Thought for the Day – 5 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart” – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Sacred Heart and the Holy Viaticum
“We should particularly ask the Sacred Heart for the grace to die a good death, strengthened by the Holy Viaticum. Let us picture ourselves in this final hour. The world is fading away and nothing remains of the honours, successes and pleasures of our passing life. There will remain only two things – on one side, the merits which we have obtained by our prayers, penances and good works; on the other side, the sum total of our sins and ingratitude to God. May Jesus come, at this moment, into our poor hearts, which is trembling for our sins and lacking in virtue. May the Holy Viaticum come to strengthen us. May the white Host bear with it, forgiveness, hope and the purifying flame of love.
Then, the infinite love of the Heart of Jesus will be mingled with th weak limited love of our hearts. It will waft us into a state of everlasting happiness, where, to love, is to possess, the boundless joy of God.
One Minute Reflection – 5 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart” – Readings: First: Tobit 12: 1, 5-15, 20, Psalm: Tobit 13: 2, 6efgh, 7, 8, Gospel: Mark 12: 38-44 and the Memorial of St Bopniface (672-754) “The Apostle of Germany,” Martyr and Bl Ferdinand of Portugal (1402-1443) “The Holy Prince”
“For they all contributed out of their abundance but she, out of her poverty, has put in everything she had, her whole living.”… Mark 12:44
REFLECTION – “Now, if someone is wondering what the cost is, here is their answer – He who offers a Kingdom in heaven has no need of earthly coin. No-one can offer God anything, except what already belongs to Him, since all that exists is His. And yet, God does not give away so great a thing, without a price being placed on it, He does not give it to someone who doesn’t value it. For indeed, nobody gives away something they hold dear without placing some kind of value on it. From now on, then, if God has no need of your goods, neither does He have to give you this great thing, if you refuse to love Him, all He requires is love, without which nothing constrains His giving. Love, then and you will receive the Kingdom, love and you will possess it… Love God more than yourself and already, you begin to have what it is your desire to possess fully, in heaven.”… St Anselm (1033-1109) Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – Lord God, Your Son has shown us the way. As we follow in His steps, may we never wander from the path that leads to life. Renew the wonders of Your grace in our hearts so that neither death nor life may separate us from Your love. Holy Father, as You were glorified by the life and death of St Boniface and Blessed Ferdinand of Portugal, grant that by their prayers, we may receive strength to always give You our hearts, minds and complete selves. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, with You in union with the Holy Spirit, one God for all eternity, amen.Sweet Heart of Jesus, be my love.300 days ONCE A DAY – Unless otherwise stated, e.g., “once a day,” a partial Indulgence may be gained any number of times in succession.) Pope Leo XIII 21 May 1892.
Saint of the Day – 5 June – Blessed Ferdinand of Portugal (1402-1443) “The Holy Prince.” Blessed Ferdinand spent as much time as he could in adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament especially during the Easter Triduum when his habit was to be constantly in adoration, from Holy Thursday to Easter. He was the youngest of the “Illustrious Generation” of 15th-century Portuguese Princes of the House of Aviz and lay Master of the Knightly Order of Aviz. Born on 29 September 1402 at Santarem, Portugal and died on 5 June 1443 (aged 40) in prison in Fez, Morocco of maltreatment by the Moors – for this reason some call him a Martyr. Also known as Ferdinand the Prince, “Saint Prince” or the “Constant Prince.”
Ferdinand was born in Santarém on 29 September 1402, the Feast of St Michael, a Saint to whom he would remain affectionately attached. He had a complicated birth and would remain a sickly child throughout much of his youth. Relatively sheltered because of his illnesses, Ferdinand had a quiet and very pious upbringing, a favourite of his English mother, from whom he acquired a preference for the Sarum Rite of Salisbury in the religious Liturgy of Holy Mass. Bodily weakness did not hinder his growth in spirit and even in his boyhood and youth, he gave evidence of remarkable qualities of soul and intellect. With great strength of character and a keen sense of justice and order, he combined an innocence, gentleness, and charity which excited the wonder of the Royal Court.
