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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

‘THREE saints,’ said our Lord to St. Bridget of Sweden, 'have been more pleasing to me than all others: Mary my mother, John the Baptist, and Mary Magdalen.’[1] The Fathers tell us that Magdalen is a type of the Gentile Church, called from the depth of sin to perfect holiness; and, indeed, better than any other, she personifies both the wanderings and the love of the human race, espoused by the Word of God. Like the most illustrious characters of the law of grace, she has her antitype in past ages. Let us follow the history of this great penitent as traced by unanimous tradition: Magdalen’s glory will not be thereby diminished.

When, before all ages, God decreed to manifest His glory, He willed to reign over a world drawn from nothing; and as His goodness was equal to His power, He would have the triumph of supreme love to be the law of that kingdom, which the Gospel likens unto a king who made a marriage for his son.[2]

Passing over the pure intelligences whose nine choirs are filled with divine light, the immortal Son of the King of ages looked down to the extreme limits of creation; there he beheld human nature, made, indeed, to know God, but acquiring that knowledge laboriously; its weakness would better show His divine condescension: with it, then, He chose to contract His alliance.

Man is flesh and blood: so the Son of God would be made Flesh; He would not have angels, but men for His brothers. He that in heaven is the Splendour of His Father, and on earth the most beautiful of the sons of men, would draw the human racewith the cords of Adam.[3] In the very act of creation He sealed His espousals by raising man to the supernatural state of grace, and placing him in the paradise of expectation.

Alas! the human race knew not how to await her Bridegroom even in the shades of Eden. Cast out of the garden of delights, she prostituted to vain idols in their groves what was left her of her glory. For she had much beauty still, the gift of her Spouse, though she had profaned it: Thou wast perfect through my beauty, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God.[4]

God would not suffer His love to be defeated. Leaving humanity at large to walk in the ways of folly, He chose out a single people, sprung from a holy stock, to be the guardian of His promises. Coming forth from Egypt and from the midst of a barbarous nation, this people was consecrated to God and became His inheritance. In the person of Balaam, the former Bride saw Israel pass through the desert, and filled with admiration at the glory of the Lord dwelling with him in his tent, her heart for a moment beat with bridal love. I shall see Him, she cried in her transport, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not near.[5] From those wild heights whence the Spouse would one day call her, she hailed the Star that was to rise out of Jacob, and predicted the ruin of the Hebrew people who had supplanted her for a time.

Too soon was this sublime ecstasy followed by still more culpable wanderings! How long wilt thou be dissolute in deliciousness, O wandering daughter? Know thou, and see, that it is an evil and a bitter thing for thee to have left the Lord thy God.[6] But the ages are passing, the night will soon be over, and the day-star will arise, the sign of the Bridegroom gathering the nations. Let Him lead thee into the wilderness and there He will speak to thy heart. Thy rival knows not how to be a queen; the alliance of Sinai has produced but a slave. The Bridegroom still waits for His Bride.

At length the hour came: bending the heavens, He was made sin[7] for sinful men; and hidden under the servile garb of mortals, He sat down to table in the house of the proud Pharisee. The haughty Synagogue, who would neither fast with John nor rejoice with Christ, was now to see God justifying the delays of His merciful love. ' Let us not, like Pharisees,' says St. Ambrose, 'despise the counsels of God. The sons of Wisdom are singing: listen to their voices, attend to their dances; it is the hour of the nuptials. Thus sang the prophet when he said: Come from Libanus, my spouse, come from Libanus.'[8]

And behold a woman that was in the city, a sinner, when she knew that He sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment; and standing behind at His feet, she began to wash His feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment.[9] ‘Who is this woman? Without doubt it is the Church,' answers St. Peter Chrysologus, 'the Church, weighed down and stained with sins committed in the city of this world. At the news that Christ has appeared in Judea, that He is to be seen at the banquet of the Pasch, where He bestows His mysteries and reveals the divine Sacrament, and makes known the secret of salvation, suddenly she darts forward; despising the endeavours of the Scribes to prevent her entrance, she confronts the princes of the Synagogue; burning with desire she penetrates into the sanctuary, where she finds Him whom she seeks, betrayed by Jewish perfidy even at the banquet of love; not the passion, nor the Cross, nor the tomb can check her faith, or prevent her from bringing her perfumes to Christ.’[10]

