Posted in IGNATIAN/JESUIT SJ- Reflections, Jesuit Saints and more, MARIAN TITLES, SAINT of the DAY

Feast of Our Lady of Saideneida, Damascus and Memorials of the Saints – 3 February

Our Lady of Saideneida, Damascus – 3 February:

Outside of Palestine one of the most famous sanctuaries of the Mother of God in the Levant, is a Convent of Orthodox nuns, – Dair as-Sagura, located within the walls of an ancient fortress on a hill near Damascus. It is thought to be the site where Abel, the murdered brother of Cain, is buried and, is also the site of one of the world’s most ancient Monasteries.

Saidnaya, (or Saydnaya or Sednaya), is a city located in a mountainous region of Syria about 17 miles north of Damascus. The word Saidnaya means “Our Lady” and refers to a famous icon of the Virgin Mother of God that is still kept in the main Church.
The origin of the Shrine of Our Lady of Saideneida goes back to a time long before the separation of the Orthodox Church from Old Rome. In fact, there is a tradition, that associates the Shrine to at least the time of the Roman Emperor Justinian I (died 565). According to this tradition, the Roman Emperor Justininian I was leading his army through the desert in modern day Syria. His army was suffering greatly from a lack of water and was near despair, when the Emperor saw a beautiful gazelle in the distance. Justinian chased the animal, which came to a rocky knoll where there was a spring of fresh water. He was preparing to shoot the animal when it suddenly transformed into an icon of the Mother of God which shone with a heavenly light. A voice could be heard to say, “No, thou shalt not kill me, Justinian but thou shalt build a Church for me here on this hill.” The light then faded and the beautiful figure disappeared.
The water from the spring saved his army and Justinian told his commanders what he had seen. He ordered them to draw up the plans for the Church Our Lady had requested. The architects complained of insurmountable problems and the Blessed Virgin appeared to the Emperor in a dream and gave him the plan for the Church and convent, of which she herself would be the protectress. The project was completed on the Feast of Our Lady’s nativity.

Mosaic depiction of Mary ordering Justinian not to kill her but to build a church on the rock in the background, after having first appeared to him as a gazelle. The scroll she holds reads: “No, thou shalt not kill me, Justinian but thou shalt build a Church for me, here, on this rock.”

Once constructed, the convent became so renowned that it was second only to Jerusalem as a site of pilgrimage.
The icon, called Our Lady of Saideneida and attributed to St Luke, was said to have been brought to its home in the year 870 from Jerusalem. The holy Abbess of the convent, a woman named Marina, spoke to a Greek pilgrim named Theodore who had stopped at the convent for rest on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Since he was on his way to Jerusalem, the holy abbess Marina asked Theodore to purchase an icon of the Blessed Virgin in the Holy City and bring it back to the convent.
The hermit, once in Jerusalem, forgot about the Abbess’s request and began making his way home, when he was stopped by a voice which asked, “Have you not forgotten something in Jerusalem? What have you done in regard to the commission from the Abbess Marina?”
Theodore turned back and purchased a beautiful icon of the Theotokos that he knew would be acceptable to the Abbess. His journey back to the convent was fraught with difficulties, as he and his companions were set upon by bandits and suffered the attack of wild beasts. The hermit turned to the Blessed Virgin in all these dangers, invoking her intercession as he prayed before the icon. Despite all the attacks and violence, all those in the caravan were miraculously saved from every danger through the aid of the Mother of God.

