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 Family,  Welcome to our e-Newsletter

Lent 2014  Online Issue #17

                                               
In Memory of Penny Lord

 

From My Pew

Brother Joseph's Article

Heroes - New Book Release

People of God Speak Out

Visions of the Children of Fatima

Let's Go On a Pilgrimage

Pilgrimages for 2014

Saint Nicholas of Tolentino

We Need Your Help

Visions of Saint Gertrude the Great

Special Offer

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

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Bob and Penny Lord

From My Pew

Bob and Penny Lord

Family, this is a difficult column to write this time.  For the last 25 years, both Penny and I have written this column.  Not to say she’s not writing it now, only it’s from a different perspective.  She is directing traffic from Heaven, and though I can hear her dictating to me, it’s more feelings than words.  I have to come up with the words.  And a lot of the words come from what has happened in these last six months, to our whole family.  Penny was the one who suffered physically, especially towards the end.  But Brother Joseph, Luz Elena and I were with her, holding on to her, praying with her and for her 24/7.  We never gave up hope that she could come out of the cancer.  Actually, we were hoping and praying for what we wanted for Penny, and maybe not necessarily what God wanted for Penny.  We gave a talk at the EWTN Celebration in August of last year.  Afterwards, during the question and answer period, a man asked, “How do you become a Saint?” and I jokingly answered, “Well the first thing you have to do is die.”  It was funny at the time, but in retrospect, my own answer gives me the chills.

Penny and I had spoken about our life together and yes, the end of our life, but also together.  We thought we had worked out a deal with the Lord that He would take us together, most likely in a plane crash or a bus traveling the mountain roads of Europe going over the side of the cliff.  No matter what it was to be, it would be together.

Let me give you an example.  Picture this, 1991.  We had celebrated Luz Elena’s Mother and Father’s 50th anniversary in Oxnard, California.  We had to take a flight to Birmingham, Alabama, to make some programs for EWTN.  Our flight schedule called for a transfer in Dallas.  That’s never good.  There’s always trouble in Dallas.  So, on this particular flight, it seemed like we were circling the Dallas airport for ever.  The pilot announced that there were severe thunderstorms below us in the Dallas area.  We circled a little longer, and the pilot announced that we could not land in Dallas, and that he was running out of fuel.  He was going to try to land at another Texas airport, and not to panic.  So naturally everyone panicked.

Penny and I began to praise the Lord for all the years He had given us, for our life, our children, for our Ministry, the books and television programs we had made, and just at that moment, we said to each other, “We can’t go down now.  We haven’t finished the book on the Angels.”  Sure enough, within seconds the skies opened up and we landed in Dallas.

I’ve chosen two articles for this Newsletter for a reason.  In addition to having to do with Souls in Purgatory and helping the poor and hungry, each one relates to Penny and me to a great degree.

The first one, St. Elizabeth of Hungary talks about a young couple, very much in love, who court for four years, marry for six years, after which he dies.  But theirs is a storybook romance, from which the Cinderella love story and Snow White come from.  They were completely in love from the time they met for the rest of their lives.

Penny and I met at a birthday party given for her in my apartment on September 23, 1957.  It was one of those Frank Sinatra “Some Enchanted Evening” moments where you see a stranger across a crowded room.  That was us.  We met and fell in love and stayed in love for the rest of our days together.  We had problems with both our families, neither of whom approved of our marriage.  So we separated ourselves from our families, took our children and moved to Southern California, where we knew next to nobody.  But we had each other.  We were best friends, and although we developed friends over the years, nothing was even close to our friendship.  Early on we decided that we would be solely for one another.  We knew that one day it may hurt one of us if the other dies first, but we felt it was worth it to have the years together, especially after our Marriage Encounter weekend.  We were joined at the hip.  And we thought we had the thing of one going before the other figured out too.

There was a difference in our age.  She was seven years older than I.  We always said that we had been up in Heaven together before we were born and she was in a hurry to get to earth, the way she was always in a hurry for everything.  So she bolted out of Heaven and was born.  I had to wait my turn which was seven years later, and it took us almost 30 years to catch up with each other.  But the ratio works.  Men usually die at an older age than women.  So, based on that theory, we thought we were okay.  We would probably go together.  And it almost worked out that way.  The day she was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (cancer of the blood) I had a heart attack.  The only difference was mine was not serious and hers was.

The other chapter we wrote about was St. Gertrude the Great.  It is a good chapter for Lent, especially for the Souls in Purgatory.  But for me, the end of the chapter, which depicts St. Gertrude’s suffering and death, and then her glorious ascension into Heaven, relates so much to my Penny.  When she was diagnosed, the doctor said it was a piece of cake.  We had discovered it early enough.  We would put her on a strong regiment of oral chemotherapy and knock it out.  Now, what he didn’t tell us, or told them and they didn’t tell me was that there is no cure for Multiple Myeloma.  At best you can keep it in check.  So the oral chemo really knocked a lot of it out for a short period of time, but it almost killed her. She was a trooper.  She did whatever the doctor said, but after 15 days on the treatment, it was obvious we had to stop. I had to take her off it before we had finished with the first 21 day dosage. 

To make a long story short, my girl suffered with me by her side for many months prior to the Lord mercifully taking her Home.  I know she’s in Heaven.  You know that expression, “If so-and-so doesn’t go to Heaven, none of us will.”  Well, that’s my Penny.  I believe she’s up there with Deacon Bill Steltemeier, coming up with all kinds of things that have to be done.  But I want to end this article with that last scene we wrote about St. Gertrude the Great.

 

” She went into deep ecstasy and saw a Heavenly Army of Angels and Saints, coming to escort her Home, followed by the Patriarchs, the Prophets, the Apostles, the Martyrs, the Virgins, and the Holy Innocents.

 

I’m sure my Penny had the same contingency waiting to welcome her into the Kingdom.  Praise God in all things.  We love you.

 

 

 

 

Be sure to check out our homepage weekly

 

Called to Serve by Brother Joseph

One thing is for certain, change is constant. I must tell you that our Ministry has been through some learning experiences in the last year.

I do not know how long it will take for us to return to normal activities, if ever again.

This is our first time we are not having the Good Newsletter printed, rather we are issuing our online version.

And so here we are in 2014, now releasing our latest online version of the Good Newsletter that was first printed in 1989.

We are very excited about this online version and we have a special bonus for you. We will be producing this version more often. Our target is every two months.

Meet Mary, our digital assistant. She explains what is on our site pages, plus updates and special offers. You will see her as your browse through the pages of our site.

 

Now I would like you to do both of us a favor. Please Click the image below and allow us to get your email and name from Facebook. One click and you are in our system and will automatically receive the Next Issue to your inbox. Thanks.

 

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You can be assured that we will continue this Ministry along the same vein as always, protecting the brand that Bob and Penny Lord created over the last 39 years.

 

So what are we going to do now. First, Penny is pushing us more than ever from the Kingdom, and I am sure that will continue until the Second Coming of Christ.

 

Secondly, we have in the works, a trip to Germany this summer to videotape the lives of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, and Saint Gertrude and others. Bob and I are going on this trip, and I am looking forward to visiting more Shrines of the Saints like Saint Elizabeth and Gertrude.

 

Thirdly, we plan to finish some programs in progress, like for example the story of Our Lady of Cotignac and the Shrine of Saint Joseph in the French Alps.

 

Yes, we will be as busy as ever, producing programs, writing new book chapters, and continuing the work.

 

To quote Penny, " So much to do and so little time to do it!"

 

When tragedy strikes a community, like the death of one of the Founders, it pushes us members to call on our Faith in Divine Providence. It is very difficult to accept the things we cannot change like cancer of the blood. We have seen how tragedy has been handled by the Saints that Bob and Penny have presented to us, yet when tragedy comes to your doorstep, it is not easy. You begin to see how only through Faith in God and His infinite care of each of us that we can go on.

 

And on we go! Now that we have a powerful intercessor in the Kingdom, I am beginning to feel the wind of new and exciting changes here at Holy Family Mission.

 

lease continue to pray for us, and thanks for all of your prayers.

 

 

The People of God Speak Out

Dear Bob:

I cannot tell you how much you and Penny have meant to me in the past years.

I became a Catholic a few years ago.  Your shows have helped me so much to learn about all the wonderful Saints that we have to look forward to meeting in Heaven.

When I found out that Penny had passed away, I could just see her being escorted into Heaven by her Guardian Angel and all the Saints she taught us about.

I am going to start praying to Penny for help.  I will be praying for you too.  God bless you and keep you healthy because we need you!

EW                              Walland, TN

 

Hello, Bob, Luz Elena – Brother Joseph

I was really sorry to hear of Penny’s passing.  I will never forget the kindness she showed me one time at EWTN.  She will always be in my heart as well as yourrs.  Just wish I was as strong as she was.

GV                               Lansdale, PA

 

Dearest Family

We love you so much.  The Perpetual enrollment is for both Bob and Penny as is the tradition at this beautiful convent near our home.  Let’s continue to pray for each other until we are all safely Home.

MQ                              Lincoln, NE

 

Dear Bob:

Even though we have never met, I feel that I know you and your loving wife, Penny.

