Saint of the Day – 4 March – Saint Peter of Pappacarbone (c 1038-1123) Bishop, Abbot, Reformer. Born in Salerno, Italy and died in 1123 of natural causes. Patronage – Policastro, Italy. Also known as – Pieror de Cava, Peter of La Cava, Peter I of Cava.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “In the Monastery of Cava de Tirreni in Campania, St Peter, Abbot, admirably renewed the discipline.”
Peter was a native of Salerno in Italy, a nephew of St Alferius, founder of the Monastery of Cava. Peter entered the religious life at a very early age under St Leo, the 2nd Abbot of Cava. He distinguished himself at once by his piety, mortifications and love of solitude.
At this time, the fame of the Abbey of Cluny had spread far and wide, and the young monk was so attracted by what he had heard, that in about 1062 he obtained Permission to leave Cava and go to France to investigate the way of life at Cluny When the older Monks at Cluny would have sent him to the school to be trained, their Abbot, St Hugh disagreed, saying that Peter might be young in years but that he was a full-grown man in devotion. The Abbot’s opinion was abundantly justified, for Peter proved himself well amongst that household of holy men and he remained there for some six years.
He was then recalled to Italy, having been released by St Hugh apparently at the request of the Archdeacon of Rome, Hildebrand (who was afterwards Pope St Gregory VII). Peter was appointed the first Bishop of Policastro but he found himself unfitted for the turmoil of the world and for the secular cares which devolved upon him. He obtained permission to resign and retired to Cava, where Abbot Leo, realising that he himself was becoming too old to govern, nominated him as his successor and withdrew. The Monks, by their votes, had confirmed the election of their new superior but soon found the strict rule he had brought from Cluny extremely irksome: they began to murmur and rebel and some of them carried their complaints to the aged Leo in his retirement.
Peter, far from resisting and equally far from relaxing the rule, quietly left and betook himself to another Monastery. It was not long before the Monks of Cava, urged by Abbot Leo, came to entreat Peter to return, which he consented to do. Thereafter it was remarked, that those who had the most vehemently opposed him ,were now foremost in welcoming the rule they had previously spurned.
Under the government of Abbot Peter the Monastery flourished amazingly. Not only did numbers of aspirants to the religious life, flock to him from all sides but men and women in the world, showered money and lands upon the community, which was then enabled to minister far and wide, to the sick and the poor. The Abbey itself had to be enlarged to admit the new members and a new Church was built, to the dedication of which, came Pope Urban II, who had been with Peter at Cluny and had remained his close friend. The description of this occasion was preserved in the chronicles of Cava, where it is stated that Blessed Urban talked freely with the Abbot and Monks, as though “forgetting that he was the Pope.”
Peter lived to a great age and died in 1123. He was succeeded by St Constabilis, who had served as Peter’s Assistant and Auxiallary.
The Abbey of Cava still exists and in 1912 the Monks gave proof of their devotion to the Founders of their observance by reprinting, from the unique ancient manuscript in their possession, the Lives of the Saints Alferius, Peter and two other early Sainted Abbots, purporting to be written by Hugh of Venosa, a younger contemporary of St Peter. It is to this biography, which may be found in the Acta Sanctorum (March, vol. i), that we owe all our knowledge of St Peter of Cava.
The first four Abbots of Cava were officially recognised and Canonised as Saints on 21 December 1893, by Pope Leo XIII. They are Alferius, the Founder and first Abbot (1050), Leo I (1050–79), Peter of Pappacarbone (1079–1123) and Constabilis (1122-1124). Their relics rest in the Abbey Church in the Chapel of the Saintly Fathers.’
One Minute Reflection – 12 April – Monday of the Second week of Easter, Readings: First: Acts 4: 23-31, Psalm: Psalms 2: 1-3, 4-7a, 7b-9, Gospel: John 3: 1-8 * readings below and the Memorial of St Alferius of La Cava (930–1050) Priest, Abbot, Founder
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:3
REFLECTION – “We read in Saint John – No-one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. To be reborn in the Holy Spirit during this life, is to become most like God in purity, without any mixture of imperfection. Accordingly, pure transformation can be effected – although not essentially – through the participation of union.