Who but the Church knows the secret of this perfume? asks Paulinus of Nola with Ambrose of Milan; the Church, whose numberless flowers have all aromas; the Church, who exhales before God a thousand sweet odours aroused by the breath of the Holy Spirit—viz., the virtues of nations and the prayers of the saints. Mingling the perfume of her conversion with her tears of repentance, she anoints the feet of her Lord, honouring in them His humanity. Her faith, whereby she is justified, grows equally with her love: soon the Head of the Spouse—that is, His divinity—receives from her the homage of the full measure of pure and precious spikenard—to wit, consummate holiness, whose heroism goes so far as to break the vessel of mortal flesh by the martyrdom of love, if not by that of tortures.

Arrived at the height of the mystery, she forgets not even there those sacred feet, whose contact delivered her from the seven devils representing all vices; for to the heart of the Bride, as in the bosom of the Father, her Lord is still both God and Man. The Jew, who would not own Christ either for head or foundation, found no fragrant oil for His head, nor even water for His feet; she, on the contrary, pours her priceless perfume over both. And while the sweet odour of her perfect faith fills the earth, now become by the victory of that faith the house of the Lord, she continues to wipe her Master's feet with her beautiful hair—i.e., her countless good works and her ceaseless prayer. The growth of this mystical hair requires all her care here on earth; and in heaven its abundance and beauty will call forth the praise of Him who jealously counts, without losing one, all the works of His Church. Then from her own head, as from that of her Spouse, will the fragrant unction of the Holy Spirit overflow even to the skirt of her garment.

Thou despisest, O Pharisee, the poor woman weeping with love at the feet of thy divine Guest, whom thou knowest not; but ‘I would rather,’ cries the solitary of Nola, ‘ be bound up in her hair at the feet of Christ, than be seated with thee near Christ, yet without Him.'[11] Happy sinner to be, both in her life of sin and that of grace, the figure of the Church, even so far as to have been foreseen and announced by the prophets. For such is the teaching of St. Jerome and St. Cyril of Alexandria; while Venerable Bede, gathering up, according to his wont, the traditions of his predecessors, does not hesitate to assert that ‘ what Magdalen once did, remains the type of what the whole Church does, and of what every perfect soul must ever do.’[12]

We can well understand the predilection of the Man-God for this soul, whose repentance from such a depth of misery manifested so fully, from the outset, the success of His mission, the defeat of Satan, and the triumph of divine love. While Israel was expecting from the Messias nought but perishable goods, when the very apostles, including John the beloved, were looking for honours and first places, she was the first to come to Jesus for Himself alone, and not for His gifts. Eager only for pardon and love, she chose for her portion those sacred feet, wearied in the search after the wandering sheep: here was the blessed altar whereon she offered to her divine Deliverer as many holocausts of herself, says St. Gregory, as she had had vain objects of complacency. Henceforth her goods and her person were at the disposal of Jesus; the rest of her life was to be spent sitting at His feet, contemplating the mysteries of His life, gathering up His every word, following His footsteps, as He preached the Kingdom of God. How swiftly, in the light of her humble confidence, did she outstrip the Synagogue and the very just themselves! The Pharisee might be indignant, her sister might complain, the apostles might murmur: Mary held her peace; but Jesus spoke for her, as if His Sacred Heart were hurt by the least word said against her. At the death of Lazarus the Master had to call her from the mysterious repose wherein even then she was seated; her presence at the tomb was of more avail than the whole college of apostles and the crowd of Jews. One word from her, though already said by Martha who had arrived first, was more powerful than all the words of the latter; her tears made the Man-God weep, and drew from Him that groan which He uttered before recalling the dead man to life-that divine trouble of a God overcome by His creature. Oh truly, for others as well as for herself, for the world as well as for God, Mary has chosen the better part, which shall not be taken from her.[13]

