Saint of the Day – 10 November – St Andrew Avellino CR (1521– 1608) Confessor,

Saint of the Day – 10 November – St Andrew Avellino CR (1521– 1608) Confessor, Theatine Priest, Canon and Civil Lawyer, Reformer, Founder of many new Theatine houses, Preacher, Spiritual Advisor, Miracle-worker.

Saint Andrew Avellino, Confessor
By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)

St Andrew Avellino was born at Castro Nuovo, in the kingdom of Naples. To fear God and to avoid sin, were the maxims which his mother, from early childhood, implanted deep into his heart and which became the rule of his entire life. While he studied at Senise, a lady sought to attract him by several presents which she sent him but the chaste youth, accepted not her gifts,and sent her word, saying that she should trouble him no more and might rest assured that he would rather die than consent to any evil. On another occasion when he was enticed to sin, he fled like the chaste Joseph. To escape similar temptations, he determined to become a Priest and was Ordained after he had finished his studies.

For some time he devoted himself to the practice of Canon Law in the eEclesiastical Courts until one day, in the heat of his argument, a trivial lie escaped him. Soon after, while reading the Holy Scriptures, the words, “The mouth that lieth, killeth the soul,” came under his eyes and his repentance was such that, from that moment, he renounced his profession in order to escape from the danger of offending God and gave himself entirely, to the Sacred ministry. By associating frequently with the religious of the Theatine Order, he conceived the desire of joining their number, which he did in 1556. It was on this occasion that he took the name of Andrew, in honour of the holy Apostle of that name, after whose example he desired to suffer much for the glory of God.

His eminent virtues induced his superiors to make him Master of Novices, although he had been only five years in the Order,and afterwards, to charge him with the administration of several houses. He attended to all his duties to the greatest benefit of those under him. Besides the usual vows, he imposed upon himself two more. The first of these was to work continually against his own inclinations; the second, to make continual progress in perfection. The fervent love he bore to God and men, induced him to employ all his leisure moments in prayer and in labouring for the salvation of souls. Before entering into religion, he had been accustomed to give six hours daily to prayer but as he could not, as a religious, spare so much time during the day, he took a part of the night for this sacred duty.

He benefitted mankind much, by preaching and hearing Confessions. He reformed many a hardened sinner, restrained others from falling again, reconciled embittered minds and led numberless souls to Heaven.

God manifested more than once, by miracles, how agreeable the endeavours of the Saint were to Him. One night as he returned home, with his companion, from the house of a sick man whose Confession he had heard, a violent storm extinguished the light that was carried before them but then, such a brightness emanated from the Saint’s body that the way was made clear through the darkness, whilst, at the same time, neither he, nor his companion, was touched by the rain. Many similar events, as also the frequent visions of Saints, the gifts of prophecy and of reading the hearts of men but above all, the many examples of heroic virtue which he gave to others, won for St Andrew, the highest regard. St Charles Borromeo, the holy Cardinal, esteemed him greatly and made use of his zeal on many occasions.

Notwithstanding this, the holy man had so low an opinion of himself that he regarded as nothing his great and arduous labours to further the honour of God and the salvation of souls; looked upon himself as a great sinner,and frequently evinced great fear in regard to his salvation. “If they,” said he, “must regard themselves as useless servants, who have done all their duty, what must I do, who have done so small a part of what I ought to have done?” Sometimes he would look up to Heaven and sigh: “Will that magnificent mansion of the blessed spirits allow the entrance of one so miserable, despicable and sinful as I am?

From this fear, however, he was afterwards freed by a comforting vision. St Augustine and St Thomas of Aquin, both of whom he honoured as Patrons, appeared to him, consoled him and promised him their aid, especially in that hour, on which eternity depends. Andrew, taking heart, asked them whether he would enjoy eternal life? The answer was as follows: “The time of thy salvation has not come yet. But as in life, everything is doubtful and uncertain, follow our advice – struggle, with the greatest perseverance, on the battle-field of virtue, as thou hast done till now and thus, thou wilt gather a treasure of merit and God will not close to thee, the gates of Heaven.” With these words, the Saint consoled himself,and not only continued his zeal in the practice of virtue but increased it daily.

During the last 18 years of his life, he allowed himself neither meat, nor eggs, nor fish – his nourishment consisted of beans only, of which he had always enough cooked to last him three days. When advised to change his diet, on account of his advanced age, he said: “Although, at the age of 83 years, I am excused from the law of fasting, I find, when thinking of my sins and my indolence in the service of the Most High that I am obliged to fast and to observe other austerities, in order to appease the wrath of God.” Thus spoke he, who had ever preserved his first innocence. His bed was a sack of straw on two boards. He daily scourged himself to blood. Not content with all this, he daily begged the Almighty to send him something to suffer.

The greatest wrongs he bore with invincible meekness; in persecutions and trials, he evinced heroic patience and he met his enemies with truly Christian gentleness. This was especially experienced by the man who had cruelly murdered the son of the Saint’s brother. The holy man exhorted his brother neither to seek, nor demand vengeance. He knew the murderer but revealed him not and when the wretch was at last discovered and arraigned, before the judges, Andrew implored mercy and pardon for him.

Our Saint’s devotion to the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, was the cause of his earnest desire to suffer more and more. He was often heard to say: “Ah ! what is all that I do and suffer compared with what my Jesus did and suffered for my sake? O, that I might, for His honour, be torn with scourges and pierced with nails and expire on the Cross for Him!

Not less deep was his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and at the time of Holy Mass, his whole countenance glowed with divine love. To the very last day of his life, although he was almost entirely exhausted, he insisted on saying Mass but he had hardly begun the Psalm at the foot of the Altar, when he was struck with paralysis. He was then carried to his room, where the last Sacraments were administered to him. Having received them, he blessed all those who were present and peace and happiness shone from his countenance. After this, he turned his eyes upon an image of the Blessed Virgin,whom, during all his life he had greatly loved and honoured and expired in the 88th year of his life. His face beamed after his death with a truly divine radiance and God proclaimed the glory which the Saint enjoyed in Heaven, by many and great miracles. St Andrew Avellino, Pray for us! Amen.

