DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     July 21, 1999     vol. 10, no. 135


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Wednesday, July 21, 1998

    Wednesday July 21:
    Sixteenth Wednesday in Ordinary Time and
    Feast of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Religious priest and Doctor of the Church

    Green or white vestments

      First Reading: Exodus 16: 1-5, 9-15
      Psalms: Psalm 78: 18-19, 23-28
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 13: 1-9


          Born in Brindisi in the Kingdom of Naples shortly after the Protestant Reformation in 1559, Saint Lawrence of Brindisi was born as Caesare de Rossi. He is one of the few saints who was born and died on the same day - July 22nd. He was educated by the Conventual Franciscans in Naples and also sent for further studies under his uncle at St. Mark's in Venice. At 16 he joined the Capuchin order in Verona and was given the name Lawrence. His keen mind and tremendous zeal earned him the honor of studying at the University of Padua where he mastered several languages from Latin and Greek to Hebrew and Aramaic, not to mention French and German. After his ordination as a Capuchin priest, he became known far and wide as an astute preacher. However his administrative prowess led to his election as Provincial for the Order in Genoa, Tuscany and Venice, in addition to Switzerland where the Reformation had dug in deeply. At the turn of the seventeenth century Lawrence was sent to the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II to seek his military support for Naples and join the Catholic League against the Turks. He was successful and joined the troops on the front line as head chaplain with only the Crucifix as his weapon. It was enough as he led the men valiantly into battle at Szekesfehervar where they were victorious for the cause of Christ. A year later he returned to Naples where he was unanimously elected Superior General of the Capuchins. While holding this position of Vicar General he not only established the Order in Austria, Moravia and Tyrol but traveled into the heart of Germany to counter the fall-out effects of Luther's campaign. Rudolph was so impressed with Lawrence that he solicited the saint to recruit the various German rulers to join the Catholic League in their on-going battles with the Turks. In 1605 the Capuchins overwhelmingly chose Lawrence to serve another term but he gratefully declined, to concentrate more on evangelization to other countries. One of these countries included Spain where he convinced the Spanish King Philip III to join the Catholic League and received imperial permission to found a Capuchin house in Madrid. His success prompted the Holy Father Pope Paul V to appoint Lawrence Papal Nuncio. In 1618 he resigned his position and retreated to his beloved homeland of Brindisi in Naples to live out the rest of his life, but God had other plans. At the persistence of the Neapolitan rulers, he was sent to Spain to seek military support against the duke of Osuna, a Spanish subject. Again his mission was successful and the duke was recalled to Spain for a harsh chastising by the king. However, the trip took its toll on Lawrence who had struggled with the sweltering summer heat and became seriously dehydrated. Shortly after his mission had been accomplished he fell into a coma and died in Lisbon on his sixtieth birthday - July 22, 1619. Two hundred and sixty two years later Pope Leo XIII canonized Lawrence and that was topped by Pope John XXIII on July 21, 1959 when he proclaimed Lawrence of Brindisi the distinguished title of Doctor of the Church.

Thursday, July 22, 1998

      First Reading: Exodus 19: 1-2, 9-11, 16-20
      Psalms: Daniel 3: 52-56
      Gospel Reading: John 20: 1-2, 11-18


          One of the greatest examples of Jesus' claim that He came for sinners was hid dear, loyal disciple Saint Mary Magdalene from Magdala near the Sea of Galilee. This beautiful Jewish woman was caught up in the world, the flesh and the devil until she met Jesus. He saw right into her soul and she knew instantly in her heart she needed to totally repent of her life of sin as a prostitute by following Our Lord into the house of a rich man, and, oblivious to the taunts and jeers from others, knelt at His feet and washed His precious feet with her tears and expensive ointment. Jesus was moved at her repentance and cast out seven devils (cf Mark 16: 9, Luke 8: 2) from her body. From that time on The Magdalen was one of the most loyal followers of Jesus. Aside from His Own Blessed Mother, no one stuck by Our Lord through thick and thin more than Mary Magdalene throughout His ministry and at the foot of the Cross. Christ Himself rewarded her for her devotion and persistence by being the first one He appeared to after His Resurrection (cf. John 20: 1-18). After the Ascension, there are some reports that Mary Magdalene retreated to the desert to live out her life in prayer and penance, while Eastern tradition claims Mary Magdalene accompanied the Blessed Mother and Saint John to Ephesus after Pentecost where The Magdalen died peacefully and was buried there. The latter bears believability since her relics were found in Ephesus, transfered to the Monastery of St. Lazarus in Constantinople in 899. Her feast was first celebrated in the 10th Century and spread to the entire Church in the 11th Century.

July 21, 1999       volume 10, no. 135


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