Death of Saint Bassian, Bishop of Lodi, Italy and close confidant of Saint Ambrose.
Death of Saint Lomer, priest, hermit and founder of the Benedictine monastery of Corbion outside of Chartres, France.
Death of Saint Nathalan, Bishop of Aberdeen and founder of several churches throughout Scotland, especially in and around Aberdeen.
Death of Saint Remigius, son of Charles Martel. Remigius was the Archbishop of Rouen who promoted the Latin rite and chant throughout Gaul to the Franks.
Election of Pope Benedict VI as 134th successor of Peter. This Roman born pontiff's rule would only be six months as the Antigerman faction would break loose after the death of Otto I and the insurgents would besiege Castel Sant'Angelo, imprisoning Benedict and looking the other way when his killers entered the prison. He would play a large role in the Hungarian peoples' conversion to Christianity.
Birth of Saint Canute who would go on to become King of Denmark and be martyred for his faith along with seventeen other faithful subjects. He would be stabbed to death at the foot of the altar after Holy Mass by his jealous brother.
Birth of Saint Wulfstan, Anglo-Saxon bishop of Worcester, England who would defend the faith against Norman invasion and end Bristol's slave trade.
Death of Saint Henry of Finland, Bishop of Uppsala, Sweden. He was martyred by an angry convert who would not adhere to the penance Henry had imposed in the confessional. He is considered the patron saint of Finland.
Death of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, foundress of the Religiou Order of the Sisters of Notre Dame, a teaching order that would prosper throughout North America. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982.
St. Sebastian was born shortly after Pope Fabian's death. He became a Roman army officer and converted to Christianity, rescuing Christians who had been unjustly accused. He discovered that Christian twin brothers MarcusandMarcellinus, who had been imprisoned and tortured, were close to succumbing to the enticing offers of pagan relatives to give up their faith. Sebastian encouraged them to stand by Christ and die for Him if necessary. This was confirmed by a miraculous light shining about him as he spoke. Sebastian cured countless sick through prayer and, by his example, led many pagans to the true faith. He encouraged all to not be afraid to die for the faith for Heaven would be their reward for their loyalty to the Son of God. Sebastian even experienced a visit from one of his disciples who had been martyred. This disciple came back to tell him about Heaven and that his own time to die was at hand. Betrayed by a false disciple, he was condemned to death by the emperor Diocletian and shot with arrows. Left for dead, he miraculously was healed by Divine intervention and proceeded to go right back into the teeth of the enemy, pleading for Diocletian to stop the senseless slaughter of Christians. But the emperor's soul was already satan's and he sentenced Sebastian to be beaten to death by brutal clubbing. This saint holds the honor of a double martyrdom or "Martyr Extraordinaire."
After praying the Angelus with the pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father reminded his listeners that every baptized Christian is called by God to contribute to "the mystery of communion which is the Church." That communion, he said, "will be manifest at the end of time, but is already present in our history."
The week of prayer will be concluded on January 25 with a liturgical celebration in the Basilica of St. Paul-outside-the-Walls. Cardinal Edward Cassidy, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, will preside as the Pope's personal representative.
In his Sunday talk, the Pope also mentioned that the day-- January 17-- was dedicated to Judeo-Christian dialogue in Italy. He prayed that the year 1999-- dedicated to God the Father, whose majesty is recognized by Jews and Christians alike-- could be "a great and happy occasion for inter-religious dialogue, especially with believers in the one true God."
Also, during his address before the Angelus prayer, John Paul II recalled his coming trip to America this week. "I ask you to accompany me with your prayers during this important apostolic trip. It will give me the awaited opportunity to return as a pilgrim to visit the Virgin of Guadalupe, Patroness of Mexico and all America," he declared. The Holy Father recalled that he had visited Mexico twenty years ago, in the first apostolic pilgrimage of his pontificate and he trusted to Mary´s intercession the "new Evangelization of America, where the larger part of Catholics and Christians of the world live."
Speaking to a Vatican television (CTV) audience on January 16, exactly eight years after the beginning of an allied offensive against Iraq in the Persian Gulf war, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States said, "To isolate a country is never the best solution."
Archbishop Tauran used the same logic to argue against continued international embargos on Cuba and Libya. Such isolation, he send, "lends itself to frustration and sometimes unreasonable reactions, and certainly not to mutual understanding."
Saying explicitly that he was articulating the official policy of the Holy See, the archbishop said that in the case of Iraq, further military options should not be considered. "The power of right should prevail over the power of might," he said.
In a recent visit to Spain, the Caledonian Patriarch of Babylon, his Beatitude Raphael I Bidawid, spoke on the difficult situation which Iraq is going through. This situation would be partly due to the economical sanctions applied to Iraq and maintained in the last years. Concerning the matter the Patriarch of about 600,000 of Chaldean rite Catholics in Iraq and Iran summoned the Western countries to put an end to the sanctions, warning on the necessity of a total condoning and not only a partial one. "With the condoning of the seizure of foods that the UN proposes, the whole country would become a field of refugees. Everything would stop: industry, agriculture, any activity, only in order to wait for the portion of food," he declared.
In an interview published by the weekly publication of the Archdiocese of Madrid Alpha and Omega, the Patriarch manifested his hope that Pope John Paul II may visit Iraq. "He has promised to go to Iraq, though it will depend on the political situation of the region, and that his health may permit it also," he said. A couple of weeks ago, the Patriarch had confirmed the Popes desire to pilgrim to the lands of Iraq as soon as the conditions permit it, "to be able to carry out a spiritual pilgrimage through the route of Abraham before the Jubilee. And we are all praying so that it may happen," he added.
Concerning the dramatic situation that this country is going through, Faiq Bourachi, responsible of the Office of Caritas International for Iraq in Amman (Jordan), pointed out that according to the government Iraq obtained help during the crisis only from the Catholic Church. This help was distributed between the whole population, Catholics as well as Muslims. The sanctions have caused the paralysis of a great part of the industry of the country, and at the moment a preoccupying lack of medicines exists. This situation is worsened by the lack of medical equipment, especially since some hospitals have been bombed during the military aggressions.
President Clinton is scheduled to be on hand to greet the Pontiff when he arrives at Lambert air field in St. Louis after his visit to Mexico. Although it is probable that the US Senate will still be considering impeachment charges against the President, it is highly unlikely, for diplomatic reasons, that the Pope would address that topic directly.
Instead, Vatican-watchers expect the Holy Father to speak with Clinton about the importance of religious liberty, pointing out that the American founding fathers were particularly eloquent on that topic. The Pope is also certain to discuss the need to establish a "culture of life" in the United States, and to oppose abortion, euthanasia, and genetic manipulation; he may also mention his opposition to the death penalty.
The Pope may bring up one of his propositions for the observance of the Jubilee Year: the need to lighten the burden of debt owed by Third World nations to the wealthier countries. That theme was prominently mentioned in the discussions of the Synod for the Americas. While he is in Mexico the Pope will promulgate an apostolic exhortation summarizing the conclusions that Synod, and the question of debt will certainly be addressed in the document. So the topic may be attracting special attention as the Pope arrives in St. Louis.
Finally, the Pope will probably speak to the President about US policy toward Iraq. The Holy See has been outspoken in criticizing US "aggression" against that country, and in calling for an end to the international embargo.
The great example of Christian life manifested throughout Father Pio's life attracts thousands of pilgrims every year to the Sanctuary of San Giovanni Rotondo. In view of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a great amount of faithful are expected to pilgrim to this sanctuary in the region of Foggia, Italy. As announced some weeks ago, the Capuchin priest will be beatified by Pope John Paul II in May, 2 this year.