Saint Anne

July 26

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

Anne (Hebrew, Hannah, grace; also spelled Ann, Anne, Anna) is the traditional name of the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

All our information concerning the names and lives of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary, is derived from apocryphal literature, the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary, the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Protoevangelium of James. Though the earliest form of the latter, on which directly or indirectly the other two seem to be based, goes back to about A.D. 150, we can hardly accept as beyond doubt its various statements on its sole authority. In the Orient the Protoevangelium had great authority and portions of it were read on the feasts of Mary by the Greeks, Syrians, Copts, and Arabians. In the Occident, however, it was rejected by the Fathers of the Church until its contents were incorporated by Jacobus de Voragine in his “Golden Legend” in the thirteenth century. From that time on the story of St. Anne spread over the West and was amply developed, until St. Anne became one of the most popular saints also of the Latin Church.

In the Latin Church St. Anne was not venerated, except, perhaps, in the south of France, before the thirteenth century. Her picture, painted in the eighth century, which was found lately in the church of Santa Maria Antiqua in Rome, owes its origin to Byzantine influence. Her feast, under the influence of the “Golden Legend”, is first found (26 July) in the thirteenth century, e.g. at Douai (in 1291), where a foot of St. Anne was venerated (feast of translation, 16 September). It was introduced in England by Urban VI, 21 November, 1378, from which time it spread all over the Western Church. It was extended to the universal Latin Church in 1584.

The supposed relics of St. Anne were brought from the Holy Land to Constantinople in 710 and were still kept there in the church of St. Sophia in 1333. The tradition of the church of Apt in southern France pretends that the body of St. Anne was brought to Apt by St. Lazarus, the friend of Christ, was hidden by St. Auspicius (d. 398), and found again during the reign of Charlemagne (feast, Monday after the octave of Easter); these relics were brought to a magnificent chapel in 1664 (feast, 4 May). The head of St. Anne was kept at Mainz up to 1510, when it was stolen and brought to Düren in Rheinland. St. Anne is the patroness of Brittany. Her miraculous picture (feast, 7 March) is venerated at Notre Dame d’Auray, Diocese of Vannes. Also in Canada, where she is the principal patron of the province of Quebec, the shrine of St. Anne de Beaupré is well known. St. Anne is patroness of women in labour; she is represented holding the Blessed Virgin Mary in her lap, who again carries on her arm the child Jesus. She is also patroness of miners, Christ being compared to gold, Mary to silver.

Saint Anne

by Abbot Gueranger

 

Uniting the blood of kings with that of pontiffs, the glory of St. Anne’s illustrious origin is far surpassed by that of her offspring, without compare among the daughters of Eve. The noblest of all who have ever conceived by virtue of the command to “increase and multiply,” beholds the law of human generation pause before her as having arrived at its summit, at the threshold of God; for from her fruit God Himself is to come forth, the “fatherless” Son of the Blessed Virgin, and the Grandson of Sts. Anne and Joachim.

Before being favored with the greatest blessing ever bestowed on an earthly union, the two holy grandparents of the Word Made Flesh had to pass through the purification of suffering. Traditions which have come down to us from the very beginning of Christianity, tell us of these noble spouses subjected to the trial of prolonged sterility, and on that account despised by their people; of St. Joachim cast out of the temple and going to hide his sorrow in the desert; of St. Anne left alone to mourn her widowhood and humiliation.

Warned from Heaven to leave the desert, St. Joachim met his spouse at the golden gate which leads to the Temple on the east side. Not far from here, near the Probatica pool, where the little white lambs were washed before being offered in sacrifice, now stands the restored Basilica of St. Anne, originally called St. Mary of the Nativity. Here, as in a peaceful paradise, the rod of Jesse produced that blessed branch that had blossomed from eternity in the bosom of the Father. It is true that Sepphoris, St. Anne’s native city, and Nazareth, where Mary lived, dispute with the Holy City the honor which ancient and constant tradition assigns to Jerusalem. But our homage will not be misdirected if we offer it today to Blessed Anne, in whom were wrought the prodigies, the very thought of which brings new joy to Heaven, rage to Satan, and triumph to the world.

St. Anne was, as it were, the starting point of Redemption, the horizon scanned by the prophets, the first span of the Heavens to be empurpled with the rising fires of dawn; the blessed soil whose produce was so pure as to make the Angels believe that Eden had been restored to us. But in the midst of the incomparable peace that surrounds her, let us hail her as the land of victory surpassing the most famous fields of battle; as the sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception, where our humiliated race took up the combat begun before the throne of God by the angelic hosts; where the serpent’s head was crushed, and St. Michael, now surpassed in glory, gladly handed over to his sweet Queen, at the first moment of Her existence, the command of the Lord’s armies.

What human lips, unless touched like the prophet’s with a burning coal, could tell the admiring wonder of the angelic Powers, when the Blessed Trinity, passing from the burning Seraphim to the lowest of the nine choirs, bade them turn their fiery glances and contemplate the flower of sanctity blossoming in the bosom of St. Anne? The Psalmist had said of the glorious City whose foundations were now hidden in Her that was once barren: The foundations thereof are in the holy mountains (Ps. 86: 1), and the heavenly hierarchies crowning the slopes of the eternal hills beheld in Her heights to them unknown and unattainable summits approaching so near to God, that He was even then preparing His throne in Her. Like Moses at the sight of the burning bush on Horeb, they were seized with a holy awe on recognizing the mountain of God in the midst of the desert of this world; and they understood that the affliction of Israel was soon to cease. Although shrouded by the cloud, Mary was already that blessed mountain whose base – i.e. the starting point of Her graces – was set far above the summits where the highest created sanctities are perfected in glory and love.

How justly is the mother named Anne, which signifies grace, she in whom for nine months were centered the complacencies of the Most High, the ecstasy of the angelic spirits, and the hope of all flesh! No doubt it was Mary, the daughter, and not the mother, whose sweetness so powerfully attracted the heavens to our lowly earth. But the perfume first scents the vessel which contains it, and, even after it is removed, leaves it impregnated with its fragrance. Moreover, it is customary to prepare the vase itself with the greatest care; it must be all pure, made of more precious material, and more richly adorned, according as the essence to be placed in it is rarer and more exquisite. Thus St. Mary Magdalene enclosed her precious spikenard in alabaster. The Holy Ghost, the Preparer of heavenly perfumes, would not be less careful than men. Now the task of Blessed Anne was not limited, like that of a material vase, to contain passively the treasure of the world. She furnished the body of Her who was to give flesh to the Son of God; she nourished Her with her milk; she gave to Her, who was inundated with floods of divine light, the first practical notions of life. In the part of a true Mother: not only did she guide Mary’s first steps but she cooperated with the Holy Ghost in the education of Her soul and in the preparation of Her for Her incomparable destiny; until, when the work had reached the highest development to which she could bring it, she, without a moment’s hesitation or a thought of self, offered her tenderly loved Child to Him from Whom she had received Her.

