A Catholic Monthly Magazine

September Saints

by Kilian de Lacy

1 September

Blessed Michael of Ghebre
(1791-1855)

Michael was born in Ethiopia in Dibo in 1791, part of an Ethiopian religious sect, the Kevats. In his childhood he lost one eye in an accident that, in his culture, would render him unfit for most forms of work. Following his education, he entered a Coptic Orthodox monastery and was professed as a monk in 1813. Concerned with declining standards in monasteries, he set out to find out what the causes were. 

As part of a delegation to ask the Coptic Patriarch to appoint a new bishop, he met up with St Justin de Jacobis in 1843. Justin advised him to return home by a different route as his research would make him enemies. The two met on a regular basis for the next six months and together visited monasteries before de Jacobis himself received Michael into the Catholic Church in 1844. 

In 1850, de Jacobis suggested Michael become a priest, and ordained him in 1851. The new Orthodox bishop instigated persecution of Catholicism, and arrested the two priests as Michael was set to enter the Congregation of the Mission. 

De Jacobis was kept hidden from the others, as their captors hoped extreme isolation and torture would cause them to abandon Catholicism. But de Jacobis was later released and in late 1854 the Orthodox bishop’s use of torture failed to get Michael and the others to apostatise. Tewodros II was crowned emperor in 1855 and he also tortured Michael to get him to apostatise. The emperor kept him in chains and would have him brought with him whenever and wherever he travelled.

In May 1855, the British consul visited the emperor and the latter decided to put the priest on trial in the consul's presence. Michael refused to abandon his faith and the court deemed that he should be shot dead. On the request of the consul, the emperor agreed to spare him, which left the priest back in chains and moved from place to place as the emperor travelled. 

He died because of ill treatment, on a road under a cedar tree. His remains were never found. 

Blessed Michael, help us to follow the Lord’s call, even to death.

5 September

Saint Teresa of Kolkata
(1910-1977)

Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu was born on 26 August 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia. From the day of her First Holy Communion at age five, a love for souls was within her. Her father died when she was eight, leaving the family in financial straits. Her mother and her Jesuit parish formed her in the faith.

At age eighteen, moved by a desire to become a missionary, Gonxha left home to join the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland, where she received the name Sister Mary. In December 1928 she departed for India, where she completed her religious training. From the time of her final profession in 1937, she was called Mother Teresa. She continued teaching at St Mary’s, becoming the school’s principal in 1944. During her time in Loreto, she was known for her profound prayer, charity, unselfishness and courage, her capacity for hard work and a natural talent for organisation.

On 10 September 1946, during the train ride from Kolkata to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, Mother Teresa received her ‘inspiration,’ to establish a religious community, Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. In 1948, she left Loreto to start work in the slums of Kolkata. The new congregation of sisters was officially established in 1948.

The whole of Mother Teresa’s life and labour bore witness to the joy of loving, the greatness and dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully and with love, and the surpassing worth of friendship with God. However, hidden from all eyes, her interior life was marked by an experience of a deep, painful and abiding feeling of being separated from God, even rejected by him, along with an ever-increasing longing for his love. This darkness led Mother Teresa to an ever more profound union with God. Through the darkness, she mystically participated in the thirst of Jesus, in his painful and burning longing for love, and she shared in the interior desolation of the poor.

During the last years of her life, despite increasingly severe health problems, Mother Teresa continued to govern her Society and respond to the needs of the poor and the Church. She died in September 1997.

Saint Teresa, instil in us a love for the poor and marginalised.  

Sources:
1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghébre-Michael)
2. motherteresa.org/biography.html)


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