8 January 1917

Our airmen, very justly, have earned a big reputation for their skill and daring, but the ‘Allyman’ can still give them points in cuteness. The word ‘Allyman’ is probably new to you, but is the word used by our Irish boys for the enemy. They picked it up in France and it is simply a corruption of Les Allemands, the Germans.

Time after time I have seen our air squadrons sailing up and down, looking in vain for some Boche to devour and then the moment they went back to the rear for lunch out came the cautious Hun, took all the photos he wanted, noted positions of guns etc. and returned safely to his lines in peace, without a nasty air fight, in which he generally comes off second best.

This afternoon I saw a very clever bit of work. One of our planes was going along on its usual beat when literally, like a bolt from the blue, a German airman shot down on him from the sky. He had crept up at such a height that even our vigilant observers had not noticed him, then fixing his bearings by means of a powerful telescope he dived straight for our man before the latter realised what was taking place. There was a loud rattle of machine gun fire and the enemy was off as fast as he had come. I saw a thick column of black smoke rising from our aeroplane – a bullet had struck the petrol tank and the next instant it burst into flames.

Wherever the pilot was he was certainly a brave, cool fellow. To dive at once for safety would have meant destruction, for the rush of the wind would have carried the flames to the wings of the machine, and so with the petrol tank blazing fiercely behind him, he brought his plane slowly to the ground and saved his own and his observer’s life, though he was badly burnt in doing so.

Thoughts for January 8 from Fr Willie Doyle

Blessed Eurosia Fabris Barban

It is a mother whose gentle care was ever round you, whose arms were open wide that you might nestle on her bosom and tell a mother’s heart your joys and childish sorrows. Well now do you recall the thousand little ways that love for you was shown, the welcome smile, the kindly word, the soft kiss implanted on your cheek.

COMMENT: Fr Doyle clearly loved his own mother and he recognised the importance of this motherly love in his own life. Today is the memorial of Blessed Eurosia Fabris Barban who reached great holiness through her vocation as a mother.

Mamma Rosa, as she was called, was born in Italy 1866 and died in 1932. She was from a humble and poor family, and had only 2 years of formal schooling. When she was 20 years old, one of her neighbours died, leaving behind 2 small children under 2 years old. Mamma Rosa took them in and raised her as her own. Soon after this she got married and had 9 children of her own. Her home became a gathering place for the children of her town. In addition to raising 11 children, she became a Franciscan tertiary and was renowned for her care of the poor and sick of the region and through it all managed to maintain a deep prayer life.

There is something refreshing about Blessed Eurosia, as there is about Fr Doyle and many of the other modern examples of holiness – they found their holiness in the midst of ordinary activities. Blessed Eurosia simply served God as a mother. Fr Doyle simply served God as a preacher and spiritual director and in the last years of his life as a military chaplain. In both cases, the fulfilment of the duties that God placed before them gave ample scope for them to strive for perfection. Their lives do not exhibit the physical miracles that we often associate with some of the older, more well known saints. As such, it becomes easier for us to imagine that we follow their example, even in very small ways.

Let us pray today in a special way to Blessed Eurosia for mothers, that they may be faithful to their calling to create loving homes in the midst of a world that increasingly devalues the importance of their role.