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Blessed Guala, B.C.O.P

Memorial Day: September 3rd

 

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    Guala was one of the first disciples of Saint Dominic, attracted by the Dominican ideal in 1219, when he heard the founder preach. He received the habit from Dominic at the time the friary opened in Bergamo. After a short novitiate, he was appointed prior there.

    Guala proved to be an able superior and a practical administrator and builder. He was on the committee that planed the convent of Saint Agnes in Bologna. During a delay in the construction of the convent because of the opposition of the family of Blessed Diana d'Andalò, who was financing the project, Guala was sent to Brescia to assume the position of its first prior.

    During this period Guala had the revelation of Saint Dominic's greatness that became the subject of many early legends. Although they were good friends, Guala did not know that Dominic was dying on their return from a chapter. Guala had fallen asleep with his head leaning against the belltower of the conventual church at Brescia when he had a vision of two ladders coming down from heaven. Our Lord was visible at the top of one ladder, and Our Lady at the top of the other. Angels were ascending and descending on them. As Guala watched, a friar, who sat at the foot of one ladder with his face covered was drawn up to heaven and great glory surrounded him. Guala awoke, deeply affected by the vision, and went immediately to Bologna, where he found that Saint Dominic had died at the time of his vision.

    In 1226, Guala was named the prior of Bologna's Saint Nicholas abbey, famous for its regularity and fervor. While there, Pope Honorius III appointed him arbiter between Bologna and Modena. Guala worked hard to forge a treaty that lasted 10 years. The following year Pope Gregory IX asked him to negotiate between Emperor Frederick II and the Lombard confederacy--an even more daunting diplomatic task. Guala was also commissioned to convince Frederick to keep his vow to lead a crusade. He was unable to resolve matters between the parties, but at least they maintained the status quo of an uneasy peace.

    In 1228, Guala was consecrated bishop of Brescia. As such, he negotiated a number of treaties between warring cities. Frederick broke all the promises he had made and attacked the cities that had remained loyal to the pope. In 1238, Frederick's army besieged Brescia, but the attackers had to withdraw within three months, which is credited to Guala.

    Guala's contemporaries described him as "a man of great prudence, well acquainted with the world, and of accomplished manners," and said that "he governed the diocese entrusted to his care with such holiness that, both during his life and after his death, he wrought many wonders through God."

    The years of labor and civil strife wore him down. He resigned his see in 1242 in order to enter complete seclusion and pray without interruption in preparation for death. Therefore, he retired to the Vallumbrosan monastery of San Sepolcro d'Astino, where he lived as a hermit until his death. He was buried in the Benedictine church, and after many miracles at his tomb, his cause was promoted (Benedictines, Dorcy, Encyclopedia).

Born: in Bergamo, Italy

Died: in San Sepolcro d'Astino, Italy, in 1244

Beatified: cultus approved in 1868 by Pope Pius IX.

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthened by holy intercession, O Guala, Confessor of the Lord, those here present , that we who are burdened the weight of our offenses. Maybe relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Guala.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, saith the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Guala.

R. That we may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ.

 

Prayer

Let us Pray: O God, who didst adorn Blessed Guala, Confessor and Bishop, with singular grace for the work of confirming Thy people in peace and piety, grant that we, assiduously following the pursuits of peace, may receive abundant fruits of piety. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Catherine of Racconigi, V.O.P

(also known as Catherine Mattei) 

Memorial Day: September 4th

 

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    Catherine was born into poverty and hunger following the devastation of war. Her father, an unemployed locksmith, became despondent and quarrelsome as so many do when they lose their livelihood. Her mother supported the family by weaving coarse cloth at home. Catherine and her brother grew up in an atmosphere that was absent the peace of Christ.

    Surprisingly, God reached the heart of little Catherine when she was only five. It was then that her mystical experiences began. Our Lady appeared to her while the tiny child was praying alone in her tiny room and told Catherine that Jesus wished to make her His spouse. Then as a child her own age, Jesus himself appeared, accompanied by many other saints including Catherine of Siena and Peter Martyr, and the Blessed Mother place the ring of espousal on her finger. Like the ring of Saint Catherine of Siena, it was visible to today's saint but could not be seen by others.

    Thereafter Catherine had frequent ecstasies and visions. Jesus always appeared to her as a man her own age. He talked with her, taught her how to pray, and several times took her heart away to cleanse it. When He appeared with His Cross, he offered to help Him. He let it rest on her should a moment, and it left a wound for the rest of her life. She also received the stigmata, though it too remained invisible to others and, at her request, it was only revealed by her confessor after her death.

    And, of course, Jesus worked many miracles on behalf of His friend: made a broken dish whole again, and provided money and food when the family's poverty was extreme. In times of trial, the heavenly hosts came to comfort the girl who received great consolation from the aspiration, "Jesus, my hope!"

    Because her family opposed her becoming a Dominican, she took the habit of a tertiary. Her mystical experiences roused a storm of gossip among her neighbors, who were terrified at the lights and sounds that came from her home. The devil stirred up more trouble to mitigate her influence over other souls. Even the Dominican fathers ostracized her and eventually she was forced out of town and settled in Racconigi.

    There rich and poor sought out Catherine for her wise counsel, prayers, and material assistance. She was almost continually in ecstasy. The particular object of Catherine's prayers was the salvation of soldiers dying in battle. Numerous miracles occurred before and after her death, and a cult arose at her tomb almost immediately. Even her persecutors were aware of her sanctity and retracted their bitter words (Benedictines, Dorcy).

Born: in the diocese of Cuneo in the Piedmont, Italy, 1487

Died: 1574

Beatified: Pope Pius VII confirmed her holiness and cult in 1810

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. This is a wise Virgin whom the Lord found watching, who took her lamp and oil, and when the Lord came she entered with Him into the marriage feast

V. Pray for us Blessed Catherine

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Lauds:

Ant. Come, O my chosen one, and I will place my throne in thee, for the King hath exceedingly desired thy beauty

V. Virgins shall be led to the King after her

R. Her companions shall be presented to Thee

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. She has girded her loins with courage and hath strengthened her arm; therefore shall her lamp not be put out forever

V. Pray for us Blessed Catherine

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O Lord, our hope, who didst enrich with an abundance of celestial gifts the heart of Blessed Catherine, already filled with Thee, grant through the intercession of that glorious Virgin that He may be wholly fixed in our hearts, who for our sakes was wholly fastened to the cross, Christ our Lord. Amen.

Anniversary of Those Buried in Our Cemeteries

Memorial Day: September 5th

 

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Gratitude is the keynote of to-day's anniversary. Ever since the foundation of the Order by St. Dominic eight centuries ago, thousands of the faithful souls have made sacrifices that the Order will never forget its debt of gratitude to these loyal hearts. No wonder that kings and princes vied with one another in assisting the growth of the Dominicans apostolate! No wonder that those whop were not blessed with temporal goods gave their time and labor that the work of salvation might be carried on! These benefactors of the Order, rich or poor, knew that, when they had passed from this life, the spiritual rewards would more than compensate them for the sacrifices they made that the work of Dominic might flourish.

 

Practice: Gratitude, The Nine Lessons should be said in honor of our benefactors.

Blessed Bertrand of Garrique, C.O.P.

Memorial Day: September 6th

 

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    Bertrand was a secular priest under the Cistercians, missioner, and ardent opponent of Albigensianism when he first met Saint Dominic in the party of Bishop Diego. Bertrand may have been the one to recruit Dominic in the battle against the French heretics because they worked closely together in this mission for the rest of their lives.

    Bertrand joined the first Dominican friars by receiving the habit at Toulouse in 1216. Dominic left him in charge of the community when he traveled to Rome to seek papal approval of the order. Bertrand's zeal and experience played an important role in the founding of the Friar Preachers. When the brothers were sent out in little groups on missions, Bertrand was left in Paris with Matthew of France, where he helped to form the Dominican tradition of learning and governed the first foundation at Paris.

    While Bertrand's advice and prayers helped to establish the order, he is best remembered as the closest friend and traveling companion of Saint Dominic, until he was appointed as provincial of Provence. He witnessed the miracles and heavenly favors bestowed upon his friend and provided us with insightful testimony about the heart and mind of the founder.

    Bertrand himself was credited with many miracles, both during his life and after his death. Others considered him a "second Dominic" in austerity and holiness, but he humbly overlooked his own claims to sanctity in his loving insistence on those of his friend.

    Bertrand was preaching a mission to the Cistercian sisters of Saint Mary of the Woods near Garrigue, when he fell sick and died. He was buried in the sisters' cemetery until the frequency of miracles suggested that he should be given a more suitable shrine. His relics were lost and shrine destroyed during the religious wars, but pilgrimages were still made to "Saint Bertrand's Cemetery" until the time of the French Revolution (Benedictines, Dorcy).

Born: at Garrigue, diocese of Nîmes, France, c. 1195

Died: In 1230 he died in Le Bouchet

Beatified: cultus confirmed by Pope Leo XIII in 1881

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Bertrand, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Bertrand.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Bertrand.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who to the Holy Patriarch Dominic didst join Blessed Bertrand , Thy Confessor, as a companion and illustrious imitator, grant us by his pious intervention so to follow his footsteps as to attain to his reward. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Blessed John of Massias, C.O.P.

Memorial Day: September 18th

 

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    John Masias was born in Ribera, in Spain, and, when very small, he was left as orphan. He was adopted by a kindly uncle who set him to herding his sheep. The little boy was naturally pious, and passed his spare time in sayingthe Rosary. Our Lady and the Christ Child appeared to him several times, and he was often visited by his patron, St. John the Eveangelist, who once showed him a vision of heaven, telling him: "This is my country."

       

    When John was about twenty, he went to Mass in the church of the Dominicans in a neighboring city. For the moment, it seemed to him that vocation was joining the Friars Preachers now, but St. John appeared to him, telling him he must go elsewhere. In 1619 he embarked for the Indies, where many Spaniards were going, either to convert the natives or to seek a fortune. After a long and hazardous journey, he arrived in Lima.

 

    There were at the time four convents of the Friar Preachers in Lima: the College of St. Thomas; the house of St. Rose, where Sister Rose of St. Mary had died just five years before; Santo Domingo or Holy Rosary, where the holy lay brother, Martin de Porres, was performing such astounding miracles; and the convent of St. Mary Magdalen, which was small and poor. John decided to enter St. Mary Magdalen and, in 1622, he received the habit of a lay brother there. On the night of his profession, devils appeared to tempt and reproach him. He was attacked bodily, and, although he was called on Jesus, Mary and Joseph for help, the demons continued what was to become twelve years of torture, by actually throwing him from one cloister to another.

 

    John was appointed assistant to the porter, and lived in the gatehouse. There the poor came for food, and the rich for advice. He became adept at begging for the poor, always managing to find enough for the more than two hundred people who came daily for help. He had little use for the wealthy and curious, and would sometimes baffle them by simply disappearing while they were looking at hi,. Also, legend relates that he had a little burro that he would send out by itself, with a note asking for what was needed in one of the empty panniers on its back. Told where to go, the burro made his route faithfully; and if the rich man on whom he called was ungracious, or even hid himself to avoid giving alms, the little burro made quite a noise, and it quickly brought the desired results.

 

    Rays of light streamed from the blessed's face as he taught the catechism to the poor, or prayed by himself in the gatehouse. He said an amazing number of rosaries and made no less than twenty daily visits to the Blessed Sacrament. He is said to have liberated more than a million souls in purgatory, many of whom came back , while he was at prayer , to thank him for his help.

 

    One day a certain ship captain came to the gatehouse and asked to look around. John took him by the arm and led him to the crucifix, warning him  to look well on it and think of his sin. Terrified, the captain fell to his knees, confessing that he was an apostate religious, thirty years away from the sacraments, and he begged for a priest. On another occasion, the brothers were building a flight of steps and, having measured a beam wrong, they were annoyed because it did not fit. John took the beam in his hands and stretched it to fit their needs. These, and many other miracles, led people to venerate him as a saint during his lifetime. His recreation was to talk of the things of God with the other holy lay brother, Martin de Porres

 

    At the time of his death, Our Lady, St. Dominic, his patron, St. John and many other saints, came to accompany him to heaven. They were seen by some of the brothers.

 

Born: March 2, 1585 at Ribera del Fresno, Estramadura, Spain

Died: September  16, 1645 in Lima, Peru of natural causes

Beatified: In 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O John, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed John.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed John.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who wast pleased that Blessed John, Thy Confessor, early endowed with the richness of Thy grace, should in a lowly state of life blossom with a brilliance of virtue, grant us, we beseech Thee, so to follow his footsteps that by purity of mind we may merit to come to Thee. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Blessed Francis Posadas, C.O.P.

Memorial Day: September 20th

 

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    Few Dominicans have had more difficulty getting into the Order than Blessed Francis de Posadas, and he was one of the glories of the convent of the Scala Coeli, in Cordova. It is embarrassing for us to read that the reason for his exclusion was plain and simple snobbery on the part of the superiors of the convent of St. Paul, in Cordova.

 

    Francis was born of a poor young couple who were war refugees, and who had been shunted from place to place until, when Francis was very small, his father's health failed, and he died in Cordova. The young widow tried several types of work, and finally she was reduced to selling eggs and vegetables at a street stand. She tried to educate her child, for she knew he was very talented, but, without money,  it simply was not possible to send him to school. She encourage him to go to the Dominican Church of St. Paul, and he served Mass there every morning from the time he was six or seven years old.

 

    While he was still a very tiny child, he used to gather the other children together for rosary processions or other devotions. The smile of God seemed to rest upon him. For all his poverty, he was a very happy and attractive child, like by everyone; and he was a natural leader among hi s fellows. Twice during his childhood, he was miracuously saved from death. This fact  and his undoubted piety, should have seemed sufficient reason for admitting him into a religious order. However, by the time Francis was old enough, there were two reasons to make his entry difficult: his mother had remarried, and the step-father would not permit him to enter. The Dominicans, moreover, would not have him. They said that they did not want the son of a street peddler.

 

    Francis had friends in the Order, but the prior of the house he wished to enter took a violent dislike to him. It was several years before the young man could overcome the resistance of this man, who, having some influence with the provincial, was stubbornly determined that Francis should not be allowed to enter. Even when the fathers in the convent of Scala offered to take the boy and train him in Latin- so that he could qualify for clerical studies-the vindictive dislike of the prior followed him and almost prevented his acceptance.

 

    Francis was finally accepted, made his novitiate, and gradually overcame all dislike and distrust by his charming manner and his unquestioned talents as student and preacher. After his ordination, he was sent out to preach, and he earned the reputation of being a second St, Vincent Ferrer. His talents as a preacher were rivaled only by his gifts as a confessor. He not only could read hearts and discover sins that had been willfully concealed, but sometimes he was called to one place or another by an interior spirit and shown someone badly in need of the sacraments.

 

    Francis hated the thought of holding authority in the Order. When appointed prior of one of the convents, he  remarked that he would much sooner be sentenced to the galleys. He twice refused a bishopric, and he skillfully eluded court honors.

 

    Several remarkable conversions are credited to Francis Posadas. His last tears were a series of miracles wrought in the souls of his penitents. People followed him about to hear him preach, regarding him as a saint and miracle worker. One of his most noted converts was a woman more than one hundred years old- a Moor- with no intention of deserting Mohammedanism.

 

    Francis  of Posadas was the author of a number of books which he wrote to assist him in his apostolate. One was a life of St. Dominic. and several were biographies of other saintly people.

 

    After a life filled with miracles, Francis  died in 1713. Being forewarned of his death, he made private preparations, but to the last minute he was busy in the confessional before dying suddenly. By the time of his death, not only the Dominicans of Cordova, but the people of all Spain were happy to have him as a fellow countryman. He was beatified a century after his death, in 1818.

 

Born: Cordona in Spain in 1644

Died: In 1713 of natural causes

Beatified: He was declared Blessed by Pius VII in 1818

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Francis, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Francis.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Francis.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst raise up Blessed Francis, Thy Confessor, imbued with the sweetness of heavenly charity, to be an illustrious preacher of Thy word, grant through his intercession that we may be kindled with the fire of Thy love and ever live in Thy charity. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Mark of Modena, C.O.P.

Memorial Day: September 23rd

 

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    Mark was born in Modena and entered the convent of the order there in young manhood. He observed the rules with great fidelity, and became noted both for his learning and his holiness, which is a sentence that would fit into nearly every Dominican biography written, and tells us nothing in particular about Mark as a person. However, when we recall the times in which he lived , it becomes clearer to us that anyone who kept the Dominican Rule in its entirety is truly to our notice . The abuses which stirred Savonarola to thundering speech in the pulpits of Ferrara and Florence could not have been absent from all of Italy. It look solid virtue to hold out against the opulent worldliness of the times, and Mark of Modena apparently did a thorough job of it, since he has been beatified.

 

    Mark was made prior of the convent of Pesaro, and the only miracle we have on record (he is supposed to have performed many) took place at his convent. A woman's little boy had died, and she pleaded with Mark to restore the child's life. After praying for awhile, Mark turned to her and said, "Madam, your little boy is in paradise. Do not try to get him back again, for his second loss will be worse than this one." However, she insisted on his working the miracle, and he did so. The child returned to life, and, ten years later, covered with disgrace and opprobrium, died a second time, leaving his mother in worse grief than ever.

 

    Mark of Modena died in 1498, the year that the city of Florence burned Savonarola at the sake. It was a time of terrible happenings in Italy and all Europe. The people of Modena mourned the death of Mark, and went to pray at his tomb. Many of their needs were answered there, and a number of prodigies were reported in connection with the translation of his relics to the Rosary chapel of the church. The bells were said to have rung by themselves, and sweet perfume filled the air. Until recently, his relics were still exposed yearly for veneration during the week of Whitsunday.

 

Born: in  Modena at the beginning of the 15th century

Died: in at Pesaro in 1498

Beatified: by Pope Pius IX in 1857

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Mark, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Mark.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Mark.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst raise up Blessed Mark, Thy Confessor, imbued with the sweetness of heavenly charity, to be an illustrious preacher of Thy word, grant through his intercession that we may be kindled with the fire of Thy love and ever live in Thy charity. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Commemoration of Our Patriarch, Saint Dominic, in Soriano

Memorial Day: September 15th

 

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The event commemorated in this festival is the appearance in the Dominican Convent of Soriano, in the extreme south of Italy, of a miraculous picture of Saint Dominic, which is still preserved, and is held in the utmost veneration even in our own day. A certain Father Vincent of Catanzara in Calabria, in the year 1510, was thrice commanded by Saint Dominic in vision to found a Convent of the Order at Soriano, a work which he accomplished in spite of considerable obstacles which were not overcome without miraculous intervention. It had been decided that the Convent should be built on the plain, but the cross which had been planted to mark the destined site was found to have been mysteriously removed in the night to the hill on which the building was eventually erected, and where it still stands. Several years later, on September 15, A.D. 1530, just as the religious were assembling to chant Matins at midnight, the Sacristan suddenly beheld three ladies of majestic aspect enter the church, which he knew he had left locked before retiring to rest. One of them addressed him, asking to whom the church was dedicated and whether it contained a picture of its patron. The Friar replied that the church was dedicated to Saint Dominic, but that, owing to the great poverty of the Community, only a badly painted fresco of the Saint was to be found upon its walls. Then the unknown lady put into his hands a roll of canvas, which till then she had carried in her hand, and bade him take it to his Superior, who bore the title of Vicar, the little Convent not having yet been erected into a Priory. The Vicar, astonished at the sight of the picture, which proved to be a portrait of Saint Dominic, hastened to the church to thank the giver, but all three mysterious visitors had disappeared, though the outer doors still remained locked. The following night Saint Catharine of Alexandria appeared to one of the Fathers, who had a great devotion to her, and told him, in answer to his prayers, that the donor of the picture was no other than the Blessed Virgin, and that the two who had accompanied her were the patronesses of the Order, Saint Mary Magdalen and herself.

In obedience to the express command given by Our Lady to the Sacristan when bestowing the picture, it was placed over the High Altar; but, as the wall against which it hung was extremely damp, the Fathers afterwards decided on removing it to another altar, near the door of the church. The following morning, however, the picture was again found hanging over the High Altar. The Vicar, believing that it had been removed thither by the Sacristan from a desire to execute to the letter the orders given him by the Mother of God, severely reproved him, and had the picture carried back to the altar agreed upon. The next day, it once more appeared over the High Altar. Again the Sacristan was charged with obstinacy and disobedience. In vain he protested that he had never touched the picture. The Vicar ordered it to be replaced near the door, and on the following night locked the church himself and kept the keys in his own possession. Nevertheless on the third morning it was again discovered over the High Altar. Convinced at length that its removal was the work of no human hand, the Vicar allowed it to remain in the spot which Our Lady had chosen for it, and where it has ever since remained, miraculously preserved from being injured by the damp.

When the picture was exposed to public veneration, a multitude of prodigies took place, the account of which fills volumes. No less than sixteen hundred of these miracles, juridically attested, took place within the space of seventy-eight years. Pope Innocent XII., in the year 1644, granted a festival in commemoration of this event and of the vast number of miracles vouchsafed before the holy picture. On September 15,1870, just five days before the sacrilegious occupation of Rome by the troops of Victor Emmanuel, a new prodigy took place at Soriano. A wooden statue of our holy Father, Saint Dominic, of life-size, had been exposed in the sanctuary on occasion of the festival, and was to be carried in procession in the evening. This statue was suddenly seen to move like a preacher in the pulpit ; it advanced and drew back ; the right arm rose and fell; the countenance became animated, sometimes assuming a severe and threatening aspect, at other times appearing sad, or again full of sweetness and reverence as it turned towards the picture of our Lady of the Rosary. This extraordinary spectacle lasted for an hour and a half, and was witnessed by about two thousand persons. Some of the bystanders, to satisfy themselves that there was no trickery in the matter, removed all the surroundings of the statue and completely stripped the table on which it was standing. These measures only served to place the miraculous nature of the occurrence beyond the possibility of a doubt. A juridical inquiry was held by order of the Bishop of Mileto, in whose diocese Soriano is situated, and the extraordinary event was announced to the Order in a circular letter by the Most Reverend Father Alexander Vincent Jandel, who was then General. In a private letter written by his Paternity shortly afterwards he says : " I think our holy Father, Saint Dominic, meant to warn us of the impending scourges, and to summon us to do penance; but this warning is in itself an act of mercy on the part of Him who strikes only to heal."

Prayer

O God, who hast vouchsafed to enlighten Thy Church by the merits and teachings of Thy blessed Confessor, our holy Father, Saint Dominic, grant at his intercession that it may never be destitute of temporal help, and may always increase in spiritual growth. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. O great Father, Saint Dominic, at the hour of death take us to thyself and while here regard us always graciously.

V. Pray for us Blessed Dominic,

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. The body of a virgin, the mind of a martyr, the labors of an apostle, have at the end of thy course purchased for thee, O Mendicant of Christ, the reward of life.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. O light of the Church, doctor of patience, ivory of chasity, freely hast thou dispensed the water of wisdom: herald of grace, unite us to the blessed.

V. Pray for us Blessed Dominic,

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst vouchsafe to enlighten Thy Church by the merits and teachings of Blessed Dominic, Thy Confessor and our Father, grant through his intercession, that it may never be destitute of temporal help, and may always increase in spiritual growth. through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Dalmatius Moner, C.O.P.

Memorial Day: September 26th

 

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    This Dominican Blessed, who was noted particularly for his observance of poverty, lived in the early years of the Order and helped to establish the high reputation of the Spanish religious.

 

    Blessed Dalmatius was born in Aragon, in 1291, and we know nothing else about his life before he entered the Order.  He was a member of the province of Aragon and gave a perfect example of strict observance of the rule and the spirit of religious detachment from things of earth.  All that we know about him, are a few anecdotes, none of which can be fixed with certainty as to date or place.

 

    We read that his spirit of poverty was so extreme that he never wore a habit or cappa that was not in tatters.  He picked up his wardrobe from the cast-offs of his brethren, and, since the spirit of poverty was quite rigid in this providence, the cast-off clothes must have looked a sight.  Dalmatius seemed to make a virtue of this, since all the records we have make mention of it.  As to food, he never ate fish or eggs, and lived on a diet of hard bread and unseasoned vegetables, to which he added a few ashes during Lent.  The beds in the house were hard enough for most people, but not for him.  He slept on the bare earth when he could not get into the church to pray and take an occasional nap, his head rested on the altar step.