The death of St Andrew Avellino

Saint of the Day – 7 August – St Cajetan (1480-1547) Confessor

Saint of the Day – 7 August – St Cajetan (1480-1547) Confessor, Priest, Known as the “Father of Providence” and the “Huntsman of Souls” – Founder of the Theatine Order.

Saint Cajetan of Thienna, Confessor
From the Liturgical Year, 1901

Cajetan was born at Vicenza of the noble house of Thienna and was at once dedicated, by his mother, to the Virgin Mother of God.

His innocence appeared so wonderful from his very childhood that everyone called him “the Saint.” He took the degree of Doctor in Canon and Civil law at Padua and then went to Rome where Julius II. made him a Prelate. When he received the Priesthood, such a fire of Divine love was enkindled in his soul that he left the Court to devote himself entirely to God. He founded hospitals with his, own money and himself served the sick, even those attacked with pestilential maladies. He displayed such unflagging zeal, for the salvation of his neighbour that he earned the name of the “Huntesman of Souls.”

His great desire was to restore Ecclesiastical discipline, then much relaxed, to the form of the Apostolic life and to this end, he founded the Order of Regular Clerks. They lay aside all care of earthly things, possess no revenues, do not beg, even the necessaries of life from the faithful but live only on alms, spontaneously offered. Clement VII. having approved this institution, Cajetan made his solemn vows at the High Altar of the Vatican Basilica, together with John Peter Caraffa, Bishop of Chieti, who was afterwards Pope Paul IV and two other men of distinguished piety.

During the sack of Rome, Cajetan was most cruelly treated by the soldiers, to make him deliver up his money which the hands of the poor, had long ago carried into the heavenly treasures. He endured with the utmost patience stripes, torture and imprisonment. He persevered unfalteringly in the kind of life he had embraced, relying entirely upon Divine Providence and God never failed him, as was sometimes proved by miracles.

He was a great promoter of constant and deeply pious attention at the Divine worship, of the beauty of the House of God, of exactness in holy ceremonies and of the frequence of the most Holy Eucharist. More than once he detected and foiled, the wicked subterfuges of heresy. He would prolong his prayers for eight hours, without ceasing, to shed tears being often rapt in ecstasy and was renowned for the gift of prophecy. At Rome, one Christmas night, while he was praying at our Lord’s crib, the Mother of God was pleased to lay the Infant Jesus in his arms.

He would spend whole nights in chastising his body with disciplines, and could never be induced to relax anyof the austerity of his life, for he would say, he wished to die in sackcloth and ashes.

At length he fell into an illness caused by the intense sorrow he felt, at seeing the people offend God by heresy and sedition and, at Naples, after being refreshed by a heavenly vision, he passed to Heaven. His body is honoured with great devotion in the Church of St. Paul in that Town. As many miracles worked by him both while living and in death. made his name illustrious, Pope Clement X. enrolled him amongst the Saints.

About St Cajetan:


Saint of the Day – 29 April – Saint Severus of Naples (Died 409) Bishop

Saint of the Day – 29 April – Saint Severus of Naples (Died 409) Bishop of Naples for 46 years, Confessor, friend of St Ambrose, constructor of four Basilicas and the first Baptistry in the West. Died in 409 of natural causes. Patronages – Naples and St Severus in Foggis, Italy.

The Roman Martyrology reads: “In Naples, St Severus, Bishop, loved by St Ambrose, as a brother and, by his Church ,as a father.”

In the catalogue of the Neapolitan Bishops, Severus is shown in twelfth place. Practically nothing is known of his life prior to his Episcopal appointment.
Severus completed his Episcopate from February 363 to 29 April 409, therefore, a few decades after the freedom of worship decreed by Emperor St Constantine to Christians (313). It was certainly a period in which the two religions, pagan and Christian, were forced to coexist and the regurgitation of paganism was frequent.

His work took place after these pagan returns and the violent attacks of the Arian heretics. The Church of Naples, with its enlightened guide, flourished in the True Faith of Christianity – Severus brought back to the City , the remains of his predecessor, St Maximus (4th century), who had died in exile in the East, during the Arian persecution.
It must be said,that St Maximus was the tenth Bishop of Naples and Severus ,the twelfth, therefore, between the two, there was the Arian usurper Zosimus, who probably returned, during his six years as Bishop, to the True Faith and was, therefore, considered the 11th legitimate Bishop.

Several ancient documents confirm, that he won esteem and affection, not only of Christians,but also of pagans. He was a friend of St Ambrose (340-397) Bishop of Milan, who had the opportunity to meet him during the Plenary Council of Campania, held in 392 in Capua.

The foundations of four Basilicas are attributed to him, one of which, adorned with marble and precious mosaics, was dedicated to the Saviour. Of this ancient Basilica later called St George Major, only the apse remains. The construction of the famous Baptistery of Naples is unanimously also attributed to Severus, about thirty years earlier than that erected at the Lateran by Sixtus III (432-440) and, therefore, is the oldest in the West. The Baptistery is currently leaning against the Basilica of Santa Restituta in the Cathedral of Naples. It is inspired by eastern canons, with mosaics considered to be the most precious among those that have come down to us.

Statues of Saint Severinus and Saint Severus (right), carried during a procession at San Severo.

Outside the City walls, Severus had a cemetery Basilica built a short distance from the Basilica of St Fortunato, where he had the relics of Bishop St Maximus interred and those of St Januarius. From this Basilica, the relics of both Saints were translated, towards the middle of the 9th Century, to an oratory of the urban Basilica of St Severus. St Severus himself too was buried in this Basilica outside the walls and in 1310 translated to the High Altar of the Cathedral of Naples

The Saint is also the Patron Saint of the City and Diocese of St Severus, in the Province of Foggia.

