Saint Edwin, King

October 12

Today is the feast day of Saint Edwin.  King of Northumbria. Ora pro nobis.

Edwin, born in 584, was a prince of the Royal family of Deira in England. His father, King Aelle, was deposed, and Edwin was forced to flee and was raised in exile.

Once, Edwin, a pagan, met a stranger who predicted the restoration of his kingdom if he would promise to do whatever would be taught him regarding his own salvation. Edwin promised and the stranger, laying his hand upon his head, bade him remember that sign. Shortly after that incident, due to diverse political and military circumstances Edwin recovered the Kingdom of Deira, and afterward became King of all Northumbria, one of the seven parts into which England was divided at that time.

It was supposedly during this conquest period that he came into contact with the Royal House of North Rheged and was baptized into the Christian faith by Prince Rhun . However, he must have lapsed back into paganism soon afterward for, in AD 625, Edwin married – traditionally on the site of St. Gregory’s Church, Kirknewton – the Princess Ethelburga, sister of King Edbald of Kent and, though he welcomed her personal chaplain,  St Paulinus, as Archbishop of York.  Edwin himself was a still pagan.

It seems that Edwin’s Mercian wife had been put aside for no other reason than political expediency. This, no doubt, led to much bad-feeling in Mercia and the lady’s cousin, King Penda, seems to have allied himself with the kingdom of Wessex around this time. In AD 626, Prince Cwichelm of Wessex sent an assassin north to murder Edwin. He was, however, saved from being stabbed by the timely intervention of one of his thanes. By co-incidence, Edwin’s daughter, Enflaed, was born that same night and it is said that the King promised to give her  to St. Paulinus for baptism, if he was victorious over the assassin’s paymaster.

Discovering Cwichelm’s treachery, Edwin marched on Wessex. Prince Cwichelm and his father, King Cynegils of Wessex, marched north to meet the Northumbrians at the Battle of Win Hill & Lose Hill (Derbys), probably with the aid of King Penda. Despite their army’s superior numbers, the Wessex duo were defeated and fled south once more. Edwin, of course, kept his promise to St. Paulinus.

Edwin then began to consolidate his position. At the Royal Court in Yeavering, he allowed Paulinus to convert him to Christianity once more. The King then travelled to York for baptism in Paulinus’ proto-Cathedral and persuaded all his nobles, as well as sub-Kings (such as King Eorpwald of East Anglia) to follow suit: thus ensuring unity within the country. It was a prestigious move which brought letters and gifts from the Pope in Rome. Edwin also set about re-fortifying York.

Though this city might be considered Edwin’s capital, he held a number of important administrative centres and resided in them on a circuit basis. Venerable Bede describes how Edwin would travel around, preceded by a standard bearer “as he rode among his cities, estates and kingdoms with his thegns. Further, when he walked anywhere along the roads, there used to be carried before him the type of standard which the Romans call a tufa and the English call a thuf.”

Such peaceful times were not to last however. Trouble was brewing. King Cadwallon of Gwynedd soon returned from the Continent looking for revenge. In AD 633, he marched a great British army into the North and clashed with the Northumbrians at Hatfield Chase. King Edwin was killed in the fighting at Edwinstowe (Notts) on October 12, 633.  The victorious Cadwallon went on to decimate his country. Edwin’s supporters managed to take his body for burial in the Royal Abbey of Whitby.  He was later revered as a saint, and his head was translated to York Minster. The King’s family, however, fled to Kent and the kingdom was nominally divided between Enfrith of Bernicia and Osric of Deira.

Image: Saint King Edwin of Northumbria, St Mary, Sledmere, East Riding of Yorkshire, England. (4)

Research by REGINA Staff


Saint Wilfrid, Bishop

October 12

Today is the feast day of Saint Wilfrid.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Wilfrid was born about the year 634 of an Christian family.  He was unhappy at home.  Through the unkindness of a stepmother, and in his fourteenth year he was sent away to the Court of King Oswy, King of Northumbria. Here he attracted the attention of Queen Eanfleda and by her, at his own request, he was sent to the Monastery of Lindisfarne.  Here he was trained by the Celtic monks at Lindisfarne.

Yet even as a boy Wilfrid longed for perfect conformity with the Holy See in discipline as well as in doctrine, and at the first opportunity he set out for Rome. When his devotion and his desire for instruction in the difficulties of the liturgy were satisfied, he was ready to return to England.  On his way home he stayed for three years at Lyons, where he received the tonsure from Bishop Annemundas.

Returning to England he received the newly founded monastery at Ripon as the gift of Alchfrid, Oswy’s son and heir.  Here he established the full Benedictine Rule. The Columbite monks, who had been settled previously at Ripon, withdrew to the North. It was not until he had been for five years Abbot of Ripon, that Wilfrid became a priest. His main work at Ripon was the introduction of Roman rules and the putting forward of a Roman practice with regard to the point at issue between the Holy See and the Scottish monks in Northumbria; to settle these questions the synod of Whitby was held in 664.

Chiefly owing to Wilfrid’s advocacy of the claims of the Holy See the votes of the majority were given to that side, and Colman and his monks, bitterly disappointed, withdrew from Northumbria. Wilfrid was elected bishop in Colman’s place, and, refusing to receive consecration from the northern bishops, whom he regarded as schismatics, went over to France to be consecrated at Compiegne.

He again remained for a time across the Channel, and then found, when he returned to England, that another had replaced him in his newly assigned see of York. That bishop, whose position was more than doubtful, was persuaded to retire when the Archbishop of Canterbury visited Northumbria; Wilfrid was thereby reinstated in 669. He enforced the Roman obedience in his see and founded many monasteries of the Benedictine Order.

As Bishop of York he had to combat the passions of wicked kings, the cowardice of worldly prelates, the errors of holy men. He was twice exiled and once imprisoned; finally the difficulties were settled with the aid of Roman authority. In 686 he was called back to his diocese of York, where eventually he swept away the abuses of many years and a too national system, and substituted instead a vigorous Catholic discipline, modeled and dependent on Rome.

When the large see of York was definitively divided and suffragan dioceses established, Saint Wilfrid was given two smaller sees but not York. He decided to accept the settlement reached with other British ecclesiastics, since the principle of Roman authority had been vindicated. He died October 12, 709, amid the monks of Ripon and was buried in this monastery.  The greater part of his relics were transferred to the cathedral of Canterbury in the year 959.

Beyond all others of his time, St. Wilfrid stands out as the great defender of the rights of the Holy See. For that principle he fought all through his life, first against Colman and the Scottish monks from Iona, and then against Theodore and his successor in the See of Canterbury; and much of his life was spent in exile for this reason. But to him above all others is due the establishment of the authority of the Roman See in England, and for that reason he will always have a very high place among English saints.

