Saint Eusebius of Rome, Martyr

August 14

Today is the feast day of Saint Eusebius of Rome.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Eusebius date of birth unknown. He died about 357 (?).   He was a Roman patrician and priest, and is mentioned with distinction in Latin martyrologies. The ancient genuine martyrology of Usuard styles him confessor at Rome under the Arian emperor Constantius and adds that he was buried in the cemetery of Callistus. Some later martyrologies call him a martyr. 

The Church celebrates on this day the memory of Saint Eusebius, who among the Christians of his time distinguished himself by his spirit of prayer and his apostolic virtues. Tradition reports that when he was arraigned, Maxentius, the governor of the Province, interrogated him.  Maxentius was furious at the Saint’s constancy while he was placed on the rack.  Maxentius sentenced him to die by fire at the stake; but his unusual serenity when going to the place of execution caused him to be summoned back to the tribunal, obviously by a particular disposition of Providence.

The Emperor himself being in the region, the governor went to him and told him the prisoner asked to be taken before him. The reason for this request was that there had not been any recent edicts published against the Christians. Saint Eusebius was advanced in age, and the emperor said, after questioning him, What harm is there that this man should adore the God he talks of as superior to all the others? But the brutal Maxentius would not listen, and, like Pilate facing Christ, the Emperor told the persecutors of the accused man to judge the affair themselves. Maxentius therefore sentenced him to be decapitated. Eusebius, hearing the sentence, said aloud, I thank Your goodness and praise Your power, O Lord Jesus Christ, because in calling me to prove my fidelity, You have treated me as one of Yours. His martyrdom occurred towards the end of the third century.

The feast of St. Eusebius is kept on 14 August.  This is one of the cases in which we have clear evidence of the historical existence of a person who was afterwards the object of a certain cultus, though the story subsequently told is quite untrustworthy. Eusebius beyond doubt founded what we may call a parish church in Rome which was known as the “titulus Eusebii”. As founder an annual commemoration Mass was offered for him, which in course of time was regarded as a Mass celebrated in his honor, and in 595 we find that the parish was already referred to as the “titulus sancti Eusebii”.

The church of the Equiline in Rome dedicated to him, said to have been built on the site of his house, is mentioned in the acts of a council held in Rome under Pope Symmachus in 498 (Manai, VIII, 236-237), and was rebuilt by Pope Zacharias. Formerly it had a statio on the Friday after the fourth Sunday in Lent. It once belonged to the Celestines (an order now extinct); Leo XII gave it to the Jesuits. A good picture representing the triumph of Eusebius, by Anton Raphael Mengs, 1759 is on the ceiling. San Eusebio is the title of the cardinal-priest. The title was transferred by Gregory XVI, but restored by Pius IX.

Image: Saint Eusebius of Rome Church, Italy / Lazio / Rome / Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II (5)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_eusebius.html
  2. http://www.nobility.org/2014/08/14/st-eusebius/
  3. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05615a.htm
  4. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/08-14.html
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:S._eusebio,_int._02_anton_raphael_meng,_gloria_di_s._eusebio_2.jpg

Saint Hippolytus and Saint Cassian, Martyrs

August 13 Today is the feast day of Saints Hippolytus and Cassian.  Orate pro nobis. St. Hippolytus and St. Cassian, Martyrs by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876 St. Hippolytus, an officer of the body-guard of the emperor Decius, had been born in the darkness of idolatry, but he had become a Christian, with all his … Read more

Saint Radegundes, Queen

August 13

Today is the feast day of Saint Radegundes (Radegonde).  Ora pro nobis.

by Abbot Gueranger

Saint Radegonde, Queen of the Franks († 587; Feast – August 13)

Never was such a booty won as that obtained by the sons of King Clovis in their expedition against Thuringia towards the year 530. Receive this blessing from the spoils of the enemy (1 Kings 30: 26) might they well say on presenting to the Franks the orphan brought from the court of the fratricide prince whom they had just chastised. (St. Radegonde was born about 520 to Berthaire, one of the three kings of Thuringia. St. Radegonde’s uncle, Hermanfried, killed Berthaire in battle, and took Radegonde into his household. After allying with the Frankish King Theuderic, Hermanfried defeated his other brother Baderic. However, having crushed his brothers and seized control of Thuringia, Hermanfried reneged on his agreement with Theuderic to share sovereignty. In 531, Theuderic returned to Thuringia with his brother Clothaire I. Together they defeated Hermanfried, conquered his kingdom, and took St. Radegonde under their care.)

God seemed in haste to ripen the soul of Radegonde. After the tragic death of her relatives followed the ruin of her country. So vivid was the impression made in the child’s heart, that long afterwards the recollection awakened in the Queen and the Saint a sorrow and homesickness which naught but the love of Christ could overcome. “I have seen the plain strewn with the dead and palaces burnt to the ground; I have see women, with eyes dry from very horror, mourning over fallen Thuringia; I alone have survived to weep over them all.”

The licentiousness of the Frankish kings was as unbridled as that of her own ancestors; yet in their land the little captive found Christianity, which she had not hitherto known. The Faith was a healing balm to this wounded soul. Baptism, in giving her God, sanctified, without crushing, her high-spirited nature. Thirsting for Christ, she wished to be martyred for Him; she sought Him on the cross of self-renunciation; she found Him in His poor suffering members; looking on the face of a leper, she would see in it the disfigured countenance of her Savior, and thence rise to the ardent contemplation of the triumphant Spouse, whose glorious face illumines the abode of the saints.

What a loathing, therefore, did she feel when, offering her royal honors, the destroyer of her own country sought to share with God the possession of a heart that Heaven alone could comfort or gladden! First flight, then the refusal to comply with the manners of a court where everything was repulsive to her desires and recollections, her eagerness to break, on the very first opportunity, a bond which violence alone had contracted, prove that the trial had no other effect, as her biographer Baudonivia says, but to bend her soul more and more to the sole object of her love.

Meanwhile, near the tomb of St. Martin, another Queen, St. Clotilde, the mother of the most Christian kingdom, was about to die. Unfortunate are those times when the men after God’s own heart, at their departure from earth, leave no one to take their place; as the Psalmist cried out in a just consternation: Save me, O Lord, for there is now no saint! (Ps. 11: 2) For though the elect pray for us in Heaven, they can no longer fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in their flesh, for His body, which is the Church (Col. 1: 24). The work begun at the Baptistery of Rheims (the baptism of Clovis) was not yet completed; the Gospel, though reigning by faith over the Frankish nation, had not yet subdued its manners. Christ, Who loved the Franks, heard the last prayer of the mother He had given them, and refused her not the consolation of knowing that she should have a successor. St. Radegonde was set free, just in time to prevent an interruption in the laborious work of forming the Church’s eldest daughter; and she took up in solitude the struggle with God, by prayer and expiation, begun by the widow of Clovis.

In the joy of having cast off an odious yoke, forgiveness was an easy thing to her great soul; in her monastery at Poitiers she showed an unfailing devotedness for the kings whose company she had fled. The fortune of France was bound up with theirs; France the cradle-land of her supernatural life, where the Man-God had revealed Himself to her heart, and which she therefore loved with part of the love reserved for her heavenly country. The peace and prosperity of her spiritual fatherland occupied her thoughts day and night. If any quarrel arose among the princes, say the contemporary accounts, she trembled from head to foot at the very thought of the country’s danger. She wrote, according to their different dispositions, to each of the kings, imploring them to consider the welfare of the nation; she interested the chief vassals in her endeavors to prevent war. She imposed on her community assiduous watchings, exhorting them with tears to pray without ceasing; as to herself, the tortures she inflicted on herself for this end are inexpressible.

The only victory, then, that St. Radegonde desired was peace among the princes of the earth; when she had gained this by her struggle with the King of Heaven, her joy in the service of the Lord was redoubled, and the tenderness she felt for her devoted helpers, the nuns of Sainte-Croix, could scarcely find utterance: “You, the daughters of my choice,” she would say, “my eyes, my life, my sweet repose, so live with me in this world, that we may meet again in the happiness of the next.” And they responded to her love. “By the God of Heaven it is true that everything in her reflected the splendor of her soul.” Such was the spontaneous and graceful cry of her daughter Baudonivia; and it was echoed by the graver voice of the historian-Bishop, St. Gregory of Tours, who declared that the supernatural beauty of the Saint remained even in death; it was a brightness from Heaven, which purified while it attracted hearts, which caused the Italian St. Venantius Fortunatus to cease his wanderings, made him a saint and a Bishop, and inspired him with his most beautiful poems.

The light of God could not but be reflected in her, who, turning towards Him by uninterrupted contemplation, redoubled her desires as the end of her exile approached. Neither the relics of the Saints which she had so sought after as speaking to her of her true home, nor her dearest treasure, the Cross of her Lord, was enough for her; she would fain have drawn the Lord Himself from His Throne, to dwell visibly on earth. She only interrupted her sighs to excite in others the same longings. She exhorted her daughters not to neglect the knowledge of divine things; and explained to them with profound science and motherly love the difficulties of the Scriptures. As she increased the holy readings of the community for the same end, she would say: “If you do not understand, ask; why do you fear to seek the light of your souls?” And she would insist: “Reap, reap the wheat of the Lord; for, I tell you truly, you will not have long to do it. Reap, for the time draws near when you will wish to recall the days that are now given you, and your regrets will not be able to bring them back.” And the loving chronicler to whom we owe these sweet intimate details continues: “In our idleness we listened coolly to the announcement; but that time has come all too soon. Now is realized in us the prophecy which says: I will send forth a famine into the land: not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the Word of the Lord (Amos 8: 11). For though we still read her conferences, that voice which never ceased is now silent; those lips, ever ready with wise advice and sweet words, are closed. O most good God, what an expression, what features, what manners Thou hadst given her! No, no one could describe it. The remembrance is anguish! That teaching, that gracefulness, that face, that mien, that science, that piety, that goodness, that sweetness, where are we to seek them now?”

