Espousal of the Blessed Virgin Mary – 23 January: Feast in honour of the Blessed Virgin’s espousal to Saint Joseph. It is certain that a real matrimony was contracted by Joseph and Mary. Still Mary is called “espoused” to Joseph (“his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph”, Matthew 1:18) because the matrimony was never consummated. The term spouse is applied to married people until their marriage is consummated. This feast dates from 1517 when it was granted to the nuns of the Annunciation by Pope Leo X with nine other Masses in honour of Our Lady. Adopted by many religious orders and dioceses, it was observed for a time by nearly the whole Church but is no longer in the Calendar.
Bl Joan Font Taulat
St John the Almoner/the Merciful (Died c 620)
Bl Juan Infante
Bl Margaret of Ravenna
Martyrius of Valeria
St Messalina of Foligno
St Ormond of Mairé
St Parmenas the Deacon
St Severian the Martyr
St Agathius the Martyr
St Ammonius of Astas
St Archelais the Martyr
Bl Beatrix of Este the Younger
Bl Charlotte Lucas
St Catus Blessed Cristina Ciccarelli OSA (1481–1543)
St Deicola of Lure
Bl Fazzio of Verona
Bl Félicité Pricet
St Leobard of Tours Blessed Maria Teresa Fasce OSA (1881-1947) Blessed Maria Teresa’s Life: https://anastpaul.com/2019/01/18/saint-of-the-day-18-january-blessed-maria-teresa-fasce-osa-1881-1947/
Bl Monique Pichery
St Moseus of Astas
St Prisca of Rome
St Susanna the Martyr
St Thecla the Martyr
St Ulfrid of Sverige
Bl Victoire Gusteau
St Volusian of Tours
Martyrs of Carthage – 3 saints
Martyrs of Egypt -37 saints
Martyrs of Nicaea – 3 saints
Saint of the Day – 16 January – Blessed Gonzalo de Amarante OP (1187-1259), Dominican Priest, Hermit, Marian Devotee – born as Gonçalo de Amarante in 1187 at Vizella, diocese of Braga, Portugal and died on 10 January 1259 of natural causes. His memorial is celebrated on 10 January by the Dominicans. Patronages – Amarante, Itapissuma, Cajari, Matinha, Viana. He became a Dominican friar and hermit after his return from a long pilgrimage that took him to both Rome and to Jerusalem. He was noted as a wonderworker through whom miracles occurred and he was known for his solitude and silence in reflection, in order to better achieve communication with God.
Gonzalo de Amarante was a true son of the Middle Ages, a man right out of the pages of the ‘Golden Legend.’ His whole life reads like a mural from the wall of a church–full of marvellous things and done up in brilliant colours.
In his boyhood Gonzalo gave wonderful indications of his holiness. As he was being carried to the baptismal font as an infant, he fixed his eyes on the church’s crucifix with a look of extraordinary love. While still young, he was consecrated to study for the Church and received his training in the household of the Archbishop of Braga. After his Ordination he was given charge of a wealthy parish, an assignment that should have made him very happy. Gonzalo was not as interested in choice parishes as some of his companion – he went to his favourite Madonna shrine and begged Our Lady to help him administer this office fairly.
There was no complaint with Gonzalo’s governance of the parish of Saint Pelagius. He was penitential himself but indulgent with everyone else. Revenues that he might have used for himself were used for the poor and the sick. The parish, in fact, was doing very well when he turned it over to his nephew, whom he had carefully tutored, before making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Gonzalo would have remained his entire life in the Holy Land but after 14 years his Archbishop commanded him to return to Portugal. Upon his arrival, he was horrified to see that his nephew had not been the good shepherd that he had promised to be, the money left for the poor had gone to purchase a fine stable of thoroughbred horses and a pack of fine hounds. The nephew had told everyone that his old uncle was dead and he had been appointed pastor in his place by an unsuspecting Archbishop. When the uncle appeared on the scene, a bit ragged and, of course, older but very much alive, the nephew was not happy to see him. Gonzalo seems to have been surprised as well as pained.
The ungrateful nephew settled the matter by turning the dogs on his inconvenient uncle. They would have torn him to pieces but the servants called them off and allowed the ragged pilgrim to escape. Gonzalo decided then, that he had withstood enough parish life and went out into the hills to a place called Amarante. Here he found a cave and other necessities for an eremitical life and lived in peace for several years, spending his time building a little chapel to the Blessed Virgin. He preached to those who came to him and soon there was a steady stream of pilgrims seeking out his retreat.
