Sexagesima Sunday: (Latin – Sexagesima, sixtieth) is the eighth Sunday before Easter and the second before Lent. The Ordo Romanus, St Alcuin and others, count the Sexagesima from this day to Wednesday after Easter. The name was already known to the Fourth Council of Orléans in 541. To the Latins it is also known as “Exsurge” from the beginning of the Introit. The station was at Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls of Rome and hence, the oratio calls upon the Doctor of the Gentiles. The Epistle is from Paul, 2 Corinthians 11 and 12, describing his suffering and labours for the Church. The Gospel (Luke 8) relates the falling of the seed on good and on bad ground, while the Lessons of the first Nocturn continue the history of man’s iniquity and speak of Noah and of the Deluge.
Notre-Dame de la Fontaine / Our Lady of the Fountain, Valenciennes, France (1008) – 6 September:
Valenciennes is a City in northern France on the Scheldt River and Our Lady of the Fountain was located half a league from the City in the year 1008. According to tradition, there was a terrible famine that preceded the Plague in that fateful year of 1008. It is recorded that the City of Valenciennes was so ravaged by the plague that nearly 8,000 people died in only a few days, so that the chronicles of the time tell us that it seemed “the dead outnumber the living.” The people grieved profoundly at the spectacle of death which constantly surrounded them,and having no other recourse, went in great crowds to their Churches to take refuge at the feet of Our Mother of Mercy and beg for her intercession. A holy hermit named Bertholin, who lived nearby Our Lady of the Fountain, was touched by the misfortune of his brothers and redoubled his austerities and prayers. He prayed for the people of Valenciennes, saying, “O Mary! Rescue these afflicted who have cried out to you! Will you let this people die who have called upon you for rescue and who confide their cares to you? Will you be invoked in vain?” The Blessed Virgin appeared to the hermit Bertholin while he was fervently praying on the night of the 5th of September. The pious hermit was suddenly dazzled by the brilliance of a light purer than the sun, while at the same time the Mother of Mercy appeared to him with an air of kindness. She commanded Bertholin to tell the inhabitants to fast on the following day and then pass the night in prayer to bring an end to the Plague. “Go to my people of Valenciennes. On the eve of my nativity they will see the guarantee of protection that I want to give them.”
The response was overwhelming. The people of Valenciennes did as they were told,and on the eve of the Nativity, the 7th of September, the people of Valenciennes stood upon the ramparts and towers of the City excitedly awaiting the fulfilment of the heavenly promise. Their confidence was not in vain, for suddenly the night seemed to turn into day and they witnessed the Queen of Heaven descending to earth in majesty, sparkling like a light of heaven, brighter than the sun. Accompanied by a host of Angels, Our Lady seemed to gird the town all round with a cord. Nothing can convey the feelings of joy and devotion with which the people of Valenciennes were seized at this sight. At one point they all bowed and asked the Blessed Virgin’s blessing. Their Heavenly Mother did indeed bless them and those who were sick recovered their health and the inhabitants of Valenciennes have been forever freed from the plague. The Blessed Virgin instructed the hermit to tell the people that they were to make a solemn procession, and then to do so every year. The people were eager to fulfill this desire of their Heavenly Mother and left the City singing praises to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Since that time the procession of Our Lady of Saint-Cordon, or the Tour of the Holy Cordon, takes place every year, always along the same route where the holy cord had been placed. The cord of the Blessed Virgin was locked up in a Shrine at a beautiful Gothic Church, Notre-Dame-la-Grande. This cord, the Abbot Orsini related, was still preserved at Valenciennes while he was alive. That is no longer the case, as it disappeared during the Terror that was the French Revolution. The Church was sold at auction and then razed to the ground, and the reliquary sent to the mint. Of the Holy Cord nothing is now known, although no one witnessed its destruction when it disappeared in the year 1793.