In all that we have said, we have but linked together the testimonies of a veneration universally consistent. But the homage of all the doctors together cannot compare with the honour which the Church pays to the humble Magdalen, when she applies to the Queen of heaven on her glorious Assumption day the Gospel words first uttered in praise of the justified sinner. Albert the Great[14] assures us that, in the world of grace as well as in the material creation, God has made two great lights-to wit, two Maries, the Mother of our Lord and the sister of Lazarus: the greater, which is the Blessed Virgin, to rule the day of innocence; the lesser, which is Mary the penitent beneath the feet of that glorious Virgin, to rule the night by enlightening repentant sinners. As the moon by its phases points out the feast days on earth, so Magdalen in heaven gives the signal of joy to the angels of God over one sinner doing penance. Does she not also share with the Immaculate One the name of Mary, Star of the sea, as the Churches of Gaul sang in the Middle Ages, recalling how, though one was a Queen and the other a handmaid, both were causes of joy to the Church: the one being the gate of salvation, the other the messenger of the Resurrection?[15]

On that great Easter day, Magdalen, like a morning star, announced the rising of the Sun of Justice, who was never more to set. ‘Woman,’ said Jesus to her, ‘why weepest thou? Thou art not mistaken.’ He seemed to say, ‘It is, indeed, the Divine Gardener speaking to thee, the same that planted Eden in the beginning. But now dry thy tears; in this new garden, whose centre is an empty tomb, Paradise is restored; the angels no longer close the entrance; here is the Tree of Life, which has borne fruit these three days past. This fruit, which thou, O woman, art eager, as of old, to seize and taste, belongs to thee now by right; for thou art no longer Eve but Mary. If thou art bidden not to touch it yet, it is because, as thou wouldst not heretofore taste the fruit of death thyself alone, thou mayest not now enjoy the fruit of life till thou bring back him that was first lost through thee.' Thus by the wisdom and mercy of our God, woman is raised to a greater dignity than before the Fall. Magdalen, to whom woman is indebted for this glorious revenge, has hence obtained in the Church’s litanies the place of honour above even the virgins; as John the Baptist precedes the whole army of the saints on account of his privilege of being the first witness to our salvation. The testimony of the penitent completes that of the Precursor: on the word of John the Church recognized the Lamb who taketh away the sins of the world; on the word of Magdalen she hails the Spouse triumphant over death.[16] And, judging that by this last testimony Catholic belief is put in full possession of the entire cycle of mysteries, she to-day intones the immortal symbol, which she deemed premature for the feast of Zachary’s son.

O Mary! how great didst thou appear before heaven at that solemn moment when, before the world knew aught of the triumph of life, our Emmanuel the conqueror said to thee: Go to My brethren, and say to them: I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God.[17] Thou didst represent us Gentiles, who were not to obtain possession of our Lord by faith till after His ascension into heaven. These brethren, to whom the Man-God sent thee, were doubtless those privileged men whom He had called to know Him during His mortal life, and to whom thou, O apostle of the apostles, hadst to announce the mystery of the Pasch; and yet, in His loving mercy, the divine Master intended to show Himself that same day to many of them; and both thou and they were soon to be witnesses of His triumphant Ascension. Is it not evident that thy mission, O Magdalen, though addressed to the immediate disciples of our Lord, was to extend much further both in space and time? As He entered into His glory, the Conqueror of death already beheld these brethren filling the whole earth. It is of them He had said in the psalm: I will declare thy name to My brethren: in the midst of the Church will I praise thee; in the midst of a people that shall be bom which the Lord hath made.[18] It is of them and of us, the generation to come, to whom the Lord was to be declared, that He said to thee: Go to My brethren and say to them: I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and your God. Thou didst come, and thou comest continually, fulfilling thy mission towards the disciples, and saying to them: I have seen the Lord, and these things He said to me.[19]

