REFLECTION – “Mary, the Mother of the Lord, stood by her Son’s Cross. No-one has taught me this but the holy Evangelist John. Others have related how the earth was shaken at the Lord’s Passion, the sky was covered with darkness, the sun withdrew itself and how, the thief was, after a faithful confession, received into paradise. John tells us what the others have not told, how the Lord, while fixed on the Cross called to His Mother. He thought it was more important that, victorious over His sufferings, Jesus gave her the offices of piety, than that He gave her a Heavenly Kingdom. For if it is the mark of religion to grant pardon to the thief, it is a mark of much greater piety, that a mother is honoured with such affection, by her Son. “Behold,” He says, “thy son.” “Behold thy mother.” Christ testified from the Cross and divided the offices of piety, between the mother and the disciple.
Nor was Mary below what was becoming the Mother of Christ. When the Apostles fled, she stood at the Cross and with pious eyes beheld her Son’s wounds. For she did not look to the death of her offspring but to the salvation of the world. Or perhaps, because that “royal hall” knew, that the redemption of the world would be through the death of her Son, she thought that by her death, she also might add something to that universal gift. But Jesus did not need a helper, for the redemption of all, Who saved all without a helper. This is why He says, “I am counted among those who go down to the pit. I am like those who have no help.” He received indeed, the affection of His Mother but sought not another’s help. Imitate her, holy mothers, who in her only dearly beloved Son, set forth so great an example of maternal virtue. For neither have you sweeter children, nor did the Virgin seek the consolation of being able to bear another son.” – St Ambrose (340-397) Archbishop of Milan, Great Western Father and Doctor (Letter 63)
PRAYER – O God, in Whose Passion the sword, according to the prophecy of blessed Simeon, pierced through the soul of Mary, the glorious Virgin and Mother, mercifully grant that we, who reverently commemorate her piercing through and her suffering, may, by the interceding glorious merits of all the saints faithfully standing by the Cross, obtain the abundant fruit of Thy Passion. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).
Saint of the Day – 25 March – Saint Margaret Clitherow (1556-1586) “The Pearl of York”Martyr, Married Laywoman and Mother of 3. Her 2 sons became Priests and her daughter a Nun. She was Beatified on 15 December 1929 by Pope Pius XI and Canonised with the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales. Born in 1556 at York, England as Margaret Middleton and died by being crushed to death, on Good Friday, 25 March 1586 at their home, No 10-11 The Shambles,York. Also known as – Margaret Clitheroe, Margaret Middleton, Margarita, Margherita, Marguerite. “The Pearl of York.” Patronages – the Catholic Women’s League, business-women, converts, Martyrs, Co-Patron of the English Latin Mass Society which organises an annual pilgrimage to her Shrine in York . Additional Memorial – 4 May with the 40 Martyrs.
Margaret was born in 1556, one of five children of Thomas and Jane Middleton. Her father was a respected businessman, a wax-chandler and Sheriff of York, who died when Margaret was fourteen years old.
In 1571, she married John Clitherow, a wealthy butcher and a chamberlain of the City and bore him three children. The family lived at today’s renowned tourist destination, “The Shambles” – their business was Nos 35–36, which is now St Margaret’s Shrine..
Margaret converted to Catholicism in 1574. Although her husband, John belonged to the Established Church, he was supportive of his wife and of his brother William, who was a Catholic Priest. He paid the fines Margaret received for not attending the heretical church services. She was first imprisoned in 1577 for failing to attend and two further incarcerations at York Castle followed. Her third child, William, was born in prison!
Margaret risked her life by harbouring and maintaining Priests which was made a capital offence. She provided two chambers, one adjoining her house and, with her house under surveillance, she rented a house some distance away, where she kept Priests hidden and Mass was celebrated throughout the time of the most violent and virulent persecution. Her home became one of the most important hiding places for fugitive Priests in the north of England. Local tradition holds that she also housed her clerical guests in The Black Swan at Peasholme Green, where the Queen’s agents were also lodged!
She sent her older son, Henry, to the English College, relocated to Rheims, to train for the Priesthood. Her husband was summoned by the authorities to explain why his oldest son had gone abroad and in March 1586, the Clitherow house was searched. A frightened boy revealed the location of the Priest hole.
Margaret was arrested and called before the York Assizes for the crime of harbouring Catholic Priests. She refused to plead, thereby preventing a trial that would entail her three children being made to testify and being subjected to torture. She was sentenced to death. Although pregnant with her fourth child, she was executed on Lady Day, 1586, (which also happened to be Good Friday that year) in the Toll Booth at Ouse Bridge, by being crushed to death by her own door, the standard inducement to force a plea. Upon hearing the sentence, Margaret exclaimed – “God be thanked, I am not worthy of so good a death as this.”
Before her execution, Margaret was asked to confess her crimes. Instead she confessed, Our Lord Jesus Christ by saying: “I die for the love of my Lord Jesu.” The two Sergeants who should have carried out the execution hired four desperate beggars to do it instead. She was stripped and had a handkerchief tied across her face, then laid across a sharp rock the size of a man’s fist, the door from her own house was put on top of her and loaded with an immense weight of rocks and stones, so that the sharp rock would break her back. Her death occurred within fifteen minutes but her body was left for six hours before the weight was removed.
A relic, of her hand, is housed in the Bar Convent in York.
St Margaret’s Shrine is at 35–36 The Shambles. John Clitherow had his butcher’s shop at No 35. My family and I have been able to visit this Shrine a few times, taking some of our visitors to venerate St Margaret.
Quote/s of the Day – 15 March – The Memorial of Blessed William Hart (1558-1583) Priest Martyr (Hung, drawn and quartered today in 1583 by the Persecutions of Elizabeth I. He was aged 25 years old).
THE LAST WORDS Blessed William Hart to the Oppressed Catholics of Elizabethan England
“Lest, perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.” 1 Cor 9:27
“This is the first, the last, the only request I make and have yet made or ever shall. Fulfil these my desires, hear my voice, keep to my counsel.
But why do I, a miserable and unhappy sinner, beg of you that, in this age, most poisoned and most dangerous to the good, you should persevere, firm and constant in your confession, where Angels, Archangels, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, the whole world beseech it, when the salvation of your souls and the good God Himself, make the same entreaty – that you should remain firm in the Faith you have once received and in your confession of the Truth!
May God of His Infinite Mercy, help you to do so and I, your spiritual father, though weak and loaded with sins innumerable, will never cease to pray for you, both in this life and the next. Wherefore I entreat you, in every way I can, to be mindful of me, as often as you offer Your devout prayers to God, lest I be, like a melting candle, which giveth light to others and is itself consumeth.
Again and again farewell, my much desired ones. The servant of all and everyone of you.”
Father William Hart
“The joy of this life is nothing; the joy of the after life is everlasting.”
Quote/s of the Day – 8 March – The Memorial of St John of God OH (1495-1550) Confessor, Founder of the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God
“Lord, Thy Thorns are my Roses and Thy Suffering, my Paradise.”
After receiving the Last Rites St John said:
“There are three things which make me uneasy: The first is that I have received so many graces from God and have not recognised them and have repaid them with so little of my own. The second is that after I am dead, I fear lest the poor women I have rescued and the poor sinners I have reclaimed, may be illtreated. The third is that those who have trusted me with money and whom I have not fully repaid, may suffer loss on my account.”
Saint of the Day – 31 January – Blessed Louise degli Albertoni TOSF (1474-1533) Widow, Mother, Mystic, Ecstatic, Apostle of the sick, the poor, the deprived, Miracle-worker. Born in1474 as Ludovica Albertoni in Rome, Italy and died on 31 January 1533 in Rome of natural causes. Beatified on 28 January 1671 by Pope Clement X. Also known as – Ludovica, Louisa Albertoni, Ludovica Albertoni Cetera.
Louise first saw the light of the world at Rome in the year 1474. Her parents belonged to the distinguished families of this City because of their wealth but still more because of their piety. They bestowed great care upon the training of their daughter and she responded fully to their efforts, so that she developed into a model for all young women. She had resolved to remain unmarried but when her parents urged her to be betrothed to an illustrious young man, she believed she recognised the will of God in their desire and agreed to the marriage.
But even in the married state, in which she remained attached to her husband with genuine love, she sought above all things to please God. Her attire was very plain, and even away from home, she avoided frivolous pomp and luxury. God blessed their union with three daughters, whom she was careful to rear, above all, in the love and fear of God.
When Blessed Louise Albertoni was but thirty-three years old, she lost her husband to death. After her daughters were provided for, Louise thought of nothing but to dedicate herself to the service of God. Publicly she took the habit of the Third Order, practiced the severest penances and was so irresistibly drawn to the contemplation of the sufferings of Our Lord and they were so constantly before her mind that she continually wept,and it was feared that she would lose her sight.
