Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners / Refugium Peccatorum – St John Damascene calls Mary a City of Refuge to all who flee to Her.
Blessed Antonio Baldinucci SJ (1665-1717) had a particular devotion to the Refugium Peccatorum image of Virgin Mary in the Church of the Gesu (Frascati) in Italy. He commissioned a copy which he considered miraculous and carried with him in his travels.
The Jesuits spread copies of the image of the Madonna of Refuge in Mexico by the 19th century and it began to be depicted in missions there, often with clouds surrounding the lower portion of the image of the Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus. The term “Refugium Pstjohnberchmanseccatorum” is also used other works of Roman Catholic Marian art. For instance, there is a marble statue representing the Virgin Mary, on the grand staircase of the old municipal palace in Venice, Italy. The name came from the fact that the convicts were allowed to stop in front of the Virgin Mary’s statue to pray for their soul on the way to the scaffold. The traditional feast day of Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners is today, 13 August.
St Hippolytus Bishop Martyr St Cassian (of Imola) Martyr
St Anastasius the Monk St Anastasius the Priest St Benildus St Cassian of Todi St Concordia St Conn O’Rourke Bl Gertrude of Altenberg St Helen of Burgos St Herulph of Langres Bl John of Alvernia St Junian of Mairé St Ludolph
The Liturgical Year by Abbot Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)
“It was most just that our Divine King should show Himself to us with the sceptre of His power, to the end, that nothing might be wanting to the majesty of His empire. This sceptre is the Cross; and Paschal Time was to be the Season, for its being offered to Him in glad homage. A few weeks back and the Cross was shown to us, as the instrument of our Emmanuel’s humiliation and as the bed of suffering, whereon He died but, has He not, since then, conquered Death? and what is His Cross now but a trophy of His victory? Let it then be brought forth to our gaze and let every knee bend before this Sacred Wood, whereby our Jesus won the honour and praise we now give Him!
On the day of His Birth at Bethlehem, we sang these words of the Prophet Isaias: A Child is born unto us and a Son is given unto us and His government is upon His Shoulder (Is. ix. 6. The Introit of the Third Mass for Christmas Day). We have seen Him carrying this Cross upon His Shoulder, as Isaac carried the wood for his own immolation but now, it is no longer a heavy burthen. It is shining with a brightness that ravishes the eyes of the Angels and, after having received the veneration of man, as long as the world lasts, it will suddenly appear in the clouds of heaven, near the Judge of the living and the dead, a consolation to them that have loved it but a reproach to such as have treated it with contempt or forgetfulness.
Our Saviour did not think the time between His Resurrection and Ascensio,n a fitting one for glorifying the Instrument of His Victory. The Cross was not to be brought into notice, until it had subjected the world to Him, Whose glory it so eloquently proclaimed. Jesus was three days in the tomb; His Cross is to lie buried unknown to men, for three centuries but it is to have its Resurrection and the Church celebrates this Resurrection today. Jesus would, in His own good time, add to the joy of Easter by miraculously revealing to us, this Sacred Monument of His love for mankind. He entrusts it to our keeping, it is to be our consolation, as long as this world lasts – is it not just, that we should love and venerate it?
Never had Satan’s pride met with a humiliation like that of his seeing the instrument of our perdition, made the instrument of our salvation. As the Church expresses it in her Preface for Passiontide: “he that overcame mankind by a Tree, was overcome by a Tree.” Thus foiled, he vented his fury upon this saving Wood, which so bitterly reminded him, both of the irresistible power of his Conqueror and of the dignity of man, who had been redeemed at so great a price. He would fain have annihilated the Cross but knowing that this was beyond his power, he endeavoured to profane it and hide it from view. He, therefore, instigated the Jews to bury it. At the foot of Calvary, not far from the Sepulchre, was a deep hole. Into this was the Cross thrown, together with those of the two Thieves, the Nails, the Crown of Thorns and the Inscription, or Title, written by Pilate . The hole was then filled up with rubbish and earth and the Sanhedrim exulted in the thought of its having effaced the memory of the Nazarene, Who could not save Himself from the ignominious death of the Cross.
Forty years after this, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, the instruments of God’s vengeance. The Holy Places were desecrated by the idolaters. A small temple to Venus was erected on Calvary and another to Jupiter over the Holy Sepulchre. By this, the pagans intended derision; whereas, they were perpetuating the knowledge of two spots of most sacred interest. When peace was restored under Constantine, the Christians had but to remove these pagan monuments and their eyes beheld the holy ground that had been bedewed with the Blood of Jesus and the glorious Sepulchre.