Thou camest, O Mary, when our West beheld thee, treading the rocks of Provence with thine apostolic feet, whose beauty Cyril of Alexandria admires. There seven times a day, raised on angels’ wings towards the Spouse, thou didst point out, more eloquently than any speech could do, the way He took, the way the Church must follow by her desires, until she is reunited with Him for ever. Thou didst prove that the apostolate in its highest reach does not depend on words. In heaven the Seraphim and Cherubim and Thrones gaze unceasingly upon the Eternal Trinity, without so much as glancing at this world of nothingness; and nevertheless it is through them that pass the strength and light and love which the heavenly messengers in the lower hierarchies distribute to us on earth. Thus, O Magdalen, though thou clingest ever to the sacred feet which are now not denied to thy love, and thy life is unreservedly absorbed with Christ in God, thou seemest more than any other to be always saying to us: If ye be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth.[20]

O thou, whose choice, so highly approved by our Lord, has revealed to the world the better part, obtain that that portion may be ever appreciated in the Church as the better—viz., that divine contemplation which begins here on earth the life of heaven, and which in its fruitful repose is the source of all the graces spread by the active ministry throughout the world. Death itself does not take away that portion, but assures its possession for ever, and makes it blossom into the full, direct vision. May he that has received it from the gratuitous goodness of God never strive to dispossess himself of it! ‘Happy house,’ says the devout St. Bernard, 'blessed assembly, where Martha complains of Mary! But how indignant we should be if Mary were jealous of Martha!’[21] And St. Jude tells us the awful judgment of the angels who kept not their principality, the familiar friends of God who forsook their own habitation.[22] Keep up in religious families established by their fathers on heights that touch the clouds the sense of their inborn nobility; they are not made for the dust and noise of the plain: and did they come down to it, they would injure both the Church and themselves. By remaining what they are, they do not, any more than thou, O Magdalen, become indifferent to the lost sheep; but they take the surest of all means for purifying the earth and drawing souls to God.

From thy church at Vezelay thou didst look down one day upon a vast multitude eagerly receiving the cross; they were about to undertake that immortal Crusade, not the least glory whereof is to have supernaturalized the sentiments of honour in the hearts of those Christian warriors armed for the defence of the holy Sepulchre. A similar lesson was given to the world at the beginning of last century; Napoleon, intoxicated with power, would raise to himself and his army a Temple of glory; before the building was completed he was swept away, and the temple was dedicated to thee. O Mary! bless this last homage of thy beloved France, whose people and princes have always surrounded with deepest veneration thy hallowed retreat at Sainte Baume, and thy church at Saint Maximin, where rest thy precious relics. In return, teach them and teach us all, that the only true and lasting glory is to follow with thee in His Ascension Him who once sent thee to us, saying: Go to My brethren, and say to them: I ascend to My Father, and to your Father, to My God and to your God!

During the different seasons of the year Holy Church inserts in their proper places, as so many precious pearls, the various passages of the Gospel relating to St. Mary Magdalen; for the particulars of her life after the Ascension we are referred to the feast of her sister, St. Martha, which we shall keep in a week’s time. To the liturgical pieces already given in this work in praise of St. Magdalen we add the following ancient sequence, well known in the churches of Germany, to which we subjoin a responsory and the collect of the feast from the Roman Breviary:

Sequence
[...]

Responsory

Congratulami mihi, omnes qui diligitis Dominum, quia quem quærebam apparuit mihi:
* Et dum flerem ad monumentum, vidi Dominum meum, alleluia.

℣. Recedentibus discipulis, non recedebam, et amoris ejus igne succensa, ardebam desiderio. * Et dum.
Congratulate me, all ye that love the Lord; for He whom I sought appeared to me:
* and while I wept at the tomb, I saw my Lord, alleluia.

