Tag Archives: short biography


St Norbert, Memorial: 6 June

“Born at Xanten, Germany, about the year 1080, Norbert was initially a worldly and sensuous man. One day in 1115, as he rode his horse to a nearby village, a thunderbolt from a sudden storm struck at his horse’s feet. The animal threw him and he lay unconscious for nearly an hour. After this near-fatal accident, his faith deepened, and he returned to Xanten to lead a life of penance.

Norbert then became a priest and an itinerant preacher, and in October 1119, Pope Calixtus II requested Norbert to found a religious order. On Christmas Day 1120, Norbert established the Canons Regular of Premontre. In 1126 Pope Honorius II appointed Norbert Archbishop of Magdeburg. Today, Norbertine congregations are found in Europe, America, Zaire, South Africa, India and Australia. Norbert was canonised by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, and his feast day is on June 6.”

– This article was published in the Messenger of St Anthony magazine, issue June 2015. For subscriptions please contact Messenger of St Anthony, Basilica del Santo – via Orto Botanico 11, 1-35123 Padua, Italy


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


St Hugh of Lincoln, Memorial: November 16

“A leading figure in the 12th century proto-Renaissance, Hugh of Lincoln has enjoyed a spectacular historical decline, going from being one of the most famous saints in English history at one point to a virtual unknown today.

He was born in Avalon in Southern France around 1135. His father was the local lord and soldier, who later retired to a monastery near Grenoble.

Hugh’s mother died when he was sent to boarding school, becoming a religious novice at 15 and a deacon four years later.

In 1159, Hugh was sent to a nearby Benedictine monastery in Saint-Maximin, after which he left the order to enter the Grande Chartreuse, the head monastery of the Carthusian order, just outside Grenoble.

A famously austere environment

In this famously austere environment he rose to become procurator, before being sent to With am Charterhouse priory in Somerset, the first of the Carthusian houses in England.

At the time, the kingdom was part of the Anjevin Empire of Henry II, who, despite introducing the jury system, is probably best remembered for the murder of St Thomas Becket, by four knights. As part of his penance Henry established a Carthusian charterhouse (it was either that or go on crusade).

Riddled with problems

The project was riddled with the sort of problems that afflict building work, with one prior having to retire and the second dying soon after. It was at this point that Hugh was called for to sort things out. Eventually, after some string-pulling, Hugh got the things fixed, and in January 1182 a charter of foundation was endowed. Four years later he ran the house, attracting many recruits and visitors, including the king.

Then, in 1186, he was chosen as Bishop of Lincoln, a role in which he excelled. Generous and kind to his flock, he was also firm in standing up to the Crown. He also helped to improve education in the country and protected the Jews of Lincoln during the persecution that begun during the Lionheart’s reign.

He also rebuilt Lincoln Cathedral, which had been damaged in 1186, and consecrated St Giles’s in Oxford in 1200. But he was also overworked, taking on the thankless task of being a diplomat for the new king, Richard’s appalling brother, John, and he died on November 16 1200.

Canonised 20 years later, St Hugh was very well known in the later medieval period but became less so after the Reformation.

He is the patron of sick children, shoemakers and swans.”

– This article was published in the Catholic Herald newspaper, issue November 14 2014. For subscriptions please visit (external link)



Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


St Radegund, Memorial: 13th August 

“One of the saints remembered by the Church [on] 13th August is St Radegund. She was born in 518 in France amid the turmoil and violence of that time.

St Radegund was kidnapped at the age of twelve and was forced to marry the wild and abusive King Clothaire. As Queen she lived a life of prayer and Christian service while trying to support her husband. He mocked St Radegund for her spiritual life of prayer and often mistreated her.

St Radegund asked to be released from the King’s court and grudgingly he allowed her to withdraw to Poitiers, where she joined a convent. Eventually, St Radegund founded the monastery of the Holy Cross, the first in Europe for both men and women, and her friend Agnes became its abbess.

St Radegund valued learning and her followers were required to study for two hours every day. Her biographer wrote, ‘Whenever a servant of God visited, she would question him closely about his manner of serving the Lord. If she learned something new from him which she was not used to doing, she would immediately impose it first upon herself and then she would teach others with words what she had already shown them by her example.’

