Our Lady of the Angels

August 2

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Angels.

Our Lady of Angels, or of the Portiuncula, is located six hundred yards from the city of Assissium, in Italy. It was a desolate locality, and apparently an unsettled one where robbers and the lawlessness flourished, for the Benedictines who had lived at the monastery felt it was too hazardous to remain there. They abandoned the monastery, relocating to Mount Subasio.  The original chapel is thought to date from the 4th Century, and was built by holy hermits who had come from the Valley of Josaphat. It is said that they brought relics of the Blessed Virgin with them to the region when they constructed the chapel. 

When Saint Francis chanced to come upon the little, run down and abandoned chapel of Our Lady of Angels, or Santa Maria degli Angelis, in the year 1208, it was almost completely hidden in shrubs and brush. Saint Francis entered the hidden church, which measured only twenty-two feet by thirteen feet, and saw the ancient fresco that had been placed above the main altar. It was an image of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin surrounded by angels. Some say that this is why the chapel was named Our Lady of Angels, although there are also legends that angels could often be heard singing there.

This chapel was the Saint’s favorite spot on earth. It was here he heard the Gospel that caused him to establish his First Order.  Here Francis received his first brothers, and from here he sent them into the world. In this chapel, St. Clare knelt before the image of Our Lady of the Angels, and on the floor her golden tresses fell beneath the scissors plied by Francis himself. Indeed, Francis placed such a high value on this chapel, which he had rebuilt with his own hands, that he wrote a special rule just for “Portiuncula.”

At first Saint Francis wished the convent which he built there to be the principal one of his order. He assembled the first General Chapter here, where there were five thousand religious. It was also where he died on October 3rd in the year 1226, the twentieth of his conversion, and at age forty-five. The cell in which the poor man of Assisi died can still be seen where it rests against one of the columns of the cupola under the choir bay.

In Franciscan annals August 2 is one of the most important days of the year, for it is the Feast of St. Mary of the Angels, the anniversary of the dedication of the birthplace of the Franciscan Order, the day of a special Indulgence, the Portiuncula Indulgence. The origin of the Portiuncula Indulgence has been lost in the haze of centuries. The first written document we have regarding this Indulgence is dated October 31, 1277, some sixty years after the Indulgence is said to have been granted. As a result, many different accounts have come down to us purporting to relate the vision of St. Francis and the way in which the Pope consented to grant this Indulgence. Each author seems to relate a different version that St. Francis beheld. However, although the accounts differ in details, in substance they are the same.

No one has ever better described the full significance of this devotion to Mary than St. Francis himself when he said to Pope Honorius: “I need nothing more than your word. Our Lady is the parchment, Christ the notary, and the Angels our witnesses!” 

It was on the feast of Our Lady, Queen of Angels, August 2, 1492, that Christopher Columbus knowing there was a plenary indulgence granted to all who received Holy Communion on that day, went with all his crew to Mass, received Holy Communion, finished packing his boat — called the Santa Maria, the Holy Mary — and set sail for the New World. It took Columbus seventy-two days to cross the ocean. (6)

 

Image: The Miracle of the Porziuncola, Artist: António de Oliveira Bernardes, Circa 1698. (5)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/our-lady-of-angels.html
  2. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j141sdQueenofAngels_8-02.htm
  3. http://catholictradition.org/Angels/guardians19.htm
  4. https://airmaria.com/2011/08/02/august-2-portiuncula-indulgence-our-lady-of-the-angels/
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Evora66.jpg
  6. http://catholicism.org/our-lady-of-the-angels.html

 

Saint Alphonsus Mary de Liguori, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church

August 2

Today is the feast day of Saint Alphonsus Mary de Liguori.  Ora pro nobis.

 

St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (†1787; Feast – August 2)

To this great Saint, great both in works and in doctrine, are directly applied these words of the Holy Ghost: they that instruct many to justice shall shine as stars for all eternity (Dan. 12: 3). At the time he appeared, an odious sect (Jansenism) was denying the mercy and the sweetness of our Heavenly Father; it triumphed in the practical conduct of even those who were shocked by Calvinistic theories. Under pretext of a reaction against an imaginary school of laxity, and denouncing with much ado some erroneous propositions made by obscure persons, the new Pharisees had set themselves up as zealous for the law. Stretching the Commandments, and exaggerating the sanction, they loaded the conscience with the same unbearable burdens which the Man-God reproached the ancient Pharisees with laying on the shoulders of men; but the cry of alarm they had raised in the name of endangered morals, had nonetheless deceived the simple, and ended by misleading even some of the best. Thanks to the show of austerity displayed by some of its adherents, Jansenism, so clever in veiling its teachings, had too well succeeded in its designs of forcing itself upon the Church in spite of the Church. Unsuspecting allies within the holy city gave up to its mercy the sources of salvation. Soon in too many places, the sacred Keys were used but to open Hell; the Holy Eucharist, instituted for the preservation and increase of spiritual life in all Catholics, became accessible only to the “perfect;” and these latter were esteemed such, according as, by a strange reversion of the Apostle’s words, they subjected the spirit of adoption of sons to the spirit of servitude and fear. As to the faithful who did not rise to the heights of this new asceticism, “finding in the tribunal of penance, instead of fathers and physicians of souls, only exactors and executioners” (Letter for the Concession of the Title of Doctor to St. Alphonsus Maria, Pope Pius IX); they could only choose between despair and indifference. Everywhere legislatures and parliaments lent a hand to the so-called reformers, without heeding the flood of odious unbelief that was rising around them, without seeing the gathering storm clouds.

 

Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: because you shut the kingdom of Heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those who are going in, you suffer not to enter… Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: because you go round about the sea and the land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, you make him the child of Hell twofold more than yourselves (Matt. 23: 13, 15). Not of your reasonings was it said that the sons of Wisdom are the Church of the just, for it was added: Their generation is obedience and love (Eccli. 3: 1—the Jansenists were notorious for their lack of obedience to the Holy See). Not of the fear which you preached did the Psalmist sing: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom (Ps. 110: 10); for even under the law of Sinai, the Holy Ghost said: Ye that fear the Lord, believe Him: and your reward shall not be made void. Ye that fear the Lord, hope in Him: and mercy shall come to you for your delight. Ye that fear the Lord, love Him: and your hearts shall be enlightened (Eccli. 2: 8-10). Every deviation, whether towards rigor or laxity, offends the rectitude of justice; but especially since Bethlehem and Calvary, no sin so wounds the Divine Heart as distrust; no fault is unpardonable except the despair of a Judas, saying like Cain: My iniquity is greater than that I may deserve pardon (Gen. 4: 13).

Who then, in the somber quietism into which the teachers then in vogue had led even the strongest minds, could find once more the key of knowledge? But Wisdom, says the Holy Ghost, kept in Her treasures the signification of discipline (Eccl. 1: 31). Just as in other times She had raised up new avengers for every dogma that had been attacked: so now She brought forth St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori as the avenger of the violated Law and the most excellent Doctor of Christian morality. A stranger alike to fatal rigorism and baneful liberalism, he knew how to restore to the justices of the Lord their rectitude, and at the same time their power of rejoicing hearts, to His commandments their luminous brightness, whereby they are justified in themselves, to His testimonies the purity which attracts souls and faithfully guides the simple and the little ones from the beginnings of Wisdom to its summits (Cf. Ps. 18: 8-10). Whilst on the one hand he never left unanswered any attack made at that time against revealed truth, his ascetical and mystical works brought back piety to its traditional sources, the frequentation of the Sacraments, and the love of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother. The Sacred Congregation of Rites, after examining in the name of the Holy See the works of our Saint, and declaring that nothing deserving of censure was to be found therein (Decrees of May 14 and 18, 1803), arranged his innumerable writings under forty separate titles. St. Alphonsus Maria, however, resolved only late in life to give to the public, through the press, the lights which flooded his soul; his first work, the golden book of Visits to the Most Holy Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin, did not appear until the author was nearly fifty years of age. (Holy Mother Church paid unprecedented honors to the Saint in Her Decree of 22 July, 1831, which allows confessors to follow any of St. Alphonsus Maria’s own opinions without weighing the reasons on which they were based.) Though God prolonged his life beyond the usual limits, He spared him neither the double burden of the Episcopate and the government of the Congregation he had founded, nor the most painful infirmities, nor still more grievous moral sufferings.

Let us listen to the Church’s account of his life in the Breviary:

St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori was born of a noble family at Naples, and from his early youth gave clear proofs of sanctity. While he was still a child, his parents once presented him to St. Francis Giralomo of the Society of Jesus. The Saint blessed him, and prophesied that he would reach his ninetieth year, that he would be raised to the Episcopal dignity, and that he would do much good for the Church. Even as a boy he shrank from games, and both by his words and example incited noble youth to Christian modesty. When he reached early manhood he enrolled himself in pious associations, and made it his delight to serve the sick in the public hospital, to spend much time in prayer and in the church, and frequently to receive the Sacred Mysteries. He joined study to piety with such success that, when scarcely sixteen years of age, he took the degree of Doctor, both in Canon and Civil Law, in the University of his native city. In obedience to his father’s wishes, he practiced law; but while winning himself a name in the discharge of this office, he learned by experience what dangers beset a lawyer’s life, and, of his own accord, abandoned the profession. Then he refused a brilliant marriage proposed to him by his father, renounced his right of inheritance as eldest son, and, hanging up his sword at the altar of the Virgin of Mercy, he devoted himself to the divine ministry. Having been made a priest, he attacked vice with such great zeal that, in the exercise of his apostolic ministry, he hastened from place to place, working wonderful conversions. He had a special compassion for the poor, and particularly for country people, and founded a Congregation for priests, called “of the Holy Redeemer,” who were to follow the Redeemer through the fields, hamlets and villages, preaching to the poor.

In order that nothing might turn him from his purpose, he bound himself by a perpetual vow never to waste any time. On fire with love of souls, he strove to win them to Christ and to make them lead more perfect lives, both by preaching the Divine Word and by writings full of sacred learning and piety. Marvelous was the number of hatreds he stilled and of wanderers he brought back to the path of salvation. He had the greatest devotion to the Mother of God, and published a book on the “Glories of Mary.” More than once, when he was speaking of Her with great earnestness during his sermons, a wonderful brightness came upon him from Our Lady’s image, and he was seen by all the people to be rapt in ecstasy. The Passion of Our Lord and the Holy Eucharist were the objects of his unceasing contemplation, and he spread devotion to them in a wonderful degree. When he was praying before the altar of the Blessed Sacrament, or celebrating Holy Mass, which he never failed to do, through the violence of his love he shed burning tears, was inflamed in an extraordinary manner, and at times was carried out of his senses. He joined a wonderful innocence, which he had never stained by mortal sin, with an equally wonderful spirit of penance, and chastised his body by fasting, iron chains, hair-shirts, and scourging even unto blood. At the same time he was remarkable for the gifts of prophecy, reading of hearts, bilocation, and many other miracles.

He firmly refused the ecclesiastical dignities which were offered to him, but he was compelled by the authority of Pope Clement XIII to accept the government of the church of St. Agatha of the Goths. As Bishop, though he changed his outward dress, yet he made no alteration in the severity of his life. He observed the same moderation; his zeal for Christian discipline was most ardent, and he displayed the greatest devotedness in rooting out vice, in guarding against false doctrine, and in discharging the other duties of the pastoral charge. He was most generous towards the poor, distributing to them all the revenues of his See, and in a time of scarcity of grain he sold even the furniture of his house to feed his starving people. He was all things to all men. He brought religious women to lead a more perfect life, and took care to erect a monastery for nuns of his Congregation. Severe and continual sickness forced him to resign his bishopric, and he returned to his children as poor as when he had left them. Though worn out in body by old age, labors, chronic gout, and other painful maladies, his mind was fresh and clear, and he never ceased speaking or writing of heavenly things till at length, on the first day of August, he most peacefully expired, at Nocera dei Pagani, amidst his weeping children. It was in the year 1787, the ninetieth of his age. His virtues and miracles made him famous, and on this account, in 1816, Pope Pius VII enrolled him amongst the Blessed. God still glorified him with new signs and wonders, and, on the Feast of the Most Blessed Trinity, in the year 1839, Pope Gregory XVI solemnly inscribed his name on the list of Saints. Pope Pius IX, having consulted the Congregation of Sacred Rites, declared him a Doctor of the Universal Church. Finally Pope Pius XII established him the Heavenly Patron of all confessors and moralists.