As to the Cross, it was not so easily found. The sceptre of our Divine King was to be raised up from its tomb by a royal hand. The saintly Empress Helena, Constantine’s Mother, was chosen by heaven to pay to Jesu, and that, too, on the very spot where He had received His greatest humiliations, the honours which are due to Him as the King of the world. Before laying the foundations of the Basilica of the Resurrection, this worthy follower of Magdalene and the other holy women of the Sepulchre, was anxious to discover the Instrument of our Salvation. The Jews had kept up the tradition of the site where it had been buried, the Empress had the excavations made accordingly. With what holy impatience must she not have watched the works! and with what ecstasy of joy did she not behold the Redeeming Wood, which, though not, at first, distinguishable, was certainly one of the three Crosses that were found! She addressed a fervent prayer to the Saviour, Who alone could reveal to her which was the trophy of His Victory – the Bishop, St Macarius, united his prayers with hers and their faith was rewarded by a miracle, that left them no doubt as to which was the true Cross.
The glorious work was accomplished and the Church was put in possession of the instrument of the world’s Redemption. Both East and West were filled with joy at the news of this precious discovery, which Heaven had set on foot and which gave the last finish to the triumph of Christianity. Christ completed His Victory over the Pagan world, by raising thus His Standard, not a figurative one but His own real Standard, His Cross, which, up to that time, had been a stumbling-block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles;but before which every Christian is, henceforth, to bend his knee.
Helena placed the Holy Cross in the Basilica that had been built by her orders and which the same St Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem oversaw and which covered both the glorious Sepulchre and the hill of the Crucifixion. Another Church was erected on the site, where the Cross had lain concealed for three hundred years and the faithful are enabled, by long flights of steps, to go down into the deep grotto, which had been its tomb. Pilgrims came, from every part of the world, to visit the hallowed places, where our Redemption had been wrought and to venerate the Sacred Wood of the Cross. But God’s merciful providence willed, not that the precious pledge of Jesus’ love for mankind should be confined to one only Sanctuary, however venerable it might be. Immediately after its discovery, Helena had a very large piece cut from the Cross and this fragment she destined for Rome, the new Jerusalem. The precious gift was enshrined in the Basilica built by her son Constantine in the Sessorian garden,and which was afterwards called the Basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem.
By degrees, other places were honoured by the presence of the Wood of the Holy Cross. As far back as the 4th Century, we have St Cyril of Jerusalem attesting that many of the Pilgrims used to obtain small pieces of it, and thus carried the precious Treasure into their respective countries and St. Paulinus of Nola, who lived in the same century, assures us that these many gifts lessened not the size of the original Relic. In the 6th century, the holy Queen, St Radegonde, obtained from the Emperor Justin 2nd a large piece from the fragment that was in the imperial treasury of Constantinople . It was for the reception of this piece of the True Cross into France, that St Venantius Fortunatus composed the , that beautiful Hymn which the Church uses in her Liturgy, as often as she celebrates the praises of the Holy Cross.
After several times losing and regaining it, Jerusalem was, at length, forever deprived of the precious Relic. Constantinople was a gainer by Jerusalem’s loss. From Constantinople, especially during the Crusades, many Churches of the West procured large pieces. These again supplied other places; until, at length the Wood of the Cross was to be found in almost every town of any importance.
There is scarcely to be found a Catholic, who, some time or other in his life, has not had the happiness of seeing and venerating a portion of this sacred object. How many acts of love and gratitude have not been occasioned by this? And who could fail to recognise, in this successive profusion of our Jesus’s Cross, a plan of divine providence for exciting us to an appreciation of our Redemption, on which rest all our hopes of eternal happiness?
How dear, then, to us should not this day be, which blends together the recollection of the Holy Cross and the joys of the Resurrection of that Jesus, Who, by the Cross, has won the throne to which we shall soon see Him ascend|! Let us thank our Heavenly Father for His having restored to mankind a treasure so immensely precious as is the Cross. Until the day comes for its appearing, with Himself, in the clouds of heaven, Jesus has intrusted it to His Spouse, as a pledge of His Second Coming. On that day, He, by His divine power, will collect together all the fragments and the Tree of Life will, then, gladden the Elect with its dazzling beauty and invite them to eternal rest beneath its refreshing shade”. – Abbot Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)
“On whose dear arms, so widely flung, The weight of this world’s ransom hung, The price of humankind to pay And spoil the spoiler of his prey All hail, O Cross, our only hope!” [From the Hymn Vexilla Regis by St Venantius Fortunatus (c 530 – c 609)]
Saint of the Day – 13 August – Saint Radegunde (c 518-587) Queen, Nun, Abbess, Ascetic, Founder of a female Convent of enclosed Nuns,named and dedicated to the Holy Cross of which a relic was enshrined, Sainte-Croixwho also cared for the sick within their Convent. Born c 518 in Erfurt, Saxony and died on 13 August 587 in Poitiers, France of natural causes. Also known as – Radegund, Rhadegund, Radegonde, Radigund, Radegundes.Patronages – against drowning, against fever, against leprosy, against scabies, against scabs, against the death of parents, against ulcers, difficult marriages, potters, weavers, Poitiers, France.
Radegunde was born about 518 to Bertachar, one of the three Kings of the German land Thuringia. Radegunde’s uncle, Hermanfrid, killed her father, Bertachar in battle and took Radegunde into his household. After allying with the Frankish King Theuderic, Hermanfrid defeated his other brother Baderic. However, having crushed his brothers and seized control of Thuringia, Hermanfrid reneged on his agreement with Theuderic to share sovereignty.
