Posted in ART DEI, PATRONAGE - Against APOPLEXY or STROKES, PATRONAGE - Against DEMONIC POSSESSION, PATRONAGE - against EPIDEMICS, PATRONAGE - BEGGARS, the POOR, against POVERTY, PATRONAGE - EPILEPSY, PATRONAGE - GOUT, KNEE PROBLEMS, ARTHRITIS, etc, PATRONAGE - of PILGRIMS, PATRONAGE-STOMACH PAIN, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 7January – St Valentine of Passau (Died 475) Bishop

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)..

The 3 Patrons of Passau, St Valentine left, st Stephen centre and St Maximillian right

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.

otive image, 1843 from the Mariahill pilgrimage Church in Passau. Next to Bishop Valentin appears the Mother of God with the Jesus Child in her arms in a wreath of clouds.
The text asks for a devotional Lord’s Prayer to Maria for the sinful person.

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.

Posted in MARTYRS, PATRONAGE-STOMACH PAIN, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 18 August – St Agapitus the Martyr (c 259- c 274)

Saint of the Day – 18 August – St Agapitus the Martyr (c 259- c 274) Roman Youth aged 15 Born in c 259 in Palestrina, Italy and died in c 274 by being thrown to wild animals in the arena. When the animals would not touch him, he was beheaded at Palestrina, Italy. Patronages – against colics, Palestrina, Italy. Also known as –

The Roman Martyrology reads: “At Palestina, the birthday of the holy Martyr Agapitus. Although only fifteen years of age, as he was fervent in the love of Christ, he was arrested by order of te Emperor Aurelian and scourged for a long time. Afterwards, under the Prefect Antiochus, he endured more severed torments and, being delivered to the lions by the Emperor’s order without receiving any injury, he was finally struck with the sword and thus, merited his crown.

Agapitus, was a member of the noble Anicia family of Palestrina, He was condemned to death under the Prefect Antiochus and the Emperor Aurelian, for being a Christian.

Agapitus was but 15 years old, when he was apprehended by the tyrant Aurelian, on account of being a Christian. As he unflinchingly proclaimed his belief in Christ, he was whipped with scourges and then cast into a dungeon, without any food, that he might thus be forced to forsake Christianity.

When Antiochus, the Prefect, found him, at the end of five days, more determined than before, he ordered a live coal to be put upon his head. The brave youth stood immovably under this torture and praising God, said: “A head, which would wear an eternal crown in Heaven, must not hesitate to wear suffering and pain upon earth. Wounds and burns make my head the more worthy to be crowned with eternal glory.

Antiochus, greatly provoked, ordered them to whip the holy youth till his body became one great wound, after which, they hung him by the feet over a fire, hoping to suffocate him. But they failed for, after a long silence, he addressed the Prefect saying: “Behold, Antiochus, the people will say that all thy ingenuity, all thy wit, ends in smoke.

Statue of St Agapitus by Marco Antonio Prestinari (c 1605-1607) in Museo del Duomo, Milan

Enraged at this remark, the tyrant had him again cruelly whipped and ordered boiling water to be poured into the open wounds. After this, they knocked all his teeth out and broke his jaws with blows.

The Martyrdom of St Agapitus

But God punished the tyrant for his cruelty; He caused him to fall from his seat and break his neck. Aurelian, hearing of this, ordered the Martyr to be thrown to the wild beasts but, as they refused to touch him, he was finally beheaded. Thus ended the glorious Martyrdom of the holy youth, Agapitus, in around 274.

Agapitus is mentioned in the ancient Martyrologies, including the Martyrologium Hieronymianum of St Jerome, Around the 5th Century, Pope Felix III built a Basilica in his honour on the supposed site of his Martyrdom. His relics were kept in the Basilica and a cemetery grew around it. At some uncertain date, his relics were translated to the present Cathedral of Palestrina, dedicated to him.

Agapitus is honoured in the Tridentine Calendar by a commemoration added to the Mass and canonical hours in the liturgy of the day within the Octave of the Assumption.