Fascinating fact:
The City of Naples has more than 50 official Patron Saints, although its principal Patron is the Martyr Bishop Saint Januarius.(Died c 304). His life here:
Co-patrons of Naples and years of designation:
Saint Januarius (305)
Saint Thomas Aquinas (1605)
Saint Andrew Avellino (1622)
Saint Patricia (1625)
Saint Francis of Paola (1625)
Saint Dominic (1641)
Saint James of the Marches (1647)
Saint Anthony of Padua (1650)
Saint Francis Xavier (1654)
Saint Theresa of Avila (1664)
Saint Philip Neri (1668)
Saint Cajetan (1671)
Saint Agnellus of Naples (1671)
Saint Severus of Naples (1673)
Saint Agrippinus of Naples (1673)
Saint Aspren (1673)
Saint Euphebius (1673)
Saint Athanasius of Naples (1673)
Saint Nicholas of Bari (1675)
Saint Gregory the Illuminator (1676)
Saint Claire of Assisi (1689)
Saint Blaise (1690)
Saint Peter of Verona (1690)
Saint Joseph (1690)
Saint Michael (1691)
Saint Francis of Assisi (1691)
Saint Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi (1692)
Saint John the Baptist (1695)
Saint Francis Borgia (1695)
Saint Candida the Elder (1699)
Saint Mary of Egypt (1699)
Saint Anthony Abbot (1707)
Saint Ignatius Loyola (1751)
Saint Mary Magdalene (1757)
Saint Irene (1760)
Saint Emidius (1760)
Archangel Raphael (1797)
Saint Anne (1805)
Saint Aloysius Gonzaga (1835)
Saint Augustine (1835)
Saint Vincent Ferrer (1838)
Saint Alphonsus Liguori (1840)
Saint Francis Caracciolo (1843)
Saint John Joseph of the Cross (1845)
Saint Pascal Baylon (1845)
Saint Francis Jerome (1845)
Saint Roch (1856)
Saint Joachim (1895)
Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds of Jesus (1901)
Saint Lucy (1903)
Saint Gertrude the Great (1927)
Saint Rita of Cascia (1928)


Saint of the Day – 3 August – St Aspren (1st Century)

Saint of the Day – 3 August – St Aspren (1st Century) the first Bishop of Naples, Consecrated by St Peter as Bishop. Patronages – Archdiocese of Naples, Italy, against migraine. Also known as – Asprenato, Aspronas, Aspremo.

The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “At Naples, in Campania, St Aspren, Bishop, who was cured of a sickness by the Apostle St Peter and after being Baptised, was Consecrated as Bishop of that City.”

Luca Giordano, The Patron Saints of Naples (Baculus, Januarius, Francis Borgia, Aspren (kneeling), and Candida the Elder) adoring the Crucifix, 17th century. Palazzo Reale, Naples.

Naples boasts the Basilica of Saint Peter in Aram, which, according to tradition, was founded on the place where St.Peter baptised St Aspren,, the first Bishop of Naples. It also houses the Ara Petri, the Altar on which the Prince of the Apostles prayed and celebrated the Eucharist before going to Rome. The famous Basilica, which, over the centuries, has undergone various renovations, is so antique that Pope Clement VII (1523-1534) granted it the privilege of celebrating and hosting the Jubilee one year after that of Rome: this custom was maintained throughout the 16th century (1526, 1551, 1576). Inside, there is also a Chapel dedicated to Aspren, considered the founder of the primitive place of worship from which the present Basilica originated.

St Peter’s Basilica
Ara Petri

But under what circumstances did the Saint celebrated today become a Christian? Hagiography links his name to that of Candida la Vecchia, a Jewish woman who, during Saint Peter’s stay in Naples, begged him to cure her of a serious illness, promising to convert to Christianity. The Apostle healed her. And Candida, venerated as a Saint, decided to bring him a sick friend, our Aspren, who was in turn cured and converted. It is handed down that Peter himself Consecrated him Bishop and that among the acts of his episcopate there was the foundation of another paleo-Christian place of worship, dedicated to Santa Maria del Principio, later incorporated in today’s Basilica of Saint Restituta.

St Peter Consecrates St Asdpren with St Candida la Vecchia on the left

Among the documents of the first millennium that attest to his episcopal ministry is the Marmoreal Calendar of Naples, engraved in the 9th century. Aspren is invoked against migraine and venerated as the second Patron Saint of the capital of Campania, after Saint Januarius (and remembering that Santa Maria Assunta, Our Lady of the Assumption, to whom the Cathedral is dedicated, is officially the first Patroness of the City). Two historic Neapolitan Churches are named after him, namely Sant’Aspreno ai Crociferi (begun in 1633) and the older Sant’Aspreno al Porto, built where, according to tradition, the Saint’s dwelling was located: in a cave.

s ant’Aspreno ai Crociferi

After Aspren’s death, numerous miracles were attributed to him and his sepulcher rested in the oratory of Santa Maria del Principio. John IV, Bishop of Naples translated Aspren’s relics to the Basilica of Santa Restituta, in the Chapel dedicated to Aspren . A silver bust of Aspren is found in Naples Cathedral.

St Peter Consecrates St Aspren

Saint of the Day – 25 May – Saint Maria Magdalena de’ Pazzi O.Carm (1566-1607)

Saint of the Day – 25 May – Saint Maria Magdalena de’ Pazzi O.Carm (1566-1607) Carmelite Nun and Mystic, Ecstatic, she bi-located and was the intercessor of many miracles, Stigmatist – born as Caterina de’ Pazzi (but in the family was called Lucrezia) in 1566 at Florence, Italy and died on 25 May 1607 of natural causes.   Patronages – against bodily ills, against sexual temptation, against sickness, sick people, Naples (co-patron).st maria magdalena de pazzi

The second of four children, Caterina was born in Florence on 2 April 1566, to Camilo de’ Pazzi and Maria Buondelmonti.    In the comfortable setting of a noble family, that began to call her Lucrezia, after her paternal grandmother, the young girl grew up peacefully and with a certain sensitivity to the aesthetic side of her social condition.   Her heart was open to God and to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, in great simplicity, which is something we can see in the way she might share her lunch pack with a needy person, out of compassion, or the way she would help the children of the poor by gently offering them the first truths of faith.   Her mother’s deep piety and the visits to her home by the Jesuit Fathers, that her parents invited regularly, helped to stamp on Caterina’s soul that sense of Church, “sensus ecclesiae,” that in later life would appeal so much to her conscience.

