Friday, February 13, 2015

St. Modomnoc the Beekeeper of Ossory

An Irish bishop and a disciple of St. David of Wales. Sometimes called Domnoc or Dominic, he was a member of the royal Irish family of O'Neil and ended his years as a hermit at Tibraghny in Kilkenny in Ireland. When St. Modomnoc returned to Ireland after studying with St. David, swarms of bees left Wales to follow him, thus supposedly being introduced to Ireland. 

One of the best known stories regarding Saint Modomnoc concerns his work as a beekeeper. Bees were kept both for their honey and the production of mead. Modomnoc was given charge of the bees in a sheltered corner of the monastery garden where he planted the kinds of flowers best loved by the bees. He talked to the bees as he worked among them and they buzzed around his head in clouds as if they were responding. He would walk among the hives in the evening and talk to them, and the bees, for their part, would crowd out to meet him. He was never stung. When the time came for him to return to Ireland, three times the bees followed in great swarm and settled on the mast. St. David perceiving this occurrence to be a good omen allowed Modomnoc to bring the bees to Ireland. When he landed, he set up a church at a place called Bremore, near Balbriggan, in County Dublin, and here he established the bees in a garden just like the one they had in Wales.

Modomnoc's talking to his bees is in keeping with an Irish folklore custom of ‘Telling the Bees’ which ensures that the bees not feel any offense due to exclusion from family affairs and so will remain with the hive. It was believed that if one didn’t tell the bees of a wedding, a birth, or a death they would take offense and leave.
After his return home he served God at Tiprat Fachna, in the western part of the kingdom of Ossory. Molaga founded churches at Tulach Min (Knockaneeun/ and at Teampall Molaga, near Kildorrery. "His last and perhaps greatest foundation was situated in Timoleague or Teach Molaga." an abbey still standing (though without a roof) on the County Cork Coast.

Since he is the patron saint of bees, give thanks for the nature's bounty and the life-giving nature of the bees!

"The Saint and his Bees" by Dessi Jackson

You can also do a lot of crafts with bee themes:
These are cute paper plate painted bees:
A good idea to do with Honeycomb cereal and fingerpainted bees!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

St. Christos the Gardener

Saint Christos the Gardener was born in Albania. He traveled to Constantinople, where he exercised the profession of gardening. When he was brought before the Turkish judge he said “I am a Christian and cannot change my faith even if I must suffer a thousand evils." The judge then ordered Christos to be beaten vigorously with sticks. Following this he was sent to prison and then endured more tortures. He finally gave his soul to the Lord in 1748. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

St. Blaise of Sebaste

The Hieromartyr St. Blaise (Blasius), the Bishop of Sebaste, was known for his righteous and devout life. Unanimously chosen by the people. This occurred during
the reign of the Roman emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Licinius (307-324), fierce persecutors of Christians. St Blaise encouraged his flock, visited the imprisoned, and gave support to the martyrs.

From being a healer of bodily ailments, St. Blaise became a physician of souls, then retired for a time, by divine inspiration, to a cavern where he remained in prayer. As bishop of Sebaste, St. Blaise instructed his people as much by his example as by his words, and the great virtues and sanctity of the servant of God were attested by many miracles. From all parts, the people came flocking to him for the cure of bodily and spiritual ills.

In 316, the governor of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia Agricolaus began a persecution by order of the Emperor Licinius and St. Blaise was seized. After his interrogation and a severe scourging, he was hurried off to prison and subsequently beheaded.
St. Stephen's Cathedral

In Croatia, St. Blaise (Croatian: Sveti Vlaho or Sveti Blaž) is the patron saint of the city of Dubrovnik and formerly the protector of the independent Republic of Ragusa. At Dubrovnik his feast is celebrated yearly on 3 February, when relics of the saint, his head, a bit of bone from his throat, his right hand and his left, are paraded in reliquaries. The festivities begin the previous day, Candlemas, when white doves are released. Chroniclers of Dubrovnik such as Rastic and Ranjina attribute his veneration there to a vision in 971 to warn the inhabitants of an impending attack by the Venetians, whose galleys had dropped anchor in Gruž and near Lokrum, ostensibly to resupply their water but furtively to spy out the city's defenses. St. Blaise (Blasius) revealed their pernicious plan to Stojko, a canon of St. Stephen's Cathedral. The Senate summoned Stojko, who told them in detail how St. Blaise had appeared before him as an old man with a long beard and a bishop's mitre and staff. In this form the effigy of Blaise remained on Dubrovnik's state seal and coinage until the Napoleonic era.

According to the Acts, while St. Blaise was being taken into custody, a distraught mother, whose only child was choking on a fishbone, threw herself at his feet and implored his intercession. Touched at her grief, he offered up his prayers, and the child was cured. Consequently, St. Blaise is invoked for protection against injuries and illnesses of the throat.
In many places on the day of his feast the blessing of St. Blaise is given: two candles are consecrated, generally by a prayer, these are then held in a crossed position by a priest over the heads of the faithful or the people are touched on the throat with them. At the same time the following blessing is given: "May Almighty God at the intercession of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, preserve you from infections of the throat and from all other afflictions". Then the priest makes the sign of the cross over the faithful.

