Saint Pulcheria, Virgin

September 10

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

Saint Pulcheria was the eldest daughter of the Emperor Arcadius.  She was born 19 Jan., 399.  After the death of Arcadius (408), her younger brother, Theodosius II, then only seven, became emperor under the guardianship of Anthimus. Pulcheria had matured early and had great administrative ability; she soon exerted salutary influence over the young and not very capable emperor. On 4 July, 414, she was proclaimed Augusta (empress) by the Senate, and made regent for her brother. She made a vow of virginity and persuaded her sisters to do the same, the imperial palace thus becoming almost a monastery (Socrates, “Hist. eccl.”, VII, xxii).

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

We find this day, in the Roman book of Martyrs, a record of the life of the holy empress, St. Pulcheria. This Saint was a daughter of the emperor Arcadius, who, at his death, left four daughters and one son. The latter succeeding him upon the throne; reigned most gloriously under the name of Theodosius the younger. Pulcheria, though hardly two years older than her brother, supplied to him the place of a counselor, without whose advice he did not undertake anything. God had gifted her with such wisdom, that she administered the most important affairs of the state, to the universal satisfaction and great benefit of the people. She instructed her brother, the emperor, most carefully, how to lead a holy life, not only for himself, but also as an example to his subjects, whose happiness she taught him to consider his greatest study. She had a peculiar way of correcting his faults, of which the following may serve as an example: The emperor had the most implicit trust in some of his counselors, and used to sign, without reading them, ill the orders and letters they placed before him. Pulcheria, desiring to break him of so dangerous a habit, prepared an order, by force of which, his imperial spouse, Eudoxia, was to be delivered to Pulcheria as a prisoner. This order was laid before the emperor, among many others, and he signed it with the rest. Pulcheria took it, invited the empress into her apartments, and presenting the imperial order to her, said that she was and should remain her prisoner, until the emperor would countermand his order. Somewhat later, Theodosius sent for the empress, but Pulcheria returned for answer that Eudoxia was her prisoner, and that, as such, she would not release her. The emperor, surprised, hastened to his sister for an explanation of her answer. Placing before him the order he had signed, she said: “Behold, my brother and emperor, what may happen, when we are too hasty in our affairs, and sign what we have not read and examined.” The emperor, kindly receiving the admonition, promised in future, to be more guarded.

For several years, all went well, and God visibly blessed what the emperor, advised by his sister, had done. At length, however, Chrysaphius, a wicked counselor, succeeded in prejudicing the emperor against Pulcheria to such an extent, that he desired to be free from her presence, and to govern his people without her guidance. When Pulcheria became aware of this, she withdrew from the affairs of the government, and leaving the court, she went to a country-seat, not far from Constantinople, where she served God most fervently in peaceful solitude. She had long since taken the vow of perpetual chastity, and had persuaded her three sisters, Flaccilla, Arcadia and Marina, to do the same. Hence it became no difficult task for her to leave the pleasures and honors of the court, and occupy herself only with Him whom she had chosen as her spouse.

The imperial court, however, soon wore a different aspect. Omitting many other disgraceful acts which were performed there, we will mention only a new heresy, which was allowed to spring up and thrive at Constantinople. Its author was a certain Eutyches. Chrysaphius, won by him, imparted the poisonous doctrines to the emperor and empress, who, favoring the heresiarch, soon began to persecute the faithful Catholics. Pulcheria, when informed of it, was deeply distressed that her brother had allowed himself to be so unhappily seduced, as to become, from a zealous protector of the true church, its persecutor. She prayed ceaselessly to the Almighty to enlighten and convert her brother, and requested the prayers of other pious servants of the Lord, to the same effect God granted her request, and bestowed upon Theodosius the grace to recognize and correct his error. As, at the same time, it became clear to him that he never would have become guilty of so grave a fault, if his pious sister had been near him with her counsel, he besought her to return to court. Although Pulcheria was happy and contented, and had no desire to return to the tumult of the world, the wish to lead her brother in the right path, and to guard him from again wandering from it, determined her to consent. She returned, therefore, to the court and city, and after having entirely restored her brother to the true faith, she endeavored, to the utmost of her power, to exterminate the new heresy, employing the same means which she had used when Nestorius began to disseminate his heretical errors. The bishops at the Council of Chalcedon hence called her a protector of the faith, an exterminator of heresy, and another St. Helena. The holy Pope, Leo I., thanked her, and congratulated her on account of the twofold victory she had won over those two heretics.

On the death of Theodosius, Pulcheria remained mistress of the empire. To assist her in this difficult position, she chose Marcian, who had been an officer of high rank under the late emperor, and was a man of distinguished merit and great sanctity of life. To him she gave her hand in marriage, but with the condition that both should live in continency, as she had consecrated her virginity to the Almighty. Marcian promised to respect her vow, and faithfully kept his word. The benefit which the holy church and the state derived from this union, cannot be described in the limited space allowed to us. The sole desire of the people, was, that Pulcheria and Marcian might be spared to reign over them for many years. But it pleased the king of all kings to call his faithful handmaid, Pulcheria, to her heavenly home, A. D., 453, before she had completed her fifty-fifth year. As she had never set her heart on temporal things, it was not hard for her to leave the world; indeed, when she felt that death was approaching, her desire to be united with Christ, whom she had served in chastity and faithful love, became more and more intense. Having devoutly received the Holy Sacraments, she ended her holy life calmly and peacefully.

The poor, to whom this incomparable empress had always been a most loving mother, became, by her will, her heirs. She had built, and richly endowed many churches and hospitals. Although in the midst of constant gaieties, she exercised herself in various penances, read daily in a devout book, and frequently rose at midnight to honor the Almighty by chanting the Psalms. She paid due reverence to the Saints and their relics, and was deeply devoted to the Queen of Heaven. She defended the honor of the Blessed Virgin, especially against the heresiarch, Nestorius, who blasphemously pretended that although Mary was the mother of Christ, she was not therefore the mother of God. The council of Ephesus condemned this blasphemy, and St. Pulcheria, on this account, built a magnificent church, in honor of the Blessed Virgin. May the Almighty give to His church many such protectors, and guard and keep those who endeavor to follow the example of this Saint in her zeal, her generosity and magnanimity. (2)

She is venerated as a saint in the Greek and other Oriental Churches as well as in the Latin Church. Her feast is given under 10 Sept. in the Roman Martyrology and in the Greek Menaia; in the other Oriental calendars it is under 7 Aug.

Image: The Trier Ivory, representing a procession with royal figures theorized to depict Theodosius II and Pulcheria. (5)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.nobility.org/2015/09/07/st-pulcheria/
  2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Nicholas%20of%20Tolentino.html
  3. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j091sdPulcheria_9-10.htm
  4. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-159/St.%20Cyril%20of%20Alexandria.htm#At%20this%20point
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elfenbeintafel_mit_Reliquienprozession,_Konstantinopel,_5._Jahrhundert.jpg

Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, Confessor

September 10

Today is the feast day of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Nicholas was born at Sant’ Angelo, near Fermo, in the March of Ancona, about 1246.  His parents were childless for six years. They prayed at the shrine of St Nicholas of Bari and in thanksgiving christened their son Nicholas.