Thank you both for your shared video Ministry; a labor of love that has enriched the lives of countless souls over the years. Because of the legacy of video recordings you have both created, you and Penny will continue to proclaim the Good News long after you are united in Heavenly glory with our Risen Brother, Jesus.

With prayerful sympathy and hope, I remain,

In the Heart of Christ the Good Shepherd

Fr. JM                          Livonia, MI

 

Dear Mr. Lord:

I am so sorry to hear of the recent passing of your lovely wife, Penny.  I have watched your show Super Saints on EWTN for years, and I cannot express what your ministry has meant to me personally and to my family.

Over twelve years ago, my brother left the Catholic Faith to marry a Protestant girl.  I was brokenhearted and I prayed that he would return to the Church.  A couple of years later, I gave my brother a copy of “This Is My Body; This is My Blood, Miracles of the Eucharist.

Unbeknownst to me, my sister-in-law, who had grown up in a fundamentalist home had just read an article in her local newspaper about a life-saving rescue dog that somehow wandered into a Catholic Church and alerted “the presence of  a person” in the Tabernacle.  So she watched your video with great interest.  She instantly believed in the Real Presence of Our Lord after watching your program. She told my brother that she felt that the Lord was calling her to be a Catholic.  Without telling anyone else she enrolled in RCIA.  Right before Easter the following year, I received the surprise phone call.  My brother and his wife were attending Mass weekly, and my sister-in-law was to be received into the Church.

The story doesn’t end there.  My brother became a very active member of his parish, and serves as a reader, usher and catechist.  His wife, a busy mother of four girls has served as a catechist and Vacation Bible School teacher.  If that’s not  enough, her mother, who had been a very devout Fundamentalist, converted to Catholicism.

I am so thankful for what the Lord has done for us through your ministry.  I feel that Penny is already with our Lord, praising Him with the Angels and Saints.  Our family will keep your and your family in our prayers.  Thank you, Mr. Lord, for your ministry.  May God bless you

KF                               Springville, AL

 

Bob Lord:

Please accept my condolences and prayers for you at this time of great loss of Penny.

Deacon CC                  Providence, RI

 

My sincerest condolences to all of you

Especially Bob on the death of your dear Penny; it was shocking news indeed. I am so glad that you made all those TV programs because her great love for Our Lord, the Church and especially the Saints will continue to encourage and enlighten us all.

MS                              New York, NY

 

 

Visions of the Children of FatimaThe Many Faces of Mary book I

This is a chapter from Bob and Penny Lord’s book

Visions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory

You can also read about the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima in

The Many Faces of Mary, Book I

 

            The precious children of Fatima, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, have captured our hearts, as the brave trio who fought against all secular odds to keep a promise to Our Lady.  She asked them to come to her on the 13th of each month for six months, in the year 1917; and against overwhelming odds, they said Yes!

            Our Lady gave them important messages during that period of time, many of which they couldn't begin to understand.  Some of the profound things she said to them were for them alone; others were for the world.  But the drama of the Miracle of the Sun on October 13, 1917, witnessed by more than 70,000 people in the Cova da Iria, and as far off as the Azores mountains, overshadowed for a time many of the messages she gave these little people.

            Over the years, we have had an opportunity to go through all the occurrences of that six month period which would change the world forever.  Everything was important to them, but some things burned an impression on their hearts and minds, more than others.  One of these events was a vision, rather than a message from our Lady.

            We have to preface this with some things, the children shared with one another.  Most of this came to the world, years later from Lucia, when, under obedience to her bishop, she wrote on those early years.  The messages connected with Hell played an important part in the Apparitions of Our Lady in 1917, as well as in those of the Archangel Michael in 1916.  Just think about some of the things which were said to the children.  One of the most forceful references to Hell was when Our Lady said to the children, "Many souls go to Hell because no one prays for them."

            This was the beginning of her plea to us to pray for the conversion of sinners.  Much of the thrust of the Fatima message had to do with praying for sinners in an attempt to keep them from plunging into the eternal flames of Hell. 

            This accounts for the prayer, Mary gave to the children and to us through them, which we say at the end of each decade of the Rosary,

            "Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins; save us from the fires of hell.  Lead all souls into Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy Mercy."

            After this, Mary opened her hands and pointed down to the earth.  The brilliant light opened the earth, burrowing deep into the bowels of the Underworld.  The children were given a vision of Hell.  In Lucia's third memoir, she describes it as follows: 

            "Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth.  Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear.  The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent.  This vision lasted but an instant."

            They spoke about a sea of fire, filled with devils and the souls of people, black or bronzed, burning fiercely, ghastly screams of indescribable pain coming out of them, being sucked into a river of fire, like molten lava, embers of burnt skin flying off their charred bodies.  The demons could be distinguished from the people in that they looked like ghoulish, deformed animals.  The grotesque vision would have bristled the hair on the necks of the strongest adults. These innocent little children were petrified.

 

  Mary spoke to Lucia. 

            "You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go.  To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.  If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.  The war will end, but if men do not cease to offend God, another worse one will begin.

            "When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, famine and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father."

            This vision of Hell, and Our Lady's words, had a devastating effect on the children, especially Jacinta, who was extremely sensitive and only seven years old.  Actually, these were all little people, Lucia ten, Francisco eight, and Jacinta seven years old.  Jacinta was upset by the vision of Hell.  Really, she was disturbed by the whole idea of Hell. 

            When the apparitions first began, she would ponder on Hell.  She was happy that the Lady had said she would go to Heaven.  However, she was concerned about all those who would not go to Heaven, but to Hell.  She stopped playing; she sat and prayed and meditated.  This was before they had the vision of Hell.  Lucia asked her once what was wrong. 

            "That Lady said that many souls go to Hell.  What is Hell, then?"

            Lucia answered,

            "It's like a big deep pit of wild beasts, with an enormous fire in it - that's how my mother used to explain it to me - and that's where people go who commit sins and don't confess them.  They stay there and burn for ever!"

            "And they never get out of there again?"

            "No!"

            "Not even after many many years?"

            "No!  Hell never ends!"

            Jacinta had a problem coming to terms with the forever perspective of eternity.  She would go for days, saying nothing and then all of a sudden, while they were playing, she would ask:

            "But listen!  Doesn't Hell end after many, many years then?"

            Or she would ask:

            "These people burning in Hell, don't they ever die?  And don't they turn into ashes?  And if people pray very much for sinners, won't our Lord get them out of there?  And if they make sacrifices as well?  Poor sinners!  We have to pray and make many sacrifices for them!"

            Then she would smile and say,

            "How good that Lady is!  She has already promised to take us to Heaven."

            This was partly the cause for Jacinta's great sacrifices for the conversion of sinners.  She believed and rightly so, that if they didn't sin, they wouldn't go to Hell.  If she gave up lunch, and gave her portion to the sheep, souls would be converted.  If she gave up drinking water in the sweltering Portuguese afternoons, and gave her ration to the sheep, she would be helping a soul from going to Hell.

            Some years after the death of Jacinta, actually in 1941, Lucia was asked by her bishop to write yet another account of the apparitions of Our Lady and to a great degree, her relationship with Jacinta and Francisco.  One of the areas they wanted her to reflect on was why Jacinta took on this role of sacrificing so intensely, for the conversion of sinners.  It had become a commitment for her, or so some thought.  Lucia explained it in many ways, all of which were true.  But bottom line, the overpowering reason was: She had seen a vision of Hell!  Our Lady had touched her little heart, and she would do anything to save sinners from Hell.  She would give up her very life, if necessary, so that sinners would convert.

            She would sit on a rock and ponder about Hell.  Then she'd burst out,

            "Oh Hell!  Hell!  How sorry I am for the souls who go to Hell.  And the people down there, burning alive, like wood in the fire!" 

            Then, having conjured up that vision which was implanted in her brain and her heart, she would break into serious prayer. 

            "O my Jesus!  Forgive us, save us from the fires of Hell.  Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need."

            She would repeat the prayer for hours on end, on her knees, rocking like a mother rocks a baby.  She was in ecstasy.  She would come out of it long enough to look at Lucia or Francisco or both, and chide them,

            "Francisco!  Francisco!  Are you praying with me?  We must pray very much to save souls from Hell!  So many go there!  So many!" 

            Then at other times,

            "Why doesn't Our Lady show Hell to sinners?  If they saw it, they would not sin, so as to avoid going there!  You must tell Our Lady to show Hell to all the people (those who went to the Cova da Iria for the apparitions).  You'll see how they will be converted."

            She would ask Lucia,"What are the sins people commit, for which they go to Hell?"

Lucia would answer: "I don't know.  Perhaps the sin of not going to Mass on Sunday, of stealing, of saying ugly words, of cursing and of swearing."

            Jacinta asked "So for just one word then, people can go to Hell?"

            And Lucia answered "Well, if it's a sin."

            Then Jacinta cried: "It wouldn't be hard for them to keep quiet, and go to Mass.  I'm so sorry for sinners!  If only I could show them Hell!"

            Then she would think for a moment, and grab her cousin.

             "I'm going to Heaven.  But you are staying here. If Our Lady lets you, tell everybody what Hell is like, so that they won't commit any more sins and won't go to Hell."

