Quote/s of the Day – 11 August – The Memorial of St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)
“Our labour here is brief but the reward is eternal. Do not be disturbed by the clamour of the world, which passes like a shadow. Do not let false delights of a deceptive world deceive you.”
“Love God, serve God, everything is in that.”
“Totally love Him, who gave Himself totally, for your love.”
“Love that cannot suffer is not worthy of that name.”
“Happy the soul to whom it is given to attain this life with Christ … For He is the Brightness of eternal glory, the Splendour of eternal light, the Mirror without spot.”
“O blessed poverty, who bestows eternal riches on those who love and embrace her!”
“Never forget that the way which leads to heaven is narrow; that the gate leading to life is narrow and low; that there are but few who find it and enter by it and, if there be some who go in and tread the narrow path for some time, there are but very few who persevere therein.”
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”… Matthew 18:3
REFLECTION – “Beside this obvious explanation let another be given as well.
As an act of theological and ethical reflection, let us ask what sort of a child Jesus called to Himself and has set in the midst of the disciples.
Think of it this way – the child called by Jesus is the Holy Spirit, who humbled Himself.
He was called by the Saviour and set in the middle of the disciples of Jesus. The Lord wants us, ignoring all the rest, to turn to the examples given by the Holy Spirit, so that we become like the children — that is, the disciples — who were themselves converted and made like the Holy Spirit. God gave these children to the Saviour according to what we read in Isaiah: “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me.”
To enter the kingdom of heaven is not possible for the person who has not turned from worldly matters and become like those children who had the Holy Spirit.
Jesus called this Holy Spirit to Himself like a child, when He came down from His perfect completeness, to mankind and set it in the middle of the disciples.” … Origen Adamantius (c 185-253) Priest, Theologian, Father – Commentary on Matthew, 13
PRAYER – Holy God, grant we pray, Your Holy Spirit of love and divine grace to grow ever more in faith. By our prayers and love for You and our neighbour, may we merit Your divine assistance. Lord Jesus, help us to dwell often on the manner in which we are following You. Let us strive each day to become more and more like You in all things and, to become beacons of Your Light, to all the world. St Clare of Assisi, you who were a light to all, pray for us, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 11 August – Tuesday of the Nineteenth week in Ordinary Time and The Memorial of St Clare of Assisi(1194-1253)
I Come, O Lord By St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)
I come, O Lord,
unto Thy sanctuary
to see the life and food of my soul.
As I hope in Thee, O Lord,
inspire me with that confidence
which brings me to Thy holy mountain.
Permit me, Divine Jesus,
to come closer to Thee,
that my whole soul may do homage
to the greatness of Thy majesty,
that my heart,
with its tenderest affections,
may acknowledge Thy infinite love,
that my memory may dwell
on the admirable mysteries
here renewed everyday
and that the sacrifice,
of my whole being,
may accompany Thine.
“As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty and in another thirty.”...Matthew 13:23
REFLECTION – “And yet, if both the land be good and the Sower one and the seed the same, wherefore did one bear a hundred, one sixty, one thirty?
Here again the difference is from the nature of the ground, for even where the ground is good, great even therein, is the difference.
Understand that not the Sower is to be blamed, nor the seed but the land that receives it? not for its nature but, for its disposition.
And herein too, great is His mercy to man, that He does not require one measure of virtue.
… And these things He says, lest they that followed Him should suppose that hearing is sufficient for salvation.
… Yes, both vainglory and all the rest belong to this world and to the deceitfulness of riches, such as pleasure and gluttony and envy and vainglory and all the like.
But He added also the “way” and the “rock,” signifying that it is not enough to be freed from riches only, but we must cultivate also the other parts of virtue.
But what if you are free indeed from riches, yet are soft and unmanly? and what if you are not indeed unmanly but are remiss and careless about the hearing of the word?
No one part is sufficient for our salvation but there is required first, a careful hearing and a continual recollection, then fortitude, then contempt of riches and deliverance from all worldly things.” … St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor
PRAYER – A pure heart create for me O God, put a steadfast spirit within me! (Ps 50) Lord God, bestow a full measure of Your grace to us. Keep us within in the path of Your commandments, help us to work on the earth of our souls, rooting out the weeds and casting forth the stones of malice. Grant that by the prayers of St Charbel Makhluf, who by Your grace triumphed in all virtues, we may succeed in attaining sanctity. Through Christ, our Lord, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God, forever, amen.
One Minute Reflection – 11 July – “Month of the Precious Blood” – Saturday of the Fourteenth week in Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 93:1-2, 5, Matthew 10:24-33 and the Memorial of St Benedict of Nursia OSB (c 480-547) Patron of Europe and Founder of Western Monasticism and St Olga Queen of Kiev (c 890-969)
“Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted.” … Matthew 10:29-30
REFLECTION – “If God shows such a solicitous care even for things of modest value (grass and flowers, for example), how can He forget you, that you are the most excellent of His creatures? Why then did He create such beautiful things? To manifest His wisdom and the greatness of His power, so that we might know all His glory.
Not only the heavens narrate the glory of God (Ps 18,2) but also the earth, as David points out, when he sang: Praise the Lord, fruit trees and all cedars (Ps 148,9). In fact, some creatures praise the Creator with their fruits, others with their greatness, still others with their beauty.
Another demonstration of the great wisdom and power of God resides in the fact that He adorns even the most vile objects of such beauty (what is, in fact, more vile than what exists today but tomorrow will no longer be?) If, then, God has also given hay to what was not necessary at all (what good is it, in fact, it’s beauty? To feed the fire?) how can He not give you what you need? If the Lord has generously decorated the most vile thing of all and not for some purpose but only for beauty, much more He will honour you, the most precious of His creatures, in those things that are necessary to you. ” … St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church – Commentary on the Gospel of St Matthew, 22.1
PRAYER – Loving Father, grant me to have a true fervour in Your service. Let me never tire of following Your Son’s example and avoiding evil. Teach me to reside in total peace in Your wisdom and power and thus to trust You above all. Grant that by the intercession of St Benedict and St Olga, we may grow in holiness and attain our eternal home with You. We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 11 July – Saint Olga Queen of Kiev (c 890-969) Queen of the Ukraine – born c 890 at Pskov, Russia and died on 11 July 969 in Kiev, Ukraine of natural causes. Also known as Olga Prekrasa, Olga the Beauty, Helena, Helga, Olha. Patronage – Kiev, converts, widows. Her body was incorrupt, though it was lost in the early 18th century.