 

    Dalamtius is credited with several miracles, which included healing and spiritual assistance.  At one time, a novice was tempted to leave the Order.  Dalmatius, going about it without being told, sought out the novice and solved his difficulties.  At another time, a mother whose small child had a serious eye disease came looking for Dalmatius to heal her child.  The friar refused, because, he said, this affliction would save her child from serious sin, and that God was waiting till some time in the future to heal him. 

 

    During the last forty years of his life, Dalmatius lived in the caver of Saint Mary Magdalene, in the south of France, where he had gone on a pilgrimage of devotion.  Here he was favored with numerous ecstasies and great spiritual insight.  One time, while he was in the cave, a group of friars from his own province where lost in the woods in a bad storm.  They prayed to him to help them, and a young man came with a lantern and guided them home.

 

    Dalmatius died in his own convent in the presence of all the friars and provincials who had gathered for a chapter.  He was declared blessed in 1721.

 

Born: in  1291 near Gerona in Spain

Died: 1341

Beatified: Pope Innocent XIII confirmed his cult in 1721

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Dalmatius, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Dalmatius

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Dalmatius.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst make Thy humble servant Dalmatius glorious for many miracles and virtues, and didst wonderfully inflame him with Thy love to the despising of all earthly things, grant, we beseech Thee, through his intercession, that we, being disengaged from all earthly affections and freed from all adversities, may desire only the things of heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Lawrence of Ripafratta, C.O.P.

Memorial Day: September 28th

 

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    One of the outstanding characters in the Dominican  reform of the late fourteenth century was Blessed Lawrence of Ripafratta, who was novice-master of several saints and blesseds of our Order.

   

    Lawrence was born in the fortified city of Ripafratta, in 1359.  His noble family had the duty of guarding the outer defenses of the city of Pisa against the depredations of its powerful neighbor cities.  It was a warlike place and time to come into the world, but Lawrence gave early evidence of being a man of peace.  At the age of twenty, after innocent and promising youth, he entered the convent of Saint Catherine, in Pisa.  He made rapid progress, both in prayer and in study, and busied himself with the works of the Order for several years before being called upon to help in the reform movement that was headed by Blessed John Dominici. 

 

    In 1402, Lawrence was made novice-master in the novitiate of the reformed congregation of Tuscany, in Cortona.  Here the novices were to be trained in the primitive rigor of the Order, in an attempt to by-pass the destructive elements of the past half century, which had reduced religious observance to an alarming state of indifference.  Plague and schism had taken toll both in numbers and quality of the religious orders, and the remaining houses were living under a relaxed observance of the rule, in a struggle for survival.  John Dominici, under the inspiration of Raymond of Capua, felt that the time had come to tighten up the observance once more and return to the first practices of penance and silence.  His suggestions were not popular among those who lived in the relaxed convents.  The only alternative was to begin again, with a new novitiate, and hope that the idea would take hold gradually and effect internal reform among the other houses.

 

    Excellent novices soon made their appearances at Cortona: Saint Antoninus and Blessed Peter Capucci, and the artist brothers, Fra Angelico and Fra Benedetto.  Several others who were to attain fame in the order came under Lawrence's influence and were shaped by him and to saintly and useful members of the apostolate, not all in the same fashion- Saint Antoninus was to become Archbishop of Florence, Fra Angelico and his brother made San Marco world famous for its art.  Blessed Lawrence is, indeed, an interesting study; a severe and exacting man when it came to keeping the rule, a man of broad vision and great resourcefulness in carrying out the work of preaching.  He was obviously not at all afraid of talented people going astray if they were allowed to use their talents for God, and he displayed great insight into the development of each of his novices as individuals.

 

    Eventually, Blessed Lawrence was appointed vicar-general of the reformed congregation and moved to the convent of St. Dominic of Pistoia.  Here he preached almost continually, and had a reputation for compassion to the poor whom he tended, taught and visited, even in time of plague.

 

    Lawrence of Ripafratta lived to be ninety-eight, and in his old age we have a touching picture of his novices-now men of distinction and authority- coming back to consult him about this or that detail of their work.  He wrote often to St. Antoninus, perhaps feeling that being archbishop of Florence was a job with many worries.

 

    Lawrence of Ripafratta died in 1457, and was beatified, after a long history of miracles at his tomb in 1851.

 

Born: in  Ripafratta in 1359

Died: He died at Pistoia in his 98th year in 1457

Beatified: Pope Gregory XVI confirmed his cult in 1851

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Lawrence , confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Lawrence

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Lawrence.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst make Thy humble servant Lawrence, Thy Confessor, shine with zeal for regular discipline, and dist inflame him with the ardor of divine love, grant through his intercession, that ever following after the more perfect ways, we may attain to everlasting joys. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Rosary Sunday

(First Sunday in October: Dominican Rite, Feast of the Holy Rosary, October 7th: Roman Rite)

 

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    Apart from the signal defeat of the Albigensian heretics at the battle of Muret in 1213 which legend has attributed to the recitation of the Rosary by St. Dominic, it is believed that Heaven has on many occasions rewarded the faith of those who had recourse to this devotion in times of special danger. More particularly, 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.

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. The holy Mother of God is become beautiful and amiable in the delights of her virginity: whom , on seeing her flourishing among the roses and the lilies of the valley, the daughters of Sion declared most blessed, and queens praised.

V. Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Let us celebrate devoutly to-day's festival of the Most Holy Rosary of Mary, the Mother of God, that she may intercede for us with Our Lord Jesus Christ.

V. God hath chosen her, and preferred her,

R. And he maketh her to dwell in his tabernacle.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. Holy Mother and spotless Virgin, glorious Queen of the world, may all who celebrate the festival of thy Most Holy Rosary obtain thy assistance.

V. Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God whose only begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant we beseech Thee, that meditating on those mysteries in the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

During Octave of the Most Holy Rosary

Lauds:

Ant. The holy Mother of God is become beautiful and amiable in the delights of her virginity: whom , on seeing her flourishing among the roses and the lilies of the valley, the daughters of Sion declared most blessed, and queens praised.

V. God hath chosen her, and preferred her,

R. And he maketh her to dwell in his tabernacle.

 

or, if this V. and R. has already been used:

 

V. Thou art become beautiful and amiable.

R. In Thy delights, O Holy Mother of God.

 

Vespers:

Ant. O Holy Mother most compassionate of virgins, receive the earnest prayers of lowly servants: raise the fallen, correct the erring, calm the fearful, and give strength to the fainthearted: that we may always act in praise of thee whom we venerate as Mother of the Most High God.

V. Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God whose only begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant we beseech Thee, that meditating on those mysteries in the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Blessed Dominic Spadafora, C.O.P.

Memorial Day: October 3rd

 

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    Blessed Dominic Spadafora was one of the glories of the Church in Sicily in the fifteenth century. He had a long career in the Order, for he lived to be ninety.

 

    Dominic was born in Sicily, of an old and noble family. His father was Baron of Miletto, and members of the family were connected with the nobility of Venice and Palermo. As a child, Dominic attended school in the Convent of St. Rita in Palerno, which had been founded some years before by Blessed Peter Geremia. Exactly when he became a member of the community there, we do not know. He was sent to Padua for his theology and received his degree there in 1479. He returned to Palerno and for some time lived quietly conducted classes for the brethren and the secular clergy.

 

    In 1487 Dominic, making a distinguished defense of a thesis in Venice came to the notice of the master general. Considered one of the promising young men of the province, Dominic was made the socius of the master general and, in 1493, was sent to found a convent dedicated to Our Lady of Grace in Monte Cerigone. here he remained in retirement until his death.

 

    What we have considered to be the usual virtues of a Dominican friar were practiced faithfully by Dominic Spadafora, but it is difficult to find anything unusual in his life. He spent most of his Dominican life in the Convent of Our Lady of Grace, directing societies and confraternities, zealous for regular observance and scrupulously exact in his own behavior. The convent where he lived was never large nor very important, and, though he seems to have led a superior, intellect, he was evidently contended with complete obscurity. This in itself id sufficiently unusual.

 

    Dominic Spadafora died in 1540, after revealing to the community that he knew he was about to die. He attended all religious exercises up to the hour of his death, and he died as every Dominican hopes he will-the community was around him, singing the "Salve Regina."

 

Born: Born in Sicily in 1450

Died: He died in 1541

Beatified: Benedict XV beatified him 1921

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Dominic , confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Dominic

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Dominic.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who in Blessed Dominic, Thy Confessor, didst, by his continuous prayer and the observance of regular discipline, wonderfully enrich the apostolic ministry: mercifully grant that following in his footsteps we may be worthy to receive abundant fruits of salvation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Raymond of Capua, C.O.P.

Memorial Day: October 5th

 

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    The so called second founder of the Dominican Order. Born at Capua, Italy, in 1330, Raymond delle Vigne entered the Dominicans while attending the University of Bologna and subsequently held several posts, including prior of the Dominican house in Rome and lector in Florence and Siena. While at Siena, he made the acquaintance of St. Catherine of Siena, serving as her spiritual director from 1376 and becoming her closest advisor.

    Through the years he was connected with most of Catherine’s important undertakings, including the call for a Crusade against the Turks, the negotiation of peace between the papacy and Florence, and the plea made to Pope Gregory XI to depart Avignon and return to Rome. Raymond also worked to bring aid and comfort to the victims of a plague which struck Siena, and when he fell sick with the disease, Catherine nursed him back to health. Upon the start of the Great Western Schism in 1378, both Raymond and Catherine gave their support to Pope Urban Vi against antipope Clement Vll. Raymond traveled to France in an unsuccessful bid to win the support of that kingdom; during the sojourn he was nearly killed by overzealous partisans of Clement VII.

    He continued to strive for a peaceful settlement of the crisis in the Church, even after Catherine’s death in 1380, and was elected master general of the Dominicans As head of the order until his death at Nuremnberg, he brought reforms to its houses and demanded the strict adherence to the rules laid down by St. Dominic. He also wrote biographies of Catherine of Siena and St. Agnes of Montepulciano. 

 

Born: 1330 at Capua, Italy as Raymond delle Vigne

Died: October 5,1399 at Nuremberg, Germany of natural causes

Beatified: 1899 by Pope Leo XIII

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Raymond , confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Raymond

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Raymond.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who wast pleased to make Blessed Raymond, Thy Confessor, a distinguished master of evangelical perfection and a faithful supporter of the of the apostolic authority, graciously grant that, living after his example on earth, we may deserve to be crowned with him in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Matthew Carreri, C.O.P

Memorial Day: October 7th

 

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    John Francis Carreri was born in Mantua, in the late fourteenth century. He grew up a silent and prayerful child, a good student and a great reader. These qualities seemed to recommend him to the Preaching Friars, and at an early age, he presented himself at the convent in his home city and received the habit.

   

    Matthews's career as a preacher began soon after his ordination, when was sent to Lombardy to preach against the heretics. He succeeded admirably in his preaching and converted many to a spiritual way of life. Traveling from convent to convent he preached a revival of fervor and a deeper understanding of the spirit of St. Dominic, and many of the religious of Lombardy-both Dominicans and members of other Orders- were led by him to become more fervent.

 

    At on time, when he was preaching in Vigevano, a troupe of jugglers came into town and set up their act. They were a particularly scandalous set of people, poking ridicule at the religious and the pope. Matthew sent them word to move on, which they ignored. So went after the with his walking-stick, and this proved more effective. They scattered and ran but soon came back , fortified with the presence of the Duke of Milan, who scolded Matthew for being so narrow-minded and humorless. Matthew patiently pointed out to him the bad spots in their humor, and, in spite of the duke's natural aversion to friars, convinced him that he should keep the jugglers out of town.

 

    At Lucina, there was a lady of noble birth and great talents who was wasting her time in frivolities. Never one to avoid an issue, Matthew aimed a powerful sermon  in her direction, and she came to him afterwards in a torrent of tears and begged him to help her. He gave her the habit of the Third Order and outlined a stiff rule of life, which she afterwards faithfully followed. He also met and directed Blessed Stephanie Quinzan who proved to be an apt pupil.

 

    Matthew was given  the job of reforming the convents of the friars in Soncino, and in nearby towns, and he worked for many years in Milan. Going up and down the peninsula, he varied his approach but never his message: penance and love of God. So many were the conversions effected that a whole group of follow-up preachers had to be appointed to carry on, as he moved rapidly from place to place. Preaching his way, went through Tuscany, and took ship at Genoa.

 

    The ship was soon captured by a Turkish corsair. The Mohammed captain called on the three Dominicans for an explanation of why they were there. Matthew spoke up so fearlessly and eloquently  that the captain released all three of them. Just as they were being hustled off to a rescue boat, the wail of one of the woman passengers stopped them. The lady and her young daughter were not anxious to be taken to Algiers, and Matthew began pleading for them. The captain told him he had better let the affair alone and be satisfied that he has saved his own skin. Matthew thereupon volunteered to go to Algiers, in chains, if the captain would release the two women. Amazed at his courage as well as at his brashness, the captain released all of them and told them to get out of his ship quickly before he changed his mind.

 

    Many miracles are credited to Matthew Carreri. One day, a young father who came to hear Matthew preach, had left his little son at home with the nurse. the baby fell into the fire and was badly burned. The distracted father brought the little one to Matthew, who cured him. the baby was well in a few days, and grew up to be a Franciscan friar. Matthew cured another man of hemorrhage, and worked many cures on the sick and possessed.

 

    One day, , while meditating on the Passion, Matthew asked our Lord tp partake of His sufferings. He received the stigmata, in the form of an arrow that pierced his heart. For the remainder of his life, he suffered great pain from his wound.

 

    Matthew Carreri died, in 1470, in a house composed entirely of religious he had rescued from a life a laxity. His cult was confirmed twelve years after his death, testifying to the great reputation for sanctity he enjoyed among the people of northern Italy.

 

Born: 1420 at Mantua, Italy

Died: October 5, 1470 of natural causes

Beatified: 1483 (cultus confirmed); December 2, 1625 by Pope Urban VIII (beatification)

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Matthew, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Matthew

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Matthew.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: Excite within our hearts, O lord, a love of the cross and passion, that through the intercession and example of Blessed Matthew we may be made partakers of the suffering and glory of Christ. Who with Thee liveth, and reigneth world without end. Amen.

Image:Louis Bertrand.jpg

Saint Louis Bertrand, C.O.P.

"If I please men, I cannot be the servant of God"

Feast Day: October 10th

 

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    Born at Valencia, Spain, 1 Jan., 1526, his parents were Juan Bertrand and Juana Angela Exarch. Through his father he was related to the illustrious St. Vincent Ferrer, the great thaumaturgus of the Dominican Order. The boyhood of the saint was unattended by any of the prodigies that frequently forecast heroic sanctity. At an early age he conceived the idea of becoming a Friar Preacher, and despite the efforts of his father to dissuade him, was clothed with the Dominican habit in the Convent of St. Dominic, Valencia, 26 Aug., 1544. After the usual probation, in which he distinguished himself above all his associates in the qualities of an ideal religious, he pronounced the vows that irrevocably bound him to the life of perfection. The profound significance of his religious profession served as a stimulus to the increase of virtues that already gave evidence of being cast in heroic mould. In demeanor he was grave and apparently without any sense of humor, yet withal possessed of a gentle and sweet disposition that greatly endeared him to those with whom he came in contact. While he could lay no claim to the great intellectual gifts and ripe scholarship that have distinguished so many of the saints of the Dominican order, he applied himself assiduously to study, and stored his mind with the sacred truths expounded in the pages of the "Summa". In 1547 he was advanced to the priesthood by the Archbishop of Valencia, St. Thomas of Villanova.

    The extraordinary sanctity of the young Dominican's life, and the remarkable influence he exercised on those about him, singled him out as one peculiarly fitted to lead others along the path of perfection. Consequently, he was appointed to the most responsible office of master of novices, in the convent at Valencia, the duties of which he discharged at different intervals for an aggregate of thirty years. The plague that decimated the inhabitants of Valencia and the vicinity in 1557, afforded the saint an excellent opportunity for the exercise of his charity and zeal. Tirelessly he ministered to the spiritual and physical needs of the afflicted. With the tenderness and devotion of a mother he nursed the sick. The dead he prepared for burial and interred with his own hands. When the plague had subsided, the zeal of the holy novice-master sought to extend the scope of his already large ministry into the apostolate of preaching. Though possessed of none of the natural qualities deemed essential for a successful career in the pulpit, he immediately attracted attention as a preacher of great force and far-reaching influence. The cathedral and most capacious churches were placed at his disposal, but proved wholly inadequate to accommodate the multitude that desired to hear him. Eventually it became necessary for him to resort to the public squares of the city. It was probably the fame of his preaching that brought him to the attention of St. Teresa, who at this time sought his counsel in the matter of reforming her order.

    Unknown to his brethren, St. Louis had long cherished the desire to enter the mission fields of the New World. The hope that there he might find the coveted crown of martyrdom contributed not a little to sharpening the edge of his desire. Possessed of the necessary permission he sailed for America in 1562, and landed at Cartagena, where he immediately entered upon the career of a missionary. The work thus begun was certainly fruitful to an extraordinary degree, and bore unmistakably the stamp of Divine approbation. The process of his canonization bears convincing testimony to the wonderful conquest which the saint achieved in this new field of labor. The Bull of canonization asserts that, to facilitate the work of converting the natives to God, the apostle was miraculously endowed with the gift of tongues. From Cartagena, the scene of his first labors, St. Louis was sent to Panama, where in a comparatively short time he converted some 6,000 Indians. His next mission was at Tubera, situated near the sea-coast and midway between the city of Cartagena and the Magdalena River. The success of his efforts at this place is witnessed by the entries of the baptismal registers, in the saint's own handwriting. These entries show that all the inhabitants of the place were received into the Church by St. Louis. Turon places the number of converts in Tubera at 10,000. What greatly enhances the merit of this wonderful achievement is that all had been adequately instructed in the teachings of the Church before receiving baptism, and continued steadfast in their faith.

    From Tubera the Apostle bent his steps in the direction of Cipacoa and Paluato. His success at the former place, the exact location of which it is impossible to determine, was little inferior to that of Tubera. At Paluato the results of his zealous efforts were somewhat disheartening. From this unfruitful soil the saint withdrew to the province of St. Martha, where his former successes were repeated. This harvest yielded 15,000 souls. While laboring at St Martha, a tribe of 1500 Indians came to him from Paluato to implore the grace of baptism, which before they had rejected. The work at St. Martha finished, the tireless missionary undertook the work of converting the warlike Caribs, probably inhabitants of the Leeward Islands. His efforts among these fierce tribesmen seem not to have been attended with any great success. Nevertheless, the apostolate among the Caribs furnished the occasion again to make manifest the Divine protection which constantly overshadowed the ministry of St. Louis. A deadly draught was administered to him by one of the native priests. Through Divine interposition, the virulent poison failed to accomplish its purpose, thus fulfilling the words of St. Mark: "If they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them" (xvi, 18). Teneriffe next became the field of the saint's apostolic labors. Unfortunately, however, there are no records extant to indicate what was the result of his preaching. At Mompax, thirty-seven leagues south-east of Carthagena, we are told, rather indefinitely, that many thousands were converted to the Faith. Several of the West India islands, notably those of St. Vincent and St. Thomas, were visited by St. Louis in his indefatigable quest for souls.

    After an apostolate the marvelous 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 honor 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.

WILBERFORCE, The Life of St. Louis Bertrand (London, 1882); TOURON, Histoire des Hommes Illustres de l'Ordre de Saint Dominique (Paris, 1747), IV 485-526; ROZE, Les Dominicains in Amérique (Paris, 1878), 290-310; BYRNE, Sketches of illustrious Dominicans (Boston, 1884), 1-95.

Born: January 1, 1526 at Valencia, Spain

Died: October 9, 1581 of natural causes at Valencia, Spain

Beatified: July 16, 1608 by Pope Paul V

Canonized: April 12, 1671 by Pope Clement X

Patronage: Columbia

Representation: surmounted by a serpent; extinguishing a fire; holding a chalice occupied by a serpent; holding a cross

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. O shining lamp  of the New World, Saint Louis, who by preaching the Gospel of Christ in the Indies wast made worthy to share in the glory of the apostles, be thou ever our kind advocate with God who elected thee.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Louis

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. The Lord God of Israel hath visited His people in the Indies by sending to them his son, to go before the face of the Lord and prepare His ways.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. The Lord hath regarded the humility of His servants, through whom He hath provided the starving populace of the Indies with good things; and henceforth all generations shall call him blessed.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Louis

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God through bodily mortification and the preaching of the faith, didst raise Blessed Louis, Thy confessor, to the glory of the Saints, grant that what we profess through faith we may ever fulfill by works of piety. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Novena in honor of St. Louis Bertrand, Conf., O.P.

O Glorious St. Lewis Bertrand, perfect disciple of our crucified Redeemer, vouchsafe to cast upon me a look of pity and love. I have recourse to thee with confidence. Throughout thy whole life, thou didst ever labor most zealously to secure the salvation of thy neighbor, seeking by all means in thy power to win hearts to God. Oh pray for me thy devoted client, that together with the pardon of my sins, I may become like thee, an apostle of charity, that I may compassionate the miseries of my fellow-creature, wipe away the tears from their eyes, and assist them as far as I can in all their spiritual and corporal necessities. Beg for me, O great saint, from the adorable Heart of Jesus, a constant increase of divine love. Be thou my protector during life; obtain for me a death calm and peaceful, under the protection of Mary, the Virgin Mother of Good Counsel, the Immaculate Mother of God. Amen.

The Dominican Manual: A Selection of Prayers and Devotions (1913)

Blessed James of Ulm, C.O.P.

also known as James Griesinger

Memorial Day: October 11th

 

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    James was born at Ulm, and spent a fortunate childhood. He was thoroughly instructed both in his father's trade of glass painting and in the practices of piety. He assisted his father in the making of stained glass, which was at the time a fine art in Germany, and he passed a sinless and happy youth in his native city. Wishing to make a pilgrimage to Rome, he asked his father's blessing on the enterprise and set forth on his long journey, arriving in time to spend Lent in the holy city.

 

    Having run out of funds, James enlisted with the army in Sicily. Here his pious nature received a rude shock from the soldiers with whom he lived. They were given to every manner of vice and resented any effort to change their lives. Disgusted with the corrupt morals and practices around him, James made haste to free himself as soon  as his enlisted was up. He went into service with a lawyer, who soon entrusted him with his most important affairs and would gladly have adopted him as his own son. Having worked with this man for several years, James became anxious to return home to see his aging father, so he once more set forth on the road.

 

    In Bologna, while he was praying before the tomb of Saint Dominic, an interior voice made known to him that his vocation was to be a Dominican. He sought no further, but went immediately to the prior to beg admission as a lay-brother in the Order.

 

    James set for himself no extraordinary program of sanctity when he entered the Order, but resolved to keep the rule perfectly. He did this with great success. His humility and obedience were particularly remarkable.

 

    James resumed his father's trade of making stained-glass windows, and all his working time was devoted to making windows for the churches and convents that desired them. At one time, when he had a particularly large and elaborate window for firing in the furnace, the prior called for him to go out begging. Without a backward glance at his precious window, he went. He was gone all day, and it was only to be expected that his window would be in ashes when he returned, but God rewarded his obedience with a miracle-the window was more beautiful than he would ever hoped.

 

    On another occasion, the prior, who had been telling a visiting bishop of James' virtue, called him and told him to take a letter to Paris- a journey of some three weeks. James, bowing his head, asked only that he might first go to his cell to get his walking stick. The prior did not send him: he had only wished to try his obedience.

 

    James was silent and recollected at his work, diligent and prayerful, and always ready to leave one kind of work for another when obedience called him, even though he had a craftsman's regard for finishing for work well. His chief distinction was in keeping the rule perfectly, though he also performed a number of miracles.

 

    Two windows made by Blessed James are still in existence; one in the chapel of the Bentivoglio palace, the other in the cathedral of St. Petronius in Bloogna.

