Feat of St. Paul the Hermit – 15 Jan 2019p

Saint Paul the Hermit – Feast day January 15

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St Paul of Thebes

St. Jerome wrote, or at least translated from the Greek, a little biography of St. Paul the Hermit. Some speculate that he did so in order to establish St. Paul’s reputation as the “first hermit” and to let the world know that the great St. Anthony had a predecessor. Others regard the story as so full of fables that they treat Paul as a type of a third-to- fourth-century hermit rather than as a historical individual.

A Christian from his youth, Paul was orphaned at age 15. In 250 the persecution by Decius forced him into hiding, first at a friend’s house and then, fearing exposure, to a cave in the Egyptian desert. He had planned to return home after things quieted down, but the peaceful solitude of the desert seduced him to stay. A palm tree and a spring near his cave provided him food, clothing, and water until he turned 43. After that time, as it had happened for Elias, a raven brought him half a loaf of bread each day.

In Paul’s 90th year in the desert his presence was revealed to St. Anthony, who immediately went to find him. Anthony met Paul in his cave, and the two hermits became friends overnight. They shared a whole loaf of bread brought by the raven, discussed world events, and prayed. Anthony thought he had found a companion, but Paul knew that God had sent Anthony to help him die. The biography described their meeting:

Blessed Paul said to Anthony: “For a long time now, I have known that you dwelled in these regions. And for a long time God had promised you to me for a companion. Since my hour of eternal sleep has arrived, and because I have always desired ‘to be dissolved and to be with Christ’ (see Philippians 1:23), having ‘finished the course, . . . a crown of justice’ (see 2 Timothy 4:7–8) remains for me. You have been sent by God to bury my miserable body, rather to return earth to earth.”

Anthony listened to these words with tears and groans, begging Paul not to leave him behind, but to accept him as a companion on that journey. Paul answered: “You ought not seek your own interests but those of another. It is indeed profitable for you to cast off the burden of the flesh to follow the Lamb, but it is also profitable for the rest of your brethren that they may be the more instructed by your example. I beg of you, hasten, if is not too much to ask, and bring back the cloak which Athanasius the bishop gave you, to wrap about my wretched body.” Now, blessed Paul made this request, not because he cared at all whether or not his body decayed covered up or naked, since for a long time now he had been wearing garments woven from palm leaves, but because he wanted to spare Anthony the grief of witnessing his death.

Anthony went to get the cloak. When he returned he found Paul kneeling with arms outstretched, but already dead. Two lions dug Paul’s grave and Anthony buried him. But he kept Paul’s outer garment woven from palm leaves, which he treasured from that time and which he always wore on great feast days.

Paul was spared a lonely death because he found a friend in Anthony. His experience suggests that we become friends with the sick and elderly and provide them companionship in their last days. And that we make friends with younger people ourselves as insurance against loneliness in the autumn of our lives.

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The contemplative life according to St. Hildegard of Bingen – Part One

It should be remembered that until now the Church has always encouraged contemplative life for religious men and women. The separation from the world to religious life constitutes a state of perfect life and is necessary for the Mystici corporis Christi  (The Mystical Body of Christ) as a manifestation of one’s holiness and as a permanent source of grace.

The sanctuary of the cloisters of female contemplative life has been violated by the latest stipulations issued by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere on womens contemplative life [June 29, 2016], and Cor Orans [April 1, 2018] the “Implementing Instruction of the Apostolic Constitution for “Vultum Dei” on Women’s Contemplative Life, as was explained in an Italian article by Veronica Rasponi “La distruzione dei Monasteri femminili”[The Destruction of Women’s Monasteries – our translation can be read here], published in «Corrispondenza Romana» on October 10th last, states that the sole purpose of the Apostolic Constitution was to cause harm to the founding principles of cloistered monasteries, and to the juridical autonomy (sui iuris) of each monastery.  Corrispondenza Romana call’s it the ‘Sovietisation’ of the monasteries.

It should be remembered that until now the Church has always encouraged contemplative life for religious men and women. The separation from the world to religious life constitutes a state of perfect life and is necessary for the Mystici corporis Christi  (The Mystical Body of Christ) as a manifestation of one’s holiness and as a permanent source of grace.

However, the enclosure regime means a separation from the world, and not from the society that the nuns support with their prayer and penance. Pius XII in the encyclical Sacra Virginitas of March 25, 1954, explains that the renunciation of the world by nuns, protected by enclosure, is not the equivalent of social desertion, but rather allows a wider service to be given to the Church and society.

Pio XII
Pio PP. XII

The same Pius XII, in his Apostolic Constitution Sponsa Christi of 21 November 1950, foresaw a birth of the federations of monasteries, as an instrument to help revitalise  the life of some monastic communities which, following the war, had found themselves isolated and in difficulties. The experience did not turn out to be a happy one and should have imposed an abandonment of these forms of structures, by contrast under the pontificate of Pope Bergoglio it has increase exponentially, delivering a mortal blow to the institutions of female monasteries.

The word “monastery” enters into the Italian language during the first half of the XIII century, from the late Latin monastērĭum, from the Greek word μοναστήριον, of μοναστήριοςmonasterios from μονάζεινmonazein “to live alone” from the root μόνοςmonos “alone” (all Christian monks were originally hermits); the suffix “-terion” indicates a “place for doing something”. The earliest extant use of the term monastērion is by the Alexandrian philosopher Judaeus Philo On The Contemplative Life, ch. III.

The monastery, therefore, by its very nature, must be a place of solitude (separation from the profane world), of silence (care of the intimacy of the soul with the divine realities), of prayer (communication of the soul with the Most Holy Trinity and the Virgin Mary), these persona’s, have always been the pillars upon which the very fabric of the claustral life was founded on.

But it is evident that the emergence of the “Federation of monasteries”, “Association of monasteries” and the “Confederation of monasteries” is a calculated obtrusion inflicted by the Vatican, which inevitably, undermine with the addition of an irregular hybridisation of external influences that are now present in every single cloisters – it is being perceived by many religious as a sort of “globalisation” connecting different monastic charisms (in this manner they become less and less monastic and are steadily absorbed by the diktats that are foreign to the abbey’s), furthermore the disperse and confusing “refresher courses” – eventuate the suffocation and repression of the sacred independence that the Church, in its wisdom, had until now defended the custody and protection of every single consecrated soul.

The life of the cloister is a self-giving to the Bridegroom Jesus, which implies transcending the world to set out on a privileged path of greater communion with God and, precisely by virtue of this communion, the nun, bride of Christ, intercedes for the people who live in society and for the redemption of souls. A mission, that is irreplaceable.

The Cor Orans document concerns all monasteries and its application was immediate from the moment of its publication (April 1, 2018). “The provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei quaerere for all the monasteries concerning their obligation to enter a Federation of monasteries also apply to other structures of communion such as the Association of monasteries or the Conference of monasteries;” “This obligation also applies to monasteries associated with a male institute or gathered as an autonomous monastic congregation;” “Individual monasteries must comply with this within one year of the publication of these Instructions, unless they have been legitimately dispensed;” «Once this period has elapsed, this Dicastery will assign monasteries to one of the Federations or to other existing structures of communion».

In the course of the history of the Church, when the places of contemplation have dwindled, the saints have reacted with force and determination to restore the reality that in the world represents a more perfect connection between heaven and earth, respecting the chronological order, of the teachings of three saints who made the contemplative life the sole reason for their existence, acting and reforming what did not work and thus becoming an exemplar prototype and teacher for the Church: Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Saint Clare of Assisi, Saint Teresa of Avila.

Doctor of the Church Hildegard von Bingen O.S.B. (1098- † 17 Sept., 1179), a Benedictine nun and abbess, was unyielding in bringing back prelates onto the right path, monks and nuns who transgressed the dictates of Tradition. A spokesperson of God, who admonished and taught by divine command. With regard to Hermann I von Arbon, O.S.B. († 20 Nov. 1165), Bishop of Konstanz [Constance], his cry of solicitous conversion is

Herman I von Arbon Bishop of Constance
Hermann von Arbon

manifest in order to be saved and to guide others to salvation: “Many workers [in the building of the Church] come to you and seek the narrow and narrow path. But you – according to the disposition of your heart – speak with magniloquent presumption and arouse indignation in their hearts. Turn from the darkness to the right way and enlighten the spirit of your heart so that the Father of everything does not turn to you saying: «You, mad, why do you go up on a support that you have not built?». For the day will throw in the darkness that man whose work does not follow the right path” (Gronau, E., 1991. Hildegard von Bingen, Stein am Rhein: Christiana Verl. p. 398).

Hildegard’s peregrination from one monastery to another, giving life and realism to the tired, dejected and demotivated in the face of arrogance of those with civil or ecclesiastical authority, who kept them in check using power and money. But in spite of the distortions and sins of men in the beloved Church, Hildegard did not lose her hope or her conviction. She not only took care of the great sinners in the Church, she also gave life to those who, for example, the abbess Sofia of the Benedictine monastery of Kitzingen, who felt tired and had wanted to abdicate her office.

This prophetess of the Church, therefore, helped individual children to rediscover, their own responsibility be they little or great, the vigour’s of the Faith and the beauty of working for the Kingdom of God. The echo’s of this teacher, who brought a new and healthy ferment, salt and flavour to the different ecclesiastical realities, which then spread throughout Europe.  

She urged the strengthening of the soul and bear the burden’s of work and of one’s duties; she called them to combat, inviting them to go against the will of the ecclesiastical and/or the civil authorities who argued against contemplative life according to the will of God. Se wrote to the abbess Sophia: “Accept these words by virtue of the true vision of the divine mysteries! O daughter, born of the man’s rib when God created man! Why do you incessantly suffer pain, so that your spirit is like the variable clouds carried by the storm, now it is clear how the light then suddenly darkens? This is your spirit because of the scandalous customs of those who do not shine before God. But you say: ‘I want a little peace, I want to make myself a place where the heart can find refuge, where the soul is at peace’. O daughter, it is not a merit before God to throw away the burden and abandon the flock, for your heart does not shine in that weakness which causes you so much pain because of the innocence of earthly life. You, on the other hand, must live because God’s grace wants it. So watch yourself from getting away from it and letting your spirit wander. May God help you, so that you may be alert in pure knowledge!”(Gronau, E., 1991. Hildegard von Bingen, Stein am Rhein: Christiana Verl., p.p. 383-384).

