Our Morning Offering – 5 May – Loving Mother

Our Morning Offering – 5 May – “The Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary”

Loving Mother
Prayer to Our Lady
From the Servite Vigil of our Lady I

Loving Mother,
woman of prayer,
we turn to you and pray:
support our prayers for ourselves,
for all your Servants,
for our friends and families,
for those who share the Catholic faith
and for every person on earth,
that all may know peace and salvation.
Ask the Father that we may truly know Christ,
be filled with the gifts of the Spirit,
protected in all adversity
and freed from every evil.
Help us to build God’s kingdom:
a kingdom of everlasting praise,
a kingdom of justice and peace
that will endure forever and ever.

Posted in MORNING Prayers, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 17 February – The Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (1233)

Thought for the Day – 17 February – The Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (1233)

Can you imagine seven prominent men of any great city banding together, leaving their homes and professions and going into solitude for a life directly given to God?   That is what happened in the cultured and prosperous city of Florence in the middle of the 13th century.   The city was torn with political strife as well as the heresy of the Cathari, who believed that physical reality was inherently evil.   Morals were low and religion seemed meaningless.   In 1240, seven noblemen of Florence mutually decided to withdraw from the city to a solitary place for prayer and direct service of God.   Community members combined monastic life and active ministry.   In the monastery, they led a life of prayer, work and silence while in the active apostolate they engaged in parochial work, teaching, preaching and other ministerial activities.

Since criminals and people with evil purposes often band together for their common interests, good people often have to do the same.   Faced with the immorality and blood feuds of thirteenth century Florence, the Seven Holy Founders banded together for their own spiritual good and succeeded in founding a whole new religious order.   Good companions are on of the most powerful helps toward a holy life, for all of us are faced in a new and urgent way with the challenge to make our lives decisively centred in Christ.   In this new day, we often find those ‘good companions’ online, let us too band together and live a holy life amidst the dangers around us!

Seven Holy Founders, Pray for us!seven-holy-founders-pray-for-us-17 feb 2017

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saints of the Day – 17 February – The Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order OSM – Formation on 15 August 1233

Saints of the Day – 17 February – The Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order OSM – Formation on 15 August 1233.   The Servite Order is one of the five original Catholic mendicant orders.   Its objectives are the sanctification of its members, preaching the Gospel and the propagation of devotion to the Mother of God, with special reference to her sorrows.   The members of the Order use O.S.M. (Ordo Servorum Beatae Mariae Virginis) as their post-nominal letters.   The male members are known as Servite Friars or Servants of Mary.   The Order of Servants of Mary (The Servites) religious family includes friars (priests and brothers), contemplative nuns, a congregation of active sisters and lay groups.

Between the years 1225 and 1227 seven young Florentines joined the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin—popularly known as the ‘Laudesi’ or Praisers.   It was a period when the prosperous city of Florence was being rent by political factions and distracted by the heresy of the Cathari:  it was also a time of general relaxation of morals even where devotional practices were retained.   These young men were members of the most prominent families of the city.   Whether they were all friends before they joined the Laudesi is not clear but in that confraternity they became closely allied.

The eldest was Buonfiglio Monaldo, who became their leader.   The others were Alexis Falconieri, Benedict dell’ Antella, Bartholomew Amidei, Ricovero Uguccione, Gerardino Sostegni, and John Buonagiunta.   They had as their spiritual director James of Poggibonsi, who was chaplain of the Laudesi, a man of great holiness and spiritual insight.   All of them came to realise the call to a life of renunciation and they determined to have recourse to our Lady in their perplexity.   On the feast of the Assumption, as they were absorbed in prayer, they saw her in a vision and were inspired by her to withdraw from the world into a solitary place and to live for God alone.   There were difficulties, because, though three of them were celibates, four had been married and had ties, although two had become widowers.   Suitable provision for their dependants was arranged and with the approval of the bishop they withdrew from the world and betook themselves to a house called La Carmarzia, outside the gates of Florence, twenty-three days after they had received their call.   Before long they found themselves so much disturbed by constant visitors from Florence that they decided to withdraw to the wild and deserted slopes of Monte Senario, where they built a simple church and hermitage and lived a life of almost incredible austerity.

