Saint of the Day – 7January – St Valentine of Passau (Died 475) Bishop in Passau in the Rhaetia region, Switzerland, an area in the border region of modern Italy, Austria and Switzerland, Monk, Abbot, Missionary, Hermit, Miracle-worker. Died on 7 January 475 at Mais, Tyrol, Austria of natural causes. Patronages – against convulsions, against cramps/stomach pain, against epilepsy, against gout, against plague/epidemics, against demonic possession, of cattle diseases, of pilgrims, poor people, City and Diocese of Passau. Also known as • Valentine of Mais • Valentine of Raetia • Valentine of Ratien • Valentine of Retie • Valentine of Rezia • Valentine of Rhaetia • Valentine of Rhétie • Valentin, Valentinus.Additional Memorial – 4 August (translation of relics), 29 October a combined Feast with the other Patrons of Passau, St Stephen, the Protomartyr and St Maximillian Martyr Bishop of Passau for 20 years, who died in c 284 (Feast day 12 October)..
According to tradition, Valentine came to Passau around 430; there the construction of the first Church on the site of today’s Cathedral is attributed to him.
Valentine had been sent by the Pope to preach the Gospel in the Passau. He found that his work was without fruit and returned to Rome to implore the Holy Father to send him elsewhere. But the Pope Consecrated him Bishop and sent him back to Passau, to preach in season and out of season, whether it produced fruit or not.
The Bishop renewed his efforts but the pagans and Arians combined to drive him out of the City. Thereupon, he went into the Rhætian Alps and his teaching produced abundant fruit in the region. His Vita states, St Valentine was “teaching the word of God and doing great good, such that he was able to expel demons from the obsessed and cure those who were sick of all sorts of diseases.”
At length he resolved to serve God and purify his own soul, in a life of retirement. He, therefore, built a little Chapel and Monastery at Mais, in Tyrol and there he died. His Relics are enshrined at Passau.
A Monk who died in 482 wrote a Vita of the Bishop of Raetia. St Venantius Fortunatus knew of a Church dedicated to Saint Valentine in the Upper Inn Valley and another, probably on the Brenner Pass in the Alps.
Around 1200, on the occasion of the discovery of his grave in the forecourt of Passau Cathedral, a life story was written by an Cathedral Chaplain – who said that Valentin worked in the area around Passau but was unsuccessful because of the wildness of the residents and finally retreated to the Alps after abuse and expulsion.
Below is a Painting by Franz de Neve “The Cures Wrought by Saint Valentine and the Beheading of St Maximilian” (after 1689) which resides in the Cathedral of St Stephen, Passau. In the foreground, St Valentine cures the sick. The beheading of St Maximilian is barely visible in the left edge of the background.
Saint of the Day – 27 December – 27 December – St John the Apostle and Evangelist. Patronages – • against burns; burn victims• against epilepsy• against foot problems• against hailstorms• against poisoning• art dealers• authors, writers• basket makers• bookbinders• booksellers• butchers• compositors• editors• engravers• friendships• glaziers• government officials• harvests• lithographers• notaries• painters• papermakers• publishers• saddle makers• scholars• sculptors• tanners• theologians• typesetters• vintners• Asia Minor (proclaimed on 26 October 1914 by Pope Benedict XV)• 6 Diocese• 7 Cities.
St John, Apostle and Evangelist by Father Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
St John, Apostle and Evangelist of Jesus Christ, a brother of St James and son of Zebedee and Salome, was born at Bethsaida, a Town in Galilee. Christ, our Lord, called him and his brother James to follow Him, at the time when they were mending their nets in a boat, on the shore of the Sea of Genesareth. John, without delay, left all he possessed, even his own father and, with his brother, followed the Lord. Although the youngest of the Apostles, he was beloved by the Saviour above all the others – whence he is several times mentioned in the Gospel, as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” The cause of this special love of Jesus for him, was, according to the Holy Fathers, his virginal purity, which he kept undefiled and the tender love he bore to the Lord. “He was more beloved than all the other Apostles,” writes St Thomas Aquinas, “on account of his purity.” “For the same reason,” says St. Anselm, “God revealed more mysteries to him, than to the other Apostles. Justly,” says he, “did Christ the Lord reveal the greatest mysteries to him, because he surpassed all in virginal purity.“
It is evident from the Gospel, that St John was one of the most intimate of the friends of the Lord, and was, in consequence, sometimes admitted into Christ’s presence, when, except Peter and James, no other Apostle was allowed to be near. Thus, he was with Christ when He healed the mother-in-law of Peter; when He raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead and when He was transfigured on Mount Thabor. He also accompanied Christ when He suffered His Agony in the Garden of Olives. The other two above-named Apostles ,shared these favours with John but none was permitted to lean upon the Saviour’s bosom, at the last supper, save John; none was recommended as son to the divine Mother but John. Only he, of all the Apostles, followed Christ to Mount Calvary,and remained there with Him, until His death. To recompense this love, Christ gave him to His Mother as her son, when He said: “Behold thy Mother!” Christ, who had lived in virginal chastity, would trust His Virgin Mother to no-one else but John, who himself lived in virginal purity. As St.Jerome says: “Christ, a virgin, recommended Mary, a virgin, to John, a virgin.” No greater grace could John have asked of Christ; no more evident proof could he have received of His love. The most precious thing which the Lord possessed on earth, His holy Mother, He commended to His beloved disciple. He took him as brother, by giving Him as son to His Mother. Who cannot see from all this, that Christ loved and honoured St John above all others?
How deeply this beloved disciple must have suffered by seeing his Saviour die, so ignominious a death, is easily to be conceived; and St Chrysostom hesitates not to call him, therefore, a manifold Martyr. After Christ had died on the Cross, had been taken from it, and interred with all possible honours, St John returned home with the divine Mother, who was now also his mother, and waited for the glorious Resurrection of the Lord. When this had taken place, he participated in the many apparitions of the Lord, by which the disciples were comforted and, doubtless received again, particular marks of love from the Saviour. He afterwards assisted, with the divine Mother and the Apostles and other disciples of Christ, at the wonderful Ascension of the Lord. With these, also, he received, after a ten days’ preparation, the Holy Ghost, on the great festival of Pentecost.
Soon after this, he and Peter had, before all others, the grace to suffer for Christ’s sake. For when these two Apostles had, in the name of Christ, miraculously healed a poor cripple who was lying at the door of the temple of Jerusalem and used this opportunity, to show to the assembled people, that Jesus of Nazareth was the true Messiah.
They were seized, at the instigation of the chief priests,and were cast into prison. On the following day, the priests came together and John and Peter were called before them and asked in whose name and by what power, they had healed the cripple. Peter and John answered fearlessly, that it had been done in the Name of Jesus Christ. The high priest dared not do anything further to them but, setting them free, prohibited them from preaching, in future, the Name of Christ. The two holy Apostles, however, nothing daunted, said: “If it be just in the sight of God to hear you rather than God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.“
St. John remained for some time in Jerusalem after this and, with the other Apostles, was zealous in his endeavors to convert the Jews. When the Apostles separated, to preach the Gospel over all the world, Asia Minor was assigned to St John. Going thither, he began with great zeal his apostolic functions and, by the gift of miracles, he converted many thousands to the Faith of Christ. The many Bishoprics which he instituted in the principal cities sufficiently prove this. In the course of time, he went also to other countries, preaching everywhere the Word of Christ, with equal success..
The Emperor Domitian, who, after the death of the Emperor Nero, again began to persecute the Christians, ordered his officers to apprehend John and bring him to Rome. Hardly had the holy Apostle arrived there, when he was commanded by the Emperor to sacrifice to the gods. As the Saint refused this and fearlessly confessed Christ, the Emperor had him most cruelly scourged and afterwards, cast into a large caldron, filled with boiling oil. The Saint signed himself and the cauldron with the Holy Cross and remained unharmed, when he was cast into it. This gave him an opportunity to announce, with great energy, to the assembled people, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The tyrant, who could not suffer this, had him taken out of the cauldron, and sentenced him to banishment on the island of Patmos, to work in the mines and perform other hard labour, in company with other Christians. St John had, at that time, reached his ninetieth year but was willing to undergo the unjust sentence.