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

St. Nicholas was born at St. Angelo in the March of Ancona, but is called Nicholas of Tolentino, from having resided during the last thirty years of his life at the latter place. His parents, Campanus and Amata, were long without issue, and desiring to be blessed with a child, they made a pilgrimage to Bari, to the shrine of the holy bishop St. Nicholas. Having most fervently performed their devotions, they were favored with an apparition of the Saint, who told them that they would have a son, whom they should call Nicholas, and who would become a man of eminent virtue. The truth of this prediction was soon made known. Amata gave birth to a son, who, in accordance with the command of the Saint, was named Nicholas. It was a striking fact, that from his early childhood, Nicholas possessed, in an eminent degree, the spirit of prayer, and when, as is the habit of children, he shed tears, nothing could pacify him more easily than to be told that they would carry him to church. When there he was always quiet, and as he became older, he showed a reverence that was truly angelical. He never spoke a word while in the house of God; never looked curiously about. In his whole conduct there was never seen any childishness or frivolity.

When he was old enough to begin his studies, he displayed remarkable eagerness for gaining knowledge, and made great progress: in consequence of which, he was, when yet quite young, admitted among the Canons of the church of St. Salvador. But one day, hearing a sermon on the words of the Apostle: “Do not love the world, or what is in the world,” delivered by an Augustinian hermit, he perceived an inner desire to leave all that is temporal, and serve God more perfectly in a religious state. Hence he went, immediately after the sermon, to the superior of the above-named Order, and requested to be received as a novice. His request was granted; and fulfilling the prophecy of St. Nicholas, he gave, already in the year of his probation, manifestations of truly eminent virtues, which caused him to be allowed to make his profession earlier than was usual. His constant mortification excited the admiration of all with whom he came in contact. He had heard, when only seven years of age, that his holy patron, St. Nicholas, had, when an infant, abstained every Wednesday and Friday, from his mother’s breast, and had begun immediately to pass the same two days without any food. To these two fast-days, he, in the course of time, added two more. During thirty years, he never touched either flesh or fish; he even abstained from eggs, milk, and fruit, contenting himself with bread, vegetables and water. Even when seriously sick, he deviated not from this austerity. Once when the physicians prescribed meat for him, and the General of the Order commanded him to follow their advice, he obeyed, but having taken a little, he begged to be excused from eating more, saying that he would regain strength without it, which did not fail to happen. Besides these continual fasts, the holy man chastised his innocent body in various ways. He constantly wore a hair-shirt, and scourged himself every night with an iron chain. He took a short rest at night on the bare floor, and never allowed his body the slightest recreation. One day, when someone told him not to be too severe upon himself, he said: “I have not entered the religious state to indulge in my own comfort.”

The Evil One, endeavored vainly to disturb the pious zeal of the servant of God, by terrible visions and cruel ill-treatment; but Nicholas adhered faithfully to the path he had selected. His solicitude for the salvation of souls was indefatigable, and he reformed a great many by his sermons and private discourses. To visit the sick and prisoners and to comfort and assist them, was his greatest pleasure. Not less deep was his compassion for the souls in purgatory, and as he offered daily his prayers, his penances and holy Mass for them, he released a great many from their suffering. To Mary, the divine Mother, he was most fervently devoted from his early childhood, and therefore, he received many and great favors from her. Once, when suffering from a severe fever, he thought that his last hour had arrived, and he was overcome with fear while meditating on the judgments of the Almighty. He appealed to his beloved mother, the Blessed Virgin, who deigned to appear to him, telling him to put aside all fear and be hopeful. She, at the same time, blessed a crust of bread that was lying beside him, and told him to eat of it, which he had no sooner done, than the fever left him. This is the origin of the so-called Tolentine bread, which is blessed on the feast of this Saint, and is often very beneficial to the sick. He himself wrought many miracles in favor of the sick and poor, as may be seen in his more circumstantial biography.

We will only add a few lines about his happy death, the hour of which God had revealed to him, but which was preceded by a painful sickness that lasted six months. During this time, he derived an indescribable consolation from heavenly music which he heard during the night or towards morning. Several times this was heard also by those who were with him. He received the Holy Sacraments with wonderful devotion, shedding many tears. The crucifix, which enclosed a particle of the wood of the holy Cross, he kissed most fervently, praying to the Almighty to assist him in his last combat, and to guard him from all danger by the power of the holy Cross. Besides this, his heart was filled with the desire to behold God in heaven, whom he had loved above everything on earth. Hence he called aloud several times: “Oh! that I might be dissolved and be with Christ!” Shortly before he expired, a holy joy was seen on his countenance, and when asked the cause of it, he replied: “Our Lord, Jesus Christ, leaning upon His beloved mother and St. Augustine, calls me to Him with these words: “Come, thou pious and faithful servant! enter into the joys of thy Lord!” Having said this, he fixed his eyes upon the crucifix, saying: “Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” and expired. He is represented with a lily in his hand and a star on his breast. The lily represents the angelic purity and innocence which he kept inviolate; the star, the holy life of the great servant of the Almighty. St. Nicholas was, during his life, a bright star in the church of God, on account of his many and great virtues. His tomb shines yet, in our days, with a divine light, on account of the many and great miracles with which God there honors His faithful servant. (1)

 At the hour of his death, which occurred on September 10, 1310, he heard, it is said, the songs which the Angels sing in the presence of their Lord. He died and was buried in the chapel where he was accustomed to offer Holy Mass and say his prayers. He was canonized in 1446 by Pope Eugene IV. Three hundred and one miracles were recognized during the process. His tomb has become renowned by many more, despite the fact that his relics have been lost, save for two arms from which blood still exudes when the Church is menaced by a great danger. This occurred, for example, when the island of Cyprus was taken over by infidels in 1570. The religious of Saint Augustine continue to maintain the service of the large basilica of Saint Nicholas in Tolentino. Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, like Saint Joseph, virginal father of Jesus, has been declared a Patron of the Universal Church.

Image: Nicola da Tolentino, artist: Pietro Perugino, circa 1507. (8)

Research by REGINA Staff

 

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Nicholas%20of%20Tolentino.html
  2. http://www.nobility.org/2016/09/08/st-nicholas-of-tolentino-2/
  3. http://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-nicholas-of-tolentino-1245-1305-augustinian-friar-patron-of-the-souls-in-purgatory/
  4. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_nicholas_of_tolentino.html
  5. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints9-7.htm
  6. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-189/Tolentino.htm
  7. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/09-10.html
  8. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nicholasoftolentino.jpg

Saint Omer, Bishop

September 9

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

Saint Omer (also known as  Audomar) was born toward the close of the sixth century at Guldendal, Switzerland.  His parents, who were noble and wealthy, paid great attention to his education.  They also strove to inspire him with a love for virtue. Upon the death of his mother he entered the monastery of Luxeuil and persuaded his father to accompany him.  They sold their worldly goods and distributed the proceeds among the poor. The father and son made their religious profession together. The humility, obedience, mildness and devotion, together with the admirable purity of intention which shone forth in every action of Saint Omer, distinguished him even among his saintly brethren.

Under the direction of Saint Eustachius, Omer studied the Scriptures, in which he acquired remarkable proficiency. When King Dagobert requested the appointment of a bishop to the important city of Terouenne, the capital of the ancient territory of the Morini in Belgic Gaul, Omer was appointed and consecrated in 637.

The greater number of the inhabitants of the region were still pagans, and even the few Christians, through a scarcity of priests, had lapsed. The holy bishop applied himself to his task with such efficacious zeal that in a short time his diocese became one of the most flourishing in France. A pagan overlord who had persecuted the Christians could not resist his exhortations, and after his baptism gave large grants to the church.  On one of those terrains Bishop Omer built a monastery in honor of the Blessed Virgin.

