Saint Francis Borgia, Confessor

October 10

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

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

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

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

Saint Francis Borgia.

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: Saint Francis Borgia (5)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Francis%20Borgia.html
  2. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints10-7.htm
  3. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_francis_borgia.html
  4. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2010/10/october-10-saint-francis-borgia.html
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Divo_Francisco_Borgi%C3%A6_%C3%A8_Duce_Gandi%C3%A6_tertio,_Soc._Jesu_generali,_%C3%A0_Clemente_X_Pont._Max._sanctorum_clitum_fastis_ad_scripto,_Encomia_emblemate,_prosa,_versu_in_de_salvatoris_Soc._Iesv_ad_S._Clementem,_(14561892768).jpg
  6. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/10-10.html
  7. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j095sdFrancisBorgia_10-10.htm
  8. http://www.nobility.org/2013/10/10/st-francis-borgia/

Saint Louis Bertrand, Confessor

October 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was canonized by Clement X in 1671.

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

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/saint-louis-bertrand.html
  2. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/10-09.html
  3. http://www.nobility.org/2014/10/06/st-louis-bertrand/
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Louis_Bertrand.jpg

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

October 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer in Honor of St. Dionysius

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

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

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints10-6.htm
  2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Dionysius.html
  3. http://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-denis-bishop-and-companions-martyrs-died-about-258/
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Henri_Bellechose_001.jpg

Saint Brigetta of Sweden, Widow

October 8

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

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

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

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

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

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

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

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

The Brigittines

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

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

Prayer to Saint Bridget,
Queen of Sweden, Widow

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

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

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.

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

In the USA, the order can be found at: http://www.birgittines-us.com/about_us

International: http://www.brigidine.org/en-EN/Default.aspx

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

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Bridget%20of%20Sweeden.html
  2. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints7-15.htm
  3. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/saint-bridget-of-sweden.html
  4. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/10-08.html
  5. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_bridget_of_sweden.html
  6. http://www.birgittines-us.com/
  7. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Heliga_Birgitta_p%C3%A5_ett_altarsk%C3%A5p_i_Salems_kyrka_retouched.png
  8. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Bridget%20of%20Sweden%20Book.html

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

October 7

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

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

Pope Pius V to Don Juan of Austria

by Abbot Gueranger

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

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

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

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

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

More Lepanto

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

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

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

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

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

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

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

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

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

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

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13189a.htm
  2. http://the-american-catholic.com/2016/10/07/october-7-1571-battle-of-lepanto/
  3. https://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/08/002-don-john-of-austria-is-riding-to-the-sea
  4. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/our_lady_of_the_rosary.html
  5. http://www.crisismagazine.com/2016/the-banners-of-lepanto
  6. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-158/Feast%20of%20Most%20Holy%20Rosary.htm
  7. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Most%20Holy%20Rosary%20Popup.html
  8. http://www.nobility.org/2013/10/07/lepanto-history/
  9. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Feast%20of%20the%20Holy%20Rosary.html
  10. http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/victory3b.htm
  11. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/our-lady-of-the-rosary.html
  12. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j097sdOurLadyRosary10-7.htm
  13. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Luca_giordano,_madonna_del_rosario,_1657,_Q492.JPG

Saint Bruno, Confessor

October 6

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

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

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Bruno.html
  2. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_bruno.html
  3. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2010/10/october-6-saint-bruno-of-cologne.html
  4. http://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-bruno-of-cologne-1035-1101-priest-and-the-first-carthusian-monk/
  5. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j041sdBruno10-3.htm
  6. http://www.nobility.org/2013/10/03/st-bruno/
  7. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jos%C3%A9_de_Ribera_029.jpg
  8. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints10-4.htm
  9. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/10-06.html

Saint Placid and His Companions, Martyrs

October 5

Today is the feast day of Saint Placid and his Companions.  Orate pro nobis.

Saint Placid  (Placidus) was born in Rome, in the year 515, of a patrician family, and at seven years of age was taken by his father to the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco, recently founded, to be educated. At thirteen years of age he followed Saint Benedict to a new foundation at Monte Cassino, where he grew up in the practices of a wonderful austerity and innocence of life.

From THE LITURGICAL YEAR by Dom Gueranger

THE protoMartyr of the Benedictine Order stands before us today in his strength and in his beauty. The empire had fallen, and the yoke of the Arian Gothas lay heavy upon Italy. Rome was no longer in the hands of the glorious races which had made her greatness; these, nevertheless, kept up their honorable traditions. They offered a great lesson, for future times of revolution, to other descendants of not less noble families: in lieu of the ensign of civic honor once committed to their fathers, the survivors of the old patrician ranks made it their duty to raise still higher the standard of title heroism, of those virtues which alone are everlasting.

Thus Benedict of Nursia, fleeing into the desert, had rendered greater service than any mighty conqueror to Rome and her immortal destinies. The world soon discovered this fact; and then began, as St. Gregory tells us, the concourse of Roman nobles, bringing their children to the patriarch of monks, to be educated by him for almighty God.

Placid was the eldest son of the patrician Tertullus. The excellent qualities early discovered in the child led his worthy father to offer to God, without delay, this dear first-fruit of his paternity. In those days, parents loved their children not for this passing world, but for eternity; not for themselves, but for our Lord. The faith of Tertullus was well rewarded when, twenty years later, not only his first-born, but also his two other sons and their sister, were crowned with Martyrdom. This was not the first holocaust of the kind in that heroic family, if it be true that they were related by blood, and heirs of the goods as well as of the virtues, of the holy Martyr Eustace, who had been immolated four centuries earlier with his wife and sons.

Among the children of promise enlisted by the vanquished nobles of the ancient empire in the new militia of the holy valley, Equitius brought to Subiaco his son Maurus, a boy some years older than Placid. Henceforth the names of Maurus and Placid became inseparable from that of Benedict; and the patriarch acquired a new glory from his two sons, so united and yet so different.

The following lessons, taken from the monastic breviary, will complete the account of Placid’s life, and relate the manner of his death. In 1588, the discovery of the  Martyrs’ relics at Messina confirmed the truth of their Acts. On this occasion, Pope Sixtus V extended the celebration of their feast, under the rite of a simple, to the universal Church.

