Profiles of the Saints and Feasts

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Profiles of the Saints and Feasts

Friday, November 8:

    Double Major Octave Day of All Saints
    Traditional Feast of the Four Crowned Martyrs Severus, Severian, Carpophorus and Victorinus all slain for their Faith by Diocletian in 306. They are the Patron Saints of Stonemasons, Sculptors, and Marble Workers
    Historical feast of Saint Godfrey, Bishop
      Semi-Double Feast Octave Day.
        White Vestments.

          Proper of the Saints:

          EPISTLE: Hebrews 11: 33-39
          GRADUAL: Psalms 33: 10-11
          GOSPEL: Matthew 5: 1-12

Saint Godfrey

   Saint Godfrey was born about 1066 at Molincourt in France of a distinguished Christian family. He arrived late in the lives of his parents, who had begged the prayers of the holy abbot of Mount Saint Quentin, desiring to have a child they could consecrate to God. Their prayers and those of the religious of the monastery of Mount Saint Quentin were answered in the same year. The child was baptized by the Abbot and later confided to him to be educated. Eventually Godfrey’s father entered a monastery of Our Lady which he had enriched by his alms; and his mother spent her declining years in various good works.

   Godfrey was given the charge of taking care of the sick, and exercised it with such great charity that he was also named hospitaller, to receive the poor at the gate. For assistance in that second duty he had his older brother Odon, who after many years in the military career had come to join him in the religious life. His brother would later die a holy death in the same abbey of Mount Saint Quentin.

   When Saint Godfrey was 25 years old his abbot told him to prepare for the priesthood. He received the Sacrament of Holy Orders from the bishop of Noyon, in which diocese the abbey of Mount Saint Quentin is situated. Not long afterwards, the abbey of Our Lady of Nogent, whose abbot was incapacitated by illness, voted to obtain Godfrey in that office, and the abbot of Mount Saint Quentin consented to the sacrifice of his dear spiritual son for that purpose. The pleas of the disciple based on his youth and inexperience were not heeded, and in 1095 he became Abbot of Nogent, where the buildings were crumbling and only six monks and two young novices remained. He renovated the edifices and built a hostelry for pilgrims and the sick poor; and in this hostelry he himself continued to labor on their behalf. Soon the monastery filled up with vocations, drawing even two illustrious abbots from elsewhere, who desired to serve under this master.

   When a severe drought was devastating the fields and flocks of the region, the bishop of Soissons, Hugh de Pierrefonds, went to Godfrey to ask his counsel; the holy abbot prescribed a fast in the manner of Ninevah — even the animals were to participate. On the first day of the fast, when the abbot rose to preach in the vast Church of Saint Steven, before the assembled people, the sky suddenly darkened, and so heavy a rain fell that the people were not a little inconvenienced on returning home.

   When the aged bishop of Amiens died soon afterwards, its residents chose Godfrey to be their bishop, and went to a legate of the Holy See to ask him to intercede with the abbot to obtain his consent. When this decision was related to Godfrey he would have fled, but the order of the legate prevented his flight. Moreover, he had already had a vision of Saint Firmin, first Bishop of Amiens and martyr, advising him of this forthcoming new responsibility. He therefore submitted to the clear designs of Providence. After Saint Godfrey obtained a beautiful new reliquary for the relics of Amiens’ first bishop, the confidence of the people in their patron Saint, Saint Firmin, redoubled. A prayer to him by Saint Godfrey, asking for sunshine on the day of the translation of the relics, was the occasion; a fog so heavy one could scarcely see, lifted, and the sun at once shone brilliantly in the sanctuary.

   As bishop he did not cease to take care of the poor and the sick. When some lepers came to him he commanded his cook to prepare food for them; four hours later nothing had yet been done, and he himself went to the kitchen and found a large, prepared salmon which he took to the famished lepers. The cook remonstrated with him, and the Saint told him that it was injustice to allow the poor to die of hunger while unworthy bishops enjoyed food that was too succulent.