Cathedral of San Agapito, Palestrina
Posted in MARTYRS, PATRONAGE - A HOLY DEATH & AGAINST A SUDDEN DEATH, of the DYING, DEATH of CHILDREN, DEATH of PARENTS, PATRONAGE - DOCTORS, / SURGEONS / MIDWIVES., PATRONAGE - EPILEPSY, PATRONAGE - EYES, PATRONAGE - HEADACHES, PATRONAGE - THE SICK, THE INFIRM, ALL ILLNESS, PATRONAGE-INFERTILITY & SAFE CHILDBIRTH, PATRONAGE-STOMACH PAIN, SAINT of the DAY

Saint/s of the Day – 8 August – The Fourteen Holy Helpers.

Saint/s of the Day – 8 August – The Fourteen Holy Helpers.
A group of Saints invoked with special confidence because they have proven themselves efficacious helpers in adversity and difficulties, are known and venerated under the name Fourteen Holy Helpers.

The Notable Martyrs Saints within the Group are:
Acacius, Barbara, Blaise, Christopher, Cyriacus, Catherine of Alexandria, Denis, Erasmus of Formia, Eustace, George, Giles, Margaret of Antioch, Pantaleon and Vitus.

Devotion to these fourteen ,as a group, spread in response to the Black Plague which devastated Europe from 1346 to 1349. Among its symptoms were the tongue turning black, a parched throat, violent headache, fever, and boils on the abdomen. It attacked without warning, robbed its victims of reason and killed within a few hour. Many died without the last Sacraments.

Brigands roamed the streets, people suspected of contagion were attacked, animals died, people starved, whole villages vanished into the grave, social order and family ties broke down and the disease appeared incurable. The pious turned to Heaven, begging the intervention of the Saints, praying to be spared or cured. This group devotion began in Germany–the Diocese of Wurzburg having been renowned for its observance.

Pope Nicholas V attached Indulgences to devotion of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in the 16th century.

Saint Christopher and Saint Giles are nvoked against the plague itself.
Saint Denis is prayed to for relief from headache, Saint Blaise for ills of the throat,
Saint Elmo for abdominal maladies,
Saint Barbara for fever and Saint Vitus against epilepsy.
Saint Pantaleon is the Patron of physicians,
Saint Cyriacus invoked against temptation on the deathbed and Saints Christopher, Barbara and Catherine, for protection against a sudden and unprovided death.
Saint Giles is prayed to for a good Confession and Saint Eustace as healer of family troubles.
Domestic animals were also attacked by the plague and so, Saints George, Elmo, Pantaleon and Vitus are invoked for the protection of these animals.
Saint Margaret of Antioch is the Patron of safe childbirth.

The legends of the Fourteen Holy Helpers are replete with the most glorious examples of heroic firmness and invincible courage in the profession of the Faith, which ought to incite us to imitate their fidelity in the performance of the Christian and social duties. If they, with the aid of God’s grace, achieved such victories, why should not we, by the same aid, be able to accomplish the very little which is desired of us? God rewarded His victorious champions with eternal bliss – the same crown is prepared for us, if we but render ourselves worthy of it. God placed the seal of miracles on the intrepid confession of His Servants and a mind imbued with the spirit of faith, sees nothing extraordinary therein because our Divine Saviour, Himself said, “Amen, amen I say to you, he that believes in Me, the works that I do, he also shall do and greater than these shall he do” (John 14:12). In all the miraculous events wrought in and by the Saints, there appears only the victorious omnipotent Power of Jesus Christ and the living faith, in which His Servants operated in virtue of this power.

The histories of the Saints are called Legends.
This word is derived from the Latin,and signifies something that is to be read, a passage the reading of which is prescribed.
Therefore, the Legends of the Saints are the lives of the holy Martyrs and Confessors of the Faith.
Some of them occur in the Roman Breviary which the Catholic Clergy is obliged to read everyday.

(The corruption of this word has occurred in modern times, giving it a meaning of either “unprovable story or celebrity.”)