While Olga’s birthdate is unknown, it could be as early as 890 and as late as 925 but she was born and lived in Pskov. Little is known about her life before her marriage to Prince Igor I of Kiev and the birth of their son, Svyatoslav. Igor was the son and heir of Rurik, founder of Rurik dynasty. After his father’s death Igor was under guardianship of Oleg, who had consolidated power in the region, conquering neighbouring tribes and establishing a capital in Kiev. This loose tribal federation became known as Kievan Rus’, a territory covering what are now parts of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
The Drevlians were a neighbouring tribe with which the growing Kievan Rus’ empire had a complex relationship. The Drevlians had joined Kievan Rus’ in military campaigns against the Byzantine Empire and paid tribute to Igor’s predecessors. They stopped paying tribute upon Oleg’s death and instead gave money to a local warlord. In 945, Igor set out to the Drevlian capital, Iskorosten (today known as Korosten in northern Ukraine), to force the tribe to pay tribute to Kievan Rus.’ Confronted by Igor’s larger army, the Drevlians backed down and paid him. As Igor and his army rode home, however, he decided the payment was not enough and returned, with only a small envoy, seeking more tribute. Upon his arrival in their territory, the Drevlians murdered Igor. According to the Byzantine chronicler Leo the Deacon, Igor’s death was caused by a gruesome act of torture in which he was “captured by them, tied to tree trunks and torn in two.”
When Igor was murdered in 945, Princess Olga assumed the regency for her son, Svyatoslav. Olga served as regent until her son was of age in 964. She was known as a ruthless and effective ruler. She resisted marrying Prince Mal of the Drevlians, who had been the killers of Igor, killing their emissaries and burning their city in revenge for her husband’s death. She resisted other offers of marriage and defended Kiev from attacks.
During her son’s prolonged military campaigns, she remained in charge of Kiev, residing in the castle of Vyshgorod with her grandsons.
In the 950s, Olga travelled to Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, to visit Emperor Constantine VII. Once in Constantinople, Olga converted to Christianity with the assistance of the Emperor and the Bishop. While the Primary Chronicle does not divulge Olga’s motivation for her visit or conversion, it does go into great detail on the conversion process, in which she was baptised and instructed in the ways of Christianity
“When Olga was enlightened, she rejoiced in soul and body. The Bishop, who instructed her in the faith, said to her, ‘Blessed art thou among the women of Rus’, for thou hast loved the light and quit the darkness. The sons of Rus’ shall bless thee to the last generation of thy descendants.’ He taught her the doctrine of the Church, and instructed her in prayer and fasting, in almsgiving and in the maintenance of chastity. She bowed her head and like a sponge absorbing water, she eagerly drank in his teachings. The Princess bowed before the Bishop, saying, ‘Through thy prayers, Holy Father, may I be preserved from the crafts and assaults of the devil!’ At her Baptism she was named Helena, after the ancient Empress, mother of Constantine the Great. The Bishop then blessed her and dismissed her.”
By her example, she influenced her grandson, Vladimir I. He was the third son of Svyatoslav and brought Kiev (Rus) into the official Christian fold.
Olga died from illness in 969. When Svyatoslav announced plans to move his throne to the Danube region, the ailing Olga convinced him to stay with her during her final days. Only three days later, she passed away and her family and all of Kievan Rus’ wept.
At the time of her death, it seemed that Olga’s attempt to make Kievan Rus’ a Christian territory had been a failure. Nonetheless, Olga’s Christianising mission would be brought to fruition by her grandson, Vladimir, who officially adopted Christianity in 988. The Primary Chronicle highlights Olga’s holiness in contrast to the pagans around her during her life as well as the significance of her decision to convert to Christianity:
“Olga was the precursor of the Christian land, even as the day-spring precedes the sun and as the dawn precedes the day. For she shone like the moon by night and she was radiant among the infidels like a pearl in the mire, since the people were soiled and not yet purified of their sin by holy baptism. But she herself was cleansed by this sacred purification…. She was the first from Rus’ to enter the kingdom of God and the son of Rus’ thus praise her as their leader, for since her death she has interceded with God in their behalf.”
Her relics were found to be incorrupt and translated to the Church of the Tithes in Kiev, the first time relics were displayed in Rus-Ukraine, however, her relics were lost forever in the early 18th century.
Saint of the Day – 8 July – Blessed Giulio of Montevergine (Died 1601) Hermit, Scholar,Penitent, Apostle of Prayer and Charity. Born in the 16th century Nardò, Lecce, Italy and died on 8 July 1601 at the Abbey of Montevergine of natural causes. His body is incorrupt.
For centuries, people referred to Friar Giulio as “Blessed”, although the Church has never officially Beatified this Servant of God.
The renowned Sanctuary of the Madonna di Montevergine, a famous Benedictine Abbey, founded by Saint William of Vercelli in the Twelfth Century, has been a noted Pilgrimage Site, for centuries. Apart from the Effigy of Our Lady of Montevergine, the Shrine also houses the incorrupt remains of Blessed Giulio.
Giulio was born in the Sixteenth Century in Nardò, Lecce, to a wealthy family and studied Letters, Science and Music, in which he distinguished himself through his impeccable talent.
At an early age, he distributed all his material possessions to the poor and lived as a Hermit, dressed in a Pilgrim’s Habit, together with another saintly Hermit, by the name of Giovanni.
The Carafa Nobles, noting their keen life of mortification and contemplation, built for them a Hermitage and a Church, dedicated to the Crowned Virgin Mary, known among the locals to these days as L’Incoronata.
Pope Gregory XIII (1502 – 1585), understanding the fact that several Pilgrims visited the Hermitage for prayer, sent the Benedictine Camaldolese Monks, to establish a Community there.
But, by now, the “Blessed” Giulio had become too well known and moreover the possibility of becoming Superior was proposed. He chose rather to return to hiding and remain unknown to all. He left the Hermitage and went knocking at the Abbey of Montevergine – images below, not so far away and was welcomed with joy by the Monks. Here he passed his remaining years under the shade of the Virgin Mary, serving as the Monastery Organist for 24 years.
Again through his profound humility, he never wanted to be Ordained to the Priesthood and asked his Superiors to bury him under the pavement of Our Lady’s Chapel, so that Pilgrims would pass over his Vault, as if he was a great sinner, trampled on by everyone.