Sic fingit tabernaculum Deo – “Thus she frames a tabernacle for God.” Such was the inscription around the figure of St. Anne instructing Mary, which formed the coat of arms of the ancient guild of joiners and cabinet-makers; for they, looking upon the making of tabernacles wherein God may dwell in our churches as their most choice work, had taken St. Anne for their patroness and model. Happy were those times when the simplicity of our fathers penetrated so deeply into the practical understanding of mysteries which their infatuated sons glory in ignoring. The valiant woman is praised in the Book of Proverbs for her spinning, weaving, sewing, embroidering, and household cares; naturally, then, those engaged in these occupations placed themselves under the protection of the spouse of St. Joachim. More than once, those suffering from the same trial which had inspired St. Anne’s fervent prayer, experienced the power of her intercession in obtaining for others, as well as for herself, the blessing of our Lord God.

The East anticipated the West in the public devotion to the Grandmother of the Messias. Towards the middle of the 6th century a church was dedicated to her in Constantinople. The Typicon of St. Sabbas makes a liturgical commemoration of her three times in the year: on September 9, together with her spouse, St. Joachim, the day after the birthday of their glorious Daughter; on December 9, whereon the Greeks, a day later than the Latins, keep the Feast of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, under a title which more directly expresses St. Anne’s share in the mystery; and lastly, July 25, not being occupied by the Feast of St. James, which was kept on April 30 in their calendar, is called the Dormitio or precious death of St. Anne, mother of the Most Holy Mother of God: the very same expression which the Roman Martyrology adopted later.

Although Rome, with Her usual reserve, did not until much later authorize the introduction into the Latin Churches of a liturgical Feast of St. Anne, She nevertheless encouraged the piety of the faithful in this direction. As early as the time of St. Leo III (795-816) and by that illustrious Pontiff’s express command, the history of St. Anne and St. Joachim was represented on the sacred ornaments of the noblest basilicas in the Eternal City. The Order of Carmel, so devout to St. Anne, powerfully contributed, by its fortunate migration into western Europe, to the growing increase of her devotion. Moreover, this development was the natural outcome of the progress of devotion among the people to the Mother of God. The close relation between the two devotions is noticed in a concession, whereby in 1381, Pope Urban VI satisfied the desires of the faithful in England by authorizing for that kingdom a Feast of St. Anne. The Church of Apt in Provence, France, had been already a century in possession of the Feast; a fact due to the honor bestowed on that Church of having received, almost together with the Faith, the Saint’s holy body, in the first century of Christianity.

Since Our Lord, reigning in Heaven, has willed that His Blessed Mother should also be crowned there in Her virginal body, the relics of Mary’s mother have become doubly dear to the world, first, as in the case of others, on account of the holiness of her whose precious remains they are, and then above all others, on account of their close connection with the mystery of the Incarnation. The Church of Apt was so generous out of its abundance, that it would now be impossible to enumerate the sanctuaries which have obtained, either from this principal source or from elsewhere, notable portions of these precious relics. We cannot omit to mention as one of these privileged places, the great Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls: St. Anne herself, in an apparition to St. Bridget of Sweden, confirmed the authenticity of the arm which forms one of the most precious jewels in the rich treasury of that Church.

It was not until 1584 that Pope Gregory XIII ordered the celebration of the Feast on July 26 throughout the whole Church, with the rite of a double. Pope Leo XIII in 1879 raised it, together with that of St. Joachim, to the dignity of a solemnity of the II Class. But before that, Pope Gregory XV, after having been cured of a serious illness by St. Anne, had ranked her Feast among those of precept, with the obligation of resting from servile work.

Now that St. Anne was receiving the homage due to her exalted dignity, she made haste to show her recognition of this more solemn tribute of praise. In the years 1623, 1624 and 1625, in the village of Kerouanne, near Auray, in Britanny, she appeared to Yves Nicolazic, and revealed to him an ancient statue buried in the field of Bocenno, which he tenanted. This discovery brought the people once more to the place where, a thousand years before, the inhabitants of ancient Armorica had honored that statue. Innumerable graces obtained on the spot spread its fame far beyond the limits of the Province, whose faith, worthy of past ages, had merited the favor of the grandmother of the Messias; and St. Anne d’Auray was soon so renowned as to be among the chief pilgrimage destinations of the Christian world.

In the family circle, the grandmother’s feast day is one of the most touching of all, when her grandchildren surround her with reverential love, as we gather around St. Anne today. Many do not know these beautiful feasts, where the blessing of the earthly paradise seems to revive in all its freshness; but the mercy of our God has provided a sweet compensation. He, the Most High God, willed to come so nigh to us as to be one of us in the flesh; to know the relations and mutual dependencies which are the law of our nature; the cords of Adam, with which He had determined to draw us and in which He first bound Himself. For in raising nature above itself, He did not eliminate it; He made grace take hold of it and lead it to Heaven; so that, joined together on earth by their Divine Author, nature and grace were to be united for all eternity. We then being brethren by grace of Him Who is ever the Grandson of St. Anne by nature, are, by this loving disposition of Divine Wisdom, quite at home under her roof; and today’s Feast, so dear to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, is our own family feast.

O Blessed Anne, rescue society, which is perishing for want of virtues like thine. Have pity on unhappy France, for which thou hast shown thy predilection, first, by so early confiding to it thy sacred body; later on, by choosing in it the spot whence thou wouldst manifest thyself to the world. O thou who lovest the Franks, continue to show fallen Gaul, once looked upon as the Kingdom of Mary, that love which is its most cherished tradition. (1)

Image: Saint Anne with the Virgin, artist: Angelos Akotantos, circa: 15th century (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-157/Saint%20Anne.htm
  2. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01538a.htm
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Angelos_Akotanos_-_Saint_Anne_with_the_Virgin_-_15th_century.jpg

Saint Christopher, Martyr

July 25

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

(Greek christos, Christ, pherein, to bear. Latin Christophorus, i.e. Christbearer).

The legend says: A heathen king (in Canaan or Arabia), through the prayers of his wife to the Blessed Virgin, had a son, whom he called Offerus (Offro, Adokimus, or Reprebus) and dedicated to the gods Machmet and Apollo. Acquiring in time extraordinary size and strength, Offerus resolved to serve only the strongest and the bravest. He bound himself successively to a mighty king and to Satan, but he found both lacking in courage, the former dreading even the name of the devil, and the latter frightened by the sight of a cross at the roadside.