“I have not hid Thy justice within my heart: I have declared Thy truth and Thy salvation” (Ps. 39: 11; Gradual of the Mass of St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori). Thus sings the Church in his name today, in gratitude for the great service he rendered Her in the days of sinners, when piety seemed to be lost. Exposed to the attacks of an extravagant pharisaism, and watched by a skeptical and mocking philosophy, even the good wavered as to which was the way of the Lord. While the moralists of the day could but forge fetters for consciences, the enemy had a good chance of crying: Let us break their bonds asunder: and let us cast away their yoke from us. The ancient wisdom revered by their fathers, now that it was compromised by these foolish teachers, seemed but a ruined edifice to people eager for emancipation. In this unprecedented extremity, St. Alphonsus Maria was the prudent man whom the Church needed, whose mouth uttered words to strengthen men’s hearts.

Long before his birth, a great Pope has said that it belongs to doctors to enlighten the Church, to adorn Her with virtues, to form Her members; by them, he added, She shines in the midst of darkness as a morning star; their word, made fruitful from on high, solves the enigmas of the Scriptures, unravels difficulties, clears obscurities, interprets what is doubtful; their profound works, beautified by eloquence of speech, are so many priceless pearls which ennoble no less than adorn the House of God. Thus did Pope Boniface VIII speak in the thirteenth century, when he was raising to the rank of Doubles the Feasts of the Apostles and Evangelists, and of the four then recognized Doctors—St. Gregory, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and St. Jerome. But is it not a description, striking as a prophecy, faithful as a portrait, of all that St. Alphonsus Maria was?

“The love of God is never idle,” says St. Gregory. “Where it exists it does great things: if it refuses to act, it is not love.” What fidelity was that of St. Alphonsus Maria in accomplishing that marvelous vow, whereby he denied himself the possibility of even a moment’s relaxation. When suffering intolerable pain, which would appear to anyone else to justify, if not command, some rest, he would hold to his forehead with one hand a piece of marble, which seemed to give some slight relief, and with the other hand would continue his precious writings.

But still greater was the example God set before the world, when He permitted our Saint, then in his old age, through the treason of one of his own sons, to be disgraced by that Apostolic See, for which he had worn away his life, and which in return withdrew him, as though unworthy, from the very institute he had founded! Then Hell was permitted to join its chastisements with those of Heaven; and he, the doctor of peace, endured terrible temptations against faith and holy hope. Thus was his work made perfect in that weakness which is stronger than strength; and thus did he merit for troubled souls the support of the virtue of Christ. Nevertheless, having become a child once more in the blind obedience required under such painful trials, he was quickly brought near again to the Kingdom of Heaven and to the Crib, which he had celebrated in such sweet accents. (St. Alphonsus Maria was the author, both of the lyrics and the melody, of Italy’s most popular Christmas Carol, “Tu scendi dalle stelle,” also known as “O Bambino.”) And the virtue which the Man-God felt going out from Him during His mortal life escaped from our Saint, too, in such abundance that the little sick children presented by their mothers for his blessing were all healed. (3)

Besides his Moral Theology, the Saint wrote a large number of dogmatic and ascetical works nearly all in the vernacular. The “Glories of Mary”, “The Selva”, “The True Spouse of Christ“, “The Great Means of Prayer”, “The Way of Salvation”, “Opera Dogmatica, or History of the Council of Trent“, and “Sermons for all the Sundays in the Year“, are the best known. He was also a poet and musician. His hymns are justly celebrated in Italy.  A duet composed by him, between the Soul and God, was found in the British Museum bearing the date 1760 and containing a correction in his own handwriting.

He retired to the Monastery of his Order to prepare for death, but he would have to wait 11 more years. Blind and deaf, but still lucid, he lived his last years in a wheelchair. He was dangerously ill so often that he received the last rites nine times. He was tormented both physically and morally, because he was assaulted for some years by concerns and anguish over the future of his Order, as well as by strong temptations against purity.

ADVICE TO PARENTS
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)

Saint Alphonsus, founder of the Redemptorist Order, Bishop and Doctor of the Church expounds on the privilege and responsibilities of parenthood as a special vocation from God. The wisdom of this holy man has guided and fortified Catholics for over two hundred years.

The gospel tells us, that a good plant cannot produce bad fruit, and that a bad one cannot produce good fruit. We learn from this, that a good father brings up good children. But, if the parents are wicked, how can the children be virtuous? Our Lord says, in the same gospel, Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? (Matt. 7:16). So, it is impossible, or rather very difficult, to find children virtuous, who are brought up by immoral parents. Fathers and mothers, be attentive to this sermon, which is of great importance to the eternal salvation of yourselves and of your children. Be attentive, young men and young women, who have not as yet chosen a state in life. If you wish to marry, learn the obligations which you contract with regard to the education of your children, and learn also, that if you do not fulfill them, you shall bring yourselves and all your children to damnation. I shall divide this into two points. In the first, I shall show how important it is to bring up children in habits of virtue; and, in the second, I shall show with what care and diligence a parent ought to labor to bring them up well.

A father owes two obligations to his children; he is bound to provide for their corporal wants, and to educate them in the habits of virtue. It is not necessary to say anything else about the first obligation, than, there are some fathers more cruel than the most ferocious of wild beasts, for these squander away in eating, drinking, and pleasure, all their property, or all the fruits of their industry, and allow their children to die of hunger. Let us discuss education, which is the subject of this article.

It is certain that a child’s future good or bad conduct depends on his being brought up well or poorly. Nature itself teaches every parent to attend to the education of his offspring. God gives children to parents, not that they may assist the family, but that they may be brought up in the fear of God, and be directed in the way of eternal salvation. “We have,” says Saint John Chrysostom, “a great deposit in children, let us attend to them with great care.” Children have not been given to parents as a present, which they may dispose of as they please, but as a trust, for which, if lost through their negligence; they must render an account to God.

One of the great Fathers says that on the day of judgment, parents will have to render an account for all the sins of their children. So, he who teaches his son to live well, shall die a happy and tranquil death. He that teaches his son…when he died, he was not sorrowful, neither was he confounded before his enemies (Eccl. 30: 3,5). And he will save his soul by means of his children, that is, by the virtuous education which he has given them. She shall be saved through childbearing (I Tim. 2:15).

But, on the other hand, a very uneasy and unhappy death will be the lot of those who have labored only to increase the possessions, or to multiply the honors of their family, or who have sought only to lead a life of ease and pleasure, but have not watched over the morals of their children. Saint Paul says that such parents are worse than infidels. But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8).

Were fathers or mothers to lead a life of piety and continual prayer, and to communicate every day, they should be damned if they neglected the care of their children.

If all fathers fulfilled their duty of watching over the education of their children, we should have but few crimes. By the bad education which parents give to their offspring, they cause their children, says Saint John Chrysostom, to rush into many grievous vices; and thus they deliver them up to the hands of the executioner. So it was, in one town, a parent, who was the cause of all the irregularities of his children, was justly punished for his crimes with greater severity than the children themselves. Great indeed is the misfortune of the child that has vicious parents, who are incapable of bringing up their children in the fear of God, and who, when they see their children engage in dangerous friendships and in quarrels, instead of correcting and chastising them, they take compassion on them, and say, “What can I do? They are young; hopefully they will grow out of it.” What wicked words, what a cruel education! Do you hope that when your children grow up, they will become saints? Listen to what Solomon says, “A young man, according to his way, even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). A young man who has contracted a habit of sin, will not abandon it even in his old age. His bones, says holy Job, will be filled with the vices of his youth, and they will sleep with him in the dust (Job 20:11). When a young person has lived in evil habits, his bones will be filled with the vices of his youth, so that he will carry them to the grave, and the impurities, blasphemies, and hatred to which he was accustomed in his youth, will accompany him to the grave, and will sleep with him after his bones are reduced to dust and ashes. It is very easy, when they are small, to train children to habits of virtue, but, when they have come to manhood, it is equally difficult to correct them, if they have learned habits of vice.

Let us come to the second point, that is, to the means of bringing up children in the practice of virtue. I beg you, fathers and mothers, to remember what I now say to you, from on it depends the eternal salvation of your own souls, and of the souls of your children.

Saint Paul teaches sufficiently, in a few words, in what the proper education of children consists. He says that it consists in discipline and correction. And you, fathers, provoke not your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord (Ephes. 5:4). Discipline, which is the same as the religious regulation of the morals of children, implies an obligation of educating them in habits of virtue by word and example. First, by words: a good father should often assemble his children, and instill into them the holy fear of God. It was in this manner that Tobias brought up his little son. The father taught him from his childhood to fear the Lord and to fly from sin. And from infancy he taught him to fear God and abstain from sin (Tobias 1:10). The wise man says, that a well educated son is the support and consolation of his father. Instruct your son, and he will refresh you, and will give delight to your soul (Prov. 29:17). But, as a well instructed son is the delight of his father’s soul, so an ignorant child is a source of sorrow to a father’s heart, for the ignorance of his obligations as a Christian is always accompanied with a bad life.

It was related that, in the year 1248, an ignorant priest was commanded, in a certain synod, to make a discourse. He was greatly agitated by the command and the Devil appearing to him, instructed him to say, “The rectors of infernal darkness salute the rectors of parishes, and thank them for their negligence in instructing the people; because from ignorance proceeds the misconduct and the damnation of many.”

The same is true of negligent parents. In the first place, a parent ought to instruct his children in the truths of the Faith, and particularly in the four principle mysteries. First, that there is but One God, the Creator and Lord of all things; secondly, that this God is a remunerator, Who, in the next life, will reward the good with the eternal glory of Paradise, and will punish the wicked with the everlasting torments of Hell; thirdly, the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, that is, that in God there are Three Persons, Who are only One God, because They have but One Essence; fourthly, the mystery of the Incarnation of the Divine Word, the Son of God, and True God, Who became man in the womb of Mary, and suffered and died for our salvation.

Should a father or mother say, “I myself do not know these mysteries,” can such an excuse be admitted? Can one sin excuse another? If you are ignorant of these mysteries, you are obliged to learn them, and afterwards to teach them to your children. At least, send your children to a worthy catechist. What a miserable thing to see so many fathers and mothers, who are unable to instruct their children in the most necessary truths of the Faith, and who, instead of sending their sons and daughters to Christian doctrine, employ them in occupations of little account, and when they are grown up, they do not know what is meant by mortal sin, by Hell, or eternity. They do not even know the Creed, the Our Father, or the Hail Mary, which every Christian is bound to learn under pain of mortal sin.

Religious parents not only instruct their children in these things, which are the most important, but they also teach them the acts which ought to be made every morning after rising. They teach them first, to thank God for having preserved their life during the night, secondly to offer to God all their good actions which they will perform, and all the pains which they will suffer during the day, thirdly, to implore of Jesus Christ and Our Most Holy Mother Mary to preserve them from all sin during the day. They teach them to make, every evening, an examination of conscience and an act of contrition. They also teach them to make every day, the acts of Faith, Hope and Charity, to recite the Rosary, and to visit the Blessed Sacrament. Some good fathers of families are careful to get a book of meditations to read, and to have mental prayer in common for half an hour every day. This is what the Holy Ghost exhorts you to practice. Do you have children? Instruct them and bow down their neck from their childhood (Eccl. 7:25). Endeavor to train them from their infancy to these religious habits, and when they grow up, they will persevere in them. Accustom them also to go to confession and communion every week.

It is also very useful to infuse good maxims into the infant minds of children. What ruin is brought upon children by their father who teaches them worldly maxims! “You must,” some parents say to their children, “seek the esteem and applause of the world. God is merciful; He takes compassion on certain sins.” How miserable the young man is who sins in obedience to such maxims. Good parents teach very different maxims to their children. Queen Blanche, the mother of Saint Louis, King of France, used to say to him, “My son, I would rather see you dead in my arms, than in the state of sin.” So then, let it be your practice also to infuse into your children certain maxims of salvation, such as, What will it profit us to gain the whole world, if we lose our own souls? Everything on this earth has an end, but eternity never ends. Let all be lost, provided God is not lost. One of these maxims well impressed on the mind of a young person, will preserve him always in the grace of God.