A Blessing of the Throats ceremony is held on February 3 at St. Etheldreda's Church in London and in Balve, Germany. 

St. Etheldreda's Roman Catholic Church in London 

We pray to St Blaise for the health of domestic animals, and for protection from wild beasts. He is also invoked for protection against injuries, especially illnesses of the throat.

A short video on the life of St. Blaise

Sunday, February 1, 2015

St. Brigid the Abbess of Kildare in Ireland

Saint Brigid (also called Brigit, Bridget), "the Mary of the Gael," was born around 450 in Faughart (Fochart, Fothairt), about two miles from Dundalk in County Louth in Ulster.
According to tradition, her father was a pagan named Dubthach, and her mother was Brocessa (Broiseach), one of his slaves. Whether she was raised a Christian or converted in 468, as some accounts say, is unknown, but she was inspired by the preaching of Saint Patrick from an early age.

Even as a child, she was known for her compassion for the poor. She would give away food, clothing, and even her father's possessions to the poor. One day he took Brigid to the king's court, leaving her outside to wait for him. He asked the king to buy his daughter from him, since her excessive generosity made her too expensive for him to keep. The king asked to see the girl, so Dubthach led him outside. They were just in time to see her give away her father's sword to a beggar. This sword had been presented to Dubthach by the king, who said, "I cannot buy a girl who holds us so cheap."

St Brigid received monastic tonsure at the hands of St Mael of Ardagh (February 6). Some miles from Dublin she was granted by the King of Leinster possession of a plain called the
Curragh, where she built herself a cell under a large oak tree, thence called Kill-dara, or Cell of the oak. Seven other girls soon placed themselves under her direction establishing the monastery of Kill-dara, which gave its name to the later cathedral city of Kildare. The community grew rapidly thanks to the renown of the holy Abbess, and became a double monastery, with the Abbess ranking above the Abbot, and branched out into several others all over Ireland. This was the beginning of women's cenobitic monasticism in Ireland.

The miracles performed by St Brigid are too numerous to relate here, but perhaps one story will suffice. One evening the holy abbess was sitting with the blind nun Dara. From sunset to sunrise they spoke of the joys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and of the love of Christ, losing all track of time. St Brigid was struck by the beauty of the earth and sky in the morning light. Realizing that Sister Dara was unable to appreciate this beauty, she became very sad. Then she prayed and made the Sign of the Cross over Dara's eyes. All at once, the blind nun's eyes were opened and she saw the sun in the east, and the trees and flowers sparkling with dew. She looked for a while, then turned to St Brigid and said, "Close my eyes again, dear Mother, for when the world is visible to the eyes, then God is seen less clearly by the soul." St Brigid prayed again, and Dara became blind once more.

St. Brigid fell asleep in the Lord in the year 523 on February 1, after receiving Holy Communion from St Ninnidh of Inismacsaint (January 18). She was buried at Kildare, but her relics were transferred to Downpatrick during the Viking invasions. It is believed that she was buried in the same grave with St Patrick (March 17) and St Columba of Iona (June 9).

There is a small area in Killdare dedicated to St. Brigid called the St. Brigid's Well you can visit and pray in peace:

Late in the 13th century, St. Brigid's head was brought to Portugal by three Irish knights on their way to fight in the Holy Land. They left this holy relic in the parish church of Lumiar (
Igreja São João Baptista), about three miles from Lisbon. 

Portions of the skull relic were brought back to Ireland in 1929 and placed in the new Church of St. Brigid in Dublin. But the rest of the relics of St. Brigid in Ireland were destroyed in the 16th century by Lord Grey during the reign of Henry VIII.
 The holy relics of St. Brigid in Ireland

A few good books on the life of St. Brigid are:
"The Life of Saint Brigid: Abbess of Kildare" by Jane Meyer

"Christina’s True Heroes" by Maria C. Khoury - read the chapter on St. Brigid

 "Brigid's Cloak" by Bryce Milligan 
 "Saints and Friendly Beasts: Saint Brigid and the Cows" by Eva K. Betz

The tradition of making St Brigid's crosses from rushes and hanging them in the home is still followed in Ireland, where devotion to her is still strong.
Here is the story behind her cross:
During one of her travels, St. Brigid went to visit a dying pagan chieftain. As she sat near his bed, she picked up some rushes on the floor and began weaving a Cross. He asked her about what she was doing and, in explaining, she told him about Christ and the meaning of the Cross. He came to faith and was baptized.

One non-craft tradition on St. Brigid's feast day is to make Irish oak cakes
Saint Brigid was known to travel the countryside, blessing households as she went ... accompanied by a white cow with red ears. You should make her feel welcome, just in case she passes by - placing bread and fresh butter on the outside windowsill, together with corn for the cow. Also remember to lay out some rushes for her. These are to kneel on while blessing the household.
(many of these crafts are also Catholic in nature since many of the saints on this blog are pre-schism
Have kids that love doing crafts? Try making this St. Brigid Cross with pipe cleaners!

 Or if you have younger children, you can color a picture of St. Brigid:

When coloring a picture of St. Brigid's cross, write down the following prayer under the picture:
"We implore Thee, by the memory of Thy Cross's hallowed and most bitter anguish, make us fear Thee, make us love Thee, O Christ. Amen."
--Prayer of Saint Brigid.