℣. When the disciples withdrew, I did not withdraw, and being kindled with the fire of His love, I burned with desire. * And while.

Prayer

Beatæ Mariæ Magdalenæ, quæsumus Domine, sufiragiis adjuvemur: cujus precibus exoratus quatriduanum fratrem Lazarum vivum ab inferis resuscitasti. Qui vivis.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may be helped by the intercession of blessed Mary Magdalen, entreated by whose prayers Thou didst raise up again to life her brother Lazarus, who had been dead four days. Who livest, etc.

[1] Revelationes S. Birgittæ, lib. iv., cap. 108.
[2] St. Matt. xxii. 2.
[3] Osee xi. 4.
[4] Ezech. xvi. 14.
[5] Num. xxiv. 17.
[6] Jerem. xxxi. 22, and ii. 19.
[7] 2 Cor. v. 21.
[8] Amb. in Luc.
[9] St. Luke vii. 37, 38.
[10] Pet. Chrysol. Sermo xcv.
[11] Paulin. Ep. xxiii. 42.
[12] Beda in xii. Joann.
[13] St. Luke x. 42.
[14] ALBERT. MAGN. In vii. Luc.
[15] Sequence Mane prima sabbati.-Paschal Time, Vol. I., p. 287.
[16] Sequence of Easter day.
[17] St. John xx. 17.
[18] Ps. xxi. 23, 32.
[19] St. John xx. 18.
[20] Col. iii. 1, 2.
[21] BERN. Sermo iii. in Assumpt. B.V.M.
[22] St. Jude 6.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

RAVENNA, the mother of cities, invites us to-day to honour the martyr bishop, whose labours did more for her lasting renown than did the favour of emperors and kings. From the midst of her ancient monuments, the rival of Rome, though now fallen, points proudly to her unbroken chain of Pontiffs, which she can trace back to the Vicar of the Man-God through Apollinaris. This great saint has been praised by Fathers and Doctors of the Universal Church, his sons and successors. Would to God that the noble city had remembered what she owed to St. Peter!

Apollinaris had left family and fatherland and all he possessed to follow the Prince of the apostles. One day the master said to the disciple: ‘Why stayest thou here with us? Behold thou art instructed in all that Jesus did; rise up, receive the Holy Ghost, and go to that city which knows Him not.' And blessing him, he kissed him and sent him away.[1] Such sublime scenes of separation, often witnessed in those early days, and many a time since repeated, show by their heroic simplicity the grandeur of the Church.

Apollinaris sped to the sacrifice. Christ, says St. Peter Chrysologus,[2] hastened to meet His martyr, the martyr pressed on towards His King; but the Church, anxious to keep this support of her infancy, intervened to defer, not the struggle, but the crown; and for twenty-nine years, adds St. Peter Damian,[3] his martrydom was piolonged through such innumerable torments that the labours of Apollinaris alone were sufficient testimony of the faith tor those regions, which had no other witness unto blood. According to the traditions of the Church he so powerfully established, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove directly and visibly designated each of the twelve successors of Apollinaris, up to the age of peace.

The holy liturgy devotes the following lines to the history of this brave apostle:

Apollinaris cum principe apostolorum Antiochia Romam venit: a quo ordinatus episcopus, Ravennam ad Christi Domini Evangelium prædicandum mittitur: ubi cum ad Christi fidem plurimos converteret, captus ab idolorum sacerdotibus graviter cæsus est. Cumque ipso orante Bonifacius nobilis vir, qui diu mutus fuerat, loqueretur, ejusque filia immundo spiritu liberata esset; iterum est in ilium commota seditio. Itaque virgis cæsus, ardentes carbones nudis pedibus premere cogitur: quem cum subjectus ignis nihil læderet, ejicitur extra urbem.