The hermit Theodore, was convinced of the powerful aid of the icon and was tempted to keep it for himself. He decided to return home by another route to avoid the Abbess and Saideneida completely. He paid to take ship but the vessel encountered such a furious storm that they were forced to turn back rather than be lost. Repenting of his error, he returned to the road he had taken and made his way back to Saideneida. Once back at the convent, the days passed and he found that he did not want to part with the icon. He lied to the Abbess, telling her he had not purchased the icon she had requested and planned to depart from the convent in secret rather than face the disappointed abbess again.
Moving in the darkness the following morning, the hermit made his way soundlessly to the gate so as to begin his trek back to his homeland. As he attempted to pass through the convent gate, however, there was an invisible power that would not allow him to pass. It was as if he were trying to walk through a wall of solid stone, though nothing could be seen that barred his way. When he realised that he would not be able to leave the convent, he turned back and faced the Abbess, admitting to her that he had lied and had intended to keep the icon for himself.
With tears of gratitude, the Abbess Marina gave glory to God and His Holy Mother and the icon found its home. That same icon, known as the Shaghoura, meaning “the illustrious,” is kept in a pilgrimage Shrine that is separate from the rest of the chapel. It is hidden in an ornate niche with silver doors. Childless couples especially and pilgrims seeking miracles of cures, still come seeking the Blessed Virgin’s intercession.
The Shrine was formerly well known in the West, where from about 1200 it was popularised by the stories of miracles and miraculous cures. A German chronicler, during the ages of the crusades, wrote of his pilgrimage to the convent and spoke of the special properties of a miraculous, holy oil that was emitted from the icon. It was believed, that the oil could cure the sick and Templar knights, especially, would go to the Shrine to obtain the holy oil for their Churches.
Interestingly, not only Catholics but also Moslems go to the Shrine as pilgrims. It is remembered, that a sultan, in thanksgiving for a prayer answered through the icon, set a lamp to burn perpetually before the image of Our Lady.
The Middle Ages were certainly a time of faith and there were many images of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin and various Saints that were produced for the edification of the people. Inflamed with a true zeal for the faith and anxious to give glory to God, there were many Shrines all over Europe, many of which are now long forgotten in our age when the world struggles mightily to extinguish the Light of Christ.

St Blaise (Died c 316) – Martyr (Optional Memorial)
All about St Blaise: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2018/02/03/saint-of-the-day-st-blaise-died-c-316-martyr/

Bl Alois Andritzki
St Anatolius of Salins
St Ansgar OSB (801-865) “Apostle of the North”, Bishop
Biography:

https://anastpaul.com/2019/02/03/saint-of-the-day-3-february-saint-ansgar-osb-801-865-apostle-of-the-north/
St Anna the Prophetess
St Berlinda of Meerbeke
St Blasius of Armentarius
St Blasius of Oreto
St Caellainn
St Celerinus of Carthage
St Claudine Thevenet
St Clerina of Carthage
St Deodatus of Lagny
St Eutichio
St Evantius of Vienne
St Felix of Africa
St Felix of Lyons
St Hadelin of Chelles
Bl Helena Stollenwerk
Bl Helinand of Pronleroy
St Hippolytus of Africa
St Ia of Cornwall
St Ignatius of Africa
Bl Iustus Takayama Ukon
Blessed John Nelson SJ (1535-1578) Priest Martyr
Bl John Zakoly
St Laurentinus of Carthage
St Laurentius of Carthage
St Lawrence the Illuminator
St Liafdag
St Lupicinus of Lyon
St Margaret of England
Bl Marie Rivier
St Oliver of Ancona
St Philip of Vienne
St Remedius of Gap
St Sempronius of Africa
St Tigrides
St Werburga of Bardney
St Werburga of Chester

Benedictine Martyrs: A collective memorial of all members of the Benedictine Order who have died as martyrs for the faith.

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 3 February – The Memorial of Saint Ansgar OSB (801-865)

Thought for the Day – 3 February – The Memorial of Saint Ansgar OSB (801-865)

The “Apostle of the North” had enough frustrations to become a saint—and he did.
History records what people do, rather than what they are.   Yet the courage and perseverance of men and women like Ansgar can only come from a solid base of union with the original courageous and persevering Missionary.

Ansgar’s life is another reminder that God writes straight with crooked lines.   Christ takes care of the effects of the apostolate in His own way, He is first concerned about the purity of the apostles themselves.

St Ansgar, Pray for Us!st ansgar pray for us 3 feb 2019.jpg

Posted in DIVINE MERCY, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on GRACE, SAINT of the DAY

Quote of the Day – 3 February – St Ansgar (801-865)

Quote of the Day – 3 February – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C and The Memorial of St Ansgar (801-865)

“If I were worthy of such a favour from my God,
I would ask that He grant me this one miracle –
that by His grace, He would make of me a good man.”