Such touching sorrow does honor to both mother and daughters; but it could not keep back the former from her reward. On the morning of the Ides of August 587, while Sainte-Croix was filled with lamentations, an Angel was heard saying to others on high: “Leave her yet longer, for the tears of her daughters have ascended to God.” But those who were bearing St. Radegonde away replied: “It is too late; she is already in Paradise.”

Let us read the liturgical account, which will complete what we have said:

St. Radegonde was the daughter of Berthaire, King of Thuringia. When ten years old she was led away captive by the Franks; and on account of her striking and queenly beauty their kings disputed among themselves for the possession of her. They drew lots, and she fell to the share of Clothaire, King of Soissons. He entrusted her education to excellent masters. Child as she was, she eagerly imbibed the doctrines of the Christian Faith, and renouncing the worship of false gods which she had learned from her fathers, she determined to observe not only the precepts, but also the counsels of the Gospels. When she was grown, Clothaire, who had long before chosen her, took her to wife, and in spite of her refusal, in spite of her attempts at flight, she was proclaimed Queen, to the great joy of all. When thus raised to the throne, she joined charity to the poor, continual prayer, frequent watching, fasting and other bodily austerities to her regal dignity, so that the courtiers said in scorn that the king had married not a Queen, but a nun.

Her patience shone out brightly in supporting many grievous trials caused her by the king. But when she heard that her own brother had been unjustly slain by command of Clothaire, she instantly left the court with the king’s consent, and going to the Blessed Bishop Medard, she earnestly begged him to consecrate her to the Lord. The nobles strongly opposed his giving the veil to her whom the king had solemnly married. But she at once went into the sacristy and clothed herself in the monastic habit. Then, advancing to the altar, she thus addressed the Bishop: “If you hesitate to consecrate me because you fear man more than God, there is One Who will demand an account of my soul from you.” These words deeply touched Medard; he placed the sacred veil upon the Queen’s head, and imposing his hands upon her, consecrated her a deaconess. [In the early Church, before the foundation of the great Religious Orders, a woman could be consecrated to God in two ways: if she were a young maiden, by the Consecration of a Virgin; if she were a widow, or an older marred woman with consent of her husband, by the Consecration of a Deaconess. The title meant merely that she was dedicated to the service of the Church; it had nothing to do with the Sacrament of Holy Orders.] She proceeded to Poitiers, and there founded a monastery of virgins, which was afterwards called “of the Holy Cross.” The splendor of her virtues shone forth and attracted innumerable virgins to embrace a religious life. On account of her extraordinary gifts of divine grace, all wished her to be their superior; but she desired to serve rather than to command.

The number of miracles she worked spread her name far and wide; but she herself, forgetful of her dignity, sought out the lowest and humblest offices. She loved especially to take care of the sick, the needy, and above all the lepers, whom she often cured in a miraculous manner. She honored the Divine Sacrifice of the Altar with deep piety, making with her own hands the bread which was to be consecrated, and supplying it to several churches. Even in the midst of the pleasures of a court, she had applied herself to mortifying her flesh, and from her childhood she had burned with desire of martyrdom; now that she was leading a monastic life she subdued her body with the utmost rigor. She girt herself with iron chains, she tortured her body with burning coals, courageously fixed red-hot plates of metal upon her flesh that it also might, in a way, be inflamed with love of Christ. King Clothaire, bent on taking her back and carrying her off from her monastery, set out for Holy Cross; but she deterred him by means of letters which she wrote to St. Germanus, Bishop of Paris; so that, prostrate at the holy prelate’s feet, the king begged him to beseech his pious Queen to pardon him, who was both her sovereign and her husband.

St. Radegonde enriched her monastery with relics of the Saints brought from different countries. She also sent some clerics to the Emperor Justin and obtained from him a large piece of the wood of Our Lord’s Cross. It was received with great solemnity by the people of Poitiers, and all, both clergy and laity, sang exultingly the hymns composed by Venantius Fortunatus in honor of the Blessed Cross (Vexilla Regis and Pange Lingua, which form part of the Office of Passiontide). This poet was afterwards Bishop of Poitiers; he enjoyed the holy friendship of St. Radegonde and directed her monastery. At length the holy Queen, being ripe for Heaven, was honored a few days before her death by an apparition of Christ under the form of a most beautiful youth; and she heard these words from His mouth: “Why art thou consumed by so great a longing to enjoy My presence? Why dost thou pour out so many tears and sighs? Why comest thou as a suppliant so often to My altars? Why dost thou break down thy body with so many labors, when I am always united to thee? My beautiful pearl! Know that thou art one of the most precious stones in My kingly crown.” In the year 587 she breathed forth her pure soul into the bosom of the heavenly Spouse who had been her only love. St. Gregory of Tours buried her, as she had wished, in the church of St. Mary.

Thine exile is over, eternal possession has taken the place of desire; all Heaven is illumined with the brightness of the precious stone that has come to enrich the diadem of the Spouse. O St. Radegonde, the Wisdom Who is now rewarding thy toils led thee by admirable ways. Thy inheritance, become to thee as a lion in the wood (Jer. 12: 8) spreading death around thee, thy captivity far from thy native land; what was all this but love’s way of drawing thee from the dens of the lions, from the mountains of the leopards (Cant. 4: 8), where idolatry had led thee in childhood? Thou hadst to suffer in a foreign land, but the light from above shone into thy soul, and gave it strength. A powerful king tried in vain to make thee share his throne; thou wert a Queen but for Christ, Who in His goodness made thee a mother to that kingdom of France, which belongs to Him more than to any prince. For His sake thou didst love that land become thine by the right of the Bride who shares the scepter of her Spouse; for His sake, that nation, whose glorious destiny thou didst predict, received without limit all thy labors, thy unspeakable mortifications, thy prayers and thy tears.

O thou, who art ever Queen of France, as Christ is ever its King, bring back to Him the hearts of its people, for in their blind error they have laid aside their glory, and their sword is no longer wielded for God. Protect, above all, the city of Poitiers, which honors thee with a special devotion together with its great St. Hilary. Teach us to seek Our Lord, and to find Him in His Holy Sacrament, in the relics of His Saints, in His suffering members on earth; and may all Christians learn from thee how to love. (1)

Image:Wayside shrine St Radegund in St Nikolai in the community of Ruden – Saint Hemma . (4)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-185/Radegonde.htm
  2. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2011/08/august-13-saint-radegunde-of-poitiers.html
  3. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_radegundes.html
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St_Radegund_-_Bildstock_-_Hl_Hemma.jpg

 

Saint Lawrence, Martyr

August 10

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

According to tradition, Lawrence was born at Huesca, Spain.  Saint Lawrence, one of the deacons of the Roman Church, was one of the victims of the persecution of Valerian in 258, like Pope Sixtus II and many other members of the Roman clergy.  At the beginning of the month of August, 258, the emperor issued an edict, commanding that all bishops, priests, and deacons should immediately be put to death (“episcopi et presbyteriet diacones incontinenti animadvertantur” — Cyprian, Epist. lxxx, 1).  This imperial command was immediately carried out in Rome.

When the soldiers of the emperor Valerian arrested Pope Sixtus and his four deacons  while saying Mass in the cemetery of Saint Callistus, and took them off to martyrdom, Lawrence tried to hold Sixtus back, saying, “Where are you going, priest, without your deacon? Where are you going, father, without your son?” Sixtus promised Lawrence they would be reunited within three days.

Because he had charge of the sacred vessels used for saying Mass, Lawrence, fearing these would be confiscated by the State officials, sold them and distributed the money to the poor. A Roman official heard he was selling off the treasures of the Church and, assuming the Church had great wealth, promised he would not harm Lawrence if he handed over the treasures within three days. When Lawrence returned to the official after three days, he was followed by a large crowd of the poor, the blind, the lame and the helpless. “These,” he said, “are the treasures of the Church.”

The prefect replied: How dare you play games with me, miserable one? Is this how you show your contempt for the imperial power?  Christ, whom Lawrence had served, gave him strength in the conflict which ensued. After being placed on the rack, he was stretched on a grill over a slow fire. He joked about his pains. I am roasted enough on this side, he said, perhaps you should turn me over. Soon, his gaze towards heaven, he gave up his soul to God.  This story comes to us from St Ambrose of Milan (340-397).

His fellow Christians buried Lawrence on the Via Tiburtina outside the city walls. About fifty years later in recognition of the reverence in which he was held by the Christians of Rome, the emperor Constantine had a basilica constructed over his tomb. With various modifications made over the centuries, it remains today as the Basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura (St Lawrence outside-the-Walls) and is just one of seven major churches in his honour in the city.   Saint Lawrence continued from his throne in heaven his charity to those in need, granting them, as Saint Augustine says, the smaller graces which they sought, and leading them to the desire of better gifts.

The fact that the name of Lawrence name is included among those commemorated in the Roman Canon (First Eucharistic Prayer) shows the extraordinary reverence in which he was held in the fourth and fifth centuries. In the Veronese Sacramentary, which is a record of the liturgy of Rome in the sixth century, there are prayers for fourteen Masses of St Lawrence and his feast has a vigil before it and an octave following it.  Pope St. Damasus (366-84) wrote a panegyric in verse, which was engraved in marble and placed over his tomb.

Saint Lawrence is regarded as the patron saint of tanners, roasters, chefs, archivists, librarians and treasurers. He is one of the most widely venerated saints in the Catholic world, giving his name even to Lund Cathedral in Sweden, the Basilica in the Escorial Palace in Spain and the St Lawrence River in Canada.