About 654, Bishop Omer founded the Abbey of Saint Peter (now the Abbey of Saint Bertin) in Sithiu, soon to rival the old monastery of Luxeuil for the number of learned and zealous men educated there. Several years later he erected the Church of Our Lady of Sithiu, with a small monastery adjoining, which he turned over to the monks of Saint Bertin.

The exact date of his death is unknown, but he is believed to have died about the year 670. The place of his burial is uncertain; most probably he was laid to rest in the church of Our Lady which is now the cathedral of Saint Omer’s.

Image: Statue de Saint Omer dans l’église d’Orval (Manche)

  1. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_omer.html
  2. http://www.nobility.org/2016/09/08/st-omer-2/
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_omer.jpg

Saint Peter Claver, Confessor

September 9

Today is the feast day of Saint Peter Claver.  Ora pro nobis.

Peter was born to a distinguished family in Verdu (Catalonia), Spain. He lost his mother and older brother while still a child, and as a teenager joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

He obtained his first degrees at the University of Barcelona. At the age of twenty he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Tarragona. While he was studying philosophy at Majorca in 1605, Alphonsus Rodriguez, the saintly door-keeper of the college, learned from God the future mission of his young associate.  Saint Alphonsus, when he saw the novice for the first time, was inspired to kiss his feet; and the novice embraced his spiritual father with a tenderness which would increase with time. Saint Alphonsus was graced with a divine vision some years later, and learned that this novice was destined to save a multitude of souls in the New World. He is reported to have said to Peter: “How many peoples go astray for lack of ministers! The fatigue of going to seek them out is dreaded, but not the danger and crime which it is to abandon them!” 

After eight years of study and apostolic preparation in Spain, Father Peter asked to go to the Jesuit missions of the Western Indies.  He was sent to Carthagena in Colombia, South America, when he was thirty years old. He was assigned to accompany an elderly priest who had undertaken a ministry of service to the poor Africans brought to be sold in the market of that city.

These poor strangers spoke several languages but shared a common misery, which Father Peter soon saw clearly. When the holds of the boats were opened, all one beheld was a confused mass of men, women, children and old men, sick persons mingled with healthy ones, and often, alas! living beings next to cadavers, for the crossing made victims. The elderly forerunner of Peter, when about to retire, asked that the objects of his care be definitively confided to Father Peter, a petition willingly granted.

Thus began forty-four years of unceasing dedication to their spiritual and material betterment by Father Peter. He watched for the arrival of the slave ships, which brought from ten to twelve thousand souls each year. Father Peter never failed to be the first to go aboard, accompanied by his interpreters and carrying the provisions he had been able to beg. He greeted the living, arranged for the burial of the dead and the transport of the sick to hospitals. Having won their sympathy, he went to them regularly with his interpreters and taught them, during several hours’ time, the elements of doctrine, aided by pictures.

Before Father Peter died, it is said he had baptized between 300-400,000. He put around the necks of each newly baptized child of God, a medal which would thereafter distinguish the Christians from the yet untaught.

Father Peter was accused of indiscreet zeal.  Fashionable women of Cartagena refused to enter the churches where Father Peter assembled his flock. Those who resisted him did not do so indefinitely.  One man insulted him for twenty-two years, but at the end of that time fell on his knees and begged his pardon. Most biographers who have tried to document his life have found it difficult to use mere words to described his divinely-inspired heart of charity.

Father Peter contracted the plague in his late sixties, and valiantly continued his work for four years while ill. Near the end, he was left infirm and partially paralyzed, but lashed himself to a donkey so he could continue begging and distributing provisions to those more in need.

Saint Peter Claver died at the age of 75, having lived and ministered to the wretched of Cartagena for over 40 years. Two years after his death, his body was found intact, despite the humidity of the burial site and the live caustic covering it. Numerous miracles were reported at his intercession.

He was beatified 16 July, 1850, by Pius IX, and canonized 15 January, 1888, by Leo XIII.  When he and his old friend, Br Alphonsus were canonised on the same day in 1888, Pope Leo XIII said, ‘No life, except the life of Christ, has so moved me as that of St Peter Claver.

Image: Stained glass window in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene and St. Andrew in Dormagen in Rhein-Kreis Neuss (Nordrhein-Westfalen) photo by GFreihalter (7)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2010/09/september-9-saint-peter-claver.html
  2. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11763a.htm
  3. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_peter_claver.html
  4. http://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/saint-of-the-slaves-st-peter-claver-d-1654/
  5. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Peter%20Claver.html
  6. http://catholicism.org/slave-of-slaves.html
  7. https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-peter-claver/

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

September 8

Today is the feast day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Our Blessed Mother is one of only three people the Church celebrates on the day of their birth (the other two being Christ on Christmas, born without sin, and Saint John the Baptist, free from sin at birth after being cleansed of his sins by Christ during the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth). The remainder of the saints are celebrated on their date of death—their birth into everlasting life with Christ. The Blessed Virgin, however, was conceived without sin because the Lord, in His wisdom, had chosen her to become the Mother of God. Nine months after our celebration of the Immaculate Conception, we celebrate the Nativity of our hope and light of salvation!

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From THE LITURGICAL YEAR, Dom Gueranger

VIEW THE YOUNG VIRGIN ‘

LET us celebrate the Nativity of the Virgin Mary; let us adore her Son, Christ our Lord.’  Such is the invitation addressed to us today by the Church. Let us hearken to her call; let us enter into her over-flowing joy. The Bridegroom is at hand, for His throne is now set up on earth; yet a little while, and He will appear in the diadem of our human nature, wherewith His Mother is to crown Him on the day of the joy of His heart, and of ours. Today, as on the glorious Assumption, the sacred Canticle is heard; but this time it belongs more to earth than to Heaven.

Truly a better Paradise than the first is given us at this hour. Eden, fear no more that man will endeavor to enter thee; thy Cherubim may leave the gates and return to Heaven. What are thy beautiful fruits to us, since we cannot touch them without dying? Death is now for those who will not eat of the fruit so soon to appear amid the flowers of the virgin earth to which our God has led us.

Hail, new world, far surpassing in magnificence the first creation! Hail blessed haven, where we find a calm after so many storms! Aurora dawns; the rainbow glitters in the heavens; the dove comes forth; the ark rests upon the earth, offering new destinies to the world. The haven, the aurora, the rainbow, the dove, the ark of salvation, the paradise of the heavenly Adam, the creation whereof the former was but a shadow: all this art thou, sweet infant, in whom already dwell all grace, all truth, all life.

Thou art the little cloud, which the father of prophets in the suppliant anguish of his soul awaited; and thou bringest refreshment to the parched earth. Under the weakness of thy fragile form, appears the Mother of fair love and of holy hope. Thou art that other light cloud of exquisite fragrance, which our desert sends up to Heaven. In the incomparable humility of thy soul, which knows not itself, the Angels, standing like armed warriors around thy cradle, recognize their Queen.

O Tower of the true David; citadel withstanding the first shock of satan’s attack, and breaking all his power; true Sion, founded on the holy mountains, the highest summits of virtue; temple and palace, feebly foreshadowed by those of Solomon; house built by eternal Wisdom for herself: the faultless lines of thy fair architecture were planned from all eternity.

Together with Emmanuel, who predestined thee for His home of delights, thou art thyself, O blessed child, the crowning point of creation, the divine ideal fully realized on earth.

Let us, then, understand the Church, when, even on this day, she proclaims thy Divine maternity, and unites in her chants of praise the birth of Emmanuel and thine own. He Who, being Son of God by essence, willed to be also Son of man, had, before all other designs, decreed that He would have a Mother. Such, consequently, wall the primordial, absolute character of that title of mother, that, in the eternal decree, it was one with the very being of the chosen creature, the motive and cause of her existence, as well as the source of all her perfections natural and supernatural. We too, then, must recognize thee as Mother, even from thy very cradle, and must celebrate thy birthday by adoring thy Son our Lord.