She sustained the weak and the wavering, at the same time she responded to the heretics, particularly the Cathars, and solved detailed and difficult theological questions that bishops, abbots and monks had placed on them. She submitted to the Lord the questions that were asked of her and the Light, which had from her childhood always accompanied her, presented her with the visions in which she received the answers. From Paris they wrote to have explanations, as did the Magister Odo of Cheriton († c. 1246), who at the Synod of Trier had heard Pope Eugene III read aloud the pages of the work of Edward Scivias, and for this reason wanted to get in touch with the author, at the end of solving the theological diatribe of those who denied that God is fatherhood and divinity together.

St. Hildegard’s relations with the Bishops of Trier were excellent, both with Bishop Hillin de Falemagne († October 23, 1169) and with Arnaut I de Vaucourt († May 25, 1183). There was a special bond that linked them to the Benedictine monastery of St. Eucharius [St. Matthias Abbey in Trier], the oldest in Germany. The life of the bishop-princes were extremely complex, their power divided between the temporal and the spiritual; the prince-bishop being both a bishop and civil ruler of a secular principality and suzerainty.

Their divided consciences were petitioned by the prophetic voice of the “Holy Mother” as it was called, to which Archbishop Hillin of Falmagne († October 23, 1169) pleading, as a “sinner”, to have some droplets of her words as spiritual comfort for his soul.  Hillin had engaged in correspondence with Hildegard, having approached her for advice and under his auspices had visited Trier, to preached a stern sermon to the clergy and people thereof.

Mother Hildegard did not allow herself to procrastinate: «So wisdom resounds and says: this is the lukewarm weather of the donnicciole […]. [ed. donnicciola: a fishwife, or woman of humble condition, or mean, ignorant: gossip; a sissy or a man with weak fearful disposition]. But now listen, o shepherd: divine justice holds you firmly because the grace of God has not penetrated you in vain. However, when you undertake a good work, you tire quickly. Even when, summoned to the festive Mass, leading in prayer, you soon tire [ed. that is, during the Mass his mind wandered and his temporal thoughts intruded.]. […]. The tower is assigned to you [ed. the diocese]. Protect the tower and cause the whole city not to be ruined and destroyed. So watch out, keep the discipline with an iron sceptre and educate yourself. Grease the wounds of those who have entrusted themselves to you». Hildegard spoke of the negligence, corruption and misuse of power by the clergymen; her words regarding the hierarchy of the Church were anything but reassuring: she unrelentingly denounced the evils present in the church and her words reverberate like thunder within it.

Corrupt Clergy
Corrupt Bishops and Clergy…

So corrupt was the situation, both from a doctrinal and moral point of view, of the dioceses and monasteries in Germany, that the Lord allowed her to leave the cloister to reproach those who did not do their duty. On her first long journey, which she achieved when she was almost sixty years old, she had crossed the entire region of the Main River to Bamberg and Steigerwald (1158-1159). In 1160, during an illness that lasted three years, he reached the mountainous region of Hunsrück towards Trier, descending the Moselle to Metz, in the Lotaringia towards Krauftal, near Saverne.

Journey Made by Hildegard von Bingen Between 1158-1171 A.D.,
Journey Made by Hildegard von Bingen Between 1158-1171 A.D.

The third journey (1161-1163) led her to travel the Rhine in the direction of Cologne; then she reached Werden on the Rurh and, probably, Liege. Later she was seized by another disease that lasted three years, forcing her to bed and between 1170 and 1171 undertook the last journey of her life, in Swabia, above Maulbronn, Hirsau, Kircheim, up to Zwiefalten. It took a lot of physical and mental effort to scold monks and nuns, abbots and abbesses in an attempt to re-establish monastic discipline and order. Alas, it was not enough, she publicly preached conversion and penance, she did it on the road she travelled, in the marketplaces of the cities she visited, or in the great churches, in front of the clergy and the faithful.

This is what the Lord requires and this she willingly gives, remaining a cloistered nun, despite serving an itinerant apostolate, aimed at healing, with rigour, those who have been gravely and dramatically led astray. And her labours produced the prodigious fruits of a return to the spiritual and ecclesiastical order for the good of the Church and of civilisation, according to what is due to our Creator.

Algerian martyrs bear witness

Below you will find the complete text of the homily of Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and Special Envoy of the Holy Father, as pronounced during the celebration of the beatification of the 19 martyrs of Algeria at the Shrine of Our Lady of Santa Cruz d’Oran:

Dear brothers and sisters !

The passage of Apocalypse (Rev. 7:9-17), proclaimed in the second reading, introduces us to the “immense crowd” (v.9) of those who have already reached the goal of eternal salvation towards which we are all on the road: the kingdom of hope, the kingdom of those who see God as He is. The Apostle John in his vision rich in symbols sees them standing in front of the throne of God, “dressed in white robes”, the colour of divine light and paschal glory. But the whiteness of the robes is obtained by plunging them into the red blood of Christ: these elect have experienced the “great trial; they have washed their robes, they have whitened them with the blood of the Lamb “(v.14). The splendour is reached through the crucible of suffering, of self-giving, of the cross. By participating in the passion and death of Jesus, the king of martyrs, we reach the light: per crucem ad lucem (by the cross to the light) says the ancient Christian saying. In this way “what remains to suffer from the trials of Christ in my own flesh, I fulfil it for his body which is the Church” (Col 1:24) underlines St. Paul.

Those saved hold in their hands a palm, which in the Old Testament is the sign of triumph and acclamation; the suffering, the rigorous engagement of the testimony, the renunciation of oneself do not lead to death but introduce into the glory; they do not produce failure but life and happiness. The scene of the Apocalypse then shows the mighty chorus of saints singing with a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and the Lamb” (Rev 7:10).

The text of the Apocalypse has thus traced to us the portrait of the blessed and the saint: it belongs only to God, it appears in every point of the earth and at every period of history, it lives with fidelity even in the ordeal In traversing the way of the cross, he reaches the glorious goal of eternity, where he will live forever in joy, in song, in glory, in that infinite whirlwind of light and peace, which is God.

In the immense crowd of those who have reached a fate of glory, the Church wants to call today by name 19 new Blessed, killed between 1994 and 1996 in different places and times but in the same restless context. On this earth, here in Algeria, they announced the Lord’s unconditional love for the poor and the outcast, testifying to their belonging to Christ and the Church to the point of martyrdom. It is beautiful to think now that they are among those who have gone through “the great trial and have washed their robes and have bleached them with the blood of the Lamb” (verse 14). Coming from eight different Institutes, our brothers and sisters lived in this country where they performed various missions; they were strong and persevering in their service of the Gospel and the people, despite the threatening climate of violence and oppression that surrounded them. Reading their biographies we are struck by the fact that everyone, well aware of the risk they run, courageously decided to stay on the spot until the end; in them has developed a strong spirituality of martyrdom rooted in the prospect of sacrificing themselves and offering their lives for a society of reconciliation and peace.

Blessed Pierre Claverie and his 18 companions and companions martyrs carry on them the salvific seal of the Redemption of Christ. By inscribing their names in the book of the saved and blessed, the Church wishes to recognise the exemplarity of their virtuous life, the heroism of the death of these extraordinary peacemakers and witnesses of fraternity, and at the same time , to pay the highest homage to Jesus, Redeemer of man. In Christ, the Church desires to worship the living God: since the glory of God is the man who receives from him the fullness of life.

This fullness of life, the Virgin Mary – whose Immaculate Conception we are celebrating today – has experienced it in an incomparable way, when the Archangel Gabriel announced to her that she had found favour with God and that by the action of the Holy Spirit she would conceive of Jesus, the Son of the Most High. “Rejoice, full of grace: the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). We too, today, contemplating these new Blessed, are invited to overcome all narrow-mindedness and to rejoice, because in them we see the mystery of the eternal sanctity of God shine forth; holiness which is offered to us through a new actualisation of the Gospel by our martyrs who witnessed it until the shedding of blood. We remember them as faithful followers of Christ who loved poverty, who were sensitive to suffering and caring for the abandoned, who took part in the anguish and affliction of their brethren. These heroic witnesses to the love of Jesus have gone to the very root of the experience that man has of his own limits: humiliation, tears, persecution.

They fully complied with the sacrifice of Christ who, according to the prophet Isaiah, identified himself with the suffering Servant of the Lord; he who, as we have heard in the first reading, offering himself “as a sacrifice of reparation, […] as a result of his torments, will see the light and justify the multitudes” (Is 53:10b.-11). This happens precisely by the Cross, since in the death of Jesus God has definitely become close to humanity and man has become fully conscious of his dignity and elevation. By their death as martyrs, the new Blessed also entered into the light of God, and from above they watch over the persons whom they have served and loved, praying unceasingly for all, even for those who have them. struck. They continue this prophetic mission of mercy and forgiveness, which they have witnessed during their earthly life. May their example inspire in all the desire to promote what Pope Francis has defined as “the culture of mercy that gives birth to a true revolution” (Apostolic Letter Misericordia et misera, 20 Nov. 2016). By welcoming the dynamic of forgiveness, admirably experienced by the new Blessed, we hope that Algeria can definitely overcome this terrible period of violence and misery and we pray for it!

The tragic death of Blessed Peter Claverie and his 18 companions and companions martyrs is a seed fallen in the ground in difficult times, fertilised by suffering that will bring fruits of reconciliation and justice. This is our mission as Christians: to sow every day the seeds of evangelical peace, to enjoy the fruits of justice. By this beatification we would say to Algeria as a whole only this: the Church wants nothing more than to serve the Algerian people, testifying to her love for all.

In all parts of the world, Christians are motivated by the desire to contribute concretely to build a bright future of hope through the wisdom of peace, to build a society based on mutual respect, collaboration, and love. Such a society can be fully realised if everyone strives to develop the pedagogy of forgiveness, if necessary also in this country.

The Christian community in this country is spreading small but significant seeds of peace. Through this Beatification, she can feel comforted in her presence in Algeria; by these 19 martyrs, strengthen her belief that her precious presence near this people is justified by the desire to be a light and sign of the love of God for the whole population.

The luminous witness of these Blessed is a living and close example for all. Their life and their death is a direct call to all of us Christians, and especially to you, brothers or sisters in religious life, to be faithful at all costs to your own vocation, serving the Gospel and the Church in a lifetime. true fraternity, perseverance and witness to the radical choice of God.

I can not end without expressing deep gratitude to the religious congregations to which our brothers belonged as well as to their natural families who have suffered so much from their loss, but who now can rejoice with the whole Church to know them blessed in heaven. We are all comforted by the certainty that our martyred brothers and sisters, by their sacrifice, by their constant intercession and by their protection, will produce on this earth abundant fruits of goodness and fraternal sharing.