st Maria_Maddalena_de'_Pazzi
St Maria Magdalena de’ Pazzi at age 16 by Santi di Tito (1583)

At eight years of age, she was sent as a pupil to the nuns at San Giovannino.   The nuns, who noticed the contemplative nature of the child, prepared her for First Holy Communion and not many weeks later, Caterina was sufficiently mature to offer her virginity to God.   She was ten years old and now she didn’t need anymore to get the scent of Jesus, by standing near her mother when she had received Holy Communion, now, she began to meditate on the humanity of Jesus.   As she was learning to read, she came across the Athanasian Creed and she was very inspired by it.   In the same way, she grew to be totally enamoured by the meditations of St Augustine and the Lord’s Passion by Loarte, which she read on the advice of Fr Andrea Rossi, who was her Spiritual Director.   The artworks below are of St Augustine writing on her heart.mary-magdalene-de-pazzi_st-augustine-writing-on-the-heart-of-mmdp_lievo-mehusst maria magdalena de pazzi vision

She had not yet reached the age of seventeen, when she showed her desire to be consecrated to God in religious life.   Having overcome the initial opposition of her family, she entered the monastery in Borgo San Frediano, to join the Carmelite community of Santa Maria degli Angeli who were very happy to have her.   They allowed her to begin as a Postulant on 8 December 1582.   This community, that was well known to and highly regarded by the Bishop of Florence, was attractive to the young girl, principally because of the possibility of receiving Holy Communon everyday.

Two months after entering, on 30 January 1853, Caterina received the Carmelite habit, and with it, the name, Sr Maria Magdalena.   At the end of the novitiate year, it was decided, that she would put her profession back until there were other Novices ready to join her.   Maria Magdalena , however, got very sick in the following months, to the point of almost dying.   With little hope of recovery – even the best doctors in the city had failed to diagnose what today we would call pneuomonia – the Prioress decided to have her make her profession in danger of death, in articulo mortis.

About one hour after her profession, something happened to Magdalena.   It was an experience of rapture in God.   The sisters tell us that when they went to visit her in the infirmary, they came upon the young eighteen year old patient, transfigured and looking very beautiful.   From that day onwards, it was 27 May 1584, the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, the Lord visited her every morning, for forty days and revealed the depth of his love to her.   These frequent episodes gave rise to many misgivings in the young girl whose only desire was to live in the hiddenness of her life in Carmel but, it was obvious, that this kind of grace had to be recognised and preserved.   For that reason, the sisters began very soon to take notes, writing down what Magdalena. would say while in ecstasy and what she would say, out of obedience, to the Prioress and maria magdalena ecstasy

Towards the end of that same year, a new period of divine favour began for her.   This time, Jesus, the divine Word, held her in intense conversation (reported in I Colloqui) that revealed increasingly, the bridal relationship that Christ had formed with her.   It was in one of those ecstasies that Christ brought her into His passion and death.   It was Holy Week in 1585 –  her experiences included the Stigmata impresssed on her soul, the Crown of Thorns, the Crucifixion and every scene from the Gospel was displayed, as if it was happening live in that slender tormented body.   Then, on the Sunday after Easter, she received from her divine Bridegroom the ring of her mystical marriage.481px-Pedro_de_Moya_-_Vision_of_St_Maria_Magdalena_di_Pazzi_-_WGA16308st maria magdalena de pazzi receiving the crown of thorns

The manuscript titled, Revelazioni e Intelligenze, gives a faithful account of the communication of God’s grace, that in the days between the vigil of Pentecost and the Sunday of the Blessed Trinity, gave Magdalena, an entry into the revelation, of the inner dimensions of her Trinitarian life.   What was communicated to her, was what goes on between the divine person, and how the human person can fulfil a supernatural vocation, by allowing this mystery dwelling within, to do its work.

The central element in this understanding, is the saving mission of the Word, Love, made flesh in the most pure womb of the Virgin Mary and the intuition of “dead love” as the highest expression of the ultimate gift of self.

On the last day of this intense octave of Pentecost, Magdalena began to see, with some clarity, that the moment had arrived when God, as He had made known to her already on a few occasions, was about to take away from her, the enjoyment of His presence. That was the beginning of five very difficulty years of torment and temptation, to the point where she felt as if she had been thrown into the “lions’ den” and reduced to “nothing.”   In these interior trials, described in the Probazione, Jesus continued to support her but without lessening the radical purification that striped her bare, made her more simple and extremely receptive to His visits.   In the heart of the crucible, however, Magdalena also received understanding from God concerning the condition of the Church of her time – so slow to implement the renewal sought by the Council of Trent – and she felt that she was being drawn by the Truth, to be involved in a practical way, in calling to order prelates, cardinals and even the Pope, Sixtus V.   The twelve letters that she dictated in ecstasy, in the Summer of 1586 are collected in the volume titled, Rinnovamento della Chiesa.   The five years of trial restored to us a Magdalena. transformed  . The Lord had brought her through a divinising process, through which, today, she could well be considered a master and guide.05-29 st maria-magdalena-pazzi

After Pentecost 1590, she returned to the normality of ordinary life, something she had always wanted.   Apart from just a few and important, moments of ecstasy (reported in the second part of the Probazione) her days passed quietly as she went about the jobs she had to do (on account of her spiritual maturity she was put in charge of the young sisters in formation) and all the other forms of humble service that she tended to seek.   Then the experience of “naked suffering” took hold of her and this would unite her once and for all to the Crucified Bridegroom.

Sr Magdalena could read the thoughts of others and predict future events.   For instance, during one ecstatic event she predicted the future elevation to the Papacy of Cardinal Alessandro de’ Medici (as Pope Leo XI).   During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured many sick people.mary-magdelene-de-pazzi holy card

The symptoms of tuberculosis began to appear in 1603.   As her strength declined, she suffered the added pain of not being able to feel anything of the Lord’s presence.   Just her presence in the community, in the eyes of the sisters, had become a vision of God’s work of art about to be completed.   On 25 May 1607, at 3 p.m. in the afternoon, Sr Maria Magdalena, at the age of forty-one gave up her spirit.