A little more about the 14 Holy Helpers and a prayer to them by St Alphonsus Liguori here:  https://anastpaul.com/2018/07/25/thought-for-the-day-25-july-the-memorial-of-st-christopher-died-c-251-one-of-the-fourteen-holy-helpers/

Posted in FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, PATRONAGE-STOMACH PAIN, SAINT of the DAY, St PAUL!, The APOSTLES & EVANGELISTS

Saint of the Day – 24 January – Saint Timothy (Died c 97)

Saint of the Day – 24 January – Saint Timothy (Died c 97) Disciple of St Paul, Bishop of Ephesus and Martyr, Confessor, Missionary. Died by being stoned to death in c 97. Patronages – against intestinal disorders; of Termoli, Italy. Also known as – Timotheus. Additional Memorials – 26 January (Novus Ordo), 23 January (Australia), 27 January (Norway).

The Roman Martyrology states of St Timothy today: “The birthday of St Timothy, disciple of the Apostle, St Paul, who consecrated him Bishop of Ephesus. After many combats for Christ, he was stoned for reprehending those who offered sacrifices to Diana and shortly after, went peacefully to rest in the Lord.”

St Timothy, the beloved disciple of St Paul, was of Lycaonia and probably of the City of Lystra. His father was a Gentile but his mother, Eunice, was a Jewess. When Paul and Barnabas first visited Lystra, Paul healed a person crippled from birth, leading many of the inhabitants to accept his teaching. When he returned a few years later with Silas, Timothy was already a respected member of the Christian community as were his mother and grandmother Lois and St Paul commends their faith. Timothy had made the holy scriptures his study from his childhood. In 1 Corinthians 16:10, there is a suggestion that he was by nature reserved and quiet: “When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord.”

Rembrandt’s Timothy and his grandmother, 1648.

Timothy’s father was a Greek Gentile. Thus Timothy had not been circumcised and Paul now ensured that this was done, according to Acts 16:1-3, to enable Timothy’s acceptability to the Jews, who they would be evangelising. St Chrysostom here admires the prudence, steadiness and charity of St Paul and we may add, the voluntary obedience of our disciple, Timothy.

After he was circumcised, St Paul, by the imposition of hands, committed to him the ministry of preaching, his rare virtue making ample amends for his want of age. From that time the Apostle regarded him not only as his disciple and most dear son but as his brother and the companion of his labours. He calls him a man of God and tells the Philippians, that he found no-one so truly united to him in heart and sentiments, as Timothy.

Timothy became St Paul’s disciple and later his constant companion and co-worker in preaching.[18] In the year 52, Paul and Silas took Timothy along with them on their journey to Macedonia. Augustine extols his zeal and disinterestedness in immediately forsaking his country, his house, and his parents, to follow the apostle, to share in his poverty and sufferings.

Timothy may have been subject to ill health or frequent ailments” and Paul encouraged him to “use a little wine for your stomach’s sake,” hence his patronage of stomach ailments,”

When Paul went on to Athens, Silas and Timothy stayed for some time at Beroea and Thessalonica before joining Paul at Corinth.

Timothy’s bond with Paul was close. Timothy’s name appears as the co-author on 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians and Philemon. Paul wrote to the Philippians about Timothy, “I have no-one like him.”

When Paul was in prison and awaiting martyrdom, he summoned his faithful friend Timothy for a last farewell.

That Timothy was jailed at least once during the period of the writing of the New Testament is implied by St Paul in Hebrews when he mentions Timothy’s release at the end of the epistle.

Although not stated in the Scriptures other sources have records of the Apostle’s death. The apocryphal Acts of Timothy (5th Century) states that in the year 97, the 80-year-old Bishop tried to halt a procession in honour of the goddess Diana by preaching the Gospel. The angry pagans beat him, dragged him through the streets and stoned him to death.

From the 13th century until 1969 the feast of Timothy (alone, that is without St Titus whose feast day is 6 February) is today, 24 January, the day before that of the Conversion of Saint Paul.

