Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First Martyrs of the Church of Rome

Many martyrs who suffered death under Emperor Nero . Owing to their executions during the reign of Emperor Nero, they are called the Neronian Martyrs, and they are also termed the Protomartyrs of Rome, being honored by the site in Vatican City called the Piazza of the Protomartyrs. These early Christians were disciples of the Apostles, and they endured hideous tortures and ghastly deaths following the burning of Rome in the infamous fire of 62.Their dignity in suffering, and their fervor to the end, did not provide Nero or the Romans with the public diversion desired. Instead, the faith was firmly planted in the Eternal City. This all that is known about these Martyrs.

you sanctified the Church of Rome
with the blood of its first martyrs.
May we find strength from their courage
and rejoice in their triumph.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

References: Catholic.Org

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ss. Peter and Paul

This feast day commemorates the martyrdom of the two great Apostles, assigned by tradition to the same day of June in the year 67. They had been imprisoned in the famous Mamertine Prison of Rome and both had foreseen their approaching death. Saint Peter was crucified; Saint Paul, a Roman citizen, was slain by the sword. Tomorrow the Church commemorates the Apostle of the Gentiles; today is dedicated primarily to Saint Peter.

The Chief of the Apostles was a native of Galilee like Our Lord. As he was fishing on its large lake he was called by Our Lord to be one of His apostles. Peter was poor and unlearned, but candid, eager, and loving. In his heart, first of all, his conviction grew, and then from his lips came the spontaneous confession: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!” Our Lord chose him and prepared him to be the Rock on which He would build His Church, His Vicar on earth, the Head and Prince of His Apostles, the center and indispensable bond of the Church’s unity, the unique channel of all spiritual powers, the guardian and unerring teacher of His truth.

All Scripture is alive with Saint Peter; his name appears no fewer than 160 times in the New Testament. But it is after Pentecost that he stands out in the full grandeur of his office. He sees to the replacement of the fallen disciple; he admits the Jews by thousands into the fold and in the person of Cornelius, opens it to the Gentiles; he founds and for a time rules the Church at Antioch.

Ten years after the Ascension Saint Peter transferred his apostolic capital to Rome, going in person to the center of the majestic Roman Empire, where were gathered the glories and riches of the earth, along with all the powers of evil. From there he sent Saint Mark, his valued secretary, to establish the Church of Alexandria in Egypt. In Rome Saint Peter’s Chair was placed; there for twenty-five years he labored at building up the great Roman Church. He was crucified by order of Nero and buried on the Vatican Hill, where now the Basilica stands which bears his name.

Monday, June 28, 2010

St. Irenaeus of Lyon

Peacemaker and actually name (the name " Irenaeus " in Greek means peaceful and calming ) , Saint Irenaeus was presented to the Pope by the Christians of Gaul with great words of praise: "Guardian of the will of Christ. " In Rome honored its name suggests moderation to Pope Victor , respectfully advising not excommunicate the churches of Asia that wanted to celebrate Easter on the same date as the otherChristian communities. With the same purpose this man Weighted peacekeepers insisted the bishops of other Christian communities to work for the triumph of concord and unity , especially clinging to apostolic tradition to combat Gnostic rationalism . From his writings are in fact the five books of Adversus haereses, in which Irenaeus appears not only as the most balanced and insightful theologian of the redemptive Incarnation , but also as one of the pastors more complete, more and more Catholic Apostolic have served the Church. One can see that his arguments against the heretics , though born of controversy , are the result of prayer and charity. Irenaeus was a native of Asia Minor. Among his memories of youth is in contact with Polycarp , the bishop saint " who was instructed by the eyewitnesses of the life of the Word " , especially by the apostle John, who had established his headquarters in Smyrna. Irenaeus, therefore , through Polycarp joins the Apostles. After leaving Asia Minor, going to Rome and continues to Lyon ( France). He belonged to the list of the martyrs of Lyon , victims of the persecution of 177, because at that time the Church had sent him to Rome to present the pope Eleuterio order some doctrinal issues , especially related to the error mountaineer . This error was caused by a group of fans who had come from East, preaching the distaste for the things of the world and announcing the imminent return of Christ. Back to Lyon , Irenaeus succeeded the martyr Bishop St. 178 Photinus , and governed the Church of Lyon until his death , about the year 200. Although not proven his martyrdom , the Church venerates him as a martyr. In any case, he was an authentic witness of faith in a period of severe persecution , its scope was very broad, taking into account that probably there was no other bishop in the Gaul or in the neighboring lands of Germany. Their language was Greek , but he learned the languages "barbaric "to evangelize these people.

References: Catholic.Net

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

In 1498, the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was in a church on the island of Crete, in Greece. The picture had been there for some time and was known to be miraculous. One day a merchant from Crete stole the picture of Our Lady. He hid the picture among his things, boarded a ship and set out to sea. When a great storm arose the terrified sailors begged God and Our Lady to save them. Their prayers were heard and they were saved from shipwreck.

A year later, the merchant went to Rome with the picture. There he got a disease and became terribly sick. He asked his Roman friend to take care of him. The merchant grew worse and realized that he would soon die. He called on his friend and with tears in his eyes, begged his friend to do him one last favour. When the Roman promised to do so, the weeping merchant continued, “Some time ago I stole a beautiful, miraculous picture of Our Lady from a church in Crete! You will find it with my belongings. I beg you, please place it in some church where the people will give it much honour.” In time the merchant died. The Roman found the picture and showed it to his wife. She wanted to keep the picture, so she put it in her bedroom.

One day, the Blessed Virgin appeared to the Roman saying, “Do not keep this picture, but put it in some more honourable place.” But the Roman did not do as Our Lady asked him and kept the picture. Some time later Our Lady begged him a second time not to keep the picture, but to place it in a more honourable place. Again, he did not do as Our Lady asked him to do.

Then the Blessed Virgin appeared to the Roman’s six year old daughter, and told her to warn her mother and her grandfather saying, “Our Lady of Perpetual Help commands you to take her out of the house!”

Finally, after many delays, the Virgin Mary appeared to the little girl a second time, “Our Lady of Perpetual Help commands you to tell your mother, to place my picture between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran, in the church dedicated to St. Matthew the Apostle!” The mother did as she was told and sent for the Augustinian Fathers who were in charge of that church. Then on that very day, March 27, 1499, the picture was taken to the church of St. Matthew the Apostle on the Esquiline Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. It was placed between two beautifully carved columns of black Carra marble above a splendid white-marble altar.

For three centuries from 1499 until 1798, the church of St. Matthew in Rome was one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Rome, because of the miraculous picture. Many pilgrims who came to the shrine: saints and sinners, Cardinals, Bishops and priests, kings and princes, rich and poor. They came to see the miraculous picture of Our Lady and pray before it.

But this was not to last. The French armies led by Napoleon Bonaparte, invaded the Papal States in 1796. Rome was in danger of being attacked and taken over by the enemies. By February 17, 1797, the Pope was forced to sign the Peace Treaty of Tolintino. The Holy Father did not want to do this but he had to, in order to protect the Papal States from the enemy.

A year after signing the Treaty, the French General Berthier marched into Rome and proclaimed the “Free Roman Republic.” He lied, there was no freedom. Then shortly after, Berthier was replaced by the French General Massena. On June 3, 1798, General Massena commanded that thirty churches be destroyed! One of them was St. Matthew’s! He cried out, “There are too many churches in Rome. The church land can be used for better things!” He wanted to make the people realize that worse things would happen if they did not obey his every command. The terrified Romans prayed to Our Lady and she helped them in all their troubles.

Because the Augustinian Monastery was destroyed, the monks were allowed to return to Ireland, their homeland. A few returned but most of them stayed in Rome. Some went to St. Augustine’s, the main church and monastery of the Augustinian Fathers. The rest of the monks took the miraculous picture of Mary and moved to St. Eusebio’s, a poor old church with a huge monastery. St. Eusebio’s was in terrible condition and needed much cleaning and repairing.

The picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help stayed at St. Eusebio’s for twenty years. Since the place was too large for the few monks who lived there, in 1819, the Pope asked the Jesuits to take over St. Eusebio’s. The Holy Father gave the Augustinian’s the small church and monastery of Santa Maria, in Posterula, on the other side of the city. The monks took the miraculous picture of Mary with them, and gave it a place of honour in the monastery chapel.

In 1788, Augustine Orsetti joined the Augustinian Order at St. Matthew’s and became Br. Augustine. As a young religious, he used to spend much of his free time praying before the miraculous picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He studied and memorized the history of the picture.

When St. Matthew’s was destroyed, Br. Augustine was transferred to St. Augustine’s. Then in 1840, he was transferred to the Monastery of Santa Maria in Posterula. When he arrived at Santa Maria he went to the community chapel. There he saw the beautiful miraculous picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It was just as he remembered it, when he had been at St. Matthew’s.

Br. Augustine looked after the sacristy at Santa Maria. He cleaned the chapel and its holy images. He also trained altar boys and taught them how to serve Mass. Michael Marchi, one of the Altar boys, became a good friend of Br. Augustine. The Brother often spoke to him about the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help saying, “Do you see that picture Michael? It is a very old picture. Know Michael, the Madonna from St. Matthew's is the one that hangs here in the chapel. I am not trying to deceive you. It certainly is. Have you understood, Michael? It was miraculously saved from destruction. Many people used to come and pray before this miraculous picture. Always remember what I am telling you.”