But parents are obliged to instruct their children in the practice of virtue, not only by words, but still more by example. If you give your children bad example, how can you expect that they will lead good lives? When a dissolute young man is corrected for a fault, he answers, “Why do you censure me, when my father does worse?” The children will complain of an ungodly father, because for his sake they are in reproach (Eccl. 41:10). How is it possible for a son to be moral and religious, when he has had the example of a father who uttered blasphemies and obscenities, who spent the entire day in the tavern, in games and drunkenness, who was in the habit of frequenting houses of bad fame, and of defrauding his neighbor? Do you expect your son to go frequently to confession, when you yourself approach the confessional scarcely once a year?

It is related in a fable, that a crab one day rebuked its young for walking crookedly. They replied, “Father, let us see you walk.” The father walked before them more crookedly than they did. This is what happens to the parent who gives bad example. Hence, he has not even courage to correct his children for the sins which he himself commits.

According to Saint Thomas, scandalous parents compel, in a certain manner, their children to lead a bad life. “They are not,” says Saint Bernard, “fathers, but murderers, they kill, not the bodies, but the souls of their children.” It is useless for parents to say: “My children have been born with bad dispositions.” This is not true, for, Seneca says, “You err, if you think that vices are born with us; they have been engrafted.” Vices are not born with your children, but have been communicated to them by the bad example of the parents. If you had given good example to your sons, they would not be so vicious as they are. So parents, frequent the Sacraments, learn from the sermons, recite the Rosary every day, abstain from all obscene language, from detraction, and from quarrels, and you will see that your children follow your example. It is particularly necessary to train children to virtue in their infancy, Bow down their neck from their childhood, for when they have grown up, and contracted bad habits, it will be very difficult for you to produce, by words, any amendment in their lives.

To bring up children in the discipline of the Lord, it is also necessary to take away from them the occasion of doing evil. A father must forbid his children to go out at night, or to go to a house in which their virtue might be exposed to danger, or to keep bad company. Cast out, said Sarah to Abraham, this bondswoman and her son (Gen. 21:10). She wished to have Ismael, the son of Agar the bondswoman, banished from her house, that her son Isaac might not learn his vicious habits. Bad companions are the ruin of young persons. A father should not only remove the evil which he witnesses, but he is also bound to inquire after the conduct of his children, and to seek information from family and from outsiders regarding the places which his children frequent when they leave home, regarding their occupations and companions. A father ought to forbid his children ever to bring into his house stolen goods. When Tobias heard the bleating of a goat in his house, he said, Take care, perhaps it is stolen, go, restore it to its owners (Tobias 2:21).

Parents should prohibit their children from all games, which bring destruction on their families and on their own souls, and also dances, suggestive entertainment, and certain dangerous conversations and parties of pleasures. A father should remove from his house books of romances, which pervert young persons, and all bad books which contain pernicious maxims, tales of obscenity, or of profane love. He should not permit his daughters to be alone with men, whether young or old. But some will say, “But this man tutors my daughter; he is a saint.” The saints are in Heaven, but the saints that are on earth are flesh, and by proximate occasions, they may become devils.

Another obligation of parents is to correct the faults of the family. “Bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord.” There are fathers and mothers who witness faults in the family and remain silent. Through fear of displeasing their children, some fathers neglect to correct them, but if you saw your child falling into a pool of water, and in danger of being drowned, would it not be savage cruelty not to catch him by the hair, and save his life? He that spares the rod hates his son (Prov. 13:24). If you love your children, correct them, and while they are growing up, chastise them, even with the rod, as often as it may be necessary.

I say, with the rod, but not with a stick; for you must correct them like a father, and not like a prison guard. You must be careful not to beat them when you are in a passion, for you will then be in danger of beating them with too much severity, and the correction will be without fruit, for then they believe that the chastisement is the effect of anger, and not of a desire on your part to see them amend their lives. I have also said, that you should correct them while they are growing up , for when they arrive at manhood, your correction will be of little use. You must then abstain from correcting them with the hand; otherwise, they will become more perverse, and will lose their respect for you. What use is it to correct children with injurious words and with imprecations? Deprive them of some part of their meals, of certain articles of dress, or shut them up in their room. I have said enough. Draw from this discourse the conclusion, that he who has brought up his children badly, will be severely punished, and that he who has trained them in the habits of virtue, will receive a great reward. (10)

He died peacefully in the Mother House of the Redemptorists near Naples on August 1787, the 90th year of his life. (6)

Image: Alfonso Maria de Liguori (8)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/liguori.htm
  2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Alphonsus%20De%20Liguori%20Sermons.html
  3. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-173/Alphonsus.htm
  4. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_alphonsus_liguori.html
  5. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/08-02.html
  6. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j223sd_AlphonsusLigouri_08_02.html
  7. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01334a.htm
  8. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kloster_St_Josef_Neumarkt_-_Innenraum_32.jpg
  9. http://www.olrl.org/snt_docs/alpquote.shtml
  10. http://www.olrl.org/snt_docs/advice.shtml
  11. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/The%20Value%20of%20Time.html

 

 

Feast of Saint Peter’s Chains

August 1

Today is the feast day of Saint Peter in Chains.


by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876 

The Holy Church, today, celebrates a special feast in commemoration of the great benefit which God bestowed upon His people by miraculously delivering St. Peter, the visible head of the church, from prison. The entire event is described in the Acts of the Apostles, by St. Luke. Herod Agrippa, a son of Aristobulus, favored by the Roman Emperor Claudius, ruled over Judaea, with the title of king. To give more stability to his reign, he endeavored to make himself beloved by the Jews, for which there was no easier way than to persecute the Christians, especially those who fearlessly proclaimed the Gospel of Christ, as did the holy Apostles. He had, therefore, apprehended, and soon after beheaded, James the Great, brother of St. John, which bloody deed gave the Jews great satisfaction. To increase this, Herod commanded them to seize St. Peter, intending to make away with him in the same manner. His command was executed; Peter was taken prisoner, chained and locked in a narrow dungeon, which was guarded so vigilantly, that he could not escape. It was then near the Easter Festival, after which St. Peter was to be beheaded. The Christians, in deep distress, were praying day and night, that the Almighty would not permit His flock to be so soon deprived of its shepherd.

There was no human power to save him; but God, hearing the prayer of His people, delivered him by a miracle. On the eve of the day on which he was to be executed, God sent an Angel to set him free. Although heavily laden with chains, the holy Apostle slept peacefully, guarded by the soldiers. The Angel, who by his brightness, illumined the dungeon, struck him on the side and awakened him, saying: “Arise quickly. Gird thyself; put on thy sandals and cloak and follow me.” The Apostle, whose chains had fallen from his hands, and who thought it all a dream, obeyed and followed the Angel. They passed the first and second watches without attracting their attention, and reached the iron gate which led into the street. The gate opened without the aid of human hands. After having conducted St. Peter through one street, the Angel vanished and was seen no more. Not until then did the holy Apostle realize that his deliverance was not a dream but a reality. Hence he began to praise the Almighty, exclaiming: “Now I know truly that the Lord has sent his Angel and delivered me out of the hands of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of Judaea.” He proceeded immediately to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where the faithful were assembled in prayer.

When he knocked at the door, a servant, named Rhode, came, and asked who was there. Judging by the voice that it was Peter, she was so greatly startled with joy and astonishment, that, without opening the door, she ran back to announce the news. They all believed that she was insane, but as she reiterated her words, some said that it must be his guardian Angel. Meanwhile, the Saint repeated his knocking at the door. They opened it and perceived, with amazement, their beloved shepherd safe and free from chains. Their joy on beholding him was as great as had been their grief when he was taken prisoner. Having given the sign for silence, St. Peter related all that had happened to him. They all gave thanks to Divine Providence when he had ended, and learned to trust in future to the heavenly power and mercy.

Among the sermons of St. Chrysostom, there is one in which he asserts, that the chains by which St. Peter had been bound to the ground, came into the possession of the Christians soon after his deliverance, and were held by them in great honor. Eudoxia, wife of the emperor Theodosius the Younger, received them as a present from the patriarch Juvenal, when on a visit to the holy places, and sent one of them to the Church at Constantinople. The other she gave to her daughter Eudoxia, who married the Emperor Valentinian III. Eudoxia showed the chain to Pope Sixtus III., who, on his part, showed her the one with which St. Peter had been bound, before the Emperor Nero sentenced him to die. No sooner had the two chains been held together, than they suddenly united as if they had been but one chain and forged by the same hand. This miracle increased the veneration in which these chains were held, and actuated Eudoxia to build a special church at Rome for their keeping, where they can still be seen. Many sick were healed by their touch and many possessed were delivered; among the latter was a Count of the court of the Emperor Otho, who, in the year 969, was sent to Rome to be freed from the Evil Spirit. Pope John XIII. had hardly touched the count’s neck with the holy chains, when he was relieved and his torments were ended.

St. Gregory the Great, writes that it was considered a great happiness to possess a few particles filed off from these chains, and that many persons devoutly wore them enclosed in golden crosses and lockets around their necks. Experience has shown that the touch of these crosses or lockets has restored health to many a sick person. A nobleman, who scoffed at this, and, in derision, dared to break one of these crosses, was severely chastised. He was instantly possessed by the Evil One and became so enraged that he took his own life, as St. Gregory relates. St. Augustine states that the iron of these precious chains is justly esteemed far above gold. Blessed are those fetters which touched the apostle and made him a martyr. “The touch of the blessed limbs of St. Peter has sanctified the instruments of torture.” In another place the same Saint says: “If the shadow of St. Peter possessed a healing virtue, how much greater power must the chains of his sufferings have derived from him.” (2)

Prayer from the Liturgical Year, 1909
Put thy feet into the fetters of Wisdom, and thy neck into her chains, said the Holy Spirit under the ancient alliance; . . . and be not grieved with her bands. . . . For in the latter end thou shalt find rest in her, and she shall be turned to thy joy. Then shall her fetters be a strong defense for thee . . . and her bands are a healthful binding. Thou shalt put her on as a robe of glory (Eccli. vi. 25-32). Incarnate Wisdom, applying the prophecy to thee, O Prince of Apostles, declared that in testimony of thy love the day would come when thou shouldst suffer constraint and bondage. The trial, O Peter, was a convincing one for Eternal Wisdom, who proportions her requirements to the measure of her own love. But thou, too, didst find her faithful; in the days of the formidable combat, wherein she wished to show her power in thy weakness, she did not leave thee in bands; in her arms thou didst sleep so calm a sleep in Herod’s prison; and, going down with thee into the pit of Nero, she faithfully kept thee company up to the hour when, subjecting the persecutors to the persecuted, she placed the sceptre in thy hands, and on thy brow the triple crown.

From the throne where thou reignest with the Man-God in heaven, as thou didst follow Him on earth in trials and anguish, loosen our bands which, alas! are not glorious ones such as thine: break these fetters of sin which bind us to Satan, these ties of all the passions which prevent us from soaring towards God. The world, more than ever enslaved in the infatuation of its false liberties which make it forget the only true freedom, has more need now of enfranchisement than in the times of pagan Caesars: be once more its deliverer, now that thou art more powerful than ever. May Rome especially, now fallen the lower because precipitated from a greater height, learn again the emancipating power which lurks in thy chains; they have become a rallying standard for her faithful children in these latter trials. Make good the word once uttered by her poets, that “encircled with these chains she will ever be free.” (2)

Image: Crop of Liberation of St. Peter Artist: Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, circa: 1665 (5)

Research by REGINA Staff

 1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints8-1.htm

2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Peters%20Chains.html

3. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-165/Chains.html

4. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_peters_chains.html

5. https://www.wikiart.org/en/bartolome-esteban-murillo/liberation-of-st-peter-1667

 

 

Feast of the Holy Machabees, Martyrs

August 1

Today is the feast day of the Holy Machabees.  Orate pro nobis.

