Thought for the Day – 8 November – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Advantages of Devotion to the Souls in Purgatory
“The story is told of St John of God who, on one occasion, when he was finding it difficult to provide for the crowds of sick people, whom he had in his hospital, he went about the streets of Granada, crying: “My dear brothers, give alms to yourselves!” Many were astonished at these words but, the Saint explained that Jesus regards as done to Himself anything which we do for the poor and unfortunate and that, therefore, He repays the generous giver handsomely. Since the Souls in Purgatory, are poor and needy, it is certain that whatever we do for them, will redound to our own advantage.
St Margaret of Cortona had a keen devotion to the Faithful Departed. It is related of her that when she was dying, she saw a band of blessed spirits descending from above, in order to escort her into Heaven. These were the countless souls whom her prayers had rescued from the pains of Purgatory.
“If only everyone realised,” the Cure d’Ars once said to a fellow Priest, “what great influence with God, the Holy Souls in Purgatory possess and, the vast number of favours which we obtain through their intercession, they certainly would not be forgotten. Let us pray earnestly for them and they will intercede strongly for us!”
“Whenever I wish to obtain some favour from our Heavenly Father,” said St Catherine of Bologna, “I have recourse to the Souls in Purgatory. I beseech them to present my petition to the Divine Majesty, in their name and through their inetercession, my request is granted.”
Notre-Dame de Savigny /Our Lady of Savigny, France (1112) – 9 March:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Foundation of Savigny, in the Diocese of Avranches, in Normandy, in honour of the Blessed Virgin, about the year 1112, by the blessed Vitalis, hermit, who was its first Abbot.” About the year 1112, in the Diocese of Avranches, the Blessed Vitalis (Vital de Mortain) established the foundation of the Abbey of Savigny (Abbaye de Savigny) in honour of the Blessed Mother. This day commemorates the event. The Abbey was founded near the village of Savigny-le-Vieux in the north of France and Blessed Vitalis became the first Abbot. It was initially Benedictine but soon was given over to Cistercian Monks. Within only thirty years it had over thirty daughter houses. Initially, Vitalis had gone into the forest of Savigny to become a hermit. His fame for sanctity, however, drew disciples to him. These disciples needed shelter from the elements and soon Vitalis found those crude structures had become a kind of Monastery requiring a rule of life. When the Lord of Fougeres granted the land to Vital, the Monastery was founded, and the hermit became the reluctant Abbot. In 1119 Pope Celestine II took the Abbey under his protection. Serlo, also known as Serlon, was the third Abbot of Savigny. During his period of office, one of the monks was known to have a deep and tender devotion to the Blessed Mother and while he was saying Mass in honour of Our Lady, he beheld the Virgin’s hand making the Sign of the Cross over the Chalice at the consecration of the wine. At the same time, a deliciously sweet odour surrounded the Monk. Thereafter, as often as he recalled this, he was refreshed by the sweetness of the scent which had encompassed him at the time. Mary’s presence was frequently experienced at this Shrine, particularly during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and numerous miracles were wrought, prayers answered and graces bestowed for the asking. During the 16th century the Abbey was pillaged and burned by Calvinists but it was not until the French Revolution that the Abbey was reduced to a pile of ruins.
Unlike the Abbey, the Church Our Lady of Savigny, still stands. According to an inscription on one of the capitals in the choir, the Church was dedicated to our Lady in 1128 and it is believed, that there is no Church in the district, that is older. It was restored in the year 1869 and serves the surrounding areas to this day..
Thought for the Day – 9 March – the Memorial of St Catherine of Bologna OSC (1413-1463)
When Margarita, Catherine’s greatest friend in the Court, became engaged, she invited Catherine to stay with her but Catherine felt called to the religious life and at the age of 14, she joined a Franciscan community. During this time she suffered a spiritual crisis but she had a vision of the Real Presence in the Eucharist that brought her consolation. Spiritual visions consoled and disturbed her at various times in her life, which we know from her work, The Seven Spiritual Weapons.
Catherine artistic heart led her into many pursuits, playing the viola, painting religious pictures (including one of St Ursula that hangs today in a gallery in Venice), copying out and illuminating her breviary (now on display at Oxford), and writing spiritual guides and poetry. She is now the Patron of artists.
Many today might think that her life was a wasted one, when she could’ve been a ‘celebrity’ artist. Appreciating Catherine’s life in a Poor Clare monastery may be hard for us. “It seems like such a waste,” we may be tempted to say.
But Catherine, through prayer, penance and charity to her sisters, drew close to God and He consoled that creative heart in so many ways, for He is the goal of all hearts. Our goal is the same as hers, even if our paths are different.
Quote of the Day – 9 March – Saturday after Ash Wednesday and the Memorial of St Catherine of Bologna OSC (1413-1463)
“Whoever wishes to carry the cross for His sake, must take up the proper weapons for the contest, especially those mentioned here. First, diligence; second, distrust of self; third, confidence in God; fourth, remembrance of His Passion; fifth, mindfulness of one’s own death; sixth, remembrance of God’s glory; seventh, the injunctions of Sacred Scripture following the example of Jesus Christ in the desert.”