. . . he accompanied St. Benedict to Monte Cassino. At the age of twenty-one, he was sent into Sicily, to defend, against certain covetous persons, the goods and lands which his father had given to Monte Cassino. On the way he performed so many great miracles, that he arrived at Messina with a reputation for sanctity. He built a monastery on his paternal estate, not far from the harbor, and gathered together thirty monks; being thus the first to introduce the monastic life onto the island.

Nothing could be more placid or more humble than his behavior; while he surpassed everyone in prudence, gravity, kindness, and unruffled tranquillity of mind, he often spent whole nights in the contemplation of Heavenly things, only sitting down for a short time when overpowered by the necessity of sleep. He was most zealous in observing silence; and when it was necessary to speak, the subjects of his conversation were the contempt of the world and the imitation of Christ, His fasts were most severe, and he abstained all the year round from flesh and every kind of milk-meat. In Lent he took only bread and water on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays; the rest of the week he passed without any food; He never drank wine, and always wore a hair shirt. So numerous and so remarkable were the miracles he worked, that the sick came to him in crowds to be cured, not only from the neighborhood, but also from Etruria and Africa.

But Placid, in his great humility, worked all his miracles in the name of St. Benedict, attributing them to his merits.

His holy example and the wonders he wrought caused the Christian faith to spread rapidly. In the fifth year after his arrival in Sicily, the Saracens made a sudden incursion, and seized upon Placid and his thirty monks while they were singing the night Office in the church. At the same time were taken Eutychius and Victorinus, Placid’s brothers, and his sister the virgin Flavia, who had all come from Rome to visit him; and also Donatus, Faustus, and the deacon Firmatus. Donatus was beheaded on the spot. The rest were taken before Manucha, the chief of the pirates; and as they firmly refused to adore his idols, they were beaten with rods, and cast, bound hand and foot, into prison, without food. Every day they were beaten afresh, but God supported them. After many days, they were again led before the tyrant; and as they still stood firm in the faith, they were again repeatedly beaten, then stripped of their clothes, and hung, head downwards, over thick smoke to suffocate. They were left for dead, but the next day were found alive, and miraculously healed of their wounds.

The tyrant then addressed himself to the virgin Flavia apart. But finding he could gain nothing by threats or promises, he ordered her to be stripped, and hung by the feet from a high beam, insulting her meanwhile upon her nakedness. But the virgin answered: Man and woman have the same author and Creator, God; hence neither my sex, nor this nakedness which I endure for love of Him will be any disadvantage to me in His eyes, who for my sake chose not only to be stripped, but also to be nailed to a Cross. Manucha, enraged at this reply, ordered her to be beaten, and tortured with the smoke, and then handed her over to be dishonored. At the virgin’s prayer, God struck all who attempted to approach her, with sudden stiffness and pain in all their limbs. The tyrant next attacked Placid, the virgin’s brother, who tried to convince him of the vanity of his idols; Manucha thereupon commanded his mouth and teeth to be broken with stones, and his tongue to be cut out by the root; but the Martyr spoke as clearly and easily as before. The barbarian grew more furious at this miracle, and commanded that  Placid and his sister Flavia along with brethren should be crushed under an enormous weight of anchors and millstones; but even this torture was powerless to hurt them. Finally, thirty-six of Placid’s family, with their leader, and several others, were beheaded on the shore near Messina, and gained the palm of Martyrdom on the third of the Nones of October, in the year of salvation five hundred and thirty-nine. Gordian, a monk of that monastery, who had escaped by flight, found all their bodies entire after several days, and buried them with tears. Not long afterwards the barbarians, in punishment of their crime, were swallowed up by the avenging waves of the sea. (1,5)

St. Placidus and his Companions, Martyrs
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

St. Placidus, a religious of the Order of St. Benedict, was born at Rome. Tertullus, his father, was greatly esteemed in the city, not only for his ancient nobility but also for his great wisdom, which raised him to the highest offices of the state. As he was as pious as he was noble, rich and learned, he gave Placidus in charge of St. Benedict, when the child had not yet reached his seventh year. Placidus made such progress in learning and in all Christian virtues, that he served as an example even to the religious, and when further advanced in years, he desired to be admitted among the disciples of St. Benedict. Tertullus not only consented to his son’s wish, but also gave the holy Founder several estates, which lay not far from Monte Cassino, that the monastery which he had begun might be completed, and that he might have means to maintain it. Besides this, he gave him an estate in Sicily, consisting of eighteen villages, as he thought that his property could not be better used than in the maintenance of those who served God zealously, and who faithfully educated the young.

Some who lived in the neighborhood of this estate, were displeased at this generous gift, and each of them appropriated as much of the ground as he could to himself. Benedict, informed of this, thought it best to send Placidus to Sicily; for, though he was only twenty-one years of age, he possessed such deeply rooted virtue and was endowed with such abilities, that the holy Founder promised himself the best result from his mission. Fortified with the blessing of the Saint and accompanied by two religious, Placidus commenced his journey. The Almighty favored him with many miracles on the way. He restored two sick persons to health, he gave sight to a blind man, and speech and hearing to the dumb and deaf, and cast out the unclean spirits from the possessed. The fame of these miracles spread quickly, and had reached Sicily before the Saint’s arrival. Hence he was received with great honors and had but little difficulty in regaining possession of that portion of the estate which had been usurped by others.

Having happily concluded this affair, with the consent of St. Benedict, he selected a suitable spot whereon to build a monastery for the order. He chose a place not far from the harbor of Messina, where he erected a monastery and a chapel. As soon as he had made his dwelling there with his brethren, several came who desired to live under his guidance. He received them, and led them in the path of perfection with so much wisdom and ability, that they all loved and honored him like a father. Not only by words, but also, and more especially, by his example, did he teach those under him. He devoted many hours to prayer, which he seldom performed without tears. During Lent, he partook of bread and water, on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; on the other days he abstained from food altogether. He never tasted wine, and always wore his rough hair-shirt. He gave very little time to rest at night and slept sitting. He was very circumspect in speaking, and never permitted any one to say a disparaging word of a neighbor in his presence, as he himself never spoke ill of others. He was kind and good to all, and no one ever saw him angry, which is surely worthy of admiration. Each moment he endeavored to use to a good purpose; he was never idle, but always occupied in good works.