 

Born: 1407 at Ulm, Swabia (modern Germany)

Died: 1491 of natural causes

Beatified: In 1825 by Pope Leo XII

 

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O James, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed James

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed James.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst wonderfully adorn Blessed James, Thy Confessor, with the virtues of humility and obedience, make us through his intercession, to despise earthly things and evermore cleave to Thy commandments. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Magdalen dei Panattieri, V.O.P.

Memorial Day: October 12th

 

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    One hears so much about the detachment necessary for sanctity that it is refreshing to read about someone beatified who unblushingly loved her family, her country, her friends, and all little children.

 

    Magdalen Pannatieri was born at Trino, near Vercelli, in 1443, of deeply religious parents. She was a devout child, who made a vow of virginity while she was quite young. Before she was twenty years old, she took her vows as a Dominican Tertiary, an exceptional circumstance, showing that she was held in high esteem. The Tertiary chapter was made up principally of widows and older woman who centered their apostolate of active charities around the Dominican Church. Magdalen fitted into this work with ease, and she brought to the chapter a spirit of penance that few of her companions could match . The delightful part of it all was that her penances never rendered her dreary; she was a cheerful, resourseful person to have around. People drew as much good from her spirit of joy as from any other feature of her spirtuality.

 

    Magdalen had a special fondness for little children, and what we now call baby-sitting, and used her influence witht he children to bring their parents to a better way of life. Childless women won her sympathy , and several times her prayers brought the blessing of motherhood to such people. She taught catechism to children, and gradually the older folk of her acquaintance began to sit in on her classes. She was quite unaware that she had great powers of description and could make the truths of religion clear to simple people. The Dominican fathers allowed her to use a large room attached to the church for a class room, and the class grew. Not only the parents of the children and the simple folk of the neighborhood, but also a number of priest and religious were attending regularly.

 

    When the reform movement started by Blessed Raymond of Capua got underway, Magdalen Parnatieri promoted it in Trino. Though her influence, Blessed Sebastian Maggio was invited to preach there, and he accomplished great good.

 

    Magdalen was considered the protectress of the city of Trino. Whatever  disaster threatened it, the citizens expected her to look out for their interests, and she usually did. In her life there is no mention of a "dark night of the soul" or of grim detachment from all things of earth. Her love of God kept her from attaching herself to any illegitimate pleasures, but she thoroughly enjoyed the lawful ones- she loved her family and her townspeople and was happy in their company. Her favorite brother was a good-for-nothing- he was always in trouble. When his conduct had gone beyond the patience of everyone but Magdalene, she threw herself on her knees in front of her crucifix, and she stayed there until our Lord assured her that He would take a hand with the black sheep: " I cannot refuse you anything," He said.

 

    The Dominican fathers received her solitude when they were persecuted by a wealthy man of the town. This person carried his hatred so far that he was finally excommunicated for persecuting the Church. there was of course, a good deal of blood shed before  the affair was over, and one of the reprobate's followers made the mistake of hitting Magdalene and calling her names. Before the irate townspeople could deal out justice to him, God did; the man died a violent death.

 

    God revealed to Magdalen the coming political troubles of Italy: the French invasion of the country. She did not live to see this prophecy accomplished, but she persistently asked God's mercy for her people. During the violent quarrels and bloodshed of the time, Trino was always spared, though the villages all around were in a shambles. The townsfolk unhesitatingly gave credit to Magdalen.

 

   

Born: Trino, diocese of Vercelli, Piedmont, Italy, in 1443

Died: 1503

Beatified: beatified by Leo XIII

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. This is a wise Virgin whom the Lord found watching, who took her lamp and oil, and when the Lord came she entered with Him into the marriage feast

V. Pray for us Blessed Magdalen

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Lauds:

Ant. Come, O my chosen one, and I will place my throne in thee, for the King hath exceedingly desired thy beauty

V. Virgins shall be led to the King after her

R. Her companions shall be presented to Thee

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. She has girded her loins with courage and hath strengthened her arm; therefore shall her lamp not be put out forever

V. Pray for us Blessed Magdalen

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who forsakest no one who trust in thee, and dost mercifully hear him who meekly entreats Thee, grant we Thee, that what we can not obtain by our own merits we may receive through the patronage of Thy  virgin Blessed Magdalen. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Peter of Tiferno, C.O.P.

(also known as Peter Capucci)

Memorial Day: October 13th

 

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    After an uneventful childhood, Peter Capucci applied for admission to the Dominicans. He and the frail, youthful Saint Antoninus were both received into the order on the Vigil of the Feast of the Assumption 1405. Their novice master was Blessed Lawrence of Ripafratta. Peter counted the artist-brothers Fra Angelico and Fra Benedetto as his friends. Peter spent his novitiate at Cortona, remained there when some of his community moved to Fiesole, was ordained, and began his apostolate all in Cortona.

    Not much about Peter is truly remarkable when he is viewed in the light of his neighboring luminaries, but he glittered enough to have gained the attention of the Church. He was noted for regularity, patience, and humility--virtues not terribly common in any age. He took upon himself the job of begging for alms as a means of atoning for his noble birth. Of course, just as we might treat the homeless, some treated Peter rudely but that did not disturb him. He quietly persisted in his humble work to ensure that his brothers had food and that there were alms for the poor. We are told that one rich wine merchant refused Peter saying that the barrels in the cellar were all empty. A little later he found to his horror that they were indeed all empty. He immediately sent for the friar, apologized, and begged him to bless the barrels and restore the wine--which Peter did without hesitation.

    Other miracles were attributed to Peter, too. A woman's withered hand was restored. Two unjustly condemned men were miraculously preserved from execution. Once, walking through the cloister, Peter came upon a disreputable man. Peter prophesied that the man would day within a day. The man laughed, but died in the middle of the night after having sent for Peter to give him the sacraments. Peter Capucci became known as "the preacher of death," because he used to preach with a skull in his hands. He apparently had the ability to read hearts and could expertly point out uncomfortable truths to unwilling listeners.

    When Peter died, he was buried in a humble grave. Miracles began to occur there; thus, his fame grew. A prominent man who had been paralyzed for three years, received the use of his limbs at the grave, after he had promised to pay the expenses for an annual celebration in Peter's honor. In 1597, Peter's relics were moved to a more suitable place (Benedictines, Dorcy).

 

Born: at Città di Castello (the ancient Tifernum), in 1390

Died: 1445

Beatified: cultus confirmed by Pius VII in 1816

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Peter, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Peter

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Peter.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who hast declared that Thy faithful, by ever remembering their last end, shall never sin, grant through the prayers and example of Blessed Peter, Thy Confessor, that we may so bear in mind out temporal death that by continually weeping over the sins we have committed , we may avoid death eternal. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Blessed Bartholomew de Braganza, B.C.O.P.

Memorial Day: October 23th

 

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    The historians of Vicenza agree with those of the Order of Preachers in placing Blessed Bartholomew di Braganza among the first and most illustrious of Saint Dominic's disciples. As a matter of fact, he was a noted man in many ways. Nature endowed him with splendid gifts which he developed by tireless industry. The services that he rendered the Church as an apostolic preacher, as master of the Sacred Palace in Rome, as bishop, and as legate of the Holy See make him worthy of an honorable place in ecclesiastical history. An exceptional purity of heart and eminent piety gave the finishing touches, so to express it, to his grand character.

    More than one Pope honored Bartholomew with implicit confidence. Saint Louis, king of France, held him in the highest esteem. His virtues endeared him to those placed under his charge. Italy reaped many and signal benefits from his preaching. He brought numbers into the Church, while the fervor of the faithful was increased by his example and labors.

    The memory of such a man, our readers will doubtless agree, should not be suffered to die. Fortunately, he left a memoir or memorandum in the form of a last will and testament. Thanks to this document, one can write a part of his history and, to a certain extent, place the principal events of his life in their proper chronological setting. Such an order in these occurrences is the more important because historians have confused them to an astonishing degree.

    Vicenza, an episcopal city of Italy forty miles west of Venice, and beautifully situated at the confluence of the Retrone and Bacchiglione, is where Bartholomew first saw the light of day. The precise date of his birth is not known; but it was in 1200 or 1201. He made a part of his studies at Padua. Anthony Godi, an author of the thirteenth century, tells us that he belonged to the family of the counts di Braganza long celebrated in Lombardy. Several other Italian writers make the same statement. Only the continuers of the Acta Sanctorum, begun by Father John Van Bolland, S. J., seem disposed to question the blessed's ancient nobility.(1) Their doubt, however, led to a consultation of the Società Palatina of Milan, which had Godi's Cronica della Città di Vicenza published in its great collection known as Writers of Italian History (Rerum Italicarum Scriptores). Signore Argelati, director of that learned and far-famed society, replied that old manuscripts prove to a certainty that Blessed Bartholomew, O. P., bishop of Vicenza, belonged to the line of the counts di Braganza, lords of the manor of the same name.(2)

    It was during his studies at Padua, which he took care to season with the practice of piety, that the future bishop bad the good fortune to make the acquaintance of Saint Dominic, as well as to hear some of his sermons. The apostolic man inspired our student with so strong a dislike for the vanities of the world that he determined to devote his talents to the service of the Church. Nay, he made up his mind to follow the life which he saw exemplified in the founder of the Friars Preacher, and received the habit of the Order from the saint himself.(3)

    Bartholomew must have been very young at this time. At least, he himself tells us that he was trained under the fatherly care of Saint Dominic and nourished in his Order from childhood.(4) From the beginning, he applied himself whole-heartedly to the studies of his new life and the development of the rare talent which nature bestowed upon him. In this way, through the assistance of divine grace and under the guidance of experienced teachers, he was soon regarded as a model religious, an able theologian, and a faithful exponent and defender of the word of God.

    Immediately after his ordination the new priest was sent out to preach the Catholic faith to the people and to combat libertinage and heresy. At the same time, he labored for the pacification of the serious disturbances which were then prevalent in the cities of Italy, particularly in those of Lombardy. In this latter work, which took much of his time, he was associated with a number of other celebrated preachers of, his Order. Bishop Henry de Sponde speaks highly in praise of these men in his Annales Ecclesiastici, or epitome of the famed Annals of Cesare Baronio.(5)

    Bartholomew, however, was not content to labor with tireless zeal for the suppression of the spirit of discord, and for the reconciliation of individuals, families, and communities. He felt that a standing remedy was necessary to hold in check the unhappy dissensions which continually disturbed the public peace. He was persuaded that, unless some such antidote was found, the preaching of the fathers could not bear the fruit they desired. Accordingly, he established a congregation, or new order, to which he gave the name of Chevaliers of Sancta Maria Gloriosa.

    The end of this institute was the preservation or the restoration of peace and tranquility among the people. Its members were to carry the message of reconciliation everywhere. They were to employ all the means that Christian charity could suggest to put an end to dissensions, quarrels, enmities -- in a word, to all that had led to the civil wars in which so much Italian blood had been shed, and treasure sacrificed. De Sponde, the bishop of Pamiers mentioned above, speaks of the establishment of this quasi military order. It soon met with approbation from the Holy See, and in 1261 was confirmed by a bull of Urban IV.(6)

    Divine intervention was necessary to render the people of Italy docile to the earnest exhortations, prayers, and counsels of those who labored to bring about peace and harmony among them. Only punishment from on high could touch the hearts of the seditious whom nothing seemed able to bring to a sense of their duty. For this reason, de Sponde proceeds to say, God visited the country with scourge after scourge. First, there were destructive earthquakes. Then came unproductive seasons, followed by famine. To these succeeded pestilence and extraordinary cold weather. Finally, great floods brought desolation to the cities as well as to the country.(7)

    These catastrophes, coming one after another, disposed the people to penance. What the greater number of them would probably not have done solely out of fear of God's judgment, that they all did in order to avert the manifestations of His wrath whereby they were overwhelmed. Religious processions were held everywhere, in which persons of every age, sex, and condition took part. They walked in their bare feet, carried a crucifix or torch, and sang the praises of God. They practised every kind of mortification. All this caused 1233 to be called in Italy "the year of general devotion" (1'anno della devozion generale). Happy were the faithful whose contrite hearts and genuine humility rendered these outward expressions of penance and religion acceptable to God.(8)

    Our pious Friar Preacher was busily engaged in explaining the nature and the necessity of interior sacrifice to the people in place after place, when the Pope summoned him to Rome to be his theologian.(9) Those who state that he was the immediate successor of Saint Dominic as master of the Sacred Palace overlook the fact that Bartholomew di Braganza was only twenty or twenty-one years of age at the time of the patriarch death. Besides, it was Gregory IX, not Honorius III (in whose reign Saint Dominic died), who conferred that honorable position on the subject of our sketch. The date of the appointment was about 1235. Ile continued to bold it under Innocent IV, whom he followed to Lyons in December, 1244,' or the year after that Pontiff ascended the papal throne.

    Whatever time was left him from the labors of this charge Bartholomew employed in writing. The old manuscripts of the convent at Vicenza long showed divers works of piety, some commentaries on Sacred Scripture and on the books formerly attributed to Denis the Areopagite, and a number of other treatises from his busy pen. Both the historians of Vicenza and Father James Echard, O. P., give a list of his works; but lack of space prevents us from reproducing it here, or making comments on their merit.(10)

    Just how or when Saint Louis, king of France, became cognizant of the illustrious Friar Preacher's accomplishments we do not know. It might have been through Bartholomew's wide-spread fame.(11) Possibly, too, he was sent by the Pope on some commission to the French monarch. However it came to pass, it is certain that his majesty selected the learned and saintly son of Saint Dominic as his confessor. It is believed, and not without reason, that Bartholomew held this position when he wrote his little treatise on the education of princes (De Informatione Regiae Prolis), which he dedicated to Margaret of Provence, consort of Saint Louis.

    Most likely Bartholomew was thus employed at Paris when Innocent IV appointed him bishop of Nemosia (or Nimesia), in the Isle of Cyprus. Ferdinand Ughelli, the Cistercian historian, places this event in 1250; but the opinion of the Bollandists, who date it from 1248, is more probable. In fact, Bartholomew himself tells us that the Holy Father nominated him bishop of that see at the time Saint Louis undertook his journey to the orient for the recovery of the Holy Land.(12) Quite probably the Friar-Preacher bishop accompanied the sainted French monarch as far as Cyprus; and we know that it was on September 17, 1248, that Louis reached the island.(13)

    When the king left Cyprus, in the month of May, 1249, to lay siege to Damietta, Egypt, Bartholomew had taken possession of his diocese. Here he spent the next five or six years of his life in the fulfillment of the duties of a vigilant bishop. He applied himself heart and soul to the instruction of his flock, the regulation of the lives of his clergy, and the succor of the poor. For all he was a perfect example of Christian piety arid observance. He was regular and scrupulous in the visitation of the parishes of his see. With care did he correct the abuses that had crept in among the faithful, uproot superstition, reform religious practices, and restore the discipline of the Church.

    While he was thus busily engaged with the affairs of his diocese, more pressing needs Of religion tore the pious bishop from his beloved people. The Pope ordered him to go immediately to King Louis in Palestine. However, it is not known whether he went on a secret mission, or to aid the French monarch with his advice after the disastrous defeat of the Christian army by the Saracens at Mansura, Egypt, subsequently to the capture of Damietta by Louis. Father Vincent Fontana, O. P., is of the opinion that Bartholomew was sent to Palestine in the capacity of legate a latere, and that he there again acted as the king's confessor.(14) But we know that another Friar Preacher, Geoffrey de Beaulieu, was then Louis' confessor, while Cardinal Eudes of Châteauroux was with the monarch as legate of the Holy See.

    Bishop Bartholomew himself tells us, in his own brief memoir of his life, that he was with Saint Louis in Jaffa, Sidon, and Ptolemais. He also says that the king and queen, when they were about to sail for France, pressed him to come to see them in Paris, where he would receive new proofs of their royal favor.(15) We may place the prelate's journey to Syria in 1254, the last year of King Louis' stay in Palestine. Doubtless he advised and helped the saintly monarch in his efforts in behalf of religion and charity in the places of the Holy Land still under Christian domination.

    If the bishop then returned to his see in Cyprus, he could not have remained there long. Alexander IV, who ascended the throne of Peter on December 12, 1254, felt that he was more needed in Italy, and appointed him bishop of his native city of Vicenza. In this new charge Bartholomew set to work with the same energy that characterized his whole life, accomplishing much good in a short time. Earnestly did he labor for the conversion of the Manicheans. His rare virtue won the admiration of all the well-meaning. His firmness threw the wicked into confusion. Indeed, it was not long before men of this character started a violent persecution against the holy prelate. The leader in this iniquity was one Ezzelino da Romano, a declared enemy of religion and a virulent oppressor of the Catholic clergy. Unable to withstand the tyranny of a man as powerful as he was cruel, Bartholomew withdrew to Rome, there to await an abatement in the dangers which confronted him in his diocese.(16)

    Alexander IV now sent him as papal legate to Great Britain and France on matters of religion. From London he accompanied the English king and queen to Paris. There he was present at the conference between the two sovereigns. Having happily concluded this mission by the time the death of Ezzelino da Romano put an end to the long persecution carried on by that tyrant, Bartholomew started at once for Italy that he might rejoin his beloved people. Before he left Paris, Saint Louis made good his promise given in Palestine by bestowing on the legate some precious gifts. Among these were a portion of the true cross and a thorn from the crown of our Lord. The better to show the authenticity of the relics, Louis had an act of donation written and stamped with the royal seal. In this document the monarch declared that he had given them to Bartholomew di Braganza as a proof of the tender affection he bore him.(17)

    Vicenza's bishop, carrying the spiritual treasures which he placed beyond value, reached his episcopal city in 1260. Both clergy and people went out to welcome him. As they marched along in procession, they carried candles and olive branches, and often cried out in delight: "Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord." The holy man responded to these manifestations of joy and reverence with fatherly affection.(18) He began at once to restore his beloved church to its former beauty. With energy did he set about the restoration of the practice of religion, good order, and peace throughout the diocese, and to repair the ravage and devastation caused by the heretics or their abetters during his absence.

    God blessed Bartholomew's zeal. Indeed, his efforts met with a success far greater than he could have expected. In a short time the people of his diocese enjoyed the happiness of peace and tranquility, while their neighbors were continually in the turmoil of agitation and disturbance. The citizens of Vicenza, therefore, wished both to assure themselves of the continuance of the fortunate quiet in their city and to show their gratitude to their beloved chief pastor. Accordingly, they begged him, for the future, not only to be their guide in spiritual things as their bishop, but even in temporal affairs as their signor or podestà.(19)

    Until this time the fathers of the Order to which the bishop belonged had had but one house in Vicenza. Blessed Bartholomew now induced them to build another convent, together with a magnificent temple of worship called the Church of the Crown. In this were placed the thorn from the crown of our Lord and the piece of the true cross which he brought from France. The historians of Vicenza tell us of the veneration of the faithful for these holy relics. In the same way we learn of the large gifts made in a spirit of emulation for the construction and decoration of the new church. This house of prayer was erected on an eminence which had long been profaned by the meetings of the Manicheans, that God might be perpetually and specially honored and served in a place which had been the rendezvous of sacrilege and impiety.(20)

    While the people were engaged in building a material temple to God, the holy prelate tirelessly and successfully occupied himself with the erection of a more spiritual and worthy one by bringing sinners to repentance and sectarians into the fold of Christ. Many were benefited by his instructions. Some tried his zeal sorely; but they could not exhaust his patience. One of the would-be bishops of the heretics, called Jeremiah, and a doctor or minister, by the name of Gallo, resisted for a long time. The latter particularly, in several conferences with the man of God, defended the teaching of his sect with not a little obstinacy. However, the light of truth finally prevailed over the darkness of error. The defeat and conversion of Gallo practically put an end to the Catharists and other enemies of the Church in the City of Vicenza.(21)

    Another action of the pious bishop in behalf of his country deserves mention here. A misunderstanding bad arisen between the people of Padua and those of Vicenza, which was equally baleful to both communities. It was a difficult problem to handle. However, through tact and diplomacy, Bartholomew effected a reconciliation that pleased both parties to the controversy.

    For the sake of historical accuracy, attention should be called to a mistake of Father Ferdinand Ughelli. The Cistercian abbot and historian states that Bartholomew of Vicenza and the patriarch of Aquileia were appointed vicars of what was then known as the Roman Empire for all Italy. He places this event in 1262, and attributes the selection of these two men to Rudolf I.(22) But this prince did not become emperor until 1273, eleven years later, and at least three years after the death of our noted Friar Preacher.

    It is more difficult to decide whether or not the distinguished divine was actually raised to the dignity of patriarch, as is held by some authors. The epitaph on his tomb might give a foundation for this opinion. Father Daniel von Papenbroeck (better known as Papebroch), S. J., follows it in his list of the patriarchs of Jerusalem. According to this learned critic, Urban IV appointed Bartholomew to this patriarchate in 1264, and he departed for the Holy Land at once to assume his new charge. However, says the same author, he returned to Italy after two years, resigned the higher position in the hands of Clement IV, and was reappointed to the See of Vicenza, which became vacant in 1266.(23) So much in favor of the subject of our sketch having held the dignity of patriarch.

    On the other hand, it must be stated, we have been able to find no bull of Urban IV or Clement IV which shows this double transfer from Vicenza to Jerusalem and from Jerusalem back to Vicenza. The greater number of historians who have written of Blessed Bartholomew make no mention of such a fact. These, it is true, are arguments from silence. But to them must be added the difficulties which led other writers to decide against the opinion of Father von Papenbroeck. Taken as a whole, these reasons dispose one to consider it very doubtful that Bishop di Braganza was ever patriarch of Jerusalem.(24)

    Furthermore, the metropolitan of Ravenna and the other bishops of that ecclesiastical province were at Bologna for the second translation of the relies of Saint Dominic. Bartholomew di Braganza also honored the occasion with his presence. He preached the sermon for the event, and announced to the people the indulgences granted by the archbishop and each of his suffragans. Both during the ceremonies and in the act testifying to the translation of the relics, which he himself drew up, he takes only the rank and title of Bishop of Vicenza. Similarly, in his last will and testament, which bears the date of September 23, 1270, and in which we have a faithful outline of his life, he simply calls himself bishop of Vicenza. However, he does not forget to state that the Holy See had successively appointed him to the dioceses of Nemosia (or Nimesia) and Vicenza.(25) He makes no mention whatever of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. All this, again, constitutes a strong argument against his ever having had charge of the Holy City.

    The precise date of the holy man's death is not known. But it is agreed that he died a short time after writing his will and testament, which, as has been said, is dated September 23, 1270. Widows, orphans, and the poor were not the only ones who wept over his demise. His loss was universally regretted by those who loved their religion, as well as by those who knew how to esteem virtue and merit. His keen faith, his ardent zeal for the things of God and the salvation of souls, his gentle disposition, and his Christian humility were the virtues especially admired and praised in him. The practice of humility he ever knew well how to combine with rare learning and the most brilliant employments. His memory has always been held in benediction in the city and diocese of Vicenza.(26)

    Historians assure us that, from the time of his death, the faithful not only held our Friar Preacher in veneration, but also gave him the title of blessed. The Bollandists have likewise proved this not only by the testimony of those who wrote on the spot, but also by other indications which serve to verify the fact.(27) Such, for instance, are the lamp which was burned before his relies and his likeness painted with rays of light around his head and placed in the Church of the Crown. The miracles said to have been wrought at Bartholomew's grave induced the people of Vicenza to ask for a solemn translation of his remains. On this occasion, though he had been dead for eighty years, his body was found to have undergone no corruption. Quite naturally, this circumstance greatly increased the devotion of a people who were already accustomed to invoke his aid in their necessities.

    So lived, labored, and died the saintly bishop of Vicenza. He was one of the earliest and greatest of Saint Dominic's disciples, as well as one of the most learned. Such were the love and veneration in which the people held him. The devotion towards him may be said to have continued to grow until, more than five centuries after his death, and many years after Father Anthony Touron wrote his book, Pius VI granted the Order of Preachers and the clergy of the Diocese of Vicenza the favor of reciting the divine office and saying mass in his honor. His feast falls on the twenty-third day of October.

