Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, FRANCISCAN OFM, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 21 July – St Lawrence of Brindisi O.F.M. Cap – Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 21 July – St Lawrence of Brindisi O.F.M. Cap – Doctor of the Church – (22  July 1559 at Brindisi, Italy as Julius Caesar Rossi –  22 July 1619 at Lisbon, Portugal of natural causes).   His remains are buried in the cemetery of the Poor Clares in Villafranca, Spain.   He was Beatified on 1 June 1783 by Pope Pius VI and Canonised on 8 December 1881 by Pope Leo XIII.   He was created a Doctor of the Church by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1959 with the title Doctor apostolicus (Apostolic Doctor).   Patronages – of Brindisi, Italy.   Attributes – leading the Christian army against the Turks, receiving the embrace of the Child Jesus.   He is known as the “Franciscan Renaissance Man”  – he was a Religious member of the Franciscan Friars Minor Capuchin, a Priest, Theologian, Vicar General of the Franciscans, Language scholar, Humanist, Philosopher, Biblicist, Preacher, Missionary, Professor, International Administrator, Confidant of Popes, Emperors, Kings and Princes, Diplomatic envoy, Army Chaplain, Military Strategist and Morale builder, Polemicist, Prolific writer.

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Despite Saint Lawrence of Brindisi’s later fame, little is known of his early years.   His father was William Russo, a well-to-do Venetian merchant and his mother was Elizabeth Masella.   He was born in the Southern Italian port city of Brindisi on the 22nd of July 1559.   He received his early education at a day school run by the Conventual Franciscans and made rapid progress in his studies.   At the tender age of six, following the Italian custom of the time, he publicly preached a short Christmastide sermon on the Child Jesus.  However, by the time he was 14 he had lost both his parents and his education was entrusted to his uncle, a high-ranking cleric at Venice’s Saint Mark’s Cathedral.   It was at Saint Mark’s College, a private school run by his uncle, that Julius Caesar received an excellent secondary education.

In Venice he came to know the Capuchin Friars Minor who had a small church dedicated to saint Mary of the Angels on the island of Giudeca.   Impressed by their austere life of Poverty, he asked for admission to the Order and was invested with the habit as a novice at the Verona Capuchin novitiate friary of on the 18th of February 1575.  At this time, Julius Caesar was given the religious name Brother Lawrence.     He made his perpetual profession on the 24th of March the following year.

His writings fill fifteen volumes and his knowledge of Hebrew allowed him to preach so effectively to the Jewish people in Italy that the rabbis were certain that Lawrence must have been a Jew who had become a Christian.   His skills in dealing with people meant that he served as a papal emissary to many countries but he never forgot that he was first and foremost a priest.

There is a very special title accorded by the Church to certain saints, who are named “Doctor of the Church” and this title indicates that the writings and preaching of such a person are useful to Christians “in any age of the Church.”   Such men and women are also particularly known for the depth of understanding and the orthodoxy of their theological teachings.   St. Lawrence of Brindisi was given this title and he is one of the thirty-six saints to be named “Doctor.”

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While still a deacon, St. Lawrence of Brindisi became known as an excellent preacher and after his ordination captured the whole of northern Italy with his amazing sermons. He was sent into Germany by the pope to establish Capuchin houses.   While there, he became chaplain to Emperor Rudolf II and had a remarkable influence on the Christian soldiers fighting the Muslims who were threatening Hungary in 1601.   Through his efforts, the Catholic League was formed to unify Catholics for the purpose of strengthening the Catholic cause in Europe.   Sent by the emperor to persuade Philip III of Spain to join the League, he established a Capuchin friary in Madrid.   He also brought peace between Spain and the kingdom of Savoy.

His compassion for the poor, the needy and the sick was legendary.   Elected minister-general of his order in 1602, he made the Capuchins a major force in the Catholic Restoration, visiting every friary in the thirty-four provinces of the order and directing the work of nine thousand friars.   He himself was a dominant figure in carrying out the work of the Council of Trent and was described by Pope Benedict XV as having earned “a truly distinguished place among the most outstanding men ever raised up by Divine Providence to assist the Church in time of distress.”

Yet in the midst of all this feverish activity, Brother Lawrence found peace and strength to keep going by taking refuge in prayer.   Sometimes his Masses which were usually celebrated in private could last for up to twelve hours.   He wept copious tears as he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice and was even witnessed being lifted into the air as he prayed at the Altar.   When he entered the Order in 1575, he told the Provincial Minister who tried to dissuade him by describing in detail the rigours of the Capuchin lifestyle: “Nothing will be difficult for me as long as there is a Crucifix in my room.”   Pictures of Saint Lawrence often show him contemplating the Crucifix.