   When troubles occasioned by the contemporary quarrel over investitures devastated the city of Amiens, the holy bishop thought it well to resign his office and retire to the Grand Chartreuse, and did so. The archbishop of Rheims, however, could not approve such an action, and reproached the residents of Amiens when they brought up the question of a successor. The affair was referred to a Council to be held at Soissons in January of 1115. A letter was sent by the Council to the religious of Saint Bruno, begging them not to retain the bishop of Amiens, but to send him back to his see; and Godfrey with tears resigned himself to obeying the orders of the king and the Council. His declining years were not exempt from sufferings; the city of Amiens was decimated by a fire which spared only the church of Saint Firmin, the episcopal palace and a few houses of the poor. The people had not listened to the exhortations of their bishop when their prevarications enkindled the wrath of God. He died on November 8, 1115, in perfect serenity, having given his farewell blessing to the religious of the monastery of Soissons, where he had been taken, after falling ill during a journey there. His tomb was illustrated by many miracles.

Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 13.

SATURDAY, November 9, 2002

Double of the Second Class Feast of the Dedication of Saint John Lateran Basilica - Archbasilica of Our Savior

Also the Traditional Feast of Saint Theodore Tyro the Recruit who was marytred in 306.

    White Vestments

        Proper of the Saints:

        EPISTLE: Apocalypse 21: 2-5
        GOSPEL: Luke 19: 1-10

The residence of the Popes which was named the Lateran Palace was built by Lateranus Palutius, whom Nero put to death to seize his goods. It was given in the year 313 by Constantine the Great to Pope Saint Miltiades and was inhabited by his successors until 1308, when they moved to Avignon. The Lateran Basilica built by Constantine near the palace of the same name, is the first Basilica of the West. Twelve councils, four of which were ecumenical, have assembled there, the first in 649, the last in 1512.

   If for several centuries the Popes have no longer dwelt in the Palace, the primacy of the Basilica is not thereby altered; it remains the head of all churches. Saint Peter Damian wrote that “just as the Savior is the Head of the elect, the church which bears His name is the head of all the churches. Those of Saints Peter and Paul, to its left and its right, are the two arms by which this sovereign and universal Church embraces the entire earth, saving all who desire salvation, warming them, protecting them in its maternal womb.”

   The Divine Office narrates the dedication of the Church by the Pope of Peace, Saint Sylvester: “It was the Blessed Pope Sylvester who established the rites observed by the Roman Church for the consecration of churches and altars. From the time of the Apostles there had been certain places dedicated to God, which some called oratories, and others, churches. There, on the first day of the week, the assembly was held, and there the Christian people were accustomed to pray, to hear the Word of God, and to receive the Eucharist. But never had these places been consecrated so solemnly; nor had a fixed altar been placed there which, anointed with sacred chrism, was the symbol of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who for us is altar, victim and Pontiff. But when the Emperor Constantine through the sacrament of Baptism had obtained health of body and salvation of soul, a law was issued by him which for the first time permitted that everywhere in the world Christians might build churches. Not satisfied to establish this edict, the prince wanted to give an example and inaugurate the holy labors. Thus in his own Lateran palace, he dedicated a church to the Saviour, and founded the attached baptistry under the name of Saint John the Baptist, in the place where he himself, baptized by Saint Sylvester, had been cured of leprosy. It is this church which the Pontiff consecrated in the fifth of the ides of November; and we celebrate the commemoration on that day, when for the first time in Rome a church was thus publicly consecrated, and where a painting of the Savior was visible on the wall before the eyes of the Roman people.”

   When the Lateran Church was partially ruined by fires, enemy invasions, and earthquakes, it was always rebuilt with great zeal by the Sovereign Pontiffs. In 1726, after one such restoration, Pope Benedict XIII consecrated it anew and assigned the commemoration of that event to the present day. The church was afterwards enlarged and beautified by Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII.

Source: L’Année liturgique, by Dom Prosper Guéranger (Mame et Fils: Tours, 1919), “The Time after Pentecost, VI,” Vol. 15. Translation O.D.M.

Saint Theodore the Recruit of Tyro, Martyr

   Saint Theodore Tyro, one of the most celebrated of the oriental martyrs, was born of a noble family in the East, and enrolled while still a youth in the imperial army. Early in 306, when he had just joined the legion and marched with its soldiers into the Pont, the Roman Emperor issued an edict requiring all Christians to offer sacrifice. The young man was faced with the choice between apostasy and death. He declared before his commander that he was ready to be cut in pieces and offer up every limb to his Creator, who had died for him. Wishing to conquer him by gentleness, the commander left him in peace for a while, that he might think over his resolution.