Shortly before the revolt of Judas Maccabeus (2 Maccabees 8), Antiochus IV Epiphanes arrested a mother and her seven sons, and tried to force them to eat pork. When they refused, he tortured and killed the sons one by one. The narrator mentions that the mother “was the most remarkable of all, and deserves to be remembered with special honour. She watched her seven sons die in the space of a single day, yet she bore it bravely because she put her trust in the Lord.” Each of the sons makes a speech as he died, and the last one says that his brothers are “dead under God’s covenant of everlasting life”. The narrator ends by saying that the mother died, without saying whether she was executed, or died in some other way. (2)  According to one tradition, their individual names are Habim, Antonin, Guriah, Eleazar, Eusebon, Hadim (Halim), Marcellus, their mother Solomonia.

Adapted from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger

The August heavens glitter with the brightest constellations of the sacred cycle. Even in the 6th century, the Second Council of Tours remarked that this month was filled with the Feasts of Saints. My delights are to be with the children of men, says Wisdom; and in the month which echoes with her teachings, she seems to have made it her glory to be surrounded with blessed ones, who, walking with her in the midst of the paths of judgment, have in finding her found life and salvation from the Lord. This noble court is presided over by the Queen of all grace, whose triumph consecrates this month and makes it the delight of that Wisdom of the Father, Who, once enthroned in Mary, never quitted Her. What a wealth of divine favors do the coming days promise to our souls! Never were our Father’s barns so well filled as at this season, when the earthly as well as the heavenly harvests are ripe.

While the Church on earth inaugurates these days by adorning Herself with St. Peter’s chains as with a precious jewel, a constellation of seven stars appears for the third time in the heavens. The seven brothers Machabees preceded the seven sons of St. Symphorosa and the seven sons of St. Felicitas in the bloodstained arena; they followed Divine Wisdom even before she had manifested her beauty in the flesh. The sacred cause of which they were the champions, their strength of soul under the tortures, their sublime answers to the executioners were so evidently the type reproduced by the later martyrs, that the Fathers of the first centuries with one accord claimed for the Christian Church these heroes of the synagogue, who could have gained such courage from no other source than their faith in the Christ to come. For this reason they alone of all the holy personages of the Old Covenant have found a place on the Christian cycle of Saints; all the martyrologies and calendars of East and West attest the universality of their cultus, while its antiquity is such as to rival that of St. Peter’s Chains in that same basilica of Eudoxia, where their precious relics lie.

At the time when in the hope of a better resurrection they refused under cruel torments to redeem their lives, other heroes of the same blood, inspired by the same faith, flew to arms and delivered their country from a terrible crisis. Several children of Israel, forgetting the traditions of their nation, had wished it to follow the customs of strange peoples; and the Lord, in punishment, had allowed Judea to feel the whole weight of a profane rule to which it had guiltily submitted. But when King Antiochus, taking advantage of the treason of a few and the carelessness of the majority, endeavored by his ordinances to blot out the divine law which alone gives power to man over man, Israel, suddenly awakened, met the tyrant with the double opposition of revolt and martyrdom. Judas Machabeus in immortal battles reclaimed for God the land of his inheritance, while by the virtue of their generous confession, the seven brothers also, his rivals in glory, recovered, as the Scripture says, the law out of the hands of the nations, and out of the hands of the kings (1 Mach. 2:48). Soon afterwards, craving mercy under the hand of God and not finding it, Antiochus died, devoured by worms, just as later on were to die the first and last persecutors of the Christians, Herod Agrippa and Galerius Maximian.

The Holy Ghost, who would Himself hand down to posterity the acts of the protomartyr of the New Law, did the same with regard to the passion of Stephen’s glorious predecessors in the ages of expectation. Indeed, it was he who then, as under the law of love, inspired with both words and courage these valiant brothers, and their still more admirable mother, who, seeing her seven sons one after the other suffering the most horrible tortures, uttered nothing but burning exhortations to die. Surrounded by their mutilated bodies, she mocked the tyrant who, in false pity, wished her to persuade at least the youngest to save his life; she bent over the last child of her tender love and said to him: My son, have pity upon me, that bore thee nine months in my womb, and gave thee suck three years, and nourished thee, and brought thee up unto this age. I beseech thee, my son, look upon Heaven and earth, and all that is in them: and consider that God made them out of nothing and mankind also: so thou shalt not fear this tormentor, receive death, that in that mercy I may receive thee again with thy brethren (2 Mach. 7:27, 28, 29). And the intrepid youth ran in his innocence to the tortures; and the incomparable mother followed her sons.

The Breviary Lesson is taken from a sermon of St. Gregory Nazianzen:

What [shall I say] of the Machabees? For this festal day is celebrated in their name by this present congregation. Although by many they are not held in honor, because they did not enter on the conflict after Christ, yet they are worthy to be honored by all, because they showed courage and constancy in defense of the laws and institutions of their fathers. For if they suffered martyrdom before the Passion of Christ, what would they have done, if they had suffered persecution after Christ, and if they had had, as a model to be imitated, His death, which He accepted for our salvation? For, if they showed such and so great a courage, when they had no example before them, would they not have been even more courageous in the battle, if they had had that example before their eyes? There is even a certain mystical and hidden reason, which seems highly probable to me, and to all who love God, that none of those who suffered martyrdom before the coming of Christ could have attained to it without faith in Christ.  (1.)

Image: Maccabees. Artist: Wojciech Stattler, 1842. (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-165/Machabees.html

     2.  http://www.archbishoplefebvre.com/blog/the-holy-macabees

      3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stattler-Machabeusze.jpg

 

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Confessor

July 31

Today is the feast day of Saint Ignatius Loyola.  Ora pro nobis.

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

 

St. Ignatius, the glorious founder of the Society of Jesus, and the unweary laborer for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls, was born of noble parents in Biscay, a province of Spain, in the castle of Loyola, from which he took his name. His birth took place in 1491, in the same century in which Martin Luther, the well-known heretic, was born, who with Calvin, born in 1506, persecuted the Catholic Church and endeavored to destroy it entirely. God, according to a papal declaration, always watching over His holy Church, would oppose Ignatius to these two new heretics, that through him, and through the Society founded by him, their erroneous doctrines might be thoroughly refuted, and the Catholic faith have powerful protectors, as, in former days, He had opposed Arius by St. Athanasius, Nestorius by St. Cyril, Pelagius by St. Augustine, and other heretics by other apostolic men.

Ignatius, chosen by God for so important a work, was endowed with great natural gifts, possessed a comprehensive mind, and early exhibited wonderful abilities and tact, with unusual wisdom and strength of soul. All his aspirations were lofty, and nothing vulgar or low could attract him. Soon perceiving his talents, his parents sent him, after he had been carefully instructed in the Catholic faith, to the Court of King Ferdinand of Castile, where he was educated with the pages, and was taught all that was supposed befitting his rank. In riper years, he entered the army, hoping to become famous by his valor. In 1521, an opportunity was offered to give a proof of his courage. The king had entrusted to him the defence of the city of Pampeluna, which was besieged by the French. Ignatius acted with all the prudence and caution of an old and experienced warrior. But Providence so ordered, that the wall upon which Ignatius stood, bravely defending the fortress, was struck by a cannonball, and a fragment of stone severely injured one of his limbs, while at the same time the ball rebounding, bruised his foot so badly, that he sank unconscious to the ground. The French were soon in possession of the fortress, but they treated their heroic prisoner with the greatest kindness, and sent him, a few days later, on a litter, to the Castle of Loyola. Here Ignatius became so ill, that it was deemed necessary to give him the last sacraments. The thread on which his life hung: was so slender that the physicians all agreed that there was no hope for him, if before midnight the symptoms should not change.

The Most High did not wish to call Ignatius out of life, and had brought him to this state only to make him disgusted with the world, and so lead him to a holier warfare. Therefore, on the eve of the feast of the Apostles St. Peter and St, Paul, God sent the Prince of the Apostles, to whom Ignatius had been greatly devoted from his early youth, to restore him to health. Appearing to Ignatius during his sleep, St. Peter looked tenderly at him, and touching his wounds, took from him all pain, and thus saved him from the danger of death. But nevertheless, it was the will of God that Ignatius should keep his bed a considerable time, in order to regain his strength. To pass the time, he asked for something to read; but, by special providence, none of the romances he desired were to be found, and in their stead, two devout books were brought to him, one containing the “Life of Christ,” and the other the “Lives of the Saints.” Ignatius, little inclined to read them, took them for want of others, and at first only looking into them, soon became, by the grace of God, so deeply interested in them that, meditating on the acts of Christ and the Saints, he repented of his past idle life, and resolved, thenceforth, to follow their steps, and to serve God alone. Rising during the night, he cast himself before an image of the Blessed Virgin, begging of her the grace to be accepted into her service and that of her beloved Son, and to remain in it until the end of his days.

Hardly was his prayer finished, when suddenly a terrible noise was heard, the house was shaken as by an earthquake, and the windows were shattered. St. Ignatius regarded this as a sign that his prayer was heard, and exhibited more joy than fear. The Evil One, hereupon, endeavored, by a thousand representations and apprehensions, to make him abandon his determination, and pressed him with the most dangerous temptations. But Ignatius again sought refuge with the divine Mother, and addressed her in the words of the Holy Church: “Show thyself a Mother.” The Divine Mother appeared to him with her heavenly Child, and animating him to persevere, she assured him of her assistance. After this comforting vision, all his temptations ended, and all his thoughts were directed towards the regulation of his new life. As soon as he was sufficiently recovered, he, under some pretext, left the house of his father and repaired to Montserrat, where a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin drew crowds of pilgrims. There he made his general confession amid a flood of tears, and received, with the greatest devotion, the Blessed Sacrament. After this, he gave his horse to the monastery, and hung his sword near the altar of the Blessed Virgin, as a sign that henceforth he would no longer serve the world but God only. Having bestowed his costly garments on a beggar, he clothed himself as a poor pilgrim, and remained, as a newly-enrolled soldier of the highest of all generals, all night long before the altar of the Mother of Mercy, in fervent prayer.

The next day, which was the feast of the Annunciation of our Lady, he left early and betook himself to Manresa, which is three miles from Montserrat, and going to the hospital which was there, he served the sick with the most tender devotion.

As soon, however, as he detected that they began to esteem him for his charity and other pious deeds, he secretly left and went into a mountain cave, five or six hundred yards off, in which he led an extremely austere and penitential life. He daily spent seven hours on his knees, praying and weeping on account of his sins. He fasted continually except on Sundays, when he partook of the food of angels. Water and the bread which he received as alms, was his only nourishment. He always wore a hair-shirt, which was fastened round his loins by small chains. He scourged himself three times daily, often unto blood. The bare ground was his bed, and he never took more than a few hours’ rest, passing the remainder of the night in meditation on death and the Passion of Christ.

By long continuation of this austere life, his body became so emaciated and weak, that he was found more than once, lying more dead than alive on the road to Manresa, whither he used to go to assist at Holy Mass. Some friends advised him not to be so severe with himself; but he said: “Oh! let me suffer this trifle in order to secure my salvation.” Satan also tried to dissuade him from his austerities, and as he could not succeed, he took, by the permission of the Almighty, the form of a virtuous man, and going to the holy penitent, said, that it was not possible to continue long such extreme mortifications, and that he should therefore moderate them somewhat. “Unhappy man,” said he, ” you may still live seventy years; and have you the courage to spend so long a time in such penance and severity? ” Ignatius replied: “Can you promise me one single day of the many years of which you speak?” With these words, he brought the spirit of lies to shame, and drove him away. God permitted also this holy penitent to be tormented with the most harassing scruples. To overcome these, he resolved to abstain from all food and drink until he was free from them, as he had read that a certain Saint had used this remedy in a similar case. Seven days he passed without partaking of any nourishment; but his confessor, on hearing of it, commanded him to take his usual sustenance. Ignatius obeyed, and was from that moment not only released from his scruples, but obtained also from God an especial gift to free others from them.