He had two brothers and a sister, who resided at Rome, but who went to visit him in Sicily, as they had heard so much that was praiseworthy spoken of their brother. Soon after their arrival, it happened that Manucha, a powerful pirate of the Moorish king of Africa, and a bitter enemy of the Christians, sailed into the harbor of Messina, and invaded the monastery of St. Placidus. After having robbed and plundered the whole building, the barbarians took St. Placidus, his two brothers, his sister, the two monks whom St. Benedict had given him as companions, with thirty other religious, as prisoners. Manucha commanded them to deny Christ, but as they refused to obey him, the pirate commenced to torture them, especially St. Placidus, as he encouraged the others to remain constant. The savage daily invented a new torment: they were most cruelly scourged; hung up by the feet over a fire, so that the smoke might suffocate them; and as this did not kill them, they were hung by their hands, with heavy stones tied to their feet, besides being tortured in numberless other ways. St. Placidus, who, during all this terrible suffering, did not cease to sing praises to God, had all his teeth knocked out with a stone, and his tongue torn from his mouth. Seeing at length that they could not be conquered, the inhuman tyrant had them all beheaded.

Memorable was the end of Flavia, the sister of St. Placidus, Manucha had her brought before him, and endeavored to make her deny Christ. When he perceived that he could gain no power over her, he ordered her to-be hung up by the feet, and scourged most barbarously. He then said to her: “You pretend to be a noble Roman lady, and are not ashamed to appear naked!” Flavia answered: ” What I suffer for the Christian faith cannot dishonor me. Do you not know any other torments? I am ready to suffer and to die.” Manucha, enraged at these words, gave her up to his servants. This was more terrible to the chaste virgin than all other suffering, and she called on God for aid. The Almighty delayed not to succor her. When the wretches went to seize her, their arms became powerless, and thus the purity of the virgin was saved. She ended her life by the sword. (3)

Image: Saint Benedict Orders Saint Maurus to the Rescue of Saint Placidus. Artist: Fra Filippo Lippi, circa 1445. (4)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Angels/guardians13b.htm
  2. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/10-05.html
  3. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Pacidus%20and%20Companions.html
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_Benedict_Orders_Saint_Maurus_to_the_Rescue_of_Saint_Placidus,_by_Fra_Filippo_Lippi,_c._1445-1450,_tempera_on_panel_-_National_Gallery_of_Art,_Washington_-_DSC08902.JPG
  5. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-174/Placidus.htm
  6. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_placid.html

Solemnity of Saint Francis, Confessor

October 4

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

Of the Value and Dignity of the Soul

The greatest care ought to be taken of the soul, for man has not many, but only one. If God had given us two souls, as He has given us two eyes, or two feet, then should one be lost or taken away, we might guard and save the other. But as we have received only one, very weak and languishing, assailed by three most powerful enemies, and exposed to the fiery darts of the world, the flesh, and the devil, it is not lawful for it to repose securely for one single day, but it must always be striving and fighting. The Apostle gives us to understand how continual this warfare must be, when he says: ‘Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers.’

In war, or in a battle, some time is granted to the soldiers to refresh their bodies, to lay aside their arms, to rest from their labours, and to recruit their strength; nor are they, during severe cold, compelled to rest at night exposed to the inclemency of the season, but are allowed to pass the winter in the city. But it is different with wrestlers; for then only can they be permitted to breathe, when one being overcome and thrown to the earth, the other goes away in triumph. The strife with our enemies can never cease, the time of fighting is the whole time of our life, the end of our life will be the beginning of rest; and only after death will the demonwrestler retire, after having endeavoured most strenuously to conquer us in death. Let us, therefore, most earnestly beseech Our Lord to protect us by His grace, and, in the midst of so many dangers, mercifully to defend us from our enemies. Nothing, alas! is more vile than the price for which we sell our precious souls. On the slightest occasion we cast it into hell, and for the smallest and most insignificant reward we deprive it of the inestimable treasure of Divine grace.

Saint Francis, the son of a merchant of Assisi (Pietro Bernardone and his French wife Pica Bourlemount), was born in the year 1182.   While his father was on a business trip in France, Pica gave birth to a boy whom she called John – a good religious name – but Pietro on returning called him Francesco – in his appreciation of all things French – and it stuck.

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

St. Francis, the great founder of the order which bears his name, a man endowed with heavenly wisdom and especial gifts, and who, on account of his fervent love to the Almighty, is called the Seraphic, was born at Assisium in Umbria, and in a stable to which, by the advice of an unknown beggar, his mother had been carried to be relieved of the pains she suffered. His father was a wealthy merchant, and he destined Francis to follow the same occupation. Although the child was bright and cheerful, he never associated with evil companions, in order to keep his innocence unspotted. To the poor he was ever extremely compassionate, having made the resolution to dismiss none without alms. One day, when he was overwhelmed with business, a beggar asked for some money to buy bread. Francis, in his hurry, refused it, but no sooner had the man gone, than he remembered his resolution, and running after the beggar, gave him a rich alms and vowed never again to refuse any one who asked him: and this vow he faithfully kept.

Hence, when one day he met a poor man in the street, he gave him his new clothes and clothed himself in the rags of the beggar. At another time, while he was taking a ride, a leper came to him begging; Francis dismounted, took a piece of money and gave it to the poor man. When the latter stretched out his hand, deformed and emaciated by the terrible disease, Francis took it into his own and kissed it most tenderly. When he had remounted, he turned to look for the leper, but could no where perceive any sign of him; from which he supposed that either an angel or Christ Himself had appeared in that shape; the thought of which filled his heart with great comfort, and, at the same time, animated him to still greater liberality. After this event, he began to wean his heart more and more from all temporal things, sought solitude and became more fervent in his prayers. He begged the Almighty most earnestly to favor him with the grace to know how he should serve Him henceforth as his Lord and Master. During this prayer, Christ appeared to him, hanging on the cross and covered with wounds. This vision filled the heart of St. Francis with such devotion to our beloved Saviour, that he could never think of His passion, or look upon a crucifix without shedding tears.

After several miraculous events, by which the Almighty gradually manifested to St. Francis His will, it happened that, one day, when he assisted at Mass, he heard in the Gospel the words of Christ: “Do not possess gold or silver, or money in your purse ; nor script for your journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor a staff.” (Matt, x.) At these words, the holy man felt his mind illuminated and his heart stirred with deep emotion. It seemed as if God said to him that this was the rule by which he was henceforth to regulate his life ; and immediately giving his money to the poor, he put off his shoes, clothed himself in a rough penitential garment, which he girded about him with a knotted cord, and determined to lead henceforth an apostolic life. Going among the people, he began to exhort them to penance with such force and zeal, that he not only converted many sinners, but also drew several pious men to offer themselves as disciples in his austere manner of living, and as co-operators in his holy work.