   He profited from his liberty to fortify other confessors for martyrdom, and in his ardor for the downfall of idolatry he set fire to a temple dedicated to the goddess Cybel, called “the mother of the gods.” He did not attempt to conceal his act, but when arrested admitted at once that he was the author of it, and that he had undertaken it to prevent the sacrileges committed every day in that place of abomination. The judge could not persuade him to renounce this “crime” and adore the empire’s divinities; he therefore had him cruelly whipped and then shut up in a solitary cell with the order to give him nothing to eat and let him die of hunger.

   Our Lord visited him during the night and consoled him, and He told his servant He Himself would nourish him invisibly. This visit filled him with such joy that he began to sing; and at the same moment, Angels in white robes appeared in his prison, to sing hymns of joy with him. The jailers and guardians all witnessed this spectacle, as did also the judge Publius who had condemned him, but none of them were touched by it. They gave him an ounce of bread and a flask of water every day, only to prolong his martyrdom. The Saint refused these offerings.

   When the authorities made him fine promises and attempted to persuade him to conform, he protested that never would he say one word or make one gesture contrary to the fidelity he owed to his sovereign Lord. He was again beaten and tortured with iron hooks, then burnt with torches, and condemned finally to be burnt alive, to punish him for the fire he had ignited. He made the sign of the Cross, and filled with faith, hope and pure love of God, gave up to Him his beautiful soul, victorious and laden with merits. The year was 304. The Christians saw his soul rise to heaven like a flash of light and fire.

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).

SUNDAY, November 10, 2002

Semi Double Feast of the 25th Sunday After Pentecost
(from 5th Sunday After Epiphany)

Traditional Feast of Saint Trypon, Respicius and Nympha who were martyred in the third century
and Saint Andrew Avellino, Priest and Confessor who died in 1608.

    Green Vestments

        Proper of the Season:

        EPISTLE: Colossians 3: 12-17
        GOSPEL: Matthew 13: 24-30

Saint Andrew Avellino

  After a holy youth devoted to serious studies of philosophy and the humanities in Venice, Lancelot Avellino was ordained priest by the bishop of Naples. He was assigned to the chaplaincy of a community of nuns, sadly in need of reform; his intrepid courage and perseverance finally overcame many difficulties, and regular observance was restored in the monastery. Certain irritated libertines, however, decided to do away with him and, waiting for him when he was about to leave a church, felled him with three sword thrusts. He lost much blood, but his wounds healed perfectly without leaving any trace. The viceroy of Naples was ready to employ all his authority to punish the authors of this sacrilege; the holy priest, not desiring the death of sinners but rather their conversion and their salvation, declined to pursue them. One of them, however, died soon afterwards, assassinated by a man who wished to avenge a dishonor to his house.

   He was still practicing law, which he had studied in Naples; one day a slight untruth escaped him in the defense of a client, and he conceived such regret for his fault that he vowed to practice law no longer. In 1556, at the age of thirty-six, he entered the Theatine Order, taking the name of Andrew out of love for the cross. After a pilgrimage to Rome to the tombs of the Apostles, he returned to Naples and was named master of novices in his Community, a duty he fulfilled for ten years. He was also chosen to be Superior of the house there, and then was sent out to found two houses elsewhere, at Milan and Piacenza. At the latter city he again met the opposition of libertines; but the Duke of Parma, to whom letters accusing him were directed, was completely charmed when he met him, and regarded him thereafter as a Saint.

   He then became Superior of the Milan foundation, where his friendship with Saint Charles Borromeo took root; the two Saints conversed together often. And Saint Andrew, with his admirable simplicity, confided to the Archbishop that he had seen Our Lord, and that since that time the impression of His divine beauty, remaining with him constantly, had rendered insipid all other so-called beauties of the earth. Petitions were presented to Pope Gregory XIV to make him a bishop, but he declined that honor with firmness, having always desired to remain obedient rather than to command. When his term as superior ended, he was successful in avoiding the government of another Theatine residence for only three years, then became superior at Saint Paul of Naples.