 

Born: at Vicenza, Ityaly towards the close of the 12th century

Died: September 23, 1270

Beatified: Pope Pius VI confirmed his cult in 1793

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Bartholomew, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Bartholomew

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Bartholomew

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst make Blessed Bartholomew, Thy Confessor and Bishop, wonderful in leading the enemies of the faith from the darkness of error to the light of truth, and in bringing back the multitude to peace and concord, grant, through his intercession, that Thy peace which passeth all understanding may keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord Who with Thee liveth and reigneth world without end. Amen.

NOTES

1. GODI, Anthony, Cronica della Città di Vicenza, p. 92; BARBARANO, Francis, O. M. Cap., Historia Vicentina (cited in Acta Sanctorum, XXVIII -- first volume for July --, 246); Acta Sanctorum, XXVIII, 249, No. 16. All through this adaptation we use a later edition of the Acta Sanctorum than that employed, by Father Touron; which, of course, often makes our references to that work differ from his.

2. Letter of July 18, 1730.

3. ALBERTI, Leander, 0. P., De Viribus Illustribus Ordinis Praedicatorum, folio 115; SPONDE, Henry de, Annales Ecclesiastici, Anno 1233, No. 7; RAZZI, Seraphin, O. P., Storia dei Domenicani Illustri, p. 67.

4. QUETIF-ECHARD (first name of both James), Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum, I, 255.

5. Op. cit., Anno 1233, Nos. 6-7.

6. Op. cit., Anno 1261. De Sponde's words are: "A new military order was founded for pacifying the cities. The name given it was Sancta Maria Gloriosa. Its founder was Father Bartholomew of Vicenza, of the Order of Preachers" (Tum ad pacificandas civitates novus militum Ordo, qui Sanctae Mariae Gloriosae vocati sunt, factus, auctore Fratre Bartholomeo Vicentina Praedicatorii Ordinis). Father Touron does not tell us how long this institutw lasted, or precisely with what success it met. Yet it must have been started by 1230, and it continued in existence for some years after its confirmation (1261) by Urban IV. (Ed. note).

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. ALBERTI, as in note 3; UGHELLI, Ferdinand, Italia Sacra, V,. Col. 1052.

10. UGHELLI, op. cit., V, Col. 1053; QUETIF-ECHARD, op. cit., 1, 258. Most likely, since the confiscation of monastic property by the Italian government, these works have been lodged in other places. (Ed. note).

11. PIO, Michael, O. P., Delle Vite degli Huomini Illustri del Ordine di San Domenico, Col. 116 ff; RAZZI, op. cit., pp. 67 ff.

12. Acta Sanctorum, XXVIII, 250, No. 18, 252, No. 28; QUETIF-ECHARD, op. cit., 1, 255; LUSIGNAN, Stephen, O. P., Histoire de Cypre, Chap. V, folio 19.
Here Father Touron has a footnote, in which he discusses a statement in the Acta Sanctorum, which says that all efforts to find the city of Nemosia proved abortive. He contends that the town, under Turkish domination, dwindled to nothing, or became a mere village. Most likely he is correct. Gams (Series Episcoporum, p. 438) makes di Braganza bishop there, and calls the place also Neo-Lemissus. It is likewise called New Limissa, or even, in Latin, Limonica. Joseph Thomas (Gazateer (1902), p. 1545) says that Nemosia is supposed to have been the ancient name of Limasol. It is absolutely certain that Bartholomew di Braganza was appointed bishop somewhere on the Island of Cyprus; and there seems to be no room for doubt that his episcopal see was called Nemosia. The Catholic Encyclopedia (XI, 71) places him among the bishops of Nicosia; but this appears to be an error. (Ed. note).

13. FLEURY, Claud, Histoire Ecclesiastique, XVII, 423.

14. Syllabus Magistrorum Sacri Palatii, p. 64; FONTANA, Vincent, O. P., Sacrum Theatrum Dominicanum, pp, 248, 343.

15. Acta Sanctorum, XXVIII, 250, No. 20. His words are: "Sailing for Syria, I visited the King and Queen, who received me most kindly at Jaffa, Sidon, and Ptolemais. Such was their esteem for me that, when they were about to return to France, they strongly urged me to visit them in Paris, and led me to hope that there they would give me some sacred relics" (Navigantes ergo in Siriam, Regem atque Reginam visitavimus, et in Joppe atque in Sidone, et ultimo in Acone benignissinie ab eis accepti fuimus, et tanto amore dilecti, ut in Franciam profecturi, nos instanter rogarent, quod eos Parisiis visitare curaremus; spem nobis tribuentes, quod ibidem sacra Dei nobis communicarent).

16. UGHELLI, op. cit., V, col. 1052; Acta Sanctorion, XXVIII, 251, No. 27. Ughelli's words are: "In his administration he won the good by his example, and weakened the bad and those fallen away from the Catholic faith by his teaching. However, he suffered much from the schemes of heretics, and was finally forced into exile by Ezzelino, the most cruel of men" (In ea administratione probos vicisse exemplo, improbos et a catholica fide aversos fregisse doctrina; haereticorum fraudibus circumventum, multa possum esse, tandemque ab Ezelino saevissitno pulsum in exilium).

17. BARBARANO, op. cit., as quoted in Acta Sanctorum, XXVIII, 253, No. 34.

18. Acta Sanctorum, XXVIII, 252, Nos. 30, 31; ALBERTI, op. cit., as in note 3.

19 BARBARANO, Historia Vicentina; QUETIF-ECHARD, op. cit., 1,255.

20. Blessed Bartholomew's last will and testament.

21. BARBARANO, op. cit., p. 104; MARCHESE (Dominic M.), Sagro Diario Domenicano, IV, 5.

22 UGHELLI, op. cit., col. 1052.

23. Acta Sanctoruin XX (seventh volume for May), 692 ff. See also Acta Sanctorum, XXVIII, 255, No. 44.

24. See QUETIF-ECHARD, op. cit., I, 256.

25. Father Touron always calls the diocese Nimesia. But Nemosia seems to be the correct name. (Ed. note).

26. THIENAEUS, Anthony, Catalogus Sanctorum et Beatorum; MARCHESE, op. cit., IV, 5; BARBARANO, op. cit.

27. Acta Sanctorum, XXVIII, 247-248.

Blessed Damian of Finario, C.O.P.

Memorial Day: October 26th

 

 Profile

    One of the bright lights of the fifteenth century was Damian of Finario. Unfortunately we know very little about him, expect that he lived at a time and place not noted for sanctity, and he was known as a holy man.

 

    Damian was born in Finario, near Genoa, at the end of the fourteenth century. His people were ich and noble, and also pious. We know nothing of his youth, except the not-too-revealing fact that when he was a baby he was kidnapped by a lunatic. His parents prayed to Our Lady, and the baby was returned unharmed.

 

    Damian entered the order at Genoa and became a diligent student and a model Dominican. He was to be known especially for his preaching. The field of his endeavors was Italy. He seems never to have left the country. By the force of his preaching, he inspired many hundreds of sinners to repentance; and, since the fifteenth century produced many sinners who needed such preaching, he was kept supplied with works for a long lifetime.

 

    Damian died in a little village near Modena, in 1884, and immediately became the object of much pious speculation, because of the miracles worked at his tomb. He was not, however, beatified until 1848, though his relics were by that time widely distributed and his cult well known.

 

Born:  at Fulcheri, Liguria, Italy

Died:1484 at Modena, Reggio d'Emilia, Italy

Beatified: August 4, 1848 by Pope Pius IX (cultus confirmed)

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Damian, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Damian

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Damian

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who for the salvation of the faithful didst adorn Blessed Damian, Thy Confessor with virtue and wonderful eloquence, grant we beseech Thee, that through his intercession and example we may excel in true charity of word and deed. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Benvenuta Bojani, V.O.P.

Memorial Day: October 30th

 

 Profile

    Benvenuta was the last of seven daughters. Her parents, too, must have been amazing people in comparison with so many in our time. When the silence of the midwife proclaimed that her father had been disappointed once again in his desire for a son, he exclaimed, "She too shall be welcome!" Remembering this she was christened by her parents Benvenuta ("welcome"), although they had asked for a son. A vain older sister unsuccessfully tried to teach the pious little Benvenuta to dress in rich clothing and use the deceits of society. Benvenuta hid from such temptations in the church where she developed a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin. By the age of 12, Benvenuta was wearing hairshirts and a rope girdle. As she grew the rope became embedded in her flesh. When she realized the rope must be removed, she couldn't get it off, so she prayed and it fell to her feet. For this reason she is often pictured in art holding a length of rope in her hands.

    Having become a Dominican tertiary at an early age, she added the penances practiced by the sisters to those she had appropriated for herself. All her disciplines, fasting, and lack of sleep soon caused her health to fail and she was confined to bed for five years. Thereafter, she was too weak to walk, so a kind older sibling carried her to church once a week for Compline (Night Prayer) in the Dominican church, her favorite liturgy after the Mass.

    After evening prayer on the Vigil of the Feast of Saint Dominic, Dominic and Saint Peter Martyr appeared to Benvenuta. Dominic had a surprise for her. The prior was absent at the Salve procession, but at the beginning of Compline she saw Dominic in the prior's place. He passed from brother to brother giving the kiss of peace, then went to his own altar and disappeared. At the Salve procession, the Blessed Virgin herself came down the aisle, blessing the fathers while holding the Infant Jesus in her arms.

    Benvenuta spent her whole life at home in Cividale busy with her domestic duties, praying, and working miracles. She was often attacked by the devil, who sometimes left her close to discouragement and exhaustion. When someone protested against the death of a promising young child, Benvenuta commented, "It is much better to be young in paradise than to be old in hell." The devil often appeared to her in horrifying forms but was banished when Benvenuta called upon the Virgin.

    Benvenuta's companions called her "the sweetest and most spiritual of contemplatives, so lovable in her holiness that her touch and presence inspired gladness and drove away temptations." This is amazing in light of the severe penances that she imposed upon herself--and another sign of blessedness that she didn't judge others by her standards for herself (Benedictines, Dorcy).

Born: May 4, 1254 at Cividale, Friuli, Italy

Died: October 30, 1292 at Cividale, Friuli, Italy of natural causes

Beatified: February 6, 1763 by Pope Clement XIV (cultus confirmed)

Name Meaning: welcome (from her father's statement at her birth: "She too shall be welcome!")

Representation: holding a length of rope

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. This is a wise Virgin whom the Lord found watching, who took her lamp and oil, and when the Lord came she entered with Him into the marriage feast

V. Pray for us Blessed Benvenuta

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Lauds:

Ant. Come, O my chosen one, and I will place my throne in thee, for the King hath exceedingly desired thy beauty

V. Virgins shall be led to the King after her

R. Her companions shall be presented to Thee

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. She has girded her loins with courage and hath strengthened her arm; therefore shall her lamp not be put out forever

V. Pray for us Blessed Benvenuta

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: Pour out upon us, O Lord, the grace of penance, prayer and humility, that in imitation of Blessed Benvenuta, Virgin, we may be enabled by mortifying the flesh to live in the spirit, and by continually meditating heavenly things and despising ourselves, find rest and glory in Thee, the only God. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Prayer II

 

Lord, you gave Blessed Benvenuta the gifts of penance, prayer and humility. Through self-denial and contemplation on heavenly things may we too live in the Spirit and find rest and glory in you, the one God. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. - General Calendar of the Order of Preachers

Commemoration of the Saints whose relics are kept in Dominican Churches

    From the earliest times the Church was accustomed to celebrate Mass at the tombs of the martyrs, who had shed their blood in imitation of the Victim of Calvary. Later the bodies of the Saints were placed under the altar, and their lives were deposited in the altar stone. In to-day's feast the Church venerates these relics which deserve honor as belonging to the Saints, and to us are the instruments through which many favors are obtained.

 

Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. The souls of the Saints who followed in the footsteps of Christ rejoice in heaven: and because for love of Him they poured out their blood, therefore shall they rein forever with Christ.

V. Rejoice in the Lord, and exalt, ye just.

R. and be glorified, all ye right of heart.

 

Lauds:

Ant. These are the Saints, who for love of God despised the threats of men: the holy Martyrs triumph with the angels of heaven. O how precious is the death of the Saints, who constantly assist before the Lord and are not separated one from another!

V. Wonderful is God.

R. In His saints.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. God will wipe every tear from the eyes of the Saints: and mourning there will be no more, neither weeping nor any sorrow, because the former things have passed away.

V. Rejoice in the Lord, and exalt, ye just

R.. And be glorified, all yea right of heart.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who has been pleased to adorn this holy church with the relics of so many Saints, grant that we Thy servants may enjoy in heaven the fellowship of those whose memory we venerate on earth. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Simon Ballachi, C.O.P.

Memorial Day: November 3rd

 

Profile

    The son of Count Ballachi, nephew of two archbishops of Rimini, and brother of a priest, Simon Ballachi became a Dominican lay-brother at age 27. His family was none too happy about this decision because he was supposed to administer the family property and had been trained as a soldier. They couldn't understand why he would abandon the many opportunities life had provided for him. Not only was he throwing away a prestigious position in society, he was not even becoming a priest, which would provide him with a chance for ecclesiastical preferences.

    Oblivious to the criticism of his family, Simon readily undertook the life of a lay brother. His principal work, to his great delight, was tending the garden. Having been preoccupied with military training, Simon may never have seen a garden prior to entering the Dominicans. He probably had to learn all the details of the art by trial and error.

    But while he tended the friary garden, he continued to plant prayers for his soul. He was adept at seeing God in everything. It is written that he meditated on every act, "so that, while his hands cultivated the herbs and flowers of the earth, his heart might be a paradise of sweet-smelling flowers in the sight of God." He tried to find in everything he handled in the garden some lesson it could teach him about the spiritual life. When the weather was too bad for him to work outside, he swept and cleaned the monastery. Wherever his work took him, he tried to do it well and to efface himself completely, so that no one would even notice that he was there.

    Under the placid exterior of a gardener, Simon concealed a spiritual life of extraordinary austerity and prayer. He worked hard during the day yet he never excused himself from rising for the night office, nor from severe penance. For 20 years he wore an iron chain around his waist. In Lent, he lived on bread and water. He found extra time for prayer by foregoing sleep. Like Saint Dominic, he scourged himself every night. Of course, all this growth in holiness attracted the devil, who would attempt to distract Simon.

    Other visitors came to him in the silence of the night: Saint Catherine of Alexandria, to whom he had a special devotion, Saint Dominic and Saint Peter Martyr, and sometimes the Blessed Virgin herself. His little cell was radiant with heavenly lights, and sometimes angelic voices could be heard within.

Simon was blinded at age 57 and became helpless for the last years of his life, yet he never despaired (Benedictines, Dorcy).

 

Born: at Sant'Arcangelo near Rimini, Italy, 1250

Died: died November 3, 1319

Beatified: declared blessed in 1817 (cultus confirmed in 1820 by Pope Pius VIII)

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Simon , confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Simon

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Simon

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who, among his other virtues, didst adorn Blessed Simon Thy Confessor, with constant diligence in prayer and a singular prerogative of humility, grant us so to imitate him that, despising all the things of the world, we may here seek Thee alone, and hereafter attain the rewards in heaven promised to the humble. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

 

 

St. Martin

Blessed Martin de Porres, C.O.P.

Helper in Hopeless Cases

Memorial Day: November 5th

Profile

    Martin was the illegitimate child of Juan de Porres, a Spanish knight (hidalgo) from Alcantara, and Anna Velasquez, a free Panamanian mullato. Martin inherited his mother's features and dark skin, which upset his father, but John acknowledged his paternity of Martin and his sister while neglecting them. He was left to the care of his mother, and at 12 he was apprenticed to a barber-surgeon, who taught him the healing arts.

    Martin's prayer life was rich even in his youth. He had a deep devotion to the Passion of Our Lord, and continually prayed to know what he could do in gratitude for the immense blessings of redemption.

    Deciding upon the religious life, at the age of 15, Martin received the habit of the Third Order of Saint Dominic and was admitted to the Dominican Rosary Convent at Lima as a servant. He gave himself the lowliest duties of the house. Finally, his superiors commanded him to accept the habit of a lay brother-- something Martin felt was too great an honor for him--and he was professed.

    He served in several offices in the convent--barber, infirmarian, wardrobe keeper--as well as in the garden and as a counsellor. Soon Martin's reputation as a healer spread abroad. He nursed the sick of the city, including plague victims, regardless of race, and helped to found an orphanage and foundling hospital with other charities attached to them. He distributed the convent's alms of food (which he is said sometimes to have increased miraculously) to the poor. Martin especially ministered to the slaves that had been brought from Africa.

    He cured as much through prayer as through his knowledge of the medical arts. Among the countless many whose cures were attributed to Martin were a priest dying from a badly infected leg and a young student whose fingers were so damaged in an accident that his hopes for ordination to the priesthood were nearly quenched.

    Martin spent his nights in prayer and penance, and he experienced visions and ecstasies. In addition to these gifts, he was endowed with the gift of bilocation; he was seen in Mexico, Central America, and even Japan, by people who knew him well, whereas he had never physically been outside of Lima after entering the order. One time Martin was on a picnic with the novices and they lost track of time. Suddenly realizing that they would be late for their prayers, Martin had them join hands. Before they knew what happened, they found themselves standing in the monastery yard, unable to explain how they travelled several miles in a few seconds.

    He passed through locked doors by some means known only to himself and God. In this way he appeared at the bedside of the sick without being asked and always soothed the sick even when he did not completely heal them.

    Even sick animals came to Martin for healing. He demonstrated a great control of and care for animals--a care that apparently was inexplicable to the Spaniards--extending his love even to rats and mice, whose scavenging he excused on the grounds that they were hungry. He kept cats and dogs at his sister's house.

    Great as his healing faculty was, Martin is probably best remembered for the legend of the rats. It is said that the prior, a reasonable man, objected to the rodents. He ordered Martin to set out poison for them. Martin obeyed, but was very sorry for the rats. He went out into the garden and called softly--and out came the rats. He reprimanded them for their bad habits, telling them about the poison. He further assured them that he would feed them every day in the garden, if they would refrain from annoying the prior. This they agreed upon. He dismissed the rodents and forever after, they never troubled the monastery.

    His protege, Juan Vasquez Parra, reveals him to have been a practical and capable man, attending to details ranging from raising his sister's dowry in three days, to teaching Juan how to sow chamomile in the manured hoofprints of cattle. He was eminently practical in his charities, using carefully and methodically the money and goods he collected. He was consulted on delicate matters by persons of consequence in Lima.

    Martin's close friends included Saint Rose of Lima and Blessed John Massias, who was a lay-brother at the Dominican priory of Saint Mary Magdalene in Lima. Although he referred to himself as a "mulatto dog," his community called him the "father of charity." They came to respect him so much that they accepted his spiritual direction, even though he was but a lay brother.

    He died of quatrain fever at Rosary Convent on November 3. The Spanish viceroy, the count of Chinchón, came to kneel at his deathbed and ask his blessing. Martin was carried to his grave by prelates and noblemen.

    The startling miracles, which caused Martin to be called a saint in his own lifetime, continue today at his intercession. He lived a life of almost constant prayer, and practiced remarkable austerities. He worked at hard and menial tasks without ever losing a moment of union with God. His charity, humility, and obedience were extraordinary--even for a saint. Such was the veneration for Martin that the canonical inquiry into his cause was begun in 1660 (Attwater, Cavallini, Delaney, Dorcy, Farmer, Walsh, White).

Born: December 9, 1579 at Lima, Peru

Died: November 3,1639 of fever

Beatified: In 1837 he was solemnly beatified by Gregory XVI

Patronage: He is the patron saint of interracial relations (because of his universal charity to all men), social justice, public education, and television in Peru, Spanish trade unionists (due to injustices workers have suffered), Peru's public health service, people of mixed race, and Italian barbers and hairdressers (White).

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Martin, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Martin.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Martin.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who exaltest the humble, and midst make Blessed Martin Thy Confessor, pass to the heavenly kingdom, grant through his merits and intercession that we may so imitate his humility on earth as to deserve to be exalted with him in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer to Blessed Martin de Porres

To you Blessed Martin de Porres we prayerfully lift up our hearts filled with serene confidence and devotion. Mindful of your unbounded and helpful charity to all levels of society and also of your meekness and humility of heart, we offer our petitions to you. Pour out upon our families the precious gifts of your solicitous and generous intercession; show to the people of every race and every color the paths of unity and of justice; implore from our Father in heaven the coming of his kingdom, so that through mutual benevolence in God men may increase the fruits of grace and merit the rewards of eternal life. Amen.

The Litany of Blessed Martin de Porres

For Private Use Only.

Lord, have mercy,
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, here us.
Christ, graciously hear us,
God the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary,
Pray for us.
Blessed Martin, ever in the presence of God,
Pray for us.
Blessed Martin, faithful servant of Christ, etc.
Blessed Martin, lover of the Holy Eucharist,
Blessed Martin, devoted to our Blessed Mother,
Blessed Martin, spiritual patron of Americans,
Blessed Martin, raised from the depths to a heavenly mansion,
Blessed Martin, honored son of Saint Dominic,
Blessed Martin, lover of the Most Holy Rosary,
Blessed Martin, apostle of mercy,
Blessed Martin, winged minister of charity,
Blessed Martin, miraculously conveyed to far-distant lands,
Blessed Martin, freed from the barriers of time and space,
Blessed Martin, seeking the conversion of sinners,
Blessed Martin, protector of the tempted and repentant,
Blessed Martin, helper of souls in doubt and darkness,
Blessed Martin, compassionate to the sorrowful and afflicted,
Blessed Martin, consoler of the discouraged and unfortunate,
Blessed Martin, peacemaker in all discords,
Blessed Martin, touched by all suffering,
Blessed Martin, comforter of the sick and dying,
Blessed Martin, angel to hospitals and prisons,
Blessed Martin, worker of miraculous cures,
Blessed Martin, guardian of the homeless child,
Blessed Martin, humbly hiding God-given powers,
Blessed Martin, devoted to holy poverty,
Blessed Martin, model of obedience,
Blessed Martin, lover of heroic penance,
Blessed Martin, strong in self-denial,
Blessed Martin, performing menial tasks with holy ardor,
Blessed Martin, gifted with prophecy,
Blessed Martin, symbol of interracial brotherhood,
 

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.
 

V. Pray for us, Blessed Martin,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray.

O God, the exalter of the humble, Who didst make Blessed Martin, Thy confessor, to enter the heavenly Kingdom, grant through his merits and intercession that we may so follow the example of his humility on earth as to deserve to be exalted with him in Heaven, through Christ Our Lord. R. Amen.

[Saint Hyacinth Castaneda]

Blessed Jerome, Valentine, Francis, Hyacinth & Companions,MM.O.P.

(Also know as Martyrs of Tonkin, Vietnam)

Memorial Day: November 6th

 

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    Between the arrival of the first Portuguese missionary in 1533, through the Dominicans and then the Jesuit missions of the 17th century, the politically inspired persecutions of the 19th century, and the Communist-led terrors of the twentieth, there have been many thousands upon thousands of Catholics murdered for their faith in Vietnam. Some were priests, some nuns or brothers, some lay people; some were foreign missionaries, but most were native Vietnamese killed by their own government and people.

    Record keeping being what it was, and because the government did not care to keep track of the people it murdered, we have no information on the vast bulk of the victims.

 

    Of these eight Dominican Martyrs of Tonkin, some Spaniards and others natives, two gloriously suffered martyrdom in 1745, two in 1773 and three, among the Bishop Jerome Hermosilla, in 1861.Pope Pius X confirmed their cult in 1906.

JEROME HERMOSILLA

Dominican. Missionary to Manila, Philippines. Priest. Missionary to Vietnam in 1828. Vicar Apostolic of Eastern Tonking, Vietnam and titular bishop of Miletopolis on August 2, 1839. Bishop. Worked with Saint Joseph Khang. Martyred with Saint Valentin Faustino Berri Ochoa.

VALENTIN FAUSTINO BERRI OCHOA

Born in the Basque country. Dominican. Ordained on June 14, 1851. Missionary to the Philippines and then to Vietnam. Appointed coadjutor vicar apostolic of Central Tonking, (modern diocese of Bùi Chu) Vietnam and titular bishop of Centuria on December 25, 1857. Martyred with Saint Jerome Hermosilla.

