Profiles of the Saints and Feasts

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Profiles of the Saints and Feasts

SUNDAY, December 1, 2002

    Semi-Double Feast of the First Week of Advent and the historical feast of Saint Elegius, Bishop and Patron Saint of Metal Workers who died in 660, and Saint Edmund Campion, Priest who was martyred for the Faith in 1581. He is the Patron Saint of the Press.

        Violet Vestments.

    Mass for the First Sunday of Advent

    The First Sunday of Advent is the first day of the Liturgical Year. The Mass for the first Sunday prepares us for the double coming (adventus) of mercy and justice. That is why St. Paul tells us, in the Epistle, to cast off sin in order that, being ready for the coming of Christ as our Savior, we may also be ready for His coming as our Judge, of which we learn in the Gospel. Let us prepare ourselves, by pious aspirations and by the reformation of our life for this twofold coming. Jesus Our Lord wil reward those who yearn for Him and await Him. "Those who trust in Him shall not be confounded." Marian Missal

    EPISTLE: Romans 13: 11-14
    GRADUAL: Psalm 24: 3-4
    GOSPEL: Luke 21: 25-33

Saint Elygius

   Eligius, born near Limoges in the late sixth century, was in his childhood so skilled in manual arts, that his father decided to place him as an apprentice under a silversmith of Limoges. In a few years he had no rival in the art of metalworking. His piety and virtues recommended him still more highly than his talents; his frankness, prudence, gentleness and charity were admired by all.

   The king of France, Clotaire II, heard of him, sent for him, and commanded him to make a golden throne adorned with jewels. For that purpose the king provided a large quantity of gold and precious stones, and with the materials given him Eligius made not one, but two magnificent thrones. Struck by the craftsman’s rare honesty and ability, as well as by the overpowering beauty of his work, the king appointed him royal goldsmith for his kingdom, and kept him in his palace. Until then, the Saint had liked luxurious surroundings, but now, touched by a particular grace, he began to live in the midst of riches as a poor disciple of Jesus Christ. His greatest pleasure was to make beautiful reliquaries for the Saints. But best of all he loved the poor, and the treasures which passed from his hands into those of the indigent could scarcely be counted. When strangers asked to see him, they were told to go to a certain street and stop at the house in front of which a crowd of beggars was waiting; that would be his house. He would wash their feet, serve them with his own hands, take the last place at table, and eat only their leftovers. When Saint Eligius had no more money, he would give away his furnishings and his very cincture, his cloak and shoes.

   The friendship of the Saint with King Dagobert, successor to Clotaire II, has become legendary. One day Eligius came to the king and said to him, “My prince, I have come to ask a favor of you: give me the terrain of Solignac, that I may make a ladder by which you and I can both ascend to heaven.” The king willingly consented, and the Saint built a monastery. Neither one became a monk, but Saint Eligius loved to visit the religious and spend a few days with them from time to time, to be edified by their regularity.

   Saint Eligius was finally obliged to accept a nomination to the episcopal see of Noyon. His life as a bishop was the continuation of his good works. He possessed the gift of miracles; he cast out demons and cured the sick by a simple word or the touch of his hand. By a special gift of God, he found the bodies of Saints long honored, but whose burial places were unknown. It is he who found the sacred remains of Saint Quentin, the illustrious martyr, those of Saint Piat at Seclin, and of Saint Lucian at Beauvais; for all of these he himself made beautiful reliquaries. He died in 665, regretted by all.

Sources: Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950); Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources, by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

Monday, December 2, 2002

    Simple Traditional Feast of Saint Bibiana, Virgin and Martyr

        Red Vestments.