In the 4th century, the relics of Timothy were transferred from Ephesus to Constantinople and placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles near the tombs of Saints Andrew and Luke. In the 13th century, the relics seem to have been taken to Italy by a count returning from the crusades and buried, around 1239, in the Termoli Cathedral. The remains were re-discovered in 1945, during restoration works.

Posted in MARTYRS, PATRONAGE-STOMACH PAIN, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 23 January – St Emerentiana (Died c 301) Virgin, Martyr

Saint of the Day – 23 January – St Emerentiana (Died c 301) Virgin, Martyr, Foster Sister pf St Agnes, Catechumen. Also known as – Emerentia. Died by being stoned to death in c 304 at Rome, Italy. Patronages – against abdominal pains, stomach ailments, against colic.

The Roman Martyrology states: “At Rome, the holy Virgin and Martyr, Emerentiana. Being only a Catechumen, she was stoned to death by the pagans, whilst praying t the tomb of St Agnes, her Foster Sister.”

An unknown author of the 5th century. added to the Latin Passio of St Agnes, a third chapter that dwells on the funeral of the Saint, on her appearance to her parents, eight days after her death and on the foundation of the Basilica built in her honour by St Costanza, daughter of Constantine.

Among the faithful who flocked to St Agnes’ funeral is also remembered “Emerentiana.”

A sudden attack by fanatical pagans scattered the Christians. Emerenziana, instead of fleeing, courageously addressed the assailants but ended up being stoned to death. The parents of St Agnes buried her body nearby on the limits of their property. There is no doubt, the author concludes, enunciating the doctrine on the Baptism of blood, that Emerenziana was Baptised in her blood, having died for the defence of justice, confessing the Lord.

Emerentiana is represented as a young girl who either has stones in her lap and lilies in her hand, or as being stoned to death by a mob. Her tomb is inow n the Church of St Agnes outside the walls, in Rome. An Altar dedicated to her with a marble relief by Ercole Ferrata depicting her Martyrdom is in St Agnes in Agone.

There is another Chapel dedicated to St Emerentiana at the Marian Shrine of Notre Dame de Vie. Venasque, France, as a special Patron of the Secular Institute of Our Lady of Life. The Statue below resides in this Chapel.

Posted in PATRONAGE - A HOLY DEATH & AGAINST A SUDDEN DEATH, of the DYING, DEATH of CHILDREN, DEATH of PARENTS, PATRONAGE-STOMACH PAIN, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 9 April – St Liborius of Le Mans (early 4th century – 397)

Saint of the Day – 9 April – St Liborius of Le Mans (early 4th Century – 397) Bishop, Confessor, Reformer, Evangeliser and Shepherd of souls, Builder of Churches and Monasteries.   Patronages – abdominal pains, against calculi, gravel, kidney stones or gall stones, against colic, against fever, of a Holy death, archdiocese of Paderborn, Germany, City of Paderborn, Germany, Paderborn Cathedral.   Attributes – Bishop with pebbles on a book; Bishop with a peacock; episcopal attire.

st liborius - v large

St Liborius was born of an illustrious family of Gaul (a region in the Roman Empire which extended to the area on the west bank of the Rhine river of the present day Germany) and became Bishop of Le Mans, France.   He was a trusty companion and great friend to St Marinus (Martin of Tours).   They were both bishops, neighbours in office.  St Liborius was bishop for about 49 years and ordained 217 priests, 186 deacons and 93 sub deacons and other churchmen.

st liborius

Much of the ministerial life of Bishop Liborius covered the second half of the 4th century. By this time, the Roman Empire ended its persecution of Christianity with Emperor Constantine the Great’s Edict of Milan in the year 313.   Freed from persecution, the Christian faith was now free to grow.   However, during this time, foreign tribes roamed the land.   There was chaos and misery.   Bishop Liborius’ Episcopal area had been Christian for some time but heathen Druids were still active and through their mysterious pagan rites were able to influence the people.   So, Bishop Liborius built many churches and celebrated the Eucharist with piety and dignity.   The well-trained priests in his diocese finally triumphed over the Druids.   Nowadays, we would call the works of Bishop Liborius and his clergy at the time as primary evangelisation.

