Saint Victor of Marseille, Martyr

July 21

Today is the feast day of Saint Victor of Marseille.  Ora pro nobis.

Victor, a Catholic officer of the Roman army known for his noble lineage, military valor, and intelligence, served in the garrison of Marseille around the year 290. He developed a strong apostolate with his fellow men of arms and the people of the city, stimulating them all to courageously face the persecution of those times.

The Emperor Maximian, reeking with the blood of the Theban legion and that of many other martyrs, arrived in person in the year 290 at Marseilles, where the Church flourished. The tyrant was breathing nothing but slaughter and fury, and his coming filled the Christians with fear and alarm. In the general consternation, Victor, a Christian officer in the emperor’s troops, went about in the nighttime from house to house, visiting the faithful and inspiring them with contempt for temporal death and love of eternal life.

He was arrested and brought before the tribunal of the prefects Asterius and Eutychius, who exhorted him not to lose the fruit of his imperial service and the favor of his prince for the worship of a dead man. He answered that he renounced temporal rewards.  He reported he could not enjoy them without being unfaithful to Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, who had vouchsafed to become man for our salvation.  The entire court received this witness with shouts of rage; and Victor was bound hand and foot and dragged through the streets of the city, exposed to the blows and insults of the populace.

He was brought back bruised and bloody to the tribunal of the prefects, who, thinking his resolution must have been weakened by his sufferings, pressed him again to adore their gods. However, the martyr, filled with the Holy Spirit, expressed his respect for the emperor but his contempt for the debauched gods. Saint Victor was hoisted on the rack and tortured a long time, until the tormentors grew weary and the prefect ordered him to be taken down and thrown into a dark dungeon. At midnight God visited him by His Angels. The prison was filled with a light brighter than that of the sun, and the martyr sang with Angels the praises of God. Three soldiers who guarded the prison, seeing this light, cast themselves at the martyr’s feet, asked his pardon, and expressed their desire for baptism. Victor instructed them as well as time would permit, and sent for a priest the same night. The five of them went to the seashore, and the three converts were baptized, then all returned to the prison.

The next morning, when Maximian was informed of the conversion of the guards, in a rage he sent officers to bring all four before him. The three soldiers persevered in the confession of Jesus Christ, and by the emperor’s orders were beheaded. Victor, set before almost the entire city for a final questioning, after having been exposed to its insults, was again placed on the rack.  He was scourged, and carried back to prison, where he remained for three more days. 

After that term the emperor called him before his tribunal, and commanded the martyr to offer incense to a statue of Jupiter. Victor went up to the profane altar, and with a kick of his foot overthrew it. The emperor ordered his foot to be chopped off. The Saint suffered this mutilation with great joy, offering to God these first-fruits of his body. His barbaric tormentor condemned him to be put under the grindstone of a hand-mill and crushed to death. The executioners turned the wheel, and when part of his body was bruised and crushed, the mill broke down. The Saint still breathed a little; an order was given to behead him at once.

His body with those of the other three heroes of Christ, Alexander, Felician and Longinus, were thrown into the sea, but cast ashore on the opposite bank by a current. They were buried by the Christians in a grotto hewn out of the rock. Very great miracles were wrought at Saint Victor’s tomb or by his intercession, including the resurrection of a girl in her coffin, which occurred beside her open grave.

His relics were kept for centuries in the Abbey of Saint Victor in Marseille. The French Revolution tried to destroy them, but they were preserved and today are in the Church of St. Nicolas of Chardonnay in Paris.

Image: Woudrichem – Nooit Gedagt – Victor van Marseille. Photo: Quistnix, 2008. (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

 

  1. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j186sd_VictorMarseille_7-21.shtml
  2. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_victor_of_marseille.html
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woudrichem_-_Nooit_Gedagt_-_Victor_van_Marseille.jpg

Saint Praxedes, Virgin, Martyr

July 21

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

Saint Praxedes was born in the second century.  Very little is known of her. The seventh-century itineraries to the graves of the Roman martyrs mention in the catacomb of Priscilla two female martyrs called Potentiana (Potenciana) and Praxedes (Praxidis). They occupied adjoining graves in this catacomb (De Rossi, “Roma sott.”, 1, 176-7). Of the various manuscripts of the “Martyrologium Hieronymianum” only the Echternach Codex (Cod. Eptern.) gives the name of St. Praxedes on 21 July (“Martyrol. Hieronym.”, ed. De Rossi-Duchesne, 94), but it looks like a later addition, and not as if it came from the fourth-century Roman MartyrologyPraxedes and Pudentiana were venerated as martyrs at Rome. Later legends connect them with the founder of the old title-church of Rome, “titulus Pudentis“, called also the “ecclesia Pudentiana“.

Legend makes Pudens a pupil of St. Peter, and Praxedes and Potentiana, his daughters. Later Potentiana became customarily known as “Pudentiana”, probably because the “ecclesia Pudentiana” was designated as “eccl. sanctae Pudentianae” and Pudentiana was identified with Potentiana. The two female figures offering their crowns to Christ in the mosaic of the apse in St. Pudentiana are probably Potentiana and Praxedes. The veneration of these martyrs therefore was in the fourth century connected in a particular manner with the “Titulus Pudentis”. About that time a new church, “titulus Praxedis“, was built near Santa Maria Maggiore, and the veneration of St. Praxedes was now especially connected with it. When Paschal I (817-824) rebuilt the church in its present form he translated to it the bones of Sts. Praxedes, Potentiana, and other martyrs.

Saint Praxedes and Saint Potentiana lived in those early years of the Church, at a time of  extreme Christian persecution. They hid Christians in their homes and visited the imprisioned. They even gathered the bodies of the dead after they were brutalized in the Coliesuum, and hid them in a well until they could be properly buried.  St. Praxedes is often depicted in art with a sponge soaked in blood; recalling how they cared for the precious blood of the martyrs after their awful executions.

Image: Saint Praxedes.  Artist Johannes Vermeer, 1655. (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12344b.htm
  2. http://www.discerninghearts.com/?p=253
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vermeer_saint_praxedis.jpg
  4. http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2014/07/the-feast-of-saint-praxedes.html#.W1Mv4tJKjIV

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Confessor

July 21

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

Saint Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born at Brindisi, south-east Italy, into a family of Venetian merchants in 1559.   The Saint died at Lisbon on July 22, 1619.  In Baptism he was given the name Julius Caesar Rossi.  Guglielmo de Rossi—–or Guglielmo Russi, according to a contemporary writer—–was his father’s name; his mother was Elisabetta Masella.  Both were excellent Christians. His father died when he was twelve.

Lawrence received his saint’s name upon entering the Capuchins at age 16, following his education by Franciscans at the Venice College of Saint Mark. In 1575 he was received into the Order of Capuchins under the name of Brother Lorenzo (Lawrence), and, after his preprofession, made his philosophical and theological studies at the University of Padua. Owing to his wonderful memory he mastered not only the principal European languages, but also most of the Semitic tongues. It was said he knew the entire original text of the Bible. A gifted scholar, Saint Lawrence learned and mastered Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish, and French, as well as his native Italian. Able to read Scriptures in the languages they were originally written in, he further excelled at theological studies, and during his education was recognized for his piety and abilities to interpret and explain both Scripture and Church doctrine.

From 1596 to 1602 he had, as general definitor, to fix his residence in Rome. Clement VIII assigned him the task of instructing the Jews.   Thanks to his knowledge of Hebrew and his powerful reasoning, he brought a great number of them to recognize the truth of the Christian religion. His saintliness, combined with his great kindliness, completed the preparing of the way for the grace of conversion. His success in Rome caused him to be called to several other cities, where he also baptized numerous Jews. At the same time he was commissioned to establish houses of his order in Germany and Austria. Amid the great difficulties created by the heretics he founded the convents of Vienna, Prague, and Graz.   At the chapter of 1602 he was elected vicar-general. (At that time the Order of Capuchins, which had broken away from the Observants in 1528 and had an independent constitution, gave its first superior the title of vicar-general only. It was not until 1618 that Pope Paul V changed it to that of minister general).

It was on the occasion of the foundation of the convent of Prague (1601) that St. Lawrence was named chaplain of the Imperial army, then about to march against the Turks. The victory of Lepanto (1571) had only temporarily checked the Moslem invasion, and several battles were still necessary to secure the final triumph of the Christian armies. Mohammed III had, since his accession (1595), conquered a large part of Hungary. The emperor, determined to prevent a further advance, sent Lorenzo of Brindisi as deputy to the German princes to obtain their cooperation. They responded to his appeal, and moreover the Duke of Mercœur, Governor of Brittany, joined the imperial army, of which he received the effective command.