After his arrival on the island, he had many and wonderful visions, which, by command of God, he put down in writing. The book which contains them, is a part of Holy Writ, called the Apocalypse, or Revelation of St John, a book which,, according to St Jerome, contains almost as many mysteries as words. After the death of Domitian, St John was liberated and returning to Ephesus, remained there until his death. He outlived all the other Apostles, as he reached the age of 100 years. His great labours, wearisome travels and the many hardships he endured, at last enfeebled him to such an extent, that he could not go to the Church without being carried. F
Frequently he repeated, in his exhortations, the words: “My little children, love one another.” Some, annoyed at this, asked him why he so often repeated these words. He answered: “Because it is the commandment of the Lord and if that is done, it suffices.” By this he meant, that if we love each other rightly, we also love God and when we love God and our neighbour, no more is needed to gain salvation – as love to God and to our neighbour contains the keeping of all other commandments.
The holy Apostle, who had suffered and laboured so much for his beloved Master, was, at length, in the year 104, called by Him into heaven to receive his eternal reward.
Besides the Apocalypse, to which we referred above, St John also wrote three Epistles and his Gospel, on account of which, he is called Evangelist. In his Gospel he gives many more facts than the other Evangelists, to prove the Divinity of Jesus Christ; as, at that period, several heretics, as Cerinthus, Ebion and the Nicolaites, fought against this truth. In his Epistles, he exhorts particularly, to love God and our neighbour,and to avoid heretics. In the first, among other things, he explains that love to God consists in keeping the commandments of God, which are not difficult to keep. “For this is the charity of God,” writes he, “that we keep His commandments;and His commandments are not heavy.” Of the love of our neighbour he says, that it must manifest itself in works, that is, we must assist our brethren in their need and, if necessary, give even our lives for them, after the example of Christ. The holy Apostle exemplified his words by his actions.
Several holy Fathers relate the following of him. The Saint had given a youth in charge of a Bishop, with the commendation to instruct him carefully in virtue and sacred sciences. After some years, when the Saint returned to this Bishop and asked for the young man, he heard with deep sorrow, that he had secretly left and had joined the highwaymen and had even become their chief. The holy Apostle set out at once and went, not without danger to his life, into the woods, where the unhappy young man was said, to be. Finding him, he spoke most kindly to him and succeeded in bringing him back. It is touching to read how the holy, man promised to atone for the youth’s sins, if he would repent and lead a better life. The youth followed the Saint’s admonition and did penance with such fervour and zeal, that the Saint hesitated not to give him charge of the Church at Ephesus. (1876)
St John, Pray for Holy Mother Church, Pray for us all!
Saint of the Day – 9 October – Saint Donnino of Città di Castello (Died 610) Lay Hermit Also known as – Donino. Patronages – of Città di Castello together with Saint Flordio and Saint Amanzio, against arthritis, epilepsy, against rabid dog attacks
The Roman Martyrology states: “In Città di Castello in Umbria, St. Donnino, a hermit.”
Donnino collaborated with the Bishop Florido and the Priest Amanzio in the reconstruction of Città di Castello (then Castrum Felicitatis) after the destruction suffered during the Greek-Gothic war.
Hagiographies written of him in the 17th and 18th centuries recall his devotion and zeal. On the death of Bishop Florido (599 or 600) and of St Amanzio, shortly after, Donnino abandoned public life to retire to live in the hermitic solitude at the Rubbiano locality. He then moved to a second hermitage, closer to Città di Castello, today called Villa San Donino. Here he lived on wild herbs and spent his time in prayer and in the company of a dog. The saintly hermit died on 9 October 610.
During the years of the Donnino’s life the news of his presence, his holiness and spiritual gifts spread rapidly and large crowds began to visit him. Donino became their spiritual guide and an intercessor with God.
His body is now preserved inside an urn placed in the Church of Saint Donnino. Another place linked to the memory of this Saint is near Rubbiano, where there are some boulders and a miraculous spring where pilgrims pray for cures especially from arthritis and epilepsy.
Although a layman, Donino was in the past depicted with priestly vestments and the chalice and next to a small dog. The oldest representation is contained in the embossed and chiselled silver frontal donated by Pope Celestine II to the Cathedral of Città di Castello in 1144, where Donino is depicted together with the Saints Florido and Amanzio. His relics were subjected to canonical recognition in the years 1543, 1791 and 1869.
Saint of the Day – 6 February – Saint Amand of Maastricht (c584-c679) Bishop of Tongeren-Maastricht and one of the great Missionaries of Flanders (Belgium), Monk, Abbot, Papal Missionary, Advisor, Miracle-worker, Founder of numerous Monasteries which became known for their hospitality to pilgrims. Born c584 at Poitou, France and died in c679 in the Monastery at Elnone-en-Pevele (modern Saint-Amand-les-Eaux), France. Patronages – against diseases of cattle, against fever, against paralysis, against rheumatism, against seizures against skin diseases, against vision problems, Boy Scouts, bar staff, barkeepers, bartenders, brewers, grocers, hotel keepers, innkeepers, merchants, pharmacists, druggists, vinegar makers, vine growers, vintners, wine merchants, 4 Cities. Also known as the Apostle of Belgium, Apostle of Flanders, Amand of Elnone, Amand of France, Amandus, Amantius, Amatius.
The chief source of details of his life is the Vita Sancti Amandi, an eighth-century text attributed to Beaudemond. The vita was expanded by Philippe, Abbot of Aumône. According to this biography, Amand was born in Lower Poitou. He was of noble birth but at the age of twenty, he became a monk, against the wishes of his family. His father threatened to disinherit him if he did not return home but our Saint chose rather to ensure his riches in the heavenly kingdom. From there Amandus went to Bourges and became a pupil of Bishop Austregisilus. There he lived in solitude in a cell for fifteen years, living on no more than bread and water.
Amand’s fervent disciple, St Humbert of Maroilles (died c 682), was of a noble family and trained as a Monk in Laon. However, upon the death of his parents, he returned to his estates to settle some inheritance issues and found fine food, servants and various conveniences, sufficiently distracting, that he gave up any thought of the monastic life, until one day Amand took him on a pilgrimage to Rome. Humbert became his disciple and companion.
After the pilgrimage to Rome, Amand was made a Missionary Bishop in France in 628, without a fixed Diocese. At the request of Clotaire II, he evangelised the pagan inhabitants of Ghent, later extending his field of operations to all of Flanders. Initially, he had little success, suffering persecution and undergoing great hardships. However, after performing a miracle (bringing back to life a hanged criminal), the attitude of the people changed and he made many converts. He founded a Monastery at Elnon where he served as Abbot for four years. He returned to France in 630.
Amand was a close friend of St Adalbard of Ostrevent (died c 652), whom he advised on the founding Marchiennes Abbey. Amand angered Dagobert I by attempting to have the King amend his life. In spite of the intervention of Saint Acarius, Amand was expelled from the kingdom and went to Gascony.
Later Dagobert asked him to return and tutor the heir to the throne. Amand however declined. In 633, Amand founded two Monasteries in Ghent; one at Blandinberg and the other named for St Bavo, who gave his estate for its foundation. His next missionary task was among the Slavic people of the Danube valley in present-day Slovakia but this was unsuccessful. Amand went to Rome and reported to the Pope. While returning to France, Amand calmed a storm at sea. In 639, he built an Abbey near Tournay.
From 647 till 650, Amand briefly served as Bishop of Maastricht. The Pope gave him some advice on how to deal with disobedient clerics and warned him about the Monothelite heresy, at that time prevalent in the East. Amand was commissioned by the Pope to organise Church Councils, in Neustria and Austrasia, in order to pass on the various decrees from Rome. The Bishops asked Amand to report and transmit the proceedings of the Church Councils to the Pope. He resigned the See of Maastricht to St Remaclus, to resume his missionary work.
Around this time, Amand established contact with the family of Pepin of Landen and helped St Gertrude of Nivelles OSB (died 659) and her mother, St Itta (died 652), establish the famous Monastery of Nivelles. Amand was now 70 years old but at this time, the inhabitants of the Basque country asked him to return to their country to evangelise, although 30 years earlier he had preached there in vain. Returning home, he founded several more Monasteries in present-day Belgium, with the help of King Dagobert.
