Ghislieri was born in 1504 in Bosco, in the Tortona diocese. He
received the Dominican habit at age fourteen, and after his ordination
in Genoa, taught theology and philosophy for some years. He was Prior
and Novice Master of several priories during a time of great moral
In 1556, he was consecrated Bishop of Nepi and Sutri and,
the following year, was made Inquisitor General and raised to the rank
Pope Pius IV transferred him to the bishopric of
Mondovi in Piedmont, a diocese that had suffered much from the ravages
of war. Under the care and guidance of the new bishop, the region was
soon restored to peace and prosperity.
Recalled to Rome at the
death of Pius IV, he was chosen as his successor, due in great part to
the efforts of St. Charles Borromeo who saw in him the reformer the
Taking the name of his predecessor, Pius V
immediately introduced a new austerity and sobriety in the Papal States,
re-directing sums customarily used for celebrations and festivities to
aiding hospitals, poor convents and the truly indigent. He also
initiated the tradition of the pope wearing white, as he continued to
wear his white Dominican habit after being raised to the papal throne.
zeal and apostolic energy, he launched numerous reforms, from ridding
the Papal States of brigands to passing legislation against
prostitution. In countering the widespread practice of granting favors
and nominations to family members, or nepotism, he kept relatives at a
Pope Pius V also had the best edition of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica
published and, in 1567, he declared him Doctor of the Church. He
promulgated the Catechism of the Council of Trent and had it translated
into foreign languages. He also imposed on all parish priests the duty
of using the Catechism to instruct the young in the tenets of the Faith.
materially and prayerfully, he supported Don Juan of Austria and Marc
Antonio Colonna in the war against the Turkish fleet at Lepanto, the
maritime battle that broke the Ottoman power in the Mediterranean. From
the very onset of the conflict, the Pope had prayed almost continuously,
often with arms raised like Moses on the mountain. At the decisive hour
of victory, as a Rosary procession wound its way through Rome, the Pope
interrupted his work, walked over to a window, and with radiant face,
exclaimed, “The Christian fleet is victorious!”
commemorate the great deliverance on October 7, 1571, he instituted the
title of “Our Lady Help of Christians” and the feast of the Holy Rosary.
the following year the pope was struck with a painful disorder from
which he had long suffered, but which his austerities aggravated. He
died on May 1, 1572, at the age of sixty-eight.
Second Rose, from the Secret of the Rosary, by Saint Louis de Montfort
Since the Holy Rosary is composed, principally and in substance, of
the Prayer of Christ and the Angelic Salutation, that is, the Our Father
and the Hail Mary, it was without doubt the first prayer and the first
devotion of the faithful and has been in use all through the centuries
from the time of the Apostles and disciples down to the present.
it was only in the year 1214, however, that Holy Mother Church received
the Rosary in its present form and according to the method we use
today. It was given to the Church by Saint Dominic who had received it
from the Blessed Virgin as a powerful means of converting the
Albigensians and other sinners.
I will tell you the story of how he received it, which is found in
the very well-known book "De Dignitate Psalterii" by Blessed Alan de la
Saint Dominic, seeing that the gravity of people's sins was hindering
the conversion of the Albigensians, withdrew into a forest near
Toulouse where he prayed unceasingly for three days and three nights.
During this time he did nothing but weep and do harsh penances in order
to appease the anger of Almighty God. He used his discipline so much
that his body was lacerated, and finally he fell into a coma.
At this point Our Lady appeared to him, accompanied by three angels, and she said:
"Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?"
"Oh, my Lady," answered Saint Dominic, "you know far better than I do
because next to your Son Jesus Christ you have always been the chief
instrument of our salvation."
Then Our Lady replied:
want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has
always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New
Testament. Therefore if you want to reach these hardened souls and win
them over to God, preach my Psalter."
So he arose, comforted, and burning with zeal, for the conversion of
the people in that district he made straight for the Cathedral. At once
unseen angels rang the bells to gather the people together and Saint
Dominic began to preach.
At the very beginning of his sermon an appalling storm broke, out,
the earth shook, the sun was darkened, and there was so much thunder and
lightning that all were very much afraid. Even greater was their fear
when looking at a picture of Our Lady exposed in a prominent place they
saw her raise her arms to heaven three times to call down God's
vengeance upon them if they failed to be converted, to amend their
lives, and seek the protection of the Holy Mother of God.
God wished, by means of these supernatural phenomena, to spread the
new devotion of the Holy Rosary and to make it more widely known.
At last, at the prayer of Saint Dominic, the storm came to an end,
and he went on preaching. So fervently and compellingly did he explain
the importance and value of the Holy Rosary that almost all the people
of Toulouse embraced it and renounced their false beliefs. In a very
short time a great improvement was seen in the town; people began
leading Christian lives and gave up their former bad habits.
And of what should we be afraid? Our captain on this battlefield is Christ Jesus. We have discovered what we have to do. Christ has bound our enemies for us and weakened them that they cannot overcome us unless we so choose to let them. So we must fight courageously and mark ourselves with the sign of the most Holy Cross.
Benincasa was born in Siena, Tuscany, in 1347. The twenty-third child
of Giacomo, a well-to-do dyer, and his wife Lapa, the lively and happy
girl grew up in the Benincasa’s spacious house. Their family home is
preserved to this day.
At six years of age, Catherine saw Our
Lord Jesus dressed as a Pontiff atop the Church of the Dominicans. This
vision left such a deep impression upon her that she pledged herself to
family pressure, when she turned twelve, Catherine consented to pay
more attention to her appearance and had her beautiful hair dressed to
the fashion of the day. Repenting of this “great sin”, she cut it all
off and declared she would never marry – a scandal to her family. She
was set to menial labor, and harried and scolded continuously in an
attempt to break her resolve. One day her father found her praying, a
dove hovering over her. From that moment he ordered that she be left
alone to a life of prayer.
Received into the Dominican Order as a
tertiary in 1366, Catherine had a vision in which Jesus, accompanied by
His Blessed Mother, officially betrothed her and placed a ring on her
After this mystical betrothal, she was told that her
seclusion was over and she must mingle with her fellow human beings
seeking their salvation. Gradually, there gathered around her a group of
followers whom she guided in the spiritual life. As her renown for
holiness grew and the fame of her miracles spread, former suspicion
turned to veneration.
Catherine became the arbiter of a serious
feud between Florence and Perugia and the Holy See then at Avignon,
France. She visited Pope Gregory XI and convinced him to return to Rome.
Finally, through her mediation the cities were reconciled to the Holy
this time she produced the great work – later entitled “Dialogue of
Saint Catherine of Siena” – which she dictated under the inspiration of
God the Father.
With the death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378, and
the election of Urban VI, the cardinals in Avignon disputed the choice
and elected a rival pope giving rise to the great schism. Catherine
spared no effort in establishing recognition of Urban. Far from
resenting her help, he called the holy mystic to Rome to profit from her
But early in 1380, thirty-three year old Catherine
suffered a strange seizure after she offered herself as a victim for the
healing of the Church. On April 29, after much suffering, Catherine
gave up her ardent soul to her Divine Spouse.