The attack on Albe-Royal (now Stulweissenburg) was then contemplated. To pit 18,000 men against 80,000 Turks was a daring undertaking and the generals, hesitating to attempt it, appealed to Lawrence for advice. Holding himself responsible for victory, he communicated to the entire army in a glowing speech the ardour and confidence with which he was himself animated. As his feebleness prevented him from marching, he mounted on horseback and, crucifix in hand, took the lead of the army, which he drew irresistibly after him. Three other Capuchins were also in the ranks of the army. Although the most exposed to danger, Lawrence was not wounded, which was universally regarded as due to a miraculous protection. The city was finally taken, and the Turks lost 30,000 men. As however they still exceeded in numbers the Christian army, they formed their lines anew, and a few days later another battle was fought. It always the chaplain who was at the head of the army. “Forward!” he cried, showing them the crucifix, “Victory is ours.” The Turks were again defeated, and the honour of this double victory was attributed by the general and the entire army to Lorenzo.

Having resigned his office of vicar-general in 1605, he was sent by the pope to evangelize Germany. He here confirmed the faith of the Catholics, brought back a great number to the practice of virtue, and converted many heretics. In controversies his vast learning always gave him the advantage, and, once he had won the minds of his hearers, his saintliness and numerous miracles completed their conversion. To protect the Faith more efficaciously in their states, the Catholic princes of Germany formed the alliance called the “Catholic League”.

Emperor Rudolph sent Lawrence to Philip III of Spain to persuade him to join the League. Having discharged this mission successfully, the saintly ambassador received a double mandate by virtue of which he was to represent the interests of the pope and of Madrid at the court of Maximilian of Bavaria, head of the League. He was thus, much against his wishes, compelled to settle in Munich near Maximilian. Besides being nuncio and ambassador, Lawrence  was also commissary general of his order for the provinces of Tyrol and Bavaria, and spiritual director of the Bavarian army. He was also chosen as arbitrator in the dispute which arose between the princes, and it was in fulfillment of this role that, at the request of the emperor, he restored harmony between the Duke of Mantua and a German nobleman. In addition to all these occupations he undertook, with the assistance of several Capuchins, a missionary campaign throughout Germany, and for eight months travelled in Bavaria, Saxony, and the Palatinate.

Amid so many various undertakings Lawrence found time for the practices of personal sanctification. And it is perhaps the greatest marvel of his life to have combined with duties so manifold an unusually intense inner life. In the practice of the religious virtues St. Lawrence equals the greatest saints. He had to a high degree the gift of contemplation, and very rarely celebrated Holy Mass without falling into ecstasies. After the Holy Sacrifice, his great devotion was the Rosary and the Office of the Blessed Virgin.

As in the case of St. Francis of Assisi, there was something poetical about his piety, which often burst forth into canticles to the Blessed Virgin. It was in Mary’s name that he worked his miracles, and his favorite blessing was: “Nos cum prole pia benedicat Virgo Maria.” Having withdrawn to the monastery of Caserta in 1618, Lawrence was hoping to enjoy a few days of seclusion, when he was requested by the leading men of Naples to go to Spain and apprise Philip III of the conduct of Viceroy Ossuna. In spite of many obstacles raised by the latter, the saint sailed from Genoa and carried out his mission successfully. But the fatigues of the journey exhausted his feeble strength. He was unable to travel homeward, and after a few days of great suffering died at Lisbon in the native land of St. Anthony (22 July, 1619), as he had predicted when he set out on his journey. He was buried in the cemetery of the Poor Clares of Villafranca del Bierzo in Spain.

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi was beatified in 1783 by Pope Pius VI, canonized in 1881 by Pope Leo XIII. In 1956 the Capuchins completed a 15-volume edition of his writings and sermons. In 1959  Pope John XXIII declared him a doctor of the Franciscan Order.

Image: crop of Engraving with St. Lawrence of Brindisi writing. (7)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints7-13.htm
  2. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/saint-lawrence-of-brindisi.html
  3. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2011/07/july-21-saint-lawrence-of-brindisi.html
  4. http://www.nobility.org/2014/07/21/lawrence-of-brindisi/
  5. http://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-lawrence-of-brindisi-1559-1619/
  6. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09359a.htm
  7. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Slorenzo4.jpg

Saint Jerome Emiliani, Confessor

July 20

Today is the feast day of Saint Jerome Emiliani.  Ora pro nobis.

St Jerome Emiliani was born at Venice in 1481 and died at Somascha, 8 February, 1537.  He was founder of the Order of Somascha, the Somascans. He was the son of Angelo Emiliani and of Eleonore Mauoceni.  

St. Jerome Emilian, Confessor
from the Liturgical Year, 1909

Sprung from the powerful aristocracy which won for Venice twelve centuries of splendour, Jerome came into the world when that city had reached the height of its glory. At fifteen years of age he became a soldier; and was one of the heroes in that formidable struggle wherein his country withstood the united powers of almost all Europe in the League of Cambrai. The golden city, crushed for a moment, but soon restored to her former condition, offered her honours to the defender of Castelnovo, who like herself had fallen bravely and risen again. But our Lady of Tarviso had delivered him from his German prison, only to make him her own captive; she brought him back to the city of St. Mark, there to fulfil a higher mission than the proud Republic could have entrusted to him. The descendant of the Emiliani, captivated, as was Lawrence Justinian a century before, by Eternal Beauty, would now live only for the humility which leads to heaven, and for the lofty deeds of charity. His title of nobility will be derived from the obscure village of Somascha, where he will gather his newly recruited army; and his conquests will be the bringing of little children to God. He will no more frequent the palaces of his patrician friends, for he now belongs to a higher rank: they serve the world, he serves heaven; his rivals are the Angels, whose ambition, like his own, is to preserve unsullied for the Father the service of those innocent souls whom the greatest in heaven must resemble.

“The soul of the child,” as the Church tells us today by the golden month of St. John Chrysostom, “is free from all passions. He bears no ill will towards them that have done him harm, but goes to them as friends just as if they had done nothing. And though he be often beaten by his mother, yet he always seeks her and loves her more than any one else. If you show him a queen in her royal crown, he prefers his mother clad in rags, and would rather see her unadorned than the queen in magnificent attire; for he does not appreciate according to riches or poverty, but by love. He seeks not for more than is necessary, and as soon as he has had sufficient milk he quits the breast. He is not oppressed with the same sorrows as we, nor troubled with care for money and the like; neither is he rejoiced by our transitory pleasures, nor affected by corporal beauty. Therefore our Lord said, ‘Of such is the kingdom of heaven,’ wishing us to do of our own free will what children do by nature (Chrys. in Matt. Hom. lxii. al. lxiii).”

Their Guardian Angels, as our Lord himself said, gazing into those pure souls, are not distracted from the contemplation of their heavenly Father: for he rests in them as on the wings of Cherubim, since baptism has made them his children. Happy was our Saint to have been chosen by God to share the loving cares of the Angels here below, before partaking of their bliss in heaven. The following detailed account is given by Holy Church:

Jerome was bora at Venice, of the patrician family of the Emiliani, and from his boyhood embraced a military life. At a time when the Republic was in great difficulty, he was placed in command of Castelnovo, in the territory of Quero, in the mountains of Tarviso. The fortress was taken by the enemy, and Jerome was thrown, bound hand and foot, into a horrible dungeon. When he found himself thus destitute of all human aid, he prayed most earnestly to the Blessed Virgin, who mercifully came to his assistance. She loosed his bonds, and led him safely through the midst of his enemies, who had possession of every road, till he was within sight of Tarviso. He entered the town; and, in testimony of the favour he had received, he hung up at the altar of our Lady, to whose service he had vowed himself, the manacles, shackles, and chains which he had brought with him. On his return to Venice he gave himself with the utmost zeal to exercises of piety. His charity towards the poor was wonderful; but he was particularly moved to pity for the orphan children who wandered poor and dirty about the town; he received them into houses which he hired, where he fed them at his own expense and trained them to lead Christian lives.

