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
I’m sure my Penny had the same contingency waiting to welcome her into
the Kingdom. Praise God in all things. We love you.
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
our first time we are not having the Good Newsletter printed, rather we
are issuing our online version.
are in 2014, now releasing our latest online version of the Good
Newsletter that was first printed in 1989.
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
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.
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.
out this form
- we never sell or share your info.
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.
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
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
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
will be as busy as ever, producing programs, writing new book chapters, and
continuing the work.
Penny, " So much to do and so little time to do it!"
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.
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
continue to pray for us, and thanks for all of your prayers.
I cannot tell you how much you and Penny have meant to me in the past
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
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
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
Even though we have never met, I feel that I know you and your loving
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
KF Springville, AL
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.
You can also read about the
apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima in
The Many Faces of Mary, Book I
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
"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
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
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
"That Lady said that many souls go to Hell. What is Hell,
"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?"
"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
Then she would smile and say,
"How good that Lady is! She has already promised to take us
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
"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
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
"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
Jacinta asked "So for just one word then, people can go to
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
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
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!
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.
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
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
on St. Nicholas of Tolentino in
Bob and Penny Lord’s book
Visions of Heaven, Hell and
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
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
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
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 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.
Current Special Needs:
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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
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
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
"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
"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
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
She had ultimate confidence in Jesus' Love and Mercy. He
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"What makes you think I could refuse your prayers for the
Poor Souls, especially on those days you are joined to Me in Holy
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
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
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
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
Note: All quotations are from
“Saint Gertrude the Great, herald of Divine Love"-Tan Publishers
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
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
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
(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
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."
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."
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."
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."
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.
We're just going to mention the ones we found in Butler's Lives of the
"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
"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.
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!
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.
Family, Pope Benedict XVI has pleaded with us
to do whatever we can to insure that the
not disappear. He is asking us to spread the
Christian Culture in our case, the Catholic Culture far and
wide. This being the season of giving, is a perfect
opportunity to follow the mandate the Pope is giving us.
As a part of this, he has asked us, the Mystical Body of
Christ, these last two years, to get to know the
Saints. The Catholic Saints are our ancestors, our
brothers and sisters who have gone before us, and have
passed the test of time. The Catholic Saints are Role
Models. We have received many requests from
non-Catholic Christians for books and videos on the Saints
because they are much-needed Role Models for their children.
Their comments were Thank God for real role models.
Our children have no role models, other than what comes out
of MTV and Hollywood. We have been able to do what we
do because of your support. The way for us to continue
bringing you Role Models, the Saints, is by giving our books
and videos for Christmas. In order for us to continue
to add to the long roster of Saints and Apparitions of Our
Lady, and Miracles of the Eucharist, we need you to
evangelize with us by giving our books and DVDs to your
friends and family for Christmas. We have tried to
give you some
specials in the form of discounts and free books for this
season. Please take advantage of this opportunity.
Listen to our Pope and spread the Christian Culture.
Together, we can change the world. We love you
Bob and Penny