150th Anniversary of the Apparition and Miracle of St. John Berchmans
We welcomed thousands to celebrate the holy and monumental occasion, the 150th Anniversary of the Apparition and Miracle of St. John Berchmans. On December 7, 2016, the holy heart of St. John Berchmans made its journey from Belgium to Shreveport, Louisiana. In the twelve days that followed, we celebrated with pilgrims from all over the world the life of this pure and holy saint.
Thank you to all who joined us for the liturgies, guest speakers, veneration, exhibit of relics and memorabilia and more!
Our Lord has spoken to our hearts and they are on fire: lives recommitted, the straight and narrow found again, virtues requested, and even miracles sought. In the words of Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien on Sunday, December 18, “… let our prayers be that of the psalmist: ‘Enlarge my heart that you may enter.’ St. John Berchmans, treasured patron, pray for us.”
Events & Speakers
Many exciting events took place at the Cathedral and Grand Coteau – view video recordings of homilies and presentations!
In December, 2016, his heart — in its container for holy relics — was brought to the Cathedral for the 150th anniversary of a miracle that ties St. John Berchmans to Louisiana.
View local media press releases covering the story of St. John Berchmans and his 400-year-old preserved heart relic which left its home in Belgium for the first time in 395 years.
KTBS 3 ARTICLE
SHREVEPORT TIMES ARTICLE
About Our Cathedral & The Life of St. John Berchmans
The Cathedral Parish strives for a liturgical life that transforms us into a community of evangelization, glorifying the Lord by our lives.
WATCH VIDEO http://www.christianworldmedia.com/_archiveapp/iframe-player/?aid=109053&cid=&aspect=&autoplay=
The Heart of St. John Berchmans Press Conference
Father Peter Mangum informs the media and the local community of the significance and the magnitude of this blessed occasion… The arrival of the Heart of St. John Berchmans.
Entrance of the Heart of St. John Berchmans
The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans is introduced to the relic heart by Father Peter Mangum.
Heart of St. John Berchmans Mass
Watch the full mass for the Heart of St. John Berchmans given at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans.
The Heart of Love – St. John Berchmans
St. John Berchmans was born in Diest, Belgium on March 13, 1599. He died at the seminary in Rome on August 13, 1621, age 22, and was buried there. However, because of the great love and devotion of the people back home in Belgium, who thought of him as a living saint, the rector of the Roman College sent the heart of St. John Berchmans to the rector of the College in Louvain, Belgium.
Cor Beati Joannis Berchmans Societatis Jesu donatum a Rectore Coll. Rom. Collegio Lovaniensi MDCXXI
Heart of Blessed John Berchmans of the Society of Jesus, given by the Rector of the Roman College to the College of Louvain 1621.
The top of the reliquary has the three items that St. John Berchmans is always depicted with. When on his deathbed, St. John Berchmans kept close to him a rosary, crucifix and Jesuit Book of Rules. From the Life of St. John Berchmans: And, kissing them, he said: Haec sunt tria mihi carissima: Cum his libenter moriar. These three things are very precious to me: with them I willingly die, and he called out the holy names of Jesus and Mary. The base of the reliquary has the traditional symbol of the Society of Jesus, IHS with a cross. IHS has been interpreted to mean In Hoc Signo Vinces, “In this sign, you shall conquer.” It was taken as a reference to the victory which Constantine won at the Milvian Bridge in 312. Before the battle, the future Emperor saw a sign in the sky the Greek chi-rho X-P, the symbol of “Christ” and heard “In this sign, you shall conquer.” IHS has since stood for Constantine’s vision and the Christianization of Rome. Most certainly, in the Holy Name of Jesus we shall conquer every enemy – and the last enemy to be destroyed is death itself.
From the Saints and Servants of God
THE LIVES OF … VEN. JOHN BERCHMANS
“It was judged advisable, moreover, to have his body opened, in order to discover the cause of so early a death in one whose fine constitution seemed to promise an unusually lengthened life … When his heart was extracted, which was done that it might be sent to the college at Louvain … the operation was completed, he was replaced in his coffin, and carried back to the church, there to remain until his interment, exposed to the view of those persons who had not been able to satisfy their piety the previous day.” (page 379)
Homily on Heart – Where We Encounter God
Father Peter Mangum – homily from November 6, 2016
Click here for the video
Local Media News Release
Shreveport is getting a very special visit. And with it will come hundreds of the catholic faithful to see a very rare and unique relic from Belgium.
Father Peter Mangum venerates Heart of SJB in Jesuit Chapel, Mechelen, Belgium.