When the number of these had reached twelve, St. Francis sent them into different villages and hamlets to preach penance after his example. Instead of money, he gave them the verse of the Psalm: “Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He will nourish thee.” As greater numbers came daily, who desired to be his disciples, he gave them certain regulations. Pope Innocent III. confirmed these regulations in 1209, at which time St. Francis and his companions most solemnly made their profession of the three vows of religion. This was the beginning of the celebrated Seraphic Order, which, divided into several branches, has worked, and still continues to work so well for the honor of God and the salvation of souls. When the Order had thus been confirmed, the holy founder went with his disciples to Assisium, where he made his dwelling in a small lonely cottage, that stood near the little Church of Portiuncula. At this place, where the Blessed Virgin was especially honored, St. Francis passed much time in praver and fasting. He lived on alms, and sent his disciples into the surrounding country to exhort the people to penance and to teach them to lead a Christian life. The Benedictines, to whom the above mentioned church and the ground near it belonged, gave both to St. Francis, that he might build there the first house for his Order.

The greatest care of the Saint was bestowed upon his disciples and spiritual children, whose number daily increased. He endeavored to lead them in the path of virtue, and to make of them useful members, that they might work for the salvation of men; and to effect this more thoroughly, he tried to be an example to them. Penance, which he and others of his order preached, he practised most austerely on his own person. He very seldom partook of food that was cooked, and when he did so, he strewed ashes over it, or destroyed its taste with water. Besides the usual forty days’ fast, he observed another fast of the same length, after the festival of the three holy Kings. The same he did from the feast of the holy Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, until the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. To these he added another forty days’ fast in honor of the holy Archangel St. Michael and all the Angels. At night, he slept, on the bare floor; a stone or a piece of wood served him for a pillow. He scourged himself almost daily to blood, and exercised himself in all possible bodily mortifications. The cause of this rigor towards himself was not only to do penance for his former sins, but also to prevent himself from falling into others, and to keep his purity unspotted. Hence, when the evil spirit tortured him with unclean thoughts, he cast himself into the snow, and remained in it until he was almost frozen.

His humility was not less than his mortification. He would not allow any one to praise him. “Praise no one,” said he, “who does not stand securely. No one should be praised, until we see how he ends.” And again: “No one is more or less than he is in the eyes of the Almighty.” One day, a pious brother of the Order asked the Saint, what he thought of himself. The Saint answered: ” I think that there is no greater sinner upon earth than I am.” When the brother asked how he could say so with truth, he replied: ” If as many mercies had been bestowed upon the most wicked of all men, as have been bestowed upon me, I do not doubt that he would have been more grateful and more pious than I.” His humility made him refuse the priesthood, as he deemed himself unworthy of it. He greatly honored the priests, saying: “If I should meet an angel and a priest, I would first kiss the hand of the priest and then duly honor the Angel; because I owe him the greatest veneration who holds the most holy body of Christ in his hands and administers the same to others.”

What shall we say of the poverty which the Saint chose and most warmly recommended to his followers? What of his love of God and man What of his devotion to the passion of Christ, to the divine Mother and the Saints? What of his other virtues, of which the examples are so numerous, that this whole work would hardly suffice to relate them? He refused, after his conversion, to possess anything as his own, and rejoiced when he had to suffer want. During his prayers, he was frequently transported out of himself, by the intensity of his devotion, and could say nothing but, “My God and my all!” Only to name the most High, filled his heart with such burning love that his whole countenance seemed to be on fire. Charity towards men actuated him to nurse the sick most tenderly, to aid the poor to the best of his ability, to comfort the sad, and to be all to all. His wish to convert the infidels and to give his life for Christ’s sake, moved him to repair to Syria and Egypt, where he preached fearlessly before the Sultan of Babylon the truths of Christianity, saying that they should kindle a great fire and he would go into it in order to prove the truth of the Christian faith.

His devotion to the Passion of Christ was so great, that God would recompense it with a miracle until then never heard of. When St. Francis, two years before his death, kept, according to his custom, the forty days’ fast in honor of St. Michael, on Mount Alverno, he fell into ecstasy on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and saw that a shining Seraph came down from heaven towards him. The Angel had six wings, and between these appeared the crucified Saviour with His five holy wounds. At the same moment, the Saint perceived in his side and on his hands and feet, bleeding wounds, like those which the Saviour bore. These wounds or Stigmata remained until the death of St. Francis, and although he endeavored to hide them, he could not prevent their being sometimes seen during his life and many times after his death. The Saint suffered great pain in these wounds, which was a source of great joy to him, as he hoped that this would make him more conformable to his Saviour. Two years later, the Saint became mortally sick, and knowing the hour of his death, he requested to be carried into the little Church of Portiuncula, where, after having received the holy Sacraments, he lay down on the ground, and gave up his soul to his Creator.

Before he expired, he exhorted his disciples to follow punctually the rules of the Order, blessed them, and among other things said: “Remain always in the fear of God. Happy are those who persevere to the end in the good which they have begun. I am now on my way to the Lord, and will commend you to His favor.” He then told them to read to him the passion of Christ from the Gospel of St. John. After this, he began to recite the 141st Psalm, and when he had reached the words: ” Bring my soul out of prison. The just wait for me till thou reward me,” he ended his holy life. This took place in the year of our Lord 1226. Long before while bitterly weeping over his sins, he had received the divine assurance that they were forgiven. In the same manner, it had also been revealed to him that he would go to heaven. Although this gave him great consolation, he did not mitigate the severity of his penances, nor cease to repent of his sins, as he said: ” If I had only once committed a small sin, I would think it sufficient cause for weeping as long as I live.” Many books have been written about the life of this Saint and to relate the many and great miracles which he wrought both whilst he lived on earth and, after his death, by his intercession in heaven. (1)

Francis had acquired land and set up a hermitage on Mount Verna. While praying there during a forty day fast in preparation for Michaelmas, he had a vision on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross 1224, where he received the stigmata or the five wounds of Christ.

Suffering from the wounds as well as from an eye disease, for which he received treatment but to no avail, he returned to the Portiuncula where he spent the last days of his life and died on the evening of 3 October 1226, singing Psalm 141. One legend says that on his death bed Francis thanked his donkey for carrying and helping him throughout his life, and that his donkey wept.

In 1228 Francis was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX, who as Cardinal Ugolino di Conti had been his friend and protector of the order.