Inasmuch as it embraces all the brethren of the Man-God, thy blessed maternity sheds its rays upon all time, both before and after this happy day. ‘God is our king before ages: He hath wrought salvation in the midst of the earth.’ [Ps. 73:12] ‘The midst of the earth,’ says the Abbot of Clairvaux, ‘admirably represents Mary. Mary is the center of the universe, the ark of God, the cause of creation, the business of ages. Towards her turn the inhabitants of Heaven and the dwellers in the place of expiation, the men that have gone before us, and we that are now living, those who are to follow us, our children’s children and their descendants. Those in Heaven look to her to have their ranks filled up; those in Purgatory look for their deliverance; the men of the first ages, that they may be found faithful prophets; those who come after, that they may obtain eternal happiness. Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Sovereign of the world, all generations shall call thee blessed, for thou hast brought forth life and glory for all. In thee the Angels ever find their joy, the just find grace, sinners pardon; in thee, and by thee, and from thee, the merciful hand of the Almighty has reformed the first creation.’

Andrew of Crete calls this day a solemnity of entrance, a feast of beginning, whose end is the union of the Word with our flesh; a virginal feast, full of joy and confidence for all. ‘All ye nations, come hither,’ cries St. John Damascene; ‘come every race and every tongue, every age and every dignity, let us joyfully celebrate the birthday of the world’s gladness.’ ‘It is the beginning of salvation, the origin of every feast,’ says St. Peter Damian; ‘for behold! the Mother of the Bridegroom is born. With good reason does the whole world rejoice today; and the Church, beside herself, bids her choirs sing wedding songs.’

Not only do the Doctors of east and west use similar language in praise of Mary’s birth, but moreover the Latin and Greek Churches sing, each in its own tongue, the same beautiful formula, to close the office of the feast: ‘Thy birth O Virgin Mother of God, brought joy to the whole world: for out of thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God: Who, taking off the curse, hath bestowed blessing; and defeating death, hath given us life everlasting.’

This union of Rome and Byzantium in the celebration of today’s festival, dates back as far as the seventh century at least; beyond that we cannot speak with anything like certitude, nor is it known when the feast was first instituted. It is supposed to have originated at Angers, towards the year 430, by an apparition of our Lady to the holy bishop Maurillus in the fields of Marillais; and hence the name of Notre Dame Angevine often given to the feast. In the eleventh century Chartres, the city of Mary, claims for its own Fulbert, together with Robert the Pious, a principal share in the spreading of the glorious solemnity throughout France. It is well known how intimate the bishop was with the king; and how the latter himself set to music the three admirable responsories composed by Fulbert, wherein he celebrates the rising of the mysterious star that was to give birth to the Sun; the branch springing from the rod of J ease, and producing the divine Flower whereon the holy Spirit was to rest; and the merciful power which caused Mary to blossom in Judaea like the rose on the thorn.

In the year 1245, in the third session of the first Council of Lyons, (the same session which deposed Frederick II from the empire), Innocent IV established for the whole Church, not the feast which was already kept everywhere, but the Octave of the Nativity of the blessed Virgin Mary. It was the accomplishment of a vow made by him and the other Cardinals during the Church’s widowhood, through the intrigues of the crafty emperor, lasted nineteen months after the death of Celestine IV, and which was brought to a close by the election of  Sinibaldo Fieschi under the name of Innocent.

In 1377, the great Pope Gregory XI, who broke the chains of captivity in Avignon, wished to add a vigil to the solemnity of our Lady’s birthday. But whether he merely expressed a desire to this effect, as did his successor Urban VI with regard to a fast on the eve of the Visitation, or whether for some other reason, the intentions of the holy Pope were carried out for only a very short time during the years of trouble that followed his death.

Together with the Church, let us ask, as the fruit of this sweet feast, for that peace which seems to flee ever farther and farther from our unhappy times. Our Lady was born during the second of the three periods of universal peace wherewith the reign of Augustus was blest, the last of which ushered in the Prince of Peace Himself.

The temple of Janus is closed; in the eternal city a mysterious fountain of oil has sprung up from the spot where the first sanctuary of the Mother of God is one day to be built; signs and portents are multiplied; the whole world is in expectation; the poet has sung: ‘Behold the last age, foretold by the Sybil, is at hand; behold the great series of new worlds is beginning; behold the Virgin!’ In Judæa, the sceptre has been taken away from Juda; but the usurper of his power, Herod the Idumæan, is hastening to complete the splendid restoration, which will enable the second temple worthily to receive within its walls the Ark of the new Covenant.

It is the sabbatical month, the first of the civil year, the seventh of the sacred cycle; the month of Tisri which begins the repose of each seventh year, and in which is announced the holy year of Jubilee; the most joyous of months, with its solemn Neomenia celebrated with trumpets and singing, its feast of tabernacles, and the commemoration of the completion of Solomon’s temple.  . . . On earth, two obscure descendants of David, Joachim and Anne, are thanking God for having blessed their long-barren union. (7)

Sermon I on the Dormition of Mary By St. John Damascene (John of Damascus), (A.D. 676 – 754/787)

The birth of her, whose Child was marvellous, was above nature and understanding, and it was salvation to the world; her death was glorious, and truly a sacred feast. The Father predestined her, the prophets foretold her through the Holy Ghost. His sanctifying power overshadowed her, cleansed and made her holy, and, as it were, predestined her. Then Thou, Word of the Father, not dwelling in place, didst invite the lowliness of our nature to be united to the immeasurable greatness of Thy inscrutable Godhead. Thou, who didst take flesh of the Blessed Virgin, vivified by a reasoning soul, having first abided in her undefiled and immaculate womb, creating Thyself, and causing her to exist in Thee, didst become perfect man,, not ceasing to be perfect God, equal to Thy Father, but taking upon Thyself our weakness through ineffable goodness. Through it Thou art one Christ, one Lord, one Son of God, and man at the same time, perfect God and perfect man, wholly God and wholly man, one Substance from two perfect natures, the Godhead and the manhood. And in two perfect natures, the divine and the human, God is not pure God, nor the man only man, but the Son of God and the Incarnate God are one and the same God and man without confusion or division, uniting in Himself substantially the attributes of both natures. Thus, He is at once uncreated and created, mortal and immortal, visible and invisible, in place and not in place. He has a divine will and a human will, a divine action and a human also, two powers of choosing divine and human. He shows forth divine wonders and human affections–natural, I mean, and pure. Thou hast taken upon Thyself, Lord, of Thy great mercy, the state of Adam as he was before the fall, body, soul, and mind, and all that they involve physically, so as to give me a perfect salvation. It is true indeed that what was not assumed was not healed. Having thus become the mediator between God and man, Thou didst destroy enmity, and lead back to Thy Father those who had deserted Him, wanderers to their home, and those in darkness to the light. Thou didst bring pardon to the contrite, and didst change mortality into immortality. Thou didst deliver the world from the aberration of many gods, and didst make men the children of God, partakers of Thy divine glory. Thou didst raise the human race, which was condemned to bell, above all power and majesty, and in Thy person it is seated on the King’s eternal throne. Who was the instrument of these infinite benefits exceeding all mind and comprehension, if not the Mother ever Virgin who bore Thee?