For this we address them and say: Blessed Peter Claverie and his companions and companions martyrs, pray for us!

[Original text: French]

Radegonde – Princess of Thuringia Queen of the Franks – Saint. c. 518 a.d., – †13 august 587 a.d.

The life of Saint Radegonde, wife of King Chlothar I, first became known to us from the writings of three of her contemporaries and friends, the nun Baudonivie, Venantius Fortunatus and Gregory of Tours.

To view this paper with reference footnotes please go to my Academia Site

Introduction

Sainte Radegonde de Poitiers - Carton pour les Vitraux de la chapelle Saint Louis à Dreux par Jean-Auguste-Dominique IngresThe life of Saint Radegonde, wife of King Chlothar I, first became known to us from the writings of three of her contemporaries and friends, the nun Baudonivie, Venantius Fortunatus and Gregory of Tours. Research scholars, historians and those of the second half of the twentieth century have greatly  clarified the characteristics of this period – the sixth century – and the personality of the Queen-Nun-Saint.  Saint Radegonde has been the subject of important marks of devotion in Loir-et-Cher and Dunois. This paper gathered  from various sources and [not all of which concur] scattered information considered the collected traditions and testimonies and the large collection of texts in the diocesan archives of Poitiers.  I also used Joe Anne McNamara’s Sainted women of the Dark Ages, Fortunatus and Baudonivia’s lives in Latin and the 1301 medieval French manuscript [Ancienne cote: Anc. 7840(7); Colbert 4501] of “La Vie de tres glorieuse Royne Madame Saincte Radegonde” as a starting point for this collation.

Princess of the Thuringii

Princess Radegonde, born circa 518 a.d., was the daughter of pagan king Berthachar, one of the three kings of the Southern German land of Thuringia. When Radegonde was about 11 or 12 years old, her country was invaded by the Franks and her uncle, Hermanfrid, killed her father in battle, and took Radegund into his household.  Allying himself with the Frankish King Theuderic, Hermanfrid defeated his other brother Baderic.  In 531, Theuderic returned to Thuringia with his brother Chlothar I. Together they defeated Hermanfrid and conquered his kingdom. Chlothar I then took Radegonde and her brother as a political prisoner of war, taking them back to Merovingian Gaul, deciding that she should be instructed for the role of a royal Christian wife, her brother was also educated at Court. Radegonde acquiesced and took her studies seriously. When she was about 18 Radegonde was compelled to marry Chlothar and become his queen. As Queen, Radegonde was considered to be an extremely virtuous Lady, much devoted to prayer and alms-deeds, often fasting and chastening herself with hair-cloth, which she wore under her royal apparel.  Chlothar was known to be rough, brutal, unfaithful, and often drunk. To his irritation, Radegonde’s suffering and meek behaviour led people to say that he had “yoked himself to a nun rather than a queen”. 

Education and marriage and Queen of the Franks

When she grew up, not only was Radegonde extremely accomplished but also very beautiful and Chlothar, being a notorious womaniser, in c. 540 when she turned 18, Chlothar decided to make her his fifth wife and married her.  The Merovingians, did not consider that the Christian doctrine of monogamy should be expected of royalty and therefore decided that it did not apply to them: he had five wives, for political expediency. Radegonde, it seems, accepted her position meekly but increasingly devoted herself to great charitable works. Chlothar married her, and twelve years later arranged for her brother to be unjustly killed at the hands of his men.  The young prince had asked for permission to join his cousin Amalafried and his family who lived in Constantinople; Clotaire feared that the young Thuringian prince was conspiring revenge against the Frankish crown as he was the last surviving male of the Thuringian dynasty and thus posed a threat to Chlothar crown.  One day whilst walking in her garden in the palace, Radegonde heard the voices of prisoners on the other side of the wall, weeping in their fetters, and imploring pity; and remembering her early sorrows, she also wept.  And, not knowing how to aid them otherwise, she betook herself to prayer, whereupon their fetters burst asunder and they loosed from captivity…  “She is therefore represented with the royal crown, under which flows a long veil; she has a captive kneeling at her feet, and holding his broken fetters in his hands.” (Jameson, Anna, 1880. Legends of the Monastic Orders, as represented in the fine arts: forming the second series of Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 220; 1st ed., London: Longmans, Green & Co.)

Labours as Queen, Nun and Saint

Radegonde distraught, unobtrusively fled Chlothar’s court without giving  notice and sought sanctuary within the Church.  The bishop in fear for his life after being forewarned and threatened by the King’s men made every effort to evade her Radegonde-soignant-maladesconsecration; Radegonde in turn threatened the Bishop with divine vengeance if he allowed her soul to escape the church.  She persuaded Medardus bishop of Noyon to appoint her as a deaconess, an old position which did not require virginity or widowhood, she then became a nun until she removed to her own foundation at Saix.  

Radegonde hears rumours that Chlothar wants her back was about to try force to get his wife back. Whilst Clotaire was on pilgrimage to Tours at the tomb of St. Martin – she wonders if he was being truly penitential or was her husband the king simply being cunning? She immediately wrote to the bishop Germain of Paris, who was accompanying the king, to prevent him from coming to Poitiers to take her back against her will if that was his intention, which she believed God would not allow! Bishop Germain read the letter to Clotaire; The latter compelled the king to accept the situation and the fact that she would not return to the world; overcome by remorse, he implores the Queens pardon through the intercession of bishop Germain, who had come expressly to Poitiers to mediate this private royal perturbation. Radegonde readily granted her husband Clotaire forgiveness, as he had finally accepted this definitive separation.  Clotaire who would not survive much longer ( he died within a year) decided to underwrite the first large-scale female monastery among the Franks enabling Radegonde to established Sainte-Croix of Poitiers in 557. 

Founder of a religious community

In the early 550s Radegonde founded a monastery on her own royal estate at Poitiers. She gathered many converts, men as well as women, and within 40 years the community had grown to 200 members.  Radegonde assembled a large collection of relics, including a fragment of the True Cross, which led to the monastery being known as the Abbey of the Holy Cross. Around 570 she also introduced the monastic rule of Caesarius of Arles, which required nuns as well as monks to be able to read and write, and to spend several hours each day reading the scriptures and copying manuscripts.  After installing her childhood friend Agnes as abbess, Radegonde strove to live as a simple nun. She maintained good relationships with her stepsons and befriended the poet and hymn writer Venantius Fortunatus who was to become her biographer. Popular canonisation followed soon after her death in 587, and pilgrims still travel to her tomb in Poitiers today. 

1-3Radegdengr

The community, in its infancy, would have auspicious help in the person of Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus (c. 530 – c. 609 a.d.). This Italian Christian, poet and hymnodist in the Merovingian Court, Bishop of Poitiers (599-610) a great connoisseur of classical poets and of Christian antiquity, who came to Gaul to venerate St. Martin, for whilst at Ravenna he had been miraculously cured of a disease of the eyes through the intercession of St. Martin. He worshipped at the tomb of the saint and gave thanks to the bishop, Euphronius (III, 3), whom he afterwards came to know better. From Tours Fortunatus went to Poitiers, attracted, no doubt, by the renown of St.  Radegonde and her monastery.  Arriving in Poitiers where at the request of Radegonde he was asked to reside; he willingly accepts to be her messenger and the bursar of the monastery. A deep friendship will be born and will be established betweVenantiusFortunatus-Lawrence-Alma-Tadema-1862en Radegonde, Richilde and him. This circumstance had a decisive influence on the remainder of his life.

 Gregory of Tours suggests that she adopt Rule for Virgins of Caesarius of Arles, she meant to tie Sainte-Croix to the diocese of Arles rather than Poitiers, as she had previous poor relations with bishop Maroveus. Radegonde lived under the Rule for Virgins her entire life. Due to her humility, she had no desire to be the Abbess of the monastery she had just founded, Radegonde appointed Richilde, one of her daughters in Christ, who although still quite young, as superior; her decision was ratified by the election of Richilde. “Radegonde fully submits herself and her possessions under Richilde’s authority.”  The monastery at the time owned lands and farms given by Clotaire as a patrimony necessary to sustain the monastic community. It was Radegonde who assured the spiritual direction and formation of the sisters, who remained “her daughters,” by teaching, exhortations, homiletics – possessing vast biblical and patristic knowledge – and by example of the life she lead, her commitment, mortification, virtue and piety had become a paragon for all the sisters.

Radegonde was a close friend of Saint Junian of Maire a 6th-century Christian hermit and abbot, founder of Mariacum Abbey at Mairé-Levescault in Poitou France. (The “L’Evescault” was added after a great religious festival in Poitiers to which Junian was invited by Queen Radagonde who raised him to the same rank as the other bishops or “Les Evêques” who were present.)  Junian and Radegonde are said to have died on the same day, August 13, 587 and was buried in the crypt at Poitiers. [Quelques saints du Poitou et d’ailleurs . 

Her abbey was named after a large fragment of the relic of the True Cross encased in a rich reliquary that Radegonde obtained at great personal expense from the Byzantine Emperor Justin II. Although the bishop of Poitiers Maroveus refused to install it in the Vexilla_Regis_(Italia_anno_MCDX)-1abbey, at Radegonde’s request king Sigebert sent Eufronius of Tours to Poitiers to perform the ceremony to install them; To celebrate the relic and its installation into Sainte-Croix, Venantius Fortunatus wrote a major hymn for the occasion, “Vexilla regis prodeunt.”  [Vexilla regis prodeunt, fulget crucis mysterium, quo carne carnis conditor suspensus est patibulo… – The Banners of the King issue forth, the mystery of the Cross does gleam, where the Creator of flesh, in the flesh, by the cross-bar is hung…] it is still considered to be one of the most significant Christian hymns ever written, and is still sung for services on Good Friday, Palm Sunday, as well as the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Notably, Radegonde founded a hospital for lepers and persons ‘afflicted with the most nauseous distempers’, remaining there for over thirty years nursing them herself. She was also very pious and it was reputed that during Lent, Radegonde wore a shift of haircloth with iron chains and collars and even hot plates of iron under her robes. She also abstained from eating meat, fish, eggs and fruit, she ate nothing but legumes and green vegetables.  She turned to God, changing her garments, and built a monastery for herself in the city of Poitiers. And being remarkable for prayer, fasting and charity, she attained such fame that she was considered great by the people. 