Amand died in Elnone Abbey (later Saint-Amand Abbey, in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, near Tournai) at the age of ninety. The Vita of St Aldegonde recounts, that on the day of his death, St Aldegonde was shown a vision of the great Missionary Saint, ascending to heaven. This account did much to further the cult of Amand.
St Amand was known for his hospitality and is, therefore, the Patron Saint of all who produce beer, brewers, innkeepers and bartenders. He is also the Patron of vine growers, vintners and merchants. St Amand is greatly venerated in Belgium, in particular.
Saint of the Day – 15 January – Saint Maurus OSB (c 512-584) Benedictine Abbot and Deacon, miracle-worker. Maurus was the first disciple of Saint Benedict of Nursia (512–584). He is mentioned in Saint Gregory the Great’s biography of the latter as the first oblate, offered to the Monastery by his noble Roman parents as a young boy, to be brought up in the monastic life. Born in c 512 in Rome, Italy and died on 15 January 584 of natural causes. Patronages – Benedictine Novices and Oblates (co-patron with St Placidus), disabled/cripples, invoked against rheumatism, epilepsy, gout, hoarseness, cold, charcoal burners, cobblers, coppersmiths, shoemakers, porters, tinkers, tailors, lantern and candle makers, of the Azores, Badajoz, Spain, Casoria, Italy, Saint-Bonnet-de-Vieille-Vigne, France.
Four stories involving Maurus recounted by St Gregory formed a pattern for the ideal formation of a Benedictine Monk. The most famous of these involved Saint Maurus’s rescue of Saint Placidus, a younger boy offered to Saint Benedict at the same time as Saint Maurus. The incident has been reproduced in many medieval and Renaissance paintings.
“Saint Maurus—one of the greatest masters of the Cenobitical Life and the most illustrious of the Disciples of St Benedict, the Patriarch of the Monks of the West—shares with the First Hermit, St Paul, the honours of this fifteenth day of January.” (From the Benedictine Liturgy). The Benedictines today, liturgically honour the first companions of Saint Benedict, Saint Maurus and Saint Placidus. They are the Patron saints of Benedictine Novices and Oblates.
St Maurus, Abbot and Deacon, son of Equitius, a nobleman of Rome, was born about the year 510 and died in 584. When he was about twelve years old, his father placed him under the care of St Benedict at Subiaco, to be educated in piety and learning. When he had grown up, St Benedict chose him as his co-adjutor in the government of the Monastery. He was a model of perfection to all his brethren but especially in the virtue of obedience.
St Placidus, one of his fellow disciples, the son of the Senator Tertullus, going one day to draw water, fell into the lake and was at once carried away by the current. St Benedict saw this in spirit in his cell and bade Maurus run and draw him out. Having asked and received the holy Father’s blessing, Maurus hastened down to the lake, walked upon the waters, thinking he was on dry land and dragged Placid out by the hair, without sinking in the least himself. He attributed the miracle to the command and prayers of St Benedict but the holy Abbot, to the obedience of the disciple.
St Maurus was sent to France in 543 to propagate the order of St Benedict in that country. He founded the famous Abbey of Glanfeuil, over which he ruled as Abbot for thirty-eight years. In 581 he resigned the Abbacy, built for himself a small cell near the Church of St Martin, so that, in solitude and prayer, he might prepare himself for his passage into eternity. After two years he fell sick of a fever, he received the Sacraments of the Church, lying on sackcloth before the Altar of St Martin and in that posture expired on 15 January 584.
Maurus was originally buried in the Abbey Church at Glanfeuil. When, in 868, Odo and the monks of Glanfeuil were obliged to flee to Paris in the face of Vikings marauding along the Loire, the remains of St Maurus were translated to the Abbey of Saint-Pierre-des-Fossés, later renamed Saint-Maur-des-Fossés. In 1750 the relics were relocated to Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where they remained until dispersed by a Parisian mob during the French Revolution. Saint Maurus is still venerated by Benedictine congregations today, many Monks adopting his name and dedicating Monasteries to his patronage.
The cult of Saint Maurus slowly spread to Monasteries throughout France and by the 11th century had been adopted by Monte Cassino in Italy, along with a revived cult of Saint Placidus. By the late Middle Ages, the cult of Saint Maurus, often associated with that of Saint Placidus, had spread to all Benedictine Monasteries. Saint Maurus is venerated even as far as in India, where he is highly honoured in certain areas of the southern state of Kerala.
St Maurus was favoured by God with the gift of miracles. To show in what high degree the Saint possessed the gift of miracles, it will be sufficient to cite a few examples of how he miraculously cured the sick and restored to health those who were stricken with a grievous affliction. It has already been stated, according to the testimony of St Pope Gregory the Great, in the Second Book of his Dialogues, how when a youth, St Maurus rescued St Placidus from drowning.
A few more examples of miracles wrought by the Saint, as related by the Monk St Faustus (Bollandists, Vol. 2), who accompanied St Maurus to France and later wrote his life, will be given here. They were invariably wrought by means of the Sign of the Cross and the relic of the true Cross, which he had taken along to France.
When St Maurus, at that time Prior of the Abbey of Monte Cassino, was returning with the brethren from gathering the harvest in the fields, he met a boy who was mute and crippled, accompanied by his parents. When the father and mother of the boy cast themselves at the feet of the Saint and implored him to cure their child of his maladies, St Maurus, having for some time given himself to prayer, imposed upon the head of the boy his levitical stole, for he was a Deacon and made the sign of the Cross over him, saying to him: “In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity and supported by the merits of the-most holy Father Benedict, I bid you to rise, stand upon your feet and be cured.” And forthwith the boy arose, walked about and with a loud voice praised and glorified God.
A certain Vicar, Ardenard, had been sent by Innocent, the Bishop of Mans, to Monte Cassino, in order to petition St Benedict to send some Monks to France. Arriving at a place called Vercella, the Vicar fell down headlong from a high stairway in the place where he was lodging. His body was so crushed by the fall that his life was despaired of. His right shoulder, arm and hand had so swelled with inflammation, that amputation of the arm was deemed necessary. Recourse was then had to their companion, St Maurus, who was engaged in prayer in the oratory. Moved by the earnest supplications of his brethren and the misery of the sick man, the Saint cast himself prostrate at the foot of the Altar, pouring forth his soul in fervent prayer. Having finished praying, he took from the Altar the case of relics which had been sent him by his master, St Benedict and went to the bedside of the sick man. Having exposed the relic of the Cross, he made the Sign of the Cross over every part of the arm from the shoulder to the fingers, saying:
“O God, the Creator of all things, You ordained that Your only Son should take flesh of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, for the restoration of your people and You deigned to heal the wounds and infirmities of our souls, by the redemption accomplished upon the sacred and glorious wood of the life-giving Cross, do You also vouchsafe through this powerful Sign, to restore health to Your servant.”
His prayer being ended, all the poisoned blood, by which the Vicar’s arm had beer inflamed, began to flow off from three different places in his arm and his arm was cured.
While continuing their journey and reaching the Alps, one of the servants, Sergius, riding on horseback, fell from his horse and struck his leg against a huge rock and so crushed it, that it was but one bruised mass. Whereupon St Maurus went up to the unfortunate man, seized his crushed leg with his left hand and with his right made the sign of the Cross over it, saying: “In the name of almighty God, arise and be cured” and immediately, to the joy of all, his crushed leg became whole and sound.
When St Maurus and his little band came to the Church of the Holy Martyrs Sts Maurice and his companions, they entered it to pray. At the entrance of the Church sat a certain man who was born blind, begging alms from those who entered and left the holy building. He had learned that Maurus, the disciple of the holy man Benedict, had arrived, the fame of his sanctity having already preceded him. When Maurus and his companions had finished their prayers and left the Church, they found the blind man lying prostrate on the ground, begging and imploring the Saint to obtain for him by his prayers the light of his eyes. Maurus commanded him to rise and pressing the fingers of his right hand upon his eyes, he imprinted on them the sign of our redemption. Thereupon, the blind man instantly obtained his eyesight.
