St. Isaac Jogues
(1607-1646) was the best known of the North American martyrs. A native of Orleans in France, St. Isaac came to Quebec as a missionary in 1630. Twelve years later he was captured by a war party of the Mohawk Iroquois and taken to the site of the present town of Auriesville, New York where he was tortured, then lived as a slave among the Mohawks, attempting to teach basic tenets of the Christian faith to his captors. He eventually escaped and was able to sail back to France. He did not remain there, however, but came back to minister to the Mokawks. A few months he was killed by tomahawk.
St. Francesca Xaviera Cabrini
was born near Pavia in Italy in 1850 of a moderately well-to-do family. She dedicated herself to God from her childhood and early dreamed of being a missionary to China. She was educated as a schoolteacher but later became a sister instead. The first community she belonged to was dissolved and at the suggestion of her bishop, she founded her own congregation, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1880. She wanted to go to China, but instead Leo XIII asked her to go to America to care for the spiritually destitute Italian emigrants there. She thus devoted herself to her own people and founded schools and hospitals for them in the United States. In the interests of her congregation, she crossed the ocean 27 times, though she never overcame her childhood fear of the water. Her travels took her to South American and China. During her lifetime the number of her sisters grew to the thousands. She drew the strength she needed from a life of prayer and especially her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and her patron St. Francis Xavier. She had a true missionary spirit and was a vigorous and forceful personality. She died alone in her room at the convent of her order in Chicago on December 22, 1917.
St. Pius X,
as our window shows, is especially remembered as the pope who ordered that young children should be admitted to communion. By his decree on frequent communion and his “motu proprio” on sacred music, he became the author of the modern liturgical movement. Born in Northern Italy in 1835, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1859. After some years as a parish priest and a seminary rector, he became Bishop of Treviso, Patriarch of Venice and finally Pope (1903-1914). He was noted for his simple and unaffected manner, his spirit of poverty, and his gentleness and priestliness of life.
St. John Mary Vianney
is best known as the Curé or Parish Priest of the Ars, the tiny village in France where he spent the greater part of his priestly life. For 41 years he devoted himself day and night to the complete and unselfish care of souls. Most of the day he spent in the confessional—that is why he is usually represented in sacred art with the purple stole around his neck. The time he was not in the confessional was largely given to prayer for the holy cure, as he knew that his extraordinary success in the confessional was the result of prayer. He often dreamed of stealing away to enter the monastic life, but God had other plans for him. As it was, he led a far more austere life than any monk—he ate almost nothing, got along on a minimum of sleep, and spent 17 hours a day in hearing confessions.
(drawn from a document prepared by Reverend William O’Shea, D.D. for the dedication of the First Solemn Mass in Saint Ambrose Church, Cheverly Maryland)