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Patron Saints for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
There are numerous Saints who are considered Patrons for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
We pray to and remember the following Saints who are known for their devotion, empathy and good work. (Derived from www.Catholic.org).
Bl. Margaret of Castello
Blessed Margaret of Citta-di-Castello, Virgin
It must have been about the year 1293 when some women of Citta-di-Castello in Umbria, who had gone one day to pray in their parish church, found within, a destitute blind child of about six or seven, who had been abandoned there by her parents. The kind souls were filled with pity for the little waif, and, poor though they were, they took charge of her - first one family and then another, sheltering and feeding her until she became practically the adopted child of the village. One and all declared that, far from being a burden, little Margaret brought a blessing upon those who befriended her. Some years later, the nuns of a local convent offered her a home. The girl rejoiced at the prospect of living with religious, but her joy was short-lived. The community was lax and worldly; Margaret's fervor was a tacit reproach to them, nor did she bring them the profit they had anticipated. Neglect was succeeded by petty persecution, and then by active calumny. Finally she was driven forth ignominiously to face the world once more.
However, her old friends rallied around her. One couple offered her a settled home, which became her permanent residence. At the age of fifteen, Margaret receivedthe habit of a tertiary from the Dominican fathers, who had lately established themselves in Citta-di-Castello, and thence forth, she lived a life entirely devoted to God. More than ever did God's benediction rest upon her. She cured another tertiary of an affliction of the eyes which had baffled medical skill, and her mantle extinguished a fire which had broken out in her foster parents' house. In her desire to show her gratitude to the people of Citta-di-Castello, she undertook to look afterthe children while their parents were at work. Her little school prospered wonderfully, for she understood children, being very simple herself. She set them little tasks which she helped them to perform; she instructed them in their duty to God and to man, instilling into them her own great devotion to the sacred Childhood, and she taught them the psalms which, inspite of her blindness, she had learned by heart atthe convent. We are told that when at prayer she was frequently raised a foot or more from the ground, remaining thus for a long time. Thus she lived, practically unknown outside her own neighborhood, until the age of thirty-three, when she died amidst the friends who loved her, and was buried by their wish in the parish church, where many remarkable miracles took place. The cult of Blessed Margaret was confirmed in 1609.
In 1558, Margaret's remains were transferred because her coffin was rotten. Her clothes were also rotten, but her body was preserved. Her cultus was recognized by Pope Paul V in an equivalent beatification on October 19, 1609.
Saint André Bessette
Alfred Bessette (1845 – 1937) was born near Montreal, Canada. Although illiterate, he entered the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1870 and was given the name Brother André. His first assignment, which was to last him 40 years, was as thedoorman (porter) of the community’s Notre Dame College in Montreal. Brother André developed a deep devotion to St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and thepatron saint of the Brothers of Holy Cross.
As people came to the school, burdened by their own struggles and suffering, Brother André directed them to pray to St. Joseph. When an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, André volunteered to nurse. Not one person died. The trickle ofsick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy; diocesan authorities were suspicious; doctors called him a quack. "I do not cure,” he said again and again. "St. Joseph cures." In the end he needed four secretaries to handle the 80,000 letters he received each year. Through Brother André’s healing touch, thousands of people were cured and he became known as the "Miracle Man of Montreal." One of his greatest material contributions during his lifetime was thebuilding of St. Joseph’s Oratory.
Brother André Bessette's hope for a substantial shrine to Saint Joseph, located on Mount Royal above the city of Montreal, stimulated large and small donations from many of the people whose lives had been touched by the holy man.
The Congregation of Holy Cross already owned the very property that would be suitable. Construction began in 1914. A crypt church seating 1,000 was completed in 1917. By 1931 there were gleaming walls, but money ran out. “Put a statue of St. Joseph in the middle. If he wants a roof over his head, he’ll get it.” The magnificent Oratory on Mount Royal took 50 years to build, and Brother André died in 1937 without seeing that completion.
Brother André Bessette, C.S.C. was entombed at the Oratory, and, with his body lying in state, more than a million people climbed the slope of Mount Royal to honor him. Today, the Oratory is a world-famous pilgrimage destination, attracting more than 2 million visitors a year. Those visitors have included Pope John Paul II. It isthe world’s largest shrine dedicated to Saint Joseph, the foster father of Jesus.
Saint Bessette’s incorrupt body is still at the Oratory of St. Joseph. Recognizing thesaintly life of this humble man, Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1982. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI, on October 17, 2010.
Quotes of Saint Andre: "It is St. Joseph who cures. I am only his little dog."
"God chose the most ignorant one. If there was anyone more ignorant than I am, God would have chosen him instead of me."
"It is surprising that I am frequently asked for cures, but rarely for humility and thespirit of faith. Yet, they are so important...."
"If the soul is sick, one must begin by treating the soul. Do you have faith?
Do you believe that God can do something for you?
Go confess yourself to the priest...then go to communion..."
"God is love and he loves us; that is the heart of the Christian faith."
"Practice charity with your neighbor—and this doesn’t mean only to give money tothe poor. There are many ways to practice charity. We could, for example, keep ourselves from examining our neighbor’s conscience."
Path to Canonization
Brother André was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 23, 1982.] The miracle cited in support of his beatification was the healing in 1958 of Giuseppe Carlo Audino, who suffered fromcancer. St. Andre is commemorated in most of the world by an optional memorial on January 6.
On December 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a decree recognizing a second miracle at Blessed André's intercession, and on October 17, 2010, formally declared sainthood for him.
Seaphina dei Ciardi was born in San Gimignano in 1238. Daughter of Cambio Ciardi and Imperiera, a declined noble family, she lived all her existence in a humble house located in the historic centre of the famous “city of beautiful towers” (today the small road on which her house stands takes her name). There is little record of the first ten years of her life, and what information we have comes from legends narrated after her death. Some documents say that she was very devoted to the Virgin and she went out only to attend mass. She was said to be extraordinarily kind.
In 1248, Fina’s life was changed by a serious illness, which began, progressively, to paralyse her (probably a form of tuberculous osteomyelitis). Her deep faith relieved her pain. She refused a bed and chose instead to lie on a wooden pallet. According to her legend, during her long sickness her body became attached to the wood of the table, and worms and rats fed on her rotting flesh. During her illness, she lost her father and later her mother died after a fall. In spite of her misfortune and poverty she thanked God and expressed a desire that her soul might separate from the body in order to meet Jesus Christ.
Fina's immense devotion was an example to all the citizens of San Gimignano, who frequently visited her. Visitors were surprised to receive words of encouragement from a desperately ill young girl who was resigned to the will of God. On March 4, 1253, after five years of sickness and pain, while her nurses Beldia and Bonaventura were waiting for her to pass away, Saint Gregory the Great allegedly appeared in Fina’s room and predicted that she would die on the 12th of March. Fina died on the predicted date. She was only 15 years old.
Saint Fina is celebrated in San Gimignano on March 12, the anniversary of her death. This has been an official festive day since 1481. Two years before (1479),the little patron saint was implored to stop the plague: the calamity stopped and this miracle occurred again in the same period of 1631. This happened on the first Sunday of August and still today Saint Fina is celebrated twice in the town duringthe year. On both days, her relics are carried in procession in order to bless thetown. Her example of devotion has been handed down during times by the peopleof San Gimignano through her worship, but in spite of the name “Saint” she was not canonized. So, as written in some paintings dedicated to her, it would be correct to call her Blessed Fina. In fact, the official patron saint of her town is still Saint Gimignano.