Louise lived a pious life, working for the poor of the Trastevere neighbourhood, under the guidance of the Franciscan Friars of San Francesco Church, where she would be buried in 1533. She bore a great love for the poor as special members of Christ. She used the abundant income of her fortune entirely for their support. But she strove to conceal her liberality. With this intention she often hid pieces of money in the bread that was given to the poor at her door and then begged Almighty God that He would let it fall to the lot of such as needed it most. Her benevolence knew no bounds. Sometimes she lacked even the necessaries for herself. But then, she rejoiced to be like Christ, who, being rich, became poor out of love for men.
God repaid her with extraordinary graces. He granted her the gift of miracles and frequent ecstasy. He also told her beforehand of the day of her death.
When her end drew nigh, she received the last Sacraments with great devotion. Then gazing upon the Crucifix with the tenderest pity, she kissed it and said: “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” Thereupon she breathed forth her soul on the day that had been announced to her, which was 31 January 1533.
Her body rests in the Church of St Francis on the Tiber and her Feast is celebrated in Rome with great solemnity. Pope Clement X Beatified Blessed Louise Albertoni in 1671.
The Bernini figure of Ludovica Albertoni, above,is set above the Altar of the Altieri Chapel on the left side of the Church of San rancesco. Bernini designed an architectural setting that focuses attention on the marble sculpture, framing it within an archway he cut into an existing wall where a painting had previously hung. The main figure is flanked by deep returns set at oblique angles decorated with earlier frescoes of Saint Clare of Assisi and Blessed Ludovica herself providing alms to a beggar. The central figure is lit on both sides by large windows concealed by the returns.
The figure of Ludovica Albertoni is presented on a mattress at the moment of mystical communion with God. The folds of her habit reflect her state of turmoil and her head is thrown back onto an embroidered pillow supported by a headrest. Beneath her figure is a deeply crumpled sculpted cloth above a red-marble Sarcophagus, where Ludovica is interred. The panel behind her is carved with stylized pomegranates, flaming hearts adorn the base of the windows. She is surrounded by putti and waiting to rise to the Light of Heaven.
Saint of the Day – 30 November – Blessed Cuthbert Mayne (1544-1577) Priest Martyr Born in 1544 at Youlston, Devonshire, England and died at the age of 33, by being hanged, drawn and quartered on 30 November 1577 at Launceston, Cornwall, England. Additional Memorials – • 25 October as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, • 29 October as one of the Martyrs of Douai, • 1 December as one of the Martyrs of Oxford University.
The son of William Mayne, Cuthbert Mayne was born at Youlston, near Barnstaple in Devon and was Baptised on 20 March 1543/4 – the feaast of St Cuthbert. His uncle was a minister of the Church of England and the family expected the good natured Mayne would inherit his uncle’s rich church. This uncle paid his way through Barnstaple Grammar School and he was ordained a Protestant minister at the age of eighteen and instituted rector of Huntshaw, near Torrington.
After ordination, Cuthbert Mayne attended University, first at St Alban Hall, then at St John’s College, in Oxford, where he was made chaplain. He became BA on 6 April 1566 and MA. on 8 April 1570. Whilst at Oxford, Cuthbert met St Edmund Campion and other Catholics. At some point Cuthbert too, became a Catholic. Late in 1570, a letter addressed to him from Fr Gregory Martin (translator of the Vulgate who remained at Douai) fell into the hands of the protestaznt bishop of London and officers arrested him and the others mentioned in the letter. Being warned by Blessed Thomas Ford (aslo a Martyr), Mayne evaded arrest by going to Cornwall and then, in 1573, to the English College at Douai. Douai.
Cuthbert Mayne was Ordained a Priest at Douai in 1575 and on 7 February, the following year, he obtained the degree of Bachelor of Theology at Douai University. Shortly afterwards, on 24 April 1576, he left for the English mission in the company of another Priest and future Martyr, John Payne. He soon took up his abode in the Parish of Probus, Cornwall, with the Recusant Catholic Francis Tregian, where Cuthbert passed as his steward.
Elizabeth I’s agents quickly became aware of Cuthbert Mayne’s presence in the area and the authorities began a systematic search for him in June 1576, when the Bishop of Exeter William Broadbridge came to the area. High sheriff Sir Richard Grenville, a noted anti-Catholic officer, conducted a raid on Tregian’s house on 8th June 1577, during which the crown officers “bounced and beat at the door” to Cuthbert Mayne’s chamber.
On gaining entry, Grenville discovered a Catholic devotional Sacramental, an Agnus Dei around Mayne’s neck and took him into custody along with his books and papers. Tregian suffered imprisonment and loss of possessions for harbouring a Roman Catholic Priest.
While awaiting trial at the circuit assizes, Cuthbert was imprisoned in Launceston gaol, being chained to his bedposts. The authorities sought a death sentence but had difficulty in framing a treason indictment to that end. At the opening of the trial on 23 September 1577, there were five counts against him… Amongst them was – that he had taught of the Pope and denied the Queen’s ecclesiastical supremacy while in prison; that he had brought into the Kingdom an Agnus Dei and delivered it to Francis Tregian; that he had celebrated Mass.
Cuthbert answered all counts. On the third count, he said that he had asserted nothing definite on the subject to the three illiterate witnesses who swore to the contrary. On the fourth count, he said that the fact he was wearing an Agnus Dei at the time of his arrest, did not establish that he had brought it into the Kingdom or delivered it to Tregian. On the fifth count, he said that the presence of a Missal, a Chalice and Vestments in his room, did not establish that he had celebrated Mass.
The trial judge, Justice Sir Roger Manwood, directed the jury to return a verdict of guilty, stating that, “where plain proofs were wanting, strong presumptions ought to take place.” The circumstantial case, in other words, was to be sufficient to prove the indictments. The jury found Mayne guilty of high treason on all counts and accordingly, he was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Mayne responded, “Deo gratias!”
With him had been arraigned Francis Tregian and eight other laymen. The eight were sentenced to seizure of their goods and life imprisonment, Tregian to die (in fact he spent 26 years in prison).
After the sentencing, Judge Jeffries took exception to the proceedings and referred the matter to the Privy Council. The Council submitted the case to the whole bench of Judges, which was inclined to leniency on the grounds of the flimsiness of the evidence. Nevertheless, the Council ordered the execution to proceed. On the night of 27 November Cuthbert Mayne’s cell was reported, by his fellow prisoners, to have become full of a “great light.”
Before being brought to the place of execution, Cuthbert Mayne was offered his life, in return for a renunciation of his religion and an acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Queen as head of the Church. Declining both offers, he kissed a copy of theSacred Scriptures, declaring that, “the Queen neither ever was, nor is, nor ever shall be, the head of the Church of England.”
A special, high gibbet was erected in the marketplace at Launceston and Cuthbert was executed there on 30 November 1577. He was not allowed to speak to the crowd but only to say his prayers quietly. Just as he was about to be hanged, he refused to implicate his co-religionists. It is unclear if he died on the gibbet. It has been said that he was cut down alive but in falling, struck his head against the butcher’s scaffold. He was unconscious when being drawn, and quartered.
Relics of Cuthbert’s body survive in various locations. He was the first “Seminary Priest,” the group of Priests who were trained, not in England but in houses of studies on the Continent. He was also one of the group of prominent Catholic Martyrs of the persecution, who were later designated as the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
Cuthbert Mayne was Beatified by Pope Leo XIII, by means of a decree of 29 December 1886..
Saint of the Day – 24 November – Saint John of the Cross OCD (1542-1591) Doctor of the Church, Confessor, Carmelite Priest, Mystic, Poet, Reformer, Writer. He was gifted with prophecy and miracles, visions and the ability to read hearts.
St John of the Cross By Father Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
In 1542, was born at Fontiveros, a hamlet of old Castile, St John of the Cross, renowned through the entire Christian world, as the restorer of the Carmelite Order. His mother, after his father’s early death, went to Medina del Campo, where John commenced his studies and continued them until he entered the Order of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel. From his early youth he had entertained a childlike devotion to the Blessed Virgin, who more than once saved him most miraculously from death. One day, when playing with some other lads around a deep pond, he fell into it. In this danger, the Divine Mother appeared to him in a most beautiful form and offered him her hand, to draw him out of the water. But as his hands were much soiled, he hesitated to take those of so brilliant a lady, whereupon his Guardian Angel, or some other inhabitant of Heaven, held out to him, from the edge of the pond, a long pole, by the aid of which he was happily saved. At another time he fell into a well and when all feared that he was drowned, they saw him sitting quietly upon the water. When they drew him out, he said that the Queen of Heaven had caught him in her cloak and thus prevented his sinking.