At this time Blessed Cajetan and Peter Caraffa, who was afterwards Paul IV., disembarked at Venice. They commended Jerome’s spirit and his new institution for gathering orphans together. They also introduced him into the hospital for incurables, where he would be able to devote himself with equal charity to the education of orphans, and to the service of the sick. Soon, at their suggestion, he crossed over to the Continent and founded orphanages, first at Brescia, then at Bergamo and Como. At Bergamo his zeal was specially prolific, for there, besides two orphanages, one for boys and one for girls, he opened a house, an unprecedented thing in those parts, for the reception of fallen women who had been converted. Finally he took up his abode at Somascha, a small village in the territory of Bergamo, near to the Venetian border, and this he made his headquarters; here, too, he definitely established his Congregation, which for this reason received the name of Somasques. In course of time it spread and increased, and for the greater benefit of the Christian republic it undertook, besides the ruling and guiding of orphans and the taking care of sacred buildings, the education both liberal and moral of young men in colleges, academies, and seminaries.

Pius V. enrolled it among religious Orders, and other Roman Pontiffs have honoured it with privileges. Entirely devoted to his work of rescuing orphans, Jerome journeyed to Milan and Pavia, and in both cities he collected numbers of children and provided them, through the assistance given him by noble personages, with a home, food, clothing, and education. He returned to Somascha, and, making himself all to all, he refused no labour which he saw might turn to the good of his neighbour. He associated himself with the peasants scattered over the fields, and while helping them with their work of harvesting, he would explain to them the mysteries of faith. He used to take care of children with the greatest patience, even going so far as to cleanse their heads, and he dressed the corrupt wounds of the village folk with such success that it was thought he had received the gift of healing. On the mountain which overhangs Somascha he found a cave in which he hid himself, and there scourging himself, spending whole days fasting, passing the greater part of the night in prayer, and snatching only a short sleep on the bare rock, he expiated his own sins and those of others. In the interior of this grotto, water trickles from the dry rock, obtained, as constant tradition says, by the prayers of the servant of God. It still flows, even to the present day, and being taken into different countries, it often gives health to the sick.

At length, when a contagious distemper was spreading over the whole valley, and he was serving the sick and carrying the dead to the grave on his own shoulders, he caught the infection, and died at the age of fifty-six. His precious death, which he had foretold a short time before, occurred in the year 1537. He was illustrious both in life and death for manymiracles. Benedict XIV. enrolled him among the Blessed, and Clement XIII. solemnly inscribed his name on the catalogue of the Saints. (2)

He founded a hospital in Verona and an orphanage in Padua. At Bergamo, which had been struck by a pestilence and famine, he went out with the reapers he could assemble, and cut wheat in the hottest season of the Italian summer. At their head, he sang Christian hymns in his rich voice, engaging the others to follow his example. There he founded two orphanages and succeeded in closing a number of houses of ill repute; he gave their inhabitants whom he converted a rule of life and procured a residence for them. The bishop was aiding him constantly; and he sent him out to other villages and hamlets to teach the children Christian doctrine. Multiple conversions resulted in all directions. Two holy priests joined him in Bergamo, soon followed by other noble gentlemen. This was the origin of the Congregation of Regular Clerics, called the Somascans because of their residence at Somasca, situated between Milan and Bergamo. The Congregation was approved in 1540 by Pope Paul III, and the Order spread in Italy. Saint Jerome died in 1537 at the age of 56, from the illness he contracted while caring for the sick during an epidemic in the region of Bergamo.

After the death of Jerome his community was about to disband, but was kept together by Gambarana, who had been chosen superior. He obtained the approval (1540) of Paul III. In 1547 the members vainly sought affiliation with the Society of Jesus; then in 1547-1555 they were united with the Theatines. Pius IV (1563) approved the institution, and St. Pius V raised it to the dignity of a religious order, according to the Rule of St. Augustine, with solemn vows, the privileges of the mendicants, and exemption. In 1569 the first six members made their profession, and Gambarana was made first superior general. Great favour was shown to the order by St. Charles Borromeo, and he gave it the church of St. Mayeul at Pavia, from which church the order takes its official name “Clerici regulares S. Majoli Papiae congregationis Somaschae”. Later the education of youth was put into the programme of the order, and the colleges at Rome and Pavia became renowned. It spread into Austria and Switzerland, and before the great Revolution it had 119 houses in the four provinces of Rome, Lombardy, Venice, and France. At present the order has ten houses in Italy two of which are in Rome. The general resides in Rome at S. Girolamo della Carita. 

Image: Saint Jerome Emiliani (6)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholictradition.org/Saints/jerome-emiliani.htm
  2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Jerome%20Emiliani.html
  3. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_jerome_emiliani.html
  4. http://www.amour-infini.ca/cal/engl/07-20.htm
  5. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08343a.htm
  6. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_Gerolamo_Emiliani_(Morleiter,_1767)_-_Santa_Maria_della_Salute_-_Venice_2016_(2).jpg

 

Saint Margaret, Virgin, Martyr

July 20

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

Saint Margaret (also called Marina) was born in Antioch (modern day Turkey) near the end of the third century.  She died about the year 275, others say about 304.  Father Weninger, in his sermon below, places her death about 175. She was about 15 when she was beheaded.  The Greek Church honors her under the name Marina on 13 July; the Latin, as Margaret on 20 July. Her Acts place her death in the persecution of Diocletian (A.D. 303-5), but in fact even the century to which she belonged is uncertain. St. Margaret is represented in art sometimes as a shepherdess, or as leading a chained dragon, again carrying a little cross or a girdle in her hand, or standing by a large vessel which recalls the cauldron into which she was plunged. Relics said to belong to the saint are venerated in very many parts of Europe; at Rome, Montefiascone, Brusels, Bruges, Paris, Froidmont, Troyes, and various other places. 

St. Margaret, Virgin and Martyr
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

St. Margaret, a chaste virgin and glorious Martyr of our Lord Jesus Christ, was born at Antioch, in Pisidia. Her parents were rich and noble, but heathens, and her mother died while she was still an infant. Hence her father, whose name was Edesius, gave her to a nurse who lived in a neighboring village. This nurse was a Christian, and she endeavored to bring up Margaret with love for the Christian faith. God decreed that Edesius should leave his daughter for several years with her nurse, who having thus time and opportunity, instructed her in the doctrines of the true faith, and early awakened in her heart the desire to give her life for Christ’s sake, by relating to her the tortures that so many Christians had suffered, for the love they bore to their Saviour. When Margaret had come to the age of discretion, she not only desired to be baptized, but soon afterwards consecrated her virginity to the Almighty, desiring nothing more ardently than to be numbered among the martyrs.

Margaret’s father was greatly incensed when he was informed that she had embraced the Christian faith, but he concealed his wrath, and taking his daughter home, he endeavored by alternate promises and terrible menaces, to induce her to forsake Christ. When he found that all was useless, he took other means, which he believed would be efficacious. He told her that henceforth he would no longer regard her as his daughter, but as his servant and slave. He commanded her to lay aside the garments she had worn until now and to put on old ragged clothes; after which he turned her out of the house, and ordered her into the fields to guard the herd. Edesius supposed that this would be harder for her to bear than tortures, and that it could not fail to produce a change in her mind. But he had deceived himself. Margaret, who had well taken to heart that Christ, for our sake, had so deeply lowered Himself, as to hide His dignity in human form, rejoiced in being humiliated for His sake, and discharged her duties most faithfully. She guarded the herd with untiring patience, although she suffered greatly from the inclemency of the weather, and complained not of the miserable food that was given her. Her only consolation was that she could occupy her time in prayer and singing the praises of God.

Olibrius, Prefect of Pisidia, passed, one day, while travelling, near the place where Margaret was watching the herd. Addressing her, he asked her name, where she was born and who were her parents, all of which questions Margaret answered with so much decorum and modesty, that Olibrius became deeply interested in her. As Margaret, in the course of the conversation, had also told him that she was a Christian, he made this a pretext to have her brought to him at Antioch. Speaking most kindly to her, he warned her to forsake Christianity, saying that she was born to something better than to guard the herd, and that he would make her his wife, and one of the greatest ladies of the city, if she would consent to his wishes. Margaret declared fearlessly that she would neither leave Christ, nor take as spouse a human being, as she was united with a much greater Lord. So unexpected an answer transformed Olibrius’ love into such wild rage, that he immediately gave orders to tear off her clothes, and stretch her on the ground; after which she was so barbarously whipped that the ground was covered with her blood, so that those witnessing the scene were overcome with pity. The Christian heroine, during this torture, kept her eyes fixed on heaven, and showed no sign of pain; nay, when her executioners were tired, she appeared still willing to suffer more out of love to Christ. Observing this, Olibrius became so infuriated that he had her hands and feet bound and her whole body torn with iron combs and pierced with sharply pointed nails until he himself could no longer look at his victim, but ordered that she should be cast into a dungeon. Here the Virgin, her whole body mangled, gave thanks to God for having sustained her in her first terrible struggle, and humbly prayed that He would further help her with His grace. Heaven permitted that the Evil One, called in Holy Writ a serpent, appeared to her in this form, threatening to devour her; but as she had conquered the tyrant, so she conquered also the hellish serpent. Opposing him with the sign of the holy Cross, she banished him; and when he appeared a second time, she again made the same holy sign, and Satan had to confess that he possessed no longer power to harm her.