The Escorial Palace, situated at the foot of Mt. Abantos in the Sierra de Guadarrama, was built by King Philip II of Spain to commemorate the victory of Spanish forces over those of King Henry II of France at the Battle of St Quentin, which took place on the feast of St Lawrence on 10 August 1557. To honour the martyr, the entire floor plan of this imposing edifice was laid out in the form of a gridiron, the means by which St Lawrence was martyred.

 

St. Lawrence, Martyr Prayer
O glorious Saint Lawrence, Martyr and Deacon, who, being subjected to the most bitter torments, didst not lose thy faith nor thy constancy in confessing Jesus Christ; obtain in like manner for us such an active and solid faith, that we shall never be ashamed to be true followers of Jesus Christ, and fervent Christians in word and in deed.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.

V. Pray for us, O holy Lawrence,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, the grace to quench the flames of our wicked desires, who didst give unto blessed Lawrence power to be more than conqueror in his fiery torments. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(An indulgence of 300 days, once a day. 1934)

Saint Lawrence

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876
The many and high encomiums which were paid to St. Lawrence by the most ancient and illustrious of the holy Fathers of the Church, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Leo I., St. Maximus and St. Peter Chrysologus, are the surest sign that this Saint has always been considered one of the most famous martyrs who gave their blood for Christ. He was born of Christian parents, in the middle of the third century, at Osca, a city in Aragon. His father’s name was Orentius, his mother’s, Patientia; both are honored as Saints. Such parents gave a holy education to their son. He early evinced, on all occasions, an especial love for God, a fearless constancy in the true faith, and a watchful care over the preservation of his purity. While yet young in years, he went to Rome, and won, by his blameless life, the highest regard of all who came in contact with him. Pope Xystus or Sixtus ordained him deacon. His functions were to serve the Pope at the altar, to take charge of the treasures of the church, and to distribute the revenues which were destined for the maintenance of the sextons and the poor.

A terrible persecution of the Christians took place at the period of which we speak. Pope Sixtus was seized and thrown into the Mamertine prison. Lawrence seeing him, from a distance, dragged along, ran towards him and bitterly weeping, said: “Father, whither are you going without your son? Holy Pontiff, whither are you hastening without your deacon? You have never been wont to offer the holy sacrifice without me, your servant. In what have I displeased you, O my Father? Have you found me unworthy of you and of your sacred service? Prove me now, and see if you have chosen a fit servant in trusting me with the dispensing of the blood of Christ!” This and more said the Saint, desiring to suffer with St. Sixtus for the Lord’s sake. The holy Pope replied: “I do not leave you, my son; but you will have to suffer a great trial. We being old, have not much to endure; but you, strong in your youth, must gain a more glorious victory over the tyrant. Do not weep. In three days, you will follow me. Go now and take care of the treasures of the church that are in your keeping.” Lawrence, comforted by the prophecy of the holy Pope, went immediately and secured the sacred vessels of the altar and the vestments of the priests, distributed among the poor the money which had been collected for them, visited the Christians assembled in different houses and subterranean vaults, exhorted all to constancy, and employed the whole night in deeds of charity and humility. The following day, when the Pope was being led away to execution, the holy Levite approached him again, saying: “Holy Father, do not leave me; for, the treasures which you committed to my care, are all distributed.” The Pope comforted the Saint as he had done the day before, and was led away and ended his life by the sword.

Meanwhile, some of the soldiers, having heard Lawrence speak of treasures, informed the emperor Valerian of the fact, and that tyrant, as avaricious as he was cruel, had Lawrence apprehended, and gave him in charge of Hippolytus, an officer, who placed him in a prison where several malefactors were kept. One of these, Lucilius, had wept so much during his imprisonment, that he had become blind. St. Lawrence, pitying him, advised him to embrace the Christian faith and be baptized, as by that, his sight would be restored. Lucilius followed his advice, and soon after baptism, his sight returned. Hippolytus, touched by the grace of God at this miracle, was converted with his whole household. The next day, the emperor commanded that Lawrence should be brought to him.

The valiant confessor of Christ rejoiced at this message and said to Hippolytus: “Let us go; for two glorious crowns are prepared for you and me.” The emperor asked him who he was, whence he came and where he had concealed the treasures of the church. The first and second questions Lawrence fearlessly answered, saying: “I am a Christian, born in Spain.” To the third he made answer, that if the emperor would allow him a little time, he would gather the treasures and show them to him. Delighted at this, the emperor willingly granted him the desired time, but ordered Hippolytus not to leave his side for a moment, lest he should escape.

The Saint assembled all the poor he could find, and leading them to the tyrant, said: “Behold, these are the treasures of our church.” The emperor, regarding this as an insult, was greatly enraged, and swore by the gods to be revenged. He gave Lawrence over to the prefect with the command to torture him in the most painful manner if he refused to worship the idols. The prefect, who was as cruel as the emperor himself, ordered his lictors to tear off the Saint’s clothes and to lash him, like a vile slave, till his whole body was a mass of blood and wounds. After this, he displayed a great many instruments of torture, with the menace that they would be used upon him, if he longer refused to worship the gods. Lawrence looked unconcernedly upon them, and said: “They cannot frighten me. I have long desired to suffer for the sake of Christ. Your idols are not worthy to be worshipped; they are no gods, and I will never sacrifice to them.” Hardly had these words passed his lips, when the holy man was stretched upon the rack, then raised high in the air and his whole body whipped with scourges on the ends of which were fastened iron stars or spurs. After this, they applied lighted torches to his mangled body. The martyr’s constancy could not be shaken. Turning his eyes heavenward, he only asked for strength to endure.

The prefect, astonished at this heroism, ascribed it to magic, and threatened him with still greater torment. The Saint, full of courage, replied: “Do with me as you like. Sheltering myself beneath the name of Jesus, I do not fear pain. It does not last long.” The tyrant caused him to be beaten, a third time, with such cruelty, that the Saint himself thought he would die. He cried to God: “Take my soul, O Lord, and release it from mortality.” But a voice from Heaven was heard saying: “A still more glorious victory awaits thee.” The people were awestruck at this, but the tyrant said: “Do you hear, Romans, how the demons console this godless man? We, however, will see who is to conquer.” The Saint was scourged again, and it was then that Romanus saw an angel, who consoled the Saint and wiped the perspiration from his brow and the blood from his wounds, by which miracle he was converted. The executioners were tired of torturing, but the Saint was not tired of suffering. Joy and peace beamed from his countenance. The tyrant threatened to torture him through the whole night, if he would not sacrifice to the gods. But the Saint replied: “No night can be more agreeable to me, than the one with which you threaten me. I will never sacrifice to your false gods.” At this answer they beat the Saint’s mouth with stones, and carried him back to prison.

During the night, the prefect endeavored to devise some new way in which he might most cruelly torture Lawrence on the following day, and at last resolved upon roasting him alive. Early on the next day, he ordered the executioners to make an iron bed in the form of a gridiron, put live coals under it, stretch and bind the Saint upon it, and slowly roast him. The command was fulfilled to the great horror of all present. The Saint, however, lay as quietly on the red hot gridiron as if it had been a bed of roses, only saying at intervals: “Receive, O Lord, this burnt-offering as an agreeable fragrance.” His countenance beamed with heavenly joy, and the Christians, who were present, said that a divine light had surrounded him and his body exhaled a sweet odor. After having been burned thus a long time, he turned his eyes towards the prefect and said: “I am sufficiently roasted on one side; turn me over and eat my flesh.” How the tyrant received these words can easily be imagined. The Saint, however, continued to be cheerful and filled with divine consolation. He praised God and thanked Him for the grace vouchsafed him to die for his faith. At last, with his eyes raised to Heaven, he gave his heroic soul into the hands of his Redeemer, on the 10th of August, 258. Many of the heathens, who were present, were converted by this glorious martyrdom to the Faith of Christ. (5)

Image: St. Lawrence Distributing the Treasures of the Church. Bernardo Strozzi. circa 1625. (6)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.nobility.org/2013/08/08/st-lawrence/
  2. http://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-lawrence-d-258-deacon/
  3. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints8-6.htm
  4. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_lawrence.html
  5. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Lawrence.html
  6. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St._Lawrence_Distributing_the_Treasures_of_the_Church_-_Bernardo_Strozzi_-_Google_Cultural_Institute.jpg

Saint Romanus, Martyr

August 9

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

According to tradition, Saint Romanus was a soldier in the legion of emperor Valerian in Rome, at the time of the arraignment and interrogation of Saint Lawrence. Seeing the joy and constancy and the absolute silence of that holy martyr during Lawrence’s first torments, Romanus could not understand how a creature of flesh and blood could be thus tormented without opening his mouth to complain. 

Romanus was moved to embrace the Faith, and at that very moment.  Addressing himself to Saint Lawrence, still on the rack, he asked to become a Christian. The Saint was untied and imprisoned, and later was able to respond to the pressing request of the soldier, who brought him in prison the water for his baptism.

Romanus was summoned before the tribunal, for everyone soon learned of his conversion. He said fearlessly and joyfully, there as he had said elsewhere, I am a Christian! He was condemned and beheaded immediately, the day before the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, on August 9, 258. The body of Saint Romanus was buried by a priest in a cavern on the road to Tibur, but his remains were translated to Lucca, where they are kept under the high altar of a beautiful church which bears his name.

A Roman martyr Romanus is mentioned in the “Liber Pontificalis” (ed. Duchesne, I, 155) with three other ecclesiastics as companions in the martyrdom of St. Lawrence (10 August, 258). There is no reason to doubt that this mention rests upon a genuine ancient tradition. Like St. Lawrence Romanus was buried in the Catacomb of the Cyriaca on the Via Tiburtina.