The piety of the nuns of Poitiers is described. As the result of a vision one of them acted as follows: When the maiden had had this vision she was contrite in heart and after a few days she asked the abbess to get ready a cell in which she could be shut. The abbess got it ready quickly and said: “Here is the cell. What more do you wish?” The maiden asked to be permitted to be shut in it.  This was granted, and the nuns gathered with loud psalm-singing and the lamps were lighted and she was conducted to the place, the blessed Radegonde holding her hand. And so she said farewell to all and kissed each one and became a recluse. And the entrance by which she went in was walled up and she is there now spending her time in prayer and reading. 

Funeral and burial

Sainte-Radegonde-tombeau

Maroveus bishop of Poitiers also refused to conduct Radegunde’s funeral,  [I get the impression that Maroveus really seemed to dislike Radegunde] which  Venantius Fortunatus and Gregory of Tours attended, it was conducted three days after her death. She was buried in what was to become the Église de Sainte-Radegonde  (formerly named Sainte-Marie-hors-les-murs) in Poitiers. Her tomb can still be found in the crypt of that church, which remains the centre of devotion to her. In the 1260s a church decoration program included stained-glass windows depicting Radegund’s life but were largely destroyed by Huguenots.

Attributes 

Radegonde

Radegonde is typically depicted “with royal robes, crown, and sceptre” and sometimes with “wolves and wild beasts” which are tame in her presence, she is also depicted with “crozier and book; field of oats; white headdress, tunic with fleurs-de-lys, mantle with castles.”

Continue reading “Radegonde – Princess of Thuringia Queen of the Franks – Saint. c. 518 a.d., – †13 august 587 a.d.”

Feastival of Santa Rosalia of Palermo 15-July 2018… to all the Sicilians from Palermo who have emigrated…

We must all make an effort and enter into and adopt a more authentic Gospel process of reasoning.  It teaches us that the place in which we have been placed by God’s will is primarily a service to be carried out for the common good of all, for a better, more humane world and for peaceful coexistence. The concept of service to the common good must be able to precede everything else and prevail over a mentality of profit and gain, for which we often selfishly work toward. This impoverishes us, it makes us petty and detaches us from the reality in which we are engulfed thus preventing us from seeing the face of Christ in our brother who is right next to us.

Homily by the Rev. Fr. Dom. Ugo-Maria  of St. Mary’s Hermitage.

My dear Bishops, brothers in the priesthood, Deacons, Religious, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord and always dear to me!

Perched 1,970 feet above the Tyrrhenian Sea and the city of Palermo, the Grotto Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia on Monte Pellegrino is one of Sicily’s two primary Catholic shrines.  I grew up in the shadows of Monte Pellegrino in Palermo, it was visible from my grandmothers balcony window. Our patron Saint (La Santuzza – The Little Saint) Santa Rosalia († 1166), is known by all who originate from Sicily.  Many years ago on the celebration, called the festino, which is still held each year on July 15, and continues into the next day, I made my first and only pilgrimage to the top of the Mount, bare footed, frankly exhausted yet exhilarated by the achievement and the view was stunning.  As a hermit I had a slight tinge of admiration in Santa Rosalia finding a perfect spot for her desert.  On the cave wall she wrote “I, Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses, and Quisquina, have taken the resolution to live in this cave for the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ.”

 

l'Acchianata a Santa Rosalia.png
Arial View of the Sanctuary

In the churchyard of the Sanctuary of Mount Pellegrino in Palermo, crowded on that day that I made my pilgrimage there were so many people, the sun was glaring, you could hear the people whispering their prayers or singing during the ascent, these are the faithful who never cease to pray to her and who annually bring her their pure and heartfelt devotions, Santa Rosalia welcomes them with her inner story even today, her life and her fervent and passionate witness is palpable to all.

At the front of the Grotto of Mount Pellegrino, in which Santuzza lived in her hermitage in the last years of her earthly life – as evidenced by the discovery of her relics – she passed away on a morning whilst the celestial light that she had always enjoy so much began to enter her cell: “O God, my God, to thee do I watch at break of day. For thee my soul hath thirsted.” (Psalm 62:2)

Il Santuario della Santuzza
Sanctuary Church of Santa Rosalia.

These days, and especially tonight, the Sanctuary, which is a highly significant place not only for worship but also in the history of the city of Palermo, becomes a destination for the usual pilgrimage that the faithful offer as a sign of their devotion to the Santuzza.  The traditional “acchianata” (climbing up) sees thousands of people who dissolve their promises or implore a grace through the intercession of the saintly virgin hermit.

As a priest and hermit of this beloved portion of God’s people who grew up in Palermo, I too could not but resist to find myself among you in the past, a pilgrim among pilgrims, to share in the joy of this celebration, to raise perfect praises to God and bless Him in the figure of Saint Rosalia, which her infinite goodness wanted to donate to the Church.

Climbing this mountain, and even more arriving at the churchyard which is always so crowded with the faithful, I was impressed by the number of faithful, which bears witness to the affection and devotion that the people of Palermo and from around the world nurture towards this Patron Saint of the city.

Of course all this is positive. It is a devotion that we have a duty to transmit to the next generation, to discover evermore the message that Santa Rosalia communicates to her faithful.

When I ascended, my examination of Jesus turning provocatively toward the crowds flowed from the depths of my heart – and I have heard the repeated echoes – when recalling the prophetic and steadfast figure of St. John the Baptist: “What went you out into the desert to see?” (Cf. Matthew 11:7).  It is a question that i address to you today, gathered together to celebrate Santa Rosalia.  What did you come to see? What moved you to come? Why are you here? What are you asked to contemplate during your ascent on Monte Pellegrino?

Teenage drink drivers
Teenage drink driver.

La Santuzza, my grandmother Concettina used to tell me, freed Palermo from the Peste (Plague).  Today luckily through science this disease is under control with antibiotics and can be cured if diagnosed in time; yet today there is another form of plague, one that is within us, which destroys our dignity; yet she can heal us, if we make a true commitment.  It is an inner pestilence, imposed by a dominant secular culture, where there is no respect for oneself – drug and alcohol abuse to which many young and older people look for an quick fix and false happiness – there is no respect for each other, a lack of loving your neighbour, vandalism, theft much of it brought about by these consumeristic and secular attitudes.   It is as if modern society has become the new Sodom and Gomorrah, yet no one is doing anything to stop it dead in its tracks.

 

I remember that when I was serving the UN as a young officer and had chance to drive to  Hebron in Palestine a city located in the southern West Bank, 19 miles south of

Palestinian Boy
A boy in Palestine having lost his family, his home.  He has nothing left but his dignity.

Jerusalem and nestled in the Judaean Mountains and when returning to Sicily, I was struck by the enormous waste done everywhere.  It often happened that I’d see a lot of food or bread thrown away in streets, whilst still carrying and remembering the faces of thousands of undernourished and homeless children and people who died of hunger and hardship deep within my heart.  It is something that still haunts me and is forever unforgettable.

 

We know very well that a pilgrimage is not done out of sheer curiosity, nor a habit that is repeated annually by pure impulse of vague religious sentiments. People go on a pilgrimage because they are attracted to Santa Rosalia who chose the Lord as the only Spouse in her life, making Him become the entire reason of her love, full of His joy, the reason for her freedom and from personal and social conditionings. A full freedom with which Santa Rosalia, like the young girl in Solomon’s Song of Songs, runs to meet His love, and embraces Him for the rest of her life.

This is who we came to see! The virgin who gave everything of herself and for this she made her life a shining example of the sanctity of our Creator who from the beginning chose her as a witness by her goodness. The pilgrims have come to see Christ in love, to the point of wanting to be totally his. We have come to see a lionhearted young woman, who defied her time bringing into fulfilment of how much intimacy the Holy Spirit had placed in her heart, this path is traced through listening to the Word and to its deepest desires.

This fundamental choice of God, the place that God occupies in our lives commits us all, according to the duty of our own state.  To us priests, called by the Lord and representing his ministry, and who are called to centralise of our prayers, our faithfulness to our priestly commitments, our unconditional dedication in administering the sacraments, listening to confession and serving our communities loyally.  To you, wives, husbands, a commitment to remain faithful to the love you have promised to each other and the gift of the sacrament you exchanged.  Just as grace sustained Santa Rosalia’s gift of life with fidelity to her husband, we all have to rely on grace as the force which helps us conquer our difficulties and moments of crisis.

But we did not simply come to “catch a glimpse of” the testimony of eight hundred and fifty-two years ago.  Pilgrims do not make a pilgrimage just to be spectators at a feast.  One cannot call themselves an authentic devotees of Santa Rosalia if we allow this experience to pass by without it leaving an indelible mark on our lives, without the Santuzza having pierced a clear message in our way of life and in our times.

Santa Rosalia had lived in the Grotto the idyll of divine love, her own Garden of Eden whilst choosing a hard, rigorous, stringent and unyielding life, comprised of prayer and self-abnegation.  The act of denying her own wishes, of refusing to satisfy her desires, especially from a moral, religious and altruistic motive, bares witness to us of her total surrender to the will of God.  With her we celebrate, not so much the rejection of a comfortable and carefree life that she as a noble woman could have lived, but rather a love so strong, so unique and so boundless for her Lord that she had not been seduce by material things or anyone.  Her life was entirely Christocentric, not in a manner that surrounded her with riches but in absolute poverty, which she lived as a hermit.  This is concomitant of the fact that when loving the One who created everything, and making Him the centre of your life, she would not need anything else at all.  We have been taught this in the Gospel of Matthew when the apostle Peter said to Jesus “Behold we have left all things, and have followed thee: what therefore shall we have?” (Matthew 19:27-28)  Jesus knowing that with God all things are possible replied “Amen, I say to you, that you, who have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  Too often today we expect rewards there and then, being disappointed when our efforts seem to have been ignored by our peers or employers.  I once overheard a young student I was teaching at Oxford say “I’m only doing this charity trip thing because it will look good on my resume for the firm I want to join”.  This disheartened me greatly, it was for her a purely self-seeking motive and not as she had written on her application to help others less fortunate than her and be of use to the community.  Too many of us these days seek rewards for the small things that we do and this is purely egocentric, unchristian and soul destroying.

This is why the example of Santa Rosalia’s austere and unwavering life still calls to us today, because we can all be encouraged to experience more and more the cruciality in which we discover and rediscover, every day, the absolute primacy of God and the beauty of the authentic values ​​of life that He has given us and that He has committed himself to in redeeming us from evil and darkness of this world.