Blessing of St Maurus Since St Maurus miraculously freed many persons from their bodily afflictions through the Sign of the Cross and the relic of the true Cross of Christ, in many Monasteries of the Order of St Benedict from time immemorial, after the example of this miracle-worker, the custom of blessing the sick with the relic of the true Cross, has prevailed, in order to restore their health. But until recent years, there was no uniform and approved formula of blessing of the Church. There existed a number of old and new formulas, which were essentially the same but differed from each other in many details. Some formulas were exceedingly lengthy. In the face of these facts, Dom Maurus Wolter OSB, President of the Beuronese Congregation, petitioned Rome for an approved and authentic formula. A carefully prepared and much abbreviated formula was therefore presented to the Sacred Congregation of Rites for its approval.
The formula and prayer of St Maurus, was approved by the Sacred Congregation for all Priests and Deacons, secular as well as regular clerics, to impart the blessing, provided the formula approved by the Sacred Congregation is used.
In art, St Maurus is depicted as a young man in the garb of a monk, usually holding an Abbot’s cross or sometimes with a spade (an allusion to the monastery of Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, literally “Saint Maurus of the Ditches”). Another of Saint Maurus’ attributes, is a crutch, in reference to his patronage of cripples. He was invoked especially against fever, and also against rheumatism, epilepsy and gout. He is also sometimes depicted with a scale, a reference to the implement used to measure a Monk’s daily ration of bread, given to him by Benedict when he left Monte Cassino, for France. The Monks of Fossés near Paris (whence the community of Glanfeuil had fled from the Vikings in 868) exhibited this implement throughout the Middle Ages.
Saint of the Day – 27 December – St John the Apostle and Evangelist. Patronages – • against burns; burn victims• against epilepsy• against foot problems• against hailstorms• against poisoning• art dealers• authors, writers• basket makers• bookbinders• booksellers• butchers• compositors• editors• engravers• friendships• glaziers• government officials• harvests• lithographers• notaries• painters• papermakers• publishers• saddle makers• scholars• sculptors• tanners• theologians• typesetters• vintners• Asia Minor (proclaimed on 26 October 1914 by Pope Benedict XV)• 6 Diocese• 7 Cities.
The days following Christmas are full of symbolic meaning, as on 26 December we honour the first Martyr, St Stephen, who shed his blood for Jesus. 27 December, honours St John the Evangelist, the Disciple of Jesus who wrote the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. Interestingly enough, he is the only Gospel writer to omit a narrative of Jesus’ birth. Based on this fact alone, it seems strange to include him during the Octave of Christmas. What is the Church’s reason behind this choice? Servant of God, Dom Prosper Guéranger in his Liturgical Year, points to St John’s pure chastity and his focus on the Divinity of Christ, as the reasons why he is honoured now at the Crib of Christ.
Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)
The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved, the Eagle
“Nearest to Jesus’ Crib, after Stephen, stands John, the Apostle and Evangelist. It was only right, that the first place should be assigned to him, who so loved his God, that he shed his blood in his service; for, as this God Himself declares, greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends [1 John, 15:13] and Martyrdom has ever been counted, by the Church, as the greatest act of love and as having, consequently, the power of remitting sins, like a second Baptism. But, next to the sacrifice of Blood, the noblest, the bravest and, which most wins the heart of Him, who is the Spouse of souls, is the sacrifice of Virginity. Now, just as St Stephen is looked upon as the type of Martyrs, St John is honoured as the Prince of Virgins. Martyrdom won for Stephen the Crown and palm; Virginity merited for John most singular prerogatives, which, while they show how dear to God, is holy Chastity, put this Disciple among those, who, by their dignity and influence, are above the rest of men.
St. John was of the family of David, as was our Blessed Lady. He was, consequently, a relation of Jesus. This same honour belonged to St James the Greater, his Brother; as also to St James the Less and St Jude, both Sons of Alpheus. When our Saint was in the prime of his youth, he left, not only his boat and nets, not only has lather Zebedee but, even his betrothed, when everything was prepared for the marriage. He followed Jesus and never once looked back. Hence, the special love which our Lord bore him. Others were Disciples or Apostles, John was the Friend, of Jesus. The cause of this our Lord’s partiality, was, as the Church tells us in the Liturgy, that John had offered his Virginity to the Man-God. Let us, on this his Feast, enumerate the graces and privileges that came to St John from his being The Disciple whom Jesus loved.
This very expression of the Gospel, which the Evangelist repeats several times — The Disciple whom Jesus loved [John, 13:23, 19:26, 21:7, 21:20] — says more than any commentary could do. St Peter, it is true, was chosen by our Divine Lord, to be the Head of the Apostolic College and the Rock whereon the Church was to be built – he, then, was honoured most but St John was loved most. Peter was bid to love more than the rest loved and he was able to say, in answer to Jesus’ thrice repeated question, that he did love Him in this highest way and yet, notwithstanding, John was more loved by Jesus than was Peter himself, because his Virginity deserved this special mark of honour.
Chastity of soul and body brings him, who possesses i,t into a sacred nearness and intimacy with God. Hence it was, that at the Last Supper – that Supper, which was to be renewed on our Altars, to the end of the world, in order to cure our spiritual infirmities and give life to our souls – John was placed near to Jesus, nay, was permitted, as the tenderly loved Disciple, to lean his head upon the Breast of the Man-God. Then it was, that he was filled and from their very Fountain, with Light and Love, it was both a recompense and a favour and became the source of two signal graces, which make St John an object of special reverence to the whole Church.
Divine wisdom, wishing to make known to the world, the Mystery of the Word and commit to Scripture, those profound secrets, which, so far, no pen of mortal had been permitted to write — the task was put upon John. Peter had been crucified, Paul had been beheaded and the rest of the Apostles had laid down their lives in testimony of the Truths they had been sent to preach to the world; John was the only one left in the Church. Heresy had already begun its blasphemies against the Apostolic Teachings; it refused to admit the Incarnate Word as the Son of God, Consubstantial to the Father. John was asked by the Churches to speak and he did so in language heavenly above measure. His Divine Master had reserved to this, his Virgin-Disciple, the honour of writing those sublime Mysteries, which the other Apostles had been commissioned only to teach — THE WORD WAS GOD, and this WORD WAS MADE FLESH for the salvation of mankind.
Thus did our Evangelist soar, like the Eagle, up to the Divine Sun and gaze upon Him with undazzled eye, because his heart and senses were pure and, therefore, fitted for such vision of the uncreated Light. If Moses, after having conversed with God in the cloud, came from the divine interview with rays of miraculous light encircling his head – how radiant must have been the face of St John, which had rested on the very Heart of Jesus, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! [Col. 2:3] how sublime his writings! how divine his teaching! Hence, the symbol of the Eagle, shown to the Prophet Ezechiel, [Ezechiel 1:10, 10:14] and to St John himself in his Revelations, [Apoc. 4:7] has been assigned to him by the Church and, to this title of The Eagle has been added, by universal tradition, the other beautiful name of Theologian. This was the first recompense given by Jesus to his Beloved John, a profound penetration into divine Mysteries. The second was the imparting to him a most ardent charity, which was equally a grace consequent upon his angelic purity, for purity unburdens the soul from grovelling egotistic affections and raises it to a chaste and generous love. John had treasured up in his heart the Discourses of his Master, he made them known to the Church and, especially, that divine one of the Last Supper, wherein Jesus had poured forth His whole Soul to His own, whom he had always tenderly loved but most so, at the end [John, 13:1]. He wrote his Epistles and Charity is his subject – God is Charity — he that loveth not, knoweth not God — perfect Charity casteth out fear — and so on throughout, always on Love. During the rest of his life, even when so enfeebled by old age as not to be able to walk, he was forever insisting upon all men loving each other, after the example of God, who had loved them and so loved them! Thus, he that had announced more clearly than the rest of the Apostles the divinity of the Incarnate Word, was by excellence, the Apostle of that divine Charity, which Jesus came to enkindle upon the earth.