Here is an example that will provide a better understanding of this explanation. A ray of sunlight shining on a smudgy window, is unable to illumine that window completely and transform it into its own light. It could do this, if the window were cleaned and polished… The extent of illumination is not dependent on the ray of sunlight but, on the window. If the window is totally clean and pure, the sunlight will so transform and illumine it, that to all appearances, the window will be identical with the ray of sunlight and shine just as the sun’s ray. Although, obviously, the nature of the window is distinct from that of the sun’s ray, even if the two seem identical, we can assert, that the window is the ray or light of the sun by participation.
The soul on which the divine light of God’s being is ever shining, or better, in which it is ever dwelling by nature, is like this window. A soul makes room for God by wiping away all the smudges and smears of creatures, by uniting its will perfectly to God’s, for to love is to labour, to divest and deprive oneself for God, of all that is not God . When this is done, the soul will be illumined by and transformed in God.” – St John of the Cross (1542-1591) – Mystical Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – Almighty God and Father, grant that Your faithful people who were buried with Your Son in baptism, may by His Resurrection and intercession, at Your right hand, obtain for us eternal life. Send Your Spirit upon Your adopted children and lead us in Your way. Grant that by the intercession of Your Angels and Saints and holding on always, to our Blessed Virgin Mother, our path may be straightened and glow with Your light. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Acts 4: 23-31 23 And being let go, they came to their own company and related all that the chief priests and ancients had said to them. 24 Who having heard it, with one accord lifted up their voice to God and said: Lord, thou art he that didst make heaven and earth, the sea,and all things that are in them. 25 Who, by the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, hast said: Why did the Gentiles rage and the people meditate vain things? 26 The kings of the earth stood up and the princes assembled together against the Lord and his Christ. 27 For of a truth, there assembled together in this city against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, 28 To do what thy hand and thy counsel decreed to be done. 29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings and grant unto thy servants, that with all confidence they may speak thy word, 30 by stretching forth thy hand to cures,and signs and wonders to be done, by the name of thy holy Son Jesus. 31 And when they had prayed, the place was moved wherein they were assembled and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and they spoke the word of God with confidence.
Gospel: John 3: 1-8 1 And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night,and said to him: Rabbi, we know that thou art come, a teacher from God, for no man can do these signs which thou dost, unless God be with him. 3 Jesus answered, and said to him: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith to him: How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born again? 5 Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit. 7 Wonder not, that I said to thee, you must be born again. 8 The Spirit breatheth where he will and thou hearest his voice but thou knowest not ,whence he cometh and whither he goeth, so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.
Saint of the Day – 12 April – Saint Alferius of La Cava (930–1050) Cluniac Priest, Founder and Abbot of Arsicia (La Trinità della Cava) which follows the Benedictine Rule, nobleman, Diplomat to Prince Waimar III of Salerno, Cluniac reformer, cave Hermit, Founder, Mystic and Ecstatic, miracle-worker. Born in 930 in Salerno, Italy and died on Holy Thursday 1050, of natural causes. Also known as – Alferius Abbate, Alferius the Abbot, Adalfere, Adalfericus, Adalferius, Alfere, Alferio, Allerius, Alpherius.
The Roman Martyrology states: “In the Monastery of Cava de ‘Tirreni in Campania, Saint Alferius, Founder and first Abbot, who, after having been adviser to Guaimario, Duke of Salerno, who became a disciple of Saint Odilone in Cluny, learned in an excellent way, the discipline of monastic life.”
Alferius was born into a noble Lombard family in the second half of the 10th century. It is uncertain whether he actually did belong to the noble Lombard Pappacarbone family, related to the Princes of Salerno. From his youth, he had placed himself at the service of the Princes of his City. who had dominated the region since the seventh century.
In the year 1002 , Alferius, was sent as Ambassador of his Prince to the Emperor Henry II, to solicit military aid against the Byzantines who threatened the borders of the Principality of Salerno . On reaching the Alps he fell seriously ill and asked for hospitality in the Monastery of Chiusa di San Michele. There, he vowed ,that if he recovered, he would give up his Diplomatic career and become a Benedictine Monk. He did recover and fulfilled his vow by wearing the habit of St Benedict of Nursia , in the great Abbey of Cluny in France .
Alferius, having obtained the cure, had asked the Abbot of Cluny Sant’Odilone , who was passing through San Michele, to welcome him among his Monks. There he studied and grew in piety and was eventually Ordained to the Priesthood.
After a few years, however, Prince Guaimario III of Salerno, called him back to Salerno to reform the many Monasteries of that City. Alferius began the work but after a while, feeling attracted by a life of solitude, he secretly abandoned Salerno and took refuge in the Arsicia cave, at the foot of Monte Finestra, today in the Municipality of Cava de ‘Tirreni . Here, with two companions, he devoted himself totally to prayer, penance and manual work.