After this twofold glorious victory, God sent an Angel who immediately healed her wounds, and encouraged her to further conflicts, with the promise that Divine assistance would be given to her. The following morning, Olibrius again called the fearless heroine into his presence, and repeated his promises and threats of the day before, but without any success. When he ascribed the healing of her wounds to his idols, the holy virgin refuted it with incontestable proofs, repeating that she would rather die a thousand deaths than forsake her faith. The tyrant seeing her firmness, again ordered her clothes to be torn from her, after which, having tied her hands and feet, they burned her breast and sides with torches, and to make the suffering still more intolerable, they threw her into cold water, after her whole body had thus been cruelly tortured. But never had Margaret been more cheerful than during this terrible martyrdom, at the time of which, a voice from heaven was heard, saying: ” Come, thou Spouse of Christ, enter the dwelling of the Saints, and receive the crown of eternal glory!” All present heard these words, and as the earth trembled under their feet, an indescribable fear seized them. Many openly confessed themselves Christians, and Olibrius fearing a revolt, commanded that Margaret should immediately be beheaded. The executioner showed timidity in obeying the prefect’s words, but Margaret herself encouraged him to obey, and thus ended by the sword her chaste and holy life, in the year of our Lord, 175. (1)

Saint Margaret’s body was buried at Antioch, but her remains were taken translated to Italy where they were divided between shrines in Montefiascone and Venice. She remains a popular saint today throughout Europe, with a common belief that those who read and spread her story will receive an eternal crown in heaven. She is also invoked frequently by women during childbirth, whom she promised to pray for following her encounter with Satan. (6)

Image: Museum of Mining and Gothic art in Leogang ( Salzburg state ). Gothic collections: Altarpainting of Saint Margarete         ( 1480s ) from Southern Tyrol.(4)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Margaret.html
  2. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints7-11.htm
  3. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09652b.htm
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BGML_-_Sankt_Margarete.jpg
  5. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/07-20.html
  6. https://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2011/07/july-20-saint-margaret-of-antioch.html

Saint Symmachus, Pope

July 19

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

Saint Symmachus date of birth is unknown.  He died July 19, 514 of natural causes.  According to the “Liber pontificalis” (ed. Duchesne, I, 260) he was a native of Sardinia and his father was named Fortunatus. Symmachus was baptized at Rome (Thiel, “Epist. pont. rom.”, I, 702).  He entered the ranks of the clergy of Rome, and was ordained a deacon. Directly after the death of Pope Anastasius II, Symmachus was elected his successor by a majority of the Roman clergy at the Lateran Basilica on 22 November, 498. He was the 51st pope.

An anti-pope, Laurentius, was elected the same day by a minority with Byzantine sympathies and with the support of Emperor Anastasius.  King Theodoric the Great supported Symmachus who ascended to the throne. Any sort of campaigning for the papacy during the life of a sitting pope was outlawed by canon law.

In 501, Senator Festus, a supporter of Laurentius, accused Symmachus of assorted crimes.   Symmachus refused to answer the charges, claimed that secular rulers had no jurisdiction over a pope, and the Synodus Palmaris of 23 October 502 confirmed this decision. The schism with Laurentius continued for years.   At one point Theodoric installed the anti-pope in the Lateran Palace and proclaimed him the legal pontiff.  Theodoric later decided that Laurentius was too Byzantine, and had him removed.

During all the turmoil, Symmachus spent largely to support bishops of Africa who were persecuted by the Arian Vandals. He also gave aid to northern Italians who suffered from the invasions of barbarians.

Symmachus zealously defended the supporters of orthodoxy during the disorders of the Acacian schism. He defends, although without success, the opponents of the “Henotikon” in a letter to Emperor Anastasius I (491-518). At a later date many of the persecuted oriental bishops addressed themselves to the pope to whom they sent a confession of faith. Shortly after 506 the emperor sent him a letter full of invectives, to which the pope sent a firm answer, maintaining forcibly the rights and liberty of the Church (Thiel, “Epist. rom. pont.”, I, 700 sq.).

In a letter of 8 October, 512, addressed to the bishops of Illyria, the pope warned the clergy of that province not to hold communion with heretics. Soon after the beginning of his pontificate Symmachus interposed in the quarrel between the Archbishops of Arles and Vienne as to the boundaries of their respective territories. He annulled the edict issued by Anastasius II in favour of the Archbishop of Vienne and later (6 November, 513) confirmed the metropolitan rights of archbishop Caesarius of Arles, as these had been fixed by Leo I. Moreover, he granted Caesarius the privilege of wearing the pallium, the first-known instance of such a grant by the Holy See to a bishop outside of Italy.

In a letter of 11 June, 514, he appointed Caesarius to represent the interests of the Church both in Gaul and Spain, to hold synods of the bishops in certain cases, to give letters of recommendation to clergy who journeyed to Rome. More important matters were to be laid before the Holy See. In the city of Rome, according to the “Liber pontificalis”, the pope took severe measures against the Manichæans, ordered the burning of their books, and expelled them from the city. He erected or restored and adorned various churches. Thus he built a Church of St. Andrew near St. Peter’s, a Basilica of St. Agnes on the Via Aurelia, adorned the Church of St. Peter’s, completely rebuilt the Basilica of Sts. Sylvester and Martinus, and made improvements over the Catacomb of the Jordani on the Via Salaria.

He built episcopal houses (episcopia) to the right and left of the parvis of St. Peter’s. These buildings were evidently connected with the residence of the pope for several years near St. Peter’s during the disorders of the Laurentian schism. He also built asylums for the poor near the three churches of St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. Laurence that were outside the city walls. The pope contributed large sums for the support of the Catholic bishops of Africa who were persecuted by the rulers of the Arian Vandals. He also aided the inhabitants of the provinces of upper Italy who suffered so sorely from the invasion of the barbarians. After his death he was buried at St. Peter’s. Symmachus is venerated in the Roman Church as a saint.

 

Image: Pope Symmachus, from the basilica of Sant’Agnese fuori le mura, Rome;  by Parrocchia di Santa Agnese fuori le Mura (3)

 

  1. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14377a.htm
  2. http://catholicsaints.info/pope-saint-symmachus/
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Simmaco_-_mosaico_Santa_Agnese_fuori_le_mura.jpg

Saint Macrina the Younger, Virgin

July 19

Today is the feast day of Saint Macrina the Younger.  Ora pro nobis.

Macrina was born in 327 in Cesarea, the eldest child of Basil and Emmelia. She was the granddaughter of St. Macrina the Elder and sister of St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Peter of Sebastea. Her mother based herself on the Book of Wisdom of Scriptures to raise her children, and used to chant the psaltery with them.

At age 12, Macrina was engaged to be married.  When her fiancé died, she decided she would not marry. She dedicated her life to help raise her brothers well and to assist her mother. After her siblings had grown up and were completely formed, they used to call her Macrina the Great.  On the death of their father, Basil took her, with their mother, to a family estate on the River Iris, in Pontus.  She is recognized and honored as one of the most prominent nuns of the Easter Church, and she founded an order on the family’s estate in Pontus, where many religious women flourished in their faith ender her direction.

With her brother, Peter, she constructed both a monastery and convent. Macrina embraced an ascetic life, living in austerity, and spending much time in contemplation and prayer. Her brother, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, wrote a work entitled Life of Macrina in which he describes her sanctity throughout her life.

When she became gravely ill and was close to death, St. Gregory of Nyssa went to see her. He found her laying on a wood board and wearing a hair-shirt. He carefully lifted her and placed her on a bed. The dying woman, seeing her last hour was at hand, remembered all the good things God had given her during her lifetime and gave glory to Him. She said: “Oh, Lord! Thou didst destroy the fear of death. Because of Thy sacrifice, true life begins when the present life finishes. We will sleep for a while and then, to the sound of the trumpet, we will resurrect. Thou didst save us from the curse of the sin, redeeming us from both sin and its curse.” 

Kissing an iron Crucifix that held the relics of the Cross of the Savior, which she always had close to her, St. Macrina serenely died in the year 379. She was buried beside her parents.