In 531, Theuderic returned to Thuringia with his brother Clotaire I. Together they defeated Hermanfrid and conquered his kingdom. Clotaire I also took charge of Radegunde, taking her back to Gaulwith him. He sent the child to his villa of Athies in Picardy for several years, before marrying her in 540.
Radegunde was one of Clotaire I’s six wives or concubine . She had no children with him. Radegunde was noted for her almsgiving and care of the poor and sick.
By 550 Radegunde’s brother was the last surviving male member of the Thuringian Royal family. Clotaire had him murdered. Radegunde fled the Court and sought the protection of the Church, persuading the Bishop of Noyon to ordain her as a Deaconess and founded the Monastery of Sainte-Croix in Poitiers in around 560, where she cared for the infirm. Radegunde was widely believed to have the gift of healing.
Living under the Rule for Virgins of Caesarius of Arles, the Nuns were required to be able to read and write and to devote several hours of the day to reading the Sacred Scriptures and copying manuscripts, as well as traditional tasks such as weaving and needlework. This Rule strictly enclosed women, to the point that Nuns of Sainte-Croix were unable to attend Radegunde’s funeral.
Her Abbey was named for the relic of the True Cross that Radegunde obtained from the Byzantine Emperor Justin II. Although the Bishop of Poitiers, Maroveus, refused to install it in the Abbey, at Radegunde’s request, King Sigebert sent Eufronius of Tours to Poitiers to perform the ceremony. To celebrate the relic and its installation into Sainte-Croix, St Venantius Fortunatus (c 530 – c 609) composed a series of hymns, including the famous Vexilla Regis, considered to be one of the most significant Christian hymns ever written, which is still sung for services on Good Friday, Palm Sunday, as well as the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Radegunde was a close friend of St Junian of Maire;, Abbot. Junian and Radegunde are said to have died on the same day, 13 August 587.
She was known for her asceticism and penance and has been described as an “extreme ascetic.” She followed a vegetable diet,refusing all animal products. She ate nothing but legumes and green vegetables: – neither fruit nor fish nor eggs. She also abstained from wine, mead and beer. During Lent she abstained from bread, oil and salt, and only drank a little water. She acted against the advice of others who warned her that her extreme ascetism might make her ill. She bound her neck and arms with three iron circlets; her flesh was badly cut because of this. On one occasion she heated a brass cross and pressed it on her body.
The Saint Poet Venantius Fortunatus and the Bishop, hagiographer and historian, St Gregory of Tours, were close friends with Radegunde and wrote extensively about her. She wrote Latin poems to Fortunatus on tablets that have been lost. The three of them seem to have been close and Fortunatus’ relations with Radegunde were deeply spiritual. There are two poems written in the voice of Radegunde, De Excidio Thoringiae and Ad Artachin. While it has been proposed that Venantius wrote them, recent historians see her as the author.
Another biography was written by the Nun Baudovinia following a rebellion at the Abbey described by St Gregory of Tours.
Radegunde’s funeral, which St Venantius Fortunatus and St Gregory of Tours attended, was three days after her death. She was buried in what was to become the Church of St. Radegonde in Poitiers. Her tomb can still be found in the crypt of that Church, which remains the centre of devotion to her. In the 1260s a Church decoration program included stained-glass windows depicting Radegunde’s life. These were later largely destroyed by Huguenots.
In her book Woman Under Monasticism: Chapters on Saint-Lore and Convent Life between 500 and 1500 (1896) Lina Eckenstein drew the attention of modern readers to the rebellion of the Nuns at Poitiers after the death of Radegunde, during which, for a period of two years, they refused to accept a new Abbess who had been appointed by the male hierarchy.
St Anastasius the Monk St Anastasius the Priest St Benildus St Cassian of Imola St Cassian of Todi St Concordia St Conn O’Rourke Bl Gertrude of Altenberg St Helen of Burgos St Herulph of Langres Bl Jakob Gapp Bl John of Alvernia
St Nerses Glaietsi St Patrick O’Healy Bl Pierre Gabilhaud St Radegunde (c 518-587) Queen, Nun, Abbess St Wigbert of Fritzlar Bl William Freeman — Martyred in the Spanish Civil War: • Blessed Francesc Castells Areny • Blessed Inocencio García Díez • Blessed José Bonet Nadal • Blessed José Boher y Foix • Blessed José Juan Perot y Juanmarti • Blessed Jose Tàpies y Sirvant • Blessed Josep Alsina Casas • Blessed Luciano Hernández Ramírez • Blessed Maria de Puiggraciós Badia Flaquer • Blessed Mateo Despóns Tena • Blessed Modesto García Martí • Blessed Pascual Araguàs y Guàrdia • Blessed Pedro Martret y Molet • Blessed Silvestre Arnau y Pascuet