St. Gertrude the Great was a German abbess, a mystic and an early adherent to the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She had many writings which still resonate nearly 700 years later about her struggle to reconcile her humanness with her role as a bride of Christ. Her title “the Great” was conferred by Pope Benedict XIV in the 17th century making her the only woman saint to be called “the Great”. This attribute refers to her prowess as a theologian and writer; and to distinguish her from Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn under whom Gertrude the Great lived and learned until succeeding her as abbess in about 1286.
St. Jerome was a 4th century influencer whose writing, theological ideas and translation of the Bible into Latin (“the Vulgate”) continues to resonate today. His ascetic life had characteristics of St. John the Baptist – “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord,”’” (John 1:23) . St. Jerome spent four of his early adult years in the desert of Chalcis in Syria where he composed the first group of his many letters on theology and asceticism. His life was so impactful, that he was among a group of four men who were declared Doctors of the Church by Pope Boniface VIII in the 13th century. His Feast Day is September 30th in the Roman Catholic Church and June 15th in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The Feast Day of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael is September 29th. The adventure story of the Angel Raphael is told in the Book of Tobit. Although called “Saints”, the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are angels, rather than “saints” who have been seemingly around since the beginning of time. An angel is a being described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as follows: “The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith.” The purpose of angels is described as, “With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God.”
St. Ludmila is a favorite of people of Czech heritage and in-laws; and the patroness of Bohemia. She is the grandmother of the famed St. Wenceslaus and was instrumental in the spread of Christianity in Bohemia during her reign and that of her grandson.
The Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary occurs on September 8th. It is an occasion of great fanfare in many regions and churches as they celebrate the birth of “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Rev 12:1). The Blessed Virgin is celebrated for her purity, her humility, and her willingness to say “yes”; but today, on the Feast of her birth is a time to be joyous for her position alongside her Son as Queen of Heaven and of Earth.
The Blessed Mother is invoked in the Litany of Loreto under fifty-three titles many of which were commemorated during the multitudes of 9-Day Novenas prayed across the world leading up to the Feast of the Nativity of Mary on September 8th. The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Litany of Loreto) is the only approved Marian Litany and originated as a litany in the Greek Church. The invocation was translated to Latin and evolved into the prayer used in the church in Loreto, Italy as far back as 1531. Ten titles have been added to the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary since its official approval in 1587 by Pope Sixtus V, including that of Mary as Queen of Families by Saint John Paul II in 1995.
Sailors living on endless expanses of the water have a unique perspective of the sky and heavenly stars above. They see the wonder, and the power of the sea; as well as, the hope born in the images of the stars. The title of Our Lady as Star of the Sea is attributed to the 4th century Doctor of the Church, St. Jerome. St. Bernard of Clairvaux was also a devotee of the Blessed Mother as the Star of the Sea. The Catholic Church traditionally celebrates the feast of Mary, Star of the Sea on September 27th.
What lifts the spirit more than hope? The story of the Blessed Mother’s title as “Our Lady of Hope” stems from her appearance to children at Pontmain, France in 1871; and remains popular today. The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. has a Chapel for Our Lady of Hope that was donated by the comic and movie star, Bob Hope and wife Dolores in memory of his mother Avis Townes Hope.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Martyr and a mass-media evangelizer with a great devotion to the Blessed Mother – which he promoted through his writings and actions. His inspiring life was centered on Mary as the Mediatrix and intercessor to lead to Jesus’ Sacred Heart. He spread devotion through his Militia Immaculata established to fight evil through the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Our Lady of Good Health is also known as Our Lady of Vailankanni (Vay-lun-kun-nee), particularly in India where she appeared in the south Indian State of Tamil Nadu in the sixteenth century. Many miracles have been attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Vailankanni. So, pray to Our Lady of Vailankanni during this 9-day Novena leading up to the Feast of the Birth of Mary on September 8th.