Today, April 23 is the feast of St. George the Martyr and the name day of Pope Francis who was baptized Jorge (George) Mario Bergoglio. It is a longstanding tradition in Italy for people to celebrate their onomastico or name day – the day of the saint for whom they were named at baptism. Many Italians celebrate their onomastio in a bigger fashion than their actual birthday.

To mark his name day, today Pope Francis donated 6,000 rosaries to youth from the archdiocese of Milan. This was done through the auspices of the Office of Papal Charities (the papal Almoner or Almsgiver) with rosaries that had been made for the 2019 World Youth Day held in Panama in January.

A Vatican note explained that the rosaries were made of olive wood from the Holy Land. Caritas Jerusalem organized the production of the rosaries, which gave work to the poor, to refugees, and to families of prisoners.

Tomorrow morning, the young people from Milan will attend the weekly general audience with the Holy Father.

In a note, the interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti said that, “accompanying [the Pope’s] gesture, the Holy Father asked the young people to remember him in a special way in their prayer, particularly by entrusting him to the Virgin Mary just a few days before the month of May” which is dedicated to the Mother of God.

In 2018 on his name day, Pope Francis offered 3,000 servings of Italy’s celebrated gelato to the homeless and needy and he actually marked this day by spending time with the needy and homeless of Rome, according to a brief note from the Office of Papal Charities.


Here is the latest missive from the Benedictine Monks of Norcia as they continue to rebuild their monastery and the basilica of St. Benedict after the October 2016 earthquake. They have been men of faith with a very positive outlook since day one of the catastrophic event that flattened the celebrated basilica. In this Easter letter, they also offer a link to their recent digital newsletter – definitely worth your while, lots of news and some great photos.

“We wish you and all of your loved ones a holy Easter week.

”The Easter Solemnity this year brings us face to face with the mystery of death, new life and Christ’s sacrificial act which brings those two together. First with news of the fire at Notre Dame in Paris and then the stories of the hundreds of dead and wounded Christians in Sri Lanka, we try to unite our prayers at the foot of the Cross, with all those suffering from these tragedies, and we pray that the light of the Resurrection will come through the darkness of sin and death.

“Our most recent print newsletter has just been sent to press, and in it, we have included some photos of the Easter Triduum at the monastery, details about our new canine guardians, and our progress in learning monastic sign language to maintain silence within the clausura. But because we want to share these many good things with you during this time of holy celebration, we’ve included a digital copy of the newsletter in this e-mail. You can view it by clicking here.

“To close on a lighter note: Those of you who have been regularly following developments “in Monte” will recognize the name Tertullian; not the early Christian Latin author but the monastery’s tortoise who freely roams our cloister. Dug into the ground hibernating, as is his custom during the winter months, we had started to worry that we had lost him because he had been “away” for an unusually long period this year. However, recently, he emerged from his hole and is now trotting about (at a turtle’s pace) again, much to the delight of the monks.

“May God bless you and reward you for your prayers and help as we, renewed with light from the Paschal mystery, continue to work to bring new life to Norcia through the rebuilding of our monastery. Prior Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.”

The monks ask people to keep their homemade beer in mind as its sales help in the rebuilding of the monastery after the devastating earthquake of October 2016 that destroyed their monastery and razed the basilica of St. Benedict to the ground. When the monks announced the damage in a series of tweets, they also announced that the monks were all safe. They have been rebuilding every since.



Today, the feast of St. George, is Pope Francis’ onomastico or name day, a big celebration in Italy. His given name is Jorge – George. A note from the papal Almsgiver states that the Pope wishes to celebrate his name day with the homeless and most needy of Rome. Therefore, today, the Apostolic Almsgiver will distribute 3,000 ice creams to those who daily come to the food kitchens, dormitories and other structures in the capital, run in great part by Caritas.

Matthew Bunson wrote of this saint in EWTN’s Catholic Q&A:

St. George is one of the most popular saints and is honored as a patron saint of England, Portugal, Germany, Aragon, Spain, Genoa, and Venice, and one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. He is also one of the most venerated martyrs in the Eastern Church.

Little is known of him in terms of historical details, but it is thought he was a martyr in the early 4th century. His existence is generally accepted by scholars. George, called “the Great” in some lists, was a martyr at Diospolis, Lydda (modern Israel).

His deeds were incorporated into the Golden Legend, and he became associated with dragons in Italian accounts of his life. The legends concerning dragons arose in the twelfth century and made him a model knight and a protector of women. George was venerated in England as early as the eighth century and was the patron of the Crusaders. The red cross worn by Crusaders, later seen in the Union Jack and in the decorations of the Order of the Garter in England, are called “St. George’s Arms.”

The Order of the Garter has been under his patronage since its founding in 1347. The cult of St. George is part of the history of the Crusades and England. He has been a popular figure for artists, depicted as a young knight in mortal combat with a dragon, a Middle Ages symbol of evil. The “Arms” of St. George are a red cross in a white ground. Feast day: April 23.

You probably know and/or have visited the church of San Giorgio al Velabro in Rome. Among other things, it is the station church of the first Thursday of Lent. The current church was built during the 7th century, possibly by Pope Leo II, who dedicated it to Saint Sebastian. The church was inside the Greek quarter of Rome, where Greek-speaking merchants, civil and military officers and monks of the Byzantine Empire lived. Pope Zachary (741-752), who was of Greek origin, moved the relic of St. George to here from Cappadocia, so that this saint had a church dedicated in the West well before the spreading of his worship with the return of the Crusaders from the East. (wiki-english)

The saint’s tomb is in Lodd (Lydda) Israel in a Greek Orthodox Monastery: https://orthodoxword.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/the-tomb-of-the-holy-great-martyr-george-from-lodd-lydda/

Best wishes to all those named George (that includes Georgina), Georg, Giorgio, Jorge and Georges (and a few I’ve missed in other languages to be sure)!


April 23rd marks the feast day of St George and the name day of Jorge (George) Mario Bergoglio.

But who is the Saint behind the legend?

According to an 11th century legend, St. George is the saint who killed the dragon, a symbol that iconography associates with the Devil himself.

Born in Cappadocia (modern Turkey), St. George is believed to have been an officer in the army of the Emperor Diocletian. He died a martyr’s death in the year AD303. The episode of the dragon slaying relates how St. George, protected by the Cross, killed a people-eating dragon, thus ensuring that Faith triumphed over evil.

Pope Francis and the question of evil

In his homilies, Pope Francis has often stressed that evil is not something abstract. It is a person with a name: Satan. At his Mass in the Santa Marta Chapel on April 11th 2014, the Pope said: “The life of Jesus was a struggle. He came to overcome evil, to defeat the Prince of this world, to defeat the Devil”. This is a struggle every Christian must face, continued the Pope on that occasion. And those who want to follow Jesus must “recognize this truth”.

Conquering Evil with Good

St. George defeated the dragon in a symbolic victory of Good over Evil. During his reflections at the General Audience of February 8, 2017, Pope Francis said: “We can never repay evil with evil. We must overcome evil with good, offenses with forgiveness. …This is how we live in peace, this is the Church. This is what Christian hope produces when it takes on the strong yet tender features of Love. … Because Love, said the Pope, is both “strong and tender. It is beautiful”. (Sergio Centofanti, vaticannews,va)

Click here to see vaticannews video: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-04/saint-george-23-april-2018.html#play