The socio-economic crisis that the world is facing these days are visible to all of us.  How many of us waver with the effort just to get to the end of the month, coping with the various commitments and finding the means to be able to provide.  How many of us look to the future with desolation over the many social instabilities that look like dark clouds on every skyline.  We are told as children that every cloud has a silver lining, then we grow up and realise that the silver lining  do not exist.  But the promise of our Lord’s future gifts do exist and our deposited in our heavenly bank account awaiting our withdrawal once we have joined him.       

surprisingWhen I looked on the internet for “Global Crisis effecting humanity” the only images that came up in my search were matters concerning the financial industry, corporations, economy, investments.  Have we really sunk so low that we cannot recognise the human global crisis beyond the financial.  Surely human life is more valuable than a bank?  We live in times when the crisis for mankind has become present at many levels, as evidence of a social context in which possessions and merriment seem to prevail over every logic rather than dedicating and donating ones life to service and helping our neighbour. Yes there are many risks. particularly for the next generation and those to follow. They are all connected to the serious possibility of corroding all beauty and the full and authentic sense of life for those things that are non-essential, trite, worthless, even purposeless and fraught with danger.

We see it in the inability to serve the common good, to do one’s duty seriously, determined only by one’s selfishness, self-interests and egocentrism. We all have responsibilities, because each of us has a duty to our neighbour, even the ones we do not like.

I think of those who work in public services or offices. The politicians that have been elected, chosen by the people to serve the common good. You have this responsibility toward everyone and not just yourself.  Just think what a better place we would live in if a politician actually really genuinely cared, was honest to a fault, truthful at all times.  Your responsibility is and always will be to God, the state and those who elected you.  At the same time everyone must also do their duty.  Think of the mothers who provide nurturing care for the family, teach us how to pray, encourage and nurture spiritual growth and development, and are living examples of the meaning of sacrificial, self-giving love which is the genesis and source of an authentic spirituality.  Through the lens of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “we see [in all motherhood] the reflection of a beauty which mirrors the loftiest sentiments of which the human heart is capable: the self-sacrificing totality of love; the strength that is capable of bearing the greatest sorrows; limitless fidelity and tireless devotion to work; the ability to combine penetrating intuition with words of support and encouragement” (Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 46).

A father should strive to be to his family everything that is revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure stability and harmony within the family.  He does this by exercising generous and selfless responsibility for the life conceived in the womb of the mother; by taking a more active role in, and making a more serious commitment to his children’s education and prayer life, a task that he shares equally with his wife; by working in a job that is never the cause of division within the family but promotes and provides for its security and unity; and, most importantly, by being a living witness and example to his children of what it means to live and act as a man of God, showing his children first-hand what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and how that relationship is lived-out daily by loving the truth, goodness, and beauty of our Catholic faith.

I think of you the educators, who recognises that the human heart is created with an

Jesus our Teacher
Jesus our Eternal Teacher

innate yearning to seek, find and rest in God in this world and the next and will therefore develop the whole person intellectually, physically emotionally and spiritually.  The educator does this by respecting each child of God, preparing their students as much as possible to attain their immutable destiny.  An exceptional educator at whatever level of schooling they teach at encompasses and frames for other a Catholic perspective of the world structure by reflection, prayer, action, service, teaching and sacramentality.  This is expressed and developed through the physical space, choice of activities, allocation of time, and the kind of relationships that are fostered.  The educator’s tools are the rich moral, artistic, scientific, spiritual and intellectual treasury of the Catholic church (see The Excellent Catholic Teacher).

The Gospel page of the parable of the ten virgins “The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.”  Jesus is talking about our spiritual preparation and conditioning.  The parable gives us some strong indications of what needs to be in place here and now.  We must not wait to be sure our lamp is lit and that we have plenty of oil.  It almost seems that the lethargy that affects young people today also concerns our civilisation, which has forgotten to live in waiting for our encounter with God.  More and more people lean towards secularism, stopped believing that the Lord is ever present in every moment of our lives and in which we must be watchful to recognise HIs signs, vigilantly listening for His call and be ready for action.

The numbness of our society manifests itself in forgetting the essentials of life and many idolise and to turn to new false god, innumerably propagated by commercial entities who are advocate and sell that false happiness that leaves only a bitter taste and disappointment.  In our youth today there seems to be an increasingly weak sense of personal responsibility, an extremely potent example is the increasing number of traffic accidents due to speeding, the use of drugs and alcohol where alcohol is cheeper than food and encouraged by the “buy one get one free” culture, without the slightest responsibility being taken by those who drive a vehicle carelessly and irresponsibly.

For this very reason today, I would like you all to look at Santa Rosalia’s austerity, her strong and decisive choices, to always remain conscious and wait to welcome her Lord in her daily and mystical meetings with him. I would like Santuzza to be the stimulus for all to become more responsible from now on, for all the occasions in our lives and situations in which the Lord has by his will placed us, to be prepared, to be aware, to be responsive and responsible.  A time, which in Christ has become kairos (right, critical, or opportune moment), an occasion for personal sanctification, which is one of the instruments that God’s mercy gives to us to enable us to reach him. It is a benefaction given to us, so much so that none of us can waste a single minute to our lives.  Therefore let us not waste it in that which does not lead us to the truth.

The occasions, the circumstances by which we always judge the positive or negative, depending on whether they correspond to our schemes or not, are in fact opportunities that the Lord offers us so that we can appreciate and love Him in everything.  From this stems or responsibility toward duty, to respond to the task to which we are called for the common good.  I wholeheartedly endorse it because it is worth it!  Doing your duty well is a requisite on account that through it one arrives at the realisation of one’s self, being fully content, which gives a credible witness to one’s encounter with God in the workplace, among our co-workers, often non-believers or like many just indifferent.  Santa Rosalia, adhering to the will of the Lord fulfilled her duty in such an exemplary manner as to be a model for us even today after so many centuries.

We must all make an effort and enter into and adopt a more authentic Gospel process of reasoning.  It teaches us that the place in which we have been placed by God’s will is primarily a service to be carried out for the common good of all, for a better, more humane world and for peaceful coexistence. The concept of service to the common good must be able to precede everything else and prevail over a mentality of profit and gain, for which we often selfishly work toward. This impoverishes us, it makes us petty and detaches us from the reality in which we are engulfed thus preventing us from seeing the face of Christ in our brother who is right next to us.

Everyone is invited to do his part.  However small or large, it is the part that belongs to each member of the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church.  The essentiality of Santa Rosalia’s austere life shows us the responsibility with which we are called to bring our faith to life, to transfer the beauty of our encounter with Christ into our daily lives whilst walking among men.

And it will be one of the most beautiful pilgrimages ever undertaken. It will be the most significant one you have ever done, because it will enable you to reach the full significance of our existence and to prepare us for our heavenly goal which is the eternal Kingdom in which Santa Rosalia, together with the angels and saints, enjoys the face of God for eternity.  Surely that is what we all seek and desire?

I leave you all with my humble prayers and blessings, and ask for the intercession of Santa Rosalia to help you in your daily service for the common good.  In Jesus and Mary.  Amen

Translation of the Prayer to Santa Rosalia:

Oh admirable Santa Rosalia, who resolved to imitate within herself the most perfect image of Your only good, the Crucified Redeemer, you applied yourself to all the rigors of the most bitter penance in the solitude of a cavern, where you always delighted ‘to extol with vigils and fasts, the scourges which macerated your innocent flesh, a grace to us all the grace to always tame by the exercise of evangelical mortification all our rebellious appetites, and to always pasture our spiritual meditations the most devoted of those Christian truths, which alone can bring us true well-being in this life and eternal bliss in the other.  Pater, Ave and Gloria

Sicily a veritable land of Martyrs, Saints and Blesseds

The writer, the poet or the artist who educates the imagination and comforts the souls of his fellow man deserves every praise; even more so the Saint, who possesses the secret of reassuring consciences and minds, of softening suffering with love, or by inspiring others in everyday life to faith in our Heavenly Father.

Who more than the Saints honour their homeland? And what greater glory is more real and more lasting than that of the Saints? 

In this list of men and women, born in Sicily, many of these whom are no longer venerated and others who are not even remembered today, in fact it can be said that there are many more who’s virtues are known only to God. 

The writer, the poet or the artist who educates the imagination and comforts the souls of his fellow man deserves every praise; even more so the Saint, who possesses the secret of reassuring consciences and minds, of softening suffering with love, or by inspiring others in everyday life to faith in our Heavenly Father. 

But in Sicily the Saints are a decimated group; it’s no exaggeration at all, saying that, in terms of holiness, the island has the highest among all the Italian regions.

sicilia-mappa
Sicily

From the very first moment of Christianity the island gave its children to the new faith, its martyrs to Christ, its holy bishops and confessors and virgins to the Church. 

The first two Bishops in Sicily were sent by St. Peter while he was still in Antioch. San Marziano of Syracuse considered the first bishop of the West and S. Pancrazio the first Bishop of Taormina.  After St. Peter’s arrival in Rome, he consecrated and sent a third Bishop, S. Berillo of Antioch, to Catania on the island. 

Moreover, it is certain that St. Paul, on his journey to Rome, landed in Syracuse: 

“..cum venissemus Syracusas mansimus ibi triduo”(A. A. 28, 12). 

A short stay, but sufficient for the apostle to inflame the people of Sicily. 

The year 90 marks the first triumph for the Church in Sicily, which offers its martyrs as witnesses of Christ. 