Realise, Beloved in the Lord, the grace of today, and its wondrous solemnity. Its mysteries are not terrible, nor do they inspire awe. Blessed are they who have eyes to see. Blessed are they who see with spiritual eyes. This night shines as the day. What countless angels acclaim the death of the life-giving Mother! How the eloquence of apostles blesses the departure of this body which was the receptacle of God. How the Word of God, who deigned in His mercy to become her Son, ministering with His divine hands to this immaculate and divine being, as His mother, receives her holy soul. O wondrous Law-giver, fulfilling the law which He bad Himself laid down, not being bound by it, for it was He who enjoined children to show reverence to their parents. “Honour thy father and thy mother,” He says. The truth of this is apparent to every one, calling to mind even dimly the words of holy Scripture. If according to it the souls of the just are in the hands of God, how much more is her soul in the hands of her Son and her God. This is indisputable. Let us consider who she is and whence she came, how she, the greatest and dearest of all God’s gifts, was given to this world. Let us examine what her life was, and the mysteries in which she took part. Heathens in the use of funeral orations most carefully brought forward anything which could be turned to praise of the deceased, and at the same time encourage the living to virtue, drawing generally upon fable and fiction, not having fact to go upon. How then, shall we not deserve scorn if we bury in silence that which is most true and sacred, and in very deed the source of praise and salvation to all ? Shall we not receive the same punishment as the man who hid his master’s talent ? Let us adapt our subject to the needs of those who listen, as food is suited to the body.

Joachim and Anne were the parents of Mary. Joachim kept as strict a watch over his thoughts as a shepherd over his flock, having them entirely under his control. For the Lord God led him as a sheep, and he wanted for none of the best things. When I say best, let no one think I mean what is commonly acceptable to the multitude, that upon which greedy minds are fixed, the pleasures of life that can neither endure nor make their possessors better, nor confer real strength. They follow the downward course of human life and cease all in a moment, even if they abounded before. Far be it from us to cherish these things, nor is this the portion of those who fear God. But the good things which are a matter of desire to those who possess true knowledge, delighting God, and fruitful to their possessors, namely, virtues, bearing fruit in due season, that is, in eternity, will reward with eternal life those who have laboured worthily and have persevered in their acquisition as far as possible. The labour goes before, eternal happiness follows. Joachim ever shepherded his thoughts. In the place of pastures, dwelling by contemplation on the words of sacred Scripture, made glad on the restful waters of divine grace, withdrawn from foolishness, he walked in the path of justice. And Anne, whose name means grace, was no less a companion in her life than a wife, blessed with all good gifts, though afflicted for a mystical reason with sterility. Grace in very truth remained sterile, not being able to produce fruit in the souls of men. Therefore, men declined from good and degenerated; there was not one of understanding nor one who sought after God. Then His divine goodness, taking pity on the work of His hands, and wishing to save it, put an end to that mystical barrenness, that of holy Anne, I mean, and she gave birth to a child, whose equal had never been created and never can be. The end of barrenness proved clearly that the world’s sterility would cease and that the withered trunk would be crowned with vigorous and mystical life.

Hence the Mother of our Lord is announced. An angel foretells her birth. It was fitting that in this, too, she, who was to be the human Mother of the one true and living God, should be marked out above every one else. Then she was offered in God’s holy temple, and remained there, showing to all a great example of zeal and holiness, withdrawn from frivolous society. When, however, she reached full age and the law required that she should leave the temple, she was entrusted by the priests to Joseph, her bridegroom, as the guardian of her virginity, a steadfast observer of the law from his youth. Mary, the holy and undefiled, went to Joseph, contenting herself with her household matters, and knowing nothing beyond her four walls.

In the fulness of time, as the divine apostle says, the angel Gabriel was sent to this true child of God, and saluted her in the words, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” Beautiful is the angel’s salutation to her who is greater than an angel. He is the bearer of joy to the whole world. She was troubled at his words, not being used to speak with men, for she had resolved to keep her virginity unsullied. She pondered in herself what this greeting might be. Then the angel said to her: “Fear not, Mary. Thou hast found grace before God.” In very deed, she who was worthy of grace had found it. She found grace who had done the deeds of race, and had reaped its fulness. She found grace who brought forth the source of grace, and was a rich harvest of grace. She found an abyss of grace who kept undefiled her double virginity, her virginal soul no less spotless than her body; hence her perfect virginity. “Thou shalt bring forth a Son,” he said, “and shalt call His name Jesus” (Jesus is interpreted Saviour). “He shall save His people from their sins.” What did she, who is true wisdom, reply? She does not imitate our first mother Eve, but rather improves upon her incautiousness, and calling in nature to support her, thus answers the angel: “How is this to be, since I know not man? What you say is impossible, for it goes beyond the natural laws laid down by the Creator. I will not be called a second Eve and disobey the will of my God. If you are not speaking godless things, explain the mystery by saying how it is to be accomplished.” Then the messenger of truth answered her: “The Holy Spirit shall come to thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Therefore He who is born to thee shall be called the Son of God.” That which is foretold is not subservient to the laws of nature. For God, the Creator of nature, can alter its laws. And she, listening in holy reverence to that sacred name, which she had ever desired, signified her obedience in words full of humility and joy: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word.”

“O the depth of the riches, of the wisdom, and of the knowledge of God,” I will exclaim in the apostle’s words. “How incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His ways.” O inexhaustible goodness of God! O boundless goodness! He who called what was not into being, and filled heaven and earth, whose throne is heaven, and whose footstool is the earth, a spacious dwelling-place, made the womb of His own servant, and in it the mystery of mysteries is accomplished. Being God He becomes man, and is marvellously brought forth without detriment to the virginity of His Mother. And He is lifted up as a baby in earthly arms, who is the brightness of eternal glory, the form of the Father’s substance, by the word of whose mouth all created things exist. O truly divine wonder! O mystery transcending all nature and understanding! O marvellous virginity! What, O holy Mother and Virgin, is this great mystery accomplished in thee? Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Thou art blessed from generation to generation, thou who alone art worthy of being blessed. Behold all generations shall call thee blessed as thou hast said. The daughters of Jerusalem, I mean, of the Church, saw thee. Queens have blessed thee, that is, the spirits of the just, and they shall praise thee for ever. Thou art the royal throne which angels surround, seeing upon it their very King and Lord. Thou art a spiritual Eden, holier and diviner than Eden of old. That Eden was the abode of the mortal Adam, whilst the Lord came from heaven to dwell in thee. The ark foreshadowed thee who hast kept the seed of the new world. Thou didst bring forth Christ, the salvation of the world, who destroyed sin and its angry waves. The burning bush was a figure of thee, and the tablets of the law, and the ark of the testament. The golden urn and candelabra, the table and the flowering rod of Aaron were significant types of thee. From thee arose the splendour of the Godhead, the eternal Word of the Father, the most sweet and heavenly Manna, the sacred Name above every name, the Light which was from the beginning. The heavenly Bread of Life, the Fruit without seed, took flesh of thee. Did not that flame foreshadow thee with its burning fire an image of the divine fire within thee? And Abraham’s tent most clearly pointed to thee. By the Word of God dwelling in thee human nature produced the bread made of ashes, its first fruits, from thy most pure womb, the first fruits kneaded into bread and cooked by divine fire, becoming His divine person, and His true substance of a living body quickened by a reasoning and intelligent soul.* I had nearly forgotten Jacob’s ladder. Is it not evident to every one that it prefigured thee, and is not the type easily recognised ? just as Jacob saw the ladder bringing together heaven and earth, and on it angels coming down and going up, and the truly strong and invulnerable God wrestling mystically with himself, so art thou placed between us, and art become the ladder of God’s intercourse with us, of Him who took upon Himself our weakness, uniting us to Himself, and enabling man to see God. Thou hast brought together what was parted. Hence angels descended to Him, ministering to Him as their God and Lord, and men, adopting the life of angels, are carried up to heaven.

