Saturday, November 30, 2019

States in life and sanctity

Our Lord has created persons for all states in life, and
in all of them we see people who achieved sanctity
by fulfilling their obligations well.

St. Anthony Maria Claret

St. Andrew the Apostle

   “O most beautiful Cross that was glorified by carrying the Body of Christ! Glorious Cross, sweetly desired, ardently loved, always sought, and finally prepared for my heart that has so long awaited you. Take me, O Cross! Embrace me. Release me from my life among men. Bring me quickly and diligently to the Master. Through you He will receive me, He, Who through you has saved me.”

Thus did the Apostle Andrew salute the cross upon which he was to die. For two days he hung upon it and never ceased preaching to the crowds that gathered round him. Who was Andrew? And how had he come to embrace so willingly – no, more, to long for – this universal symbol of infamy?

Andrew was an elder brother of Simon Peter and both plied their trade of fishermen on the tempestuous Sea of Galilee. Sons of Jonas, they lived in the fishing village of Bethsaida, a town much frequented by Our Lord during His public ministry. Andrew had become an early disciple of St. John the Baptist and it was while listening to him preach on the banks of the River Jordan one day that John’s words set him on a course he was to follow for the rest of his life. “Behold the Lamb of God,” proclaimed the Baptist on seeing Our Lord approach. Immediately, Andrew and another disciple followed Him.

The words of this beautiful prayer attributed to the Apostle Andrew upon meeting his cross show that he had known for a long time that he would be a martyr. He had meditated on it in relation to the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He entirely understood and loved the hour of his supreme suffering. He completely accepted the chalice God had prepared for him to drink.

The cross was a symbol of punishment and was reserved for criminals. But for Andrew, it was a “most beautiful” thing because it had been “glorified by carrying the body of Christ.”

Then, he added that he had “sweetly desired it.” With this, one understands that for years he had prepared himself to offer this disinterested holocaust: to be killed for the love of Our Lord, to allow himself to be consumed and spent like the perfume that Mary Magdalene spilt to honor Our Lord. There was no practical goal in those acts of homage. They were sacrifices made for no other reason than to please God: to expend precious things to manifest love for Him. Even if his sacrifice would not produce a good for souls and a humiliation for the enemies of the Church, Andrew wanted do die a martyr to prove how much he loved Our Lord. This is why he said he had “sweetly desired” to be crucified. The words express the splendor of the soul of a martyr.
The Apostle continued by saying that he had “ardently awaited” the cross. Today men flee far from any kind of suffering, any kind of fight against their own passions, any kind of renunciation. For them to live is to enjoy a good life. Andrew, however, ardently awaited his own cross because he understood that what counts in life is not the pleasure he has, but the sacrifice he makes. This is what gives meaning to life. Therefore, the truly supernatural man is a friend of the cross, as St. Louis Marie de Montfort said so well.

Andrew not only accepted the crosses given him during his life, but he looked for them. This is clear when he said that he had “always sought” sacrifice. Then, in the hour of his martyrdom he had that marvelous reaction – he said that his “heart had long awaited” the crucifixion. Which one of us can say a thing like that? What a sublime courage Andrew had in saying these words, which, however, came to his lips naturally and with complete serenity because he had always lived in preparation for that.

Our Lord said that there is no greater friend than one who would give his life for the other. No one can give a greater proof of friendship with Our Lord than to desire the cross like this Apostle did.

He continued: “Take me, O Cross! Embrace me. Release me from my life among men. Bring me quickly and diligently to the Master. Through you He will receive me, He, Who through you has saved me.” Can any soul be more prepared for the beatific vision than one who would make this prayer at the hour of his death?

After his crucifixion, Andrew remained two days hanging on the cross before dying. While he was on the cross he was teaching the people who came to watch him die. How priceless that teaching was! What "cathedra" could ever be more sublime to teach people from? These were his last words:

Lord, eternal King of glory, receive me hanging from the wood of this sweet cross. Thou who art my God, whom I have seen, do not permit them to loosen me from the cross. Do this for me, O Lord, for I know the virtue of Thy Holy Cross.”

Friday, November 29, 2019

They don't go away by themselves

Problems do not go away.
They must be worked through or else they
forever a barrier to the growth and
development of the spirit.

Dr. Scott Peck M.D.

St. Radbod, Bishop of Utrecht, Confessor

This holy prelate was, by his father, of noble French extraction; and, by his mother, Radbod, the last king or prince of the Frisons was his great grandfather, whose name was given him by his mother.
The first tincture of learning and piety he received under the tuition of Gunther, bishop of Cologne, his uncle by the mother: his education was completed in the courts of the emperors Charles the Bald, and his son Louis the Stammerer, to which he repaired not to aspire after honors, but to perfect himself in the sciences, which were taught there by the ablest masters.
The hymns and office of St. Martin, an eclogue on St. Lebwin, a hymn on St. Swidbert, and some other pious poems which are extant, are monuments of his piety and application to polite literature, as it was then cultivated: but the sacred duties principally employed him.
In a short chronicle which he compiled, he says upon the year 900; “I Radbod, a sinner, have been assumed, though unworthy, into the company of the ministers of the church of Utrecht; with whom I pray that I may attain to eternal life.” Before the end of that year he was unanimously chosen bishop of that church; but opposed his election, understanding how much more difficult and dangerous it is to command than to obey. The obstacles which his humility and apprehensions raised, being at length removed, he put on the monastic habit, his most holy predecessors having been monks, because the church of Utrecht had been founded by priests of the monastic Order. After he had received the episcopal consecration, he never tasted any flesh meat, often fasted two or three days together, and allowed himself only the coarsest and most insipid fare. His charity to the poor was excessive. By a persecution raised by obstinate sinners he was obliged to leave Utrecht; and died happily at Daventer, on the 29th of November in 918.
See his life written by one in the same century in Mabillon, sæc. 5. Ben. et Annal. Ben. t. 3. l. 40. § 26. Usuard, Molanus, Miræus, Becka, etc.
Lives of the Saints, by Fr. Alban Butler, Volume XI: November, p. 580.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Give Thanks and be Happy

Thanksgiving Article Header
 By M. Taylor

He stood in the road, a note of sadness in his simple, yet majestic demeanor, as He watched the ten men disappear in the distance.  Presently, a shape detached from the hazy group, and hurried back to thank the divine power that healed him of the dreaded leprosy.  “Were not ten made clean?” Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine?” (Luke, 17:17)
Indeed, gratitude is a virtue that our human nature often leaves by the wayside. I don’t know if we so much mean to be ungrateful, as that we easily take for granted what is given us, and so, forget the source–especially in a moment of joy. At times we can also have unrealistic expectations and thus fail to recognize the gift.
So, for a country to have made the giving of thanks a national holiday, and thus, so to speak, institutionalized gratitude, is indeed a great thing, and excellent thing, a thing that can’t fail to please God, the giver of all good things.
While many countries have some form of thanksgiving on their national calendars, Thanksgiving Day is primarily celebrated in the United States and Canada.
In Canada, the origin of the celebration has roots in English harvest festivals and, actually, precedes the origin of the American feast.
First ThanksgivingIn the US, Thanksgiving dates back to the first colonists in Plymouth, M.A. in 1621, who organized a feast in thanks for a good harvest.
After that first gathering, religious and civil leaders offered various forms of thanksgiving through the years, but it was George Washington, while president of the United States, who proclaimed the first nation-wide Thanksgiving-Day on November 26, 1789.
He established the holiday “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”
An attitude of gratitude moves the heart of God, as it moves the heart of anyone who is the object of sincere thanks.
Indeed, who knows but that the many and great blessings of our country are derived from that first attitude of grateful prayer of our first president?
In his marvelous little book, The Way of Trust and Love, Fr. Jacques Philippe, contemporary spiritual master, calls the virtue of gratitude “one of the secrets of the spiritual life that is also one of the laws of happiness.” 1
Expounding on the mysterious Gospel passage, “for to him who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away (Matt. 13:12),” Fr. Philippe elucidates that if we recognize and are grateful for all the good things we have received in life, we will receive even more. But if we choose to camp out in the barren land of resentment and discontent, we will receive less and less. 
This is a law written into nature. Indeed, a life lived with trust and gratitude shines, even in difficult moments. A life steeped in bitterness and resentment is miserable even amidst the greatest ease.
St. Paul invites us to “Give thanks in all circumstances …” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  He also adds with force, “And be thankful!” (Colossians 3:15)
In the sight of God we are all lepers, our souls filled with sinful sores. As a nation, despite our great qualities, and our brave generosity, we have sinned grossly and continue to do so. Suffice it to mention the holocaust of abortion.
Yet God Our Lord makes His magnificent sun rise on us each day, and warms our lives, and grows our food and shines on our journey, ever inviting us back to Him.
So this Thanksgiving, as we carve that juicy turkey, and enjoy that velvety pumpkin pie, may America and Americans resolve to be the leper that not only comes to Him for forgiveness and healing, but who does not forget to return and thank–always.

