Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

Constitutional democracy in west Africa. Extremely poor with a great inequality in income distribution. The majority of the six million inhabitants are Muslim; about 10% are Christian, about a third of them Catholic. Evangelization was entrusted to the Fathers of the Holy Ghost of Norwalk, Connecticut, who established a Vicariate Apostolic in 1858. Ecclesiastically, the country is governed by the archdiocese of

  • Freetown and Bo

and the dioceses of

  • Kenema
  • Makeni
Published in: on 10 March 2007 at 3:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saint Simon

Apostle. Called the Cananean, Kananaios or Kananites (Matthew 10; Mark 3) and the Zealot or Zealotes (Luke 6; Acts 1) because he had zeal for the Jewish law, and to distinguish him from Saint Peter; he was not from Cana as has been stated by some authors, nor a member of the Zealot party. His name occurs in all lists of the Apostles in the Gospels and Acts. After his conversion and call to the apostleship, Simon directed his zeal and fidelity to the service of Christ. Details concerning Simon’s later life are uncertain and often confused. The Greeks, Copts, and Ethiopians identify him with Nathanael of Cana; the Abyssinians relate that he suffered crucifixion as Bishop of Jerusalem, after he had preached the gospel in Samaria, confusing him with Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem; according to the Greeks he preached on the Black Sea, and in Egypt, Northern Africa, and even in Britain; the Latin and Armenian traditions hold that he labored in Persia. The manner and place of his death are likewise obscure; he may have died in peace at Edessa; the Latins claim that he was martyred at Suanir in Colchis; the Armenians believed that he was martyred at Weriosphora in Iberia. A cross with a saw is usually his atttribute, with reference to his manner of martyrdom. No record of his tomb remains. Relics in Saint Peter’s, Rome, and at Toulouse, France. He is regarded as the patron of tanners. In the West he is venerated with Saint Jude (Thaddaeus) on 28 October; in the East separately on 10 May.

Published in: on 10 March 2007 at 1:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Simon Magus

According to the testimony of Saint Justin, a native of Gitta, he was converted by the preaching of Philip in Samana and was baptized. When the Apostles Peter and John came to give the Holy Ghost to the believers, Simon offered them money for the power of bestowing the Holy Spirit and was severely rebuked by Saint Peter. He begged the Apostles to pray for him (Acts 9). According to legend Simon came to Rome and won many adherents by his magic. Another version makes him the chief antagonist of Saint Peter. By magic he rose into the air, but the prayers of the Apostles Peter and Paul caused him to fall, a scene depicted in the attached image. In the traditions of the 2nd century he was regarded as head of an heretical sect called Simonans.

Published in: on 10 March 2007 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

sins that cry to heaven for vengeance

Sins which on account of their manifest and heinous malice, cry, as it were, for vengeance, and call on Divine Justice to punish them signally. They are

  • wilful murder
  • sins against nature
  • oppression of the poor, of widows, and of orphans
  • defrauding laborers of their wages
Published in: on 26 February 2007 at 12:16 am  Leave a Comment  

sins against the Holy Spirit

Sins that embody a stubborn resistance to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and an open contempt for his gifts. They are

  • despair of one’s salvation
  • presumption of God’s mercy
  • impugning the known truths of faith
  • envy of another’s spiritual good
  • obstinacy in sin
  • final impenitence

Although no sin is absolutely unpardonable, those who sin against the Holy Ghost stubbornly resist the influence of grace and do not wish to repent. Hence their sin cannot be forgiven them.

Published in: on 26 February 2007 at 12:10 am  Leave a Comment  


A voluntary transgression of the law of God. It is a transgression (Latin: trans, beyond; gradi, to go) because it is an act whereby we go beyond the limits imposed on freedom. It is a voluntary transgression because it is committed knowingly and wiillngly. The law of God, which sin contravenes, comprises not only the natural and the Divine positive law, but also the just precepts of all legitimately constituted authority.

Published in: on 26 February 2007 at 12:06 am  Leave a Comment  

simple feast

(Latin: festum simplex)

A festival of lower rank than a “double” or a “semi-double”. The Office is said in a very simple form, with the psalms of the three nocturnes recited in one nocturne only.

