Disclaimer

NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church and our Holy Father. This "little work" is purely a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu. ~ Peter


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Holy Relic Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 6/25/2016


What a wonderful night it was - many of us needed this meeting, especially after last month's Fatima Prayer Group meeting was cancelled due to unexpected scheduling conflicts for our host/prayer leader, Andrea... so it felt good to get together again with our members after our long break; to pray and spiritually unload; to rejuvenate our spirits... and then break bread and catch up after.

Our team of Rosary "Prayer Warriors" gathering in the
Gruber Family's garage for our monthly meeting.

I could keenly sense for a couple of our members and also tell by their facial expressions that life's been more than just a little challenging for them since we last met to pray the Holy Rosary.  I was glad to see them there; that they knew very well that they could come to God and to our prayer group family for support in making life's heavy burdens somewhat lighter.

And tonight, we were also specially reminded about another sure source of consolation that we can rely on in life - the Eucharist.  The little saint whose life and precious relic we venerated this evening was Bl. Imelda Lambertini (d. 1333).  For those not familiar with her, she was essentially an 11-year-old youngster who reportedly died of sheer joy after receiving her First Holy Communion in a miraculous manner (see the illustration below).

The miraculous Communion of Bl. Imelda
Lambertini.  A luminous Host appeared above her,
which was then administered  to her as her
First Holy Communion.  The Blessed died out of
pure happiness soon after.
From her earliest years, Bl. Imelda had an unusually mature understanding of the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist and was often quoted in her brief life, as questioning, "How can one receive Jesus into his heart and not die of happiness?"  Through this holy child's faith-example, our group was not only reminded of the divine truth concerning the Blessed Sacrament, but also about how we should strive to appreciate every occasion that we receive the Host, for the loving, personal encounter with Christ that it truly is; occasions that should elicit JOY within us.  After all, if a mere youngster could experience such overwhelming delight during her one and only Holy Communion, why can't we find a measure of joy in it, as well?

It was food for thought for all of us and I saw smiles light up around the table we were sitting around as I relayed Bl. Imelda's words.  

At the end of the evening, people again left our prayer meeting noticeably changed - 'refreshed' - and ready to face life again with renewed vigor... and as for me, I drove home eager for the coming morning; strangely excited about going to Mass.  Not that I don't enjoy Mass, but tonight I felt a craving for it and a joy bubbling up in me as I anticipated my next communion with Jesus (I'm still smiling as I write this blog).  I think a little of Bl. Imelda's spirit rubbed off on me tonight... and on the others, too - her sense of joy, reverence, and her "attitude of gratitude".  It's how the Saints share their blessings... and it's simply awesome.  Thank you, Bl. Imelda!

Monthly Messages from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: June 2016


Medjugorje: 35th Year Anniversary!

Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on June 25th:
   "Dear children! Give thanks to God with me for the gift of my being with you. Pray, little children, and live God's commandments that it may be good for you on earth. Today, on this day of grace, I desire to give you my motherly blessing of peace and of my love. I intercede for you with my Son and call you to persevere in prayer so that, with you, I can realize my plans.  Thank you for having responded to my call."

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on June 2nd:
   "Dear children, as the Mother of the Church, as your mother, I am smiling as I look at you: how you are coming to me, how you are gathering around me, how you are seeking me. My comings among you are proof of how much Heaven loves you. They indicate to you the way to eternal life, to salvation. My apostles, you who strive to have a pure heart and to have my Son in it, you are on the good way. You who are seeking my Son are seeking the good way. He left many signs of His love. He left hope. It is easy to find Him if you are ready for sacrifice and penance - if you have patience, mercy and love for your neighbors. Many of my children do not see and do not hear because they do not want to. They do not accept my words and my works, yet through me, my Son calls everyone. His Spirit illuminates all of my children in the light of the Heavenly Father, in the unity of Heaven and Earth, in mutual love - because love invokes love and makes works more important than words. Therefore, my apostles, pray for your Church, love it and do works of love. No matter how betrayed or wounded, it is here because it comes from the Heavenly Father. Pray for your shepherds so that in them you may see the greatness of the love of my Son.  Thank you."