How shall I understand the prediction of prophets ? Shall I not refer them to thee, as we can prove them to be true? What is the fleece of David which receives the Son of the Almighty God, co-eternal and co-equal with His Father, as rain falls upon the soil? Does it not signify thee in thy bright shining? Who is the virgin foretold by Isaias who should conceive and bear a Son, God ever present with us, that is, who being born a man should remain God? What is Daniel’s mountain from which arose Christ, the Corner-Stone, not made by the hand of man ? Is it not thee, conceiving without man and still remaining a virgin? Let the inspired Ezechiel come forth and show us the closed gate, sealed by the Lord, and not yielding, according to his prophecy — let him point to its fulfilment in thee. The Lord of all came to thee, and taking flesh did not open the door of thy virginity. The seal remains intact. The prophets, then, foretell thee. Angels and apostles minister to thee, O Mother of God, ever Virgin, and John the virgin apostle. Angels and the spirits of the just, patriarchs and prophets surround thee to-day in thy departure to thy Son. Apostles watched over the countless host of the just who were gathered together from every corner of the earth by the divine commands, as a cloud around the divine and living Jerusalem, singing hymns of praise to thee, the author of our Lord’s life-giving body. (3)

Image: The Birth of the Virgin, artist: Giotto, circa 1266-1337

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/mary2c.htm#2
  2. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2010/09/august-8-nativity-of-our-blessed-mother.html
  3. http://www.fisheaters.com/customstimeafterpentecost6a.html
  4. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Nativity%20of%20the%20Blessed%20Virgin%20Mary.html
  5. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Nativity%20of%20the%20Blessed%20Virgin%20Mary%20Novena.html
  6. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Childrens%20Sermon%20Nativity%20of%20Blessed%20Virgin%20Mary.html
  7. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-153/Feast%20of%20the%20Nativity%20of%20Mary.htm
  8. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/feast-of-the-birth-of-the-blessed-virgin.html
  9. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/the_nativity_of_the_blessed_virgin.html
  10. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/09-08.html
  11. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j090sdNativity_9-08.htm
  12. http://www.nobility.org/2013/09/05/nativity-of-mary/
  13. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giotto_-_Scrovegni_-_-07-_-_The_Birth_of_the_Virgin.jpg

 

Saint Regina, Martyr

September 7

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

Legend has it that Saint Regina was the daughter of a pagan aristocrat named Clement, in Alise, Burgundy. Her mother died in childbirth.  Regina’s father placed her upbringing in the care of a Christian nurse attached to the family, who recognizing her sanctity.  The nurse secretly baptized her.  Regina was driven from her family’s home because of her faith, and lived as a poor, prayerful shepherdess.

Regina lived with her nurse, worked in the fields by day, tending sheep, to help support the household. In the fields, Regina grew closer to the Lord, meditating and contemplating His love and mercy, and praying to better emulate the lives of the holy saints and martyrs.

At the age of fifteen, Regina caught the eye of the prefect of Gaul, Olybrius, a man of great importance. He became obsessed with the young woman, and was determined to take her as his bride. He delighted in her noble upbringing, but was deeply disturbed to find that she was practicing the Christian faith. At that time, Christians were being violently persecuted and killed, under the direction of the Emperor Decius. Olybrius attempted to persuade her to deny her faith, so as to not only save her from persecution, but to secure her as a wife. She declined, refusing to recant her faith, and professing it all the louder. In retaliation, Olybrius had her imprisoned.

Regina was chained to the walls of a dark prison cell by means of an iron belt that was bolted to the wall. There she was left while Olybrius participated in several military campaigns against invading barbarians, returning to his daily activities. After an absence of some time, he returned, hoping she may have changed her mind. On the contrary, her imprisonment had served to strengthen her resolve to live like the saints and martyrs, and maintain her chastity for the Lord. She refused to sacrifice to idols, and he angrily ordered her tortured. Regina courageously withstood whippings and scourging over the back of a wooden horse, raking with iron combs, burning with hot pincers and torches, and crucifixion. None of these could cause her to doubt the Lord or recant her faith, and as she continued to praise God. Lastly, she was beheaded, ending her life and her conversion of many witnesses present who observed a solitary dove hovering atop her head during her torture.

The relics of Saint Regina are enshrined in Flavigni abbey, having been translated there in 864. Since that time, numerous miracles have been attributed to their presence, and frequent pilgrimages are made by the faithful to venerate them.

Saint Regina is considered the patron saint against poverty, and patroness of shepherdesses and torture victims. Given the accounts of her martyrdom, in art, Saint Regina is portrayed as a maiden bound to a cross with torches applied to her sides, imprisoned with a dove appearing on a shining cross, scourged with rods, or in a boiling cauldron. She is venerated at Autun, France, and in southern Germany.

Image: Statue of the Holy Saint Regina from the church with the same name, Drensteinfurt (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholicsaints.info/saint-regina/
  2. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2011/09/september-7-saint-regina.html
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StRegina.JPG
  4. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/09-07.html

Saint Cloud, Confessor

September 7

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

Saint Cloud (or Clodoald) was born in 522.  He was the grandson of King Clovis of the Franks and youngest son of Clodimir, son of Clovis.  Saint Cloud and his brothers were raised by his grandmother, St. Clotilda; his Uncle Childebert, acted as regent for them. His brothers, Theodoald, ten, and Gunther, seven, were murdered by their Uncle Clotaire of Soissons in a plot with Childebert to seize the throne, but Clodoald, eight, was saved by being sent to Provence. 

Saint Cloud renounced the world, he privately consecrated himself to the service of God. After distributing to the poor what he could salvage of his heritage, he retired to a hermitage to be under the discipline of a holy recluse named Saint Severinus, who dwelt near the gates of Paris and who clothed him with the monastic habit. His uncles left him alone, seeing his inalterable decision to live as a religious, and conceded certain heritages to him. When he became famous through an act of charity rewarded by a miracle, he withdrew secretly to Provence. There again, his hermitage was sought out by petitioners. He decided to return to Paris, where he was received with the greatest joy.

At the earnest request of the people, he was ordained a priest in 551 by Eusebius, Bishop of Paris, and served the Church of that city for some time in the functions of the sacred ministry. Again he found himself in great honor; he therefore retired to Nogent, a place now known as Saint Cloud, two leagues south of Paris, where he built a monastery. There he was joined by many pious men, who fled from the world for fear of losing their souls in its midst. Saint Cloud was chosen by them to be their Superior, and he animated them to virtue both by word and example. He was also indefatigable in instructing and exhorting the faithful of the neighboring regions. He died at Nogent in 560, and the major part of his relics remain still in the parochial church of the village.

Image: A statue of Clodoald (Saint Cloud) from the St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud, Minnesota. (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints9-5.htm
  2. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_cloud_or_clodoald.html
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saintcloudstatue.jpg
  4. http://www.nobility.org/2013/09/05/cloud-nobility/

Saint Pius X, Pope, Confessor

September 3 Today is the feast day Saint Pius X.  Ora pro nobis. Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto was born 2 June, 1835, at Riese, Province of Treviso, in Venice. His parents were Giovanni Battista Sarto and Margarita (née Sanson).  He was the oldest of eight children.   Giovanni Sarto was a postman, and his wife Margarita was a … Read more

Saint Raymond Nonnatus, Confessor

August 31

Today is the feast day of Saint Raymond Nonnatus.  Ora pro nobis.