In 1854, the Redemptorists, founded by St Alphonsus Liguori, bought a piece of land in Rome, called the Villa Caserta, on the Esquiline Hill. Also included with their property, was the old site of the church of St. Matthew, where the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help had been given great honour.

In 1855, Michael Marchi joined the Redemptorist Monastery. On March 25, 1857, he made the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. He continued his studies and was ordained on October 2, 1859.

One day when the community was at recreation, one priest mentioned that he had read some ancient books about a miraculous image of Our Lady and that it had been venerated in the old church of St. Matthew. Fr. Michael Marchi spoke up, “I know about the miraculous picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Its name is Our Mother of Perpetual Help and it can be found in the chapel of the Augustinian Fathers, at their monastery of Santa Maria in Posterula. I saw it often during the years of 1850 and 1851 when I was a young college student and served Mass in their chapel.

On February 7, 1863, Fr. Francis Blosi, a Jesuit priest gave a sermon about the famous picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He described the picture of Our Lady, and said, "I hope that someone in this crowd of faithful listening to me today, knows where this picture is! If so, please tell that person who has kept the picture hidden for seventy years, that the Mother of God has commanded that this picture be placed between the Basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. Hopefully the person will repent of his thoughtless act and will have the picture placed on the Esquiline Hill once again, so that all the faithful may honour it.”

Soon the Redemptorists at St. Alphonsus heard about Fr. Blosi's sermon. Knowing that their church was located close to the site of the old St. Matthew's Church they hurried to bring the news to Fr. Mauron, Superior General of the Redemptorists. Fr. Mauron was in no hurry. He prayed for almost three years to know the Holy Will of God, in this important matter.

Then on December 11, 1865, Fr. Mauron and Fr. Michael Marchi, obtained an audience with Blessed Pope Pius IX. Eagerly, the two priests gave the Pope a detailed story of the picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. They pointed out that Our Lady had asked that the picture be placed in a church between the Basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. After listening to the story, the Pope asked if they had put this into writing. Fr. Mauron at once produced a document, which Fr. Marchi had written and signed under oath.

The Holy Father had a great love for the Virgin Mary. He immediately took the piece of paper on which Fr. Marchi had written his account. With his own hand, Pope Pius IX wrote a statement on the backside of the document:

December 11, 1865

The Cardinal prefect will call the Superior of the little community of Santa Maria in Posterula and will tell him it is Our will that the Image of the most holy Mary, of which this petition treats, be returned between St. John's and St. Mary Major's. However, the Superior of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer is obliged to substitute another suitable picture.

Pope Pius IX

The Pope had spoken and the case was closed. The Mother of Perpetual Help would soon be home after nearly seventy-five years in exile. In the early morning of January 19, 1866 Fr Michael Marchi and Ernest Bresciani, hurried across the city of Rome to Santa Maria in Posterula, to get the holy picture.

The Augustinians were sad to see their beloved Madonna go but they rejoiced that Our Lady would once again be honoured at the place where she desired. The Augustinian monks wanted an exact copy made from the original. This was given to them shortly afterward.

The Redemptorists at St. Alphonsus waited for Our Lady of Perpetual Help to arrive. They were so happy when the picture arrived. But they found that although the colours were still bright, there were many big nail holes in the picture. These were made when the picture was hung and for other reasons.

A talented Polish artist, who lived in Rome, was asked to restore the picture. The picture was finished toward the close of April. Plans were made for a solemn procession. The people of the neighbourhood decorated their houses for the feast. Loads of flowers and vines hung from windows. Banners and flags draped the walls and the roofs of the houses.

On April 26, 1866, the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel, a great procession set out from the monastery of St. Alphonsus. During the procession many miraculous events were reported. A poor mother sat by the bed of her four-year-old boy, who was at the point of death from a brain illness. He had suffered from a constant fever for the last three weeks.

The mother heard the procession coming closer. Suddenly she took the boy in her arms and held him at the open window. When the picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help passed by she cried out, “O good Mother, either cure my child or take him with you to Paradise!” Within a few days the boy was totally cured. He went with his mother to the church of St. Alphonsus to light a candle of thanksgiving at the shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

In another house a little eight year old girl, lay crippled and helpless. She had been this way since the age of four. As the procession passed and the miraculous picture of Our Lady came near, the child’s mother offered her little daughter to the Blessed Virgin. Suddenly the child felt a great change coming over her. She partly recovered the use of her arms and legs. On seeing this, the mother became very confident that Our Lady was helping her little girl. The next day she took the child to the Church of St. Alphonsus and placed her in front of the miraculous picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Looking up at the picture she prayed, “Now, O Mary, finish the work which you have begun.” She had just finished the words and suddenly the little girl stood up on her feet. She was perfectly cured!

When the picture at last reached the Church of St. Alphonsus, it was placed on the high altar. The church was decorated and the altar was loaded with candles and huge amounts of flowers. A solemn prayer of thanksgiving was then sung and the Bishop had Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Then Mary's homecoming was celebrated for three days. Each morning Mass was celebrated before the picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help by a Cardinal. After the praying the Litany of Our Lady, a beautiful sermon, and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament was given by a Bishop. Similar services were held each evening. The Holy Father granted many special indulgences to all who attended these devotions.

Father Bernard Bernie, one of the greatest Redemptorist preachers in Italy, preached the sermons for three days. His words of wisdom pierced the hearts of his listeners. At least twelve hundred persons received Communion during this time, at the shrine of Our Lady.

On May 5, 1866, the Pope made a personal visit to the shrine to see the picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help with his own eyes. After he had prayed for a time before the Blessed Sacrament and at the shrine of Our Lady, he entered the sanctuary and climbed the steps of the high altar to study the picture more closely. Later, Blessed Pope Pius IX questioned Fr. Mauron about the history and devotion given to this picture.

Soon afterward, a new gothic styled, marble altar was set up at St. Alphonsus. A space in the upper center of the altar was decorated with brilliant, golden trim. When all was completed, Mary's picture was lovingly put in place. The first Mass was celebrated at the new shrine altar on March 19, 1871, the Feast of St. Joseph. The picture has remained there until this day.

Devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help spread rapidly. Hardly a year had passed when on May 12, 1867; the Vatican gave the order for the picture to be crowned. The coronation date was fixed. On Sunday, June 23, 1867, the Church of St. Alphonsus was filled up for the solemn Mass and coronation ceremony. After the Mass, while hymns were being sung, the Archbishop blessed two golden crowns with precious jewels. He placed one crown upon Mary's head, the other upon the head of the Child Jesus and the picture was put back in its place and everyone sang a joyful hymn of praise.

The next day, the picture was carried through the streets in procession. Each evening fireworks and thunderous cannons were set off to echo the praises of Mary. At the close of the week's celebration the name of Mary was spelled in brilliant light against the blue background of the sky. The people who had taken part in the ceremonies prayed with one voice, "Long live Mary. Long live devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer

Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer was born in Barbastro (Huesca , Spain) on January 9, 1902 . Her parents named Joseph and Dolores. He had five siblings: Carmen (1899-1957) , Santiago (1919-1994) and three sisters younger than he , who died as children. Marriage Escrivá gave his children a deep Christian education. In 1915 the business went bankrupt father, a textile industrialist , and had moved to Logroño , where he found another job. In this city , Josemaría first notice his vocation after seeing footprints in the snow bare feet of a religious , senses that God wants something from him, but do not know exactly what it is. Think you can find out more easily if it is a priest and begins to prepare first in Logrono and later in the seminar of Zaragoza. Following an advice from his father, at the University of Zaragoza also consider civilian career as a student of law free. D. Escriva died in 1924 , and Josemaria remains as head of household. He was ordained priest on March 28, 1925 , he began his ministry in a rural parish and later in Saragossa. In 1927 he moved to Madrid with his bishop's permission to obtain a doctorate in law . In Madrid on October 2, 1928 , God makes you see the mission for years he had been inspiring, and founded the Opus Dei. From that day working with all their forces in the development of the foundation that God asks , while continuing to pastoral ministry has been instructed in those years, that puts you in daily contact with the disease and poverty in slums and hospitals Popular Madrid. At the outbreak of civil war in 1936 , Josemaria in Madrid. Religious persecution forced him to take refuge in different places. Exercised his priestly ministry clandestinely until she is out of Madrid. After a journey through the Pyrenees to the south of France , moved to Burgos. When the war ended in 1939 , he returned to Madrid. In the years that followed he gave many retreats to laity, for priests and religious. In the same year 1939 he finished his doctoral studies in law. In 1946 he settled in Rome. Obtained a doctorate in theology from the Lateran University . He was appointed consultant to two Vatican Congregations , an honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology and a prelate of honor of His Holiness. Following closely the preparations and the sessions of Vatican II (1962-1965), and maintains an intense treatment with many of the Council Fathers . From Rome repeatedly traveling to different countries in Europe to promote the establishment and consolidation of Opus Dei in those places. With the same object, between 1970 and 1975 trips to Mexico long ago , the Iberian Peninsula , South America and Guatemala, where he met with groups of catechesis numerous men and women. He died in Rome on June 26, 1975 . Several thousand people , including many bishops of different countries , overall , one third of the world episcopate , " the Holy See requesting the opening of his cause of canonization. On May 17, 1992 , John Paul II beatified Escriva in St. Peter's Square in Rome, to 300,000. "With supernatural intuition, " the pope said in his homily, " Blessed Josemaria untiringly preached the universal call to holiness and apostolate." Ten years later, on October 6, 2002 , John Paul II canonized the founder of Opus Dei in St. Peter's Square before a crowd of more than 80 countries. The Holy Father, in his speech to participants at the canonization , said that " St. Josemaría was chosen by God to proclaim the universal call to holiness and to indicate that the life of everyday, common activities are road sanctification. You could say that was the saint of the ordinary. "

Father almighty you gave us
St. Josemaria Escriva to be
an example of a holy
life to live by so we too
can be holy like he was.

