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."

February 18, 2013: Saint Giovanni of Fiesole, "Fra Angelico"

Posted by Jacob

Today, February 18, we celebrate the feast day of the saint of Christian artists, Blessed John of Fiesole (1387-1455), or Fra Angelico as he came to be known.

Guido di Pietro was born in Tuscany, in a small village outside Florence in 1387. Early in his life, his parents recognized their son’s artistic talent and capabilities. He, along with his brother, was sent to the Dominican monastery at Fiesole to study painting. While there, he joined the Dominican Order in 1407, taking the name John (Giovanni). He worked tirelessly, illustrating illuminated manuscripts, with John explaining his painting as a way in which he could “preach the Love of God.” Throughout his artistic career—one which art historians have labeled “perfect”—he never painted a picture that didn’t address Christian themes. It is further said that he never picked up a paintbrush without having first prayed.

As his gifts became more and more apparent, John was commissioned to do paintings and frescoes in Florence and Rome, including the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament at Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican (later destroyed). His brother, also having joined the Dominican Order, often acted as his assistant. Able to capture the adoration and sublime love for Christ on the faces of those he painted, John of Fiesole became known Fra Giovanni Angelico (Brother John, the Angelic One). His life and work were recognized to be pure, inspired, and from God. He is remembered for a pious, but simple, heart and is credited with saying: “He who does Christ’s work must stay with Christ always.”

Many of Saint John of Fiesole’s most famous works are painted in the cells of the former monastery of Saint Marco in Florence. He and his brother painted approximately fifty frescos that are at once the expression of and a guide to the spiritual life of the community. “Many of the frescos are in the friars' cells and were intended as aids to devotion; with their immaculate coloring, their economy in drawing and composition, and their freedom from the accidents of time and place, they attain a sense of blissful serenity” (from WebMuseum, Paris).
Fra Angelico died while staying at a Dominican convent in Rome, having painted that day. His epitaph (translated) reads:

When singing my praise, don't liken my talents to those of Apelles.
Say, rather, that, in the name of Christ, I gave all I had to the poor.
The deeds that count on Earth are not the ones that count in Heaven.
I, Giovanni, am the flower of Tuscany.

John Paul II said of Fra Angelico at his beatification in 1982, that his work was “the fruit of that highest harmony which flowed from the combination of a holy life and creative power.”

Fra Giovanni Angelico painted incredibly beautiful and poignant pictures from the lives of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints (some of which are pictured below). His every brushstroke, and indeed, his every breath, came from God and glorified God. He used his talents—art—to bring the message of salvation to the world. In contemplating the life of this talented artist, we are called to look inward to our own gifts. However small they may seem to us, they are precious gifts and abilities given to us from the Lord. When we choose to use them, we do so in honor of our Maker, and through their display, glorify the magnificence of creation. How might we use our gifts to glorify the Lord and serve each other during Lent?

Annunciation (1439-1443)

Nativity (1439-1443)

Crucified Christ with Saint John the Evangelist, the Virgin, and Saints Dominic and Jerome (1439-1443)

Lamentation (1439-1443)

Noli Me Tangere (Do not touch Me) (1439-1443)


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