Saint Francis

From “The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi,” 1476

 
At the time when St Francis was living in the city of Gubbio, a large wolf appeared in the neighbourhood, so terrible and so fierce, that he not only devoured other animals, but made a prey of men also; and since he often approached the town, all the people were in great alarm, and used to go about armed, as if going to battle. Notwithstanding these precautions, if any of the inhabitants ever met him alone, he was sure to be devoured, as all defence was useless: and, through fear of the wolf, they dared not go beyond the city walls.

St Francis, feeling great compassion for the people of Gubbio, resolved to go and meet the wolf, though all advised him not to do so. Making the sign of the holy cross, and putting all his confidence in God, he went forth from the city, taking his brethren with him; but these fearing to go any further, St Francis bent his steps alone toward the spot where the wolf was known to be, while many people followed at a distance, and witnessed the miracle.

The wolf, seeing all this multitude, ran towards St Francis with his jaws wide open. As he approached, the saint, making the sign of the cross, cried out: “Come hither, brother wolf; I command thee, in the name of Christ, neither to harm me nor anybody else.”

Marvellous to tell, no sooner had St Francis made the sign of the cross, than the terrible wolf, closing his jaws, stopped running, and coming up to St Francis, lay down at his feet as meekly as a lamb. And the saint thus addressed him: “Brother wolf, thou hast done much evil in this land, destroying and killing the creatures of God without his permission; yea, not animals only hast thou destroyed, but thou hast even dared to devour men, made after the image of God; for which thing thou art worthy of being hanged like a robber and a murderer. All men cry out against thee, the dogs pursue thee, and all the inhabitants of this city are thy enemies; but I will make peace between them and thee, O brother wolf, is so be thou no more offend them, and they shall forgive thee all thy past offences, and neither men nor dogs shall pursue thee any more.”

Having listened to these words, the wolf bowed his head, and, by the movements of his body, his tail, and his eyes, made signs that he agreed to what St Francis said. On this St Francis added: “As thou art willing to make this peace, I promise thee that thou shalt be fed every day by the inhabitants of this land so long as thou shalt live among them; thou shalt no longer suffer hunger, as it is hunger which has made thee do so much evil; but if I obtain all this for thee, thou must promise, on thy side, never again to attack any animal or any human being; dost thou make this promise?”

Then the wolf, bowing his head, made a sign that he consented.

Said St Francis again: “Brother wolf, wilt thou pledge thy faith that I may trust to this thy promise?” and putting out his hand he received the pledge of the wolf; for the latter lifted up his paw and placed it familiarly in the hand of St Francis, giving him thereby the only pledge which was in his power.

Then said St Francis, addressing him again: “Brother wolf, I command thee, in the name of Christ, to follow me immediately, without hesitation or doubting, that we may go together to ratify this peace which we have concluded in the name of God”; and the wolf, obeying him, walked by his side as meekly as a lamb, to the great astonishment of all the people.

Now, the news of this most wonderful miracle spreading quickly through the town, all the inhabitants, both men and women, small and great, young and old, flocked to the market-place to see St Francis and the wolf. All the people being assembled, the saint got up to preach, saying, amongst other things, how for our sins God permits such calamities, and how much greater and more dangerous are the flames of hell, which last for ever, than the rage of a wolf, which can kill the body only; and how much we ought to dread the jaws of hell, if the jaws of so small an animal as a wolf can make a whole city tremble through fear.

The sermon being ended, St Francis added these words: “Listen my brethren: the wolf who is here before you has promised and pledged his faith that he consents to make peace with you all, and no more to offend you in aught, and you must promise to give him each day his necessary food; to which, if you consent, I promise in his name that he will most faithfully observe the compact.”

Then all the people promised with one voice to feed the wolf to the end of his days; and St Francis, addressing the latter, said again: “And thou, brother wolf, dost thou promise to keep the compact, and never again to offend either man or beast, or any other creature?” And the wolf knelt down, bowing his head, and, by the motions of his tail and of his ears, endeavoured to show that he was willing, so far s was in his power, to hold to the compact.

Then St Francis continued: “Brother wolf, as thou gavest me a pledge of this thy promise when we were outside the town, so now I will that thou renew it in the sight of all this people, and assure me that I have done well to promise in thy name”; and the wolf lifting up his paw placed it in the hand of St Francis.

Now this event caused great joy in all the people, and a great devotion towards St Francis, both because of the novelty of the miracle, and because of the peace which had been concluded with the wolf; and they lifted up their voices to heaven, praising and blessing God, who had sent them St Francis, through whose merits they had been delivered from such a savage beast.

The wolf lived two years at Gubbio; he went familiarly from door to door without harming anyone, and all the people received him courteously, feeding him with great pleasure, and no dog barked at him as he went about.

At last, after two years, he died of old age, and the people of Gubbio mourned his loss greatly; for when they saw him going about so gently amongst them all, he reminded them of the virtue and sanctity of St Francis. (7)

Image: Top part of the oldest portrait of St. Francis, a mural painting in the sacred grotto “St. Benedict’s Cave” in Subiaco. (11)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Francis.html
  2. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_francis_of_assisi.html
  3. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/solemnity-of-saint-francis.html
  4. http://www.catholicireland.net/saint-day/
  5. http://www.nobility.org/2013/10/03/st-francis-of-assisi/
  6. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j197sd_FrancisAssisr_10-04.html
  7. http://www.fisheaters.com/animals6.html
  8. http://www.fisheaters.com/animals7.html
  9. http://www.fisheaters.com/animals8.html
  10. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-106.html
  11. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:S.Francesco_speco.jpg
  12. https://www.fisheaters.com/feastofstfrancisofassisi.html
  13. http://www.catholictradition.org/Passion/assisi.htm
  14. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Little%20Flower%20of%20St.%20Francis.html
  15. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Works%20of%20the%20Seraphic%20Father.html
  16. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Francis%20of%20Assisi%20and%20the%20Devil.html
  17. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/solemnity-of-saint-francis.html
  18. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/10-04.html
  19. http://www.thepoverello.com/StFrancispreacher.htm

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin

October 3

Today is the feast day of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.  Ora pro nobis.

Marie Françoise Thérèse Martin, known as the Little Flower of Jesus, was born January 2, 1873 at Alençon in Normandy, France, of very Christian parents. The Martins, who lost four of their little ones in early infancy or childhood, regarded their children as gifts from heaven and offered them to God before their birth. Thérèse was the last flower of this blessed stem, which gave four Sisters to the Carmel of Lisieux, still another to the Visitation of Caen.