She was buried in the choir of the Monastery chapel.   She was Beatified in 1626 by Pope Urban VIII.   At her Canonisation in 1668, her body was declared miraculously incorrupt. Her body is located in the Monastery of Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi in maria magdalena body


Saint of the Day – 10 November – St Andrew Avellino CR (1521 – 1608)

Saint of the Day – 10 November – St Andrew Avellino CR (1521 – 1608) Theatine Priest (Cong of the Clerics Regular of Divine Providence founded by St Cajetan 1480-1547), Canon and Civil Lawyer, Reformer, Founder of many new Theatine houses, Preacher, Spiritual Advisor, Confessor – born in 1521 at Castronuovo, Sicily as Lorenzo (called Lancelotto by his mother) and died on 10 November 1608 at Naples, Italy of a stroke. Patronages – against apoplexy or strokes, against sudden death, for a holy death, Badolato, Naples, Sicily, Italy.Antonino Cinniardi, Saint Andrew Avellino Intercedes for Piazza

After a holy youth devoted to serious studies of philosophy and the humanities in Venice, Lancelot Avellino was ordained priest by the bishop of Naples.   He was assigned to the chaplaincy of a community of nuns, sadly in need of reform, his intrepid courage and perseverance finally overcame many difficulties and regular observance was restored in the monastery.   Certain irritated libertines, however, decided to do away with him and, waiting for him when he was about to leave a church, felled him with three sword thrusts.   He lost much blood but his wounds healed perfectly without leaving any trace. The viceroy of Naples was ready to employ all his authority to punish the authors of this sacrilege but the holy priest, not desiring the death of sinners but rather their conversion and their salvation, declined to pursue them.   One of them, however, died soon afterwards, assassinated by a man who wished to avenge a dishonour to his house.avellino

He was still practising law, which he had studied in Naples, one day a slight untruth escaped him in the defence of a client and he conceived such regret for his fault that he vowed to practice law no longer.   In 1556, at the age of thirty-six, he entered the Theatine Order, taking the name of Andrew out of love for the cross.   After a pilgrimage to Rome to the tombs of the Apostles, he returned to Naples and was named master of novices in his Community.  Andreas_Avellino

After holding this office for ten years, he was elected superior.   His zeal for strict religious discipline and for the purity of the clergy, as well as his deep humility and sincere piety, induced the General of his Order to entrust him with the foundation of two new Theatine houses, one at Milan and the other at Piacenza.   By his efforts, many more Theatine houses rose up in various dioceses of Italy.   As superior of some of these new foundations, he was so successful in converting sinners and heretics by his prudence in the direction of souls and by his eloquent preaching that numerous disciples thronged around him, eager to be under his spiritual guidance.   One of the most noteworthy of his disciples was Lorenzo Scupoli, the author of The Spiritual Combat.   St Charles Borromeo was an intimate friend of Avellino and sought his advice in the most important affairs of the Church.   He also requested Avellino to establish a new Theatine house in Milan.

Though indefatigable in preaching, hearing confessions and visiting the sick, Avellino still had time to write some ascetical works.   His letters were published in 1731 at Naples in two volumes and his other ascetical works were published three years later in five volumes.Saint Andrew Avellino

On 10 November 1608, when beginning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he was stricken with apoplexy and, after receiving the Holy Viaticum, died at the age of 88.   In 1624, only 16 years after his death, he was Beatified by Pope Urban VIII and in 1712 was Canonised by Pope Clement XI.  His remains lie buried in the Church of St Paul at Naples.death of st andrew


Saint of the Day – St Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) – 16 November

Saint of the Day – 16 November – St Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) Virgin, Benedictine Religious, Mystic, Theologian, Writer.  Born – on 6 January 1256 at Eisleben, Thuringia (part of modern Germany) – she died on a Wednesday of Easter season, 17 November 1302 at the convent of Saint Mary’s of Helfta, Saxony (part of modern Germany) of natural causes.   Her relics reside in the old Monastery of Helfta.   Patronages – nuns, Magdeburg, Germany, Diocese of, Naples, Italy, West Indies.   St Gertrude received Equipotent Canonisation and a universal Feast day was declared in 1677 by Pope Clement XII.

St Gertrude the Great, of whom I would like to talk to you today, brings us once again this week to the Monastery of Helfta, where several of the Latin-German masterpieces of religious literature were written by women.   Gertrude belonged to this world.  She is one of the most famous mystics, the only German woman to be called “Great”, because of her cultural and evangelical stature:  her life and her thought had a unique impact on Christian spirituality.   She was an exceptional woman, endowed with special natural talents and extraordinary gifts of grace, the most profound humility and ardent zeal for her neighbour’s salvation.  She was in close communion with God both in contemplation and in her readiness to go to the help of those in need.

At Helfta, she measured herself systematically, so to speak, with her teacher, Matilda of Hackeborn, of whom I spoke at last Wednesday’s Audience.   Gertrude came into contact with Matilda of Magdeburg, another medieval mystic and grew up under the wing of Abbess Gertrude, motherly, gentle and demanding.   From these three sisters she drew precious experience and wisdom;  she worked them into a synthesis of her own, continuing on her religious journey with boundless trust in the Lord.   Gertrude expressed the riches of her spirituality not only in her monastic world but also and above all in the biblical, liturgical, Patristic and Benedictine contexts, with a highly personal hallmark and great skill in communicating.

Gertrude was born on 6 January 1256, on the Feast of the Epiphany but nothing is known of her parents nor of the place of her birth.   Gertrude wrote that the Lord himself revealed to her the meaning of this first uprooting:  “I have chosen you for my abode because I am pleased that all that is lovable in you is my work…. For this very reason I have distanced you from all your relatives, so that no one may love you for reasons of kinship and that I may be the sole cause of the affection you receive”  (The Revelations, I, 16, Siena 1994, pp. 76-77).