FRANCIS GIL de FREDERICH

Educated in Barcelona, Spain where he joined the Dominicans. Missionary to the Philippines. Missionary to Vietnam in 1732. Spent nine years in prison for his faith during which he converted fellow prisoners and supervised evangelists on the outside.

HYACINTH CASTANEDA

Dominican. Priest. Missionary to China. Missionary to Vietnam. He was beheaded for the Catholic Faith in 1773 at Vietnam

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. The souls of the Saints who followed in the footsteps of Christ rejoice in heaven: and because for love of Him they poured out their blood, therefore shall they reign forever with Christ.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Jerome, Valentine, Francis, Hyacinth and Companions

R. That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. These are the Saints, who for love of God despised the threats of men: the holy Martyrs triumph with the angels in the kingdom of heaven. O how precious is the death of the Saints, who constantly assist before the Lord and are not separated one from another!

V. Wonderful is God

R. In His Saints

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. God will wipe every tear from the eyes of the Saints: and mourning there will be no more, neither weeping nor any sorrow because the former things have passed away.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Jerome, Valentine, Francis, Hyacinth and Companions

R. That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer

Let us Pray: O God, who hast deigned to enrich Thy Church with the blood of the Blessed Martyrs Jerome, Valentine, Francis, Hyacinth and Companions, grant propitiously that we may be aided by the prayers and merits of those whose triumphs we joyfully celebrate. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Peter Cambiano of Ruffia, M.O.P.

Memorial Day: November 7th

 

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    Peter Cambiano's father was a city councilor and his mother was of nobility. They were virtuous and careful parents, and they gave their little son a good education, especially in religion. Peter responded to all their care and became a fine student, as well as a pious and likeable child. Peter was drawn to the Dominicans by devotion to the rosary. Our Lady of the Rosary was the special patroness of the Piedmont region, and he had a personal devotion to her. At 16, therefore, he presented himself at the convent in Piedmont and asked for the habit.

    Here the young student continued his study and prayer, becoming a model religious, and was ordained at 25. His skill as a preacher had already become evident, not the least of his talents being a loud clear voice, which in those days of open-air preaching was a real asset.

    Peter's span of active life was 20 years, most of which he spent among the heretics of northern Italy. The fathers of the Lombard province had a fine reputation to uphold. They were walking in the footsteps of martyrs, and they made a point of preparing their men carefully for controversy as well as for martyrdom. Peter's first assignment was to work among the Waldensians. These zealous and misguided folk, coming from France, had already infiltrated the Low Countries and were well established in northern Italy, by way of Switzerland.

    The inquisition had been set up to deal with these people in Lombardy before the death of Peter Martyr, a century before. So well did young Peter of Ruffia carryout the work of preaching among them that the order sent him to Rome to obtain higher degrees. The pope, impressed both by his talent and his family name, appointed him inquisitor-general of the Piedmont. This was a coveted appointment; to a Dominican it meant practically sure martyrdom and a carrying on of a proud tradition.

    In January 1365, Peter of Ruffia and two companions left the convent in Turin to go on a preaching tour that would take them into the mountainous country bordering Switzerland, where the heretics had done great damage. Their lives were in hourly danger. The Franciscans at Suse gave them hospitality, and they made the friary their basis of operations for a short, but very active, campaign against the Waldensians.

    His preaching occasioned several notable defections from the ranks of the heretics, and it was decided that Peter must die. On the February 2, three of the heretics came to the friary and asked to see Peter of Ruffia, saying that they had an important message for him. They waited for him in the cloister, near the gate, and, when he appeared, surrounded him and killed him with their daggers. Peter died almost instantly, too soon to give any information about his assailants, and the murderers disappeared into a valley, where the heretics would protect them. All Piedmont, Switzerland, and Savoy were in an uproar over the death of Peter, who had been 'a saint in his life, a martyr in his death.'

    The Franciscans at Suse claimed the holy relics, pointing out that it would not be safe to transport them to the nearest Dominican house, so Peter was buried among the Franciscans. Here he remained for 150 years until the Franciscan house was razed and desecrated by an invading army. Finally, in 1517, the relics of the great inquisitor were brought to Turin, and Peter was laid to rest among his brethren in the convent there (Attwater2, Benedictines, Dorcy)

Born: Born in Chieri, Piedmont, Italy, in 1320

Died: stabbed to death with daggers on February 2 , 1365 by Waldensian heretics outside the Franciscan friary of Susa; buried at the Franciscan house as it was considered unsafe to transport his body through the hostile heretical territory; relics translated to the Dominican house in Turin, Italy in 1517 after the friary was destroyed by an invading army

Beatified: December 4, 1856 by Pope Pius IX

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. This is a Martyr indeed, who for the name of Christ shed his blood: who neither feared the threats of judges, nor sought the glory of earthly dignity, but has joyously come to the heavenly kingdom.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Peter

R. That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Let him that would come after Me, deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.

V. A crown of gold is on his head.

R. Signed with the sign of sanctity.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. This is he who for the law of his God delivered himself to death. He did not hesitate to die; he was slain by the wicked and lives forever with Christ: he followed the Lamb and has received the palm.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Peter

R. That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer

Let us Pray: O God, who in Thy mercy didst bestow the crown of martyrdom on Blessed Peter, Thy servant, for his defense of the true faith, grant through his merits and intercession, that we may ever be pleasing to Thee by the faith that worketh through charity. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers

Loving God, in your mercy you bestowed the crown of martyrdom on Blessed Peter for his defense of the true faith. Help us by his prayers to please you by a faith that is manifested through charity. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. - General Calendar of the Order of Preachers

The Death of Saint Dominic in Bologna in 1221 from a Dominican Missal printed in 1603.

Anniversary of the deceased Brothers and Sisters of the Dominican Order

Memorial Day: November 10th

 

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It is the teaching of St. Thomas that prayer for the dead is more acceptable than prayer for the living, inasmuch as the dead, unlike the living, cannot help themselves. Hence, this anniversary reminds us of the claim which the departed of the three Orders have on our prayers

 

Practice: Ask for deceased brethren and sisters that they may soon be received into the company of the Saints.

Feast of All Saints of the Order of Preachers

Memorial Day: November 12th

 

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    Besides the canonized and beatified Saints of the Order commemorated throughout the year, there are thousands of others enjoying the Beatific Vision, many of whom are very highly exalted in heaven, and some of whom doubtless were members of our own congregation or house. It is to honor and invoke all the Saints. the known and the unknown, that this solemnity was instituted.

 

Practice: Judge your life by comparison with the lives of the Saints.

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. He who is mighty hath gone great things for the order: He hath received Dominic, His son; He hath blessed him and his followers forever.

V. Pray for us, all ye Saints of God

R. That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Lauds:

Ant. The Lord God of Israel hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of Dominic, His son, that in holiness and justice we may serve Him all the days of our life.

V. Rejoice in the Lord, ye Saints and just.

R. God hath chosen you for His inheritance.

Second Vespers:

Ant. The Lord hath magnified His Saints with His salvation, for behold from henceforth all generations shall call them blessed.

V. Pray for us, all ye Saints of God

R. That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Prayer

Let us Pray: O God, who hast vouchsafed to make the order of Preachers fruitful in an abundant progeny of Saints, and hast sublimely crowned in them the merits of all heroic virtues, grant us to follow in their footsteps, that we may one day be united in perpetual festivity in heaven with those whom we today venerate in common upon earth. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Divus Thomas quem discipulus e vivo expressit.
From portrait now in Collegio Angelico, Rome,
by unknown artist, almost contemporary.

Patronage of Saint Thomas Aquinas over Catholic Schools

Memorial Day: November 13th

 

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    St. Thomas was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V and Patron of all Catholic Schools by Pope Leo XIII. The late Pope Pius XI has styled him Universal Doctor and Doctor of the Eucharist. The sublimity and orthodoxy of his teaching and the splendor of his virtues make him the suitable Patron, guide and model of teachers and students.

Pope Pius XI - Studiorum Ducem - On Saint Thomas Aquinas - 29 June 1923

9kb jpg holy card of Pope Pius XI To Our Venerable Brethren, the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Ordinaries in Grace and Communion with the Apostolic See. Venerable Brethren, Greeting and the Apostolic Benediction.

1. In a recent apostolic letter confirming the statutes of Canon Law, We declared that the guide to be followed in the higher studies by young men training for the priesthood was Thomas Aquinas. The approaching anniversary of the day when he was duly enrolled, six hundred years ago, in the calendar of the Saints, offers Us an admirable opportunity of inculcating this more and more firmly in the minds of Our students and explaining to them what advantage they may most usefully derive from the teaching of so illustrious a Doctor. For science truly deserving of the name and piety, the companion of all the virtues, are related in a marvelous bond of affinity, and, as God is very Truth and very Goodness, it would assuredly not be sufficient to procure the glory of God by the salvation of souls-the chief task and peculiar mission of the Church-if ministers of religion were well disciplined in knowledge and not also abundantly provided at the same time with the appropriate virtues.

25kb jpg detail of a holy card image of Saint Thomas Aquinas receiving instruction from a dove 2. Such a combination of doctrine and piety, of erudition and virtue, of truth and charity, is to be found in an eminent degree in the angelic Doctor and it is not without reason that he has been given the sun for a device; for he both brings the light of learning into the minds of men and fires their hearts and wills with the virtues. God, the Source of all sanctity and wisdom would, therefore, seem to have desired to show in the case of Thomas how each of these qualities assists the other, how the practice of the virtues disposes to the contemplation of truth, and the profound consideration of truth in turn gives luster and perfection to the virtues. For the man of pure and upright life, whose passions are controlled by virtue, is delivered as it were of a heavy burden and can much more easily raise his mind to heavenly things and penetrate more profoundly into the secrets of God, according to the maxim of Thomas himself: "Life comes before learning: for life leads to the knowledge of truth" (Comment. in Matth., v); and if such a man devotes himself to the investigation of the supernatural, he will find a powerful incentive in such a pursuit to lead a perfect life; for the learning of such sublime things, the beauty of which is a ravishing ecstasy, so far from being a solitary or sterile occupation, must be said to be on the contrary most practical.

3. These are among the first lessons, Venerable Brethren, which may be learned from the commemoration of this centenary; but that they may be the more clearly apparent, We propose to comment briefly in this Letter on the sanctity and doctrine of Thomas Aquinas and to show what profitable instruction may be derived therefrom by priests, by seminarians especially, and, not least, by all Christian people.

4. Thomas possessed all the moral virtues to a very high degree and so closely bound together that, as he himself insists should be the case, they formed one whole in charity "which informs the acts of all the virtues" (II-II, xxiii, 8; I-II, Ixv). If, however, we seek to discover the peculiar and specific characteristics of his sanctity, there occurs to Us in the first place that virtue which gives Thomas a certain likeness to the angelic natures, and that is chastity; he preserved it unsullied in a crisis of the most pressing danger and was therefore considered worthy to be surrounded by the angels with a mystic girdle.

This perfect regard for purity was accompanied at the same time by an equal aversion for fleeting possessions and a contempt for honors; it is recorded that his firmness of purpose overcame the obstinate persistence of relatives who strove their utmost to induce him to accept a lucrative situation in the world and that later, when the Supreme Pontiff would have offered him a mitre, his prayers were successful in securing that such a dread burden should not be laid upon him. The most distinctive feature, however, of the sanctity of Thomas is what Saint Paul describes as the "word of wisdom" (I Cor. xii, 8) and that combination of the two forms of wisdom, the acquired and the infused, as they are termed, with which nothing accords so well as humility, devotion to prayer, and the love of God.

5. That humility was the foundation upon which the other virtues of Thomas were based is clear to anyone who considers how submissively he obeyed a lay brother in the course of their communal life; and it is no less patent to anyone reading his writings which manifest such respect for the Fathers of the Church that "because he had the utmost reverence for the doctors of antiquity, he seems to have inherited in a way the intellect of all" (Leo XIII, ex Card. Caietano, litt. Encycl. Aeterni Patris, 4th August, 1879); but the most magnificent illustration of it is to be found in the fact that he devoted the faculties of his divine intellect not in the least to gain glory for himself, but to the advancement of truth. Most philosophers as a rule are eager to establish their own reputations, but Thomas strove to efface himself completely in the teaching of his philosophy so that the light of heavenly truth might shine with its own effulgence.

6. This humility, therefore, combined with the purity of heart We have mentioned, and sedulous devotion to prayer, disposed the mind of Thomas to docility in receiving the inspirations of the Holy Ghost and following His illuminations, which are the first principles of contemplation. To obtain them from above, he would frequently fast, spend whole nights in prayer, lean his head in the fervor of his unaffected piety against the tabernacle containing the august Sacrament, constantly turn his eyes and mind in sorrow to the image of the crucified Jesus; and he confessed to his intimate friend Saint Bonaventura that it was from that Book especially that he derived all his learning. It may, therefore, be truly said of Thomas what is commonly reported of Saint Dominic, Father and Lawgiver, that in his conversation he never spoke but about God or with God.

7. But as he was accustomed to contemplate all things in God, the first Cause and ultimate End of all things, it was easy for him to follow in his Summa Theologica no less than in his life the two kinds of wisdom before referred to. He himself describes them as follows: "The wisdom which is acquired by human effort . . . gives a man a sound judgment with regard to divine things according as he makes a perfect use of reason. . . But there is another kind of wisdom which comes down from above . . . and judges divine things in virtue of a certain connaturality with them. This wisdom is the gift of the Holy Ghost . . . and through it a man becomes perfect in divine things, not only by learning but also by experiencing divine things" (II-II, xlv, 1, ad 2; 2).

8. This wisdom, therefore, which comes down from, or is infused by, God, accompanied by the other gifts of the Holy Ghost, continually grew and increased in Thomas, along with charity, the mistress and queen of all the virtues. Indeed it was an absolutely certain doctrine of his that the love of God should ever continually increase "in accordance with the very words of the commandment: 'Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with thy whole heart'; for the whole and the perfect are one same thing. . .

Now the end of the commandment is charity from a pure heart, and a good conscience and an unfeigned faith, as the Apostle says (I Tim. i, 5), but no standard of measure is applicable to the end, but only to such things as conduce to the end (II-II, clxxxiv, 3)." This is the very reason why the perfection of charity falls under the commandment as the end to which we ought all to strive, each according to his degree. Moreover, as "it is the characteristic of charity to make man tend to God by uniting the affections of man to God in such a way that man ceases to live for himself and lives only for God" (II-II, xvii, 6, ad 3), so the love of God, continually increasing in Thomas along with that double wisdom, induced in him in the end such absolute forgetfulness of self that when Jesus spoke to him from the cross, saying: "Thomas, thou hast written well about me," and asked him: "What reward shall I give thee for all thy labor?" the saint made answer: "None but Thyself, O Lord!" Instinct with charity, therefore, he unceasingly continued to serve the convenience of others, not counting the cost, by writing admirable books, helping his brethren in their labors, depriving himself of his own garments to give them to the poor, even restoring the sick to health as, for example, when preaching in the Vatican Basilica on the occasion of the Easter celebrations, he suddenly cured a woman who had touched the hem of his habit of a chronic hemorrhage.

9. In what other Doctor was this "word of wisdom" mentioned by Saint Paul more remarkable and abundant than in the Angelic Doctor? He was not satisfied with enlightening the minds of men by his teaching: he exerted himself strenuously to rouse their hearts to make a return of His love to God, the Creator of all things. "The love of God is the source and origin of goodness in things" he magnificently declares (1, xx, 2), and he ceaselessly illustrates this diffusion of the divine goodness in his discussion of every several mystery. "Hence it is of the nature of perfect good to communicate itself in a perfect way and this is done in a supreme degree by God . . . in the Incarnation" (III, i, I). Nothing, however, shows the force of his genius and charity so clearly as the Office which he himself composed for the august Sacrament. The words he uttered on his deathbed, as he was about to receive the holy Viaticum, are the measure of his devotion to that Sacrament throughout his life: "I receive Thee, Price of the redemption of my soul, for the love of Whom I have studied, kept vigil and toiled."

10. After this slight sketch of the great virtues of Thomas, it is easy to understand the preeminence of his doctrine and the marvelous authority it enjoys in the Church. Our Predecessors, indeed, have always unanimously extolled it. Even during the lifetime of the saint, Alexander IV had no hesitation in addressing him in these terms: "To Our beloved son, Thomas Aquinas, distinguished alike for nobility of blood and integrity of character, who has acquired by the grace of God the treasure of divine and human learning." After his death, again, John XXII seemed to consecrate both his virtues and his doctrine when, addressing the Cardinals, he uttered in full Consistory the memorable sentence: "He alone enlightened the Church more than all other doctors; a man can derive more profit in a year from his books than from pondering all his life the teaching of others."

11. He enjoyed a more than human reputation for intellect and learning and Pius V was therefore moved to enroll him officially among the holy Doctors with the title of Angelic. Again, could there be any more manifest indication of the very high esteem in which this Doctor is held by the Church than the fact that the Fathers of Trent resolved that two volumes only, Holy Scripture and the Summa Theologica, should be reverently laid open on the altar during their deliberations? And in this order of ideas, to avoid recapitulating the innumerable testimonies of the Apostolic See, We are happy to recall that the philosophy of Aquinas was revived by the authority and at the instance of Leo XIII; the merit of Our illustrious Predecessor in so doing is such, as We have said elsewhere, that if he had not been the author of many acts and decrees of surpassing wisdom, this alone would be sufficient to establish his undying glory. Pope Pius X of saintly memory followed shortly afterwards in his footsteps, more particularly in his Motu Proprio Doctoris Angelici, in which this memorable phrase occurs: "For ever since the happy death of the Doctor, the Church has not held a single Council but he has been present at it with all the wealth of his doctrine." Closer to Us, Our greatly regretted Predecessor Benedict XV repeatedly declared that he was entirely of the same opinion and he is to be praised for having promulgated the Code of Canon Law in which "the system, philosophy and principles of the Angelic Doctor" are unreservedly sanctioned. We so heartily approve the magnificent tribute of praise bestowed upon this most divine genius that We consider that Thomas should be called not only the Angelic, but also the Common or Universal Doctor of the Church; for the Church has adopted his philosophy for her own, as innumerable documents of every kind attest. It would be an endless task to explain here all the reasons which moved Our Predecessors in this respect, and it will be sufficient perhaps to point out that Thomas wrote under the inspiration of the supernatural spirit which animated his life and that his writings, which contain the principles of, and the laws governing, all sacred studies, must be said to possess a universal character.

12. In dealing orally or in writing with divine things, he provides theologians with a striking example of the intimate connection which should exist between the spiritual and the intellectual life. For just as a man cannot really be said to know some distant country, if his acquaintance is confined merely to a description of it, however accurate, but must have dwelt in it for some time; so nobody can attain to an intimate knowledge of God by mere scientific investigation, unless he also dwells in the most intimate association with God. The aim of the whole theology of Saint Thomas is to bring us into close living intimacy with God. For even as in his childhood at Monte Cassino he unceasingly put the question: "What is God?"; so all the books he wrote concerning the creation of the world, the nature of man, laws, the virtues, and the sacraments, are all concerned with God, the Author of eternal salvation.

13. Again, discussing the causes of the sterility of such studies, namely curiosity, that is to say the unbridled desire for knowledge, indolence of mind, aversion from effort and lack of perseverance, he insists that there is no other remedy than zeal in work with the fervor of piety which derives from the life of the spirit. Sacred studies, therefore, being directed by a triple light, undeviating reason, infused faith and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, by which the mind is brought to perfection, no one ever was more generously endowed with these than Our Saint. After spending all the riches of his intellect on some matter of exceptional difficulty, he would seek the solution of his problem from God by the most humble prayer and fasting; and God was wont to listen to His suppliant so kindly that He dispatched the Princes of the Apostles at times to instruct him. It is not therefore surprising that towards the end of his life he had risen to such a degree of contemplation as to declare that all he had written seemed to him mere chaff and that he was incapable of dictating another word; his eyes even then were fixed on eternity alone, his one desire was to see God. For, according to Thomas, by far the most important benefit to be derived from sacred studies, is that they inspire a man with a great love for God and a great longing for eternal things.

14. He not only instructs us by his example how to pursue such a diversity of studies, but also teaches us firm and enduring principles of each single science. For, in the first place, who has provided a better explanation than he of the nature and character of philosophy, its various divisions and the relative importance of each? Consider how clearly he demonstrates the congruence and harmony between all the various sections which go to make up the body as it were of this science. "It is the function of the wise man," he declares, "to put things in order, because wisdom is primarily the perfection of reason and it is the characteristic of reason to know order; for although the sensitive faculties know some things absolutely, only the intellect or reason can know the relation one thing bears to another. The sciences, therefore, vary according to the various forms of order which reason perceives to be peculiar to each. The order which the consideration of reason establishes in its own peculiar activity pertains to rational philosophy or logic, whose function is to consider the order of the parts of speech in their mutual relations and in relation to the conclusions which may be drawn from them. It is for natural philosophy or physics to consider the order in things which human reason considers but does not itself institute, so that under natural philosophy we include also metaphysics. But the order of voluntary acts is for the consideration of moral philosophy which is divided into three sections: the first considers the activities of the individual man in relation to their end and is called 'monastics'; the second considers the activities of the family group or community and is called economics; the third considers the activities of the State and is called politics" (Ethics, I, I). Thomas dealt thoroughly with all these several divisions of philosophy, each according to its appropriate method, and, beginning with things nearest to our human reason, rose step by step to things more remote until he stood in the end on "the topmost peak of all things" (Contra Gentes, II, lvi; IV, i).

15. His teaching with regard to the power or value of the human mind is irrefragable.

"The human mind has a natural knowledge of being and the things which are in themselves part of being as such, and this knowledge is the foundation of our knowledge of first principles" (Contra Gentes, II, 1xxxiii). Such a doctrine goes to the root of the errors and opinions of those modern philosophers who maintain that it is not being itself which is perceived in the act of intellection, but some modification of the percipient; the logical consequence of such errors is agnosticism, which was so vigorously condemned in the Encyclical Pascendi.

16. The arguments adduced by Saint Thomas to prove the existence of God and that God alone is subsisting Being Itself are still today, as they were in the Middle Ages, the most cogent of all arguments and clearly confirm that dogma of the Church which was solemnly proclaimed at the Vatican Council and succinctly expressed by Pius X as follows: "The certain knowledge of God as the first principle of creation and its end and demonstrable proof of His existence can be inferred, like the knowledge of a cause from its effect, by the light of the natural reason, from creation, that is to say the visible works of creation" (Motu Proprio Sacrorum Antistitum of the 1st September, 1910).

The metaphysical philosophy of Saint Thomas, although exposed to this day to the bitter onslaughts of prejudiced critics, yet still retains, like gold which no acid can dissolve, its full force and splendor unimpaired. Our Predecessor therefore rightly observed: "To deviate from Aquinas, in metaphysics especially, is to run grave risk" (Encycl.Pascendi of the 8th September, 1907).

17. Philosophy is undoubtedly a most noble science, but as things are not constituted by divine Providence, it must not be said to excel all others, because it does not embrace the whole universality of things. Indeed, in the introduction to his Summa Contra Gentes, as also to his Summa Theologica, the saintly Doctor describes another order of things set above nature and eluding the grasp of reason, an order which man would never have suspected unless the divine goodness had revealed it to him. This is the region in which faith is supreme, and the science of faith is called Theology. Science of this kind will be all the more perfect in man in proportion as he is the better acquainted with the evidence for faith and has at the same time a more fully developed and trained faculty of philosophizing. There can be no doubt that Aquinas raised Theology to the highest eminence, for his knowledge of divine things was absolutely perfect and the power of his mind made him a marvelously capable philosopher. Thomas is therefore considered the Prince of teachers in our schools, not so much on account of his philosophical system as because of his theological studies. There is no branch of theology in which he did not exercise the incredible fecundity of his genius.