Who is SJB
The Life, Death & Miracles of St. John Berchmans
Born the son of a shoemaker in the city of Diest (Belgium) on March 13, 1599, John Berchmans was the oldest of five. His parents, John Charles and Elizabeth Berchmans baptized and named their son John in honor of St. John the Baptist. And much like St. John the Baptist, John Berchmans showed great faith and commitment… even at an early age. His love of the Lord was evident by his reverent service at the altar for daily Mass.
In 1615, John Berchmans was one of the first to enroll into the Jesuit college at Malines. Upon entry into the university, he immediately enrolled into the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin. Through his studies, John Berchmans grew in mind and in spirit, and eventually sought to join the Society of Jesus, a decision that his father did not favor. Nevertheless, on September 24, 1616 (400 years ago this year), John Berchmans joined the Jesuit novitiate. Fearless and admired by all of his peers, John Berchmans requested, that should he be ordained a priest, that he would be assigned a chaplain in the army with the hopes of being a martyr on the battlefield. That however, was not in God’s plan.
“If I do not become a saint when I am young,
I shall never become one”
– St. John Berchmans –
On September 25, 1618, John Berchmans made his first vows and then left for Antwerp to begin his studies in philosophy. The next year, he was selected to go to Rome, where he would continue his studies at the Roman College.
Through his studies, John Berchmans was inspired by St. Aloysius of Gonzaga and the Jesuit English martyrs. From these tremendous examples, he built his spiritual model. John Berchmans had an appreciation and value for ordinary things, holding great store in them. which was a certain trademark to his holiness and his own personal motto: Maximi facere minima.
On August 13, 1621, at just the age of twenty-two, John Berchmans succumbed to Roman Fever and died, having received his last Holy Communion and making a beautiful act of faith in the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. After his death, large crowds gathered to be in the presence of his remains before his burial. He is buried in the Church of Sant’Ignatio, named after the founded of the Jesuit order, St. Ignatius of Loyola. His heart was taken home to Belgium where it has been since his death.
Learn more about SJB’s family, childhood, education, First Holy Communion, vocation, life in the novitiate, his mortification, his prayer life, virtues, humility, love of the Blessed Sacrament, love of Mary, life in Rome, his sanctity, illness, death, and miracles, please click the learn more button below.
The Life of Saint John Berchmans
The Miracles of Saint John Berchmans
The Acts of the Beatification
The Prayers & Litanies
The Miracle at Grand Coteau
In 1864, Mary Wilson, a strong-willed woman with Presbyterian roots, traveled to St. Louis from New London, Canada. What was supposed to be a short trip turned into much more when Mary met and was befriended by many Catholics in the region. Against her parents’ wishes, Mary decided not to return home to New London, Canada. She instead decided to become Catholic, and furthermore, she decided to become a nun.
Around the time she was answering the call of the Lord, Mary encountered a few health issues. In hopes that a milder climate would help recover her health, Mary embarked on a riverboat to Louisiana. She was sent to Grand Coteau, Louisiana, where she would train to become a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart.
Unfortunately, Mary’s arrival to Grand Coteau in June of 1866 did not result in better health. In fact, she was very near death. When all medical solutions were exhausted, the close knit group of sisters at the Academy of the Sacred Heart gathered together to pray. The community prayed a novena to Blessed John Berchmans that God would cure or at least relieve young Mary Wilson from her excruciating pain.
On December 14, 1866, the ninth day of the novena, from her bed in the infirmary, Mary Wilson, unable to speak, prayed within her heart, “Lord, Thou Who seest how I suffer, if it be for your honor and glory and the salvation of my soul, I ask through the intercession of Blessed Berchmans a little relief and health. Otherwise, give me patience to the end.”
At that moment, Mary heard a voice whisper, “Open your mouth”. She then felt someone place a finger on her tongue and immediately, she was relieved. She then opened her eyes and saw a figure by her bedside holding a cup in his hands. When she asked, “Is it Blessed Berchmans?” he answered, “Yes, I come by the order of God. Your sufferings are over. Fear not.”
About a month after the miracle took place, Mary was asked to document her account of the apparition to the best of her ability (see below for hand-written account). The canonization of Blessed John Berchmans hinged on the Vatican’s acceptance of the miracle as authentic. On January 27, 1867, Blessed John Berchmans appeared to her for a second time, to let her know he was satisfied with her statements, to urge her to be faithful to the religious order she had joined and to inform her that she would die before she became a nun.
