ANNOUNCING A NOVENA TO ST BENEDICT of NURSIA – BEGINNING SUNDAY – 2 JULY
Who Is St. Benedict?
St Benedict was born to a noble family around 480 A.D. in Nursia, in central Italy. He lived a sequestered life for many years, leaving family and friends behind to live in a cave near the town of Subiaco. St. Benedict chose to live a quiet life of prayer and devotion to God after disapproving of the immoral lifestyle he encountered while he attended school in Rome. Even though he lived a life devoted to God, St. Benedict (like all of us) was constantly tempted by the devil. St. Benedict was able to defeat the devil numerous times throughout his life, earning him the title of protector against evil spirits, temptation and witchcraft. St Benedict also offers protection against being poisoned, infectious diseases, childbirth complications and destruction during storms and tempests. He also obtains for sinners the grace of conversion.
St. Benedict’s Protection — A Lifetime of Defeating the Devil
Pope Gregory I, also known as St. Gregory the Great, detailed St. Benedict’s encounters with the devil as part of his four-part book series, The Dialogues. St Gregory called him “a shining light to the world.”
The Rule of St. Benedict has been used by monasteries all throughout the West for centuries. It champions listening to God’s word and doing His work through a life of prayer, temperance, charity, obedience, patience and humility. The Rule was considered rigorous, yet not unbendingly so, when Benedict first introduced it in his writings.
Cardinal Ratzinger was thinking of him in part when he was elected Pope in 2005 and chose the name Benedict XVI! As the Pope has said, may St. Benedict encourage us all (as he sought to do with his Rule and his life) to put Christ first in our thoughts and in our actions!
St Benedict we run to you for aid and intercession, please pray for us all!
Today, 25 June, we celebrate the feast day of Saint William of Vercelli (1085-1142), founder of the Order of Monte Vergine, also known as the “Williamites.” Saint William lived a quiet life of solitude and contemplation, listening intently for the voice of God and following the directions he received. Through his obedience, William was taken far from home, worked many miracles and established a thriving religious community—all because he was quiet and paused to discern the Will of the Lord.
Saint William had complete trust in the Lord and in His Divine Providence. Ever faithful and contemplative, William was willing to leave his home as a youth and subsequently leave the community he had built with his own hands in service to God. Patient, humble and obedient, Saint William of Vercelli put the Lord’s work above his own desires at every moment of his life. His great devotion to Our Lady, was a source of immense comfort and trust in the holy Mother of God, who he knew would lead him to her Son. We could do well by observing Saint William’s confidence in the Divine Providence and striving to imitate him by creating quiet moments in our own lives for prayer, reflection and contemplation. It is in those moments that the Divine Plan for our own lives quietly unfolds…… if we listen.
St William of Vercelli and Monte Vergine, please pray for us!
Blessed be God the Father . who gave us a new birth to a living hope…..to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you………1 Peter 1:3-4
REFLECTION – “You have within you, everything that you need to purchase the kingdom of heaven.
Joy will be purchased by your sorrow,
rest by your labour,
glory by your humiliation
and eternal life by your passing death.”………………….St Augustine
PRAYER – Loving Father,. teach me how to make every event on earth lay up treasures for me in heaven. Help me to endure sorrows, labour, humiliations, pain and death willingly so as to attain heaven with You, in unity with Your Son, Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. St William of Vercelli, your life was a focused gift to God, pray for us that we too may join you in eternal life. Amen
Into Your Hands, O Lord and into the hands of Your holy Angels, I commit and entrust this day my soul, my relations, my benefactors, my friends and enemies and all Your Catholic people. Keep us, O Lord, through the day, by the merits and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all Your Saints, from all vicious and unruly desires, from all sins and temptations of the devil and from sudden and unprovided death and the pains of hell. Illuminate my heart with the grace of Your Holy Spirit, grant that I may ever be obedient to Your commandments, suffer me not to be separated from You, O God, who lives and reigns with God the Father and the same Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen
The Feast of Our Lady of Grace/Our Lady of the Bowed Head – 25 June
Among the many miraculous images of the Mother of God through which she deigns to grant her favours, there is one in the monastery church of the Carmelites in Vienna, entitled the Mother of Grace, or Our Lady of Grace, also known also as Our Lady of the Bowed Head.
In 1610 a Carmelite, Dominic of Jesus-Mary, found among the votaries of an old altar in the monastery church of Maria della Scala in Rome and oil painting of the Mother of God, dust-covered and somewhat torn, which grieved him. Taking it into his hands, he shook the dust off it, and kneeling down venerated it with great devotion.
He had the picture renovated and placed it on the shelf in his cell, where he made it the object of his love and supplications in favour of those who came to him in their necessities and afflictions.
One night while he was praying fervently before the picture, he noticed that some dust had settled on it. Having nothing but his course woolen handkerchief he dusted it with that and apologized,
“O pure and holiest Virgin, nothing in the whole world is worthy of touching your holy face but since I have nothing but this coarse handkerchief, deign to accept my good will.”
To his great surprise, the face of the Mother of God appeared to take on life and smiling sweetly at him, she bowed her head, which thereafter remained inclined.
Fearing he was under an illusion, Dominic became troubled but Mary assured him that his requests would be heard: he could ask of her with full confidence any favour he might desire. He fell upon his knees and offered himself entirely to the service of Jesus and Mary and asked for the deliverance of one of is benefactor’s souls in purgatory. Mary told him to offer several Masses and other good works; a short time after when he was again praying before the image, Mary appeared to him bearing the soul of his benefactor to Heaven. Dominic begged that all who venerated Mary in this image of Our Lady of Grace might obtain all they requested. In reply the Virgin gave him this assurance:
“All those who devoutly venerate me in this picture and take refuge to me will have their request granted and I will obtain for them many graces; but especially will I hear their prayers for the relief and deliverance of the souls in purgatory.”