His wish was granted when he died on 8 July 1601. Twenty years later, in 1621, when the pavements where undergoing restorations, his body was found remarkably preserved and, even today, over over four centuries later, his remains, preserved in an glass cask, are still visibly incorrupt.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls…” … Matthew 11:29
REFLECTION – “You are to “take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” You are not learning from me how to refashion the fabric of the world, nor to create all things visible and invisible, nor to work miracles and raise the dead. Rather, you are simply learning of me: “that I am meek and lowly in heart.” If you wish to reach high, then begin at the lowest level. If you are trying to construct some mighty edifice in height, you will begin with the lowest foundation. This is humility. However great the mass of the building you may wish to design or erect, the taller the building is to be, the deeper you will dig the foundation. The building in the course of its erection, rises up high but he who digs its foundation, must first go down very low. So then, you see even a building is low before it is high and the tower is raised, only after humiliation.”… St Augustine (354-430) Fater & Doctor (Sermon 69)
PRAYER – Holy God, our Father, we turn to You in confidence as children and pray, give us meekness of heart, make us “poor in spirit” that we may recognise that we are not self-sufficient, that we are unable to build our lives on our own but need You, we need to encounter You, to listen to You, to speak to You. Help us to understand that we need Your gift, Your wisdom, which is Jesus Himself, in order to do the Your will in our lives and thus to find rest in the hardships of our journey. May the prayers of Saint Anthony Zaccaria help us to learn the true humility of Your divine Son. Grant this, we pray, through our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, amen.
St Agatho of Sicily
St Athanasius the Athonite
St Athanasius of Jerusalem
St Cyprille of Libya
St Cyrilla of Cyrene
St Domitius of Phrygia
St Edana of West Ireland
Bl Edward Cheevers
Bl Elias of Bourdeilles
Bl George Nichols
St Grace of Cornwall
Bl Humphrey Pritchard Blessed Joseph Boissel OMI (1909-1969) Priest and Martyr
St Marinus of Tomi
St Mars of Nantes
Bl Matthew Lambert
St Numerian of Treves
Bl Patrick Cavanagh
St Philomena of San Severino
St Probus of Cornwall
Bl Richard Yaxley
Bl Robert Meyler
St Rosa Chen Aijieh
St Sedolpha of Tomi
St Stephen of Reggio
St Teresia Chen Qingjieh
St Theodotus of Tomi
Bl Thomas Belson
St Thomas of Terreti
St Triphina of Brittany
St Triphina of Sicily
St Zoe of Rome
Quote/s of the Day – 4 July – The Memorial of Blessed Petrus Kasui Kibe SJ (c 1587-1639) Priest and Martyr“A Christian Walking Through the World” and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati TOSF (1901-1925) “Man of the Beatitudes”
“Let us hoist our sails trusting in the wind of God’s grace.”
Blessed Petrus Kasui Kibe (c 1587-1639)
Priest and Martyr
“A Christian Walking Through the World”
“All around the sick and all around the poor, I see a special light which we do not have.”
“In prayer, the soul rises above life’s sadnesses.”
“The faith given to me in Baptism suggests to me surely – by yourself you will do nothing but, if you have God as the centre of all your action, then you will reach the goal.”
“The times we are going through are difficult because cruel persecution of the Church is raging. But you, bold and good young people, should not be afraid of this small thing, remember, that the Church is a divine institution and cannot come to an end. She will last till the end of the world. Not even the gates of hell can prevail against her.”
“To live without faith, without a heritage to defend, without battling constantly for truth, is not to live but to ‘get along,’ we must never just ‘get along’.”
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925)
“Man of the Beatitudes”
One Minute Reflection – 4 July – “Month of the Precious Blood” – Saturday of the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: Amos 9:11-15, Psalm 85:11-14, Matthew 9:14-17 and the Memorial of Blessed Petrus Kasui Kibe SJ (c 1587-1639) Prist and Martyr and Bl Pier Giorgio Frassati TOSF (1901-1925)
And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them and then they will fast.” … Matthew 9:15
REFLECTION – “However, our mourning is right if we burn with desire to see Him. How happy they were who were able to enjoy His presence before His Passion, to question Him as they wished and listen to Him as necessary… As for us, we see the fulfilment of what He said: “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it” (Lk 17:22)… “A little while and you will no longer see me and again a little while and you will see me” (Jn 16:19).
But now this is the hour of which He said: “You will weep and mourn but the world will rejoice… But, He added, I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice and no-one will take your joy away from you” (v.22). The hope thus given us by Him, who is faithful in His promises, never now leaves us, without a certain joy — until that overwhelming joy comes on the day when we will be like Him because we will see Him as he is (1Jn 3:2)… “When a woman is in labour, she has pain because her hour has come,” says the Lord, “but when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world” (Jn 16:21). This is the joy no-one can take away from us and with which we will be satisfied when we pass to eternal light from our present conception in faith. So let us fast and pray since we are still on the threshold of birth.“…St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor
PRAYER – Father almighty, as we wait and work and pray and fast in joyful hope of our eternal life with You, grant we pray that we may always remain steadfast in Your love. Blessed Petrus Kasui Kibe, you of intrepid perseverance and faith and Pier Giorgio Frassati, you whose faith could move mountains, pray for us, that we will fully utilise the many gifts our Almighty God has bestowed on us as we journey home. We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord, in union with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
4 July – Our Lady of Refuge, Nuestra Señora del Refugio, is Patroness of California and parts of Mexico.
This painting is from the hands of the artist, Joseph de Paez, 1750, Mexico.
The Franciscan missionary Francisco Diego Garcia y Moreno was the first Bishop of Baja, California. He proclaimed Nuestra Señora del Refugio, as Patron on 4 January 1843, at Mission Santa Clara in Alta California.
His proclamation included the following:
The entire text of Bishop Garcia Diego’s declaration is recorded in Mission Santa Clara’s Libro de Patentes. After citing the early Fathers of the Church on the practice and spiritual benefits of naming patron Saints, the first Bishop of the Californias stated: “We make known to you that we hereby name the great Mother of God in her most precious title, ‘del Refugio, ‘ the principal patroness of our Diocese . . . With so great a patroness and protectress, what can we not promise ourselves? What can be wanting and whom need we fear?”
The Liturgical Feast:
In 1981 the California Catholic Conference of Bishops petitioned the Vatican Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship for authorisation to observe the Feast of Our Lady of Refuge on 5 July as an obligatory memorial. This was approved by official document dated 15 January 1982 and signed by Archbishop Giuseppe Casoria.
The Diocese of Baja California celebrate this Patronal Feast on 4 July.
Paintings of Our Lady of Refuge are, with few exceptions, quite similar in design and execution. The heads of the Infant Jesus and his Mother Mary lean together with no background between them. Both figures wear a crown. Mary’s eyes are turned toward the observer, while the gaze of the child seems to turn left of the viewer.
In the Santa Clara Mission church the painting of Our Lady of Refuge is found above the larger picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe in one of the side altar niches on the left as one nears the sanctuary. Another painting by Eulalio, a local Native American, is on display in Santa Clara University’s De Saisset Museum near the mission church.
The above image is darker than the Eulalio painting, which has a wood-tone background. The flower motif is almost the same, the two figures are almost identical in both images.