On August 17, 1867, Mary Wilson passed away of a cerebral hemorrhage. She is buried at the convent cemetery in Grand Coteau.
Blessed John Berchmans was canonized by Pope Leo XIII on January 15, 1888.
To read more about the many miracles of St. John Berchmans click the button below.
Events & Speakers
Special Guests & Presenters
December 8-18, 2016 – Links to Videos
His Eminence Edwin F. Cardinal O’Brien – “Saints of the Holy Land and as benefactors, models …”
Fr. Peter B. Mangum, JCL, JV – Rector of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans – “Life and Death and Miracles
of St. John Berchmans”
Andrew Thomas, M.A. in Theology, graphic designer, illustrator, and sculptor, – “New Evangelization using
comics to spread the Gospel message to our youth: The Life of St. John Berchmans, true joy and happiness in virtue and in love for Jesus and Mary.”
Dr. Cheryl White, Ph.D, Louisiana State University – “The Theology of Relics”
Emilie G Leumas, PhD, CA, CRM, Archivist of the Archdiocese of New Orleans – Presentation and exhibition of archival material from SJB canonization proceedings and the life of Mary Wilson
Rev. Carlos Martins, CC, Director of the Treasures of the Church, Talk & Exposition of Sacred Relics
Calendar of Events
Local & National Media Coverage
Forum: “Following the Heart”
Letter from Pope Francis
Pope was aware of anniversary and events in Shreveport
Local & National Media Coverage
Rare Catholic relic coming to Shreveport from Belgium
Alanna Quillen Sep 26, 2016
- Shreveport is getting a very special visit. And with it will come hundreds of the catholic faithful to see a very rare and unique relic from Belgium.
- It’s literally a full embalmed heart of a Catholic saint. It hasn’t left his beloved homeland of Belgium in nearly 400 years but in three months, it’s coming to Shreveport to the church that bears the saint’s name.
- “Early on there was such a great devotion to st. John Berchmans,” said Fr. Peter Mangum, the head pastor at St. John Berchmans Cathedral on Jordan Street in Shreveport. “He had live such a beautiful, holy, reverent life.”
- St. John Berchmans in Shreveport is the only cathedral in the world that bears the name of the Catholic saint.
- St. John Berchmans was a young Belgian man who wanted to become a priest. He was beloved during his short life.
- “Kind of like a modern-day Mother Theresa,” said Fr. Mangum.
- While in the process to become a priest, Berchmans died at the young age of 22 from an illness.
- “The body was buried in Rome. However, the heart itself was taken from his body and taken back to Belgium to be there with his people and they were able to start veneration of the heart,” said Fr. Mangum. “And it has been in Belgium ever since. We’re talking about 395 years.”
- Until now.
- This December, his heart — in its container for holy relics — will be brought here for the 150th anniversary of a miracle that ties St. John Berchmans to Louisiana.
- In 1866, a woman named Mary Wilson joined a convent in Grand Couteau, near Lafayette, Louisiana.
- “where this young woman wanted to become a sister… Similar to the story of saint john Berchmans. He wanted to be a priest, but got ill and died at a young age. Well, it seemed like this sister was about to die at a young age as well.” 6
- But she didn’t.
- After nine days of praying to the then Blessed John Berchmans, a miracle occurred.
- “The sisters’ mother superior thought for sure that when they came back from the chapel, that they would go to the infirmary and find her already deceased. Instead, she was sitting up in bed,” said Fr. Mangum. “[Mary] recounted how she had received this apparition of St. John Berchmans quite literally there in the room…She was immediately, spontaneously cured. The doctors there have no earthly idea how this happened.”
- Those miracles that are required for sainthood and that miracle involving Grand Couteau was the last miracle required for the Vatican to make him a saint.
- The heart will arrive in Louisiana on Dec. 8 and will be part of Catholic services over the course of a week. The heart will also make a trip to Grand Couteau before heading back to Belgium on Dec. 19.
- “We have dignitaries fro Belgium; we have a couple of priests from Poland,” said Fr. Mangum, describing the multitude of visitors expected to Shreveport.
- A cardinal — one of only 120 in the world — will also be in Shreveport, along with Catholics from across the country.
- “Many people will be coming in specifically to see the heart. But that means people are going to be here staying in the accommodations here, eating the food around here, etc. So that there’s also a nice possibility for people to learn more about our Shreveport-Bossier area,” said Fr. Mangum. “This is something that’s big for the church and for any community.”