ST LAWRENCE OF BRINDISI - 2.JULY 21

To Mary he attributed his vocation, his restoration to health as a student, his knowledge of Hebrew and all his successes.   He went to her in all his needs.   When elected Vicar General of the Order, he first went to the Shrine of Our Lady’s Holy House at Loreto and returned there at the end of his term of office.   From his formation days onward, he prayed the Rosary and the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin daily.   His favourite greeting for the Brothers was: “Nos, cum prole pia, benedicat Virgo Maria! May the Virgin Mary bless us with her loving Child!”

 

In 1619, at the request of the Pope, Brother Lawrence had to travel once more to Spain to make known to the Spanish King the plight of Naples’s citizens under the tyrannical rule of the Spanish Viceroy of the region, the Duke of Ossuna.   He managed to escape the Duke’s attempts to block his mission and set sail secretly from Genoa.   He had to go to Lisbon in Portugal to meet the King of Spain.   His diplomatic mission was successfully concluded but worn out by the journey he fell critically ill.   Having received the Last Sacraments, Brother Lawrence of Brindisi died in Lisbon, Portugal before he could board a ship to return home on the 22nd of July 1619.   Saint Lawrence entered heaven the same date as he entered this world sixty years previously.

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O God, who didst bestow on blessed Lawrence of Brindisi, Your Confessor and Doctor, the spirit of wisdom and fortitude to endure every labour for the glory of Your Name and the salvation of souls:  grant us, in the same spirit, both to perceive what we ought to do, and by his intercession to perform the same;  through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end, amen.

St Lawrence pray for us!

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Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS

Quote of the Day – 23 May

Quote of the Day – 23 May

“The saints must be honoured as friends of Christ
and children and heirs of God.
Let us carefully observe the manner of life of all
the apostles, martyrs, ascetics and just men
who announced the coming of the Lord.
And let us emulate their faith, charity, hope, zeal,
life, patience under suffering and perseverance unto death
so that we may also share their crowns of glory.”

St John Damascene (675-749) – Doctor of the Church

the saints must be honoured-st john damascene doctor of the church (675-749)

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, PRAYERS of the SAINTS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 27 February -St Gregory of Narek/Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 27 February -St Gregory of Narek/Doctor of the Church (951 – 1003)  Armenian monk, poet, mystical philosopher, theologian and saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Catholic Church, born into a family of writers. Based in the monastery of Narek (Narekavank), he was “Armenia’s first great poet”and as “the watchful angel in human form”

Born circa 950 to a family of scholarly churchmen, St. Gregory entered Narek Monastery on the south-east shore of Lake Van at a young age.   Shortly before the first millennium of Christianity, Narek Monastery was a thriving center of learning.   These were the relatively quiet, creative times before the Turkic and Mongol invasions that changed Armenian life forever.   Armenia was experiencing a renaissance in literature, painting, architecture and theology, of which St. Gregory was a leading figure.   The Prayer Book is the work of his mature years. He called it his last testament: “its letters like my body, its message like my soul.” St. Gregory left this world in 1003, but his voice continues to speak to us.

Written shortly before the first millennium of Christianity, the prayers of St. Gregory of Narek have long been recognized as gems of Christian literature. St. Gregory called his book an “encyclopedia of prayer for all nations.” It was his hope that it would serve as a guide to prayer by people of all stations around the world.

A leader of the well-developed school of Armenian mysticism at Narek Monastery, at the request of his brethren he set out to find an answer to an imponderable question: what can one offer to God, our creator, who already has everything and knows everything better than we could ever express it?    To this question, posed by the prophets, psalmist, apostles and saints, he gives a humble answer – the sighs of the heart – expressed in his Book of Prayer, also called the Book of Lamentations.

In 95 grace-filled prayers St. Gregory draws on the exquisite potential of the Classical Armenian language to translate the pure sighs of the broken and contrite heart into an offering of words pleasing to God  The result is an edifice of faith for the ages, unique in Christian literature for its rich imagery, its subtle theology, its Biblical erudition and the sincere immediacy of its communication with God.

For my soul is filled with torment, and there is no cure for my body. I am tortured and laid low in the extreme, and I groan with the sighs of my heart.
Psalm 38:9-10

Gregory of Narek is recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and is particularly venerated among Catholics of the Armenian rite.   His name is listed among the saints for 27 February in the Martyrologium Romanum.