Eddius, the biographer of St. Wilfrid, was brought by that saint from Canterbury when he returned to York in 669. His special work was to be in connection with the music of the church of York, and he was to teach the Roman method of chant. He was an inmate of the monastery of Ripon in 709, when St. Wilfrid spent his last days there, and he undertook the work of writing the life of the saint at the request of Acca, St. Wilfrid’s successor in the See of Hexham. The best edition of the work is in Raines, “Historians of the Church of York” (Rolls Series).

Image: Lambert Barnard (1485 – 1567), created Chichester Cathedral’s Tudor paintings by command of Robert Sherborne Bishop of Chichester in 1519. They are believed to be the largest surviving paintings of their kind, the two huge painted panels (14ft x 32ft) are on display in the transepts of the Cathedral, from which this copy, an engraving by T.King Drawing Master Chichester October 1807, was taken. It shows Wifrid receiving a charter from King Caedwella (7)

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Feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

October 11

Today is the Feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Ora pro nobis.

To the Mother of God
Glory be to thee, O holy mother of God, masterpiece of the universe, shining star, luster of virginity, scepter of faith, indestructible temple, in whom He dwelt Whom immensity cannot contain. Virgin mother of Him Who, blessed forever, comes to us in the name of the Lord, by thee is the Trinity glorified, the holy cross praised and adored throughout the world, the heavens are made joyful and the angels to tremble with joy, the devils put to flight, and man enabled to pass from slavery to the freedom of Heaven. Through thee idolatrous creatures have known incarnate truth, the faithful have received baptism, churches have been erected in all parts of the earth. By thine assistance the Gentiles have been brought to repentance. And finally, through thee, the only Son of God, source of all light, has shone upon the eyes of the blind, who were sitting in the shadow of death. O virgin mother, who can speak thy praises? But let us make our laud of them according to such powers as are given us, at the same time adoring God thy Son, the chaste spouse of the Church, to Whom are due all honor and glory now and forever.  (St. Cyril–431 A.D.)

This feast, observed throughout the Western Church on October 11, honor Mary as Mother of God, and bears the same sort of relation to the Annunciation and to Christmas as does the Synaxis of Our Lady in the Byzantine rite. It was long known in Portugal and elsewhere, but was finally instituted in 1931 by Pope Pius XI in view of the fifteenth centenary of the Council of Ephesus.

At the same time the Pope ordered at his own cost the restoration of the Marian mosaics in Saint Mary Major, much decayed through age. He issued an encyclical letter, “Lux veritatis.” In this, among the objects of the new festival, is named one truth that was particularly close to the heart of Pius XI, “…that Mary, who is loved and revered so warmly by the separated Christians of the East, would not suffer them to wander and be unhappily led further away from the unity of the Church, and therefore from her Son, whose vicar on earth we are.”

Feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Dom Gueranger, Abbott of Solemes.

IN the sixteenth century, even amidst their many divergences, the so-called Reformers agreed in utterly rejecting all the honors paid by the Catholic Church to the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the grounds that such veneration of the Mother detracted from the supreme worship due to her Divine Son. Four centuries have more than sufficed to show the result of so doing: the Son has followed the Mother! The descendants of those who refused to Mary the title and rights of Theotokos —–Mother of God—–refuse to Jesus the title of Son of God in the traditional sense of the term. Many reject His Godhead altogether, placing Him merely at the head of the line of great moral and social world-teachers; others still retain the word “divinity” with respect to Him, but for them it is no longer synonymous with “deity.”

Holy Scripture tells us that those who first came to adore Him Who is Son of God and Son of Mary found Him “with Mary his Mother.” At the scene of the first miracle at Cana, which marked the opening of his public life, “the Mother of Jesus was there.” In the tremendous hour when all was consummated, when types and shadows gave place to the mighty reality, ” there stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother.” And when the little flock who were to be the nucleus of the Church of God awaited in prayer the coming of the Paraclete, Who would teach them all truth, again it was in company with “Mary the Mother of Jesus.” Far from taking from the honor and love due to the Word Incarnate, devotion to Mary is a strong bulwark protecting the central doctrine. He is ever found with His Mother; where Mary is denied her rights, sooner or later Jesus is denied His; they stand or fall together.

This was realized in the year 431 when, at the General Council of Ephesus, the Church condemned the Nestorian heresy, whereby the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, had taught that, since in Christ there are two persons, a Divine and a human, Mary was mother only of the Man “Christ”, and therefore could not be called “Mother of God.” He therefore denied “that wondrous and substantial union of the two natures which we call hypostatic.”

On the occasion of the fifteenth centenary of the Council of Ephesus, the Sovereign Pontiff, Pius XI, issued the Encyclical Lux Veritatis, recalling the history of the heresy and commenting thus upon the dogma of the hypostatic union: “When once the doctrine of the hypostatic union is abandoned, whereon the dogmas of the Incarnation and of man’s Redemption rest and stand firm, the whole foundation of the Catholic religion falls and comes to ruin.  . . . When once this dogma of the truth is securely established, it is easy to gather from it that, by the mystery of the Incarnation, the whole aggregate of men and of mundane things has been endowed with a dignity than which certainly nothing greater can be imagined, and surely grander than that to which it was raised by the work of creation.”

Proceeding to speak of the special dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Pope emphasizes that, “because she brought forth the Redeemer of mankind, she is also in a manner the most tender Mother of us all, whom Christ our Lord deigned to have as His brothers; wherefore we may confidently entrust to her all things that are ours, our joys, our troubles, our hopes; especially if more difficult times fall upon the Church —–if faith fail because charity has grown cold, if private and public morals take a turn for the worse.”

In this last connection we are reminded of another result of the loss of devotion to the Mother of God. Frequently and truly we hear and speak of the “paganism” of the present age. The decay of faith has been followed inevitably by a decline in morality, and our elaborate and complex civilization is threatened with the dissolving agent which contributed in no small measure to the overthrow of the magnificent civilization of old Rome: namely, the loss of the domestic virtues, the disappearance of healthy, normal family life, consequent upon the abandonment of the Christian ideals of marriage and parenthood.

It is a truism that one of the greatest social effects of Christianity was to raise the status of womanhood. Her legal position in the Ancient World was little better than that of a slave, and although classical literature furnishes us with examples of women who, in pagan homes, yet enjoyed high honor and affection, such are few indeed, and but serve to prove the rule. Divorce, infanticide, general degradation of womanhood, and not infrequently of childhood, were accepted features of pagan social order. The ideal and model of the “new woman ” of the Christian dispensation was the Mother of God. It was Mary, “Mother of fair love,” “Madonna,” “our Lady,” who ennobled the degenerate old civilization, just as she tamed the fierce barbarian peoples; she it was who inspired the ideals of the later chivalry. In Mary, all her sex was uplifted; in her motherhood all motherhood became blessed. Now again the world needs the hallowing influence of the Mother of God and of men, if “the life of the family, the beginning and the foundation of all human society” is to be preserved in all its nobility and its purity.

