Saint of the Day – 18 April – Blessed Idesbald of Our Lady of the Dunes O.Cist (c 1095-1167) Cistercian Priest and Abbot of Ten Duinen Abbey, Our Lady of the Dunes from 1155 until his death, Widower. Born in c 1095 in Flanders, Belgium and died in 1167 of natural causes. Patronages – against fever, against rheumatism, against gout, sailors, shrimp fishers, polder farmers, Flemnish nobility, Sint-Idesbald, Belgium.
The Roman Martyrology states: “In Bruges in Flanders, in today’s Belgium, Blessed Idesbaldo, Abbot, who, soon became a widower and exercised for another thirty years, duties in the palace of the Counts, entered the Monastery of Dune at a mature age, which he held holy, as the third Abbot for twelve years.”
As a youth Idesbald was a Courtier and Page to the Count of Flanders. It is believed that he proceeded from the noble family of Van der Gracht, lords of Moorsel.
He had married but was widowed shortly thereafter. In 1135 he was Ordained a Priest and Canon at Veurne, Belgium. In 1150, after 15 years of pastoral service, Idesbald became a Cistercian Monk at the Abbey of Our Lady of the Dunes serving as Abbot with a great reputation for holinessm from 1155 to his death in 1167.
Idesbald was buried in the Abbey in a lead coffin. In 1577, a confederacy of Dutch protestants, plundered the Abbey, and the Monks transported Idesbald’s relics to an outlying Monastic property at Bogaerde.On 13 November 1623, his coffin was opened in the presence of several witnesses so that the relics could be inspected and authenticated – Idesbald’s body was found to be incorrupt. For many days, his body was exposed for the veneration of the faithful, who came en masse, including well known Spanish ecclesiatics as well as the Papal Nuncio many miracles took place on that occasion and his cult was extended more and more.
Again, in 1796, Idesbald’s body was transported to safety from Bruges where he was, to save him from the French Revolutionary troops and finally, in 1830 he was placed in the Chapel associated with the Abbey of Our Lady of the Potteries at the Abbey, where he still is today.
His cult was approved in 1894 by decree of the Diocese of Bruges. On 23 June 1894, Pope Leo XIII confirmed his cultus by an official Beatification.
Basilica della Santa Casa / The Basilica of Our Lady of Loreto erected (1586) – 18 April:
The Basilica of Loreto, one of the finest in Italy, has been adorned, according to their taste, by the Popes, who have often come there on a pilgrimage like the faithful. Three gates of chased bronze give entrance into the holy temple, in the centre of which, arises the Santa Casa in its clothing of white marble, adorned with magnificent bas-reliefs, designed by Bramante and executed by Sansovino, Sangallo and Bandinelli.
La Sala Del Tesoro no longer displays enough riches to pay the ransom of all Italy but it has still received, in our days, very magnificent gifts of princes and Popes. Among these pious gifts we observe a gold Monstrance, enriched with diamonds, a Chalice and a Thurible, offered by the Emperor Napoleon to the Madonna; an enameled Chalice, set with rubies and aqua marinas, offered, in 1819, by Prince Eugene Beauharnais; another Chalice, adorned with brilliants, by the Princess of Bavaria, his spouse; a large Crucifix of gold and diamonds and a Crown of amethysts, rubies and diamonds, offered in 1816, by the King and Queen of Spain, at the time of their pilgrimage to Loreto; a nosegay of diamonds, offered, in 1815, by Maria Louisa, sister of the King of Spain, Queen of Etruria and Duchess of Lucca; an immense heart of very fine gold, with a precious stone in the centre, suspended from a chain of emeralds and amethysts, the gift of the Emperor of Austria to the Madonna. It would be impossible to enumerate the precious stones and rich offerings of all kinds given by Princes and Kings, under the simple title of dono de una pia persona, in the register containing the names of benefactors to the Santa Casa. Cathedral of Loreto. The miraculous statue of the Madonna is nearly 85 centimetres high; it is carved in cedar wood, covered with magnificent drapery and placed on an Altar glittering with precious stones. We are assured that the niche which it occupies is covered with plates of gold. A number of lamps, of massive silver, burn before it.
The beautiful litany of Our Lady of Loreto was the votive offering with which a celebrated Florentine composer, of the early years of the eighteenth century, repaid a miracle of the Blessed Virgin. This composer, whose name was Barroni, all at once lost his hearing, like Beethoven; after having exhausted the succour of art without success, he invoked that of Mary and set out on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Loreto. There, he was cured, after praying with faith and, in his gratitude to the Holy Madonna, he composed, by inspiration, in her praise, a chorus, which, under the title of Litanie della Santa Casa, was performed for the first time on 15 August 1737. This litany was repeated every year afterwards for the Feast of the Madonna; Rossini, happening to pass by Our Lady of Loreto, was struck with the charm of this composition and is said to have introduced it into his Tancredi (Gazette Musicale). The front area of the Church was constructed during the pontificate of Pope Sixtus V in 1586 and it was he, who founded the Order of Knights of Loreto, who were a company of Knights especially devoted to defend the shores of the Italian Mediterranean against the incursions of barbarians. The Popes have delighted to testify their respect for Mary, by making her miraculous Sanctuary of Loreto the object of their devout solicitude. Pope Pius V offered to the Santa Casa, two silver Statues of Saints Peter and Paul; he did still better, by diverting from its natural channel, a river, the waters of which, sluggish and in great measure stagnant, sent up the most unwholesome exhalations to the top of the hill, where a small Town has been formed, under the shadow of the magnificent Church of Mary. Pope Benedict XIV, embellished this Sanctuary with truly persevering generosity, where Pius VII, having recovered his liberty, came to kneel, before his entrance into Rome and where he left, as a memorial of his visit, a superb gold Chalice, with this inscription: “Pius VII, Sovereign Pontiff, restored to liberty on the day of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and coming from France to Rome, left at Loretto, this monument of his devotion and gratitude.” His holiness Gregory XVI also made a pilgrimage to Loreto.