Many other special graces did the Almighty bestow upon Ignatius in the first year of his conversion, which space does not permit us to relate. But there is one thing which we cannot omit to mention: it is that, during the year of penance at Manresa, Ignatius wrote that wonderful book of “Spiritual Exercises,” which has been recommended by the most learned and the most holy men, as the path, pointed out by heaven itself, to conversion, to spiritual perfection and holiness. The Apostolic See has praised and confirmed it, and the spiritual benefits which have been derived from it, and are still to this hour derived from it, are inexpressibly great. But as it is known that Ignatius, when he wrote this book, was as yet without learning, it must be concluded that he was inspired by God to give those instructions, by virtue of which he, and, later, the sons of his Order, worked real miracles of conversion in so many different places and persons. During this penitential year, the heart of Ignatius was filled with an intense desire to visit the Holy Land, not only for the purpose of seeing those places which have been hallowed by the presence of our Saviour, but also in the hope of converting the Mahommedans, and of giving his life for the true faith, in that land where our beloved Redeemer gave His for our welfare.

This voyage was undertaken in the greatest poverty and with deep devotion, and the holy places visited with a true spirit of ardent piety and reverence. As, however, the ecclesiastics, who resided there, dissuaded him from remaining long, and Ignatius himself recognized that, to gain his aim in life, which was to further the salvation of souls, he needed learning, he returned to Europe, and began at Barcelona, when 33 years of age, to study the rudiments of the Latin grammar with the boys in the public school. He continued his studies at different places and finished them at Paris, where he received the title of Doctor of Divinity. The trials, dangers, persecutions, disgraces, wrongs and calumnies he suffered, as well in his travels as during the years of his studies, would be too long to relate here. On his return from the Holy Land, he was seized by the Spaniards, who were at war with France, and was at first taken for a spy, and afterwards for a fool, and thus most disgracefully treated. By a few words, he could have escaped these insults; but he was silent and bore it all patiently, for the love of Christ, who just then had appeared to Him. At several places where he studied, or through which he travelled, he was apprehended by order of the authorities, and cast into prison; as at Alcala, Salamanca and Venice. The only cause of this cruel treatment was that, wherever the holy man was, he showed solicitude for the salvation of others, and converted many by his pious discourses, explanation of the Christian doctrine and his own Spiritual Exercises. Many he persuaded to leave the world, others he led to a quiet Christian life. For this he was suspected of disseminating false doctrines and corrupting men under the appearance of piety. But as often as he was examined, he was found guiltless, and requested to continue in his zeal.

At Paris, where he had recalled many young men from an idle and sinful life to a better and more useful one, it was resolved to whip him in public, as a corrupter of youth. When, however, the director of the school had recognized his innocence, he publicly and on his knees asked pardon of the Saint, and praised, in the highest terms, his zeal in leading souls in the path of salvation. To speak of God and of heavenly things had become a second nature to him, so that those who knew not his name, called him the man of spiritual conversation, or the man who was constantly looking up to heaven. He reformed a convent near Barcelona, the inmates of which stood in very ill repute. This drew upon him the vengeance of certain persons, who had been, at his suggestion, excluded from the house, and who, one day, lay in wait for him and beat him most unmercifully, threatening to treat him still worse, if he did not cease preaching at the convent. Ignatius was not in the least deterred by this from his good work. His enemies then hired two ruffians to kill him. These set upon him and treated him in a most brutal manner, whilst the Saint, with eyes raised to heaven, prayed God to forgive them. They left him weltering in his blood, supposing they had killed him. He, however, recovered, and no sooner were his wounds healed, than he again went to the convent in order to strengthen the nuns to perseverance in virtue. When someone tried to dissuade him from going, on account of the danger, he said: “What can be more pleasing to me than to die for love of Christ and my neighbors?” Not satisfied with his personal labors for the salvation of souls, he resolved to seek such men as would join him with all the power of their minds, to labor for the same object. He succeeded in uniting to himself nine students of the University of Paris, all of whom possessed great knowledge and were eminent for their talents. Among them was Francis Xavier, afterwards so celebrated as the Apostle of the Indies. Ignatius, by his Spiritual Exercises, led them all to virtue and sanctity, and inspired them with the fervent desire to devote themselves to the salvation of souls and to the honor of God.

In 1534, on the feast of the Assumption of our Lady, Ignatius and his companions went to a Chapel, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, on Montmartre, near Paris, and after they had received holy communion, they all made a vow to renounce the world and go to Jerusalem to convert the heathen. If, however, they were unable, after waiting one year, to make their way to Palestine, they vowed that they would go to Rome, throw themselves at the feet of the Holy Father, and offer their services in whatever he might deem most beneficial for the salvation of souls. On account of a war between the Turks and the Venetians, they were unable to make their pilgrimage to Palestine; and hence, in fulfillment of their vow, they went to Rome. When Ignatius and the two companions who were with him had reached a place called La Storta, near Rome, the Saint went into a chapel nearby to say his prayers. His fervor was such that, in an ecstasy, he saw the Heavenly Father and beside Him His Son bearing the Cross. He heard the Heavenly Father commend him with loving words to His Son, putting him and his companions under His protection. The Divine Son manifested His pleasure at this Divine command, and turning to Ignatius, said: “I will favor you at Rome.” With this the vision ended, but the inner comfort which Ignatius and his companions, to whom he related it, derived from it, departed not, but remained in their hearts.

As soon as Ignatius had arrived in Rome, he threw himself at the feet of the Holy Father and offered the services of himself and his companions, for such spiritual labor as he might wish them to do in any part of the world. The Pope received them with pleasure, and having had sufficient proofs of their virtue and learning, he sent some of them to those places where he thought they would do the most good. Ignatius remained with the rest at Rome, and at first instructed young and old in the Christian doctrine; but later, he began to preach for the reformation of morals and exhorted the people to a more frequent use of the holy Sacraments. It cannot be denied that the custom of instructing children in the Christian doctrine, and also the frequent reception of the holy Eucharist, which was at that period greatly neglected, were again revived, or at least increased by St. Ignatius and his companions. To preserve this improvement and these advantages for future times, and to increase them still more, St. Ignatius resolved to found a new Order, whose members should labor for the spiritual well-being of men. He disclosed his intentions to the Pope, and having written, by his permission, certain rules, presented them to his Holiness for approval. After many difficulties, the holy desires of Ignatius were at length fulfilled, and thus was founded a new Order, under the name of the Society of Jesus, which in the year 1540 was first sanctioned by Paul III., afterwards by several other Popes, and was also confirmed by the Council of Trent. This Order demands of its members, besides the usual three vows of perpetual poverty, chastity and obedience, a vow to instruct youth, and requires of the Professed another vow, of special obedience to the Pope, by which they are bound to go, even without money, whithersoever the Pope may send them to labor for the salvation of souls. Ignatius was chosen as General by the members of the new Order, but he did not accept the office until he was commanded to do so by his confessor after having long consulted with God in prayer. He administered his office with admirable wisdom and strength of character, and to the immeasurable benefit of the entire Christian world, until his death.

Although remaining at Rome, he sent his disciples into other cities and lands, after having instructed them carefully in all that pertained to the salvation of souls and to the manner of leading them to God. Above all, he recommended entire self-abnegation, after the example of Christ, Who has said: “Whoever will follow me, must deny himself.” Hence he often said these important words: “Conquer thyself.” St. Francis Xavier, who frequently made use of this expression, was asked why he did so? He answered: “Because I learned it from our Father Ignatius.” Ignatius further endeavored to lead his disciples to acquire true virtue, especially a fervent love of God and of their neighbors. In this, as in all other virtues, he was a shining example to them all. According to the testimony of the Apostolic See, he had acquired the most perfect control over his inclinations. He also taught the members of the Order to be solicitous for the cleanliness and beauty of the house of God, for the conversion of heretics and heathens, for the promotion of virtue among Catholics, for the instruction of the ignorant, especially of children in the mysteries of the faith; for the frequent use of the Sacraments; for the increase of the veneration of the Blessed Virgin; and, in a word, for everything that could advance the honor of God and the salvation of souls.

The members of the Order faithfully obeyed his directions. The fame of the great good that these holy men did, induced many kings and princes to invite them into their states. Among these, the first was John III., King of Portugal, who, through his Ambassadors at Rome, demanded seven of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus. At this request, Ignatius sighed deeply and said: “If the king requires seven of my brethren, how many will remain for other countries? ” These words show how zealous he was in his thoughts and wishes. As the number of his religious was small, at that time, and as he would, moreover, send none who were not well-grounded in learning and virtue, instead of seven, he sent but two; but those two did more than could have been expected of seven.

They were Simon Rodriguez and Francis Xavier, the latter of whom, on account of his having converted many thousands of heathens and performed many miracles, is known and honored all over the Christian world. The good which was done by the holy efforts of these two men, induced the king to found the first college for the Society of Jesus, at Goa, the capital of India, and soon after, another at Coimbra in Portugal, which, in the course of time, supplied many places with apostolic laborers. While thus the disciples of St. Ignatius untiringly labored to win souls for Heaven in Portugal, India, and other countries, the Holy Father employed equally well those who were with him in Rome. All that he had taught his companions about decorating the house of God, converting the heretics, and instructing the Catholics, as before related, he practiced at Rome, without abating his zeal. “The world seemed too small for him,” said Gregory XV. No labor, no danger, could deter him, where the salvation of even a single soul was concerned. “If I could die a thousand deaths in one day,” said he on one occasion, “I would willingly do so to save a single soul.” At another time he was heard to say, that if he had the choice either to die immediately with the assurance of his salvation, or without this assurance to live and to have an opportunity to gain a soul for Heaven, he would rather remain upon earth and save that soul than die immediately and go to Heaven. These words display the love of St. Ignatius towards his neighbor and his zeal for the spiritual welfare of men.

No less was this manifested in his works; and it can be truly said that there was no man, whatever his race or station, for whose welfare he did not labor either personally or through the members of his order. With the greatest love and solicitude, he instructed children in the Christian doctrine, even when he was general of the order, and bound all its members to do the same. He founded public schools in various places, where youth was instructed in virtue and learning without any compensation. People of all ages and conditions were animated by his pious discourses, and especially by his Spiritual Exercises, to fervor in the service of God, and were led not only to repentance for their sins, but to the practice of the highest virtue. For the welfare of orphans and of children who had been abandoned by their parents, he established in Rome two houses where they were taken care of and instructed until they were able to take care of themselves. For single women, who on account of their poverty were in danger of sin, he founded the Asylum of St. Catharine, where they had a home until they either entered a convent or were provided with a dower. Another house was founded for women who were willing to abandon their wicked life and do penance. In it they were maintained and instructed. God only knows how many sins the holy man prevented by the foundation of these houses, and how much good he thus occasioned. It is true that some who had been reclaimed, returned to their old course of life, and the Saint was told that he should not waste his efforts upon them. But he answered: “It does not seem to me that my care and labor have been lost, even if such persons return to their former vices. It is much if I prevent them from offending God only for a single night.”

His solicitude extended even to the hardened Jews; their conversion was an object of great concern to him, and God blessed his efforts in their behalf with such signal success that he baptized forty of them in one year. He also established a house where those who had renounced Judaism were received and kept until they were thoroughly instructed in the Christian religion and baptized. The solicitude which the Saint manifested toward Germany, which was at that time in great danger of entirely forsaking the true faith, must not be forgotten. For the salvation of that country, he not only offered many prayers, penances and masses, but also ordered that all the priests of the Society should offer the holy sacrifice once every month, and all those who were not priests, should say certain prayers for the same intention. This ordinance is still kept. Besides this, he instituted, amidst infinite difficulties, the German College, which is still in existence in Rome, and in which young Germans are educated for the priesthood and prepared for the missions, in order that when their education is completed and they return to their homes, they may be able to protect the Catholic religion, convert the heretics, and by their good example, induce all to live virtuously. Martin Chemnitz, a well known Lutheran, wrote in regard to this College, that if the Society of Jesus had done but this, it could be called the destroyer of the reformed religion. St. Ignatius further manifested his sympathy with oppressed Germany, by sending several apostolic men to Cologne, Mayence, and other cities, who bravely opposed the heretics, and animated the Catholics to fidelity to their church. Melancthon, the assistant of Luther, said himself, that by the power of these men, the dissemination of the new Gospel was greatly hindered. When he perceived that the number of the Society daily increased, he cried out with grief: “Oh ! wo, wo! How will it be with the new gospel? The whole world will be filled with Jesuits!”