Desirous “to mark the commemoration, and help to nourish the piety of clergy and people towards the great Mother of God,” His Holiness concludes the Encyclical by establishing the new feast of the Divine Motherhood, to be celebrated on October 11 by the universal Church. (1)

Hymn: Te Mater alma
Sweet mother of the Lord most high,

To thee we bow in humble prayer,
To thee from evil powers we fly;
O shield and keep us in thy care.

It was to lift our fallen race
Above the curse of Adam’s crime,
The king bestowed on thee all grace
And shaped thy Motherhood sublime.

So Mother, unto thee we pray;
Thou sets our need; thy Son entreat
That He, His anger turned away,
May raise our souls in mercy sweet.

All glory, Jesus, unto Thee,
Born of the Virgin void of stain;
The same to Sire and Spirit be
Proclaimed through one eternal reign. Amen.

Image: Madonna of the Magnificat, artist: Sandro Botticelli, circa 1483 (9)

Research by REGINA Staff


Saint Paulinus of York, Bishop

October 10

Today is the feast day of Saint Paulinus of York.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Paulinus was a Roman monk in St. Andrew’s monastery at Rome.  He was sent by St. Gregory the Great in 601, with St. Mellitus and others, to help St. Augustine and to carry the pallium to him. He laboured in Kent — with the possible exception of a mission to East Anglia before 616 — till 625.   Saint Paulinus accompanied Ethelburga (Aethelburh), the sister of King Eadbald of Kent, when she went to the Northumbrian Court to marry King Edwin, then a pagan.

Before leaving Kent, he was consecrated bishop by St. Justus, Archbishop of Canterbury. He was successful in converting Edwin and large numbers of his people, the king’s baptism taking place on 12 April, 627. With the assistance of King Edwin, he established his see at York and began to build a stone church there. His apostolic labours in instructing and baptizing the people of the north country were unceasing, and tradition perpetuates his ministry at Yeavering, Catterick Bridge, Dewsbury, Easingwold, Southwell, and elsewhere, while his own name is preserved in the village of Pallingsburn in Northumbria.

On the defeat of King Edwin in 633, Paulinus carried the queen and her children safely to Kent.  The heathen reaction under Penda made missionary work impossible in Northumbria.  Saint Paulinus devoted himself to the Diocese of Rochester, then vacant. It was after his flight that he received the pallium from Rome (634), sent to him as Archbishop of York. Though Anglican writers have disagreed among themselves as to whether he was justified in leaving his archbishopric, Catholic writers, following Venerable Bede, have held that he had no choice and was the best judge of what was advisable under the circumstances.

Venerable Bede describes him as tall and thin, with a slightly stooping figure; he had black hair and an aquiline nose and was of venerable and awe-inspiring aspect. He was buried in his church at Rochester, and, on the rebuilding of the cathedral, his relics were translated by Archbishop Lanfranc to a silver shrine where they lay till the Reformation. His festival is observed in England on 10 Oct., the anniversary of his death.

Saint Paulinus’ missionary efforts are difficult to evaluate. Venerable Bede implies that the mission in Northumbria was successful, but there is little supporting evidence, and it is more likely that Saint Paulinus’ missionary efforts there were relatively ineffectual. Although Osric, one of Edwin’s successors, was converted to Christianity by Saint Paulinus, he returned to paganism after Edwin’s death. Hilda, however, remained a Christian, and eventually went on to become abbess of the influential Whitby Abbey.[Northumbria’s conversion to Christianity was mainly achieved by Irish missionaries brought into the region by Edwin’s eventual successor, Oswald.


Image: Statue of Paulinus of York, Interior of Rochester Cathedral. photo by Polylerus (3)

Research by REGINA Staff


Saint Francis Borgia, Confessor

October 10

Today is the feast day of Saint Francis Borgia.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Francis Borgia, was named for Francis of Assisi at his birth in 1510.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding, and my entire will.

All I have and call my own.
Whatever I have or hold, you have given me.
I return it all to you and surrender it wholly
to be governed by your will.
Give me only your love and your grace
and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.

Saint Francis Borgia.

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

St. Francis Borgia, a bright example of virtue, both for ecclesiastics and laymen, was born in 1510, at Gandia, in Spain. His father was John Borgia, the third Duke of Gandia; and his mother, Joanna of Aragon, grand-daughter to Ferdinand the Catholic. Francis, when only a child, was already remarkable for his virtue and piety. When scarcely seventeen years, old he came to the Court of the Emperor Charles V., where, notwith standing the many and great dangers to which he was exposed, he preserved his innocence by frequently partaking of the Blessed Sacrament, by great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and the practice of mortification. His talents and his edifying life gained him the esteem of the Emperor; hence the Empress gave him in marriage a very virtuous lady, who was a great favorite of hers. Francis was then made chief equerry to the Emperor, and created Marquis of Lombay. The court which Francis kept after he was married might have served as a model to all Christian princes. He distributed the hours of the day, so that certain times were devoted to prayer, to business, and to recreation. He, at the same time, began the praiseworthy practice of selecting every month a Saint for especial veneration.

He was much opposed to gaming, and did not allow his servants to indulge in it. He used to say: “Gaming is accompanied by great losses; loss of money, loss of time, loss of devotion, and loss of conscience.” The same aversion he had for the reading of frivolous books, even if they were not immoral. He found his greatest delight in reading devout books, and said: “The reading of devout books is the first step towards a better life.” At the period in which he lived the principal enjoyments of the higher classes were music and hawking; and, as he could not abstain from them entirely, he took care, at such times, to raise his thoughts to the Almighty, and to mortify himself. Thus, when he went hawking, he closed his eyes at the very moment when the hawk swooped; the sight of which, they say, was the chief pleasure of this kind of hunting.

The Almighty, to draw His servant entirely away from the world, sent him several severe maladies, which made him recognize the instability of all that is earthly. He became more fully aware of this after the death of the Empress, whose wondrous beauty was everywhere extolled. By the order of the Emperor, it became the duty of Francis to escort the remains to the royal vault at Granada. There the coffin was opened before the burial took place, and the sight that greeted the beholders was most awful. Nothing was left of the beautiful Empress but a corpse, so disfigured, that all averted their eyes, whilst the odor it exhaled was so offensive that most of the spectators were driven away.

St. Francis was most deeply touched, and when, after the burial, he went into his room, prostrated himself before the crucifix, and having given vent to his feelings, he exclaimed: “No, no, my God! in future I will have no master whom death can take from me.” He then made a vow that he would enter a religious order, should he survive his consort. He often used to say afterwards: “The death of the Empress awakened me to life.” When Francis returned from Granada the Emperor created him Viceroy of Catalonia, and in this new dignity the holy Duke continued to lead rather a religious than a worldly life. He had a fatherly care for his subjects, and every one had at all hours admittance to him. Towards the poor he manifested great kindness. He daily gave four or five hours to prayer. He fasted almost daily, and scourged himself to blood. He assisted at Mass, and received Holy Communion every day. When he heard that disputes had arisen among the theologians at the universities, in regard to the frequent use of Holy Communion, he wrote to St. Ignatius, at Rome, and asked his opinion on the subject. St. Ignatius wrote back to him, approving of the frequent use of Holy Communion, and strengthening him in his thoughts about it.

