the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious
robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. His
occupation being what it was, he would only increase his property by
decreasing that of his victims.
One day, he was admonished by a local religious to change his course
of life and thereby insure his eternal salvation. The only answer the
robber gave was that for him there was no remedy.
"Do not say so," said the religious, "do what I tell you. Fast on
each Saturday in honor of the Virgin Mary, and on that day of the week
do no harm to anyone. She will obtain for you the grace of not dying in
robber thought to himself, “This is a small price to pay to insure my
salvation; I will do as this holy man has prescribed.” He then
obediently followed the religious’ advice, and made a vow to continue to
do so. That he might not break it, from that time on he traveled
unarmed on Saturdays.
Many years later, our robber was apprehended on a given Saturday by
the officers of justice, and that he might not break his oath, he
allowed himself to be taken without resistance. The judge, seeing that
he was now a gray-haired old man, wished to pardon him.
Then the truly miraculous occurred. Rather than jump for joy thanking
the judge for his leniency, the old robber, said that he wished to die
in punishment of his sins. He then made a public confession of all the
sins of his life in that same judgment hall, weeping so bitterly that
all present wept with him.
He was beheaded, a death reserved for the nobility, rather than
hanged. Then his body was buried with little ceremony, in a grave dug
nearby. Very soon afterwards, the mother of God came down from
Heaven with four holy virgins by her side. They took the robber’s dead
body from that place, wrapped it in a rich cloth embroidered with gold,
and bore it themselves to the gate of the city.
There the Blessed Virgin said to the guards: "Tell the bishop from
me, to give an honorable burial, in such a church to this dead person,
for he was my faithful servant." And thus it was done.
All the people in the village thronged to the spot where they found
the corpse with the rich pall, and the bier on which it was placed. And
from that moment on, says Caesarius of Heisterbach, all persons in that
region began to fast on Saturdays in honor of she who was so kind to
even a notorious robber. From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.
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.
Grignion de Montfort was born in Brittany, France on January 31, 1673.
From an early age he showed signs of spiritual maturity, and at the age
of twelve entered the college of St. Thomas Becket in Rennes. There, a
fire was lit within him inflaming in him a desire to become a missionary
preacher. He was ordained in Paris in the year 1700.
preached tirelessly in various cities and towns, incurring the
displeasure of many ecclesiastics infected with the heresy of Jansenism.
Traveling to Rome, he put his case before Pope Clement XI who named him
Missionary Apostolic to France.
Louis de Montfort is specially known for his ardent devotion to the Mother of God, and his treatise, True Devotion to Mary,
is one of the Church’s greatest devotional treasures. This true Apostle
of Mary founded two religious orders: The Daughters of Divine Wisdom,
and the Missionaries of the Company of Mary. His fiery zeal produced
special fruits in the region of the Vendée, which three generations
later valiantly rose up against the atheistic French Revolution then
Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort died at age
forty-three in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre in the Vendée on April 28, 1716
worn out by the efforts of his apostolate.
In 1832, the ravaging finger of cholera hit every home and house in the great city of Paris.
This terrible epidemic, a disease without cure, struck hundreds and
beleaguered many more. And yet, an exceptional phenomenon was noticed.
Those who devoutly wore a certain small medal around their neck were
spared or relieved from the epidemic. Symptoms of the plague were
observed to leave the victims and withdraw into the gutters of Paris.
What medal, what power, was this that through the course of time
triumphed over such devastating odds? The answer lied among the winding
streets of Paris, specifically at the bolted doors of a small sanctuary
known as the Rue de Bac. It is here, at the convent of the Sisters of
Charity, that so many miracles unfold by means of a small object: the Miraculous Medal.
The making of the Miraculous Medal came about through a humble nun,
then a novice, whose body now lies beneath the stately main altar,
incorrupt and untouched by time. She is none other than Saint Catherine
Laboure. At the side of the altar is the chair that the Blessed virgin
herself occupied when telling the awestruck novice of her wishes for the
making of this medal.
Through the thousands of favors, cures, and conversions this medal
has obtained, it quickly acquired its popular name. And so it was that
on my visit to the Rue de Bac I found myself graciously received by the
Mother Superior, who allowed me to photograph evidence of the many
prodigies that have occurred through the Miraculous Medal.
The kind sister who was assigned to accompany me through the convent
told me of a recent miracle that cannot be left unrepeated. When telling
it, she lowered her voice as if releasing a state secret; she was
apprehensive since the Church had not yet officially accredited this
It all began when a Brazilian couple visited the Rue de Bac.
They came to ask Our lady of the Miraculous Medal to cure their
five-year-old girl, who was paralyzed from her waist down. The parents
fervently prayed for a cure and, at a certain point, the mother
encouraged her child to approach and touch the chair in which the
Blessed Virgin had sat.
Without explanation, the child refused to do so. The parents were
naturally perplexed. After some time, they left and made their way back
to Brazil. On the airplane, the mother questioned her daughter as to why
she had refused to approach the chair.
To both parents’ bewilderment, the child responded in a matter of fact voice: “Because,” she said, “the lady told me not to.”
Still puzzled, the parents said nothing further about the matter.
Upon arriving in Brazil, however, the little girl stood up on her own
and proceeded to leave the airplane. She had been cured!
I was amazed, not to say a little skeptical. The sister, calm and
serene at my slight incredulity, merely smiled and said, “My son, every
day we receive letters attesting new miracles that have been granted to
If we were to put each incident on a small plaque and place these on
the wall, I don’t think we would have enough walls. Furthermore,” she
went on, “since each case is thoroughly screened by the Church before it
is approved as an authentic miracle, we catalogue them in our library
in alphabetical archives because there are so many.”