Before he was nine years old, he showed a wonderful zeal in mortifying his body, chastising himself by taking only a short rest on a hard bed and by voluntary fasts. While yet a student, he nursed, with great solicitude and charity, the sick in the hospitals. After he had taken the Carmelite Habit, he was not satisfied with the penances then practiced in the Convent but endeavoured to regulate his life, in accordance with the first rules and ancient austerity of the Order.
When he prepared himself to say his first Holy Mass, he searched his conscience very carefully,but found no grievous fault. He then gave humble thanks to the Almighty and during his Mass, begged for the grace to be kept in future, free from all mortal sin. His prayer was accepted and he heard the words: “I grant thee thy wish.” From that time, St John never offended the Lord by a mortal sin, nor voluntarily by a venial one.
St Teresa, who lived at that period, said of him that he was a Saint, and had been one all his life. This renowned and holy virgin met St John at Medina and, conferred with him about her desire to found houses for religious, who would live according to the original strict regulations of the Carmelites. John, who, in his eagerness to live in greater austerity, had thought of joining the Carthusian Monks, asked St Teresa’s advice. She told him that it would be more agreeable to God, if he remained in his Order and restored among the men, the same primitive rigour which she was endeavouring to restore among the women. She added, that God had called him to this work. John took counsel with God and his Confessor and then resolved to follow St Teresa’s advice. He erected his first Monastery on a farm which had been presented to him for this purpose and God so visibly blest his undertaking, that he not only filled his house, in a short time, with zealous men but was enabled also, to found several new Convents.
In these religious houses, all the inmates lived so holy and so austere a life that many, thought it was more to be admired, than imitated. The Saint was an example to all and one could hardly imagine a penance which he did not practice. He gave no ear to those who told him to moderate his severities but said: “The narrow path leading to Heaven cannot be travelled by me, in a manner less austere.” The hardships he endured in founding his Monasteries and in restoring the severe regulations of the Order; the persecutions and wrongs he suffered, cannot be described in the short space allotted to us, yet in all these trials, he was never despondent. The love of God possessed his heart so entirely, that he desired nothing but to labour and to suffer for His honour.
The Lord asked him one day what recompense he desired for all his trouble and labour. “Nothing else, O Lord but to suffer and to be despised for Thy sake,” was his answer. Three things he used to ask of the Almighty – first, much work and much suffering; secondly, not to depart this life as a superior; thirdly that he might live and die despised. So unusual a desire to suffer and to be despised, was the result of his meditation on the Passion of Jesus Christ and of his great love for God. This love was so intense that his countenance was frequently seen radiant with a heavenly light, especially when he spoke of divine things. At the time of prayer, as well as during Holy Mass, he often fell into ecstasy and was dissolved in tears. Our Lord once appeared to him in the same form as when He died for us on the Cross. This picture remained so indelibly imprinted on the Saint’s memory,that it almost daily drew tears from his eyes.
Into all those, over whom he had the slightest influence, he endeavoured to instill a tender devotion to our Crucified Lord, as well as to the Most Holy Trinity and to the Blessed Eucharist. His language to sinners was so forcible that he converted even the most hardened. He was much aided in this by the gift which the Almighty had bestowed upon him, of reading the thoughts of the heart. Many who came to him were reproached with their secret sins and admonished to reform their lives. He possessed also the gifts of prophecy, of driving out devils and curing all kinds of diseases. Besides this, he had many visions of the Blessed Virgin, St Joseph, St John and Christ the Lord. Especially remarkable, were the heavenly favours, with which this great servant of the Almighty was comforted, during an imprisonment of nine months, to which he was unjustly condemned. Christ appeared to him and said: “Behold! John, I am here! Fear not. I will rescue thee!” The Blessed Virgin, accompanied by a great many Saints, appeared to him and said: “My son, be patient and endure, for your trials will soon give way to joy.” In another vision, she admonished him to escape from the prison, promising him her assistance, a promise which she also kept. St Teresa, who, during her life, had been closely united with him, appeared also to him after her death, speaking to him most kindly. In his adversity she comforted him, and encouraged him to new labours for the honour of God.
The reward of all the work which the holy man had accomplished, as also of the trials and tribulations he had suffered, was at length bestowed upon him, in the year 1591, when he was in the forty-ninth year of his age. He was seized with fever, in the hermitage of Pegnuela and was brought from there to Ubeda, according to his wish. He had an ulcer on that part of his right foot where the holy feet of our Lord were pierced with nails. To open it, the surgeon was obliged to make a deep incision. The pain thus caused was very great but greater still, was the patience of the Saint, who even rejoiced at bearing, in some manner, the image of the sufferings of Christ and at having five wounds on one foot.
God had already, some time previously, revealed to him the hour of his death and the Blessed Virgin, whom the Saint had always especially honoured, appeared to him on the eve of the Immaculate Conception, saying that she would come for him on the Sunday after the festival. When the physicians told him that his end was not far distant, he said, in the words of the Psalmist: “I was glad when they said unto me, We shall go up into the house of the Lord.” Half an hour before his death, he called all his religious to him, exhorted them to persevere in their zeal and said: “My parting hour draws near.” After the usual prayers of the Church, he heard the bells ring for the midnight Matins. “I shall sing the Matins in Heaven,” said he, after which, taking the Crucifix, he kissed it most devoutly and calmly ended his holy life, saying: “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul.” A large ball, as of fire, was seen above the dying Saint. After his death, his countenance beamed with a heavenly brightness and was so beautiful that none grew weary of looking at him, while at the same time, such delicious odour emanated from him that the whole Monastery was filled with it. The Almighty has carefully preserved his body incorrupt until this hour.
Saint of the Day – 23 November – St Clement I (c 88–c 101) Pope Martyr, Miracle-worker. St Clement is considered to be the first Apostolic Father of the Church, one of the three chief ones together with St Polycarp and St Ignatius of Antioch. Papal Ascensi,on c 88. Born in Rome, Italy and died by drowning at Chersonesus, Taurica, Bosporan Kingdom (modern Greece). Patronages – boatmen, sailors, marble workers, against blindness, sick children, stonecutters, Diocese of Aarhus, Denmark, Dundee, Scotland. Steenwijk, Netherlands, Velletri, Italy. Also known as – Clement of Rome, Clemens Romanus.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “The birthday of Pope Clement, who held the sovereign Pontificate, the third after the blessed Apostle St Peter. In the persecution of Trajan, he was banisbed to Chersonesus, where being percipitated into the sea with an anchor tied to his neck, he was crowned with Martyrdom. His body was taken to Rome during the Pontificate of Nicholas I and placecd, with due honour in the Church which had been previously built under his invocation.”
Saint Clement I., Pope and Martyr By Father Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
Whilst the holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, were preaching the Gospel at Rome, there came to them Clement, a son of Faustinus, who was related to the Emperor Domitian. After several discourses with St Peter, he saw the error of Paganism, in which he had been born and educated and became a convert to the Christian faith. He progressed so rapidly in virtue and holiness that he was of great help to Paul in converting the heathens, as the holy Apostle testifies in his Epistle to the Philippians. The unwearied zeal he manifested in such holy endeavours, his purity and other bright virtues, raised him, after the death of Sts Linus and Cletus, to the government of the entire Church of Christ.
In this elevated but burdensome dignity, his holy life was an example to his flock. He gave several excellent laws to the Church, by one of which he divided the City into seven districts and placed in each, a notary to record the deeds, virtues and Martyrdom, of those who were persecuted for Christ’s sake that posterity, admiring their heroism, might be animated to follow their example. His sermons were so full of deep thought and so powerful, that he daily converted several heathens. Among these was Flavia Domitilla, a niece of the Emperor Domitian, who not only became a zealous Christian but, refusing several advantageous offers of marriage, vowed her virginity to God.
He converted Sisinius, one of the most influential men in the City, by a miracle. While yet a heathen, Sisinius went unseen into the secret Chapel where the Christians assembled, in order to ascertain what they were doing and to see whether his wife was among them. God, however, punished him immediately with blindness in both eyes. He revealed himself by calling for, someone to lead him home and St. Clement, who was present, went to him and, restoring his sight after a short prayer, he improved the occasion, to explain to him, the truths of Christianity. Sisinius, being soon convinced, received holy Baptism and many heathens followed his example. The Emperor Trajan, being informed of this, commanded St Clement to be banished to the Chersonesus, unless he consented to sacrifice to the gods. Nearly two thousand Christians had already been banished to that region, where they were forced to work in mines and quarries. The holy Vicar of Christ rejoiced to be thought worthy to suffer for his Divine Master and indignantly, refused to comply with the Emperor’s command to worship the Pagan idols. He was accordingly transported, and condemned to labour like the others.