Meanwhile, the death of his father brought upon him the administration of his vast estates, without, however, in the least changing his pious manner of living. Soon after his pious consort, who was his equal in virtue, became sick. Francis prayed most fervently to God for her recovery. One day, while he was thus praying, he heard an interior voice, which said these words: “If thou desirest that thy consort should recover, thy wish shall be fulfilled, but it will not benefit thee.” Frightened at these words, he immediately conformed his own will in all things to the Divine will. From that moment the condition of the Duchess grew worse, and she died, as she had lived, piously and peacefully. St. Francis, remembering his vow, determined to execute it without delay. Taking counsel of God and of his confessor, he chose the Society of Jesus, which had recently been instituted. Writing to St. Ignatius, he asked for admittance, which was cheerfully granted. But, to settle his affairs satisfactorily, he was obliged to remain four years longer in his offices. Having at length, by the permission of the Emperor, resigned his possessions to his eldest son, he took the religious habit, and proceeded to Rome. Scarcely four months had elapsed since his arrival, when he was informed that the Pope wished to make him a cardinal; and, to avoid this dignity, he returned to Spain. Being ordained priest, he said his first Mass in the chapel of the Castle of Loyola, where St. Ignatius had been born; and then spent a few years in preaching and instructing the people. It would take more space than is allowed to us to relate how many sinners he converted, and how much he labored for the honor of God and the salvation of souls.

During this time he visited Charles V., in the solitude which this great Emperor had chosen to pass his last days, after he had abdicated his throne. At length, St. Francis was recalled to Rome, where he was, much against his will, elected General of the Society of Jesus. He fulfilled the many and arduous duties of this office with the utmost diligence; his greatest care being to further the honor of God and the salvation of souls. To effect this he founded colleges in many cities, and sent apostolic men into all parts of the world to convert the heathen. In all the persecutions of the Society he placed his trust in God. He used to say that the Society was hated and persecuted, first by the heretics and infidels; secondly, by those who led a godless life; and thirdly, by those who were not well informed as to the end and aim which its members had in view. When he had for seven years most wisely governed the Society, the Pope sent him, on most important business of the Church, to Spain, Portugal, and France.

This long and painful journey, with the labors of his mission, exhausted his strength so that he fell ill before he had reached Rome on his return. Perceiving the danger in which he was, he made all possible haste, but visited on his way the holy house of Loretto, to commend himself to the protection of the Blessed Virgin. When at last he arrived at Rome, more dead than alive, he prepared himself without delay to receive the last Sacraments. The time still left him on earth he passed in devout exercises; and therefore declined to receive the visits even of bishops and cardinals, saying that he had now to do only with God, the Lord of life and death. Before his death, while silently praying, he fell into an ecstasy; and after it, full of confidence and hope, he gave his soul into the hands of his Heavenly Father, in the year 1572. His body was looked upon and honored as that of a Saint, by the prelates of the Church, as well as by the laity; and God approved their veneration by many miracles.

Still clearer proofs of the holiness of the Saint were the virtues by which he shone as well in his religious life, as while he was in the world at his father’s house and at Court. Those who frequently made use of his advice, among whom was St. Teresa, looked upon him as a Saint; and this was also the opinion of many others, who knew his holy manner of living. We have not space to speak of all his virtues; but one of them we cannot pass over in silence. This is the virtue of humility, or of despising all worldly honors. His humility was as deep and admirable as his birth and the dignities conferred upon him were high. It was through humility that he, more than once, refused the Cardinal’s hat. As much as others desire praise, so much did he prefer to be despised. He was never heard to say a word in praise of himself, neither would he allow others to extol him. His signature to his letters was generally, “Francis, the sinner.” He esteemed himself worthy of no honor, but only of punishment and disdain. When, in travelling, he was taken to a miserable inn and ill served, he uttered not a word of complaint, but said that it was better than he deserved.

As General of the Society, he performed the lowest work in the house. He served the cook, gave food to the poor at the door, swept the house, and carried baskets of bread and other food to the indigent. The many wrongs and injuries which God permitted to be done him; the many persecutions which he innocently suffered; the pains of several maladies,–all these he bore, not only with Christian patience, but with joy and a desire to suffer still more. He often prayed most earnestly to God to give him still greater crosses, as he believed that his sins deserved more punishment. This admirable humility was the result of his severe and daily mortification. Hence it came that he was indefatigable in practising penance. He was very corpulent as Duke, but afterwards became so reduced by fasting that he could fold his skin, in the breadth of a yard, like a coat around him. He made the food he took disagreeable by adding to it several bitter herbs. When sick he took his remedies very slowly, the longer to taste their bitterness. He scourged himself daily most mercilessly, and it was known that he gave himself as many as eight hundred strokes. Around his body he constantly wore a sharppointed iron girdle. In one word, there was no kind of humiliation and mortification which he could think of that he did not practise. Hence it is not to be wondered at that God, Who exalts those who humble themselves, gave to St. Francis the gifts of prophecy, of freeing the possessed, curing the sick, and of working other miracles. (1)

Saint Francis Borgia is usually depicted in art wearing the simple cassock of the priest and is invoked against earthquakes. He is both the patron of Spain and Portugal.

Image: Saint Francis Borgia (5)

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Saint Louis Bertrand, Confessor

October 9

Today is the feast day of Saint Louis Bertrand, Ora pro nobis.

Saint Louis was born at Valencia, Spain, 1 Jan., 1526. His parents were Juan Bertrand and Juana Angela Exarch. He was the oldest of the eight children of his good Christian parents.

Saint Louis Bertrand was exceptionally pious as a child, reciting daily the Office of Our Lady and attending different churches in order to conceal from the knowledge of others his frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist. He was received into Saint Dominic’s order when nineteen years old and was ordained before he was twenty-two.  By the practice of outstanding virtue, self-denial and penance, he furnished for his novices a perfect model for their imitation.

In 1551, at the age of twenty-five, he was made master of novices, and in this post he formed many great servants of God. It is said that despite his strictness, he was so gentle that his chastisements were more agreeable to his novices than the favors of their best friends.

In the year 1562, Saint Louis Bertrand was sent from his native Valencia, Spain, to South America, where he worked for seven years among the Indians in the northwestern part of the continent, among the tribe of the Caribs in the Caribbean Islands, and among the natives on the Isthmus of Panama. During these missionary years he was favored with the gift of tongues. While speaking to the natives in Castilian, he was understood by all and often spoke in languages with which he was naturally unfamiliar. His preaching was accompanied by many miracles and prophecies. He once raised a girl to life by the application of a Rosary and often attributed to the intercession of Our Lady the miraculous powers he manifested.