I would have liked to describe in greater detail these miracles, but
it is not easy. Nevertheless, they serve to show that whoever prays
devoutly and confidently to the Blessed Virgin will never go unheard or
unanswered, if it is for your salvation.
This “Stories of Mary – Stories of
the Rosary” is taken from Crusade Magazine, March -April, 2001, M-50,
p. 36, “Miracle at Rue de Bac” by Felipe Barandiaran.
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.
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.
We read in the revelations of St. Bridget, that there was once a lord
as noble by birth as he was low and sinful in his habits. He had given
himself by an express compact, as a slave to the devil, and had served
him for sixty years, leading such a life as may easily be imagined, and
never approaching the sacraments.
Now, this prince was about to die and Jesus Christ, in His
compassion, commanded St. Bridget to tell his confessor to visit him,
and exhort him, to make his confession.
The confessor went, and the sick man told him that he had no need of a
confessor, for that he had often made his confession. The confessor
visited him a second time and that poor slave of hell persevered in his
obstinate determination not to make his confession. Jesus again directed
the saint to tell the confessor to go to him again. He obeyed, and this
third time related to him the revelation made to the saint, and that he
had returned so many times because the Lord, who desired to show him
mercy, had directed him to do so.
On hearing this the dying man was moved, and began to weep. "But
how," he exclaimed, "can I be pardoned, when for sixty years I have
served the devil, made myself his slave, and have laden my soul with
"Son," answered the father, encouraging him, "do not doubt: if you
repent of them, in the name of God I promise you pardon." Then,
beginning to gain confidence, he said to the confessor: "Father, I
believed myself lost, and despaired of salvation; but now I feel a
sorrow for my sins, which encourages me to trust; and as God has not yet
abandoned me, I wish to make my confession."
And in fact on that day he made his confession four times with great
sorrow; the next day he received communion, and on the sixth he died
contrite and entirely resigned.
After his death, Jesus Christ further revealed to St. Bridget, that
this sinner was saved, and was in purgatory, and that he had been saved
by the intercession of the Virgin, His mother; for the deceased,
although he had led so sinful a life, yet had always preserved devotion
to her dolors; whenever he remembered them he pitied her.
Oh my afflicted mother! queen of martyrs and of sorrows, thou hast
shed so many tears for thy Son, who died for my salvation, and yet what
will thy tears avail me, if I am lost?
By the merits, then, of thy dolors, obtain for me a true sorrow for
my sins, and a true amendment of life, with a perpetual and tender
compassion for the passion of Jesus and thy own sufferings. And if Jesus
and thou, being so innocent, have suffered so much for me, obtain for
me that I, who am deserving of hell, may also suffer something for love
O Lady, I will say to thee with St. Bonaventure, if I have offended
thee, wound my heart in punishment; if I have served thee, now I beg to
be wounded as a reward. It is a shameful thing to see our Lord Jesus
wounded, and thee wounded with him, and I uninjured.
Finally, oh my mother, by the grief thou didst experience on seeing
thy Son before thy eyes bow his head and expire upon the cross, I
entreat of thee to obtain for me a good death. Ah, do not cease, oh
advocate of sinners, to assist my afflicted and struggling soul in that
great passage that it has to make into eternity. And, because at that
time it may easily be the case that I shall have lost the use of speech
with which to invoke thy name, and that of Jesus, who are all my hope,
therefore I now invoke thy Son and thee to succor me at that last
moment, and I say: Jesus and Mary, to you I commend my soul. Amen.
"Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary" is taken from the Glories of
Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised
Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888
fascinating autobiography of Muhammad Moussaoui, who narrates his
conversion from Islam to Catholicism, shows miracles of grace and of
human correspondence, on the one hand, and on the other hand the
terrible harshness of Islamic mentality and persecution of Christians.
The book’s title, The Price to Pay, summarizes well what this
elite soul had to go through in order to be faithful to the call of
grace. After his conversion, he took the name Joseph Fadelle. A Muslim from an Important Family Fadelle
belonged to one of Iraq’s most important Shiite Muslim families, the
Moussaoui clan. As head of the clan, his father was a kind of judge and
solved disputes between clan members. He also had great wealth and
1987 Fadelle was drafted into the Iraqi army, then under the rule of
Saddam Hussein, right in the middle of the war with neighboring Iran. By
this time he was 23 years old and single.
to a garrison on the border with Iran, he was housed in a room with a
Christian. He became indignant on learning he was going to be lodging
with a Christian, an insult to a born Muslim whose family also descended
from the founder of Islam Muhammad.
The Challenge: Do You Understand the Koran? But
the Christian, called Massoud, was older than him and welcomed him with
kindness, so that little by little his prejudices began to fade.