Happy as he was, Gonzalo felt that this was not his sole mission in life and he prayed to Our Lady to help him to discern his real vocation. She appeared to him one night as he prayed and told him to enter the order that had the custom of beginning the office with “Ave Maria gratia plena.” She told him that this order was very dear to her and under her special protection. Gonzalo set out to learn what order she meant and eventually came to the convent of the Dominicans. Here was the end of the quest and he asked for the habit.
Blessed Peter Gonzales was the Prior and he gave the habit to the new aspirant. After Gonsalvo had gone through his novitiate, he was sent back to Amarante, with a companion, to begin a regular house of the order. The people of the neighbourhood quickly spread the news that the hermit was back. They flocked to hear him preach and begged him to heal their sick.
One of the miracles of Blessed Gonzalo concerns the building of a bridge across a swift river that barred many people from reaching the hermitage in wintertime. It was not a good place to build a bridge but Gonsalvo set about it and followed the heavenly directions he had received. Once, during the building of the bridge, he went out collecting and a man, who wanted to brush him off painlessly, sent him away with a note for his wife.
Gonzalo took the note to the man’s wife and she laughed when she read it . “Give him as much gold as will balance with the note I send you,” said the message. Gonzalo told her he thought she ought to obey her husband, so she got out the scales and put the paper in one balance. Then she put a tiny coin in the other balance and another and another–the paper still outweighed her gold–and she kept adding. There was a sizeable pile of coins before the balance with the paper in it swung upwards.
When workers who helped briefly with his bridge building ran out of wine, Gonzalo prayed, smacked a rock with a stick, it split open and wine poured out. When the workers ran out of food, Gonzalo went to the water, called out and fish jumped onto the river bank to feed them.
Gonzalo died on 10 January 1259, after prophesying the day of his death and promising his friends that he would still be able to help them after death. Pilgrimages began soon and a series of miracles indicated that this holy man was indeed the saint he was believed to be. Forty years after his death he appeared to several people who were apprehensively watching a flood on the river. The water had arisen to a dangerous level, just below the bridge, when they saw a tree floating towards the bridge and Gonzalo was balancing capably on its rolling balk. The friar carefully guided the tree under the bridge, preserving the bridge from damage and then disappeared (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Dominicans are noted for their ability to preach. Sermons are their speciality. Yet even among them, Gonzalo must have stood out. During a homily, in which he wanted to show the horror of exclusion from the Church, he ‘excommunicated’ a basket of bread, the loaves immediately became black, rotted and inedible. When he removed the ‘excommunication’ a few minutes later, the bread became fresh and wholesome again.
He was Beatified on 16 September 1561, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Papal States by Pope Pius IV. But Pope Julius III had on 24 April 1551 allowed for public worship in his honour in Portugal though did not allow his Beatification at that time. Pope Clement X – after the Beatification – extended his public worship with a Mass and Divine Office to Portugal and the entire Dominican order.
St Juana Maria Condesa Lluch
Bl Konrad II of Mondsee
St Liberata of Pavia
St Pope Marcellus I
St Melas of Rhinocolura
St Priscilla of Rome
St Sigeberht of East Anglia
St Titian of Oderzo
St Valerius of Sorrento
Saint of the Day – 7 January – St Raymond of Peñafort OP (1175-1275) known as the “Father of Canon Law” – Master of the Order of Preachers, Archbishop, Dominican Priest, Confessor, Evangelist, Missionary, Theologian,Teacher, Philosopher, Lawyer of both Canon and Civil Law, Writer, Spiritual Director and Adviser, Preacher, miracle worker. Born as Raimundo de Peñafort in 1175 at Peñafort, Catalonia, Spain and died on 6 January 1275, aged 100 years old, at Barcelona, Spain of natural causes . Patronages – attorneys, barristers, lawyers, canon lawyers, medical record librarians, Barcelona, Spain, Navarre, Spain.
As a lawyer, priest and preacher, St Raymond of Penyafort made a significant mark on the history of Spain and the church. His preaching helped re-Christianise Spain after the Moors were overthrown. And his compilation of papal and conciliar decrees, it was the main source of canon law for seven centuries.
Raymond of Peñafort was born in Vilafranca del Penedès, a small town near Barcelona, Catalonia, around 1175 . Descended from a noble family with ties to the royal house of Aragon, he was educated in Barcelona and at the University of Bologna, where he received doctorates in both civil and canon law.