Image: St. Macrina the Younger (fresco in Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev) (4)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j137sdMacrina_6-19.htm
  2. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09508c.htm
  3. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2011/07/july-19-saint-macrina-younger.html
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Macrina_the_Younger.jpg

 

Saint Vincent de Paul, Confessor

July 19

Today is the feast day of Saint Vincent de Paul.  Ora pro nobis.

by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

Saint Vincent de Paul (c. 1580-1660), founder of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) and co-founder of the Sisters of Charity, is an outstanding example of great love for the poor and unfortuanate, and the patron of charitable societies.

Vincent de Paul, a Frenchman, was born at Pouy, not far from Dax, in Gascony, and from his boyhood was remarkable for his exceeding charity towards the poor. From the care of his father’s flocks he was sent to study letters. He learned the humanities at Dax, and theology first at Toulouse, then at Saragossa. Having been ordained priest, and having taken a degree in theology, he fell into the hands of the Turks, and was led captive by them into Africa. But being sold into slavery, he won his owner (an apostate) back to Christ. By the help of the Mother of God, therefore, Vincent and his owner hurried away from the shores of the barbarians. Then Vincent undertook a journey to Rome, to visit the thresholds of the Apostles. Having returned to France he governed, in a most saintly manner, first, the parish of Clichy, and then that of Chatillon. He was appointed by the king as principal chaplain of the French galleys, and showed marvelous zeal in striving for the salvation of both the drivers and the rowers. The holy Francis de Sales appointed him superior of the nuns of the Visitation, whom he ruled for nearly forty years with so great prudence, that he amply justified the opinion of their most holy founder, who confessed that he knew no worthier priest than Vincent.

To the preaching of the Gospel unto the poor, especially to the country people, he devoted himself unweariedly, until he was disabled by old age. To this apostolic work he obligated both himself and the members of the congregation, which he specially founded under the name of secular Priests of the Mission, by a perpetual vow confirmed by the Holy See. And how greatly he labored for bettering the discipline of the clergy, is attested by the seminaries erected for senior clerics, by the frequency of sacred conferences among the priests, and by the religious exercises preparatory to the sacrament of Holy Orders; for which purposes, as well as that of giving pious retreats for laymen, he desired that the houses of his institute should be freely opened. Moreover, for the extension of faith and piety, he sent evangelical laborers, not only into the provinces of France, but also into Italy, Poland, Scotland, Ireland, and even to Barbary and to the Indies. And at the death of Louis XIII, whom he had attended and exhorted on his deathbed, Vincent himself was summoned by the queen, Anne of Austria, mother of Louis XIV, and made a member of the young King’s Council of Conscience. In this position he most zealously urged that only the more worthy men should be placed in authority over the churches and monasteries; that civil discords, single combats, slowly-spreading false doctrines, which he both perceived and dreaded, should be ended; and that due obedience should be rendered by all to the apostolic decisions.

There was no kind of misfortune which he did not, with fatherly tenderness, endeavor to relieve. The faithful groaning beneath the Turkish yoke, infants which had been abandoned, wayward youths, maidens exposed to danger, nuns driven from their convents, fallen women, convicts condemned to the galleys, infirm strangers, disabled workmen and even lunatics, and beggars without number, all these he received and devoutly assisted with resources and in hospices which have lasted to this day. When Lorraine, Champagne, Picardy, and other provinces were devastated by plague, famine, and war, he relieved their necessities with an open hand. He founded many societies for seeking out and alleviating the lot of the wretched, among them a celebrated association of matrons, widely spread under the name of Sisters of Charity. He likewise promoted the foundation of the Daughters of the Cross, of Providence, and of St. Genevieve, for the education of the weaker sex.

Amid these and other most important affairs he was ever intent upon God, affable to everyone, and always true to himself, simple, upright, lowly, and ever shrank from honors, riches, and luxuries. He was heard to say that in nothing was there any pleasure for him except in Christ Jesus, Whom he desired to imitate in all things. At length, worn out with bodily pains, labors, and old age, on September 27th, in the year of salvation 1660, and in the eighty-fifth year of age, at Paris, in the house of St. Lazare, which is the mother-house of the Congregation the Mission, he calmly fell asleep. Since he became illustrious for virtues, merits, and miracles, Clement XII placed him among the Saints, assigning July 19th as his annual feast. And Leo XIII, at the earnest request of many bishops, claimed and appointed this notable hero of divine charity, who has deserved so exceedingly well of every class of men the special patron before God of all the charitable societies existing in the entire Catholic world, and in any way soever emanating from his foundation. (2)

The Foundling Hospital of St. Vincent De Paul
M.A. Henry Beford, 1856

There are few institutions in Paris which excite more admiration in strangers than the Foundling Asylum, the Hospice des Enfans trouves, in the Rue d’Enfer. No one can visit it without being moved with feelings of love and veneration for St. Vincent de Paul, whose work it is; and when we call to mind the difficulties he had to encounter in first establishing it, and the still greater trials which threatened its very existence while it was yet young, we shall indeed acknowledge that it is His work who taught His servant to say, “When my father and mother forsook me, the Lord took me up.”

Let us trace up this noble institution to its source in the charity of Vincent. Nothing could be more deplorable than the state of the poor foundlings of Paris when they first attracted the attention of our Saint. Not less than three or four hundred children were yearly left exposed by their parents in the public streets; and what does the reader think was the provision made by the government of that day for these little outcasts of society? It sounds well when we hear that a police regulation required that every child thus found should be taken by certain officers to a house appointed for their reception; but if we follow these officers to La Couche, in the Rue St. Landry, what preparations do we find for the nurture and care of this crowd of helpless infants? A widow, with two or three servants; and these so miserably paid, that the barest necessities of life cannot be obtained for those who need the most delicate attention and care! There are no wet-nurses for the youngest, no fitting food for those who have been weaned.

It naturally followed, that the greater part died almost immediately; while most of those who lingered on in a sickly existence were quieted in their pains, and in the end silenced for ever, by narcotics, which were given them by their ruthless guardians. Well was it for those who died thus; for they thereby escaped a harder and more cruel fate. Humanity shudders when it thinks of the lot of those who were given away, or sold for a few pence, to any who would take them from a place which it sounds like mockery to call their home. Some were hired to suck the milk from diseased breasts, who thus with their nurture drew in death; while others–horrible to relate–were bought as victims for diabolic art, and ministered with their blood to the requirements of those who sought therein restoration to health and a revival of the powers which sin and excess had corrupted and destroyed. The bath of infants’ blood is no mere classic dream; for the seventeenth century saw revived (if they had ever really ceased) the mystic charms and satanic remedies which heathenism had used. And while the bodies of these little ones were thus neglected and suffered to perish, none cared for their souls. The miserable creature who had the nominal care of them herself confessed that she had never baptised one, nor did she know of a single case in which that blessed sacrament had been administered! And yet three or four hundred yearly entered her house.

This gigantic evil crossed Vincent’s path: his tender heart recoiled in horror from cruelty so great and from neglect so terrible. To pass it with an exclamation of surprise or disgust, to drop over it a tear of sorrow, and thus to leave it, was not his way. His was an active charity, which shrank from no difficulty, and knew not the word “impossible.” Yet was he prudent and cautious in what he undertook. He did nothing on impulse; and so he never gave up what he once began. Thus, in this case as in others, he considered long and carefully what he should do; he weighed his means against the requirements, and found that he must begin in a small way. He called in the aid of the good ladies of the Hotel-Dieu, and sent them to examine the state of ” La Couche.” They went, and saw what has been related. What language could express their astonishment and distress at the spectacle which there presented itself! How can they meet so great a claim upon their charity? how cope with so overwhelming an evil? Under Vincent’s advice, they agree to select by lot twelve of these poor creatures, and place them in a house near the gate of St. Victor. Madame Le Gras and her Sisters of Charity undertook the immediate charge of them, and wet-nurses were provided.

It was in 1638 that this first step was taken, and gradually the number thus selected was augmented as the means for their support increased; and the contrast between those who had been thus taken and those who were left behind moved the hearts of these generous ladies to make greater sacrifices in their behalf. Thus matters went on for two years; at the end of which time, in 1640, Vincent called these ladies together, and laid before them a design for completing the work by taking charge of all these foundlings.

It was an arduous and costly task; and his prudence would not suffer him to do more than urge them to make trial of their strength and means. All he wished them to do was to make an experiment. If their resources would not suffice, they must give it up; in the meantime he would try what he could do for them.