When she was five years old, in 1261, she entered the monastery for formation and education, a common practice in that period.   Here she spent her whole life, the most important stages of which she herself points out.   In her memoirs she recalls that the Lord equipped her in advance with forbearing patience and infinite mercy, forgetting the years of her childhood, adolescence and youth, which she spent, she wrote, “in such mental blindness that I would have been capable… of thinking, saying or doing without remorse everything I liked and wherever I could, had you not armed me in advance, with an inherent horror of evil and a natural inclination for good and with the external vigilance of others.   “I would have behaved like a pagan… in spite of desiring you since childhood, that is since my fifth year of age, when I went to live in the Benedictine shrine of religion to be educated among your most devout friends” (ibid., II, 23, p. 140f.).saint-gertrude (1)

Gertrude was an extraordinary student, she learned everything that can be learned of the sciences of the trivium and quadrivium, the education of that time;  she was fascinated by knowledge and threw herself into profane studies with zeal and tenacity, achieving scholastic successes beyond every expectation.   If we know nothing of her origins, she herself tells us about her youthful passions: literature, music and song and the art of miniature painting captivated her.   She had a strong, determined, ready and impulsive temperament.   She often says that she was negligent;  he recognises her shortcomings and humbly asks forgiveness for them.   She also humbly asks for advice and prayers for her conversion.   Some features of her temperament and faults were to accompany her to the end of her life, so as to amaze certain people who wondered why the Lord had favoured her with such a special love.

From being a student she moved on to dedicate herself totally to God in monastic life, and for 20 years nothing exceptional occurred: study and prayer were her main activities.   Because of her gifts she shone out among the sisters;   she was tenacious in consolidating her culture in various fields.
Nevertheless during Advent of 1280 she began to feel disgusted with all this and realised the vanity of it all.   On 27 January 1281, a few days before the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, towards the hour of Compline in the evening, the Lord with his illumination dispelled her deep anxiety.   With gentle sweetness He calmed the distress that anguished her, a torment that Gertrude saw even as a gift of God, “to pull down that tower of vanity and curiosity which, although I had both the name and habit of a nun alas I had continued to build with my pride, so that at least in this manner I might find the way for you to show me your salvation” (ibid., II, p. 87).   She had a vision of a young man who, in order to guide her through the tangle of thorns that surrounded her soul, took her by the hand.   In that hand Gertrude recognised “the precious traces of the wounds that abrogated all the acts of accusation of our enemies” (ibid., II, 1, p. 89), and thus recognised the One who saved us with His Blood on the Cross:  Jesus.gertrude the great

From that moment her life of intimate communion with the Lord was intensified, especially in the most important liturgical seasons Advent-Christmas, Lent-Easter, the feasts of Our Lady even when illness prevented her from going to the choir.   This was the same liturgical humus as that of Matilda, her teacher;  but Gertrude describes it with simpler, more linear images, symbols and terms that are more realistic and her references to the Bible, to the Fathers and to the Benedictine world are more direct.

Her biographer points out two directions of what we might describe as her own particular “conversion”:  in study, with the radical passage from profane, humanistic studies to the study of theology, and in monastic observance, with the passage from a life that she describes as negligent, to the life of intense, mystical prayer, with exceptional missionary zeal.   The Lord who had chosen her from her mother’s womb and who since her childhood had made her partake of the banquet of monastic life, called her again with his grace “from external things to inner life and from earthly occupations to love for spiritual things”.   Gertrude understood that she was remote from him, in the region of unlikeness, as she said with Augustine;  that she had dedicated herself with excessive greed to liberal studies, to human wisdom, overlooking spiritual knowledge, depriving herself of the taste for true wisdom;  she was then led to the mountain of contemplation where she cast off her former self to be reclothed in the new.   “From a grammarian she became a theologian, with the unflagging and attentive reading of all the sacred books that she could lay her hands on or contrive to obtain. She filled her heart with the most useful and sweet sayings of Sacred Scripture. Thus she was always ready with some inspired and edifying word to satisfy those who came to consult her while having at her fingertips the most suitable scriptural texts to refute any erroneous opinion and silence her opponents” (ibid., I, 1, p. 25).

St Gertrude - Merazhofen_Pfarrkirche_Chorgestühl_links_Gertrud_von_Helfta

Gertrude transformed all this into an apostolate:  she devoted herself to writing and popularising the truth of faith with clarity and simplicity, with grace and persuasion, serving the Church faithfully and lovingly so as to be helpful to and appreciated by theologians and devout people.

Little of her intense activity has come down to us, partly because of the events that led to the destruction of the Monastery of Helfta.   In addition to The Herald of Divine Love and The Revelations, we still have her Spiritual Exercises, a rare jewel of mystical spiritual literature.

In religious observance our Saint was “a firm pillar… a very powerful champion of justice and truth” (ibid., I, 1, p. 26), her biographer says.   By her words and example she kindled great fervour in other people.   She added to the prayers and penances of the monastic rule others with such devotion and such trusting abandonment in God that she inspired in those who met her an awareness of being in the Lord’s presence.   In fact, God made her understand that he had called her to be an instrument of his grace.   Gertrude herself felt unworthy of this immense divine treasure, and confesses that she had not safeguarded it or made enough of it.   She exclaimed: “Alas! If You had given me to remember You, unworthy as I am, by even only a straw, I would have viewed it with greater respect and reverence that I have had for all Your gifts!” (ibid., II, 5, p. 100). Yet, in recognising her poverty and worthlessness she adhered to God’s will, “because”, she said, “I have so little profited from your graces that I cannot resolve to believe that they were lavished upon me solely for my own use, since no one can thwart your eternal wisdom.   Therefore, O Giver of every good thing who has freely lavished upon me gifts so undeserved, in order that, in reading this, the heart of at least one of Your friends may be moved at the thought that zeal for souls has induced you to leave such a priceless gem for so long in the abominable mud of my heart” (ibid., II, 5, p. 100f.).