An accomplished lawyer and scholar, Raymond joined the Dominicans at Barcelona in 1222. The 47-year-old novice was assigned to develop a book of case studies for confessors that helped to shape the medieval church’s penitential system. Also a gifted preacher, Raymond had remarkable success evangelising Moors and Jews. And he travelled throughout Spain rejuvenating the spiritual life of Christians that the Moors had enslaved. Among his main themes were spiritual combat and standing firm in trials. Listen to his voice in this letter:
“The preacher of God’s truth has told us that all who want to live righteously in Christ will suffer persecution. . . . the only exception to this general statement is, I think, the person who either neglects, or does not know how, to live temperately, justly and righteously in this world.
May you never be numbered among those whose house is peaceful, quiet and free from care, those on whom the Lord’s chastisement does not descend, those who live out their days in prosperity and in the twinkling of an eye will go down to hell.
Your purity of life, your devotion, deserve and call for a reward, because you are acceptable and pleasing to God, your purity of life must be made purer still, by frequent buffetings, until you attain perfect sincerity of heart. If from time to time you feel the sword falling on you with double or treble force, this also should be seen as sheer joy and the mark of love. The two-edged sword consists in conflict without, fears within. It falls with double or treble force within, when the cunning spirit troubles the depths of your heart with guile and enticements. . . . The sword falls with double and treble force externally when, without cause, persecution breaks out from within the church, where wounds are more serious, especially when inflicted by friends.
This is that enviable and blessed cross of Christ . . . the cross in which alone we must make our boast, as Paul, God’s chosen instrument, has told us.”
In 1230, Pope Gregory IX brought Raymond to Rome as his confessor. The reputation of the saint for juridical science decided the pope to employ Raymond of Peñafort’s talents in re-arranging and codifying the canons of the Church. He had to rewrite and condense decrees that had been multiplying for centuries and which were contained in some twelve or fourteen collections already existing. We learn from a Bull of Gregory IX to the Universities of Paris and Bologna, that many of the decrees in the collections were but repetitions of ones issued before, many contradicted what had been determined in previous decrees and many, on account of their great length, led to endless confusion, while others had never been embodied in any collection and were of uncertain authority.
The pope announced the new publication in a Bull directed to the doctors and students of Paris and Bologna in 1231 and commanded that the work of St Raymond alone, should be considered authoritative and should alone, be used in the schools. Because they were so well arranged, canonists relied on Raymond’s Decretals until the new codification of 1917.
When Raymond completed his work, the pope appointed him Archbishop of Tarragona but the saint declined the honour. After declining the appointment of Archbishop, he could not avoid his election as the third general of the Dominicans in 1238. But when he reformed the Dominican rule, he slipped in a clause allowing early retirement of office holders. And he used it to retire in 1240.
But he continued to work 35 more years, focusing on bringing Jews and Moors to Christ. To equip Catholics for this work, he introduced the study of Hebrew and Arabic among Dominicans and persuaded Thomas Aquinas to write his Summa Contra Gentes as an evangelistic tool. Raymond told his general that ten thousand Moors had been baptised through the efforts of the Dominicans. He died at 100 years of age in 1275.
St Raymond was Canonised by Pope Clement VIII in 1601. He was buried in the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia in Barcelona.
Most Famous Miracle
Raymond of Penyafort served as the confessor for King James I of Aragon, who was a loyal son of the Church but allowed his lustful desires to shackle him. While on the island of Majorca to initiate a campaign to help convert the Moors living there, the king brought his mistress with him. Raymond reproved the king and asked him repeatedly to dismiss his concubine. This the king refused to do. Finally, the saint told the king that he could remain with him no longer and made plans to leave for Barcelona. But the king forbade Raymond to leave the island and threatened punishment to any ship captain who dared to take him.
Saint Raymond then said to his Dominican companion, “Soon you will see how the King of heaven will confound the wicked deeds of this earthly king and provide me with a ship!” They then went down to the seashore where Raymond took off his cappa (the long black cloak the Dominicans wear over the white tunic and scapular) and spread one end of it on the water while rigging the other end to his walking staff. Having thus formed a miniature mast, Raymond bid the other Dominican to hop on but his companion, lacking the saint’s faith, refused to do so. Then Raymond bid him farewell and with the Sign of the Cross he pushed away from the shore and miraculously sailed away on his cloak. Skirting around the very boats that had forbidden him passage, the saint was seen by scores of sailors who shouted in astonishment and urged him on.