She was canonized in 1461 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970.
Statue of St. Louis de Montfort at St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome.
Missionary in Brittany and Vendee; born at Montfort, 31 January, 1673; died at Saint Laurent sur Sevre, 28 April, 1716.
From his childhood, he was indefatigably devoted to prayer before the
Blessed Sacrament, and, when from his twelfth year he was sent as a day
pupil to the Jesuit college at Rennes, he never failed to visit the
church before and after class. He joined a society of young men who
during holidays ministered to the poor and to the incurables in the
hospitals, and read for them edifying books during their meals. At the
age of nineteen, he went on foot to Paris to follow the course in
theology, gave away on the journey all his money to the poor, exchanged
clothing with them, and made a vow to subsist thenceforth only on alms.
He was ordained priest at the age of twenty-seven, and for some time
fulfilled the duties of chaplain in a hospital. In 1705, when he was
thirty-two, he found his true vocation, and thereafter devoted himself
to preaching to the people. During seventeen years he preached the
Gospel in countless towns and villages. As an orator he was highly
gifted, his language being simple but replete with fire and divine love.
His whole life was conspicuous for virtues difficult for modern
degeneracy to comprehend: constant prayer, love of the poor, poverty
carried to an unheard-of degree, joy in humiliations and persecutions.
Blessed Marie-Louise Trichet takes the habit from Saint Louis de Montfort as the first of the Daughters of Wisdom.
The following two instances will illustrate his success. He once gave
a mission for the soldiers of the garrison at La Rochelle, and moved by
his words, the men wept, and cried aloud for the forgiveness of their
sins. In the procession which terminated this mission, an officer walked
at the head, barefooted and carrying a banner, and the soldiers, also
barefooted, followed, carrying in one hand a crucifix, in the other a
rosary, and singing hymns.
The desk upon which Saint Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort wrote the Treatise on True Devotion to Mary.
Grignion’s extraordinary influence was especially apparent in the
matter of the calvary at Pontchateau. When he announced his
determination of building a monumental calvary on a neighbouring hill,
the idea was enthusiastically received by the inhabitants. For fifteen
months between two and four hundred peasants worked daily without
recompense, and the task had just been completed, when the king
commanded that the whole should be demolished, and the land restored to
its former condition. The Jansenists had convinced the Governor of
Brittany that a fortress capable of affording aid to persons in revolt
was being erected, and for several months five hundred peasants, watched
by a company of soldiers, were compelled to carry out the work of
destruction. Father de Montfort was not disturbed on receiving this
humiliating news, exclaiming only: “Blessed be God!”
The tomb of Saint Louis de Montfort, where his remains were moved after his canonization.
This was by no means the only trial to which Grignion was subjected.
It often happened that the Jansenists, irritated by his success, secure
by their intrigues his banishment form the district, in which he was
giving a mission. At La Rochelle some wretches put poison into his cup
of broth, and, despite the antidote which he swallowed, his health was
always impaired. On another occasion, some malefactors hid in a narrow
street with the intention of assassinating him, but he had a
presentiment of danger and escaped by going by another street. A year
before his death, Father de Montfort founded two congregations — the
Sisters of Wisdom, who were to devote themselves to hospital work and
the instruction of poor girls, and the Company of Mary, composed of
missionaries. He had long cherished these projects but circumstances had
hindered their execution, and, humanly speaking, the work appeared to
have failed at his death, since these congregations numbered
respectively only four sisters and two priests with a few brothers. But
the blessed founder, who had on several occasions shown himself
possessed of the gift of prophecy, knew that the tree would grow. At the
beginning of the twentieth century the Sisters of Wisdom numbered five
thousand, and were spread throughout every country; they possessed
forty-four houses, and gave instruction to 60,000 children. After the
death of its founder, the Company of Mary was governed for 39 years by
Father Mulot. He had at first refused to join de Montfort in his
missionary labours. “I cannot become a missionary”, said he, “for I have
been paralysed on one side for years; I have an affection of the lungs
which scarcely allows me to breathe, and am indeed so ill that I have no
rest day or night.” But the holy man, impelled by a sudden inspiration,
replied, “As soon as you begin to preach you will be completely cured.”
And the event justified the prediction. Grignion de Montfort was
beatified by Leo XIII in 1888.
[Note: He was canonized by Pius XII in 1947.]
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CRUIKSHANK, Blessed Grignion, etc. (London, 1892); JAC, Vie, etc. (Paris, 1903); LAVEILLE, Vic, etc. (Paris, 1907).
AUSTIN POULAIN (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Habits acquired by our human actions alone do not perish by one single contrary act: for a man is not said to be intemperate for one single act of intemperance, nor is a painter held an unskillful master for having once failed in his art; but, as all such habits are acquired by the influence of a series of acts, so we lose them by a long cessation from their acts or by many contrary acts.
Peter Armengol was born in 1238 in a small village in the archdiocese of Tarragon, Spain to a family of noble lineage.
his parents took great care regarding his education, young Peter
forsook his life of privilege and turned to a life of crime, vice and
caprice. He joined a gang of criminals who lived as bandits in the
mountains to escape the authorities, and he soon became their leader.
later, when Armengol’s band of brigands attempted to ambush the retinue
of a noble Spaniard, Peter was astonished when he discovered that the
man he was fighting, and wanting to run through with his sword, was none
other than his own father. Overcome with remorse, the repentant
prodigal cast himself on his knees before his astonished father,
imploring his forgiveness. Peter resolved to enter a Mercedarian
monastery in Barcelona, an Order devoted to the ransoming of captive
Christians. So fervent was he in his repeated requests for the habit and
consistent in giving conducive proofs of his vocation that he was
For eight years, Armengol was the one directly
responsible for the ransom of the captives, but his greatest yearning
was to actually go himself to Africa and become a captive for the ransom
of Christians, a desire that God saw fit to grant. On a ransom trip to
the African continent, Friar Armengol agreed to become a hostage himself
in exchange for the release of eighteen children. He was to be held
until a sum of money was delivered for his ransom by a certain date. If
it was not paid by the date set, Peter would be executed by his Moorish
his captivity, he converted many Moslems to the true Faith by the
fervor of his preaching. However, when the sum of money intended for his
ransom did not arrive at the appointed time, his captors threw him into
prison, and subjected him to numerous forms of unspeakable and
excruciating tortures, which he survived only by the grace of God.
ransom still not having arrived, the Moors conspired to execute him.
Totally confident, even in that impossible hour, Friar Armengol
entrusted himself to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and
went calmly to his impending death.
Six days later, when the
company of Friars arrived with his ransom money, his body still hung
from the gallows. Torn with grief, they went to the site of the martyr's
death, hoping to at least recover his body, but were stunned when they
found him still alive! Peter explained to them how the Virgin Mary had
held him up and kept him alive until their arrival.
returned to Barcelona and lived a retired life in the Mercedarian
Monastery of Our Lady de los Prados where he passed his days in familiar
conversation with his Queen, whom he loved with such filial devotion.