In his mission at Tubera he himself baptized 10,500 Indians, without counting those his companions baptized, and obliged them to burn their idols and the sites of their detestable sacrifices. Often his gentleness charmed his worst enemies. He preached also at Capicoa and Paluato, having established missions there. He refused all remuneration; he brought down rain after a drought. He was poisoned by some pagans who had suffered a reproach, but the poison did not harm him, and the barbarians were converted by the miracle. He went to many other places, preaching and healing the sick; again he was poisoned without effect. There was no one who did not consider him a Saint, sent for the benefit of the new continent.

After an apostolate the marvellous and enduring fruits of which have richly merited for him the title of Apostle of South America, he returned under obedience to his native Spain, which he had left just seven years before. During the eleven remaining years of his life many offices of honour and responsibility were imposed upon him. The numerous duties that attached to them were not permitted to interfere with the exacting regime of his holy life. The ever increasing fame of his sanctity and wisdom won the admiration and confidence of even the officials of the Government, who more than once consulted him in affairs of State. With the heroic patience that characterized his whole life he endured the ordeal of his last sickness. He died on the day he had foretold, October 9, 1581, at the age of 55 years.

He was canonized by Clement X in 1671.

Image: St. Louis Bertrand, artist: Francisco de Zurbaran, circa 1640

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Saint Denis (Dionysius), Bishop, and Companions, Martyrs

October 9

Today is the feast day of Saint Denis (Dionysius), Bishop, and Companions, Martyrs.  Orate pro nobis.

When St. Paul the Apostle, in the year of Our Lord 51, came to Athens to preach the Gospel, he was summoned to the Areopagus, the great council which determined all religious matters. Among the members of this illustrious assembly was Dionysius. His mind had already been prepared to receive the good tidings of the Gospel by the miraculous darkness which overspread the earth at the moment of Our Lord’s death on the cross. He was at that time at Heliopolis, in Egypt. On beholding the sun obscured in the midst of its course, and this without apparent cause, he is said to have exclaimed: “Either the God of nature is suffering, or the world is about to be dissolved.” When St. Paul preached before the Areopagus in Athens, Dionysius easily recognized the truth and readily embraced it.

The Apostle received him among his disciples, and appointed him bishop of the infant Church of Athens. As such he devoted himself with great zeal to the propagation of the Gospel. He made a journey to Jerusalem to visit the places hallowed by the footsteps and sufferings of our Redeemer, and there met the Apostles St. Peter and St. James, the evangelist St. Luke, and other holy apostolic men. He also had the happiness to see and converse with the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was so overwhelmed by her presence that he declared, that if he knew not Jesus to be God, he would consider her divine.

The idolatrous priests of Athens were greatly alarmed at the many conversions resulting from the eloquent preaching of Dionysius, and instigated a revolt against him. The holy bishop left Athens, and, going to Rome, visited the Pope, St. Clement. He sent him with some other holy men to Gaul. Some of his companions remained to evangelize the cities in the south, while Dionysius, with the priest Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius continued their journey northward as far as Lutetia, the modern Paris, where the Gospel had not yet been announced. Here for many years he and his companions labored with signal success, and finally obtained the crown of martyrdom on Oct. 9, 119. Dionysius was beheaded at the advanced age of 110 years.

The spot where the three martyrs Dionysius, Rusticus, and Eleutherius suffered martyrdom, is the well-known hill of Montmartre. An ancient tradition relates that St. Dionysius, after his head was severed from his body, took it up with his own hands and carried it two thousand paces to the place where, later, a church was built in his honor. The bodies of the martyrs were thrown into the river Seine, but taken up and honorably interred by a Christian lady named Catulla not far from the place where they had been beheaded. The Christians soon built a chapel on their tomb.

St. Dionysius was not only a great missionary and bishop, but also one of the most illustrious writers of the early Church. Some of his works, which are full of Catholic doctrine and Christian wisdom, are still extant, and well worthy of a convert and disciple of St. Paul, whose spirit they breathe. (2)

Many kings of France have been buried in the famous church of St. Denis [just north of Paris]. St. Denis is the Apostle of France and one of the patron Saints of France.

St. Dionysius is also known as St. Denis. He is often pictured carrying his head in his hands. St. Denis is invoked against diabolical possession.

Prayer in Honor of St. Dionysius

O God, who didst confer Thy saving faith on the people of France through Thy holy bishop and martyr Dionysius, and didst glorify him before and after his martyrdom by many miracles; grant us through his intercession that the Faith practised and preached by him be our light on the way of life, so that we may be preserved from all anxieties of conscience, and if by human frailty we have sinned, we may return to Thee speedily by true penance. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Image: Altarpiece of St Denis in Paris, The Last Communion and Martyrdom of Saint Denis, artist: Henri Bellechose, circa: from 1415 until 1416 (4)

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Saint Brigetta of Sweden, Widow

October 8

Today is the feast day of Saint Brigetta of Sweden.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Brigetta (Bridget) of Sweden was born about the year 1302 in Sweden, and belonged to an illustrious as well as pious family. She was the daughter of Birger Persson, governor and provincial judge (Lagman) of Uppland, and of Ingeborg Bengtsdotter. Shortly after her birth Bridget lost her saintly mother. Her father then undertook to raise her with the aid of an aunt.

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

St. Bridget, known in the entire Church of God, on account of the many divine revelations with which she was graced, was born in Sweden, of noble and pious parents. Shortly before the birth of Bridget, her mother was in great danger of shipwreck, but was miraculously saved. In the following night, a venerable old man appeared to her, who said: “God has saved your life on account of the child to whom you will give birth. Educate it carefully; for it will arrive at great holiness.” This command was faithfully followed by the pious mother as long as she lived. After her death, Bridget, then only seven years old, was given into the charge of a very devout aunt, who brought her up most piously. When ten years of age, she heard a sermon on the bitter passion and death of our Lord, which made a deep impression on her young and tender heart. In the following night, Christ appeared to her, hanging on the Cross, while streams of blood flowed from His wounds. Bridget, deeply moved, cried out: “O, Lord, who has so maltreated thee?” “Those who despise my love,” answered Christ, that is, those who transgress my laws and are ungrateful for my immeasurable love to them. This vision remained in Bridget’s memory, and caused her, from that hour, to manifest the most tender devotion to the passion and death of the Saviour, of which she could never think without shedding tears.

This vision was followed by many others, especially during her prayers, which the Saint loved so well that it seemed as if no other occupation could give her joy or contentment. She often rose quietly during the night and passed hours in pious meditation. She also used many ways and means to mortify her delicate body, so as to resemble, in silently enduring pain, Him who had suffered so infinitely more for her. In obedience to her father, she at the age of thirteen gave her hand to Ulpho, prince of Nericia, whose heart she won so entirely by her amiability and sweetness of manners, that she weaned him, in a short time, from gaming, immoderate luxury in dress and other similar faults, and induced him to lead a life pleasing to God, by his assiduity in prayer and in going to confession. She lived with him in undisturbed love and harmony. She was also very solicitous for her domestics, and allowed nothing that might offend the Almighty or prevent His blessing from coming upon her house.