Published in: on 25 February 2007 at 11:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saint Simon Stock

Saint Simon Stock

Also known as Saint Simon the Englishman. Confessor; general of the Carmelite Order. Born in Kent, England c.1165; died Bordeaux, France, c.1265. According to tradition, from the age of 12 he lived as a hermit in the hollow trunk of an oak tree, whence he was called Simon Stock. He later joined the Carmelite Order, traveled to Rome and Mount Carmel, and in 1247 was elected sixth general of the Order. Under his rule it spread rapidly in England and throughout southern and western Europe. He established communities in the university cities of Cambridge in 1248, Oxford in 1253, Paris and Bologna in 1260, and revised the Rule, making it more adaptable to European conditions. Later legends relate how the Mother of God appeared to him during a period of great oppression of the Order, and invested him in the scapular, granting the privilege that anyone who dies wearing the scapular is not eternally lost. The antiphonies of Saint Simon, Flos Carmeli and Ave Stella Matutina show his particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Represented receiving the scapular from the Blessed Virgin. Relics in the cathedral at Bordeaux. Feast, 16 May.

Published in: on 25 February 2007 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  


The word is derived from the name Simon Magus, a converted magician, who tried to buy the Gifts of the Holy Ghost from Saint Peter, in the first years of the church (Acts 8). Simony is the sacrilegious vice of purchasing ecclesiastical offices and benefices to which spiritual jurisdiction is attached. It was common during the Middle Ages, but especially in the 9th and 10th centuries, and was one of the remote but powerful causes of the Protestant revolt in the 10th century. Episcopal sees were bought by profligate men without training and even without Orders. The Church has repeatedly and strongly condemned this vice in the encyclicals of Popes and Synods, but never was her condemnation more strong than in the decrees of Saint Gregory VII.

Published in: on 25 February 2007 at 8:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pope Saint Silverius

24kb jpg portait of Pope Saint Silverio, artist unknown

Reigned from 536 to 537. Born in Rome, Italy; died in Palmaria, Italy. A subdeacon, he was elected through the influence of Theodatus, King of the Ostrogoths. After vainly seeking to convert him to Monophysitism, the Empress Theodora had him accused of abetting the barbarians in their attack on Rome. He was arrested by the Byzantine general, Belisarius; and carried into exile. His innocence established, he returned to Italy, only to be exiled once more. Feast, Roman Calendar, 20 June.

Published in: on 18 February 2007 at 11:30 pm  Leave a Comment  


Pool in the Tyropaeon valley just outside the south wall of Jerusalem, where Christ gave sight to a man born blind (John 9).

Published in: on 18 February 2007 at 10:04 pm  Leave a Comment  


(Hebrew: peace or rest)

City of Ephraim, north of Bethel (Judges 21). For three centuries after the conquest of the Promised Land it was the dwelling-place of the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant (Josiah 18). The modern Seilun.

Published in: on 18 February 2007 at 10:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

archdiocese of Siena-Colle di Val d’Elsa-Montalcino, Italy

Founded in the 4th century. Elevated to an archdiocese on 23 April 1459. Notable bishops and archbishops in its history include

  • Pope Eugene IV
  • Pope Pius II

Suffragen dioceses include

  • Grosseto
  • Massa Marittima-Piombino
  • Montepulciano-Chiusi-Pienza
  • Pitigliano-Sovana-Orbetello
Published in: on 18 February 2007 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  


(Hebrew: desert)

Name of several people mentioned in the Bible.

  • Descendant of Juda (1 Paralipomenon 4)
  • Simon, surnamed Thasi, brother of Judas Machabeus (1 Machabees 2)
  • Simon of the tribe of Benjamin; governor of the Temple (2 Machabees 3)
  • Simon who is called Peter, the Apostle (Matthew 4)
  • Simon the Cananean, the Apostle (Matthew 10)
  • one of the relatives of Our Lord, identified erroneously with the preceding (Matthew 13)
  • Simon the leper, a resident of Bethany (Matthew 26)
  • a Pharisee at whose house the penitent woman washed the feet of Jesus (Luke 7)
  • Simon the Cyrenean, who helped Our Lord carry the Cross (Matthew 27)
  • the father of Judas (John 6)
  • Simon Magus, a magician in the time of the Apostles (Acts 8 )
  • Simon the tanner, a Christian of Joppe, in whose house Peter had the vision commanding him to receive the Gentiles into the faith (Acts 10)
  • Simon called Niger, a Christian living at Antioch in the time of the Apostles (Acts 13)
Published in: on 18 February 2007 at 1:27 pm  Leave a Comment  


(Latin: silere, to be still)

Abstention from exterior occupation, especially conversation, that the mind may the better apply itself to pious thoughts; to meditation, or to prayer; interior silence consists in banishing wilful distractions and awaiting the inspirations of the Holy Ghost. Both are necessary preliminaries to effective prayer. In the religious life silence is kept the greatet part of the day; the period between evening prayer and morning Mass is known as the Great Silence, admitting a breach only for the gravest of reasons.