    Mass of Me expectaverunt... for a Virgin Martyr

    EPISTLE: Wisdom 51: 13-17
    GRADUAL: Psalm 45: 6
    GOSPEL: Matthew 13: 44-52

Saint Bibiana

   Saint Bibiana was a native of Rome, born in the fourth century, the daughter and sister of martyrs. Flavian, her Christian father, was apprehended during the reign of Julian the Apostate, branded on the face as a slave, and banished to Toscany, where he died of his wounds a few days later. Her mother, Dafrosa, was beheaded two weeks later. Their two daughters, Bibiana and Demetria, after the death of their parents were stripped of all they had in the world, and then imprisoned with orders to give them no food. The Roman praetorian offered them rewards if they would abandon their faith, and threatened a cruel death if they would not conform, but they replied courageously that the goods and advantages of this world had no attraction for them, and that they would endure a thousand deaths rather than betray their faith and their Savior. Demetria, after having pronounced this ardent defense, fell to the ground and expired at her sister’s side; she is inscribed in the Roman martyrology on June 21st.

   The officer gave orders that Bibiana be placed in the custody of a woman named Rufina, who was commanded to corrupt her or mistreat her. But the martyr made prayer her shield and remained invincible. Enraged at the courage and perseverance of the young virgin, the persecutor ordered her to be tied to a pillar and whipped until she expired, with scourges tipped with leaden plummets. The Saint underwent this punishment cheerfully, and died at the hands of the executioners. She was buried by a holy priest at a site where afterwards a chapel and then a church were built above her tomb. In 1628 the church was splendidly rebuilt by Pope Urban VIII, and in it he placed the relics of the two sisters and of Saint Dafrosa, their mother.

Sources: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources, by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 14.

Tuesday, December 3, 2002

    Double Major Feast of Saint Francis Xavier, Confessor and Patron Saint of Foreign Missions

        White Vestments.

    Mass in honor of St. Francis Xavier

    EPISTLE: Romans 10: 10-18
    GRADUAL: Psalm 91: 13-14
    GOSPEL: Mark 16: 15-18

Saint Francis Xavier

   A young Spanish gentleman by the name of Francis Xavier, in the dangerous days of the Reformation, was making a name for himself as a professor of philosophy at the University of Paris. He was aspiring, apparently, to a high dignity, until Saint Ignatius of Loyola decided to undertake the spiritual conquest of this ardent soul. “What does it profit a man to gain the entire world, if he suffers the loss of his soul?” Ignatius often repeated to the brilliant teacher. The words of Christ, joined to the example of Ignatius and his disciples, prevailed. It was not long before his gifted friend decided to labor for the glory of God, by adopting the evangelical life of an apostle, to which he was indeed called. He was among the first five members of the Society of Jesus, those who with Ignatius made their religious vows in the church of Montmartre in Paris, on the feast of the Assumption in 1534.

   On his way to Rome with the others, handicapped by severe penances he had imposed on himself, he remained in Venice and exercised a brief apostolate by caring for the sick in the city hospital. The others waited for him to regain his ability to walk. These first fervent Jesuits were intending to embark for the Holy Land, but were prevented by a war. In Rome, Francis again went to a hospital to serve the sick; he also visited the prisons to encourage and console the poor inmates, while preparing for ordination with the others, according to the desire of the pope.

   Saint Ignatius having remained in Venice, the other five returned there afterwards. Francis was sent by Saint Ignatius to the Orient in 1534, where for twelve years he labored unceasingly to win souls, sleeping only three hours a night, eating very little, and bearing the Gospel to Hindustan, to Malacca, and as far as Japan. At all times thwarted by jealousy, covetousness, and the carelessness of those who should have helped and encouraged him, he did not slacken in his apostolic endeavors despite opposition and the difficulties of every sort which he encountered. The gift of tongues and miracles accompanied him everywhere; he resurrected several dead persons. And his inexhaustible kindness was not the least of his assets in winning thousands of pagans to the Faith. He baptized so many that his arm became virtually disabled, ten thousand in a single month in the kingdom of Trevancor, where in the same space of time he saw to the building of forty-five churches. At Meliapour, site of the martyrdom of Saint Thomas, he found the marble on which the Apostle was sacrificed, and which exuded blood the first time Mass was said upon it. Passing through various islands, cities and provinces of India, he strengthened his first conquests by additional preaching. He planted crosses in the public squares and overcame all obstacles.