Raymond sailed the ~160 miles to Barcelona in the space of 6 hours, where his landing was witnessed by a crowd of amazed spectators.
Touched by this miracle, King James I renounced his evil ways and thereafter, led a good life.
St Raymond of Peñafort OP (1175-1275) (“Father of Canon Law”) (Optional Memorial)
St Aldric of Le Mans
Bl Ambrose Fernandez
St Anastasius of Sens
St Brannock of Braunton
St Candida of Greece
St Canute Lavard
St Clerus of Antioch
St Crispin I of Pavia
St Cronan Beg
St Emilian of Saujon
St Felix of Heraclea
Bl Franciscus Bae Gwan-gyeom
St Januarius of Heraclea
St Julian of Cagliari
St Lucian of Antioch
Bl Marie-Thérèse Haze
St Pallada of Greece
St Polyeuctus of Melitene
St Reinhold of Cologne
St Spolicostus of Greece
St Theodore of Egypt
St Tillo of Solignac
St Valentine of Passau
St Virginia of Ste-Verge
Bl Wittikund of Westphalia
Saint of the Day – 21 December – Blessed Dominic Spadafora OP (1450-1521) Dominican Priest, renowned Preacher and Evangelist. He was a noted evangelist and attracted countless to the Dominican fold while also converting the hearts of others who led dissolute lives. His body is incorrupt.
Dominic was born in Sicily, of an old and noble family. His father was Baron of Miletto, and members of the family were connected with the nobility of Venice and Palermo. As a child, Dominic attended school in the Convent of St Rita in Palerno, which had been founded some years before by Blessed Peter Geremia. He studied in Perugia after moving there in 1477 and was later sent to Padua where he earned his Bachelor’s degree on 23 June 1479 and shortly thereafter, was ordained to the Priesthood. In Venice on 7 June 1487 he was granted his Master’s degree in theological studies after a public dissertation alongside eleven other candidates. He joined the Order of Preachers at the convent of Santa Zita in Palermo after returning there, where, for some time he lived quietly conducting classes for the brethren and the secular clergy.
He participated at the General Chapter of the order in Venice in 1487. He was supposed to be assigned to a convent in Messina in 1487 but the Father General of the order, Gioacchino Torriani, decided to have him as his collaborator in Rome. Also in 1487 he participated in the General Chapter in Le Mans in the Kingdom of France.
Blessed Dominic became a noted preacher and evangelist and won the hearts of converts that had led dissolute lives – such an example of holiness also prompted countless others to join the Dominican fold as religious themselves. He was known for his intense devotion to the passion of Jesus Christ. Amidst this activity he also taught theological studies in the Sicilian area.
He founded the convent of Madonna delle Grazie – that housed a miraculous image of the Madonna – in 1491 in Monte Cerignone and served for the remainder of his life as its first superior. This came about when the faithful of the area wanted to enhance the small chapel and thus the Master General of the Dominicans sent for Spadaforo to oversee its renovation. The priest arrived there in the town on 15 September 1491 and set off on foot to Rome in 1492 to receive papal approval for this work. At this point Pope Innocent VII died and Pope Alexander VI was elected in a chain of events that postponed their meeting until 22 February 1493 when papal permission was granted. He returned with the decree of approval in 1493 and began construction of the church in 1494. The work concluded in 1498. The Bishop Marco Vigerio della Rovere consecrated the new church on 16 July 1498.
What we have considered to be the usual virtues of a Dominican friar were practised faithfully by Dominic Spadafora. He spent most of his Dominican life in the Convent of Our Lady of Grace, directing societies and confraternities, zealous for regular observance and scrupulously exact in his own behaviour.
Dominic Spadafora died in 1521 aged 71, after the celebration of Mass. He had revealed earlier to the community that he knew he was about to die. He attended all religious exercises up to the hour of his death and he died as every Dominican hopes he will – the community was around him, singing the “Salve Regina.”
Blessed Dominic’s remains were exhumed in 1545 and were deemed to be incorrupt. His remains were relocated on 3 October 1677. His remains were relocated once more on 4 April 2005 to the Chiesa della Santissima Trinità. He was Beatified by Pope Benedict XV in 1921 after the pontiff confirmed the late priest’s ‘cultus’.