st liborius of le mans

In the year, 836 A.D., (9th century), the relics of Saint Liborius were brought from Le Mans, France, to Paderborn, Germany.   At this time, relics of the saints were well guarded and venerated in churches and dioceses which had them.   The willingness of the diocese of Le Mans to handover the relics of St Liborius to the diocese of Paderborn was a true act of charity.   The event forged a long lasting friendship between the sister cities of Le Mans and Paderborn;  it has existed for over 1,000 years to this day.

Since St Liborius died in the arms of his friend St Martin of Tours, he is looked to as a patron of a good death.   Since the century he is prayed to for assistance against that gallstones that are caused by the water of the limestone area; the first account of a healing of this kind concerns the cure of Archbishop Werner von Eppstein, who came on pilgrimage to the saint’s shrine in 1267.   This is the origin of the saint’s attribute of three stones placed on a copy of the Bible.   In the same period he became the patron of the cathedral and the archdiocese, rather than the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Kilian, who were previously in first place.   And he is often cited as a patron of peace and understanding among peoples.   He is invoked against colic, fever, and gallstones.

As well as being shown as a bishop carrying small stones on a book, Saint Liborious is also shown with the attribute of a peacock because of a legend that, when his body was brought to Paderborn, a peacock guided the bearers.

The popularity of the saint in Paderborn is shown in the week-long yearly festival known as “Libori”, that begins on the Saturday after his local 23 July feast day but his universal memorial is today, 9 April.   Today, many parishes across the world are named after this great man and Saint, as their patron.

Posted in PATRONAGE - Against SNAKE BITES / POISON, PATRONAGE - against SORE THROATS, WHOOPING COUGH,, PATRONAGE - BUILDERS, CONSTRUCTION WORKERS, PATRONAGE - HEADACHES, PATRONAGE - ORPHANS,ABANDONED CHILDREN, PATRONAGE - SKIN DISEASES, RASHES, PATRONAGE - STORMS, EARTHQUAKES, FIRES, DROUGHT / NATURAL DISASTERS, PATRONAGE - THE SICK, THE INFIRM, ALL ILLNESS, PATRONAGE - TOOTHACHE, PATRONAGE-STOMACH PAIN, SAINT of the DAY, THOMAS a KEMPIS, Uncategorized

Saint of the Day – 3 February – St Blaise (Died c 316) – Martyr

Saint of the Day – 3 February – St Blaise (Died c 316) – Martyr, Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia, Physician, Miracle-worker.   Died in c 316 by his flesh being torn off his body by iron wool-combs, then beheaded.  Patronages – against angina • against bladder diseases • against blisters • against coughs • against dermatitis • against dropsy • against eczema • against edema • against fever • against goitres • against headaches • against impetigo • against respiratory diseases • against skin diseases • against snake bites • against sore throats • against stomach pain • against storms • against teething pain • against throat diseases • against toothaches • against ulcers • against whooping cough • against wild beasts • angina sufferers of ; of children, animals, builders, drapers, against choking, veterinarians, infants, of 21 Cities, of stonecutters, carvers, wool workers. St Blaise is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers – https://anastpaul.com/2018/07/25/thought-for-the-day-25-july-the-memorial-of-st-christopher-died-c-251-one-of-the-fourteen-holy-helpers/

Today the Church remembers the life and witness of Saint Blaise, a 3rd century Armenian bishop who endured terrifying torments and surrendered his life rather than repudiate his profession of Faith.st blaise statue - large

Much of the life of Saint Blaise is history that has passed into legend but even these legendary accounts offer spiritual insight.

Blaise was renowned as a wonderworker, effecting miraculous cures. T  his would have been enough to attract attention but he was also not averse to calling out the Roman officials who ruled the region in which he lived, Cappadocia, for their tyranny and intolerance of Christian faith and practice.   The combination of a reputation for supernatural power and the courage of his convictions was not welcomed by Rome and the governor ordered Bishop Blaise to be arrested.   Blaise was able to elude capture and took refuge in the wilderness.   It was there in the caves of Cappadocia that his ministry and his mission continued.