Published in: on 18 February 2007 at 11:25 am  Leave a Comment  


15kb jpg image of the Sikh Khanda symbol; supplied by Rahildevgan

Religion of a warlike sect of India, originating in the Punjab and centered in the holy city of Amritsar. Nanak, a Hindu of the Kshasttya caste founded this sect, d.1500. The name Sikh signifies disciple, and the strict observants were called Khalsa. The reigious system, a revolt from polytheism, ceremonialism, and caste-exclusiveness, took for its chief doctrines the oneness of God, salvation by faith and good works, and the equality and brotherhood of man. Continual persecutions reduced the power of the Sikhs, but they maintained their religious distinctiveness. Their sacred books, called the Granth, are preserved and venerated at Amritsar.

Published in: on 18 February 2007 at 11:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Sign of the Cross

The most important of the sacramentals. It is a symbol of our deliverance from Satan, and an emblem of God’s mercy as manifested through the crucifixion of Our Saviour. It consists in making a movement with the hands, or with some object, in the form of a cross. The ordinary method is to put the right hand to the forehead, and to the breast, and to the left and the right shoulder, saying: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The words and the action form a summary of the Catholic faith in God and the Redemption. We say “In the name” – expressing the unity of God; we mention the three Persons of the Trinity; the cross itself, made with the hand, manifests our belief in the Incarnation, death, and resurrection of Our Saviour, and shows that we regard Him not only as God but as man – for otherwise He could not die. The use of this sign goes back probably to the days of the Apostles. The triple sign of the cross was common in the Middle Ages, but is not now generally used except at the beginning of the Gospels at Mass. It is made by marking the forehead, the lips, and the breast, each with a small cross, using the thumb, and reminds us that we should worship God with our minds, our lips, and our hearts. The sign of the cross is made at the beginning and end of public and private prayers, in the administration of all the sacraments, and in all the Church’s blessings, over the people, the person, or the objects. In Baptism it is made 14 times; in Extreme Unction, 17 times; in the blessing of holy water, 12 times; and in the Mass, in various waysl 51 times. An indulgence of 50 days is gained every time we make it properly.

Published in: on 18 February 2007 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment  

The Sign

Publication of the archconfraternity of the Sacred Passion, and official organ of the Passionist Chinese Missions, published monthly in Union City, New Jersey, by the Passionist Fathers; founded in 1921.

Published in: on 18 February 2007 at 11:05 am  Comments (1)  

Siena, Italy

7kb jpg image of the coat of arms of Siena, Italy

City in Tuscany. The ancient city (Saena) was the center of a diocese in the 5th century. It was ruled in the 11th and 12th centuries by bishops who were also temporal lords of the surrounding country. A consular system was adopted in 1125, and from this time the history of the expanding republic is one of constantly changing government and continual strife. It was finally incorporated into Tuscany in 1557, and annexed to the kingdom of Italy in 1860. Gothic architecture produced in Siena its most excellent monuments, among which is the 13th-century cathedral containing numerous valuable paintings and sculptures. Siena was the home of the artists Duccio, Simone Martini (1285-1344), and the brothers Pisani; of the illustrious Gigli, and Cardinal Piccolomini; of many saints, including

  • Blessed Alda
  • Blessed Ambrose Sansedoni of Siena
  • Blessed Anna Maria Taigi
  • Saint Bernard Tolomeo
  • Blessed Bonaventure Tolomei
  • Saint Catherine of Siena
  • Blessed Francis Patrizzi
  • Saint Galganus
  • Blessed Joachim Piccolomini
  • Blessed John Colombini
  • Saint Rodolfo

The city is the seat of an archdiocese, and does, of course, have patron saints.

Published in: on 18 February 2007 at 11:03 am  Leave a Comment  


Ancient Phenician seaport, 67 miles from Caesarea, between Mount Lebanon and the Mediterranean, where Saint Paul stopped on his voyage to Rome (Acts 27). The modern port, Saida, is west of Sidon.

Published in: on 18 February 2007 at 10:50 am  Leave a Comment