The five sisters were left without their mother, a victim of cancer, when Thérèse was only four years old; but her two oldest sisters were of an age to take excellent care of the household and continue the Christian character formation of the younger ones, which their mother had initiated. Their saintly father was soon to see his little flock separated, however, when one after the other they left to enter religious life. He blessed each one and gave them all back to God, with humble gratitude to God for having chosen his daughters.

“Spiritual torment” was to be her lot for years to come, slackening only when she started preparing for her long-awaited First Communion. At the age of eleven, on 8 May 1884, she received her first “kiss of love,” a sense of being united with Jesus, of His giving Himself to her, as she gave herself to Him. Her Eucharist hunger made her long for daily Communion. Confirmation, “the Sacrament of Love,” which she received on June 14, 1884, filled her with ecstasy. Holidays in Trouville and Saint-Ouen-le-Pin were followed, however, by a retreat that triggered a crisis of scruples, lasting seventeen months.

Her sister, Marie, helped her to overcome it. But Marie in her turn entered the Lisieux Carmel on October 15,1886. This was too much for the adolescent Thérèse, who had now lost a third mother. She was nearly fourteen and already strikingly good-looking, quite tall, with magnificent eyes and long hair. She attracted notice on the beach in Trouville, where people nicknamed her “the tall English girl.” But she was tormented by an inner anguish that found relief only when, in November of 1886, she appealed to her four brothers and sisters in Heaven to intercede for her. Even then, she remained hypersensitive, weak-willed, “crying at having cried!”

Every time Thérèse even imagined that someone was criticizing her or didn’t appreciate her, she burst into tears. Then she would cry because she had cried! Any inner wall she built to contain her wild emotions crumpled immediately before the tiniest comment.  How could she possibly enter the Carmel—something she had dreamed of since the age of nine as a way of living with Jesus—in this pitiful state? Thérèse wanted to enter the Carmelite convent to join Pauline and Marie but how could she convince others that she could handle the rigors of Carmelite life, if she couldn’t handle her own emotional outbursts?

A trip to Rome and a petition at the knees of the Holy Father Leo XIII gave her the inalterable answer that her Superiors would regulate the matter. Many prayers finally obtained an affirmative reply to her ardent request, and four months after her fifteenth birthday she entered Carmel with an ineffable joy. She could say then, I no longer have any desire but to love Jesus even to folly.

She adopted flowers as the symbol of her love for her Divine Spouse and offered all her little daily sacrifices and works as rose petals at the feet of Jesus. Divine Providence gave to the world the autobiography of this true Saint, whose little way of spiritual childhood was described in her own words in her Story of a Soul. She could not offer God the macerations of the great soldiers of God, only her desires to love Him as they had loved Him, and to serve Him in every way possible, not only as a cloistered nun, but as a missionary, a priest, a hero of the faith, a martyr. She chose all in spirit, for her beloved Lord. Later she would be named patroness of missions. Her spirituality does not imply only sweetness and light, however; this loving child of God passed by a tunnel of desolate spiritual darkness, yet never ceased to smile at Him, wanting to serve Him, if it were possible, without His even knowing it.

When nine years had passed in the Carmel, the little flower was ready to be plucked for heaven; and in a slow agony of consumption, Thérèse made her final offering to God. She suffered so severely that she said she would never have believed it possible, and could only explain it by her desire to save souls for God. She died in 1897.

The account of the eleven years of her religious life, marked by signal graces and constant growth in holiness, is given by Soeur Thérèse in her autobiography, written in obedience to her superior and published two years after her death. In 1901 it was translated into English, and in 1912 another translation, the first complete edition of the life of the Servant of God, containing the autobiography, “Letters and Spiritual Counsels”, was published. Its success was immediate and it has passed into many editions, spreading far and wide the devotion to this “little” saint of simplicity, and abandonment in God’s service, of the perfect accomplishment of small duties.

In less than 30 years, in April of 1923, Pope Benedict XV declared her Blessed, and in 1925 Pius XI canonized her and named her feast day October 3. St. Pius X called St. Therese of the Child Jesus one of the greatest saints of modern times. In less than a century, she had become one of the most popular saints throughout the world.

PRAYER IN HONOR OF ST. THERESE

O Father in Heaven, Who through St. Therese of the Child Jesus dost desire to remind the world of the merciful love that fills Thy heart, and of the childlike trust that we should have in Thee, we thank Thee for having crowned with so great glory Thine ever faithful child, and for giving her such wondrous power to bring unto Thee day by day a multitude of souls who will bless Thee eternally.

Little St. Therese, remember thy promise to do good on earth; shower down abundantly thy roses on those who invoke thee, and obtain for us from God the graces we hope for from His infinite goodness.

Image: Detail of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in the photograph taken in the courtyard of the monastery of Lisieux Easter Monday, April 15, 1894. (7)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_therese_of_the_child_jesus.html
  2. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-182/Therese01.htm
  3. http://www.crusaders-for-christ.com/little-therese/-chapter-24-carmel-the-holy-death-of-therese
  4. http://www.crusaders-for-christ.com/little-therese/-chapter-24-carmel-the-holy-death-of-therese
  5. http://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/c005rpSt.Therese.htm
  6. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/10-03.html
  7. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Teresa-de-Lisieux.jpg
  8. http://www.catholictradition.org/Lisieux/lisieux.htm
  9. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Theresa.html
  10. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Theresa%20popup.html
  11. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-184/Therese03.htm
  12. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-186/Therese05.htm
  13. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-187/Therese06.htm
  14. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-185/Therese04.htm
  15. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-183/Therese02.htm
  16. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-188/Therese07.htm
  17. http://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/c005rpSt.Therese.htm

The Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels

October 2

Today is the feast day of the Holy Guardian Angels.

Your Guardian Angel is your companion and your friend. He is given to you at the first moment of existence and stays with you to the end. He inspires you with good and holy thoughts. He protects you from many dangers and accidents, and assists you in a thousand ways throughout your life. The Angels are most desirous to be our friends and they love us with all the intensity of their angelic natures. “He hath given His Angels charge over thee: to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands they shall bear thee up lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Psalm 91). (2)

Feast Day of the Holy Guardian Angels

Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

The Holy Church has instituted a special festival to recall to our mind the grace which God’s infinite mercy has bestowed upon us by appointing the holy Angels for our temporal and spiritual protection. This festival should remind us to give thanks to God for this great benefit and to show our gratitude to the holy Angels for their care and solicitude. That this may be performed with due zeal and devotion, consider well the following remarks.
 