That No Object In This WorldCan Set Our Heart Truly At Rest,Or Make It Truly Contented
The Longings of your Heart
1. The Voice of Jesus. My Child, thou art created for happiness. This experience affirms, this reason proves, this faith teaches.
Thou seekest incessantly for happiness, and thou dost well. But leave
off seeking thy happiness in things created: in them thou shalt not
No object of this world can satisfy the longings of thy heart; even
shouldst thou alone possess at once all things created, thy heart should
still be empty and wretched.
Things of this earth awaken the thirst of the heart, they cannot
allay it: yea, the more thou dost possess, the more eagerly shalt thou
How canst thou find in creatures that which exists not in them? Can any one give what he does not possess?
2. Shalt thou obtain what no mortal was ever able to
obtain? Behold, the wisest of men abounded in all good things, he was
affluent with ever-fresh delights, he astonished nations with his
boundless wealth, he had filled the uttermost lands with the renown of
Yet, on account of the void of his heart, he is forced to exclaim: Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.
Grant that thou possess whatever thy heart may long for in this world
: that thou be lord of the whole earth : that all men do thee honor:
try all things; and thou shalt find that thou hast as yet found nothing,
except vanity and affliction of spirit.
3. Do not wonder at this, My Child: thy heart is not
made for this world. Therefore, whatever this world contains is
unworthy of thy noble destiny and of thy heart’s affection.
Thou art created for greater things, thou art born for things
everlasting, thou art destined to things without limit. Do not then give
thyself up to what is low and mean, since thou art made to rule
What could it avail thee to gain the whole world, if thou shouldst
lose thy soul? Surely, thou wouldst be twice unhappy: here, on account
of the wicked state of thy conscience, thou wouldst suffer a torturing
agony; hereafter, thou wouldst have to undergo misery everlasting.
Blessed, therefore, is he who spurns whatever may mislead the heart;
who nobly casts aside every obstacle to true felicity; who, mindful of
his noble destiny, seeks happiness above all in his Creator.
4. The voice of the Disciple. My God, my Savior,
Thou didst create me for happiness; hitherto I have not ceased to seek
it, still I have never yet tasted, nor have I ever yet found happiness.
My passions were ever and anon crying to me: here it is, or there. In
my madness, I believed them, and, blinded by my unruly desires, I ran
hither and thither; but, instead of the sought-for bliss, I found
wretchedness, and tasted its bitterness.
Ah, wretched me! created for happiness in Thee, my God! I toiled in
vain, whilst I sought it in creatures outside of Thee; and behold! I
strayed still further away from the bliss for which I was created, and I
found wretchedness, for which I was not made, and perished therein.
God, my Savior! open my eyes, that now I may distinctly see this
great mistake of mine; and grant that, free from error, I may
effectually seek in Thee that beatitude which I cannot find in
“Voice of Jesus” is taken from
Arnoudt’s “Imitation of the Sacred Heart”, translated from the Latin of
J.M. Fastre; Benziger Bros. Copyright 1866
the quaint medieval town of Genazzano, about 30 miles from Rome, on a
side altar of the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, there is a small
image of the Blessed Virgin holding her infant Son. The Child, in His
turn, lovingly encircles Mary's neck with His arm, inclining her head
towards Himself in a gentle and intimate embrace.
This small fresco has a marvelous history.
the fifteenth century there lived in the town an elderly widow, by name
Petruccia, who had invested the entirety of the small fortune left to
her by her husband in a needed side chapel for her church. Her money
running out when the walls were only a few feet high, the townsfolk
openly mocked and ridiculed her for her foolishness. Undaunted,
Petruccia assured them that in spite of the apparent failure of her own
endeavors, the Mother of God and St. Augustine, whose spiritual sons
were caretakers of the church, would finish the work she had begun.
April 25, 1467 as the inhabitants of Genazzano celebrated the feast of
their patron St. Mark, marvelous music was heard approaching, its source
seemingly from above. Looking upwards, the astounded citizens saw a
brilliant cloud descending towards them. The bell of the church, and
then others throughout the town, began to peel of their own accord. The
cloud came to rest on Petruccia’s unfinished chapel wall and gradually
dissipated, revealing the extraordinary image of the Madonna and Child.
The widow's supernatural confidence being so wonderfully rewarded before
the astonished gaze of all, the construction of the chapel was not long
in its completion.
after these remarkable events, two foreigners in strange attire arrived
in Genazzano claiming to be Albanians. Their names were Giorgio and
DeSclavis and on seeing the icon, they cried out with joy and then told a
After the death of Albania's king, George
Castriota, known as Scanderberg, their nation had finally been conquered
by the invading Turks. Early in 1467, while they prayed before the
miraculous fresco, the image suddenly became illuminated, and detaching
itself from the wall, it began to move through the air. Entranced, the
two former soldiers followed the painting, first over land and, then,
across the Adriatic Sea, which solidified under their feet.
the Eternal City they lost sight of it, until hearing reports of a great
miracle in a nearby town, they surmised where their Madonna had come to
rest. Both decided to remain near their treasure, and married and
raised families in Genazzano.
A plaque left at the shrine by visiting Albanians begs their Madonna to return to them, but there she is to this day. It is
a continuous miracle: a fresco painted on eggshell plaster suspended in
the air for five and a half centuries, but how much greater is the
miracle of that tender embrace between Mother and Child, that union of
soul into which each one is invited and warmly received.
All the penalties imposed by divine judgment upon man for the sin of the first transgression – death, toil, hunger, thirst and the like – He took upon Himself, becoming what we are, so that we might become what He is.
learn from the Epistle to the Colossians that Mark was a kinsman of
Barnabas, who was a Levite, which presupposes that Mark was also of a
We read of Mark accompanying Paul and Barnabas
on their apostolic missions, assisting them in Cyprus (Acts 13:5) and
journeying with them to Perga in Pamphylia, from whence he returned on
his own to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). The Apostle to the Gentiles seems to
have construed this last action on Mark's part as displaying a certain
disloyalty. Later, when preparing to visit Cilicia and Asia Minor, a
heated argument ensued with Paul refusing to include Mark, while
Barnabas defended his cousin, "so that they separated from each other;
Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose
Silas and departed" (Acts 15, 37-40).
It is this same Mark who is
later imprisoned with Paul in Rome. As proof of how much his personal
opinion concerning Mark had changed during their joint captivity, the
Apostle to the Gentiles afterwards writes to Timothy in Ephesus, “…take
Mark and bring him with thee, for he is profitable to me in the
strongly affirms that Mark, the author of the second gospel, was more
closely associated with St. Peter. Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus and
Papias speak of Mark as being Peter's interpreter. Writing from Rome,
Peter refers to “my son, Mark” (1 Peter 5, 13) who apparently was there
with him. This is undoubtedly Mark the Evangelist.