Pope John Paul II referred to Gregory of Narek in several addresses as well as in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater and in his Apostolic Letter for the 1,700th Anniversary of the Baptism of the Armenian People.

He is mentioned by name in Article 2678 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

On 21 February 2015, it was announced that Saint Gregory of Narek would be named a Doctor of the Catholic Church by Pope Francis.    His being given this title was not an equipollent canonisation since he had already been listed as a saint in the Martyrologium Romanum.    On 12 April 2015, Divine Mercy Sunday, during a Mass for the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, Pope Francis officially proclaimed Gregory of Narek as Doctor of the Church.

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St. Gregory’s proclamation as a Doctor of the Church was commemorated by the Vatican City state with a postage stamp issued September 2, 2015.

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Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, SAINT of the DAY

Saints – 27 February

St Abundius of Rome
St Alexander of Rome
St Alnoth
St Anne Line
St Antigonus of Rome
St Baldomerus of Saint Just
St Basilios of Constantinople
St Comgan
St Emmanuel of Cremona
St Fortunatus of Rome
St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows/Gabriel Possenti
St Gregory of Narek – Doctor of the Church, Poet, Philosopher and Theologian
St Herefrith of Lindsey
St Honorina
St John of Gorze
Bl Josep Tous Soler
St Luke of Messina
Bl Maria Caridad Brader
Bl Mark Barkworth
St Procopius of Decapolis
Bl Roger Filcock
St Thalilaeus
Bl William Richardson

Martyrs of Alexandria: –
Besas of Alexandria
Cronion Eunus
Julian of Alexandria

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 21 February – St Peter Damian

Saint of the Day – 21 February – St Peter Damian (c 1007-1072/73)Bishop, Confessor, Benedictine Mon, Cardinal, Theologian, Writer, Teacher, Preacher, Poet and Doctor of the Church.   Petrus Damianus; Italian: Pietro or Pier Damiani was a reforming Benedictine monk and cardinal in the circle of Pope Leo IX.    Dante placed him in one of the highest circles of Paradiso as a great predecessor of Saint Francis of Assisi and he was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1828

Peter was born in Ravenna, Italy, around 1007, the youngest of a large noble but poor family.    Orphaned early, he was at first adopted by an elder brother, who ill-treated and under-fed him while employing him as a swineherd.    After some years, another brother, Damianus, who was archpriest at Ravenna, had pity on him and took him away to be educated.    Adding his brother’s name to his own, Peter made such rapid progress in his studies of theology and canon law, first at Ravenna, then at Faenza and finally at the University of Parma, that when about twenty-five years old he was already a famous teacher at Parma and Ravenna.   As well as a good grounding in the field of law, he acquired a refined expertise in the art of writing the ars scribendi and, thanks to his knowledge of the great Latin classics, became “one of the most accomplished Latinists of his time, one of the greatest writers of medieval Latin” (J. Leclercq, Pierre Damien, ermite et homme d’Église, Rome, 1960, p. 172).

Religious life
About 1035, however, he gave up his secular calling and, avoiding the compromised luxury of Cluniac monasteries, entered the isolated hermitage of Fonte Avellana, near Gubbio. Both as novice and as monk, his fervour was remarkable but led him to such extremes of self-mortification in penance that his health was affected, and he developed severe insomnia.    On his recovery, he was appointed to lecture to his fellow monks.    Then, at the request of Guy of Pomposa (Guido d’Arezzo) and other heads of neighboring monasteries, for two or three years he lectured to their brethren also and (about 1042) wrote the life of St. Romuald for the monks of Pietrapertosa.    Soon after his return to Fonte Avellana he was appointed economus (manager or housekeeper) of the house by the prior, who designated him as his successor.    In 1043 he became prior of Fonte Avellana, and remained so until his death in February 1072.

Subject-hermitages were founded at San Severino, Gamogna, Acerreta, Murciana, San Salvatore, Sitria and Ocri. A zealot for monastic and clerical reform, he introduced a more-severe discipline, including the practice of flagellation (“the disciplina”), into the house, which, under his rule, quickly attained celebrity and became a model for other foundations, even the great abbey of Monte Cassino.    There was much opposition outside his own circle to such extreme forms of penitence, but Peter’s persistent advocacy ensured its acceptance, to such an extent that he was obliged later to moderate the imprudent zeal of some of his own hermits.   Another innovation was that of the daily siesta, to make up for the fatigue of the night office.    During his tenure of the priorate a cloister was built, silver chalices and a silver processional cross were purchased, and many books were added to the library.