For a time his search for a new master was in vain, but at last he found a hermit (Babylas?) who told him to offer his allegiance to Christ, instructed him in the Faith, and baptized him.  He then took the name Christophorus (Christopher).

Two great Saints refer to the wonderful achievements of St. Christophorus. St. Ambrose mentions that this Saint converted forty-eight thousand souls to Christ. St. Vincent Ferrer declares that when the plague devastated Valencia, its destructive course was stayed through the intercession of St. Christophorus.  St. Christophorus is usually called St. Christopher. He is the patron of travelers, especially motorists, and is invoked in storms and tempests.

The existence of a martyr St. Christopher cannot be denied, as was sufficiently shown by the Jesuit Nicholas Serarius, in his treatise on litanies, “Litaneutici” (Cologne, 1609), and by Molanus in his history of sacred pictures, “De picturis et imaginibus sacris” (Louvain, 1570). In a small church dedicated to the martyr St. Christopher, the body of St. Remigius of Reims was buried, 532 (Acta SS., 1 Oct., 161). St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) speaks of a monastery of St. Christopher (Epp., x., 33). The Mozarabic Breviary and Missal, ascribed to St. Isidore of Seville (d. 636), contains a special office in his honour. In 1386 a brotherhood was founded under the patronage of St. Christopher in Tyrol and Vorarlberg, to guide travellers over the Arlberg. In 1517, a St. Christopher temperance society existed in Carinthia, Styria, in Saxony, and at Munich. Great veneration was shown to the saint in Venice, along the shores of the Danube, the Rhine, and other rivers where floods or ice-jams caused frequent damage. The oldest picture of the saint, in the monastery on the Mount Sinai dates from the time of Justinian (527-65). Coins with his image were cast at Würzburg, in Würtemberg, and in Bohemia.

His statues were placed at the entrances of churches and dwellings, and frequently at bridges; these statues and his pictures often bore the inscription: “Whoever shall behold the image of St. Christopher shall not faint or fall on that day.” The saint, who is one of the fourteen holy helpers, has been chosen as patron by Baden, by Brunswick, and by Mecklenburg, and several other cities, as well as by bookbinders, gardeners, mariners, etc. He is invoked against lightning, storms, epilepsy, pestilence, etc. His feast is kept on 25 July; among the Greeks, on 9 March; and his emblems are the tree, the Christ Child, and a staff. St. Christopher’s Island (commonly called St. Kitts), lies 46 miles west of Antigua in the Lesser Antilles.

St. Christopher, Martyr
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

The Roman Martyrology, today, honors also St. Christopher, who received the crown of martyrdom about the middle of the third century. He was born and educated in idolatry, but no sooner had he embraced Christianity, than he zealously strove to convert others to the true faith, and labored especially for this end in the district of Lycia. When, on this account, he was arraigned before the heathen judges, he fearlessly confessed Christ. Making him prisoner, they sent two wicked heathen women to him, who by tempting him to evil deeds, should open the way for him to forsake Christianity. But the Saint not only induced them by his exhortations to change their conduct, but also converted them to the Christian faith; which so enraged the judge, that he ordered the Saint to be tormented most cruelly.

Perceiving, however, that the Saint remained constant under all kinds of martyrdom, and by his example converted a great many heathens, the tyrant at length ordered him to be beheaded. This Saint is generally represented as of a gigantic stature, with a budding staff in his hand, carrying Christ, in the form of a lovely child, across a river. The cause of this is, that St. Christopher possessed a very tall figure, and one day, while expounding the truth of the Gospel to the heathens, he fixed a withered stick into the ground, which, to testify to the truth of his teachings, immediately began to bud. It is also told of him that his desire to assist his neighbor induced him to make his dwelling for some time by a river, and to carry travelers across to the opposite shore, as there was no bridge. While employed in these deeds of kindness, Christ Himself appeared one day to him, in the form of a lovely child, desiring to be carried over the river. The Saint took Him upon his shoulder, and carried him to the opposite shore, where the Saviour, making Himself known, filled the heart of His faithful servant with inexpressible joy.

There have been in the last few centuries, some who, wickedly desiring to tarnish the glory of the Saints, dared to assert that St. Christopher never existed. Several learned men, however, have, by their powerful arguments, silenced this erroneous statement. It is an established fact, that this holy Martyr was already honored by the whole Christian world, more than a thousand years before Luther. There are several convents and churches which were founded in his honor. It must here also be remarked that the Catholic Church by no means approves of the superstition practiced by some weak-minded persons; as, for instance, to say the so-called Prayer of St. Christopher, in order to find hidden treasures or to receive money from the Saint. It is known that, in our time, some who practised this superstition were punished by a just judgment of the Almighty in a terrible manner, by a sudden death. (1)

Image: Triptych of Willem Moreel, central panel (4)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Christopher.html
  2. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints7-16.htm
  3. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03728a.htm
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hans_Memling_070.jpg

Saint James the Greater, Apostle, Martyr

July 25

Today is the feast day of Saint James the Greater.  Ora pro Nobis.

Saint James the Greater was the son of Zebedee and Salome. St. James is styled “the Greater” to distinguish him from the Apostle James “the Less,” who was probably shorter of stature. We know nothing of St. James’s early life. He was the brother of John, the beloved disciple, and probably the elder of the two.   It is probable, according to Acts 4:13, that John (and consequently his brother James) had not received the technical training of the rabbinical schools; in this sense they were unlearned and without any official position among the Jews. But, according to the social rank of their parents, they must have been men of ordinary education, in the common walks of Jewish life. They had frequent opportunity of coming in contact with Greek life and language, which were already widely spread along the shores of the Galilean Sea.

Several incidents scattered through the Synoptics suggest that James and John had that particular character indicated by the name “Boanerges,” sons of thunder, given to them by the Lord (Mark, iii, 17); they were burning and impetuous in their evangelical zeal and severe in temper. The two brothers showed their fiery temperament against “a certain man casting out devils” in the name of the Christ; John, answering, said: “We [James is probably meant] forbade him, because he followeth not with us” (Luke, ix, 49). When the Samaritans refused to receive Christ, James and John said: “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them?” (Luke, ix, 54; cf. v. 49).

A tradition asserts that James the Greater preached the Gospel in Spain, and that his body was translated to Compostela:

 St. James the Greater, having preached Christianity in Spain, returned to Judea and was put to death by order of Herod; his body was miraculously translated to Iria Flavia in the northwest of Spain, and later to Compostela, which town, especially during the Middle Ages, became one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in the world. The vow of making a pilgrimage to Compostela to honour the sepulchre of St. James is still reserved to the pope, who alone of his own or ordinary right can dispense from it. In the twelfth century was founded the Order of Knights of St. James of Compostela. That he actually preached in Spain cannot be validated but the Church still accords him the title, “the Patron of Spain” based on Tradition. (1)

 

Saint James the Greater, Apostle
from the Liturgical Year, 1909

Let us, today, hail the bright star, which once made Compostella so resplendent with its rays, that the obscure town became, like Jerusalem and Rome, a centre of attraction to the piety of the whole world. As long as the Christian empire lasted, the sepulchre of St. James the Great rivalled in glory that of St. Peter himself.