But, our Lord had a further gift to bestow and it was sweetly appropriate to the Virgin-Disciple. When dying on His cross, Jesus left Mary upon this earth. Joseph had been dead now some years. Who, then, shall watch over His Mother? who is there worthy of the charge? Will Jesus send His Angels to protect and console her? — for, surely, what man could ever merit to be to her as a second Joseph? Looking down, he sees the Virgin-Disciple standing at the foot of the Cross – we know the rest, John is to be Mary’s Son — Mary is to be John’s Mother. Oh! wonderful Chastity, that wins from Jesus such an inheritance as this! Peter, says St Peter Damian, shall have left to him the Church, the Mother of men; but John, shall receive Mary, the Mother of God, whom he will love as his own dearest Treasure and to whom, he will stand in Jesus’ stead; whilst Mary will tenderly love John, her Jesus’ Friend, as her Son.
Can we be surprised after this, that St John is looked upon by the Church as one of her greatest glories? He is a Relative of Jesus in the flesh; he is an Apostle, a Virgin, the Friend of the Divine Spouse, the Eagle, the Theologian, the Son of Mary; he is an Evangelist, by the history he has given of the Life of his Divine Master and Friend; he is a Sacred Writer, by the three Epistles he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; he is a Prophet, by his mysterious Apocalypse, wherein are treasured the secrets of time and eternity. But, is he a Martyr? Yes, for if he did not complete his sacrifice, he drank the Chalice of Jesus [Matt. 20:22], when, after being cruelly scourged, he was thrown into a caldron of boiling oil, before the Latin Gate, at Rome. He was, therefore, a Martyr in desire and intention, though not in fact. If our Lord, wishing to prolong a life so dear to the Church, as well as to show how he loves and honours Virginity, — miraculously stayed the effects of the frightful punishment, St John had, on his part, unreservedly accepted Martyrdom.
Such is the companion of Stephen at the Crib, wherein lies our Infant Jesus. If the Protomartyr dazzles us with the robes he wears of the bright scarlet of his own blood — is not the virginal whiteness of John’s vestment fairer than the untrod snow? The spotless beauty of the Lilies of Mary’s adopted Son and the bright vermilion of Stephen’s Roses — what is there more lovely than their union? Glory, then, be to our New-Born King, whose court is tapestried with such heaven-made colours as these! Yes, Bethlehem’s Stable is a very heaven on earth and we have seen its transformation. First, we saw Mary and Joseph alone there — they were adoring Jesus in his Crib; then, immediately, there descended a heavenly host of Angels singing the wonderful Hymn; the Shepherds soon followed, the humble simple-hearted Shepherds; after these, entered Stephen the Crowned and John the Beloved Disciple; and, even before there enters the pageant of the devout Magi, we shall have others coming in and there will be, each day, grander glory in the Cave and gladder joy in our hearts. Oh! this Birth of our Jesus! Humble as it seems, yet, how divine! What King or Emperor ever received, in his gilded cradle, honours like these shown to the Babe of Bethlehem? Let us unite our homage with that given him by these the favoured inmates of his court. Yesterday, the sight of the Palm in Stephen’s hand animated us and we offered to our Jesus the promise of a stronger Faith: to-day, the Wreath, that decks the brow of the Beloved Disciple, breathes upon the Church the heavenly fragrance of Virginity — an intenser love of Purity must be our resolution and our tribute to the Lamb.
Saint of the Day – 14 March – Saint Leobinus of Chartres (Died c 558) Bishop of Chartres, Abbot, Hermit, Miracle worker – he had the gift of healing, especially of dropsy or edema – born as Lubin at Poitiers, France and died on 14 March 558 of natural causes. Patronages – against dropsy/oedema, against rheumatism, of innkeepers and wine merchants.
Leobinus’s parents were peasants from the region of Poitiers in France. As a young boy, Leobinus had an aptitude for learning and applied to a monastery where he was employed in menial tasks.
His work occupied him the entire day and he was obliged to do most of his studying at night, screening his candle as best he could. The monks complained that the light disturbed their slumbers but by much humility and perseverance Lubin advanced in knowledge.
He eventually joined the monastery and, probably at the suggestion of St Carilef, for a time lived as a hermit under the guidance of St Avitus. Later, he settled in an abbey near Lyons, remaining for five years.
In a war between the Franks and the Burgundians this monastery was raided and all the monks fled with the exception of Leobinus and an old monk. The enemy, unable to extort from Leobinus the location of the monastery’s “treasure”, tortured him by first strangling him with a rope and then by tying his feet and dipping him, head first, into the river. Left for dead, he recovered and was received in the monastery of Le Perche.
After Avitus died, Leobinus continued living as a hermit until he was ordained by Bishop. Aetherius of Chartres, who appointed him Abbot of Brou. He served until apparently deciding he did not like administrative duties. So he left to become a monk at Lérins.
He remained there until St Caesarius, the Bishop of Arles and a former monk at Lérins convinced him to return to Brou, rather than to leave his people “like sheep without a shepherd.”
Leobinus participated in the Fifth Council of Orleans and in the Second Council of Paris and died on March 14, about the year 558, after a long illness. He was buried at the Church named for him in Chassant, Eure-et-Loir, France.
Saint of the Day – 3 September – St Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) – Father & Doctor of the Church – “Father of the Fathers” – Pope, Prefect of Rome, Monk, Abbot, Writer, Theologian, Teacher, Liturgist, Administrator, Diplomat, Political Negotiator, Apostle of Charity and Social Justice, Apostle of Pastoral Ministry, PeaceMaker. Patronages – • against gout • against plague/epidemics,• choir boys,• teachers• stone masons, stonecutters, • students, school children,• Popes, the Papacy,• musicians,• singers,• England, • West Indies,• Legazpi, Philippines, Diocese of,• Order of Knights of Saint Gregory, • Kercem, Malta,• Montone, Italy,• San Gregorio nelle Alpi, Italy.
Pope Benedict’s Catechesis on St Pope Gregory the Great
Today I would like to present the figure of one of the greatest Fathers in the history of the Church, one of four Doctors of the West, Pope St Gregory, who was Bishop of Rome from 590 to 604 and who earned the traditional title of Magnus/the Great. Gregory was truly a great Pope and a great Doctor of the Church!
He was born in Rome about 540 into a rich patrician family of the gens Anicia, who were distinguished not only for their noble blood but also for their adherence to the Christian faith and for their service to the Apostolic See. Two Popes came from this family : Felix III (483-492), the great-great grandfather of Gregory and Agapetus (535-536). The house in which Gregory grew up stood on the Clivus Scauri, surrounded by majestic buildings that attested to the greatness of ancient Rome and the spiritual strength of Christianity. The example of his parents Gordian and Sylvia, both venerated as Saints and those of his father’s sisters, Aemiliana and Tharsilla, who lived in their own home as consecrated virgins following a path of prayer and self-denial, inspired lofty Christian sentiments in him.
In the footsteps of his father, Gregory entered early into an administrative career which reached its climax in 572 when he became Prefect of the city. This office, complicated by the sorry times, allowed him to apply himself on a vast range to every type of administrative problem, drawing light for future duties from them. In particular, he retained a deep sense of order and discipline: having become Pope, he advised Bishops to take as a model for the management of ecclesial affairs the diligence and respect for the law like civil functionaries . Yet this life could not have satisfied him since shortly after, he decided to leave every civil assignment in order to withdraw to his home to begin the monastic life, transforming his family home into the monastery of St Andrew on the Coelian Hill. This period of monastic life, the life of permanent dialogue with the Lord in listening to His word, constituted a perennial nostalgia which he referred to ever anew and ever more in his homilies. In the midst of the pressure of pastoral worries, he often recalled it in his writings as a happy time of recollection in God, dedication to prayer and peaceful immersion in study. Thus, he could acquire that deep understanding of Sacred Scripture and of the Fathers of the Church that later served him in his work.