Is vero latens aliquamdiu cum quibusdam Christianis, inde profectus est in Æmiliam, ubi Rufini patricii filiam mortuam ad vitam revocavit: ut propterea tota Rufini familia in Jesum Christum crederet. Quare vehementerincensus præfectus accersit Apollinarem, et cum eo gravius agit, ut finem faciat disseminandi in urbe Christi fidem. Cujus cum Apollinaris jussa negligeret, equuleo cruciatur: in cujus plagas aqua fervens infunditur, saxoque os tunditur: mox ferreis vinculis constrictus includitur in carcere. Quarto die impositus in navem, mittitur in exsilium: ac facto naufragio venit in Mysiam, inde ad ripam Danubii, postea in Thraciam.

Cum autem in Serapidis tempio dæmon se responsa daturum negaret, dum ibidem Petri apostoli discipulus moraretur, diu conquisitus inventus est Apollinaris: qui iterum jubetur navigare. Ita reversus Ravennam, ab iisdem illis idolorum sacerdotibus accusatus, centurioni custodiendus traditur: qui cum occulte Christum coleret, noctu Apollinarem dimisit. Re cognita, satellites eum persequuntur, et plagis in itinere confectum, quod mortuum crederent, relinquunt. Quem cum inde Christiani sustulissent, septimo die exhortans illos ad fidei constantiam, martyrii gloria clarus migravit e vita. Cujus corpus prope murum urbis sepultum est.
Apollinaris came to Rome from Antioch with the prince of the apostles, by whom he was consecrated bishop, and sent to Ravenna to preach the Gospel of our Lord Christ. He converted many to the faith of Christ, for which reason he was seized by the priests of the idols and severely beaten. At his prayer, a nobleman named Boniface, who had long been dumb, recovered the power of speech, and his daughter was delivered from an unclean spirit; on this account a fresh sedition was raised against Apollinaris. He was beaten with rods, and made to walk barefoot over burning coals; but as the fire did him no injury, he was driven from the city.

He lay hid some time in the house of certain Christians, and then went to Æmilia. Here he raised from the dead the daughter of Rufinus, a patrician, whose whole family thereupon believed in Jesus Christ. The prefect was greatly angered by this conversion, and sending for Apollinaris he sternly commanded, him to give over propagating the faith of Christ in the city. But as Apollinaris paid no attention to his commands, he was tortured on the rack, boiling water was poured upon his wounds, and his mouth was bruised and broken with a stone; finally he was loaded with irons, and shut up in prison. Four days afterwards he was put on board ship and sent into exile; but the boat was wrecked, and Apollinaris arrived in Mysia, whence he passed to the banks of the Danube and into Thrace.

In the temple of Serapis the demon refused to utter his oracles so long as the disciple of the apostle Peter remained there. Search was made for some time, and then Apollinaris was discovered and commanded to depart by sea. Thus he returned to Ravenna; but on the accusation of the same priests of the idols, he was placed in the custody of a centurion. As this man, however, worshipped Christ in secret, Apollinaris was allowed to escape by night. When this, became known, he was pursued and overtaken by the guards, who loaded him with blows and left him, as they thought, dead. He was carried away by the Christians, and seven days after, while exhorting them to constancy in the faith, he passed away from this life, to be crowned with the glory of martyrdom. His body was buried near the city walls.