Ancient tradition relates that Mark lived for some years in Alexandria as bishop of that city, and there suffered martyrdom.
city of Venice claims to possess the remains of St. Mark the
Evangelist, brought there from Alexandria in the ninth century.
Preserved by the Venetians for centuries, their authenticity has not
gone unchallenged. From time immemorial, however, St. Mark – Apostle and
Evangelist – symbolized by the lion, has always been honored as patron
of this "Queen of the Adriatic."
There was once in the city of Toledo, Spain a soldier, Diego Martinez, and a young woman, Ines de Vargas, who were in love.
Diego was called to fight in Flanders, so, at Ines’ insistence,
before a crucifix known as The Christ de la Vega, Diego solemnly swore
to marry her on his return.
With Diego gone, Ines felt lost and alone, and often sought solace at
the foot of the Christ who had witnessed their solemn engagement.
Years went by, Ines always on the lookout. One day, at the head of a
returning cavalry, she beheld her fiancé. She screamed and rushed to
meet him, but he feigned not to know her, and passed on.
Successful in war and prowess, he had not only been promoted to
captain, but had been knighted by the King, and no longer considered
Ines a worthy prospect.
Tears being of no avail, the spurned young woman took her case before
the governor of Toledo, Don Pedro Ruiz de Alarcon, claiming that Diego
Martinez had sworn to marry her. But the captain denied such a vow, and
with no witnesses, the case was about to be dismissed when Ines cried:
“Indeed, there was a witness–the Christ the la Vega!”
There was a stunned silence. But, this was Catholic Spain, and
finally, judge, Diego, Ines, court and the curious repaired to the
Basilica of St. Leocadia* , which housed the carved Christ.
Kneeling between Diego and Ines before the life-sized crucifix, Don
Pedro held up a Bible and asked if He, Jesus Christ, Sovereign Lord,
would indeed swear to the couple’s solemn vow to wed each other.
In the dead silence that ensued, all present heard a voice coming from the statue, “I SWEAR.”
At the same time, to the astonishment of all, the statue’s right arm,
descended, its hand coming to rest on the Bible which the judge held
So struck were Diego and Ines, that giving up all earthly plans, they entered religious life.
As to the Christ de la Vega, to this day, His right arm remains in
the same position, and, some affirm, His mouth slightly open in the
utterance of His witness. By A.F. Phillips *Now the Ermita del Cristo de la Vega
In the spiritual life, one does not sustain honorable losses. War honors come only with victory. And winning consists in not abandoning the cross even when one falls beneath it. It consists in persevering amidst the apparent failures of external works, amidst adversity, in the exhaustion of all of one’s strength. It consists in carrying the cross to the height of Calvary, and, there, letting oneself be crucified.
was born Mark Rey in Sigmaringen in Prussia, and was the son of the
town's burgomaster. Pursuing studies at the University of Freiburg in
Bresigau, he eventually taught philosophy, while working towards a
degree in law.
In 1604, he was appointed tutor to a small group
of noble youths and with them made a six-year tour of Europe. His
pupils, who grew to respect and love him, attested to the austerity and
holiness of his life.
On his return to Germany, he took a
doctorate in law and was soon known for his integrity and for his
espousal of the cause of the oppressed. Still, the corruption within the
legal profession disgusted him and he decided to enter the Capuchin
branch of the Franciscan Order.
He was a preacher and confessor
of great repute and from the beginning of his apostolic life fought
heresy, especially in the form of Calvinism and Zwinglianism, not only
through preaching but also with his pen.
Appointed, with eight
others, apostle of the region of Grison with the mission of bringing its
people back to the faith, he undertook the project with courage and
dedication. From the start the wonderful effect of his zeal infuriated
his adversaries. They roused the peasants against him by spreading the
rumor that he was an enemy of their national aspirations and the agent
of the Austrian Emperor.
Fidelis was warned, but chose to spend
several nights in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at the feet of a
crucifix. On April 24 he was back at his pulpit. A gunshot fired from
the crowd missed him, but once back on the road, he was attacked by a
group of armed men demanding that he renounce his Faith. He refused and
was struck down while calling on God to forgive his assailants, as they
mangled his body with their weapons.
The conversion of a
Zwinglian minister who witnessed the scene was one of the first fruits
of his martyrdom. Fidelis was canonized by Pope Benedict XIV.
the story of St. George is intertwined with legend, especially the
account of him slaying a dragon, the historicity of his life is certain. He
was of Greek origin, seemingly of a noble, Christian family. His father
was Gerondios, from Capaddocia, a prominent officer in the Imperial
army. His mother was Polychronia, from the city of Lyda, now in Israel.
a youth, he lost first his father and then his mother, after which he
enlisted in the Roman army under Emperor Diocletian. The latter favored
him in honor of his father’s service, and George was made an Imperial
By imperial edict, Roman soldiers were forbidden to
practice Christianity. Notwithstanding this prohibition, George loudly
proclaimed himself a follower of Christ before the Emperor Diocletian
and his fellow soldiers. Upset at the news, the Emperor offered George
an abundance of earthly goods in exchange for his Christian Faith, but
George was unmoved. He endured various tortures and was finally
beheaded. The Empress Alexandra was converted by his courageous example,
and some interpret that while the dragon often depicted being slain by
St. George is the pagan Roman might, the lady in the background is the
Devotion to St. George spread throughout Asia Minor, and
already early in the fourth century churches were being dedicated to
Throughout the history of Christian battles there have
been reports of St. George’s heavenly assistance, Richard I of England
and other Crusaders also confirming such intercession. It is not known
how St. George was chosen as patron of England, though it is certain
that his fame had reached the isle long before the Norman Conquest.
in the Roman Galatian town of Sykeon in Asia Minor, Theodore was the
son of a woman of ill repute, who kept an inn along the imperial
As a child, he was so given to prayer that he would
often give up a meal to spend time in church. From an early age he shut
himself up first in the cellar of his mother’s house and then in a cave
beneath a disused chapel. Later, for a time, seeking to further escape
the world, he sought solitude on a mountain.
On a pilgrimage to
Jerusalem Theodore assumed a monk’s habit, and though only eighteen
years of age, was ordained a priest by his own bishop. His life was most
austere, wearing an iron girdle about his body and only sparingly
partaking of vegetables.
Endowed with the gift of prophecy and
miracles, on a second pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he obtained abundant
rain after a severe drought.
Theodore founded several
monasteries, and ruled as abbot in Sykeon. He was consecrated Bishop of
Anastasiopolis, though he deemed himself totally unfitted. After ten
years he succeeded in relinquishing his post and retired to Sykeon.
