Proper of the Saints and Feasts |
Monday, October 7:
Feast of the MOST HOLY ROSARY and the feast of Pope Saint Mark, Confessor.
Double of Second Class. White Vestments
As a result of the miraculous victory of the Christians over the superior Turk fleet in the landmark Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571 produced through Our Lady's intercession from the reverently praying her Holy Rosary, Pope Pius V proclaimed the date as the feast of Our Lady of Victory. The Rosary had been promulgated since Saint Dominic was given the Rosary in a vision in the early 14th Century. A century and a half later Pius V, a Dominican, realized intuitively that this was a manifestation of the power of the Rosary and declared it a great feast. His successor Pope Gregory XIII in 1573 made it obligatory for Rome and for the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. Pope Clement XI established the feast in the Roman Calendar earmarking it for the first Sunday in October as the Dominicans had been celebrating it. In 1960, Pope John XXIII officially proclaimed October 7 as the set day and changed the name from to Our Lady of the Rosary. Over the past two centuries the Rosary has been emphasized, specifically at Fatima. The Holy Rosary is the most powerful weapon we have, that each bead is a rose forming a beautiful bouquet Blessed Mary presents to God on our behalf; each bead becomes a firm link in the chain that will bind satan forever. Outside of the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the Rosary is the most important devotion we have in Holy Mother Church.
Pope Saint Mark
Pope Saint Mark, a Roman by birth, succeeded Pope Saint Sylvester in the apostolic chair on the 18th of January, 336. He had served God with such fervor that he advanced constantly in sincere humility and all the apostolic virtues; and he was consecrated a bishop two years before his election to the papal throne. The reign of his predecessor Saint Sylvester, from 314 to until the last day of the year 335, when God came for him, had coincided in large part with that of Constantine the Great. The persecution of the Christian religion had ceased after 313, result of the famous edict of the Emperor which established it as the official religion of State.
During his brief pontificate of eight months, Saint Mark ordained twenty-five priests; he sent for the first time the pallium, symbol of a superior episcopal authority, to the bishop of Ostia, and established by a constitution that the bishop of that see alone would have the right to consecrate future popes. The white wool of the symbolic pallium is worn across the shoulders, to symbolize the lost sheep recovered by the Good Shepherd of Christ’s parable. Saint Mark built two basilicas in Rome, the one earlier called in Pallacina, which today bears his own name and is substantially the same structure; the second was raised over an ancient catacomb, and there he himself was later buried.
With the intrigues of the Arians, the gravest problems arose; Saint Mark abated nothing of his watchfulness, but endeavored rather to redouble his zeal during the peace of the Church. He knew well that if men sometimes cease openly to persecute the faithful, the devil never allows them any truce, and his snares are generally most to be feared in times of apparent calm. This Pope witnessed a turning point of the conflict between the Church and Arianism; the heresiarch himself was struck down by the hand of God at the very moment he was expecting to triumph, and the Arians themselves were frozen in fear. Saint Mark died on October 7, 336, and was buried in his church on the Ardeatine Way.
Reflection: A Christian should fear no enemy more than himself, whom he always has with him, and from whom he is not able to flee. He should therefore never cease to cry out to God, “Unless Thou, O Lord, art my light and support, I watch in vain!”
Source: Histoire générale de l’Église, by Abbé J.-E. Darras (Louis Vivès: Paris, 1869), Vol. 9.
Tuesday, October 8:
Feast of Saint Bridget of Sweden, Widow and Religious
Double Feast. White Vestments.
Saint Bridget was born into the Swedish royal family in the year 1302, the daughter of very virtuous Christian parents. More than one prophetic episode attended the birth of Bridget, “whose voice would be heard with admiration by the entire world,” according to a bishop of her country. Curiously, for three years she said not a word, then began to speak with facility and clarity, like persons of mature years. At the age of seven, after her mother had died, she beheld the Mother of God, who presented her with a beautiful crown. She became sober, modest, candid, humble, and peaceful. At ten years old she saw Our Lord as He was on the Cross, and she began to meditate constantly on the mysteries of the Passion, while occupying herself exteriorly with needlework.
In obedience to her father, she was married to Prince Ulpho of Sweden. Saint Bridget became the mother of eight children, four boys and four girls, one of whom, Saint Catherine of Sweden, is honored as a Saint. Their four sons died young, two during one of the crusades. After some years she and her husband separated by mutual consent; he entered the Cistercian Order, where he died thirty years before his holy spouse. After his death, her life became still more austere; for her guide she had a celebrated Doctor of Theology, a Canon of the cathedral of Linkoeping. Severe for herself, Saint Bridget remained gentle for the poor and nourished twelve persons every day, serving them herself; she established hospices for the sick and the convalescent. She founded the Order of the Holy Saviour for sixty nuns, at the Abbey of Wastein or Wadstena in Sweden.
Saint Bridget received a series of sublime revelations, all of which she scrupulously submitted to the judgment of her confessor. During a famous pilgrimage which she made to Rome at the command of her Lord, He dictated to her the “Fifteen Prayers of Saint Bridget,” in honor of His Passion. Saint Bridget also went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land with her daughter, Saint Catherine of Sweden, and amid the very scenes of the Passion was further instructed in the sacred mysteries. She died in Rome, during her return from this pilgrimage, in 1373.
REFLECTION: Saint Bridget appreciated in an extraordinary way the grace of the Sacrament of Penance. “Is confession a matter of much time or expense?” asks Saint John Chrysostom. “Is it a difficult and painful remedy? Without cost or hurt, this medicine is ever ready to restore you to perfect health.”
Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12; 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).