A Catholic Monthly Magazine

August Saints

8 August

St Bonifacia Rodríguez y Castro

Bonifacia Rodríguez Castro was born in Salamanca, Spain, the eldest of six children, to deeply Christian parents. Having completed her primary studies, she learned the trade of cord-making which, following the death of her father, helped her mother support the family. In due course, she established her own cord-shop, selling passementerie and other needlework. She had great devotion to Mary Immaculate and St. Joseph.

From 1865, Bonifacia and her mother dedicated themselves to a life of intense piety, going every day to the church run by the Society of Jesus.

A group of girls, attracted by the witness of Bonifacia’s life, began to meet her in the shop regularly and they found in her a friend who would help them. Together, they formed the Association of the Immaculate and St Joseph (Josephines). Bonifacia felt called to religious life, thinking first of the Dominicans.

In 1870, Jesuit Francisco Butiña came to Salamanca with his evangelising message of the sanctification of work, and Bonifacia put herself under his spiritual direction. The priest was moved to found a new congregation oriented towards the protection of women workers. He asked Bonifacia to join him in this venture. Together with six women from the Josephine Association, among them her mother, she instituted a community in her own shop, in 1874.

It was a new style of religious life for women, too daring not to have opposition from the traditional-minded clergy of the city. Three months later, Francisco Butiña was exiled from Spain with his Jesuit companions, and her bishop, who encouraged the work, was transferred to Barcelona, so Bonifacia was left alone leading the newly-born Institute.

The new bishop’s appointees among the priests sowed discord among the Sisters, some of whom started to oppose the shop as a way of life and the sheltering of women workers within it. Bonifacia held firm to the vision of Fr Butiña.

The Director of the Congregation instigated Bonifacia’s removal as superior and counsellor of the Institute. Her response to the humiliations heaped upon her to make her leave Salamanca was silence, humility and forgiveness. In 1883, she and her mother moved to Zamora to open a new community with the blessing of the local bishop. Meanwhile, in Salamanca, modifications to her original project went ahead to change the objectives of the Institute.

In 1901, on receiving pontifical approval for her Institute, she went to Salamanca to talk to the Sisters there but was refused entry. Returning to Zamora, she died in 1905 without telling the Sisters there of her rejection.

Saint Bonfiacia, help us to persevere in the faith when rejected and humiliated.

4 August

Blessed Frederick Janssoone

Born in Ghyvelde, France, Frederick Janssoone was the last of thirteen children. From early in his life he wanted to consecrate his life to God, but his mother's widowhood and subsequent long illness delayed his plans. He was twenty-five when his mother died, and Frederick decided upon the Franciscans, whose ideals corresponded exactly with his own -- strict poverty, sustaining an apostolate founded on penance. He was ordained a priest in 1870.

After serving as a military chaplain during the Franco-Prussian war, Frederick, with another priest and four Franciscan Brothers, was appointed to found a convent of the Order in Bordeaux.

Having a strong desire to labour for his Lord in the Holy Land, he left for Palestine in 1877. He preached retreats for religious communities in both Syria and Egypt, returning to Jerusalem in 1878, when he was elected to serve as Custodial Vicar at the Holy Sepulchre Basilica. He accompanied pilgrimages, preached on many formal occasions and reinstated the Way of the Cross along the path Our Lord took to Calvary.

In 1881 he went to Canada to seek financial aid to renovate the antique Basilica of Bethlehem. His return to the Holy Land was met with dismay and he was invited back to Canada to establish a Canadian Holy Land Commissariat in Quebec.

During his twenty-eight years in Canada Father Frederick founded a great many fraternities of the Third Order of Saint Francis. He was the activating force behind several life-size Ways of the Cross erected in the Province. Father Frederick, after many years of suffering, died in 1916.

Blessed Frederick, obtain for us zeal in the service of God.  

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