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Speaking Presentation & Holy Relics Visitation: Diocese of Honolulu Faith Formation Conference, 6/18/2016




Several Saints and Blesseds made a positive impact today at the 2016 Faith Formation Conference sponsored by the Diocese of Honolulu at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa (the Little Flower).  The powerful theme of this year's conference, which was attended by 300+ catechists and parish staff from all over Oahu island, was "Mercy Overflowing"; a theme in line with the Church's ongoing celebration of the Year of Mercy that was implemented by Pope Francis, beginning on December 8, 2015, and lasting until November 20, 2016.
During the two-day conference, the participants were given the opportunity to choose from several courses related to the topic of Mercy, that were facilitated by religious and lay people from local parishes.  This year, I was given the honor and privilege of participating as a conference facilitator with a course I titled, "Faces of Mercy: Modern Saints and Their Relics".

I spoke to a full classroom of over 35 individuals of various ages with whom I shared about the Church's Sainthood Process; the relevance of Saints in our faith-lives; and especially featured the following Saints/Blesseds (with their corresponding relics) whose lives exemplified the overall theme of the conference:  Bl. Aniela Salawa, St. Pope John Paul II, Bl. Bartolo Longo, St. John Vianney, St. Maria Goretti, Bl. Maria del Carmen of the Child Jesus, and Bl. Speranza of Jesus.  Other relics that I presented for my audience's veneration were my ministry's relics of the True Cross of our Lord and Our Lady's Veil; relics from St. Louis & Zelie Martin, along with their famous daughter, St. Therese the Little Flower; and finally, St. Philomena, an early-Church Martyr.

         
The relic display altar with 14 relics (1st and 2nd Class) on exhibit for veneration... and several
devotional items offered to conference participants as free take-aways.

After the presentation, it was satisfying for me to see many individuals approaching the display altar to pay their respect to our Saints/Blesseds and to touch the reliquaries with small pieces of fabric I provided to make souvenir 3rd Class Relics.  Several people also took the time to fill-in prayer intention slips to the Saints, which were dropped into my ministry's petition box that is always kept in front of my home-shrine to our Blessed Mother and the Holy Relics.

Overall, it appeared the presentation was very well-received by my audience members.  Evaluation sheets submitted by the participants were, for the most part, completed with high scores and included favorable feedback, as to how the lives and sacred remains of the Saints/Blesseds had deeply impressed them; a goal I was hoping and praying for with my team of prayer supporters.

  
Conference participants awaiting the start of the presentation... then venerating relics
and completing prayer intention slips to the Saints/Blesseds after the talk.

I also got to personally speak with several individuals who expressed their gratitude over being able to connect with the Saints/Blesseds in this special manner.  One particular comment that stood out was from an elderly woman who approached me to tell me that she had considered herself a "devoted" person for most of her life... but after hearing the stories of the lives of the Saints/Blesseds I shared, she wanted to be even better.  Praise the Lord!

May our holy spiritual heroes continue to lead us all to a closer walk with Jesus Christ who is, indeed... Mercy Overflowing.

Monday, June 13, 2016

June 13, 2016: Celebrating St. Anthony of Padua


    
Parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua, celebrating the feast
of our illustrious Patron Saint (click on each photo to view larger images).

June 13th.  I was looking forward to today for the past week.  It's, again, the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua, which means it's fiesta time for my parish... and we, parishioners, sure know how to celebrate!

First, we started with the customary Feast Day Mass, concelebrated by the three priests of St. Anthony of Padua Church, Kailua, and assisted by our two resident deacons.  The homily, this year, was delivered by Deacon Mike and it was simply brilliant in the way it clearly brought to focus the valuable faith-lessons passed on to us through the life of our great Patron Saint.