Douay Rheims Bible OnlineWikipedia1 The Way of Trust and Love by Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 112Painting: Jennie Brownscombe - 1914 The First Thanksgiving 

Morality and freedom

Everyone is free to deny morality. 
No one is free to escape the effects of its violations.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Catherine Labouré

Catherine was born Zoé Labouré on May 2, 1806, the ninth of eleven children born to a farm family in Fain-les-Moutiers, France. When only eight years old, her mother died and Catherine was made responsible for the running the house and helping her father. Although she would remain illiterate her whole life, she was allowed to enter the convent of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul on the Rue du Bac in the French capital when she was twenty-two and took the name Catherine upon her profession.

Late on the night of July 18, 1830, Catherine was awakened by the vision of a young child who led her to the convent chapel. Arriving there, she found the Blessed Virgin awaiting her. Our Lady spoke to Catherine for more than two hours and revealed to her that God wished to charge her with a particular mission.

On November 27 of that same year, Our Lady appeared to her a second time in the chapel. She held a globe in her hands upon which the word France was written. Our Lady told Catherine that it represented the entire world, but that she had a special desire to help France in particular. Then the vision changed and Sister Catherine saw Our Lady standing on a globe crushing the serpent under her foot, with rays of light streaming from her hands. These words surrounded the vision: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” The vision changed again and another image appeared of a cross surmounted by a capital M, and below it, two hearts, one thorn-crowned and the other pierced with a sword. The Virgin then spoke and instructed Catherine to have a medal made in replication of what she had seen and promised special graces to those who wore it.

Catherine told only her confessor about these visions. Though he was doubtful at first, he soon came to believe. He and the Archbishop of Paris were the only ones who ever knew that she was the sister who received the revelations – not even the Mother Superior of her convent knew – and with their help the first medals were forged and distributed in 1832. Soon many miracles were being attributed to them, and it took only a few years for their fame to spread throughout Europe.

Sister Catherine was transferred to the convent of Enghien-Reuilly and lived there for over 40 years, unknown, carrying out the humble functions of a gate-keeper, head of the poultry yard, and caring for the aged in the convent’s hospice. Only eight months before her death did she receive permission from her confessor to reveal to her Superior, Mother Dufès, that she was the one who had received the apparitions of Our Lady. She died on December 31, 1876. Soon after her funeral, miracles began being attributed to her intercession; and when her body was exhumed in 1933 it was found completely fresh and supple. She was canonized by Pope St. Pius XII on July 27, 1947.
Second Photo by: Mbzt

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Documented Miracles Attributed to the Miraculous Medal

Header - Miracles of the Miraculous MedalFrom America, Europe and Asia

The United States:

Texas (1841)
From a letter written by Bishop Odin, Vicar Apostolic of Texas:
April 11, 1841
Once I had the occasion to see, in the town of Nacogdoches, how much Mary Immaculate deigns to hear those who place all their confidence in her. A lady from Maryland was given a Miraculous Medal by her confessor as she departed from her home state to go to live in Texas. As he gave it to her, he recommended she always pray: “O Mary conceived without sin, etc.” and told her that this good Mother would not permit her to die without receiving the sacraments.
She was faithful to his advice. Having been bedridden for four years, many times her friends thought her last moment had come. However, her confidence in Mary Immaculate always made her hope she would have the joy of receiving the sacraments before departing this life. As soon as she heard of our arrival, she immediately sent us a message. She received the Holy Viaticum and Extreme Unction and died some days later full of gratitude to her Heavenly benefactress.

Louisiana (1865)
In the hospital of the Daughters of Charity in New Orleans, a nun tried to instruct a Protestant in the truths of the Faith and to dispose him to receive Baptism. However, he did not want to speak about the subject.
Miracles of the MM - image 1One day she showed him a Miraculous Medal and explained its origin to him. He seemed to pay attention, but when she offered it to him, he became annoyed and snapped angrily: “Take that away, this Virgin is just an ordinary woman.” “I will leave it on the table,” the nun replied, “I am certain that you will think about what I said.” He did not answer her, but, in order not to see the medal, he placed his bible on top of it.
Every day the nun, with the pretext of cleaning the table, made sure the medal was still there. Days passed and the sickness became increasingly worse.
One night when he was suffering acutely, he saw a marvelous light around his bed, while the rest of the room was in total darkness. Surprised, he struggled to get up in spite of his frailty and turned up the flame in the gas lamp to see if he could discover what this strange light was. He could find nothing and returned to his bed.
Moments later he noticed that the light came from the medal. He then took it into his hands and kept it there the rest of the night. As soon as the nun’s rising bell rang at 4 o’clock in the morning, he called the nurse and asked him to tell the nun that he wanted to be baptized.
They advised the chaplain immediately who exclaimed “That is impossible!” He had spoken with the sick man many times and knew how he felt about the matter.
Nonetheless, he went to him and found him perfectly disposed and receptive to him. He baptized him and gave him the sacraments, and a little while later the sick man died, praising God and the Holy Virgin for the graces he had received.

New York (1866)
A girl, some twenty years old, came to the hospital covered with the most repugnant scabs which the doctors had said were incurable. The nun, who cared for her wounds, one day told her that the Most Holy Virgin had the power to cure her and that, if she wanted to wear the medal and ask for a cure, she would obtain it. Knowing the doctors had given up, she answered roughly: “I do not believe in your Holy Virgin, nor do I want a medal.” “Very well then,” the nun answered, “in that case, keep your wounds.”
Some days later, she asked for the medal and placed it around her neck, and prepared to be baptized. Shortly thereafter she left the hospital in perfect health to the great astonishment of the doctors who had been unanimous in considering her sickness incurable.


France (1834)
Father Bégin, an eyewitness to this cure that took place in Saint-Maur where he was chaplain, wrote a report in which he attested to the following facts:
a) that the sick person was gravely ill;
b) that she was cured on March 14, 1834; and
c) that she declared that she only used the medal and prayer.
One hundred witnesses from the nursing home signed this document.
The bishop of Châlons also added his signature to the document:
“We certify that the testimony of Father Bégin should be taken as wholly trustworthy, as well as that of the nuns and so many others who were eye witnesses and spoke according to their consciences without any other interest except that of stating the truth. Châlons, May 30, 1834 + M.S.F.V., Bishop of Châlons.”

Miracles of the MM - image 2Mrs. C.H., a 70-year-old widow, had been admitted in impoverished circumstances to the nursing home of Saint-Maur because of a bad fall that occurred on August 7, 1833. She walked with great difficulty and even with the help of a crutch needed someone’s arm for support. She also found it hard to sit and only with great difficulty was she able to rise again. It was almost impossible for her to climb stairs, as she had to hold on to whatever she could to do so. She could not bend down or kneel, and had to drag her left leg, as that was where the problem lay.
At the beginning of January, 1834, she was told of a medal that was reported to be miraculous. Described as having, on one side, Mary crushing the infernal serpent and on the reverse of the medal were depicted the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and the letter “M” with a cross on top, she also heard of marvelous things that had happened to those who wore it with confidence.
From that moment she felt her heart enkindled with the consoling hope of finding some relief that the wearing of this medal promised to her, and she could not wait for the moment she would receive one. Finally, on March 6, she received the much longed-for medal as a gift from Heaven. She then went to confession in order to dispose herself to receive the favor she desired.
The following day, the first Friday of the month, after receiving Holy Communion, she started a novena to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. She venerated the medal, which she wore around her neck, twenty times a day. In a short while, she obtained a happy answer to her requests. After only seven days of the novena, she felt free from the painful infirmities she had suffered so cruelly for seven months.
We cannot describe the surprise and admiration of everyone on the morning of March 14th upon seeing this woman walk about unaided when the previous evening she had been crippled. She was able to bend down, kneel, go up and down stairs. Everyone cried out: “Miracle!” and was greatly edified by such a prodigious cure. They congratulated her on such a great grace from God and Mary Most Holy.
The Mother Superior, who had taken care of her innumerable times since she had been taken ill and daily witnessed her sufferings, wanted a Te Deum to be sung by the whole community in the house chapel to celebrate solemnly this extraordinary grace. The sick lady remained cured and no longer felt the effects of her former infirmity.

Italy (1836)
Testimony of a parish priest of Bologna on February 8, 1836.
There was a young man in my parish, 27 years of age, who lived a dissolute life. In order to have fewer impediments to his excesses, he had left the family home. Sometime later he became gravely ill with pneumonia. Dr. Giovanni Pulioli, a distinguished doctor, treated him; but the illness was stronger than the medicine of the day.
The youth was left in a lamentable state, unable to move. By then he was living scandalously with a woman and had declared, from the beginning of the illness, that he would not consent to a priest being called.
My chaplain went to visit him and exhorted him to put an end to the scandal through marriage; but he failed to convince the young man. I went there and spoke with him about legitimizing the union, rather than breaking it up; but I found him to be in a state of complete religious indifferentism.
Miracles of the MM - image 3Despite my every effort to persuade him, I also failed. I then thought it better to allow him to reflect a little while and to return another day to find out his decision. In the meantime, I asked him to have recourse to the Most Holy Virgin, refuge of sinners; and, without telling him, I placed a Miraculous Medal in his pillow and departed.
I did not need to return to the house of my own accord; the sick youth himself called me through his mother with whom he had already reconciled himself. He told me that he had reasons, which were justified, for not speaking personally with the woman with whom he had been living, and requested I ask her to leave. The unfortunate woman condescended and left.
Once I had accomplished this, I told the sick youth how happy I was. When I presented the medal to him, he began to kiss it with feelings of sincere gratitude, even though the state of his health was extremely grave. He then showed signs of sincere repentance and confessed his sins, received the Holy Viaticum and Extreme Unction, because we expected him to die at any moment. This took place on January 19, 1836.
The young man felt the greatest tranquility, which he attributed to the Most Holy Virgin. From then on he started to feel better and had totally recuperated within a few days. He still perseveres in his good resolutions and is full of love for his Heavenly benefactress whose medal he keeps as something precious, frequently kissing it with great devotion.
I myself witnessed this fact and I write not only with the young man’s approval, but at his request, so that it may serve for the greater glory of God that, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, this miracle took place. To this written testimony I have appended the medical report proving the sickness and the cure.