   From India he went to Japan; Saint Francis is called Apostle of Japan as well as of India. There the pagan priests opposed and calumniated him, and tried without success to outwit him in debates. Humiliated, they used subtle means to instill dislike for him in the minds of the court authorities. But he won the love as well as the respect of those he evangelized, blessing them with such miracles as filling the hitherto sterile sea of Cangoxima with inexhaustible reserves of fish. The vast kingdom of China appealed to his charity, and he was resolved to risk his life to force an entry, when God took him to Himself. It was on December 2, 1552, that the Apostle of the Indies died on Sancian, an island facing the city of Canton in China, like Moses, in sight of the land of promise.

Sources: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources, by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 14.

Wednesday, December 4, 2002

    Double Traditional Feast of Saint Peter Chrysologus, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church and Saint Barbara, Virgin and Martyr

        White Vestments.

    Mass in honor of St. Peter Chrysologus and commemoration of St. Barbara who was slain at Nicomedia in 235

    EPISTLE: Timothy 4: 1-8
    GRADUAL: Ecclus. 44: 16, 20
    GOSPEL: Matthew 5: 13-19

See Saint Peter Chrysologus.

Thursday, December 5, 2002

    Advent Ferial and the Traditional Feast of Saint Sabbas, Abbot.

        Violet Vestments.

    Mass for the First Sunday of Advent

    EPISTLE: Romans 13: 11-14
    GRADUAL: Psalm 24: 3-4
    GOSPEL: Luke 21: 25-33


Mass for Simple Feast of St. Sabbas

EPISTLE: Eccli. 45: 1-6
GRADUAL: Psalm 20: 4-5
GOSPEL: Matthew 19: 27-29

Saint Sabbas

   Saint Sabas, one of the most renowned patriarchs of the monks of Palestine, was born in the year 439, near Caesarea. At the age of fifteen, in the absence of his parents, he suffered under the conduct of an uncle, and weary of the world’s problems decided to forsake the world and enter a monastery not far from his family home. After he had spent ten years in religious life, his two uncles and his parents attempted to persuade him to leave the monastery to which he had migrated in Palestine. He replied: “Do you want me to be a deserter, leaving God after placing myself in His service? If those who abandon the militia of earthly kings are severely punished, what chastisement would I not deserve if I abandoned that of the King of Heaven?”

   When he was thirty years old, desiring greater solitude, he began to live an angelic life so far above nature that he seemed no longer to have a body. The young sage, as he was called by Saint Euthymius, Abbot of a nearby monastery, dwelt in a cavern on a mountain near Jerusalem, where he prayed, sang Psalms and wove baskets of palm branches. He was forty-five years old when he began to direct those who came to live as hermits, as he did, and he gave each of them a place to build a cell; soon this was the largest monastery of Palestine. He left the region when certain agitators complained of him, for he considered himself incapable of maintaining good discipline. The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sallustus, did not easily credit the complaints, and instead ordained Sabas a priest, that he might say Mass for his disciples — for they had been displeased by his lack of desire for that honor. He was at that time fifty-three years old. The Patriarch presented him to them as their father, whom they should obey and honor, and made him Superior of all the Palestine monasteries. But several monks remained obstinate, and Saint Sabas again went elsewhere, to a cavern near Scythopolis.

   As the years passed, he was in charge of seven monasteries; but his influence was not limited to Palestine. The heresies afflicting religion were being sustained by the emperor of Constantinople, who had exiled the Catholic Patriarch of that city, Elias. Saint Sabas converted the one who had replaced Elias, and wrote to the emperor that he should cease to persecute the Church of Jerusalem, and to impose taxes on the cities of Palestine which they were unable to pay. In effect, the people were reduced to extreme misery. The emperor died soon afterwards, and the pious Justin replaced him. Justin restored the true faith by an edict and recalled the exiles, re-establishing the exiled prelates in their sees.