Among the Saints of God, there is not one who manifested more evidently how the elect keep up after death an interest in the works confided to them by our Lord. The life of St. James after his call to the Apostolate was but short; and the result of his labours in Spain, his allotted portion, appeared to be a failure. Scarcely had he, in his rapid course, taken possession of the land of Iberia, when, impatient to drink the chalice which would satisfy his continual desire to be close to his Lord, he opened by martyrdom the heavenward procession of the twelve, which was to be closed by the other son of Zebedee. O Salome, who didst give them both to the world, and didst present to Jesus their ambitious prayer, rejoice with a double joy: thou art not repulsed; He who made the hearts of mothers is thine abettor. Did he not, to the exclusion of all others except Simon his Vicar, choose thy two sons as witnesses of the greatest works of his power, admit them to the contemplation of his glory on Thabor, and confide to them his sorrow unto death in the garden of his agony? And to-day thy eldest born becomes the first-born in heaven of the sacred college; the protomartyr of the Apostles repays, as far as in him lies, the special love of Christ our Lord.

But how was he a messenger of the faith, since the sword of Herod Agrippa put such a speedy end to his mission? And how did he justify his name of son of thunder, since his voice was heard by a mere handful of disciples in a desert of infidelity? This new name, another special prerogative of the two brothers, was realized by John in his sublime writings, wherein as by lightning flashes he revealed to the world the deep things of God; it was the same in his case as in that of Simon, who having been called Peter by Christ, was also made by him the foundation of the Church: the name given by the Man-God was a prophecy, not an empty title. With regard to James too, then, Eternal Wisdom cannot have been mistaken. Let it not be thought that the sword of any Herod could frustrate the designs of the Most High upon the men of his choice. The life of the Saints is never cut short; their death, ever precious, is still more so when in the cause of God it seems to come before the time. It is then that with double reason we may say their works follow them; God, Himself, being bound in honour, both for His own sake and for theirs, to see that nothing is wanting to their plenitude. As a, victim, of a holocaust he hath received them, says the Holy Ghost, and in time there shall be respect had to them. The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds. They shall judge nations, and rule over peoples; and their Lord shall reign for ever (Wisd. iii. 6-8). How literally was this Divine oracle to be fulfilled with regard to our Saint!

Nearly eight centuries, which to the heavenly citizens are but as a day, had passed over that tomb in the North of Spain, where two disciples had secretly laid the Apostle’s body. During that time, the land of his inheritance, which he had so rapidly traversed, had been overrun first by Roman idolaters, then by Arian barbarians, and when the day of hope seemed about to dawn, a deeper night was ushered in by the Crescent. One day lights were seen glimmering over the briars that covered the neglected monument; attention was drawn to the spot, which henceforth went by the name of the field of stars. But what are those sudden shouts coming down from the mountains, and echoing through the valleys? Who is this unknown chief rallying against an immense army the little worn-out troop whose heroic valour could not yesterday save it from defeat?

Swift as lightning, and bearing in one hand a white standard with a red cross, he rushes with drawn sword upon the panic-stricken foe, and dyes the feet of his charger in the blood of 70,000 slain. Hail to the chief of the holy war, of which this Liturgical Year has so often made mention! Saint James! Saint James! Forward, Spain! It is the reappearance of the Galilaean Fisherman, whom the Man-God once called from the bark where he was mending his nets; of the elder son of thunder, now free to hurl the thunderbolt upon these new Samaritans, who pretend to honour the unity of God by making Christ no more than a prophet (Battle of Clavijo, under Ramiro I. about 845). Henceforth, James shall be to Christian Spain, the firebrand which the Prophet saw, devouring all the people round about, to the right hand and to the left, until Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place in Jerusalem (Zach. xii. 6).

And when, after six centuries and a half of struggle, his standard bearers, the Catholic kings, had succeeded in driving the infidel hordes beyond the seas, the valiant leader of the Spanish armies laid aside his bright armour, and the slayer of Moors became once more a messenger of the faith. As fisher of men, he entered his bark, and gathering around it the gallant fleets of a Christopher Columbus, a Vasco di Gama, an Albuquerque, he led them over unknown seas to lands that had never yet heard the name of the Lord. For his contribution to the labours of the twelve, James drew ashore his wellfilled nets from West and East and South, from new worlds, renewing Peter’s astonishment at the sight of such captures. He, whose apostolate seemed at the time of Herod III. to have been crushed in the bud before bearing any fruit, may say with St. Paul: I have no way come short of them that are above measure Apostles, for by the grace of God I have laboured more abundantly than all they (2 Cor. xii. 11, and 1 Cor. xv. 10).

Let us now read the lines consecrated by the Church to his honour: James, the son of Zebedee, and own brother of John the Apostle, was a Galilaean. He was one of the first to be called to the Apostolate together with his brother, and, leaving his father and his nets, he followed the Lord. Jesus called them both Boanerges, that is to say, sons of Thunder. He was one of the three Apostles whom our Saviour loved the most, and whom He chose as witnesses of His transfiguration, and of the miracle by which He raised to life the daughter of the ruler of the Synagogue, and whom He wished to be present when he retired to the Mount of Olives, to pray to his Father, before being taken prisoner by the Jews.

After the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, James preached His Divinity in Judea and Samaria, and led many to the Christian faith. Soon, however, he set out for Spain, and there made some converts to Christianity; among these were the seven men, who were afterwards consecrated bishops by St. Peter, and were the first sent by him into Spain. James returned to Jerusalem, and, among others, instructed Hermogenes, the magician, in the truths of faith. Herod Agrippa, who had been raised to the throne under the Emperor Claudius, wished to curry favour with the Jews, he, therefore, condemned the Apostle to death for openly proclaiming Jesus Christ to be God. When the man who had brought him to the tribunal saw the courage with which he went to martyrdom he declared that he, too, was a Christian.

As they were being hurried to execution, he implored James’ forgiveness. The Apostle kissed him, saying: “Peace be with you.” Thus both of them were James having a little before cured a paralytic. His body was afterwards translated to Compostella, where it is honoured with the highest veneration; pilgrims flock thither from every part of the world, to satisfy their devotion or pay their vows. The memory of his natalis is celebrated by the Church to-day, which is the day of his translation. But it was near the feast of the Pasch that, first of all the Apostles, he shed his blood, at Jerusalem, as a witness to Jesus Christ.