References: Catholic.Net

Friday, June 25, 2010

St. William of Montevergine

He was born into a noble family of Vercelli in north-west Italy and brought up by a relation after the death of his parents. He undertook a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Catholic tradition states that on his pilgrimage to Compostela, William encircled his body with iron bands to increase his suffering.
He then lived as a hermit on the summit of Monte Vergine (then known as Monte Vergiliana) between Nola and Benevento. Here he attracted a number of followers and founded the Monastery of Montevergine.

While at Montevergine, William of Vercelli is stated as having performed miracles. Roger I of Sicily served as a patron to William, who founded many monasteries for men and women in Sicily. The Catholic Encyclopedia states that Roger built a monastery opposite his palace at Salerno in order to have William always near him.

He died at Santa Maria di Guglieto, a daughter house of Montevergine near Nusco, province of Avellino. Catholic tradition states that William foresaw his own imminent death “by special revelation”.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

When Mary was three months pregnant with Jesus Elizabeth was six months pregnant with John The Baptist.When mary got to Elizabeth's house, Elizabeth said "Blessed are thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.""How could I deserve the visit of the mother of my Lord?""I heard your salutations and the baby jumped in my womb!"When Mary heard this she recited the Magnificat.During that time Zacharias had lost his voice. Zacharias was a Jewish priest he was blessing the altar when an angel told him he was going to have son. Zacharias didn't believe the angel because he was an elderly person. The angel told him his son was going to be named John. Three months later John The Baptist was born. A lot of people said the baby should be named like his father. After three months Zacharias finally spoke He said The baby would be named John.

Almighty and eternal GOD
you gave us St. John the Baptist
to so we also can have a holy life
like his.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Saint Etheldreda

Sister of Saint Jurmin. Relative of King Anna of East Anglia, England. Princess. Widowed after three years marriage; rumor had it that the marriage was never consumated as Etheldrda had taken a vow of perpetual virginity. She married again for political reasons. Her new husband knew of her vow, but grew tired of living as brother and sister, and began to make advances on her; she refused him. He tried to bribe the local bishop, Saint Wilfrid of York, to release her from her vow; Wilfrid refused, and instead helped Audrey escape to a promontory called Colbert’s Head. A high tide then came in - and stayed high for seven days; it kept her separated from her husband and was considered divine intervention. The young man gave up; the marriage was annulled, and Audrey took the veil. She spent a year with her neice, Saint Ebbe the Elder. Founded the great abbey of Ely, where she lived an austere life.

Etheldreda died of an enormous and unsightly tumor on her neck. She gratefully accepted this as Divine retribution for all the necklaces she had worn in her early years.

In the Middle Ages, a festival called Saint Audrey’s Fair, was held at Ely on her feast day. The exceptional shodiness of the merchandise, especially the neckerchiefs, contributed to the English language the word tawdry, a corruption of Saint Audrey.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

St. Thomas More

Saint, knight, Lord Chancellor of England, author and martyr, born in London, 7 February, 1477-78; executed at Tower Hill, 6 July, 1535. He was the sole surviving son of Sir John More, barrister and later judge, by his first wife Agnes, daughter of Thomas Graunger. While still a child Thomas was sent to St. Anthony's School in Threadneedle Street, kept by Nicholas Holt, and when thirteen years old was placed in the household of Cardinal Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor. Here his merry character and brilliant intellect attracted the notice of the archbishop, who sent him to Oxford, where he entered at Canterbury Hall (subsequently absorbed by Christ Church) about 1492. His father made him an allowance barely sufficient to supply the necessaries of life and, in consequence, he had no opportunity to indulge in "vain or hurtful amusements" to the detriment of his studies. At Oxford he made friends with William Grocyn and Thomas Linacre, the latter becoming his first instructor in Greek. Without ever becoming an exact scholar he mastered Greek "by an instinct of genius" as witnessed by Pace (De fructu qui ex doctrina percipitur, 1517), who adds "his eloquence is incomparable and twofold, for he speaks with the same facility in Latin as in his own language". Besides the classics he studied French, history, and mathematics, and also learned to play the flute and the viol. After two years' residence at Oxford, More was recalled to London and entered as a law student at New Inn about 1494. In February, 1496, he was admitted to Lincoln's Inn as a student, and in due course was called to the outer bar and subsequently made a bencher. His great abilities now began to attract attention and the governors of Lincoln's Inn appointed him "reader" or lecturer on law at Furnival's Inn, his lectures being esteemed so highly that the appointment was renewed for three successive years. It is clear however that law did not absorb all More's energies, for much of his time was given to letters. He wrote poetry, both Latin and English, a considerable amount of which has been preserved and is of good quality, though not particularly striking, and he was especially devoted to the works of Pico della Mirandola, of whose life he published an English translation some years later. He cultivated the acquaintance of scholars and learned men and, through his former tutors, Grocyn and Linacre, who were now living in London, he made friends with Colet, Dean of St. Paul's, and William Lilly, both renowned scholars. Colet became More's confessor and Lilly vied with him in translating epigrams from the Greek Anthology into Latin, then joint productions being published in 1518 (Progymnasnata T. More et Gul. Liliisodalium). In 1497 More was introduced to Erasmus, probably at the house of Lord Mountjoy, the great scholar's pupil and patron. The friendship at once became intimate, and later on Erasmus paid several long visits at More's Chelsea house, and the two friends corresponded regularly until death separated them. Besides law and the Classics, More read the Fathers with care, and he delivered, in the Church of St. Lawrence Jewry, a series of lectures on St. Augustine's De civitate Dei, which were attended by many learned men, among whom Grocyn, the rector of the church, is expressly mentioned. For such an audience the lectures must have been prepared with great care, but unhappily not a fragment of them has survived. These lectures were given somewhere between 1499 and 1503, a period during which More's mind was occupied almost wholly with religion and the question of his own vocation for the priesthood. This portion of his life has caused much misunderstanding among his various biographers. It is certain that he went to live near the London Charterhouse and often joined in the spiritual exercises of the monks there. He wore "a sharp shirt of hair next his skin, which he never left off wholly" (Cresacre More), and gave himself up to a life of prayer and penance. His mind wavered for some time between joining the Carthusians or the Observant Franciscans, both of which orders observed the religious life with extreme strictness and fervour. In the end, apparently with the approval of Colet, he abandoned the hope of becoming a priest or religious, his decision being due to a mistrust of his powers of perseverance. Erasmus, his intimate friend and confidant, writes on this matter as follows (Epp. 447): Meanwhile he applied his whole mind to exercises of piety, looking to and pondering on the priesthood in vigils, fasts and prayers and similar austerities. In which matter he proved himself far more prudent than most candidates who thrust themselves rashly into that arduous profession without any previous trial of their powers. The one thing that prevented him from giving himself to that kind of life was that he could not shake off the desire of the married state. He chose, therefore, to be a chaste husband rather than an impure priest. The last sentence of this passage has led certain writers, notably Mr. Seebohm and Lord Campbell, to expatiate at great length on the supposed corruption of the religious orders at this date, which, they declare, disgusted More so much that he abandoned his wish to enter religion on that account. Father Bridgett deals with this question at considerable length (Life and Writings of Sir Thomas More, pp. 23-36), but it is enough to say that this view has now been abandoned even by non-Catholic writers, as witness Mr. W.H. Hutton: It is absurd to assert that More was disgusted with monastic corruption, that he 'loathed monks as a disgrace to the Church'. He was throughout his life a warm friend of the religious orders, and a devoted admirer of the monastic ideal. He condemned the vices of individuals; he said, as his great-grandson says, 'that at that time religious men in England had somewhat degenerated from their ancient strictness and fervour of spirit'; but there is not the slightest sign that his decision to decline the monastic life was due in the smallest degree to a distrust of the system or a distaste for the theology of the Church. The question of religious vocation being disposed of, More threw himself into his work at the Bar and scored immediate success. In 1501 he was elected a member of Parliament, but as the returns are missing his constituency is unknown. Here he immediately began to oppose the large and unjust exactions of money which King Henry VII was making from his subjects through the agency of Empson and Dudley, the latter being Speaker of the House of Commons. In this Parliament Henry demanded a grant of three-fifteenths, about 113,000 pounds, but thanks to More's protests the Commons reduced the sum to 30,000. Some years later Dudley told More that his boldness would have cost him his head but for the fact that he had not attacked the king in person. Even as it was Henry was so enraged with More that he "devised a causeless quarrel against his father, keeping him in the Tower till he had made him pay a hundred pounds fine" (Roper). Meanwhile More had made friends with one "Maister John Colte, a gentleman" of Newhall, Essex, whose oldest daughter, Jane, he married in 1505. Roper writes of his choice: "albeit his mind most served him to the second daughter, for that he thought her the fairest and best favoured, yet when he considered that it would be great grief and some shame also to the eldest to see her younger sister preferred before her in marriage, he then, of a certain pity, framed his fancy towards" the eldest of the three sisters. The union proved a supremely happy one; of it were born three daughters, Margaret, Elizabeth, and Cecilia, and a son, John; and then, in 1511, Jane More died, still almost a child. In the epitaph which More himself composed twenty years later he calls her "uxorcula Mori", and a few lines in one of Erasmus' letters are almost all we know of her gentle, winning personality.
Of More himself Erasmus has left us a wonderful portrait in his famous letter to Ulrich von Hutten dated 23 July, 1519 (Epp. 447). The description is too long to give in full, but some extracts must be made. To begin then with what is least known to you, in stature he is not tall, though not remarkably short. His limbs are formed with such perfect symmetry as to leave nothing to be desired. His complexion is white, his face rather than pale and though by no means ruddy, a faint flush of pink appears beneath the whiteness of his skin. His hair is dark brown or brownish black. The eyes are grayish blue, with some spots, a kind which betokens singular talent, and among the English is considered attractive, whereas Germans generally prefer black. It is said that none are so free of vice. His countenance is in harmony with his character, being always expressive of an amiable joyousness, and even an incipient laughter and, to speak candidly, it is better framed for gladness than for gravity or dignity, though without any approach to folly or buffoonery. The right shoulder is a little higher than the left, especially when he walks. This is not a defect of birth, but the result of habit such as we often contract. In the rest of his person there is nothing to offend . . .He seems born and framed for friendship, and is a most faithful and enduring friend . . .When he finds any sincere and according to his heart, he so delights in their society and conversation as to place in it the principal charm of life . . .In a word, if you want a perfect model of friendship, you will find it in no one better than in More . . .In human affairs there is nothing from which he does not extract enjoyment, even from things that are most serious. If he converses with the learned and judicious, he delights in their talent, if with the ignorant and foolish, he enjoys their stupidity. He is not even offended by professional jesters. With a wonderful dexterity he accommodates himself to every disposition. As a rule, in talking with women, even with his own wife, he is full of jokes and banter. No one is less led by the opinions of the crowd, yet no one departs less from common sense . . . (see Father Bridgett's Life, p. 56-60, for the entire letter). More married again very soon after his first wife's death, his choice being a widow, Alice Middleton. She was older than he by seven years, a good, somewhat commonplace soul without beauty or education; but she was a capital housewife and was devoted to the care of More's young children. On the whole the marriage seems to have been quite satisfactory, although Mistress More usually failed to see the point of her husband's jokes. More's fame as a lawyer was now very great. In 1510 he was made Under-Sheriff of London, and four years later was chosen by Cardinal Wolsey as one of an embassy to Flanders to protect the interests of English merchants. He was thus absent from England for more than six months in 1515, during which period he made the first sketch of the Utopia, his most famous work, which was published the following year. Both Wolsey and the king were anxious to secure More's services at Court. In 1516 he was granted a pension of 100 pounds for life, was made a member of the embassy to Calais in the next year, and became a privy councillor about the same time. In 1519 he resigned his post as Under-Sheriff and became completely attached to the Court. In June, 1520, he was in Henry's suite at the "Field of the Cloth of Gold", in 1521 was knighted and made sub-treasurer to the king. When the Emperor Charles V visited London in the following year, More was chosen to deliver the Latin address of welcome; and grants of land in Oxford and Kent, made then and three years later, gave further proof of Henry's favour. In 1523 he was elected Speaker of the House of Commons on Wolsey's recommendation; became High Steward of Cambridge University in 1525; and in the same year was made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to be held in addition to his other offices. In 1523 More had purchased a piece of land in Chelsea, where he built himself a mansion about a hundred yards from the north bank of the Thames, with a large garden stretching along the river. Here at times the king would come as an unbidden guest at dinner time, or would walk in the garden with his arm round More's neck enjoying his brilliant conversation. But More had no illusions about the royal favour he enjoyed. "If my head should win him a castle in France," he said to Roper, his son-in-law, in 1525, "it should not fail to go". The Lutheran controversy had now spread throughout Europe and, with some reluctance, More was drawn into it. His controversial writings are mentioned below in the list of his works, and it is sufficient here to say that, while far more refined than most polemical writers of the period, there is still a certain amount that tastes unpleasant to the modern reader. At first he wrote in Latin but, when the books of Tindal and other English Reformers began to be read by people of all classes, he adopted English as more fitted to his purpose and, by doing so, gave no little aid to the development of English prose. In October, 1529, More succeeded Wolsey as Chancellor of England, a post never before held by a layman. In matters political, however, he is nowise succeeded to Wolsey's position, and his tenure of the chancellorship is chiefly memorable for his unparalleled success as a judge. His despatch was so great that the supply of causes was actually exhausted, an incident commemorated in the well-known rhyme,