Following the Mass was our traditional potluck dinner, which is always a highlight of our annual celebration. This year, the overall theme was "International Gala", which gathered together in our parish hall, a large number of parishioners from diverse ethnic backgrounds... and with them came delectable dishes representing their cultures: Chinese, Hawaiian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, and Portuguese.  There was even a section called "Any Kine Food" for dishes that didn't fit any category - too funny!

But this is why I love Hawaii - it's truly the cultural melting pot of the Pacific... and our parishioners, along with several St. Anthony devotees from other parts of Oahu, all enjoyed the variety of food from around the world: Chicken Adobo, Squid Luau, Kalua Pig, Porcini Mushroom Risotto, Linguini, Sushi, Portuguese Bean Soup, Chili, etc.  My intent was to sample a little from each ethnic section so my first stop was the Chinese table; next it was on to the Hawaiian table; Italian cuisine followed, but I never made it past that country - I was down for the count!

Parishioners entertaining the crowd with Hawaiian Music and Hula.

Another highlight of the evening was the beautiful entertainment of live, traditional Hawaiian music accompanied by hula dancing, which is always something to be appreciated about our Hawaiian islands.  All in all, it was another great Feast Day Celebration at our church.  Congratulations to our beloved St. Anthony - 'already looking forward to June 13th, 2017!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Green Scapular: A Gift from Mary's Heart


Often enough, I've had people - family and close friends - confide in me concerns over individuals in their lives who are either living in a wayward manner; left the Catholic Church for another Christian denomination; or have given up on Christianity, altogether.  I empathized with their concerns... and the advice I'd give was consistent:

    1)  Pray very hard for the person and trust in God
    2)  Set a good, active example of faith for the person; show him/her what it means to be a true Catholic
    3)  Enlist the Blessed Virgin's help, via the Green Scapular

Almost always, #3 was followed by immediate questions: What's a "Green Scapular"?  What is it for?  How do I use it?  or Where do I get one?  etc...  and so this post is for people who are in the same boat as us who worry about the spiritual welfare of our loved ones who have strayed from the Lord and/or His Church... and who haven't yet discovered the amazing gift of the Green Scapular, given to us by Mother Mary, herself.  

About the Green Scapular

It all began with a French nun named Sr. Justine Bisqueyburu. Justine was born in 1817 and entered the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (those nuns with the funny "winged" head-wear) in 1837.  By all accounts, she was a model religious and was described as a "living rule" by another nun who worked closely with her for many years.

Our Lady of the Green Scapular,
pray for us!
While on a discernment retreat in 1840 at the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Paris, France, Justine experienced the first of a series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin while praying in the chapel. Interestingly, this is the same chapel where a fellow sister of her congregation - St. Catherine Laboure (d. 1876) - received the world-famous Miraculous Medal revelations from Our Lady only 10 years before. The Holy Virgin appeared to Justine dressed in her trademark white gown, draped with a sky-blue mantle; no veil covered her head, but rather, her long hair flowed over her shoulders and down her back; at the level of her chest, the Virgin held her Immaculate Heart in both hands - "a heart all ablaze with rays more dazzling than the sun..." - and it was topped with flames of love and pierced with a sword of sorrow (on the right is a drawing I did based on the description of the vision).  During the same retreat, Justine saw Mary again in the same attire; both times, the Mother of Christ did not speak to her, but the experience left the aspiring nun with a burning desire to love and serve God.

After Justine formally entered the novitiate of the Daughters of Charity, Mary reappeared to her five more times. As with the prior two apparitions, she said nothing to the novice, preferring to smile at her sweetly and encouraging her to a deeper faith life with her visible presence.

On September 8th, 1840 - the Feast of Mary's Nativity - while Sr. Justine was assigned to a convent in Blangy, Our Lady again appeared to the young nun. This time around, the Blessed Virgin held her heart in her right hand, while in her left, she held something new - the Green Scapular.  The scapular was comprised of a single piece of green rectangular fabric attached at the end of a long loop of cord of the same color. On one side of the cloth panel was Mary's image, as Justine had seen her several times before... and on the reverse side was the image of her glorious Immaculate Heart surrounded by the words of a short prayer: 

"Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death."