Pope Francis blesses visit of Heart of St. John Berchmans
Andrea Finney Dec 7, 2016
SHREVEPORT, La. – In a letter sent to Bishop Michael Duca, Pope Francis imparted his Apostolic Blessing on the historic visit of the Heart of St. John Berchmans. For the first time, the Heart will leave its homeland and travel to the United States. It will arrive at St. John Berchmans Cathedral in Shreveport on December 8th.
A letter from the Cardinal Secretary of State of the Holy See states, “The Holy Father prays that on this occasion, by the intercession and example of Saint John, the hearts of many will be converted to a deeper love of the Lord Jesus and a fervent desire to conform their lives to his holy will.” Alluding to the young saint’s desire to dedicate his life to God, the Cardinal says, “[The Pope] trusts that many young people will hear Christ’s call to serve him in the priesthood and the religious life, generously devoting their lives to the spread of the Gospel and the salvation of souls.” The message was forwarded to the bishop of Shreveport by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre.
On December 14th, the heart will travel to Grand Coteau, Louisiana to mark the 150th anniversary of Blessed Berchmans appearance to young Mary Wilson on December 14, 1866. She was near death in the infirmary at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. On the ninth day of a Novena prayed through his intercession, Blessed John Berchmans appeared to Wilson and immediately, completely cured her of her lengthy, debilitating illness. This miracle led to his canonization by Pope Leo XIII on January 15, 1888.
John Berchmans was born on March 13, 1599 in Diest, which is present day Beligium. He died in Rome on August 13, 1621 at the age of 22.
The Heart’s visit will conclude with a special mass at St. John Berchmans Cathedral on December 18th. His Eminence Edwin F. Cardinal O’Brien will travel from the Vatican to be the special guest of honor.
Centuries-old preserved heart of St. John Berchmans to visit Shreveport
Seth Dickerson, firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished 10:41 a.m. CT Nov. 17, 2016 | Updated 5:09 p.m. CT Nov. 21, 2016
A 400-year-old human heart belonging to a Catholic saint will visit Shreveport’s St. John Berchmans Church in December. The trip will be the first time the relic has left its home in Belgium.
St. John Berchmans’ heart will make its way from Shreveport to Grand Coteau in St. Landry Parish on Dec. 14, on the 150th anniversary of his post-life miracle.
“This is a joyous day,” Father Peter Mangum who on Thursday presented details of the heart’s journey across Louisiana from Dec 8 – 18.
Berchmans was born in 1599 in the Belgian city of Diest. The son of a shoemaker, he was the oldest of five and was named in honor of St. John the Baptist.
Growing up in the middle of a religious war between Catholics and Protestants, religion was a mainstay in Berchmans’ life. While his father wanted him to join a Franciscan convent, Berchmans desired to become a Jesuit, doing so in 1616. Berchmans died of Roman Fever in 1622 at 22.
The heart, which was taken from Berchmans’ body by the Romans and sent to his hometown of Diest, Belgium,has been enshrined in a reliquary for 395 years, Mangum said. The heart holds a lot of meaning for St. John Berchmans Church because of Berchmans’ well-known devotion to God and passion for prayer, Mangum said.
“The heart is the seat of the soul,” he said. “It’s the place from where we pray.”
The heart of St. John Berchmans, which will be in Shreveport Dec. 8 until Dec. 18. (Photo: St. John Berchmans Cathedral)
The following is an account of “The Miracle at Grand Coteau,” recounting Berchmans’ post-humus miracle in the winter of 1866. The Times found details of this account on The Society of the Sacred Heart’s website.
More than two hundred years after Berchmans’ death, Mary Wilson, a young recruit from New London, Canada, joined the Society of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau in St. Landry Parish on Sept. 20, 1866. Her health was poor, but it was believed the climate of south Louisiana could help her recover.
Wilson’s health continued to decline, and a couple months later she was confined to a bed at the convent’s infirmary.
“I do not think I had eaten an ounce of food for about forty days,” she said. “During that time I had taken nothing but a little coffee or tea, which for a week before I recovered I could no longer take. And for two weeks no medicine had been administered. The doctor said it was useless to torture me more. So, he stopped giving me any. The last two days I was unable to take even a drop of water.”
Wilson said she “endured the pangs of death.” Her hands and feet were cramped and “as cold as death.”
“All my sickness had turned to inflammation of the stomach and throat. My tongue was raw and swollen,” she said. “I was not able to speak for two days. At each attempt to utter a word, the blood would gush from my mouth.”
A stained glass scene of the birth of Jesus at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. (Photo: Henrietta Wildsmith/The Times)
She said she prayed to Berchmans for relief from her ills, placing an image of him on her mouth. “If it be true that you can work miracles, I wish you would do something for me,” she prayed. “If not, I will not believe in you.”