Bl Agatha Yun Jeom-Hye
St Albert Quadrelli
St Andrew of Crete
St Anthony Daniel
St Aurelian of Lyons
St Bertha of Blangy
St Carileffo of Anille
Bl Catherine Jarrige
St Cesidio Giacomantonio
Bl Damiano Grassi of Rivoli
St Donatus of Libya
St Edward Fulthrop
St Elias of Jerusalem
St Finbar of Wexford
St Fiorenzo of Cahors
St Flavian of Antioch
Bl Giovanni of Vespignano
St Haggai the Prophet
Bl Hatto of Ottobeuren
Bl Henry Abbot
St Henry of Albano
St Hosea the Prophet
St Innocent of Sirmium
Bl John Carey
Bl John Cornelius
Bl Jozef Kowalski
St Laurian of Seville
St Lauriano of Vistin
Bl Maria Crocifissa Curcio
St Namphanion the Archmartyr
Bl Natalia of Toulouse
St Odo the Good
Bl Odolric of Lyon
Bl Patrick Salmon
Bl Pedro Romero Espejo Blessed Petrus Kasui Kibe SJ (c 1587-1639) Priest and Martyr The first of the 188 Japanese Martyrs
One Minute Reflection – 15 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart” – Monday of the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: 1 Kings 21:1-16, Psalm 5:2-3, 4-7, Matthew5:38-42 and the Memorial of St Germaine Cousin (1579–1601)
“Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.” … Matthew 5:41
REFLECTION – “Do you grasp the excellence of a Christian disposition? After you give your coat and your cloak, even if your enemy should wish to subject your naked body to hardships and labours, not even then, Jesus says, must you forbid him. For He would have us possess all things in common, both our bodies and our goods, as with them that are in need, so with them that insult us. For the latter response comes from a courageous spirit, the former from mercy. Because of this, Jesus said, “If any one shall compel you to go one mile, go with him two.” Again He leads you to higher ground and commands you to manifest the same type of aspiration. For if the lesser things He spoke of at the beginning receive such great blessings, consider what sort of reward awaits those who duly perform these and what they become even before we hear of receiving rewards. You are winning full freedom from unworthy passions in a human and passible body.” … St John Chrysostom (347-407) Bishop, Father & Doctor (The Gospel of Matthew: Homily 18)
PRAYER – King of heaven and earth, Lord God, rule over or hearts and bodies this day. Sanctify us and guide our every thought, word and deed according to the commandments of Your law, so that now and forever, Your grace may free and save us. Teach us Lord to walk in the ways of the Cross of Your Son, our Saviour, as St Germaine Cousin so lovingly and willingly inspires us to do. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God, forever, amen
St Constantine of Beauvais
St Domitian of Lobbes
St Edburgh of Winchester
St Eutropia of Palmyra
St Fortunatus of Corinth St Germaine Cousin (1579–1601) Incorrupt
St Hadelinus of Lobbes
St Hesychius of Durostorum
St Hilarion of Espalion
Bl Juan Rodriguez
St Julius of Durostorum
St Landelin of Crespin
St Leonides of Palmyra
St Libya of Palmyra
St Lotharius of Séez
St Melan of Viviers
Bl Pedro da Teruel
Bl Peter Snow
St Pierre de Cervis
Bl Ralph Grimston
St Tatian of Cilicia
Bl Thomas Scryven
St Trillo of Wales
St Vaughen of Ireland St Vitus (c 290-c 303) – Martyr, One of the Seven Holy Helpers His very short life: https://anastpaul.com/2017/06/15/saint-of-the-day-15-june-st-vitus/
Saint of the Day – 5 July – St Anthony Mary Zaccaria CRSP (1502-1539) Founder of the Barnabites, The Clerics Regular of Saint Paul – The First Order Named after St Paul Apostle. He was an early leader of the Counter Reformation and a promoter of the devotion to the Passion of Christ, the Holy Eucharist, Eucharistic Adoration and the renewal of the religious life among the lay people. His body is incorrupt.
He also founded a congregation of nuns which now no longer exists. He was a great admirer of St Paul and was himself imbued with the teaching of the great Apostle, whom he gave to his followers as a model and a patron. He was a zealous and untiring preacher and completely wore himself out at this work – he died at the age of thirty six on 5 July 1539.
Anthony Mary Zaccaria was born of a noble family at Cremona in Lombardy and even in childhood gave signs of his future sanctity. Very early he was distinguished for his virtues, piety towards God, devotion to the Blessed Virgin and especially mercy towards the poor, who he more than once gave his own rich clothing for their relief. He studied the humanities at home and then went to Pavia for philosophy and Padua for medicine and easily surpassed his contemporaries both in purity of life and in mental ability. After gaining his degree in medicine, he returned home, where he understood that God had called him to the healing rather of souls than of bodies. He immediately gave himself to sacred studies. Meanwhile, he never ceased to visit the sick, instruct children in Christian doctrine and exhort the young to piety and the elders to reformation of their lives.
While saying his first Mass after his ordination, he is said to have been seen by the amazed congregation in a blaze of heavenly light and surrounded by angels. He then made it his chief care to labour for the salvation of souls and the reformation of manners. He received strangers, the poor and afflicted, with paternal charity and consoled them with holy words and material assistance, so that his house was known as the refuge of the afflicted and he himself was called by his fellow-citizens an angel and the father of his country.
Thinking that he would be able to do more for the Christian religion if he had fellow labourers in the Lord’s vineyard, he communicated his thoughts to two noble and saintly men, Bartholomew Ferrari and James Morigia and together with them founded at Milan a society of Clerks Regular, which from his great love for the apostle of the Gentiles, he called after St Paul. It was approved by Clement VII, confirmed by Paul III and soon spread through many lands. He was also the founder and father of the Angelic Sisters. But he thought so humbly of himself that he would never be Superior of his own Order. So great was his patience that he endured with steadfastness the most terrible opposition to his religious.
Such was his charity that he never ceased to exhort religious men to love God and priests to live after the manner of the apostles and he organised many confraternities of married men. He often carried the cross through the streets and public squares, together with his religious and by his fervent prayers and exhortations brought wicked men back to the way of salvation.
It is noteworthy that out of love for Jesus crucified he would have the mystery of the cross brought to the mind of all by the ringing of a bell on Friday afternoons about vesper time. The holy name of Christ was ever on his lips and in his writings and as a true disciple of St Paul, he ever bore the mortification of Christ in his body. He had a singular devotion to the Holy Eucharist, restored the custom of frequent communions and introduced that of the public adoration of Forty Hours.
Such was his love of purity that it seemed to restore life even to his lifeless body. He was also enriched with the heavenly gifts of ecstasy, tears, knowledge of future things and the secrets of hearts and power over the enemy of mankind.