The grave of St. Romanus is explicitly mentioned in the Itineraries of the seventh century (De Rossi, “Roma sotterranea”, I, 178-9). In the purely legendary Acts of St. Lawrence, the ostiary Romanus is transformed into a soldier, and an account in accordance with this statement was inserted in the historical martyrologies and in the present Roman Martyrology, which latter places his feast on 9 August (cf. Duchfourcq, Les Gesta Martyrum romains”, I, 201).

Dom Prosper Guéranger:
“Fear not, my servant, for I am with you, says the Lord. If you pass through fire, the flame will not hurt you, and the odour of fire will not be in you. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you out of the hand of the mighty” (Isaias xliii.; Jeremias xv.). It was the hour of combat, and Wisdom, more powerful than flame, was calling on Laurence to win the laurels of victory presaged by his very name. The three days since the death of Sixtus had passed at length, and the deacon’s exile was about to close: he was soon to stand beside his Pontiff at the altar in Heaven, and never more to be separated from him. But before going to perform his office as deacon in the eternal sacrifice, he must on this Earth, where the seeds of eternity are sown, give proof of the brave faithfulness which becomes a Levite of the Law of Love. Laurence was ready. He had said to Sixtus: “Try the fidelity of the minister to whom you entrusted the dispensation of the Blood of our Lord.” He had now, according to the Pontiff’s wish, distributed to the poor the treasures of the Church, as the chants of the Liturgy tell us on this very morning. But he knew that if a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he will despise it as nothing (Canticles viii. 7), and he longed to give himself as well. Overflowing with joy in his generosity he hailed the holocaust whose sweet perfume he seemed already to perceive rising up to Heaven. And well might he have sung the offertory of this Vigil’s Mass: “My prayer is pure, and therefore I ask that a place be given to my voice in heaven: for my judge is there, and he that knowes my conscience is on high: let my prayer ascend to the Lord” (Job xvi.).

Sublime prayer of the just man which pierces the clouds! Even now we can say with the Church: “His seed will be mighty upon earth,” (Psalms cxi.) the seed of new Christians sprung from the blood of martyrdom; for today we greet the first fruits thereof in the person of Romanus, the neophyte whom his first torments won to Christ, and who preceded him to Heaven. (6)

Image: Saints on South Colonnade, St Peter’s, Rome, Artist:  Sculptor – Lazzaro Morelli; Statue Installed – c.1665-1667, This statue is part of a group of 24 that were placed between September 1662 and March 1667. Height – 3.1 m. (10ft 4in) travertine (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

    1. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_romanus.html
    2. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13163a.htm
    3. http://www.stpetersbasilica.info/Exterior/Colonnades/Saints/St%20Romanus-99/StRomanus.htm
    4. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/08-09.html
    5. http://gardenofmary.com/august-9-st-romanus-martyr/
    6.  https://inluminefidei.blogspot.com/2020/08/9-august-saint-romanus-martyr.html

Saints Cyriacus, Largus, and Smaragdus, Martyrs

August 8

Today is the feast day of Saints Cyriacus, Largus, and Smaragdus.  Orate pro nobis.

Saint Cyriacus (also known as Cyriac) was born of a noble patrician family. He embraced the Christian religion and gave all his wealth to the poor. He was ordained a deacon at Rome, under Pope Marcellinus.

Diocletian was emperor at that time, assisted by Maximian. The latter decided to build a beautiful palace for the emperor, with magnificent baths, and made the Christians work at the construction.  Among the new slaves were elderly gentlemen along with clerics and priests. The labor was hard and the food scanty. A Roman nobleman desired to relieve the sufferings of these laborers.  He sent four Christians with alms and encouragements.  These were Saint Cyriacus, Saint Sisinius, Saint Largus and Saint Smaragdus. They pursued their charities at the risk of their lives, and they worked vigorously alongside those who were growing very weak. When Maximian heard of it, he had Saint Sisinius and an old gentleman whom he had helped, decapitated.

Then Emperor Diocletian’s little daughter became possessed by an evil spirit.  No one was able to deliver her from it. To the idolatrous priests who were called, the evil spirit declared that he would leave the girl only when commanded to do so by Cyriacus. He was summoned, and prayed and made the sign of the cross over the girl.  The evil spirit departed. The emperor loved his daughter, therefore he was grateful to the holy deacon.  Emperor Diocletian presented Cyriacus with a house, where he and his companions might serve God unmolested by their enemies.

About this time the daughter of the Persian King Sapor was attacked by a similar malady.   When he heard what Cyriacus had done for Diocletian’s daughter, he wrote to Diocletian , asking him to send the Christian deacon. It was done, and Cyriacus, on foot, set out for Persia. Arrived at his destination, he prayed over the girl and the evil spirit left her. On hearing of this miracle, four hundred and twenty heathens were converted to the Faith. These the saint instructed and baptized, and then set out on his homeward journey.

Returned to Rome, he continued his life of prayer and good works. But when Diocletian soon afterward left for the East, his co-emperor Maximin seized the opportunity to persecute the Christians. One of the first victims was Cyriacus. He was loaded with chains and brought before the judge, who first tried blandishments and promises to induce him to renounce Christ and to sacrifice to the idols, but in vain. Then the confessor of Christ was stretched on the rack, his limbs torn from their sockets.  He was beaten with clubs. His companions shared the same tortures. Finally, when the emperor and the judge were convinced that nothing would shake the constancy of the holy martyrs, they were beheaded. They gained the crown of glory on March 16, 303. 

Their bodies were first buried near the place of their execution on the Salarian Way, but were later removed to the city. An abbey in France, at Altorf in Alsace, possesses relics of Saint Cyriacus and bears his name.  Saint Cyriacus is venerated as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

The Fourteen Holy Helpers are a group of saints venerated together in Roman Catholicism because their intercession is believed to be particularly effective, especially against various diseases. This group of Nothelfer (“helpers in need”) originated in the 14th century at first in the Rhineland, largely as a result of the epidemic (probably of bubonic plague) that became known as the Black Death.

 

Image:  crop of Stained-Glass Window, depicting Saint Cyriacus in the Parish Church of Saint Pelagius, Weitnau, Bavaria, Germany. (4)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints8-5b.htm
  2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Cyriacus.html
  3. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_cyriacus_and_his_companions.html
  4. http://zephyrinus-zephyrinus.blogspot.com/2015/08/saints-cyriacus-largus-and-smaragdus.html

 

Saint Cajetan, Confessor

August 7

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

Saint Cajetan of Thiene  (also known as Saint Gaetano), was born October, 1487 at Vicenza in Venetian territory and he died at Naples in 1547.  Under the care of a pious mother he passed a studious and exemplary youth, and took his degree as doctor utriusque juris at Padua in his twenty-fourth year.

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

St. Cajetan, founder of the holy order, whose members are called Theatines, was born in 1487, at Vicenza, in Lombardy, of noble and pious parents. Immediately after his baptism, his mother consecrated him to the Blessed Virgin, humbly begging her to guard him and take his spiritual welfare under her motherly protection. His entire after life proved how effectual his mother’s prayers had been. He was never, even in his most tender years, like other children; his greatest pleasure consisted in praying, building small altars, giving alms to the poor, and being most perfect in his obedience to his parents. His whole conduct was such, that even in childhood, he was called a saint. He afterwards went to the University, and always made it his greatest care to preserve his innocence unspotted among so many temptations. Having received, at Padua, the degree of civil and canon laws, he repaired to Rome, where he was ordained priest, and preferred by Pope Julius II. to a high ecclesiastical position.

After the death of the Pope, he resigned his dignity and returned to his home, desiring to work more effectually for the salvation of souls. He served the sick in and out of the hospitals, with untiring charity, in the time of pestilence. His labors were at first, confined to his native town; later, however, he went to Venice. His principal aim was to save souls. The sick, he persuaded by kind and gentle exhortations; and others he moved to virtue by his earnest sermons. The popular saying was, that Cajetan looked like a seraph when standing before the altar, and like an Apostle when in the pulpit. His devotion when he said mass, was equalled by his fervor and zeal while preaching. Whenever he had the opportunity, he tried to win a soul for the Almighty. After some time, he went again to Rome, where, inspired by God, and with the co-operation of three other pious and learned men, he founded an Order for such priests as desired to live an apostolic life, to reform the negligence of the clergy, and the corrupt morals of the people of the world; to observe carefully the sacred ceremonies of the church; restore the observance of pious conduct in the temples dedicated to the worship of the Most High; to labor in opposition to the heretics; assist the sick and dying, and in a word, to promote the welfare of men to the best of their ability.

He imposed a special obligation on the members in regard to the vow of poverty; they were not only forbidden to have annual revenues, but even to ask alms. They had to leave the whole care of their subsistence to God, and wait patiently for what Providence would send them. Hard as this seemed to be, still many were found willing to bear such abject poverty. The first house of the order was at Rome; but it was abandoned after the first year, on account of an inroad of imperial soldiers, who also treated Cajetan with great cruelty. Among these soldiers there was one who had formerly been acquainted with the Saint at Vicenza, and knew that, at that time, he was very rich. Believing that he still possessed great treasures, he tried to force them from him, by maltreating him most brutally, and several times casting him into prison.