Belgium (1836)
Miracles of the MM - image 4On November 9, 1835, Rosalie Ducas from Jauchelette, near Jodoigne, suddenly lost her sight. She was only four and a half years old, in perfect health with no signs of illness. Any light or breeze disturbed her to the point of having to cover her face with a cloth folded in four. The pains the child suffered day and night caused everyone much grief.
At this point, a pious person brought a blessed Miraculous Medal. The mother took it and started a novena. She put another medal around the girl’s neck on June 11, 1836 at about 6 o’clock in the evening. By midnight the girl had stopped complaining. On the fourth and fifth day of the novena, her eyes opened. The parents redoubled their supplications to the Most Holy Virgin. On the ninth day in the afternoon, the girl regained her sight completely to the great surprise of the neighbors and all those who witnessed the event.
The parish priest of Jodoigne-la-Soveraine, who had given the medal to the family, went to see the girl who lived only a mile and a half away, and testified that she had recovered her sight completely. No pain whatsoever was left. These facts are known by everyone and attest to the honor we owe to the Virgin Mary.


China (1838)
Father Perboyre told the next story on August 10, 1839. It is interesting to mention that this missionary was taken prisoner one month later out of hatred for religion. He confessed the Faith generously for a whole year amidst horrible tortures and then had the joy of receiving the martyr’s palm on September 11, 1840.
While I was on mission in the Christian community of Honan in November 1837, the Christians there presented a woman to me who had been suffering from mental confusion for eight months. They added that she ardently desired to make her confession to me even though she was incapable of doing so and implored me not to deny her this consolation that she had so much at heart.
Her unfortunate state really made the exercise of my ministry appear futile. But I heard her confession out of compassion and as she departed I gave her a Miraculous Medal so she would be under the protection of the Virgin. She did not understand the value of this holy remedy, but she soon recognized its virtue as she started to get better.
Her progress was such that she was another person after four or five days. Her mental confusion, her worries that had caused her mortal anguish—in which I had noticed a diabolical influence—gave way to common sense, tranquility and happiness.

Macau (1841)
Letter from a missionary in Macau dated August 25, 1841.
A widow who had been brought up as a pagan had only one son. One day she saw him come under the power of the devil, in other words, possessed. Everyone fled from him as he wandered through the fields making fearful cries. If someone dared to grab him, the boy would immediately throw the person to the ground.
The poor mother was full of pain and sorrow, but Divine Providence had pity on this unfortunate family. One day the boy was more tormented than ever, not knowing where he went and brutally repelling all who drew near. In his wanderings he came upon a Christian, who, animated by a lively faith and seeing that the devil tyrannically mistreated the unfortunate boy, told those who were close by to leave. He said that only he was able to calm him down, hold him and return him to his mother. This manner of speaking surprised the pagans. They warned him of the danger, but let him get on with it.
Miracles of the MM - image 5This Christian carried a Miraculous Medal and took it into his hand. Drawing near to the possessed boy, he showed it to him, ordering the devil to leave him alone and depart, which happened immediately. The boy, seeing the Christian with the medal, threw himself to the ground before this image without knowing what it was. The pagans, who had watched him from afar, were astounded.
The Christian then said to him that he should rise and follow him. In this manner he brought him to his mother’s house. As soon as the boy saw her he said: “Do not cry, I am free. The devil left as soon as he saw this medal.”
Imagine the joy of the mother upon hearing these words. She did not know whether or not she was dreaming. The Christian certified the truth of what the boy was saying and told her what had happened. He added that her son would be free forever as long as he renounced the idols and became a Christian. The boy sincerely promised to do so and both of them began removing the false gods from a sort of altar where they were kept.

I hope these marvelous stories may also help you, dear reader!
The Miraculous Medal continues to multiply its prodigies even today. We know of countless other impressive stories of conversions, graces of moral regeneration, cures of attachment to vices, and infallible protection against the action of the devil. There are innumerable accounts of cures and relief procured in every kind of illness, as well as assistance to expectant mothers and of astounding protection against assault, robbery, kidnapping, accidents and other dangers. And who can count those who have found employment and resolved financial difficulties by means of this devotion? Even in our days, so lacking in true Faith, the facts that take place never cease to surprise and edify us.
MM imageWhen she revealed the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady clearly promised that “everyone who wears it, when it is blessed, will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around their neck.” She did not put restrictive conditions; she said “everyone.” And then completed the phrase with: “The graces will be abundant to those who use it with confidence.”
We all need great graces, especially in these difficult and critical times. Let us turn to the Virgin Mother of God in all our needs and concerns, and ask her with a childlike confidence to answer our prayers.
Dear reader, are you not also in need of a particular grace? Or maybe someone in your family is in need of one, or one of your friends? It was for people like you that the Virgin, the best of all mothers, in her unfathomable mercy, gave the Miraculous Medal.

READ:  Conversion on Death Row
PRAY:  Novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

There must be a war in this life

There must be a war in this life. 
In the face of so many enemies it is not possible
for us to sit with our hands folded.
There must always be a concern regarding
how we are proceeding interiorly and exteriorly.

St. Teresa of Avila

St. Francis Anthony Fasani

This son of the soil became one of the most illustrious preachers in the history of the Franciscan Order.

Born Donato Antonio Giovanni Nicola Fasani on August 6, 1681 to poor peasants in the Neapolitan town of Lucera, he lost his father at the age of nine. “Giovanniello”, or “Johnnie” as he was commonly called, was sent by his step-father to the Conventual Franciscans in his native town for his education. At fifteen, he entered the Franciscan novitiate at Monte Gargano taking the founder as his patron.

Remarkable among the young friar’s most cherished devotions was his tender love for the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary – not a dogma of faith at the time – his childlike affection for the Infant Jesus and his ardent devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist.

In 1703 Brother Francis Anthony was sent to Assisi to continue his studies and two years later he was ordained to the priesthood. In Rome he received his doctorate in theology at the College of St. Bonaventure. First appointed lector of philosophy at the Franciscan college in Lucera, he was successively promoted to regent of studies, guardian and, ultimately, provincial superior, an office he held from 1721 to 1723. He later served as master of novices and then as pastor of the Church of St. Francis in his native town. When a bishopric was offered to him, he declined it.

A true shepherd of souls, his apostolic zeal was firmly grounded on an intense and deep interior life. His life of prayer was fortified by mortification, severe penances, and long hours spent in Eucharistic adoration. He was beloved by the poor, spent much time in visiting the sick and the aged, orphans and the imprisoned. Among the latter, his apostolic zeal embraced in a particular manner those condemned to death, whom he accompanied to their execution. He was much in demand as a confessor, spiritual director and preacher for which his ardent and filial love for the Blessed Mother was the inspiration. He gave retreats, led Lenten devotions and novenas and collected gifts for the children at Christmas.
Widely regarded in his own lifetime as a second St. Francis of Assisi, he died in 1742 just as he was beginning the solemn novena for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Upon hearing of his death, the poor children of Lucera ran through the streets, crying "The saint is dead! The saint is dead!" In this humble Franciscan they had lost a true father and protector.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

How to live

We must live every moment of our lives, as if it were our last.