St. Raymond Nonnatus was born in Portella in the Diocese of Urgel, Catalonia, around the year 1203. He received the name of Raymond at his Baptism and the nickname of Nonnatus [non natus in Latin means not born] because he was not born normally, but was delivered by a caesarian operation. His father was a shepherd according to some, and a member of the noble family of Cardona, according to others. His mother died during child birth and his father had high expectations for Raymond to serve in the country’s Royal Court.

Saint Raymond Nonnatus

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

Catalonia was the native country of St. Raymund who, to the astonishment of the Physicians, was born after his mother’s death. As soon as he was old enough to comprehend how early he had become an orphan, he chose the Queen of Heaven as his mother, and to his last day, called her by no other name. When he had studied for some time with great success, his father, fearing the youth would enter a Religious Order, sent him into the country to take care of a farm. Raymund obeyed, and found there also opportunity to serve God. He became very fond of solitude and therefore chose for his occupation the care of the sheep, in order to gain more time for prayer and meditation.

At the foot of the mountain to which he generally led his flock, was a small, deserted hermitage, with a chapel, in which an extremely lovely picture of the Blessed Virgin was kept, which was a source of great joy to him. He there spent several hours daily, in devout exercises. Other shepherds, who observed this, and to whom the piety of Raymund was a reproach of their own negligence, reported to his father that he was doing nothing but praying, and thereby neglected his flock. The father came to convince himself of the fact, but although he found his son praying in the chapel, he saw that the flock was meanwhile attended to by a youth of uncommon beauty of form and features. Asking his son who this young shepherd was, and why he had engaged him, Raymund, to whom it was unknown that Providence had worked a miracle in his behalf, fell on his knees before his father, and begging forgiveness, earnestly promised not to commit the fault again.

The Divine Mother, of whom he begged the grace of knowing his vocation, appeared to him, saying that she desired him to take the habit of the newly established Order for the redemption of captives. He did so, and was sent to Algiers where he found a great many Christians in slavery, and as the money he had brought for their ransom was not sufficient, he offered himself as a hostage to redeem the others. He was induced to this by the danger in which the prisoners were of losing their faith and with it eternal life. This great and heroic charity gave him occasion to suffer much for the sake of Christ. At first, he was treated very harshly by his masters, but when they began to fear that he would die before the ransom was paid, they allowed him more liberty, which the holy man used only for the salvation of the captive Christians. He strengthened them in their faith, and, at the same time, endeavored to convert the infidels.

Accused of this before the Judge, he was condemned to be impaled alive, and nothing but the hope of a large ransom prevented the execution of this barbarous sentence, and caused it to be changed into a cruel bastinado. Raymund, who desired nothing more fervently than to die for Christ’s sake, was not intimidated by what he had undergone, but wherever an opportunity offered itself, he explained to the infidels the word of God. The Judge, informed of it, ordered him to be whipped through all the streets of the city, and then to be brought to the market-place, where the executioner, with a red hot iron, pierced his lips, through which a small chain was drawn and closed with a padlock, in order that the holy man might no more use his tongue to instruct others. Every three days the lock was opened, and he received just enough food to keep him from starvation. Besides this, he was loaded with chains, and cast into a dungeon, where he lay for eight months, until his ransom arrived. Although it was the desire of the Saint to remain among the infidels, as he would there have an opportunity to gain the crown of martyrdom, obedience recalled him to his monastery.

When the Pope was informed of all that Raymund had suffered during his captivity, he nominated him Cardinal; but the humble Saint returned to his convent and lived like all the other brothers of the Order, without making the least change in his dress, food, or dwelling, nor accepting any honor due to him as so high a dignitary of the Church. Gregory IX, desired to have so holy a man near him, and called him to Rome. The Saint obeyed and set out on his journey. He had, however, scarcely reached Cardona, six miles from Barcelona, when he was seized with a malignant fever, which soon became fatal. He desired most fervently to receive the holy Sacraments, but as the priest called to administer them to him, delayed to come, God sent an angel, who brought him the divine food. After receiving it, he returned thanks to God for all the graces he had received from Him during his life, and peacefully gave up his soul, in the 37th year of his age.

After his death, the inhabitants of Cardona, the clergy of Barcelona and the religious of his order, contended as to where the holy body should be buried. Each party thought they had the greatest claim to possess his tomb. At last they resolved to leave the decision to Providence. They placed the coffin, in which the holy body reposed, upon a blind mule, determined that the treasure should be deposited in the place to which this animal should carry it. The mule, accompanied by a large concourse of people, went on until it had reached the hermitage and chapel where the holy cardinal, as a shepherd boy, had spent so many hours in prayer, and had received so many graces from God. There the Saint was buried, and St. Peter Nolasco, in the course of time, founded there a Convent, with a Church in which the holy remains are still preserved and greatly honored by the people of Catalonia. (1)

 

Patron of: Christian Motherhood, Newborns, Midwives, Obstetricians, Expectant Mothers, Women In Labor, Falsely Accused, Secrets, Fever.

Novena
Glorious St. Raymond, filled with compassion for those who invoke thee and with love for those who suffer heavily leaden with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at thy feet and humbly beg of thee to take the present affair which I recommend to thee under thy special protection. ( your request here.)

Vouchsafe to recommend it to the Blessed Virgin Mary and lay it before the Throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted. Above all obtain for me the grace of one day beholding my God face to Face, and with thee and Mary and the saints praising and blessing to all eternity. Amen.

Good St. Raymond, pray for us and obtain our request.
Good St. Raymond, pray for us and obtain our request.
Good St. Raymond, pray for us and obtain our request.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

Image: Cristo premiando a San Ramón Nonato (5)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Raymond%20Nonnatus.html
  2. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint.php?n=580
  3. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j144sd_RaymondNonnatus_8-31.shtml
  4. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12671b.htm
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gonzalez_de_la_vega.jpg

 

 

 

 

Saint Rose of Lima, Virgin

August 30

Today is the feast day of Saint Rose of Lima.  Ora pro nobis.

Born Isabella de Flores, Saint Rose was the daughter of a Spanish immigrant father and a Peruvian mother. She was personally confirmed by the Archbishop of Lima, Saint Turibiuis de Mongrovejo, and took the name Rose. Her family and friends had been calling her “Rosa,” as when she was still an infant, one of the family’s servants had seen her face miraculously transform into the vision of a mystical Rose.  All of Saint Rose’s sufferings were offered for the conversion of sinners, and the thought of the multitudes in hell was ever before her soul. She died in 1617, at the age of thirty-one.

by F. M. Capes, 1899

We may not say that St. Rose was the first saint of the New World, for God only knows His own; but she was the first of America’s children to be placed in the calendar of canonized saints–the first flower gathered from that part of the great garden over which St. Dominic has been placed as the husbandman of Jesus Christ.

Almost before she was out of her infancy, that love of Our Lord’s suffering, which was afterwards to become the ruling passion of her life, began to lay hold of little Rose’s heart. How God speaks to the baby souls of those early-chosen children of His special delight; by what channels the Divine secrets are imparted to their barely-opened minds; what marvelous gift enables them to entertain and understand thoughts far beyond their years–we cannot know; but that such special communications are made to some of the Saints even as little children is certain.

In St. Rose’s case the working of these mysterious operations in her heart was witnessed to by the fact that, as a little thing barely able to walk, she would often be found, having managed to escape from her guardians or companions, absorbed in deep infantine contemplation before a picture of the thorn-crowned Christ, in His mantle of scorn, which hung in her mother’s room.