She became the mother of four sons and as many daughters. Two of her sons died in their innocence; two while travelling in the Holy Land. Two of her daughters lived at court, and became models of all virtues. The third became a nun and led a holy life, and the fourth, Catherine, was numbered among the Saints; which is evidence of the pious care with which St. Bridget educated her children. She herself instructed them in religion and in the way of living piously, and led them, from their most tender years, to practise works of charity and mortification, being an example to them in all virtuous deeds. With the consent of Ulpho, she founded a hospital and waited daily, at certain hours, like a servant, on the poor and sick, who were in it. She often washed their feet, kissing them most reverentially. Her husband became dangerously ill on his return from Compostella, whither he had gone with St. Bridget, to visit the tomb of the holy Apostle St. James. But St. Dionysius, who appeared to Bridget, announced to her, besides other future events, that Ulpho would soon recover. She soon saw this prophecy fulfilled, and had also the joy to perceive that Ulpho was disgusted with the world and desired to end his life in retirement. With the permission of his pious spouse, he went into a Cistercian monastery, where he ended his life most holily.

Bridget lived thirty years after her husband had entered a monastery, and being free from many former cares and anxieties, she devoted herself with great zeal to a most perfect and penitential life. Her temporal possessions she gave to her children, clothed herself in a penitential robe, and unweariedly practised acts of devotion, charity and penance. She fasted four times in the week, and on Friday, took only water and bread. She gave the greater part of the night to prayer, spending whole hours prostrate before the Crucifix or the Blessed Sacrament. Every Friday she let fall a few drops of boiling wax into a wound which she had, to remember, by the pain this gave her, the suffering of our Lord. She daily fed twelve poor persons and served them at table. She founded a convent for sixty nuns, and gave them a rule which she had received from Christ Himself. These regulations were afterwards adopted by many houses of Religious men. This was the origin of the celebrated Brigittine Order. St. Bridget herself entered a convent which she had founded, and was a shining light to all in the practice of virtue.

Having lived there two years, she was commanded, in a vision, to make a pilgrimage to Rome, with her daughter Catherine, and thence to the Holy Land. On her return, a malignant fever seized her, which greatly increased when she had arrived at Rome, and lasted a whole year. The great pains she suffered were made easy to her by the thought of the bitter passion of our Saviour; and for love of Him, she was willing to endure much more. She derived the greatest comfort from a vision in which God appeared to her and assured her of her salvation. The hour of her death was also made known to her by divine revelation. She prepared herself most carefully for her end, and after receiving the holy sacraments, she breathed her last in the arms of her holy daughter, and, rich in merits and virtues, went to receive her reward in heaven, in the 71st. year of her age, in the year 1373. Before and after her death God wrought many and great miracles by her intercession. (1)

The Brigittines

St. Bridget founded a new religious congregation, the Brigittines, or Order of St. Saviour, whose chief monastery, at Vadstena, was richly endowed by King Magnus and his queen (1346).  To obtain confirmation for her institute, and at the same time to seek a larger sphere of activity for her mission, which was the moral uplifting of the period, she journeyed to Rome in 1349, and remained there until her death, except while absent on pilgrimages, among them one to the Holy Land in 1373. In August, 1370, Pope Urban V confirmed the Rule of her congregation. Bridget made earnest representations to Pope Urban, urging the removal of the Holy See from Avignon back to Rome. She accomplished the greatest good in Rome, however, by her pious and charitable life, and her earnest admonitions to others to adopt a better life, following out the excellent precedents she had set in her native land. 

St Bridget was laid to rest in the Poor Clare convent of St Lawrence in Panisperna. The following year her body was removed to the convent at Vadstena in Sweden. Many miracles were wrought at her intercession, and Pope Boniface IX canonized her.

Prayer to Saint Bridget,
Queen of Sweden, Widow

With trusting hearts we turn to thee, blessed Bridget, in these hostile and unbelieving days, to implore thine intercession in behalf of those who are separated from the true Church of Jesus Christ. By that clear knowledge thou didst have of the bitter sufferings of our crucified Redeemer, the price of our salvation, we offer thee our supplications to obtain the grace of faith for those who are outside the one true fold, that so the sheep who are scattered may return to the one true Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saint Bridget, fearless in thy service of God, pray for us.
Saint Bridget, patient in the midst of suffering and humiliation, pray for us.
Saint Bridget, wonderful in thy love for Jesus and Mary, pray for us.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.

(An indulgence of 300 days once a day, 1905)

In the USA, the order can be found at:


Image: Birgitta of Sweden on an altarpiece in Salem church, Södermanland, Sweden. Artist: Hermann Rode (late 15th century) (7)

Research by REGINA Staff


Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

October 7

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.  Ora pro nobis.

“The Turks, swollen by their victories, will wish to take on our fleet, and God—I have the pious presentiment—will give us victory. Charles V gave you life. I will give you honor and greatness. Go and seek them out!”

Pope Pius V to Don Juan of Austria

by Abbot Gueranger

It is customary with men of the world to balance their accounts at the end of the year, and ascertain their profits. The Church is now preparing to do the same. We shall soon see Her solemnly numbering Her elect, taking an inventory of Her holy relics, visiting the tombs of those who sleep in the Lord, and counting the sanctuaries, both new and old, that have been consecrated to Her Divine Spouse. But today’s reckoning is a more solemn one, the profits more considerable: She opens Her balance-sheet with the gains accruing to Our Lady from the mysteries which compose the liturgical cycle. Christmas, the Cross, the triumph of Jesus, these produce the holiness of us all; but before and above all, the holiness of Mary. The diadem which the Church thus offers first to the august Sovereign of the world, is rightly composed of the triple crown of these sanctifying mysteries, the causes of Her joy, of Her sorrow, and of Her glory. Such is Mary’s Rosary; a new and fruitful vine, which began to blossom at St. Gabriel’s salutation, and whose fragrant garlands form a link between earth and Heaven.

The Rosary was made known to the world by St. Dominic at the time of the struggles with the Albigensians, that social war of such ill-omen for the Church. The Rosary was then of more avail than armed forces against the power of Satan; it is now the Church’s last resource. It would seem that, the ancient forms of public prayer being no longer appreciated by the people, the Holy Ghost has willed by this easy and ready summary of the Liturgy to maintain, in the isolated devotion of these unhappy times, the essential of that life of prayer, faith, and Christian virtue, which the public celebration of the Divine Office formerly kept up among the nations. Before the 13th century, popular piety was already familiar with what was called the psalter of the laity, that is, the Angelical Salutation repeated 150 times (once for each of the Biblical Psalms); it was the distribution of these Hail Marys into decades, each devoted to the consideration of a particular mystery, that constituted the Rosary. Such was the divine expedient, simple as the eternal Wisdom conceived it, and far-reaching in its effects; for while it led wandering man to the Queen of Mercy, it obviated ignorance of the Faith, which is the food of heresy, and taught him to find once more “the paths consecrated by the Blood of the Man-God, and by the tears of His Mother” (Pope Leo XIII, Encycl. Magnae Dei Matris, Sept. 8, 1892).