Sr. Justine was further made to understand that the specific purpose of the Green Scapular was to obtain the spiritual conversion of sinners, via Our Lady's special assistance.

The visionary obediently reported all her private revelations to her superiors and her confessor, who after much discernment, obtained the necessary church approval to have Green Scapulars made and distributed by the Daughters of Charity.  Almost immediately, extraordinary conversions and physical cures were reported through the prayerful use of the new devotional item, which was also being called the "Badge of the Immaculate Heart of Mary"... so much so, that Pope Pius IX approved the Green Scapular Devotion in 1870.

Sr. Justine lived the rest of her life maintaining strict silence over her heavenly communications; never seeking personal attention or gain from her experiences (a positive indication of the seer's credibility). She ministered in different houses operated by her congregation humbly caring for the aged, the sick, and the dying with dedication and faith.  Sr. Justine died a holy death in 1903.  I recall reading somewhere that she had lived so hidden from the world, that no photos were ever taken of her in life or in death, which is a bit unfortunate... since I, and I'm sure countless other believers in the Green Scapular, would love to see what the visionary looked like.

"Praying" the Green Scapular

Per the revelations made to Sr. Justine, the Green Scapular should be worn by the person who it is intended for with the scapular's prayer being recited daily by the person.  If the intended person does not wish to wear the scapular, or even refuses it, one can place the scapular inconspicuously near the vicinity of the intended individual (e.g. hidden in the bedroom) and the prayer recited daily on behalf of the person whose conversion or healing is being sought.

I do want to stress, as I did in a prior blog I wrote on the Brown Scapular, that the Green Scapular or any other sacramental, as a matter of fact - medal, relic, statue, etc. - is not a talisman or "lucky charm", nor is it "magical".  To regard it, as such, would be the sacrilege of superstition.  Rather, the power of the Green Scapular lies in the confidence we put in the Blessed Mother's power to intercede; belief in her unique role as mediatrix of graces between her Divine Son and mankind... and of course, for any sacramental to be effective, faith in God is necessary.

A Green Scapular Testimony

I'd like to close this blog with a testimony.  I've handed out many Green Scapulars throughout the years and have personally witnessed signal graces received by people in varying degrees. One situation, in particular, stands out.  It took place in the late 1990's and is completely true.

A senior lady-friend of mine - "Liz", a regular participant at my then-weekly rosary prayer meetings - had her husband suddenly walk out on her after 40+ years of marriage.  It was a complete surprise to the woman and all attempts she made to reconcile with the man were ignored.  He even went so far as to move to a different state, leaving Liz confused and heartbroken here in Hawaii... but, still, she had her faith to keep her going.

When she confided in me, I made my usual recommendations (numbers 1 to 3 above) and provided Liz with a Green Scapular, which she taped to a photo of her husband that she had on her fridge.  Each time she went to the fridge for something, she looked at the photo and prayed the Green Scapular prayer for her husband: "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death."  Liz prayed diligently for about three months, after which she was awakened at 3:00am(!) one morning by an unexpected phone call.  It was her husband calling from the mainland. In short, he asked Liz for forgiveness and wanted to come home and start their marriage "all over again", with no questions being asked.  She agreed... and the husband came home a week later.  Liz later testified to me and our prayer group that her husband was a changed man and her marriage, afterwards, was better than ever!

Hence, the power and effectiveness of Our Lady's intercession through her gift of the Green Scapular. Used with proper faith and a bit of perseverance, it really does channel the Lord's divine grace!