   When Saint Sabas was ninety-one years old, he made the long journey to Constantinople to ask Justinian, successor to Justin, not to act with severity against the province of Palestine, where a revolt had occurred by the non-submission of a group of Samaritans. The emperor honored him highly and wished to endow his monasteries with wealth, but the holy Patriarch asked him to use the riches he was offering to build a hospice for pilgrims in Jerusalem, to decorate the unfinished Church of the Blessed Virgin, to build a fortress where the monks could take refuge when barbarians invaded the land, and finally, to re-establish preaching of the true Faith, by edicts proscribing the various errors being propagated. The holy Abbot lived to be ninety-two years old, and died in 531, in the arms of the monks of his first monastery.

Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 14.

Friday, December 6, 2002

    Double Feast of Saint Nicholas, Bishop and Patron Saint of Russia and of Children

        White Vestments.

EPISTLE: Hebrews 13: 7-17
GRADUAL: Psalm 88: 21-23
GOSPEL: Matthew 25: 14-23

Saint Nicholas

   Saint Nicholas, the patron Saint of Russia, has won the warmest of praises from other Saints such as Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Peter Damian, who called him the glory of young men, the honor of the elderly, the splendor of priests and the light of Pontiffs. All the world was filled with his praises, Saint Peter added. The universal Church, in the Collect of his office, claims that God made known his nobility by an infinite number of miracles.

   He was born during the third century, nephew of the Archbishop of Myra. He had lost his parents while still very young, and he desired not to conserve his rich heritage. Gradually he gave away everything of which he could dispose, establishing dowries for poor maidens and seeking out the needy wherever they could be found. The Archbishop, his uncle, already aware of his vocation to sanctity, ordained Saint Nicholas priest and appointed him Abbot of the monastery of Holy Sion near Myra. He undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, resurrecting a sailor who fell from a mast during the voyage; he prayed for the frightened passengers in a near-fatal tempest and calmed it. He visited Saint Anthony of the Desert and healed many sick persons in Alexandria during a stopover in Egypt.

   On the death of the Archbishop of Myra, he was elected to the vacant see. Immediately after the pontifical Mass, he resurrected an infant who had fallen into a fire.

   A persecution broke out under the emperor Licinius; Saint Nicholas was banished and kept in chains. He suffered from severe mistreatment but returned to his church when Constantine the Great defeated Licinius, and in 313 then put a definitive end to the persecutions. Saint Nicholas labored in his domains to stop the worship of false gods, still practiced there as elsewhere. With his own hands he cut down a huge tree, site of a sacrilegious cult of the goddess Diana. During a famine his prayers multiplied the provisions of wheat which he had ordered for the port of Myra, to such an extent that what would have sufficed for his people for only a few days, was found to be sufficient for more than two years. He rescued from death, just before they were hanged, three innocents condemned by a judge who had been corrupted by money, reprehended the latter for his crime and sent these liberated ones home, entirely exonerated.

   Throughout his life he retained the bright and simple manners of his early years; no one could converse with him without finding himself spiritually renewed. Saint Nicholas was the special protector of the innocent and the wronged. He is usually represented at the side of a container in which a cruel butcher had concealed the bodies of three young persons, whom he had killed and was intending to use in his commerce, but who were restored to life by the Saint. This miracle was reported by Saint Bonaventure in a sermon.

   Saint Nicholas rejoiced when God made known to him that the end of his pilgrimage was near. He retired to his Monastery of Holy Sion, and after a short but intense episode of fever, died in the year 342. He is the patron of schoolchildren, sailors, travelers and pilgrims, prisoners and many others. His relics were translated in 1087 to Bari, Italy, where a church was built in their honor. And there, after fifteen centuries, the manna of Saint Nicholas still flows from his bones and heals all kinds of illnesses.

Sources: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources, by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 14.

Saturday, December 7, 2002

    Double Feast of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
    FIRST SATURDAY and Vigil of the Immaculate Conception

        White Vestments.

EPISTLE: Timothy 4: 1-8
GRADUAL: Ecclus. 44: 16, 20
GOSPEL: Matthew 5: 13-19

See Saint Ambrose


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