This fate at first seemed very hard to him but. the thought that he suffered it for Christ’s sake, strengthened him. With the same thought. he endeavoured also to inspire his unhappy companions, when he saw that they became discouraged and lost their patience. He also frequently represented to them, the reward which was awaiting them in Heaven. A miracle which God performed through him, raised him to great consideration, even with the heathens.
There was a great scarcity of water and the Christians suffered much from the thirst occasioned by their hard work. St Clement, pitying them most deeply, prayed to God to help them. Rising from his knees, he saw, on a high rock, a lamb, which seemed, with his raised right foot, to point to the place where water could be found. The holy man, trusting in the Almighty, seized an axe and, lightly striking the rock, procured a rich stream of clear water, which refreshed all the inhabitants of the country, especially the poor persecuted Christians. So many heathens were converted on account of this miracle, that, in the course of a year, almost all the idolatrous temples were torn down and Christian c=Churches erected in their stead.
Some of the idolatrous priests complained of this to the Emperor, who immediately sent Aufidian, a cruel tyrant, to force the Christians to forsake their faith and to put St Clement to death. The tyrant endeavoured to induce the holy man to forsake Christ but finding that all words were useless, he commanded the executioners to tie an anchor to the neck of St Clement, take him out into the sea and cast him into the deep, in order that nothing of him should remain to comfort the Christians. The last words of the holy Pope were: “Eternal Father! receive my spirit!”
The Christians, who had been encouraged by him to remain constant in their faith, stood on the sea-shore, until the tyrant and his followers had departed, after the death of the Saint. They then knelt in prayer, to beg of the Almighty that He would restore to them the body of their beloved shepherd and, whilst they prayed, the sea began slowly to retreat from the shore. The Christians, following the retreating water, came to the place where the Saint had been cast into the sea and found, to their inexpressible astonishment and joy, a small marble Chapel and in it, a tomb of stone, in which the body of the holy Pope was reposing. At his side, lay the anchor which had been tied around his neck. The joy and comfort which filled the hearts of the faithful at this sight, can more easily be imagined than described. They wished to take the holy body away but God made known to them that, for the present, it should not be disturbed and that, every year, the sea would retreat, during seven days, so as to permit all to visit the shrine of the Saint! This took place for several years, until, at last, by divine revelation, the Relics were transported to Rome.
Quote/s of the Day – 7 November – The Feast of All Saints of the Order of Preacher
“These, my much loved ones, are the bequests which I leave to you, as my sons – have charity among yourselves, hold fast to humility, keep a willing poverty.”
“Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then, more effectively, than during my life.”
St Dominic OP (1170-1221)
“Eternal life flows from this Sacrament because God, with all sweetness, pours Himself out upon the blessed.”
“Mary is the divine Page on which God the Father wrote the Word of God, His Son. Let us draw near to her and read her!”
St Albert the Great OP (1200-1280) Doctor of the Church
“At His Transfiguration Christ showed His disciples, the splendour of His Beauty, to which He will shape and colour, those who are His : ‘He will reform our lowness configured to the Body of His Glory.”
“Charity is the form, mover, mother and root of all the virtues.”
“To love is to will the good of the other.”
“The greatest kindness one can render to any man consists in leading him from error to truth.”
St Thomas Aquinas OP (1225 – 1274) Angelic Doctor of the Church
“The eternal God asks a favour of His bride: “Hold Me close to your heart, close as locket or bracelet fits.” No matter whether we walk or stand still, eat or drink, we should at all times wear the golden locket “Jesus” upon our heart.”
Bl Henry Suso OP (1295-1366)
“Enrich your soul in the great goodness of God – The Father is your Table, the Son is your Food and the Holy Spirit waits on you and then makes His Dwelling in you.”
“Charity is the sweet and holy bond which links the soul with its Creator; it binds God with man and man with God.”
St Catherine of Siena OP (1347-1380) Doctor of the Church
“Once humility is acquired, charity will come to life like a burning flame devouring the corruption of vice and filling the heart so full, that there is no place for vanity.”
“A vain question deserves nothing but silence. So learn to be silent for a time; you will edify your brethren and silence will teach you, to speak when the hour is come.”
St Vincent Ferrer OP (1350-1419)
St Dominic’s Blessing By St Dominic de Guzman OP (1170-1221)
May God the Father, who made us, bless us. May God the Son, send His healing among us. May God the Holy Spirit, move within us and give us eyes to see with, ears to hear with, and hands, that Your work, might be done. May we walk and preach the word of God to all. May the angel of peace watch over us and lead us at last, by God’s grace, to the Kingdom. Amen
Saint of the Day – 19 October – St Peter of Alcantara OFM (1499-1562) Confessor, Franciscan Friar and Priest, Mystic, Ecstatic, Writer, Preacher, Reformer, Hermit, Apostle of Prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, the Passion and Charity, Miracle-worker. Patronages – Nocturnal Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Brazil (named by Pope Pius IX in 1862), Estremadura Spain, night watchmen.
St Peter of Alcantara, Confessor By Father Francis Xavier Weninger (1860-1946)
St Peter was born in the year 1499, at Alcantara, in Spain. He became celebrated for his great piety and the austerity of his life and in order to distinguish him from other Saints of the same name, received the surname, “of Alcantara.”
Besides other signs of future holiness, Peter, when only seven years of age, evinced so great a love for prayer that he sometimes forgot to eat and drink. During the time of his studies, he kept his innocence unspotted in the midst of many dangers, by making prayer, the holy Sacraments and penances, its guardians. When hardly sixteen years old, he secretly left his father’s house and entered the Franciscan Order, in which he soon became a model of all virtues. After having finished his novitiate, he was charged with different functions, all of which he discharged most successfully. The office of preacher was the most agreeable to him. An incredible number of hardened sinners were converted by his sermons, in which he treated of penance and a reform of life.
The fame of his virtues and holiness gave additional weight to every word he uttered. Especially admirable, were the untiring zeal with which he practised all manner of bodily austerities and his continual communion with God in prayer. His whole life was one of extraordinary and almost unexampled mortification. He guarded his eyes so closely that he not only never looked on a woman’s face but knew his brethren only by their voices and, after a long sojourn in the Monastery, could not tell whether the choir and the dormitory were vaulted or covered with boards.
The cell he chose for his dwelling was so narrow that it was more like a tomb than the abode of a living human being and so low that he could not stand upright in it. He kept an almost continual fast and hardly partook, every third day, of some undressed herbs, bread and water. It even happened that during eight days he took no food whatever. He scourged himself twice daily with iron chains. He wore, day and night, a penitential instrument made of tin, pierced like a grater. For forty years, he allowed himself only one hour and a half of sleep at night and this, not lying down but kneeling, or standing with his head leaning against a board. The remainder of the night he occupied in prayer and meditation. As long as he lived in the order, he went barefoot and bareheaded, even in the coldest season. His clothing consisted of his habit and a short cloak, made of rough sack-cloth. He seemed to have made a comtract with his body, never in this world, to allow it any peace or comfort.
His union with God in prayer had reached so high a degree that he was often seen in ecstacy, or raised high in the air and surrounded by a heavenly brightness. The power of his holy prayers was experienced, not only by many hardened sinners but also by many sick, for whom he obtained health and strength. The inhabitants of the City of Albuquerque, ascribed to him their deliverance from the pestilence, for, as soon as Peter had called upon the Divine Mercy, the pestilence, which had most fearfully ravaged the City, disappeared.
The love of God, which filled the heart of the Saint, manifested itself in his intercourse and conversation with men, whom he endeavoured to inflame with the same love. This appeared in all his actions but especially, at the time of Holy Mass, when he stood like a Seraph before the Altar, his face burning and tears streaming from his eyes. When meditating on the Passion and Death of our Saviour, he was frequently so deeply touched, in his inmost heart that for hours, he was like one dead. His devotion to God would sometimes burn his heart so intensely, that to moderate his emotion, he would go into the fields to breathe more freely.
Having reached his fortieth year, he was chosen Provincial but endeavoured to refuse the dignity and when compelled by obedience to accept it, he regarded it as an opportunity to do good to those under his charge. God admonished him to restore the primitive observance in the Order, according to the Rule and spirit of St Francis. Although he could not but foresee, the many and great difficulties which he would encounter in this undertaking, still, trusting in God, he went courageously to work after having obtained the sanction of the Pope.
The Almighty visibly aided His faithful servant, for, in six years, the Saint had founded nine Monasteries, in which the mortification and the perfect poverty, which St Francis especially cherished, were observed in all the rigour of the first Rule. In the course of time, this renewed Order was disseminated throughout all Spain, to the great joy of the Saint. This and other labours which he performed, to the honoir and glory of God, made him greatly esteemed by everyone.