Wilson then recalled hearing a voice whisper, “Open your mouth.”
“I did so as well as I could,” she said. “I felt someone, as if they put their finger on my tongue, and immediately I was relieved. I then heard a voice say in a distinct and loud tone: ‘Sister, you will get the desired habit. Be faithful. Have confidence. Fear not.’”
She was healed.
According to the website, a doctor’s sworn statement on Feb. 4, 1867 after examining Wilson said he was unable to discover any marks of convalescence, but an immediate return to health from a most severe and painful illness, “I am unable to explain the transition by any ordinary natural laws,” the statement reads.
400-year-old heart of St. John Berchmans arrives in Shreveport
Seth Dickerson, email@example.comPublished 9:57 a.m. CT Dec. 8, 2016 | Updated 9:41 a.m. CT Dec. 9, 2016
The holy heart of St. John Berchmans comes to Shreveport. Henrietta Wildsmith/The Times
The heart, enshrined in a silver and gold reliquary, will be on display at the cathedral until Dec. 18, when it returns to Belgium. The Shreveport cathedral is the only one in the world that bears Berchmans’ name, and 2016 marks the 150th anniversary of his miracle.
“The amount of faith and devotion I’ve seen since this morning have been overwhelming,” Father Peter Mangum with the cathedral said after the first mass featuring the heart. “It’s been everything I imagined.”
St. John Berchmans’ heart will make its way from Shreveport to Grand Coteau in St. Landry Parish on Dec. 14, on the 150th anniversary of his post-life miracle where a woman alleged she was healed from a deathly illness after seeing an apparition of Berchmans.
The Holy Heart of St. John Berchmans in Shreveport
Red River Radio Spotlight: The Heart of Saint John Berchmans
By BILL BECKETT • DEC 7, 2016
Airs Wednesday, December 7, at 6 p.m.Bill Beckett spoke with Father Peter Mangum, Rector for the Cathedral of St John Berchmans, who joined us in our Noel Foundation Studio to discuss the “enshrined heart of Saint John Berchmans” which will travel outside of its homeland of Belgium to St. John Berchmans Cathedral in Shreveport. The Heart will arrive on Thursday, December 8th and remain on display until December 18th. For complete details and information about events surrounding this occasion you can visit their web site at http://www.sjbdevotion.org or call 318-221-5296.
Forum: “Following the Heart”
MONDAY, DEC. 5, 2016
FOLLOWING THE HEART
BY Susan Reeks
The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans brings the heart of a saint to Shreveport
The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans is looking to the 150th anniversary of the Miracle at Grand Coteau as an opportunity for the people in our community to reconnect to their faith by bringing the heart of a saint to Shreveport. On Dec. 7, the holy heart of St. John Berchmans will make its journey from Belgium to the Cathedral. In the 12 days that follow, pilgrims will come from all over the world to commemorate the events with liturgies, guest speakers and an exhibit of relics and memorabilia.
The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans is the only cathedral in the world that has St. John Berchmans as a patron. The Very Rev. Peter Mangum, rector of the cathedral, had the idea over a year ago to bring the actual mummified heart of St. John Berchmans, an elaborately encased relic that has been enshrined in Belgium for the past 395 years, to the cathedral here in Shreveport. When Father Mangum first approached the priests in Belgium about borrowing the relic, they laughed at him. “It took me a year and a half for them to say yes,” he said. “We’ve commissioned a special suitcase to be made so that it will be placed into it and be protected for the journey. Obviously, a priest from Belgium will be carrying the heart through customs until it finally arrives here.”
His Eminence Edwin F. Cardinal O’Brien will be attending the festivities as a representative from the Vatican in Rome. “The Vatican is very much aware of what we are doing here,” Mangum said.
People who come to venerate the heart will stand mere inches away from the vital organ of a saint’s body, a saint who has influenced even more people in the afterlife than he did when he was living. “People aren’t just coming to look at the heart,” Mangum said. “Relics are a window beyond, not this four-chambered organ that is pumping blood through the body, but in terms of the heart that is the seat of the soul of our personal encounter with God. The heart is mentioned a thousand times in sacred scripture as the place from which we pray.”