seven holy founders 4

In spite of difficulties, visitors sometimes found their way to the hermits and many wished to join them but they refused to accept recruits.   So they continued to live for several years,—until they were visited by their bishop, Ardingo, and Cardinal Castiglione, who had heard about their sanctity.   He was greatly edified but made one adverse criticism:  ‘You treat yourselves in a manner bordering on barbarity and you seem more desirous of dying to time than of living for eternity.   Take heed, the enemy of souls often hides himself under the appearance of an angel of light . . . Hearken to the counsels of your superiors.’

Again the solitaries gave themselves up to prayer for light and again they had a vision of our Lady, who bore in her hand a black habit while an angel held a scroll inscribed with the title of Servants of Mary.   She told them she—had chosen them to be her servants, that she wished them to wear the black habit and to follow the Rule of St Augustine. From that date, April 13, 1240, they were known as the Servants of Mary, or Servites.

seven holy founders

They were clothed by the bishop himself, Buonfiglio being elected their superior. According to custom they selected names by which they should thenceforth be known, and became Brothers Bonfilius, Alexis, Amadeus, Hugh, Sostenes, Manettus and Buonagiunta.   By the wish of the bishop, all except St Alexis, who in his humility begged to be excused, prepared to receive holy orders and in due time they were fully professed and ordained priests.   The new order, which took a form more like that of the mendicant friars than that of the monastic orders, increased amazingly and it soon became necessary to form fresh houses.   Siena, Pistoia and Arezzo were the first places chosen, and afterwards the houses at Carfaggio, the convent and church of the Santissima Annunziata in Florence and the convent at Lucca were established.   Meanwhile, although the Servites had the approval of their immediate superiors, they had not been recognised by the Holy See.   It was only in 1259 that the order was practically recognised by Alexander IV, and not until 1304 over sixty years after its foundation-that it received the explicit and formal approbation of Blessed Benedict XI.    St Bonfilius had remained as prior general until 1256, when he begged to be relieved owing to old age.   He died on new year’s night, 1261.

seven holy founders 3seven holy founders 2

St Buonagiunta, the youngest of the seven, was the second prior general but not long after his election he breathed his last in chapel while the gospel of the Passion was being read.   St Amadeus ruled over the important convent of Carfaggio, but returned to Monte Senario to end his days.   St Manettus became fourth prior general and sent missionaries to Asia but he retired to make way for St Philip Benizi, upon whose breast he died.   St Hugh and St Sostenes went abroad—Sostenes to Paris and Hugh to found convents in Germany.   They were recalled in 1276 and, being attacked by illness, they passed away side by side the same night.   St Alexis, the humble lay-brother outlived them all and he was the only one who survived to see the order fully and finally recognised.   He is reported to have died at the age one hundred and ten.

Servite Church in Innsbruck, Austria

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 23 August – St Philip Benezi OSM (1233-1285)

Saint of the Day – 23 August – St Philip Benezi OSM (1233-1285) Co-Founder, Servite Priest Confessor, Superior, Reformer, Preacher, Medical Doctor.  Born on15 August (Feast of the Assumption and the day that the Blessed Virgin appeared to the first of the Founders of the Servite Order) 1233 at district of Oltrarno, Florence, Italy -and died on 22 August (Octave of the Assumption i.e. the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) 1285 at Todi, Italy).  Patronages – Minor Basilica of Monte Senario (Vaglia) in the Diocese of Florence, Tuscany, Italy; Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines. The Church of the Servites of Mary in Todi, Umbria, contains the body of St Philip Benizi, where the Statue below resides and is the work of Bernini.   St Philip was Beatified on 8 October 1645 by Pope Innocent X and Canonised on 12 April 1671 by Pope Clement X – he was first Servite to be Canonised.