St Teresa, who lived at that period, asked his advice in her cares and doubts, whenever she had occasion and called him a Saint while he was yet upon earth. St Francis Borgia entertained great friendship for him and the praise of his great virtues resounded throughout all Spain. The Emperor Charles V. desired to make him his Confessor but the humble servant of the Almighty knew how to say so much of his incapacity for this office, that the Emperor abandoned the idea, to the Saint’s great joy. This became a new incentive for him to devote himself entirely to the service of God and the welfare of those in his care.
He had reached his 63rd year, more by a miracle than in a natural way, when he was visited by Providence with a severe illness, which soon left no hope of his recovery, as his body was entirely wasted away by the severity of his life, his painful journeys and his uninterrupted labours. He himself, was informed from on high, of his approaching end and he received the last Sacraments, with so deep a devotion that the eyes of all present were filled with tears. After this he fell into a rapture, in which the Divine Mother and St John the Evangelist, appeared to him and assured him of his salvation. Hence, regaining consciousness, he cheerfully recited the words of the Psalmist: “I have rejoiced in those things which have been said to me; We shall go into the house of the Lord.” Having said this, he calmly gave his soul into the keeping of his Creator, in the year of Our Lord 1562.
St Teresa, who has written much in his praise, says among other things: “He died as he had lived, a Saint and I have, after his death, received many graces from God, through his intercession. I have often seen him in great glory and when I saw him the first time, he said to me: ‘O happy penance, which has obtained so great a glory for me!‘” The Roman Breviary testifies that, St Teresa, although, at the time of his death, far from him, saw his soul gloriously ascend into Heaven.
The biographers of St Peter, relate many and great miracles which he wrought, while he was still living. In the Breviary, we read, among other things, the following. “He crossed rapid rivers with dry feet. In times of great poverty, he fed his brethren with food which he received from Heaven. The staff which he placed in the ground, immediately became a budding fig-tree. Once, in the night-time, when he sought shelter from a snow-storm in a roofless house, the snow remained hanging in the air, above it and thus, formed a roof to protect him from being buried in the snow.” St Peter of Alcantara, pray for Holy Mother Church and for all her faithful Amen, amen!
Saint of the Day – 25 August – St Louis IX (1214-1270) King of France Confessor, King, Reformer, Apostle of Charity.
This remarkable man was born on 25 April 1214, near Paris, France. When his grandfather, King Philip II of France, passed away, his son, Prince Louis the Lion, became King Louis VIII. His wife became Queen Blanche. Their son, now Prince Louis, was only nine-years-old.
Three years later Louis’ father died and the boy was crowned King Louis IX. Because of his young age the Queen Mother, Blanche, took over the reins of government. A great woman in her own right, she made sure her son would be prepared for his life as King. Queen Blanche, also known as Blanche of Castille, took her Catholic faith very seriously. She was rigid and determined in teaching her son the faith and managed to instill genuine piety and a deep sense of devotion in him. She was quoted as having told her son, “I love you, my dear son, as much as a mother can love her child but I would rather see you dead at my feet, than that you should commit a mortal sin.”
At the age of 21, Louis took charge of the government. His mother’s influence in his life was apparent because there was a force within Louis that made him strive to rule justly and to attain sanctity. King Louis had a pronounced affinity for the sick and poor of his kingdom. He treated the downtrodden with compassion, understanding and with a humility that was unheard of in a king.
Everyday King Louis IX would have three special guests called in from among the poor to have dinner with him…Since there were always crowds of poor and hungry outside the palace, he would try to have as many of them fed as was possible. During Lent and Advent anyone who presented themselves before him was given a meal and often, the King served them himself. He even had lists compiled of needy people in every Province under his rule.
Louis married his true love, Margaret of Provence on 27 May 1234. Queen Margaret was filled with religious fervour as was her husband and they truly made a beautiful couple while setting a fine example for all married couples. They both enjoyed each other’s company and liked riding together, listening to music and reading. King Louis and Queen Margaret had eleven children.
Louis was a strong-willed and strong-minded man with a powerful faith. His word was trusted throughout the Kingdom, and his courage, in taking action against wrongs was remarkable. Amazingly, this King had true respect for anyone with whom he had dealing, especially the poor and downtrodden. King Louis built Churches, libraries, hospitals and orphanages. He treated both Princes and commoners equally.
King Louis had taken his army on the 7th Crusade in 1248. This proved to be a disaster and the king was captured by the Muslims. After an absence of six years, he was successfully ransomed and returned home. In 1270 he sought redemption for his first failure and embarked on another crusade. It was summer in northern Africa and dysentery and typhoid swept through the dirty camps. King Louis IX, died while lying on a bed of ashes saying the name of the City he had not relieved; “Jerusalem, Jerusalem.”
Pope Boniface VIII, proclaimed Louis a Saint in 1297. He is the only King of France named a Saint by the Church. This man was a true gentleman as he tried to treat everyone with courtesy, love and respect, whilst remaining strong and just at the same time. He is most beloved both in France and across the Catholic world.
Saint of the Day – 23 August – St Philip Benizi OSM (1233-1285) Confessor, Priest and Co-Founder (one of the Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Servants of Mary) OSM, Servite Priest General of his Order, Reformer, Preacher, Medical Doctor., Miracle-worker.
St Philip Benizi, Confessor By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
St Philip was born at Florence into the noble Florentine family of Benizi and before his birth, the Almighty had revealed to his pious mother, that he would become illustrious for his holiness. It seemed to her that a bright shining light emanated from her, which, spreading more and more, at last illumined the whole world with its rays. This was one of the inducements which led her to neglect nothing, which was necessary, to form in her son, the mind and heart of a Saint. She was still more strengthened in this decision, by the following event:
Two Religious of the newly founded Order of the Servites, came to her house. Philip, at that time only five months old, after looking at them for some moments, said: “Behold the servants of Mary, give alms to them, my mother.” All present, greatly surprised at this miracle, concluded, rightly that God had ordained a remarkable future for this child. The same might be divined from his entire conduct, while yet but a child: all his actions seemed to be imprinted with the seal of holiness.
Having finished his studies, he was one day thinking about his vocation and it being the Thursday after Easter, he went into the Chapel of the Servites, which stood on the outskirts of Florence, to attend Holy Mass. At the Epistle were read the words of the Holy Ghost to St Philip: “Draw near and join thyself to the chariot.”” Having heard these words, he went into an ecstasy and it seemed to him that he was alone in a vast wilderness, where nothing was to be seen but sterile mountains, steep rocks and cliffs, or marshes overgrown with thorns, swarming with poisonous reptiles and full of snares. He screamed with fear and looking around, for a meabs to save himself, he saw, high in the air, the Blessed Virgin in a chariot, surrounded by Angels and Saints and holding in her hand, the habit of the Servites. At the same time, he heard from the lips of Mary the words which had just been read in the Epistle. “Draw near and join thyself to the Chariot.” After this revelation, Philip no longer doubted that he was called to enter the Order of the Servites and going, the following day, to the dwelling of the seven Founders of this Order, he requested to be received as a lay-brother.
He was readily accepted, but after having served in that capacity for a few years, his talent, knowledge and holiness were so manifest that he was Ordained Priest, after which, he was raised from one dignity to another, until he was at last made General of the entire Order.
Although he at first humbly opposed this choice, yet when forced to obey, he became zealous in his labours to disseminate the principles of the holy Order, whose object is to reverence the Blessed Virgin and to promote her honour. He sent some of the religious to Scythia, to preach the Gospel and to spread the veneration of the Blessed Virgin. He himself, with two companions went through an incredible number of Cities and Provinces, everywhere exhorting sinners to repentance, endeavouring to calm the contentions which, at that period, disturbed the Christian world, disabusing, by his sermons, those who refused obedience to the Pope and animating all, to greater love of God and devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
The Lord aided him visibly in all his undertakings and obtained for him, the highest regard from both clergy and laity. When the Cardinals, assembled at Viterbo to elect a new Pope, were unable to agree, they, at length, unanimously chose Philip, as all deemed him worthy of this high dignity. Philip, informed of it, was terrified and fled into the desert of Mount Thuniat, where he remained concealed in a cave, until another was elected Pope. This was not less an evidence, of his humility, than his election had been, of the high regard in which his virtues and the many miracles he had performed, were held by the Prelates of the Church.
His innocence and purity he carried unspotted to the grave but in order to preserve them, he was very severe to himself. He possessed in an eminent degree, the spirit of prayer, for, besides occupying a great portion of the night in devotional exercises, he also raised his mind to God, during his various occupations, by means of short aspirations. He never undertook anything without first recommending it in prayer to God and, the more important the affair, the longer and more fervent were his prayers.