Saint Ansgar to a parishioner who was praising him for being a miracle workerif I were worthy of such an honour - st ansgar - 3 feb 2019.jpg

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 3 February – Gospel: Luke 4:21–30 “And they rose up and put him out of the city”

One Minute Reflection – 3 February – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 4:21–30 and The Memorial of St Blaise – Martyr (Died c 316) and St Ansgar (801-865)

And they rose up and put him out of the city and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong.   But passing through the midst of them he went away….Luke 4:29-30

REFLECTION – “A doctor came amongst us to restore us to health – our Lord Jesus Christ. He discovered blindness in our hearts and promised the light that “eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and has not entered the heart of man” (1Cor 2:9).
The humility of Jesus Christ is the cure for your pride.   Don’t scorn what will bring you healing, be humble, you for whom God humbled Himself.   Indeed, He knew that the medicine of humility would cure you, He who well understood your sickness and knew how to cure it.   While you were unable to run to the doctor’s house, the doctor in person came to your house… He is coming, He wants to help you, He knows what you need.
God has come with humility precisely in order that man might imitate Him.   If He had remained above you, how would you have been able to imitate Him?   And, without imitating Him, how could you be healed?   He came with humility because He knew the nature of the remedy He had to administer – a little bitter, it is true but healing.   And do you continue to scorn Him?   He who holds out the cup to you and you say:  “But what sort of God is this God of mine?   He was born, suffered, was covered with spittle, crowned with thorns, nailed on the cross!”   O miserable soul!   You see the doctor’s humility and not the cancer of your pride.   That is why humility displeases you…
It often happens that mentally ill people end up by beating their doctor.   When that happens, the unfortunate doctor is not only not distressed by the one who beat him but attempts to treat him…   As for our doctor, He did not fear being killed by sick people afflicted with madness, He turned His own death into their remedy.   Indeed, He died and rose again.”…St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of the Churchluke 4 29 and they rose and oput him out - as for our doctor - st augustine 3 feb 2019.jpg

PRAYER –  Lord our God, make us love You above all things and all our fellow-men, with a love that is worthy of You.   May we look to Your Divine Son in love and imitation.   Holy Father, You sent St Ansgar, Monk and Bishop, to bring the light of Christ to many nations of Northern Europe.   Through his prayer give us grace to live always in the light of Your truth.   Grant too, that by the prayers of St Blaise, we too may be granted the grace to follow Your only Son, no matter our sufferings, to You, in our heavenly home.   We make our prayer, through Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever amen.st-blaise-pray-for-us-3-february-20171

st-ansgar-pray-for-us-3-feb-2018

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 3 February – Saint Ansgar OSB (801-865) “Apostle of the North”

Saint of the Day – 3 February – Saint Ansgar OSB (801-865) “Apostle of the North”, Bishop, Monk, Mystic, Missionary, Preacher, Miracle-worker, Apostle of Charity Ascetic.   Patronages – Denmark, Scandinavia, Sweden, Bremen, Germany, diocese of Hamburg, Germany, archdiocese of.   He is also known as Anskar or Anschar.   St Ansgarwas the Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen – a northern part of the Kingdom of the East Franks.   The See of Hamburg was designated a mission to bring Christianity to Northern Europe and Ansgar became known as the “Apostle of the North”.   He was born in 801 at Amiens, Picardy, France and died on 3 February 865 at Bremen, Germany.img-Saint-Ansgar-1.jpg

Ansgar was the son of a noble Frankish family, born near Amiens.   After his mother’s early death, Ansgar was brought up in Corbie Abbey and was educated at the Benedictine monastery in Picardy.    According to the Vita Ansgarii  – The Life of Ansgar, when the little boy learned in a vision that his mother was in the company of the Blessed Virgin Mary,  his careless attitude toward spiritual matters changed to seriousness.   His pupil, successor and eventual biographer St Rimbert (830–888) considered the visions, of which this was the first, to be the main motivation of the saint’s life.header st ansgar