            When we wrote about the Apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima, we glanced over the vision of Hell as many others had.  There were too many other things: The Miracle of the Sun, the prophesy of World War II, the promise from Our Lady that "in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph."  But in researching the vision and the effect it had on the children, in particular Jacinta, we realize that Our Lady was trying desperately to warn us, through these children, of the horrors that await those who break relationship with Jesus.  Jacinta had to be projecting what the Lady feared for us.  She became a sacrificial lamb, offering up a tortuously painful illness and death for the conversion of sinners.

            My brothers and sisters, we tell you about this terror that the vision of Hell put into the heart of this little girl, so that you can have a small idea what Hell is like.  And hopefully, as this touches your heart, you, like Jacinta will not stand by while our brothers and sisters are suckered into Hell.  Remember, her panic was not because she feared Hell for herself.  She knew she would be in the Kingdom.  It was for us, those who have not seen Hell, who do not have a tiny concept of the torture of Hell.  She was so concerned about us that she was willing to suffer and give up her life to save souls, so that they would not have to experience what she had seen with her own eyes.

            It gives you pause to think.  Hell is not a popular subject these days.  We don't hear anything about Hell, especially from the pulpit.  The truth, the teachings that have come down through the centuries that there is a devil and there is a Hell, has been replaced by psychobabble that there is no devil, just psychosis; there is no place called Hell, it’s a state of mind; this is all there is; there is no punishment for sin, there is no nothing.  We've said somewhere else in this book that Satan's greatest accomplishment in the Twentieth Century would be for us to deny his very existence.  And here we have some of our own priests, professors of theology in Catholic Universities, playing right into his hands, doing just that, denying his existence.  Of course, it may be easier, on earth, taking that route, going with the flow, not making waves, afraid perhaps that their fragile canoe will capsize.  We'll pray for their immortal souls.  After all, there is a time when we all have to face the Lord; and they, having been given the responsibility for the guidance of our souls into Heaven, will have also serious accountability before His throne.  Pray they not be lost.  But most of all, pray that they not lead any of the Lord's little ones, you and us to Hell.  Listen to the word of the Lord, as taught to us from the ancients right to our Pope John Paul II.  Don't let Satan fool you; don't let him drag you down the primrose path to the pits of Hell.  Listen to Jacinta and the other Mystics who have seen Hell.  Take their advice.  They've seen Hell!

 

Our Lady of Fatima

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Click here

The Many Faces of Mary book I

 

 

 

Let's go on a Pilgrimage

 

Family, pilgrimages for Penny and Bob have become a way of life.  They began going to the Shrines in 1976 and continued on until Penny’s last Pilgrimage in September of 2013.  And every year they found something new and exciting to keep bringing them back. 

One of the first things they discovered was Miracles of the Eucharist.  They went to the Shrine of the Miracle of the Eucharist of Lanciano in central Italy.  They were so in love with that Shrine they began looking for others.  Through the Lord’s help, they found the Miracle of the Eucharist of Siena, and Fr. Antonio Giannini, the foremost authority on Miracles of the Eucharist in Europe.  He became their mentor.  He sent them all over Europe researching and venerating Miracles of the Eucharist, which became the basis for their first book, “This Is My Body, This Is My Blood, Miracles of the Eucharist” and the TV series for EWTN which followed.

All the while, traveling through Europe, they learned about the Saints, and Apparitions of Our Lady.  They got excited about what they learned.  These became the basis for their other books, and TV series, such as Super Saints and The Many Faces of Mary.

They got excited about our Faith.  They wanted to share it with others.  And so they began their Pilgrimage Ministry, bringing brothers and sisters like you to the Shrines, to Rome, for audiences with our Pope, to learn about the major Basilicas in Rome, the Vatican Museum, and all the riches of our Church.

I think the key word here is “They got excited about Pilgrimages.”  They were never lukewarm about the Pilgrimages.  They would research for six months before they left, all the Shrines they would visit.  When they got to the Shrines, they learned more which they brought home with them.  They relived the Pilgrimage for the next six months, and then did it all over again.

We know you can’t go every year to the Shrines.  But you can go once or maybe twice.  And don’t take a 7 day trip to Rome and think you’ve gone on a pilgrimage.  Go to the pilgrimage sites.  Go to the towns, the churches, stay in the local hotels.  Meet the Saint you’re learning about.  Meet his or her family, the local people.  Take time in Assisi to walk where Francis walked, or in Padua where St. Anthony walked.  Go to the house where St. Therese lived until she went to the Carmel in Lisieux.  Visit the grotto of Lourdes where Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette.  There is so much, so many gifts the Lord makes available for you.  Make the Shrines a part of your life. Penny used to say that she would be working at the office, or making programs at EWTN and all of a sudden she was brought back to a moment in Lourdes, or Loreto, or Assisi.

Over the years Bob and Penny have designed pilgrimages to bring you to the most beautiful, spirit-filled Shrines our Church has to offer.  Take advantage of the 30 years Bob and Penny spent to give you the very best pilgrimage possible, at the best price. 

Get excited about going on a Pilgrimage.  Take advantage of the work Bob and Penny have done to bring them to you.  Come with us and experience the Pilgrimage of a lifetime. God bless you.  We love you!!
For more information about our Pilgrimages for 2014 click here

 

 

 

 

 

25% Discount
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March 14 - April 17

Coupon Code  = LENT enter at checkout
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Visions of Heaven Hell and PurgatoryVisions of St. Nicholas of Tolentino

Champion of the Souls in Purgatory
 

The following is an excerpt from a chapter

on St. Nicholas of Tolentino in Bob and Penny Lord’s book

Visions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory

 

            Nicholas was the pride of the Augustinian Community which flourished in the northeastern section of Italy known as the Marches.  He was born in the year 1245, not too far from Tolentino where he spent most of his life as a religious.  His elderly parents had not been able to bear a child.  Late in life, they made a pilgrimage to Bari, petitioning Saint Nicholas of Bari to intercede with the Lord that they might bring a child into the world, never suspecting the impact that child would have on the history of the Church.  St. Nicholas was born and his parents named him after Saint Nicholas of Bari in thanksgiving.  He was the gift of their golden years.  They offered him back to the Lord, as his mother committed him to God at his baptism.  Parents, having a problem conceiving, often turn to St. Nicholas of Tolentino, Patron Saint of difficult births because of his miraculous birth. 

            From an early age, Nicholas longed for the religious life.  The lives of the Saints, his mother had read to him filled him with the desire to be holy.  The stories about Our Lord Jesus and Mother Mary brought him each day closer and closer to being her son and sharing in her Son's Way of the Cross. 

            There were those in the clergy who wanted to take him under their wing so that he could be a professional priest in the secular clergy, but that was not what Nicholas felt burning deep in his heart.  Instead, he searched for wherever the Lord wanted him to serve.  Not only had the life of Saint Augustine been one that his mother had read to him, but he was to hear about the Saint in school.  When the Lord wants you to do something, He makes it perfectly clear.  Just in case the young Nicholas had not understood the call to be an Augustinian, the Lord brought him to an Augustinian church, to hear an Augustinian preach; and in case he had not heard his commandment to follow Him in the religious life, what should the priest preach on in his homily but the following Gospel passage, "Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world....the world is passing away."  We never know when we are planting seeds, what will flower and bloom.  Did he become an Augustinian because of his mother's instructions on her knee? I would say "Yes!"  Did he become an Augustinian because of the lessons learned in school?  Again we must say "Yes!"  But it is believed that it was the preacher who filled Nicholas with the great desire which would catapult him into serving the Lord and only the Lord for the rest of his life.

            He entered the Augustinian community while still a child, and before he was eighteen, he joined the community as a brother.  His first task was as doorkeeper at the monastery.  He loved this job.  He was able to meet the poor, and instruct them gently in the ways of the Lord.  He would also give them food, sometimes too much food for the liking of his superior, but that was who Nicholas was.  He willingly gave up all that he had, but the problem was that he also gave up all the community had. 

            It was during this time, his early days in the Augustinian community, while being doorkeeper, that we hear of Nicholas' first miracle.  A child came to the door with his parents.  It was obvious he suffered a serious physical malady.  Nicholas put his hand on the child's head and said, "The good God will heal you."  The afflicted child was immediately healed.

            He traveled up and down the provinces of Italy near to his home town.  He spent time in Cingoli, where he was ordained a priest at age 25.  He healed a blind woman in that village, and became well-loved by the people there.  But he had to move on.  The Lord had a plan for Nicholas, and that was to eventually bring his ministry to Tolentino.  There, he would spend the rest of his days, evangelizing to everyone and anyone he could.

            On all the paintings and statues of St. Nicholas, you see a star on his chest.  There is a tradition that when meditating on where he should go, he saw an unusually bright star in the sky and followed that star to Tolentino.  This reminds us of the Magi who followed the star to Bethlehem that led them to the Baby Jesus, born to redeem the world.  Why had the star led Nicholas to Tolentino?  The situation was not good in Tolentino when he arrived.  People were not attending Mass.  The churches were empty.  His superiors held the belief the only way was to go door-to-door evangelizing.  If the people would not come to God, His disciples would go to them; and so they sent Brother Nicholas (among others) to the people.  Now, he had not done this before, but he obeyed and set out among the villagers.  What he found was that the faithful were actually starving for the Word of God; he was immediately accepted by the people.  During his teachings on the Gospel, he simply glorified God.  He could hear people crying as they listened to him.  He spoke with, as St. Augustine taught, "the heart and mind" of the Church and conversions took place en masse.  Even those who hated him, could not resist the love with which he preached; they too, soon came around. 