Fadelle conceived a plan to convert him to Islam. One day, when Massoud
was absent, seeing among his books one titled The Miracles of Jesus, he
became curious and began reading it. He had no idea who it was, because
in the Koran Jesus is called Isa; but he was delighted to read about
miracles such as the one during the Wedding at Cana, and was attracted
by the figure of Jesus. However,
still intending to convert Massoud to Islam, he asked him if Christians
also had a sacred book like the Koran. After being told that Christians
had the Bible, he asked to see it, thinking it would be easy to refute. To
his surprise, Massoud refused to show him the Christian book and asked
an even more surprising question: if he had read the Koran. This
question was offensive to one who had been brought up in Islam, but he
simply replied he had. Then came a new and rather embarrassing question: “Did you understand the meaning of each word, each verse?” The
future Christian recounts that this question pierced his mind like a
fiery dart, since according to Islam what matters is not to understand
the Koran, but just to read it. Seeing his embarrassment, his room mate
proposed that he read the Koran again, but this time trying to
understand each sentence; and then Massoud would lend him the book of
Christians. Disenchantment with the Koran, And a Mystical Dream Muhammad
accepted the proposal that completely changed his life. Indeed, as he
tried to understand the meaning of what was written in the Koran, he
realized that much of it was absurd and meaningless. A consultation
with an Iman failed to solve his doubts and he became increasingly
disenchanted with the book of Islam. It
was as if scales fell from his eyes and he began to see for the first
time what the Koran really said. Having finished this keen, meditative
reading, he came to the conclusion that this book could not be of divine
was then a mystical episode took place, which prepared his conversion.
He dreamed he was in a meadow on the edge of a creek and saw on the
other side a very imposing, extremely attractive man. He tried to jump
to the other side, but remained still in the air until the mysterious
person took him by the hand and said to him: “In order to cross the creek, you need to eat the bread of life.” Then he woke up. Conversion Shock: Jesus is the Bread of Life No
longer thinking about the dream, he got Massoud to loan him the Holy
Gospels. He happened to open the book on the Gospel of St. John. He
was totally absorbed reading it and felt a great well-being. At one
point, he was deeply moved to find the mysterious words of his dream: "the bread of life." The words of Jesus in the Gospel were clear: "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger” (John 6:35). Fadelle recounts: "Then
something extraordinary happened in me, like a violent explosion that
blows everything in its path, accompanied by a feeling of well being and
warmth ... As if a bright light suddenly illuminated my life in a whole
new way and gave it all its meaning. I had the impression of being
drunk, even as I felt in my heart an indescribable feeling of strength,
an almost violent, passionate love for this Jesus Christ of whom the Gospels speak!" The Price of Conversion: Death His
conversion was complete, total and lasting. He wanted Massoud to help
him become a Christian, but met with resistance. According to Islamic
law, a Muslim who leaves Islam and becomes Christian should be killed
along with those who led to his conversion. At any rate, Massoud taught him to pray and the two spent their free time reading the Gospels and praying. Massoud
was released from the army while Muhammad was on leave and he did not
find him on his return. Shortly after he too was discharged and returned
to his parents’ house. Years of Trial For Fadelle, that was the beginning of a great ordeal that would last for years, requiring unparalleled loyalty. As
Massoud had recommended, he sought to conceal his conversion from his
family, while avoiding, under various pretexts, to participate in their
common Muslim prayers. At the same time he tried to approach the
Christians, but they were afraid to accept him in their churches since
they did not know him and were fearful due of the climate of persecution
in which they lived. Fadelle’s
consolation was to read, covertly, the Bible he had received from
Massoud, meditating especially on the Gospels. Finally he succeeded,
through a Christian with whom he had made friends, to attend a church;
but the eagerly awaited baptism had still not happened. Time
went by and in 1992 his father told him he had arranged a bride for him
and that he should get married. It was a girl from the same social
environment, and naturally a Muslim, called Anwar. After
his marriage and the birth of a son, Fadelle, who continued to attend
church secretly, met a foreign missionary in Iraq who agreed to prepare
him for baptism. But then something unexpected happened. One day, when
he returned from Mass, his wife, who did not understand where he went
every Sunday, asked if he had been going to see another woman. Caught
by surprise and without thinking about what to say, Fadelle replied that
he was a Christian and went to Mass every Sunday. Wife Converts His
wife was totally shocked by the news that she was married to a
Christian. Discombobulated, she locked herself in her room. Later, in
the absence of her husband, she took their son and went to her mother's
then realized he was in danger. She would tell her family that he was a
Christian and he would be sentenced to death. However, miraculously,
his wife said nothing to her folks and agreed to go back to her own
home. Even more, she asked Fadelle to explain what Christianity was.
He employed the same method that Massoud had used with him. He asked
her to reread the Koran trying to pay attention to the meaning of its
words and the doctrine it expressed. As had happened with him, she was
shocked, especially with the way the Koran deals with Muslim women. After
reading the Gospels, Anwar secretly began attending Church with her
husband and taking religion classes with the missionary. Threats of Death and Imprisonment In
1997 an episode of capital importance took place in Fedelle’s life.
His family finally realized he had taken a distance from Islam and
became suspicious that something was afoot. When the couple went to
church, his brothers searched his home and found the copy of the Bible.