Venantius Fortunatus,[4] coming from Ravenna to our northern lands, has taught us to salute from afar thy glorious tomb. Answer us by the wish thou didst frame during the days of thy mortal life: May the peace of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, rest upon you! Peace, the perfect gift, the first greeting of an apostle, the consummation of all grace: how thou didst appreciate it, how jealous of it thou wert for thy sons, even after thou hadst quitted this earth! By it thou didst obtain from the God of peace and love that miraculous intervention which pointed out, for so long a time, the bishops who were to succeed thee in thy see. Thou didst thyself appear one day to the Roman Pontiff, showing him Peter Chrysologus as the elect of Peter and of Apollinaris. And later on, knowing that the cloister was to be the home of the divine peace banished from the rest of the world, thou camest twice in person to bid Romuald obey the call of grace, and go and people the desert. How comes it that more than one of thy successors, no longer, alas! designated by the divine dove, should have become intoxicated with earthly favours, and so soon have forgotten the lessons left by thee to thy Church? Was it not sufficient honour for that Church, the daughter of Rome, to occupy among her illustrious sisters the first place at her mother's side?[5] For surely the Gospel sung on this feast for now twelve centuries, and perhaps more,[6] ought to have been a safeguard against the deplorable excesses which hastened her fall. Rome, warned by sinister indications, seems to have foreseen the sacrilegious ambition of a Guibert, when she fixed her choice on this passage of the sacred text: There was also a strife amongst the disciples, which of them should seem to he the greater.[7] And what more significant, and at the same time more touching, commentary could have been given to this Gospel than the words of St. Peter himself in the Epistle: The ancients therefore, that are among you, I beseech who am myself also an ancient, to feed the flock of God, not as lording it over the clergy, hut being models to them of disinterestedness and love; and let all insinuate humility one to another, for God resisteth the proud, but to the humble He giveth grace.[8] Pray, O Apollinaris, that both pastor and flocks throughout the Church may, now at least, profit by these apostolic and divine teachings, so that we may all one day have a place at the eternal banquet, where our Lord invites His own to sit down with Peter and with thee in His Kingdom.

 


[1] Passio S. Apollin. ap. BOLLAND.
[2] PETR. CHRYS. Sermo cxxviii.
[3] PETR. Dam. Sermo vi. de S. Eleuchadio.
[4] Vbnan. Fomtunat. Vita Sti. Martini, lib. iv., v. 684.
[5] Diplom. CLEMENTlS 11. Quod propulsis.
[6] Kalendar, FRONTON
[7] St. Luke xxii. 24-30.
[8] Cf. 1 Pet. v. 1.11.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

CHRISTINA, whose very name fills the Church with the fragrance of the Spouse, comes as a graceful harbinger to the feast of the elder son of thunder. The ancient Vulsinium, seated by its lake with basalt shores and calm clear waters, was the scene of a triumph over Etruscan paganism, when this child of ten years despised the idols of the nations, in the very place where, according to the edicts of Constantine, the false priests of Umbria and Tuscany held a solemn annual reunion.

The discovery of Christina's tomb in our days has confirmed this particular of the age of the martyr as given in her Acts, which were denied authenticity by the science of recent times: one more lesson given to an infatuated criticism which mistrusts everything but itself.

As we look from the shore where the heroic child was laid to rest after her combat, and see the isle where Amalasonte, the noble daughter of Theodoric the Great, perished so tragically, the nothingness of mere earthly grandeur speaks more powerfully to the soul than the most eloquent discourse. In the thirteenth century the Spouse, continuing to exalt the little martyr above the most illustrious queens, associated her in the triumph of His Sacrament of love: it was Christina's church He chose as the theatre of the famous miracle of Bolsena, which anticipated by but a few months the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi.

Let us unite our prayers and praises with those of holy Church, to honour the glorious virgin martyr.

Ant. Veni. Sponsa Christi, accipe coronam quam tibi Dominus præparavit in æternum.

℣. Specie tua et pulchritudine tua.
℟. Intende, prospere procede, et regna.
Ant. Come, O Bride of Christ, receive the crown which the Lord hath prepared for thee unto all eternity.

℣. In thy comeliness and thy beauty.
℟. Set forth, proceed prosperously, and reign.

Prayer

Indulgentiam nobis, quæsumus Domine, beata Christina virgo et martyr imploret: quæ tibi grata semper exstitit, et merito castitatis et tuæ professione virtutis. Per Dominum.
We beseech thee, O Lord, that the blessed virgin and martyr Christina may implore for us forgiveness; who was ever pleasing to Thee by the merit of chastity, and the confession of Thy power. Through our Lord, etc.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

LET us, to-day, hail the bright star which once made Compostella so resplendent with its rays that the obscure town became, like Jerusalem and Rome, a centre of attraction to the piety of the whole world. As long as the Christian empire lasted, the sepulchre of St. James the Great rivalled in glory that of St. Peter himself.