 Prayer:

Patron of Spain, forget not the grand nation which owes to thee both its heavenly nobility and its earthly prosperity; preserve it from ever diminishing those truths which made it, in its bright days, the salt of the earth; keep it in mind of the terrible warning that if the salt lose its savour, it is good for nothing any more but to be cast out and to be trodden on by men (St. Matth. v. 13). At the same time remember, O Apostle, the special cultus wherewith the whole Church honours thee. Does she not to this very day keep under the immediate protection of the Roman Pontiff both thy sacred body, so happily rediscovered in our times (Litterae Leonis XIII., diei 1 Novemb. 1884, ad Archiep. Compostell.), and the vow of going on pilgrimage to venerate those precious relics?

Where now are the days when thy wonderful energy of expansion abroad was surpassed by thy power of drawing all to thyself? Who but he that numbers the stars of the firmament could count the Saints, the penitents, the kings, the warriors, the unknown of every grade, the ever-renewed multitude, ceaselessly moving to and from that field of stars, whence thou didst shed thy light upon the world? Our ancient legends tell us of a mysterious vision granted to the founder of Christian Europe. One evening after a day of toil, Charlemagne, standing on the shore of the Frisian Sea, beheld a long belt of stars, which seemed to divide the sky between Gaul, Germany, and Italy, and crossing over , Gascony, the Basque territory, and Navarre, stretched away to the far-off Province of Galicia. Then thou didst appear to him and say: “This starry path ” marks out the road for thee to go and deliver my “tomb; and all nations shall follow after thee (Pseudo-Turpin. De vita Car. Magn.).” And Charles, crossing the mountains, gave the signal to all Christendom to undertake those great Crusades, which were both the salvation and the glory of the Latin races, by driving back the Mussulman plague to the land of its birth.

When we consider that two tombs formed, as it were, the two extreme points or poles of this movement unparalleled in the history of nations: the one wherein the God-Man rested in death, the other where thy body lay, O son of Zebedee, we cannot help crying out with the Psalmist: Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable (Ps. csssviii. 17)! And what a mark of friendship did the Son of Man bestow on his humble apostle by sharing His honours with him, when the military Orders and Hospitallers were established, to the terror of the Crescent, for the sole purpose, at the outset, of entertaining and protecting pilgrims on their way to one or other of these holy tombs? May the heavenly impulse now so happily showing itself in the return to the great Catholic pilgrimages, gather once more at Compostella the sons of thy former clients. We, at least, will imitate St. Louis before the walls of Tunis, murmuring with his dying lips the Collect of thy feast; and we will repeat in conclusion: “Be thou, O Lord, the sanctifier and guardian of thy people; that, defended by the protection of thy Apostle James, they may please thee by their conduct, and serve thee with secure minds.” (2)

Image: Saint James the Great, Artist: Guido Reni. circa 1636 and circa 1638. (4)

Research by REGINA Staff

 

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints7-17.htm
  2. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20James%20the%20Greater.html
  3. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08279b.htm
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Guido_Reni_-_Saint_James_the_Greater_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Saint Christina, Virgin, Martyr

July 24

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

Saint Christina was born in the 300s.  She was the daughter of a rich and powerful magistrate named Urbain. Her father, was deep in the practices of heathenism.

She died a martyr at Tyro, a city which formerly stood on an island in the lake of Bolsena in Italy, but has since been swallowed up by the waters. Her relics are now at Palermo in Sicily. Her tomb was discovered in the 19th century at Bolsena, marked with an inscription dating from the 10th century.

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

Those who consider the life and the different kinds of martyrdom of this holy Virgin, and do not remember what we said in the preface to these volumes, may easily be tempted to suppose that much of what we relate is impossible, and the work of imagination. But as the whole history is founded on indubitable and unobjectionable testimony, we shall relate her life plainly and faithfully, remembering that God chose this holy Virgin, in preference to innumerable others, to honor and glorify His holy faith among the blind heathen, to confound the tyrants and persecutors of Christendom, and to reveal to the world the wonders of His Omnipotence.

The Saint was a native of Tyro, in Tuscany, where her father Urban, was prefect. He was a sworn enemy to the Christians, and hardly passed a day on which he did not call some one of the faithful into his presence, and doom him to suffering and to death. Christina, who on seeing this, observed at the same time how fearless and happy the Christians were during their torments, was curious to know what kind of men they were, why they were thus persecuted, and what gave them strength to bear so uncomplainingly, nay, so cheerfully, the sufferings they endured. When instructed about all this, the grace of God worked so strongly in her, that she felt an intense desire to be, by means of holy Baptism, numbered among the Christians. She rested not until her desire was fulfilled, and at the age of nine years, she received holy Baptism and with it the name of Christina. Her zeal was greater than could have been expected at her tender age. She secretly took her father’s idols, composed of gold and silver, and breaking them into pieces with the assistance of others, divided them among the poor. Her father, almost beside himself with rage when he was informed of this, resolved to avenge, with his daughter’s blood, the dishonor done to the gods, but not until he had endeavored to win her by kindness from the faith of Christ. Hence he called her to him and all alone with her, urged her, with many manifestations of kindness and at last with menaces, to forsake Christ. Christina, however, said fearlessly: “Do with me whatever you like, my dear father; you can take my life, but the faith of Christ you have no power to tear out of my heart. My Saviour will strengthen me to suffer patiently all that you have threatened.” Scarcely had she spoken these words, when the inhuman father commanded the executioners whom he had called to scourge her most cruelly over her whole body.

Christina gave no signs of pain during this suffering. After this, the tyrant ordered that the wounds she had received should be enlarged with iron combs and whips with sharp points, which was done with such ferocity, that whole pieces of flesh were torn from the tender body of the Virgin. Christina stood at first immovable with her eyes turned to heaven, and then praised and thanked the Almighty for so visibly aiding her to bear her pains. The father,–who was no father, but a savage beast,–still more embittered by her conduct, ordered an iron wheel to be brought. Christina was then bound upon it, oil was poured over her, and then the wheel was raised in such a manner that it could be turned. When this was done, a fire was prepared under it, in order slowly to roast the maiden. Almighty God, however, so effectually strengthened His heroic confessor, that she sang loudly during this terrible torment. She remained unhurt by the flames, while many of the spectators were seized by them and severely injured. The tyrant, astonished at this miracle, would still not relent, but ordered her to be dragged to a dungeon, with the intention to renew her torture on the following day.