St. Francis de Sales

St. Leonard of Port Maurice

Preacher and ascetic writer, b. 20 Dec., 1676, at Porto Maurizio on the Riviera di Ponente; d. at the monastery of S. Bonaventura, Rome, 26 Nov., 1751. The son of Domenico Casanova and Anna Maria Benza, he joined after a brilliant course of study with the Jesuits in Rome (Collegio Romano), the so- called Riformella, an offshoot of the Reformati branch of the Franciscan Order. On 2 October, 1697, he received the habit, and after making his novitiate at Ponticelli in the Sabine mountains, he completed his studies at the principal house of the Riformella, S. Bonaventura on the Palatine at Rome. After his ordination he remained there as lector (professor), and expected to be sent on the Chinese missions. But he was soon afterwards seized with severe gastric haemorrhage, and became so ill that he was sent to his native climate of Porto Maurizio, where there was a monastery of the Franciscan Observants (1704). After four years he was restored to health, and began to preach in Porto Maurizio and the vicinity. When Cosimo III de' Medici handed over the monastery del Monte (that on San Miniato near Florence, also called Monte alle Croci) to the members of the Riformella, St. Leonard was sent hither under the auspices and by desire of Cosimo III, and began shortly to give missions to the people in Tuscany, which were marked by many extraordinary conversions and great results. His colleagues and he always practised the greatest austerities and most severe penances during these missions. In 1710 he founded the monastery of Icontro, on a peak in the mountains about four and a quarter miles from Florence, whither he and his assistants could retire from time to time after missions, and devote themselves to spiritual renewal and fresh austerities.
In 1720 he crossed the borders of Tuscany and held his celebrated missions in Central and Southern Italy, enkindling with zeal the entire population. Clement XII and Benedict XIV called him to Rome; the latter especially held him in high esteem both as a preacher and as a propagandist, and exacted a promise that he would come to Rome to die. Everywhere the saint made abundant conversions, and was very often obliged both in cities and country districts to preach in the open, as the churches could not contain the thousands who came to listen. He founded many pious societies and confraternities, and exerted himself especially to spread the devotion of the Stations of the Cross — the propagation of which he greatly furthered with the assistance of his brethren — the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the perpetual adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and devotion to the Immaculate Conception. One of his most ardent desires was to see the last-named defined as a dogma of faith by the Holy See. Besides the celebrated stations in the Colosseum at Rome, St. Leonard erected 571 others in all parts of Italy, while on his different missions. From May to November, 1744, he preached in the Island of Corsica, which at that time belonged to the Republic of Genoa and which was frightfully torn by party strife. In November, 1751, when he was preaching to the Bolognese, Benedict XIV called him to Rome, as already there were indications of his rapidly approaching end. The strain of his missionary labours and his mortifications had completely exhausted his body. He arrived on the evening of 26 November, 1751, at his beloved monastery of S. Bonaventura on the Palatine, and expired on the same night at eleven o'clock at the age of seventy-five. In the church of this monastery (which must soon make way for the excavations of the ground occupied by the palace of the Caesars) the partly incorrupt body of the saint is kept in the high altar. Pius VI pronounced his beatification on 19 June, 1796, and Pius IX his canonization on 29 June, 1867. The Franciscan Order celebrates his feast on 26 November, but outside this order it is often celebrated on 27 November.
The numerous writings of the saint consist of sermons, letters, ascetic treatises, and books of devotion for the use of the faithful and of priests, especially missionaries. The "Diary" (Diario) of his missions is written by Fra Diego da Firenze. A treasure for asceticism and homiletics, many of his writings have been translated into the most diverse languages and often republished: for example his "Via Sacrea spianata ed illuminata" (the Way of the Cross simplified and explained), "Il Tesoro Nascosto" (on the Holy Mass); his celebrated "Proponimenti", or resolutions for the attainment of higher Christian perfection. A complete edition of his works appeared first at Rome in thirteen octavo volumes (1853-84), "Collezione completa delle opere di B. Leonardo da Porto Maurizio". Then another in five octavo volumes, "Opere complete di S. Leonardo di Porto Maurizio" (Venice, 1868-9). In English, German, etc., only single works have been issued, but a French translation of the entire set has appeared: "OEuvres completes de S. Leonard de Port-Maurice" (8 vols., Paris and Tournai, 1858), and "Sermons de S. Leonard de Port Maurice" (3 vols., Paris).
Summarium processus beatificationis V.S.D. Leon. a P.M. (Rome, 1781); RAFELLO DA ROMA, Vita del P. Leonardoda P.M. (Rome, 1754); JOS. De MASSERANO, Vita del B. Leonardo da P.M. (Rome, 1796), written by the postulator and dedicated to the duke of York, son of James [III] of England; SALVATORE DI ORMEA, Vita del B. Leonardo da P.M. (Innsbruck, 1869); L. De CHERANCE, S. Leonard de Port-Maurice (Paris, 1903) in Nouvelle Bibliotheque Franciscaine (1st series), XIII. Chapter xx of this last mentioned work had already appeared in Etudes Franciscaines, VIII (Paris, 1902), 501-10.
MICHAEL BIHL (Catholic Encyclopedia)

St. Sylvester Gozzolini

Founder of the Sylvestrines, b. of the noble family of the Gozzolini at Osimo, 1177; d. 26 Nov., 1267. He was sent to study jurisprudence at Bologna and Padua, but, feeling within himself a call to the ecclesiastical state, abandoned the study of law for that of theology and Holy Scripture, giving long hours daily to prayer. On his return home we are told that his father, angered at his change of purpose, refused to speak to him for ten years. Sylvester now accepted a canonry at Osimo and devoted himself to pastoral work with such zeal as to arouse the hostility of his bishop, whom he had respectfully rebuked for the scandals caused by the prelate's irregular life. The saint was threatened with the loss of his canonry, but decided to leave the world on seeing the decaying corpse of one who had formerly been noted for great beauty. In 1227 he retired to a desert place about thirty miles from Osimo and lived there in the utmost poverty until he was recognized by the owner of the land, a certain nobleman named Conrad, who offered him a better site for his hermitage. From this spot he was driven by damp and next established himself at Grotta Fucile, where he eventually built a monastery of his order. In this place his penances were most severe, for he lived on raw herbs and water and slept on the bare ground. Disciples flocked to him seeking his direction, and it became necessary to choose a rule. According to the legend the various founders appeared to him in a vision, each begging him to adopt his rule. St. Sylvester chose for his followers that of St. Benedict and built his first monastery on Monte Fano, where, like another St. Benedict, he had first to destroy the remains of a pagan temple. In 1247 he obtained from Innocent IV, at Lyons, a bull confirming his order, and before his death founded a number of monasteries. An account of his miracles and of the growth of his cultus will be found in Bolzonetti. His body was disinterred and placed in a shrine (1275-85) and is still honoured in the church of Monte Fano. Clement IV first recognized the title of blessed popularly bestowed on Sylvester, who was inscribed as a saint in the Roman Martyrology by order of Clement VIII (1598). His office and Mass were extended to the Universal Church by Leo XIII. His feast is kept on 26 November.
BOLZONETTI, Il Monte Fano e un Grande Anacoreta (Rome, 1906); FABRINUS, De Vita. . .b. Sylvestri (Venice, 1599).
Raymund Webster (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Monday, November 25, 2019

The school of Christ

The school of Christ is the school of charity.
On the last day, when the general examination takes place,
there will be no questions at all on
the text of
Aristotle, the aphorisms of Hippocrates, or the paragraphs
of Justinian.
Charity will be the whole syllabus.

St. Robert Bellarmine

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Catherine was the daughter of Constus, the governor of Alexandrian Egypt, and her mother was a secret Christian. Possessed of uncommon beauty and intellect, Catherine was educated in the sciences in her youth and, at the age of fourteen, was converted to Christianity by a vision and renounced the worship of false gods. Four years later, Catherine came to the attention of the Emperor in a most surprising way.

The Emperor Maximinus, who was violently persecuting the Christians at the time, was astounded when the young maiden presented herself to him and boldly admonished him for his cruelty and persecution, and endeavored to prove to him by the strength and logic of her arguments how iniquitous was the worship of false gods. Completely taken aback by Catherine’s audacity but unable to counteract any of her arguments himself, the Emperor summoned numerous scholars to the imperial palace to compel the young girl, by sophistic counter arguments and devious subterfuges, to apostatize against the Faith. However, not only did Catherine emerge from the contest victorious, but she conquered several of her adversaries by the eloquence and resounding veracity of her words. Declaring themselves won over to the Christian Faith, these new adherents were immediately put to death by the enraged Emperor and Catherine was most brutally scourged and imprisoned.

The Empress Augusta, meanwhile, curious to see the remarkable young girl for herself prevailed upon the military-commander Porphyry to accompany her to the prison with a detachment of soldiers. They in turn yielded to the strength of Catherine’s words, embraced the Faith and were baptized as Christians. They immediately won the martyr’s crown at the command of the furious Maximinus.

Seeing his best attempts to make the young noblewoman renounce her Faith come to naught, and her words converting many of those who came in contact with her, the Emperor condemned her to die on a spiked wheel. However, when it was brought before her, this instrument of torture was completely destroyed at her touch. Now enraged beyond all control, the tyrant issued orders for her immediate execution. She was summarily beheaded.

Over eleven hundred years after her glorious martyrdom, St. Joan of Arc identified St. Catherine of Alexandria as one of the saints who appeared to her and gave her counsels concerning her mission for France.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Solemnity of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ

During His life in this world, Our Lord exercised aspects of all professions fit for man—from the highest to the lowest. To even begin to appreciate the perfection of His Person, we would have to imagine the archetype of every licit profession known to man.

Consider Christ as king. In biblical times, a king held the highest office. Had not Israel demanded that God give them a king so that they might be like other nations? As Prince of the House of David and heir to the throne of Israel, Jesus possessed the nobility and grandeur proper to His state. As He entered Jerusalem in triumph that first Palm Sunday, it did not lessen His majesty that He rode in humility on the back of a donkey. To the contrary, the people acclaimed Jesus of Nazareth enthusiastically, sensing His royal grandeur without the prompts of pageantry.

Because His life was one of constant and unremitting struggle, Our Lord was also a warrior, a man of battle. Not only did Jesus defeat and drive out demons, He forcefully confronted the human allies of the Prince of Darkness. Even after He was betrayed into the hands of His adversaries, He humiliated them when, on being asked if He was Jesus of Nazareth, He answered simply, “Ego sum.” With these two words Christ cast His antagonists to the ground. What a magnificent warrior: hurling His enemies on their faces with but a simple affirmation!