Taormina has the honour of the first Sicilian protomartyrs: S. Esia and S. Susanna (disciples of S. Pancrazio of Taormina and martyred with him) S. Zenaede, while in Agrigento the first Bishop: San Libertino is martyred for the faith, just before he died, he uttered: “Gens iniqua, plebs rea, non videbis ossa mea” [Iniquitous people, guilty people, you will not see my bones.]  Following in chronological order, the martyrs Benigno and Eugario their martyrdom is linked to the bishop of Taormina San Pancrazio, they were killed in 204 under the emperor Severus., Bishop Bassiano, born in Syracuse around 320

san-bassiano
San Bassiano Bp.

by Sergio, prefect of the city, he was sent to Rome to complete his studies. Here, converted to the Christian religion by a priest named Giordano, he received baptism. Called home by his father who wanted him to apostatise, he took refuge in Ravenna, where he was ordained a priest.  Around 373, the bishop of Lodi having died, he was chosen to succeed him. Bassiano built a church dedicated to the Holy Apostles, consecrating it in 380 in the presence of St. Ambrose of Milan and St. Felix of Como. He participated in the council of Aquileia in 381 and 390 in that of Milan, in which Gioviniano was condemned.  His signature is found together with that of Saint Ambrose in the synodic letter sent to Pope Siricius. In 397 he witnessed the death and funeral of the same Saint Ambrose, of whom he was a friend. He died in 409, perhaps on February 19, the day when the festival was celebrated, and he was buried in his cathedral;  Callisto, Evodio, Ermogene (+ 825), Fanzio and Donata (+ 304) in Syracuse; Stratonico and Cleonico (3 AD),  Euplio a deacon, born in Catania around 275, was martyred in 304.  In front of the Tribunal who were condemning him, he shouted in a loud voice, “I am a Christian, I wish to die for the name of Christ.” Not wanting for any reason to deny his faith. The governor of Catania, Calviniano, ordered that he be beheaded whilst the Gospel book he had been carrying at his arrest was hung around his neck; Ampelo and Caio of Messinian origins, these two saints were martyred under Diocletian, in Messina on November 20, 314. Their bodies are found in the choir of the convent of San Francesco; Eustozio, Procolo and Golbodeo who ccording to Fr. Caietano (Animadv. In Acta S. Nymphae) the title of Martyr was not only given to those who had wintnesses to the name of Jesus Christ, thus crowning them with martyrdom, but also to those who had left their own homes due to persecution with a self-imposed exile, they were bestowed with the title and honour of Martyr.  Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, calling them winners: “those who in wandering alone in the mountains or wandering in hunger, thirst, cold, disease and killed by brigands or wild beasts were no less received into the glory of martyrdom.” Stratonico, Cleonico these two young Leontinesi were present at

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Saints Brothers Martyrs Alfio, Filadelfio and Cirino

the glorious martyrdom of three brothers Alfio, Filadelfio and Cirino, they shouted against the tyrant accusing him of cruelty.  Tertullo immediately had them arrested and had their tongues torn out then  dumped in wells and had then killed.  Epiphanius was born and lived in Catania in the second half of the eighth century. He took part in the Council of Nicea in 787, giving a sermon against iconoclasm.  At the end of the Second Council of Nicea (October 27, 727), Epiphanius only 18 pronounced his long closing prayer, in place of Thomas, Archbishop of the Sardinians, celebrating the Church’s victory and zeal of Empress Irene and Patriarch Tarasio. With this prayer the learned Deacon of Catania proposed to counter the arguments that the iconoclasts had launched to the Orthodox Christians in the faith, that the Church had fallen for many centuries into idolatry venerating the holy images already condemned by the Holy Scriptures as idols; He, in his Sermo laudatorius 19, he strongly emphasises that God incarnated himself in Jesus and that with his death and resurrection he overcame sin and that the Church founded by Christ could not err for so many centuries. Epiphanius, therefore, bases his arguments on the divine nature of the Church and therefore on its indefectibility.  This argument, so opportune and with such force and eloquence would then be used by Catholics against the Protestants about eight centuries later.  The prayer, which he had developed can be considered as one of the most beautiful passages of the eighth-century oratory. Isidoro and Neofita in Lentini. 

Numerous are also the ranks of the holy Bishops, in the first centuries of persecution. Besides Gregory, Bishop of Lilibeo, Mamiliano, Procolo, Golbodeo and Eustatius of Palermo, who were also martyrs and the Church venerates them as Saints: Cresto, first successor of St. Martian in Syracuse, Eulalio, Maximianus, Giovanni, Elias, Zosimos and Theodose also from Syracuse; Everio, Severino and Sabino in Catania, Massimo in Taormina; Neofito, Rodippo and Lucìano in Lentini; Patamione, Gregorio I and Isidoro in Agrigento. 

Most famous are the Bishops: St. Pascasino, of Lilibeo, who fought against Eutyches and in 451 presided, as Apostolic Legate of St. Leo the Great, the Council of Chalcedon, St. Giustino, an opponent of the heretic Pietro Gnaffeo who supported the incarnation of the three divine Persons. The “Responsiones ad Orthodoxos” are his. 

Nor less famous is St. Gregory (591 – 630), monk from Agrigento, who lived in the 6th century and was consecrated by Pope Pelagius as Bishop of Agrigento.  He participated in

San-Gregorio-I-di-AgrigentoVescovo
The seven bishop Saints of Agrigento: Libertino, Gegorio I, Patamione, Matteo, Gerlando, Gregorio II, Ermogene.

the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople and tirelessly turned the tide of the East ready for the conversion of the infidels. 

Like St. Gregory I, there were also other Sicilians who were bishops in locations outside the island. We remember S. Neoso, in Ravenna, and S. Bassiano, Siracusano, bishop of Lodi, at the time of S. Ambrogio. But a place of great esteem belongs to the five Sicilians called to the supreme splendour of the Pontificate, all five are venerated as saints. 

San Agatone Palermitano begins the list; (he is buried in St. Peter’s Poliandro at the Vatican – he is celebrated on 5 July). From the Benedictine Monastery of S. Ermete, a monastery founded in Palermo by St. Gregory the Great. He sat on the throne of Peter from 27 June 678 to 10 January 681, and became famous for the condemnation of monotheism in the Third Council of Constantinople, and for having exonerated the Holy See from the annual tribute paid to the Emperor of the East. He was succeeded by another Sicilian to the throne of Peter, from Aidone or from Messina; Saint Leo II, who even in his brief pontificate, (from 17 August 682 to 3 July 683), succeeded in pacifying the Diocese of Ravenna, tormented by the discord caused by Theodore. He also introduced the kiss of peace in the mass and the expiation of holy water for the people. 

S. Conone, who died in 687, it is highly probable that he was a Sicilian. At the beginning

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Saits: Agatone, Metodio Siculo e Leone II

of the next century, another Palermitano, S. Sergio I, ruled the Church for 13 years, acquiring special merits for the artistic embellishment of the basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul.  In 768, the last Sicilian, St. Stephen IV, of Syracuse was elected Pontiff. He was able to reassert the usurped rights of the Papacy by Desiderio, king of the Lombards.  

Finally, it seems only right to recall the name of the illustrious Sicilian Panteno, who, although not officially venerated as a saint, was a bold and ardent propagator of the Christian religion, as far as southern Arabia. And two holy martyrs of Messina; Eleuterio, Illyrian Bishop with Anzia his mother. 

Another chapter, perhaps the most beautiful in Sicilian sanctity, is one concerning our Holy Virgins. 

The large group in which the four saints are mentioned excel in the Canon of the Mass: Agata, Lucia, Agnese, Cecilia, the first two are Sicilian. They knew how to preserve their candour and offered the world a marvellous example of holiness.  

Agatha and Lucia, a magnificent duo of faith and virginity, at a tender age renounced their high social status, distributed their wealth to the poor, retaining only purity for themselves, they went serenely to martyrdom and death.  Admired by such greatness, St. Gregory the Great composed in their honour the “Mass Gaudearnus ornnes in Domino“. Words that the Liturgy later adopted for the Assumption and other feasts and the Oremus, which then became the canticle for all Virgins and Martyrs.  Thus, every year, on their feast, the priests offer the propitiatory sacrifice and recites the liturgical prayer of the Breviary, remember the land that gave birth to these two heroic maidens. 

S. Agata Patron of the city of Catania, her cult is widespread throughout the island of Sicily, she is also protector of breast cancer patients, martyrs, wet nurses, weavers, bell-founders, bakers, fire, earthquakes, and eruptions of Mount Etna. She is also remembered in the Canon of the Mass; and St. Lucia (Patron of Syracuse, her mortal remains are preserved in the church of Santi Geremia and Lucia in Venice). 

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Santa Rosalia “La Santuzza”

In Palermo scintillating with holiness was S. Rosalia (lovingly named La Santuzza “the little Saint” by Sicilians) is Patron of the city, her mortal remains are preserved in the city’s cathedral.  She was from a noble family, she despised the splendour of the court of King William, and fled from that worldly environment to hide in a cave of Mount Pellegrino.

The cave, for Saint Rosalia, was overrun visions, her fasts and vigils were rewarded with celestial visitations and consolations. Almost contemporary of S. Rosalia is another Sicilian virgin, S. Marina.

To Saints Agatha and Lucia we can associate other saints: first, St. Vito martyr.  He is the third of the most known Sicilian saints in the world, revered as special patron of Bohemia and Saxony, while the splendid cathedrals dedicated to him in Rijeka, Prague and Mainz are perennial testimonies of the worship given. 

The Church in Sicily also counts among the Virgins and Martyrs: Santa Eutalia da Lentini, S. Ninfa da Palermo (whose remains are in the Cathedral of Palermo since 1593, the saint is remembered in the Roman Martyrology with the saints Trifone. and S. Teogonia da Mineo; and among the Confessors, since the early centuries of Christianity, there is a S. Fantino in Syracuse and the Saints Donato and Caritone in Lentini.  

Ancient Sicilian traditions testify to the existence of Saints hermits prior to St. Paul, believed by all to be the first hermit. They would be Saints Cleonico, Talleleo, Stratonico, Pellegrino and Neofito. 

In the VI century the Benedictines arrived in Sicily. (The mother of their founder was Sicilian).  

They founded six monasteries on the island.  Famous in that period, were the abbots Moriniano and Urbico. 

In this period in Sicily, there was only one martyr: St. James, Bishop of Catania, killed by the Iconoclasts, while he was absorbed in prayer. Under the Arab domination, the number, the martyrs return to rise. The Virgin of Palermo, Santa Oliva, was martyred in

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Saint Olivia of Palermo

Tunis; in Galatea, Santa Venera, killed by her brothers, in Taormina, the Bishop San Procopio. 

The Saints Elia and Filareto, S. Nicasio Burgio Martire are from Palermo; from Syracuse the Saints Andrea, Giovanni, Pietro and Antonio; from Messina Stefano and other Benedictine monks.  Also from the period of Arab domination in Sicily, they are; the holy monks Gregorio, Nicodemo, Pietro, Giovanni, Demetrio and Filareto, Palermo, Simeone and Giuseppe Innografo, Siracusani, and Elia, from Enna, and again: San Attalo Bishop of Catania, Bernardo, Luca, Teotisto, Roberto and Giovanni Terista di Palermo, Leoluca di Corleone, San Teotista, of Caccamo, San Vitale di Castronovo, San Clemente, abbot of Syracuse, San Saba di Agira. Among the Bishops of that period are venerated as saints: Severus, Hermogenes and Hippolytus. 

Under the Norman, Swabian and Angevin dominations. There were: S. Nicola hermit of Adrano, the monks, S. Cono, born around 1139 in Naso and baptised with the name of Conone, S. Lorenzo di Frazanò, S. Silvestro di Troina, at the time of William the Good.

