Posted in MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 23 May – St William of Rochester (Died c 1201) Martyr

Saint of the Day – 23 May – St William of Rochester (Died c 1201) Martyr – also known as William of Perth – Patron of adopted children.

Practically all that is known of William comes from the Nova Legenda Anglie and that is little.   He was born in Perth, at that time one of the principal towns of Scotland.   In youth, he had been somewhat wild but on reaching manhood he devoted himself wholly to the service of God.   A baker by trade (some sources say he was a fisherman), he was accustomed to setting aside every tenth loaf for the poor.Cathedral_of_Rochester_William_of_Perth.jpg

He went to Mass daily and one morning, before it was light, found on the threshold of the church an abandoned child, whom he adopted and to whom he taught his trade.   Later, he took a vow to visit the Holy Places and, having received the consecrated wallet and staff as a Palmer, set out with his adopted son, whose name is given as “Cockermay Doucri”, which is said to be Scots for “David the Foundling”.   They stayed three days at Rochester and purposed to proceed next day to Canterbury (and perhaps thence to Jerusalem) but instead, David wilfully misled his benefactor on a short-cut and, with robbery in view, felled him with a blow on the head and cut his throat.

The body was discovered by a mad woman, who plaited a garland of honeysuckle and placed it first on the head of the corpse and then her own, whereupon the madness left her.   On learning her tale the monks of Rochester carried the body to the cathedral and there buried it.   He was honoured as a martyr because he was on a pilgrimage to holy places.   As a result of the miracle involving the madwoman as well as other miracles wrought at his intercession after death, he was acclaimed a saint by the people.

In 1256 Lawrence of St Martin, Bishop of Rochester, obtained the canonisation of William from Pope Alexander IV.   A beginning was at once made with his shrine, which was situated first in the crypt, then in the northeast transept and attracted crowds of pilgrims.   At the same time, a small chapel was built at the place of the murder, which was thereafter called Palmersdene.   Remains of this chapel are still to be seen near the present St William’s Hospital, on the road leading by Horsted Farm to william cathedral.jpg

The shrine of St William of Rochester became a place of pilgrimage second only to Canterbury’s shrine of Saint Thomas Becket, bringing many thousands of medieval pilgrims to the cathedral.   Their footsteps wore down the original stone Pilgrim Steps and nowadays they are covered with wooden william of perth -205x400.jpg

Posted in MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 22 May – St Julia (5th Century) Martyr

Saint of the Day – 22 May – St Julia (5th Centrury) Martyr and Virgin – also known as Julia of Corsica and Julia of Carthage.   Patronages – Corsica, Livorno, Brecia, torture victims, pathologies of the hands and the julia lg.jpg

St Julia was a virgin martyr who is venerated as a saint.   The date of her death is most probably on or about 439.   She along with St Devota (Died c 303), are the patron saints of Corsica.   She was declared a patroness of Corsica by the Church on 5 August 1809 and St Devota on 14 May 1820.   Both of these were martyred in pre-Christian Corsica under Roman rule.   Although Julia is included in most summary lives of the saints, the details somewhat vary.   A few basic accounts emerge, that tell us the story.  st julia statueA Bishop of Africa wrote most of the story, from her time.   She was captured as a slave from Carthage and was taken to Africa to serve her Master.   When refusing to make sacrifices to their pagan gods, she was beaten, flogged and crucified.   She was a beautiful young girl that didn’t compromise her faith and an early saint of our Church.

Julia was a noble virgin of Carthage, who, when the city was taken by Genseric in 439, was sold as a slave to a pagan merchant of Syria named Eusebius.   Under the most mortifying employments of her station, by cheerfulness and patience she found a happiness and comfort which the world could not have afforded.   All the time she was not employed in her master’s business was devoted to prayer and reading books of piety. Her master, who was charmed with her fidelity and other virtues, thought proper to carry her with him on one of his voyages to Gaul.St Julia

Having reached the northern part of Corsica, he cast anchor and went on shore to join the pagans of the place in an idolatrous festival.   Julia was left at some distance, because she would not be defiled by the superstitious ceremonies which she openly reviled.   Felix, the governor of the island, who was a bigoted pagan, asked who this woman was who dared to insult the gods.   Eusebius informed him that she was a Christian and that all his authority over her was too weak to prevail with her to renounce her religion but that he found her so diligent and faithful he could not part with her.   The governor offered him four of his best female slaves in exchange for her.   But the merchant replied, “No, all you are worth will not purchase her, for I would freely lose the most valuable thing I have in the world, rather than be deprived of her.”