18. For in the first place he established apologetics on a sound and genuine basis by defining exactly the difference between the province of reason and the province of faith and carefully distinguishing the natural and the supernatural orders. When the sacred Vatican Council, therefore, in determining what natural knowledge of religion was possible, affirmed the relative necessity of some divine revelation for sure and certain knowledge and the absolute necessity of divine revelation for knowledge of the mysteries, it employed arguments which were borrowed precisely from Saint Thomas. He insists that all who undertake to defend the Christian faith shall hold sacrosanct the principle that: "It is not mere folly to assent to the things of faith although they are beyond reason" (Contra Gentes, I, vi). He shows that, although the articles of belief are mysterious and obscure, the reasons which persuade us to believe are nevertheless clear and perspicuous, for, says he, "a man would not believe unless he saw that there were things to be believed" (II-II, i, 4); and he adds that, so far from being considered a hindrance or a servile yoke imposed upon men, faith should, on the contrary, be reckoned a very great blessing, because "faith in us is a sort of beginning of eternal life" (Qq. disp. de Veritate, xiv, 2).

19. The other branch of Theology, which is concerned with the interpretation of dogmas, also found in Saint Thomas by far the richest of all commentators; for nobody ever more profoundly penetrated or expounded with greater subtlety all the august mysteries, as, for example, the intimate life of God, the obscurity of eternal predestination, the supernatural government of the world, the faculty granted to rational creatures of attaining their end, the redemption of the human race achieved by Jesus Christ and continued by the Church and the sacraments, both of which the Angelic Doctor describes as "relics, so to speak, of the divine Incarnation."

20. He also composed a substantial moral theology, capable of directing all human acts in accordance with the supernatural last end of man. And as he is, as We have said, the perfect theologian, so he gives infallible rules and precepts of life not only for individuals, but also for civil and domestic society which is the object also of moral science, both economic and politic. Hence those superb chapters in the second part of the Summa Theologica on paternal or domestic government, the lawful power of the State or the nation, natural and international law, peace and war, justice and property, laws and the obedience they command, the duty of helping individual citizens in their need and co-operating with all to secure the prosperity of the State, both in the natural and the supernatural order. If these precepts were religiously and inviolably observed in private life and public affairs, and in the duties of mutual obligation between nations, nothing else would be required to secure mankind that "peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ" which the world so ardently longs for. It is therefore to be wished that the teachings of Aquinas, more particularly his exposition of international law and the laws governing the mutual relations of peoples, became more and more studied, for it contains the foundations of a genuine "League of Nations."

21. His eminence in the learning of asceticism and mysticism is no less remarkable; for he brought the whole science of morals back to the theory of the virtues and gifts, and marvelously defined both the science and the theory in relation to the various conditions of men, both those who strive to attain Christian perfection and fullness of spirit, in the active no less than in the contemplative life. If anyone, therefore, desires to understand fully all the implications of the commandment to love God, the growth of charity and the conjoined gifts of the Holy Ghost, the differences between the various states of life, such as the state of perfection, the religious life and the apostolate, and the nature and value of each, all these and other articles of ascetical and mystical theology, he must have recourse in the first place to the Angelic Doctor.

22. Everything he wrote was securely based upon Holy Scripture and that was the foundation upon which he built. For as he was convinced that Scripture was entirely and in every particular the true word of God, he carefully submitted the interpretation of it to those very rules which Our recent Predecessors have sanctioned, Leo XIII in his Encyclical Providentissimus Deus and Benedict XV in his Encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus. He laid down the principle "The chief Author of Sacred Scripture is the Holy Ghost. . . But man was the instrumental author" (Quodlib., vii, 14, ad 5), and would not allow the absolute historicity of the Bible to be doubted; but on the basis of the meaning of the words or literal sense he established the fecundity and riches of the spiritual sense, the triple nature of which, allegorical, tropological and anagogical, he expounded with the most ingenious commentary.

23. Lastly, our Doctor possessed the exceptional and highly privileged gift of being able to convert his precepts into liturgical prayers and hymns and so became the poet and panegyrist of the Divine Eucharist. For wherever the Catholic Church is to be found in the world among whatsoever nations, there she zealously uses and ever will continue to use in her sacred services the hymns composed by Saint Thomas. They are the expression of the ardent supplications of a soul in prayer and at the same time a perfect statement of the doctrine of the august Sacrament transmitted by the Apostles, which is pre-eminently described as the Mystery of Faith. If these considerations are borne in mind as well as the praise bestowed by Christ Himself to which We have already referred, nobody will be surprised that Saint Thomas should also have received the title of the Doctor of the Eucharist.

24. The following very relevant conclusions may be drawn from all that has gone before. Let Our young men especially consider the example of Saint Thomas and strive diligently to imitate the eminent virtues which adorn his character, his humility above all, which is the foundation of the spiritual life, and his chastity. Let them learn from this man of supreme intellect and consummate learning to abhor all pride of mind and to obtain by humble prayer a flood of divine light upon their studies; let them learn from his teaching to shun nothing so sedulously as the blandishments of sensual pleasure, so that they may bring the eyes of the mind undimmed to the contemplation of wisdom. For he confirmed by his precept, as We have said, his own practice in life: "To abstain from the pleasures of the Body so as to be certain of greater leisure and liberty for the contemplation of truth is to act in conformity with the dictates of reason" (II-II, clvii, 2).

Wherefore we are warned in Holy Scripture: ". . . wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins" (Wisdom, i, 4). If the purity of Thomas therefore had failed in the extreme peril into which, as we have seen, it had fallen, it is very probable that the Church would never have had her Angelic Doctor.

25. Inasmuch, therefore, as We see the majority of young men, caught in the quick-sands of passion, rapidly jettisoning holy purity and abandoning themselves to sensual pleasures, We instantly exhort you, Venerable Brethren, to propagate everywhere, and particularly among seminarians, the society of the Angelic Militia founded under the patronage of Thomas for the preservation and maintenance of holy chastity and We confirm the privileges of pontifical indulgences heaped upon it by Benedict XIII and others of Our Predecessors. And that the Faithful may be persuaded the more eagerly to enroll in this Militia, We grant members of it the privilege of wearing instead of a cord a medal round the neck impressed on the obverse with a picture of Saint Thomas and the angels surrounding him with a girdle and on the reverse a picture of Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary.

26. But inasmuch as Saint Thomas has been duly proclaimed patron of all Catholic schools because he marvelously combined both forms of wisdom, the rational and the divinely inspired, because he had recourse to prayer and fasting to solve the most difficult problems, because he used the image of Christ crucified in place of all books, let him be a model also for seminarians, so that they may learn how to pursue their studies to the best advantage and with the greatest profit to themselves. Members of religious communities should look upon the life of Saint Thomas as upon a mirror; he refused even the highest dignities offered to him in order to live in the practice of the most perfect obedience and to die in the sanctity of his profession. Let all the Faithful of Christ take the Angelic Doctor as a model of devotion to the august Queen of Heaven, for it was his custom often to repeat the "Hail Mary" and to inscribe the sweet Name upon his pages, and let them ask the Doctor of the Eucharist himself to inspire them with love for the divine Sacrament. Priests above all will be zealous in so doing, as is only proper.

"For Thomas was accustomed, unless prevented by illness, to say Mass daily and heard another Mass said by his socius or some other friar which he very often served," declares the careful historian of his life. But could anyone find words to express the spiritual fervor with which he said Mass himself, the anxious care with which he made his preparation, the thanksgivings he offered to the divine Majesty after he had said it?

27. Again, if we are to avoid the errors which are the source and fountain-head of all the miseries of our time, the teaching of Aquinas must be adhered to more religiously than ever. For Thomas refutes the theories propounded by Modernists in every sphere, in philosophy, by protecting, as We have reminded you, the force and power of the human mind and by demonstrating the existence of God by the most cogent arguments; in dogmatic theology, by distinguishing the supernatural from the natural order and explaining the reasons for belief and the dogmas themselves; in theology, by showing that the articles of faith are not based upon mere opinion but upon truth and therefore cannot possibly change; in exegesis, by transmitting the true conception of divine inspiration; in the science of morals, in sociology and law, by laying down sound principles of legal and social, commutative and distributive, justice and explaining the relations between justice and charity; in the theory of asceticism, by his precepts concerning the perfection of the Christian life and his confutation of the enemies of the religious orders in his own day. Lastly, against the much vaunted liberty of the human reason and its independence in regard to God he asserts the rights of primary Truth and the authority over us of the Supreme Master. It is therefore clear why Modernists are so amply justified in fearing no Doctor of the Church so much as Thomas Aquinas.

28. Accordingly, just as it was said to the Egyptians of old in time of famine: "Go to Joseph," so that they should receive a supply of corn from him to nourish their bodies, so We now say to all such as are desirous of the truth: "Go to Thomas," and ask him to give you from his ample store the food of substantial doctrine wherewith to nourish your souls unto eternal life. Evidence that such food is ready to hand and accessible to all men was given on oath at the hearing of the case for the canonization of Thomas himself, in the following words: "Innumerable secular and religious masters flourished under the lucid and limpid teaching of this Doctor, because his method was concise, clear and easily followed . . . even laymen and persons of little instruction are eager to possess his writings."

29. We desire those especially who are engaged in teaching the higher studies in seminaries sedulously to observe and inviolably to maintain the decrees of Our Predecessors, more particularly those of Leo XIII (the Encyclical Aeterni Patris), and Pius X (the Motu Proprio Doctoris Angelici) and the instructions We Ourselves issued last year. Let them be persuaded that they will discharge their duty and fulfill Our expectation when, after long and diligent perusal of his writings, they begin to feel an intense devotion for the Doctor Aquinas and by their exposition of him succeed in inspiring their pupils with like fervor and train them to kindle a similar zeal in others.

30. We desire that lovers of Saint Thomas-and all sons of the Church who devote themselves to higher studies should be so-be incited by an honorable rivalry in a just and proper freedom which is the life-blood of studies, but let no spirit of malevolent disparagement prevail among them, for any such, so far from helping truth, serves only to loosen the bonds of charity. Let everyone therefore inviolably observe the prescription contained in the Code of Canon Law that "teachers shall deal with the studies of mental philosophy and theology and the education of their pupils in such sciences according to the method, doctrine and principles of the Angelic Doctor and religiously adhere thereto"; and may they conform to this rule so faithfully as to be able to describe him in very truth as their master. Let none require from another more than the Church, the mistress and mother of all, requires from each: and in questions, which in Catholic schools are matter of controversy between the most reputable authorities, let none be prevented from adhering to whatever opinion seems to him the more probable.

31. Therefore, as it behooves the whole of Christendom worthily to celebrate this centenary-because in honoring Saint Thomas something greater is involved than the reputation of Saint Thomas and that is the authority of the teaching Church-We desire that such celebration shall take place throughout the world from the 18th July until the end of next year wherever seminarians are in regular course of instruction, that is to say not only among the Preaching Friars, an Order which, in the words of Benedict XV, "must be praised, not so much for having been the family of the Angelic Doctor, as for having never afterwards departed so much as a hair's breadth from his teaching" (Acta Ap. Sedis, viii, 1916, p. 397), but among other religious communities also, and in all seminaries and Catholic colleges and schools to which he has been appointed for heavenly patron. It is only proper that this Eternal City in which Aquinas was once master of the Sacred Palace should take the lead in holding such celebrations and that the Pontifical Angelical College, where Saint Thomas may be said to be at home, and the other academies in Rome for the education of priests set the example in these holy rejoicings.

32. In virtue of Our Apostolic power and for the purpose of increasing the splendor and profit to be derived from this celebration, We grant the following privileges:

1) That in all churches belonging to the Order of Preachers and in all other churches or chapels to which the public has or may have access, more particularly in seminaries, colleges or other institutions for the education of priests, prayers may be said for three or eight or nine days with the pontifical indulgences attaching to them which customarily attach to prayers said in honor of the saints and the blessed;

2) That in the churches of the Friars and the Sisters of Saint Dominic the faithful may once on any day they choose in the course of the centenary celebrations, after duly confessing their sins and receiving Holy Communion, obtain a plenary indulgence toties quoties they pray before the altar of Saint Thomas;

3) That in churches of the Order of Saint Dominic, priests, members of the Order or tertiaries, may, in the course of the centenary year on any Wednesday or the first free day of the week, celebrate Mass in honor of Saint Thomas, as on his feast-day, with or without the Gloria and the Credo, according to the ritual of the day, and obtain a plenary remission of sins; those present at any such Mass may also obtain a like indulgence on the usual conditions.

33. In addition, a disputation shall be held in seminaries and other institutions for the education of priests on some point of philosophy or other important branch of learning in honor of the Angelic Doctor. And that the festival of Saint Thomas may be kept in future in a manner worthy of the patron of all Catholic schools, We order it to be kept as a holiday and celebrated not only with a High Mass, but also, at any rate in seminaries and among religious communities, by the holding-of a disputation as aforesaid.

34. Finally, that the studies to which Our young people devote themselves may, under the patronage of Aquinas, daily yield more and more fruit for the glory of God and the Church, We append to this Letter the form of prayer which the Saint himself was accustomed to use and exhort you to see that it be widely published. Let any person duly reciting it know that by Our authority an indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines is granted him.

35. As an augury of divine favor and in testimony of Our paternal benevolence, We most affectionately grant you, Venerable Brethren, and the clergy and people committed to your care the Apostolic Blessing.

Given at Rome at Saint Peter's on the 29th day of June, the feast of the Princes of the Apostles, in the year 1923, the second year of Our Pontificate.

Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. O Thomas, honor and glory of the Order of Preachers and teacher of the ways of God, bring us to eternal delights.

V. Pray for us Blessed Thomas

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. A body spotless by the flower of chastity, a life strong by the fruit of justice, a teaching splendid by the gift of science, adorned thee in earthly warfare and crown thee in the state of glory.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. St. Thomas, Doctor of the Church Militant, flower of virginal purity, dispense to us the longed for joys of the heavenly court.

V. Pray for us , Blessed Thomas.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O god, who dost enlighten Thy Church by the wondrous learning of Blessed Thomas, Thy Confessor and Doctor, and dost render it fruitful by his holy influence, grant us, we beseech Thee, clearly to understand his teaching, and deeds. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed John Licci, C.O.P.

(Also known as John Liccio)

Memorial Day: November 14th

 

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    The man who holds the all-time record for wearing the Dominican habit--96 years-- was also a person about whom some delightful stories are told. Perhaps only in Sicily could so many wonderful things have happened to one man.

    John was born to a poor family. His mother died at his birth and his father, too poor to hire a nurse for the baby, fed him on crushed pomegranates and other odds and ends. He was obliged to leave the baby alone when he went out to work in the fields, and a neighbor women, who heard the child crying, took the baby over to her house and fed him properly.

    She laid the baby in bed beside her sick husband, who had been paralyzed for a long time. Her husband rose up--cured, and the woman began to proclaim the saintly quality of the baby she had taken in. When John's father came home, however, he was not only unimpressed by her pious remarks, he was downright furious that she had interfered in his household. He took the baby home again and fed it more pomegranates.

    At this point, the sick man next door fell ill again, and his wife came to John's father and begged to be allowed to care for the child. Begrudgingly, the father let the wonderful child go. The good woman took care of him for several years, and never ceased to marvel that her husband had been cured a second time--and that he remained well.

    Even as a tiny baby, John gave every evidence that he was an unusual person. At an age when most children are just beginning to read, he was already reciting the daily Office of the Blessed Virgin, the Office of the Dead, and the Penitential Psalms. He was frequently in ecstasy, and was what might be called an "easy weeper"; any strong emotion caused him to dissolve in floods of tears.

    At the age of fifteen, John went to Palermo on a business trip for his father, and he happened to go to confession to Blessed Peter Geremia, at the church of Saint Zita. The friar suggested that he become a religious. John believed himself quite unworthy, but the priest managed to convince him to give it a try. The habit, which he put on for the first time in 1415, he was to wear with distinction for nearly a century.

    Humble, pure, and a model of every observance, Brother John finished his studies and was ordained. He and two brothers were sent to Caccamo to found a convent, and John resumed his career of miracle-working, which was to bring fame to the order, and to the convent of Saint Zita.

    As the three friars walked along the road, a group of young men began ridiculing them and finally attacked them with daggers. One boy attempted to stab John, but his hand withered and refused to move. After the friars had gone on, the boys huddled together and decided that they had better ask pardon. They ran after the Dominicans and begged their forgiveness. John made the Sign of the Cross, and the withered hand was made whole.

    The story of the building at Caccamo reads like a fairy tale. There was, first of all, no money. Since the friars never had any, that did not deter John Liccio, but he knew it would be necessary to get enough to pay the workmen to begin the foundations.

    John went into the parish church at Caccamo and prayed. An angel told him to "build on the foundations that were already built." All he had to do was to find them. The next day, he went into the woods with a party of young woodcutters and found the place the angel had described: foundations, strongly and beautifully laid out, for a large church and convent. It had been designed for a church called Saint Mary of the Angels, but was never finished.

    John moved his base of operations to the woods where the angel had furnished him with the foundations. One day, in the course of the construction, the workmen ran out of materials. They pointed this out to John, who told them to come back tomorrow anyway. The next day at dawn a large wagon, drawn by two oxen, appeared with a load of stone, lime, and sand. The driver politely inquired where the fathers would like the material put; he capably unloaded the wagon, and disappeared, leaving John with a fine team of oxen--and giving us a fascinating story of an angel truck-driver.

    These oxen figured at least once more in the miracles of John Liccio. Near Christmas time, when there was little fodder, a neighbor insisted on taking the oxen home with him "because they were too much care for the fathers." John refused, saying that they were not too heavy a burden, and that they had come a long way.

    The man took them anyway, and put them into a pasture with his own oxen. They promptly disappeared, and, when he went shamefacedly to report to the fathers, the man found the team contentedly munching on practically nothing in the fathers' yard. "You see, it takes very little to feed them," John said.

    During the construction, John blessed a well and dried it up, until they were finished with the building. Whereupon, he blessed it again, and once more it began to give fine sweet water, which had curative properties.

    Beams that were too short for the roof, he simply stretched. Sometimes he had to multiply bread and wine to feed his workers, and once he raised from the dead a venturesome little boy who had fallen off the roof while watching his uncle setting stones.

    Word of his miraculous gift soon spread, of course, and all the neighbors came to John with their problems. One man had sowed a field with good grain, only to have it grow up full of weeds. John advised him to do as the Scriptures had suggested--let it grow until the harvest. When the harvest came, it still looked pretty bad, but it took the man ten days to thresh the enormous crop of grain that he reaped from that one field.

    John never let a day pass without doing something for some neighbor. Visiting a widow whose six small children were crying for food, John blessed them, and he told her to be sure to look in the bread box after he had gone. Knowing there had been nothing in it for days, she looked anyway; it was full, and it stayed full for as long as the need lasted.

    Once when a plague had struck most of the cattle of the vicinity, one of John's good friends came to him in tears, telling him that he would be ruined if anything happened to his cattle. "Don't worry," John said, "yours won't get sick." They didn't.

    Another time a neighbor came running to tell him that his wife was dying. "Go home," said John. "You have a fine new son, and you shouldn't waste any time getting home to thank God for him."

    John was never too famous as a preacher, though he did preach a good deal in the 90 years of his active apostolate. His favorite subject was the Passion, but he was more inclined to use his hands than his speech. He was provincial of Sicily for a time, and held office as prior on several occasions.

    John Liccio is especially invoked to help anyone who has been hit on the head, as he cured no less than three people whose heads were crushed by accidents (Dorcy).

Born: 1400 at Caccamo, diocese of Palermo, Sicily

Died: 1511 of natural causes at 111 years old

Beatified: April 25,1753 by Pope Benedict XIV (cultus confirmed)

Name meaning: God is gracious; gift of God (John)

Patronage: Head injuries

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O John, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed John

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed John.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who hast been pleased to make Blessed John, Thy Confessor, illustrious for perfect self-denial and for singular zeal in the cause of charity, grant us that, after his example, we may forsake all earthly affections and live evermore in Thy love. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Albert the Great, B.C.D.O.P.

(also known as Albertus Magnus; Doctor Expertus; Doctor Universalis)

Feast  Day: November 15th

 

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    Among Christians there often arises a dispute regarding the relative merits of science and theology, of intellectual versus spiritual understanding. Some say that the two are irreconcilable, forgetting that, according to the technical definition, myths (such as the Creation Story) offer more than simply a surface explanation of the mechanics of science. Studying the life of Saint Albert the Great should put aside these disputes.

    Today in Cologne, the spires of a building began seven centuries earlier still point to heaven. It is only a legend that credits the design of the cathedral to Saint Albert the Great. But it is so typical of his own life, pointing all beauty to heaven, that it is a legend that is very easy to believe. Albert, who even secular history calls "the Great," spent his life in teaching that science and faith have no quarrel, and that all earthly loveliness and order can be traced directly to God.

Early Life

    Albert was born in a castle in the diocese of Bavaria, the eldest son of the count of Bollstaedt. Albert was of small stature, but strongly built, having gigantic shoulders and a mole on one eyelid.

    Albert's keen observation, which was later to show itself in his scientific works, had its initial training in the woods near his father's castle, where he and his brother Henry--who also became a Dominican--hunted with hawks and hounds, and became experts in falconry. Their first education was at home under private tutors. That both his brother Henry and his sister also became Dominicans attests to the piety of his family.

    In 1222, at the age of 16, he was sent to study law at the famous university of Padua (some say Bologna) under the supervision of his uncle who was a canon there. He proved to be an outstanding student, and a brilliant future lay before him in a well-paid career. But God had other plans for Saint Albert.

The Call

    Here in Italy Albert met Jordan of Saxony, a fellow-countryman and the second master-general of the Dominican Order following the death of Saint Dominic on August 4, 1221. Jordan's enormous charisma earned him the nickname 'Siren of the Schools' as he travelled from place to place seeking recruits for the young order. Albert was greatly affected by what he heard, and vowed to become a Dominican.

    He wavered, though, both because he doubted whether he could persevere and because his uncle opposed him. On the false pretext that travel helps form the character of a youth, his uncle took him on a trip to Venice, and at the same time obtained from the pope an annulment of the vow that he thought so rash. But what can a man, even a priest, do against the will of God?

    On their return Albert went to the University of Padua, where he encountered the crisis of his life when he heard another sermon by Blessed Jordan. The preacher spoke of those young men who wavered between certainty and doubt, who hesitated because they feared they might not persevere, when in reality they ought to offer themselves entirely to God and trust in him.

    Albert was astonished at what he heard. Going after Blessed Jordan he said, "Master, who has laid bear my heart to you?" Blessed Jordan comforted him, explaining that he had not been addressing any particular individual, but all alike who might be so affected, yet no doubt this was a message of God to him personally; transfixed by these words, he immediately offered himself. He was received into the Order, probably in 1223, and completed his theological studies.

    A legend is told of this period which serves to bring out both the greatness of Albert's science and his love for Our Lady. Albert, it is related, had not worn the white habit for long when it became plain to him that he was no match for the mental wizards with whom he was studying. Anything concrete, which he could take apart and study, he could understand, but the abstract sciences were too much for him.

    He decided to run away from it all; planning a quiet departure, he carefully laid a ladder against the wall and waited for his opportunity. As he was kneeling for one last Hail Mary before he should go over the wall, Our Lady appeared to him. She reproached him gently for his forgetfulness of her--why had he not remembered to ask her for what he wanted? Then she gave him the gift of science he so much desired, and disappeared. Whatever the truth behind the legend--and it has survived, almost unchanged, through the many years--it is equally certain that Albert was a devout client of Our Lady and a master scientist.

Teaching

    Albert was ordained a priest in 1228. He was then sent to teach in Cologne, where his critical lectures on the Sentences of Peter Lombard made his name; he afterward came to be known as the greatest German scholar of the Middle Ages. Later he taught in Hildesheim, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Regensburg (Ratisbon) for two years, Strasbourg and again in Cologne. He traveled from one place to another on foot, preaching, praying, and observing. His mind was receptive, daring, modern, and picked up an extraordinary amount of information. From the first his great erudition had been recognized, to say nothing of his deep piety and humility.

    Albert rejected nothing of value that his age could offer him, doing so not out of a superficial syncretism, which would try to please everybody, but out of his concern not to lose anything that might be an element of the truth. From 1240 to 1248 Albert was at the monastery of Saint-Jacques in Paris; Place Maubert and Rue Maitre-Albert in the Latin Quarter evoke his memory, while the Rue du Fouarre recalls the crowd of students who gathered round his pulpit, seated on their small bundles of straw.