At length, after many labours, he fell grievously sick at Guastalla, whither he had been summoned as arbitrator in the cause of peace. He was taken to Cremona and died there amid the tears of his religious and in the embrace of his pious mother, whose approaching death he foretold. At the hour of his death he was consoled by a vision of the apostles and prophesied the future growth of his Society. The people began immediately to show their devotion to this saint on account of his great holiness and of his numerous miracles. The cult was approved by Leo XIII, who solemnly Canonised him on Ascension Day, 1897.
Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger OSB
Saint of the Day – 19 June – St Romuald (c 951-1027) – Monk, Abbot, Ascetic, Founder of the Camaldolese order and a major figure in the eleventh-century “Renaissance of eremitical asceticism”. St Romuald was born in c 951 at Ravenna, Italy and died on 19 June 1027 at Val-di-Castro, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – the Camaldolese order and Suwalki, Poland. St Romuald’s body is incorrupt.
According to the vita (life) by St Peter Damian O.S.B. (1007-1072), himself a Benedictine and Doctor of the Church , written about fifteen years after Romuald’s death, Romuald was born in Ravenna, in northeastern Italy, to the aristocratic Onesti family. As a youth, according to early accounts, Romuald indulged in the pleasures and sins of the world common to a tenth-century nobleman. At the age of twenty he served as second to his father, who killed a relative in a duel over property. Romuald was devastated and went to the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe to do 40 days of penance. After some indecision, Romuald became a monk there. San Apollinare had recently been reformed by St Maieul of Cluny Abbey (906-994) but still was not strict enough in its observance to satisfy Romuald. His injudicious correction of the less zealous aroused such enmity against him that he applied for and was readily granted, permission to retire to Venice, where he placed himself under the direction of a hermit named Marinus and lived a life of extraordinary severity.
About 978, Pietro Orseolo I, Doge of Venice, who had obtained his office by acquiescence in the murder of his predecessor, began to suffer remorse for his crime. On the advice of Guarinus, Abbot of San Miguel-de-Cuxa, in Catalonia and of Marinus and Romuald, he abandoned his office and relations and fled to Cuxa, where he took the habit of St Benedict, while Romuald and Marinus erected a hermitage close to the monastery. Romuald lived there for about ten years, taking advantage of the library of Cuxa to refine his ideas regarding monasticism.
After that he spent the next 30 years going about Italy, founding and reforming monasteries and hermitages. His reputation being known to advisers of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, Romuald was persuaded by him to take the vacant office of abbot at Sant’Apollinare to help bring about a more dedicated way of life there. The monks, however, resisted his reforms and after a year, Romuald resigned, hurling his abbot’s staff at Otto’s feet in total frustration. He then again withdrew to the hermetical life.
In 1012 he arrived at the Diocese of Arezzo. Here, according to the legend, a certain Maldolus, who had seen a vision of monks in white garments ascending into Heaven, gave him some land, afterwards known as the Campus Maldoli, or Camaldoli. St Romuald built on this land five cells for hermits, which, with the monastery at Fontebuono, built two years later, became the famous motherhouse of the Camaldolese Order. Romuald’s daunting charisma awed Rainier of Tuscany, who was neither able to face Romuald nor to send him away. Romuald founded several other monasteries, including the monastery of Val di Castro, where he died in 1027.
St Romuald’s feast day was added to the Liturgical Calendar in 1594, today, the day of his death and entry into life.
St Romuald’s Rule:
Romuald was able to integrate these different traditions in establishing his own monastic order. The admonition in his rule Empty yourself completely and sit waiting places him in relation to the long Christian history of intellectual stillness and interior passivity in meditation also reflected in the nearly contemporary Byzantine ascetic practice known as Hesychasm.
Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind you and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish. The path you must follow is in the Psalms — never leave it.
If you have just come to the monastery and in spite of your good will, you cannot accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind. And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more.
Archbishop Cosmo Francesco Ruppi noted that, “Interiorisation of the spiritual dimension, the primacy of solitude and contemplation, slow penetration of the Word of God and calm meditation on the Psalms are the pillars of Camaldolese spirituality, which St Romuald gives as the essential core of his Rule.”
Romuald’s reforms provided a structural context to accommodate both the eremitic and cenobitic aspects of monastic life.
Saint of the Day – 11 August – St Clare of Assisi – Virgin, Religious, Founder, Mystic, Friend and Follower of St Francis, Miracle-Worker – (16 July 1194 at Assisi, Italy – 11 August 1253 of natural causes). St Clare was Canonised on 26 September 1255 by Pope Alexander IV. St Clare was born Chiara Offreduccio (sometimes spelled Clair, Claire, etc.) is an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition and wrote their Rule of Life, the first set of monastic guidelines known to have been written by a woman. Following her death, the order she founded was renamed in her honour as the Order of Saint Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares. Patronages – embroiderers, needle workers, eyes, against eye disease, for good weather, gilders, gold workers, goldsmiths, laundry workers, telegraphs, telephones, television (proclaimed on 14 February 1958 by Pope Pius XII), television writers, Poor Clares, Assisi, Italy, Santa Clara Indian Pueblo.
St Clare was born in Assisi, the eldest daughter of Favorino Sciffi, Count of Sasso-Rosso and his wife Ortolana. Traditional accounts say that Clare’s father was a wealthy representative of an ancient Roman family, who owned a large palace in Assisi and a castle on the slope of Mount Subasio. Ortolana belonged to the noble family of Fiumi and was a very devout woman who had undertaken pilgrimages to Rome, Santiago de Compostela and the Holy Land. Later in life, Ortolana entered Clare’s monastery, as did Clare’s sisters, Beatrix and Catarina (who took the name Agnes).
As a child, Clare was devoted to prayer. Although there is no mention of this in any historical record, it is assumed that Clare was to be married in line with the family tradition. However, at the age of 18 she heard Francis preach during a Lenten service in the church of San Giorgio at Assisi and asked him to help her to live after the manner of the Gospel. On the evening of Palm Sunday, 20 March 1212, she left her father’s house and accompanied by her aunt Bianca and another companion proceeded to the chapel of the Porziuncula to meet Francis. There, her hair was cut and she exchanged her rich gown for a plain robe and veil.
Francis placed Clare in the convent of the Benedictine nuns of San Paulo, near Bastia. Her father attempted to force her to return home. She clung to the altar of the church and threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair. She resisted any attempt, professing that she would have no other husband but Jesus Christ. In order to provide the greater solitude Clare desired, a few days later Francis sent her to Sant’ Angelo in Panzo, another monastery of the Benedictine nuns on one of the flanks of Subasio. Clare was soon joined by her sister Catarina, who took the name Agnes. They remained with the Benedictines until a small dwelling was built for them next to the church of San Damiano, which Francis had repaired some years earlier.