Thus speaks the great Pontiff who, in the universal sorrow of those days, had again pointed out the means of salvation more than once experienced by our fathers. Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclicals, has consecrated the month of October to this devotion so dear to Heaven; he has honored Our Lady in Her Litanies with the title, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary; and he has given the final development to the solemnity of this day, by raising it to the rank of Double of the II Class, and by enriching it with a proper Office explaining its permanent object. Besides all this, the Feast is a memorial of glorious victories, which do honor to the Christian name.

Soliman II, most powerful of the Sultans, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the west by Luther, had filled the 16th century with terror by his exploits. He left to his son, Selim II, the prospect of being able at length to carry out the ambition of his race: to subjugate Rome and Vienna, the Pope and the emperor, to the power of the crescent. The Turkish fleet had already mastered the greater part of the Mediterranean, and was threatening Italy, when, on October 7, 1571, it came into battle against the pontifical galleys supported by the fleets of Spain and Venice. It was Sunday; throughout the world the confraternities of the Holy Rosary were engaged in their work of intercession. Supernaturally enlightened, Pope St. Pius V watched from the Vatican the battle undertaken by the leader he had chosen, Don Juan of Austria, against the three hundred vessels of Islam. At the sacrifice of many lives offered with great heroism, the outnumbered Catholic fleet utterly devastated the diabolical Turks. But Our Lady would not have Her victory end there. While the Muslim fleet was fleeing, She raised such a storm at sea, that only a small fraction returned to tell of their humiliating defeat. The illustrious Pontiff, whose life’s work was now completed did not survive to celebrate the anniversary of this glorious triumph; but he perpetuated the memory of it by an annual commemoration of Our Lady of Victory. His successor, Pope Gregory XIII, altered this title to Our Lady of the Rosary, and appointed the first Sunday of October for the new Feast, authorizing its celebration in those churches which possessed an altar under that invocation.

A century and a half later, this limited concession was made general. As Pope Innocent XI, in memory of the deliverance of Vienna by General Sobieski, had extended the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary to the whole Church; so, in 1716, Pope Clement XI inscribed the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary on the universal calendar, in gratitude for the victory gained by Prince Eugene at Peterwardein, on August 5, under the auspices of Our Lady of the Snows. This victory was followed by the raising of the siege of Corfu, and completed a year later by the taking of Belgrade. (6)

More Lepanto

The naval victory of Lepanto gained by Don John of Austria over the Turkish fleet on the first Sunday of October in 1571 responded wonderfully to the processions made at Rome on that same day by the members of the Rosary confraternity. St. Pius V thereupon ordered that a commemoration of the Rosary should be made upon that day, and at the request of the Dominican Order Gregory XIII in 1573 allowed this feast to be kept in all churches which possessed an altar dedicated to the Holy Rosary.

In 1671 the observance of this festival was extended by Clement X to the whole of Spain, and somewhat later Clement XI after the important victory over the Turks gained by Prince Eugene on 6 August, 1716 (the feast of our Lady of the Snows), at Peterwardein in Hungary, commanded the feast of the Rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church. A set of “proper” lessons in the second nocturn were conceded by Benedict XIII.

Leo XIII has since raised the feast to the rank of a double of the second class and has added to the Litany of Loreto the invocation “Queen of the Most Holy Rosary“. On this feast, in every church in which the Rosary confraternity has been duly erected, a plenary indulgence toties quoties is granted upon certain conditions to all who visit therein the Rosary chapel or statue of Our Lady. This has been called the “Portiuncula” of the Rosary.

Many banners wafted at Lepanto. The great one bearing an image of Christ Crucified was the gift of Pope Pius V to Don Juan of Austria. One of the admirals, Gianandrea Doria, a nephew of Andrea Doria often confused with his uncle, used as his ensign, if not a banner, an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, this only forty years after her appearance in Mexico. The bishop there had commissioned five copies, touching each to the original tilma. The one gifted to the King of Spain, Philip II, was in turn entrusted to Doria for the battle. Then there was the sixteen-foot long silk banner of the Ottoman admiral Ali Pasha decorated with Quranic verses and the image of a zulfiqar, the double-bladed sword said to have been what Mohammed had used in his slaughterings, with the name of Allah stitched in gold 29,800 times. (5)

At midday on the flagship Reale, Don Juan unfurled the blue banner the pope had given him and the troops cheered, trying to drown out the intimidating sound of cymbals, gongs, drums and conches from the Muslim fleet. The battle lasted five hours, during which a sudden 180-degree change in the wind favored the Christians who unfurled their sails as the Turks struck theirs. In blood-reddened water, the Reale clashed against the Sultana, and a musket ball killed the Muessunzade Ali Pasha, while Don Juan survived a leg wound. (5)

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

To aid in this remembrance G. K. Chesterton in 1911 wrote his epic poem Lepanto:
White founts falling in the courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard,
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips,
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross,
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.
Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young,
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
Love-light of Spain—hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.
Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri’s knees,
His turban that is woven of the sunset and the seas.
He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees,
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing.
Giants and the Genii,
Multiplex of wing and eye,
Whose strong obedience broke the sky
When Solomon was king.
They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
From temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be;
On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,—
They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
And he saith, “Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide,
And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done,
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces—four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not ‘Kismet’; it is he that knows not Fate ;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey in the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth.”
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Sudden and still—hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.
St. Michael’s on his mountain in the sea-roads of the north
(Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
And the sea folk labour and the red sails lift.
He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
      Domino gloria!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships.
King Philip’s in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.)
The walls are hung with velvet that, is black and soft as sin,
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
And death is in the phial, and the end of noble work,
But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
Don John’s hunting, and his hounds have bayed—
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid
Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
Gun upon gun, hurrah!
Don John of Austria
Has loosed the cannonade.
The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
The hidden room in man’s house where God sits all the year,
The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery;
They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark,
They veil the plumèd lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
They are lost like slaves that swat, and in the skies of morning hung
The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
Before the high Kings’ horses in the granite of Babylon.
And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign—
(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate’s sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.
Vivat Hispania!
Domino Gloria!
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!
Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight forever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade….
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)  (2)

Here is but a small fraction of the victories directly obtained from God through the Holy Rosary:

  • The Battle of Lepanto which saved Rome and Vienna, and thus the Pope and the Emperor, from Moslem subjugation
  • The deliverance of Vienna by Sobieski
  • The victory given to Prince Eugene of Peterwardein
  • The raising of the siege of Corfu
  • The taking of Belgrade
  • The withdrawal from Soviet Troops from Austria on Oct. 26, 1955
  • The deliverance of Brazil from Communism in 1964 (8)

Image: Madonna del Rosario, artist: Luca Giordano, circa 1657

Research by REGINA Staff


Saint Bruno, Confessor

October 6

Today is the feast day of Saint Bruno.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Bruno was born in Cologne in about the year 1030, of an illustrious family. He was endowed with rare natural gifts, which soon shone with outstanding brilliance in Paris, though he was studying among other gifted young men.