St. John Berchmans (1599-1621) was the son of a shoemaker from Diest in modern-day Belgium. He has been described as “angelic” and was muchloved by the people of Belgium who loved to watch him serve in mass. “He dedicated so much of his life through his own devotion to Mary,” Mangum said. “He constantly prayed for her intercession. He lived such a very good and holy life, all the way from his childhood until his early death at the age of 22. In fact, we can all think in terms of him in the same terms as we think of Mother Teresa. Everyone knew her to be a walking, living saint. Well, everyone knew St. John Berchmans to be a walking, living saint. For many people he, in turn, helped them to want to live good and holy lives. He wanted to become a Jesuit priest, but he died too soon.”
When St. John Berchmans died of Roman Fever, there was a post-mortem examination where his heart was removed and mummified. “Back then, in 1621, you couldn’t just transport the body over the Alps to be buried,” Mangum said, “so they buried him there in Rome, where he died. A Flemish priest wanted to take his heart back to the people of Belgium because they were distraught that their young saint had died.”
St. John Berchmans’ death in the 17th century coincided with another movement, the beginning of the Sacred Heart Devotion. “So again, we have that connection of the heart, the understanding of the heart as that place of encounter with God,” Mangum said. “The sisters of Grand Coteau, La., where the miracle took place … they are the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
“The Miracle of Grand Coteau took place 150 years ago at the Convent of the Sacred Heart,” Mangum said. “Here was Mary Wilson, a young woman who wanted to become a sister, and it appeared she was also about to die too young.”
St. John had been beatified, one step before canonization, in 1865. “All of these sisters wanted to pray to the intercession of this newly beatified St. John Berchmans, asking for his intercession to help her be cured,” Mangum said. “Of course, it was not by the power of St. John Berchmans that she was cured but through his intercession on the ninth day of the Novena, when she was in what they thought was her death bed. She hadn’t eaten in weeks or even been able to take water. Her tongue was swollen. The doctors of Opelousas said she was at the point of death.”
On that ninth day, the sisters left the chapel to return to Wilson in the infirmary presuming that she would be dead when they returned. “Quite the contrary,” Mangum said. “She had had a vision, quite literally an apparition which the Vatican has approved as the only apparition to have happened in the United States of America. And it happened here with St. John Berchmans, where he touched her mouth. She was quite literally completely, spontaneously cured.”
Not only was Mary Wilson cured, but after having been bed-ridden for weeks, she was able to get up out of bed. “She was hungry,” Mangum said. “She saw the mother superior and wanted to get back to her regular duties. She gave a complete description of what took place that day. The apparition, the miracle, all of it is archived now in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.”
“People then had a purity of heart,” Mangum said. “They were concerned about others and a world to come in a way that we need to be, but it’s so difficult when we’re concerned with things and technology. The earliest of Protestants, Henry VIII and Martin Luther, believed in miracles. One thing led to another, to now, where many people just no longer have an understanding of it.”
“Heaven still cares about what’s taking place here on earth,” Father Mangum said. “God is not the divine watch maker who made the watch and now He doesn’t care. He intimately cares, and there are times when there’s a break-through and there are miracles. Apparitions happen in the sense that there is some divine message that is not just heard or experienced by means of the healing, but seen as well.”
Historical items from Grand Coteau will be on exhibit at St. John Berchman’s Parish Hall, along with another 167 relics and artifacts. “We will also have the Missal, the big book that Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903) used for the canonization ceremony, Mangum said. “I will actually use it at one of the Latin masses. All of this will be a way of which we hopefully will once again come to know about the life and the miracles of St. John Berchmans.”
“Everyone is welcome,” Mangum said. “There are non-Catholics who come here for mass. They’re searching, trying to figure things out. We always let people know that theology is faith seeking understanding, but for so many people in the world today, it’s understanding seeking faith. There’s a moment when there’s a leap of faith. We’re in a church with beautiful stainedglass windows. When you stand outside and look at a stained-glass window, you don’t know what these images are. But when you’re inside the church, that’s when the beauty comes out. You’re outside the church, you don’t really quite get it, but when you step into it, all of a sudden, YES! Now you start to understand it.”
The heart of St. John Berchmans will arrive at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans on Dec. 8 with four masses to be held on that day. It will remain at the Cathedral until Dec. 14, when it will be taken in procession to the Shrine of St. John’s in Grand Coteau for the actual anniversary of The Miracle. Afterwards, it will be returned to St. John’s and remain for viewing until Dec. 18.
For more information, such as a calendar of events and list of speakers, or to schedule a group viewing, visit www. sjbdevotion.org or call 221-5296.
400-year-old heart of Catholic saint arrives in Louisiana Associated Press Dec 11, 2016
SHREVEPORT – A 400-year-old human heart that belongs to a Catholic saint is making a temporary home at a Louisiana church.