But the cloistered withdrawal of Gregory did not last long. The precious experience that he gained in civil administration during a period marked by serious problems, the relationships he had had in this post with the Byzantines and the universal respect that he acquired induced Pope Pelagius to appoint him deacon and to send him to Constantinople as his “apocrisarius” – today one would say “Apostolic Nuncio” in order to help overcome the last traces of the Monophysite controversy and above all to obtain the Emperor’s support in the effort to check the Lombard invaders. The stay at Constantinople, where he resumed monastic life with a group of monks, was very important for Gregory, since it permitted him to acquire direct experience of the Byzantine world, as well as to approach the problem of the Lombards, who would later put his ability and energy to the test during the years of his Pontificate. After some years he was recalled to Rome by the Pope, who appointed him his secretary. They were difficult years – the continual rain, flooding due to overflowing rivers, the famine that afflicted many regions of Italy as well as Rome. Finally, even the plague broke out, which claimed numerous victims, among whom was also Pope Pelagius II. The clergy, people and senate were unanimous in choosing Gregory as his successor to the See of Peter. He tried to resist, even attempting to flee but to no avail, finally, he had to yield. The year was 590.
Recognising the will of God in what had happened, the new Pontiff immediately and enthusiastically set to work. From the beginning he showed a singularly enlightened vision of realty with which he had to deal, an extraordinary capacity for work confronting both ecclesial and civil affairs, a constant and even balance in making decisions, at times with courage, imposed on him by his office.
Abundant documentation has been preserved from his governance thanks to the Register of his Letters (approximately 800), reflecting the complex questions that arrived on his desk on a daily basis. They were questions that came from Bishops, Abbots, clergy and even from civil authorities of every order and rank. Among the problems that afflicted Italy and Rome at that time was one of special importance both in the civil and ecclesial spheres – the Lombard question. The Pope dedicated every possible energy to it in view of a truly peaceful solution. Contrary to the Byzantine Emperor who assumed that the Lombards were only uncouth individuals and predators to be defeated or exterminated, St Gregory saw this people with the eyes of a good pastor and was concerned with proclaiming the word of salvation to them, establishing fraternal relationships with them in view of a future peace founded on mutual respect and peaceful coexistence between Italians, Imperials and Lombards. He was concerned with the conversion of the young people and the new civil structure of Europe – the Visigoths of Spain, the Franks, the Saxons, the immigrants in Britain and the Lombards, were the privileged recipients of his evangelising mission. Yesterday we celebrated the liturgical memorial of St Augustine of Canterbury, the leader of a group of monks Gregory assigned to go to Britain to evangelise England.
The Pope – who was a true peacemaker – deeply committed himself to establish an effective peace in Rome and in Italy by undertaking intense negotiations with Agilulf, the Lombard King. This negotiation led to a period of truce that lasted for about three years (598-601), after which, in 603, it was possible to stipulate a more stable armistice. This positive result was obtained also thanks to the parallel contacts that, meanwhile, the Pope undertook with Queen Theodolinda, a Bavarian princess who, unlike the leaders of other Germanic peoples, was Catholic deeply Catholic. A series of Letters of Pope Gregory to this Queen has been preserved in which he reveals his respect and friendship for her. Theodolinda, little by little was able to guide the King to Catholicism, thus preparing the way to peace. The Pope also was careful to send her relics for the Basilica of St John the Baptist which she had had built in Monza and did not fail to send his congratulations and precious gifts for the same Cathedral of Monza on the occasion of the birth and baptism of her son, Adaloald. The series of events concerning this Queen constitutes a beautiful testimony to the importance of women in the history of the Church. Gregory constantly focused on three basic objectives: to limit the Lombard expansion in Italy, to preserve Queen Theodolinda from the influence of schismatics and to strengthen the Catholic faith and to mediate between the Lombards and the Byzantines in view of an accord that guaranteed peace in the peninsula and at the same time permitted the evangelisation of the Lombards themselves. Therefore, in the complex situation his scope was constantly twofold: to promote understanding on the diplomatic-political level and to spread the proclamation of the true faith among the peoples.
Along with his purely spiritual and pastoral action, Pope Gregory also became an active protagonist in multifaceted social activities. With the revenues from the Roman See’s substantial patrimony in Italy, especially in Sicily, he bought and distributed grain, assisted those in need, helped priests, monks and nuns who lived in poverty, paid the ransom for citizens held captive by the Lombards and purchased armistices and truces. Moreover, whether in Rome or other parts of Italy, he carefully carried out the administrative reorganisation, giving precise instructions so that the goods of the Church, useful for her sustenance and evangelising work in the world, were managed with absolute rectitude and according to the rules of justice and mercy. He demanded that the tenants on Church territory be protected from dishonest agents and, in cases of fraud, were to be quickly compensated, so that the face of the Bride of Christ was not soiled with dishonest profits..
Gregory carried out this intense activity notwithstanding his poor health, which often forced him to remain in bed for days on end. The fasts practised during the years of monastic life had caused him serious digestive problems. Furthermore, his voice was so feeble that he was often obliged to entrust the reading of his homilies to the deacon, so that the faithful present in the Roman Basilicas could hear him. On feast days he did his best to celebrate the Missarum sollemnia, that is the solemn Mas, and then he met personally with the people of God, who were very fond of him, because they saw in him the authoritative reference from whom to draw security – not by chance was the title Consul Dei quickly attributed to him. Notwithstanding the very difficult conditions in which he had to work, he gained the faithful’s trust, thanks to his holiness of life and rich humanity, achieving truly magnificent results for his time and for the future. He was a man immersed in God – his desire for God was always alive in the depths of his soul and precisely because of this he was always close to his neighbour, to the needy people of his time. Indeed, during a desperate period of havoc, he was able to create peace and give hope. This man of God shows us the true sources of peace, from which true hope comes. Thus, he becomes a guide also for us today.
Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, Wednesday 28 May 2008
More about Gregory here: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2017/09/03/saint-of-the-day-3-september-st-pope-gregory-the-great-540-604-father-doctor-of-the-church/
Prayer to Saint Gregory, Pope and Confessor for the Universal Church and for Pope Francis
O invincible defender of Holy Church’s freedom,
Saint Gregory of great renown,
by that firmness you showed
in maintaining the Church’s rights
against all her enemies,
stretch forth from heaven your mighty arm,
we beseech you, to comfort her
and defend her in the fearful battle
she must ever wage with the powers of darkness.
May you, in a special manner,
give strength in this dread conflict,
to the venerable Pontiff Francis,
who has fallen heir not only to your throne
but likewise to the fearlessness of your mighty heart.
Obtain for him the joy of beholding
his holy endeavours crowned by the triumph of the Church
and the return of the lost sheep into the right path.
Grant, finally, that all may understand,
how vain it is to strive against that faith,
which has always conquered
and is destined always to conquer –
“this is the victory which overcomes the world, our faith.”
This is the prayer that we raise to you with one accord
and we are confident, that,
after you have heard our prayers on earth,
you will one day call us to stand with you in heaven,
before the eternal High Priest,
who with the Father and the Holy Spirit
lives and reigns, world without end.
Saint of the Day – 13 January – St Hilary of Poitiers (315-368) Father & Doctor of the Church, Bishop, Confessor, Writer, Philosopher, Theologian, Preacher, Defender of the Faith. He was sometimes referred to as the “Hammer of the Arians” and the “Athanasius of the West.” His name comes from the Latin word for happy or cheerful. St Hilary was born in 315 at Poitiers, France and he died in 368 of natural causes. Patronages – against rheumatism, against snakes, against snake bites, backward children, children learning to walk, mothers, the sick/the infirm, 4 Cities.
Hilary was born to pagan parents of Poitiers, France, in 315. After training in the classics and philosophy, Hilary married. He and his wife had one daughter, Afra. All who knew Hilary said he was a friendly, charitable, gentle man. Hilary’s studies led him to read Scripture. He became convinced that there was only one God, whose Son became man and died and rose to save all people. This led him to be baptised along with his wife and daughter.
This gentle and courteous man, became a staunch defender of the divinity of Christ. He was devoted to writing some of the greatest theology on the Trinity and was, like his Master, in being labeled a “disturber of the peace.” In a very troubled period in the Church, his holiness was lived out in both scholarship and controversy.
The people of Poitiers chose Hilary to be their bishop in 353. As Bishop, he was soon taken up with battling what became the scourge of the fourth century, Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ.