St Arator of Verdun St Augebert of Champagne St Augustine of Sens St Beata of Sens St Bega
St Cagnoald St Consolata of Reggio Emilia St Cottidus of Cappadocia
St Eleutherius the Abbot (Died c 585) Monk and Abbot. A wonderful simplicity and spirit of compunction were the distinguishing virtues of this holy sixth century Abbot. His Lifestory: ttps://anastpaul.com/2020/09/06/saint-of-the-day-saint-eleutherius-the-abbot-at-spoleto-died-c-585/
St Eugene of Cappadocia St Eve of Dreux St Faustus of Alexandria St Faustus of Syracuse St Felix of Champagne St Frontiniano of Alba (Died 311) Deacon Martyr St Gondulphus of Metz St Imperia St Liberato of Loro Piceno St Macarius of Alexandria St Maccallin of Lusk
St Mansuetus of Toul St Onesiphorus St Petronius of Verona St Sanctian of Sens St Zacharius the Prophet — Martyrs of Africa – 6 saints: There were thousands of Christians exiled, tortured and martyred in the late 5th century by the Arian King Hunneric. Six of them, all bishops, are remembered today; however, we really know nothing about them except their names and their deaths for the faith – Donatian, Fusculus, Germanus, Laetus, Mansuetus and Praesidius.
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War: • Blessed Diego Llorca Llopis • Blessed Felipe Llamas Barrero • Blessed Pascual Torres Lloret • Blessed Vidal Ruiz Vallejo
One Minute Reflection – 20 February – Saturday after Ash Wednesday, Readings Isaiah 58: 9-14, Psalms 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, Luke 5:27-32 and the Memorial of St Elutherius of Tournai (c 456-532) Bishop and Martyr and Saints Francisco (1908-1919) and Jacinta (1910-1920)
“Those who are well, have no need of a physician but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:31-32
REFLECTION – “The Apostle Paul said: “Take off the old self with its practices and put on the new self” (Col 3,9-10)… This was the work Christ accomplished when He called Levi; He refashioned him into a new man. Similarly, it is as a new person, that the former publican prepares a banquet for Christ since Christ takes pleasure in him and he himself, merits to have a share in happiness with Christ… He followed him now, happy, light-hearted and overflowing with joy.
“I have the aspect of a publican no more,” he said, “I don’t carry around the old Levi any longer; I put off Levi when I put on Christ. I flee from my earlier life; my Lord Jesus, you alone, who heal my wounds, I desire to follow. Who shall separate me from the love of God … ? tribulation? anguish? hunger? (Cf Rom 8,35). I am bound to You by faith as by nails, I am held fast by the worthy bonds of love. All Your commandments will be like a cautery that I will apply firmly to my wound; the remedy stings but it takes away the ulcerous infection. Lord Jesus, with Your powerful sword, cut away the corruption of my sins: come quickly, lance my hidden and varied passions. Purge away all infection in the new bath.
“Listen to me, you people who are fixed to the earth, you whose thoughts are intoxicated by your sins. I, Levi, was also wounded by similar passions. But I found a doctor who dwells in heaven and pours out His remedies on earth. He alone can cure my wounds since He Himself has none. He alone can remove the heart’s pain and the soul’s lethargy, for He knows everything that lies hidden.” – St Ambrose (340-397) Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church – Commentary on Saint Luke’s Gospel, 5, 23.27
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 Eleutherius and Sts Jacinta and Francisco, pray for us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 20 February – Saint Eleutherius of Tournai (c 456-532) the first Bishop of Tournai, Martyr. Confessor. Born in c 456 at Tournai, western Belgium and died by being murdered by Arian heretics in 532 while leaving his Church in Tournai. Additional Memorial – 25 August (translation of relics). He was a lifelong friend of St. Medard (c 456-545) and the two saints had been courtiers before becoming Bishops. (St Medard’s life here: https://anastpaul.com/2020/06/08/saint-of-the-day-8-june-saint-medard-c-456-545-bishop/).
Eleutherius is venerated as a Martyr although this legend is considered an invention of the Canon Priest Henri of Tournai, who wrote a Vita of Eleutherius in 1141. At the end of the 11th century the Church of Tournai had been trying to become independent from the Diocese of Noyon and Henri had been motivated by the need to prove the antiquity of the Church of Tournai.