Our Lord personified the fulfillment of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He was Priest and Pontiff par excellence. The priests of the Old Testament prefigured His priesthood, and every priest after Him would share His priesthood as an "alter Christus" - another Christ. On Holy Thursday, Christ was the Priest and Victim of the first Mass, which prefigured His sacrificial offering on the altar of the cross.

Our Lord was also a perfect diplomat. Consider how intelligently He thwarted the machinations of the Sanhedrin: here avoiding confrontation with circumspect and artful speech, there mastering it with impeccably judicious rejoinders.

Consider Christ as one who works with His hands, as does a manual laborer. Unthinkable? Have we forgotten the carpenter shop of Nazareth where Jesus worked under the watchful eye of His foster father Saint Joseph?

Christ was a servant, though few kings have washed the feet of their subjects.

In sum, were we to list every licit human endeavor, we would find that, in some manner, Christ exercised each with perfection beyond our comprehension.

As the perfection and pattern of the human race, Our Lord embodies all the gifts with which His Father has endowed every individual from Adam to the last man.

How God rewards devotion to Mary

The devotions we practice in honor of the glorious Virgin Mary,
however trifling they may be,
are very pleasing to Her Divine Son, and
He rewards them with eternal glory.

St. Teresa of Avila

St. Andrew Dung-Lac and the Martyrs of Vietnam

Born in 1795 in the Tonkinese town of Bac-Nihh in North Vietnam, Tran An Dung was the son of pagan parents. In search of work for themselves in 1807, his parents moved to the ancient citadel of Hanoi. Here their twelve-year-old son was taken care of by a catechist and for three years was instructed in the Catholic faith. Baptized in Vinh-Tri, he received the Christian name Andrew (Anrê) in baptism and went on to learn both Chinese and Latin and himself became a catechist. He was selected for further studies in theology and was ordained to the priesthood on March 15, 1823.

An exemplary pastor, Andrew was ardent and indefatigable in his preaching, often fasted, and drew many to the Faith by his simple and moral life. As a testament of the love which his congregation had for him, in 1835, when he was imprisoned during the persecution of the Annamite emperor Minh-Mang, his freedom was purchased exclusively by donations from his parishioners.

The Vietnamese Christians suffered unspeakably during this time. Beginning in 1832 Minh-Mang expelled all foreign missionaries and commanded all Vietnamese Christians to demonstrate their renunciation of the Catholic Faith by trampling on a crucifix. Churches were destroyed; religious instruction was forbidden. Christians were branded on the face with the words ta dao (false religion) and Christian families and villages were obliterated. Many endured extreme privations and hardship; many more were put to death for their fidelity to the Faith.

To avoid further persecution by the authorities, Andrew Dung changed his name to Lac and relocated to a different region. While visiting a fellow priest, in order to confess himself, Dung-Lac was arrested with Father Peter Thi on November 10, 1839. In exchange for a monetary ransom paid to their captors, the two priests were liberated, but their freedom was short-lived. Re-arrested not long afterwards, they were taken to Hanoi and severely tortured. They were beheaded shortly before Christmas Day on December 21, 1839.

The priests, Andrew Dung-Lac and Peter Thi, were beatified on May 27, 1900 by Pope Leo XIII and formed part of a group of Vietnamese martyrs beatified together on that day. Another group, Dominicans all, was beatified on May 20, 1906 and a third on May 2, 1909 both by Pope St. Pius X. A fourth group, which included two Spanish bishops, was beatified on April 29, 1951 by Pope Pius XII. All 117 martyrs were canonized in Rome on June 19, 1988 by Pope John Paul II.

These 117 martyrs met their deaths during several persecutions of Christians that swept through the Vietnamese peninsula between the years 1625 and 1886. Approximately 130,000 gave their lives for the Catholic Faith and further beatifications may be expected from amongst their glorious ranks. Among the 117 that have been canonized were 96 Vietnamese and 21 foreign missionaries. Of the Vietnamese group 37 were priests and 59 were lay people, among whom were catechists and tertiaries. One of them was a woman, mother of six children. Of the missionaries 11 were Spaniards: 6 bishops and 5 priests, all Dominicans; and 10 were French: 2 bishops and 8 priests from the Société des Missions Etrangères in Paris.

The tortures these martyrs endured were among the worst in the history of Christian martyrdom. The means included cutting off limbs joint by joint, ripping living bodies with red hot tongs, and the use of drugs to enslave the minds of the victims. Among the 117 Martyrs of Vietnam, 76 were beheaded, 21 were suffocated, 6 burnt alive, 5 mutilated and 9 died in prison as a result of torture.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

How to please the Blessed Virgin

The purer are your words and your
the more pleasing will you be to the
Blessed Virgin. And
the greater will be the
graces that she will obtain for you
from her Divine Son.

St. John Bosco

St. Columban

[also known as Columbanus]
Abbot of Luxeuil and Bobbio, born in West Leinster, Ireland, in 543; died at Bobbio, Italy, 21 November, 615.
His life was written by Jonas, an Italian monk of the Columban community, at Bobbio, c. 643. This author lived during the abbacy of Attala, Columbanus's immediate successor, and his informants had been companions of the saint. Mabillon in the second volume of his "Acta Sanctorum O.S.B." gives the life in full, together with an appendix on the miracles of the saint, written by an anonymous member of the Bobbio community.
Columbanus, whose birth took place the year St. Benedict died, was from childhood well instructed. He was handsome and prepossessing in appearance, and this exposed him to the shameless temptations of several of his countrywomen. He also had to struggle with his own temptations. At last he betook himself to a religious woman, who advised him thus:

Twelve years ago I fled from the world, and shut myself up in this cell. Hast thou forgotten Samson, David and Solomon, all led astray by the love of women? There is no safety for thee, young man, except in flight.
He thereupon decided to act on this advice and retire from the world. He encountered opposition, especially from his mother, who strove to detain him by casting herself before him on the threshhold of the door. But, conquering the feelings of natures he passed over the prostrate form and left his home forever. His first master was Sinell Abbot of Cluaninis in Lough Erne. Under his tuition he composed a commentary on the Psalms. He then betook himself to the celebrated monastery of Bangor on the coast of Down, which at that time had for its abbot St. Comgall. There he embraced the monastic state, and for many years led a life conspicuous for fervour, regularity, and learning. At about the age of forty he seemed to hear incessantly the voice of God bidding him preach the Gospel in foreign lands. At first his abbot declined to let him go, but at length he gave consent.
Columbanus set sail with twelve companions; their names have thus come down to us: St. Attala, Columbanus the Younger, Cummain, Domgal, Eogain, Eunan, St. Gall, Gurgano, Libran, Lua, Sigisbert and Waldoleno (Strokes, "Apennines", p. 112). The little band passed over to Britain, landing probably on the Scottish coast. They remained but a short time in England, and then crossed over to France, where they arrived probably in 585. At once they began their apostolic mission. Wherever they went the people, were struck by their modesty, patience, and humility. France at that period needed such a band of monks and preachers. Owing partly to the incursions of barbarians, and partly due to the remissness of the clergy, vice and impiety were prevalent. Columbanus, by his holiness, zeal, and learning, was eminently fitted for the work that lay before him. He and his followers soon made their way to the court of Gontram, King of Burgundy. Jonas calls it the court of Sigisbert, King of Austrasia and Burgundy, but this is manifestly a blunder, for Sigisbert had been slain in 575. The fame of Columbanus had preceded him. Gontram gave him a gracious reception, inviting him to remain in his kingdom. The saint complied, and selected for his abode the half-ruined Roman fortress of Annegray in the solitudes of the Vosges Mountains. Here the abbot and his monks led the simplest of lives, their food oftentimes consisting of nothing but forest herbs, berries, and the bark of young trees. The fame of Columbanus's sanctity drew crowds to his monastery. Many, both nobles and rustics, asked to be admitted into the community. Sick persons came to be cured through their prayers. But Columbanus loved solitude. Often he would withdrew to a cave seven miles distant, with a single companion, who acted as messenger between himself and his brothren. After a few years the ever-increasing number of his disciples oblige him to build another monastery. Columbanus accordingly obtained from King Gontram the Gallo-Roman castle named Luxeuil, some eight miles distant from Annegray. It was in a wild district, thickly covered with pine forests and brushwood. This foundation of the celebrated Abbey of Luxueil, took place in 590. But these two monasteries did not suffice for the numbers who came, and a third had to be erected at Fontaines. The superiors of these houses always remained subordinate to Columbanus. It is said this time, he was able to institute a perpetual service of praise, known as Laus perennis, by which choir succeded choir, both day and night (Montalembert, Monks of the West II, 405). For these flourishing communities he wrote his rule, which embodies the customs of Bangor and other Celtic monasteries.
For wellnigh twenty years Columbanus resided in France and during that time observed the unreformed paschal computation. But a dispute arose. The Frankish bishops were not too well disposed towards this stranger abbot, because of his ever-increasing influence, and at last they showed their hostility. They objected to his Celtic Easter and his exclusion of men as well as women from the precincts of his monasteries. The councils of Gaul held in the first half of the sixth century had given to bishops absolute authority over religious communities, even going so far as to order the abbots to appear periodically before their respective bishops to receive reproof or advice, as might be considered necessary. These enactments, being contrary to the custom of the Celtic monasteries, were readily accepted by Columbanus. In 602 the bishops assembled to judge him. He did not appear, lest, as he tells us, "he might contend in words", but instead addressed a letter to the prelates in which he speaks with a strange mixture of freedom, reverence, and charity. In it he admonishes them to hold synods more frequently, and advises that they pay attention to matters equally important with that of the date of Easter. As to his paschal cycle he says: "I am not the author of this divergence. I came as a poor stranger into these parts for the cause of Christ, Our Saviour. One thing alone I ask of you, holy Fathers, permit me to live in silence in these forests, near the bones of seventeen of my brethren now dead." When the Frankish bishops still insisted that the abbot was wrong, then, in obedience to St. Patrick's canon, he laid the question before Pope St. Gregory. He dispatched two letters to that pontiff, but they never reached him, "through Satan's intervention". The third letter is extant, but no trace of an answer appears in St. Gregory's correspondence, owing probably to the fact that the pope died in 604, about the time it reached Rome. In this letter he defends the Celtic custom with considerable freedom, but the tone is affectionate. He prays "the holy Pope, his Father", to direct towards him "the strong support of his authority, to transmit the verdict of his favour". Moreover, he apologizes "for presuming to argue as it were, with him who sits in the chair of Peter, Apostle and Bearer of the Keys". He directed another epistle to Pope Boniface IV, in which he prays that, if it be not contrary to the Faith, he confirm the tradition of his elders, so that by the papal decision (judicium) he and his monks may be enabled to follow the rites of their ancestors. Before Pope Bonifice's answer (which has been lost) was given, Columbanus was outside the jurisdiction of the Frankish bishops. As we hear no further accusation on the Easter question — not even in those brought against his successor, Eustasius of Luxeuil in 624 — it would appear that after Columbanus had removed into Italy he gave up the Celtic Easter (cf. Acta SS. O.S.B., II, p. 7).
In addition to the Easter question Columbanus had to wage war against vice in the royal household. The young King Thierry, to whose kingdom Luxeuil belonged, was living a life of debauchery. He was completely in the hands of his grandmother, Queen Brunehault (Brunehild). On the death of King Gontram the succession passed to his nephew, Childebert II, son of Brunehault. At his death the latter left two sons, Theodebert II and Thierry II, both minors. Theodebert succeeded to Austrasia, Thierry to Burgundy, but Brunehault constituted herself their guardian, and held in her own power the governments of the two kingdoms. As she advanced in years she sacrificed everything to the passion of sovereinity, hence she encouraged Thierry in the practice concubinage in order that there might be no rival queen. Thierry, however, had a veneration for Columbanus, and often visited him. On these occasions the saint admonished and rebuked him, but in vain. Brunehault became enraged with Columbanus, stirred up the bishops and nobles to find fault with his rules regarding monastic enclosure. Finally, Thierry and his party went to Luxeuil and ordered the abbot to conform to the usages of the country. Columbanus refused, whereupon he was taken prisoner to Besancon to await further orders. Taking advantage of the absence of restraint he speedily returned to his monastery. On hearing this, Thierry and Brunehault sent soldiers to drive him back to Ireland. None but Irish monks were to accompany him. Accordingly, he was hurried to Nevers, made to embark on the Loire, and thus proceed to Nantes. At Tours he visited the tomb of St. Martin and sent a message to Thierry that within three years he and his children would perish. At Nantes, before the embarkation, he addressed a letter to his monks, full of affection. It is a memorial of the love and tenderness which existed in that otherwise austere and passionate soul. In it he desires all to obey Attala, whom he requests to abide with the community unless strife should arise on the Easter question. His letter concludes thus "They come to tell me the ship is ready. The end of my parchment compels me to finish my letter. Love is not orderly; it is this which has made it confused. Farewell, dear hearts of mine; pray for me that I may live in God." As soon as they set sail, such a storm arose that ship was driven ashore. The captain would have nothing more to do with these holy men; they were thus free to go where they pleased. Columbanus made his way to the friendly King Clothaire at Soissons in Neustria where he was gladly welcomed. Clothaire in vain pressed him to remain in his territory. Columbanus left Neustria in 611 for the court of King Theodebert of Austrasia. At Metz he received an honourable welcome, and then proceeding to Mainz, he embarked upon the Rhine in order to reach the Suevi and Alamanni, to whom he wished to preach the Gospel. Ascending the river and its tributaries, the Aar and the Limmat, he came to the Lake of Zurich. Tuggen was chosen as a centre from which to evangelize, but the work was not successful. Instead of producing fruit, the zeal of Columbanus only excited persecution. In despair he resolved to pass on by way of Arbon to Bregenz on Lake Constance, where there were still some traces of Christianity. Here the saint found an oratory dedicated to St. Aurelia, into which the people had brought three brass images of their tutelary deities. He commanded St. Gall, who knew the language, to preach to the inhabitants, and many were converted. The images were destroyed, and Columbanus blessed the little church, placing the relics of St. Aurelia beneath the altar. A monastery was erected, and the brethren forthwith observed their regular life. After about a year, in consequence of another rising against the community, Columbanus resolved to cross the Alps into Italy. An additional reason for his departure was the fact that the arms of Thierry had prevailed against Theodebert, and thus the country on the banks of the Upper Rhine had become the property of his enemy.
