Tolentine. The family strife within the community from the murder of her husband prevented her from enrolling in the convent. Upon brokering a deal with the warring families, she was later accepted into the convent. Rita is known today as The Peacemaker.

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Rays of light window.

The rays of light from the power of prayer allowed Rita, through the intercession of her patron saints, to gain entrance to the convent building through locked doors and guarded nuns.

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Stigmata window.

While praying before a crucifix, Rita received a mystical single thorn impression on her forehead (stigmata) that remained for the rest of her life. She shared Jesus’ wound from the crown of thorns. Rita had many mystical experiences during the forty years she lived in the convent. She died there while in her seventies. (May 22, 1457)

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Rose window.

In midwinter, a bedridden and ill Rita asked her cousin to bring her a rose from her family’s garden. The cousin thought the request absurd due to the winter conditions. Rita responded with her now famous saying, “My dear cousin, there is nothing impossible to God.” The cousin went to the garden to find a single rose in full bloom on an otherwise barren rose bush. The rose circulated among the nuns of St. Rita’s Augustinian order. Today, roses are blessed each year in all churches of the Augustinian Order on the feast of St. Rita.

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The Work of Peace mural in the Lower Crypt.

St. Rita sitting under an oak tree extending an olive branch, a symbol of peace, to those drawn to her presence. To her left is Blessed Simon of Cascia, an Augustinian friar whose spiritual teachings influenced Rita. On a personal note, the boy releasing the dove, according to iconographer Anthony Visco, is Leonardo da Vinci of Sistine Chapel fame, whom he admires.

hidden saints of PhildelphiaDetail One in the The Work of Peace mural.

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Saints Intercession. Detail Two in the The Work of Peace mural.

Looking closely at the lower right hand corner of the mural are St. Rita’s three patron saints, joined arm in arm; Augustine, John the Baptist, and Nicholas of Tolentino. Behind them are Mother Katharine Drexel and John Neumann, both Philadelphia Saints with their own shrines nearby: St. Katharine Drexel Mission Center and Shrine and The National Shrine of St. John Neumann. To the right, is recently canonized Saint John XXIII and to his left, Francis of Assisi.

Since saints are in heaven close to God, we pray with the saints to God and ask the saints to intercede and navigate the spiritual universe on our behalf. We also ask the saints to pray for us. Certain saints have a particular specialty. For Rita, it’s forgiveness, reconciliation and being the peacemaker.

parishioners at feast day 2013 3rdUpper Church, Feast Day of St. Rita.
Photo credit: Father Dan McLaughlin, OSA, St. Rita’s Shrine.

Father Michael DiGregorio O.S.A., founding Rector of St. Rita Shrine, explains in the Peacemaker newsletter (Spring 2014), “a significant dimension of a devotion to Saint Rita includes prayers to seek her intersession before the Lord, who alone is the source and dispenser of graces.”

abbot at st ritas feast day 2013Mass Intercessions. Last years Mass on the Feast Day of St. Rita.
Photo credit: Father Dan McLaughlin, OSA, St. Rita’s Shrine.

Abbot Richard J. Antonucci, O. Praem (above) of Daylesford Abbey presiding. The Norbertines proudly augment the Augustinians on St. Ritas Feast Day.

The Mass includes the general intercessions or prayer of the faithful. Although most intercessions are beautifully scripted some can be spontaneous petitions or intentions, especially at daily mass.

During Mass, in the Creed, we Catholics profess the belief in “the communion of saints” or the relationship we have with the saints. We ask in prayer to those believers in this life and beyond.

Specifically for the Mass on the Feast of St. Rita, the Celebrant says: By their way of life you offer us an example, by communion with them you give us companionship, by their intercession, sure support, so that encouraged by so great a cloud of witnesses, we may run as victors in the race before us.

ascension of rita 2St. Rita an influencer, given special grace in heaven. Another form of intercession is from recognizing the saints life.

Fr. Michael, in the St. Rita Shrine Peacemaker newsletter (Spring 2014) says, “The great popularity of Saint Rita is due as much to the power of her prayerful intercessions as the the force of her testimony.” Her life story is surely a testament to her holiness.

ascension of ritaLooking up above the altar, St. Rita is received into heaven with joy. The Solemn Novena of St. Rita is a powerful method of intercession.

The Solemn Novena of St. Rita is prayer and Mass over a nine day period prior to her feast day, to obtain graces from God through her appeal.