    It was in Paris that he had the happiness of seeing a quiet student from the Kingdom of Sicily rise like a brilliant star that would outshine all the others. What must it have been like to watch the mind of Saint Thonas Aquinas develop and unfold to the wisdom of time and eternity, and to help him open the doors to profound truth?

    Albert was one of the first to recognize, cultivate, and proclaim the brilliance of his good friend and student Saint Thomas Aquinas. It takes a man of great humility and great sanctity to see and cultivate the potential for it in others, and these Albert had.

    Albert took Thomas under his wing, assigned him a room adjoining his own, and for nearly five years was his inseparable companion. They studied together in both Paris, where Albert taught and earned his doctorate in theology in 1244-45, and in Cologne. He helped adapt the Scholastic method, which applied Aristotelian methods to revealed doctrine, an approach that was further developed by Saint Thomas.

    In 1248 Albert again moved to University of Cologne, where he served as regent of the new studia generalia until 1254, when he was elected provincial of the Teutonia, a vast Dominican province including Alsace, Belgium, and Germany as far as the frontiers of Poland and Hungary. He personally visited all the monasteries in his province, convened chapters, imposed penances, ensured that observances were respected, and, above all, preached by his own example.

    In 1256 Albert went to Rome, where he defended the mendicant orders against William of Saint Armour (who was condemned later in the year by Pope Alexander IV). Then he served for a time as the personal theologian to the pope and professor of Holy Scripture. By 1257, when a general chapter was held in Florence, Albert had completed his mandate and gladly resigned his provincialatae to return to his studies and his pulpit in Cologne. But, unfortunately for him and for his pupils, not for very long.

    During his short return to study, together with Thomas Aquinas and Peter of Tarentais, Albert drew up a new curriculum of study for the Dominicans (1259).

As Bishop

    The time for study was interrupted too soon, when on January 5, 1260, Pope Alexander IV appointed Albert bishop of Regensburg (Ratisbon) against his wishes and, though the master general tried the stop the appointment, very reluctantly Albert was obliged to accept. Vigorous reforms were needed in Regensburg and Albert was the man for the job.

    The new bishop used his authority with severity against those who were injuring the Church in her temporal possessions. He cleaned up the administration, ordered economies, put the debts in order, solicited generous gifts, and restored deteriorating buildings. By his own example he showed his priests a life of purity, strict poverty, harsh penance, and piety; he helped greatly to restore to fervor a diocese in disorder. He dealt severely with his clergy, condemning their concubinage, idleness and simony.

    As for his episcopal robes, he just settled for a pair of stout shoes, which he needed for his long journeys on foot. The people were astonished and called him "the bishop in clogs," or simply, "Clodhopper." Saint Clodhopper for God, forever in the march along the paths of the Gospel!

    The clergy resented his simplicity and rejected his reforms, and the avaricious nobles refused to return the Church's property. Once the worst problems were corrected, Albert clearly recognized that he could serve God better from a pulpit. Albert felt called back to his life's work of teaching and the restoration of theology.

    After two years as bishop, he journeyed to Rome and asked to be relieved of the office. The petition was granted, but he was appointed to preach the crusade in the German-speaking countries, a work he continued for several years with a companion preacher, the Franciscan Berthold of Ratisbon, going as far as Lithuania. These labors ended with the death of Pope Urban IV. And Albert returned to Wurzburg (where he lived for three years), Strasbourg, and once more to Cologne in 1270 to teach again under the obedience of the Dominican Order.

Old Age

    For the last dozen years of his life he taught theology in Cologne, with a break in 1274 to take an active part in the general council of Lyons, working for the reunion of the Greek and Roman Churches. Albert's sadness at the failure of the council was surpassed by the death of Thomas Aquinas, age 49, on the road from Rome to the council in the little monastery of Hautecombe. He died calmly while making a commentary on the Song of Songs. Thomas's last wish, as he told the monks attending him, was to eat a good French herring. Such is the simplicity of saints.

    Albert wept bitterly that the 'glory and ornament of the world' had gone. He outlived his beloved pupil by several years, and, in extreme old age, he walked halfway across Europe to defend a thesis of Thomas's that was challenged. He fiercely and brilliantly defended Saint Thomas and his position against Bishop Stephen Tempier of Paris and a group of theologians at the university there in 1277.

    On his return to the monastery at Cologne, Albert ceased teaching forever and retired permanently to his cell. He had kept the innocence and freshness of his faith, and prayed like a child. He love the Virgin Mary with tenderly, and wrote one of his most beautiful theological treatises in her praise. For the last two years of his life, Albert suffered from increasing memory loss and ill health, which led to his death in Cologne on November 15, 1280. Saint Albert is enshrined in the church of Saint Andreas in Cologne.

Works

    Albert had an enquiring mind, ranking beside Roger Bacon as one of the first and greatest natural scientists. He was an experimenter and a classifier at a time when all experimental knowledge was under suspicion. There was not a field in which he did not at least try his hand, and his keenness of mind and precision of detail make his remarks valuable, even though, because he lacked facts which we now have, his conclusions were incomplete.

    It is difficult to estimate his vast erudition, the acuteness of mind and keenness of intellect of this learned and saintly man. In philosophy his work exhibited the highest achievement of human reason when thrown on its own resources.

    The whole realm of nature and grace are covered by his encyclopedic knowledge; he wrote even more than Saint Thomas Aquinas himself. Some of his works still remain in manuscript unpublished and as many as seventy others have been lost. His printed works fill 38 quarto volumes and deal with all branches of learning. Among his works are Summa theologie, De unitate intellectus contra Averren, De vegetabilibus, and Summa de creaturis.

    He stands out in particular for his recognition of the autonomy of human reason in its own sphere, of the validity of knowledge gained from sensory experience, and of the value of Aristotle's philosophy in systematizing theology. Aquinas perfected the synthesis now known as the Scholastic method.

    At the time of his scientific investigations, the field was almost exclusively in the hands of the Arabian philosophers--inheritors of the work of Avicenna and Averroes--who had drawn a great part of their errors from faulty interpretation of Aristotle. Since Aristotle, who must be regarded as the greatest comprehensive genius of any age, no other had written on the subject (as far as known), until Albert the Great.

    During the intervening millennia between Aristotle and Albert, there had been a void; after his time three hundred years passed before botany was taken seriously. Albert commenced by making a catalogue of all the trees, plants, and herbs known in his own time. His minute observations on their forms and variations show an exquisite sense of their floral beauty, which he attributed to God. He was acquainted with the sleep of plants, with the periodic opening and closing of flowers, with the diminution of sap during evaporation from the cuticle of the leaf, and with the influence of the distribution of bundles of vessels on the foliar indentations. And this is only the beginning of his observations.

    In addition to botany, he wrote in similar detail on astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology, metaphysics, ethics, scripture, geography, geology (one of his treatises proved the earth to be spherical), logic, mathematics, theology, and meteorology; he made maps and charts and experimented with plants; he studied chemical reactions; designed instruments to help with navigation; and he made detailed studies of birds and animals. His brilliance and erudition caused him to be called the "Universal Doctor" by his contemporaries.

    Albert's admiration for Arabic learning and culture caused suspicion in some quarters. His and Thomas Aquinas's adaptation of Aristotelian principles to systematic theology and their attempts to reconcile Aristotelianism to Christianity caused bitter opposition among many of their fellow theologians. Conservatives condemned these dangerous innovations as being tainted with heresy since they came from pagan Greek, Islamic, and Jewish thinkers.

    Saint Albert knew that studying the minute beauty and perfection of creation gives us reason to glorify God. The universe is full of mystery; the intellect of man has only touched its outer fringe. Had the students of natural science proceeded along the lines Albert had laid down, the wrong road taken for three centuries might have been avoided.

    In the modern mechanistic view, God is excluded, but Albert saw the whole universe as the work of God's hand. I've stressed Albert's erudition, but his whole life was absorbed in God; the Master of the Universe developed in him a greatest also of soul. He found God everywhere and in all things and always saw some good in others and in their books. His work was to sift out the good and to reserve it for Christ.

    True greatness of soul is not content with merely observing the good, but passes on its revelation to others, thus revealing the noble disposition towards magnanimity. His task was to demonstrate the harmony between natural truth and divine revelation and to give this abundantly to others.

    Saint Albert was canonized by being enrolled among the doctors of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1931. He was also named patron saint of students of the natural sciences, for he had, said the pope, 'that rare and divine gift, scientific instinct, in the highest degree . . .; he is exactly the saint whose example ought to inspire the present age' (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Murray, White, Wilms).

Faith and Science

    The opposition between science and faith is only apparent. It originates either in the error of scientists who forward unprovable hypotheses as undoubted facts--the theory of evolution, for instance--or in the mistakes of theologians who would give their private, false opinions as gospel truths. If both would remain within the confines of their own science, no opposition would be possible.

    Saint Albert insisted that 'purely from reason no one can attain to knowledge of the Trinity, the Incarnation of Jesus and the Resurrection.' But, in fact reason and faith are helpful to each other. Reason gives faith a solid foundation, so that we are not asked to give blind assent to truths we cannot know. It also furnishes us with strong extrinsic proof of the contents of divine revelation. Faith, on the other hand, "furnishes facts to the other sciences," Cardinal Newman says, "which these sciences, left to themselves, would never reach, and it invalidates apparent facts, which left to themselves, they would imagine."

    Science deals only with secondary causes; when it questions why things happen it ceases to be science and becomes philosophy, but religion interests itself with the Primary Cause of all things.

    We are surrounded by the mystery of the universe; it is in no way peculiar to religion. Science may make continual progress and tell us of countless new and marvelous things, but the why and the wherefore of them are altogether beyond its scope. There are mysteries in God's world, both of nature and of grace.

    The First Vatican Council teaches us, "The Church therefore, far from hindering the pursuit of the arts and sciences, fosters and promotes them in many ways. Nor does she prevent sciences, each in its own sphere, from making use of their own principles and methods. Yet, while acknowledging the freedom due to them, she tries to preserve them from falling into error contrary to divine doctrine, and from overstepping their own boundaries and throwing into confusion matters that belong to the domain of faith" (Decree 16.12.41).

 

Born: in Lauingen, Swabia, Germany, c. 1207

Died: died in Cologne, 1280

Beatified: beatified in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV

Canonized: canonized and named a doctor of the Church on December 16, 1931 by Pope Pius XI.

Name meaning: noble, brilliant

Representation: Saint Albert is represented in art as a Dominican with a doctor's cap and a book. Sometimes he is shown (1) lecturing from a pulpit; (2) with Saint Thomas Aquinas; or (3) as a Dominican bishop with pen and book (Roeder).

Patronage: of all natural sciences, scientists, archdiocese of Cincinnati Ohio; medical technicians;  philosophers; schoolchildren; students; students of theology and students of science (Roeder).

 

Readings

 

It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God. But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess charity, we possess God, for "God is Charity" (1 John 4:8)

Saint Albert the Great

"Do this in remembrance of me." Two things should be noted here. The first is the command that we should use this sacrament, which is indicated when Jesus says, "Do this." The second is that this sacrament commemorates the Lord's going to death for our sake.

This sacrament is profitable because it grants remission of sins; it is most useful because it bestows the fullness of grace on us in this life. "The Father of spirits instructs us in what is useful for our sanctification." And his sanctification is in Christ's sacrifice, that is, when he offers himself in this sacrament to the Father for our redemption to us for our use.

Christ could not have commanded anything more beneficial, for this sacrament is the fruit of the tree of life. Anyone who receives this sacrament with the devotion of sincere faith will never taste death. "It is a tree of life for those who grasp it, and blessed is he who holds it fast. The man who feeds on me shall live on account of me."

Nor could he have commanded anything more lovable, for this sacrament produces love and union. It is characteristic of the greatest love to give itself as food. "Had not the men of my text exclaimed: Who will feed us with his flesh to satisfy our hunger? as if to say: I have loved them and they have loved me so much that I desire to be within them, and they wish to receive me so that they may become my members. There is no more intimate or more natural means for them to be united to me, and I to them.

Nor could he have commanded anything which is more like eternal life. Eternal life flows from this sacrament because God with all sweetness pours himself out upon the blessed.

from a commentary by Saint Albert the Great on the Gospel of Luke

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Albert, the preacher of God and the constant minister of Christ, everywhere established peace.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Albert

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Albert glorified the Lord by austerity of life, by devotion to prayer, by love of the brotherhood and by diffusion of doctrine.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. O God, the Lord of all knowledge, we praise and bless Thee with our whole heart and with our speech, because from among our fathers thou hast raised up a great Doctor.

V. Pray for us. Blessed Albert.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst make Blessed Albert, Thy Bishop and Doctor, to be come great in placing human wisdom at the service of divine faith, grant us, we pray so to walk in the path in his teaching that we may come to enjoy the perfect light of heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

[Blessed Lucy of Narni]

Blessed Lucy of Narni, V.O.P.

Memorial Day: November 16th

 

Profile

    Very early, it became evident to her pious Italian family that this child was set for something unusual in life, for some of her heavenly favors were visible. When Lucy was five years old, she had a vision of Our Lady; two years later, Our Lady came with Saint Dominic, who gave her the scapular. At age 12, she made private vows and, even at this early age, had determined to become a Dominican. However, family affairs were to make this difficult. Lucy's father died, leaving her in the care of an uncle. He felt that the best way to dispose of a pretty niece was to marry her off as soon as possible.

    The efforts of her uncle to get Lucy successfully married form a colorful chapter in the life of the Blessed Lucy. At one time, he arranged a big family party, and his choice of Lucy's husband was there. He thought it better not to tell Lucy what he had in mind, because she had such queer ideas, so he presented the young man to her in front of the entire assembly. The young man made a valiant attempt to place a ring on Lucy's finger, and he was thoroughly slapped for his pains.

    The next time, the uncle approached the matter with more tact, arranging a marriage with Count Pietro of Milan, who was not a stranger to the family. Lucy was, in fact, very fond of him, but she had resolved to live as a religious. The strain of the situation made her seriously ill. During her illness, Our Lady appeared to her again, accompanied by Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine, and told her to go ahead with the marriage as a legal contract, but to explain to Pietro that she was bound to her vow of virginity and must keep it. When Lucy recovered, the matter was explained to Pietro, and the marriage was solemnized.

    Lucy's life now became that of the mistress of a large and busy household. She took great care to instruct the servants in their religion and soon became known for her benefactions to the poor.

    Pietro, to do him justice, never seems to have objected when his young wife gave away clothes and food, nor when she performed great penances. He knew that she wore a hair-shirt under her rich clothing, and that she spent most of the night in prayer and working for the poor. He even made allowances for the legend told him by the servants, that SS Catherine, Agnes, and Agnes of Montepulciano came to help her make bread for the poor. However, when a talkative servant one day informed him that Lucy was entertaining a handsome young man, who seemed to be an old friend, Pietro took his sword and went to see. He was embarrassed to find Lucy contemplating a large and beautiful crucifix, and he was further confused when the servant told him that was the young man.

    When Lucy departed for the desert to become an anchorite, and returned the next day, saying that Saint Dominic had brought her home, Pietro's patience finally gave out. He had his young wife locked up. Here she remained for the season of Lent; sympathetic servants brought her food until Easter. Perhaps they had both decided that Lucy could not live the life God had planned for her in Pietro's house. She returned to her mother's house and put on the habit of a Dominican tertiary.

    Shortly after this, Lucy went to Viterbo and joined a group of Third Order sisters. She tried very hard to hide her spiritual favors, because they complicated her life wherever she went. She had the stigmata visibly, and she was usually in ecstasy, which meant a steady stream of curious people who wanted to question her, investigate her, or just stare at her. Even the sisters were nervous about her methods of prayer. Once they called in the bishop, and he watched with them for 12 hours, while Lucy went through the drama of the Passion.

    The bishop hesitated to pass judgment and called in the inquisition. From here, she was referred directly to the pope. After talking to her, the pope pronounced in her favor and told her to go home and pray for him. Here the hard-pressed Pietro had his final appearance in Lucy's life. He made a last effort to persuade Lucy to change her plans and come back to him. Finally he decided to become a Franciscan, and, in later years, he was a famous preacher.

    When Lucy returned to Viterbo, she may have thought her troubles were over, but they were just beginning. The duke of Ferrara, in the manner of other wealthy nobles with a guilty conscience, decided to build a monastery and, hearing of the fame of the mystic of Viterbo, demanded that she come there and be prioress. Lucy had been praying for some time that a means would be found to build a new convent of strict observance, and she agreed to go to the new convent at Narni.

    This touched off a two-year battle between the towns. Viterbo had the mystic and did not want to lose her; the duke of Ferrara sent his troops to take her by force, and much blood was shed before she was finally brought to Narni. The shock and grief of this violence was a new trial for Lucy. The duke sent his daughter-in-law, Lucrezia Borgia, to find postulants for the new convent. The records say, sedately: "Many of these did not persevere."

    The duke of Ferrara liked to show off the convent he had founded. He brought all his guests to see it. One time, he arrived with a troop of dancing girls, who had been entertaining at a banquet, and demanded that Lucy show them her stigmata and, if possible, go into ecstasy. It is not surprising that such events would upset religious life, and that sooner or later something would have to be done about it. Some of the sisters, naturally, thought it was Lucy's fault.

    The petitioned the bishop, and he sent six nuns from the Second Order to reform the community. Lucy's foundation was of the Third Order; exactly what the difference was we do not know. The Second Order nuns, according to the chronicle, "brought in the very folds of their veils the seed of war"; nuns of the Second Order wore black veils, a privilege not allowed to tertiaries.

    The uneasy episode ended when one of the visitors was made prioress. Lucy was placed on penance. The nature of her fault is not mentioned, nor is there any explanation of the fact that, until her death, 39 years later, she was never allowed to speak to anyone but her confessor, who was chosen by the prioress.

    The Dominican provincial, probably nervous for the prestige of the order, would not let any member of the order go to see her. Her stigmata disappeared, too late to do her any good, and vindictive companions said: "See, she was a fraud all the time." When she died in 1544, people thought she had been dead for many years.

It is hard to understand how anyone not a saint could have so long endured such a life. Lucy's only friends during her 39 years of exile were heavenly ones; the Dominican, Catherine of Racconigi, sometimes visited her--evidently by bi-location--and her heavenly friends often came to brighten her lonely cell.

    Lucy was buried without honors, but miracles occurring at her tomb soon made it necessary to transfer her relics to a more accessible place. She was reinterred, first in the monastery church, then in the cathedral (Dorcy).

 

Born: in Narni, Italy in 1476

Died: died in 1544

Beatified: Pope Clement XI in 1720 declared her Blessed.

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. This is a wise Virgin whom the Lord found watching, who took her lamp and oil, and when the Lord came she entered with Him into the marriage feast

V. Pray for us Blessed Lucy

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Lauds:

Ant. Come, O my chosen one, and I will place my throne in thee, for the King hath exceedingly desired thy beauty

V. Virgins shall be led to the King after her

R. Her companions shall be presented to Thee

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. She has girded her loins with courage and hath strengthened her arm; therefore shall her lamp not be put out forever

V. Pray for us Blessed Lucy

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who, by the gifts of virginity and patience, didst enable Blessed Lucy, adorned with the marks of the passion of Thy Son, to elude the alluring world, and to overcome its persecutions grant, through her intercession and example, that we may be neither overcome by the snares of earth nor subdued by adversity. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, V. M.

Protectress of the Order

Feast Day: November 25th

 

Profile

     The monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai is renowned as being the oldest continuously occupied monastery in Christendom. Yet it was first dedicated not to St. Catherine but to the Transfiguration of Jesus. Its architect began building the monastery walls in 542. Three centuries later, guided by a dream, the monks of this monastery found on the mountain the body of a woman, whom they took to be Saint Catherine--a body presumably miraculously flown there from Alexandria.

    Falconius, archbishop of San Severino, speaks of the translation of the body of Catherine to the top of Mount Sinai. "As to what is said, that the body of this saint was conveyed by angels to Mount Sinai, the meaning is that it was carried by the monks of Sinai to their rich dwelling with such a treasure--It is well known that the name of an angelic habit, and that monks, on account of their heavenly purity and functions, were anciently called 'angels'" (Husenbeth).

    Nothing is known for sure about her except that she was a maiden martyred at Alexandria under Maximinus Daza as related in the History of the Church (viii, c. 14) by Eusebius. Her acta, say she was the daughter of king Costos of Cyprus, who had been called to Alexandria to be a counselor to Emperor Maximinus. Philosophy was very fashionable in Alexandria's high society and Catherine was devoted to study, so that she had a good dose of it before she reached 18. During the course of her studies she learned about Christ. Then Catherine was converted by a vision of Our Lady and the Holy Child.

    When Emperor Maximinus began his persecutions, the 18-year-old Catherine, who was very beautiful, went to the emperor and rebuked him for his tyranny as he stood in the middle of a pagan temple. Unable to answer her arguments, he called in fifty philosophers to confront her. After they admitted themselves to be convinced by her arguments, the furious emperor sentenced them to be burned.

    The emperor offered to marry her, but she refused because Christ had already appeared to her in person and placed his gold ring on her finger (like St. Catherine of Siena); for this reason Greek Christians call her 'Ækatharina,' that is, 'ever pure.' She was beaten for two solid hours and then imprisoned, and the emperor departed to inspect a camp. In her cell she was fed by a dove, and Christ appeared to her in a vision.

    When he returned, he found that his wife, Faustina, and an officer, Porphyrius, had gone to visit Catherine out of curiosity and were converted, and that Porphyrius had converted 200 men of the imperial guard. All were condemned to death.

    Catherine was sentenced to be killed by means of a wheel set with spikes or razors, now known as "St. Catherine's wheel." When she was placed upon its rim, her bonds were miraculously loosened, the wheel broke, and the spikes flew off, killing onlookers. Finally, she was beheaded, as she called down blessings on all who should remember her. From her severed veins flowed a white, milk-like liquid instead of blood. It is claimed that for many years oil oozed from her bones; this oil was prized as medicine and for lamps in holy sanctuaries.

    In 527 Emperor Justinian built a fortified monastery for the hermits of Mt. Sinai, and the body of Catherine is supposed to have been taken there in the 8th or 9th century; since then it has borne her name. In the 11th century, Simeon, a monk of Sinai, went to Rouen to receive an annual alms of Duke Richard of Normandy. He brought with him some of Catherine's relics, which he left there. She was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, who were highly venerated individually and as a group during the Middle Ages because of the enormous amount of miracles that were done through their intercession..

    Saint Joan of Arc heard and faithfully followed the voice of Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. Perhaps the Lord gave Catherine to Joan to help her in her debate with the famous theologians. The real Passion of Catherine is the same as Joan of Arc's, which fortunately we know in all its details. Joan is the Catherine of modern times, indeed of all times. And so to be a woman, a saint, and a philosopher like Catherine, there is no need to be a king's daughter; the Hail Mary and Our Father are enough. No doubt Catherine had the simplicity of a shepherdess. Though philosophy and religion will never be found in perfect harmony, what matters is faith, pure and simple faith, and we rejoice that it is so. Saint Dominic also had heavenly visions of her and chose her and Mary Magdalene to be protectress of the Dominican Order. (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth, Sheppard, White).

Martyrdom of Saint Catherine

Born: Around 290

Died: Martyred 310

Canonized: Pre-Congregation:"Pre-Congregation" is my term for the Beatification and/or Canonization of saints and/or beati prior to the institution of the modern investigations performed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. It designates those beati who were canonized by local bishops, primates, or patriachs, often as a result of popular devotion.

Name meaning: pure one

Representation: Her emblem is the spiked wheel, which may be broken, on which she was martyred. St. Catherine is depicted as a martyr maiden, often a beautiful, young princess, with a book and a broken wheel:Sometimes she is shown (1) with sword and wheel; (2) crowned, carrying her own head on a charger; (3) beheaded with sword (Fernando Gallego); (4) with a book, crowned by the angels (Melchiore Caffa); (5) with her body transported by angels to Mount Sinai (Limbourg Brothers); (6) as a hermit shows her a picture of the Virgin; (7) mystically married to the Infant Christ (occasionally to an adult Christ); (8) disputing with doctors; (9) encouraging others as they are burned; (10) visited by Christ in prison; (11) visited by the Empress Faustina in prison; (12) encouraging Faustina at her execution; or (13) with Christ placing a ring upon her finger as in the paintings by Cranach the Elder, Lorenzo Lotto, and Corregio (Roeder, White).