            There is an instance which is attributed to the Saint, where there was one angry man, a heretic, who not only did not believe, but became violent when Nicholas preached in the town squares.  He did everything in his power to disrupt Nicholas, or distract the people so that they could not pay attention to Nicholas.  But our little saint just kept plugging, exchanging anger and violence with love.  This infuriated the man all the more.

            One day, when Nicholas was preaching to the people, in the town square, sharing how much God loved them, the angry man decided to disrupt the proceedings by fencing with his friends.  The sound of steel blades slicing against steel blades, the swords threatened to drown out Nicholas, but that didn't stop him.  He kept sharing about the God Who unconditionally loves us, even as we are rejecting Him.  The angry man, who could not help hearing everything Nicholas was saying, finally stopped fencing, leaned on his sword and listened to the rest of Nicholas' talk.  Needless to say, he was converted and became one of Nicholas' greatest supporters.

St. Nicholas' devotion to the Poor Souls

            There are many gifts for which St. Nicholas of Tolentino is best known.  One is his great devotion to the Poor Souls in Purgatory.  When his superiors encouraged him to enter the seminary in preparation for the priesthood, he hesitated.  He wanted nothing to take away from his prayer time for the Poor Souls.  It wasn't until he was convinced that the greatest prayer he could pray for those suffering in Purgatory was the Sacrifice of the Mass, and that he could do best as a priest of God, that he finally consented to enter the seminary.  He was ordained a priest in the order of St. Augustine.

            He remained a man of prayer, praying day and night for the Poor Souls in Purgatory, sometimes as much as six to eight hours a night.  But his devotion to those in Purgatory had to take a back seat to his vow of obedience. 

            One evening, while he was in prayer, a friar who had recently passed away, Pellegrino of Osimo, appeared to Nicholas.  It was all too obvious from the expression on his face that Pellegrino was in agony.  He mournfully shared with Nicholas that he was in the pits of Purgatory, suffering the most excruciating pain.  He knew of Nicholas' devotion to the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and so he pleaded with his old friend to offer Mass, not only for himself, but for the many other souls who had asked him to implore the aid of Nicholas.  Nicholas immediately consented.  Then he remembered that he was under obedience to offer the conventual Mass of the Order for the next week.

            Pellegrino brought Nicholas into the pits of Purgatory, so that he could see first-hand, the suffering of all those who had asked for his intercession.  Before him were a multitude of souls of all ages and conditions, experiencing terrible torment.  Pellegrino turned to Nicholas and said,

            "Behold the state of those who sent me to you.  Since you are agreeable in the sight of God, we have confidence that He will refuse nothing to the oblation of the Sacrifice offered by you, and that His Divine Mercy will deliver us."

            Nicholas could not hold back the tears.  He went into prayer, after which he went to his superior and asked permission to pray the Mass for the Dead.  When he shared his vision, and the agonizing condition of the souls who had asked for his help, the superior, too, broke down into tears.  He gave Nicholas a special dispensation from praying the conventual Mass for that next week, and granted him permission to dedicate his Masses as well as all his prayers, toward the deliverance of the Poor Souls from Purgatory.  Nicholas celebrated those Masses passionately as (and with) Jesus the Victim Priest before him, the One Who came that no one would have to suffer the pains of eternal damnation. 

            At the end of a week, Pellegrino of Osimo appeared to Nicholas again, only this time he was not in agonizing pain.  He had been released from Purgatory, and was on his way to Heaven.  The other souls were in the same way, clad in white garments and enveloped with a bright, heavenly light.  They called him their liberator, and as they rose up to Heaven, they chanted the prayer,

            "Thou hast saved us from them that afflict us, and thou hast put them to shame that hate us."

            There were many instances of Nicholas' intercession for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.  It became one of the greatest goals of his vocation, to help as many souls be released from Purgatory as he possibly could.  But there is another thing for which St. Nicholas of Tolentino is famous, and that is the bread of St. Nicholas. 

The Miraculous bread of St. Nicholas of Tolentino

            The tradition began when Nicholas was quite ill and beginning to show the ravages of old age; he was so sick and so debilitated, he was about to die.  His superiors asked him to eat a little meat and some nourishing foods.  After all, they pleaded, they needed him, they and the community and his Souls in Purgatory!  He wanted to obey his superiors, but he also knew the power of fasting toward moving God's Heart.  So he prayed to Our Lady.  Now, we know how much she loves her priests, her favorite sons, especially ones like Nicholas of Tolentino.  Mother Mary appeared with the Baby Jesus in her arms.  She handed Nicholas a small bit of bread; the Infant Jesus was holding a chalice filled with water; Mother Mary enjoined Nicholas to dip the bread into the chalice and then to eat it.  Upon obeying the Mother of God, his Mother, he immediately recovered from his illness, and had more strength than he had ever known before. 

            From that time on, St. Nicholas would bless little pieces of bread, which he would distribute among the people.  Healings abounded.  Author's note: When we visited Tolentino for the first time in 1977, the nun at the Shrine gave us some "St. Nicholas' bread."  There were approximately six little crackers enclosed in cellophane packages.  Just having returned to the Church two years before, and not having had much real education in the Faith at the time, Penny asked how much we were to give someone who was suffering, to bring about a cure.  The nun made a very wise statement, a teaching which has stayed with us these many years.  She said:

            "It takes a little bread and a lot of faith." 

            Eight days before his death, our Lady appeared to St. Nicholas and prophesied that he would die on September the 10th, the third day after the anniversary of Mary's birth.  St. Nicholas was on his death bed and suffering.  The enemy was attacking him mercilessly, these his last days.  His soul was in anguish, as the enemy persisted, taunting him, disrupting his praying to the point he could barely remember the prayers.  St. Nicholas turned to his Mother Mary and pleaded with her, saying he had endured the torments of the devil all his life; could he, his last hours on earth be undisturbed so that he could prepare properly for his entrance before the Lord.  Our Lady left without giving him an answer.  St. Nicholas continued praying.  An Angel appeared to him, told him his prayers had been heard, and he would have the peace he desired.  St. Nicholas spent his last days in peace, without any attacks from the devil.  Not only that but he spent his last days, as if he were already in Paradise, his face illuminated.

            As Mother Mary had predicted, St. Nicholas of Tolentino died on September 10, 1305.  At his death, his tomb became immediately a shrine of veneration.  Twenty years after his death, Pope John XXII ordered the Process for Beatification to be opened.  But during the investigation, the popes moved from Italy to Avignon, France, and the process was held up until they came back to Rome. 

            Three hundred and seventy-three miracles were attributed to his intercession.  They were investigated, and over 300 miracles were accepted by Mother Church.  Pope Eugene IV canonized St. Nicholas on the Feast of Pentecost, June 5, 1446.  The Pope had a special devotion to St. Nicholas.  He had prayed to him, for the success of the Council of Florence; it had been called to make smooth the path to unification of all Christians, the Greek church with the Latin.  Because many of the Eastern churches returned to the Chair of Peter through that Council, Pope Eugene IV attributed it to the intercession of St. Nicholas.

            Because of the many Souls that were released from Purgatory through his prayers, and the Masses he celebrated for the Poor Souls, he became and is known as the Saint of Purgatory.

            Great pilgrimages began immediately to Tolentino.  St. Nicholas was declared Patron Saint of many large cities in the rest of Italy, due to the miraculous deliverance from plagues and pestilences, through the intercession of St. Nicholas.  Devotion to him came about in all of Europe, and then in the whole world.  In Mexico, there are over 30 villages named after St. Nicholas, as well as a village in the Canary Islands.  He is also venerated in South America. 

            He has among those who have been devoted: many Popes, many Saints and Blesseds who spent much time in Tolentino, praying to our Saint. 

Saint of the Suffering on Earth and in Purgatory

            St. Nicholas was Saint of the Suffering on earth, feeding them with earthly food and Heavenly Food in the Eucharist.  He is known as well as Saint of the Suffering Poor Souls in Purgatory, having prayed for them all his life as a religious, and celebrating Mass for them as a priest.  Because of His devotion to the Poor Souls, Pope Leo XIII declared the Basilica of St. Nicholas - Church of the Poor Souls in Purgatory.  Mass is celebrated, there, every afternoon, for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.

            We met St. Nicholas of Tolentino, so to speak, through the other Augustinian saints with whom we have become very close.  In the same region of Italy, you will find the shrines to St. Rita of Cascia, St. Clare of Montefalco, and St. Nicholas of Tolentino.  While their lives are separate, they are distinctly interconnected with each other spiritually.  The common denominator, of course, is their founder and father in Faith, St. Augustine, a powerful role model and intercessor. 

            We have found great warmth and consolation from these Augustinian Saints.  We have felt a brotherhood also to the different communities we have met at their shrines.  It's like being with family.  Learn about these Saints.  Meet the community of believers who continue to espouse their charisma.  You will be home; you will be with family.

