Profiles of the Saints and Feasts |
Tuesday, November 19, 2002:
Traditional Double Feast of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Widow, and Pope Saint Pontian, who was martyred in 236.
Proper of the Saints:
Mass of "Cognovi" - for the Common of a Holy Woman who is not a martyr
EPISTLE: Wisdom 31: 10-31
GRADUAL: Psalms 44: 3-5
GOSPEL: Matthew 13: 44-52
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
Elizabeth was the daughter of the just and pious Andrew II, king of Hungary, the niece of Saint Hedwig, and the sister of the virtuous Bela IV, king of Hungary, who became the father of Saint Cunegundes and of Saint Margaret of Hungary, a Dominican nun. Another of her brothers was Coloman, King of Galicia and prince of Russia, who led an angelic life amid the multiple affairs of the world and the troubles of war.
Pope Saint Pontian
She was betrothed in infancy to Louis Landgrave of Thuringia, and brought up from the age of four in his father’s court. Never could she bear to adopt the ornaments of the court for her own usage, and she took pleasure only in prayer. She would remove her royal crown when she entered the church, saying she was in the presence of the Savior Who wore a crown of thorns. As she grew older, she employed the jewels offered her for the benefit of the poor. Not content with receiving numbers of them daily in her palace, and relieving all in distress, she built several hospitals, where she herself served the sick, bathing them, feeding them, dressing their wounds and ulcers. The relatives of her fiancé tried to prevent the marriage, saying she was fit only for a cloister; but the young prince said he would not accept gold in the quantity of a nearby mountain, if it were offered him to abandon his resolution to marry Elizabeth.
Once as she was carrying in the folds of her mantle some provisions for the poor, she met her husband returning from the hunt. Astonished to see her bending under the weight of her burden, he opened the mantle and found in it nothing but beautiful red and white roses, though it was not the season for flowers. He told her to continue on her way, and took one of the marvelous roses, which he conserved all his life. She never ceased to edify him in all of her works. One of her twelve excellent Christian maxims, by which she regulated all her conduct was, “Often recall that you are the work of the hands of God and act accordingly, in such a way as to be eternally with Him.”
When her pious young husband died in Sicily on his way to a Crusade with the Emperor Frederick, she was cruelly driven from her palace by her brother-in-law. Those whom she had aided showed nothing but coldness for her; God was to purify His Saint by harsh tribulations. She was forced to wander through the streets with her little children, a prey to hunger and cold. The bishop of Bamberg, her maternal uncle, finally forced the cruel prince to ask pardon for his ill treatment of her, but she voluntarily renounced the grandeurs of the world, and went to live in a small house she had prepared in the city of Marburgh. There she practiced the greatest austerities. She welcomed all her sufferings, and continued to be the mother of the poor, distributing all of the heritage eventually conceded to her, and converting many by her holy life. She died in 1231, at the age of twenty-four.
This young and delicate princess made herself the servant and nurse of the poor. Let her example teach us to disregard the opinions of the world and to overcome our natural hesitation, in order to serve Christ in the person of His poor.
Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 13; 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).
The eighteenth in the line of Peter was Pope Saint Pontian who was born in Rome and elected to the papacy on August 28, 230. He is known for ordering the chanting of the psalms which many mendicant orders still do today. He also instituted the use of the salutation "Dominus vobiscum" in the liturgy of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which, of course, in the vernacular means "The Lord be with you" to which the congregation replies "and also with you."
Pope Pontian or Pontianus, was exiled along with Saint Hippolytus, a Roman priest, by the Roman Emperor Maximus, sentenced to a life of hard labor in the mines. Hippolytus was sent to the Island of Sardinia and Pontian to the tiny isle of Tavolara where he died on September 28, 236.
Pope Saint Fabian, the 20th Vicar of Christ was the one who oversaw the return of both saints' bodies to Rome for a proper burial in 237.
Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Double Feast of Saint Felix of Valois, Confessor
It is also the historical feast of St. Bernward, Bishop of Hildesheim, who died in 1193.
Proper of the Feast:
Mass "Justus ut palma" for the Second Mass of a Confessor not a Bishop
EPISTLE: 1 Corinthians 9: 9-14
GOSPEL: Luke 12: 32-34
Saint Felix of Valois
Saint Felix was the son of the Count of Valois. His mother carried him to Saint Bernard at his monastery of Clairvaux, to offer him there to God, when he was three years old; she kept him, however, under her own care and took particular care of him, permitting him, still young, to distribute the alms she was pleased to give to the poor. When the exiled Pope Innocent II sought refuge in France, the Count of Valois, father of Felix, offered his castle of Crepy to the Pontiff, who often blessed the young child whom he saw being trained in virtue. One day when Felix gave away his own habits to a poor beggar, he found them that evening neatly laid on his bed; and he thanked God for this sign of His divine goodness, proving that one loses nothing when one gives to the poor.
When he was ten years old he obtained grace for a prisoner condemned to death, by means of his prayer and his pleadings with his uncle, a lord of whom the man was the subject. Felix had a presentiment that this man would become a saint; and in fact, he retired into a deep solitude where he undertook severe penance and died the death of the just.
The unfortunate divorce of the parents of Felix, and the excommunication of his father, who had remarried and whose condemnation raised serious troubles on his domains, caused to mature in the young man a long-formed resolution to leave the world. Confiding his mother to her pious brother, Thibault, Count of Champagne, Felix took the Cistercian habit at Clairvaux. His rare virtues drew on him an admiration such that, with Saint Bernard’s consent, he fled from it to Italy, where he began to live an austere life with an aged hermit in the Alps. For this purpose he had departed secretly, and the servants his uncle sent believed him dead, being unable to trace him; they published the rumor of his death. About this time the old hermit procured the ordination of his disciple as a priest.
After his elderly counselor died in his arms, Saint Felix returned to France. He built a cell in the diocese of Meaux in an uninhabited forest; this place was later named Cerfroid. Amid savage beasts he led an angelic life of perpetual fasting. Here God inspired him with the desire of founding an Order for the redemption of Christian captives. The Lord also moved Saint John of Matha, a young nobleman of Provence, to seek out the hermit and join him. The two applied themselves to the practice of all virtues. It was John who overtly proposed to Saint Felix the project of an Order for the redemption of captives, when his preceptor was already seventy years old. The latter gladly offered himself to God for that purpose, and after praying for three days the two solitaries made a pilgrimage to Rome in the middle of winter. They were kindly received by the Pope, after he read the recommendation which the Bishop of Paris had given them. He too prayed and became convinced that the two Saints were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and he gave his approbation to the Trinitarian Order
Within forty years the Order would have six hundred monasteries. Saint John, who was Superior General, left to Saint Felix the direction of the convents in France, exercised from the monastery which the founders had built at Cerfroid. There Saint Felix died in November of 1212, at the age of eighty-five, only about six weeks before his younger co-founder. It is a constant tradition in the Trinitarian Order that Saint Felix and Saint John were canonized by Urban IV in 1260, though no bull has ever been found. In 1219 already the feast of Saint Felix was kept in the entire diocese of Meaux. In 1666 Alexander VI declared that veneration of the servant of God was “immemorial”.
Sources: The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Principal Saints, by Rev. Alban Butler (Metropolitan Press: Baltimore, 1845), Vol. IV, October-December; Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 13.