Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto. Feast Day 20th February. Francisco and Jacinta were brother and sister, children of Manuel Marto and Olympia de Jesus.On May 13th 1917 in Aljustrel ,a hamlet in Fatima in Portugal they experienced a series of visions of the Virgin Mary along with their cousin Lucia Santos. Mother Mary identified herself to them as “The Lady of the Rosary”. During the first apparition she told them to return to the same spot at Cova de Iria on the 13th of each month for the next 6 months. At the time of the visions Francisco was aged 9 and Jacinta 7. During the visions the Virgin Mary instructed them to learn how to read and write as they were simple shepherd children but most importantly she encouraged them to pray the Holy Rosary constantly to obtain peace in the world and the end of the war in Europe. The children were to pray for the liberation and conversion of sinful souls and for Russia, who would soon fall victim to communism. During one apparition the children were discussing heaven and Our Lady told both Jacinta and Francisco that they would soon be taken to heaven while Lucia would remain on earth to carry on Gods work. Francisco died of influenza at the age of 11 in 1919 and his sister Jacinta of the same illness shortly after in 1920 aged 9. Both children were buried in the Basilica at Fatima . In the words of Pope Benedict XV1, “The Fatima apparitions were without doubt the most prophetic of all modern visions “.Francisco and Jacinta were both beatified on May 13th 2000 by St John Paul 11, Jacinta being the youngest child to be blessed ever. Both Saints are invoked by those suffering from bodily ills and afflictions.
The Feast of Saint Peters Chair. February 22nd. This feast is a very ancient celebration proven to have existed in Rome since the fourth century. The chair an originally oak structure believd 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 and 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 the 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, Jesus said to him , ” you are Peter the rock and upon this rock I will build my church”,Matt16.18. On this day we commemorate 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 4 doctors of the Church , St Augustine, St Ambrose, St John Chrysostom and St Athanasius and is representative of the special mission assigned to St Peter and his successors to tend to Christ’s flock,keeping it united in faith and charity.
Saint Walburga. Feast Day February 25th. Saint Walburga was a nun , writer and Frankish missionary who was born in to an aristocratic family in Devonshire in England in 710 ,her father was St Richard the Pilgrim and her brothers were St Winebald and Willibald. At the age of 11 she was entrusted in to the care of the abbess of Wimborne where she received an excellent education and remained for 26 years. In 748 she was sent along with St Lioba and a group of nuns to Germany to help her uncle St Boniface convert the Germans, who were then predominantly pagans to Christianity. It was during this tempestuous sea crossing to Germany that she got down on her knees and prayed to God to calm the storm, the ship miraculously anchored in Germany safely in calm waters. For this very reason she is invoked by those who suffer from hydrophobia and especially by sailors in a storm. Walburga was appointed abbess of the double Heidenheim monastery in 751 ,founded by her brother Winebald but when he died she became the head superior of both men and women, here she remained until her death from natural causes in 779 on February 25th. She was first buried at Heidenheim but later her remains were interred alongside her brother Willibald at Eichstadt at a small church called the Holy Cross. Walburga wrote a biography of her brothers Winebald’s life and an account in Latin of his travels in Palestine and is often referred to as the first female author of England and Germany. Walburga was canonised on May the first in 870 by Pope Adrian II.