Saint of the Day – 26 March – Braulio (590-651) – (also known as Saint Braulius) – Bishop of Saragossa, Monk, Confessor, Reformer, Scholar, Advisor, Writer, eloquent Preacher, Apostle of Charity. Saint Braulio was friend and disciple to Saint Isidore of Seville (560-636) Doctor of the Church (feast celebrated 4 April) and a prolific writer of letters, hymns, martyrologies, hagiographies and history. He fought against heresy and provided both strength and encouragement in the faith to his congregation.
St Braulio & St Isidore
St Isidore recognised the young nobleman Braulio as an outstanding graduate of his college at Seville in Spain and took him under his wing. He made Braulio his colleague, a peer to whom he submitted his books for editing. Isidore ordained him and appointed him bishop of Saragossa in 631.
St Braulio maintained the pattern of life he had learned earlier as a monk. He lived simply, dressed in rough clothes, ate sparingly and gave alms generously. He collaborated with Isidore in completing the conversion of the Visigoths from Arianism and in renewing church order in Spain.
Forty-four of Braulio’s letters that have survived give us a good picture of the saint and his ministry. He counselled priests on liturgical and pastoral questions. Sometimes he discussed complex theological matters like the resurrection of the body. Often he consoled relatives and friends on the death of loved ones. In his most famous letter he defended the Spanish bishops to Pope Honorius I, who had accused them of laxity. Braulio’s sense of humour bursts forth in letters requesting manuscripts, teasing friends who failed to visit and lightly reprimanding an arrogant young priest who was to succeed him.
Braulio is remembered as an eloquent preacher. We can almost hear the power of his voice in this letter to his brother Frominian, who wanted to resign his office as abbot:
I am shocked that you are so upset by all these routine scandals that you prefer to spend your life in silence rather than to stay in the duties entrusted to you. Where will your blessed perseverance be if your patience fails? Remember the apostle who said: “All who want to live piously in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (see 2 Timothy 3:12). Endurance exists not only in confessing the name of Christ by sword and fire and various punishments. But differences in customs, insults of the disobedient and barbs of wicked tongues and various temptations are also included in this kind of persecution. There is not a single occupation that is without its dangers…Who will guard against wolves if the shepherd does not watch? Or who will drive away the robber if the watchman sleeps? You must stick by the work entrusted to you and the task you have undertaken. You must hate the sins, not the people. Even though tribulation brings us more than we can endure, let us not be afraid as if we were resisting with our own strength. We must pray with the apostle that God give us “the way out with the temptation” (see 1 Corinthians 10–13)…
He prepared a list of the works of St Isidore and reportedly completed some of his master’s unfinished works. St Braulio went partially blind in 650 and died in the same year. He was buried in what is now the church of Nuestra Señora del Pilar in Saragossa. He was succeeded as bishop of Zaragoza by Taius (Taio), who had been his pupil. Later his remains were translated to La Seo Cathedral, Saragossa – images and statue below.
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