The only object of his many and labourious voyages, was the glory of God and the good of men and his constant endeavour was, to prevent offences of the Divine Majesty and to work for the salvation of souls. But how shall we express his tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin, whom he had loved and honoured as a mother from his earliest childhood? In her honour, while yet a youth, he kept several festivals and performed many prayers.
He entered the Order of the Servites, because they regarded it their duty, to promote her veneration and honour. In every sermon, he admonished the people to honour Mary and to call upon her in all their troubles. In a word, he neglected nothing which he deemed necessary or useful, to institute and disseminate, due devotion to the Queen of Heaven. Although in many places, he had to endure much hardship and persecution, his love of God and the Blessed Virgin could not be discouraged from continuing in his apostolic labours.
Meanwhile, the weakness of his body manifested plainly that his last hour was approaching. He ,therefore, went to his Convent at Todi and there, first visited the Church. He prostrated himself before the Altar and when, after a long and fervent prayer, he again rose, he said: “Lord, receive my thanksgiving,; here is my place of rest.”
On the festival of the Assumption of Our Lady, he preached his last sermon, with such eloquence and unction, that all his listeners were greatly moved. On leaving the pulpit, he was seized with a fever, which, although by others thought of no consequence, was regarded by himself, as a messenger of death. Hence, he had himself carried into a special apartment and laid down but could not be persuaded to divest himself, of the rough hair-shirt which he constantly wore.
The days that he remained on earth after this, he employed in instructing and exhorting his religious, in prayers to God and invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, in repenting of his sins and in longing to be admitted to the presence of the Most High. After having received,, with great devotion, the holy Sacraments, he requested his brethren to say the Litany of the Saints. When they came to the words: “We sinners. we beseech Thee to hear us!” he fell into an ecstasy and lost his consciousness to such a degree that he seemed already to have expired.
In this state he remained for three hours, when one of his friends loudly called him. He awakened as if from a deep slumber and related how fearful a struggle, he had had with Satan. How the latter had reproached him with his sins and endeavoured to make him despair of the mercy of God. But when the combat was at its height, the Blessed Virgin had appeared to him and, driving away Satan, had not only saved him from all danger,but had also shown him the crown which awaited him in the other world. Having related this to those around him, who were all awestruck, he requested what he called “his book,” the Crucifix and pressing it to his heart, he intoned the hymn of praise of St Zachary and after it, the 30th Psalm: “In thee, O Lord, have I hoped!” Arriving at the words: “Into thy hands I commend my spirit,” he looked once again at the Crucifix and ended his holy and useful life, on the Octave of Our Lady’s Assumption, in the year 1285.
The biography of this Saint contains many miracles which he performed during his life and many more which took place, by his intercession, after his happy death.
Saint of the Day – 17 August – St Hyacinth OP (1185-1257) ) Confessor, Priest. “Apostle of Poland” and “Apostle of the North” also known as “the Polish St Dominic.
Saint Hyacinth, Confessor By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
St Hyacinth, a great ornament of the celebrated Order of Preachers, was born in Poland. He was the son of illustrious parents, who educated him according to the dictates of Christianity. During the years devoted to his studies, he was an example of innocence, piety and industry. His uncle, the Bishop of Cracow, appointed him Canon in his Cathedral, so that he might employ him in the administration of his See. When he left for Rome, on account of troubles at home, he took Hyacinth with him. St Dominic, so celebrated for his apostolic zeal and for the miracles he wrought, was also in Rome at the time. Hyacinth, observing the wonderful zeal and piety of this holy man and of his companions, felt a growing desire to join them. He and three of his fellow-travellers, who had the same inclination, went to St Dominic and begged him to receive them into his newly founded Order. The Saint received them willingly and instructed them how to lead a religious life, to preach in a Christian spirit and to labour successfully for the spiritual welfare of men. After a few months, the holy founder had so thoroughly imbued them with his spirit that he did not hesitate, after they had taken their vows, to send them into their native country, to preach the word of God and promote the salvation of souls.
At Cracow, where Hyacinth had formerly preached, by his edifying life, he now began to preach with words and God gave them such power that he reformed the most hardened sinners, induced others to become more zealous in the service of the Almighty and animated all, to be more solicitous for the salvation of their souls. That all this might have a more solid foundation, he gathered a number of spiritual co-operators about himself and, having instructed them, according to the maxims of St Dominic, he established a Dominican Monastery at Cracow. Hyacinth, who had been chosen Superior by the new members, was an example to all. Besides the prescribed fast-days of his Order, he fasted all Fridays and vigils, on bread and water. The greater part of the night he passed in fervent prayer, before the Blessed Sacrament. He allowed himself only a very short rest on the bare floor and scourged himself severely every night. The whole day was occupied with hearing confessions, preaching, visiting the sick and similar pious exercises.
He had particular devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin and never undertook anything before offering his work to God and begging the assistance of His Blessed Mother. She appeared to him once, on the eve of the Feast of her Assumption, saying to him: “Be assured, my son, that thou shalt receive everything thou askest from my Son.” The comfort these words afforded the holy man, may be easily imagined. He, however, asked only for what was necessary for the salvation of souls. His own and his companion’s pious labours were all directed to the same end.
When he thought that he had firmly established religious principles and practices among the inhabitants of Cracow and the whole Diocese, he sent his preachers to different places to labour in the same manner. He himself, also left Cracow and it is astonishing, how many Countries he journeyed through, how many Convents he established everywhere for apostolic labourers, how many souls he converted to the true faith or to a more virtuous life. To aid his pious endeavours, God gave him power to work miracles and so great was their number, that he might well be called the Thaumaturgus, or wonder-worker of his age.
A miraculous event occurred in Russia, when the Tartars stormed Kiow, where the Saint had founded a Church and Convent. He was standing at the Altar when they entered the City, spreading destruction and desolation around them. After finishing the Holy Sacrifice, the Saint, still in his Priestly robes, took the Ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament and telling his Priests to follow him without fear, he went towards the Church door. When passing a large alabaster statue of the Blessed Virgin, before which he had often said his prayers, he distinctly heard a voice saying: “My son Hyacinth, wilt thou leave me here to be at the mercy of my enemies?” The Saint’s eyes filled with tears. “How can I carry thee? ” said he; “the burden is too heavy.” “Only try,” was the response; “my Son will assist thee to carry me without difficulty.” The holy man with streaming eyes, took the statue and found it so light that he could carry it with one hand. Thus, carrying the Ciborium in one hand and the statue in the other, he and his companions passed through the enemy unassailed, to the gates of the City. Not finding any soldiers there, they passed on and reached Cracow in safety.
Whether Almighty God made His servants invisible to the Tartars on this occasion, or in some other manner prevented them from harming them, is not known but, it is a fact that they left the City unmolested. When they reached the river, over which there was no bridge, nor a boat to convey them across, the Saint, trusting in the power of Him Whom he carried in his right hand and, in the intercession of her whom he held in his left, fearlessly stepped upon the water and crossed it with dry feet.
A similar and perhaps, still greater miracle occurred at another time. He was going to Vicegrad to preach but, on reaching the river, found no vessel which he could use to reach the opposite bank. Spreading his cloak on the water, he sat upon it and was floated safely across and brought his companions over in the same manner. By this and many other miracles, God glorified His servant even on earth.
For forty years this holy man had laboured for the salvation of souls, when, in 1257, it was revealed to him that he should assist, in Heaven, at the triumph of the Blessed Virgin, on the Feast of her glorious Assumption. On the Feast of St Mary ad Nives, he was taken ill. On the eve of the Assumption, he gave his last instruction to the Priests of his Order, after which, he prepared for the festival and,, having recited the Office of the day, he fixed his eyes on Heaven and said the psalm, “In thee, O Lord, have I hoped,” to the words, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit,” when he calmly expired, at the age of 74. The innocence and chastity which he possessed at the time of his Baptism, remained unspotted until the end.
After his death, the miracles which the Almighty continued to work through this Saint, were the means of proclaiming to all the world, the sanctity and merits of His blessed servant.
Quote/s of the Day – 7 August – The Memorial of St Cajetan (1480-1547) Confessor
“I am a sinner and do not think much of myself. I have recourse, to the greatest Servants of the Lord that they may pray for me to the blessed Christ and His Mother. But do not forget, that all the Saints cannot endear you to Christ as much as you can yourself. It is entirely up to you!”
At his last hours, St Cajetan’s doctors tried to get him to rest on a softer bed then the boards he slept on but Cajetan answered:
“My Saviour died on a Cross. let me die on wood at least.”