Dominic soon after placed the image into the church of Maria Della Scala so that more devotees of Mary could venerate it. Many wonderful favours were obtained by those who honoured and invoked Mary here. Reproductions were made of Our Lady of Grace and sent to different parts of the world. After the death of Dominic the original painting was lent to Prince Maximilian of Bavaria. He gave it to the discalced Carmelites in Munich in 1631; they gave it to Emperor Ferdinand II of Austria and his wife Eleanore. After Ferdinand’s death, Eleanore entered the Carmelite convent in Vienna and took the picture with her. During the succeeding years the image was transferred to various places. Today it is in the monastery church of Vienna Doabling. On 27 September 1931, it was solemnly crowned by Pope Pius XI – its 300th anniversary of arrival in Vienna.
Saint Padre Pio prayed daily to Our Lady of Grace at San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.
image of Our Lady of Grace is painted on the front wall and ceiling behind the altar in the church at San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, where St. Pio lived.
St Padre Pio prayed the following Prayer every day to Our Lady of Grace.
O heavenly treasurer of all graces, Mother of God and my mother Mary, since you are the first-born daughter of the Eternal Father and hold in your hands His omnipotence, be moved to pity my soul and grant me the graces which I fervently ask of you.
O merciful dispenser of divine graces, Mary most holy, mother of the Eternal incarnate Word who has crowned you with His immense wisdom, look upon the greatness of my sorrow and grant me the graces I need so much.
O most loving dispenser of divine graces, immaculate Spouse of the Eternal Holy Spirit, most holy Mary, who have received from Him a heart which is moved to pity by human misfortunes and which is constrained to offer consolation to those who suffer, be moved to pity my soul and grant me whose graces which I await from you with full confidence in your immense goodness.
O my mother, treasurer of all graces, refuge of poor sinners, consolation of the afflicted, hope of those who despair and most powerful help of Christians, I places all my confidence in you, being sure that you will obtain for me from Jesus the graces which I so much desire, if they are good for my soul. Amen
Saint of the day – 25 June – St William of Vercelli OSB (1085 at Vercelli, Italy – 25 June 1142 at Guglietto, Italy of natural causes) Hermit, Abbot, Founder of the Congregation of Monte Vergine, or “Williamites”, miracle-worker, Marian devotee. Also known as William of Monte Vergine. Patron of Irpinia, Italy. Attributes – pilgrim, usually near Santiago de Compostela, Spain, abbot near a wolf wearing a saddle, receiving an appearance by Christ, saddling a wolf that killed his donkey, wolf. His Body is incorrupt. The Statue below is at St Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican.
St William was born to nobility in Vercelli, Italy, William was orphaned at a young age when both his parents were killed. Subsequently raised by a pious family member, William matured into a contemplative young man with only one desire—to devote his life to the Lord. At the young age of 15, William left home, setting out on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. As the journey was not difficult enough for him, he encircled his legs with tight iron bands, causing pain and making walking difficult, his suffering bringing him closer to God. Upon arrival, he worked some miracles including the healing of a blind man through prayer and subsequently felt called to journey to the Holy Land. However, soon after departing, he was set upon by thieves and following that encounter, felt the Will of God calling him to Italy.
Saint William retired to Monte Vergiliano (today known as Monte Vergine, named for Our Blessed Mother) and became a hermit. There, he spent his days in prayer, fasting, and contemplation of the Lord. Especially devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he began construction of a church in her honour, mining the rocks from the mountain by hand with the assistance of a lone donkey. As holy legend tells us, one evening, the donkey was killed and eaten by a wolf. Saint William called the wolf to him, ordering it to take the donkey’s place. The wolf, bowing in respect and realizing that it had interrupted the work of God, immediately took up the task of dragging rocks from the quarry. The faithful who continue to travel on pilgrimage to Monte Vergine report that the wolf is still spotted today, visible to those who call upon the name of the Blessed Virgin.
Eventually, due to his working of more miraculous cures (none of which he sought credit for), the faithful began seeking William out on his mountain. His reputation for holiness attracted many disciples, both men and women, and he founded the Order of Mount Vergine—a religious community with strict rules of austerity. William and the nuns and monks of his order lived in peace and contemplation for some time, until the members of the order began complaining that William’s rules of poverty, fasting and penance were too extreme. There is evidence of heavenly support for the austerities of William’s rule. For example, William did not permit the order to eat meat, eggs, milk, or cheese. If someone tried to violate this regulation, storm clouds would appear in the sky and the lightning would destroy the illicit foodstuff that had been brought into the monastery.
With the members of the Order growing more disgruntled, William humbly removed himself from the situation to remove controversy and ensure the future of the order. He travelled to Naples, where he served as advisor to the King Roger I and established several more monasteries.
Saint William died of natural causes at the Guglielmo monastery near Nusco, Italy, where he was buried. Church tradition holds that William predicted the date and time of his death and went to meet his Maker with peace and joy. At the time of his death, he had not yet written a Rule for his religious to govern their affairs. His successor, fearing the dissolution of a community without constitutions, placed them under the Rule of Saint Benedict. The community, which continues to exist today, now belongs to the Benedictine congregation of Subiaco and has a much venerated picture of our Lady of Constantinople, to which pilgrimages are frequently made by the faithful. While Benedictine monks generally wear black robes, the monks who reside at Monte Vergine today continue to wear the white robes of the Williamites.