Hardly had Christina entered the dungeon, when an angel of the Most High appeared to her and healed her wounds, encouraged her to persevere, and gave her assurance of divine assistance. When her father was informed that she was so miraculously healed, he immediately sent some executioners into the prison, with orders to tie a large stone around her neck, and cast her into a lake, so that nothing further might be seen or heard of her. But the same angel who had visited her the day before, carried her safely to the shore. Christina was sent again to the dungeon, and Urban thought of new ways and means to torment her. But when morning dawned, he was found dead in his bed. He had probably died from a stroke of apoplexy, brought on by his uncontrolled anger.

Thus God punished, by a sudden and unhappy death, his inhuman wickedness. Christina was much more pained by the eternal destruction of her father, than by all the tortures she had suffered. The latter, however did not end with her father’s death : for Dio, who was Urban’s successor, not only in his functions, but also in his cruelty, had Christina brought before him, and as she remained firm in her refusal to abandon the Christian faith, he commanded an iron cradle to be constructed and filled with boiling oil and tar, into which Christina should be cast. The heroine evinced not the slightest fear of this instrument of torture, but signing herself with the sign of the Cross, she said to the soldiers who cast her into the cradle: ” Well have you reason to lay me like a child in a cradle; for it is hardly a year since I was born in holy baptism.” She remained in it a considerable time ; but when they at length perceived that she neither felt pain nor was in the least harmed, they took her out and brought her into the temple of Apollo, commanding her to sacrifice to him. No sooner, however, had Christina set foot in the temple, than she made the sign of the Cross, and the idol, falling from the altar upon the ground, was broken into a thousand pieces.

At the same moment, the prefect Dio, struck with apoplexy, sank dead upon the earth. The soldiers, who had brought Christina into the temple, were terrified by this twofold wonder, and freeing the Virgin from her fetters, they cried aloud: “Truly, the God of the Christians is the only true God.” Many of those present abandoned idolatry and became converts to the Christian faith. When Julian, Dio’s successor, heard of Christina and the sudden end of his predecessor, he feared that the people might accuse him of cowardice, if he did not continue the process against a weak woman. Hence he said to her: “Thou must either immediately sacrifice to the gods, or I will cast thee alive into a burning furnace.” Christina refused more earnestly than ever to obey, and Julian ordered her to be cast into the furnace, which meanwhile had been prepared. The order was executed, and Christina remained in it until the fifth day, unharmed, as, in ages past, the three companions of Daniel had been in the furnace of Babylon. She also imitated these in constantly praising God and giving thanks for so many mercies received. Julian ascribed this miracle to magic, and following the advice of a magician, he had Christina thrown into a dark cavern, into which this magician had charmed a great many of the most venomous animals. The holy Virgin once more signed herself with the cross, and none of the animals touched her. She stood in the midst of them, giving praise to the Almighty, her Protector. To prevent this they tore out her tongue, at the command of Julian; but even then she ceased not praising God. This new miracle converted many to the Christian faith, and the tyrant commanded them at length to fasten her to a stake and pierce her with arrows. While they bound her fast, her heart was filled with the desire to behold in heaven Him for whom she had suffered so much on earth. She therefore called on God to impart to her the long-desired crown of martyrdom. Her prayer was answered, for one of the arrows found the way to her heart, and her heroic soul went to Him by whose mighty assistance she had conquered three tyrants. Her glorious death took place in the year of our Lord, three hundred. We conclude the life of this Saint with the words of St. Augustine:

“When we consider the perseverance of a human being, tortured in so many ways, it seems incredible. But when we think of the omnipotence of the Most High, the relation will not be deemed impossible.” (1)

Prayer to St. Christina as your Patron Saint

Saint Christina, whom I have chosen as my special patron, pray for me that I, too, may one day glorify the Blessed Trinity in heaven. Obtain for me your lively faith, that I may consider all persons, things, and events in the light of almighty God. Pray, that I may be generous in making sacrifices of temporal things to promote my eternal interests, as you so wisely did.

Set me on fire with a love for Jesus, that I may thirst for His sacraments and burn with zeal for the spread of His kingdom. By your powerful intercession, help me in the performance of my duties to God, myself and all the world.

Win for me the virtue of purity and a great confidence in the Blessed Virgin. Protect me this day, and every day of my life. Keep me from mortal sin. Obtain for me the grace of a happy death. Amen

Image: Saint Christina giving her father’s idols of gold to the poor, artist: Follower of Massimo Stanzione, circa:  first half of 17th century (4)

Research by REGINA Staff

 
1. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20Christina.html
2. http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/lots/lots233.htm
3. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_christina.html

 

Saint Apollinaris of Ravenna, Bishop, Martyr

July 23

Today is the feast day of Saint Apollinaris of Ravenna.  Ora pro nobis.

His acts say that he was born at Antioch, a disciple of St. Peter, and made by him bishop of Ravenna, but this is an invention of the seventh century, when the pretensions of that see were in need of support.  He was famous among the earlier martyrs, and the high veneration which the Church paid early to his memory is a sufficient testimony to his sanctity and apostolic spirit; but no reliance can be put in his legend. 

According to the legend he miraculously healed the wife of an official and converted her and her husband.  He cured one Boniface who was dumb, and made many converts, for which he was flogged and chased from the city.  Saint Apollinaris preached the gospel in Bologna and converted the household of the patrician Rufinus.   Saint Apollinaris was then banished and wrecked on the Dalmatian coast, where his preaching caused him to be ill-treated. Three time he returned to his see, and each time was captured, tortured, and driven out again; the fourth time the Emperor Vespasian issued a decree of banishment against Christians.   For a time Apollinaris lay in hiding with the connivance of a Christian centurion; but he was recognized and set upon by the mob at Classis, a suburb of the city, knocked about, and left for dead.

St Peter Chrysologus, the most illustrious among his successors, has left a sermon in his honor.

“Sermon 128 of St Peter Chrysologus, who was bishop of Ravenna from 433 to 450, pays tribute to Apollinaris in the following words: “Blessed Apollinaris, the first bishop, alone honoured the church in Ravenna with the glory of martyrdom suffered here. Following the mandate of his God, he lost his life in order to find it again for all eternity. To die only once is very little for those who can gloriously conquer the enemy more often for their king. Loyalty and devotion, more than death, make the martyr. Just as falling on the battlefield for love of the king is proof of valour, so too is sustaining the battle at length and bringing it to a close proof of perfect virtue…. The confessor spilled his blood many times and with his wounds and the faith of his soul bore witness to his Lord…. He sustained and nourished the church throughout its fragile infancy and, as he wished, the martyr was kept alive…. He lives and just as the good shepherd stays with his flock, the spirit of he who came before us in body and in time will never leave us. He preceded us in life, but his bodily presence remains with us.” (6)

The name of St Apollinaris occurs in the canon of the Milanese Mass.