And when they questioned his young son, he crossed himself as he had
learned from his parents. The
next day, at dawn, Muhammad was taken to his parents' house on an
urgent pretext. As he entered the main room, he was immediately beaten
by his brothers and uncles in the presence of his father. The latter,
furious with indignation, accused him of being a Christian. His own
mother shouted, "Kill him and cast his body in the sewer!" Although
he was not killed on that occasion, Fadelle was taken by a cousin to
one of Saddam Hussein’s political prisons to be tortured in order to
reveal the name of the Christians who had "corrupted" him. For
three months he was severely tortured, lost almost half his weight, and
then was released. The family pretended it had all been a mistake, but
put one of his sisters in his house to watch him. Flight from Iraq, Baptism Through
various stratagems, Fadelle was able to maintain contact with the
missionary, who nevertheless ordered him to leave Iraq for his own
protection and for the sake of Christians in Baghdad. Finally,
in April 2000, after many vicissitudes, the couple and their two
children managed to escape to Jordan, where he realized his longed-for
dream of being baptized, along with his wife. He took the name John
(but became known as Joseph) and she, Maryam. Assassination Attempt However,
they were still unable to practice Catholicism in peace. When his
family realized he had fled, they started looking for him and eventually
found him in Jordan. In December of that year, four siblings and an
uncle managed to lure him to a deserted place where, after a brief
argument, they demanded that he apostatize from Christianity and
attempted to execute the fatwa that condemns a person to death for
leaving Islam. Miraculously, despite being shot at point-blank range,
the bullets narrowly missed him and he heard an inner voice telling him
to run. Already some distance away, a bullet hit his ankle and he fell
in the mud, fainting. His attackers thought he was dead and fled. Fadelle
was taken by a stranger to a hospital and later treated by Christian
doctors in his home, but Church authorities ordered him to leave Jordan
in order not to endanger the Christian community. He took refuge in
France, where he lives to this day. The Beauty of a Righteous Soul The
way Fadelle was attracted by Catholicism shows how his soul had a
profound righteousness and how his adherence to Islam was merely the
result of circumstances of birth and family. He was actually prepared,
once in contact with the truth, to accept it even at the cost of losing
all the comforts and privileges of a high social position and suffering
terrible persecution. His and his wife’s conversions show how Muslims can convert and how many of them actually yearn, though unknowingly, for this "bread of life," which is Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us pray for these souls and for Christians so harshly persecuted in Islamic countries.
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." Photo by: Bolo77/Stefano Bolognini
the time when Saint Catherine of Siena walked the streets of her quaint
medieval town, she sometimes stayed at the house of a widow-friend,
Alessia, to avoid the distractions of her noisy home.
One year, there was a famine, and most people were obliged to buy
long stored wheat. The bread made from this wheat had a sour
after-taste. But as the new harvest came in, and there was fresh wheat
to buy, Alessia remarked to St. Catherine:
“Mother, this old wheat makes sour bread, so as the Lord has had pity on us, I will throw away the little that I still have.”
“You wish to throw away what the Lord has given us for our food?”
replied Catherine, “at least give it to those who don’t even have that.”
“O, I feel guilty giving from the old wheat…I’d rather give from the new, fresh batch,” remonstrated Alessia.
Saint Catherine then asked that she give her the flour and some water, for she wished to make bread for the poor of Our Lord.
As Catherine worked, not only did she produce an astounding number of
loaves from so little flour, but turned them out so fast that Alessia
and her maid couldn’t believe their eyes.
Served at table, everyone was amazed how delicious and sweet these loaves were. “We haven’t tasted better!” they exclaimed.
Moreover, when taken out to the poor and to the Friars, the bin kept giving without emptying.
Sometime later, on hearing of this miracle, St. Catherine’s
confessor, Blessed Raymond of Capua, sensed that there was something
“more” to this story, and pressed his spiritual child to tell him all.
So Catherine explained that as she had approached the flour box, she
had seen the sweet Lady Mary standing there with several angels and
saints graciously offering to help her make the bread. So Mary Most
Holy began to work the dough with Catherine, and by virtue of those
immaculate hands not only was the wheat made sweet, but the number of
“The Madonna herself gave me the loaves as she made them,” related Catherine, “and I passed them onto Alessia and her maid.”
“No wonder,” writes Blessed Raymond in his biography of Saint
Catherine, “that that bread seemed so sweet , since it was made by the
perfect hands of the holy queen, in whose most sacred body, the Trinity
made the Bread that came down from heaven to give life to all
And the same writer asserts that years after in Siena, people still treasured pieces of this blessed bread as relics.
Taken from The Life of Saint Catherine of Siena by Blessed Raymond of Capua - By Andrea F. Phillips
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.
Mary’s Charity In The Visitation
WE must not imagine that the Blessed Virgin Mary was moved to
undertake this long journey to visit her cousin, St. Elizabeth, by
curiosity to know if what the Angel had told her were true, for she had
not the slightest doubt of it. Our Blessed Lady was moved by a secret
impulse of God, Who wished to commence the work of Redemption and the
sanctification of souls in this visit, by the sanctification of the
infant St. John.
The most ardent charity and most profound humility animated her, and
gave her wings to fly across the mountains of Judea, and these two
virtues were also the cause of her journey. As St. Ambrose says, charity
or grace knows no delays nor cold deliberations: Nescit tarda molimina sancti spiritus gratiae.
It need not therefore surprise us if the Most Holy Virgin, filled as
she was with charity (because she bore in her womb Him Who is Love
itself), should exercise it in continual acts towards God, to Whom she
was closely united by the sacred bond of perfect love, and towards her
neighbors, whom she loved so tenderly and sincerely that she sighed for
the salvation and sanctification of the whole world.
She went with all alacrity, because she knew with what happy results
her visit would be attended, in the person of St. John, and also because
she wished to congratulate her cousin who, notwithstanding her age and
sterility, had conceived the long-predicted precursor of the Word
Incarnate. She went that they might rejoice together, and excite each
other to glorify the God of all mercy, and to thank Him for so many
favors and benedictions.
St. Luke would teach us by the words, Exurgens Maria abiit cum
festinatione in montana in dvitatem Juda –‘Mary arose and went into the
mountain country with haste, into a city of Judea’ – the care and
readiness with which we also ought to correspond to the Divine
inspirations. As it is the work of the Holy Spirit to banish all
tepidity and negligence from the heart, so He would have us execute His
Divine Will with all care and diligence, and He is offended by any kind
of delay. The virginal purity of Mary, which so dearly loved
solitude, also caused her to go with haste, for the best protection for
virginal purity is to appear as little as possible in the tumult of the
Having reached the house of Zachary, she entered it. She saluted
Elizabeth. The Evangelist does not relate that she saluted Zachary also,
for her love of purity was so great that she spoke little with men. Let
virgins learn from this that they cannot take too great care for the
preservation of this virtue.
