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Saints This Month - 25 March Saint Dismas

Monday, March 30, 2009
Tradition has given the repentant thief, crucified with Jesus, the name Dismas. Apocryphal writings have suggested that Dismas was a member of a band of thieves which set upon the Holy Family during the flight into Egypt. Being moved with pity for Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Dismas is said to have made his cohorts retreat, allowing the Holy Family to continue unharmed.

On Calvary Dismas rebukes his fellow criminal (traditionally called Gestas) for mocking Jesus. In a great example of repentance and faith Dismas repents of his sins, and asks Jesus to remember him in his kingdom. Our Lord, ever merciful even on the Cross, says "today you will be with me in Paradise". This Divine promise has often led to Dismas being shown accompanying Jesus in the Harrowing of Hell and in opening the gate of Heaven. As a criminal, Dismas has been held up as a great practitioner of penance. He therefore has been adopted as a patron of prisoners, especially those on death row. Let us therefore pray for all prisoners and criminals, that they may accept the forgiveness of Christ and reform their ways. Let us also remember that Dismas is an example to us all. As a Russian Orthodox Good Friday hymn or exapostilarion puts it:

The Wise Thief didst Thou make worthy of Paradise, in a single moment, O Lord. By the wood of thy Cross illumine me as well, and save me.

Mark Davoren


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