He died on July 23rd of the year 79. His body lay first at Classis, four miles from Ravenna, and a church was built over his tomb; later the relics were returned to Ravenna. Pope Honorius had a church built to honor the name of Apollinaris in Rome, about the year 630. From the beginning the Church has held his memory in high veneration.  Beyond this we know very little. The life, printed in the Acta Sanctorum, July, vol. 5, is not of older date than the seventh century, and there is no reason to suppose it to be based on any genuine tradition.

Image: Saint Apollinaris, first bishop of Ravenna. Detail from the 6th century Byzantine mosaic in the apse of the basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/07-23.html
  2. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_apollinaris_of_ravenna.html
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_Apollenaris.jpg
  4. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01616a.htm
  5. http://www.bartleby.com/210/7/231.html
  6. https://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-apollinaris-1st-or-2nd-century-bishop/

 

Saint Mary Magdalene, Penitent

July 22

Today is the feast day of Saint Mary Magdelene.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Mary Magdalene (dates unknown, first century), friend and disciple of Jesus, honored woman of Scripture, Penitent, and “Apostle of the Apostles.” What we know of the life of this saintly woman comes directly from Scripture.  Of the earlier life of Saint Mary Magdalene we know only that she was a woman who was a sinner.  Mary Magdalene was so called either from Magdala near Tiberias, on the west shore of Galilee, or possibly from a Talmudic expression meaning “curling women’s hair,” which the Talmud explains as of an adulteress.

In the New Testament she is mentioned among the women who accompanied Christ and ministered to Him (Luke 8:2-3), where it is also said that seven devils had been cast out of her (Mark 16:9). She is next named as standing at the foot of the cross (Mark 15:40; Matthew 27:56; John 19:25; Luke 23:49). She saw Christ laid in the tomb, and she was the first recorded witness of the Resurrection.

The Greek Fathers, as a whole, distinguish the three persons:

  • the “sinner” of Luke 7:36-50;
  • the sister of Martha and Lazarus, Luke 10:38-42 and John 11; and
  • Mary Magdalene.

On the other hand most of the Latins hold that these three were one and the same.

Subsequent history of St. Mary Magdalene

The Greek Church maintains that the saint retired to Ephesus with the Blessed Virgin and there died, that her relics were transferred to Constantinople in 886 and are there preserved. Gregory of Tours (De miraculis, I, xxx) supports the statement that she went to Ephesus. However, according to a French tradition, Mary, Lazarus, and some companions came to Marseilles and converted the whole of Provence. Magdalene is said to have retired to a hill, La Sainte-Baume, near by, where she gave herself up to a life of penance for thirty years. When the time of her death arrived she was carried by angels to Aix and into the oratory of St. Maximinus, where she received the viaticum; her body was then laid in an oratory constructed by St. Maximinus at Villa Lata, afterwards called St. Maximin. History is silent about these relics till 745, when according to the chronicler Sigebert, they were removed to Vézelay through fear of the Saracens. No record is preserved of their return, but in 1279, when Charles II, King of Naples, erected a convent at La Sainte-Baume for the Dominicans, the shrine was found intact, with an inscription stating why they were hidden. In 1600 the relics were placed in a sarcophagus sent by Clement VIII, the head being placed in a separate vessel. In 1814 the church of La Sainte-Baume, wrecked during the Revolution, was restored, and in 1822 the grotto was consecrated afresh. The head of the saint now lies there, where it has lain so long, and where it has been the centre of so many pilgrimages.

St. Mary Magdalen, Penitent
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

Mary Magdalen, so highly praised in the Gospel on account of her heroic conversion and fervent love of our Saviour, was born at Bethany, not far from Jerusalem. Her parents, as many authors say, were nobles. She had one brother named Lazarus, and a sister called Martha. When the fortune which her parents had left was divided, the Castle, or as others say, the borough of Magdalum, came into her possession from which she also derived her name. St. Luke writes that before her conversion, she had been a sinner in the city, by which some authors understand that she had been addicted to the horrible vice of impurity; while others say that she had given scandal to the whole city by her splendid garments, frivolous manners, and her unrestrained associations with those of the opposite sex. The same evangelist also says that our Lord Jesus Christ delivered her from seven devils, which words many understand literally, believing that on account of her iniquities, she was possessed by several evil spirits, and like many others, was delivered from them by our Saviour.

The generality of the holy Fathers, however, believe that Martha had persuaded her sister to be present at the instructions of Christ, and although Magdalen at first followed this advice, only out of curiosity or to please her sister, it nevertheless proved to be the first step to her conversion. It is beyond all doubt that, moved by divine grace, she saw her guilt and resolved to do penance without delay; for, on hearing that Christ was eating with Simon, a Pharisee, she immediately repaired thither. She was unwilling to wait for an opportunity to speak with the Saviour alone, and to ask pardon for her sins without others being near. She could not wait so long. The unhappy state into which her soul was plunged, since she had come to the knowledge of her sin, made her impatient. Although foreseeing that her public confession would draw upon her the derision of the Pharisees and others, she heeded not; publicly she had sinned and publicly she would do penance. Hence, regardless of all human opinion, she hastened into the room where Christ was at table, and bitterly weeping, she cast herself at His feet, bathing them with a flood of repentant tears. Having wiped them with her hair, she kissed them reverentially and then opening a vase of alabaster, which she had brought, she anointed them with perfumes. It is not recorded whether, during or before the anointment, she spoke a single word, but her penitent heart was seen in her humble attitude at the Saviour’s feet, and the abundance of her tears spoke more eloquently than words could have done. It spoke of her repentance, it humbly asked pardon for her sins.

Christ well comprehended this language; for, turning His eyes upon her, He said these comforting words: “Thy sins are forgiven thee;” and afterwards: “Thy faith has made thee safe; go in peace!” Before saying this, He reproved Simon, the Pharisee, and praised Magdalen, because when Simon saw that Christ allowed Magdalen to bathe His feet with her tears and to kiss them, he said to himself: “This man, if He were a prophet, would surely know who and what manner of woman it is that touches Him; for she is a sinner.” Christ knowing the Pharisee’s thoughts, said to him: “Simon, I have something to say to thee. A certain creditor had two debtors. One of them owed him five hundred pence, the other fifty. As they, however, could not pay him, he forgave them both; which, therefore, of the two, loveth him most?” “I suppose,” replied Simon, “he to whom he forgave most.” “Thou has judged rightly,” said Christ; and turning to the woman, He said to Simon: “Dost thou see this woman? I entered into thy house; thou gavest me no water for my feet; but she bathed my feet with tears and wiped them with her hair. Thou gavest me no kiss; but she has not ceased to kiss my feet. Therefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved much.” Oh! what great consolation must have filled Magdalen’s heart, when Christ’s own words assured her that her sins were forgiven! She certainly went immediately to announce to her brother and sister the inexpressibly-great mercy which the Saviour had bestowed upon her.

