Saint Marcella of Rome (325-410), like Saint Hyacintha, began her life as a privileged member of nobility. She married well, lived in a palace on Aventine Hill in Rome, and was quite content with her luxurious life. Shortly after her marriage, however, her husband died quite unexpectedly, leaving her widowed and alone.
As a child, Marcella had met Saint Athanasius, and remembered his stories of the Egyptian ascetics (those who practiced rigorous self-discipline and abstinence from worldly pleasures so as to better contemplate the holiness of the Lord). Following the death of her husband, Marcella refused the marriage proposal of a wealthy and powerful man of government, and instead turned herself to works of charity and service to the poor of Rome. She distributed her considerable wealth, “preferring to store her money in the stomachs of the needy rather than hide it in a purse.” Her palace on the Aventine Hill became a center of Christian fellowship and activism. She formed a community of women, mostly of nobility, who gave up their material wealth and possessions to live a life of asceticism and austerity. Marcella abstained from wine and meat; spent her time in pious reading, prayer, and visiting the churches of the apostles and martyrs; and never spoke with any man alone.
"My sweetest Lord, only remember that I am a poor creature of Thine! For do with me what pleases Thee, now and through eternity! I abandon myself into Thy hands, and am ready to suffer these torments as long as it shall please Thee."
When the Visagoths, led by the barbarian Alaric, besieged and looted Rome in 410, Marcella and the rest of the city were starving. Eighty-five years old at the time, she wrote: “By heaven’s grace, captivity has found me a poor woman, not made me one. Now, I shall go in want of daily bread, but I shall not feel hunger since I am full of Christ.” Marcella was captured soon thereafter. She was tortured and scourged, as her tormentors tried to force her to reveal the location of her hidden wealth. They did not believe her claims to have given it away to the poor. Marcella withstood her own scourging but begged them to spare the others in her community from such treatment. She was released, but died shortly thereafter from the injuries she sustained.
Day 31 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Conversion and commitment to the Lord through service to others
Requested Intentions: The rest and repose of a dearly departed friend (J); Reconciliation of struggling marriages (A); Reconciliation and healing in personal relationships (N); Safety for friend deployed to Afghanistan (S); Safety of friend/ relief worker in Haiti (L); Health and safety of new daughter (J); Renewal of loving Christ-centered relationship (A).
Special Intentions: Novena to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, for those who are struggling in the face of personal trials and tribulations, unemployment and financial stress, natural disasters (including the poor of Haiti), poverty, war, and exploitation. May Our Lady of Prompt Succor hasten to help us!
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."