When More some time had Chancellor been
No more suits did remain.
The like will never more be seen,
Till More be there again.

As chancellor it was his duty to enforce the laws against heretics and, by doing so, he provoked the attacks of Protestant writers both in his own time and since. The subject need not be discussed here, but More's attitude is patent. He agreed with the principle of the anti-heresy laws and had no hesitation in enforcing them. As he himself wrote in his "Apologia" (cap. 49) it was the vices of heretics that he hated, not their persons; and he never proceeded to extremities until he had made every effort to get those brought before him to recant. How successful he was in this is clear from the fact that only four persons suffered the supreme penalty for heresy during his whole term of office. More's first public appearance as chancellor was at the opening of the new Parliament in November, 1529. The accounts of his speech on this occasion vary considerably, but it is quite certain that he had no knowledge of the long series of encroachments on the Church which this very Parliament was to accomplish. A few months later came the royal proclamation ordering the clergy to acknowledge Henry as "Supreme Head" of the Church "as far as the law of God will permit", and we have Chapuy's testimony that More at once proferred his resignation of the chancellorship, which however was not accepted. His firm opposition to Henry's designs in regard to the divorce, the papal supremacy, and the laws against heretics, speedily lost him the royal favour, and in May, 1532, he resigned his post of Lord Chancellor after holding it less than three years. This meant the loss of all his income except about 100 pounds a year, the rent of some property he had purchased; and, with cheerful indifference, he at once reduced his style of living to match his strained means. The epitaph he wrote at this time for the tomb in Chelsea church states that he intended to devoted his last years to preparing himself for the life to come. For the next eighteen months More lived in seclusion and gave much time to controversial writing. Anxious to avoid a public rupture with Henry he stayed away from Anne Boleyn's coronation, and when, in 1533, his nephew William Rastell wrote a pamphlet supporting the pope, which was attributed to More, he wrote a letter to Cromwell disclaiming any share therein and declaring that he knew his duty to his prince too well to criticize his policy. Neutrality, however, did not suit Henry, and More's name was included in the Bill of Attainder introduced into the Lords against the Holy Maid of Kent and her friends. Brought before four members of the Council, More was asked why he did not approve Henry's anti-papal action. He answered that he had several times explained his position to the king in person and without incurring his displeasure. Eventually, in view of his extraordinary popularity, Henry thought it expedient to remove his name from the Bill of Attainder. The incident showed that he might expect, however, and the Duke of Norfolk personally warned him of his grave danger, adding "indignatio principis mors est". "Is that all, my Lord," answered More, "then, in good faith, between your grace and me is but this, that I shall die today, and you tomorrow." In March, 1534, the Act of Succession was passed which required all who should be called upon to take an oath acknowledging the issue of Henry and Anne as legitimate heirs to the throne, and to this was added a clause repudiating "any foreign authority, prince or potentate". On 14 April, More was summoned to Lambeth to take the oath and, on his refusal, was committed to the custody of the Abbot of Westminster. Four days later he was removed to the Tower, and in the following November was attainted of misprision of treason, the grants of land made to him in 1523 and 1525 being resumed by the Crown. In prison, though suffering greatly from "his old disease of the chest . . .gravel, stone, and the cramp", his habitual gaiety remained and he joked with his family and friends whenever they were permitted to see him as merrily as in the old days at Chelsea. When alone his time was given up to prayer and penitential exercises; and he wrote a "Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation", treatise (unfinished) on the Passion of Christ, and many letters to his family and others. In April and May, 1535, Cromwell visited him in person to demand his opinion of the new statutes conferring on Henry the title of Supreme Head of the Church. More refused to give any answer beyond declaring himself a faithful subject of the king. In June, Rich, the solicitor-general, held a conversation with More and, in reporting it, declared that More had denied Parliament's power to confer ecclesiastical supremacy on Henry. It was now discovered that More and Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester, had exchanged letters in prison, and a fresh inquiry was held which resulted in his being deprived of all books and writing materials, but he contrived to write to his wife and favourite daughter, Margaret, on stray scraps of paper with a charred stick or piece of coal. On 1 July, More was indicted for high treason at Westminster Hall before a special commission of twenty. More denied the chief charges of the indictment, which was enormously long, and denounced Rich, the solicitor-general and chief witness against him as a perjuror. The jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to be hanged at Tyburn, but some days later this was changed by Henry to beheading on Tower Hill. The story of his last days on earth, as given by Roper and Cresacre More, is of the tenderest beauty and should be read in full; certainly no martyr ever surpassed him in fortitude. As Addison wrote in the Spectator (No. 349) "that innocent mirth which had been so conspicuous in his life, did not forsake him to the last . . .his death was of a piece with his life. There was nothing in it new, forced or affected. He did not look upon the severing of his head from his body as a circumstance that ought to produce any change in the disposition of his mind". The execution took place on Tower Hill "before nine of the clock" on 6 July, the body being buried in the Church of St. Peter ad vincula. The head, after being parboiled, was exposed on London Bridge for a month when Margaret Roper bribed the man, whose business it was to throw it into the river, to give it to her instead. The final fate of the relic is somewhat uncertain, but in 1824 a leaden box was found in the Roper vault at St. Dunstan's, Canterbury, which on being opened was found to contain a head presumed to be More's. The Jesuit Fathers at Stonyhurst possess a remarkable collection of secondary relics, most of which came to them from Father Thomas More, S.J. (d. 1795), the last male heir of the martyr. These include his hat, cap, crucifix of gold, a silver seal, "George", and other articles. The hair shirt, worn by him for many years and sent to Margaret Roper the day before his martyrdom, is preserved by the Augustinian canonesses of Abbots Leigh, Devonshire, to whom it was brought by Margaret Clements, the adopted child of Sir Thomas. A number of autograph letters are in the British Museum. Several portraits exist, the best being that by Holbein in the possession of E. Huth, Esq. Holbein also painted a large group of More's household which has disappeared, but the original sketch for it is in the Basle Museum, and a sixteenth-century copy is the property of Lord St. Oswald. Thomas More was formally beatified by Pope Leo XIII, in the Decree of 29 December, 1886. St. Thomas More was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1935.