From this moment her heart was wholly changed, and entirely consecrated to Christ. She followed Him everywhere and listened with undivided attention to His instructions. One day Christ lodged at the house of her sister Martha, who was greatly concerned to serve Him well, while Magdalen, sitting at the Lord’s feet, listened eagerly to His words. Her sister complaining of her, said to our Saviour: “Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister has left me alone to serve? Speak to her that she help me.” The Lord, however, praised Magdalen’s zeal, saying: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things. But one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.” These words of the Saviour proved how much pleased He was with Magdalen’s eagerness to listen to His holy teaching. He also showed how great His love was to her, when, yielding to her prayers and to Martha’s, He raised Lazarus to life. This wonderful event is to be found in the holy Gospel of St. John, Chapter xi., and will be more circumstantially described in the life of St. Lazarus. Here I will relate only the event which occurred six days before the last Easter which our Lord celebrated on earth. Christ came to Bethany, to the house of Simon, the leper, where they had prepared supper for Him. Lazarus, who had shortly before been raised to life, was, with others, sitting at the table. Martha served, and Magdalen brought a costly sweet-scented ointment, and anointed first the head and then the feet of Christ. When Judas murmured against it, saying that they could have sold so costly an ointment and given the money to the poor, Christ again defended Magdalen against the deceitful murmurs of the traitor and of some others, and said: ” Why do you trouble this woman? for she has wrought a good work upon me. The poor you have always with you, but me you have not always. Amen I say to you, wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she has done, shall be told for a memory of her.”

Soon after this, when the passion and death of our dear Lord took place, the Gospel tells us that Magdalen, with the divine Mother and other pious women, was present upon Calvary at the Crucifixion of the Saviour. Words are too poor to describe the feelings of grief and tenderness with which she kissed and worshipped the holy body when it was taken from the Cross. Although after the burial, she went to Jerusalem with the other women, she returned to the sepulchre of Christ, with some other women, on the day after the Sabbath. It was their intention again to anoint the holy body of the Saviour with fragrant essences. On the way, they thought of the impediment which the great stone would be which closed the Sepulchre of the Redeemer. They most probably knew nothing of the guard which Pilate had set thereat the request of the High Priest. “Who will remove the stone from the entrance of the Sepulchre?” said they to each other on the way. God had removed this obstruction; for, when they arrived at the Sepulchre, they saw that the stone was rolled away and the Sepulchre was open. They went together into it, but found that the body had disappeared. An angel informed them that He, Whom they looked for, had risen, and commanded them to announce it to His disciples. Soon after, Magdalen was blessed with the appearance of the Lord in the form of a gardener, which is more circumstantially related in the Gospel. There is no doubt that she several times had the grace to see her Divine Master during the forty days He was upon earth. She was also present when He gloriously ascended to heaven; after which He, on Pentecost day, sent the Holy Ghost to His disciples, apostles, and other faithful followers. As long as Magdalen remained at Jerusalem, she was with the Divine Mother and other pious women.

A considerable time after these events, the Christians were cruelly persecuted, and the Jews were determined to suffer Lazarus, the brother of St. Magdalen, no longer in Jerusalem, as he was a living testimony to the divinity of Christ. Hence they placed him, his two sisters, Magdalen and Martha, a servant of theirs, named Marcella, and Maximin, one of the 72 disciples of Christ, in a boat, without rudder, sail, or boatman, took them far from the land into the high sea, and left them, being quite certain that the waves would soon swallow the boat and all its occupants. But God led them safely to France, and they landed at Marseilles amid a crowd of heathens who had come to the shore. This miraculous voyage prepared the hearts of the heathen inhabitants to receive the true Faith. Lazarus, who had been consecrated bishop by the apostles, made his episcopal See in the same city where they had landed. Maximin, as priest, chose the city of Aix as his residence. Martha slowly gathered a great many women around her, and having instructed them in the Christian faith, led a retired, pious, almost a religious life with them, while Magdalen converted a great many by her teachings and her holy life. In the course of time, however, she retired into a desert, far from any habitations of men, and made her abode in the dark cavern of a mountain. There she dwelt during 30 years, leading a most severe life, occupied in praying, contemplating the divine mysteries, and the bitter Passion and death of our Saviour. She repented daily, with floods of tears, of the iniquities of her former days, although she had heard from the lips of Christ that they were forgiven. In one word, her life was much more that of an angel than that of a human being. Hence we may well believe, what many relate of her, that she was frequently visited by angels, who provided her with food and even raised her into heaven to hear the seraphic choir sing the praises of the Most High. Before her death, she was carried by two spirits of light into a little church two miles from her dwelling, where, having received from the hands of St. Maximin the food of the angels, she soon after gave her soul into the keeping of Him Whom she had so fervently loved while upon earth.

The cavern in the mountain where the great penitent so long dwelt, as well as the little church which contains her relics, arc renowned for the many miracles wrought there. The most illustrious, however, was the Saint herself, who from so great a sinner became so great a penitent and so fervent a lover of Christ. The holy fathers can hardly find words of praise enough, not only for her heroic conversion, but also for her generous, faithful, and fervent love towards her Saviour. And who can sufficiently admire the austere penance, lasting for 30 years, which she underwent in the cavern, although she knew that her sins were entirely forgiven? (3)

Pope Saint Gregory the Great said of Saint Mary Magdalene in a homily: “When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and did not find the Lord’s body, she thought it had been taken away and so informed the disciples. After they came and saw the tomb, they too believed what Mary had told them. The text then says: “The disciples went back home,” and it adds: “but Mary wept and remained standing outside the tomb.” We should reflect on Mary’s attitude and the great love she felt for Christ; for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the one she had not found, and while she sought she wept; burning with the fire of love, she longed for him who she thought had been taken away. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the voice of truth tell us: ‘Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.’”

Image: The Penitent Magdalene. Artist Guido Reni. 1635. (6)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/07-22.html
  2. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09761a.htm
  3. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Litany%20Magdalen.html
  4. http://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2011/07/july-22-saint-mary-magdalene.html
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Guido_Reni_-_The_Penitent_Magdalene_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

 

 

Saint Victor of Marseille, Martyr

July 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Research by REGINA Staff

 

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

Saint Praxedes, Virgin, Martyr

July 21

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

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

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

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

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

Research by REGINA Staff

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

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Confessor

July 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Research by REGINA Staff

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

Saint Jerome Emiliani, Confessor

July 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: Saint Jerome Emiliani (6)

Research by REGINA Staff

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

 

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