Other women joined them and they were known as the “Poor Ladies of San Damiano”. They lived a simple life of poverty, austerity and seclusion from the world, according to a Rule which Francis gave them as a Second Order (Poor Clares).
San Damiano became the centre of Clare’s new religious order, which was known in her lifetime as the “Order of Poor Ladies of San Damiano.” San Damiano was long thought to be the first house of this order, however, recent scholarship strongly suggests that San Damiano actually joined an existing network of women’s religious houses organised by Hugolino (who later became Pope Gregory IX). Hugolino wanted San Damiano as part of the order he founded because of the prestige of Clare’s monastery. San Damiano emerged as the most important house in the order and Clare became its undisputed leader. By 1263, just ten years after Clare’s death, the order had become known as the Order of Saint Clare. In 1228, when Gregory IX offered Clare a dispensation from the vow of strict poverty, she replied: “ I need to be absolved from my sins but not from the obligation of following Christ.” Accordingly, the Pope granted them the Privilegium Pauperitatis — that nobody could oblige them to accept any possession.
Unlike the Franciscan friars, whose members moved around the country to preach, Saint Clare’s sisters lived in enclosure, since an itinerant life was hardly conceivable at the time for women. Their life consisted of manual labour and prayer. The nuns went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat and observed almost complete silence.
For a short period, the order was directed by Francis himself. Then in 1216, Clare accepted the role of abbess of San Damiano. As abbess, Clare had more authority to lead the order than when she was the prioress and required to follow the orders of a priest heading the community. Clare defended her order from the attempts of prelates to impose a rule on them that more closely resembled the Rule of Saint Benedict than Francis’ stricter vows. Clare sought to imitate Francis’ virtues and way of life so much so that she was sometimes titled alter Franciscus, another Francis. She also played a significant role in encouraging and aiding Francis, whom she saw as a spiritual father figure and she took care of him during his final illness.
After Francis’s death, Clare continued to promote the growth of her order, writing letters to abbesses in other parts of Europe and thwarting every attempt by each successive pope to impose a rule on her order which weakened the radical commitment to corporate poverty she had originally embraced. She did this despite enduring a long period of poor health until her death. Clare’s Franciscan theology of joyous poverty in imitation of Christ is evident in the rule she wrote for her community and in her four letters to Agnes of Prague.
In 1224, the army of Frederick II came to plunder Assisi. Clare went out to meet them with the Blessed Sacrament in her hands. Suddenly a mysterious terror seized the enemies, who fled without harming anybody in the city.
Before breathing her last in 1253, Clare said: “ Blessed be You, O God, for having created me.”
On 9 August 1253, the papal bull Solet annuere of Pope Innocent IV confirmed that Clare’s rule would serve as the governing rule for Clare’s Order of Poor Ladies. Two days later, on 11 August Clare died at the age of 59. Her remains were interred at the chapel of San Giorgio while a church to hold her remains was being constructed. At her funeral, Pope Innocent IV insisted the friars perform the Office for the Virgin Saints as opposed to the Office for the Dead (Bartoli, 1993). This move by Pope Innocent ensured that the Canonisation process for Clare would begin shortly after her funeral. Pope Innocent was cautioned by multiple advisers against having the Office for the Virgin Saints performed at Clare’s funeral (Bartoli, 1993). The most vocal of these advisers was Cardinal Raynaldus who would later become Pope Alexander IV, who in two years time would canonise Clare (Pattenden, 2008). At Pope Innocent’s request the canonisation process for Clare began immediately. While the whole process took two years, the examination of Clare’s miracles took just six days. On 26 September 1255, Pope Alexander IV Canonised Clare as Saint Clare of Assisi. Construction of the Basilica of Saint Clare was completed in 1260, and on October 3 of that year Clare’s remains were transferred to the newly completed basilica where they were buried beneath the high altar. In further recognition of the saint, Pope Urban IV officially changed the name of the Order of Poor Ladies to the Order of Saint Clare in 1263.
Some 600 years later in 1872, Saint Clare’s relics were transferred to a newly constructed shrine in the crypt of the Basilica of Saint Clare, where her relics can still be venerated today. Her body is incorrupt.
In art, Clare is often shown carrying a monstrance or pyx, in commemoration of the occasion when she warded away the soldiers of Frederick II at the gates of her convent by displaying the Blessed Sacrament and kneeling in prayer.
Pope Pius XII designated Clare as the patron saint of television in 1958 on the basis that when she was too ill to attend Mass, she had reportedly been able to see and hear it on the wall of her room.
There are traditions of bringing offerings of eggs to the Poor Clares for their intercessions for good weather, particularly for weddings. This tradition remains popular in the Philippines, particularly at the Real Monasterio de Santa Clara in Quezon City. According to the Filipino essayist Alejandro Roces, the practice arose because of Clare’s name. In Castilian clara refers to an interval of fair weather and in Spanish, it also refers to the white or albumen of the egg.
Saint of the Day – 24 July – St Charbel Makhluf O.L.M. Monk, Priest, Hermit, Miracle Worker – The holy monk whose dead body radiated white light – (8 May 1828 at Beka-Kafra, Lebanon as Joseph Zaroun Makhlouf – 24 December 1898 at Annaya of natural causes). St Charbel was Beatified in 1965, at the close of Vatican II and Canonised on 9 October 1977 by Pope Paul VI. Patron of Lebanon.
Youssef Antoun Makhlouf, the fifth child of a mule driver and his wife, he was born at Biqa-Kafra in the mountains of north Lebanon. Orphaned at an early age, he was brought up by an uncle who showed little sympathy for his charge’s devotion to prayer and solitude. Undeterred, in 1851, at the age of 23, Makhlouf entered the monastery of St Maroun at Annaya, taking the name in religion of Charbel, a second-century martyr at Antioch.
For 16 years, he worked hard in the monastery’s vineyards and sang the office at Mass. If Charbel was in any way distinguished from his fellow monks it was in his greater fervour for mortification, his rapt attention at Mass and his constant perusal of Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ. Although ordained a priest in 1859, Charbel increasingly felt the call to become a hermit. For some years his superiors resisted this ambition. In 1875, however, he removed to a hermitage attached to the monastery. At 4,600 feet above sea level his cell was often freezing; it was clear, however, that suffering and self-obliteration were precisely the graces which he sought. Following his death, the monks who trembled with cold during the night when they kept vigil at his coffin before his funeral, said:“See how we find ourselves unable to endure for a single night, the rude cold of this chapel! How could this priest live here for twenty-three years, on his knees, like a statue before the altar, every night from midnight until eleven in the morning, when he rose to say his Mass? Blessed is he, for he undoubtedly receives at present his reward with God!”