The Litany of St. Rita are the prayers said after Mass as a subset of the Solemn Novena of St. Rita. There are many different aspects of her witness and appeal in these prayers.
Fr. Michael explains the Litany in the St. Rita Shrine Peacemaker newsletter (Spring 2014), “She (St. Rita) invites individuals to consider particular dimensions of her character and witness, and stirring them, in fact, to invoke her accompaniment and intercession…”

Lord, you have signed your servant, Rita
With the marks of Your love and Passion.

Pray for us, St. Rita,
That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Saint John Paul II Embraces The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa

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Saint John paul II Saint John Paul II, The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

On April 27, 2014, Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis canonized Blessed Pope John Paul II. He attended the Second Vatican Council initiated by Pope John XXIII, who is also being canonized on this day. Born Karl Wojtyla, Pope John Paul was an actor, poet, athlete, playwrite, priest and philosopher. As Charles Chaput, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia stated: He proved by his life the words of St. Irenaeus that “the glory of God is man fully alive.”

outside with JP2

St. John Paul II visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa on two occasions while a cardinal. Karol Cardinal Wojtyla first visit was in 1969 and again in 1976 while attending the Eucharistic Congress held in Philadelphia. He became the 264th Pope of the Catholic Church two years later in 1978. John Paul II was the first non Italian pope since Pope Adrian VI who died in 1523.

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Coat of Arms of Pope John Paul II with the Marian Cross. The Letter M is for Mary, the mother of Jesus, to whom he held strong devotion.

john paul at the door full view

John Paul II created Divine Mercy Sunday which is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. It is originally based on the devotion to the Divine Mercy that Saint Faustina Kowalska reported as part of her encounter with Jesus. St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun reported visions and visitations from Jesus and conversations with Him. John Paul II beatified Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska on April 18, 1993 and canonized her on April 30, 2000.

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St. Paul the Hermit, a strong influence at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

The Order of St. Paul the Hermit was founded during the first half of the 13th century in Hungary. The members of the Order were actual hermits who lived in the caves in Hungary. For their patron they chose St. Paul the Hermit, thereby acquiring the name “Pauline Fathers”. John Paul II had an affection for the Pauline Fathers religious order, and helped persevere the order in Poland. The Pauline Fathers, like John Paul II, have a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Their main monastery is in Czestochowa, Poland, where they continue to reside. The Pauline Order received permission from the Holy See to establish a monastery in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and subsequently built Our Lady of Czestochowa Shrine.

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In the main church is the Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which was blessed by Pope John XXIII on February 10, 1962, who also became a saint. The Icon of Our Lady hangs behind the altar in the main nave and depicts the Holy Trinity. God the Father, with His arms stretched out like the wings of a large bird, enfolds Jesus Christ and all God’s people. Above them is shown a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Below them, a choir of angels, with their golden horns, extol the glory of God.

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The Chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa, located at The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa on Adoration Day.

This chapel is a replica of the chapel found at the Jasna Góra Shrine in Poland. At the heart of the chapel is a copy of the Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, blessed by Pope John Paul II, now a Saint.

Jesus

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The Chapel of Divine Mercy, within The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Philadelphia Pennsylvania. John Paul II died on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, April 2, 2005.

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Entrance to the shrine complex.

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Saint John Paul II
Feast day is October 22nd, the anniversary of his inauguration to Pope in 1978.

John the Cross – Man on Poetic Fire

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John of the Cross (1542-1591) was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered, along with Saint Teresa of Ávila, as a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. Saint John the Cross was also a Spanish mystic and a Doctor of the Church. Scholars agree that John the Cross is probably the greatest poet in the Spanish language, not for the volumes produced but for the content “polished and re-polished ceaselessly” to perfection.

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Carmelite Monastery of St. Joseph and St. Anne. Inside is the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. These are true gems of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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Inside the medieval looking Chapel of the Holy Spirit. The Carmelite nuns celebrate Mass on the other side of the reredos immediately behind the altar.

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Closeup of St. Elisha the prophet on right and St. Teresa of Jesus on the left at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Mount Carmel, Philadelphia PA. The prophet Elijah is in the chariot of fire at top, being carried into heaven.

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Face of St. Elisha.