Father may the life and death
of your servant Thomas More help
us in our time of need. Father may his
life be an example of a holy life
to live by. And his death be sign of
valiance to us. We ask this through
Christ our Lord.

References: Newadvent.Org

Monday, June 21, 2010

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

At age seven he experienced a profound spiritual quickening. His prayers included the Office of Mary, the psalms and other devotions. At age nine he came from his hometown of Castiglione to Florence to be educated; by age 11 he was teaching catechism to poor children, fasting three days a week and practicing great austerities. When he was 13 years old he traveled with his parents and the Empress of Austria to Spain and acted as a page in the court of Philip II. The more Aloysius saw of court life, the more disillusioned he became, seeking relief in learning about the lives of saints.

A book about the experience of Jesuit missionaries in India suggested to him the idea of entering the Society of Jesus, and in Spain his decision became final. Now began a four-year contest with his father. Eminent churchmen and laypeople were pressed into service to persuade him to remain in his “normal” vocation. Finally he prevailed, was allowed to renounce his right to succession and was received into the Jesuit novitiate.

Like other seminarians, Aloysius was faced with a new kind of penance—that of accepting different ideas about the exact nature of penance. He was obliged to eat more, to take recreation with the other students. He was forbidden to pray except at stated times. He spent four years in the study of philosophy and had St. Robert Bellarmine as his spiritual adviser.

In 1591, a plague struck Rome. The Jesuits opened a hospital of their own. The general himself and many other Jesuits rendered personal service. Because he nursed patients, washing them and making their beds, Aloysius caught the disease himself. A fever persisted after his recovery and he was so weak he could scarcely rise from bed. Yet, he maintained his great discipline of prayer, knowing that he would die within the octave of Corpus Christi, three months later, at the age of 23.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

St. Silverius

Dates of birth and death unknown. He was the son of Pope Hormisdas who had been married before becoming one of the highest clergy. Silverius entered the service of the Church and was subdeacon at Rome when the Pope Agapitus died in Constantinople on 22 April of the year 536.La Empress Theodora, who favored the Monophysite tried to induce the election as pope of the Roman deacon Vigilius who was then in Constantinople and had given the desired guarantees as to the Monophysite. However, Teodato, King of the Ostrogoths, who wanted to prevent the election of a pope connected to Constantinople, anticipate, and influence the subdeacon Silverio was chosen. The choice of a subdeacon as bishop of Rome was unusual. Consequently, it is easy to understand that, as the author of the first part of the life of Silverio in the "Liber Pontificalis" (ed. Duchesne, I, 210) recounts, appeared strong opposition among the clergy. This, however, was repressed by Teodato so finally, after Silverio had been consecrated bishop (probably on June 8, 536) all Roman priests gave their written consent to their elevation. The statement made by the author mentioned that Silverio said Teodato intervention by the payment of money is unjustifiable, and is explained by the hostile opinion of the author on the Pope and the Goths. The author of the second part of life in the "Liber Pontificalis" is favorably inclined to Silverio. The pontificate of this pope belongs to a period wildly unstable, and he himself fell victim to the intrigues of the Byzantine Court.

Silverius After the Pope had become Empress Theodora sought to win him over to the Monophysite. She especially wanted to have it entered into communion with the Monophysite Patriarch of Constantinople, Antimo, who had been excommunicated and deposed by Agapitus, and Severus of Antioch. However, the Pope in no way compromised and decided to overthrow Teodora now and win the papal seat Vigilio. Stormy weather arrived in Rome during the fight that broke out in Italy from the Ostrogoths and the Byzantines after the death of Amalasuntha, daughter of Theodoric the Great. King Ostrogoth Vitigio, who ascended the throne in August 536, besieged the city. The churches of the catacombs outside the city were destroyed, the very graves of the martyrs in the catacombs were opened and desecrated. In December, 536, the Byzantine general Belisarius fortified Rome and was received by the Pope in a courteous and friendly. Teodora Belisarius tried to use to carry out his plan to depose Silverio, and put in place the Roman deacon Vigilius (qv), formerly apocrisiarius in Constantinople, now gone to Italy. Antonina, wife of Belisarius influenced her husband to act as Teodora wanted. By means of a forged letter accused the Pope of an agreement with King Gothic treacherous besieging Rome. Silverio was alleged that the king had offered to leave one of the secret city gates open to allow the Goths to enter. Silverius was subsequently arrested in March of 537, violently taken from his episcopal dress, given the clothes of a monk and taken into exile to the east. Vigilio was consecrated Bishop of Rome in his place.

Silverius was born in Lycia where he was to reside at Patara. The Bishop of Patara soon discovered that the exiled Pope was innocent. He traveled to Constantinople and was able to put before the Emperor Justinian that evidence of innocence of the exiled Emperor Belisarius wrote to ordering a new investigation into the matter. If it turned out that the letter concerning the alleged plan for the Goths was false, Silverio should be placed once more in possession of the papal see. At the same time the emperor Silverio allowed to return to Italy, and soon entered the country, apparently in Naples. However, Vigilio managed to take over illegally deposed his predecessor. Obviously acted in accordance with the Empress Theodora and was helped by Antonina, the wife of Belisarius. Silverio was taken to the island of Palmaria in the Tyrrhenian Sea and kept in strict confinement. Here died of deprivation and harsh treatment he endured. The year of his death is unknown, but probably did not live long after arriving in Palmaria. He was buried on the island, according to the testimony of the "Liber Pontificalis" in June 1920, his remains were never removed from Palmaria. According to the witness himself, he was raised after his death by the faithful who visited his grave. In later times he was venerated as a saint. The earliest evidence of this is given by a list of saints of the eleventh century (Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire, 1893, 169). "Martyrologium" of Pedro de Natalibus century fourteen also contains his party, who is remembered in the present Roman Martyrology on 20 June.

References: Catholic.Net

Saturday, June 19, 2010

St. Gervasius and Protasius

They are the Patron saints of Milan and of haymakers and are invoked for the discovery of thieves. Their Feast day in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church is on June 19, the day marking the translation of their relics. In the Eastern Orthodox Church and in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, their feast takes place on October 14 October 24 , the traditional day of their death. In Christian Iconography their emblems are the scourge, the club and the sword.

The Acta may have been expanded from a letter to the bishops of Italy, falsely ascribed to Saint Ambrose. They are written in a very simple style; it has not been possible to establish the date of their composition. According to these, Gervasius and Protasius were the twin sons of martyrs. Their father Saint Vitalis of Milan, a man of consular dignity, suffered martyrdom at Ravenna, possibly under Nero. The mother Saint Valeria died for her faith at Milan. Gervasius and Protasius were imprisoned, and visited in prison by Saint Nazarius.

The sons are said to have been scourged and then beheaded, during the reign of the Emperor Nero, under the presidency of Anubinus or Astasius, and while Caius was Bishop of Milan. Some authors place the martyrdom under the Emperor Diocletian, but others object to this time, because it is not clear how, in that case, the place of burial, and even the names, could be forgotten by the time of Saint Ambrose, as is stated. It probably occurred during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius .

Saint Ambrose, in 386, had built a magnificent Basilica at Milan, now called the Basilica Sant'Ambrogio. Asked by the people to consecrate it in the same solemn manner as was done in Rome, he promised to do so if he could obtain the necessary relics. In a dream he was shown the place where such relics could be found. He ordered excavations to be made outside the city, in the cemetery Church of Saints Nabor and Felix, who were at the time the primary patrons of Milan, and there found the relics of Saints Gervasius and Protasius. In a letter, St Ambrose wrote "I found the fitting signs, and on bringing in some on whom hands were to be laid, the power of the holy martyrs became so manifest, that even whilst I was still silent, one was seized and thrown prostrate at the holy burial-place. We found two men of marvelous stature, such as those of ancient days. All the bones were perfect, and there was much blood."

St Ambrose had their relics removed to the Basilica of Fausta , and on the next day into the Basilica, accompanied in the texts by many miracles, emblemmatic of divine favor in the context of the great struggle then taking place between St Ambrose and the Arian Empress Justina. Of the vision, the subsequent discovery of the relics and the accompanying miracles, St Ambrose wrote to his sister Marcellina.