He was a man of business, and sat down to count the cost of the enterprise; and this was the pecuniary view of the case. The ladies had no more than 70 of fixed income which they could devote to this work: at Vincent’s request, the queen regent, Anne of Austria, ever forward in works of charity, gave an annual grant of 600; and to this our Saint added all that he could spare from the resources ofSt. Lazarus and from the funds which the charitable placed at his disposal. After all, there was a large additional sum required to meet the necessary expenditure, which was certainly not less than 2,000 a year.

Nobly did they struggle on against all difficulties for some years; every nerve seemed strained, every power taxed to the uttermost, to carry on the undertaking and to preserve the poor deserted ones from the fate which awaited them should they have to return to their old quarters. But now difficulties increase: national distress shows itself on all sides, the curse of faction once more comes over the land, sin and misery rise together in greater force than ever; and so the demands upon this especial charity augment with its increasing poverty. Moreover, the famine which at this time afflicted the province of Lorraine called for unexampled relief; and those who had burdened themselves with the charge of the foundlings are now foremost in aiding the efforts which Vincent is making for the support of thousands of their starving countrymen.

Can we wonder if at such a time the hearts of these noble women should despond, and that their resolution respecting the orphans should falter? Common prudence seemed to urge them to consolidate their energies on the more pressing need, and to give up, at least for a time, what, after all, had been undertaken only as an experiment. Such was the state of affairs in 1648, when Vincent took his resolution, and called once more around him those liberal souls who were doing so much.

The general meeting is held; Vincent is there, and in the crowd of those present we may observe Madame Le Gras, as well as Madame de Goussault. Every heart beats high with anxiety–for what will Vincent advise? He is so cautious, so prudent, that, it may be, the more enthusiastic are half-inclined to condemn his counsel beforehand; while those who have more calmly weighed the matter in hand sigh as they feel the necessity of drawing back from what seems a hopeless task. At any rate there is this consolation, that they have done their best; and that, had not these national calamities come so unexpectedly upon them, they might still have persevered. It is painful, indeed, to draw back; but is it not madness to go on? Thus they thought; and therefore their hearts were sad, and many a bright eye was dimmed with tears for those whom they were about to abandon.

But what thinks Vincent all this while? It may be that their own thoughts occupy them too exclusively, or those ladies might have marked a determination about the Saint’s brow, and a sweet expression of ardent charity in those benignant eyes, which would in part have revealed the purpose within his mind.

And now Vincent rises; and in breathless silence they listen to the words of their sage counsellor, while he weighs the momentous question, whether they shall continue or give up the charge of the poor foundlings. Calmly and impartially does he set forth the reasons on both sides. He reminds them that it is only an experiment they have been making, and that consequently they are not bound by any obligation to continue it. But then he fails not also to call to their remembrance the fruit of their labours; how five or six hundred infants have been snatched from the hands of death, many of whom have learnt, and others were now being taught trades, by means of which they cease to be an expense to any one. He then goes on to tell them how through their care these little ones have been brought to know and to serve God; how with their earliest accents they have learned to speak of Him; and what bright hopes for a happy future these good beginnings presage. As he speaks, his words grow warmer; and at last, with deep emotion, and with irresistible sweetness, he exclaims: “Yes, ladies, compassion and charity have led you to adopt these little creatures for your children; you became their mothers by grace, when those who are their mothers by nature abandoned them; see now, if you too will forsake them. Cease to be their mothers, that you may become their judges; their life and death are in your hands. I have now to receive your decision. The time has come for you to pronounce sentence, and to declare whether or no you will still have pity on them. If you continue your charitable care over them, they will live; if you abandon them, they will undoubtedly perish. Your own experience forbids you to doubt it.”

The result may be easily imagined. Cost what it might, the good work should go on; and with tearful eyes but joyful hearts, they resolved to take courage from the words of Vincent, and to persevere in what was so evidently the will of God.

The king granted them the chateau at Bicetre, which Louis XIII. had destined for invalided soldiers; and thither for a time they sent the infants who had been weaned; but the air proving too keen, they were soon brought back to Paris, and lodged in a house near St. Lazarus. Here they were intrusted to twelve Sisters of Charity, who brought them up, and communicated to them the first rudiments of education. Those who were not yet weaned were given in charge to some country women, and were visited from time to time by the sisters, and occasionally by the Fathers of the Mission.

In course of time two houses were bought for these children. Louis XIV. increased the annual grant which his mother had made; and the good queen-dowager continued throughout her life the patronage she had so generously extended to the charity in the hour of its greatest need. From that day to this the institution has flourished; and those who visit it in its present habitation in the Rue d’Enfer, or in any other of its many dwelling-places, find as of old the Sisters of Charity carrying on the very work Vincent left in their hands, and recognise in its vitality another token of the heavenly mission of him whose works not only remain in vigorous life to the present day, but grow and expand with the wants and necessities of each succeeding age. (2)

 

 

Work for the Poor

Vincent de Paul had established the Daughters of Charity almost at the same time as the exercises des ordinands. At first they were intended to assist the conferences of charity. When these conferences were established at Paris (1629) the ladies who joined them readily brought their alms and were willing to visit the poor, but it often happened that they did not know how to give them care which their conditions demanded and they sent their servants to do what was needful in their stead. Vincent conceived the idea of enlisting good young women for this service of the poor. They were first distributed singly in the various parishes where the conferences were established and they visited the poor with these ladies of the conferences or when necessary cared for them during their absence.  Besides the Daughters of Charity Vincent de Paul secured for the poor the services of the Ladies of Charity, at the request of the Archbishop of Paris.  He grouped (1634) under this name some pious women who were determined to nurse the sick poor entering the Hotel-Dieu to the number of 20,000 or 25,000 annually; they also visited the prisons.

St. Vincent’s charity was not restricted to Paris, but reached to all the provinces desolated by misery. In that period of the Thirty Years War known as the French period Lorraine, Trois-Evechés, Franche-Comté, and Champagne underwent for nearly a quarter of a century all the horrors and scourges which then more than ever war drew in its train. Vincent made urgent appeals to the Ladies of Charity; it has been estimated that at his reiterated requests he secured 12,000 livres equivalent to $60,000 in our time (1913). When the treasury was empty he again sought alms which he dispatched at once to the stricken districts.

 All these benefits had rendered the name of Vincent de Paul popular in Paris and even at the Court. Richelieu sometimes received him and listened favorably to his requests; he assisted him in his first seminary foundations and established a house for his missionaries in the village of Richelieu. On his deathbed Louis XIII desired to be assisted by him: “Oh, Monsieur Vincent”, said he, “if I am restored to health I shall appoint no bishops unless they have spent three years with you.” His widow, Ann of Austria, made Vincent a member of the council of conscience charged with nominations to benefices. These honors did not alter Vincent’s modesty and simplicity.

Up to the time of St. Vincent’s death these missionaries had ransomed 1200 slaves, and they had expended 1,200,000 liveres in behalf of the slaves of Barbary, not to mention the affronts and persecutions of all kinds which they themselves had endured from the Turks. This exterior life so fruitful in works had its source in a profound spirit of religion and in an interior life of wonderful intensity. He was singularly faithful to the duties of his state, careful to obey the suggestions of faith and piety, devoted to prayer, meditation, and all religious and ascetic exercises. Of practical and prudent mind, he left nothing to chance.   His distrust of himself was equalled only by his trust in Providence; when he founded the Congregation of the Mission and the Sisters of Charity he refrained from giving them fixed constitutions beforehand; it was only after tentatives, trials, and long experience that he resolved in the last years of his life to give them definitive rules. His zeal for souls knew no limit.  All occasions were to him opportunities to exercise it. When he died the poor of Paris lost their best friend and humanity a benefactor unsurpassed in modern times.  He died at Paris, 27 September, 1660

Forty years later (1705) the Superior-General of the Lazarists requested that the process of his canonization might be instituted. Many bishops, among them Bossuet, Fénelon, Fléchier, and Cardinal de Noailles, supported the request. On 13 August, 1729, Vincent was declared Blessed by Benedict XIII, and canonized by Clement XII on 16 June, 1737. In 1885 Leo XIII gave him as patron to the sisters of Charity. In the course of his long and busy life Vincent de Paul wrote a large number of letters, estimated at not less than 30,000. After his death the task of collecting them was begun; in the eighteenth century nearly 7000 had been gathered; many have since been lost. Those which remained were published rather incorrectly as “Lettres et conferérences de s. Vincent de Paul” (supplement, Paris, 1888); “Lettres inédites de saint Vincent de Paul” (Coste in”Revue de Gascogne”, 1909, 1911); Lettres choisies de saint Vincent de Paul” (Paris, 1911); the total of letters thus published amounts to about 3200. There have also been collected and published the saint’s “Conférences aux missionaires” (Paris, 1882) and “Conférences aux Filles de la Charite” (Paris, 1882). (5)