The Almighty created a countless number of heavenly spirits, by nature immortal, and bestowed upon them especial graces. I say, a countless number; for it is said in Holy Writ: “Is there any numbering of His Soldiers!” (Job. xxv.) By “soldiers,” are understood His Angels. Somewhere else it is written: “Thousands of thousands ministered to Him and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before Him.” (Daniel, vii.) These Heavenly Spirits are divided into three classes, and each class into three Choirs; hence they consist of nine Choirs.

The first, and highest is composed of the Seraphim; the second, of the Cherubim; the third of the Thrones; the fourth, of the Dominations; the fifth of the Principalities, the sixth, of the Powers; the seventh, of the Virtues; the eighth, of the Archangels; and the ninth, of the Angels. All surround the throne of the most High, constantly praise His infinite Majesty, and are ever ready to execute His commands; still, each of these Choirs has its separate function, as we are taught by Theologians. From the last, or ninth Choir, God has assigned to each human being, a Guardian to protect him. Hence they are called Guardian Angels. Thus the Holy Church teaches, and it cannot be doubted that this teaching is true, as it is founded on the words of Holy Writ. To each human being is given an angel, a prince of heaven to protect him in soul and body, to cheer him in adversity, to console him in sorrow, to strengthen him in temptations, to assist him in danger, to prevent him from doing evil, to incite him to do good, and thus lead him to heaven, if he is obedient to his Guardian Angel.

Just as in former times. God gave to the Israelites a special Angel to guard them and to lead them into the promised land, according to the words: “Behold, I will send my Angel, who shall go before thee and keep thee in thy journey; and bring thee into the place that I have prepared;” (Exodus, xxiii;) so He gives to each man an Angel to protect him on the road of this life, to lead him happily to Heaven, of which the promised land was the type. Pause here, my dear reader, and consider the greatness of this mercy of God towards us. As long as the world has existed, we have never heard of a monarch, who gave one of his noble courtiers the command to be continually at the side of a common peasant, or other man of low estate, to take care of him and lead him safely to a far-off land. But what was never heard of in a temporal king, this and much more our holy faith teaches us is done for us by the great and merciful God, the King of heaven and earth. He has given to every one, even to the most wretched being, one of the Princes of heaven, to take care of him, constantly to accompany him, and to open for him the gates of the eternal world.

How priceless a grace! How infinite a goodness! Judge yourself, my dear reader, if you have not every reason to offer thanks to the great God, Who has shown such infinite kindness towards you, and who is thus solicitous for your salvation. Today especially, ought you to render thanksgivings to Him; and for this purpose the festival which we celebrate was instituted. Reflect, also, how the Angels, to whose care God has confided us, regard us. They are perfectly satisfied with those whom God has given into their charge, be they poor or rich, of high or of low standing.

They perform their mission with the greatest love and solicitude. “They love us,” says St. Bernard, “because Christ has loved us.” They prove their love by deeds; they avert many dangers of body and soul from us, and protect us most miraculously; they prevent us from doing wrong, and animate us to do good; they fortify us to resist the temptations of satan. When we have been guilty of sin, they incite us to do penance, to appease the wrath of God, and to turn from us His well-merited punishment; they rejoice when we do penance, and convert our hearts to God; they offer our prayers, fasts, and other good works to the Almighty, and pray to Him for us. They do not leave us, asleep or awake, well or sick; they assist us in life and in death, and accompany our souls to the Judgment-seat of the Most High.

 Holy Writ is full of examples which prove all that I have here said. Many more examples are found in the history of the church, and in the Lives of the Saints. An Angel saved the famished Ishmael from danger of death. An Angel preserved the life of the obedient Isaac, by checking the drawn sword of his father. An angel led the pious Lot out of Sodom, and thus saved him from being burned with the rest of the inhabitants. An Angel protected the Israelites against all their enemies. An Angel fed the prophet Elias in the wilderness, and strengthened him to proceed on his long journey. An Angel delivered the pious king Ezekias and the city of Jerusalem from many thousand enemies, by slaying them all in one night. An Angel preserved the prophet Daniel unharmed in the midst of the lions, and brought the prophet Habacuc to feed him.

An Angel kept the three companions of the same holy prophet uninjured in the furnace of Babylon. An Angel accompanied the young Tobias as guide during his journey, and instructed him in what manner he should marry the chaste Sarah, to prevent the Evil one from harming him, as had been done to seven others, who had been slain by the devil. Besides benefiting him in various other ways, he saved him also from the danger of being devoured by a monstrous fish.

It was the same Angel who had offered the prayers of the elder Tobias to the Almighty, and who afterwards, restored him to sight. An Angel shielded the chaste Judith in great dangers of soul and body. An Angel instructed the Centurion Cornelius how to save his soul. An Angel delivered St. Peter from prison and the danger of death. An Angel preserved the life of St. Paul, and of others, who were with him in the ship. Many other similar events are found in Holy Writ, and in the Lives of the Saints. And what are all these but proofs of the love and solicitude of the Angels for us?

Reflect upon your past life, and see if you yourself have not received sufficient proof of the devotion and care of your holy Guardian Angel? That you have not lost your life in many dangers which encompassed you; that you have been guarded from many sins; that you did not die in your sin, but have time to do penance; that you have received so many spiritual and temporal favors and benefits from the Almighty: all these, and many other favors, are to be ascribed to the powerful protection, the love and care of your holy Guardian Angel and to his intercession with God in your behalf.

In consideration of so many blessings, of such watchful protection, such indescribable devotion and solicitude, you must reasonably conclude that you owe especial gratitude to your holy Guardian Angel. Of course, you have first to render thanks to the Almighty, who placed you under the protection of so noble and kind a Prince of heaven. But St. Bernard exhorts us also to show ourselves grateful towards those, who, obeying the command of God, watch over us so lovingly, and assist us in all our needs. “Let us be full of devotion and gratitude towards such powerful protectors,” says he; “let us return love for love, and endeavor to honor them with our whole heart.”

When God promised to the Israelites to send an Angel to protect them on their journey and lead them to the promised land, He added: “Take notice of him and hear his voice, and do not think him one to be contemned; for he will not forgive when thou hast sinned, and my name is in him; ” which means that he represents God. (Exod. xxiii.) These words show you how you must prove your gratitude in deeds.