However, the governor, while Eusebius was drunk and asleep, took upon him to compel her to sacrifice to his gods.   He offered to procure her liberty if she would comply.  The Saint made answer that she was as free as she desired to be as long as she was allowed to serve Jesus Christ.   Felix, thinking himself derided by her undaunted and resolute air, in a transport of rage caused her to be struck on the face and the hair of her head to be torn off and, lastly, ordered her to be hanged on a cross till she expired.Santa_julia - Giulia_E

Certain monks of the isle of Gorgon carried off her body but in 763 Desiderius, King of Lombardy, removed her relics to Brescia, where her memory is celebrated with great devotion.   The Basilica of Santa Giulia near Bergamo is dedicated to julia 363px-Meaux_Vitrail_1867_30808_2

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Saint of the Day – 20 May – Saint Ethelbert (died 794) Martyr

Saint of the Day – 20 May – Saint Ethelbert (died 794) Martyr – also known as Albert or Albrigh), King of East Anglia – Patronages – Hereford, England, Hereford Cathedral where a portion of his remains lie.

He was most probably born in 779 to a Christian family belonging to the ancient royal lineage of East Anglia.   His father’s name was Aethelred and his mother bore the name Leofruna.   He was brought up in the Christian tradition and obtained an education at the monastery in Bury St Edmunds.   From his childhood Ethelbert was very serious, polite, kind-hearted and friendly and was filled with the desire to imitate Christ in everything.   At that time most of England was under the control of King Offa of Mercia, who had a great ambition to place all the lands of England and part of Wales under his control and wanted the Church to be subordinated to the State.  aethelbert_eanglia.jpg

When Ethelbert was 14, his father died and the young man was crowned king and started to rule his kingdom.   It was in the year 793 or 794 that Ethelbert was offered marriage but the devout king first declined, wishing to keep his virginity.   But as he needed an heir, Ethelbert finally agreed.   His adviser, Oswald, suggested as a candidate the daughter of King Offa and his Queen Cynethryth of Mercia, Alfreda (also called Etheldritha).   Ethelbert and all the court consented; only the saint’s mother, Leofruna, was hesitant as she feared the Mercian family and their dishonesty.   Nevertheless, it was decided that Ethelbert would set out for Mercia.

As soon as the young king mounted his horse, a sudden earthquake occurred that made all his companions panic.   Leofruna saw in this a sign from the Lord that her son would never return home alive.   “Let the will of God be done!” exclaimed Ethelbert.   But another sign followed.   The sun darkened and such a dense fog rose around, that all who accompanied the king could not see each other or anything near them.   Seeing this solar eclipse, the king commanded everybody to kneel and pray together –  “May the Lord give us His mercy!” he said.   As soon as they offered up a prayer, the fog dispersed.

On their way to Mercia, Ethelbert was filled with spiritual joy and asked his companions to sing joyful songs, promising to give his bracelet to the most skilful singer.   They started singing spiritual hymns and songs relating his royal lineage.   The king took off his bracelet immediately and promised other gifts on his return.   Eventually, they reached Mercia, deciding to stop at Sutton in present-day Herefordshire.   The following night Ethelbert had a strange vision – his palace was in ruins and his mother, weeping, was coming up to him, meanwhile, he himself, turned into a beautiful bird with golden wings which flew very high to the heavens, where it finally heard the angelic choir glorifying the Most Holy Trinity.   Waking up, he asked his adviser Oswald to explain the dream to him.   Oswald kept silence for a few moments and then replied –  “Oh, king! Whatever happens to you, by the mercy of God all will be for the good”.

Thus, the trusting Ethelbert sent his messengers with gifts to King Offa while he followed behind.   Offa, however, believed the wicked false rumours spread by his impious wife Cynethryth that the young king was allegedly coming with the hostile intent to invade the kingdom.   As pious Ethelbert was approaching the royal palace, young Alfreda, his would-be betrothed, spotted him from the window.   The young princess at once ran to her mother, exclaiming – “Dear mother! King Ethelbert has come! Such a pleasant young man! I would surely marry him!” These words enraged Cynethryth—she hurried to her husband Offa and said to him – “The rumors are true.   If this marriage takes place, you will lose your kingdom very soon.   So go and offer half of your riches to him who agrees to kill him”.St._Ethelbert_the_King,_with_Christ.png

Ethelbert was welcomed near the palace by Wimbert, the court officer, who (after a conversation with the king) was treacherously going to murder the unsuspecting King of the East Angles.   Ethelbert got down from his horse and said he wished to speak with King Offa.   Wimbert slyly responded that the king was aware of his arrival and was waiting for him but, he must remove his sword, as it was not proper to appear before the king with a weapon in peacetime.   The ingenuous Ethelbert gave up his sword and, accompanied by several nobles, proceeded to the king.   He came to Offa. The doors were closed.   The innocent Ethelbert was then seized, tied and beaten severely.   After that Wimbert beheaded Ethelbert with his (the saint’s) own sword.   The young Alfreda mourned the loss of her fiancé very bitterly and, unable to endure the callousness of her parents, retired to Crowland in the Lincolnshire marches where she lived as anchoress for 40 years.   Famous for her prophecies, Alfreda reposed in c. 835 and afterwards was locally venerated as saint.