Sykeon he was recalled to Constantinople to bless the emperor and the
senate and there healed one of the Emperor’s sons of a skin disease,
Theodore had a great devotion to St. George and did much to propagate devotion to him.
was born in Aosta in Italy about the year 1033. There was little
sympathy between the lad and his father, a harsh man who practically
drove him from home after his mother’s death to pursue his studies in
In the Benedictine monastery of Bec in
Normandy, Anselm met and became the disciple and friend of its great
abbot, Lanfranc. When Anselm was twenty-seven, Lanfranc was elected to
higher office, and he himself appointed Prior of Bec. Fifteen years
later, Anselm was chosen abbot, a position that entailed visits to
England where the abbey had property, and where Lanfranc was now
Archbishop of Canterbury.
original thinker and great scholar, Anselm had a burning passion to
learn about natural and supernatural truth. He developed a method of
study for which he came to be known as the "Father of Scholasticism."
Under his governance, first as prior and then as abbot, the Abbey of Bec
became a center of true reformation in Normandy and England.
all, Anselm's great merit lay in his earnest and conscious effort of
living according to what he learned from the study of divine truths. His
life truly was a combination of contemplation, study, prayer, writing,
As the seat of Canterbury became vacant, the
pastoral staff was forced into the monk’s reluctant hand. Now, as
archbishop, he set about defending the liberties and rights of the
Church against encroaching English monarchs for which he was sorely
persecuted and exiled, but ultimately upheld, by Pope Urban II.
in Rome in 1098, Anselm attended the Council of Bari and assisted in
the definition of the doctrines challenged by the Greeks.
was a character of singular charm. He was known for his sympathy and
sincerity which won him the affection of men of all classes and
nationalities. A friend of the poorest of the poor, his care also
extended to slaves, being one of the first to stand against slavery. In
1102, at the Council of Westminster, he obtained the passing of a
resolution prohibiting the practice of selling men like cattle.
Anselm of Canterbury died in 1109 and was declared Doctor of the Church in 1720.
“Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and ye shall find rest for your soul.” Matthew 11:29
Admonitions Useful For Purifying The Heart
1. The Voice of Jesus. Learn of Me because I am meek and humble of Heart; and ye shall find rest for your souls.
The voice of the Disciple. These are the words of Jesus Christ,
whereby we are commanded to learn and imitate the Virtues of His Heart,
that we may be set free from all misery of soul, and be made truly
This is His doctrine, this is the method of learning, this is the fruit, this is the end.
The first inducement to learn is the excellence of the Master. What
is there more excellent than the Son of God, who alone is our Master,
appointed by His eternal Father, in whom also are all the treasures of
the wisdom and knowledge of God?
His doctrine is the truth, surpassing all the arts and sciences of
this world: it smoothes the way not to some perishable wealth, some
passing pleasures, or a short-lived renown: but to boundless riches,
that cease not to last, to unuttered delights, that are constant, to
honors supreme, that endure for ever.
Whatever He taught us to do, He reduced to one lesson: Learn of Me
because I am meek and humble of Heart: this He adapted to all men, this
He gives to all, that all may learn the same, the little as well as the
great; knowing full well that in this precept, if rightly understood and
kept, are contained all things necessary.
His whole life was the application of this doctrine, which He began to practice, before He taught it to others.
2. Let us learn this short lesson and we shall be
wise enough, and sufficiently instructed, nor shall we have to look for
The method of learning consists in action, which is performed in two ways: by studying and by practicing.
But first, in order to understand what we strive to learn, and reduce
to practice what we have understood, we must pray earnestly.
Afterwards, we must diligently revolve in our mind the depth, the
height, the breadth of the lesson; keeping unceasingly before our eyes
the divine likeness of our Master, and examining what we ought to amend,
what to avoid, what to hold, and to what to aspire.
Lastly, since it is not enough to know, but we must also practice,
the lesson, as it wholly congests in action, and can only be perfectly
learnt by acting; we must, as soon as we begin to learn, also begin to
practice, showing ourselves before God and men, meek and humble of heart
in thought, word and deed.
And, whilst we progress in understanding and practice, we should so
labor that the spirit of the lesson unfold itself ever more perfectly in
the plan of our life, in our inmost feelings, in our conversations, in
our every action, yea, in the very modifications of the same.
“Voice of Jesus” is taken from
Arnoudt’s “Imitation of the Sacred Heart”, translated from the Latin of
J.M. Fastre; Benziger Bros. Copyright 1866
Pray for the reestablishment of the kingdom of God, for the spread of the Faith, for the praise and triumph of our Holy Mother Church … Pray for the unfaithful and for heretics and for the conversion of sinners.
the year 1268 in the Tuscan village of Gracchiano-Vecchio, a child was
born to a well-to-do couple, a little girl who was to become one of the
great women saints of the Dominican Order.
Attracted to prayer
from an early age, even as a child Agnes would spend hours on her knees
praying the Our Father and Hail Mary. At nine years of age, she
convinced her parents to place her in the nearby Franciscan monastery at
Montelpuciano. In the austerity of monastic life, she advanced in
virtue by leaps and bounds.
Five years later, Agnes was called
upon to leave Montepulciano to assist in the foundation of a new convent
in Proceno. As soon as it was known that Agnes was at Proceno, several
girls offered themselves as postulants. With special papal dispensation,
the fifteen-year-old Agnes was elected abbess.
From that day
onwards, she redoubled her austerities, living for fifteen years on
bread and water, and sleeping on the ground with a stone pillow.
the inhabitants of Montelpuciano pined for their now famous saint, and
on the plans to build a new convent for her, she returned. The
establishment flourished under her rule and guidance, and she remained
prioress of this convent until her death.
In her later years, she
suffered from a painful illness but did not allow this condition to
interfere with her duties. She died at the age of forty-nine.
a youth, Alphege became a monk in the monastery of Deerhurst in
Gloucestershire, England, afterwards an anchorite and later an abbot in a
monastery in Bath. At thirty, at the insistence of St. Dunstan and to
his great consternation, he was elected Bishop of Winchester. As bishop,
he maintained the same austerity of life as when a monk. During his
episcopate he was so generous toward the poor that there were no beggars
left in the diocese of Winchester.
Alphege served twenty-two
years as bishop of this see and was then translated to the see of
Canterbury at the death of Archbishop Aelfric.
period, England suffered from the ravages of the Danes who joined forces
with the rebel Earl Edric, marched on Kent and laid siege to
Canterbury. When the city was betrayed, there was a terrible massacre,
men and women, old and young, dying by the sword.
hastened to the defense of his people, and pressing through the crowd
begged the Danes to cease the carnage. He was immediately seized,
roughly handled, and imprisoned.
A mysterious and deadly plague
broke out among the Danes, and, despite the fact that the holy prelate
had healed many of their own with his prayers and by giving them blessed
bread, the Danes demanded an exorbitant ransom for his release. As the
Archbishop protested that the country was too poor to pay such a price,
he was brutally assassinated.
St. Alphege was the first
Archbishop of Canterbury to die a violent death. In 1023, the martyr's
body was translated with great ceremony to Canterbury accompanied by the
Danish King Canute. Although he did not die directly in defense of the
Faith, St. Alphege is considered a martyr of justice.