The Evil One, the founder and protector of all heresies, seemed to think the same; for he used his utmost endeavors to interfere with St. Ignatius in his most holy efforts. He instigated some to accuse, not only the Saint, but the whole Society, of the most hideous vices, and to persecute them whenever there was the slightest opportunity. There is not to be found an Order which, during its whole existence, has had to suffer such bitter persecution, and has been so slandered, so unjustly dealt with by the heretics, and even by some who called themselves Catholics, as the Order founded by St. Ignatius. But never was the Saint seen depressed about his personal persecutions; and the attacks which were directed against the whole Order he bore with great cheerfulness, as he concluded that as Satan was the author of them, he must have suffered some severe loss through the labors of the Society. On the contrary, when one day he was told that in a certain country, the members of his Order had nothing to suffer, he became very thoughtful, and said that he feared they were negligent in doing their duty, since they were not persecuted. He also prophesied that the Society of Jesus would always have the glory of being persecuted by the enemies of Christ and of the holy church. He frequently recalled the words of Christ: “If they have persecuted Me, they will persecute you.”

The greater and more frequent the persecutions were, the more the Society increased, and the more extended was its usefulness among the faithful, the heretics and the heathens, to the indescribable consolation of its founder. Pope Marcellus II. said that, since the days of the Apostles, he had never read of any one whose labors God had blessed with such abundant fruit during his life time, as those of St. Ignatius. The holy founder lived long enough to see his Order spread in all parts of the world, divided into twelve provinces, with more than one hundred colleges and houses. He heard how, by the unwearying labors of the Fathers, whole nations were converted from their idolatry to the true faith, numberless heretics brought back to the Church, and everywhere Catholics were strengthened in that faith, without which there is no salvation. He himself heard and saw how youth was carefully instructed in the Catholic religion, in the fear of God, and in all branches of knowledge; and how the people in general were animated to greater piety, to the more frequent use of the Holy Sacraments and all Christian virtues. He heard of the many miracles wrought by St. Francis Xavier, and other Apostolic men, in testimony to the true faith. He had the happiness of hearing that some members of his Order had heroically given their blood for the faith of Christ; and from every land he received news of the good which his children were incessantly doing for the honor of God and the salvation of souls. All this filled the heart of the holy man with inexpressible joy, as he desired nothing more fervently than that the Almighty might be known and honored by all men. He was frequently heard to exclaim: “Oh God! that all men might know and love Thee.”

Meanwhile his own soul burned with the desire to see, face to face, the God Whom he loved as his highest good. This desire grew to such an extent that the mere thought of death, or a glance at heaven, drew tears from his eyes, and made him disgusted with the whole world. Often, while looking up at the sky, he would cry out: “Oh! how I despise the world, when I look up to Heaven.” He begged God to free his soul from the fetters of mortality. God heard his prayer. A fever seized him, and although the physicians pronounced it not dangerous, Ignatius knew that it was a messenger to call him away. He asked for the last Sacraments and devoutly received them. When evening came, he called one of the oldest Fathers of the Order, and sent him to ask for the Holy Father’s last blessing and a plenary indulgence. He passed the night in an almost continual ecstasy, until an hour after sunrise, when, with eyes raised to heaven, and with the sacred names of Jesus and Mary on his lips, he ended his life, on July 31st, 1556, in the 64th year of his age. At the same hour when this took place, the Saint, arrayed in bright, shining light, appeared to a pious widow, named Margaret Gigli, at Bologna, and announced to her his death. The unexpected death of the great founder filled Rome with mourning, and everywhere was heard the lamentation: “The holy man is dead.” Many did not hesitate to honor him as a Saint immediately, and ask his intercession with the Almighty. The resting place of his holy relics was twice changed. At the first interment, an eminent servant of the Almighty heard heavenly music during two days; at the second, many saw bright stars upon his shrine.

Holy men and women, who lived at the time of St. Ignatius, admired and praised the Saint and the Society he founded. St. Philip Neri, who lived at Rome, said that he had seen the countenance of Ignatius, several times, resplendent with a heavenly light. In all doubts and fears, he resorted to St. Ignatius for counsel and comfort. To two members of the Society, whom he met one day, he said: “You are sons of a great father, to whom I owe much; he taught me the science of prayer.” After the Saint’s death, Philip sent to the tomb to commend to him his cares, and according to his own words, received marvellous comfort and assistance. St. Francis Xavier esteemed the Saint so highly while he still lived, that he called him the beloved father of his soul, and a Saint. He cut the name of St. Ignatius from a letter which he had received from him, placed it in a reliquary and carried it about him, and wrought many miracles with it. He always wrote to him on his knees, as a sign of great reverence for him, and read the letters he received from him in the same manner. I must omit the praise bestowed on St. Ignatius by other Saints, as, St. Francis of Sales, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Cajetan, St. Andrew Avellino, St. Thomas of Villanova, St. Teresa, St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, and many others. The pious Louis of Granada, a Dominican, who lived at the time that St. Ignatius and his order were bitterly persecuted, showed himself a warm friend and powerful protector and admirer of both until his death. Neither shall I mention here what many Popes, bishops and other high dignitaries of the Church have said in praise of the Society of Jesus, nor repeat the high commendations given by crowned heads and great statesmen, although it might add greatly to the glory of the holy founder.

We will only consider somewhat more attentively the words of the Roman Calendar of the Saints. It states that the Saint was remarkable for holiness and miracles. Much is contained in these few words. Ignatius was remarkable for his holiness. The heroic virtues, which so brilliantly shone in him, are a proof of this; his firm and intense faith, his unwavering trust in God; his fervent love of the Saviour and of his neighbor; his tender affection for the passion and death of Christ; his filial devotion to the Virgin Mother; his constant self-abnegation; his perfect resignation to the Divine Will; his invincible patience, admirable meekness, deep humility, and insatiable zeal to labor for the honor of the Most High, and to save souls for Heaven. Especial instances of all these virtues are to be found in the book which treats of the devotion of the Ten Wednesdays in honor of St. Ignatius.

Ignatius was also remarkable for his miracles. God worked many wonders through him during his life-time. One of his disciples who was dangerously sick, was healed by embracing him; another was cured of epilepsy. He relieved a noble matron from the Evil Spirit of whom she had been possessed four years, and healed several others of different maladies. He even restored life to a young man in Barcelona who had hung himself in despair and who was pronounced dead by all who saw him. God wrought still more miracles at the intercession of his faithful servant, after his death. In the process of his canonization we find two hundred miracles, which were tested by the ecclesiastical authorities and were found to rest on the authority of incontestable witnesses under oath. After the canonization their number was still increased. During his life also many other gifts and graces were granted him by God, such as the gift of tears; the gift of reading the hearts of others ; the spirit of prayer which he possessed in so eminent a degree, that he often fell into ecstasies which lasted several days, and finally the gift of prophecy and revelations. It is known that he said to a youth at Barcelona, who desired to follow him and live in poverty: “You will remain in the world and become a lawyer, and the father of several children, one of whom will, in your place, enter the Order which God will found through me, His unworthy servant.” At Antwerp he said to a merchant: “There will come a time when you will found a College in your country for the members of the Order which God will establish through me, His unworthy servant.” All this took place exactly as he had foretold. The number of the revelations and visions with which he was blessed is very large.

Besides the visit of St. Peter, the Blessed Virgin and our Lord, mentioned in the above pages, it is known that Christ appeared several times to him, at Manresa, during his year of penance; and also later during his holy life. The Blessed Virgin also appeared to him in like manner, especially at the time when he wrote his book of the Spiritual Exercises. The Roman Breviary asserts that he was so enlightened by the grace of God, that he used to say, that if there were no gospel, he would be ready to die for his faith on the evidences which the Almighty had revealed him at Manresa. In one of his ecstacies, so much was revealed to him of the incomprehensible mystery of the Holy Trinity, that he wrote a book which excited the most profound astonishment of all learned men. At another time, the happy death of two of his companions was revealed to him. The first was made known to him whilst he was at Monte Cassino, where, during his prayers, he saw the soul of Father Hozes, surrounded by a heavenly splendor, carried by angels into Heaven. The second was when on his way to say mass for his sick disciple at St. Peter’s Church, in Rome, suddenly stopping in his walk, he looked fixedly up to Heaven, then turning to go home, he said: “Let us go home, for our Father Coduri has departed.” From this it was concluded that he had seen the soul of the dead ascending to heaven.

To the visions which St. Ignatius had of others, I will add one that another had of him. At Cologne, on the Rhine, lived Leonard Kessel, a priest of the Society of Jesus, who had an intense desire to see St. Ignatius, who at that time resided at Rome. He begged permission to go, for this purpose, to Rome, which, however, was not granted him. While one day praying in his room, his holy Father Ignatius suddenly stood before him, and after having for some time kindly discoursed with him, as suddenly disappeared. All this proves that Ignatius was indeed remarkable for holiness, miracles and other divine gifts. In conclusion, I will explain why St. Ignatius is always represented in priestly robes, with the most holy name of Jesus on his breast and a book in his hand. His priestly robes denote that he was, in his time, an ornament to the priesthood, and eminently sanctified this dignity.

It is further a sign of the great devotion with which the Saint said mass. He offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for the first time on Christmas-night, at Rome, before the manger of Our Lord, after eighteen months of preparation. It was on that occasion and frequently afterwards, that during Holy Mass, bright rays of light surrounded him, that he was raised from the ground, and his face suffused with tears of devotion. The more to satisfy his ardor, he generally said Mass in the chapel of the house, passing a whole hour in the act, during which he frequently fell into ecstacy, and had the grace of seeing Christ visible in the Host. The rapture was so intense, that it was feared his veins would burst, and he had often to be carried to his room in a state of exhaustion. He passed two hours in prayer before and after mass, whenever the duties of his office permitted.

The name of Jesus on his breast, is an evidence of the great love he bore for the Saviour. This and no other name would he give to his order, that its members might never forget how Christ labored and suffered, and be thus encouraged to shrink from no labor for the Most High, to fear no danger, no persecution nor even death in the pursuance of that which had become their sacred duty. The Saint used to say that nothing could more effectually give us courage to endure, than the remembrance of this holy name. By the book which he holds in his hand, are designated the Rules which he wrote for his society, and which have been pronounced, by those able to judge, a most perfect piece of human wisdom. While he was writing this book, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him several times, and almost dictated what he wrote. The Council of Trent called it a pious Institution, approved by the Apostolic See, in which there was nothing to be altered. Pope Julius III. said, in a Bull, that there was nothing in the Institute of the Society of Jesus, that was not pious and holy. Pope Paul III. who was the first to approve and confirm the Society, when he was informed of the praiseworthy deeds which its members, in accordance with its rules, had performed, exclaimed: “The finger of God is here!” The words: “To the greater glory of God,” which are read in the book, are those which St. Ignatius was wont to use, and they express the whole aim of his Rules which is no other than the advancement of the honor of God and the salvation of souls. (2)

He was beatified by Paul V on 27 July, 1609, and canonized by Gregory XV on 22 May, 1622. His body lies under the altar designed by Pozzi in the Gesù. Though he died in the sixteenth year from the foundation of the Society, that body already numbered about 1000 religious (of whom, however, only 35 were yet professed) with 100 religious houses, arranged in 10 provinces.
 Image: St. Ignatius of Loyola, Artist: Peter Paul Ruebens, 1600s (11)
Research by REGINA Staff

 

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/ignatius.htm
  2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Ignatius.html
  3. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Ignatius%20Biography.html
  4. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-113.html
  5. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_ignatius_of_loyola.html
  6. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/07-31.html
  7. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2011/07/july-31-saint-ignatius-of-loyola.html
  8. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j032sdIgnatius7-31.htm
  9. http://www.nobility.org/2013/07/29/st-ignatius-loyola/
  10. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07639c.htm
  11. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St_Ignatius_of_Loyola_(1491-1556)_Founder_of_the_Jesuits.jpg
  12. https://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-ignatius-loyola-1491-1556/
  13. https://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-ignatius-the-mystic/
  14. https://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-ignatius-of-loyola-success-out-of-failure-2/

/

 

Saints Abdon and Sennen, Martyrs

July 30

Today is the feast day of Saints Abdon and Sennen.  Orate pro nobis.

