Bob Schwartz

Tag: saints

St. Rafqa’s Knit Haiku

For my beautiful and beloved knitter

St. Rafqa’s Knit Haiku

Who needs the arrows
of Valentine when we knit
with Rafqa’s needles

Note: I went looking for the Catholic patron saint of knitters—there’s usually an official or unofficial saint for everything—only to discover that there is no consensus about knitting. Suggestions include Saints Fiachra/Fiacre, Rafqa/Rebecca, Dymphna, Lucy, Ursula, Sebastian or Blaise. The idea was to connect the arrows of St. Valentine to the needles of St. Whoever. The haiku idea comes from having found the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible as a gift for a knitter. All in all, a pretty long explanation for a pretty obscure poem. Happy Valentine’s Day.

St. Anthony of Padua

You don’t have to be religious, Christian or Catholic to appreciate saints. Every tradition recognizes those whose lives, thoughts, or actions are worthy of attention. The particulars may not suit your sense or sensibilities, but these people represent the possibilities of being human—possibilities to which we may not personally aspire, but possibilities that still may inspire.

Today is the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua. The reasons for his sainthood involve his devotion and his preaching of the faith (he is often pictured with the baby Jesus and a book). His preaching was reportedly not limited to people:

Once, when St. Anthony of Padua attempted to preach the true Gospel of the Catholic Church to heretics who would not listen to him, he went out and preached his message to the fish. This was not, as liberals and naturalists have tried to say, for the instruction of the fish, but rather for the glory of God, the delight of the angels, and the easing of his own heart. When critics saw the fish begin to gather, they realized they should also listen to what Anthony had to say. (Catholic Online: Saints & Angels)

St. Anthony is the patron saint of the poor and of travelers, but is best known in popular Catholic culture as the patron saint of lost things. Though some have invoked him—successfully and unsuccessfully—with a simple childlike verse (“Dear St. Anthony look around/Something’s lost that can’t be found”), the story and meaning is explained more fully by others:

Since the seventeenth century Anthony has been frequently invoked as the finder of lost articles. When a novice took his Psalter without permission, Anthony prayed for its return. After a frightening apparition, the novice rushed to restore the book to its rightful owner. (Lives of the Saints: From Mary and St. Francis of Assisi to John XXIII and Mother Teresa)

In 1224, Francis entrusted his friars’ pursuits of studies to Anthony. Anthony had a book of psalms that contained notes and comments to help when teaching students and, in a time when a printing press was not yet invented, he greatly valued it. When a novice decided to leave the hermitage, he stole Anthony’s valuable book. When Anthony discovered it was missing, he prayed it would be found or returned to him. The thief did return the book and in an extra step returned to the Order as well. (Catholic Online: Saints & Angels)

Anthony should be the patron of those who find their lives completely uprooted and set in a new and unexpected direction….God did with Anthony as God pleased—and what God pleased was a life of spiritual power and brilliance that still attracts admiration today. He whom popular devotion has nominated as finder of lost objects found himself by losing himself totally to the providence of God. (Franciscan Media)

From the National Shrine of St. Anthony:

Prayer to Find What Is Lost

St. Anthony, when you prayed, your stolen book of prayers was given back to you. Pray now for all of us who have lost things precious and dear. Pray for all who have lost faith, hope or the friendship of God. Pray for us who have lost friends or relatives by death. Pray for all who have lost peace of mind or spirit. Pray that we may be given new hope, new faith, new love. Pray that lost things, needful and helpful to us, may be returned to our keeping.

Feeding the poor. Preaching to fishes. Finding lost things. Sounds like a full feast day.

The Saints Francis

St. Francis of Assisi
Right now, there are millions of words being written and spoken about who Pope Francis is and what kind of Pope he will be. Read and listen with care and a bit of skepticism, knowing that some (but not all) have an agenda or a bit of rosy vision, and knowing that almost all of the “experts” got this papal selection wrong. The fact is that predictions are all we have at the moment, but they will fade in the shadow of what the Pope actually does or doesn’t do and accomplish.

Instead or in addition, spend some time with the saints, particularly the various Saints Francis. Even for us non-Catholics and non-Christians, the saints are an enormously interesting, educational and in some cases enlightening phenomenon. If you don’t have some appreciation for the saints, whether or not you believe the intrinsic or underlying theology, you cannot understand the Catholic Church. Besides that, in the world of religion, not just Catholicism, the lives of the saints are just plain entertaining and their teachings often edifying and inspiring.

Here is the list of Saint Francis variations, taken from the SPQN site, a go-to location for summary saint information and references:

Francis Gil de Frederich
Francis Isidore Gagelin
Francis Jaccard
Francis Jerome
Francis Johnson
Francis Man
Francis Mary Paul Libermann
Francis Page
Francis Palau y Quer
Francis Patrizzi
Francis Pontillo
Francis Possenti
Francis Regis Clet
Francis Rogaczewski
Francis Seelos
Francis Solano
Francis Solanus
Francis Trung Von Tran
Francis Webb
Francis Xavier
Francis Xavier Bianchi
Francis Xavier Can Nguyen
Francis Xavier Mau
Francis Xavier Seelos
Francis de Capillas
Francis de Geronimo
Francis de Hieronymo
Francis de Montmorency Laval
Francis de Sales
Francis di Girolamo
Francis of Assisi
Francis of Girolamo
Francis of Nagasaki
Francis of Paola
Francis of Saint Michael
Francis of Sales
Francis, Caius
Francis, Gaius
Francisca Aviat
Francisca de Ambrosia
Francisca Salesia
Francisca Salesia Aviat
Francisco Castells Brenuy
Francisco Ferro, Ambrosio
Francisco José López-Caamaño García-Pérez
Francisco Marto
Francisco of the Child Jesus
Francisco Palau y Quer
Francisco Pascual Sánchez
Francisco Shoyemon
Franciscus de Hieronymo

The most-discussed and obvious of the lives behind Cardinal Bergoglio’s groundbreaking choice of name (he is the first Pope Francis) is Francis of Assisi. His turning from a worldly life to a mission of simplicity, service, peace and, of course, living with nature led to his founding of one of the Church’s most significant orders (the Franciscans) and indirectly to the founding of another by his star student (the Poor Clares). He is also a patron saint of dozens of occupations, causes and places, including

against dying alone
against fire
animal welfare societies
lace makers
lace workers
needle workers
tapestry workers
Ahuacatlán, Mexico
Assisi, Italy
Freising, Germany
Massa, Italy
Nambe Indian Pueblo
Quibdo, Choco, Colombia
San Pawl il-Bahar, Malta
Sante Fe, New Mexico
Sorbo, Italy
Denver, Colorado, archdiocese of
Kottapuram, India, diocese of
Lancaster, England, diocese of
Metuchen, New Jersey, diocese of
Salina, Kansas, diocese of
San Francisco, California, archdiocese of
Sante Fe, New Mexico, archdiocese of
Viana, Angola, diocese of

But he is not the only Saint Francis with a substantial presence in the Church. Saint Francis de Sales, for example, is the namesake of schools worldwide, founder of his own order (the Salesians), and in 1923 was named patron saint of writers and journalists (and presumably bloggers) by Pope Pius XI.

However you are celebrating the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day—if you are—you might start your study of the saints with him.  But don’t stop there. Take this opportunity of a new Pope to learn about the Saints Francis, from the big names to the lesser known but still worthy ones. You’ll find it a special experience, no matter what your spiritual perspective, and maybe much more fun and useful than listening to the earnest babble of certain media talking heads.