Two favours in particular were dearer to her than any other, as Gertrude herself writes: “The stigmata of Your salvation-bearing wounds which you impressed upon me, as it were, like a valuable necklaces, in my heart and the profound and salutary wound of love with which you marked it. 
“You flooded me with your gifts, of such beatitude that even were I to live for 1,000 years with no consolation neither interior nor exterior the memory of them would suffice to comfort me, to enlighten me, to fill me with gratitude.   Further, You wished to introduce me into the inestimable intimacy of your friendship by opening to me in various ways that most noble sacrarium of Your Divine Being which is Your Divine Heart…. To this accumulation of benefits you added that of giving me as Advocate the Most Holy Virgin Mary, your Mother and often recommended me to her affection, just as the most faithful of bridegrooms would recommend His beloved bride to His own mother” (ibid., II, 23, p. 145).

Looking forward to never-ending communion, she ended her earthly life on 17 November 1301 or 1302, at the age of about 46.   In the seventh Exercise, that of preparation for death, St Gertrude wrote: “O Jesus, you who are immensely dear to me, be with me always, so that my heart may stay with You and that Your love may endure with me with no possibility of division;  and bless my passing, so that my spirit, freed from the bonds of the flesh, may immediately find rest in you. Amen” (Spiritual Exercises, Milan 2006, p. 148).

It seems obvious to me that these are not only things of the past, of history; rather St Gertrude’s life lives on as a lesson of Christian life, of an upright path and shows us that the heart of a happy life, of a true life, is friendship with the Lord Jesus.   And this friendship is learned in love for Sacred Scripture, in love for the Liturgy, in profound faith, in love for Mary, so as to be ever more truly acquainted with God himself and hence with true happiness, which is the goal of our life.   Many thanks. …..POPE BENEDICT XVI Saint Peter’s Square, Wednesday, 6 October 2010Santa_Giustina_(Padua)_-_Ecstasy_of_St._Gertrude_by_Pietro_Liberi


Saint of the Day – 7 August – St Cajetan – Confessor, Founder of the Theatine Order – the “Father of Providence”

Saint of the Day – 7 August – St Cajetan – Founder of the Theatine Order – Priest, Confessor, Reformer, Doctor of Civil and Canon Law, Diplomat, Mystic, Miracle Worker, Apostle of the sick and the poor.   Known as the “Father of Providence” and the “Huntsman of Souls” – (Born in October 1480 at Vicenza, Italy as Gaetano dei Conti di Tiene -and died in1547 at Naples, Italy of natural causes) – Beatified on 8 October 1629 by Pope Urban VIII and Canonised on 12 April 1671 by Pope Clement X. Patronages –  bankers, gamblers;,unemployed, workers, document controllers, job seekers, Albania, Naples and Italy, Ħamrun (Malta), Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala.

St Cajetan Thiene-FounderSaint-updtl
Cajetan und Luther photo by Francesco de_ Rossi
Cajetan and Luther| by Francesco de’ Rossi

St Cajetan was born of a noble family in Vicenza, Italy. He was the youngest of three sons born to Don Gaspar di Thiene and Dona Maria di Porto.

He studied civil and Canon Law at the University of Padua and moved to Rome where he worked in the Court of Julian II.   He assisted at the fifth Council of the Lateran.   He was ordained a priest and became part of the “company of Divine Love.”   In 1518 he returned to Vicenza.   After the death of his mother, he dedicated himself to the founding and directing of hospitals to treat the syphiletics in Vicenza, Verona and Venice.  With his own hands he cared for the sick.   Such zeal did he show for the salvation of his fellowmen that he was surnamed the “huntsman for souls.”

St Cajetan, after the painting by Francesco Solimena, published in 1700 by Paolo Petrini.
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In 1524, with Juan Pedro Carrafa, Bishop of Chieti, he founded the Clerics Regular who later would be called the Theatines.   One of the four men who joined him in his new order, Juan Pedro mentioned above, went on to become the pope (Pope Paul IV).  The Theatines, as they were later to become, were to be a community of priests who were to lead an apostolic life.   They were to look with disdain all earthly belongings, to accept no salaries from the faithful;  only from that which was freely donated were they allowed to retain the means of livelihood.   St Cajetan was tortured during the plunder of Rome in 1527 (the torturers hoping to obtain his inheritance which had long before been spent on the poor and sick), Cajetan later returned to Venice where for three years he directed the Religious Institute he had founded.   In 1533, where he established a centre for opposing the spread of Lutheranism in Naples.   He eventually extended that mission to the city of Verona where he would die fourteen years later in 1547.   It was in this city that he planted the yeast of reform that made him worthy of the devotion with which the Neopolitans have always awarded him.   He founded a bank to help the poor and offer an alternative to usurers (loan sharks).   It later became the Bank of Naples.   His concern for the unemployed, giving them the necessary financial help in their time of need, made him their patron.    Later in his life, Saint Cajetan would introduce the Forty Hours’ Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as an antidote to the heresy of Calvin.   In 1629, Urban VIII authorised public worship to Cajetan and on April 12, 1671, Clement X inscribed him in the catalogue of Saints.

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st cajetan LARGE

St Cajetan often prayed eight hours daily.   On Christmas Eve at the Church of Saint Mary Major he was greeted with his first vision of Our Blessed mother.   When he entered the church he saw the Mary, radiant with light, who came to him and placed Her divine Infant in his arms.   These are the words he used to describe his vision: “….I boldly found myself, at the time of the Holy Nativity, in this crib; to give me courage I had with me Saint Jerome my father, who had the crib so close to his heart and whose remains were placed at the entrance of the same crib;  and with a little bit of encouragement from the old man (St. Joseph), from the hands of the Virgin Mary, I took into my arms that little Baby:  the Eternal Word Who became flesh.   My heart was really hard, you must believe me, because if it were not as hard as a diamond, it was sure to liquefy at that moment… patience…”  

St Cajetan is the “Heart” of the Catholic reformation, the founder of the Clerics Regular (Theatines) and the “Great Man and Great Saint” that Christians acclaim as “The Father of Providence” for he aids those who invoke him in their needs with great miracles. 