From Rome, the holy founder went to Venice, where he again nursed those stricken down with pestilence. He was then ordered by the Pope to Naples, to found a new house for his Order. This city had to thank the vigilance of this Saint, under God, for its preservation from heresy; for, several disciples of Luther, who at that time disseminated his poisonous doctrines in Germany, had come to Naples and begun privately, as well as publicly, to maintain, under the name of “Evangelical liberty,” the teachings of Luther. They had also brought with them several books which contained the Lutheran doctrines, designing to give them to the people, and thus contaminate the city with the doctrines they contained. When St. Cajetan was informed of this, and had, moreover, seen the Evil One standing in the pulpit beside Bernardin Ochino, one of Luther’s disciples, whispering into his ear every word that he preached, he notified the ecclesiastical authorities of these facts, and preached so zealously against the new heresy, that the heretical books were all given up and burnt, and the inhabitants of the city were preserved in the true faith. The Saint rendered the same service to several other cities in Italy.

The holy man was exceedingly severe towards himself. He never divested himself of his rough hair-shirt. Almost daily he scourged himself most mercilessly. In partaking of nourishment he was so temperate, that his life might justly be called a continual fast. He spent most of his nights in devout exercises, taking but a short rest upon straw. He never spoke except to honor God or benefit man. He was indefatigable in his exertions for the salvation of souls, and hence it is not surprising that God bestowed many graces upon him. One Christmas Eve, when he was passing the night in the Church of St. Mary Major, the Holy Child appeared to him, and the Blessed Virgin, who carried Him, laid Him into the Saint’s arms, filling his soul with heavenly consolation. The holy man had many other visions during his life, and was often seen in a state of ecstasy during his prayers. He also possessed the gift of prophecy, and miraculously cured a great many sick. There was a priest of his Order, whose foot was to be amputated. The evening before the operation was to be performed, the Saint examined the foot, which was extremely swollen and affected with gangrene; he kissed it, made the holy sign of the cross over it, bandaged it anew, exhorting the sufferer to put his trust in God and to ask the intercession of St. Francis. After this he turned to God in prayer. When on the following day, the surgeon came to perform the painful and dangerous amputation, they found, to their amazement, that the foot was healed.

When St. Cajetan sailed from Venice to Naples, a terrible storm arose, and all on board expected the boat to sink every moment. Cajetan took his Agnus Dei and threw it into the sea, which immediately became calm. His life is filled with similar events; we, however, having no space for more of them, will only relate how happily and with what heroic charity he ended his earthly career.

The authorities at Naples, civil as well as ecclesiastical, had resolved to institute the Inquisition in the city, to guard the faithful more thoroughly against heresy. The people were, however, opposed to it to such an extent, that a revolt was feared, and neither the exhortations and persuasions of St. Cajetan nor of other men were of any avail. The holy man was deeply distressed at the danger of so great a city and still more of so many souls. Hence he offered his life as a sacrifice to appease the wrath of the Almighty, praying that God would accept of it, restore peace, and spare the city and its inhabitants. The following event will show how pleased the Almighty was with this sacrifice. Soon after the Saint had offered himself to Heaven, he became dangerously sick, and repeating his offer, died a most peaceful and holy death, having had the privilege of seeing Christ and the Blessed Virgin. The Saviour assured him of his salvation, the Divine Mother of her protection until his death. And yet he would not die in any other manner than as a penitent; for when the physician said he needed a more comfortable bed, he protested most emphatically against it, saying that he would not, in his last hour, allow his body any comfort, but that he would be laid in his penitential robes upon ashes on the ground, adding: “There is no road leading to Heaven but that of innocence or repentance. He who has departed from the first, must take the second; else he is eternally lost.”

He received the last Sacraments with great devotion, turned his eyes towards Heaven, and rendered up his soul tranquilly to God, in the year of our Lord 1547. The strife in the city soon after ceased and peace was restored, as if God had wished to show that He had accepted the life of St. Cajetan as a peace offering for the salvation of innumerable souls. Many miracles were wrought by the Almighty to recompense the great faith which St. Cajetan manifested in the Divine Providence, when he instituted such complete poverty in his new order. After his death also, God honored him by working many miracles through his intercession. (1)

He was beatified by Urban VIII in 1629, and canonized by Clement X in 1671. His feast is kept on the 7th of August.  He is known as the patron saint of the unemployed.

Image: Statue in St Peter’s by Carlo Monaldi (10)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Cajetan%20Popup.htm
  2. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03145a.htm
  3. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2011/08/august-7-saint-cajetan-of-thiene.html
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Diedci-Solimena-Sangaetano.jpg
  5. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints8-5.htm
  6. http://magnificat.ca/cal/en/saints/saint_cajetan_of_thiena.html
  7. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/08-07.html
  8. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j033sdCajetan8-7.htm
  9. http://www.nobility.org/2013/08/05/cajetan/
  10. http://stpetersbasilica.info/Statues/Founders/Cajetan/Cajetan.htm

 

Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ

August 6

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew says Jesus “was transfigured before them. His face shone as the sun: his garments became white as snow”. (Mt 17:1-6)

The date for this feast – 6th August – seems to have been chosen in order to be exactly forty days before 14th September, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, because of a tradition that the Transfiguration took place forty days before the crucifixion.  This feast began to be celebrated in and around Jerusalem in the fourth and fifth centuries.  The feast probably reached Constantinople during the time of the great hymn-writer Andrew of Crete (c. 660-740), who was a monk at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre from 675 until 685, when he moved to serve at the Great Church of Sancta Sophia, Constantinople. Later he became Archbishop of Gortyna in Crete. It was a major feast, which developed a magnificent series of hymns and readings.

The feast appeared in the West, first in Spain in the eleventh century, then at Cluny, when Peter the Venerable was abbot (1122-56). Its introduction to Rome is associated with the Christian defeat of the Turks at Belgrade on 22 July 1456. The news reached Rome on 6th August, so Pope Callixtus III (Alfons de Borja 1455-8), a Valencian sensitive to the memory of Moorish domination in Spain, decreed it as a feast for the Roman Church beginning on 6th August 1457.

All three synoptic Gospels – Mark, Matthew, and Luke – give us an account of the Transfiguration of Jesus on top of Mount Tabor (Mark 9:1-8, Matthew 17:1-6, Luke 9:28-36). After Peter’s confession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the One sent by God to redeem mankind, and Jesus prediction of His own passion and death, Jesus, together with three of His disciples – Peter, James, the son of Zebedee, and John – went up the mountain.

Jesus ordered the three not to tell others what they had seen until he had risen on the third day. Even if they did not fully comprehend what had happened on Mount Tabor, for the apostles Peter, James, and John, it was a glimpse of the glories of heaven and of sharing in the resurrection of Christ promised to all who believe in Jesus as the One promised by God. That event served as an inspiration for them to persevere and be steadfast in their faith in Jesus who would suffer and die but would be resurrected after three days. (2)

Adapted from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger

“O God, Who in the glorious Transfiguration of Thine Only-begotten Son, didst confirm the mysteries of the Faith by the testimony of the fathers: and Who, in the voice which came from the shining cloud, didst wondrously foreshow our perfect adoption as sons: deign in Thy mercy to make us co-heirs with this King of Glory, and grant that we may be made partakers of that same glory”. Such is the formula which sums up the prayer of the Church and shows us Her thoughts on this day of faith and of hope.

We must first notice that the glorious Transfiguration has already been twice brought before us in the Sacred Cycle-on the second Sunday of Lent and on the preceding Ember Saturday. What does this mean, but that the object of the present solemnity is not so much the historical fact already known, as the permanent mystery attached to it; not so much the personal favor bestowed on St. Peter and the sons of Zebedee, as the accomplishment of the great message then entrusted to them for the Church? Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of Man be risen from the dead (Matt. 17: 9). The Church, born from the open side of the Man-God on the Cross, was not to behold Him face to face on earth; after His Resurrection, when He had sealed His alliance with Her in the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven, it is on faith alone that Her love was to be fed. But by the testimony which takes the place of sight, Her lawful desires to know Him were to be satisfied. Wherefore, for Her sake, giving truce, one day of His mortal life, to the ordinary law of suffering and obscurity He had taken upon Himself for the world’s salvation, Jesus manifested the glory which filled His blessed soul. The King of Jews and Gentiles revealed Himself upon the mountain, where His calm splendor eclipsed for evermore the lightnings of Sinai; the covenant of the eternal alliance was declared, not by the promulgation of a law of servitude engraved upon stone, but by the manifestation of the Lawgiver Himself, coming as Bridegroom to reign in grace and beauty over hearts. Elias and Moses, representing the Prophets and the Law whereby His coming was prepared, from their different starting-points, met beside Him like faithful messengers reaching their destination; they did homage to the Master of their now finished mission, and effaced themselves before Him at the voice of God the Father: This is My Beloved Son! Three witnesses, the most trustworthy of all, assisted at this solemn scene: the disciple of faith, the disciple of love, and that other son of thunder who was to be the first to seal with His blood both the faith and the love of an Apostle. By His order they kept religiously, as well they should, the secret of the King, until the day when the Church could be the first to receive it from their predestined lips.

But did this precious mystery take place on August 6? More than one doctor of sacred rites affirms that it did. At any rate, it was fitting to celebrate it in the month dedicated to Eternal Wisdom (in the Scripture readings of the Divine Office). It is she, the brightness of eternal light, the unspotted mirror and image of God’s goodness (Wisd. 7: 26), who, shedding grace upon the Son of Man, made Him on this day the most beautiful amongst all His brethren. Seven months ago the mystery was first announced by the gentle light of the Epiphany; but by virtue of the mystical number seven, here revealed once more, the beginnings of blessed hope, which we then celebrated as children with the Child Jesus, have grown together with Him and the Church; and the latter, established in unspeakable peace by the full growth which gives Her to Her Spouse, calls upon all Her children to grow like Her by the contemplation of the Son of God, even to the measure of the perfect age of Christ. We understand, then, why the liturgy of today repeats the formulas and chants of the glorious Feast of Epiphany: Arise, be enlightened O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee (Resp. 1 of Matins from Is. 60: 1); it is because on the mountain together with Our Lord, the Bride is also glorified, having the glory of God.