Saint Charbel also gained a reputation for holiness and despite his wish to live in isolation, was much sought for counsel and blessing. He had a great personal devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin and was known to levitate during his prayers. He reportedly never raised his eyes from the ground, his face shrouded by his cloak, unless his gaze was fixed on the tabernacle during the Eucharist.
The week before Christmas, while Saint Charbel was offering Mass, paralysis struck him suddenly as he elevated the Eucharist during the consecration. For one week, he suffered in agony, repeating the prayer he was unable to complete during the Mass: “O Father of truth, behold Your Son, victim to please You; condescend to approve [this offering], because for me He endured death, to give me life…”
When Charbel died, aged 70, he was interred in the monastery cemetery, without a coffin, as was customary. On the evening of his funeral, his superior wrote: “Because of what he will do after his death, I need not talk about his behavior.” Over the next 45 days, however, it seemed to many observers that the place where his body lay was irradiated by white light. After four months it was decided to open the grave. Charbel’s cadaver was found to be perfectly preserved notwithstanding floods which had turned the area into a sea of mud.
The corpse was re-clothed and installed in the monastery chapel. Now, a strange liquid was secreted from the pores of the dead man’s skin, making it necessary regularly to change his garments. An examination conducted in 1927 by doctors of the local French medical institute found that the body was still incorrupt. At this stage it was transferred to a new zinc-lined coffin, which was placed inside the wall of an oratory.
In 1950 a liquid was observed to be oozing from a corner of the tomb. Another examination discovered a viscous fluid in the bottom of the coffin. And while subsequent investigations have revealed a body no longer incorrupt, the bones have mysteriously turned red.
Hundreds of cures have been, and still are, reported by those who visited Charbel’s tomb. He was canonised in 1977.
Saint of the Day – 9 July – St Veronica Giuliani – Italian Capuchin Poor Clares nun, Abbot, Mystic, Stigmatist. (1660 at Mercatello, Duchy of Urbino (part of modern Italy) as Ursula Giuliani – 9 July 1727 at Città di Castello, Italy of natural causes). The figure of the cross was found impressed upon her heart. Her body is incorrupt. She was beatified on 17 June 1804 by Pope Pius VII and canonised on 26 May 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI. Attributes – crowned with thorns and embracing the Cross, holding a heart marked with a cross, embracing a Crucifix.
She was born Orsola [Ursula] Giuliani at Mercatello in the Duchy of Urbino on December 27, 1660. Her parents were Francesco and Benedetta Mancini Giuliani. She was the youngest of seven sisters, three of whom embraced the monastic life.
It is told that at the age of three years Ursula supposedly began to show great compassion for the poor. She would set apart a portion of her food for them and even part with her clothes when she met a poor child scantily clad. Her mother died when Ursula was seven years of age.
When others did not readily join in her religious practices she was inclined to be dictatorial. At the age of 16, she experienced a vision which corrected this imperfection of character: she saw her own heart as a “heart of steel”. In her writings she confesses that she took a certain pleasure in the more stately circumstances which her family adopted when her father was appointed superintendent of finance at Piacenza. When Veronica came of age, her father believed she should marry and so he desired her to take part in the social activities of the young people. But she pleaded so earnestly with her father that, after much resistance, he finally permitted her to choose her own state in life.
For fifty years Ursula Giuliani lived as Sister Veronica in the Capuchin convent of Città di Castello in Umbria, Italy. With gritty determination tempered by humility, she led her sisters as novice mistress for thirty-four years and as abbess for eleven. St. Veronica governed the convent with obvious common sense. For example, so that her young novices would not get puffed up with pride, she forbade them to read the elevated works of the great spiritual masters. Instead she required them to study books on Christian basics. And as a most practical woman, she improved her sisters’ comfort by enlarging the convent rooms and having water piped inside.
Like Teresa of Ávila, another very down-to-earth saint, Veronica enjoyed an unusually profound communion with God. In the following excerpt from her Diary, she struggled to put into words her experience of the divine presence:
“While I was about to go to Holy Communion, I seemed to be thrown wide open like a door flung open to welcome a close friend and then shut tight after his entry. So my heart was alone with Him—alone with God. It seems impossible to relate all the effects, feelings, leaping delight and festivity my soul experienced. If I were to speak, for example, of all the happy and pleasant times shared with dear friends . . . , I would be saying nothing comparable to this joy. And if I were to add up all the occasions of rejoicing in the universe, I would be saying that all this amounts to little or nothing beside what, in an instant, my heart experiences in the presence of God. Or rather what God does to my heart, because all these other things flow from Him and are His works.
Love makes the heart leap and dance. Love makes it exult and be festive. Love makes it sing and be silent as it pleases. Love grants it rest and enables it to act. Love possesses it and gives it everything. Loves takes it over completely and dwells in it. But I am unable to say more because if I wished to relate all the effects that my heart experiences in the act of going to Holy Communion and also at other times, I would never finish saying everything. It is sufficient to say that communion is a . . . mansion of love itself.”
Veronica had a lifelong devotion to Christ crucified that eventually became manifested in physical signs. The marks of the crown of thorns appeared on her forehead in 1694 and the five wounds on her body in 1697. Veronica was humiliated by the stigmata itself and by her bishop’s rigorous testing of her experience. He removed the saint from ordinary community life and put her under constant observation. When he decided that the phenomena were authentic, he allowed her to return to normal convent life and continue her service to her sisters. In 1727, Veronica died of apoplexy at the age of sixty- seven.
Saint of the Day – 4 July – Blessed Pier Georgio Frassati T.O.S.D. “The Man of the Eight Beatitudes”, Apostle of Charity and Love, layman, Apostle of the Holy Eucharist and Eucharist Adoration, also known as Girolamo (6 April 1901 in Turin, Italy – 4 July 1925 in Turin, Italy of poliomylelitis.) His remains were buried in the family cemetery of Pollone, Italy
His body was found incorrupt when moved to the Cathedral of Turin in 1981. He was beatified on 20 May 1990 by Pope John Paul II.
Pier Giorgio Michelangelo Frassati was born in Turin, Italy on April 6, 1901. His mother, Adelaide Ametis, was a painter. His father Alfredo, was the founder and director of the newspaper, “La Stampa,” and was influential in Italian politics, holding positions as an Italian Senator and Ambassador to Germany.
At an early age, Pier Giorgio joined the Marian Sodality and the Apostleship of Prayer, and obtained permission to receive daily Communion (which was rare at that time).