Galdinus was born about the year 1096 into the Della Salla family, of minor Milanese nobility.
lived in a tumultuous time for the Church in Italy with the Emperor
Frederick Barbarossa causing trouble. Opposed to the election of Pope
Alexander III in 1159, Barbarossa proceeded to rally a few dissident
cardinals that elected another Pope. When the people of Milan sided with
the legitimate Pope, the Emperor invaded.
Galdinus, who occupied
the post of chancellor and archdeacon under Hubert, the Archbishop of
Milan, was obliged to follow the prelate into exile.
Galdinus was created Cardinal, and upon the death of Archbishop Hubert,
was consecrated his successor by Pope Alexander III himself. The new
prelate went about comforting his war-weary people and gathering his
dispersed flock. He also re-enforced discipline among his clergy who
had, during the troubled times, become lax.
heart and soul into the new undertaking, Galdinus preached constantly,
not only healing the spiritual wounds caused by the schism but
clarifying the faith to those confused by the heretical doctrine of the
Cathars, then widely prevalent in the north of Italy. The Cathari, or
Albigensians, rejected the seven sacraments, had special hatred for the
Holy Eucharist and Matrimony, and believed that the physical world was
all evil. Among their bizarre beliefs was that women must be reborn as
men in order to achieve salvation.
On the last day of his life,
too weak to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the ardent
shepherd could not be kept from his pulpit. When the zealous preacher
came to the end of his discourse, he simply died at his post.
Harding was an Englishman of an honorable family, and heir to a large
estate. Born in Dorset, he was educated at the monastery of
Sherborne and spoke English, Norman, French and Latin.
of seeking a more perfect way of Christian perfection, he, with a devout
companion, traveled into Scotland and afterwards to Paris and to Rome.
On their return journey, the two travelers chanced upon a collection of
huts in the forest of Molesme in Burgundy, where monks lived in great
austerity. Struck by their way of life and finding kindred spirits in
Robert the Abbot, and Alberic the Prior, he bid his friend goodbye and
threw in his lot with the monks.
After some years, finding that
religious fervor had waned considerably, Stephen, Robert, Alberic and
others went to Lyons and with the support of Bishop Hugh struck a new
foundation in the forest of Citeaux sponsored by Rainald, Lord of
Beaune, and Odo, Duke of Burgundy.
Later Robert returned to his
monks of Molesme who reclaimed him as their abbot, and upon the death of
Alberic, in 1109, Stephen succeeded him as Abbot of Citeaux.
immediately instituted such austere measures to keep the spirit of the
world out that he alienated the support of many who had helped to
establish the abbey. Novices ceased applying, and to make matters worse,
a mysterious disease decimated his monks to the point that even
Stephen’s stout heart began to quiver wondering if he were really doing
God answered him dramatically when thirty noblemen
knocked at the abbey’s door seeking admittance. They were headed by
young St. Bernard who in his zeal had convinced his brothers, uncles and
a number of his acquaintances to give up the world with him.
numbers called for additional foundations and the first two were made
at Morimond and Clairvaux. To the general surprise, Stephen appointed
twenty-four-year-old Bernard as Abbot of Clairvaux. When nine abbeys had
sprung from Citeaux, Stephen drew up the statutes of his Charter of Charity which officially organized the Cistercians into an order.
Stephen Harding died in 1134, advanced in age and nearly blind, and having served as Abbot of Cîteaux for twenty-five years.
Soubirous, baptized Marie Bernarde, was the oldest of a family of six,
the daughter of a miller, Francis Soubirous and wife, Louise Casterot.
They lived in Lourdes, a small town in the French Pyrennes.
Her father came on hard times, and they
moved into a former prison. The damp place did not help Bernadette who
had severe asthma and delicate health. Considered slow to learn, she
had the simplicity of a dove, was good, patient, and nothing but honest.
On February 11, 1858 walking with her
sister and two friends, her companions skipped over stones to cross the
River Gave to gather sticks for fuel in the grotto of Massabielle.
Hesitant about wading in the cold water,
the asthmatic Bernadette sat on a rock when a sudden gust of wind made
her look up. In the grotto she beheld a luminous lady, dressed in white
with a blue sash around her waist, golden roses on her feet and a
rosary over her arm.
Report of the vision caused a commotion,
and people began to accompany Bernadette to the grotto where,
altogether, there were eighteen apparitions in a period of two months.
On March 25 the lady revealed herself as “The Immaculate Conception”,
four years after the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate
Conception. The Virgin’s message was one of prayer and personal
conversion and she also asked for a church to be built.
At one of the apparitions Bernadette
suddenly began to dig inside the grotto, from whence emerged a fountain
that flows abundantly today, which water has worked countless cures,
though only 67 are officially recognized by the church and medicine.
the apparitions, though her father’s life improved with offers of work,
Bernadette’s was continuously harassed by visitors and by
In 1866 she entered the convent of Notre
Dame de Nevers where, despite her delicate health, she served as
infirmarian and sacristan. Developing a painful, fatal tuberculosis of
the bone, Bernardette suffered patiently until her death at age thirty
five on April 16, 1879. She died reaffirming the veracity of her
is today one of the most visited and beloved Catholic shrines in the
world. Bernadette’s body lies in Nevers miraculously incorrupt.
Do we lie to our children when we tell them fairytales, parents may ask?
No fairytale matches what in reality God can do and will do for those
who trust His omnipotence. Thus, fairytales are a way of “wetting the
appetite” of children for the marvelous, wonder-filled world of God’s
miracles, and, finally Heaven.
In my Catholic home, as I graduated from fairytales to the lives of
the saints, I was pleasantly surprised to find amazing parallels between
their stories with the marvelous tales of my childhood.
Actually, my fairytales paled compared to the riveting miracles, God
Our Lord, and Mother Mary, true “Fairy God’s Mother”, had worked in
these saints’ lives. And then, one day, I was awe-struck on being shown a
photo of the incorrupt body of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, who saw the
Blessed Mother eighteen times in Lourdes, France in 1858.
Here was the real “Sleeping Beauty”!
incorruption of the bodies of some saints is a phenomenon, which
science cannot explain. Far from “mummified”, these bodies are preserved
without exterior aid, some having escaped not only the ravages of
natural decomposition, but also the added putrefying effect of humidity,
and even the corrosiveness of lime.
The first saint in Catholic history to have escaped normal decay is
the Roman virgin Saint Cecilia, martyred in 177 A.D, her integral body
discovered in 1599. Throughout history, about 250 such bodies were
exhumed and found to be in different stages of preservation.
Bernadette of Lourdes, who died at age 36, was first exhumed thirty
years after her death. Before the local bishop and other authorities,
the body was recognized to be amazingly intact with even internal organs
preserved. Because of some discoloration of the skin, a light wax cover
was placed over her face and hands for eventual public veneration.
Indeed, in life young Bernadette had been incorruptible.