Her own apprenticeship in her Master’s school, too, began early; for from the time that she was three years old Rose de Flores was the subject of one accident or complaint after another, and was kept perpetually in states of suffering which were sharp trials to her childish patience.

This ideal she realized in her life. It is this life of penance and mysticism which is presented to the reader in these pages. Everything in her life calls for admiration, many things for imitation, some, maybe, for explanation. The reader of this record of her ways and works will perforce exclaim: ‘Wonderful is God in His saints’–wonderful in their number, in their graces, in their variety.

St. Rose’s life was eminently wonderful in its marvelous penance, its deep, earnest, and all but continuous prayer, its perfect union with God. She studied in the school of Christ; her book was the Cross; her Master the Crucified. Naturally of delicate health, weak in body, and physically feeble, hers was a life of chronic suffering. To this she added much fasting, abstinence, and penances of every kind, as will be seen from the perusal of this interesting and instructive life. But all her sufferings, whether sent by God or self-inflicted, were borne for God, with God, and in God.

She could say with the Apostle: ‘With Christ I am nailed to the Cross; and I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me. Her suffering life was a life of detachment from the world–a life of union with God. If she could make her own the words of St. Paul, ‘The world is crucified to me, and I to the world, she could add with equal truth, ‘I live in the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and delivered Himself for me.’ (1)

St. Rose of Lima, Virgin
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

God gave to the Christians of America, and all over the world, a beautiful example of holiness, at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century, in the Saint whose festival is this day commemorated by the Catholic Church. Her native place was Lima, the capital of Peru. She was named Isabel, but while yet in the cradle, she was called Rose, as her face, in its loveliness, resembled a rose. She took the surname of St. Mary, by order of the Blessed Virgin. Already in her childhood, her conduct was holy. Her intention was to follow the example of St. Catherine of Sienna, whose life she had read, and therefore she entered the third order of St. Dominic. When five years old, she consecrated her virginity to God, and was such a perfect hand-maiden of the Lord, that during her whole life, she never offended Him by a mortal sin, nor even intentionally by one that was venial. Her time was divided between prayer and work. Twelve hours she gave to devout exercises, two or three to sleep, the rest to work.

When grown to womanhood, her hand was sought by several, but she always unhesitatingly gave the answer, that she was already promised to a heavenly spouse. That, however, her parents might no further urge her, she herself cut off her hair, as a sign of her consecration to God. She treated her innocent body with extreme severity. From her childhood she abstained from fruit, which, in Peru, is so delicious. Her fasts and abstinences were more than human; for, when scarcely six years old, her nourishment consisted almost entirely of water and bread. At the age of fifteen, she made a vow never to eat meat, except when obliged by obedience. Not even when sick did she partake of better food. Sometimes for five or eight days, she ate nothing at all, living only on the bread of angels. During the whole of Lent, she took only five citron seeds, daily. Incredible as this may appear to the reader, it is told by unquestionable authority. Her bed was a rough board, or some knotted logs of wood. Her pillow was a bag filled with rushes or stones.

Every night she scourged her body with two small iron chains, in remembrance of the painful scourging of our Saviour, and for the conversion of sinners. When, however, her Confessor forbade her this, she, after the example of St. Catherine of Sienna, bound, three times around her body, a thin chain, which in a few weeks, had cut so deeply into the flesh that it was scarcely to be seen. Fearing that she would be compelled to reveal it, she prayed to God for help, and the chain became loose of itself. Hardly were the wounds healed, when she again wore the chain, until her Confessor, being informed of it, forbade her to do so, She then had a penitential robe made of horse-hair, which reached below her knees, and occasioned her intense suffering. She wore under her veil, in remembrance of our Saviour’s crown of thorns, a crown which was studded inside with pins, and which wounded her head most painfully. To attend the better to her prayers, she loved solitude above everything.

To this end, she asked the permission of her parents to build a small cell for herself in the corner of the garden. This cell was only five feet long and four feet wide; but she lived more happily in it than many others do in royal palaces. O, how many graces she obtained from heaven in this place! How many visions she had there of St. Catherine of Sienna, her Guardian Angel, the Blessed Virgin, and even of Christ Himself! She was also frequently favored with visions in other places. The most remarkable of these was one which she had on Palm Sunday, in the chapel of the Holy Rosary, before an image of the Blessed Virgin. Rose, gazing at the picture, perceived that the Virgin Mother, as well as the divine Child, regarded her most graciously, and at last she heard distinctly from the lips of the divine Child, the words: “Rose, you shall be my spouse.” Although filled with holy awe, she replied, in the words which the Blessed Virgin had spoken to the Angel: ” Behold, I am a handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.” After this, the Virgin Mother said: “May you well appreciate the favor which my Son has accorded to you, dear Rose!”

I leave it to the pious reader to picture to himself the inexpressible joy which this vision gave to Rose. It served her as a most powerful incentive to the practice of all virtues. Among these virtues, surely not the least was the heroic patience which this holy virgin showed, as well in bodily suffering, as in interior, spiritual anguish. The Almighty permitted her, for fifteen years, to be daily tormented, at least, for an hour, by the most hideous imaginations, which were of such a nature, that she sometimes thought that she was in the midst of hell. She could think neither of God nor of the graces He had bestowed upon her; neither did prayer or devout reading give her any comfort. It sometimes seemed as if she had been forsaken by God. In this manner, God wished to prove and purify her virtue, as He had done in regard to many other Saints. Her patience was also most severely tried by painful diseases, as she sometimes had a combination of two or three maladies at the same time, and suffered most intensely.

During the last three years of her life, she was disabled in almost all her limbs; but her resignation to the will of God was too perfect to allow her to utter a word of complaint. All she desired and prayed for was to suffer still more for Christ’s sake. She, at the same time, encouraged other sick persons, whom she served with indescribable kindness, as long as she was well. She endeavored to comfort them when it was necessary to prepare them for a happy death; for, her greatest joy was to speak of God and to lead others to Him. One day when she was greatly troubled about her salvation, Christ appeared to her and said: ” My daughter, I condemn those only who will not be saved.” He assured her at the same time, first, that she would go to heaven; secondly, that she never would lose His grace through mortal sin; thirdly, that divine assistance would never fail her in any emergency. God also revealed to her the day and hour of her death, which took place in her thirty-first year. After the holy sacraments had been administered to her, she begged all present to forgive her faults, and exhorted them to love God. The nearer the hour of her death approached, the greater became her joy.

Shortly before her end, she went into an ecstasy, and after it, she said to her Confessor: ” Oh! how much I could tell you of the sweetness of God, and of the blissful heavenly dwelling of the Almighty!” She requested her brother to take away the pillow that had been placed under her head, that she might die on the boards, as Christ had died on the cross. When this was done, she exclaimed three times: “Jesus, Jesus, be with me!” and expired. After death, her face was so beautiful, that all who looked at her were lost in astonishment. Her funeral was most imposing. The Canons first carried the body a part of the way to the church; after them the senate, and finally, the superiors of the different orders, so great was the esteem they all entertained for her holiness. God honored her after her death, by many miracles; and Clement X. canonized her in 1671 and placed her among the number of the holy virgins. (2)

Image: Crop of Santa Rosa de Lima, artist: Claudio Coello, circa 1683. (5)

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Rose%20Book.html
  2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Rose%20of%20Lima.html
  3. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_rose_of_lima.html
  4. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2010/08/august-30-saint-rose-of-lima.html
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sta_Rosa_de_Lima_por_Claudio_Coello.jpg