Saint Philip Benizi was born in Florence on the Feast of the Assumption, 1233 of a noble family.   That same day the Order of Servites was founded by the Mother of God.   As an infant one year old, Philip spoke when in the presence of these new religious and announced the Servants of the Virgin.   Amid all the temptations of his youth, he longed to become a Servant of Mary and it was only the fear of his own unworthiness which made him yield to his father’s wish and begin to study medicine.   He received the bonnet of a doctor of medicine at Padua.

After long and weary waiting, his doubts were solved one day by Our Lady Herself, who in a vision during a Mass in Florence offered in the Servite Chapel, bade him enter Her Order.   Still Philip dared only offer himself as a lay brother and saying nothing of his studies, in this humble state he strove to do penance for his sins.   Two Dominican Fathers traveling with him one day recognised the great talents, wisdom and knowledge which he had succeeded in concealing.   They talked to his Superiors and he was told to prepare for the priesthood.   As a priest he did immense good.   He pacified many dissensions, common among the city-states of those days.   One day he met a leper, almost naked and having no money, gave him his tunic.   When the leper put it on, he was instantly cured.

Thereafter ,honours were accorded him in rapid succession;  he became General of the Order and only by flight did he escape elevation to the Papal throne;   he retired to a grotto in the mountains until the conclave had ended.   His preaching restored peace to Italy, wasted by civil wars.   He was sent not only to various cities of that country but to the Netherlands and Germany, where he converted many, not without opposition and even a flogging by rebels.   At the Council of Lyons, he spoke to the assembled prelates with the gift of tongues.   Amid all these favours Philip lived in extreme penitence, constantly examining his soul before God and condemning himself as only fit for hell.

Saint Philip, although he was free from every stain of mortal sin, was never weary of beseeching God’s mercy.   From the time he was ten years old he daily prayed the Penitential Psalms.   On his deathbed he recited verses of the Miserere, his cheeks streaming with tears;  during his agony he went through a terrible contest to overcome the fear of damnation.   But a few minutes before he died, all his doubts disappeared and were succeeded by a holy trust.   He uttered the responses to the final prayers in a low but audible voice and when at last the Mother of God appeared before him, he lifted up his arms with joy and breathed a gentle sigh, as if placing his soul in Her hands.   He died on the Octave of the Assumption – the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, 1285.

An ancient chronicle recounts that “in the time of his transfer, when the brothers took the sarcophagus in which his most holy body laid, from one part of the church to a more honourable part of the church, they noticed that all of the images in the church turned towards his precious body and kneeled in supplication, miraculously praying to him.
“That same day the whole city of Todi was filled with a sweet soft smell that came
from the religious reliques and having secretly opened the tomb, the brothers were clearly alerted by everyone who ran from the city, after having touched the holy reliques, they reacquired the sight of the marvelous general.   The son of
a widow, who died that same day, was brought to the tomb and he was immediately revived.   Also many paralyzed people, handicapped people and sick people, while praying in the church that day of the transfer, were cured.   So many in fact, sick and deformed came to the tomb of the man of God and returned home healthy and happy, thanking God infinitely.”

It is said that the title of “Our Lady of the Divine Providence”, came from Saint Philip Benizi, fifth superior of the Servants of Mary, who one day called out for the protection of the Virgin when the brothers had nothing to eat.   St Philip then found two baskets of bread at the door of the monastery and no one knew how they got there.

Five scenes from his life were painted in the early 16th century by the Florentine Andrea del Sarto: “His Charity to a Leper,” “The Smiting of the Blasphemers,” “The Cure of the Woman Possessed with a Devil,” “The Resurrection of Two Children near the Tomb of the Saint” and “The Veneration of his Relics.”   These are murals and too faded to post.

There is a Statue of him on the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic.   Designed in 1714, this Statue was made from Salzburg marble and donated by the Servites’ Convent in Prague.   The Statue portrays him holding a Crucifix, a book and a spray.   At his feet, there is the Crown of the Pope. A clay model of this statue can be found in the Salzburg museum. The second statue below is on the Colonade at St Peter’s.