On his arrival at Milan in 612, Columbanus met with a kindly welcome from King Agilulf and Queen Theodelinda. He immediately began to confute the Arians and wrote a treatise against their teaching, which has been lost. At the request of the king, he wrote a letter to Pope Boniface on the debated subject of "The Three Chapters". These writings were considered to favour Nestorianism. Pope St. Gregory, however, tolerated in Lombardy those persons who defended them, among whom was King Agilulf. Columbanus would probably have taken no active part in this matter had not the king pressed him so to do. But on this occasion his zeal certainly outran his knowledge. The letter opens with all apology that a "foolish Scot" should be charged to write for a Lombard king. He acquaints the pope with the imputations brought against him, and he is particularly severe with the memory of Pope Vigilius. He entreats the pontiff to prove his orthodoxy and assemble a council. He says that his freedom of speech accords with the usage of his country. "Doubtless", Montalembert remarks, "some of the expressions which he employs should be now regarded as disrespectful and justly rejected But in those young and vigorous times, faith and austerity could be more indulgent" (II, 440). On the other hand, the letter expresses the most affectionate and impassioned devotion to the Holy See. The whole, however, may be judged from this fragment: "We Irish, though dwelling at the far ends of the earth, are all disciples of St. Peter and St. Paul . . . Neither heretic, nor Jew, nor schismatic has ever been among us; but the Catholic Faith, Just as it was first delivered to us by yourselves, the successors of the Apostles, is held by us unchanged . . . we are bound [devincti] to the Chair of Peter, and although Rome is great and renowned, through that Chair alone is she looked on as great and illustrious among us . . .On account of the two Apostles of Christ, you [the pope] are almost celestial, and Rome is the head of the whole world, and of the Churches". If zeal for orthodoxy caused him to overstep the limits of discretion, his real attitude towards Rome is sufficiently clear. He declares the pope to be: "his Lord and Father in Christ", "The Chosen Watchman", "The Prelate most dear to all the Faithful", "The most beautiful Head of all the Churches of the whole of Europe", "Pastor of Pastors", "The Highest", "The First", "The First Pastor, set higher than all mortals", "Raised near into all the Celestial Beings", "Prince of the Leaders", "His Father", "His immediate Patron", "The Steersman", "The Pilot of the Spiritual Ship" (Allnatt, "Cathedra Petri", 106).
But it was necessary that, in Italy, Columbanus should have a settled abode, so the king gave him a tract of land called Bobbio, between Milan and Genoa, near the River Trebbia, situated in a defile of the Apennines. On his way thither he taught the Faith in the town of Mombrione, which is called San Colombano to this day. Padre della Torre considers that the saint made two journeys into Italy, and that these have been confounded by Jonas. On the first occasion he went to Rome and received from Pope Gregory many sacred relics (Stokes, Apennines, 132). This may possibly explain the traditional spot in St. Peter's, where St. Gregory and St. Columba are supposed to have met (Moran, Irish SS. in Great Britain,105). At Bobbio the saint repaired the half-ruined church of St. Peter, and erected his celebrated abbey, which for centuries was stronghold of orthodoxy in Northern Italy. Thither came Clothaire's messengers inviting the aged abbot to return, now that his enemies were dead. But he could not go. He sent a request that the king would always protect his dear monks at Luxeuil. He prepared for death by retiring to his cave on the mountain-side overlooking the Trebbia, where, according to a tradition, he had dedicated an oratory to Our Lady (Montalembert, "Monks of the West", II, 444). His body has been preserved in the abbey church at Bobbio, and many miracles are said to have been wrought there through his intercession. In 1482 the relics were placed in a new shrine and laid beneath the altar of the crypt, where they are still venerated. But the altar and shrine are once more to be restored, and for this end in 1907 all appeal was made by Cardinal Logue, and there is every prospect of the work being speedily accomplished. The sacristy at Bobbio possesses a portion of the skull of the saint, his knife, wooden cup, bell, and an ancient water vessel, formerly containing sacred relics and said to have been given him by St. Gregory. According to certain authorities, twelve teeth of the saint were taken from the tomb in the fifteenth century and kept in the treasury, but these have now disappeared (Stokes, Apennines, p. 183). St. Columbanus is named in the Roman Martyrology on 21 November, but his feast is kept by the Benedictines and throughout Ireland on 24 November. Among his principal miracles are: (1) procuring of food for a sick monk and curing the wife of his benefactor; (2) escape from hurt when surrounded by wolves; (3) obedience of a bear which evacuated a cave at his biddings; (4) producing a spring of water near his cave; (5) repletion of the Luxeuil granary when empty; (6) multiplication of bread and beer for his community; (7) curing of the sick monks, who rose from their beds at his request to reap the harvest; (8) giving sight to a blind man at Orleans; (9) destruction by his breath of a cauldron of beer prepared for a pagan festival; (10) taming a bear, and yoking it to a plough.
Like other men, Columbanus was not faultless. In the cause of God he was impetuous and even head-strong, for by nature he was eager, passionate, and dauntless. These qualities were both the source of his power and the cause of mistakes. But his virtues were very remarkable. He shared with other saints a great love for God's creatures. As he walked in the woods, the birds would alight upon his shoulder that he might caress them and the squirrels would run down from the trees and nestle in the folds of his cowl. The fascination of his saintly personality drew numerous communities around him. That he possessed real affection for others is abundantly manifest in his letter to his brethren. Archbishop Healy eulogises him thus: "A man more holy, more chaste, more self-denying, a man with loftier aims and purer heart than Columbanus was never born in the Island of Saints" (Ireland's Ancient Schools, 378). Regarding his attitude towards the Holy See, although with Celtic warmth and flow of words he could defend mere custom, there is nothing in his strongest expressions which implies that, in matters of faith, he for a moment doubted Rome's supreme authority. His influence in Europe was due to the conversions he effected and to the rule that he composed. What gave rise to his apostolate? Possibly the restless energy of the Celtic character, which, not finding sufficient scope in Ireland, directed itself in the cause of Christ to foreign lands. It may be that the example and success of St. Columba in Caledonia stimulated him to similar exertions. The example, however, of Columbanus in the sixth century stands out as the prototype of missionary enterprise towards the countries of Europe, so eagerly follows up from England and Ireland by such men as Killian, Virgilius, Donatus, Wilfrid, Willibrord, Swithbert, and Boniface. If Columbanus abbey in Italy became a citadel of faith and learning, Luxeuil in France became the nursery of saints and apostles. From its walls went forth men who carried his rule, together with the Gospel, into France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. There are said to have been sixty-three such apostles (Stokes, Forests of France, 254). These disciples of Columbanus are accredited with founding over one hundred different monasteries (ib., 74). The canton and town still bearing the name of St. Gall testify how well one disciple succeeded.
Columbanus has left us his own writings. They demonstrate that his attainments were of no mean order. He continued his literary studies till the very eve of his death. His works (Migne P.L. LXXX) include: (1) "Penitencial" which prescribes penances according to guilt, a useful guide in the absence of elaborate treatises on moral theology; (2) "Seventeen short Sermons"; (3) "Six Epistles"; (4) "Latin Poems"; (5) "A Monastic Rule". This Last is much shorter than that of St. Benedict, consisting of only ten chapters. The first six of these treat of obedience, silence, food, poverty, humility, and chastity. In these there is much in common with the Benedictine code, except that the fasting is more rigorous. Chapter vii deals with the choir Offices. Sunday Martins in winter consisted of sevent-five psalms and twenty-five antiphone—three psalms to each antiphone. In spring and autumn these were reduced to thirty-six, and in summer to twenty-four, Fewer were said on week days. The day hours consisted of Terce, Sext, None, and Vespers. Three psalms were said at each of these Offices, except Vespers, when twelve psalms were said. Chapter x regulates penances for offences, and it is here that the Rule of St. Columbanus differs so widely from that of St. Benedict. Stripes or fasts were enjoined for the smallest faults. The habit of the monks consisted of a tunic of undyed wool, over which was worn the cuculla, or cowl, of the same material. A great deal of time was devoted to various kinds of manual labour. The Rule of St: Columbanus was approved of by the Council of Macon in 627, but it was destined before the close of the century to be superseded by that of St. Benedict. For several centuries in some of the greater monasteries the two rules were observed conjointly. In art St. Columbanus is represented bearded bearing the monastic cowl, he holds in his hand a book with an Irish satchel, and stands in the midst of wolves. Sometimes he is depicted in the attitude of taming a bear, or with sunbeams over his head (Husenheth, "Emblems", p. 33).
COLUMBA EDMONDS (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Friday, November 22, 2019