The emperor Decius, enemy of Christians, had defeated the king of Persia and become master of several countries over which he reigned. He had already condemned to torture and death Saint Polychrome, with five members of his clergy. Saint Abdon and Saint Sennen, illustrious Persian dignitaries of the third century whom the king of Persia had highly honored, were secretly Christian.   It was they who had taken up the body of the martyred bishop, which had been cast contemptuously before a temple of Saturn, to bury them at night, with honor.

The two royal officials, now fallen under the domination of Rome, were grieved to witness the emperor’s cruelty towards the faithful, and believed it their duty to make known their love for Jesus Christ; thus, without fear of their new sovereign, they undertook by all possible means to spread and fortify the faith, to encourage the confessors and bury the martyrs.

Decius, learning of their dedication, was extremely irritated. He sent for the two brothers to appear before his tribunal, and attempted to win them over to sacrifice to the gods. The Saints replied that they could never adore any but Him.  Decius imprisoned them. Soon afterwards, when he learned of the death of the viceroy he had left to govern in his place at Rome, he returned to Rome and took his two captives with him to serve as splendid trophies of his Persian victory.

He arraigned them before the Senate, in whose presence they again testified to the divinity of Christ, saying they could adore no other. The next day they were flogged in the amphitheater; then two lions and four bears were released to devour them. But the beasts lay down at their feet and became their guardians, and no one dared approach for a time. Finally the prefect sent out gladiators to slay them with the sword, which with the permission of God was done. Their bodies remained three days without burial, but a subdeacon, who afterwards wrote their history, took them up and buried them on his own terrain.  Their glorious martyrdom occurred in the year 254.

In the reign of Constantine their relics were removed to the burying-place of Pontian (called also, from some sign, the “Bear and Cap” Ad Ursum Pileatum), situated near the Tiber on the road to Porto; this translation took place in consequence of a vision wherein the martyrs revealed their place of burial. These particulars are derived from their late and unreliable “acts”, but the veneration of SS. Abdon and Sennen in Rome can be traced back to the fourth century.

Image: Sants Abdó i Senén. Artist: Jaume Huguet (1459-60) (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/07-30.html
  2. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saints_abdon_and_sennen.html
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Abdon_and_Sennen.jpg

Saint Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre

July 30

Today is the feast day of Saint Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Germanus (Germain) was born of noble birth around 380. He was the son of Rusticus and Germanilla.  His forebears were lords of the county of Auxerre in Gaul.  He was not of outstanding piety during his youth. He studied first at Lyon and Arles, then civil law in Rome, and practiced law there with distinction. He married Eustachia, a lady highly esteemed in imperial circles.  The emperor sent him back to Gaul, appointing him one of the six dukes, entrusted with the government of the Gallic provinces.

Germanus resided at Auxerre and gave himself up to all the enjoyments that naturally fell to his lot. At length he incurred the displeasure of the bishop, St. Amator. It appears that Germanus was accustomed to hang the trophies of the chase on a certain tree, which in earlier times had been the scene of pagan worship. Amator remonstrated with him in vain. One day when the Germanus was absent, the bishop had the tree cut down and the trophies burnt. Fearing the anger of the Germanus, who wished to kill him, he fled and appealed to the prefect Julius for permission to confer the tonsure on Germanus. This being granted, Amator, who felt that his own life was drawing to a close, returned. When the Germanus came to the church, Amator caused the doors to be barred and gave him the tonsure against his will, telling him to live as one destined to be his successor, and forthwith made him a deacon in  July 7, 418.

Germanus immediately became another man, and giving over his lands to the Church.  He adopted a life of humble penance. He rapidly attained high perfection, and the gift of miracles was given him. He attempted to conceal it. Afterwards there was never a time when all the roads leading to his residence were not filled with crowds of sick persons, waiting to address the bishop and beg his assistance. Many possessed persons were also delivered. Invariably his modesty caused him to attribute the multiplying prodigies to the relics of Saints which he wore around his neck, or to the sign of the Cross, or to the holy water he sometimes used, or to oil which he blessed. The furious demons tormented him with temptations and terrifying apparitions, but found themselves powerless.

He built a large monastery dedicated to Sts. Cosmas and Damian on the banks of the Yonne, where he eventually wanted to retire. In 429 the bishops of Britain sent an appeal to the continent for help against the Pelagian heretics, who were corrupting the faith of the island. St. Prosper, who was in Rome in 431, tells us in his Chronicle that Pope Celestine commissioned the Church in Gaul to send help.  Germanus and Saint Lupus of Troyes were deputed to cross over to Britain. On his way Germanus stopped at Nanterre, where he met a young child, Genevieve, destined to become the patroness of Paris, Saint Genevieve.  Germanus requested Genevieve live as one espoused to Christ.

Tradition tells us that the main discussion with the representatives of Pelagianism took place at St. Alban’s, and resulted in the complete discomfiture of the heretics. Germanus remained in Britain for some time preaching, and established several schools for the training of the clergy. On his return he went to Arles to visit the prefect, and obtained the remission of certain taxes that were oppressing the people of Auxerre. He constructed a church in honour of St. Alban about this time in his episcopal city.

In 447 he was invited to revisit Britain, and went with Severus, bishop of Trèves. It would seem that he did much for the Church there, if one can judge from the traditions handed down in Wales. On one occasion he is said to have aided the Britons to gain a great victory (called from the battle-cry, Alleluia! the Alleluia victory) over a marauding body of Saxons and Picts.

On his return to Gaul, he proceeded to Armorica (Brittany) to intercede for the Armoricans who had been in rebellion. Their punishment was deferred at his entreaty, till he should have laid their case before the emperor. He set out for Italy, and reached Milan on 17 June, 448. Then he journeyed to Ravenna, where he interviewed the empress-mother, Galla Placidia, on their behalf. The empress and the bishop of the city, St. Peter Chrysologus, gave him a royal welcome, and the pardon he sought was granted.

While there he died on 31 July, 450. His body, as he requested when dying, was brought back to Auxerre and interred in the Oratory of St. Maurice, which he had built. Later the oratory was replaced by a large church, which became a celebrated Benedictine abbey known as St. Germain’s. This tribute to the memory of the saint was the gift of Queen Clotilda, wife of Clovis. Some centuries later, Charles the Bald had the shrine opened, and the body was found intact. It was embalmed and wrapped in precious cloths, and placed in a more prominent position in the church. There it was preserved till 1567, when Auxerre was taken by the Huguenots, who desecrated the shrine and cast out the relics. It has been said that the relics were afterwards picked up and placed in the Abbey of St. Marion on the banks of the Yonne, but the authenticity of the relics in this church has never been canonically recognized. St. Germain was honoured in Cornwall and at St. Alban’s in England’s pre-reformation days, and has always been the patron of Auxerre.

The principal source for the events of his life is the Vita Germani, a hagiography written by Constantius of Lyon around 480, and the Passio Albani, which may possibly have been written or commissioned by Germanus.

Image: Sculpture en bois polychrome représentant saint Germain l’Auxerrois datée du XVe siècle, conservée dans l’église Saint-Germain-L’Auxerrois à Paris. (4)

 

See Life of St Germanus of Auxerre by Constantius of Lyons, in the Western Fathers, Makers of Christendom Series, translated by Hoare. Sheed and Ward, Ltd, 1954.

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_germanus_of_auxerre.html
  2. http://www.nobility.org/2013/07/29/st-germain/
  3. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06472b.htm
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sculpture_-_saint_Germain_l%27Auxerrois.jpg

Saint Olav, Confessor

July 29

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

Saint Olav was born Olaf Haraldsson in 995.  Royalty was in the blood of the future saint. His father was King Harold Grenske of Norway, and Olaf was to follow in his footsteps. Referred to as “Olaf the Fat,” he spent his youth as a Norse raider until approximately age 15.  According to Snorre, he was baptized in 998 in Norway, but more probably about 1010 in Rouen, France, by Archbishop Robert.

At 18, Olaf traveled to England and offered his services to the king, fighting against the invading Danes. One of the greatest impressions made on young Olav came from hearing the story of Charlemagne. This mighty king of the Franks who had lived some two hundred years before Olav’s time, had united much of Europe, established peace and law, and brought the people into the Faith. That he accomplished these things by the sword made him even more appealing to a Norseman. Olav resolved to do for Norway what Charlemagne had done for the pagan tribesmen of Europe. And he resolved to use the same methods.

Following his father’s death, and his ascension to the throne, Olaf traveled home to Norway, and fought tirelessly to free his lands and people from the Danes and Swedes. Succeeding, he immediately requested that Christian missionaries from England be sent to Norway, and the faith began spreading across the land.

He seems on the whole to have taken the Anglo-Saxon conditions as a model for the ecclesiastical organization of his kingdom. But at last the exasperation against him got so strong that the mighty clans rose in rebellion against him and applied to King Cnut of Denmark and England for help.  This was willingly given, whereupon Olaf was expelled and Cnut elected King of Norway. It must be remembered that the resentment against Olaf was due not alone to his Christianity, but also in a high degree to his unflinching struggle against the old constitution of shires and for the unity of Norway. He is thus regarded by the Norwegians of our days as the great champion of national independence.

Most memorable among his accomplishments as King was the development of what came to be known as Saint Olaf’s Law. Ahead of its time, Olaf’s Law prescribed prayer to Christ for peace, required newborn babies to be allowed to live and not abandoned in fields or forests, slaves were to be ransomed each year, polygamy was forbidden, and severe penalties were exacted for rape and the kidnapping of women. Olaf himself traveled the length of Norway promoting his new Christian Law, and he insisted that it be applied equally upon both rich and poor.

After much soul searching, Olav decided that he and his men would go back to Norway, a land once more in chaos. They would fight. As the king saw it, they would do God’s will and take the consequences. There was at least some element of the old Viking idea of fate mixed in with this – the conviction that men’s efforts availed but little against the web woven for them before they were born – but it was not so hard to translate that fate into Christian terms. His followers were content with this. As they sailed home, more of the king’s friends joined them. Word came that the great clans of Norway had also massed a great army – a much greater army. And still, Olav and his men continued to advance.

The celebrated battle took place 29 July, 1030. Neither King Cnut nor the Danes took part at that battle. King Olaf fought with great courage, but was mortally wounded, and fell on the battlefield, praying “God help me”. Many miraculous occurrences are related in connection with his death and his disinterment a year later, after belief in his sanctity had spread widely. His friends, Bishop Grimkel and Earl Einar Tambeskjelver, laid the corpse in a coffin and set it on the high-altar in the church of St. Clement in Nidaros (now Trondhjem).

He was canonized the patron saint of Norway in 1164. What the sword couldn’t do even in “good faith, ”the Spirit did.   The arms of Norway are a lion with the battle-axe of St. Olaf in the forepaws. 

Image: Tore Hund, at right, spears Olaf at the battle of Stiklestad, Artist: Peter Nicolai Arbo, circa 1859. (5)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11234a.htm
  2. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/olav.html
  3. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2011/07/july-29-saint-olaf-of-norway.html
  4. http://www.nobility.org/2013/07/29/olaf-haraldson/
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stiklestad.jpeg

Blessed Urban II, Pope, Confessor

July 29

Today is Blessed Pope Urban II’s feast day.  Ora pro nobis.

Pope Urban II was born Otho, Otto or Odo of Lagery, at Châtillon-sur-Marne in the province of Champagne, about 1042; He was of a knightly family.  He died 29 July, 1099.  Under St. Bruno (afterwards founder of the Carthusians) Otho studied at Reims, where he later became canon and archdeacon. About 1070 he retired to Cluny and was professed there under the abbot St. Hugh.  After holding the office of prior he was sent by St. Hugh to Rome as one of the monks asked for by Gregory VII.  Otho was of great assistance to Gregory in the difficult task of reforming the Church.

On 12 March, 1088, he was unanimously elected Bishop of Rome, taking the title of Urban II. His first act was to proclaim his election to the world, and to exhort the princes and bishops who had been loyal to Gregory to continue in their allegiance.  Urban declared his intention of following the policy and example of his great predecessor–“all that he rejected, I reject, what he condemned I condemn, what he loved I embrace, what he considered as Catholic, I confirm and approve”.