The Carmelites have in glory, St. Alberto of Erice, (Beatified in 1454, canonised in 1476 by Pope Sixtus IV), St. Nicola of Noto, St. Gugliemmo of Polizzi and St. Clemente, Abbot of the Basilian monastery of Salvatore de Placa, near Francavilla di Sicilia, and the blessed Luigi Rabatà da Erice born in the mid-1400s and died around 1490, his remains are buried in the Mother Church of Randazzo, and his relics are also found in Erice and Trapani.  

Sicily was no less rich with saints during the Aragonese and Castilian dictatorship. The number of saints of that period lessened, because the church at that time adopted some more selective criteria for canonising men of God, and approving their worship. 

These are the religious orders that arose at that time, which generate new life in the tree of holiness. In fact, with the exception of the hermit S. Gugliemmo of Noto, the saints of this period are, for the most part, religious. At that time Calatafimi was born around

-Arcangelo-Placenza-da-Calatafimi--Alcamo-FAVIA-Arti-Grafiche---Bari-Roma-IT-Sicilia---Santi
Blessed Fr. Arcangelo Placenza

1390, the Blessed Priest Arcangelo Placenza, founder in 1430 of the convent of S. Maria di Gesù, in Alcamo, by order of Blessed Matteo of Agrigento, who died in Alcamo in 1460.  

In the church of the Convent the body is still intact, whose spiritual presence is still very much alive among the faithful. 

The followers of St. Augustine, at the time of King Manfred, can boast a Blessed, Agostino Novello, of a noble family from Palermo, who lived first in the King’s court, then in Rome as Papal Penitentiary under Nicholas IV, and finally as General of his order; and a Blessed Francesco Marchese, who died in 1495. 

The Dominicans can boast of San Giacinto Giordano Ansalone martyr in Japan, born in Santo Stefano Quisquina, of Blessed Bernardo Scammacca, born in Catania of which he was also archbishop, of Blessed Pietro Geremia, from Palermo, famous not only as a writer and orator, but also as an envoy of Pope Eugenius IV, at the Council of Florence. He was a skilled spiritual guide, he provided many novices for his Order, such as that of Blessed Dominic Spatafora, Randazzo, Salvo Cassetta, Master of the Apostolic Palaces, under Sixtus IV, and of Blessed Giovanni Liccio, who lived in S. Cita di Palermo, and died in Caccamo, his homeland, at the age of 111.  

The list of the Reformed Friars Minor is even longer, the one who introduced the reforms of his Order in Sicily, the Blessed Matteo Gallo, from Agrigento, where he was also a bishop, he was a companion and friend of St. Bernardine from Siena. Followed by the Blessed Simone Napoli from Calascibetta, and the Beati Tommaso Torre from Caltagirone, Cherubino Mustaccio and Innocenzo Milazzo from S. Lucia del Mela, Raimondo delle Croci from Aidone, Matteo Giudici from Agrigento, Ludovico de Martino from Caltagirone, Paolo Bono from Palazzolo, and the Venerable Angelo Garlisi from Racalmuto, Francesco Bruno from Cammarata and the Archbishop of Catania, the pious friar Michelangelo Bonadies. 

Also of that period is Father Cherubino martyr, from Caltagirone, killed in Ethiopia in 1638, and one raised to the honour of the altars, the humble layman Benedetto da S. Fratello, son of black slaves from Ethiopia. He died in Palermo, where he enjoyed a reputation as a saint for his virtues and miracles, in 1587.  

Even the religious orders such as the Jesuits, Theatines, and Cappuccins, had men of virtue who were imbued with ecclesiastical spirit.

The Jesuits gave the Church some great Sicilian apostles.  

They are the Venerable Luigi La Nuza, Vincenzo Ferreri of Sicily, Bernardo Colnago, to whom the city of Catania wanted to honour him with a tomb in the Cathedral, in the place closest to the relics of St. Agatha; the Gaspare Paraninfo Fathers, Filippo Maria Sceusa, Giambattista De Francisci; and finally, Stanislao Piolo and Cesare Gaetani. Even more numerous are those who in the distant and then very difficult Missions propagated the faith of Christ.

Without hesitation, they pushed through all the ways of the known world. The very first can be considered the Blessed Girolamo De Angelis, from Enna, who suffered martyrdom in the Empire of the Rising Sun. And always in Japan came, the Fathers Giovanni Matteo Adami and Marcello Saccano.

Missionaries to China, Fathers Niccolò Longobardi, Ludovico Buglio, Girolamo Gravina and Prospero Intorcetta.

In India, the Fathers Giambattista Federici and Francesco Castiglia.

In Ethiopia, the Messinese Antonio Bruno, and in Greece the layman Simone Bucceri; while Antonio Bellavia, Domenico Marini, Giuseppe Genovese and Ignazio Franciscis, went to the new lands of the Americas.

Among the Theatines Blessed Giuseppe Maria Tomasi was distinguished for holiness, also the author of numerous ecclesiastical books.

One of the most famous Sicilian Capuchins, is the Servant of God Father Innocenzo Marcinò da Caltagirone, Capuchin General, born in 1589 and died in 1655. He traveled through Europe, always followed by crowds, attracted by his sanctity and his miracles.  He was received in the royal courts of Turin, Vienna, Paris and Madrid, always having sovereign honours.

Other illustrious sons of the Capuchin order are Blessed Felice da Nicosia, Father

Padre Clemente
Father Clemente of Lorenzo da Noto

Clemente of Lorenzo da Noto, Father Francesco da Piazza Armerina, Father Daniele da Lentini and Father Arcangelo da Modica; chaplain in the Austrian army, and Blessed Friar Bernardo da Corleone, and the Servant of God Father Girolamo Caruso, born in Cammarata in 1549 and died in Naro in 1627.

Even the female religious Orders give their saints in Sicily.  These women knew how to flourish the characteristic virtues of their land: modesty, charity, renunciation and sacrifice. The first of them, in order of time, is a Franciscan Clarissa: St. Lucia da Caltagirone, who died in 1300. Followed by the not less known, and the glory of Messina the Blessed Eustochia Smeralda Calafato, who died in 1490.

She consecrated herself entirely to God. A model of a prudent virgin, she waited for the coming of the Bridegroom with the lighted lamp of faith and charity. The aroma of her virtues attracted many imitators behind her and even today, at the distance of five centuries, a white host of Clarisse watches and prays around the tomb that guards the incorrupt body of the holy foundress, whose cradle is a continuous and sometimes miraculous protection.

Also worthy of mention are the Blessed Margherita Calascibetta from PiazzaArmerina, the venerable Sister Innocenza Rizzo from Trapani, the Venerable Chiara Gallo, Antonina Miceli and Emilia Cordici from Corleone, Ludovica Piazza da Agira, Maddalena Battaglia from Termini Imerese, Arcangela Tardera from Piazza Armerina, Maria-Magdalena from Palermo, the Capuchin Sister Veronica Barone da Vizzini.  We remember again the Blessed Maria Schinina ‘born in Ragusa in 1844 and died there in 1910, foundress in 1885 of the Order of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart.

Even the Sicilian Clergy offered to the world, in times closer to us, shining examples of holiness.

For all, it would suffice to name, the Venerable Ignazio Capizzi, born in Bronte on 20 September 1708, and died in Palermo in 1782. Born poor, he had an incomparable wealth: a heart burning with zeal and love for the poor and sinners; he was also a great educator, his homeland for gratitude erected a monument to him. And also Father Luigi Germano Crifasi, of the Caulonian Shepherds, he was born in 1717.  He died adoring the holy Virtues in the flower of his life, at 46, April 25, 1763, with public reputation as an excellent religious, leaving the Convent and the whole province. I honour his death with evident signs of holiness.

Another priest flashing Sicilian glory is Father Giacomo Cusmano, founder of the religious congregation of the Bocconists, who lived in the second half of the 1800s. For the poor he became poor, and his name was dedicated to the history of charity with the title of Servant of the Poor.

Another name is that of the Priest Giambattista Scasso, born in Palermo in 1778 and died there in 1855. He, simple and humble, succeeded, preaching, catechising, visiting his faithful, to awaken the drowsy religious life, to extinguish rancour and to organise works of apostolate and charity.  His filial love for the heavenly Mother, Mary Immaculate, patroness of Sicily was unconditional.

We must still remember, less famous names, but perhaps no less great: the Jesuits Giuseppe Spedalieri di Bronte, Giuseppe Piemonte di Regalbuto, who died in the early ‘900 in Honduras, Father Bonaventura Aloisio, founder of a mission in Greece, Father Vincenzo Basile of Siculiana, a missionary in Albania, and Father Cannata, the holy apostle of Catania, tells that his faithful had the habit of untangling his garment and taking some thread.

From the Salesian Sisters Blessed Maddalena Caterina Morano (15 November 1847 – 26

Beata_Maddalena_Caterina_Morano_J
Bl. Maddalena Caterina Morano

March 1908) from Catania. Morano served as an educator for her entire life believing it to be her vocation; she served as a catechist in addition to being an educator.  Saint John Bosco accepted her in joining the Salesians and she made her solemn profession on 4 September 1879; the two met as Morano was walking to Buttigliera d’Asti. Bosco dissuaded her from being a cloistered nun and asked Giovanni Cagliero to invite her into Bosco’s order.  She made her perpetual vows in 1880.  In 1881 – at the request of the Archbishop of Catania – tasked her with new work where she would teach.

The Capuchins Samuel Nicosia from Chiaramonte, father Gioacchino La Lomia from Canicattì (1831-1905), Angelico Lipani from Caltanisetta (1842-1920) and friar Giuseppe Maria Diliberto (1864-1886) from Palermo, who died only 21 years old; another Jesuit, Father Giuseppe Cataldo, who died in 1927.  He was the founder of a city and a university in California. It is said of him that one can not write the history of that region, without forgetting his name.

Blessed Father Annibale Maria Di Francia da Messina (1851 – 1927), founder of the Rogationist Fathers of the Heart of Jesus, of the Antonian Institutes and of the Daughters of Divine Zeal.

Also to be remembered, the Daughters of Divine Zeal, the first Superior Sister Maria Nazarena Maione, who died in the odour of sanctity on January 25, 1939.  

Sister Giovanna of Monterosso, Orsolina of the Holy Family.

A model of holiness, was Sebastiana Cultrera di Chiaramonte, who died in 1935.