Who can imagine the sweet fragrance of this most beautiful lily in
the house of Zachary during the three months that she remained there?
How well did she spend every instant! What honey, what precious balsam,
must those sacred lips have distilled in the few but excellent words
that they uttered! Indeed, Mary could speak only that which filled her
heart, and that was Jesus!
Let us consider the meaning of the words, that ‘Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost’ – Et repleta est Spiritu Sancto Elisabeth
– that Elizabeth, who had already received the Holy Ghost with all His
gifts, received a new fullness and a new increase of grace by this
visit. Although the Lord grants His graces to the just in full measure,
yet, as the Gospel says, this measure can be so augmented as to overflow
on all sides: Mensuram bonam confertam et coagitatam et supereffluentem dabunt in sinum vestrum.
Let us well understand this important truth. The grace of the Holy
Ghost can never be granted to us in this life in such full measure that
it cannot be augmented; therefore, let us beware of saying: “It is
enough; I am sufficiently enriched with graces and virtues. Mensura conferta est – the measure is filled up, further progress in mortification is unnecessary.”
He who should speak thus would only show too clearly his misery, or,
rather, his presumption, and the great danger to which he exposes
himself. Omni habenti dabitur et abundabit, ei autem qui non habet et quod videtur habere auferetur ab eo.
This text signifies that to him who has received much – that is to say,
who has labored much, and never gives up – much shall be given.
Such a one believes that he has never done enough; but, conscious of
his own misery, he continues to labor with holy and sincere humility. He, then, who possesses much, shall receive with usury, and superabundantly; but from him who profits not by the grace received, letting it lie idle and fruitless, because he believes he is rich enough, from him shall be taken that which he thinketh himself to possess and that which he does not possess.
This means that graces already received shall be taken away, because
he has not traded with them, and those which have been prepared for him
shall not be bestowed upon him, since he has rendered himself unworthy
of them by his negligence. All this, however, is not to be understood of
sufficient grace, which is never denied by God to anyone, but of
efficacious grace, which, by a just judgment of God, is not granted to
tepid and ungrateful souls.
The thirst for riches and honors, by which worldlings are tormented, never allows them to say, Enough.
And yet they ought to be contented with a little, for experience
teaches us that the highest dignities and honors and great wealth
frequently occasion the loss of souls. It is in regard of such temporal
matters that we should say, I have sufficient.
But, with regard to spiritual goods, let us never believe that we
possess them in sufficient abundance, so long as we remain in this land
of exile, but let us make every possible effort to advance day by day
from virtue to virtue.
Experience teaches us that plants and fruits do not attain maturity
until they have produced their seeds, which are necessary for the
reproduction of their species. In the same way our virtues will never be
sufficiently perfected, or reach their maturity, until they produce
within us an ardent desire to make further progress. This desire is the spiritual seed which produces new degrees of virtue.
Consecration of the Saturday to Mary
Holy Church is ever desirous to maintain a tender devotion in the
hearts of the faithful towards the Most Blessed Virgin, and from the
earliest ages of Christianity she has encouraged the consecration of the
Saturday to her.
It is related that there was in the church of Santa Sofia at
Constantinople a picture of the Mother of God which was veiled during
the rest of the week, but on Friday evening the veil was raised without
human aid, and lowered on the evening of Saturday.
Thus did Almighty God manifest His Will that Saturday should be
dedicated to Mary. It was on Saturday she took so great a part in the
work of our redemption, and it was fitting that on the morrow of the day
when she so bitterly wept over the sorrowful scene of Calvary we should
remember her tears shed for us in a special manner.
Again, on Saturday God rested from His work in the creation of the
world, and the Church consecrates this day to her, to honor the
mysterious repose of the Holy Ghost in her Immaculate Heart, and that of
Our Blessed Savior in her chaste womb. Saturday is the introduction to
Sunday – the symbol of eternal rest – and the Holy Virgin is truly
invoked under the title of “Gate of Heaven” – Janua Caeli.
Saturday, moreover, is the day between Friday, the day of mourning,
and Sunday, the day of joy and the Holy Virgin is the mediatrix between
God, Who is Eternal Beatitude, and man, who is subject to endless evils
Mary is the way to arrive at Jesus, and Saturday is a prelude to the
solemnity of Sunday. Saturday is as a magnificent portal consecrated to
the Mother of God, by which we enter the Sanctuary of God Himself. The
Saints held this day in great esteem – on it they redoubled their pious
exercises – and many begged, as a signal favor, that they might die on a
“Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary” is taken from The Month of
Mary, According to the Spirit of St. Francis de Sales; by Don Gaspar
Gilli; translated and abridged from the Italian by a Sister of the
Institute of Charity. Robert Washbourne, London. 1890. Nihil Obstat: Fr.
T.A. Smith, O.P. Imprimatur:Henricus Eduardus, March 14, 1890.
It is related in the Fourth Part of the Treasure of the Rosary,
miracle eighty-fifth, that a gentleman who was most devoted to the
divine mother, had set apart in his palace an oratory where, before a
beautiful statue of Mary, he was accustomed often to remain praying, not
only by day, but also by night, interrupting his rest to go and honor
his beloved Lady; but his wife, for he was married, though she was a
very devout person, observing that her husband in the deepest silence of
the night left his bed, and going from his apartment did not return for
a long time, became jealous, and was suspicious of evil; wherefore, one
day, to free herself from this thorn which tormented her, she ventured
to ask him if he ever loved any other woman but herself.