There is an account of Saint Blaise that identifies not only his pastoral care for the Christian faithful but also for the animals of the wilderness.

A woman had witnessed her piglet carried off by a wolf and spoke of her plight to the bishop.   Saint Blaise called for the wolf, demanded her return the piglet to its rightful owner and reminded the wolf of the grave penalty that awaited a thief.   The wolf complied and returned the piglet to its owner- a credit to the bishop’s power of persuasion.   The woman would later return the favour to Saint Blaise when he was finally captured and imprisoned.   She brought to him candles to illuminate his dank and dreary cell.

This legend hints at how the saints represent, in their holiness, the restoration of a paradise lost and regained in Christ.   The ease and familiarity with which the Biblical character of Adam is believed to have communed with nature before the fall is recapitulated in Saint Blaise- he is a sign that anticipates the restoration of all things in Christ where the lion will rest with the lamb and in this case, the wolf will return stolen property to its rightful owner.

Saint Blaise Painting by Pere Fernandez; Saint Blaise Art Print for sale

Saint Blaise has been invoked for centuries as a specialist in diseases of the throat.   The origin of this practice might be in the story of a child brought to the saint who was either choking or suffering from some other malady of the throat.   Saint Blaise blessed the boy and he was restored to health.

The practice of blessing throats on the Feast of Saint Blaise is a commemoration of this miracle, that crossed candles are often used to impart this blessing might also be a recollection of the kindness of the woman who gave candles to the saint as he languished in prison.

Saint Blaise was an extraordinarily popular saint during the Middle Ages in Europe. Presentations of his miraculous and mighty deeds were commonly represented in art and sculpture, and he was included in a listing of saints called the Fourteen Holy Helpers (or Auxiliary Saints), holy men and women who could be counted on as intercessors for all manner of maladies from madness to travelers in distress.   During times in which a sore throat could be a signal of an impending epidemic or an early death, the faithful were all too happy to accept the help of a heavenly specialist in such matters like Saint Blaise.

The legends regarding Saint Blaise report that his sojourn in the wilderness did not protect him for very long.   He was eventually arrested and brought to trial.   The judge advised him that only a pinch of incense offered to the image of Caesar and the gods of Rome could win him his freedom.   Blaise refused.   He was cruelly tortured and beheaded. Giovanni Antonio da Pesaro, St. Blaise Martyrdom, 15th cent.

The Church does not mourn Saint Blaise, for we know that in Christ this world is not all that there is.   While tyrants like Caesar and his successors can threaten us with death, Christ promises us a life that like his own, is transformed through suffering and death, into resurrection.

The scriptures proclaim, “though they slay me I will trust in you.”

Saint Blaise did precisely this.   He trusted that Christ would not abandon him to the power of death nor allow his suffering to be meaningless.   Our lives might never be raised to the legendary status of Saint Blaise but we can trust in Christ as he did and live in hope that one day we will join him in communion with all the saints who have gone before us in faith and who, from their place in heaven, guide and protect us still. (Fr Steve Grunow)blaiseCandlelarge - st blaise

Posted in PATRONAGE - CATECHISTS, PATRONAGE - PRIESTS, all CLERGY, PATRONAGE-STOMACH PAIN, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 4 November – St Charles Borromeo (1538-1584)