Founder Statue at St Peters Rome

Prayer of Saint Cajetan before a Crucifix

Look down, O Lord, from Your sanctuary, from Your dwelling in heaven on high and behold this sacred Victim which our great High Priest, Your Holy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, offers up to You for the sins of His brethren and be appeased despite the multitude of our sins.   Behold, the voice of the Blood of Jesus, our Brother, cries to You from the cross.   Listen, O Lord.   Be appeased, O Lord.   Hearken and do not delay for Your own sake, O my God;  for Your Name is invoked upon this city and upon Your people and deal with us according to Your mercy. Amen.

St Cajetan “Father of Providence” Pray for us!


Saint of the Day – 14 July – St Camillus de Lellis MI (1550-1614) Confessor, “The Giant of Charity.”

Saint of the Day – 14 July – St Camillus de Lellis MI (1550-1614) Confessor, Priest and Founder, Apostle of the Sick,  ((25 May 1550 at Bocchiavico, Abruzzi, Naples, Italy – 14 July 1614 at Genoa, Italy of natural causes).   He was Canonised on 29 June 1746 by Pope Benedict XIV.  Patronages –  against illness, sickness or bodily ills; sick people (proclaimed on 22 June 22 1886 by Pope Leo XIII), hospitals, hospital workers, nurses, Abruzzi, Italy.


Founder of the Order of Clerks Regular, Ministers of the Infirm (abbreviated as M.I.), better known as the Camillians.
His experience in wars led him to establish a group of health care workers who would assist soldiers on the battlefield.   The large, red cross on their cassock remains a symbol of the Congregation today.   Camillians continue to identify themselves with this emblem on their habits, a symbol universally recognized today as the sign of charity and service. This was the original Red Cross, hundreds of years before the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was formed.

During the Battle of Canizza in 1601, while Camillians were helping with the wounded, the tent in which they were tending to the sick and in which they had all of their equipment and supplies was completely destroyed and burned to the ground.   Everything in the tent was destroyed except the red cross of a religious habit belonging to one of the Camillians who was ministering to the wounded on the battlefield.   This event was taken by the Camillans to manifest divine approval of the Red Cross of St Camillus.

Members of the Order also devoted themselves to victims of Bubonic plague.   It was due to the efforts of the brothers and supernatural healings by de Lellis that the people of Rome credited de Lellis with ridding the city of a great plague and the subsequent famine.   For a time, he became known as the “Saint of Rome”.

De Lellis’ concern for the proper treatment of the sick extended to the end of their lives. He had come to be aware of the many cases of people being buried alive, due to haste and ordered that the Brothers of his Order wait fifteen minutes past the moment when the patient seemed to have drawn his last breath, in order to avoid this.   St Camillus Church and Museum in Italy

Camillus de Lellis was born on May 25, 1550, at Bucchianico (now in Abruzzo, then part of the Kingdom of Naples).   His mother, Camilla Compelli de Laureto, was nearly fifty when she gave birth to him.   His father was an officer in both the Neapolitan and French royal armies and was seldom home.   De Lellis had his father’s temper and, due to her age and retiring nature, his mother felt unable to control him as he grew up.   She died in 1562.   As a consequence he grew up neglected by the family members who took him in after her death.   Tall for his age, at 16 De Lellis joined his father in the Venetian army and fought in a war against the Turks.

After a number of years of military service, his regiment was disbanded in 1575.   De Lellis was then forced to work as a labourer at the Capuchin friary at Manfredonia;  he was constantly plagued, however, by a leg wound he received while in the army, which would not heal.   Despite his aggressive nature and excessive gambling, the guardian of the friary saw a better side to his nature and continually tried to bring that out in him. Eventually the friar’s exhortations penetrated his heart and he had a religious conversion in 1575.   He then entered the novitiate of the Capuchin friars.   His leg wound, however, had continued to plague him and was declared incurable by the physicians, thus he was denied admission to that Order.

He then moved to Rome where he entered the Hospital of St. James (possibly founded by the Hospitaller Knights of St. James), which cared for incurable cases.  He himself became a caregiver at the hospital and later its Director.   In the meantime, he continued to follow a strict ascetic life, performing many penances, such as constant wearing of a hairshirt.   He took as his spiritual director and confessor, the popular local priest, Philip Neri, who was himself to found a religious congregation and be declared a saint.

De Lellis began to observe the poor attention the sick received from the staff of the hospital.   He was led to invite a group of pious men to express their faith through the care of the patients at the hospital.   Eventually he felt called to establish a religious community for this purpose and that he should seek Holy Orders for this task.   Neri, his confessor, gave him approval for this endeavour and a wealthy donor provided him with the income necessary to undertake his seminary studies.

He was ordained on Pentecost of 1584 by Lord Thomas Goldwell, Bishop of St Asaph, Wales and the last surviving Catholic bishop of Great Britain.   Camillus then retired from his service at the hospital and he and his companions moved to the Hospital of the Holy Ghost, where they assumed responsibility for the care of the patients there.

In 1586 Pope Sixtus V gave the group formal recognition as a congregation and assigned them the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Rome, which they still maintain.   In 1588 they expanded to Naples and in 1594 St Camillus led his Religious to Milan where they attended to the sick of the Ca’ Granda, the main hospital of the city.   A memorial tablet in the main courtyard of the Ca’ Granda commemorates his presence there.

Pope Gregory XV raised the Congregation to the status of an Order, equivalent with the mendicant orders, in 1591.   At that time they established a fourth religious vow unique to their Order: “to serve the sick, even with danger to one’s own life.”

Throughout his life De Lellis’ ailments caused him suffering but he allowed no one to wait on him and would crawl to visit the sick when unable to stand and walk.   It is said that Camillus possessed the gifts of healing and prophecy.   He resigned as Superior General of the Order in 1607 but continued to serve as Vicar General of the Order.   By that time, communities of the Order had spread all throughout Italy, even as far as Hungary.   He assisted in a General Chapter of the Order in 1613, after which he accompanied the new Superior General on an inspection tour of all the hospitals of the Order in Italy.   In the course of that tour, he fell ill.   He died in Rome in 1614 and was entombed at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.