Up to John the Cross’s time, there had been very little mystical prose at all, except for poetry of the mystical experience, called the Prayer of Quiet (similar to contemplative prayer). St. John of the Cross had to invent phrases in order to express ideas which previously had no outlet in Spanish.(1) His greatest poetic work, the Spiritual Canticles was composed for the most part while imprisoned by his own religious order, the Carmelites, who resisted the change he was promoting.

A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul

(1) Reference: St. John of the Cross | Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M. | From Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel–On Prayer

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THE BRIDE

My Beloved is the mountains,
The solitary wooded valleys,
The strange islands,
The roaring torrents,
The whisper of the amorous gales;
The tranquil night
At the approaches of the dawn,
The silent music,
The murmuring solitude,
The supper which revives, and enkindles love.

- STANZAS XIV, XV, from The Spiritual Canticle of the Soul

Waterfall Lenten Meditation

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The Waterfalls:
Takkakaw Falls, Yoho National Park, B.C.
Tower Falls, Yellowstone National Park, MT
Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, CA
Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite National Park, CA
Mistaya Canyon Falls, Banff National Park, Alberta
Johnston Canyon Falls, Banff National Park, Alberta
Tangle Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta
McWay Falls, Big Sur, California
Lake Agnes Falls, Lake Louise, Banff National Park
Virgina Falls, Glacier National Park, Montana
Athabasca Falls, Jasper, National Park Alberta
Sunwapta Falls, Jasper, National Park Alberta
Panther Falls, Jasper National Park Alberta

In High Definition (1080p)

Opening the Doors to St. Patrick

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patrick window

St. Patrick was the founding bishop of the Irish church. According to legend the three leaf clover or Shamrock was coined by Saint Patrick for the Holy Trinity. Saint Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17, the date of his death.

In the background of this turn of the century bavarian stained glass window is St. Kevin’s tower (a 5th century monastery) in Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland. It is near the village of Laraugh, home of Thomas Kinsella, the poet laureate of Ireleand. From stained glass window at St. Basil the Great Church, Chester County, PA.

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Shown above is St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Photo taken from the Rockefeller Center.

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The bronze doors of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In the main door are six figures, (including St. Patrick) each playing a significant role in local church history in the State of New York and surrounding area. Just above them is the Figure of Christ the Redeemer surrounded by the twelve apostles, the Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist and two angels with scrolls.

Saint_Patrick on the door

St. Patrick, the patron of the Archdiocese of New York and apostle of Ireland stands in the upper right section. On his left is the mystical phoenix rising to renewed life and the word “gratis” or gratitude. On his right is the Celtic harp and the word “laus” or praise.

St. Joseph, the upper left statue holds a budding staff, token of his espousal to the Virgin Mary and a carpenter’s square, symbolic of the saint as patron of workingmen. The design to his left refers to his position as earthly father of Christ, to his right the design is symbolic of his purity of life and intention.

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The middle left figure is Issac Jogues, the French Jesuit priest, who was the first Catholic missionary to enter New York state. He holds a crucifix representative of his mission to the Iroquois. The palm branch to his left is a martyrs symbol. The Greek letters ICXC and the word nika mean “Jesus Christ conquers”; the word passio means passion. The other panel has a chalice and the letters AMDG, which is the Latin motto for the Society of Jesus.

The middle right figure is that of Mother Cabrini, wearing the habit of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, which she founded. To her left the dolphin and star symbolizes Pope Leo XIII’s direction to extend her apostolic work to the West; the word “spes” means hope. Two hands and a rose represent her heart going out to the immigrant; cor and Jesu means “heart of Jesus.”

In the lower left of the door stands St. Kateri Tekakwitha, an Indian maiden known as the Lily of the Mohawks and the Pocahontas of the Catholic Church. The design to her left shows an American eagle with the word fides meaning faith. To her right is the coat of arms of pope Pius XII, who declared her venerable in 1943. (She was canonized on October 21, 2012, Vatican City by Pope Benedict XVI)

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The statue at the lower right is of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, canonized the first American-born saint in 1975. The panel to her right shows a rose bush, for the official NY state flower and the word caritas meaning charity. On her left is the motto from Cardinal Spellman, Sequere Deum meaning Follow God. (St. Patricks Cathedral by Leland A. Cook)

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View of the Cathedral from across 5th Avenue with bronze statue of Atlas in foreground at right.

St. Patrick at Charles Borremeo Seminary

Tucked away in the library at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia can be found St. Patrick.

happy st. patricks day

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