Due to issue with the Normans, Urban was unable to stay in Rome.  He went to Sicily instead, and Southern Italy.  There was also an antipope in Rome. Eventually the troops of pope and antipope met in a desperate encounter which lasted three days, with Urban’s troops winning, and Urban returned to Rome.  Urban was again expelled from Rome by Emperor Henry IV.  For three years Urban was compelled to wander in exile about southern Italy. He spent the time holding councils and improving the character of ecclesiastical discipline.

Urban also started dealing with a Crusade request during a council held at Piacenza. The Eastern Emperor, Alexius I, had sent an embassy to the pope asking for help against the Seljuk Turks who were a serious menace to the Empire of Constantinople. Urban succeeded in inducing many of those present to promise to help Alexius, but no definite step was taken by Urban till a few months later, when he summoned the most famous of his councils, that at Clermont in Auvergne. The council met in November, 1095; thirteen archbishops, two hundred and twenty-five bishops, and over ninety abbots answered the pope’s summons. The synod met in the Church of Notre-Dame du Port and began by reiterating the Gregorian Decrees against simony, investiture, and clerical marriage.

Thousands of nobles and knights had met together for the council. It was decided that an army of horse and foot should march to rescue Jerusalem and the Churches of Asia from the Saracens. A plenary indulgence was granted to all who should undertake the journey pro sola devotione, and further to help the movement, the Truce of God was extended, and the property of those who had taken the cross was to be looked upon as sacred.

Coming forth from the church the pope addressed the immense multitude. He used his wonderful gifts of eloquence to the utmost, depicting the captivity of the Sacred City where Christ had suffered and died–“Let them turn their weapons dripping with the blood of their brothers against the enemy of the Christian Faith. Let them–oppressors of orphans and widows, murderers and violaters of churches, robbers of the property of others, vultures drawn by the scent of battle–let them hasten, if they love their souls, under their captain Christ to the rescue of Sion.”

In October, 1098, the pope held a council at Bari with the intention of reconciling the Greeks and Latins on the question of the filioque.  One hundred and eighty bishops attended, amongst whom was St. Anselm of Canterbury, who had fled to Urban to lay before him his complaints against the Red King. The close of November saw the pope again in Rome; it was his final return to the city. Here he held his last council in April, 1099. Once more he raised his eloquent voice on behalf of the Crusades, and many responded to his call. On 15 July, 1099, Jerusalem fell before the attack of the crusaders, but Urban did not live to hear the news.

He died in the house of Pierleone which had so often given him shelter. His remains could not be buried in the Lateran because of the antipope’s followers who were still in the city, but were conveyed to the crypt of St. Peter’s where they were interred close to the tomb of Adrian I. Guibert of Nogent asserts that miracles were wrought at the tomb of Urban, who appears as a saint in many of the Martyrologies. Thus there seems to have been a cult of Urban II from the time of his death, though the feast (29 July) has never been extended to the Universal Church.

Amongst the figures painted in the apse of the oratory built by Calixtus II in the Lateran Palace is that of Urban II with the words sanctus Urbanus secundus beneath it. The head is crowned by a square nimbus, and the pope is represented at the feet of Our Lady. The formal act of beatification did not take place till the pontificate of Leo XIII. The cause was introduced by Mgr Langenieux, Archbishop of Reims, in 1878, and after it had gone through the various stages the decision was given by Leo XIII on 14 July, 1881.

Image: Denkmal für Urban II. auf der Place de la Victoire in Clermont-Ferrand. Sculptor : Henri Gourgouillon (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15210a.htm
  2. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j031sdUrbanII7-29.htm
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StatueUrbanII.jpg
  4. http://www.nobility.org/2013/07/29/urban-ii/
  5. http://www.nobility.org/2011/02/21/god-wills-it-blessed-pope-urban-ii-launches-the-first-crusade/

Saint Martha, Virgin

July 29

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

It is believed that Saint Martha is the sister of Saint Mary and Saint Lazarus, living at Bethania according to Saint John, later at Magdela.  Saint Martha is frequently referred to as “the Lord’s Worker and Servant,” given her role in Scriptures as cooking and serving the Lord upon his visits to the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

According to Scripture, Martha questions Jesus about her sister, who was sitting listening at the Lord’s feet while Martha was busy preparing the meal in the Gospel of St. Luke: “Martha was busy about much serving. She stood and said: ‘Lord hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? Speak to her therefore, that she help me.’ “And the Lord answering, said to her: ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful and art troubled about many things. But one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her’” (10:40-42).  

We also find her questioning Jesus about the death of her brother, Lazarus, in St. John’s Gospel, where she comes to a deeper faith in the divinity of Christ, much like the example of the Samaritan woman (John 4:15).

“Martha, therefore, as soon as she heard that Jesus had come, went to meet him, but Mary sat at home. Martha therefore said to Jesus: ‘Lord, if thou had been here, my brother would not have died. But now also I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it to thee.’

“Jesus said to her: ‘Thy brother shall rise again.’ “Martha said to him: ‘I know that he shall rise again, in the resurrection at the last day.’

“Jesus said to her: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me, although he be dead, shall live. And everyone that lives and believes in me shall not die forever. Believest thou this?’

“She said to him: ‘Yea, Lord I have believed that thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world’” (11:20-27).

The third instance is a reference to Jesus, shortly before the Holy Week, when Our Lord had supper at the house of Lazarus along with Martha and Mary (John 12:1-2). He then stayed as their guest there that night.

“Jesus, therefore, six days before the pasch, came to Bethany, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life. And they made him a supper there, and Martha served. And Lazarus was one of them that were at table with Him.”

From there, Our Lord would leave to enter triumphant into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. That blessed family would, therefore, provide a place for Our Lord to rest His head a short while before the most solemn week in the History of mankind.

Martha is the patron saint of active, practical women, perhaps unfairly contrasted with her more laid back and “contemplative” sister Mary. But Martha is also the woman of faith, who said: “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into the world” (Jn 11:27).

In Aramaic the name Martha means “the lady, the mistress”, the feminine counterpart of “the master”. In the incident described by Luke 10:38-42, Martha is introduced as the woman who “welcomed Jesus into her house”. So hospitality is her paramount virtue. This probably accounts for her cult as the patron saint of food professionals, butlers, hotel-keepers and home-makers and why she is often depicted in art with a ladle, a broom or a set of keys as her symbol.

According to legend, after Jesus’s death, Martha left Judea  around AD 48, and went to Provence with her sister Mary (conflated with Mary Magdalene) and her brother Lazarus. They settled in and are said to have evangelised the Provence area of southern France. Among the legends associated with Martha is the one associated with the town of Tarascon-sur-Rhône. A mythological monster, the Tarasque, said to have lived in the town during the 1st century, was purportedly tamed by Martha in 48 AD.

Saint Martha

by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

 

St. Martha, more than once mentioned in the Gospel, was born of illustrious parents. Her father was of Syria, her mother of Judaea, and after their death, she inherited their house and estate at Bethany. She exercised herself freely in good works, especially in those of charity, and was one of the first women who, by attending the instructions of Christ, and by His miracles, recognized in Him the true Messiah. From that hour her heart was filled with the most devoted love to the Lord, who, according to the Gospel, returned her pious affection. The conversion of her sister Magdalen, which has been related in the life of this Saint, was in a great measure her work, as she persuaded her to hear Christ’s sermons. After Magdalen’s conversion, she and Martha accompanied Christ from place to place, desiring not to lose any of His divine instructions. Frequently had Martha the grace to receive our Lord into her house, and to see Him sitting at her table.

One day, being so honored, she prepared, with her own hands, everything that she would set before our Saviour, anxious that He should be served well. Seeing that her sister Magdalen meanwhile sat quietly at the feet of Christ, without assisting her, she, mildly complaining, said to the Saviour: “Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? Speak to her, therefore, that she help me.” Christ reproached her somewhat for her too great solicitude for temporal things, with these words, fraught with deep meaning: “Martha, Martha; thou art careful and art troubled about many things; but one thing is necessary; Mary has chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Martha humbly received this kind reproof, this wholesome lesson, and when Christ was at table with Lazarus and Magdalen, she served Him, thinking rightly that this was the greatest honor that could be bestowed upon her.

Shortly before the Passion of the Saviour, Lazarus, her brother, became dangerously sick. She immediately sent a messenger to Christ to announce this to Him, in the following words: “He whom thou lovest is sick.” Both sisters thought this would be enough to induce Christ to come and heal him. But, as our Lord desired, by raising Lazarus from the dead, to give a still greater proof of His power, He came not until Lazarus was buried. Martha went to meet Him when she heard of His arrival, and said: “Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But now, also, I know that whatever thou wilt ask of God, He will give it to Thee.” Christ said to her: “Thy brother shall rise again.” “I know,” said Martha, “that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” “I am the resurrection and the life,” said Christ; “he that believeth on Me, although he be dead, shall live; and every one that liveth and believeth in me, shall not die forever. Believest thou this?” She answered: “Yes, Lord, I believe that Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God, who art come into the world.” When she had said this, she entered into her house and announced to her sister the arrival of Christ. Rising hastily, Mary went with her to Him. What further took place will be related in the life of St. Lazarus. It will be sufficient to say here, that our Saviour, deeply moved by the tears and prayers of the two sisters, called Lazarus again to life, who had been in his grave four days. The joy of Martha and Magdalen was beyond measure, and the expression of their gratitude touching and humble.

Nothing more is said of Martha in the Gospel, but it is not doubted that she was, with the other pious women, on Mount Calvary at the time of the Saviour’s Passion, and later also present at His Ascension, and the coming of the Holy Ghost. All her biographers agree in the fact that, in the persecution of the Christians, she was placed by the Jews, with her brother and sister, in a boat which had neither sail nor oar, and was cast adrift on the high sea to perish. But God was their pilot, and guided them to Marseilles, in France, where they safely landed.

Magdalen, some time later, went into a desert, where she led a penitential life for thirty years. Martha, however, after having converted many virgins to the Christian faith by her kind exhortations, and instilled into them a love of virginal chastity, selected a secluded place between Asignon and Arles, where she erected a dwelling. There she lived with her maid Marcella and several virgins, who desired, like herself, to spend their days far from the tumult of the world, in chastity and peace, and to lead a cloistral life; whence St. Martha is by many regarded, if not as the first founder, yet as a model of a religious life. She was a guide to all, and her example served as a rule to them whereby to regulate their conduct.

Thirty years she lived thus in great austerity, abstaining from meat and wine. She was devoted to prayer, and it is written of her, that she threw herself upon her knees to pray one hundred times during the day and as often during the night. Her virginal chastity she preserved until her death, the hour of which was revealed to her a year before she departed. A fever which seized her, and lasted until she died, was regarded by her as a means to become more like her Saviour and increase her merits. Hence she was always cheerful in her suffering, bearing it with angelic patience. Eight days before she died, she heard heavenly music, and saw the soul of her sister, accompanied by many angels, ascend to heaven, which not only filled her soul with divine joy, but also with the fervent desire soon to be re-united with Christ. The Saviour Himself deigned to appear to her, saying: “Come, beloved one; as thou hast received Me in thy terrestrial home, so will I receive thee now in My heavenly mansion.” St. Martha was transported with joy, and the nearer the hour of her death approached, the more fervent became her prayers and her desire to be with God. Shortly before her end, she desired to be laid upon the ground, which was strewn with ashes, and after having given her last instructions to those under her, she raised her eyes to heaven and gave her virgin soul to the Almighty, while she pronounced the words her beloved Saviour had spoken: “Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” Her tomb has been glorified by God with many miracles, and is held in great veneration. (5)

Image: Kitchen Scene with Christ in the House of Martha and Mary.  Artist Diego Velázquez, date 1618. (4)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2011/07/july-29-saint-martha-lords-worker-and.html
  2. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09721b.htm
  3. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j139sdMartha_Sretenovic_6-29.htm
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cristo_en_casa_de_Marta_y_Mar%C3%ADa,_by_Diego_Vel%C3%A1zquez.jpg
  5. http://www.catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Martha.html
  6. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_martha.html
  7. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/07-29.html