There is no one, O Most Holy Mary...

There is no one, O Most Holy Mary, who can know God except through thee;
no one who can be saved or redeemed but through thee, O Mother of God;
no one who can be delivered from dangers but through thee, O Virgin Mother;
no one who obtains mercy but through thee, O Filled-With-All-Grace!”

Saint Germanus of Constantinople

St. Cecilia

Virgin and martyr, patroness of church music, died at Rome.

This saint, so often glorified in the fine arts and in poetry, is one of the most venerated martyrs of Christian antiquity. The oldest historical account of St. Cecilia is found in the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum"; from this it is evident that her feast was celebrated in the Roman Church in the fourth century. Her name occurs under different dates in the above-mentioned martyrology; its mention under 11 August, the feast of the martyr Tiburtius, is evidently a later and erroneous addition, due to the fact that this Tiburtius, who was buried on the Via Labicana, was wrongly identified with Tiburtius, the brother-in-law of St. Cecilia, mentioned in the Acts of her martyrdom. Perhaps also there was another Roman martyr of the name of Cecilia buried on the Via Labicana. Under the date of 16 September Cecilia is mentioned alone, with the topographical note: "Appiâ viâ in eâdem urbe Româ natale et passio sanctæ Ceciliæ virginis (the text is to be thus corrected). This is evidently the day of the burial of the holy martyr in the Catacomb of Callistus. The feast of the saint mentioned under 22 November, on which day it is still celebrated, was kept in the church in the Trastevere quarter at Rome, dedicated to her. Its origin, therefore, is to be traced most probably to this church. The early medieval guides (Itineraria) to the burial-places of Roman martyrs point out her grave on the Via Appia, next to the crypt of the Roman bishops of the third century (De Rossi, Roma sotterranea, I, 180-181). De Rossi located the burial-place of Cecilia in the Catacomb of Callistus in a crypt immediately adjoining the crypt or chapel of the popes; an empty niche in one of the walls contained, probably, at one time the sarcophagus with the bones of the saint. Among the frescoes of a later time with which the wall of the sepulchre are adorned, the figure of a richly-dressed woman appears twice and Pope Urban, who was brought personal into close relation with the saint by the Acts of her martyrdom, is depicted once. The ancient titular church of Rome, mentioned above was built as early as the fourth century and is still preserved in the Trastevere. This church was certainly dedicated in the fifth century to the saint buried on the Via Appia; it is mentioned in the signatures of the Roman Council of 499 as "titulus sanctae Caeciliae" (Mansi, Coll, Conc. VIII, 236). Like some other ancient Christian churches of Rome, which are the gifts of the saints whose names they bear, it may be inferred that the Roman Church owes this temple to the generosity of the holy martyr herself; in support of this view it is to be noted that the property, under which the oldest part of the true Catacomb of Callistus is constructed, belonged most likely, according to De Rossi's researches, to the family of St. Cecilia (Gens Caecilia), and by donation passed into the possession of the Roman Church. Although her name is not mentioned in the earliest (fourth century) list of feasts (Depositio martyrum), the fact that in the "Sacramentarium Leoniam", a collection of masses completed about the end of the fifth century, are found no less than five different masses in honour of St. Cecilia testifies to the great veneration in which the saint was at that time held in the Roman Church ["Sacram. Leon.", ed. Muratori, in "Opera" (Arezzo, 1771), XIII, I, 737, sqq.].
About the middle of the fifth century originated Acts of the martyrdom of St. Cecilia which have been transmitted in numerous manuscripts; these acts were also translated into Greek. They were utilized in the prefaces of the above-mentioned masses of the "Sacramentarium Leonianum". They inform us, that Cecilia, a virgin of a senatorial family and a Christian from her infancy, was given in marriage by her parents to a noble pagan youth Valerianus. When, after the celebration of the marriage, the couple had retired to the wedding-chamber, Cecilia told Valerianus that she was betrothed to an angel who jealously guarded her body; therefore Valerianus must take care not to violate her virginity. Valerianus wished to see the angel, whereupon Cecilia sent him to the third milestone on the Via Appia where he should meet Bishop (Pope) Urbanus. Valerianus obeyed, was baptized by the pope, and returned a Christian to Cecilia. An angel then appeared to the two and crowned them with roses and lilies. When Tiburtius, the brother of Valerianus, came to them, he too was won over to Christianity. As zealous children of the Faith both brothers distributed rich alms and buried the bodies of the confessors who had died for Christ. The prefect, Turcius Almachius, condemned them to death; an officer of the prefect, Maximus, appointed to execute this sentence, was himself converted and suffered martyrdom with the two brothers. Their remains were buried in one tomb by Cecilia. And now Cecilia herself was sought by the officers of the prefect. Before she was taken prisoner, she arranged that her house should be preserved as a place of worship for the Roman Church. After a glorious profession of faith, she was condemned to be suffocated in the bath of her own house. But as she remained unhurt in the overheated room, the prefect had her decapitated in that place. The executioner let his sword fall three times without separating the head from the trunk, and fled, leaving the virgin bathed in her own blood. She lived three days, made dispositions in favour of the poor, and provided that after her death her house should be dedicated as a church. Urbanus buried her among the bishops and the confessors, i.e. in the Catacomb of Callistus.
In this shape the whole story has no historical value; it is a pious romance, like so many others compiled in the fifth and sixth century. The existence of the aforesaid martyrs, however, is a historical fact. The relation between St. Cecilia and Valerianus, Tiburtius, and Maximus, mentioned in the Acts, has perhaps some historical foundation. These three saints were buried in the Catacomb of Praetextatus on the Via Appia, where their tombs are mentioned in the ancient pilgrim Itineraria. In the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" their feast is set down under 14 April with the note: "Romae via Appia in cimiterio Prætextati"; and the octave under 21 April, with the comment: "Rome in cimiterio Calesti via Appia". In the opinion of Duchesne the octave was celebrated in the Catacomb of Callistus, because St. Cecilia was buried there. If, therefore, this second notice in the martyrology is older than the aforesaid Acts, and the latter did not give rise to this second feast, it follows that before the Acts were written this group of saints in Rome was brought into relation with St. Cecilia. The time when Cecilia suffered martyrdom is not known. From the mention of Urbanus nothing can be concluded as to the time of composition of the Acts; the author without any authority, simply introduced the confessor of this name (buried in the Catacomb of Praetextatus) on account of the nearness of his tomb to those of the other martyrs and identified him with the pope of the same name. The author of the "Liber Pontificalis" used the Acts for his notice of Urbanus. The Acts offer no other indication of the time of the martyrdom. Venantius Fortunatus (Miscellanea, 1, 20; 8,6) and Ado (Martyrology, 22 November) place the death of the saint in the reign of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus (about 177), and De Rossi tried to prove this view as historically the surest one. In other Western sources of the early Middle Ages and in the Greek "Synaxaria" this martyrdom is placed in the persecution of Diocletian. P.A. Kirsch tried to locate it in the time of Alexander Severus (229-230); Aubé, in the persecution of Decius (249-250); Kellner, in that of Julian the Apostate (362). None of these opinion is sufficiently established, as neither the Acts nor the other sources offer the requisite chronological evidence. The only sure time-indication is the position of the tomb in the Catacomb of Callistus, in the immediate proximity of the very ancient crypt of the popes, in which Urbanus probably, and surely Pontianus and Anterus were buried. The earliest part of this catacomb dates at all events from the end of the second century; from that time, therefore, to the middle of the third century is the period left open for the martyrdom of St. Cecilia.
Her church in the Trastevere quarter of Rome was rebuilt by Paschal I (817-824), on which occasion the pope wished to transfer thither her relics; at first, however, he could not find them and believed that they had been stolen by the Lombards. In a vision he saw St. Cecilia, who exhorted him to continue his search, as he had already been very near to her, i.e. near her grave. He therefore renewed his quest; and soon the body of the martyr, draped in costly stuffs of gold brocade and with the cloths soaked in her blood at her feet, was actually found in the Catacomb of Prætextatus. They may have been transported thither from the Catacomb of Callistus to save them from earlier depredations of the Lombards in the vicinity of Rome. The relics of St. Cecilia with those of Valerianus, Tiburtius, and Maximus, also those of Popes Urbanus and Lucius, were taken up by Pope Paschal, and reburied under the high altar of St. Cecilia in Trastevere. The monks of a convent founded in the neighbourhood by the same pope were charged with the duty of singing the daily Office in this basilica. From this time the veneration of the holy martyr continued to spread, and numerous churches were dedicated to her. During the restoration of the church in the year 1599 Cardinal Sfondrato had the high altar examined and found under it the sarcophagi, with the relics of the saints, that Pope Paschal had transported thither. Recent excavations beneath the church, executed at the instigation and expense of Cardinal Rampolla, disclosed remains of Roman buildings, which have remained accessible. A richly adorned underground chapel was built beneath the middle aisle, and in it a latticed window, opening over the altar, allows a view of the receptacles in which the bones of the saints repose. In a side chapel of the church there have long been shown the remains of the bath in which, according to the Acts, Cecilia was put to death.
The oldest representations of St. Cecilia show her in the attitude usual for martyrs in the Christian art of the earlier centuries, either with the crown of martyrdom in her hand (e.g. at S. Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, in a sixth-century mosaic) or in the attitude of prayer, as an Orans (e.g. the two sixth and seventh-century pictures in her crypt). In the apse of her church in Trastevere is still preserved the mosaic made under Pope Paschal, wherein she is represented in rich garments as patroness of the pope. Medieval pictures of the saint are very frequent; since the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries she is given the organ as an attribute, or is represented as playing on the organ, evidently to express what was often attributed to her in panegyrics and poems based on the Acts, viz., that while the musicians played at her nuptials she sang in her heart to God only ("cantantibus organis illa in corde suo soi domino decantabat"); possibly the cantantibus organis was erroneously interpreted of Cecilia herself as the organist. In this way the saint was brought into closer relation with music. When the Academy of Music was founded at Rome (1584) she was made patroness of the institute, whereupon her veneration as patroness of church music in general became still more universal; today Cecilian societies (musical associations) exist everywhere. The organ is now her ordinary attribute; with it Cecilia was represented by Raphael in a famous picture preserved at Bologna. In another magnificent masterpiece, the marble statute beneath the high altar of the above-mentioned church of St. Cecilia at Rome, Carlo Maderna represented her lying prostrate, just as she had received the death-blow from the executioner's hand. Her feast is celebrated in the Latin and the Greek Church on 22 November. In the "Martyrologium Hieronymainum" are commemorated other martyrs of this name, but of none of them is there any exact historical information. One suffered martyrdom in Carthage with Dativus in 304.
MOMBRITIUS, Sanctuarium, I, 186 sqq.; BOSIO, Atti di S. Cecilia (Rome, 1600); SURIUS, De vitis Sanctorum (Venice, 1581), VI, 161 sqq.; LADERCHI, S. Caciliae virg. et mart. acta ac transtiberina basilica (Rome, 1722); BOLLANDISTS ed., Bibliotheca hagiographica latina (Brussels, 1898-99), I, 224; SIMEON METAPHRASTES, in P.G., CXVI; BARONIUS, Annales, ad an. 821, 15 xv (the spurious document of Pope Paschal I); BOLLANDISTS ed., Synaxarium Constatinopolitanum (Brussels, 1902), 243; Liber Pontificalis, ed. DUCHESNE, I, xciii sq., 143, and II, 55-57, 65; TILLEMONT, Hist. ecclés., III, 259 sqq.; De Rossi, Roma Sotterranea, II, xxxii sq.; GUERANGER, Histoire de Ste Cecile (Paris 1849; 2nd ed., 1852); IDEM, Ste Cecile et la societe romaine (Paris, 1878); MORSE, BIRKS, and HOLE, in Dict. of Christian Biog., s.v.; AUBE, Les chrétiens dans l'empire romain (2nd ed., Paris, 1881), 352 sqq.; ALLARD, Histoire des persecutions, I, 427 sqq.; ERBES, Die heilige Cacilia im Zusammenhang mit der Papstcrypta sowie der altesten Kirche Roms, in Zeitschrift fur Kirchengeschichte, IX, 1888, 1 sqq.; P.A. KIRSCH, Die heilge Cacilia, Jungfrau und Martyrin (Ratisbon, 1901); IDEM, Das Todesjahr der heiligen Cacilia, in Stromation Archaiologikon (Rome, 1900), 42-77; KELLNER, Das wahre Zeitalter der heil. Cacilia, in Theologische Quartalschrift (Tubingen, 1902), 237 sqq.; (1903), 321 sqq.; (1905), 258 sqq.; DUFOURCQ, Les Gesta martyrum romains (Paris, 1900), 116 sqq., 293 sqq.; MARUCCHI, Basiliques et eglises de Rome (Rome, 1902), 438 sqq.; BIANCHI-CAGLIESI, S. Cecilia e sua basilica (Rome, 1902); DETZEL, Christl. Ikonographie (Freiburg im Br., 1896), 220 sqq.; ROHAULT DE FLEURY, Les saints de la Messe, I, pl, 16-17; P. SIXTUS, Elucubrationes historico-liturgicae de recenti quadem sententia circa aetatem S. Caeciliae martyris, in Ephemerides liturgicae (Rome, Sept.-Oct. 1907). See also the accounts in BUTLER, Lives of the Saints, 22 November.
J.P. KIRSCH (Catholic Encyclopedia)