While the face of Jesus shone as the sun, His garments became white as snow (Matt. 17: 2). Now these garments so snow-white, as St. Mark observes, that no fuller on earth could have bleached them so, are the just men, the royal ornament inseparable from the Man-God, the Church, the seamless robe woven by our sweet Queen for Her Son out of the purest wool and most beautiful linen that the Valiant Woman could find. Although Our Lord personally has now passed the torrent of suffering and entered forever into His glory, nevertheless the bright mystery of the Transfiguration will not be complete until the last of the elect, having passed through the laborious preparation at the hands of the Divine Fuller and tasted death, has joined in the Resurrection of our adorable Head.

These eternal words, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee, have had two echoes in time, at the Jordan and on Thabor; and God, Who never repeats Himself, did not herein make an exception to the rule of saying but once what He says. For although the terms used on the two occasions are identical, they do not tend, as St. Thomas says, to the same end, but show the different ways in which man participates in the resemblance of the eternal filiation. At the Baptism of Our Lord, where the mystery of the first regeneration (baptism) was declared, as at the Transfiguration which manifested the second (the resurrection of the dead), the whole Trinity appeared: the Father in the voice, the Son in His Humanity, the Holy Ghost under the form, first of a dove, and afterwards of a bright cloud; for if in baptism the Holy Ghost confers innocence symbolized by the simplicity of the dove, in the Resurrection He will give to the elect the brightness of glory and refreshment after suffering, which are signified by the luminous cloud.

But without waiting for the day when Our Savior will renew our very bodies conformable to the bright glory of His own Divine Body, the mystery of the Transfiguration is wrought in our souls already here on earth. It is of the present life that St. Paul says and the Church sings today: God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus (from 2 Cor. 4: 6). Thabor, holy and divine mountain, rivaling Heaven, how can we help but say with St. Peter: “It is good for us to dwell on thy summit!” For thy summit is love; it is charity which towers above the other virtues, as thou towerest in gracefulness, and loftiness, and fragrance over the other mountains of Galilee, which saw Jesus passing, speaking, praying, working miracles, but were not as privileged as thee. It is after six days, as the Gospel observes, and therefore in the repose of the seventh which leads to the eighth of the Resurrection, that Jesus reveals Himself to the privileged souls who correspond to His love. The Kingdom of God is within us; when, leaving all impressions of the senses as it were asleep, we raise ourselves above the works and cares of the world by prayer, it is given us to enter with the Man-God into the cloud: there beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, as far as is compatible with our exile, we are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord (from 2 Cor. 3: 18). “Let us then,” cries St. Ambrose, “ascend the mountain; let us beseech the Word of God to show Himself to us in His splendor, in His beauty; to grow strong and proceed prosperously, and reign in our souls. For behold a deep mystery! According to thy measure, the Word diminishes or grows within thee. If thou reach not that summit, high above all human thought, Wisdom will not appear to thee; the Word shows Himself to thee as in a body without brightness and without glory.”

If the vocation revealed to thee this day be so great and so holy, “reverence the call of God,” says St. Andrew of Crete: “do not ignore thyself, despise not a gift so great, show not thyself unworthy of the grace, be not so slothful in thy life as to lose this treasure of Heaven. Leave earth to the earth, and let the dead bury their dead; disdaining all that passes away, all that dies with the world and the flesh, follow even to Heaven, without turning aside, Christ Who leads the way through this world for thee. Take to thine assistance fear and desire, lest thou faint or lose thy love. Give thyself up wholly; be supple to the Word in the Holy Ghost, in order to attain this pure and blessed end: thy sanctification, together with the enjoyment of unspeakable goods. By zeal for the virtues, by contemplation of the truth, by wisdom, attain to Wisdom, Who is the principle of all, and in Whom all things subsist.” (1)

Customs

On this day the pope at Mass uses new wine or presses a bunch of ripe grapes into the chalice; raisins are also blessed at Rome. The Greeks and Russians bless grapes and other fruit.

Image: Crop of Transfiguration of Christ.  artist: Giovanni Bellini, circa 1487. (11)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-157/Transfiguration.htm
  2. http://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/transfiguration-of-our-lord-jesus-christ/
  3. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15019b.htm
  4. https://www.fisheaters.com/customstimeafterpentecost5.html
  5. http://www.catholictradition.org/Eucharist/real-presence45.htm
  6. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Transfiguration.html
  7. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/the_transfiguration_of_our_lord.html
  8. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/08-06.html
  9. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2010/08/august-6-feast-of-transfiguration-of.html
  10. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j140sdTransfiguration_Streten_7-6.shtml
  11. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The-Transfiguration-1480-xx-Giovanni-Bellini.JPG

Our Lady of the Snow

August 5

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

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

The Catholic Church celebrates today the annual feast of the dedication of a very remarkable church at Rome, called St. Mary Ad Nives–” St. Mary of the Snow,” or ” St. Mary Major.” The origin of this church is as follows: In the middle of the fourth century, at the time of Pope Liberius, there resided at Rome a nobleman named John. Although rich in temporal goods, he was still wealthier in those which are not of this world, and his wife was his equal in birth, riches and virtue. They had been married many years without having been blessed with children, although they had often prayed to God for them. At last, they resigned themselves to the will of Providence, and resolved to employ all their wealth in honor of the Blessed Virgin, and make her heir to it, as they had always entertained great devotion for her. They were, as yet, uncertain as to the manner in which they should carry out their intention. They both sought refuge in prayer and alms, begging the Blessed Virgin to teach them how they might best appropriate their possessions to her honor.

Mary, the Divine Mother, deigned to make her wishes known to them. Appearing to them both in the night, she told them to go, on the following day, which was the fifth of this month, to the Aesquiline mount, in Rome, and to build a church in her honor on the spot which they would find covered with snow. This, she added, would be more agreeable to her than anything else they could do. When they awoke next morning and told each other their dream or rather their vision, they were filled with inexpressible joy, and immediately repaired to Pope Liberius to hear his opinion on the subject. As the Pope had had the same vision the same night, there was no longer reason to doubt the truth of the revelation. Assembling the clergy and people without delay, the Pontiff formed a procession to go to the appointed spot.

When they arrived there, they saw, in truth, a place large enough for a church, covered with snow. All were greatly surprised at this, which they could not but consider a miracle, since it was in the midst of summer, on the fifth of August, when neither in Rome nor within many miles of it, any snow could naturally have fallen. The pious couple drew from this fact the greatest comfort, as it was an indication that the Almighty and the Blessed Virgin were pleased with their intention. Therefore, hesitating no longer, they forthwith made all the necessary preparations for building a magnificent temple. The building was begun and very soon completed. All that was needed for its erection, as well as for its maintenance, was joyfully furnished. Pope Liberius most solemnly consecrated the new temple; and all the faithful went to it to venerate the Queen of Heaven. At first, this church was called the Basilica, signifying a palace, or the Liberian Basilica, on account of its royal magnificence. It was also called St. Mary ad Nives, for the reason mentioned above. Today it is known as the St. Mary Major, or the Great, as it is the greatest of all the churches of Rome built in honor of the Blessed Virgin, on account of its origin, magnificence and rich endowment. It is also called St. Mary ad Praesepe–St. Mary of the Manger–because in one of its chapels, the crib or manger, in which the new-born Saviour was placed by His virgin mother, is kept.

Pope Gregory the Great, in 509, formed and led the great precession, celebrated in the annals of the church, to implore God, through the intercession of Mary, to avert the dreadful pestilence which ravaged Rome. Its fury somewhat abated, but as it was still in the city, the Pope, in the following year, formed a second precession, headed by the picture of the Blessed Virgin painted by St. Luke, which is kept in the church of St. Mary ad Nives. During the procession, the pestilence left all those houses by which the picture passed, until, at last, when the faithful dispersed, the whole city was free from the terrible scourge. Another miraculous event occurred during the procession, which must not be omitted. Angels were heard singing: “Rejoice, O Queen of Heaven, Alleluia. He whom thou didst deserve to bear, Alleluia! is risen as He said, Alleluia!” The holy Pope, prostrating himself with all the people, finished the angels’ hymn of praise with the words: “Pray for us to God, Alleluia!” When the procession had reached the Mausoleum, or tomb of the Emperor Adrian, the Pope saw upon its summit an angel sheathing his sword, as a sign that the wrath of the Almighty was appeased by the intercession of Mary, and that the pestilence which had so long ravaged the city, would disappear. The rejoicing of the people, and the devotion which was from that time shown to the miraculous picture of the Blessed Virgin, cannot be worthily described. (2)

Improbable as it is for snow to fall during August in Rome, history tells of a snowfall that seemed more impossible.  August 5, 352, snow fell during that night.

Legend has it that there lived in the Eternal City a nobleman, John and his childless wife, who had been blessed with much of this world’s goods. They chose the Mother of God as the heir to their fortune, and at the suggestion of Pope Liberius, prayed that she might make known to them how to do this by a particular sign.

In answer, the Virgin Mother during the night of August 5, appeared to John and his wife and also to the Holy Father, Pope Liberius, directing them to build a church in her honor on the crown of the Esquiline Hill. And what would be the sign that John and his wife had requested?

“Snow will cover the crest of the hill.”

Snow rarely falls in Rome, but the flakes fell silently during that night, blanketing the peak of the historic hill. In the morning the news quickly spread and crowds gathered to throng up the hill and behold the white splendor. The snow had fallen in a particular pattern, showing the outline of the future church. When it became known that the snow was a sign from Mary, the people spontaneously added another to her long list of titles, Our Lady of the Snows.