He developed a deep spiritual life which he never hesitated to share with his friends. The Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin were the two poles of his world of prayer. At the age of 17, he joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society and dedicated much of his spare time to serving the sick and the needy, caring for orphans and assisting the demobilized servicemen returning from World War I.
He decided to become a mining engineer, studying at the Royal Polytechnic University of Turin, so he could “serve Christ better among the miners,” as he told a friend.
Although he considered his studies his first duty, they did not keep him from social and political activism. In 1919, he joined the Catholic Student Foundation and the organization known as Catholic Action. He became a very active member of the People’s Party, which promoted the Catholic Church’s social teaching based on the principles of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical letter, Rerum Novarum.
What little he did have, Pier Giorgio gave to help the poor, even using his bus fare for charity and then running home to be on time for meals. The poor and the suffering were his masters and he was literally their servant, which he considered a privilege. His charity did not simply involve giving something to others but giving completely of himself. This was fed by daily communion with Christ in the Holy Eucharist and by frequent nocturnal adoration, by meditation on St. Paul’s “Hymn of Charity” (I Corinthians 13), and by the writings of St. Catherine of Siena. He often sacrificed vacations at the Frassati summer home in Pollone (outside of Turin) because, as he said, “If everybody leaves Turin, who will take care of the poor?”
In 1921, he was a central figure in Ravenna, enthusiastically helping to organize the first convention of Pax Romana, an association which had as its purpose the unification of all Catholic students throughout the world for the purpose of working together for universal peace.
Mountain climbing was one of his favorite sports. Outings in the mountains, which he organized with his friends, also served as opportunities for his apostolic work. He never lost the chance to lead his friends to Mass, to the reading of Scripture, and to praying the rosary.
He often went to the theater, to the opera, and to museums. He loved art and music, and could quote whole passages of the poet Dante.
Fondness for the epistles of St. Paul sparked his zeal for fraternal charity and the fiery sermons of the Renaissance preacher and reformer Girolamo Savonarola and the writings of St. Catherine impelled him in 1922 to join the Lay Dominicans (Third Order of St. Dominic). He chose the name Girolamo after his personal hero, Savonarola. “I am a fervent admirer of this friar, who died as a saint at the stake,” he wrote to a friend.
Like his father, he was strongly anti-Fascist and did nothing to hide his political views. He physically defended the faith at times involved in fights, first with anticlerical Communists and later with Fascists.Participating in a Church-organised demonstration in Rome on one occasion, he stood up to police violence and rallied the other young people by grabbing the group’s banner, which the royal guards had knocked out of another student’s hands. Pier Giorgio held it even higher, while using the banner’s pole to fend off the blows of the guards.
Just before receiving his university degree, Pier Giorgio contracted poliomyelitis, which doctors later speculated he caught from the sick whom he tended. Neglecting his own health because his grandmother was dying, after six days of terrible suffering Pier Giorgio died at the age of 24 on July 4, 1925.
His last preoccupation was for the poor. On the eve of his death, with a paralyzed hand he scribbled a message to a friend, asking him to take the medicine needed for injections to be given to Converso, a poor sick man he had been visiting.
Pier Giorgio’s funeral was a triumph. The streets of the city were lined with a multitude of mourners who were unknown to his family — the poor and the needy whom he had served so unselfishly for seven years. Many of these people, in turn, were surprised to learn that the saintly young man they knew had actually been the heir of the influential Frassati family.
Pope John Paul II, after visiting his original tomb in the family plot in Pollone, said in 1989: “I wanted to pay homage to a young man who was able to witness to Christ with singular effectiveness in this century of ours. When I was a young man, I, too, felt the beneficial influence of his example and, as a student, I was impressed by the force of his testimony.”
On May 20, 1990, in St. Peter’s Square which was filled with thousands of people, the Pope beatified Pier Giorgio Frassati, calling him the “Man of the Eight Beatitudes.”
His mortal remains, found completely intact and incorrupt upon their exhumation on March 31, 1981, were transferred from the family tomb in Pollone to the cathedral in Turin. Many pilgrims, especially students and the young, come to the tomb of Blessed Frassati to seek favours and the courage to follow his example.
Saint of the Day – 2 July – St St Bernadino Realino SJ – Priest, Lawyer, Teacher, Apostle of Charity -(1 December 1530 in Carpi, Modena, Italy -2 July 1616 in Lecce, Italy of natural causes). Canonised on 22 June 1947 by Pope Pius XII. Patronage -Lecce, Italy (proclaimed on 15 December 1947 by Pope Pius XII). His body is incorrupt and emits a perfumed fragrance.
Bernardino Realino was born near Modena, Italy, on 1 December 1530. At university he began studying philosophy and medicine but switched to law which he thought would open greater chances for advancement and wealth. Family connections helped him become mayor of Felizzano at age 26, which also involved being a judge. He was regarded as honest by the people and was reappointed to the post. Other posts followed until he was made mayor of Castelleone.
Despite his successful career, Realino began losing interest in worldly advancement and began giving away his money to the poor. In August 1564 he met two Jesuit novices and learned that the Jesuits had only recently come to Naples. Further encounters strengthened his vocation and then he had a vision of Our Lady, who told him to enter the Jesuits. He was accepted as a novice on 13 October 1564 at the age of 34.
Realino wanted to be a brother but was told he should be ordained a priest. Only seven months after taking first vows he was ordained on 24 May 1567. It was a tribute to his maturity that the Jesuit General (St) Francis Borgia made him master of novices in Naples, although still studying theology. He also began the pastoral work which would occupy the rest of his active life. He preached and taught catechism, visited slaves on the galleys in Naples harbour and heard confessions.
In 1574 he was sent to Lecce in Apulia, where there was a plan to set up a Jesuit house and college. The local response was enthusiastic and Realino began the pastoral work which would last for 42 years: preaching, hearing confessions, counselling clergy, visiting the sick and those in prison and giving conferences to men and women religious. Several times he was instructed to move to Naples or Rome but each every time he was about to leave the city, he was prevented by some unexpected occurrence – a sudden fever or bad weather. Eventually his superiors allowed him to stay on in Lecce doing his pastoral work. In 1583 he set up a sodality for diocesan priests to nurture their spiritual life and improve their competence to hear confessions. The people showed their love for their pastor, especially during his final illness in June 1616. Crowds gathered outside the Jesuit residence and only men were allowed in to kiss his hand and devoutly touch religious objects to his body. On his death-bed, the city mayor and magistrates formally requested Fr Realino to be Lecce’s defender and protector in heaven. Unable to speak, he nodded. The distinguished lawyer who spent most of his life as a parish priest in relative seclusion died at the age of 86 with his eyes fixed on a crucifix. His last words were: “O Madonna, mia santissima” (O my Lady, my most holy one).