Saint of the Day – 4 November – St Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal, Doctor of Theology, Civil and Canon Law, Reformer, Founder of Seminaries.  He is known as the “Father of the Clergy”   Born Count Carlo Borromeo on the morning of Wednesday 2 October 1538 in the Castle at Aron, Diocese of Novara, Italy and he died at  8:30pm on 3 November 1584 of a fever at Milan, Italy.  His will named the Hospital Maggiore of Milan as his heir.  He is buried in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Milan – the famous and breath-taking “Duomo Milan.    His Relics were transferred to a Chapel built by Count Renato Borromeo in piazza San Maria Podone, Milan on 21 September 1751.   St Charles was Beatified in 1602 by Pope Clement VIII and Canonised on 1 November 1610 by Pope Paul V.   Patronages – • against abdominal pain • against intestinal disorders • against ulcers• apple orchards• Bishops, Priests, Seminarians • Catechists• Catechumens• spiritual directors• spiritual leaders• starch makers• 3 Dioceses• 3 Italian Cities.   Attributes – • cardinal wearing a cord around his neck; it symbolises the cord or halter worn around his neck during the plague of Milan, Italy in 1575 • bishop wearing a cord around his neck • cleric curing the sick • Holy Communion  • one hand raised in blessing, thus recalling his work during the plague • coat of arms bearing the word Humilitas (Humility) his emblem.

HEADERfrugal-charles

Count Carlo/Charles was born into the highest echelons of Renaissance life.   The nephew of Pius IV, he was destined for great things in the Church.   His successful career demonstrates the positive possibilities of Renaissance political life.   Given every chance at success by his lineage and connections, he seized each opportunity and turned it to the service of God, the Church and his people.   While many with similar chances squandered their advantages, Charles showed that such assets should not be guiltily eschewed or be a cause of embarrassment, so long as they are put to the service of the Good, the True and the Beautiful.

st charles borromeo - as a child.

Charles was prepared for his later career by his aristocratic responsibilities, becoming a skilled administrator and diplomat at a very young age.   At the same time he tirelessly pursued his studies, becoming a Doctor utriusque Iuris (a Doctor of both Civil and Canon Law) at 21 years old.   With the accession of his uncle to the throne of Peter, he was called to Rome and immediately was created a cardinal-deacon.   Such a position was advantageous because he became one of the closest associates of the pope, with all the dignity of a cardinal but without the responsibility for care of souls.   He reformed the city of Rome and the Papal States thoroughly and was given increasing responsibilities. The papal curia was purified by his example of holiness and sobriety.   He cultivated the friendship of other saints, such as Philip Neri and together they provided the pattern for a renewed curia.   He gathered a circle of learned friends around him and sponsored literary, academic and musical activity, being in particular a patron of Palestrina.YOUNG st charles borromeo - my snip

For his handling of the delicate negotiations needed for keeping the Council of Trent from falling apart, Charles was awarded with the see of Milan.   He began to shift his focus as well, for he had experienced a deep spiritual conversion as the result of the untimely death of his elder brother and dedicated the rest of his life entirely to the good of his people and his Church.   Being one of the most famous and largest sees in Christendom, Milan was a microcosm that displayed both the grandeur and the corruption of Renaissance Catholicism.

Charles set about immediately implementing the reforming decrees of Trent.   Had other bishops swiftly implemented the decrees, as Charles had, the damage from the Reformation may have been mightily checked.   In any case, he found a diocese filled to the brim with time-servers, beneficed layabouts and outright corrupt and vile clergy.   He set out for a purification.  He set the tone with his mighty motto Humilitas and he began to demonstrate one of the most powerful roles in all of Church history:  that of a holy bishop.    Charles knew that the mission of the Church to convert the nations and to win back the Protestants must begin at home.   The Church must be reformed from within, before she could bear effective testimony without.

He was convinced that the heart of the problem was the abuses caused, intentionally or not, by ignorant clergy.   Corruption was comparatively easy to root up but the wholesale re-education of the clergy was a project for generations.   To this end he set up the massive seminary of San Pietro Martire on the site of that saint’s murder in Seveso.   It was to be the prototype of the professionalisation of the clergy that would set a pattern for the rest of the Catholic world, one of the most significant developments in the last 500 years of Catholicism.   He knew that care of priests was essential before the laity could be properly educated and cultivated.   Here is a link to Pope Francis’s visit to the St Charles Borromeo Seminary  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=495XzwybBS0