Since the 7th century the Church was known also as Maria ad Præsepe because the Basilica has some pieces of wood from the Manger in which Our Lord was born. The ceiling of the Basilica is gilded with the first gold that came from the Americas. This was the first church in Rome to be dedicated to Our Lady. In the 4th century Pope Liberius added a lateral hall to a large existing hall of a Roman patrician palace and dedicated it to the cult; for this reason it was called the Basilica Liberii [Liberian Basilica]. Pope Sixtus III (432-440) restored it almost a century later and dedicated it to the Virgin, who the Council of Ephesus had defined as Theotokos, that is, the Mother of God. It was then that the Basilica received the name of Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Maria Mayor.

To commemorate the Miracle of the Snow, every August 5th a cascade of white petals descends from the coffered ceiling onto the altar place during the religious festivities. 

It was in this church that one Christmas night Our Lady placed the Divine Infant into the arms of St Cajetan of Thiene. It was here on another Christmas night that St Ignatius Loyola celebrated his first Mass. In this church, St Pius V prayed the Rosary that obtained for the Catholic warriors the victory of Lepanto. There is a chapel in the Basilica that has a picture of Our Lady that, according to tradition, was painted by St Luke. St Charles Borromeo used to pray often in front of this Madonna, and in testimony of his gratitude to her, he wrote the Rule of the Canons of Santa Maria Maggiore.

Originally the feast was celebrated only at St Maria Maggiore; in the fourteenth century it was extended to all the churches of Rome and finally it was made a universal feast by Pius V. Clement VIII raised it from a feast of double rite to double major. The mass is the common one for feasts of the Blessed Virgin; the office is also the common one of the Bl. Virgin, with the exception of the second Nocturn, which is an account of the alleged miracle. The congregation, which Benedict XIV instituted for the reform of the Breviary in 1741, proposed that the reading of the legend be struck from the Office and that the feast should again receive its original name, “Dedicatio Sanctæ Mariæ”. (4)

 





You tube: Uploaded on Aug 5, 2010   

Rome, August 5, 2010: Feast of the Dedication of the Liberian Basilica. Solemn Pontifical Mass sung by the Cardinal Archpriest of the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Mary Major. At the intonation of the Gloria, white petals begin to fall from an opening in the ceiling and rain down as snow for the duration of the hymn.

Image: cropped Foundation of Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica. Artist: Masolino de Panicale, circa: 1st third of 15th century (11)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/snows.htm
  2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Snows.html
  3. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-173/Snows.htm
  4. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/our-lady-of-the-snows.html
  5. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/the_dedication_of_saint_mary_of_the_snows.html
  6. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/08-05.html
  7. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2010/08/august-5-dedication-of-basilica-of.html
  8. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j247sd_OLSnow_08_05.html
  9. http://www.nobility.org/2016/08/04/august-5-lady-snow
  10.  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11361c.htm
  11. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Masolino,_fondazione_di_santa_maria_maggiore.jpg

 

 

Saint Dominic de Guzman, Confessor

August 4

Today is the feast of Saint Dominic de Guzman.  Ora pro nobis.

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

 

St. Dominic, the glorious patriarch and founder of the famous Order of the Friars Preachers, was born in Spain of illustrious and pious parents. His mother, before his birth, had a vision in her sleep, in which it seemed to her that she was bearing a little dog, which carried in its mouth a burning torch that illuminated the whole world. At the time of his baptism, a noble matron saw a bright star on the brow of Dominic. By this God probably intended to foreshadow the future labors of St. Dominic and their effect; how, by his sermons, he would drive away the heretics–those veritable wolves in the Christian fold– and how while he illumined the whole world with his teaching and virtues, he would at the same time inflame it with love of God.

Dominic evinced, in his earliest youth, a love of virtue quite unusual for his age. He would rise in the middle of the night to pray; he was extremely moderate in eating and drinking, and modest in all his ways. He detested all worldly amusements, avoided all questionable society, was compassionate towards the poor, and sought all his pleasure in prayer, in visiting the churches and in study. He acquired knowledge suitable for his station in life, was sent to the most renowned Universities, where he never departed, in the least, from his pious course. He preserved his innocence and purity unspotted till his death, and the means which he employed to do this were, avoidance of idleness, and of intercourse with the other sex; temperance in eating and drinking.

After having finished his studies with great honor, James Azebedo, bishop of Osma, received him into the number of the regular canons. When thirty years of age, he began to preach, and continued for two years, with great success. After this he accompanied the bishop to France, which was, at that period, greatly disturbed by the heresy of the Albigenses. When they arrived at their destination they took lodgings in a house where the people were tainted with the heresy; but Dominic soon convinced them of their error and they returned to the true faith. They were the first of the heretics converted, and Dominic consecrated the first fruits of his labors, in profound gratitude, to the Almighty, feeling within himself a daily increasing desire to devote himself entirely to the extermination of this new heresy. Obeying the admonition of the Divine Voice that spoke to his heart, he asked of the Pope the necessary permission and prepared himself with a few other zealous priests, by prayers, fasts and other penances, for so great a work.

After this, taking a staff in his hand, in imitation of the holy Apostles, he wandered barefooted through all the cities and villages where the Albigenses had sown the seed of their heresy, preached with great zeal the truths of the Catholic faith and refuted the errors of the heresy, without allowing himself to be in the least disturbed by the ravings of the enemies of the church. Authentic historians say that he converted more than 100,000 heretics to the truth faith. The gift of miracles which God bestowed upon His unwearied apostle to confirm his words, added much to his influence. The Albigenses had written a book filled with heretical doctrines, which they gave the Catholics to read. St. Dominic refuted this by another book, and to convince the people that his was the true one, he threw both into the fire, in the presence of a crowd of heretics and faithful. The heretical book was instantly seized by the flames and consumed, while the book written by the Saint remained intact, raised itself up, fluttered a little while in the air, and then lighted upon a beam to the utter amazement of the spectators. This miracle was repeated a second and a third time, and not only strengthened the faith of the Catholics, but confounded the heretics. At another time, when the celebrated Count Montfort, with a small force of Catholics numbering 1800 men, attacked a large army of Albigenses, St. Dominic by floods of tears, obtained from God so signal a victory for the Catholics, that 20,000 of the enemy remained upon the field of battle, others were driven into the river and drowned and the rest were routed.

It is also related that this holy man relieved many who were possessed, cured many who were sick, and raised the dead to life. These and similar miracles could not fail to obtain for the Saint the veneration of men, and they were the means of converting many heretics. To preserve these in the true faith and to bring others to the knowledge of the truth, he resolved to found an order, the principal aim of which would be to preach the Gospel, to lead sinners to repentance, confirm Catholics in their faith, and convert the heretics. Pope Innocent III. at first refused to give his consent to this plan; but, one night, he dreamed that the walls of the Lateran church appeared to fall, but were supported by St. Dominic, and saved from the impending destruction; he concluded from this that St. Dominic had been elected by God to be the pillar of His church, and no longer withheld his consent to the founding of the new order. Pope Honorius III. who followed Pope Innocent, confirmed the order, to the great comfort of the Saint. It may, in truth, be said that by means of this order, the destruction which menaced the whole world through the heretics and false teachers, was averted.

One night, when St. Dominic prayed in the church of St. Peter, he saw Christ sitting on a throne in the clouds, surrounded by indescribable splendor. He held three spears in his hand to punish the world with three chastisements, famine, war and pestilence, because of the iniquity of the people. Not one of the Saints dared to oppose the anger of God with prayers. At last, the Blessed Virgin herself came to His feet, and humbly asked mercy for those whom He had redeemed with His precious blood. She assured Him that St. Dominic and St. Francis, who was then in Rome, to obtain the approval of his order, and their brethen, would do all in their power to move the sinful world to repentance and reformation. The prayers of His Blessed Mother appeased Christ, and He approved of the intentions of the two holy men. This vision was not only a great comfort to St. Dominic, but an incentive to use all his endeavors to reach the end he had proposed to himself.

For many years he strove, with incomparable zeal, to accomplish his design, when it pleased the Almighty to call him to receive the reward of his unwearied labors. He received the announcement of his death from Our Lord Himself, Who appeared to him during his prayers and said: “Come, come to enjoy true happiness.” After this, he fell ill, and having made his confession, he so fervently and devoutly received the Blessed Sacrament, that he drew tears from the eyes of all who were near him. Before his end, he exhorted his disciples to obedience, poverty, chastity, and brotherly love. He further commanded them to work zealously for the salvation of souls, to trust unwaveringly in God, to love their heavenly Father above all things, to avoid idle discourses, to speak only with or of God. At last he requested them to read aloud for him the usual prayers for the departing soul. When they came to the words: “Come to his assistance, ye Saints of God, come forth to meet him, ye Angels of the Lord, receiving his soul, offer it to the Most High,” he calmly closed his eyes and gave up his soul, filled with so many merits, into the hand of God, in the year 1221, the 50th of his age.

He left to posterity, not only the holy Order which he founded, but the most noble example of virtue. His heart was filled with the love of God; hence he endeavored most assiduously to prevent others from offending the Divine Majesty and to move sinners to repentance. Frequently he passed the whole night in prayer and in chastising his body, offering it to God for the conversion of sinners, saying that he would willingly give every drop of his blood, if by it he were able to prevent a single sin, or to convert a sinner. It was his wish to suffer and to give his life for the love of Christ. Humility made him three times refuse a bishopric. He desired nothing but to work for the salvation of souls, to suffer and be despised. Towards himself he was extremely severe; he constantly wore a rough hair-shirt, fastened around the loins with an iron chain, drawn so tightly, that it cut into the flesh. The steps of the altar or the bare boards were his bed. He scourged himself three times each night, first for his own sins; secondly for the sins of other men; and thirdly, for the souls in purgatory. His life was, besides, a continual fast. He never tasted meat. To live on alms and to aid the poor was all he desired. While he was still a student, he sold his books and clothes more than once, and gave the money to the poor. To a widow who asked him for alms to release her son from captivity, he offered himself as ransom, so that her son might return to her.