The Shreveport Times reports that the heart of St. John Berchmans arrived Thursday at a Shreveport church that bares the saint’s name.
It is the first time the relic has left the church in Belgium that it calls home.
It will be on display at the Shreveport cathedral until December 18 and then it returns to Belgium.
The heart is enshrined in a silver and gold reliquary.
Father Peter Mangum from the cathedral says after the first service featuring the heart that the “faith and devotion” he’s seen has been “overwhelming.”
Berchmans was a 17th century Jesuit scholastic in Belgium, and is considered the patron saint of altar servers. He died in 1621 while working on his Jesuit studies in Rome, with a reputation for tremendous personal holiness.
At the time of his death, in keeping with a long-standing Catholic custom regarding the veneration of the remains of people regarded as saints, his heart was removed from his body and placed in a silver reliquary in his Leuven, Belgium. He was formally canonized in 1888.
The miracle that cleared the way for his sainthood occurred in the United States, in Louisiana in 1866, one year after the Civil War, where a young female novice reported that Berchmans appeared to her in a vision and cured her of an illness. A shrine named for the Jesuit saint was built there, the only shrine in the United States located at the exact spot of a miracle officially confirmed by the Church.
Crux Staff also contributed to this report.
Relic of St. John Berchmans
- Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
The Schools of the Sacred Heart cordially invite everyone to join to celebrate the 150 thanniversary of the Apparition and Miracle of St. John Berchmans.
On December 7, the holy heart of St. John Berchmans will make its journey from Belgium to Shreveport, Louisiana. The heart will arrive at the Schools of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau on December 14, where it will be placed in the on-campus shrine which is the site of the miracle performed by St. John Berchmans that led to his canonization. Bishop J. Douglas Deshotels, Msgr. Keith DeRouen, and Fr. Derrick Weingartner, SJ will be among some of the local and international priests who will be on campus to celebrate the arrival of the relic.
Anyone who wishes to visit the relic at the shrine of St. John Berchmans is invited between 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 14.
Further details are available at www.sshcoteau.org.
The relic will also be at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in Shreveport from December 8-18. More information is available at www.SJBdevotion.org.
About the Miracle: St. John Berchmans was a young man from Diest, Belgium who wanted to become a Jesuit priest.
In 1866, a woman named Mary Wilson, a convert to Catholicism, joined the Religious of the Sacred Heart Convent in St. Louis, MO. After she entered she became seriously ill; in hopes that a milder climate would help her recover, Mary was sent to Grand Coteau, where she would continue her formation to become a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart. However, her health failed to improve and with all medical solutions exhausted, the Religious at the Academy of the Sacred Heart began a novena to Blessed John Berchmans.
On the ninth day of the novena, from her bed in the infirmary, Mary Wilson, unable to speak, prayed within her heart, “Lord, Thou Who seest how I suffer, if it be for your honor and glory and the salvation of my soul, I ask through the intercession of Blessed Berchmans a little relief and health. Otherwise, give me patience to the end.”
At that moment, Mary heard a voice whisper, “Open your mouth.” She then felt someone place a finger on her tongue and immediately, she was relieved. She opened her eyes and saw a figure by her bedside holding a cup in his hands. When she asked, “Is it Blessed Berchmans?” he answered, “Yes, I come by the order of God. Your sufferings are over. Fear not.” The church accepted this as the third miracle for his canonization in 1888.
Religious relic to be on display in Grand Coteau
Posted: Nov 03, 2016 06:10 PM CDT
Updated: Nov 03, 2016 06:10 PM CDT
GRAND COTEAU, La (KLFY) – History is being made at Berchmans Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau as they anticipate the arrival of a piece of the school’s namesake.
“The relic of the heart of St. John Berchmans is coming here to Louisiana,” said Father Peter Mangum, Rector of St. John Berchmans Cathedral in Shreveport.
Mangum says the relic is being brought to the school on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the apparition and miracle that took place in the school’s shrine.
“The religious of the sacred heart was very ill and she was dying, and the religious of the sacred heart made a novena to bless John Berchmans for the return of her health and that miracle did occur,” explained Yvonne Sandoz-Adler, Head of Schools of the Sacred Heart at Grand Coteau.
Sandoz-Adler says it’s not everyday that miracles happen at learning institutions.
“We are the only school in the United States that has a room in which a miracle occurred,” said Sandoz-Adler.
Sandoz-Adler says she was thrilled when she found out the relic of the very saint who performed that miracle would be coming.
