Saints´Feast Days Coming Up II Sunday of Lent

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The Feast of Saint Peters chair  – 22nd February. The feast is a very ancient tradition proven to have existed in Rome since the fourth century. The chair originally a wooden oak structure  believed to have been used by St Peter in Rome is enclosed in a sculpted bronze casing that was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the 17th century. It is housed in the apse of the Basilica of St Peters in the Vatican. The feast commemorates the day when St Peter held his first service as Bishop of Rome and is symbolic of the authority that was given to him by Jesus to rule the Church. Saint Peter is the “Prince of the Apostles “and the first Pope. “you are Peter the rock and upon this rock I will build my church”. Matt 16.18. On this day we celebrate the unity of the Church founded upon the apostle Peter and renew our assent to the magisterium of the Roman Pontiff. During the middle ages it was customary to exhibit the chair yearly to the faithful and the newly elected Pope was solemnly enthroned in this venerable chair. The seat which is   a great  ornamental throne is supported by the statues of the 4 Doctors of the Church , St Augustine, St Ambrose , St John Chrysostom and St Athanasius and is a representative of the special mission of St Peter and his successors to tend Christ´s flock , keeping it united in faith and charity.

 

Saint Polycarp– 23rd February. Polycarp was a second century Christian bishop of Smyrna . It has been recorded by several witnesses including St Jerome and the theologian Tertullian that he was definitely a disciple of John the apostle and  a travelling companion of Papias, another follower of John. It is believed that St John himself ordained him as bishop of Smyrna. Polycarp was believed to be a powerful preacher, but the only great surviving work attributed to him  is Polycarp´s Letter to the Philippians. He died aged 86  through martyrdom as he refused to burn incense to the pagan Roman emperor of his time, we have an eye witness account of his words” eighty and six years I have served him and  he has done me no wrong ” At first they attempted to burn him at the stake but as this failed they speared his heart. His last words have been recorded, “I bless you Father for judging me worthy of this hour so that in the company of martyrs I may share the cup of Christ”. He is the patron saint of all those suffering with earache.

 

Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows – 27th February. Saint Gabriel was born Francesco Possenti in 1838 in Assisi he was the son of a professional politician Sante Possenti  and one of 13 children. He gave up ambitions of a secular career to enter the Passionist Congregation. Francesco spent a rather way ward youth indulging in earthly pursuits  and suffered 2 terrible bouts of ill health. He prayed to the Virgin Mary and promised both times that if he recovered he would enter a religious life ,however it wasn’t until he was actually present at a procession of an ancient icon of the Virgin Mary in his local church in Spoleto that his soul was ready to be completely committed to Christ. In 1856 he entered the Passionist novitiate at Morrovalle ,two days later he received the habit and the new name  “Gabriel of our Lady of Sorrows.” The following years under the guidance of Father Norbert of Holy Mary he pronounced his vows. In 1859 the community moved to Isola del Gran Sasso in the province of Teramo. Sadly he never achieved ordination to the priesthood as his life was usurped by a nasty bout of tuberculosis . He died peacefully in 1862 smiling as he held  close an image of Our Lady of Sorrows, it is believed that he experienced a vision of the Virgin Mary on his death bed. He was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

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