Reformer
Although living in the seclusion of the cloister, Peter Damian closely watched the fortunes of the Church and like his friend Hildebrand, the future Pope Gregory VII, he strove for reforms in a deplorable time.    When Benedict IX resigned the pontificate into the hands of the archpriest John Gratian (Gregory VI) in 1045, Peter hailed the change with joy and wrote to the new pope, urging him to deal with the scandals of the church in Italy, singling out the wicked bishops of Pesaro, of Città di Castello and of Fano.    Extending the area of his activities, he entered into communication with the Emperor Henry III.    He was present in Rome when Clement II crowned Henry III and his consort Agnes and he also attended a synod held at the Lateran in the first days of 1047, in which decrees were passed against simony.    After this he returned to his hermitage.

Pope Benedict XVI described him as “one of the most significant figures of the 11th century … a lover of solitude and at the same time a fearless man of the Church, committed personally to the task of reform.”

Philosophy
Peter often condemned philosophy.    He claimed that the first grammarian was the Devil, who taught Adam to decline deus in the plural.    He argued that monks should not have to study philosophy, because Jesus did not choose philosophers as disciples and so philosophy is not necessary for salvation.    But the idea (later attributed to Thomas Aquinas) that philosophy should serve theology as a servant serves her mistress originated with him.

Papal envoy and Cardinal
During his illness the pope died, and Frédéric, abbot of Monte Cassino, was elected pope as Stephen IX.    In the autumn of 1057, Stephen IX determined to make Damian a cardinal. For a long time Damian resisted the offer, for he was more at ease as an itinerant hermit-preacher than a reformer from within the Curia but was finally forced to accept and was consecrated Cardinal Bishop of Ostia on 30 November 1057.    In addition he was appointed administrator of the Diocese of Gubbio.    The new cardinal was impressed with the great responsibilities of his office and wrote a stirring letter to his brother-cardinals, exhorting them to shine by their example before all.    Four months later Pope Stephen died at Florence and the Church was once more distracted by schism.    Peter was vigorous in his opposition to the antipope Benedict X but force was on the side of the intruder and Damian retired temporarily to Fonte Avallana.

Milan
About the end of the year 1059 Peter was sent as legate to Milan by Pope Nicholas II.   So bad was the state of things at Milan, that benefices (a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services) were openly bought and sold and the clergy publicly married the women with whom they lived.    The resistance of the clergy of Milan to the reform of Ariald the Deacon and Anselm, Bishop of Lucca rendered a contest so bitter that an appeal was made to the Holy See.   Nicholas II sent Damian and the Bishop of Lucca as his legates.    The party of the irregular clerics took alarm and raised the cry that Rome had no authority over Milan.    Peter boldly confronted the rioters in the cathedral, he proved to them the authority of the Holy See with such effect that all parties submitted to his decision.   He exacted first a solemn oath from the archbishop and all his clergy that for the future no preferment should be paid for; then, imposing a penance on all who had been guilty, he reinstated in their benefices all who undertook to live in celibacy.    This prudent decision was attacked by some of the rigorists at Rome but was not reversed.   Meanwhile, Peter was pleading in vain to be released from the cares of his office. Neither Nicholas II nor Hildebrand would consent to spare him.

Later career
He rendered valuable assistance to Pope Alexander II in his struggle with the antipope, Honorius II.    In July 1061 the pope died and once more a schism ensued.    Peter Damian used all his powers to persuade the antipope Cadalous to withdraw but to no purpose. Finally Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne and acting regent in Germany, summoned a council at Augsburg at which a long argument by Peter Damian was read and greatly contributed to the decision in favour of Alexander II.

In 1063 the pope held a synod at Rome, at which Peter Damian was appointed legate to settle the dispute between the Abbey of Cluny and the Bishop of Mâcon.   He proceeded to France, summoned a council at Chalon-sur-Saône, proved the justice of the contentions of Cluny, settled other questions at issue in the Church of France and returned in the autumn to Fonte Avellana.    Having served the papacy as legate to France and to Florence, he was allowed to resign his bishopric in 1067.    Early in 1072 or 1073 he was sent to Ravenna to reconcile its inhabitants to the Holy See, they having been excommunicated for supporting their archbishop in his adhesion to the schism of Cadalous.    On his return thence he was seized with fever near Faenza.    He lay ill for a week at the monastery of Santa Maria degl’Angeli, now Santa Maria Vecchia.    On the night preceding the feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Antioch, he ordered the office of the feast to be recited and at the end of the Lauds he died.    He was at once buried in the monastery church, lest others should claim his relics.