Image: Saint Vincent de Paul; artist: Juan Nepomuceno Herrera 1859 (7)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints7-10.htm
  2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Vincent%20de%20Paul.html
  3. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-181/Vincent.htm
  4. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_vincent_de_paul.html
  5. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/07-19.html
  6. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15434c.htm
  7. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:San_Vicente_de_Paul_-_Juan_Nepomuceno.jpg

Saint Arnulf of Metz, Confessor

July 18

Today is the feast day of Saint Arnulf of Metz.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Arnulf (Arnold in English) as born about 580 and died August 16, 640. His parents belonged to a distinguished Frankish family.  They lived in Austrasia, the eastern section of the kingdom founded by Clovis. He excelled in school through his talent and his good behaviour. According to the custom of the age, he was sent in due time to the court of Theodebert II, King of Austrasia (595-612), to be initiated in the various branches of the government. Under the guidance of Gundulf, the Mayor of the Palace, he soon became so proficient that he was placed on the regular list of royal officers.  He distinguished himself both as a military commander and in the civil administration. In due course Arnulf was married to a Frankish woman of noble lineage, and had two sons, Anseghisel and Clodulf.

While Arnulf was enjoying worldly emoluments and honors he did not forget higher and spiritual things. His thoughts dwelled often on monasteries, and with his friend Romaricus, likewise an officer of the court, he planned to make a pilgrimage to the Abbey of Lérins, evidently for the purpose of devoting his life to God.  In the meantime the Episcopal See of Metz became vacant. Arnulf was universally designated as a worthy candidate for the office, and he was consecrated bishop of that see about 611. In his new position he set the example of a virtuous life to his subjects, and attended to matters of ecclesiastical government.

In 625 he took part in a council held by the Frankish bishops at Reims. With all this Arnulf retained his station at the court of the king, and took a prominent part in the national life of his people. In 613, after the death of Theodebert, he, with Pepin of Landen and other nobles, called to Austrasia Clothaire II, King of Neustria. When, in 625, the realm of Austrasia was entrusted to the kings son Dagobert, Arnulf became not only the tutor, but also the chief minister, of the young king. At the time of the estrangement between the two kings, and 625, Arnulf with other bishops and nobles tried to effect a reconciliation.

The Saint distributed to the poor so generously of his own possessions that poor folk came to Metz from countries and cities afar, to receive alms and holy counsel. His hospitality towards pious folk, pilgrims, and monastics was legendary. He washed their feet himself, gave them new clothing, and a little silver for the journey, and this he did not of a season, but incessantly. All his time, he spent in vigils, fasting, and devout prayers and talks. 

One day, when he was in a 3-day fast, he was making a procession. Many beasts joined in the procession and prayed to God devoutly with the Saint. And as the procession went along, a woman vexed by the Devil began to cry out loudly. The Saint but made the sign of the Cross of Christ over her, and she was entirely set free from the evil one. Behold how easily the great Saints cast out the evil one, since they had not the least trace of his wickedness remaining in them. 

But Arnulf dreaded the responsibilities of the episcopal office and grew weary of court life. About the year 626 he obtained the appointment of a successor to the Episcopal See of Metz. He and his friend Romaricus withdrew to a solitary place in the mountains of the Vosges. There he lived in communion with God until his death. His remains, interred by Romaricus, were transferred about a year afterwards, by Bishop Goericus, to the basilica of the Holy Apostles in Metz.

When the time had come for the Saint’s repose, after he breathed his soul forth unto his Creator, his successor, Bishop Goericus, assembled a great procession and came to the place where lay the body of Arnulf. There vigils were celebrated very solemnly, and then the body was borne into the city. As they were so processing, those carrying the back part of the bier fell into a ditch. But Angels of God sustained the body in the air, and soon the men who had fallen caught up and resumed their places.

Next, during the same procession to the city, they would have passed through land belonging to a lecher, whom the Saint had reproved for his sin but who would not repent. On the edge of this man’s land, the body of Arnulf became immovable. No strength of men could force the body to cross over the lecher’s land. So a wealthy man named Noddo invited the whole company to spend the night at his estate, and there goodly provisions and good beer were imparted to all. The next morning with great joy the body was borne into the city. All the people greeted their reposed archpastor, whose body was buried in the church of the Apostles. 

A woman long blind, named Julia, came to the tomb of St. Arnulf often to pray. She received her sight. Another woman was punished by God because she had worked on Sunday. Her hands became instantly crippled. Then came she to the tomb and begged the Saint to help her, weeping and praying sincerely. Quickly she recovered the use of her hands. 

The memory of this glorious Saint is kept on the 17th of the kalends of August (July 18) to the honour of God, Who liveth and reigneth without end, unto ages of ages. Amen. [adapted from the Golden Legend]

Of the two sons of Arnulf, Clodulf became his third successor in the See of Metz. Anseghisel remained in the service of the State.  From his union with Begga, a daughter of Pepin of Landen, was born Pepin of Heristal, the founder of the Carlovingian dynasty (Chlodulf of Metz was their oldest son, but more important is his second son Ansegisel, who married Begga daughter of Pepin I, Pippin of Landen. Arnulf is thus the male-line grandfather of Pepin of Herstal, great-grandfather of Charles Martel and 3rd great grandfather of Charlemagne.) In this manner Arnulf was the ancestor of the mighty rulers of that house.

Legends

There are three legends associated with Arnulf:

The Legend of the Ring

Arnulf was tormented by the violence that surrounded him and feared that he had played a role in the wars and murders that plagued the ruling families. Obsessed by these sins, Arnulf went to a bridge over the Moselle river. There he took off his bishop’s ring and threw it into the river, praying to God to give him a sign of absolution by returning the ring to him. Many penitent years later, a fisherman brought to the bishop’s kitchen a fish in the stomach of which was found the bishop’s ring. Arnulf repaid the sign of God by immediately retiring as bishop and becoming a hermit for the remainder of his life.

The Legend of the Fire

At the moment Arnulf resigned as bishop, a fire broke out in the cellars of the royal palace and threatened to spread throughout the city of Metz. Arnulf, full of courage and feeling unity with the townspeople, stood before the fire and said, “If God wants me to be consumed, I am in His hands.” He then made the sign of the cross at which point the fire immediately receded.

The Legend of the Beer Mug

It was July 642 and very hot when the parishioners of Metz went to Remiremont to recover the remains of their former bishop. They had little to drink and the terrain was inhospitable. At the point when the exhausted procession was about to leave Champigneulles, one of the parishioners, Duc Notto, prayed “By his powerful intercession the Blessed Arnulf will bring us what we lack.” Immediately the small remnant of beer at the bottom of a pot multiplied in such amounts that the pilgrims’ thirst was quenched and they had enough to enjoy the next evening when they arrived in Metz.

To some, he is patron saint of beer brewers.

Image: Crop of Église Saint-Arnould à Saint-Allouestre, Morbihan, France. Vitrail représentant Saint-Arnould. (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01752b.htm
  2. http://www.alistairgraham.com/FamilyTree/St%20Arnulf.html
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%C3%89glise_Saint-Arnould_(Saint-Allouestre)_4073.JPG

Saint Camillus de Lellis, Confessor

July 18

Today is the feast day of Saint Camillus de Lellis.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Camillus de Lellis was born at Bacchianico, Naples, 1550.  He was the son of an officer who had served both in the Neapolitan and French armies. His mother died when he was a child, and he grew up absolutely neglected. When still a youth he became a soldier in the service of Venice and afterwards of Naples, until 1574.  While in the service he became a confirmed gambler, and in consequence of his losses was at times reduced to a condition of destitution. The kindness of a Franciscan friar induced him to apply for admission to that order, but he was refused.

by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877


On the Festival of the Holy Apostles, St. Peter and St, Paul, in the year 1746, Benedict XIV., with great solemnity, canonized Camillus, the founder of the congregation of regular priests, who, besides the three usual vows, bound themselves especially to serve the sick. Camillus was born in 1550, in the diocese of Theatie, in the kingdom of Naples. His mother dreamed before he was born, that she had given birth to a boy, who wore upon his breast a cross, and who was followed by a great many other boys, who wore the same emblem. The signification of this dream was not recognized until St. Camillus had founded an order, whose members, in consequence of a decree of the Pope, wore a dark red cross on the right side of the breast. The first years of his life were spent piously under the eyes of his parents; but later he became so addicted to games of chance, that he not only lost all he possessed, but also visibly injured his health. Obliged by poverty, he hired himself as nurse in a hospital, but soon becoming tired of this, he joined the army. The life of a soldier pleased him still less, and he therefore took service in a Capuchin cloister, not knowing what other course to pursue.