            And most of all have Masses said for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.  You will then have Great Friends in High Places when they are released and go to live with Jesus in Paradise. 

Saint Nicholas of Tolentino

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Visions of Heaven Hell and PurgatoryVisions of St. Gertrude the Great

The following is an excerpt from the Chapter on St. Gertrude the Great

From Bob and Penny Lord’s book

Visions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory

 

 

            When Our Lord wants a message to get out to His Church, he raises up a powerful Saint to do the task.  Such a Saint was Gertrude the Great!  She was the one to plant the seed which would bloom through the hands of another powerful Saint and visionary, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, four centuries later, and subsequently through Saint Faustina Kowalska in the 20th Century, through the Mission of Divine Mercy.  Our Lord's mandate to St. Gertrude was to herald devotion to His Most Sacred Heart. 

            She came to us in the Thirteenth Century, a time of rampant heresy and glorious victory.  The Lord promised that His Church, although besieged by persecution, would triumph in the end; in the Thirteenth Century, with His Infinite Humility, He raised up great Saints to bring this about.  St. Gertrude received the title "the Great" partially because of the extraordinary gifts she received from the Lord, but we believe more for her total dedication to her Spouse Jesus.

            Why did the Lord want devotion to His Most Sacred Heart to begin at this time?  We know that He brought about the Miracle of the Eucharist at Bolsena to dispel the heresy of Berengarianism in this century, but why did He give the message to St. Gertrude to bring about an awareness and love of His Most Sacred Heart, the Furnace of His Love? 

            Six centuries before, in around the year 720, His children were being led astray, innocent lambs being led to slaughter by some "judas goats," and so God in His Mercy gave His little ones a Miracle of the Eucharist in the Form of a Human Heart, the Miracle of the Eucharist of Lanciano!  Then six centuries later, He sends a Saint to herald devotion to His Most Sacred Heart, to let us know how much He loves us, how we can find refuge and strength in the Mercy of His Sacred Heart.  Is this book not about His Mercy?  God could not have shown more Mercy and Compassion than to give us an opportunity to be made ready for Him by gracing us with Purgatory.

            He gave us Miracles of the Eucharist, whenever we were in danger of losing our faith.  Why?  Because He wanted us to know that He is with us, reachable and waiting for us, coming to dwell in us during the ongoing Sacrifice of the Cross, the Sacrifice of the Mass.  He told St. Gertrude:

            "You can find Me in no place where I delight more, or which is more suitable for Me, than in the Sacrament of the Altar."

            This reaffirms a theme that runs through our books on Visionaries, Mystics and Stigmatists, Saints, Angels, Mother Mary and Miracles of the Eucharist that no one, nothing is more dear and precious to the Lord than us sharing in the Sacrifice of the Cross.  You will read throughout this book how the most powerful arrow that can pierce the loving Heart of God the Father, moving Him to have mercy on us, is Our Lord's Passion, Death and Resurrection, that ongoing Sacrifice of the Cross - the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Our story begins in the village of Helfta, Germany.  A little girl, barely five years old entered a Benedictine convent, a community filled with holy cloistered nuns whose whole life was the Lord.  They knew and believed that the Lord was as truly present in the Blessed Sacrament as He was in Heaven and so they spent much of their lives on earth adoring Him.  From this fountain of faith flowed a desire to praise him morning, day and night, praying the Divine Office.  Gertrude grew in holiness and when she came of age, she became a Bride of Christ. 

Gertrude receives her first vision

            Her Bridegroom Jesus appeared to her when she was twenty-six years old.  During Advent, she had been filled with a restlessness and longing to be closer to Jesus.  The more she meditated, the more she began to have a disdain for the things of the world.   One evening, she was about to retire, when Our Lord appeared to her as a very handsome young Man.  He said: "Thy salvation is at hand.  Why are you so consumed by sorrow?"  She had received her first vision!

            Now, she knew that she was in her dormitory, but it seemed as if she was being transported to the corner of the choir.  Jesus spoke to her:

            "I will save and deliver you.  Fear not." 

            Our Lord opened His Arms wide to embrace her.  She tried to approach Him, but a hedge, made thick with long menacing thorns barred the way, looming between them, separating her from Him.  As she knew that the hedge and thorns were the times she had sinned and displeased the Lord, she began to weep.  The Lord extended His Hand, and as if some unseen force had lifted her, she was beside Him.  He invited her to rest her head on His Precious Chest.  Her eyes went from His pierced Heart to His Hands and Feet; and there before her were His five Wounds, bleeding out of love for her and us "the radiant jewels of His Sacred Wounds." 

            St. Gertrude tells us that after this she was converted, not that she had been anything but virtuous.  She had always been a good student, excelling in Latin, History and other worldly subjects.  But after this, she had eyes only for the Word of God in Holy Scripture and the works of such Church Fathers as Saints Augustine, Gregory and Bernard.

            St. Gertrude lived to love Jesus alone; pleasing Him was her sole objective in life.  She sought and found Him everywhere, but most especially in the Eucharist.  Jesus was consistently in her mind and on her heart; she took to heart His words, when Our Lord said:

            "I delight so much in her; I have chosen to dwell in her.  All that others see and love in her is My work; and whoever loves My work in her, loves Me.  I have decreed that she stand alone, without friends or relatives, that none may love her from ties of relationship, but that I Myself may be the sole cause of her being loved and esteemed."

            She had ultimate confidence in Jesus' Love and Mercy.  He told her:

            "It is impossible that anyone should not receive all that he has believed and hoped to obtain.  It gives Me great pleasure when men hope great things from Me and I will always grant them more than they expect."

            She turned to Jesus, as she would to an earthly father, with the complete trust of a child.  No petition was too small or too great.  On one occasion, when she had lost a needle in a pile of straw, she asked the Lord to find it for her:

            "It would be in vain that I would search for this needle and so very much a waste of time.  If You would be so kind, find it for me!" 

            She turned her head, groped with one of her hands and immediately found the needle.  Our Lord delighted in her simplicity and innocence, and always rewarded her faith in Him with gifts affirming that faith.

            After that first vision, she continued to see Her Lord, only "indistinctly" as we say - with the eyes of the heart, when she would receive Holy Communion.  This went on until the vigil of the Annunciation, when Our Lord visited her again and helped her to understand Him more clearly.  From this time on she would correct her faults out of love for the God of Mercy, not out of fear of the God of Justice! 

            She was so filled with God's Grace, she committed this prayer to memory, reciting it over and over again:

            "O most merciful Lord, engrave Thy Wounds upon my heart with Thy most Precious Blood, that I may read in them both Thy grief and Thy Love; and that the memory of Thy Wounds may ever remain in my inmost heart, to excite my compassion for Thy sufferings and to increase in me Thy Love.  Grant also that I may despise all creatures, and that my heart may delight in Thee alone.  Amen."

            Then, one day, she knew that the Lord had heard her prayer and, in response, had imprinted the Wounds that had pierced His most Sacred Body on the Cross, on her body.  She had received the stigmata and would from that day on, experience the agony that her Lord had known.

St. Gertrude's love and compassion for the Poor Souls

            St. Gertrude felt great tenderness toward the Poor Souls in Purgatory.  She constantly prayed for the Lord's Mercy on these Souls who were suffering, as they longed to enter Heaven.  One day, before receiving Holy Communion, as she was praying for the Poor Souls, she seemed to descend with Jesus into the depths of Purgatory.  She was devastated by what she saw.  The Lord told her that He would allow her to bring forth from Purgatory all for whom she prayed.  After Communion, she saw more Souls ascending to Heaven than for whom she had dared to ask.

            One day, Gertrude was praying for the Poor Souls, when Jesus admonished her for not praying with the confident assurance, the faith and realized hope that God hears and answers our prayers.  He assured her:

            "It would not be past My Justice to release those Suffering Souls for whom you are praying, immediately, if you would pray with confidence for this petition."

            St. Gertrude's greatest delight was in seeing a multitude of souls being released from Purgatory.  But she received her greatest joy on the days she received Holy Communion, because on those days the numbers were infinitely greater.  When she questioned the Lord, He replied,

            "What makes you think I could refuse your prayers for the Poor Souls, especially on those days you are joined to Me in Holy Communion?"

            Our Lord, at another time, stressing how dear it was to Him to have Masses said, told St. Gertrude:

            "At the hour of death, I will send to My children, as many saints to console and assist them, as Holy Masses they have reverently attended during their lifetime."

            One day, when she was praying for the Poor Souls, she asked Jesus how many Souls His Mercy would release from Purgatory.  He replied that His Love desires to release all Souls from Purgatory.  He used the following parable. 

            When a compassionate king has to imprison a friend, guilty of a crime, for the sake of equal justice for all his people, he longs for someone to plead for his friend and offer some sort of ransom for his release.  You can imagine the joy, the king has when he is able to free his friend, and how kindly he feels toward those who arranged for his friend's freedom, those who paid off his debt. 

            If a king who is an imperfect ruler feels so for a friend, how much more so, Our Lord Who died for the Poor Souls in Purgatory!  Jesus told St. Gertrude that every time someone prays for a Poor Soul, His Heart eagerly reaches out to send this loved one to join Him in Heaven. 