Even the Sicilian Catholic Action has its Apostle as the good of neighbour, it is the Palermitan Giuseppe Pipitone, maimed in World War II, he always knew how to realise in his heart, and had faith in our Heavenly Father.

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Blessed Pino Puglisi

One of my favourites as I met him in person at Palermo in 1974, when i was 10 years old is Blessed GiuseppePino” Puglisi (15 September 1937 – 15 September 1993) was a Roman Catholic priest in the rough Palermo neighbourhood of Brancaccio. He openly challenged the Mafia who controlled the neighbourhood, and was killed by them on his 56th birthday after being shot in the head at point blank range.  Killed on the orders of the local Mafia bosses; Pino Puglisi, il prete che fece tremare la mafia con un sorriso (the priest who made the Mafia tremble with his smile).

Father Emil Kapaun Servant of God

BIOGRAPHY

Father Emil J. Kapaun was born in Pilsen, Kansas in 1916. He attended Kenrick Seminary from 1936 until his graduation in 1940. Bishop Christian Winkelmann ordained Father Kapaun as a Roman Catholic priest for the Diocese of Wichita on June 9, 1940. After serving in the Pilsen, KS area for a time, Father Kapaun joined the U.S. Army as a military chaplain. In 1950, Father Kapaun was ordered to Korea where he was later captured and held in a prison camp near Pyoktong, North Korea. During his seven months in captivity, Father Kapaun ministered to his fellow POWs in ordinary and extraordinary ways. Father Kapaun died on May 23, 1951 at the prison camp.
Father Kapaun was known for his ordinary and extraordinary holiness and remembered for his humility, bravery, constancy, love, and kindness. He serves as an inspiration to the seminarians at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.
In 1993, Father Kapaun was named a “Servant of God” by the Roman Catholic Church, the first step toward possible canonization. The Vatican is now examining possible miracles attributed to the intercession of Father Kapaun. He is also be considered for the designation of “martyr.”


FATHER EMIL KAPAUN STUDENT CENTER

On April 11, 2013, Father John Horn, S.J., President-Rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, announced that the new recreation center on the seminary campus would be named The Father Emil Kapaun Student Center. This building contains lounge areas for the Theology and College seminarians, a bookstore, and a large workout facility. The naming of the Kapaun Center recognizes the ordinary yet extraordinary holiness of one of the seminary’s most distinguished alumni.


THE MEDAL OF HONOR

President Obama posthumously awarded Father Emil Kapaun the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in April 2013. Father Kapaun received the Medal for his extraordinary heroism. An official replica of Father Kapaun’s Medal of Honor is on display in the Father Emil Kapaun Student Center on the seminary campus. The seminary is grateful to the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association coordinated the donation and installation of the Display Medal.

 


FURTHER RESOURCES

• Official Fr. Kapaun website: www.fatherkapaun.org
Fr. Kapaun page from The Wichita Eagle


SOURCE ATTRIBUTION

We have 7 holy cards to give away, and 3 booklets “the story of Father Emil J. Kapaun” Chaplain, United States Army “Servant of God” we will sent the booklets and holy cards on a first come first served basis.  Simply provide you name and address and email to the  the Hermitage by completing the contact form below.

Bl. Teresa of St. Augustine and Companions (OCD), Virgins and Martyrs (m)

Source: Bl. Teresa of St. Augustine and Companions (OCD), Virgins and Martyrs (m)

These were a community of sixteen Discalced Carmelite nuns from the monastery of the Incarnation at Compiégne in France. When the full terror of the French Revolution began, they offered themselves as sacrificial victims to beg God for peace for the Church and for their country.

Arrested and imprisoned on the 24th June 1794, they continued to share their joy and their faith with others. Condemned to death for their loyalty to the Church, to their religious vows and for their devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, they were guillotined in Paris on 17th July 1794 whilst singing hymns and after having renewed their vows to their prioress, Teresa of St. Augustine. They were beatified by Saint Pius X on 13th May 1906.

 

Unless you are clued-in on the Carmelite martyrs, Blessed Teresa of St Augustine and Companions — (d. 1794), also known as the Martyrs of Compiegne, are commemorated today as Virgins and Martyrs. These nuns are the subjects of the opera by François Poulenc, Dialogues of the Carmelites, for which Georges Bernanos provided the libretto.

The 1790 a decree of the new French Republic suppressed all religious communities, except for those engaged in teaching and nursing. You had show the government you were a utilitarian entity that did something for the common good.

July 1794 saw sixteen nuns were arrested on the charge of continuing their illicit way of life. The nuns were "enemies of the people by conspiring against its  sovereign rule." On July 17, 1794, the nuns were taken to the place of execution, all the while singing the Salve Regina and the Te Deum and reciting the prayers for the dying.

Mother Teresa of St. Augustine and companions were beatified in 1906, the first martyrs of the French revolution. The believed what they said: "We are the victims of the age, and we ought to sacrifice ourselves to obtain its return to God."

It's important to give the names of the martyrs so as not to forget their history:

  • Madeleine-Claudine Ledoine (Mother Teresa of St. Augustine), prioress, born in Paris, September 22, 1752, professed 16 or May 17, 1775;
  • Marie-Anne (or Antoinette) Brideau (Mother St. Louis), sub-prioress, born at Belfort, December 7, 1752, professed September 3, 1771;
  • Marie-Anne Piedcourt (Sister of Jesus Crucified), choir-nun, born 1715, professed 1737; on mounting the scaffold she said "I forgive you as heartily as I wish God to forgive me";
  • Anne-Marie-Madeleine Thouret (Sister Charlotte of the Resurrection), sacristan, born at Mouy, September 16, 1715, professed August 19, 1740, twice sub-prioress in 1764 and 1778. Her portrait is reproduced opposite p. 2 of Miss Willson's work cited below;
  • Marie-Antoniette or Anne Hanisset (Sister Teresa of the Holy Heart of Mary), born at Rheims in 1740 or 1742, professed in 1764;
  • Marie-Francoise Gabrielle de Croissy (Mother Henriette of Jesus), born in Paris, June 18, 1745, professed February 22, 1764, prioress from 1779 to 1785;
  • Marie-Gabrielle Trezel (Sister Teresa of St. Ignatius), choir-nun, born at Compiegne, April 4, 1743, professed December 12, 1771;
  • Rose-Chretien de la Neuville (Sister Julia Louisa of Jesus), widow, choir-nun born at Loreau (or Evreux), in 1741, professed probably in 1777;
  • Anne Petras (Sister Mary Henrietta of Providence), choir-nun, born at Cajarc (Lot), June 17, 1760, professed October 22, 1786.
  • Concerning Sister Euphrasia of the Immaculate Conception accounts vary. Miss Willson says that her name was Marie Claude Cyprienne Brard, and that she was born May 12, 1736; Pierre, that her name was Catherine Charlotte Brard, and that she was born September 7, 1736. She was born at Bourth, and professed in 1757;
  • Marie-Genevieve Meunier (Sister Constance), novice, born May 28, 1765, or 1766, at St. Denis, received the habit December 16, 1788. She mounted the scaffold singing "Laudate Dominum."

In addition to the above, three lay sisters suffered and two tourieres.

The lay sisters are:

  • Angelique Roussel (Sister Mary of the Holy Ghost), lay sister, born at Fresnes, August 4, 1742, professed May 14, 1769;
  • Marie Dufour (Sister St. Martha), lay sister, born at Beaune, 1 or October 2, 1742, entered the community in 1772;
  • Julie or Juliette Vero-lot (Sister St. Francis Xavier), lay sister, born at Laignes or Lignieres, January 11, 1764, professed January 12, 1789.

The two tourieres, who were not Carmelites at all, but merely servants of the nunnery were:

Catherine and Teresa Soiron, born respectively on February 2, 1742 and January 23, 1748 at Compiegne, both of whom had been in the service of the community since 1772.

The miracles proved during the process of beatification were:

The cure of Sister Clare of St. Joseph, a Carmelite lay sister of New Orleans, when on the point of death from cancer, in June, 1897;

The cure of the Abbe Roussarie, of the seminary at Brive, when at the point of death, March 7, 1897;

The cure of Sister St. Martha of St. Joseph, a Carmelite lay sister of Vans, of tuberculosis and an abcess in the right leg, December 1, 1897;

The cure of Sister St. Michael, a Franciscan of Montmorillon, April 9, 1898.

«Ricordati che, quando moriremo, porteremo con noi soltanto la valigia della carità»

«Quando moriremo porteremo di là soltanto una valigia, la valigia della carità». E si affrettava ad aggiungere: «riempitela bene finché siete in tempo, perché porterete solo quella!».

I santi non hanno bisogno di essere applauditi; i santi ci chiedono di continuare la loro opera, ci chiedono di tenere accesa la lampada del loro esempio e il fuoco dell’amore che hanno acceso sulla terra. Dei reietti l’infaticabile suora di Skopje ha conosciuto il volto e ne ha saputo cogliere gli aneliti e i fremiti. Per decenni ha raccattato dai marciapiedi di Calcutta chi aspettava febbricitante, esangue, sfinito, la morte. Per decenni ha passato la mano su fronti piagate, guance scavate, corpi oscenamente ulcerati che avrebbero potuto maledire Dio; ma che non l’hanno fatto, perché avevano vicino questa suora minuta e gigantesca, piccola e grandiosa, vicaria ed emissaria di Dio. In questo volume il cardinale Angelo Comastri, intimo amico di Madre Teresa, raccoglie aneddoti e testimonianze di chi ha conosciuto personalmente la santa.

FERMENTI CATTOLICI VIVI

Comastri_01Il 4 settembre 2016 è stata proclamata santa Madre Teresa di Calcutta. Vi propongo un passaggio bellissimo del card. Angelo Comastri, in un suo libro:

“La prima volta che incontrai Madre Teresa, fui colpito dal suo sguardo: mi guardò con occhi limpidi e penetranti. Poi mi chiese: «Quante ore preghi ogni giorno?». Rimasi sorpreso da una simile domanda e provai a difendermi dicendo: «Madre, da lei mi aspettavo un richiamo alla carità, un invito ad amare di più i poveri. Perché mi chiede quante ore prego?». Madre Teresa mi prese le mani e le strinse tra le sue quasi per trasmettermi ciò che aveva nel cuore; poi mi confidò: «Figlio mio, senza Dio siamo troppo poveri per poter aiutare i poveri! Ricordati: io sono soltanto una povera donna che prega. Pregando, Dio mi mette il Suo Amore nel cuore e così posso amare i poveri. Pregando!».

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