Denis of the Nativity, a priest, called in the world Pierre Berthelot, was born in Honfleur in France in 1600. He was a cartographer and naval commander for the kings of Portugal and France before he joined the Discalced Carmelites in Goa in 1635. It was also at Goa that the Portuguese lay brother, Thomas Rodriguez da Cunha, born in 1598, had made his profession in 1615, taking the name Redemptus of the Cross. They were sent to the island of Sumatra (Indonesia), where, in the town of Achen (Aceh), they received the martyr’s crown on November 29, 1638.
Like the valiant mother of the Maccabees, Blessed Teresa of St. Augustine, prioress of the Carmel of Compiègne, presided over the martyrdom of her daughters as she blessed and encouraged them all.
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Fr. Leonard Duverneuil (b. 1737 at Limoges), Fr. Michael-Aloysius Brulard (Michel-Louis) (b. 1758 at Chartres), and Fr. Hubert of Saint Claude (b. 1753 at Frolois), were among a group of 64 Martyrs beatified 1st October 1995, victims of the French Revolution who came from 14 French dioceses and from various religious Orders. In their loyalty to God, the Church and the Pope, they refused to take the oath of the Civil Constitution for the Clergy imposed by the Constituent Assembly of the Revolution. As a result, they were imprisoned, massed like animals, on a slave-trader ship in Rochefort Bay, waiting in vain to be deported into slavery. During 1794, the first two Carmelites died on board ship: Fr. John-Baptist on 1st July, and Fr. Michael-Aloysius on 25th July, both being buried on the island of Aix. After the plague broke out on the ship, those remaining disembarked on the island of Madame, where Fr. Hubert died and was buried on 10th September. Noted for their loving ministry to their fellow prisoners and their patience in accepting every type of outrage, privation, and cruelty, not to mention the vicissitudes of weather, hunger and sickness, our three Discalced Carmelite priest martyrs and their companions in martyrdom gave unsurpassed Christian witness to their faith and love.
In one single memorial we remember our sisters who were martyred in the Spanish Civil War, which lasted from 1936 to 1939. Maria Pilar of St. Francis Borgia (born at Tarazona on Dec. 30, 1877), Teresa of the Child Jesus and of St. John of the Cross (born at Mochales on March 5,1890), and Maria Angeles of St. Joseph (born at Getafe on March 6, 1905), Discalced Carmelite nuns of the Monastery of Guadalajara, Spain, were martyred on July 24, 1936, and beatified by Saint John Paul II on March 29, 1987. Maria Sagrario was born at Lillo (Toledo) on 8th January 1881. A pharmacist by trade, she was one of the first women in Spain to be admitted to this qualification. Through her spirit of prayer and her love for the Eucharist, she was a perfect embodiment of the contemplative and ecclesial ideal of the Teresian Carmel. She was martyred on 15th August 1936, a grace for which she had longed; she was beatified by Saint John Paul II in 1998. PASTORAL NOTE: In the year 2022, this Optional Memorial gives way to the 17th Sunday in Ordinary time.
On 18 May 1291 the Crusader stronghold of Acre fell after weeks of siege. We remember the Carmelite martyrs who perished in Acre and in the weeks that followed.
Frei Belchior de Santa Ana describes how pious recreations that prepared St Teresa's nuns for martyrdom became part of the tradition at the new monastery of San Alberto in Lisbon. But they nearly became a rehearsal for reality on 9 May 1585 when the English Armada attacked the city.
On the feast day of the male religious who died in the Spanish Revolution in the 1930s, we recall St Teresa's counsel from the Way of Perfection: "It is clear that if someone is a true religious or a true person of prayer and aims to enjoy the delights of God, he must not turn his back upon the desire to die for God and suffer martyrdom."
Carmel desired to bring together in one single memorial its own martyrs who, in different locations in Spain, bore witness during the long and bloody Civil War (1936-1939). Mentioned in this memorial are Father Angel Maria Prat Hostench, O. Carm., killed with his community in Tarrega in 1936, and Father Lucas of St. Joseph O.C.D., killed with his fellow friars in Barcelona, also in 1936. In this memorial, we also remember the groups from Lérida, Tarragona, Toledo, Olot, Terrasa, etc.
Commenting on the Gospel story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, Fr. Denis-Marie Ghesquières, OCD writes, "Jesus challenges each one of the onlookers to search his heart and, faced with the woman's sin, to question himself! A new path can open up by setting out from the truth about oneself in the presence of Jesus..."
The Crib of the Child is surrounded by martyrs: There are the innocent children, the babes of Bethlehem and Juda, who were cruelly slaughtered by the hands of brutal hangmen. What does this mean?
Denis of the Nativity, a priest, and the lay brother Redemptus of the Cross were sent to Indonesia where they received the martyr's crown on November 29, 1638.
On 18 May 1291 the Crusader stronghold of Acre fell after weeks of siege. We remember the Carmelite martyrs who perished that day.
So that they can find in the captivity of their bodies, freedom for their soul