One Minute Reflection – 9 March – Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Today’s Gospel : Luke 5:27-32 – The Calling of Matthew
“Leaving everything behind, the man got up and followed him”...Luke 5:28
REFLECTION – “Th exploiter Levi, changes his ways and becomes Matthew, the Apostle and Evangelist, the bearer of the Good News. His entire life-story proclaims that God is for the wrongdoer, inviting him to change. Paul changed his ways, so did Augustine, so did Jerome. So can you! Ignatius the soldier, becomes Ignatius the saint, the founder of the Jesuits. What will you be? What will you do? For YOU are called too!”…Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil SDB
“Because the healing power of God, knows no infirmity that cannot be healed and this, must give us confidence and open our heart to the Lord, that He may come and heal us.”…Pope Francis – General Audience, 13 April 2016
PRAYER – Come my all-powerful, ever-living God, look with compassion on our frailty and for our protection, stretch out to us Your strong right hand. Grant that by the prayers of Mary, our Mother and all your angels and saints we may change our ways, leave everything behind, proclaim the glory of Your kingdom and come safely home to You. St Catherine of Bologna and St Frances of Rome, pray for us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 9 March – St Catherine of Bologna OSC (1413-1463) – aged 49 – Religious Poor Clare nun – born on 8 September 1413 at Bologna, Italy as Caterina dei Vigri and died on 9 March 1453 at Bologna, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – Bologna, Against temptations, Artists, Liberal arts.
Catherine came from an upper class family, the daughter of Benvenuta Mammolini of Bologna and Giovanni Vigri, a Ferrarese notary. She was raised at Niccolo III’s court as a lady-in-waiting to his wife Parisina d’Este (d. 1425) and became lifelong friends with his natural daughter Margherita d’Este (d. 1478). During this time, she received some education in reading, writing, music, playing the viola, and had access to illuminated manuscripts in the d’Este Court library.
In 1426, after Niccolo III’s execution of Parisina d’Este for infidelity, Caterina left court and joined a lay community of beguines living a semi-religious life and following the Augustinian rule. In 1431 the beguine house was converted into the Observant Poor Clare convent of Corpus Domini, which grew from 12 women in 1431 to 144 women by the end of the century. Sister Caterina lived at Corpus Domini, Ferrara most of her life from 1431 to 1456, serving as Mistress of Novices.
She was a model of piety and experienced miracles and several visions of Christ, the Virgin Mary, Thomas Becket and St Joseph, as well as future events, such as the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
She wrote a number of religious treatises, lauds, sermons and copied and illustrated her own breviary (see on the right).
In 1455 the Franciscans and the governors of Bologna requested that she become abbess of a new convent, which was to be established under the name of Corpus Domini in Bologna. She left Ferrara in July 1456 with 12 sisters to start the new community and remained abbess there until her death on 9 March 1463. Caterina was buried in the convent graveyard but after eighteen days, a sweet smell emanated from the grave and the incorrupt body was exhumed. It was eventually relocated to a chapel where it remains on display, dressed in her religious habit, seated upright behind glass. A contemporary Poor Clare, Sister Illuminata Bembo, wrote her biography in 1469. A strong local Bolognese cult of Caterina Vigri developed and she became a Beata in the 1520s, but was not Canonised until 1712 by Pope Clement XI.
Catherine’s best known text is Seven Spiritual Weapons Necessary for Spiritual Warfare (Le Sette Armi Spirituali), which she appears to have first written in 1438 and then rewritten and augmented between 1450 and 1456. Although she probably taught similar ideas, she kept the written version hidden until she neared death and then handed it to her confessor with instructions to send a copy to the Poor Clares at Ferrara. Part of this book describes at length her visions both of God and of Satan. The treatise was circulated in manuscript form through a network of Poor Clare convents. It was first printed in 1475 and went through 21 later editions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including being translated in Latin, French, Portuguese, English, Spanish and German. It therefore played an important role in the dissemination of late medieval vernacular mysticism in the early modern period.
In addition, she wrote lauds, short religious treatises and letters, as well as a 5000-line Latin poem called the Rosarium Metricum, the I Dodici Giardini and I Sermoni. These were discovered around 2000 and described by Cardinal Giacomo Biffi – as “now revealed in their surprising beauty. We can ascertain that she was not undeserving of her renown as a highly cultivated person. We are now in a position to meditate on a veritable monument of theology which, after the Treatise on the Seven Spiritual Weapons, is made up of distinct and autonomous parts – The Twelve Gardens, a mystical work of her youth, Rosarium, a Latin poem on the life of Jesus and The Sermons, copies of Catherine’s words to her religious sisters.”
St Catherine represents the rare phenomenon of a fifteenth-century nun-artist whose artworks are preserved in her personal breviary. She meditated while she copied the scriptural text, adding about 1000 prayer rubrics and drew initials with bust-portraits of saints, paying special attention to images of Saints Clare and Francis. Besides multiple images of Christ and the infant swaddled Christ Child, she depicted other saints, including Thomas Becket, Jerome, Paul, Anthony of Padua, Mary Magdalene, her name saint Catherine of Alexandria. Her self-taught style incorporated motifs from needlework and devotional prints. Some saints’ images, interwoven with text and rubrics, display an idiosyncratic, inventive iconography.
Other panel paintings and manuscripts attributed to her include the Madonna and Child (nicknamed the Madonna del Pomo) in the Cappella della Santa, a possible portrait or self-portrait (?) in the autograph copy of the Sette Armi Spirituali, a Redeemer and another Madonna and Child in her chapel.
A drawing of a Man of Sorrows or Resurrected Christ found in a miscellany of lauds has also been attributed to her. St Catherine is significant as a woman artist who articulated an aesthetic philosophy. She explained that although it took precious time, the purpose of her religious art was “to increase devotion for herself and others”.