Ferdinand had a special predilection for prayer and for the ceremonies and devotions of the Church, especially time in adoration before our lord in the Blessed Sacrament. After his fourteenth year, he recited daily, the canonical hours, rising at midnight for Matins. Always severe with himself, he was abstemious in his diet and fasted on Saturdays and on the eves of the Feasts of the Church. He cared for the spiritual, as well as the corporal, necessities of his domestics, while his solicitude for the poor and oppressed was unbounded. His generosity towards the Monasteries was impelled by his desire to share in their prayers and good works. He had himself enrolled for the same reason in all the pious Congregations of the Kingdom.
He was one of five sons, his mother being, Philippa, daughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and his father, King John I, known in history for his victories over the Moors and in particular, for his conquest of Ceuta, a powerful Moorish stronghold and his establishment of an episcopal see within its walls. Upon the death of his father in 1433, his brother, Edward (Duarte) ascended the throne, while he himself received but a small inheritance. It was then that he was induced to accept the Grand-Mastership of the Knightly Order of Aviz, in order that he might be better able to help the poor. As he was not a cleric, his brother, the King, obtained for him the necessary Papal dispensation. The fame of his charity went abroad, and Pope Eugene IV, through the Papal Legate, offered him the Cardinal’s hat. This he refused, not wishing, as he declared, to burden his conscience.
Though living a life of great sanctity in the midst of the Court, Ferdinand was not a mere recluse. He was also a man of action and in his boyhood, his soul was stirred by the heroic campaign against the Moors. His mother, the Queen, had nurtured the martial spirit of her sons, and it is even said that on her deathbed, she gave them each a sword, charging them to use it in defence of widows, orphans and their country and, in particular, against unbelievers. An opportunity soon presented itself. In 1437 Edward planned an expedition against the Moors in Africa and placed his brothers Henry and Ferdinand, in command. They set sail on 22 August 1437 and four days later, arrived at Ceuta. During the voyage, Ferdinand became dangerously ill, in consequence of an abcess and fever which he had concealed before the departure, in order not to delay the fleet. Through some mismanagement, the Portuguese numbered only 6000 men, instead of 14,000, as ordered by the King. Though advised to wait for reinforcements, the two Princes, impatient for the fray, advanced towards Tangiers, to which they lay siege. Ferdinand recovered slowly but was not able to take part in the first battle.
The Portuguese fought bravely against great odds but were finally compelled to make terms with the enemy, agreeing to restore Ceuta in return for a safe passage to their vessels. The Moors likewise demanded that one of the Princes be delivered into their hands as a hostage for the delivery of the City. Ferdinand offered himself for the dangerous post and, with a few faithful followers,, including João Alvarez, his Secretary and later his Biographer, began a painful captivity which ended only, with his death.
He was first brought to Arsilla by Salà ben Salà, the Moorish Ameer. In spite of sickness and bodily sufferings, he continued all his devotions and showed great charity towards his Christian fellow-captives. Henry at first repaired to Ceuta, where he was joined by his brother John. Realising that it would be difficult to obtain the Royal consent to the restoration of the fortress, they proposed to exchange their brother for the son of Salà ben Salà, whom Henry held as a hostage. The Moor scornfully rejected the proposal, and both returned to Portugal to devise means of setting the Prince free. Though his position was perilous in the extreme, the Portuguese Cortes refused to surrender Ceuta, not only on account of the treachery of the Moors but because the place had cost them so dearly and might serve as a point of departure for future conquests. It was resolved to ransom him if possible. Salà ben Salà refused all offers, his purpose being to recover his former seat of government.
Various attempts were made to free the Prince, but all proved futile and only served to make his lot more unbearable. On 25 May, 1438, he was sent to Fez and handed over to the cruel Lazurac, the King’s vizier. He was first condemned to a dark dungeon and, after some months of imprisonment, was compelled to work like a slave in the royal gardens and stables. Amid insult and misery, Ferdinand never lost patience. Though often urged to seek safety in flight, he refused to abandon his companions and grieved more for their sufferings, of which he considered himself the cause, than for his own. His treatment of his persecutors was respectful and dignified, but he would not descend to flattery to obtain any alleviation of his sufferings. During the last fifteen months of his life, he was confined alone in a dark dungeon with a block of wood for his pillow and the stone floor for a bed. He spent most of his time in prayer and in preparation for death, which his rapidly failing health warned him, was near at hand. In May, 1443, he was stricken with the fatal disease to which he finally succumbed. His persecutors refused to change his loathsome abode, although they allowed a physician and a few faithful friends to attend him.