God at length had compassion on the lost sheep, and once more led him upon the right road. The cause of this was a sermon which he heard by chance, and even against his will. Pondering on it, he suddenly recognized his iniquities, and the judgment which he had to expect on account of them, and casting himself on the ground, he bitterly bewailed his past life, and resolved most earnestly to change it. From that moment, he appeared a different man, and having made a sorrowful confession, he not only avoided every shadow of sin, but also desired to be admitted into the seraphic order of St. Francis. He was received, but dismissed again before his probation had ended, in consequence of a sore on one of his feet, from which he had suffered a long time, and which made it impossible for him to perform the work assigned him. Sadly disappointed, Camillus went to Rome, to the hospital of St. James, where, as mentioned above, he had served for a time. God so directed it, that he was entrusted with the administration of the finances; in which office he consecrated himself entirely to the sick. Perceiving that the hired nurses performed their duties with negligence, he deliberated within himself, how he might obtain nurses, who, to receive an eternal recompense, should, after his example, wait upon the sick. Consulting St. Philip Neri, who was then living at Rome, he founded a society to which were admitted only those who were willing to serve the sick without any temporal reward. This society at first consisted of only a few secular persons ; but these were soon joined by several priests, who bought themselves a house in which they might reside in common.

This society formed itself into a religious order, and it spread as well over Italy and Sicily, as over other parts of Europe. The members of it nursed the sick, day and night, as well in hospitals as in private houses, and gave them every assistance, as well temporal as spiritual. St. Camillus was an example to all. Exhorted by St. Philip Neri, he had followed the example of St. Ignatius, and though already advanced in years, had devoted himself to study and was ordained priest, that he might assist the sick spiritually as well as corporally. The bull of his canonization proves that the most devoted mother could not have nursed her only child with greater love, than St. Camillus bestowed without exception upon all the sick. Whenever one was found, he went to comfort and to cheer him: he gave medicine, cleansed the bed and room, bandaged wounds, and in one word, did all that charity could think of or the condition of the sick require. Thus he acted uniformly towards all, but especially towards those who awakened in others aversion, on account of many sores, bad odors, or other disgusting circumstances. He often remained whole nights, without food or sleep, with them, although greatly suffering himself from the sore on his foot, to which we have alluded above. More than once he was so exhausted by his labors, that he fainted away by the side of the sick; but he continued in his work of love, while he had any strength left.

At the time of a terrible pestilence which ravaged Rome and several other cities, he worked real miracles of Christian charity. He went with his brethren through all the streets, assisting the suffering. He carried many, whom he found lying in the streets, stricken down by the pestilence, into the house where he and his priests resided, and nursed them there most tenderly, without in the least fearing death or infection. The same zeal he manifested at Milan and Nola, whither he went to nurse the sick at the time of the pestilence. He was incited to these great sacrifices by the love of God, which, since his conversion, inflamed his whole heart. He desired to gain numberless souls, to awaken in them an equal love to God and hatred of sin. Hence, his first care was that the sick should reconcile themselves to their Maker, by confession, and bear their sufferings patiently. The whole life of this Saint was, according to the above mentioned bull, truly divine. At the time of prayer they often found him in ecstacy, and surrounded by a heavenly light, or raised high up from the ground. St. Philip Neri gave evidence that he frequently saw angels standing beside St. Camillus while they waited upon the sick. God graced him also, with the gift of prophecy, and of miraculously restoring the sick in an instant, of which his life offers many examples.

The Inhabitants of Rome, therefore, looked upon him as a Saint, and greatly esteemed him ; he, however, humbled himself beneath all on account of the sins of his youth, over which he daily wept bitterly; he deemed himself unworthy to live among men. He esteemed and called himself the greatest sinner, who had deserved hell a thousand times. To praise him was only to rouse his indignation or to sadden him. He firmly refused the name of Founder of a religious order, and although for twenty-seven years he discharged the functions of an Abbot, he rested not until he was allowed to resign the office, and live under the obedience of another. St. Camillus united with profound humility and desire to obey, the virtue of mortification. Notwithstanding the great hardship of nursing the sick, and the pain that for years his foot gave him, he mortified his body by continual fasting, watching, and other penances, in such a manner that the prolongation of his life was regarded as a real miracle. A happy death ended, at last, his holy and useful life. In the year 1614, at the age of 60, after he had endured for 33 months, a most painful malady.

The thought of the torments of hell which he had merited by his transgressions, made, according to his own words, all suffering easy to bear. Before his end, he admonished his brethren to continue in their work of love to God and men. The many miracles that have taken place since his death by his intercession, have made the name of St. Camillus famous over the whole Christian world. (2)

In 1591 Gregory XIV erected the congregation into a religious order, with all the privileges of the mendicants. It was again confirmed as such by Clement VIII, in 1592. The infirmity which had prevented his entrance among the Capuchins continued to afflict Camillus for forty-six years, and his other ailments contributed to make his life one of uninterrupted suffering, but he would permit no one to wait on him, and when scarcely able to stand would crawl out of his bed to visit the sick. He resigned the generalship of the order, in 1607, in order to have more leisure for the sick and poor. Meantime he had established many houses in various cities of Italy. He is said to have had the gift of miracles and prophecy. He died at the age of sixty-four 14 July 1614 while pronouncing a moving appeal to his religious brethren. He was buried near the high altar of the church of St. Mary Magdalen, at Rome, and, when the miracles which were attributed to him were officially approved, his body was placed under the altar itself. He was beatified in 1742, and in 1746 was canonized by Benedict XIV.

[Note: In 1930, Pope Pius XI named St. Camillus de Lellis, together with St. John of God, principal Co-Patron of nurses and of nurses’ associations.]

Prayer from the Liturgical Year
from the Liturgical Year, 1909

Angel of charity, by what wonderful paths did the Divine Spirit lead thee! The vision of thy pious mother remained long unrealized; before taking on thee the holy Cross and enlisting comrades under that sacred sign, thou didst serve the odious tyrant, who will have none but slaves under his standard, and the passion of gambling was well nigh thy ruin.

O Camillus, remembering the danger thou didst incur, have pity on the unhappy slaves of passion; free them from the madness wherewith they risk, to the caprice of chance, their goods, their honour, and their peace in this world and in the next. Thy history proves the power of grace to break the strongest ties and alter the most inveterate habits: may these men, like thee, turn their bent towards God, and change their rashness into love of the dangers to which holy charity may expose them! For charity, too, has its risks, even the peril of life, as the Lord of charity laid down his life for us: a heavenly game of chance, which thou didst play so well that the very Angels applauded thee. But what is the hazarding of earthly life compared with the prize reserved for the winner?

According to the commandment of the Gospel read by the Church in thy honour, may we all, like thee, love our brethren as Christ has loved us! Few, says St. Augustine, love one another to this end, that God may be all in all. Thou, O Camillus, having this love, didst exercise it by preference towards those suffering members of Christ’s mystic Body, in whom our Lord revealed Himself more clearly to thee, and in whom His kingdom was nearer at hand. Therefore, has the Church in gratitude chosen thee, together with John of God, to be guardian of those homes for the suffering which she has founded with a mother’s thoughtful care. Do honour to that Mother’s confidence. Protect the hospitals against the attempts of an odious and incapable secularization, which, in its eagerness to lose the souls, sacrifices even the corporal well-being of the unhappy mortals committed to the care of its evil philanthropy. In order to meet our increasing miseries, multiply thy sons, and make them worthy to be assisted by Angels. Wherever we may be in this valley of exile when the hour of our last struggle sounds, make use of thy precious prerogative which the holy Liturgy honours today; help us, by the spirit of holy love, to vanquish the enemy and attain unto the heavenly crown! Amen. (2)

 

 

 

Image: Crop of San Camilo de Lelis Fundador de la Orden de los Camilos y Precursor de la Cruz Roja, Migeul Palafox (8)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints7-8.htm
  2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Camillus%20of%20Lellis.html
  3. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_camillus_of_lellis.html
  4. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/07-18.html
  5. http://www.nobility.org/2016/07/14/st-camillus-de-lellis/
  6. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03217b.htm
  7. http://gardenofmary.com/july-18-st-camillus-of-lellis/
  8. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lellis2.jpg