One Minute Reflection – 2 August – “The Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” – The Memorial of St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787) Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church – Timothy 2:1-7, Luke 10:1-9
“At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them forth two-by-two, before Him into every town and place, where He, Himself, was about to come.” – Luke 10:1
REFLECTION – “Beloved brothers, our Lord and Saviour sometimes gives us instruction by Words and sometimes by Actions. His very Deeds are our commands and whenever He acts silently, He is teaching us what we should do. For example, He sends His disciples out to preach, two-by-two because the precept of charity is twofold—love of God and of one’s neighbour.
The Lord sends His disciples out to preach in twos, in order to teach us, silently, that whoever fails in charity toward his neighbour, should by no means take upon himself the office of preaching.
Rightly is it said, that He sent them ahead of Him into every city and place, where He ,Himself was to go. For the Lord follows after the preachers because preaching goes ahead to prepare the way and then, when the words of exhortation have gone ahead and established Truth in our minds, the Lord comes to live within us. To those who preach ,Isaiah says: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. And the psalmist tells them: Make a way for Him who rises above the sunset. The Lord rises above the sunset because, from that very place where He slept in death, He rose again and manifested a greater glory. He rises above the sunset because, in His Resurrection, He trampled underfoot the death, which He endured. Therefore, we make a way for Him who rises above the sunset ,when we preach His glory to you, so that when He, Himself follows after us, He may illumine you with His Love.
Let us listen now to His words as He sends His preachers forth: The harvest is great but the labourers are few. Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into His harvest. That the harvest is good but the labourers are few cannot be said without a heavy heart, for although there are many to hear the good news there are only a few to preach it. Indeed, see how full the world is of Priests but yet, in God’s harvest, a true labourer is rarely to be found;,although we have accepted the Priestly office, we do not fulfil its demands!
Think over, my beloved brothers, think over His Words: Pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into His harvest. Pray for us, so that we may be able to labour worthily on your behalf, that our tongue may not grow weary of exhortation, that after we have taken up the office of preaching, our silence may not bring us condemnation from the Just Judge! ” – St Gregory the Great (540-604) Pope, Father and Doctor of the Church (An excerpt from his Homily 17, On the Gospels).
PRAYER – O God, Who through blessed Alphonsus Maria, Thy Confessor and Bishop, fired with love for souls, enriched Thy Church with a new family; we beseech Thee that, taught by his saving counsels and strengthened by his example, we may be enabled, happily to come to Thee. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).
Quote/s of the Day – 31 July – The Memorial of St Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) Confessor
The Dying Words of today’s Saint of the Day, Blessed Everard Hanse (Died 1581) Priest Martyr at the hands of of Queen Elizabeth I in the English persecutions, led me to contemplate and collate some of these scattered around Breathin Catholic. I will collect them as I go on searches everywhere in the Catholic world, adding to them here from time to time, when appropriate. 🙏🧡
“Into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”
“Glory to God for all things!”
St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Thy will be done. Come, Lord Jesus!”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of the Church
“I die the King’s faithful servant but God’s first.”
St Thomas More (1478-1535) Martyr
“O, my God!”
St Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)
“Oh happy day!”
The dying words of today’s Saint of the Day as he was being hanged at Tyburn, England Blessed Everard Hanse (Died 1581) Priest Martyr
Prayer for a Holy Death By St Alphonsus de Liguori Most Zealous Doctor
“My beloved Jesus, I will not refuse the cross, as the Cyrenian did; I accept it, I embrace it. I accept, in particular, the death Thou hast destined for me, with all the pains which may accompany it; I unite it to Thy Death, I offer it to You. Thou hast died for love of me; I will die for love of Thee and to please Thee. Help me by Thy grace. I love Thee, Jesus, my love; I repent of ever having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always and then do with me what Thou will.Amen”
Saint of the Day – 1 February – Blessed Reginald of Orléans OP (c 1180 – 1220) Priest and Friar of the Order of Preachers, Canon Lawyer, renowned Preacher, Born in c 1180 in Orléans, France and died in early February 1220 in Paris, France of natural causes. Also known as – Réginald de Saint-Gilles, Reginaldo… Additional Memorial – 12 February (Dominicans).
Reginald of Orleans was known, even during his lifetime, for his brilliance, his prayer, his austerity and his kindness toward others, especially the poor. Originally a powerful Preacher and esteemed Canonist associated with the University of Paris, Reginald encountered St Dominic in Rome. Reginald was captivated by the apostolic way of life championed by Dominic and decided to join the newly-founded Order. Blessed Reginald is one of the great early Dominicans who were acquainted with Dominic himself and seemed to be given a share of the Founder’s spirit.
Blessed Reginald’s life story can be divided into two parts: one before he met St Dominic,and the other, after he had met the Founder. He was born in Orleans, France in c 1180 and having been Ordained a Priest, he had become a Doctor of Canon Law and a well-known figure in the Church in Paris. Many must have looked at him and thought that he had everything he wanted. But, in reality, he was feeling dissatisfied with his life: as was commonplace in the Church in those times he had a very comfortable and well-off lifestyle, yet he knew that his calling from Jesus Christ was to something greater than mere comfort and prestige. And so he was in a dilemma.
In the year 1218 Reginald was in Rome, when he fell seriously ill. As it happened, Dominic was also in Rome and a mutual acquaintance told him about the condition of Reginald, so that he went to visit him. The biographers tell us, that there was immediately, a perfect understanding between the two men – Reginald saw, that the new Dominican Friars were living the sort of ideal he had been longing for and there and then, he made his religious profession into the Order of Preachers. There was a great sign given to mark this moment of decision: as Reginald lay sick, his life in danger, he was favoured with a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary who anointed him with oil and held out to him the Dominican habit. Blessed Reginald found himself completely cured and began with great energy to live the Dominican life.
It was quickly apparent to everyone, that he was a changed man. In the City of Bologna where he was assigned and became the Prior of the Dominican Convent there, he became known to the whole City, as a great Preacher of the Gospel, preaching with overflowing faith and conviction. An early biographer wrote, that his preaching ‘like a burning torch, inflamed the hearts of all his hearers.Very few people were so stony-hearted that they could resist the effects of this fire.’.
And, if it is a mark of a true apostle, that he will gather followers to his side, then Reginald, more than passed the test: he attracted a great number in Bologna to join him in the Order of Preachers. Many of them were like him, educated university men and like him, they found the Gospel way of life they had been looking for.
Blessed Reginald was not to enjoy a long life as a Dominican. Early in 1220 he again became ill and this time he died peacefully. . But his place in the history of the Dominican family was assured by the memories of those who had known him in Bologna and had seen a saintly apostle on fire with the love of God and of souls. His meeting with St Dominic gave the final meaning to his life – the beautiful calling, which is given to all those who follow the Lord, to preach the Gospel of Jesus in word and in deed.
“I have no fears for the struggle, nay, I rather look forward to it with impatience, for ever since the Mother of God anointed me with her virginal hands in Rome, I have never ceased to put my whole trust in her and now joyfully await the hour of my deliverance, that I may hasten to see her once more. However, that I may not seem to make little of the Church’s anointing, I profess myself willing to receive it and I humbly ask for it at your hands.”– the final words of Blessed Reginald.
Saint of the Day – 16 November – Saint Edmund Rich of Abingdon (1175-1240) Archbishop of Canterbury, Confessor, Apostle of Prayer and Charity, Mystic, Doctor of Divinity/Theology, eloquent Preacher, Ascetic, highly regarded Professor lecturer, Reformer, Writer, peacemaker, social activist and negotiator. Born, it is thought, on 20 November c. 1175 at St Edmund’s Lane, Abingdon, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire), England and died on 16 November 1240 at Soisy-Bouy, Seine-et-Marne, France. Patronages – Abingdon, Oxfordshire, Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth; St Edmund’s College, Cambridge; St Edmund Hall, Oxford, St Edmund’s College, Ware.
Of English birth, he became a respected lecturer in mathematics, dialectics and theology at the Universities of Paris and Oxford, promoting the study of Aristotle. Having already an unsought reputation as an ascetic, he was ordained a priest, took a doctorate in divinity and soon became known, not only for his lectures on theology but as a popular preacher, spending long years travelling within England, and engaging, in 1227 preaching the sixth crusade. Obliged to accept an appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury by Pope Gregory IX, he combined a gentle personal temperament with a strong public stature and severity towards King Henry III in defence of Magna Carta and in general of good civil and Church government and justice. He also worked for strict observance in monastic life and negotiated peace with Llywelyn the Great. His policies earned him hostility and jealousy from the king and opposition from several monasteries and from the clergy of Canterbury Cathedral. He died in France at the beginning of a journey to Rome in 1240.
St Edmund was born circa 1174, possibly on 20 November (the feast of St Edmund the Martyr), in Abingdon in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire), 7 miles south of Oxford, England. He was the oldest of four children.
