Saint Nicolas de Flue Feast Day March 21st. Saint Nicolas was born in the district of Unterwalden in 1417 to a family of well to do peasants. At the age of 21 he joined the army, where due to his efficiency he rose to the rank of captain. When he was 30 years of age he married a farmers daughter form the alpine hillside and fathered several children. Leaving the military life behind him he undertook the position of judge and chief counsellor in his home district for 9 years. He had always been a devout catholic and after experiencing a vision of a horse eating a lily which he interpreted as his worldly life devouring his inner spiritual self he abandoned his wife and children to follow his vocation. Nicolas embraced the ascetic life with vigour and lived as a hermit in the Ranftchine in Switzerland where he established a chantry. Affectionately he earned for himself the nick name Brother Klaus. Many pilgrims have made a pilgrimage to Nicolas chantry seeking his intercession. Nicolas completely devoted the rest of his life to God and prayer, according to one legend he survived 19 years living with no food apart from the consummation of the holy Eucharist. Nicolas experienced many symbolic visions and people travelled far and wide to consult him. He died in 1487 surrounded by his wife and children and was canonised by Pope Pius X11 in 1947. He is the patron saint of Switzerland and pontifical Swiss guards.
Saint Catherine of Sweden. Feast Day. March 24th. Saint Catherine was born in Sweden in 1330 and was the daughter of Saint Brigitta of Sweden. At the age of 7 she was sent to the abbey at Risburgh by her parents and placed under the care of the abbess to receive an education and to build a foundation for her spiritual life. At the age of 13 she was taken from the abbey and given in marriage to Lord Egard Von Kyren ,a German nobleman. The young couple together both took vows of absolute chastity devoting their lives to God. In 1349 Egard died while Catherine was in Rome with her mother. Catherine accompanied Brigitta on various pilgrimages including one to the Holy land. When Brigitta died Catherine became the abbess at the Brigittine convent in Vadstena originally founded by her mother and remained here until her death in 1381.Here she took on the task of forming the community in the rule her mother had written .During her final 25 years of her life she was known for her austere lifestyle and practice of making daily use of the Sacrament of confession. Catherine is said to have written a devotional work, titled “consolation of the soul” in medieval Swedish ,a dated copy form 1407 still exists. When she passed form normal causes she was mourned by the whole of Sweden just like her mother. This Saint was canonised in 1484 by Pope Pius 1st.
Saint. Rafqa. Feast Day March 25th. Saint Rafqa was born ” Boutroussieh” in Hemlaya in the Lebanon in 1832. Both her parents were devout Christians who encouraged her to pray daily. When she was only 7 years of age sadly her mother passed away and she was sent to work in domestic service for 4 years in Damascus. On her return to the Lebanon she was faced with the dilemma of choosing a husband out of two suitors, desperate not to cause a family feud through her own choice she prayed to God for an answer . Her final decision shocked her family as God had requested her to become a ” Bride of Christ” thus denouncing her earthly world and its pleasures. Rafqa joined the order of the Mariamettes founded by friar Joseph and in 1862 she took her temporary vows as a nun. She spent all her free time in study and prayer and along with another sister from the same foundation she established a school for girls at Maad village. Rafqa began to hear the voices of the saints who directed her to enter the Lebanese Marionite order where she completed her final vows in 1872. In 1885 she petitioned our Lord to participate in his suffering on the Cross and immediately she began to experience severe headaches and eye pain. For the rest of her life she acquired various bodily afflictions and after years of suffering died in 1914 from paralysis. It was recorded that after she was buried at St Josephs monastery a light shone over her grave constantly for 3 years. Saint Rafqa was canonised by Saint John Paul 11 in 2001.