Since then Ethelbert has been known and venerated by English people as a martyr, a saint of God who gained abundant divine grace.   Although Ethelbert did not die for Christ, he fell victim to evil, being personally very pious, so he is regarded as a martyr. King Offa, who arranged his murder, did not repent (according to most of the sources) and is remembered as a cruel king with a lust for power.   It is supposed, that the scene of St Ethelbert’s martyrdom was the royal villa at or near Sutton.   His body was buried like rubbish but a heavenly light identified it and it was eventually relocated.

Ethelbert was locally canonised by the Church.   (Local canonisation took place before official papal canonisation had been established.   The individual was ‘locally venerated’) He became the subject of a series of vitae that date from the eleventh century and he was venerated in religious cults in both East Anglia and at Hereford. 12 ancient churches and several chapels were dedicated to him, besides the Cathedral, together with the Blessed Virgin, in which he lies.   During one of the moves of his body, the head fell off the body, fell off the cart it was being carried in, touched a pedestrian who had been blind for eleven years and cured him.  The head is now enshrined at Westminster Abbey, ethelbert of east anglia


Thought for the Day – 27 April – The Preservation of Unity

Thought for the Day – 27 April – Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter C, – Gospel: John 14:1-6

The Preservation of Unity

“And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”...John 14:3

Saint Pope Clement I (Died 99)
Apostolic Father, Bishop of Rome and Martyr

An excerpt from his Letter to the Corinthiansthrough him our gaze penetrates the heights of heaven - st pope clement 1 17 may 2019.jpg

Beloved, Jesus Christ is our salvation, He is the high priest through whom we present our offerings and the Helper, who supports us in our weakness.   Through Him, our gaze penetrates the heights of heaven and we see as in a mirror, the most holy face of God. Through Christ, the eyes of our hearts are opened and our weak and clouded understanding, reaches up toward the light.   Through Him, the Lord God willed, that we should taste eternal knowledge, for Christ is the radiance of God’s glory and as much greater than the angels, as the name God has given Him is superior to theirs.

So then, my brothers, let us do battle with all our might, under His unerring command. Think of the men serving under our military commanders.   How well disciplined they are!   How readily and submissively they carry out orders!   Not everyone can be a prefect, a tribune, a centurion, or a captain of fifty but each man, in his own rank, executes the orders of the emperor and the officers in command.   The great, cannot exist, without those of humble condition, nor can those of humble condition, exist without the great.   Always, it is the harmonious working together, of its various parts, that insures the well-being of the whole.   Take our own body as an example –  the head is helpless without the feet and the feet can do nothing without the heart.   Even our least important members, are useful and necessary, to the whole body and all work together for its well-being in harmonious subordination.

Let us, then, preserve the unity of the body that we form in Christ Jesus and let everyone give his neighbour the deference, to which his particular gifts, entitle him.   Let the strong care for the weak and the weak respect the strong.   Let the wealthy assist the poor and the poor man thank God for giving him someone to supply his needs.   The wise man should show his wisdom, not by his eloquence but by good works, the humble man should not proclaim his own humility but leave others to do so, nor must the man who preserves his chastity, ever boast of it but recognise that the ability to control his desires has been given him by another.

Think, my brothers, of how we first came into being, of what we were at the first moment of our existence.   Think of the dark tomb, out of which our Creator brought us into His world, where He had His gifts prepared for us, even before we were born.   All this we owe to Him and for everything, we must give Him thanks.   To Him be glory forever and ever. Amenso then my brothers let us do battle under His - st pope clement I - 17 may 2019.jpg

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Saint of the Day – 15 May – Saint Euphrasius of Andujar (1st Century)

Saint of the Day – 15 May – Saint Euphrasius of Andujar (1st Century) Martyr, Bishop, Missionary – according to tradition, he is one of the group of Seven Apostolic Men (siete varones apostólicos), seven Christian clerics ordained in Rome by Saints Peter and Paul and sent to evangelise Spain.   Besides Euphrasius, this group includes Sts Hesychius, Ctesiphon, Torquatus, Indaletius and Secundius.   Patronages – diocese of Jaénin Spain, Andújar, Spain, Ajaccio in France, Corsica.