Perhaps, the young visionary’s outstanding qualities were utter
simplicity, and piercing honesty. After seeing the Blessed Virgin, and
initiating the miraculous fountain of Lourdes, she remained true to
herself, despite the center of feverish attention.
Unmoved by the acclaiming public that promptly conferred saintly
stardom on her, young Bernadette answered the grueling clerical
investigators with utter transparency, disconcerting directness and
uncanny wisdom for one so young and only recently lettered.
When entering the the convent of the Sisters of Nevers, she thought it only logical that she be assigned to menial tasks.
lived in fidelity to her vows, pure, simple, true, and a lover of her
daily cross, her one desire to be with her “lady” who had appeared to
her and sealed her heart for heaven.
She now reposes, enshrined in a crystal urn in the chapel of St.
Gildard, Nevers, France, a true Sleeping Beauty, stung by the curse of
death, but peacefully awaiting the return of her divine Bridegroom.
So, no – fairy-tales don’t lie!
By Andrea F. Phillips References: http://www.catholicpilgrims.com/lourdes/bb_bernadette_body.htm http://www.visionsofjesuschrist.com/weeping216.htm Catholic Online
There is no danger if our prayer is without words or reflection because the good success of prayer depends neither on words nor on study. It depends upon the simple raising of our minds to God, and the more simple and stripped of feeling it is, the surer it is.
is known about St. Hunna other than that she was an aristocratic lady
from the royal family of Alsace and married to a nobleman, Huno of
Hunnaweyer, a small village in the diocese of Strasbourg. She was known
to be so caring of the poor around her that she even lent a hand in
doing the washing for her neighbors in need. Because of this she was
known as “the holy washerwoman”.
She also donated properties to monasteries and financed the construction of churches.
had a son who was baptized by the holy bishop of Nevers, St. Deodatus,
and was given his name in Baptism. This son later entered a monastery
founded by the same St. Deodatus at Ebersheim.
Hunna was canonized in 1520 by Pope Leo X at the instance of Duke Ulric of Wurtemberg.
or “Little Benedict” was a French lad, pious and thoughtful beyond his
years who minded his mother’s sheep. He was deeply concerned about how
dangerous it was for poor people to cross the unpredictable Rhône River.
is said that during an eclipse, in the year 1177, he heard a voice that
said to him: "Bénézet, take your rod and go down to Avignon, the
capital's waterfront: talk to people and tell them that we must build a
In the Middle Ages the construction and repair of
bridges was considered a work of mercy. Though Bénézet knew nothing of
building bridges, he took his staff and obeyed the call.
the bishop of Avignon dismissed him as being daft, but after witnessing
several miracles performed by the holy shepherd lad, he supported the
enterprise, and the Brotherhood of Bridge Builders was formed with
wealthy sponsors. For seven years Bénézet conducted the operations.
Provençal shepherd-turned-bridge-builder died in 1184 when most of the
difficulties with the construction had been overcome. The mighty bridge,
completed four years later, measured 900 meters long and spanned the
river with 22 arches, connecting one of the main pilgrimage routes from
Italy to Covadonga on the Atlantic coast of Spain.
was interred in a small chapel on the bridge itself. This chapel,
standing on one of the bridge's piers, was dedicated to St. Nicholas,
the patron saint of the Rhône boatmen. In 1669, when part of the bridge
collapsed from the force of the current, his coffin was taken up and in
1670 opened before the Grand Vicar. The body was found to be intact,
even the bowels were sound and the color of his eyes fresh. The body was
first translated to the Cathedral of Avignon and finally interred in
the Church of St. Didier in the city.
Martin I is historically acclaimed as a heroic defender of the Faith, a
man of exalted virtue and untiring courage. Born in Umbria, his
biographer Theodore describes him as “of noble birth, a great student,
of commanding intelligence, of profound learning, and of great charity
to the poor.”
Elected as the successor of the Fisherman in 649,
Martin governed the Church during a time when the Emperor of
Constantinople, Constans II, supported Paul, the Patriarch of
Constantinople and others in the Monothelite heresy, which proposed that
Christ had a reduced human nature and human will.
patriarch's adamant refusal to recant his heretical doctrine, the Pope
refused to remain silent, issued an excommunication against the
Patriarch Paul and summoned a Lateran Council which formally condemned
the heresy. Infuriated at this “slap in the face” Constans II sent a man
to Rome to assassinate the Pope, but Martin was protected by God and
the attempt failed. After this, many calamities befell the Emperor, but
obstinate, he ordered his governor and soldiers in Italy to arrest the
Pope and bring him to Constantinople, which, after some difficulties,
was finally carried out.
In Constantinople the Pope was subject
to public ridicule, extreme ill treatment and then a cruel imprisonment.
Lastly, Constans II exiled him to the Crimea where he suffered from the
famine of the land, from total friendlessness and abandonment of his
own. He died two years later in 656 a martyr to the right of the Church
to define and uphold doctrine even in the face of Imperial power. Photo by: Wolfgang Sauber
During and after the apparitions, in the short time Francisco and Jacinta spent on earth, they had several private revelations–especially Jacinta.
Below are a few excerpts of the principal revelations to Jacinta.
About the Pope and oppressed peoples: To Lucia: “….I saw the Holy Father in a very large
house, kneeling before a table, with his face in his hands, crying.
Outside the house were many people, some of whom cast stones at him,
others cursed him and said many ugly words. Poor Holy Father! We have to
pray a lot for him.”
“…Don’t you see so many roads and so many ways filled with people
crying with hunger and having nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a
church before the Immaculate Heart of Mary, praying? And so many people
praying with him?”
On war, sin and peace: To Lucia: “Tell everybody that God grants us His graces
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that they should ask her for them,
that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be
honored along with Him, that they should ask the Immaculate Heart of
Mary for peace because God has placed it in her keeping.”
“You know, Our Lord is very sad because Our Lady told us He should
not be offended anymore because He was already much offended, but nobody
paid attention. People continue to commit the same sins."
"Wars are nothing but punishments for the sins of the world."
"Our Lady can no longer hold back the arm of her beloved Son from the
world. It is necessary to do penance. If people change their ways, Our
Lord will still avail the world; but if they do not, the chastisement
"If men do not change their ways, Our Lady will send the world a
punishment the like of which has never been seen. It will fall first . .
. upon Spain."
Jacinta also spoke of "great world events that would take place around 1940."
On priests and rulers:
When Jacinta was moved to Lisbon to be treated at Dona Estefania
Hospital, she was lodged at an orphanage in the care of Mother Maria
Godinho who carefully took down the seer’s words. To Mother Godinho: "… pray much for sinners! Pray much
for priests! Pray much for religious! Priests should only occupy
themselves with the affairs of the Church. Priests should be pure, very
pure. The disobedience of priests and religious to their superiors and
to the Holy Father greatly offends Our Lord."
"My godmother, pray much for those who govern! Woe to those who
persecute the religion of Our Lord! If the government left the Church in
peace and gave freedom to the holy Faith, it would be blessed by God."