Many other splendid examples of admirable virtues must be omitted here, for want of space; but the great devotion he always entertained for the Queen of Heaven must be mentioned. This devotion arose from his great love for her. He began nothing without invoking her assistance with filial confidence, and he disseminated veneration for her by the use of the Rosary, which the Almighty deigned to confirm by many miracles. He advised Blanche, the pious Queen of France, who had no issue, to have recourse to the Divine Mother, and to say the rosary devoutly in her honor. Blanche followed his advice and in the course of time, gave birth to Louis, the holy and celebrated Catholic king. To the devout use of the rosary is also ascribed the above-mentioned victory of Montfort over the Albigenses; for, the Catholic soldiers, at the instance of St. Dominic, wore the rosary around their necks, and thus under the protection of the Blessed Virgin, attacked and defeated the enemy. How many miracles the Almighty performed after St. Dominic’s death, at his intercession, is to be found in the books of those authors who have written his life more minutely. (7)

It was in 1208, while Saint Dominic knelt in the little chapel of Notre Dame de La Prouille, and implored the great Mother of God to save the Church, that Our Lady appeared to him and gave him the Rosary, bidding him to go forth and preach it.  Our Lady told Dominic to tell the people how to say the prayers of the Rosary on the beads, while meditating on the 15 Mysteries. In the Office for the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary, it is declared that, “he was admonished by the Blessed Virgin Mary to preach the Rosary to the people as a singular remedy against heresy and sin.”

More than a dozen Popes have attested to this tradition, including Pope Leo XIII, who wrote: “The belief that to this form of prayer a special power has been accorded by the Queen of Heaven is justified, because by Her instigation and under Her patronage it was introduced by the holy Father Dominic, and it was spread in a time hostile to everything Catholic, much like our own, and as a powerful means of opposing the enemies of the Faith effectually…

During the famous battles in southern France against the Albigensians, with his rosary in hand he revived the courage of the Catholic armies, led them to victory against overwhelming numbers, and finally subdued the heresy. His nights were spent in prayer; and, though all beheld him as an Angel of purity, before morning broke he would scourge himself to blood. His words rescued countless souls, and three times raised the dead to life. At length, on August 6, 1221, at the age of fifty-one, he gave up his soul to God.

The life of St. Dominic was one of tireless effort in the, service of God. While he journeyed from place to place he prayed and preached almost uninterruptedly. His penances were of such a nature as to cause the brethren, who accidentally discovered them, to fear the effect upon his life. While his charity was boundless he never permitted it to interfere with the stern sense of duty that guided every action of his life. If he abominated heresy and labored untiringly for its extirpation it was because he loved truth and loved the souls of those among whom he laboured.

He never failed to distinguish between sin and the sinner. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, if this athlete of Christ, who had conquered himself before attempting the reformation of others, was more than once chosen to show forth the power of God. The failure of the fire at Fanjeaux to consume the dissertation he had employed against the heretics, and which was thrice thrown into the flames; the raising to life of Napoleone Orsini; the appearance of the annals in the refectory of Saint Sixtus in response to his prayers, are but a few of the supernatural happenings by which God was pleased to attest the eminent holiness of His servant. We are not surprised, therefore, that, after signing the Bull of canonization on 13 July, 1234, Gregory IX declared that he no more doubted the saintliness of Saint Dominic than he did that of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

 

THE ROSARY

The hermits of the first centuries, who could not read the psalter, used to recite one Our Father and one Hail Mary in the place of every psalm; and in order to note the number they said, they made use of small stones, or of seeds strung on a cord. St. Dominic was the first who made the custom general of substituting one hundred and fifty Hail Marys for the one hundred and fifty psalms; hence the rosary used to be called the Psalter of Mary. When, about the year 1200, the heresies of the Albigenseans wrought great mischief in the south of France and the north of Italy, St. Dominic was commissioned by the Pope to preach in refutation of their erroneous tenets. His efforts availed little, and he besought the aid of the Mother of God. She appeared to him, and bade him make use of the rosary as a weapon against her enemies. He accordingly introduced it everywhere, and before long it had effected the conversion of more than a hundred thousand heretics. The use of the Rosary soon spread throughout Christendom, and it became a most popular devotion. It is a method of prayer at once simple and sublime; the prayers are so easy that a child can repeat them, and the mysteries are so profound that they supply a subject for meditation to the most learned theologians. It is a prayer of contemplation as well as a prayer of supplication, for it places before the mind the principal truths of the faith. The Rosary is a compendium of the Gospels; a complete and practical manual of instruction wherein the chief points of Christian doctrine are presented under the guise of prayer. By meditation on the events of Our Lord’s life faith and charity are increased; from the example of our divine Redeemer we learn to be humble, gentle, obedient; we are incited to imitate the virtues which the mysteries teach, to strive after what they promise us. Moreover the union of vocal and mental prayer makes the Rosary easy, pleasant, and profitable. As a method of prayer it is unrivaled; the longer and more devoutly it is practiced, the more one appreciates its excellence and becomes convinced of its supernatural origin.
1. The Rosary is well pleasing to God, because of its humility, and because it is an imitation of the unceasing song of praise sung by the angels.The Rosary is the prayer of the humble, for in it well-known truths are simply stated and constantly repeated. The proud despise it, but God, Who looks down on the low things (Ps. cxii. 6), approves it. It is an imitation of the angel’s song; we read in Holy Scripture that the angelic choirs cry to one another: ” Holy, holy, holy. Lord God of hosts; all the earth is full of His glory ” (Is. vi.3). And when we recite the Rosary, we praise the Mother of God in a similar manner. It is beyond a doubt that this form of prayer is most acceptable to the Mother of God, for when she appeared at Lourdes she had a rosary in her hand. Pope Pius IX unhesitatingly asserts that it is her gift to men, and she loves no other prayer as well. 2. The Rosary is a most useful devotion, for by it we obtain great graces and sure help in time of trouble; many indulgences are besides attached to it.

The Rosary is a very treasury of graces. Many sinners owe their conversion to it. It possesses marvelous power to banish sin and restore the transgressor to a state of grace. By it the just grow in virtue. All the saints who have lived subsequently to the institution of the Rosary have been assiduous in its use, and this may have contributed largely to their sanctification. Several holy bishops and servants of God are known to have pledged themselves by vow to recite it daily; St. Charles Borromeo, despite the numerous and pressing duties of his position, recited it every day with the seminarists and the members of his household. Blessed Clement Hofbauer was accustomed to say the Rosary while passing through the streets of Vienna, and rarely did he recite it in vain for the conversion of a sinner. It is recorded of several distinguished officers and victorious commanders that they never engaged in battle without first saying the Rosary, and to this they attributed their military successes. The Rosary has been called “the thermometer of Christianity,” for the reason that where it is diligently recited faith is ardent, and good works are manifest; and where it is neglected religion is at a low ebb. In seasons of general calamity, miraculous aid has been granted to Christendom by means of the Rosary; this was especially the case in wars with the Turks, the victory of Lepanto (1571), the deliverance of Vienna (1683), the victory of Belgrade were all owing to the power of the Rosary. It was said that the beads of the chaplet did more execution than the bullets of the soldiers. It was in thanksgiving for these victories that the Holy See instituted the feast of the Holy Rosary on the first Sunday in October. Pope Sixtus IV declared that many dangers which threatened the world are averted, and the wrath of God is appeased by the prayers of the Rosary. Our Holy Father Leo XIII says that, as in St. Dominic’s time the Rosary proved a sure remedy for the evils of the age, so it may now effect much towards the amelioration of the ills that afflict society.

Every one who recites the Rosary must feel its supernatural power; there is no prayer which affords more consolation in affliction, more tranquillity to the troubled breast. It soothes in sorrow, it imparts the peace spoken of in the Gospel. Another proof of its excellence is the hatred and contempt wherewith unbelievers regard it. The devil incites them to decry what is a fruitful source of grace to the Christian, and by which souls are wrested from his grasp. The Rosary has been richly indulgenced by the Holy See, and the recital of it strongly urged upon the faithful. An indulgence of five years and five quarantines may be gained if five consecutive decades be said, on a properly indulgenced rosary. Our Holy Father Leo XIII. has decreed that every day during the month of October, the Rosary, together with the litany of Loretto, be said in church either during the parish Mass, or in the afternoon, with the Blessed Sacrament exposed. For every time of assisting at this devotion seven years and seven quarantines are granted. ‘Pope Pius IX. bequeathed, as a legacy to the faithful, this admonition: “Let the Rosary, this simple, beautiful method of prayer, enriched with many indulgences, be habitually recited of an evening in every household. These are my last words to you; the memorial I leave behind me.” Again he said: “In the whole of the Vatican there is no greater treasure than the Rosary.” (8)

Image: Crop of The Perugia Altarpiece, Side Panel Depicting St. Dominic, artist: Fra Angelico, circa 1437 (5).

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05106a.htm
  2. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_dominic.html
  3. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/saint-dominic.html
  4. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-153/Virgin%20Most%20Renowned.htm#Example
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Perugia_Altarpiece,_Side_Panel_Depicting_St._Dominic.jpg
  6. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints8-3.htm
  7. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Dominic%20Prayers.html
  8. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Rosary.html
  9. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Dominic%20and%20the%20Attacks%20of%20the%20Devil.html
  10. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-153/Virgin%20Most%20Renowned.htm#Example
  11. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/08-04.html