This depiction of St. Rose of Lima was painted by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo in the 17th century. Born in Lima, Peru, the infant Isabel de Flores got her more familiar name from an Indian maid who said she was “like a rose.” As a child Rose was given to fasting and mortification. After her parents refused to let her enter the convent and she refused to marry, she lived at home in seclusion. At 20 she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic, using a backyard hut for prayer and caring for poor children and elderly sick in a one-room infirmary in her parents’ home. She died at 31 and was declared the first saint from the Americas in 1671. (CNS)
This depiction of St. Rose of Lima was painted by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo in the 17th century. Born in Lima, Peru, the infant Isabel de Flores got her more familiar name from an Indian maid who said she was “like a rose.” As a child Rose was given to fasting and mortification. After her parents refused to let her enter the convent and she refused to marry, she lived at home in seclusion. At 20 she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic, using a backyard hut for prayer and caring for poor children and elderly sick in a one-room infirmary in her parents’ home. She died at 31 and was declared the first saint from the Americas in 1671. (CNS)

The pandemic has seen the rise of the domestic church — prayer and devotion at home. When it comes to household piety, Catholic matriarchs are the undisputed keepers of tradition.

Joan Galles, for example, says a daily rosary in her living room. A member of St. Therese Parish in Northeast Portland, Galles also prays to St. Anthony of Padua when she loses something. “St. Anthony is my man,” Galles said, pointing out, however, that her other man, her husband of 47 years, often is a conduit for the saint’s feats of location.

Galles buried a statue of St. Joseph in the yard when putting her house up for sale. The transaction was a success, again with her husband helping out the spiritual forces.

As a descendant of the Italian Giuliani family, Galles is a devotee of St. Veronica Giuliani, an Italian mystic who died in 1727 after a life that included service to the poor, mystical prayer and even the stigmata.

Galles had not heard of the old tradition of praying a novena to St. Anne when seeking a husband, a spiritual endeavor some Catholic women have summed up with a rhyme: “St. Anne, bring me man as fast as you can.”

“I had to get married without St. Anne,” she said with a laugh.

Galles, as much as she loves her home prayer, looks forward to daily Mass when it’s safe. She started the habit as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic more than five decades ago.

Jean Olson also was a daily communicant before COVID-19. Living at Mary’s Woods in Lake Oswego, she looks forward to Mass starting up again soon. At present, she prays in her room and calls on the aforementioned St. Anthony when something is misplaced. She also prays the rosary and has a special devotion to her vigorous patron saint, Joan of Arc.

Now a widow at age 90, she looks back on a home life steeped in Catholic custom.

For one thing, she named all six children after saints of the church, a tradition she misses. Each girl has a Marian quality to her name.

Olson, who attended St. Therese Parish, recalls having large parties for her children’s first Communions and confirmations. Each Sunday of Advent, her husband would light the Advent wreath and lead a prayer.

She made sure the family followed dietary disciplines, fasting an hour before Mass and abstaining from meat on Fridays. She baked many a tuna casserole out of pious devotion.

Mary Ann Sondag, a member of St. Mary Parish in Eugene, grew up Catholic in southern Illinois. In 1993, she moved to be near family in Eugene after large Midwest floods. Now 96, misses Mass. But Sondag prays constantly at home.

“I am in touch with the Blessed Virgin and St. Anne,” she said. “The Blessed Mother is my favorite. I call on her a lot.”

Her preferred title for Mary is Our Lady of Victory, referring to a success in battle for Catholic allies in the 16th century. That devotion came about when, as a child, Mary Ann and her family supported a New York orphanage called Our Lady of Victory.

Dominicans and local rosary confraternities began celebrating a feast honoring Our Lady of the Rosary in the 15th century. As Christian and Turkish forces met in battle in the Gulf of Lepanto (near Greece) on Oct. 7, 1571, Pope Pius V asked Mary to protect Catholic lands and Catholics to pray the rosary. The ensuing Christian victory was attributed to Our Lady of the Rosary. In 1572, the pope allowed some celebrations of Our Lady of Victory on the first Sunday in October; in 1573 the feast was changed to Our Lady of the Rosary, and in 1716 the feast became universal. The Oct. 7 date was fixed in 1913. (CNS)

Years later, Sondag prayed to Our Lady of Victory to help her son find a good wife. Sondag soon joyfully received news of an engagement and then learned that the wedding would be in a church called Our Lady of Victory. What’s more, it turned out that her daughter-in-law, before being adopted, had been a child at the Our Lady of Victory orphanage in New York. To Sondag, that is pretty clear evidence of otherworldly intervention.

Sondag also calls on St. Anthony for misplaced items. “He can help me find things right under my nose,” she said. “I think he laughs at me sometimes.”

Oguilvia Skelton grew up in Peru. Her home is a place of friendship and respect for two Peruvian saints — Rose of Lima and Martin de Porres. Her little Spanish language missal, printed in 1958, has prayers for both saints that she has recited for more than 60 years. She uses her missal every morning.

“I pray that they will help us in the crisis we are having right now,” said Skelton, 83.

This mosaic of St. Martin de Porres is from Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield, Illinois. The illegitimate son of a freed Panamanian slave and a Spanish knight became a hero to the people of Lima, Peru, his birthplace, for his compassionate care of the sick and poor. Apprenticed at age 12 to a barber-surgeon, Martin also learned herbal medicine from his mother. After working for several years at a Dominican monastery as a Third Order member, he made his profession as a lay brother in 1603. He founded an orphanage and foundling hospital, ministered to African slaves, practiced great penances and experienced mystical gifts. Martin was carried to his grave by prelates and noblemen and all Peruvians acclaimed him their beloved saint. He is the patron of hairdressers and interracial justice. (CNS)

For her, prayer and action go together. She is a catechist for adults at St. Mary in Eugene and helps with translations when needed. She works in the St. Vincent de Paul food bank and, before the pandemic, visited homes of those in need. She helps in a ministry to support seminarians, even baking cookies for the men.

Nowadays, her action is mostly limited to home, but prayer endures. She prays for those who are ill and is increasingly aware of God’s handiwork. “When I am working in the garden and look at the flowers I say, ‘God, you are so wonderful.’”