On sin, fashions and marriage: To Mother Godinho: "The sins that lead more souls to hell are the sins of the flesh."
"Fashions that will greatly offend Our Lord will appear. People who
serve God should not follow fashions. The Church has no fashions. Our
Lord is always the same."
"The sins of the world are very great."
"If men knew what eternity is, they would do everything to change their lives."
"Men are lost because they do not think of the death of Our Lord and do not do penance."
"Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord, and they are not of God."
On Christian virtue: To Mother Godinho: "…do not walk in the midst of luxury. Flee from riches. Be very fond of holy poverty and silence."
"Have much charity even for those who are bad. Speak ill of no one
and flee from those who do so. Be very patient, for patience leads us to
heaven. Mortification and sacrifices greatly please Our Lord."
"Confession is a sacrament of mercy. Therefore, one must approach the
confessional with confidence and joy. Without confession there is no
On Fashions: To Mother Godinho: “The sins which cause most souls to
go to hell are the sins of the flesh.” Directly enlightened from above,
this perfectly innocent, barely ten-year-old girl repeats what Saint
Alphonsus Liguori says, that it is sins against chastity “that fill hell
When Mother Godinho asked Jacinta if she understood what it meant to
be “pure,” she answered, “I do. To be pure in body is to keep chastity.
To be pure in soul is not to commit sins, not to look at what one should
not see . . .”
The other, rather prophetic statement of Jacinta, is: “Fashions will much offend Our Lord.”
It is well to recall here that modesty is the outer defense of
chastity, the walls that defend the castle, as well as the gardens that
adorn the palace.
The correct question, when it comes to fashion, is not what is the
extreme limit at which one is allowed to arrive, but how can one’s
attire more clearly manifest love of modesty and of the virtue of
Love TRUTH. Show yourself as you are, without pretense, without fears and cares. And if the truth means your persecution, accept it; if it means your torment, bear it. And if for the truth's sake, you should sacrifice yourself and your life, be strong in your sacrifice.
Alferius was born in 930 into the Pappacarboni family which descended from the ancient princes of Lombardy.
the year 1002, at the age of seventy-two, Alferius was sent to France
by Guaimaro the Duke of Salerno as an ambassador to the court of King
Henry II. Falling gravely ill on the way, before crossing the Alps, he
took refuge in the monastery of San Michele della Chiusa. While the rest
of the delegation continued on their journey, Alferius remained behind
in the care of the monks and vowed to enter religious life should he be
cured. Upon recovering, he joined the Abbey of Cluny under the great St.
Odilo. A few years later, he was recalled by Duke Guaimaro who wished
Alferius to reform the monasteries of his own principality.
himself unprepared for the task, Alferius retired to a secluded
location in the mountains northwest of Salerno. There, after a while,
many sought to join him but initially he only accepted twelve disciples.
From this first nucleus developed the famous Abbey of La Trinità della
Cava, which became the principal center of monastic reform of its time.
It was modeled on the Abbey of Cluny and the Duke of Salerno became its
greatest patron and benefactor.
Alferius is said to have lived to
the great age of 120. Just a few years after his death there were in
southern Italy and Sicily 30 abbeys dependent on the Abbey of La Trinità
della Cava and 3000 monks. The first four abbots are canonized saints
and eight of their immediate successors are beatified. One of the
Saint’s disciples was Desiderius, who became Blessed Pope Victor III.
Galgani is one of the Church’s mystics. She was born in Camigliano,
Italy on March 12, 1878 of devout parents. The fifth child and eldest
daughter in a family of eight, she was given the name “Gemma” meaning
“gem”. The family later moved to Lucca where Enrico Galgani practiced as
Gemma’s beloved mother was the first to show her
the way of Christian piety. “It was Mamma,” Gemma was to say, “who made
me desire to go to heaven”. But tuberculosis took Aurelia Galgani when
Gemma was only seven. This great grief was softened by Gemma’s first
mystical communication which assured the little girl that her mother was
Gemma began to attend school with the Sisters of St.
Zita and was considered bright. She longed to receive Holy Communion and
so begged and pleaded that she was granted the favor at age nine, then
an early age for first communicants. “I feel a fire burning here” was
her comment as she pointed to her heart.
At home, Gemma worked
diligently to fill her mother’s shoes. She loved the poor, giving them
what she could. She also taught religion to children, and visited the
sick in hospitals.
By age nineteen, Gemma was doubly orphaned by the death of her father, and had also lost two brothers and a little sister.
the while she made great strides in her spiritual life, her desire to
suffer with Jesus for the good of souls increasing. Gemma came down with
a spinal meningitis that almost took her life, but was healed through
the intercession of St. Gabriel Possenti of the Passionist Order who
appeared to her and to whom she became greatly attached.
entry into a Passionist convent, partially because of her health, Gemma
submitted to God’s will. From the time of her healing she began to
experience mystical graces that eventually led to her receiving the
stigmata of Christ. At this time she and other family members were
living with an aunt, and as her ecstasies became more frequent, she had
little privacy or understanding.
Through the influence of the
Passionists, she was introduced to the exceptionally devout Giannini
family, who ultimately adopted her as a daughter. The Gianninis became
the “reliquary” that enshrined the “gem” so her sanctity could develop
to the fullest.
Two other great friends were to accompany Gemma
during her life: her confessor Fr. Germanus, who guided her wisely and
securely, and her Guardian Angel, whom she saw often, and who instructed
and admonished her, delivered letters and messages to Fr. Germanus for
her, and who even brought her coffee in bed during her illnesses.
Pentecost Sunday in 1902, Gemma was stricken with a mysterious illness
which led to her death on Holy Saturday in 1903. She was twenty-five.
is said to have been born in Italy of poor parents. As a student at the
Cathedral School of Rheims, he was purportedly one of its most
distinguished scholars for when the celebrated Gerbert d'Aurillac, professor of mathematics, became Pope Sylvester II, he summoned Fulbert to Rome.
his return to France, Bishop Odo of Chartres appointed him Chancellor.
Under Fulbert's care and direction, the cathedral schools became the
greatest educational center in Europe. His pupils esteemed him so highly
as a teacher that they called him “venerable Socrates”.
Bishop Odo’s death, Fulbert was consecrated Bishop of Chartres, and came
to be recognized as the counselor of the spiritual and temporal leaders
When the Cathedral of Chartres burned down, he
immediately set to rebuilding it, harnessing the financial help of
several kings of Europe. Still, this is not the sacred edifice we now
Fulbert had a great devotion to Our Lady and composed many
hymns in her honor. When the beautiful new cathedral was consecrated, he
celebrated the recently introduced feast in honor of her nativity with
great solemnity. He was an outspoken opponent of simony and of bestowing
ecclesiastical endowments upon laymen. Fulbert was also a prolific
writer and his epistles have great historical value, especially on the
subject of the liturgical practices of the eleventh century.
After nearly twenty-two years as Bishop of Chartres, he died on April 10, 1029.