St Radegund also became well known for being a peacemaker. When word of war reached her, she would write to the combatants urging them to settle their differences peacably. Sadly, the din of battle would often drown out her gentle voice for peace. When her husband, the King, tried to take St Radegund back by force, the local Bishop interceded and the King repented of all that he had done wrong. In the end the King became a benefactor of the Holy Cross monastery. St Radegund died in the year 587, surrounded by two hundred nuns.

Her biographer wrote of a time when ‘a friend told Radegund that if she kept kissing lepers, no one would dare kiss her. ‘If you don’t want to kiss me,’ she snapped back, ‘I won’t mind at all.'”

– From: Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris/2015


Tags: , , , , , , , ,


A short biography of St Ludovico

“…St Ludovico was born in Casoria, outside Naples, Italy, in 1814. As a youth he apprenticed as a cabinet maker, but on 1st July 1832 he entered the novitiate of the Franciscans.

Shortly after his ordination as a priest, he was appointed to teach philosophy and mathematics to the young members of the Friary of St Peter in Naples. St Ludovico soon embarked on a lifetime of establishing good works to care for the poor and needy, founding orphanages and dispensaries. In the year 1852 St Ludovico opened a school for African boys and girls who had been freed from slavery. He also founded institutions for the deaf and mute and provided care for the elderly members of the Franciscan Order.

The Grey Friars of Charity and the Franciscan Sisters of St Elizabeth

Following the advice of his superiors, St Ludovico wanted to ensure that the good works he had established would be able to be continued after his death. In 1859 he instituted a new community of men known as the Grey Friars of Charity because of the greyish colour of their religious habit. Three years later St Ludovico also instituted a likewise congregation of women, known as the Franciscan Sisters of St Elizabeth, whom he placed under the protection of St Elizabeth of Hungary, one of the first members of the Third Order of St Francis and its patroness.

Following Christ in suffering

Nine years before his death, St Ludovico was struck down with a serious and painful illness, from which he never completely recovered. He died in 1885 and within a few months his cause for canonisation as a saint was introduced to Rome. He was beatified by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1993, and has now been declared a saint by Pope Francis.

St Ludovico’s spiritual testament begins, ‘The Lord called me to Himself with a most tender love, and with an infinite charity He led and directed me along the path of my life.'”

– From: Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris/2014 (headings in bold added afterwards)


Tags: , , , , , , , ,


St Edmund Campion, martyr; memorial: 1st December

“More than four centuries after his martyrdom Edmund Campion became one of the most venerated of Reformation saints, his heroics and sacrifice on a par with those of More, Fisher and Mayne.

Champion was born in 1540. His father was a bookseller in Paternoster Row by St Paul’s Cathedral. He was educated at Christ’s Hospital, now in Sussex but then in London. When Queen Mary visited the school, he was chosen to make the welcoming speech at the age of 13.

He was chosen to make the welcoming speech for the Queen at the age of 13

He received his BA from St John’s College, Oxford, in 1560, by which time Elizabeth was on the throne and he was forced to take the oath of supremacy.

In 1566, when the Queen visited the university, it was Camion’s job to welcome her and she is said to have admired him.

The following year he was honoured with the task of giving the oration at the funeral of Sir Thomas White, the founder of the college.

He took a remorse of conscience and detestation of mind

Champion was persuaded to become a deacon, but ‘he took a remorse of conscience and detestation of mind’, when rumours began to spread of his supposed Catholic sympathies, he left for Ireland for study, and in 1571 moved to Douai, where he was formally received back into the Catholic Church, receiving the Eucharist for the first time in 12 years. He entered the new English College in Douai and travelled to Rome on foot in 1573.

Ten reasons

There he was the first novice accepted by the Jesuits and was ordained a priest. He spent six years in Prague at the Jesuit college as professor of rhetoric and philosophy.

In 1580 his fateful mission to his homeland began, even though it was a capital offence for a priest to enter the country, which had become increasingly extreme in its attitudes to Catholicism.

