Saint Berard and Companions (martyred 1220), the Proto-martyrs of the Franciscan Order. Saint Berard was the superior of Vitalis, Berard, Peter, Adjutus, and Odo, missionaries to Morocco whom we celebrate today. Saint Francis upon hearing of his brother's deaths was reported to have said, "Now I can truly say that I have five Friars Minor!" The bravery and zeal for the Lord’s truth of these five holy men is commemorated today by the Franciscan Order, and all of the faithful.
Saint Berard was born in Carbio, Italy, and when he reached the appropriate age, joined the Franciscan Order under the direction of Saint Francis, himself. Berard with gifted with preaching, incredibly eloquent, and was fluent in Arabic. He was the perfect choice of friars to send to the dangerous Saracen-controlled areas of Spain, Morocco, and North Africa. Berard, as well as the five friars in his supervision, agreed without hesitation when Saint Francis dispatched them on their dangerous mission.
"Those brothers who, by divine inspiration, desire to go among the Saracens and other nonbelievers should ask permission from their ministers provincial. But the ministers should not grant permission except to those whom they consider fit to be sent."
At first glance, the story of the five Franciscan proto-martyrs reads as if these brave and holy men failed in their mission. They failed to convert many, and only succeeded in achieving death for their cause. However, the fire of evangelization and missionary work that was lit by their martyrdom has forever changed the Franciscan Order, as well as the world. We look to the brave sacrifices of these men, offering thanks. We are inspired to more courageously and single-mindedly pursue the truth of our faith, living as witnesses to the love of Jesus Christ!
Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth. Inspire us with the memory of Berard, Peter, Adjute, Accurs, and Odo, whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross, and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Year 2: Day 16 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Courageous lives of visible faith.
Requested Intentions: Freedom from persecution (A); For a friend struggling with medical problems and surgery (L); Financial blessings (D); For the success of a project (T); Improved financial stability (A); Improved relationship with business partner (A); For employment (N); Reconciliation of a workplace relationship (R); Healing of son, cousin, and friend (L); Healing of a husband from cancer, end to medical problems (T); Freedom from persecution (E); Successful employment (R); Reconciliation of a marriage (M); Successful marriage, employment, healing (J); For a family struggling with a difficult situation (M); For family intentions (I); Reconciliation of a marriage (S); For blessings upon a family (R); Permanent employment (N); Successful employment (M); Healing of a father following stroke (S).
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."