Saint Euphrasius, altarpiece at Jaén Cathedral, 18th century

In the 7th century, King Sisebut built a church over the saint’s sepulchre at Illiturgis but during the invasion of Spain by the Moors in the 8th century, his relics were translated to the Lugo Province.   He is buried in the church of Santa María do Mao, near the monastery of San Xulián de Samos in Samos.

Euphrasius is also patron of Corsica and of Ajaccio – “this seems to have been due to a secondary translation of a portion of his relics.”

A relic of a kerchief found in a chapel behind the high altar of Jaén Cathedral is associated with a legend of St Euphrasius.   When Euphrasius was sent to Rome to free the Pope from Satan’s temptations, it is said that he travelled to Rome in only half an hour due to the assistance of a captive goblin who helped the saint in return for some leftovers from the saint’s supper.   Euphrasius vanquished Satan and was awarded with a kerchief.

Euphrasius is also associated with the cult of Our Lady of Cabeza (la Virgen de la Cabeza).   According to one legend, when Saint Euphrasius came to Spain, he brought with him an image of the Virgin Mary to which he was devoted.   According to the legend, this image was given to Euphrasius by Saint Peter and is said to have been the portrait that Saint Luke painted of the Virgin Mary.

Statue of Our Lady of Cabeza near the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Cabeza.

Thought for the Day – 12 May – The Celebration of the Eucharist

Thought for the Day – 12 May – The Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C

The Celebration of the Eucharist

Saint Justin Martyr (100-165)
Father of the Church, Apologist and Martyr

An excerpt from his First Apology in the Defence of Christians

No one may share the Eucharist with us, unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.

We do not consume the Eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught, that as Jesus Christ our Saviour became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food, that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment, becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus, by the power of His own words, contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.

The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do.   They tell us that He took bread, gave thanks and said – Do this in memory of me.   This is my body.   In the same way He took the cup, He gave thanks and said – This is my blood.   The Lord gave this command to them alone.   Ever since then, we have constantly reminded one another of these things.   The rich among us help the poor and we are always united.   For all that we receive, we praise the Creator of the universe through His Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

On Sunday, we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts.   The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time.   When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us, he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings.   Then we all stand up together and pray.

On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward.   The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability and the people give assent by saying, “Amen.”   The Eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates and the deacons take it to those who are absent.

The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution and they themselves decide the amount.   The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home.    In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.

We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world and because on that same day, our savioUr Jesus Christ rose from the dead.   For He was crucified on Friday and on Sunday He appeared to His apostles and disciples and taught them the things, that we have passed on for your one may share in the eucharist - st justin martyr 12 may 2019.jpg


One Minute Reflection – 1 May – “The light that never dims”

One Minute Reflection – 1 May – Wednesday of the Second week of Easter, the first day of Mary’s Month and the Memorial of St Joseph the Worker, Gospel: John 3:16–21

“But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.”…John 3:21

REFLECTION – “In the evening, when the Bishop is present, the deacon carries in the lamp.   And standing in the midst of all the faithful who are there, he will offer thanksgiving.   First of all he says the greeting:  “The Lord be with you,” and the people respond:  “And with your spirit.” – Then he says: “Let us give thanks to the Lord” and they reply: “It is right and just.   To Him be the greatness and supremacy together with the glory”… Then he will pray thus, saying:
“We give you thanks, Lord, through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom you enlighten us by revealing the light that never dims.   Since day is spent and we have now reached evening, filled with the light of the day you created for our joy and since, through your grace, we do not now lack the light of evening, we praise and glorify you through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom to you be glory and power and honour, with the Holy Spirit, now and for ever and through all ages. Amen.”   And everyone will say: “Amen.”
In this way, after the meal, all will stand in prayer.   The children say psalms as also the virgins.”…St Hippolytus of Rome (c 170– c 235) Priest and Martyr – Apostolic Tradition, 25john 3 21 but he who does what is true - we give you thanks Lord - st hippolytus 1 may 2019.jpg

PRAYER – Shed your clear light on our hearts, Lord, so that walking continually in the way of Your commandments, we may never be deceived or misled.   Your ways are not our ways, teach us to willingly agree to them, for You know which way we should go. Help us to say “yes” always to Your plan and to render ourselves as a sacrament of Your divine love to all we meet.   Fill us with the grace to be your tools to bring glory to Your kingdom.   St Joseph, silent and loving husband and father, as you worked for and protected your family on earth, protect us all now in the Church of Your adopted son. Through Him, our Our Lord Jesus Christ with You, in the union of the Holy Spirit, one God forever, joseph the worker pray for us 1 may 2019.jpg