Disguised as a jewel merchant on June 24 1580, he began to preach, but soon the authorities were on to him. He went on the run around the country, preaching to recusant families.

At this time he wrote Decem Rationes (‘Ten Reasons’) which was a great sensation, but he was soon captured and taken to London wearing a hat with a paper stuck to it bearing the inscription ‘Champion, the Seditious Jesuit’.

He was imprisoned and tortured on the rack three times

He was imprisoned in the Tower of London for four moths and tortured on the rack three times, but he would not retract.

He was indicted on November 14 1581 on charges of trying to dethrone Elizabeth, and along with Fr Ralph Sherwin and Fr Alexander Briant, was hanged at Tyburn on December 1.”

– This article was published The Catholic Herald newspaper, issue November 28 2014. For subscriptions please visit (external link)


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Lord our God, You gave Your priest Saint Pedro Poveda the gift of encouraging lay Christians in their call to make Christ present in the world, through education and culture; You gave him the grace of sealing his life with martyrdom. Through his intercession grant us the courage to announce the Gospel openly, bearing witness to it and confessing our faith. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

(With ecclesiastical permission)

Pedro Poveda was born in Linares, (Jaen), southern Spain, in 1874 and was ordained priest in Guadix (Granada) in 1897. It was there that he began apostolic work among the people of the cave district. Later he was named Canon in the Basilica of Covadonga in the north. From there, in 1911 he founded the Teresian Association, which received pontifical approval in 1924. In Jaen, and later Madrid, he continued to be actively committed to the cause of education and to the disadvantaged in society. He died a martyr for his faith on 28 July, 1936. He was canonised in 2003.

– From a prayer card by the Pedro Poveda Secretariat, Principe de Vergara 88, 280006 Madrid, Spain




Tags: , , , , , , , , ,



“Inigo de Recalde de Loyola, youngest of 13 children of Don Beltran Yanez de Loyola and Maria Saenz di Licona y Balda, was born in 1491 in the family castle in the Basque province of Guipozcoa, in northeastern Spain, near the French border.

As befitted a boy from an aristocratic family, he spent time as a page at the court of Ferdinand and Isabella, the rulers of Spain. Here, by his later testimony, he was involved in gambling, wenching, and duelling.

He then entered military service, but fought in only one major battle, the defence of Pamplona against the French in 1521. The professional soldiers knew that their position was indefensible, and proposed to surrender. Inigo (or Ignatius, to give him the Latin form of his name) had visions of military glory, and urged his comrades to fight. He was promptly hit in the leg by a cannon ball, the town surrendered anyway, and the French sent him home on a stretcher.

The leg was badly set, and did not heal properly. It had to be rebroken and reset, and again it healed crookedly and left him with a permanent limp. Meanwhile, he was bedridden for many months and spent the time reading.

He asked for tales of knightly adventure but instead was given a Life of Christ, written by a Carthusian monk. He read it and his life was transformed.

Ignatius made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see with his own eyes the scenes of Our Lord’s life and death. He wanted to stay and preach to the Muslims, but the Franciscans stationed there advised him that he needed an education in order to preach effectively.

Back in Spain, he spent ten years (1524-1534) getting an education at Barcelona, Alcala, Salamanca and Paris, beginning by going to elementary school to learn Latin grammar and ending with a Master of Arts degree from the University of Paris. In Salamanca, he often preached to groups of people assembled by chance; but in those days a layman undertaking to preach on his own, without a licence or supervision, was automatically suspected of heresy.

Ignatius was twice imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition and questioned about his beliefs, an experience that made a deep impression on him. (He was finally acquitted, but forbidden to discuss religious matters for three years.)

In 1534, he and six fellow students formed a group which vowed to travel to Jerusalem and there preach the Gospel to the Muslims. (The most famous of the six is Francis Xavier, who went to India and China as a missionary, and who is commemorated on 3rd December.)

This group later took the name, ‘The Society of Jesus,’ and. Were nicknamed the Jesuits by outsiders, a nickname that stuck.
– This article was published in “The Catholic Universe” issue Sunday 25th August, 2013. For subscriptions please visit (external link).”


Tags: , , ,