            It is not God's Will or design that we be separated from Him.  We are part of the Creator, and He longs to be reunited with that part of Himself that He has created, that is so precious to Him.  It is we who condemn ourselves to Hell or, who out of love for the Father, send ourselves to Purgatory to be made more presentable to Him.  When God fashioned us, He created us in His Image with Free Will to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him.  When we stand before Him, we see how many times we have failed to love Him as we should, how many times we have put matters of the world before serving Him, how we have reluctantly spent time getting to know Him better by spending time, quiet quality time during the Sacrifice of the Mass or adoring Him in the Blessed Sacrament.  At that time, He will look into our eyes and His Eyes of Perfect Love will meet ours and we will condemn ourselves, and we will willingly fly to Purgatory.

Who is My brother and My sister?

            Our Lord instructed St. Gertrude whom to pray for in Purgatory.  On All Souls Day, as her community was praying for the deceased parents of the sisters, St. Gertrude could see many rejoicing souls ascending up to Heaven, cutting through the darkness, lighting the sky with their brilliance.  She asked the Lord if these were all their relatives and Our Precious Lord replied:

"I am your nearest Relative, your Father and your Mother.  Therefore My nearest friends are your nearest relatives, and these are among those whom I have freed."

            When she wrote for her sisters' education, her writings reflected her attitude towards death:

            "I wish with my whole heart to be strengthened by those health-giving last Sacraments; nevertheless the Will and appointment of God seem to be the best and surest preparation.  I am certain that, whatever the manner of my death, sudden or foreseen, I shall never lack His Mercy, without which I cannot possibly be saved in either case."

            Jesus told St. Gertrude that He had revealed His Heart to her, that she might pass His messages of love down to His children.  And when St. Gertrude was reluctant to reveal her revelations, the Lord told her emphatically that she would not be released from the "prison of her flesh" until she had obeyed Him in this matter.  And so, she did.

It is time for St. Gertrude to go Home, at last

            Although her life had been one of almost daily visions of Jesus, with an intimacy and communication rarely known on earth, her heart was restless until it rested in Him, in the Kingdom, for all eternity.  She was on fire!  Her whole being yearned for her God.  Instead of these heavenly privileges making her resolute with this time on earth, the splendor and the intense joy of seeing Him, hearing Him, being in Our Lord's Presence gave her a greater desire each day, and a growing holy impatience to be with Him in Heaven.

            One time, she cried out: "When are You going to release me from the prison of this body and permit me to enter the gates of Heaven to begin our life eternal together?

            Now, St. Gertrude and Jesus had a wonderful relationship.  As she was complaining to her beloved Spouse about Him not granting her request, He revealed how she was to die.  She went into deep ecstasy and saw a Heavenly Army of Angels and Saints, coming to escort her Home, followed by the Patriarchs, the Prophets, the Apostles, the Martyrs, the Virgins, and the Holy Innocents.  The fallen angels were afraid to venture near this Heavenly court.

            St. Gertrude became very ill.  She spoke to Jesus and said that although she longed to be with Him, if He willed she remain on earth, she willingly obeyed Him, although her heart was with Him.  It seemed that was what Jesus was waiting to hear.  He told her, she had fulfilled His Will for her on earth and He was ready to escort her to His Father.  Her last months on earth were filled with excruciating pain, but although she had to be carried to Mass, she would not miss a day being near her Spouse in the Word and in the Eucharist. 

            All the sisters surrounded her bed, their sorrow inconsolable.  It was painfully obvious she was leaving them.  Jesus appeared to His bride, His Face radiant.  His Mother was on His right, and as at the foot of the Cross, St. John was on His left.  As He had told her, there were the Heavenly host of Angels, the Saints, the Martyrs, the Innocents, the Virgins; it seemed all Heaven had turned out for her welcome into Heaven. 

            The sisters were reading the Passion when they pronounced the words: "And bowing His Head, He gave up His Spirit,” Jesus opened His Heart welcoming her within.  The Angels began singing Alleluia, and the next thing you know, one of the sisters heard the Lord say:

            "Behold you are united to Me and to become My own forever....I will present you to My Father by the close embrace of My Heart."

            You can be sure that there was a Heavenly Court made up of all the Souls who had been released from Purgatory through her intercession, also awaiting her in Heaven with big signs welcoming her Home!

 

Note:  All quotations are from

“Saint Gertrude the Great, herald of Divine Love"-Tan Publishers

 

 

 

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Saint Malligned Misunderstood and Mistreated bookSt. Elizabeth of Hungary 1207 – 1231)

Patroness of Widows - Brides -- Young Girls - the Poor

The following is an excerpt of a chapter in Bob and Penny Lord’s book

Saints, Maligned, Misunderstood and Mistreated.

This is the story of a precious child of God, who was born into royalty, yet never used or abused it.  It is the story of a great woman, a daughter, a wife, a widow, a benefactress of the poor, a glowing example of a soul endeavoring to love her Lord more purely, yet faithful to her calling as wife and mother.  As  the story of her life unfolds, you will see, in addition to the titles attributed to her above, we could add these below to the number: Patroness of bakers, beggars, charitable societies, charitable workers, countesses, parents who have lost children to death, the innocent who are falsely accused, homeless people, hospitals, those having problems with in-laws, nursing homes, people in exile, the faithful persecuted for their love of Mother Church, Sisters of Mercy, Tertiaries (Third Order), and on and on.  Quite a rich list for one whose life would be snuffed out at the young age of twenty-four!

She lived at a time when the Lord blessed His children with a wealth of Saints, including St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi, St. Dominic Guzman, St. Bonaventure, Blessed Angela of Foligno and many others, whose contributions were powerful weapons of the Lord to defend the Church of the Middle Ages.

Anthology of a future Saint

In the year 1207, a baby girl was born to Andrew II, King  of Hungary and his wife Gertrude, of the Counts of Andechs-Meran.  They named her Elizabeth.  She was a precious bundle of joy not only to her parents, but to her brother as well.  At her birth, it was predicted to Hermann, the Landgrave[1] of Thuringia[2] (Germany) that a child was born to the King and Queen of Hungary.  It was told to him that she would be a very holy girl, and should become the wife of Hermann's son, of the same name.  Elizabeth was born into a time where it was not uncommon for marriages to be arranged between royal families of different principalities.  This was usually done in an effort to solidify their lands, and by a coalition to add new lands to their domains.  In addition, it was a form of protection against other powers who would like to take over by force, these little principalities. 

By the time St. Elizabeth was four years old, her marriage was sealed with the young Prince Hermann of Thuringia.  She was even taken to the court of her future husband to be brought up with him and to learn the customs and niceties of his people.  You must remember that although she was a very spiritual girl, she was only a little person.  She was obedient, some would say to a fault, but not in those days.  While our women of today would think that a match made by the heads of two families for the sole purpose of power and politics would be unthinkable, and we're not suggesting they're wrong, it's the way things were done at that time.  And so whatever her parents or the parents of her betrothed felt was to be, had to be.

Elizabeth is sent to her future husband's court.

She never behaved other than who she was, this beautiful flower of the Lord.  Her demeanor was perfect; we can't say the same for the people with whom she had to associate in the court of Thuringia.  They treated her terribly, possibly because of jealousy that she was going to marry the Landgrave's son, or perhaps just because she was so nice.  Many people can't handle nice people.  Landgravine Sophia, who would become her mother-in-law, embraced the child at first.  However, some of Elizabeth's piety rubbed Sofia and her daughter the wrong way.  There were many reverent gestures which St. Elizabeth performed in the normal course of her religious life which upset Sofia and her daughter. 

One example was when they would enter the chapel.  Elizabeth would remove her coronet; the others would leave them on.  When questioned about this, Elizabeth said that she could not bear wearing a coronet adorned with jewels, in the presence of Jesus who was crowned with thorns.  The noble family's feathers were ruffled at what they considered the child claiming false piety.  Their suggested remedy was to send the girl to a convent, rather than having her stay at court.  This is how it began, and through little things that continued to irk the family, they wanted her out.

She had one friend at the castle at Thuringia, Ludwig, the second-oldest son of Landgrave Hermann.  He was very kind to Elizabeth.  When he would return from a trip, he always brought her little gifts, all of which she loved, especially the Rosaries he brought for her.  It was very obvious to all that they cared for each other.  Elizabeth went into deep sorrow upon learning just two years after having left her home, that her mother had died, murdered as part of the political situation at home.  It was thought that she was killed by Hungarian nobility, who hated her for her ties with the Germans.  This had the effect of devastating the child, who felt all alone, save for her friend, Ludwig. 

To make matters worse, three years later, her betrothed, Hermann, son of Landgrave Hermann, died.  She was all of nine years old.  All her enemies in court took this as a perfect excuse to get her thrown out of the country.  They accused her of all kinds of things, but most importantly, she was not one of them, and now that the reason she had been brought to the court was gone, the prince having died, there was no justification for her to stay.  However, what they didn't count on was the younger brother, Ludwig, who had fallen in love with this beautiful child.  They also did not consider that nothing had changed in Landgrave Hermann's need for an alliance with the father of Elizabeth, the King of Hungary.  Elizabeth was betrothed to the second son, Ludwig, whom she really cared for.  It was as if the Lord had planned that these two were destined to be one, even though there was a great difference in their ages, he being sixteen, and she only nine. 