Smiling, he answered her: "I assure you that I love the most amiable
lady in the world; to her I have given my whole heart and rather would I
die than cease to love her; if you knew her, you would say that I ought
to love her more than I do."
He meant the most holy Virgin whom he loved so tenderly. But his
wife, conceiving a greater suspicion than before, in order to ascertain
the truth better, interrogated him anew, and asked him if he arose from
his bed and left the room every night to meet that lady.
The gentleman, who did not perceive the great trouble of his wife,
answered "Yes." The wife was completely deceived, and, blinded by
passion, one night when her husband, according to his custom, had left
the chamber, seized a knife in despair, cut her throat, and very soon
Her husband having finished his devotion, returned to his apartment,
but on going to bed, found it wet. He called his wife; she did not
answer: he tried to arouse her; she was immovable. At length he took a
light, found the bed full of blood, and his wife dead, with her throat
cut. Then he perceived that she had destroyed herself through jealousy.
What does he do? He locks the door of his apartment, returns to the
chapel, prostrates himself before the most blessed Virgin, and shedding a
torrent of tears, said to her: "Oh my mother, behold my affliction: if
thou dost not console me, to whom shall I go? Remember I am so
unfortunate as to see my wife dead and lost because I have come hither
to pay thee honor, oh my mother, who dost help us in all our troubles,
help me now."
How surely does every one obtain what he wishes if he supplicates
with confidence this mother of mercy! No sooner did he offer this prayer
than he heard a servant-maid calling him: "My lord, come to your
apartment, for your lady calls you."
The gentleman could hardly believe these words for joy. "Return," he
said to the servant, "and see if she really calls me." She returned,
entreating him to go quickly, for her mistress was waiting for him. He
went, opened the door, and found his wife living; she threw herself at
his feet in tears and begged him to pardon her, saying: "Oh, my husband,
the mother of God, through thy prayer, has delivered me from hell."
Weeping for joy, they went to their oratory to thank the blessed
Virgin. The next day the husband made a feast for all their relations,
to whom the wife herself related the facts, at the same time showing the
marks of the wound, and all were more deeply inflamed with the love of
the divine mother.
Oh mother of holy love, oh our life, our refuge, and our hope, thou
knowest that thy Son Jesus Christ, not content with making Himself our
perpetual intercessor with the eternal Father, would have thee also
engaged in obtaining for us, by thy prayers, the divine mercy.
He has ordained that thy prayers should aid in our salvation, and has
given such power to them that they obtain whatever they ask; I, a
miserable sinner, turn to thee then, oh hope of the wretched. I hope, oh
Lady, through the merits of Jesus Christ and thy intercession, to
secure my salvation. In these I trust; and so entirely do I trust in
thee, that if my eternal salvation were in my own hands, I would wish to
place it in thine; for in thy mercy and protection I would trust far
more than in my own works.
My mother and my hope, do not abandon me, as I deserve. Behold my
misery, pity me, help me, save me. I confess that I have often, by my
sins, shut out the light and aid which thou hast obtained for me from
But thy compassion for the wretched and thy power with God are far
greater than the number and malignity of my sins. It is known in heaven
and on earth that he who is protected by thee will certainly not perish.
Let all forget me, but do not thou forget me, oh mother of the
omnipotent God. Say unto God that I am thy servant, tell Him that I am
defended by thee, and I shall be saved.
Oh Mary, I trust in thee: in this hope I live, and in this hope I
wish to die, repeating always: "Jesus is my only hope, and after Jesus,
"Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary" is taken from the Glories of
Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised
Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888
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.
"Justice, Mother of God, justice." Our blessed Lady answered:"Justice! do you seekjustice from me?"
How Great is the clemency and mercy of Mary
Father Charles Bovius relates that in Doinana, in France, lived a
married man who had held a criminal connection with another woman. Now
the wife being unable to endure this, continually besought God to punish
the guilty parties; and one day in particular went to an altar of the
blessed Virgin, which was in a certain church to implore vengeance upon
the woman who had alienated her husband from her; and this very woman
went also every day to the same altar, to repeat a "Hail Mary."
One night the divine mother appeared in a dream to the wife, who, on
seeing her, began her accustomed petition: "Justice, Mother of God,
justice." But the blessed Lady answered: "Justice! do you seek justice
from me? Go and find others to execute justice for you. It belongs not
to me to do it for you. Be it known to you," she added, "that this very
sinner offers every day a devotion in my honor, and that I cannot allow
any sinner who does this, to suffer and be punished for her sins."
The next day the wife went to hear mass in the above named church of
our Lady, and on coming out met her husband's friend; at the sight of
her she began to reproach her and call her a sorceress, who had even
enchanted with her sorceries the blessed Virgin.
"Be silent," cried the people: "what are you saying?"
"I be silent!" she answered: "What I say is only too true; this night
the Virgin appeared to me; and when I implored justice of her, she
answered me, that she could not grant it on account of a salutation
which this wicked woman repeats daily in her honor."
They asked the woman what salutation she repeated to the Mother of
God. She answered that it was the "Hail Mary"; and then on hearing that
the Blessed Virgin had dealt with her so mercifully in return for that
trivial act of devotion, she cast herself on the ground before the
sacred image, and there, in the presence of all the people, asked pardon
for her scandalous life, and made a vow of perpetual continence.