   Once when Saint Andrew was taking the Viaticum to a dying person and a storm extinguished the lamps, a heavenly light surrounded him, guided his steps, and sheltered him from the rain. But he was far from exempt from sufferings. His horse threw him one day on a rough road, and since his feet were caught in the stirrups, dragged him for a long time along this road. He invoked Saint Dominic and Saint Thomas Aquinas, who came to him, wiped his face covered with blood, cured his wounds, and even helped him back onto the horse. He attributed such episodes to his unworthiness, believing he was among the reprobate, but Saint Thomas once again came to him, accompanied by Saint Augustine, and restored his confidence in the love and mercy of God.

   On the last day of his life, November 10, 1608, Saint Andrew rose to say Mass. He was eighty-eight years old, and so weak he could scarcely reach the altar. He began the Judica me, Deus, the opening prayer, but fell forward, the victim of apoplexy. Laid on a straw mattress, his whole frame was convulsed in agony, while the ancient fiend, in visible form, advanced as though to seize his soul. Then, while the onlookers prayed and wept, he invoked Our Lady, and his Guardian Angel seized the monster and dragged it out of the room. A calm and holy smile settled on the features of the dying Saint and, as he gazed with a grateful countenance on the image of Mary, his holy soul winged its way to God.

    REFLECTION: Saint Andrew, who suffered so terrible an agony, is invoked as special protector from an unprovided and sudden death. Ask this holy priest to be with you in your last hour, and bring Jesus and Mary to your aid.

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).

Monday, November 11, 2002 - VETERANS' DAY:
    Double Feast of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop and Confessor, Patron Saint of Soldiers and the uncle of Saint Patrick of Ireland; and the Traditional Feast of Saint Mennas, third century martyr

        White Vestments.

    Proper of the Saints:

    EPISTLE: 1 Peter 5: 1-4, 10-11
    GRADUAL: Psalms 106: 31-32
    GOSPEL: Matthew 16: 13-19

Saint Martin of Tours

   Saint Martin, born in Pannonia (Hungary), followed his father, a military tribune in the service of Rome, to Italy. Although he was raised in paganism, he felt nothing but contempt for its cult, and as though he were Christian by nature, he took pleasure only in the assemblies of the faithful, which he attended despite his family’s opposition. When he was fifteen years old, he was forcibly enrolled in the Roman armies and went to serve in Gaul, the land he was predestined to evangelize one day. What would become of this young boy, when exposed to the libertinage of the camps? Would his faith not be obliterated? No, for God was watching over His vessel of election.

   The most famous episode of this period in his life is his meeting with a poor man almost naked in the dead of winter, and trembling with cold. Martin did not have a penny to give him, but he remembered the text of the Gospel: “I was naked, and you clothed Me.” “My friend,” he said, “I have nothing but my weapons and my garments.” And taking up his sword, he divided his cloak into two parts and gave one to the beggar. The following night he saw Jesus Christ in a dream, clothed with this half-cloak and saying to His Angels: “It is Martin, still a catechumen, who covered Me.” Soon afterwards he received Baptism.

   Disinterested charity, purity, and bravery distinguished the life of the young soldier. He obtained his discharge at the age of about twenty. Martin succeeded in converting his mother, but was driven from his home by the Arians. He took refuge with Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers. After having given striking proofs of his attachment to the faith of Nicea, he founded near Poitiers the celebrated monastery of Ligugé, the first in Gaul. The brilliance of his sanctity and his miracles raised him in 372 to the episcopal throne of Tours, despite his lively resistance. His life thereafter was but a continual succession of prodigies and apostolic labors. His flock, though Christian in name, was still pagan at heart. Unarmed and attended only by his monks, Martin destroyed the heathen temples and groves, and completed by his preaching and miracles the conversion of the people. His power over demons was extraordinary. Idolatry never recovered from the blows given it by Saint Martin.

   After having visited and renewed his diocese, the servant of God felt pressed to extend his journeyings and labors beyond its confines. Clothed in a poor tunic and a rude cloak, and seated on an ass, accompanied only by a few religious, he left like a poor missionary to evangelize the countryside. He passed through virtually all the provinces of Gaul, and neither mountains, nor rivers, nor dangers of any description stopped him. Everywhere his undertakings were victorious, and he more than earned his title of the Light and the Apostle of Gaul.

Source: Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).


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