Ansgar was a product of the phase of Christianisation of Saxony (present day Northern Germany) begun by Charlemagne and continued by his son and successor, Louis the Pious.   A group of monks including Ansgar were sent back to Jutland with the baptised exiled king Harald Klak.   Ansgar returned two years later and was one of a number of missionaries sent to found the abbey of Corvey in Westphalia and there became a teacher and preacher.   Then in 829 in response to a request from the Swedish king Björn at Hauge for a mission to the Swedes, Louis the Pious appointed Ansgar missionary.  With an assistant, the friar Witmar, he preached and made converts for six months at Birka, on Lake Mälaren.   They organised a small congregation there with the king’s steward, Hergeir and Mor Frideborg as its most prominent members.   In 831 he returned to Louis’ court at Worms and was appointed to the Archbishopric of Hamburg. This was a new archbishopric with a see formed from those of Bremen and Verden, plus the right to send missions into all the northern lands and to consecrate bishops for them. He was given the mission of evangelising Denmark, Norway and Sweden.   The King of Sweden decided to cast lots as to whether the Christian missionaries should be admitted into his kingdom.   Ansgar recommended the issue to the care of God, and the lot was favourable.saint-ansgar-anskar-oscar-801-865-mary-evans-picture-library

Ansgar was consecrated in November 831 and, the arrangements having been at once approved by Pope Gregory IV, he went to Rome to receive the pallium directly from the hands of the pope and to be named legate for the northern lands.   This commission had previously been bestowed upon Ebbo, Archbishop of Reims but the jurisdiction was divided by agreement, with Ebbo retaining Sweden for himself.   For a time Ansgar devoted himself to the needs of his own diocese, which was still missionary territory with but a few churches.   He founded a monastery and a school in Hamburg.

220px-Bendixen_Ansgar
A depiction of Saint Ansgar from the Church Trinitatis, in Hamburg, Germany

After Louis died in 840, his empire was divided and Ansgar lost the abbey of Turholt, which had been given as an endowment for his work.   Then in 845, the Danes unexpectedly raided Hamburg, destroying all the church’s treasures and books and leaving the entire diocese beyond repair.   Ansgar now had neither see, nor revenue. Many of his helpers deserted him but the new king, Louis the German, came to his aid. After failing to recover Turholt for him, in 847 he awarded him the vacant diocese of Bremen, where he took up residence in 848.   However, since Hamburg had been an archbishopric, the sees of Bremen and Hamburg were combined for him.   This presented canonical difficulties and also aroused the anger of the Bishop of Cologne, to whom Bremen had been suffragan but after prolonged negotiations, Pope Nicholas I approved the union of the two dioceses in 864.759e7-ansgar

Through all this political turmoil, Ansgar continued his mission to the northern lands. The Danish civil war compelled him to establish good relations with two kings, Horik the Elder and his son, Horik II.   Both assisted him until his death.  He was able to secure recognition of Christianity as a tolerated religion and permission to build a church in Sleswick.   He did not forget the Swedish mission and spent two years there in person (848–850), at the critical moment when a pagan reaction was threatened, which he succeeded in averting.   In 854, Ansgar returned to Sweden when king Olof ruled in Birka.   According to Rimbert, he was well disposed to Christianity.

Ansgar wore a rough hair shirt, lived on bread and water and showed great charity to the poor.   Being the first missionary in Sweden and the organiser of the hierarchy in the Nordic countries, he was declared Patron of Scandinavia.   Ansgar was buried in Bremen in 865.

His life story was written by his successor as archbishop, Rimbert, in The Life of Ansgar – Vita Ansgarii.

His Relics are located in Hamburg on two places – St. Mary’s Cathedral and St Ansgar’s and St Bernard’s Church.

Hamburg,_Vorplatz_des_Neuen_Mariendoms,_St.-Ansgar-Statue.jpg
St Ansgar Statue in Hamburg

The Life of Ansgar aims above all to demonstrate Ansgar’s sanctity.   It is speaks of St Ansgar’s visions, which, encouraged and assisted Ansgar’s remarkable missionary feats.