Friday, June 18, 2010

St. Elizabeth of Schönau

Born in the year 1126 in Germany, based and educated in a Benedictine monastery near Bonn, Germany, from 12 years of age.

Elizabeth came to see the monastery as their own home, and hoped in 1147.

She was sighted, starting in 1152 began to have mystical ecstasies and visions, had the gift of prophecy, and suffered attacks from demonic forces.

With the help of his brother Egbert, a monk and abbot, wrote three volumes describing their visions.

Schönau was abbess from 1157 until his death on June 18, 1164.

This is all that is known of Elizabeth of Schönau.

References: Catholic.Net

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Saint Gondulphus of Berry

Saint Gondulphus of Berry who is honoured with the title of bishop, is a person of whom history gives a still more legendary account than of his namesake, Gondulf of Maastricht.

According to the biography in which he is comparatively lately treated by a monk of Berry, he was Archbishop of Milan in the seventh century. Not succeeding in appeasing the troubles which had arisen in his church, he resolved to submit to the inevitable, and retired to Berry with a number of his disciples. It is not known, however, that any Archbishop of Milan had to deal with these conditions. It is true that it has been thought that Gondulphus lived at the time of the Milanese schism regarding the affair of the Three Chapters, that he was consecrated in 555, but that he was never received as bishop in his diocese. These are merely hypotheses and in fact it must be said that the history of the St. Gondulphus who is honoured in Berry is unknown.

The attestation of his cult in Berry appears late among the additions to the Martyrology of Usuard; it is cited in the Breviary of Bourges in 1625. He is the patron of St-Gondon, near Gien. His feast is kept on 17 June.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ss. Julitta and Cyriacus of Iconium

A Turkish widow, Julitta and her very young baby son, Cyriacus, moved to tarsus to escape persecution of Christians in Turkey. She was denounced to a ruling governor there, who questioned her while he played with Cyriacus. When she refused to give up her faith, she was given a death sentence. her son told the governor he was also Christian, the man was so enraged he threw the Cyriacus down the stairs, killing him before his mother. His dead corpse landed in front of his mother was about to be killed. When she saw her baby she was grieved but full of joy that her son had received the crown of martyrdom. Then she died by being beheaded.They died 304 AD. Julitta's body, along with that of Cyriacus, was flung outside the city, on the heap of bodies belonging to criminals, but two maids rescued the corpses of the mother and child and buried them in a nearby field. Their relics are at Nevers and in the monastery of Saint-Amand, Tournai. Centuries later, Cyriacus appeared to the Emperor Charlemagne, who was in danger of being gored by a boar while he was hunting. Cyriacus offered to save the emperor's life in exchange for clothing to cover his nakedness. Their are the patron saints of death of children and torture victims. This is all that is known about the Saints Julitta and Cyriacus of Iconium.

Father almighty you gave us
the lives of Julitta and Cyriacus of Iconium
to be examples to live by.
May these two lives help us
defend your Holy name,
protect our faith,
and defend your church.
We ask this through Christ our lord.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

St. Germaine Cousin

Saint Germaine Cousin is a French saint. She was born in 1579 of humble parents at Pibrac, a village about ten miles from Toulouse.

Of her, the Catholic Encyclopedia writes:

"From her birth she seemed marked out for suffering; she came into the world with a deformed hand and the disease of scrofula, and, while yet an infant, lost her mother. Her father soon married again, but his second wife treated Germaine with much cruelty. Under pretence of saving the other children from the contagion of scrofula she persuaded the father to keep Germaine away from the homestead, and thus the child was employed almost from infancy as a shepherdess. When she returned at night, her bed was in the stable or on a litter of vine branches in a garret. In this hard school Germaine learned early to practise humility and patience. She was gifted with a marvellous sense of the presence of God and of spiritual things, so that her lonely life became to her a source of light and blessing. To poverty, bodily infirmity, the rigours of the seasons, the lack of affection from those in her own home, she added voluntary mortifications and austerities, making bread and water her daily food. Her love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and for His Virgin Mother presaged the saint. She assisted daily at the Holy Sacrifice; when the bell rang, she fixed her sheep-hook or distaff in the ground, and left her flocks to the care of Providence while she heard Mass. Although the pasture was on the border of a forest infested with wolves, no harm ever came to her flocks."

She is said to have practised many austerities as reparation for the sacrileges perpetrated by heretics in the neighbouring churches. She frequented the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, and it was observed that her piety increased on the approach of every feast of Our Lady. The Rosary was her only book, and her devotion to the Angelus was so great that she used to fall on her knees at the first sound of the bell, even though she heard it when crossing a stream. The villagers are said to have inclined at first to treat her piety with mild derision, until certain signs of God's signal favour made her an object of reverence and awe.

The ford in winter, after heavy rains or the melting of snow, was at times impassable. On several occasions the swollen waters were seen to open and afford her a passage without wetting her garments. Notwithstanding her poverty she found means to help the poor by sharing with them her allowance of bread. Her father at last came to a sense of his duty, forbade her stepmother henceforth to treat her harshly, and wished to give her a place in the home with his other children, but Germaine begged to be allowed to remain in the humbler position. At this point, when men were beginning to realize the beauty of her life, she died. One morning in the early summer of 1601, her father found that she had not risen at the usual hour and went to call her, finding her dead on her pallet of vine-twigs. She was 22 years old at the time.

Monday, June 14, 2010

St. Eliseus

St. Eliseus is a key figure in the ninth century BC. We know the name of his father, Safat, Abel Meholah originating in southern bewteen-Shan, and know that your family was wealthy (1 Kings 19, 16-19). Caramel has always been considered a disciple of St. Elijah, from whom he inherited his double spirit, as his second spiritual father. God chooses a direct and particular (1 Kings 19:16) to go in pursuit of Elijah (1 Kings 19, l9ss), which will happen after the mysterious disappearance of their brother, inheriting the spirit to the extent provided by law for the firstborn: double the other heirs [2 Re 2.1 to 15]. Their status as "man of God" is revealed mainly in the wonders of every kind that is woven with his life. The work itself, for individuals and entire communities. Lived about 850-800, successor of St. Elias, which certainly exceeds the number and striking miracles, but not by his personality and his religious influence. So, Elijah is mentioned in the New Testament, significantly, 30 times; St. Eliseus only once (Lk 4.27). Its history, almost legendary and sometimes plagiarized from that of Elijah, was collected at 1 and 2 Re (1 Re 19 Re 19-21.2, 13-8, 15,9,1-15,13, 14, -21 .) With the anointing of Yehú brought down the dynasty of Ahab. Enjoyed great esteem among Yosafat kings (2 Kgs 3:12) and Yoás (2 Kgs 13.14-19). It seems that even their own bones wrought miracles (2 Kings 13.20 s). Elisha in the Bible when Elijah is taken away and their charisma goes to Elisha (2 Kings 1), and concludes with the miracle that took place with the corpse of the prophet and buried (2 Kings 13.21). Most of the narratives, which look like ~ ermoso "flowers" show Elisha surrounded by some groups which are called "disciples (or children) of the prophets." Do Carmelite successors of the "sons of the prophets"? This issue is now irrelevant, but it may be well to remember here who were these "sons of the prophets" which many authors inside and outside the Order noted for centuries as predecessors of the current Carmelites, who have their true origin late twelfth century. San Eliseo was the Master and Father of all these groups, who came and obeyed: 2 Re 4.38, 6, 1-2,12-21 ... Perhaps no mistake if we considered these brotherhoods of prophets as the ultimate bearers of faith in the Lord, pure and unmixed, nor mistake, if we consider highly important in order to the persistence of faith in the Lord, and especially for the trademark to be on. Ultimately, this is the point from where it departed this unprecedented filing Yahwist faith and divine right that we are in the later prophets. The surprising discoveries in the caves located northwest of the Dead Sea, not only provide us with news of an establishment of strict observance of Essenes, a century before and a century after the birth of Christ, but we also provide an accurate picture of the ordinances rigorous community life directed authoritatively (all thanks to the document called "Rules of the sect"), show a new light the stories concerning fraternities prophets from the time of Elisha.

References: Catholic.Net

Sunday, June 13, 2010

St. Anthony of Padua

Anthony was born at Lisbon in Portugal in 1195. He was baptised "Fernando" in the Cathedral Church of old Lisbon. On the font is written: "Here the waters of holy baptism cleansed Anthony from all stain of original sin. The world rejoices in his light, Padua in his body, heaven in his soul."

His father, was a revenue officer and knight at the court of Alfonso II, king of Portugal. When Fernando was 15 years old, he joined the community of Canons Regular of St Augustine in Lisbon. However, because of the constant visits of his family, he asked to be moved to another house of the Order.

At seventeen he was transferred, more than 175km away, to the Augustinian Monastery of Santa Cruz at Coimbra which was renowned for its biblical scholarship. Here he spent nine years in intense study. There is every indication that during this time he learned the Sacred Scriptures off by heart. However, it is possible that he was not ordained during this period as it was a custom of the time to be ordained at the age of thirty.

When he was 25 years old he was inspired to die for Christ by the martyrdom of the first Franciscan Friars whose bodies were brought back from Morocco to Coimbra where he was studying. He was deeply affected by their deaths because five months before, he had been guest master and looked after these same friars and knew them by name. Berard, Peter and Otto, were priests; Adiuto and Accursio were brothers. They had tried out of love to convert the Sultan of Morrocco and gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Fernando also wanted to die for Christ. In his enthusiasm he went to the Franciscan Friary at Coimbra, and said to the friars, "If I may go to Morocco and imitate these brothers, I will gladly join you."