*** This lay-ministry currently has a limited supply of blessed Green Scapulars, which are being offered to the readers of this blog at no charge (Hawaii or US-mainland residents only).  If you would like to receive one (one Green Scapular per person, per request), please email Peter with your full name and mailing address at guadalupe_house@yahoo.com (indicate 'Green Scapular Request' in the subject line).  As an added blessing, the scapular will be prayed over and touched to a relic of Our Lady's veil in this ministry's custody before being mailed to the requestor.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 6/4/2016


The Rosary for Peace was very well-attended this month.  In the last few months, our regulars have been bringing their friends to our first Saturday devotion... and these friends have been coming back, which is really nice to see, as it confirms something positive about our parish's monthly devotion.

Easily, over 20 parishioners and guests attended our June prayer meeting, which I consider a good turnout.  And I think a growing interest in the Saints is a big part of it - people really do seem to enjoy listening to stories about the lives of the Saints/Blesseds that are shared each month.  As an added bonus, they also get to see, in person, rare [genuine] physical remains of the holy person they just learned about, without having to travel to a religious shrine halfway around the globe.  This month was no different.

Today I shared about St. Germaine Cousin with the prayer participants (read about her here).  I could tell early on that many people did not know who she was prior to today... but as I relayed the Saint's bio to them, one could see emotion in peoples' faces as I spoke about the cruel abuse and the indifference St. Germaine endured from her family and from her townsmen. Then, as I switched the topic to Germaine's many reported miracles, the expressions changed to wonder and cheer... especially when it came to the anecdote of the Saint parting the waters of a swollen stream in order to make it to her parish church for Mass.  How could one not be filled with awe after listening to a wonderful story like that?

When our prayer was done, a small crowd gathered at the display altar to get a closer view of a 1st Class Relic of St. Germaine - small particles of her bodily remains (pictured above) - that I had brought into our Day Chapel.  It was satisfying for me to watch the excitement of the parishioners as they prayed with hope and blessed themselves with the relic; to see them making a personal connection with the little sainted shepherdess... and perhaps even finding the moral encouragement from her faith-example to live better lives; to maybe be Saints, themselves, which is exactly why God gifts the Church and the rest of the world with such inspirational role models.

And lastly, escarchas - glimmering "manna" from Heaven - were again witnessed this afternoon. This time, the escarchas were manifested as red and silver flakes (Divine Mercy colors!) and were discovered on both my palms after the prayer meeting; always an unexpected blessing from both our Blessed Mother and Jesus.

The next First Saturday Rosary for Peace will be prayed on Saturday, July 2nd, beginning at 4:25 pm. All are welcome to "meet' a Saint (make a new friend from Heaven!) and to participate in our powerful prayer for much-needed World Peace. Every participants makes a big positive difference!

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Heart of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist


"Behold, this heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing,
even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love..."

~ Words of Jesus to St. Mary Margaret Alacoque, 1675

Today, the Church throughout the world is celebrating the Sacred Heart of Jesus; the beautiful and sublime representation of the unconditional and immeasurable love of God for all mankind... so I'd like to take this opportunity to share an experience I had this past Sunday, May 29th, as a personal testimony to the Sacred Heart. Incidentally, the 29th also happened to be the celebration of another great feast in the Church - the Feast of Corpus Christi (the Body and Blood of Christ) - which, undeniably, is intimately linked to the Sacred Heart Devotion.

So recalling the events of this past Sunday... I decided to attend morning Mass at the Star of the Sea Church, near my home, where I knew the Blessed Sacrament would be exposed for public adoration for an extended period of time prior to their 10:15am Mass. I arrived about 45 minutes before the start of the Mass so I could pray my daily rosary and spend some much-need quality time with Jesus; to soak in his peace and unwind from my long, grueling work week.

A sign from the Blessed Sacrament?  Compare the glowing image of the Sacred Heart in the
photo to the right with the painted image on the left.  The resemblance is striking.
[Click on the photo to view a slightly larger photo]

After finishing the rosary, I sat quietly in the pew and intermittently gazed at our Lord while offering him short prayers in my heart; expressing to Jesus personal sentiments of love, gratitude, and praise, while at the same time asking him to forgive me all my sins. At one point, I felt an overwhelming "urge" to take a photo of the altar, which just wouldn't go away... so I took out my cellphone and snapped about four photos of the sanctuary although I couldn't physically see anything extraordinary going on in the vicinity of the altar. I then put the phone back into my pocket without reviewing any of the photos.