The heresy spread rapidly. Saint Jerome said “The world groaned and marvelled to find that it was Arian.” When Emperor Constantius ordered all the bishops of the West to sign a condemnation of Athanasius, the great defender of the faith in the East, Hilary refused and was banished from France to far off Phrygia. There, too, his pastoral solicitude led him to work tirelessly for the re-establishment of the Church’s unity, based on the correct faith, as formulated by the Council of Nicea. To this end, he began writing his most important and most famous dogmatic work: “De Trinitatae” (On the Trinity). Eventually he was called the “Athanasius of the West” and the “Hammer of the Arians.”
Fearing Hilary’s arguments, Arian’s followers begged the emperor to send Hilary home. The emperor, believing Hilary was also undermining his authority, recalled him. Hilary’s writings show that he could be fierce in defending the faith but in dealing with the bishops who had given in to the Arian heresy, he was charitable. He showed them their errors and helped them to defend their faith. Though the emperor called Hilary “disturber of the peace,” Saints Jerome and Augustine praised him as “teacher of the churches.”
During the last years of his life, he wrote “Treatises on the Psalms,” a commentary on 58 psalms, interpreted according to the principle highlighted in the introduction to the work: “There is no doubt that all the things said in the Psalms must be understood according to the Gospel proclamation, so that, independently of the voice with which the prophetic spirit has spoken, everything refers to the knowledge of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, incarnation, passion and kingdom and the glory and power of our resurrection”(“Instructio Psalmorum” 5).
In all of the Psalms, he sees this transparency of Christ’s mystery and of His body, which is the Church. On various occasions, Hilary met with St Martin, the future bishop of Tours who founded a monastery near Poitiers, which still exists today.
Hilary died in 367. His feast day is celebrated today throughout the universal Church. In 1851, Blessed Pius IX proclaimed him a doctor of the Church.
Saint of the Day – 27 December – St John the Apostle and Evangelist – “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved” – (died c 101) Also known as • The Apostle of Charity • The Beloved Apostle • Giovanni Evangelista • John the Divine • John the Evangelist • John the Theologian. Patronages – • against burns; burn victims• against epilepsy• against foot problems• against hailstorms• against poisoning• art dealers• authors, writers• basket makers• bookbinders• booksellers• butchers• compositors• editors• engravers• friendships• glaziers• government officials• harvests• lithographers• notaries• painters• papermakers• publishers• saddle makers• scholars• sculptors• tanners• theologians• typesetters• vintners• Asia Minor (proclaimed on 26 October 1914 by Pope Benedict XV)• 6 Diocese• 7 Cities, Attributes – • book• cauldron• chalice• chalice with a serpent in allusion to the cup of sorrow foretold by Jesus• eagle, representing his role as the evangelist who most concentrated on Jesus’s divine nature• serpent. The author of five books of the Bible (the Gospel of John, the First, Second, and Third Letters of John and Revelation), Saint John the Apostle was one of earliest disciples of Christ. Commonly called Saint John the Evangelist because of his authorship of the fourth and final gospel, he is one of the most frequently mentioned disciples in the New Testament, rivaling Saint Peter for his prominence in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Yet outside of the Book of Revelation, John preferred to refer to himself, not by name but as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He was the only one of the Apostles to die, not of martyrdom but of old age, around the year 101.
St John the Evangelist was a Galilean and the son, along with Saint James the Greater, of Zebedee and Salome. Because he is usually placed after St James in the lists of the apostles (see Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:17 and Luke 6:14), John is generally considered the younger brother, perhaps as young as 17-18 at the time of Christ’s death.
With St James, he is always listed among the first four apostles (see Acts 1:13), reflecting not only his early calling (he is the other disciple of St John the Baptist, along with St Andrew, who follows Christ in John 1:34-40) but his honoured place among the disciples. (In Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20, James and John are called immediately after the fellow fishermen Peter and Andrew.)
Like Peter and James the Greater, John was a witness to the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1 ) and the Agony in the Garden (Matthew 26:37). His closeness to Christ is apparent in the accounts of the Last Supper (John 13:23), at which he leaned on Christ’s breast while eating and the Crucifixion (John 19:25-27), where he was the only one of Christ’s disciples present. Christ, seeing St John at the foot of the Cross with His mother, entrusted Mary to his care. He was the first of the disciples to arrive at the tomb of Christ on Easter, having outraced Saint Peter (John 20:4) and while he waited for Peter to enter the tomb first, St John was the first to believe that Christ had risen from the dead (John 20:8).
As one of the two initial witnesses to the Resurrection, St John naturally took a place of prominence in the early Church, as the Acts of the Apostles attest (see Acts 3:1, Acts 4:3, and Acts 8:14, in which he appears alongside St Peter himself.) When the apostles dispersed following the persecution of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12), during which John’s brother James became the first of the apostles to win the crown of martyrdom (Acts 12:2), tradition holds that John went to Asia Minor, where he likely played a role in founding the Church at Ephesus.
Exiled to Patmos during the persecution of Domitian, he returned to Ephesus during Trajan’s reign and died there.
While on Patmos, John received the great revelation that forms the Book of Revelation and likely completed his gospel (which may, however, have existed in an earlier form a few decades before).
Traditional iconography has represented St John as an eagle, symbolising “the heights to which he rises in the first chapter of his Gospel.” Like the other Evangelists, he is sometimes symbolised by a book and a later tradition used the chalice as a symbol of St John, recalling Christ’s words to John and James the Greater, in Matthew 20:23, “My chalice indeed you shall drink.”
A MARTYR WHO DIED A NATURAL DEATH Christ’s reference to the chalice inevitably calls to mind His own Agony in the Garden, where He prays, “My Father, if this chalice may not pass away but I must drink it, thy will be done” (Matthew 26;42). It thus seems a symbol of martyrdom and yet John, alone among the apostles, died a natural death. Still, he has been honoured as a martyr from the earliest days after his death, because of an incident related by Tertullian, in which John, while in Rome, was placed in a pot of boiling oil but emerged unharmed.
Saint of the Day – 3 September – St Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) – Father & Doctor of the Church. Also known as “Father of the Fathers” (c 540 at Rome, Italy – Papal Ascension: 3 September 590 – 12 March 604 at Rome, Italy of natural causes). Pope, Prefect of Rome, Monk, Abbot, Writer, Theologian, Teacher, Liturgist. Patronages – • against gout • against plague/epidemics,• choir boys,• teachers• stone masons, stonecutters, • students, school children,• Popes, the Papacy,• musicians,• singers,• England, • West Indies,• Legazpi, Philippines, Diocese of,• Order of Knights of Saint Gregory, • Kercem, Malta,• Montone, Italy,• San Gregorio nelle Alpi, Italy. Attributes – • crozier
• dove,• pope working on sheet music,• pope writing,• tiara.
Pope St. Gregory was born in Rome, the son of a wealthy Roman Senator. His mother was St. Sylvia. He followed the career of public service that was usual for the son of an aristocratic family, becoming Prefect of the City of Rome but resigned within a year to pursue monastic life.
He founded with the help of his vast financial holdings seven monasteries, of which six were on family estates in Sicily. A seventh, which he placed under the patronage of St. Andrew and which he himself joined, was erected on the Clivus Scauri in Rome. For several years, he lived as a good and holy Benedictine monk.
Then Pope Pelagius made him one of the seven deacons of Rome. For six years, he served as permanent ambassador to the Court of Byzantium. In the year 586, he was recalled to Rome and with great joy returned to St Andrew’s Monastery. He became abbot soon afterwards and the monastery grew famous under his energetic rule. When the Pope died, Gregory was unanimously elected to take his place because of his great piety and wisdom. However, Gregory did not want that honour, so he disguised himself and hid in a cave but was found and made Pope anyway.
He was elected Pope on 3 September 590, the first monk to be elected to this office. For fourteen years he ruled the Church. Even though he was always sick, Gregory was one of the greatest popes the Church has ever had. He reformed the administration of the Church’s estates and devoted the resulting surplus to the assistance of the poor and the ransoming of prisoners. He negotiated treaties with the Lombard tribes who were ravaging northern Italy and by cultivating good relations with these and other barbarians he was able to keep the Church’s position secure in areas where Roman rule had broken down.