Doctrine was at the heart of his pastoral ministry.   Trent had codified dogma and made it the basis of its reforming decrees.    Charles carried this message that the truth itself was the best foundation of pastoral ministry.   He reformed recalcitrant monks and nuns, calling them back to fidelity to their oaths and vows, rather than tolerating their laxity. Indeed one decadent member of the order of the Humiliati even tried to assassinate him at prayer, firing a point blank shot that miraculously left him nearly unharmed.   He himself was one of the saints in charge of the Roman Catechism and the founder of the concept of Sunday school for lay children, educating them in the rudiments of the Catholic faith.   He brought to the streets of Milan, Truth incarnated as a person, both in the Blessed Sacrament and in his life of imitating Christ.   There was no divorce between his pastoral and doctrinal responsibilities, such a novel idea would have been treated by him as the worst form of heresy.   For Charles, Christ the Merciful was Incarnate Truth itself.

He retained a simple devotion to Our Lady of Loreto and ministered personally to the plague victims of the city, spending his personal fortune for their relief and walking barefoot in sackcloth and ashes in penance for them before God.   Yet at the same time he never forgot his office as a prince of the Church and the Successor of the Apostles.   He repeatedly challenged the secular authorities who sought to circumscribe the liberties of the Church.   He personally went to Santa Maria della Scala, to receive their obedience after they had appealed to the secular authority over him.   He came in full pontifical regalia, bearing the crucifix, and pronounced a public excommunication at their door.   A supporter of the disobedient church fired a shot at him, which was blocked only by the Cross of Christ he bore.   He tirelessly traveled to the rural areas of his diocese, especially the Alpine valleys that suffered under heresy.   To the peripheries he went—areas ignored by his noble predecessors—but Charles did not go there to confirm the people in their error, he came to bring the freedom of Truth.   He took his duty of visitation seriously, removing the corrupt, correcting the erring and ensuring the proper celebration of his beloved Ambrosian rite.St Charles Borromeo giving Communion to plague victims.2by caspar franz sambachSt Charles Borromeo giving Communion to plague victimsst charles Borromeo - Pierre Mignard - holy comm to plague victims

He was a friend and confrere to many of the saints of the Catholic Reform, St Francis Borgia, St Philip Neri, Bl Bartholomew of Braga and many others, having a special predilection for the English priests who would later be martyred.   His solicitude for the liturgy was exceptional, knowing it to be the key to the spirituality and doctrinal fidelity of the laity.   Indeed, once he wanted to bless a cemetery but abandoned the idea when he discovered he did not have the requisite pontifical vestments.   The service of God demanded the very best at all times.   On his deathbed, he forbade the saying of Holy Mass in his room, considering it unfit for the sacrifice of the Mass and insisted on being vested in Rochet and Stole for the reception of his Viaticum.   This was no violation of Humilitasbut rather its highest expression:  utter, complete and humble service to his position as the successor of St Ambrose.   He lived simply, devoutly and penitently but when he executed his office he bore the weight of tradition, history and doctrine.Meeting between Saint Charles Borromeo and Saint Philip Neri

Charles was beloved by his people of Milan and was respected by all throughout Europe, being rapidly canonised in the year 1610.   His life demonstrates the fallacy implied by the words of a contemporary cardinal, who declared that mercy and doctrine were equal parts of revelation.  Charles would have known that such a statement was nonsensical and opposed to the definitions of Trent (and Vatican II for that matter).   He would gently correct his colleague.   Mercy is part of the doctrine of the Church but, more to the point, the whole and complete doctrine of the Church is mercy for a fallen humanity. Truth is mercy; error is slavery.    St Charles demonstrates for us that the Church needs reform in every age but it must be a reform that results in a re-conformation to the Face of her Founder.    May the example of the holy bishop of the Counter Reform (who kept an image of Sts Thomas More and John Fisher on his person) animate those who would make novel arguments contrary to the faith of Christ.

St Charles Borromeo, Father of the Clergy, pray for us all!St-Charles-BorromeoSt Charels Borromeo2TheVisionOfSt.CharlesBorromeo