Benediction at Star of the Sea
Church in Kahala, Hawaii
Sometime later, after I got home, I looked at the pictures from the church and was surprised to find a clear image of the Sacred Heart in one of the photos. The picture, as seen above, shows a brilliant light formation on the monstrance in the recognizable form of the Sacred Heart topped with a cross, but minus the thorns and flames. As I mentioned, I was surprised; surprised that God had granted me this signal grace despite my unworthiness... but yet, not surprised, because I firmly believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist; that the Blessed Sacrament is the ultimate fruit of God's Love, which has as its source... the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Let me make it clear that I make no claim that the photo represents a genuine miracle, but for me, personally, the picture is, at the very least - enigmatic. I tried to rationalize my experience, at first, as just an ordinary reflection of light... but there was nothing on the monstrance that remotely resembled a heart; it was just the cross and the familiar sunburst design (see the photo to the right, which is of the very same monstrance used at Star of the Sea Church).  So rather than continuing to try to explain it all away, I finally settled on simply accepting it as Jesus' special way of visibly manifesting his true presence in the Eucharist, which was being celebrated on that particular feast day; that the Lord's heart - "... which has so loved men..." - continues to beat, very much alive, within each Host... and we, Catholics, have the privilege of receiving this very same heart each time we go to Holy Communion.  How awesome is that?

Thank you, Jesus - all glory and praises be to your most Sacred Heart!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Saint of the Month - June, 2016: Saint Germaine Cousin

Saint Germaine Cousin
The Winter Blossom of Pibrac ~ Feast: June 15th


"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...

I enjoy cheering for the underdog. Specifically, when it comes to a good person who unfairly gets the short end of the stick in a situation... then struggles against all odds to overcome major obstacles. This little Saint was one such person. Sickly all her life, she was unloved and neglected by the very people who should have cared for her. Nonetheless, she had a heart full of unwavering faith that helped her to triumph over all adversity.

... Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted...

An old print depicting St. Germaine
Born in 1579, Germaine was the daughter of a peasant couple in the village of Pibrac, France, where she lived all her brief life. From her earliest years, our protagonist was accustomed to suffering: first off, she was born with an obvious birth defect - a paralyzed withered right hand; then, while still in her infancy, her birth-mother unexpectedly died; and if that weren't enough, Germaine also developed scrofula, a tubercular condition affecting the lymph nodes, which caused ugly sores on her neck.

... Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth...

Germaine's father, Laurent Cousin, seemed to have remarried quickly, but rather than being sympathetic to the child, her new stepmother, a woman named Hortense, abhorred her and sadistically abused her. When siblings came into the picture, things got even worse for the poor girl - the stepmother, citing health concerns over the other children contracting the scrofula, persuaded Laurent to send Germaine out to live in the cold barn, away from the rest of the family. There, the youngster, slept on a bed of straw and twigs, under a stairwell, and was fed on table scraps and pieces of stale bread by her cruel stepmother.

... Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied...

Each day, Germaine rose at the break of dawn to take the family's sheep out to pasture and, while out in the fields, she occupied her time in prayer and innocent distractions until the morning tolling of the church bell summoned her to daily Mass. At the end of the day, she returned to her place in the barn where she ate her sparse meal before turning in for the evening; warmed only by heat generated by the sheep in the barn. Up until her death, this was Germaine's normal routine, day in and day out. One would have expected her to become bitter and resentful, but instead, she was just the opposite. People acquainted with the Saint reported that she was meek and kind; never complaining about her situation or speaking ill of her family; radiating peace despite her personal hardship... and she was genuinely devout.

... Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy...