Another blow to the family and the marriage proposal took place the following year.  Landgrave Hermann had great difficulties trying to put through his great political plans in an effort to build a kingdom, or at least protect what he had.  He made enemies in the Church, and was finally excommunicated.  This was a shock to his whole family, who were very close to the Church, especially his daughter-in-law to be, Elizabeth, who was totally committed to the Church as was her husband-to-be.  Landgrave Hermann lost his mind, and died in 1217, never having made amends with the Church. 

A Fairy Tale Romance

The good thing that came about was that his son and Elizabeth's betrothed, Ludwig, became the Landgrave of Thuringia.  He was well-respected by other principalities, especially in areas where his father had not been, and so he was given more and more titles and positions of importance.

It was against this background that Ludwig IV and Elizabeth were married in 1221, he being twenty one, and she fourteen.  This took place amidst a great deal of controversy.  The people in the court still didn't want her to be a Thuringian countess, no matter how much Ludwig loved her.  He fought them vehemently.  He is quoted as having said in her defense, "I would rather cast away a mountain of gold than give her up." 

It was truly a marriage made in Heaven.  The lovely couple lived an exemplary life, not only as husband and wife, but as rulers of their country.  She was a benevolent ruler, caring more for the welfare of her subjects than for her own well-being.  He was truly a Saint of a man.  To this day, the Germans call him St. Ludwig, not only for being married to a Saint, but as an acclaim to having been one of the best men of his time.  They are described as being the perfect couple, not only in spirituality and temperament, but also in their physical appearance.  She is said to have been "perfect in body, handsome, of a dark complexion; serious in her ways, and modest, of kindly speech, fervent in prayer and most generous to the poor, always full of goodness and divine love."[3]  They don't go to such lengths in describing Ludwig, other than he "was handsome and modest as a young maid, wise, patient and truthful, trusted by his men and loved by his people."[4]

They led a glorious life.  Theirs was truly a story-book marriage.  They had eyes only for each other.  True, they were both beautiful people.  But remember, he was becoming more and more important as right hand man to the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.  People, women in particular, looked on him as a great catch.  But he saw no one other than his beloved, his Elizabeth.  And she saw no one but him.

Six glorious years of marriage

We have to take a moment out here to talk about the death of Elizabeth's husband, and its effect on her and her life.  Elizabeth and Ludwig were extremely in love.  In addition to their early years of courtship, as children really, and four years of betrothal, they shared six glorious years of marriage together.  It was a fairy-tale romance, he being the prince and then ruler of their little country, and she being the benevolent, and very loving countess, or consort.  They did everything together, wherever possible.  Because he became more and more trusted by high ranking members of the nobility, he was called upon to take on responsibilities which took him away from their home.  She understood this, but grieved all the time they were apart. 

Her husband adored her.  She could do no wrong as far as he was concerned.  Very often, while he was out of the country, she had to take matters into her own hands.  As we said, she cared more for others than herself.  This was evidenced on many occasions, but one in particular took place when a great famine threatened that area of Germany.  Ludwig was away, handling matters of state for Emperor Frederick II of the Holy Roman Empire.  Elizabeth depleted most of their own assets, including their entire stock of corn.  She fed the poor, aided the sick, built a hospital, then another; she was just completely at the service of her people.

The members of his household and the court couldn't wait for Landgrave Ludwig to return, so they could complain bitterly against her, saying she was frivolous, and caring more about the commoner than the nobility of the country.  He never bothered to investigate the claims.  After ascertaining that no one was left out of her generosity, he said "Her charities will bring us Divine blessings."  That was truly a prophecy which came true. 

St. Elizabeth actually tickled her husband.  While she was a perfect consort, she was such a free soul, such a beautiful child of God, he couldn't help but enjoy everything she did. 

We tell you this about them and their life together just to bring a point across. You must know how much they meant to each other if you are to understand how devastated she became when she received news of his death.  They were each other's next sentence, next thought, next breath.  They were each other's life.

When she fully understood what had happened, she lost control completely for a time.  She ran all over the castle, shrieking as if she had lost her mind.  She cried out:  "The world is dead to me, and all that was joyous in the world."

a time of trial and tribulation

When Ludwig had gone off to war, Elizabeth had put on clothes of a widow.  She had promised not to take them off until he came home.  Now, she wept bitterly and said, "If my husband be dead, I promise to die henceforth to myself, and to the world and all its vanities."  While we don't believe the Lord caused what happened next to her, we believe He may have let loose the powers of hell which had been building up against her for years, but were held in check because of her husband's power.  Her enemies were bound and determined to get her out of the royal court, and to strip her of her title. 

They were able to use all of her corporal works of mercy against her.  While we consider what she did for the starving people of Germany as a noble act, she was accused of squandering the country's revenue.  Now her husband was not there to protect her, and so all the good things she had done were twisted and became bad things.  Her brother-in-law, Prince Henry, took over the reins of the country at the death of his brother, and promptly threw her, the children and two of her loyal attendants out of the castle in the dead of winter, without anything, no money, no clothes, not even a stick of furniture. 

It was a complete shock, even to some of those who had advocated her removal.  It was one thing to do it.  It was another thing to do it so quickly, and so brutally.  But at any rate, it was done.  It was what everyone at court had wanted from the time she was a child.  They were finally giving her what they thought she deserved.  There was such an outpouring of anger against this child and her family, it was impossible to conceive.  She was only twenty years old.  It was the beginning of four years of suffering.

From the day she was thrown out of the castle, she was to know rejection from the ones whom she had helped, and was to see the hatred that had been covered over with cosmetics for so many years.  Her first night out, she had to take refuge in one room in a poor person's inn.  The next night, a priest, who could not believe how low she had gone, took pity on her and her family and attendants, and gave her shelter.  She never said a word in her defense against what was happening to her.  To the contrary, she praised God in all things for the gift of suffering.  Her only regrets were what was happening to her children.  Though she felt it was good to reject things of the world, this was not the way she wanted it for them.

So that when her aunt, who was the abbess of a monastery in the diocese of Wurzburg, heard of her plight, she suggested that Elizabeth appeal to her uncle, the Bishop of Bamberg for aid.  He immediately offered them a home in his diocese - her and her family.  This uncle was a very powerful man, who was also very influential.  He suggested to Elizabeth that in view of her youth and beauty, and her position in society, (remember, she was a princess in Hungary), that she remarry.  She refused, explaining to her uncle the vow she and her husband had taken never to remarry, just before he left for the Crusades.

It was just about this time that the remains of her husband were being brought back from Otranto, Italy, where he died.  His was truly a royal ceremony, as his coffin was escorted by royalty in every country it traveled through.  There were royal guards to accompany his body, and as the cortege passed from one country to another, the sovereign of the country being entered took over.  This continued until the body reached the diocese of Bamburg, where the bishop, uncle of St. Elizabeth, went out to meet the convoy.  He brought the body into the Cathedral, and there, our Saint was reunited with her beloved husband.  At first, she found herself reliving the pain and anguish she had first felt upon receiving news of his death.  She went to pieces.  She wept deep agonizing cries, from the pit of her stomach.  But then, realizing she had to be strong for him, and for their children, she withheld her emotions and remained stalwart throughout. 

The Bishop used the great honor being shown the head of the House of Thuringia to appeal to the brother-in-law, Henry, to end the outrageous treatment he had subjected his brother's wife and children to, and restore her back to her previous position in the court.  Various knights and princes who had accompanied Landgrave Ludwig appealed to his younger brother, Henry, to stop this scandalous conduct towards Elizabeth. The Lord must have touched his heart, or the spirit of his brother, considered by all to be a Saint, whispered into his ear, or the pressure exerted by all the nobility of the Holy Roman Empire, and he relented of his former disgraceful behavior, and reinstated her income and properties to her.  At first, she didn't want to accept the money or lands, but her spiritual director felt she should be in control of her finances, so that she could give her money to any cause she felt worthy, and so she did maintain control, only to give the money away to the poor as she wished.  And so, that part of her plight had ended.  

Four years of suffering

However, she was just beginning to experience what would become a purging of her soul for the remainder of her short life.  While her husband was still alive, and through the recommendation of the Pope at the time, Gregory IX, she was given a Spiritual Director, Conrad of Marburg, who, while he was a very pious man, was also a very stern disciplinarian.  His background would seem a little strange for such a delicate task.  Prior to taking over as her Spiritual Director and confessor, he had been an inquisitor of heretics.  He truly loved Elizabeth's soul, and knew the Lord had great plans for her, but that she was overpowered by materialism in her position as Landgravine, and had been all her life as the Princess of Hungary.  There are those who felt that this man had not been a good choice for her Spiritual Director, he being so forceful and she being so gentle.  Whatever the case, the Lord was in charge, and in spite of, or because of her austere lifestyle for the next four years, she is a powerful Saint today. 