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

Bruno, the celebrated founder of the Carthusian Order, was born at Cologne on the Rhine, of noble and virtuous parents, and was by them very piously educated. He was sent in his youth to Paris, where he progressed so much in all branches of learning, that he was made Doctor of Divinity, and was soon after raised to the dignity of canon at Rheims. A most horrible event took place at Paris before he left the city. A Doctor, who had always been considered very learned and at the same time very pious, died. His death seemed a very happy one, as it followed soon after his having received the holy Sacraments. But when the corpse was brought to the church, for the funeral ceremonies and the usual prayers, behold! the dead man arose during the Office of the Dead, to the great horror of all present, and cried, with a terrible voice: ” The Justice of God has accused me! ” On the second day, when the clergy had reached the same lesson in the Office, the body again moved, and cried in the same fearful tones: ” The Justice of God has rejected me!” On the third day, the same happened : the dead sitting up, cried with a still more awful voice: “The Justice of God has condemned me!” The feelings of all present may easily be imagined. There was not one among them who did not turn pale, and all left the Church in fear and trembling.

Bruno, with six of his friends, was present at this sad event, and his heart was deeply touched by divine grace. He was so much affected by this terrible judgment of the Almighty, that he resolved, from that hour, to retire from the world and work most earnestly at the salvation of his soul, that he might one day be able to justify himself before the throne of God. He informed his friends of this, and persuaded them, by the earnestness of his words, to make the same resolution. They delayed not in carrying out their intention; but immediately sold all they possessed, gave it to the poor, and taking leave of their acquaintances, they went, clad in the poor garb of pilgrims, from Paris to Grenoble. They related to St. Hugh, the holy bishop of that city, all that had happened, and acquainted him with their plans, and begged him to assign them a place in his diocese, where they might dwell in solitude, and by a pious life, merit the favor of the Divine Judge. Hugh had dreamed the night before, that seven bright stars had dropped at his feet; and when he saw these seven men, so humble and so filled with holy zeal, he doubted not that God, being pleased with their resolution, had, by this dream, foreshadowed their coming. Hence he received them very kindly, strengthened them in their resolution and brought them to a desert called the Chartreuse. Closed in by high mountains, this wilderness was so stony and barren, that it seemed hardly a fit dwelling for wild animals, much less for cultivated men. To St. Bruno, however, it appeared to be exactly the piace for his purpose.

He erected a small church there in honor of St. John the Baptist, and several poor huts, all separated from each other. This was the beginning of the Carthusian Order, which has since become so celebrated, and whose members have never abated from the fervor that distinguished the early founders. St. Bruno and his companions led a very austere life. The principal points which he observed and desired that they should observe, were: To live separated from all communication with men; to observe a continual silence, except when assembled at church to sing the praises of the Most High; always to wear hair-cloth, to abstain from meat and to fast daily; to occupy their time in prayer, singing the praises of God, reading devout books and manual labor. The holy Founder chose the Divine Mother as patroness of the Order, and St. John Baptist as its special protector, as his life might serve as a most perfect example to the hermits. The Evil One aroused many enemies to persecute the holy man and his companions; but St. Bruno continued undisturbed in the practice of what he had commenced out of love to God and for the salvation of his soul.

Having lived in this desert most austerely during six years, he was requested by Pope Urban II., who had known him well in former times, to come to Rome on account of some important affairs. The holy man was not less sorry than his disciples at this news; but he was obliged to obey the Pontiff. The Saint remained six years in Rome, as the Pope needed his counsel and knowledge for the benefit of the holy church. The Pope intended, as a recompense for his faithful services, to raise him to the dignity of Archbishop of Reggio in Calabria, a see which was at that time vacant. The humble servant of God refused with many tears to accept it, saying that he had already enough account to render for his own soul and could not become responsible for the many souls which so high an office would place under his charge. The Pope was touched, and not only desisted from his intention, but also allowed St. Bruno to leave the papal court, as he desired, and reside in a solitary spot in Calabria, where, as in the Chartreuse, he could serve God in peace and quiet.

The Saint, accompanied by several who were of the same mind with him, wandered through Calabria, until he found, in the diocese of Squillaci, a desert which suited his intentions. He soon had everything arranged in the same manner as at the Chartreuse, and instituted the same rules in regard to the life and occupation of the hermits. It was there that St. Bruno passed the remainder of his days in great holiness. A certain Count of Calabria, named Roger, whilst hunting in the forest, one day came upon the huts of the monks. He was astonished no less than edified at the austerity of their life, and made St. Bruno a gift of some land which was in the neighborhood. He also had a church built for these holy men, which was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. The Almighty soon richly rewarded the liberality of the Count; for when he besieged Capua, and one of his subjects was plotting to betray him into the hands of the enemy, St. Bruno, who was far away in his solitude, appeared to the Count during the night, and apprised him of his danger.

Not long after this, the Almighty sent a dangerous sickness to the Saint as a messenger of approaching death. He received the holy Sacraments with great devotion, but first made a public confession of his faith, against the heresy which was just then making inroads on the holy Church, and admonished all present, to remain constant in the service of God. At last, clothed in his penitential garments, he took the Crucifix, and while he most devoutly kissed it, the Almighty released his soul from its earthly fetters, in the year 1101. A most miraculous spring gushed out near his tomb, the water of which cured the blind, the lame, the deaf and those who were afflicted with other infirmities. (1)

St. Bruno was buried in the little cemetery of the hermitage of St. Mary, and many miracles were worked at his tomb. He had never been formally canonized. His cult, authorized for the Carthusian Order by Leo X in 1514, was extended to the whole church by Gregory XV, 17 February, 1623, as a semi-double feast, and elevated to the class of doubles by Clement X, 14 March, 1674. St. Bruno is the popular saint of Calabria; every year a great multitude resort to the Charterhouse of St. Stephen, on the Monday and Tuesday of Pentecost, when his relics are borne in procession to the hermitage of St. Mary, where he lived, and the people visit the spots sanctified by his presence.

In 1984, German filmmaker Philip Gröning wrote to the Carthusian order for permission to make a documentary about them. They said they would get back to him. Sixteen years later, they were ready. Gröning spent six months living the life of a Carthusian monk and single-handed produced a stunningly elemental film throwing the viewer right into the daily tasks, prayers, rituals and rare outdoor excursions of the monks – without score, voiceover or archival footage. The film is called  Into the Great Silence.

Image: Hl. Bruno, der Kartäuser , artist: José de Ribera, circa 1643 (7)

Research by REGINA Staff