The home of St. Germaine in Pibrac
As time passed in Pibrac, it became apparent to the villagers that there was more to their shy, resident outcast than what met their eyes. Little by little, Germaine's fellow townspeople began witnessing strange occurrences - big and small wonders - that surrounded the little shepherdess. For example, years after Germaine's passing, two of her neighbors gave sworn testimony to a Church tribunal that, on more than one occasion, they had seen her part (in "Moses-like" fashion!) the waters of a stream heavily swollen by rain, with the sign of the cross, so as to make it to the church for Mass. In another memorable episode, a small crowd was drawn to the sight and sound of Hortense beating Germaine, while loudly accusing her of "stealing" bread from their home. All the while that she was quietly receiving the blows, the Saint was seen clutching a small bundle hidden in her apron. When she was ordered to uncover the contents of her apron, instead of pieces of bread, a bouquet of fresh fragrant flowers was revealed despite the fact that it was mid-winter!  From that day, forward, the tide turned in Germaine's favor.

The solitary death of St. Germaine Cousin in her family's barn.

The townsfolk started seeing Germaine in a new light and treating her with respect rather than with the indifference and ridicule that was previously shown her. They paid close attention to her every move and her pious habits - the way she knelt in prayer regardless where she happened to be when the bell tolled at noon for the Angelus; her habit of taking her flock into dangerous areas infested with wolves, yet neither she nor any of her sheep were ever harmed; the way she generously shared her meal of bread with people less fortunate than herself; and the mysterious way the same meager portion of bread would somehow end up being enough despite the number of people the Saint shared it with. Even her parents had a change of heart and they invited her to once again live in the house with them; an invitation that Germaine declined, preferring the peaceful solitude she learned to enjoy in the barn.

... Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God...

One chilly morning, in 1601, Germaine's father awoke to hear the sheep still in the barn, which was unusual. When he went to check on the matter, he discovered his daughter lifeless on her mattress of straw. She had passed, alone, sometime in the middle of the night at only 22-years-old. Soon after, two strangers to Pibrac - friars passing through the area - arrived in the village excitedly inquiring if a holy maiden had died the night before. The friars explained that they were traveling on foot and had spent the night, outdoors, in the outskirts of the town. They were awakened at midnight by the mysterious sound of angelic singing and witnessed a beam of light coming down from the sky, upon which a procession of celestial beings descended into the town. When the group ascended back up to the heavens, they had among them another person - a young woman.  The people immediately surmised that it could only have been the pious Germaine entering into her eternal reward.

... Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God...

The humble shepherdess was laid to rest inside the parish church, which was an indication of the deep reverence that was accorded Germaine towards the end of her life. An account of her funeral stated that the Saint's features took on a unearthly beauty that the deceased did not possess in life. Furthermore, in 1644 - over 40 years after she died - her body was unexpectedly found incorrupt and still lovely after a grave digger opened her tomb in order to place another body in it. The shovel he used had injured the nose and fresh blood dripped from a wound, as though Germaine had only recently died. In addition, the sores of the scrofula on the neck had healed... and the wreath of field flowers around her head, which she was buried with, was still fresh despite the many decades in the tomb!

... Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

~ The Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-10

Not surprisingly, the discovery of the body reignited interest in Germaine and crowds flocked to venerate the sacred relic of the preserved body. Hundreds of cures were reported in connection with it. Sadly, in 1793, during the peak of the infamous French Revolution, Germaine's relics were desecrated and nearly destroyed after local revolutionaries broke into the parish church and reburied her remains with highly corrosive quick-lime. When the body was recovered, parts of it had deteriorated leaving only her bones.

The Basilica in Pibrac, France, where the Saint's relics are enshrined in a magnificent
reliquary (right photo).  A composite figure of St. Germaine lies within the shrine.

After delays caused by civil upheavals, the Church eventually canonized Germaine Cousin in June 1867. What remains of her relics are preserved in the Basilica of Pibrac, where devotees continue to venerate Germaine's memory, especially on June 15th, her Feast Day.

A Short Prayer:
Lord, help us to live the blessings of the Beatitudes in the same worthy manner that St. Germaine did in her own life.  Amen.