Through the course of this work, St Ansgar repeatedly embarked on a new stage in his career following a vision.   His studies and ensuing devotion to the ascetic life of a monk were inspired by a vision of his mother in the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary.    When the Swedish people were left without a priest for some time, he begged King Horik to help him with this problem.   St Ansgar was convinced he was commanded by heaven to undertake this mission and was influenced by a vision he received when he was concerned about the journey, in which he met a man who reassured him of his purpose and informed him of a prophet that he would meet, the Abbot Adalard, who would instruct him in what was to happen.   In the vision, he searched for and found Adalard, who commanded, “Islands, listen to me, pay attention, remotest peoples”, which Ansgar interpreted as God’s will that he go to the Scandinavian countries as “most of that country consisted of islands and also, when ‘I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth’ was added, since the end of the world in the north was in Swedish territory”.  Saint Adalard of Corbie (c 751-827), was the cousin of Charlemagne.Saint_Ansgar_by_Theobald_Stein_-_DSC07151.JPG

There are Statues dedicated to him in Hamburg, Copenhagen, Ribe as well as a stone cross at Birka.   A crater on the Moon, Ansgarius, has been named for him.

StAnsgarStatueHamburg
St Ansgar Statue in Hamburg

Posted in MORNING Prayers, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 3 February – The Memorial of St Ansgar (801-865)

Thought for the Day – 3 February – The Memorial of St Ansgar (801-865)

The “apostle of the north” (Scandinavia) had enough frustrations to become a saint—and he did.   He became a Benedictine at Corbie, France, where he had been educated.   Three years later, when the king of Denmark became a convert, Ansgar went to that country for three years of missionary work, without noticeable success.   Sweden asked for Christian missionaries and he went there, suffering capture by pirates and other hardships on the way.   Fewer than two years later, he was recalled, to become abbot of New Corbie (Corvey) and bishop of Hamburg.   The pope made him legate for the Scandinavian missions.   Funds for the northern apostolate stopped with Emperor Louis’s death.   After 13 years’ work in Hamburg, Ansgar saw it burned to the ground by invading Northmen – Sweden and Denmark returned to paganism.

He directed new apostolic activities in the North, travelling to Denmark and being instrumental in the conversion of another king.   By the strange device of casting lots, the king of Sweden allowed the Christian missionaries to return.

Ansgar’s biographers remark that he was an extraordinary preacher, a humble and ascetical priest.   He was devoted to the poor and the sick, imitating the Lord in washing their feet and waiting on them at table.   He died peacefully at Bremen, Germany, without achieving his wish to be a martyr.

History records what people do, rather than what they are.   Yet the courage and perseverance of men and women like Ansgar can only come from a solid base of union with the original courageous and persevering Missionary.   Ansgar’s life is another reminder that God writes straight with crooked lines.   Christ takes care of the effects of the apostolate in His own way, He is first concerned about the purity of the apostles themselves and thus, through them, we learn the way of zeal, courage and a true missionary spirit, the way we are all called to live.

St Ansgar, pray for us!st ansgar pray for us no 2 - 3 feb 2018

Posted in MARTYRS, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on SANCTITY, SAINT of the DAY

One Minute Reflection – 3 February – The Memorial of St Blaise – Martyr (Died c 316) and St Ansgar (801-865)

One Minute Reflection – 3 February – The Memorial of St Blaise – Martyr (Died c 316) and St Ansgar (801-865)

...Do not use your freedom as an opening for self-indulgence but be servants to one another in love….the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control; no law can touch such things as these…Galatians 5:13,22-23

REFLECTION – “If I were worthy of such a favour from my God, I would ask that He grant me this one miracle: that by His grace He would make of me a good man.”- St Ansgar to a parishioner who was praising him for being a miracle workerif i were worthy - st ansgar - 3 feb 2018

PRAYER – Holy Father, You sent St Ansgar, Monk and Bishop, to bring the light of Christ to many nations of Northern Europe.   Through his prayer give us grace to live always in the light of Your truth.   Grant too, that by the prayers of St Blaise, we too may be granted the grace to follow Your only Son, no matter our sufferings, to You, in our heavenly home.   We make our prayer, through Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever amen.st ansgar - pray for us - 3 feb 2018st-blaise-pray-for-us-3-february-2017