“To have the heart of all things, to have the heart coming here, this is a very special opportunity to venerate one of our saints,” said Father Mangum.
Father Mangum is responsible for the delivery of the relic and says he was able to make this all possible after speaking with the Jesuits.
“For the first time in 395 years since the heart has been in Belgium, it will leave Belgium and will come here,” said Father Mangum.
The relic is expected to arrive on December 14.
Following a procession, there will be a school-wide mass that will be streamed live through the Diocese of Lafayette.
The public is invited to view the relic in the school’s shrine from 10-5 p.m. on December 14.
Copyright by KLFY – All rights reserved
How remarkable that we will have the Heart of our Patron himself, St. John Berchmans! Augmenting our celebration will be Father
Director of the Treasures of the Church, exposition of Sacred Relics
Carlos Martins, CC, and an exposition involving some 170 relics, including those of St. Maria Goretti, St. Therese of Lisieux (the “Little Flower”), St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as the supreme highlight: one of the largest relics of the Church’s claim to the True Cross and a piece of the Veil that, according to sanctioned tradition, is believed to have belonged to Our Lady.
The Exposition of the Sacred Relics is not merely a unique presentation, but, for all those who attend, listen, touch and pray with the Saints, is a spiritually moving encounter with the Church Triumphant. (Please view the Treasures of the Church website.)
“The veneration of sacred relics, which has a long and unbroken history in the Church, is an important reminder to us of our communion of the Saints, of their intercession for us and of the final goal of our life in the enjoyment of the Beatific Vision. Over the past decades, the veneration of sacred relics has suffered neglect, and Father Carlos Martins, CC, is to be commended for the Treasures of the Church evangelization apostolate by which he not only makes sacred relics available for veneration, but also instructs the faithful on the true and proper devotion to the saints and the pious veneration of their sacred remains. It is not surprising that many who attend the expositions experience a renewal of faith and are deeply moved by their encounters with these treasures of the Church. It is my hope that many parishes will have the opportunity to host the exposition of the Treasures of the Church for the spiritual enrichment of their faithful.” His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
Teaching true and proper devotion to the Saints is an important element of our Catholic Faith. As models and intercessors, the Saints are our benefactors, aiding us with the example of their lives and by their prayers. Relics are a tangible source of solace to the faithful.
With priestly and apostolic zeal, Fr. Martins presents a thorough and passionate explanation on both the Church’s doctrine of the intercession of the saints and of the historic practice of the veneration of their sacred relics. His multi-media teaching on the Church’s use of relics that is scriptural, catechetical, and devotional, leading to a renewal of the Catholic faith for many people. After his presentation, the faithful are provided with an unparalleled opportunity to walk among the reliquaries, to touch them and thus to venerate the saints in a profoundly incarnational way. The intimacy of this encounter with the saints was an experience that more than one person described as ‘life-changing.’
The veneration of relics is a communion with the heroes of our Christian faith, asking for their powerful intercession. Many people have reported outstanding blessings and conversions through this ministry, and many have reported healings.
What are Relics?
Relics are physical objects that have a direct association with the saints or with Our Lord. They are usually broken down into three classes. First class relics are the body or fragments of the body of a saint, such as pieces of bone or flesh. Second class relics are something that a saint personally owned, such as a shirt or book (or fragments of those items). Third classrelics are those items that a saint touched or that have been touched to a first, second, or another third class relic of a saint.
Scripture teaches that God acts through relics, especially in terms of healing. In fact, when surveying what Scripture has to say about sacred relics, one is left with the idea that healing is what relics “do.”
- When the corpse of a man was touched to the bones of the prophet Elisha the man came back to life and rose to his feet (2 Kings 13:20-21).
- A woman was healed of her hemorrhage simply by touching the hem of Jesus’ cloak (Matthew 9:20-22).
- The signs and wonders worked by the Apostles were so great that people would line the streets with the sick so that when Peter walked by at least his shadow might ‘touch’ them (Acts 5:12-15).
- When handkerchiefs or aprons that had been touched to Paul were applied to the sick, the people were healed and evil spirits were driven out of them (Acts 19:11-12).
In each of these instances God has brought about a healing using a material object. The vehicle for the healing was the touching of that object. It is very important to note, however, that the cause of the healing is God; the relics are a means through which He acts. In other words, relics are not magic. They do not contain a power that is their own; a power separate from God. Any good that comes about through a relic is God’s doing. But the fact that God chooses to use the relics of saints to work healing and miracles tells us that He wants to draw our attention to the saints as “models and intercessors” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 828).