Soon the fame of his holiness spread to the surrounding countries and disciples eager to follow his example wished to join his community. People from all walks of life, sought hisspiritual assistance and began to flock to hs Cave.
It was then necessary to build a Monastery sufficient for a dozen religious. Following the famous vision of the three rays, handed down by oral tradition, the construction of the Monastery and the Church began in the narrow space between the Selano river and the Arsicia cave. Thus was born the Abbey of Cava, which Alferius dedicated to the Holy Trinity, La Trinità della Cava. It was around the year 1011.
However, in the Cavense Archive, the Princes of Salerno, Guaimario III and Guaimario IV, granted full ownership to the Monastery, all the land sorrounding it, including the Arsicia Cave and the large area above, on which the current Church of Cava was built.
Among his disciples we remember, in particular, St Leo, who would succeed him in the government of the Monastery and Desiderio di Benevento who later became Abbot of the Monastery of Montecassino and then the 158th Pope with the name of Victor III. His successor, Pope Urban II, endowed this Monastery with many privileges, making it immediately subject to the Holy See, with jurisdiction over the surrounding territory.
Alferius died on Holy Thursday, 12 April 1050 at the age of 120 after having celebrated Holy Mass, comforted by a vision of the Redeemer , Who summoned his home.
He was buried in the same cave, see below, which since then, has become the heart of the Abbey.
The first four Abbots were Canonised on 21 December 1893, by Pope Leo XIII. Pope Pius XI, in 1927, Beatified the next 8 Abbots, being the Blesseds: Simeone, Falcone, Marino, Benincasa, Pietro II, Balsamo, Leonardo and Leo II.
Nuestra Senora de la Caridad / Our Lady of Charity, Cobre, CubaOR Our Lady of Cobre – 12 Apri;:
In the mountains outside Santiago in Cuba, is an old pilgrimage Church, “Nuestra Senora de la Caridad,” which means, “Our Lady of Charity,” also known as “Our Lady of Cobre.” It is the National Shrine of Cuba. Early in the 17th century, three sailors left the Bay of Nipe to collect salt. Their vessel was small, so that when a storm arose, they were drifting and rocked violently on the roaring ocean. One of the men wore a medal stamped with an image of the Blessed Virgin, and the three began to pray for her protection. The storm suddenly cleared and the men saw something they could not immediately identify, coming toward them across the water. We still have the testimony of one of the men, Juan Moreno, regarding this incident. It was taken in 1687: “Having camped in the French Key, which is in the middle of the Bay of Nipe, waiting for a good time to leave for the salt mines, being a morning of calm seas, they left the French Keys, before daybreak. The aforementioned Juan y Rodrigo de Hoyos and myself, embarked in a canoe, headed for the salt mines and far from the French Key, we saw something white above the foam of the water, which we couldn’t distinguish. As we got closer, birds and dry branches appeared. The aforementioned Indians said, “It looks like a girl.” While they were discussing this among themselves, they saw an image of Our Lady, the Holy Virgin, on top of a small wooden plank, holding the baby Jesus in her arms. On this small tablet, was written in large letters, which read, “I am the Virgin of Charity.” Looking at her clothes, they realised that they were not wet.”
Upon returning home, the men revealed what they had seen and told the story of what had happened to them. A government official, Don Francisco Sanchez de Moya, had a small Chapel built in her honor. The Village of Cobre, where the Shrine is, is surrounded by high hills that roll back to the Sierra Maestra Mountains. The village is named Cobre because of the rich deposit of copper. A lamp of copper is kept burning before the Statue of Our Lady. Twice the Statue mysteriously disappeared from the locked Church and then returned, just as unaccountably. In each case ,Our Lady indicated where richer deposits f copper could be found. In 1936 after the completion of a beautiful Church, now a minor Basilica, in honour of Our Lady of Charity, the Statue was solemnly crowned amid great rejoicing and religious festivity.
The Shrine has much of old-time charm and literally hundreds of lights burn before the Shrine’s Statue. Our Lady is dressed richly in silken garments; she is dark like a Cuban girl with a sun-tanned Infant on her arm, smiling down on her Cuban children, who come to her in great numbers and with great confidence. The prayers of centuries seem to hang down from the walls in heavy folds. It is a place where prayer comes easily and its answer, seems to be a matter of course.