He began a program of stripping Elizabeth of all that she had known, material possessions which had never been considered luxurious by her or her family, but according to certain poorer classes in the world, would have been looked upon as almost sinful.  She had never taken herself seriously.  She never cared about the splendor surrounding her.  There was a time, long before Conrad came into her life when she would feed the poor and hungry and physically take care of the sick at the hospitals she opened at the foot of the castle in Marburg.  Actually, she had become a third order Franciscan when the Franciscans first came to Germany in 1221.  She was vested in the harsh, rough wool of the Franciscan habit, which she was not allowed to wear except on special occasions.  At that time, she also had a confessor and Spiritual Director from the Franciscans, Friar Rodeger, one of the first Germans who joined the Franciscan community.

So the fact of the matter is, she had already begun to dress down, almost to the point of a peasant, when her husband was out of town, or when she was not needed for any matters of state.  And so she dressed as one who worked with the poor and sick.  But she always made sure that she was ready and available for when her husband needed her to be his noble lady.

Except for one time.  This is recorded as only one of the Angelic intercessions on her behalf when she might have gotten into trouble.  The story goes that on this particular occasion, she was working diligently at her hospital for the poor, so deeply involved was she that time got away from her.  Suddenly she realized that she was supposed to be in royal garb at the castle with her husband, entertaining guests of great importance to him and the kingdom.  She ran to the castle, still dressed in her plain wool dress, which she used when she worked with the poor.  There was no time to change.  She had to be at the right side of her husband.  So she prayed all the way to the main ballroom where he was with his guests.  As she approached, Angels came down from Heaven with the most exquisite gown and tiara, slippers and the like, and actually dressed her as she kept moving towards her husband.  When she finally arrived by his side, she was a picture of majesty.  No one could imagine where she got the material for the exquisite gown and headdress, slippers and the accessories that she wore.  Only she, the Angels, and Our Lord Jesus knew.

However, when Conrad of Marburg took over as her confessor and Spiritual Director, he immediately began to strip her of her possessions, while never taking away her ability to handle her own money or possessions.  She left the court of Thuringia and settled into a small house for her and two attendants until a proper house could be built for her at the edge of her husband's lands, far from the center of noble activity.  With the exception of being out of touch with the poor people at her hospitals, this was good for her.  She preferred the quiet time, away from all that she had disliked in court.

We can't say for sure if the life imposed on her by Master Conrad was the cause of an early death for Elizabeth, or if she chose that life for herself, especially after the death of her beloved.  We do know that in a short period of time, four years after the death of her husband, St. Elizabeth went up to Heaven.  Her life to that point was exemplary.  She spent all her time with the poor, the sick and the downtrodden.  They had always been very important in her life; now they became the focal point of her whole life.  The only thing she may have neglected was, to quote St. Francis of Assisi, "Sister Ass" (her body).  Whenever she was not taking care of the poor, she was on her spinning wheel, making cloth for the Franciscans, rough, scratchy, itchy wool, to remind all who wore it that it was a gift from God, and to remind all when they itched, that it was made and given with love.

She ate very little, and whatever she did eat was plain, tasteless.  But that didn't just happen towards the end of her life.  She was that way when her husband was alive.  She also maintained a rigorous prayer life.  Because she occupied herself with constant communication with God through prayer, she would go into ecstasies and rapture.  There are times when she would just get lost with her God in a place where no one could follow.  She was halfway between Heaven and earth.  So much so that it had been reported that when she came out of any given ecstasy, she radiated; she glowed; she reminded Master Conrad of Moses coming down off the mountain.  She was also a powerful intercessor for the conversion of sinners.  There are many accounts of conversions of hardened sinners through the works of St. Elizabeth.

An Explosion of Grace

This dear Flower of God reminds us very much of the Little Flower, St. Thérèse of Lisieux.  Her greatest work began after her death.  St. Elizabeth was given a word from above regarding when she would die.  She kept working up to the end of her life.  She could not leave her loved ones, her sick and poor alone.  So she continued.  However, just a few days before her death, she couldn't continue; she had to be put to the bed. 

According to a letter by Master Conrad, she wanted everything distributed to the poor after her death.  .  When all this had been decided, she received the Body of Our Lord.  Afterward, until vespers, she spoke often of the holiest things she had heard in sermons.  Then, she devoutly commended to God all who were sitting near her, and as if falling into a gentle sleep, she died."[5]

Our Lord Jesus came for His precious child on the evening of November 17, 1231.  Did her dear husband come with Jesus to bring his bride, his princess, home, to where they would never be separated again?  It had not been that long by man's standards, but by this dear couple's measure, it could have been a series of lifetimes.  We know she had to be happy in Heaven with her husband, with all of her sick who had passed away during her time on earth.  The reason we know this has to be so is the amount of work she continued to do from Heaven.  She was reminiscent of the prophecy made by St. Thérèse of Lisieux on her deathbed: "I will spend my Heaven doing good on earth: yes, I will come down; I will come back."[6]

She was treated as royalty by all Germany, and probably many other countries on her death.  Keep in mind, she was a princess in her own right, and she was married to the Landgrave, or Prince of Thuringia, who was also considered a Saint by the German people.  Her body lay in state at the chapel of the hospital she had founded in Marburg.  Miraculous healings began to take place immediately upon the body being placed there.  The Archbishop of Mentz, in which Thuringia was a part, had examinations made of all those who claimed miraculous healings, and there were very many!  He forwarded his findings on to Pope Gregory IX.  The Pope knew of the holiness of this girl.  He had chosen Master Conrad as her Spiritual Director, and had received reports over the years that the priest was in that position.

But he took four years before he proclaimed her a Saint in 1235.  Remember, this was at a time when St. Anthony of Padua was proclaimed a Saint one year after his death (1232), and St. Francis of Assisi was proclaimed a Saint two years after his death (1228) by the same Pope, Gregory IX.  But he could not take a chance of anyone accusing him of playing favorites to the Saint herself, having known her personally, or Emperor Frederic, so prudence was the key in waiting those four years.

But all the time the Church was waiting to proclaim Elizabeth a member of the Communion of Saints, miracles continued to happen.  Records were kept by Master Conrad, the Archbishop of Mentz and Montanus.[7]  We're just going to mention the ones we found in Butler's Lives of the Saints.[8] 

"Many instances are mentioned by Montanus and by the Archbishop of Mentz, and the confessor Conrad, of persons afflicted with palsies, and other inveterate diseases, who recovered their health at her tomb, or by invoking her intercession; "...of a boy three years old, dead, cold, and stiff a whole night, raised to life the next morning by a pious grandmother praying to God through the intercession of St. Elizabeth, with a vow of alms to her hospital, and of dedicating the child to the divine service attested in every circumstance by the depositions of the mother, father, grandmother, uncle, and others, recorded by Conrad:

"...of a boy drawn out of a well, dead, and stiff for many hours, just going to be carried to burial, raised by the invocation of St. Elizabeth;

"of a youth drowned, restored by the life prayer;

"of a boy drawn out of a well, dead, black and etc. and a child still-born brought to life;

"others cured of palsies, failing-sickness, fevers, madness, lameness, blindness," and on and on.

When word got back to the Archbishop of Metz that the Canonization was going to take place in 1235, he went with all haste to Thuringia to supervise the proper Shrine for this Saint of royalty.  Everybody from all over Europe came to the Canonization, which took place on Whit-Sunday.[9] 

Her relics were transported from her tomb to a grand Shrine at the hospital, named St. Elizabeth after our Saint.  The Emperor was there to take the first stone from her grave and place it on her Shrine, and then placed a crown of gold on her Shrine.  The assembled dignitaries included cardinals, bishops, priests, kings, princes, and of course, her favorite, the poor and destitute.  It was estimated that there were over 200,000 people in attendance for the ceremony.  Her relics were placed in a rich red case, and put on the altar of the church in the hospital.  A Cistercian monk testified that just prior to the translation of the relics, as he was praying at her tomb, he was cured of a palpitation of the heart which he had suffered for forty years.  It just went on and on.  She is one of the greatest intercessors in Germany.

But that's not the end of the story.

Or at least we don't think it is.  We believe Our Lord Jesus has prepared a mansion for Elizabeth and Ludwig in Heaven.  We believe she's just as free-spirited as she was on earth, or even more so, and she's probably got everyone in Heaven working overtime to help the poor, the sick, the destitute, and all those categories of people we gave her credit as being benefactress for.  Only now, she's not alone.  Her dear husband has all the time in the world to help her in her quest for the glory of God's people.  And their honeymoon continues.  We truly believe that the Fairy Tale Romance of Elizabeth and Ludwig, has all the Angels and Saints in Heaven sighing, that they are just so beautiful and so in love. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?  Why not?  Praise God!

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

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FOOTNOTES:

[1]in medieval Germany, the title of certain German Princes.

[2]Thuringia was a large part of central Germany.  It was a strategic location for anyone who wanted to get or maintain a strong position in the area.

[3]Butler's Lives of the Saints

[4]Butler's Lives of the Saints

[5]Catholic-forum.com

[6]Saints and Other Powerful Women in the Church - Bob & Penny Lord

[7]James Montanus of Spire, an early biographer of St. Elizabeth

[8]Harmony Media copyright 1997

[9]Whit Sunday is Pentecost Sunday.  The origin is unclear.  There are those who believe it comes from Old English, whit, meaning Spirit, or from the word white because those are the vestments for that day.

 

 

 

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