His works for the propagation of the faith include the sending of St Augustine of Canterbury and his monks as missionaries to England in 596, providing them with continuing advice and support and (in 601) sending reinforcements. He wrote extensively on pastoral care, spirituality and morals and designated himself “servant of the servants of God”, a title which all Popes have used since that time.
He never rested and wore himself down to almost a skeleton. Even as he lay dying, he directed the affairs of the Church and continued his spiritual writing.
He codified the rules for selecting deacons to make these offices more spiritual. Prior to this, deacons were selected on their ability to sing the liturgy and chosen if they had good voices.
Because he loved the solemn celebration of the Eucharist, St. Grergory devoted himself to compiling the Antiphonary, which contains the chants of the Church used during the liturgy (the Gregorian Chant). He also set up the Schola Cantorum, Roman’s famous training school for chorusters.
St Gregory died on March 12, 604 and was buried in St Peter’s Church. He is designated as the fourth Doctor of the Latin Church. His feast is celebrated on the date of his election as Pope.
The Eucharistic Miracle of St Pope Gregory
St Gregory the Great is perhaps especially remembered by many for the Eucharistic Miracle that occurred in 595 during the Holy Sacrifice. This famous incident was related by Paul the Deacon in his 8th century biography of the holy pope, Vita Beati Gregorii Papae.
Pope Gregory was distributing Holy Communion during a Sunday Mass and noticed amongst those in line a woman who had helped make the hosts was laughing. This disturbed him greatly and so he inquired what was the cause of her unusual behaviour. The woman replied that she could not believe how the hosts she had prepared could become the Body and Blood of Christ just by the words of consecration.
Hearing this disbelief, St. Gregory refused to give her Communion and prayed that God would enlighten her with the truth. Just after making this plea to God, the pope witnessed some consecrated Hosts (which appeared as bread) change Their appearance into actual flesh and blood. Showing this miracle to the woman, she was moved to repentance for her disbelief and knelt weeping. Today, two of these miraculous Hosts can still be venerated at Andechs Abbey in Germany (with a third miraculous Host from Pope Leo IX [11th century], thus the Feast of the Three Hosts of Andechs [Dreihostienfest]).
During the Middle Ages, the event of the Miraculous Mass of St. Gregory was gradually stylised in several ways. First the doubting woman was often replaced by a deacon, while the crowd was often comprised of the papal court of cardinals and other retinue. Another important feature was the pious representation of the Man of Sorrows rising from a sarcophagus and surrounded by the Arma Christi, or the victorious display of the various instruments of the Passion.
The artistic representation of this Eucharistic Miracle became especially prominent in Europe during the Protestant Reformation in reaction to the heretical denial of the doctrine of the Real Presence.
Saint of the Day – 16 August- St Roch (1295-1327) Confessor, Pilgrim, Hermit, Apostle of the Sick, Miracle Worker. Born in 1295 at Montpelier, France and died in 1327 at Montpelier or Angleria, France of natural causes). His relics are in Venice, Italy in the Church of San Rocco,some reside in Rome and others in Arles, France. Patronages – against cholera, against diseased cattle, against epidemics, against knee problems, against the plague, against skin diseases and rashes, bachelors, of dogs, falsely accused people, invalids, relief from pestilence, surgeons, tile makers, Tagbilaran, Philippines, diocese of, Constantinople, 24 other assorted Cities around the world. Attributes – angel, bread, dog, pilgrim with staff, often displaying a plague wound on his leg, pilgrim with a dog, pilgrim with a dog licking the wound, pilgrim with a dog carrying a loaf of bread in its mouth.
According to his Acta and his vita in the Golden Legend, he was born at Montpellier, at that time “upon the border of France”, as the Golden Legend has it, the son of the noble governor of that city. Even his birth was accounted a miracle, for his noble mother had been barren until she prayed to the Virgin Mary. Miraculously marked from birth with a red cross on his breast that grew as he did, he early began to manifest strict asceticism and great devoutness; on days when his “devout mother fasted twice in the week and the blessed child Rocke abstained him twice also, when his mother fasted in the week, and would suck his mother but once that day”.
On the death of his parents in his twentieth year he distributed all his worldly goods among the poor like Francis of Assisi—though his father on his deathbed had ordained him governor of Montpellier—and set out as a mendicant pilgrim for Rome. Coming into Italy during an epidemic of plague, he was very diligent in tending the sick in the public hospitals at Acquapendente, Cesena, Rimini, Novara and Rome, and is said to have effected many miraculous cures by prayer and the sign of the cross and the touch of his hand. In In Rome, according to the Golden Legend he preserved the “Cardinal of Angleria in Lombardy” by making the Sign of the Cross on his forehead, which miraculously remained! Ministering at Piacenza he himself finally fell ill. He was expelled from the Town and withdrew into the forest, where he fashioned a shelter of boughs and leaves, which was miraculously supplied with water, by a spring wic arose in the place;. He would have perished, had not a dog belonging to a nobleman named Gothard Palastrelli, supplied him with bread and licked his wounds, healing them. Count Gothard, following his hunting dog carrying the bread, discovered Saint Roch and became his acolyte.
On his return incognito to Montpellier he was arrested as a spy (by orders of his own uncle) and thrown into prison, where he languished five years and died on 16 August 1327, without revealing his name, to avoid worldly glory. After his death, according to the Golden Legend;
“anon an angel brought from heaven a table divinely written with letters of gold into the prison, which he laid under the head of St Rocke. And in that table was written that God had granted to him his prayer, that is to wit, that who that calleth meekly to St Rocke he shall not be hurt with any hurt of pestilence.”
The townspeople recognised him as well by his birthmark; he was soon canonised in the popular mind and a great church erected in veneration.
The story that when the Council of Constance was threatened with plague in 1414, public processions and prayers for the intercession of Roch were ordered and the outbreak ceased, is provided by Francesco Diedo, the Venetian governor of Brescia, in his Vita Sancti Rochi, 1478. The cult of Roch gained momentum during the bubonic plague that passed through northern Italy in 1477–79.
His popularity, originally in central and northern Italy and at Montpellier, spread through Spain, France, Lebanon the Low Countries, Brazil and Germany, where he was often interpolated into the roster of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, whose veneration spread in the wake of the Black Death. The magnificent 16th-century Scuola Grande di San Rocco and the adjacent church of San Rocco were dedicated to him by a confraternity at Venice, where his body was said to have been surreptitiously translated and was triumphantly inaugurated in 1485; the Scuola Grande is famous for its sequence of paintings by Tintoretto, who painted St Roch visited by an angel, in a ceiling canvas (1564).
Tomb of St Roch in San Rocco in Venice
We know for certain that the body of St Roch was carried from Voghera, instead of Montpellier as previously thought, to Venice in 1485. Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503) built a Church and a hospital in his honour. Pope Paul III (1534–1549) instituted a confraternity of St Roch. This was raised to an Arch-confraternity in 1556 by Pope Paul IV; it still thrives today.
Saint Roch had not been officially recognised as a Saint as yet, however. In 1590 the Venetian Ambassador to Rome reported to the Serenissima that he had been repeatedly urged to present the witnesses and documentation of the life and miracles of St Rocco, already deeply entrenched in the Venetian life because Pope Sixtus V “is strong in his opinion either to Canonise him or else to remove him from the ranks of the Saints.” The Ambassador had warned a Cardinal of the general scandal that would result, if the widely venerated St Rocco, were impugned as an impostor. Sixtus did not pursue the matter but left it to later Popes to proceed with the Canonisation process. His successor, Pope Gregory XIV (1590–1591), added Roch of Montpellier, who had already been memorialised in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for two centuries, to the Roman Martyrology, thereby fixing 16 August as his universal Feast Day.
Numerous brotherhoods have been instituted in his honour. He is usually represented in the garb of a pilgrim, often lifting his tunic to demonstrate the plague sore in his thigh and accompanied by a dog carrying a loaf in its mouth. The Third Order of Saint Francis, by tradition, claims him as a member and includes his Feast on its own calendar, observing his Feast on 17 August.
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