On the evening of 5 June, after making a general confession and a profession of faith, he peacefully gave up his soul to God. aged just 40. During the day he had confided to his Confessor, who frequently visited him, that the Blessed Virgin with St John and the Archangel Michael had appeared to him in a vision. Lazurac ordered the body of the Prince to be opened and the vital organs removed and then caused it to be suspended head downwards for four days on the walls of Fez. Nevertheless, he was compelled to pay tribute to the constancy, innocence and spirit of prayer of his royal victim. Of Ferdinand’s companions, four shortly afterwards followed him to the grave, one joined the ranks of the Moors and the others regained their liberty after Lazurac’s death. One of the latter, João Alvarez, his Secretary and Biographer, carried his heart to Portugal in 1451 and in 1473, his body was brought to Portugal, and laid to rest in the Royal Vault at Batalha Monastery amid imposing ceremonies.
Prince Ferdinand has ever been held in great veneration by the Portuguese on account of his saintly life and devotion to the country. Miracles were wrought at his intercession and in 1470, he was Beatified by Paul II.
Beata Vergine dell’Aiuto, / Our Lady of Help, Bobbio, Piacenza, Emilia Romagna, Italy 15th century – 5 June :
In the 1400s, Adriano Repetino had a vineyard in fields of Corgnate outside Bobbio, on the road to the hub of Piacenza. He built a wall along the road,and in it, a niche, with an image of Mary seated with the Child, who held a bouquet with one hand and raised the other in blessing. In the summer of 1472, the image became a focus of local devotion – there were miracles and the picture was seen to change its appearance. After an investigation, Church authorities decided the site merited a Chapel. Adriano Repetino donated some property and the building was dedicated to the Annunciation of Maria. On 5 June 1611, miracles resumed. The picture was found covered in sweat. Cures and other miracles multiplied. The Bishop named the wonder-working image the “Blessed Virgin of Help.” A larger, finer Church, begun in 1621, was finally consecrated on 13 July 1738 and construction continued into the 1800s. Built over the old, the newer Shrine houses the Madonna of Help’s processional Statue, modelled on the miraculous fresco in the old Shrine below.
In thanks for her protection during World War II, the Town of Bobbio named the Madonna of Help its principal Patron in 1947, when the image was officially Crowned. In 1970 Pope Paul VI elevated the Church to the rank of Basilica Minor.
St Adalar of Erfurt Bl Adalbert Radiouski Bl Adam Arakawa St Austrebertus of Vienne St Claudius of Egypt and Companions St Ðaminh Huyen St Ðaminh Toai St Dorotheus of Tyre St Elleher St Eoban of Utrecht St Eutichius of Como St Evasius of Africa St Felix of Fritzlar Blessed Ferdinand of Portugal (1402-1443) “The Holy Prince” St Franco of Assergi St Genesius, Count of Clermont St Gregory of Lilybaeum St Gundekar St Hadulph St Luke Loan Bl Meinwerk of Paderborn St Privatus of Africa St Sanctius of Córdoba St Tudno of Caernarvon St Waccar
Martyrs of Caesarea: A group of Christians who converted together, were imprisoned together, tortured together, and martyred together. We know nothing more about them but their names – Cyria, Marcia, Valeria and Zenaides. Died Caesarea, Palestine, date unknown.
Martyrs of Egypt: A group of Christians martyred together in the persecutions of Galerius Maximian. The only other information was have is three of their names – Apollonius, Marcian and Nicanor. Died in Egypt, date unknown.
Martyrs of Perugia: A group of Christians martyred together in the persecutions of Decius. We know little more than their names – Cyriacus, Faustinus, Florentius, Julian and Marcellinus. Died beheaded in 250 in Perugia, Italy
Martyrs of Rome: 26 Christians martyred together. We have no details about them but their names – Candida, Castula, Fappa, Felician, Felicitas (2 of), Felicula, Fortunatus, Gagus, Gregor, Hilarius, Ingenuus, Juliana, Martialis, Maurus, Mustilus, Nicander, Prima, Rogata, Rutianus, Sacrinus, Saturnin, Secundian, Secundus, Urbicus, Victurus. Died • Rome, Italy, date unknown • relics transferred to Antwerp, Belgium, date unknown.