Soon after, with the reluctant permission of his Augustinian superior he joined the Franciscan Friars taking the name "Anthony" after the patron of the friary at Coimbra called St Anthony of the Olives. Anthony probably took vows immediately as there was no novitiate at that time. Within a few months he was sailing for Morocco to achieve his dream of martyrdom.

However, God had other plans for this generous young man. Soon he became so ill with malarial fever that it was necessary for him to set sail for home. On the return voyage a violent storm arose and the ship had to turn and run before the wind. They were blown all the way to Sicily where they found safety in the harbour at Messina. In this city Anthony found a group of Franciscan Friars and hearing of a great meeting of the friars at Pentecost he happily accompanied these friars north to Assisi.There on the 23rd of May, 1221 he attended the great Chapter of Mats and was one unknown, new, foreign friar among the thousands gathered for the meeting.

St Francis was very ill during the meeting and he had to whisper to Br Elias his Vicar, who then shouted out Francis' admonitions to the friars. No doubt St Anthony saw St Francis and was inspired by him, but it is not recorded that they met at this time. As the Chapter broke up St Anthony was ignored by everyone. None of the Provincials really wanted this foreign friar. For some reason St Anthony did not impress anyone. Was it simply humility? Was he distracted? His biographers say that he looked rather simple and even stupid.

We can only guess at the poignancy of this moment. Perhaps St Anthony, thwarted in his desire for martyrdom, discovered in the poverty and simplicity of St Francis, a new way to achieve his goal of martyrdom. He had died to his family and his country; now he could die to himself. He could enter into the spirituality of Martyrdom which St Francis himself was perfecting in the furnace of love and self sacrifice. To grasp this better it is necessary to study the Admonitions of St Francis which St Anthony would have heard at this great Chapter of Mats. Thus we might understand that St Anthony did not so much seek to hide his talents at this point in time, but to die to them. Perhaps he did this because that is what he thought the Lord wanted him to do.

Finally as all the friars were leaving he caught the attention of Friar Gratian, Provincial of Romagna (North Italy), who sent him to a small hermitage at Monte-Paolo near Forli. In this small fraternity he lived a simple life doing menial tasks like cleaning and gardening, setting tables and washing dishes. He was known only as a simple brother who lived cheerfully among his brethren in contemplation and fraternity; in poverty and joy - for 12 months.

In 1222, when St Anthony was 27 years old, a number of Dominicans and Franciscans were ordained by Bishop Ricciardellus Belmonti. St Anthony was present at the reception given at the Dominican Priory after the ordinations. It seems that the preacher who was to speak at this occasion did not arrive, so the provincial asked if someone else would give a short sermon to suit the occasion. No one was willing to just get up in front of such a group and preach, so they all declined the invitation. The provincial then ordered Br Anthony to say a few simple words.

It is said that he began to speak slowly at first and then more steadily. As he began to speak his words captured their imagination and their hearts caught fire under the power of the Holy Spirit. When he was finished all the friars realized that they were in the presence of a brilliant and powerful preacher. It was a dramatic moment. If Friar Anthony had not been ordained by this time his ordination would have occurred shortly after.

St Anthony was one of God's surprises for St Francis. The founder of the Franciscans had a deep suspicion of learning and he manifested this quite clearly. For St Francis a "spirit of prayer and devotion" was more important than work, study or even preaching. However once the friars recognised St Anthony's tremendous knowledge they asked him to teach them. He asked permission of St Francis first. Calling St Anthony "my bishop" out of respect, because a bishop is the teacher and guardian of the flock, St Francis wrote:

Brother Francis wishes health to Brother Anthony, my bishop. It pleases me that you teach sacred theology to the brothers, as long as - in the words of the Rule - you "do not extinguish the Spirit of prayer and devotion" with study of this kind.

One would think that the study of Theology and Scripture would lead to a "Spirit of prayer and devotion" but St Francis instinctively knew better and warned St Anthony to be discerning of the hearts of his students while he was teaching them.

From the time of his first sermon Anthony was always on the road, devoting his time and talents to the work of preaching and teaching. His fame spread quickly and soon he was commissioned by St Francis to preach everywhere. He journeyed to many places in Italy and also to many parts of Southern France on what became an evangelical crusade. His brilliant sermons and special style drew such huge crowds that the churches could not hold the people who came to hear him. A platform had to be set up outside in the town square because of the number of people who came to hear him speak. Soon the platform had to be built outside the town and cities. Eventually ten, twenty and thirty, thousand people were attending his sermons. At the news of his coming, shops were shuttered, markets suspended, and law courts closed. During the night before the sermon, the whole countryside became alive with flitting lights as people began to converge from all sides to the place he was to preach.

His sermons were electrifying, not simply because he was a good speaker: poise, delivery, conviction, personal charm, amazing memory, mastery of theology, scripture and various sciences, but also because he made a virulent attack on the prevalent sins of contemporary high society; their greed, their luxurious living, their tyranny. He spoke pointedly to Bishops and priests if he knew of their failure to live up to the high standards of their calling and especially when they failed to defend the flock given into their care. He called on those who were listening to repent and to face up to the challenge of living a Christian life. He and the friars with him spent a great deal of time after his sermons hearing confession.

Against heretics, St Anthony backed up his arguments with an amazing knowledge of Sacred Scripture. He presented the faith in a positive way capturing the imagination of the people. When heretics would not listen, he got their attention with miracles. At Rimini, a town on the Adriatic Sea, the people would not listen to him, so he turned towards the water and preached to the fish. Along with St Francis' preaching to the birds it remains one of the most delightful stories from the lives of the saints.

We have two volumes of St Anthony's sermons for Sundays and Feastdays, however they are not the ones he preached, but rather sermon notes for other preachers to use. In these he made abundant use of nature which he used as symbols. He often used the symbol of fire for "love and devotion" and in art he is sometimes shown holding a flame. In one of his sermons he writes, "When the Holy Spirit enters a soul, He fills it with his fire and lets it enkindle others."

As well as his preaching Anthony was Guardian and minister over different friaries in France. It was when he was at Arles in France that St Francis appeared to the friars while St Anthony was conducting a Local Chapter. He was seen to appear in the doorway with his arms uplifted in the sign of the cross. It was a case of bilocation since St Francis was still alive and in Assisi at the time. After the death of St Francis, St Anthony was recalled to Italy and he became Provincial at Romagna in northern Italy. In 1228 he preached in Rome before Pope Gregory IX and also to the clergy and the people. Pope Gregory was so impressed that he called St Anthony an "Armory of the Bible." He declared that he was sure that if all the bibles in the world were lost Friar Anthony could surely rewrite them.

At the turbulent General Chapter of the friars in 1230, St Anthony was elected to be included in a delegation that went before the Pope to ask for an explanation of the Rule and Testament of St Francis. The friars wanted to know if they were bound to obey the Testament of St Francis and if they had to live the whole Gospel or simply what was in the Rule. On September 28th 1230 Pope Gregory IX replied in the Bull Quo Elongati that 1. St Francis' Testament had no binding power on the friars. 2. That only the evangelical counsels expressed in the Rule were binding on the friars.

Anthony's last sermons were preached in lent in Padua. During this time there was a complete uproar in the city because the citizens could not provide enough accommodation or food for the crowds that invaded the city to hear him preach. The effect of his preaching in Padua was amazing: Quarrels were patched up, mortal enemies were reconciled, poor debtors were released from prison, restitution was made of illgotten goods, immoral men and women reformed their lives, thieves and criminals changed their ways, and the public life of Padua was very much improved.

After Easter, he and his companions went to a country estate to rest. There Anthony found a giant walnut tree which had six branches growing upward from the crown. With a sense of amusement like small boys the friars bound the branches together with woven willows and roofed it over with rushes to make a cool airy cell for the tired preacher.

Anthony was very ill. His years of preaching had worn him out and he had developed dropsy, which made breathing difficult. He had been finding it increasingly difficult to get about because his body had swollen up and refused to respond. On June 13th 1231 he knew he was dying, and because he did not wish to be a lot of trouble to his friend whose estate he was staying at, he asked the brothers if they would take him back to Padua. The Friars placed him on a peasant's cart drawn by an ox and began the sorrowful journey back to the city. It was summer and with all the dust and heat he was soon unable to speak. They halted at the convent of the Poor Clares at Arcella. There they placed him upright again so as to help him breathe. He began to chant a Lauds hymn and so singing with the brothers and sisters, he died. He was only 36 years old.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

St. John of Sahagun

John Gonzales de Castrillo was born at Sahagun, Leon Spain. He was educated by the Benedictine monks of Fagondez monastery there and when twenty, received a canonry from the bishop of Burgos, though he already had several benefices. He was ordained in 1445; concerned about the evil of pluralism, he resigned all his benefices except that of St. Agatha in Burgos. He spent the next four years studying at the University of Salamanca and then began to preach. In the next decade he achieved a great reputation as a preacher and spiritual director, but after recovering after a serious operation, became an Augustinian friar in 1463 and was professed the following year. He served as master of novices, definitor, prior at Salamanca, experienced visions, was famous for his miracles, and had the gift of reading men's souls. He denounced evil in high places and several attempts were made on his life. He died at Sahagun on June 11, reportedly poisoned by the mistress of a man he had convinced to leave her. He was canonized in 1690 as St. John of Sahagun. This is all tha is known of St. John of Sahagun.


