Tuesday, April 14, 2015

St. George and the Other Fourteen Holy Helpers

St. George and the Dragon by Raphael

On April 23 Holy Mother Church honors St. George. Although he is probably most widely known as the patron saint of England and the saint who fought the dragon, St. George's history encompasses more. A soldier in the army of Emperor Diocletian, St. George quickly grew to a high rank. However, when Diocletian began persecuting Christians, St. George reprimanded the emperor for his actions. Diocletian responded by condemning St. George, who remained cheerful to the end, to a martyr's death. St. George is also named by the Church as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.  (Novena to St. George included at the bottom of the post).

The Fourteen Holy Helpers, who each have their own individual feast days, are collectively celebrated historically on August 8. Devotion to the Fourteen Holy Helpers collectively began during the Black Plague that devastated Europe during the years 1346-1349. During this terrible affliction, the faithful implored Heaven for help, begging the Saints for their intercession for protection and a cure. Among the saints that were most often invoked were the following fourteen, becoming known as the Fourteen Holy Helpers:

St. George (*as described in their litany) -- valiant Martyr of Christ
St. Blaise --*zealous bishop and benefactor of the poor
St. Erasmus --*mighty protector of the oppressed
St. Pantaleon --*miraculous exemplar of charity
St. Vitus --*special protector of chastity
St. Christophorus --*mighty intercessor in dangers
St. Dionysius --*shining mirror of faith and confidence
St. Cyriacus --*terror of Hell
St. Achatius --*helpful adocate in death
St. Eustachius --*exemplar of patience in adversity
St. Giles --*despiser of the world
St. Margaret --*valiant champion of the Faith
St. Catherine of Alexandria --*victorious defender of the Faith and of purity
St. Barbara --*mighty patroness of the dying

May we remember the intercessory help of these holy men and women, asking for their prayers to live a holy life so that we may one day enjoy their company in Heaven.

Prayer to the Fourteen Holy Helpers
Great princes of heaven, Holy Helpers, who sacrificed to God all your earthly possessions, wealth, preferment, and even life, and who now are crowned in heaven in the secure enjoyment of eternal bliss and glory; have compassion on me, a poor sinner in this vale of tears, and obtain for me from God, for Whom you gave up all things and Who loves you as His servants, the strength to bear patiently all the trials of this life, to overcome all temptations, and to persevere in God's service to the end, that one day I too may be received into your company, to praise and glorify Him, the supreme Lord, Whose beatific vision you enjoy, and Whom you praise and glorify forever. Amen.
--by St. Alphonsus Ligouri
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Novena to St. George
*Say once a day for 9 days, especially beginning on 14 April and ending on 22 April, the eve of the Feast of St. George.

Almighty and eternal God! With lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of the saint in whose honor I make this novena, and following his example imitate, like him, the life of Thy divine Son.

Moreover, I beseech Thee to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful Helper, the petition which through him I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saving, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul. Amen.

O God, who didst grant to Saint George strength and constancy in the various torments which he sustained for our holy faith; we beseech Thee to preserve, through his intercession, our faith from wavering and doubt, so that we may serve Thee with a sincere heart faithfully unto death. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Faithful servant of God and invincible martyr, Saint George; favored by God with the gift of faith, and inflamed with an ardent love of Christ, thou didst fight valiantly against the dragon of pride, falsehood, and deceit. Neither pain nor torture, sword nor death could part thee from the love of Christ. I fervently implore thee for the sake of this love to help me by thy intercession to overcome the temptations that surround me, and to bear bravely the trials that oppress me, so that I may patiently carry the cross which is placed upon me; and let neither distress nor difficulties separate me from the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Valiant champion of the Faith, assist me in the combat against evil, that I may win the crown promised to them that persevere unto the end.

My Lord and my God! I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His immaculate and blessed Mother, Mary ever virgin, and of all the saints, particularly with those of the holy Helper in whose honor I make this novena.

Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thy grace and Thy love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen.

God bless!

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