She afterwards put on a religious habit, built for herself a little
cell near the church, where she retired, and persevered in continual
penance until the day of her death.
Oh mother of mercy! since thou art so compassionate, and hast so
great a desire to do good to us sinners, and to satisfy our demands, I,
the most wretched of all men, today have recourse to thy mercy, that
thou mayest grant my requests. Let others ask what they will, health of
body, wealth, or temporal advantages; I come to ask of thee, oh Lady,
those things which thou thyself dost most desire of me, and which are
most conformable and most pleasing to thy sacred heart.
Thou who wast so humble, obtain for me humility and love of contempt.
Thou who wast so patient in the difficulties of this life, obtain for
me patience in things contrary to my wishes. Thou who didst overflow
with love to God, obtain for me the gift of a holy and pure love. Thou
who wast all charity towards thy neighbor, obtain for me charity towards
all men, and especially towards those who are my enemies. Thou who wast
wholly united to the divine will, obtain for me a perfect uniformity
with the will of that God in all his dispositions concerning me.
Thou, in a word, art the most holy of all creatures; oh Mary, obtain
for me the grace to become a saint. Thy love is unfailing; thou canst
and wilt obtain all things for me.
Nothing, then, can hinder me from receiving thy graces but my neglect
to invoke thee, or my want of confidence in thy intercession. But thou
thyself must obtain for me the grace to seek thee, and this grace of
confidence in thy intercession.
These two greatest gifts I ask from thee – from thee will I receive
them – from thee do I confidently hope for them. Oh Mary! Mary, my
mother, my hope, my love, my life, my refuge, and my consolation. Amen.
This "Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary" is taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888
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.
The Immaculate Virgin, who enjoyed use of her reason from the moment she was born, understood the significance of this act.
Saints Joachim and Anne proved their gratitude to God Who, against all hope, had satisfied their innermost desire.
They promised, probably with a vow, to consecrate their daughter to the service of the Temple. Such a practice was nothing out of
the ordinary for the chosen people of God. For generations, a given
number of young girls would devote their lives from childhood until
their wedding day in the House of the Lord. There they received the education commonly given to women of Israel in their day.
Several passages of Holy Scripture refer to them spending their days
praying and working. Indeed, they embroidered the fine linen and the
sumptuous purple ornaments bordered with gold used in the liturgy. They
enhanced the magnificence of the liturgical celebration with their
singing. Finally, as the book of Kings tells us, they formed an honor
guard before the Tabernacle.
When the Virgin Mary attained the age of three, her pious parents fulfilled their promise to the Lord. Despite
the immense sorrow of losing their daughter, such a tender, gracious,
and gentle child, they took her to Jerusalem. The Immaculate Virgin, who
enjoyed use of her reason from the moment she was born, understood the
significance of this act. On that day, she who had already been
entirely consecrated to the Lord, gave herself fully to Him with all
the élan of her will and love. Her devotion, however, did not
prevent her from acutely experiencing the bitterness of her sacrifice.
As souls draw closer to God, they become more loving and good. Indeed, the affectionate heart of
Mary was torn when she left her parents, but, even at such a young age,
she ascended the long stairway to the Temple unhesitatingly and
disappeared into the House of God.
* * *
For twelve years the Queen of Heaven
dwelled in the shadow of the sanctuary, leading a hidden and very
ordinary life. Let us bow respectfully before her and ask permission to
draw near her soul that we might study her virtues in the Temple, which
made her the favorite garden of the Most High.
How did the Blessed Virgin consider herself: She who was such an incomparable
masterpiece of the Lord and the most beautiful of all creatures aside
from the holy humanity of our Savior? Assuredly, Mary knew she had
received exceptional favors. She sensed the absence of any interior
temptation, the fire of love burning within her heart, and the
incomparable and frequent ecstasies, without ever calling attention to
herself. All this proved without a doubt the immensity of God’s divine mercy for her. In the Temple of Jerusalem, however,
she was not aware of the grandeur that was hers. It seems unlikely that
she would have known of the unique privilege of her Immaculate
Conception. In any case, she was not cognizant that the Son of God had
chosen from all eternity to take on flesh in her womb. She would have thought herself
fortunate to have become the humble servant of this glorious virgin who
would one day be the Mother of the Messias. Little did she suspect the
honor that awaited her. Give heed to what she revealed to
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary: “Be certain that I saw myself as the
lowliest creature and most unworthy of God’s graces.”1
Do not be astounded to hear such an affirmation! After Our Lord, only
Mary understood more profoundly the immensity of the Most High and the
lowliness of mankind. She knew that by her human nature she was nothing.
She attributed the virtues adorning her heart to God alone, taking no
merit for them whatsoever. In the presence of the Heavenly Father, she
immersed herself in an unfathomable abyss of humility. Her exterior manner reflected this
humility. No other child showed herself more docile to her tutors. She
learned much that she did not know through infused knowledge. She was
taught to read the Scriptures, to sew and embroider, and made rapid
progress. The priests also taught her about divine things, although she
was incomparably more advanced than they! Yet, she listened to their
lessons with respectful attention and submitted in every way to their
opinions. The Virgin Mary’s humility made her
attentive and helpful toward her little companions. She revealed to
Saint Mechtilde that as she immersed herself in the consideration of her
nothingness, she liked to admire their youthful virtues. It never
occurred to her to prefer herself over the least among them.
This rare humility enchanted the adorable Trinity.