“Honor him,” this is the first thing which God demands. “Honor him,” because he is an Angel of God, a representative of God, a great Prince of heaven. ” Honor him,” because God has raised him to great glory; he sees the face of the Most High, and often acts in His name. “Honor him.” You honor your Guardian Angel if you call with confidence on him in all your cares, especially when your soul or your body is endangered, in great temptations, in life and death. Tobias had hardly perceived the danger of being devoured by a monstrous fish, when he called to his faithful guide, who was an Angel: “Sir, he cometh upon me!” He asked help and received it instantly.

Why should you not call, with equal confidence, to your Guardian Angel, especially when the hellish monster, the roaring lion, as Holy Writ calls him, the devil, the Evil One, tempts you to sin, and thus endeavors to devour you?” As often as a great temptation or sorrow approaches you,” writes St. Bernard, “call to your guide, your protector, and say: ” Sir, help me, or I go to destruction!”

“Obey his voice,” says the Lord. He speaks to your soul by interior movements or inspirations. For instance, if you are in danger of sin, he calls to you: “Depart from evil, avoid sin.” If you are surrounded by occasions of evil, he calls to you: “Withdraw from here! Flee hastily.” If you have committed sin, he exhorts you: “Do penance! Return without delay to your God!”

In like manner, he admonishes you interiorly, to practice good works, to be more zealous in the service of God, more solicitous for your salvation. Obey this voice, this call of your holy Guardian Angel. If you do not, you despise him, which is contrary to the command of God, who will surely net leave it unpunished, as it is an offense done, in some respect, to His Majesty. Always obey the voice of your Guardian Angel, and offend him not by disobedience, as otherwise you will not be worthy of his protection.

In conclusion, I will give you a memorable admonition of St. Bernard. He urges you, constantly to call to mind the presence of your Angel, and duly to honor him everywhere. This, however, says he, should be done principally by avoiding sin. For it is contrary to all the respect you owe him, to sin in his presence. “In all places,” these are the words of the holy teacher, “In all places, manifest to your Angel that honor which is due to him, and dare not commit in his presence what you would not dare to do if I were near.” Elsewhere, he says: “Let us walk in such a manner before the eyes of the Angels, that we do not offend their sight.”

“We must guard ourselves not to offend them, and hence we must assiduously perform all those exercises which we know are agreeable to them, as temperance, chastity, voluntary poverty, devout prayers, &c.” Impress these words deeply in your heart; for they contain the best advice as to the means you should employ to honor your holy Guardian Angel, and to assure yourself of his loving and powerful protection during your life, and at the hour of your death. Avoid everything that you know is displeasing to him, and practice, with great zeal, all that you are convinced will be agreeable to him. (1)

The Twelve Works of our Guardian Angel
by St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, OFM
Doctor of the Church

According to Sacred Scripture there are twelve works of charity which our guardian Angel does for us.

THE FIRST is to rebuke us for our faults. According to the Book of Judges, chapter 2, verse 1: The Angel of the Lord ascends from Galgala to the place of those weeping and says: “I have lead you forth from the land of Egypt . . . And you have not heard my voice.”

THE SECOND is to absolve us from the bonds of our sins. According to Book of Acts, chapter 12, verse 7: The Angel stood by . . . and the chains fell from his hands; yet this must be understood as disposing this to happen.

THE THIRD is to take away from us those things impeding our progress in goodness, which is signified in the Book of Exodus, chapter 12, verse 12: where the Angel struck the first born of Egypt.

THE FOURTH is to constrain those demons afflicting us, according the Book of Tobias, chapter 12, verse 3: “He chased the demon from my wife”, says Tobias of the Archangel St. Raphael.

THE FIFTH is to teach us, according to the Book of Daniel, chapter 9, verse 22: Now I have entered, to teach you, and so that you might understand.

THE SIXTH is to reveal secrets, for according to the Book of Genesis, chapter 18, verse 17, the three Angels expressed the Mystery of the Trinity and Unity, after which God said: Can I conceal from Abraham what I am about to do?

THE SEVENTH is to console, according to the Book of Tobias, chapter 5, verse 13: Be of a strong spirit, it is nigh, that you are to be cured by God etc..

THE EIGHTH is to comfort us on the way to God, according to Third Book of Kings, chapter 19, verse 7: Rise and eat, for a grand way remains for you.

THE NINTH is to lead us forth on this way and to conduct us back to God, according to the Book of Tobias, chapter 5, verse 15: I shall lead, and I shall lead him back etc..

THE TENTH is to cast down our enemies, according the Book of Isaiah, chapter 37, verse 36: Having entered the Angel of the Lord struck upon the camps of the Assyrians etc..

THE ELEVENTH, to mitigate our temptations; and this is signified in the Book of Genesis, chapter 32, verse 24, where Jacob wrestled with the Angel, and was comforted after the match, having accepted his blessing, the nerve of his femur withered up.

THE TWELFTH is to pray for us and to carry our prayers to God, according the Book of Tobias, chapter 12, verse 12: When you were praying with tears . . . I offered your prayer etc.. All of these are the effects of our guardian Angel’s care of us, on account of which we ought to be submissive and grateful both to God and the Holy Angels.

A PRAYER TO OUR GUARDIAN ANGEL
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom His Love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen. (8)

Image: Ángel de la Guarda (17)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Guardian%20Angels%20New.html
  2. http://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/f012rpAngels_Fitzgerald.htm
  3. http://www.nobility.org/2016/09/29/holy-guardian-angels/
  4. http://www.crusaders-for-christ.com/blog/category/guardian%20angel
  5. http://www.catholictradition.org/Angels/guardians-feast.htm
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  7. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Guardian.html
  8. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Bonaventure%20Guardian%20Angel.html
  9. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Guardian%20Angels%20Popup.html
  10. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Guardian%20Angels%20Children.html
  11. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Guardian%20Angels%20Novena.html
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  13. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/the_holy_guardian_angels.html
  14. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/10-02.html
  15. http://www.crusaders-for-christ.com/blog/feast-of-the-holy-guardian-angels
  16. http://www.crusaders-for-christ.com/blog/novena-to-our-guardian-angel-for-the-holy-souls-to-be-said-for-nine-consecutive-day
  17. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%C3%81ngel_de_la_Guarda.jpg