“Rich” was an epithet sometimes given to his wealthy merchant father, Reynold. It was never applied to Edmund or his siblings in their lifetimes. His father retired, with his wife’s consent, to the monastery at Eynsham Abbey, leaving in her hands the education of their family. Her name was Mabel, she was a devout woman who lived an ascetic life and encouraged her children to do the same. Both her daughters took the veil.
Edmund may have been educated at the monastic school in Abingdon. He developed a taste for religious learning, saw visions while still at school and at the age of twelve took a vow of perpetual chastity in the Virgin’s church at Oxford. His early studies were in England but he completed his higher learning in France, at the University of Paris. He became a teacher about 1200, or a little earlier. For six years he lectured on mathematics and dialectics, apparently dividing his time between Oxford and Paris and helped introduce the study of Aristotle.
Edmund became one of Oxford’s first lecturers with a Master of Arts but was not Oxford’s first Doctor of Divinity. Long hours at night spent in prayer had the result that he often “nodded off” during his lectures. There is a long-established tradition that he utilised his lecture-fees to build the Lady Chapel of St Peter’s in the East at Oxford. The site where he lived and taught was formed into a mediaeval academic hall in his name and later incorporated as the college of St Edmund Hall.
His mother’s influence then led to his taking up the study of theology. Though for some time Edmund resisted the change, he finally entered upon his new career between 1205 and 1210. He spent a year in retirement with the Augustinian canons of Merton Priory, received ordination, took a doctorate in divinity and soon became known as a lecturer on theology and as an extemporaneous preacher. In this capacity he gained some reputation for eloquence. He spent the fees which he received in charity and refused to spend upon himself the revenues which he derived from several benefices. He often retired for solitude to Reading Abbey and it is possible that he would have become a monk if that profession had afforded more scope for his gifts as a preacher and expositor.
His spiritual fervour, eloquent and effective preaching led to miracles and conversions. He constantly encouraged the faithful to pray. “A hundred thousand people are deceived by multiplying prayers,” he said once. “I would rather say five words devoutly with my heart, than 5,000 which my soul does not relish with affection and intelligence.”
He was known for his great self-discipline – under his clothes, he wore a sackcloth pressed close to his skin by metal plates and he slept only a few hours at night in order to spend time in prayer and meditation. On one occasion, he was observed levitating, consumed in prayer.
In 1233 he was named the 46th Archbishop of Canterbury against his wishes. He advised King Henry III and presided at the king’s confirmation of the Magna Carta in 1237. Edmund was at the centre of relations between Rome and England and spoke truth to power on both sides. He admonished the king for having favourites in his court and travelled to Rome to urge reforms in the Church.
Because he was so truthful and did not vary from what he saw as just and right, many people found him inconvenient. Political movements forced Edmund’s resignation in 1240 and he moved to France and became a Monk. He died later that year and miracles at his grave were reported soon after his burial. His relics rest in the Reliquary Chapel in the Basilica. “I have sought nothing else but Thee, O God.” – St Edmund’s Dying Words.
In less than a year after Edmund’s death, miracles were wrought at his grave. Despite Henry’s opposition, he was Canonised only 6 years after his death, on 16 December 1246 by Pope Innocent IV. A few years later, the first chapel dedicated to him, St Edmund’s Chapel, was Consecrated in Dover, by his friend St Richard of Chichester (c 1197-1253), making it the only chapel dedicated to one English Saint by another.
Edmund’s body was never translated to Canterbury, because the Benedictine community there resented what they regarded as Edmund’s attacks on their independence. After his death he was taken back to Pontigny Abbey, where his main relics are now found in a baroque reliquary tomb dating to the 17th century.
An arm is enshrined in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption at St Edmund’s Retreat on Enders Island off the coast of Mystic, Connecticut. The retreat is operated by the Society of the Fathers and Brothers of St Edmund.
In 1853, the fibula of the Edmund’s left leg was presented to St Edmund’s College, Ware,by Cardinal Wiseman. Many local cures of serious illnesses were attributed to the intercession of St Edmund, one of the earliest of these was of a student who nearly died after a fall in 1871. His complete healing led to the accomplishment of a vow to extend the beautiful Pugin chapel with a side chapel to honour the saint.
St Edmund’s silk chasuble, which Edmund had with him at his death, remains in a local church, with a stole and maniple. His works, Speculum Ecclesiae (Mirror of the Church)
and Provincial Constitution, are still relevant today. He holds the sad honour, of being the last Archbishop of Canterbury, to be Canonised. The Society of St Edmund, formed in his honour in France in the 1840s, operates from the US – you can read about them here: http://www.sse.org/history.html.
Saint of the Day – 4 October – St Francis of Assisi OFM Confessor, Religious, Deacon, Stigmatist and ounder, Apostle of the Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Virgin and of Charity, Preacher, Missionary, Mystic, Miracle-Worker, Co-patron of Italy, Founder of the Seraphic Order – the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land, as well as being the Founder of the Nativity Crib and Manger as we know it today.
Born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone ( informally called Francesco by his Mother) – (1181 at Assisi, Umbria, Italy – 4 October 1226 at Portiuncula, Italy of natural causes). His relics are enshrined in the Basilica built and named for him in Assisi, Italy. St Francis was Canonised on 16 July 1228 by Pope Gregory IX. Patronages – • against dying alone• against fire• animal welfare societies• animals• birds• ecologists, ecology• environment, environmentalism, environmentalists• families• lace makers, lace workers• merchants• needle workers• peace• tapestry workers• zoos• Italy• Colorado• Catholic Action• Franciscan Order• 10 dioceses• 10 cities. Attributes – • apparition of Jesus• Christ child• birds• deer• fish• lamb• skull• stigmata• wolf. In 1224 he received the stigmata during the apparition of Seraphic angels in a religious ecstasy making him the first recorded person in Christian history to bear the wounds of Christ’s Passion. He died during the evening hours of 3 October 1226, while listening to a reading he had requested of Psalm 142 (141). Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.
Francis was born in Assisi in 1182, the son of a wealthy cloth merchant, Pietro Bernardone, and his wife, Pica. He was baptised Giovanni (John) but soon gained the nickname Francesco because of his father’s close trading links with France.
Francis’ early years were not especially religious. He was a leader among the young men of Assisi, enjoying a good social life, singing and partying. His first biographer, Thomas of Celano, describes him as quite short, with black eyes, hair and beard; he had a long face, with a straight nose and small, upright ears. His arms were short but his hands and fingers slender and long. He had a strong, clear, sweet voice. Francis didn’t want to follow his father into the cloth trade; he wanted to be a knight. So at the age of twenty he joined the forces of Assisi in a minor skirmish with the neighbouring city of Perugia. He was captured and spent a year in a Perugian jail, until his father ransomed him. This became the first of a series of experiences through which God called Francis to the life which he finally embraced.
One of these experiences, at San Damiano, led to a rift with his father. Francis, in response to a voice from the crucifix in this tiny ruined Church, began to rebuild churches; when he ran out of money he took cloth from his father’s shop and sold it. His father disowned him before the bishop of Assisi and Francis in his turn stripped off his clothes, returning to his father everything he had received from him and promising that in future he would call only God his Father.
And thus, Francis of Assisi, this poor little man began a journey to astound and inspire the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a mite of self-importance.
Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi’s youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolised his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: “Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy.”
From the Cross in the neglected Chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, “Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down.” Francis became the totally poor and humble workman.
He must have suspected a deeper meaning to “build up my house.” But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor “nothing” man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up every material thing he had, piling even his clothes before his earthly father (who was demanding restitution for Francis’ “gifts” to the poor) so that he would be totally free to say, “Our Father in heaven.”
He was, for a time, considered to be a religious “nut,” begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, bringing sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking.
But genuineness will tell. A few people began to realise that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said: “Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff” (see Lk 9:1-3).
Francis’ first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no idea of founding an order but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church’s unity.
He was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decerned in favour of the latter but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade.
During the last years of his relatively short life (he died at 44) he was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death, he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side.
On his deathbed, he said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, “Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death.” He sang Psalm 141 and at the end asked his superior to have his clothes removed when the last hour came and for permission to expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord.
On 13 March 2013, upon his election as Pope, Archbishop and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina chose Francis as his papal name in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi, becoming Pope Francis I. At his first audience on 16 March 2013, Pope Francis told journalists that he had chosen the name in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi and had done so because he was especially concerned for the well-being of the poor. He explained that, as it was becoming clear during the conclave voting that he would be elected the new bishop of Rome, the Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes had embraced him and whispered, “Don’t forget the poor”, which had made Bergoglio think of the saint. Bergoglio had previously expressed his admiration for St Francis, explaining that “He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time. He changed history.” Bergoglio’s selection of his papal name is the first time that a pope has been named Francis.
You must be logged in to post a comment.