Friday, June 11, 2010

St. Barnabas

WE read that in the first days of the Church, " the multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul; neither did any one say that aught of the things which he possessed was his own." Of this fervent company, one only is singled out by name, Joseph, a rich Levite, from Cyprus. "He having land sold it, and brought the price and laid it at the feet of the Apostles." They now gave him a new name, Barnabas, the son of consolation. " He was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith," and was soon chosen for an important mission to the rapidly-growing Church of Antioch. Here he perceived the great work which was to be done among the Greeks, so hastened to fetch St. Paul from his retirement at Tarsus. It was at Antioch that the two Saints were called to the apostolate of the Gentiles, and hence they set out together to Cyprus and the cities of Asia Minor. Their preaching struck men with amazement, and some cried out, " The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men" calling Paul Mercury, and Barnabas Jupiter. The Saints travelled together to the Council of Jerusalem but shortly after this they parted. When Agabus prophesied a great famine, Barnabas, no longer rich, was chosen by the faithful at Antioch as most fit to bear, with St. Paul, their generous offerings to the Church of Jerusalem. The gentle Barnabas, keeping with him John, surnamed Mark, whom St. Paul distrusted, betook himself to Cyprus, where the sacred history leaves him; and here, at a later period, he won his martyr's crown.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

St. Landericus

St. Landericus (or Landry) was a sincere and dedicated servant of God who, like his Lord Jesus Christ, had great love for the poor and the lowly. As Bishop of Paris, from 650-661, he labored zealously to improve their lot. And when the proceeds from the sale of all his possessions did not suffice to relieve their hungry during a famine, he went so far as to sell some of the Church vessels and furniture. St. Landericus became increasingly aware that the sick poor of his diocese were not really cared for by the custom then in vogue of housing them in little hostels dependent on the casual alms of charitable persons. This led him to erect the city's first real hospital, dedicated to St. Christopher, which in time became the famous Hotel-Dieu. Always on the alert to provide spiritual help for his people, this saintly bishop welcomed the Benedictines into his diocese and encouraged them to set up the Abbey of Denis. In 653, in company with twenty-three other bishops, he signed the foundation charter granted by King Clovis to the Abbey. He died about 661 after having commissioned the monk Marculfus to compile a collection of Ecclesiastical Formulas. That os all that is known of St. Landericus.

References: Catholic.Net

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

St. Columba

Columba, the most famous of the saints associated with Scotland, was actually an Irishman of the O'Neill or O'Donnell clan, born about the year 521 at Garton, County Donegal, in north Ireland. Of royal lineage on both sides, his father, Fedhlimidh, or Phelim, was great-grandson to Niall of the Nine Hostages, Overlord of Ireland, and connected with the Dalriada princes of southwest Scotland; his mother, Eithne, was descended from a king of Leinster. The child was baptized Colum, or Columba.[1] In later life he was given the name of Columcille or Clumkill, that is, Colum of the Cell or Church, an appropriate title for one who became the founder of so many monastic cells and religious establishments.
As soon as he was old enough, Columba was taken from the care of his priest-guardian at Tulach-Dugblaise, or Temple Douglas, to St. Finnian's training school at Moville, at the head of Strangford lough. He was about twenty, and a deacon, when he left to study in the school of Leinster under an aged theologian and bard called Gemman. With their songs of heroes, the bards were the preservers of Irish lore, and Columba himself became a poet. Still later he attended the famous monastic school of Clonard, presided over by another Finnian, who in later times was known as the "tutor of Erin's saints." At one time three thousand students were gathered here from all over Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and even from Gaul and Germany. It was probably at Clonard that Columba was ordained priest, although it may have been later, when he was living with his friends, Comgall, Kieran, and Kenneth, under the most gifted of all his teachers, St. Mobhi, by a ford in the river Tolca, called Dub Linn, the site of the future city of Dublin. In 543 an outbreak of plague compelled Mobhi to close his school, and Columba, now twenty-five years old and fully trained, returned to Ulster. He was a striking figure of great stature and powerful build, with a loud, melodious voice which could be heard from one hilltop to another. For the next fifteen years Columba went about Ireland preaching and founding monasteries, the chief of which were those at Derry, Durrow, and Kells.

The powerful stimulus given to Irish learning by St. Patrick in the previous century was now beginning to burgeon. Columba himself dearly loved books, and spared no pains to obtain or make copies of Psalters, Bibles, and other valuable manuscripts for his monks. His former master Finnian had brought back from Rome the first copy of St. Jerome's Psalter to reach Ireland. Finnian guarded this precious volume jealously, but Columba got permission to look at it, and surreptitiously made a copy for his own use. Finnian, on being told of this, laid claim to the copy. Columba refused to give it up, and the question of ownership was put before Ring Diarmaid, Overlord of Ireland. His curious decision in this early "copyright" case went against Columba. "To every cow her calf," reasoned the King, "and to every book its son-book. Therefore the copy you made, O Colum Cille, belongs to Finnian." Columba was soon to have a more serious grievance against the King. Prince Curnan of Connaught, who had fatally injured a rival in a hurling match and had taken refuge with Columba, was dragged from his protector's arms and slain by Diarmaid's men, in defiance of the rights of sanctuary.

The war which soon broke out between Columba's clan and the clans loyal to Diarmaid was instigated, it is said, by Columba. At the battle of Cuil Dremne his cause was victorious, but Columba was accused of being morally responsible for driving three thousand unprepared souls into eternity. A church synod was held at Tailltiu (Telltown) in County Meath, which passed a vote of censure and would have followed it by excommunication but for the intervention of St. Brendan. Columba's own conscience was uneasy, and on the advice of an aged hermit, Molaise, he resolved to expiate his offense by exiling himself and trying to win for Christ in another land as many souls as had perished in the terrible battle of Cuil Dremne.

This traditional account of the events which led to Columba's departure from Ireland may well be correct, although missionary zeal and love of Christ are the motives mentioned for his going by the earliest biographers and by Adamnan,[2] our chief authority for his subsequent history. Whatever the impulse that prompted him, in the year 563, Columba embarked with twelve companions in a wicker coracle covered with leather, and on the eve of Pentecost landed on the island of Hi, or Iona.[3] The first thing he did there was to erect a high stone cross; then he built a monastery, which was to be his home for the rest of his life. The island itself was made over to him by his kinsman Conall, king of the British Dalriada, who perhaps had invited him to come to Scotland in the first place. Lying across from the border country between the Picts of the north and the Scots of the south, Iona made an ideal center for missionary work. Columba seems to have first devoted himself to teaching the imperfectly instructed Christians of Dalriada, most of whom were of Irish descent, but after some two years he turned to the work of converting the Scottish Picts. With his old comrades, Comgall and Kenneth, both of them Irish Picts, he made his way through Loch Ness northward to the castle of the redoubtable King Brude, near modern Inverness. That pagan monarch had given strict orders that they were not to be admitted, but when Columba raised his arm and made the sign of the cross, it was said that bolts fell out and gates swung open, permitting the strangers to enter. Impressed by such powers, the King listened to them and ever after held Columba in high regard. As Overlord of Scotland he confirmed him in possession of Iona. We know from Adamnan that on several occasions Columba crossed the mountain chain which divides Scotland and that his travels also took him far north, and through the Western Isles. He is said to have planted churches as far east as Aberdeenshire and to have evangelized nearly the whole of the country of the Picts. When the descendants of the Dalriada kings became the rulers of Scotland, they were naturally eager to magnify the achievements of their hero and distant kinsman, Columba, and may have attributed to him victories won by others.

Columba never lost touch with Ireland. In 575 he was at the synod of Drumceatt in County Meath in company with King Conall's successor, Aidan, whom he had helped to place on the throne and had crowned at Iona, in his role as chief ecclesiastical ruler. His immense influence is shown by his veto of a proposal to abolish the order of bards and his securing for women exemption from all military service. When not on missionary journeys, Columba was to be found in his cell on Iona, where persons of all conditions visited him, some in want of spiritual or material help, some drawn by his miracles and sanctity. His biographer gives us a picture of a serene old age. His manner of life was austere; he slept on a bare slab of rock and ate barley or oat cakes, drinking only water. When he became too weak to travel, he spent long hours copying manuscripts, as he had done in his youth. On the day before his death he was at work on a Psalter, and had just traced the words, "They that love the Lord shall lack no good thing," when he paused and said, "Here I must stop; let Baithin do the rest." Baithin was his cousin. whom he had already nominated as his successor. When the monks entered the church for Matins, they found their beloved abbot lying helpless and dying before the altar. As his faithful attendant Diarmaid gently upraised him, he made a feeble effort to bless his brethren and then expired.

Iona was for centuries one of the famous centers of Christian learning For a long time afterwards, Scotland, Ireland, and Northumbria followed the observances Columba had set for the monastic life, in distinction to those that were brought from Rome by later missionaries. His rule, based on the Eastern Rule of St. Basil, was that of many monasteries of Western Europe until superseded by the milder ordinance of St. Benedict. Adamnan, who must have bee n brought up on memories and recollections of Columba, writes eloquently of him: "He had the face of an angel; he was of excellent nature, polished in speech, holy in deed, great in council. He never let a single hour pass without engaging in prayer or reading or writing or some other occupation. He endured the hardships of fasting and vigils without intermission by day and night; the burden of a single one of his labors would have seemed beyond the powers of man. And, in the midst of all his toils, he appeared loving unto all, serene and holy, rejoicing in the joy of the Holy Spirit in his inmost heart."