Patronage: Because she settled all the arguments of the philosophers, she is considered the patroness of philosophers. St. Catherine also has patronage over philosophy, learning, students (esp. female students), Christian apologists, librarians and libraries, young women, and wheelwrights. She is the patroness of nurses because when she bled, her blood was said to be milk (White). Additionally, she is patroness of saddlers, spinsters, rope-makers (Roeder), lawyers, theology students at the University of Paris (Encyclopedia), and preachers (Delaney).

 

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Let Holy Mother Church celebrate with joy the hallowed festival of the virgin, Saint Catherine. Hail, Virgin beloved of God, hail thou sweet and kindly one! Obtain for us the joys which thou dost possess with glory.

V. Grace is poured forth upon thy lips

R. Therefore, hath God blessed thee forever

 

Lauds:

Ant. O prudent and watchful Virgin, how pleasing thou art to that Spouse who chose thee out of the world! How beautiful, how wondrous, how glorious with light amongst the virgins of Sion and daughters of Jerasalem! Thou rejoicest with regal nuptials, espoused to the Son of God

V. Virgins shall be led to the King after her

R. Her companions shall be presented to Thee

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. Hail, O Catherine, thou gem of virgins; hail, O glorious spouse of the King of kings; hail, O living victim of Christ: deny not to those who venerate thy patronage the help they now implore.

V. Grace is poured forth upon thy lips

R. Therefore, hath God blessed thee forever

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who dist give the law to Moses on the summit of Mount Sinai, and didst wonderfully deposit in the same place the body of Blessed Catherine, Thy Virgin and Martyr, by the ministry of Thy holy angels, grant, we beseech Thee that through her merits and intercession we may come to the Mount which is Christ. Who with Thee liveth and reigneth world without end. Amem.

Blessed James Benefatti, B.C.O.P.

Also Known as Blessed James of Mantua

Memorial Day: November 26th

 

  Profile

James Benefatti, Bishop of Mantua was a famous man in his time; it is unfortunate that he is so little known in ours. James was born in Mantua, in the latter half of the thirteenth century, and entered the Order at the convent in his native city, probably around the year 1290 he was both a learned and holy priest, and these qualities brought him to the attention of his brother Dominican, Nicholas Boccasino, the future Pope Benedict XI. As Cardinal, Nicholas chose for his companion the young Dominican from Mantua. He employed him in various offices in Rome and recommended to other high-ranking prelates. Consequently, James found himself kept busy in diplomatic offices by several popes - Benedict XI and John XXII among them. The latter named him bishop of his hometown of Mantua, and he went to take over his See in 1320.

 

    For eighteen years, James occupied the See of Mantua and accomplished great good among the people. He rebuilt and refurnished the cathedral and worked many miracles among his flock. At his death in 1338, many remarkable miracles occurred and he was called "Blessed James" by people who were grateful for his favors. Nearly a 150 years after his death when repairs where being made in the church where he was buried, an accident opened his tomb and people where startled to find that his body was completely incorrupt. Again in 1604, the same phenomenon was noted. 

 

Born: 13th century in Mantua, Italy

Died: died in 1338

Beatified: Pope Pius IX elevated him to the dignity of the Blessed in 1859

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthened by holy intercession, O James , Confessor of the Lord, those here present , that we who are burdened the weight of our offenses. Maybe relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed James .

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, saith the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock.

V. Pray for us, Blessed James

R. That we may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ.

 

Prayer

Let us Pray: O God, who didst give unto James, Thy Confessor and Bishop, the grace to fulfill with faithfulness all the duties of a good shepherd, grant us , through his intercession, that walking in the path of Thy commandments we may deserve to be placed amongst the sheep of Thy pasture forever. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

[Blessed John of Vercelli]

Blessed John of Vercelli, C.O.P.

(also known as John Garbella)

Memorial Day: December 1st

 

Profile

    John Garbella was born early in the 13th century, somewhere near Vercelli. He studied at Paris and was ordained priest before 1229. He taught canon law at the University of Paris. While he was professor there, Jordan of Saxony (who was a friend of Saint Albert the Great) came to Paris, and John saw one after another of his best pupils desert their careers to join the Dominicans. He seems to have considered them quite objectively, without reference to himself, until one day he had an interior voice that spoke to him that it was God's will for him to join the Dominicans. No one can say that John did not respond with alacrity; he dropped everything and ran down the street. ("Let me go; I am on my way to God!") Jordan received him happily and gave him the habit.

    In 1232, John was sent to Vercelli to establish a convent there. He built this and several other convents in Lombardy as houses of regular observance. While provincial of Lombardy, he also became inquisitor. It was a particularly difficult moment. His brother in religion, Peter of Verona, had just been killed by the heretics in Como. The entire countryside was in a state of war, with roving bands of heretics and robbers. It was the task of the new inquisitor to try to bring order out of this chaos, and what John did was remarkable, considering the situation. In spite of his heavy labors, which included the supervision of 600 friars in 28 different cities (he reached them only by walking), John of Vercelli established the ideals of study and regular observance in all of his houses.

    It was the good fortune of John of Vercelli to live in an age that was well peopled by saints. He formed a close friendship with Saint Louis, the king of France. Several of his tasks in the order, particularly the Commission on the Program of Studies, he shared with Saint Albert the Great, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Peter of Tarentaise (the future Pope Innocent V). In such company one would need to have a superior set of talents; John did.

    In 1264 the chapter of the order met at Paris. Blessed Humbert had resigned as master general of the order. John went to the chapter hoping that he could resign as provincial of Lombardy. Instead of escaping one office, he fell heir to a still more difficult one. He was elected master general in 1264 and served in that capacity until 1283. John was then a man in his sixties and was, moreover, handicapped by a crippled leg. However, he accepted the office which would require him to walk, not only all over Lombardy, but all over Europe. It took a brand of courage and obedience that was little short of heroic.

    During the generalate of John of Vercelli, the relics of Saint Dominic were transferred to the new tomb that had been prepared for it by Nicholas of Pisa. When the transfer was made, John of Vercelli fixed his seal on the tomb; the seals were still intact on their examination in 1946. During the translation of the relics, according to the account in the Vitae Fratrum, when the body of Saint Dominic was exposed to view, the head was seen to turn towards John of Vercelli. John, embarrassed, moved to another part of the church and gave his place to a cardinal. Whereupon, the head of Saint Dominic was seen by all to turn again in John's direction.

    On the death of Clement IV, John of Vercelli was very nearly elected pope. Being warned of the possibility, he fled in fright. However, his good friend Cardinal Visconti, was elected and took the name Gregory X. He appointed John as legate on several different missions.

    He was commissioned by the pope to draw up the Schema for the second ecumenical council of Lyons in 1274--that council to which Saint Thomas Aquinas was hurrying when death found him on the road. At the council John distinguished himself for his assistance by offering to the council the talents of his best men. At the council, he accepted for the Dominican Order the special commission of promoting reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus and fighting blasphemy, which was, in that day as in ours, a prevalent vice. He can thus be considered the founder of the Holy Name Society, even though the Confraternity was not formed until 1432.

    Several precious relics were suitably enshrined by John of Vercelli. These included several thorns from the Crown of Our Lord, which had been given him by Saint Louis of France. The cord of Saint Thomas, with which he had been guided by the angels and which he had worn until death, was given into the care of the master general, who gave it to the convent of Vercelli for safe keeping.

    John's career was rapidly reaching its end. In 1279, he presided over the famous chapter of Paris at which the order made the doctrine of Saint Thomas officially its own. The following year he laid the foundations of the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. One of his last official acts was to provide for a work on the instruction of novices (Benedictines, Dorcy).

Born: 1205 at Mosso Santa Maria, Italy as John Garbella

Died: September 1283 at Montpelier, France of natural causes; buried at the Dominican convent at Montpelier; his tomb was desecrated by Calvinists in 1562, and his body disappeared

Beatified: 1903 by Pope Pius X (cultus confirmed), 1909 elevated him to the honors of the altar

Name meaning: God is gracious; gift of God (John)

Patronage: Holy Name Society

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthened by holy intercession, O John , Confessor of the Lord, those here present , that we who are burdened the weight of our offenses. Maybe relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed John .

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, saith the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock.

V. Pray for us, Blessed John

R. That we may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ.

 

Prayer

Let us Pray: O God, who hast willed that Blessed John should shine with wonderful prudence and fortitude: grant through his intervention that Thy family may always and in all places be governed by salutary discipline. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Novena Prayers

FIRST DAY:  John Garbella was born in Vercelli, a town of northern Italy, in 1205. He was a very bright, studious boy, and because of his great promise, he was sent to the University of Paris where he eventually gained the Doctorate in law. He remained there as a teacher, and later returned to Vercelli to begin a university in his home town. His love of learning and constant study prepared him well for his future as a leader in the Church.

Let us pray:  Heavenly Father, source of all Truth, You sent your divine Son into the world to share with us the truth that makes us free – free to seek You with quiet minds and joyous hearts. Through the intercession of Blessed John of Vercelli, grant us a deep love of sacred truth, and a growing desire to know You more clearly and love You with greater ardor. We ask this in the name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

SECOND DAY:  When Blessed John was about 25 years old, and busy at his teaching in Vercelli, there came to that town the head of the newly-founded Order of Preachers, or Dominicans, as they were called because of Dominic, their founder. This successor of the great preacher, Dominic, preached so movingly that the young professor, John Garbella, was touched by God’s grace to ask for admittance to the new Order of Preachers. Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Dominican Master General, gave him the habit of the Friars Preachers, and sent him to the city of Bologna to begin his preparation for the priesthood, and for an outstanding career in the history of the Order and the Church.

Let us pray:  Lord, our God, You have planted deep in the heart of man a thirst for the truth, and a desire to attain union with You in love. As the young John of Vercelli sought the truth, and surrendered himself lovingly to your vocation to a great apostolate, grant that we, too, may seek You with constancy, and serve You with all our hearts. Through the intercession of Blessed John, we ask in particular that You attract the hearts of many young people to your gospel, your love, and a vocation of service in your Church as priests and religious. We ask this in the name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

THIRD DAY:  After 15 years of sacred study and very successful preaching in the university city of Bologna, John was sent back to his home town of Vercelli to establish a Dominican priory there. He was made its superior. The small states of those times were wracked with war between the Germanic emperor and the papal states. John’s remarkable gift of peace-making became evident, and he was sent to Venice to reconcile that city-stae with its former enemies. He succeeded so well at this, that for the rest of his life, the Popes made use of his sanctity, prudence, and diplomacy to establish peace between warring rulers and states.

Let us pray:  Heavenly Father, You have revealed yourself to us as a God of peace, justice, and unity. Through the grace of your divine Son, the Prince of Peace, bring peace to our divided world, justice for all men, unity to the human family. Through the intercession of Blessed John, help us root out of our own hearts the pride, selfishness, and indifference to others that lie at the root of discord and disunity. Make us truly peacemakers, as befits those who call themselves Christians. We ask this in the most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

FOURTH DAY:  God’s grace continued to bear much fruit in the life of Blessed John. His religious superiors sent his as official visitator to the newly established houses in Hungary; he was elected Prior of the large priory in Bologna; he was likewise appointed spiritual guide of the Dominican nuns in that city. At the age of 52, he was elected Provincial of the province of Lombardy, and in that position, had to fight the heresies that had sprung up in northern Italy. In all of his works, he turned to God through prayer and the sacraments as his source of remarkable success in the vineyard of the Lord.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, You gave to each of us a mission – a task in your kingdom. And you likewise prepare for us the graces we need to accomplish our tasks with success, so as to contribute to the extension of your kingdom, and our own sanctification. Let us imitate Blessed John in turning constantly to You, for the strength, the wisdom, and the resources to do your holy will and thus attain our salvation. We ask this in the most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

FIFTH DAY:  In the year 1264, at the age of 59, Blessed John was elected Master General of the Dominican Order, the fifth successor of St. Dominic himself. He did not believe himself worthy of the great trust. He wrote to his brethren: "My fears at my inability should be yours as well, wherefore I beg you to give me the help of your prayers so that divine mercy may supply that which I lack in my own strength". As Master General, he combatted the growing spirit of competition between the nations, so as to establish a truly catholic spirit within the spreading Order. He provided a uniform way of celebrating the sacred liturgy for the entire Order, thus ensuring the dignity and beauty of divine worship, and he counselled his priests and brothers constantly to be men of prayer and penance.

Let us pray:  Heavenly Father, Your divine Son commands us to "seek first the kingdom of God and His holiness". Make us truly men and women of prayer, frequenting the sacraments, loving God and our neighbor, and conforming ourselves to Christ, our savior. Through the intercession of Blessed John, grant that we may always give to you the first priority in our lives, and love You with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole strength. We ask this in the most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns, with You and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

 

SIXTH DAY:  Pope Clement IV had such admiration for Blessed John, and depended so heavily upon his wisdom and counsel that the Pope requested that John go to live in Viterbo, where the papal court was then located. Blessed John remained with the Pope until Clement died. A number of cardinals wished to elect Blessed John, but he had no such ambition, and was destined to govern his own Order, until his death. Again, he was called upon to make peace between the feuding states of Venice and Genoa, and between France and Castille. He wrote to his priests and brothers: "Watch the little things. He who grows careless in little things, little by little falls. He who does not push himself to make progress, goes backward."

Let us pray:  Lord, our God, grant us the generosity to seek opportunities for doing good; the prudence to do it wisely and well; and the humility to rely upon God for all that we need, and to trust in Him unquestioningly. In imitation of Blessed John, help us to be true apostles of Jesus, our Lord, and faithful followers of His gospel of peace and humility. We ask this in the most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

SEVENTH DAY:  In April, 1273, Pope Gregory X announced an ecumenical council to be convoked in May, 1274, in the city of Lyons in southeastern France. Among the acts of that council, in which Blessed John actively participated, was a decree that greater reverence, should be paid to the Holy Name of Jesus by all Christian people. Pope Gregory entrusted Blessed John with the leadership of this renewed devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus throughout Europe. In his letter to Blessed John, Pope Gregory wrote: "Let them honor with special reverence that Name which is above all names, the only Name given by heaven to men for their salvation, which is the Name of Jesus, who saved His people from their sins".

Let us pray:  Heavenly Father, by the message of an Archangel, You instructed both Mary, the Mother of the Savior, and St. Joseph, his foster-father, that his name was to be JESUS, meaning "God is Savior". Grant us a deep reverence for this HOLY NAME of JESUS, and a constant gratitude to our Divine Savior for the graces of redemption, which He has lavished upon us by his life of sufferings, death, and resurrection. We ask this in that Most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

EIGHTH DAY:  Upon receipt of Pope Gregory’s commission to spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus throughout Europe, Blessed John immediately wrote to all Dominicans as follows: "Desirous of protecting the honor of God, of obeying this apostolic command, and of promoting in our neighbor an increase in devotion, we beseech you to stir up your zeal to the end that you personally see to it that this request of the Holy Father receives full compliance by having your subjects preach with convincing arguments and with scrupulous diligence the need for reverencing the Holy Name". Confraternities of the Holy Name were founded in every Dominican church; altars were dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. As the movement spread and gathered momentum, it coalesced into the Holy Name Society as we know it today, brought into being by an ecumenical council and nurtured and spread by Blessed John of Vercelli.

Let us pray:  Heavenly Father, give to all of us a warm, loving reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus, your divine Son, our Lord. Bless and prosper the work of the Holy Name Society throughout the world. As it has existed and functioned for seven centuries, grant that its purpose of spreading reverence and respect for the Name of Jesus may continue and grow to your glory and the good of souls. We ask this in that most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns, with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

NINTH DAY:  In the year 1276, Blessed John had the great happiness of seeing one his own brethren, Peter of Tarentaise, elected as the first Dominican Pope. Two years later, when John was 73 years old, Pope Nicholas III appointed him to be Archbishop of the city of Jerusalem. Besides his basic modesty which shied away from the honor of the episcopacy, his prudence dictated that a man of his years and declining health was not up to the job of governing a diocese wracked by war between Christian crusaders and Moslems. He begged to be released from that appointment, and to be allowed to retire as Master General of his Order. The Pope acceded to his first request, but left to the Dominican brothers the decision as to his retirement. They would not hear of it, and he thus served his brethren as their General until his death in 1283, at the age of 78. His Dominican brothers, and all who know him, realized that a saint had gone to his eternal reward. In 1903, Pope St. Pius X officially inscribed the name of John of Vercelli among the Blesseds of the Church; we await the day when he will be accorded the full recognition of canonization.

Let us pray:  Heavenly Father, we give you thanks and praise for the life, the accomplishments, and the virtues of Blessed John. Through his intercession, we commend to your love and your protection the Order of Preachers to which he devoted his life, the Holy Name Society, which he founded, and the devotion to the most Holy Name of Jesus, which he promoted with such great zeal. We pray in that most Holy Name of Jesus, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 
Readings
Watch the little things. He who grows careless in little things, little by little falls. He who does not push himself to make progress, goes backward.

-Blessed John, writing to his priests

Desirous of protecting the honor of God, of obeying this apostolic command, and of promoting in our neighbor an increase in devotion, we beseech you to stir up your zeal to the end that you personally see to it that this request of the Holy Father receives full compliance by having your subjects preach with convincing arguments and with scrupulous diligence the need for reverencing the Holy Name.

-Blessed John, writing on the creation of the Holy Name Society

 

Blessed Sebastian Maggi, C.O.P.

Memorial Day: December 16th

 

Profile

    Sebastian Maggi lived in a colorful and troubled age, the time of Savonarola; he was, in fact, a friend of the friar of Ferrara and always staunchly defended him.

Sebastian entered the Dominican Order as Brescia as soon as he was old enough. His early years were remarkable only for his devotion to the rule, for the purity of his life, and the zeal with which he enforced religious observance. He was superior of several houses of the order, and finally was made vicar of the reformed congregation of Lombardy, which made him the superior of Jerome Savonarola, the dynamic reformer around whom such a tragic storm was brewing.

 

    Perhaps, if Sebastian Maggi had lived, he might have saved Savonarola from the political entanglements that sent him to his death. Sebastian was his confessor for a long time, and always testified in his favor when anyone attacked the reformer's personal life. It is hard to say just where he stood politically in the long and complex series of events concerning the separation of Lombard province from the province of Italy. But all that has been written of him conveys the same impression: he was a kind and just superior, who kept the rule with rigid care, but was prudent in exacting it of others.

 

    Several times Sebastian Maggi was sent on missions of reform, and he died on one of these. On his way to a convent for visitation, he became ill at Genoa and died there in 1496. His body is incorrupt at the present time (1963) (Benedictines, Dorcy).

 

Born: 1414 at Brescia, Italy

Died: 1496 at Genoa, Italy of natural causes; body was still incorrupt in 1963

Beatified: April 15,1760 by Pope Clement XIII (cultus confirmed)

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthened by holy intercession, O Sebastian , Confessor of the Lord, those here present , that we who are burdened the weight of our offenses. Maybe relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Sebastian .

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, saith the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Sebastian

R. That we may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ.

 

Prayer

Let us Pray: O God, who didst make Blessed Sebastian Thy Confessor, wonderful for his singular zeal in the practice of regular discipline and evangelical perfection, mercifully grant that, mortified in body in imitation of him, and quickened in spirit, we may attain eternal rewards. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Feast Day: December 22nd 

 

Profile

    Devotion to the Mother of God is traditional in the Order from the days of its Founder, and the tokens of her maternal protection have never been wanting. From her the Order received the habit and the Rosary, and to the Holy Patriarch Mary showed in a vision his children gathered under her mantle.

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Let us celebrate with the greatest devotion the festival of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, that she may intercede for us with the Lord Jesus Christ.

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Lauds:

Ant. Let us solemnly celebrate this day's festival of the ever Virgin Mother of God, from whom the Highest King proceeded, alleluia.

V. God has chosen her, and preferred her,

R. He maketh her to dwell in His tabernacle.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. Thy festival, O Virgin Mother of God, hath proclaimed joy to the whole world: for from thee hath arisen the Sun of justice, Christ our God: who, destroying malediction, hath given benediction, and confounding death, hath bestowed upon us life everlasting.

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Prayer

Let us Pray: O God, who hast been pleased that the Order of Preachers should  be instituted for the salvation of souls under the Most special patronage of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, and should be weighed down with the profusion of her perpetual benefits, grant to us, Thy suppliants, that we may be brought to heavenly glory, protected by the assistance of her whose commemoration we this day celebrate. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Margaret of Savoy, Widow, O.P.

(Also known as Margarita of Savoy; Margherita of Savoy; Marguerite of Savoy)

Feast Day: December 23rd

 

Profile

    Margaret of Savoy, daughter of Duke Amadeo II, is one of three royal princesses who wore the Dominican habit and were beatified. In the 15th century, she was the glory of a family that has given several beati to the Church.

    Born into the royal house of Savoy, Margaret grew up in a household in which piety and wealth were ordinary. Her own parents died when she was small, and she was educated by an uncle, who arranged an early marriage for her to the Marquis of Montferrat, Theodore Paleologus.

    As queen of her fairly large domain, Margaret was the model of Christian rulers. She felt that it was her duty to exceed in charity and humility in the proportion that she was wealthier than those around her, and she devoted all of her time to God and to her neighbors. Her husband was a widower with two children, to whom she gave the greatest care. The hundreds of dependents on the large estates came to her for charity and instruction.

    Disaster stuck Savoy several times in the years when she was wife and mother. Famine and plague came, making great demands on her time and her courage. Unhesitatingly, she went out to nurse the plague-stricken with her own hands, and she sent out food and clothing from her husband's stores until it was doubtful if anything would be left. After this crisis passed, war hovered over the kingdom, and she prayed earnestly that they would be delivered from the horrors of invasion.

    In 1418, the marquis died. His young widow was one of the most eligible women in Europe. Margaret sorrowed for her husband, but she made it clear to her relatives that they need not plan another marriage for her, as she was going to enter a convent. In order to live a life of complete renunciation, she decided to found a convent of her own at Alba in Liguria that would follow the ancient rule of Saint Dominic. Accordingly, she took over a cloister which had fallen into ruin, having only a few poor inhabitants, and rebuilt it for Dominican use. She dedicated the house to St. Mary Magdalen.

    There is one very delightful story told of her sojourn in the convent. When she had been there many years, she one day had a young visitor; he was the son of one of her step-children. Hunting nearby, he had killed a doe, and he brought her the motherless fawn to tend. It was a pretty little animal, and it soon grew to be a pet. One legend was that the fawn was  able to go and find any sister she would name, and, for several years, the animal had free rein of the halls and cells of the sisters. Perhaps it was true, though, since the house confessor told her that the deer must go. She took it to the gate and told it to go. It fled into the forest, and returned only when Margaret was about to die.

    Margaret attained a high degree of contemplative prayer. One time Our Lord appeared to her and asked her whether she would rather suffer calumny, sickness, or persecution. Margaret generously accepted all three. Her offer was taken, and for the remaining years of her life she suffered intensely from all three sorrows (Dorcy). It should be noted that Saint Vincent Ferrer influenced Margaret to join the Dominican tertiaries (Benedictines).

Prayers/Commemorations

 

First Vespers:

Ant. Come, O my chosen one, and I will place my throne in thee, for the King hath exceedingly desired thy beauty

V. Pray for us, Blessed Margaret .

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Lauds:

Ant. She hath opened the hand to her needy, her palms she hath extended to the poor; fortitude and beauty are her vesture, and she shall rejoice on the last day.

V. God hath chosen her, and preferred her,

R. And he maketh her to dwell in his tabernacle.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. She has girded her loins with courage and hath strengthened her arm: she hath tasted and seen , for her occupation is good: her lamp shall not be put out in the night.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Margaret .

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Prayer

Let us Pray: O God, who didst teach Blessed Margaret to forsake with all her heart the pomps of the world for the humble following of Thy cross, Grant that by her merits and example we may learn to tread under foot the perishable delights of the world, and in the embrace of Thy cross to overcome all adversity. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.