Indeed, it merited a sublime response, attracting the Incarnate Word
to reside within Our Lady’s chaste womb. If the Immaculate Virgin
pleased the Most High by her spotless purity, said Saint Bernard, it was
by her humility that she became the Mother of God: “Virginitate
placuit, humilitate concepti.”2
This study should not be merely speculative. It must have practical applications. Let us then speak with frank
brutality and merciless cruelty. I pray this humble and gentle Virgin
will deign to give me just and propitious words! All men are naturally vain. There is,
however, a pride that is more subtle, more dangerous, and more
difficult to cure than any other, that of pious souls. In the Temple,
Mary did not cling complacently to the favors she received. Some devout
persons lose considerable time scrutinizing their progress in virtue. If
they experience some sweetness or consolation in prayer, they become
ecstatic and immediately see themselves as favored by God. Yet, these
insignificant feelings often come from purely natural sources. In the Temple, Mary preferred herself
to no one. Certain pious souls judge their neighbor with extreme
severity. It is not that they occasionally let loose biting remarks
about the exterior faults of others. Indeed, their conscience forbids
them to utter such caustic remarks—regrettable without doubt—but which
are not in themselves grave sins. They do not do this, but instead very
candidly and sincerely think themselves superior to those who do not
cast sighing looks of longing towards the Blessed Sacrament. In the Temple, Mary had no suspicion
of the sublime mission God had reserved for her. Occasionally one finds
pious souls who think they have some special mission. They apply
themselves to a thousand devotional practices that God has not asked of
them but neglect the most essential aspects of their state in life. The seventeenth century produced one
of these false saints who believed herself called to finally make “pure
love” known to the world. She unabashedly described herself as the most
perfect image of the spouse from the Canticle of Canticles. For a while,
she led astray even the enlightened mind of Fenelon3 by her dangerous delusions. Let us sincerely examine our
consciences. If we find some complacency or fail to consider our
complete nothingness, then we are undoubtedly dragging along miserably
at the basest level of mediocrity.
God cannot pour His gifts into a proud heart. When He discovers a soul that is full
of itself, either He lets it stagnate or He uses the only means of
healing it, allowing it to fall prey to its own faults—at times
considerable—in order for it to open its eyes and recognize its
miserable state. In fact, Saint Peter preferred
himself to the other apostles when he said: “Although all may abandon
Thee, I will never leave Thee.… Even though I should die with Thee…” In
vain the Master reminds him of his weakness, but Peter stubbornly
replies, “I will not deny you.”4 Poor Saint Peter! How harshly he learned the lesson so necessary to humility. If you seriously want to progress in
the way of perfection, beg the Queen of Heaven to inspire you with true
humility. Never think yourself better than others. Recall the words of
Our Lord Himself to the Pharisees, so self-righteous with their exterior
acts of justice. I would not dare refer to such words had the Master
not pronounced them Himself. “There are sinful souls whom you despise,”
He declared to these proud men. “But because they recognize the depth of
their depravity, My grace will one day touch them. They will enter the
Kingdom of Heaven before you.”5
* * *
I would like to have continued
studying the other excellent virtues Mary practiced during her
childhood. I would like to have shown Our Lady waiting with impatience
for the coming of the Messias. She knew that the time fixed by the
Prophets approached. She meditated with particular fervor on the chapter
of Scripture wherein Isaias foretells the humiliation and suffering of
the Man-God. She ardently asked Our Heavenly Father for the particular
favor of serving the Lord. Her prayers were granted far beyond her
expectations. I would also like to have studied the
vow by which she consecrated her virginity to the Lord. Through such a
radiant example, we would have learned how the Most High crowns
Christian virginity with admirable fecundity. To develop these topics
would exceed the confines of the present work. We have chosen the
virtues of the Immaculate Virgin that we deemed most appropriate for
souls desiring to lead a profound interior life.
* * *
When speaking of the Savior’s
childhood at Nazareth, the Gospel tells us that He grew in age, wisdom,
and grace before both God and men. Our Lady’s childhood, like that of
her Divine Son, was also a time of growth. The Virgin quickly rose to
peaks of holiness.
During the years she lived in
the Temple, she blossomed fully in physical beauty and especially in
the radiant splendor of her incomparable virtue. She was now ready for the great
designs of the Lord’s divine mercy. The luminous radiance of divine
maternity would soon engulf her. Let us ask the holy Virgin to be not only our model but, even more, our guide along the way of perfection. Under her guidance, we will have neither illusions nor dangers to fear, as Saint Bernard assures us.6
She will lead us on the surest and most direct route to God, and in
hearts, shaped by her maternal hands, she will place her divine Infant.
Notes: 1. “Me reputabam
vilissimam et gratia Dei indignam.” Quoted by Saint Alphonsus Liguori in
The Glories of Mary in discussing her humility. [back to text] 2. St. Bernard, Homilia…super Missus est. [back to text] 3.
Transl. Note: Fenelon was a priest and writer of the seventeenth
century. He is known for his criticism of the political regime of Louis
XIV. His Explanations of Maxims of the Saints was condemned by the
Church for its quietism. He is nonetheless considered one of France’s
great thinkers of that time. [back to text] 4. Matt 26:33-35. [back to text] 5. Cf. Matt 21:28-32. [back to text] 6. Homilia 2 super Missus. [back to text] This devotional article is taken
from Crusade Magazine, November-December, 1999; a Special Edition
dedicated almost entirely to the Most Holy Trinity and the Blessed
Virgin Mary in the form of a work by Fr. Raymond de Thomas de
Saint-Laurent as a token of reparation for the many blasphemies and
insults that are continuously hurled against them.