Henri’s account states that Eleutherius was a native of Tournai who was born during the reign of Childeric I. Eleutherius’ parents were Christians and were named Terenus and Blanda; Terenus was a descendant in the family of Irenaeus of Lyons. Persecutions of Christians forced the family to flee to a village named Blandain but after the conversion of Clovis to Christianity, the family built a Church at Blandain.
Eleutherius eventually became Bishop of Tournai and was consulted by Pope Hormisdas on the matter of eradicating Arianism. Eleutherius convened a Church Council and argued effectively against the Arians, who were angered by this.
One day, as he was going to his Cathedral Church, he was beaten by a group of Arians and left for dead. He subsequently died from the wounds he received, on his death-bed confiding, his flock to St Medard. There exists a testimony recording the recovery of his relics during the episcopate of Bishop Hedilo of Tournai, in 897 or 898. Bishop Baudoin translated Eleutherius’ relics in 1064 or 1065. Eleutherius’ relics were translated again in 1247, when the great reliquary shrine was commissioned by Bishop Walter de Marvis. In its gable end. St Eleutherius appears, holding his crozier in one hand and in the other a model of the Cathedral with its five spires.
The Monastery of St. Martin at Tours and the Cathedral of Bruges, also claimed some of the saint’s relics.
Notre-Dame de Bolougn-sur-Mer / Our Lady of Bolougn-sur-Mer, France (633) – 20 February:
In the year 636, a small group of people standing on the seashore witnessed a ship without oars or sails came into the harbour of Boulogne. It finally came to rest in the estuary, seemingly of its own accord. One of the witnesses boarded the boat and confirmed that there was no-one aboard and that the vessel had no rudder, oars or sails. The ship, however, bore a luminous statue of Our Lady. Taking hold of it to bring it to land, a voice was heard saying, “I choose your City as a place of grace.” The citizens welcomed Mary to their city by erecting a Shrine to her, which reached its height of glory in the 12th Century.
King Henry VIII is reported to have stolen the Statue of Our Lady of Boulogne and taken it to England. After many negotiations, the French managed to get it back. The image had been stolen and hidden many other times but always saved and returned. World War II almost completely destroyed the Statue. In modern times, four exact replicas of Our Lady of Boulogne toured France for more than seven years, as a symbol of French devotion to Mary. One of these was taken to Walsingham, England in 1948 and carried in procession by the “Cross-bearing pilgrimate” when many other Statues and images of the Virgin visited England. Bologne was one of the most important Lady shrines of medieval France; among its noted pilgrims have been: Henry III, Edward II, the Black Prince, John of Gaunt. Marian Feast Day, 10 July: The dedication of a new Church built in honour of Our Lady of Boulogne was consecrated in the year 1469 by Bishop Chartier of Paris. The confraternity of Our Lady of Boulogne was so celebrated, that six French kings have chosen to belong to it.
At the French Revolution, the Statue was burnt to ashes and the Church pulled down. A new Shrine and Statue was made in 1803 and pilgrimages began again. The image represents the Mother with the Child in her arms, standing in a boat, with an angel on either side. At the Marian Congress in Bolougne in 1938, a custom began to take replicas of this Statue “in turn” in France and abroad. A branch of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Compassion at Bolougne has been established for the reconciliation of the Church of England. The Sanctuary Church at Bolougne was badly damaged during World War II and Mary’s image smashed but the return, the “Great Return” of one of the copies of the Statue which had been sheltered at Lourdes, took place in 1943 and the occasion will long be remembered by lovers of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Most remarkable about the Grand Return was the unprecedented avalanche of graces, especially of conversions and penance. Thousands upon thousands of atheists, communists, freemasons and fallen-away Catholics converted on the spot when they saw Our Lady enter their village. One bishop described the effect on the faithful:
“The passing of Our Lady in my Diocese is the most extraordinary contemporary religious event of our times and the most significant. Crowds of people rose up, motivated and enthusiastic. In fact, the confessionals and communion rails were besieged during the holy vigils, while the recitation of the mysteries of the Rosary kept the faithful praying in the Churches. In some Parishes, there were tremendous conversions like never seen before on the missions.”
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