Among the saints of God, there is not one who manifested more evidently how the elect keep up after death an interest in the works confided to them by our Lord. The life of St. James after his call to the apostolate was but short; and the result of his labours in Spain, his allotted portion, appeared to be a failure. Scarcely had he, in his rapid course, taken possession of the land of Iberia, when, impatient to drink the chalice which would satisfy his continual desire to be close to his Lord, he opened by martyrdom the heavenward procession of the twelve, which was to be closed by the other son of Zebedee. O Salome, who didst give them both to the world, and didst present to Jesus their ambitious prayer, rejoice with a double joy: thou art not repulsed; He who made the hearts of mothers is thine abettor. Did He not, to the exclusion of all others except Simon His Vicar, choose thy two sons as witnesses of the greatest works of His power, admit them to the contemplation of His glory on Thabor, and confide to them His sorrow unto death in the garden of His agony? And to-day thy eldest-born becomes the first-born in heaven of the sacred college; the protomartyr of the apostles repays, as far as in him lies, the special love of Christ our Lord.

But how was he a messenger of the faith, since the sword of Herod Agrippa put such a speedy end to his mission! And how did he justify his name of son of thunder, since his voice was heard by a mere handful of disciples in a desert of infidelity?

This new name, another special prerogative of the two brothers, was realized by John in his sublime writings, wherein as by lightning flashes he revealed to the world the deep things of God; it was the same in his case as in that of Simon, who having been called Peter by Christ, was also made by Him the foundation of the Church; the name given by the Man-God was a prophecy, not an empty title. With regard to James, too, then, eternal Wisdom cannot have been mistaken. Let it not be thought that the sword of any Herod could frustrate the designs of the most High upon the men of His choice. The life of the saints is never cut short; their death, ever precious, is still more so when in the cause of God it seems to come before the time. It is then that with double reason we may say their works follow them; God Himself being bound in honour, both for His own sake and for theirs, to see that nothing is wanting to their plenitude. As a victim of a holocaust, He hath received them, says the Holy Ghost, and in time there shall be respect had to them. The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks u.mong the reeds. They shall judge nations, and rule over peoples; and their Lord shall reign for ever.[1] How literally was this divine oracle to be fulfilled with regard to our saint!

Nearly eight centuries, which to the heavenly citizens are but as a day, had passed over that tomb in the north of Spain, where two disciples had secretly laid the apostle's body. During that time the land of his inheritance, which he had so rapidly traversed. had been overrun first by Roman idolaters, then by Arian barbarians, and when the day of hope seemed about to dawn, a deeper night was ushered in by the Crescent. One day lights were seen glimmering over the briars that covered the neglected monument; attention was drawn to the spot, which henceforth went by the name of the field of stars. But what are those sudden shouts coming down from the mountains, and echoing through the valleys? Who is this unknown chief rallying against an immense army the little worn-out troop whose heroic valour could not yesterday save it from defeat? Swift as lightning, and bearing in one hand a white standard with a red cross, he rushes with drawn sword upon the panic-stricken foe, and dyes the feet of his charger in the blood of 70,000 slain. Hail to the chief of the holy war, of which this Liturgical Year has so often made mention! Saint James! Saint James! Forward, Spain! It is the reappearance of the Galilean fisherman, whom the Man-God once called from the bark where he was mending his nets; of the elder son of thunder, now free to hurl the thunderbolt upon these new Samaritans, who pretend to honour the unity of God by making Christ no more than a prophet.[2] Henceforth James shall be to Christian Spain the firebrand which the Prophet saw, devouring all the people round about, to the right hand and to the left, until Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place in Jerusalem.[3]

And when, after six centuries and a half of struggle, his standard bearers, the Catholic kings, had succeeded in driving the infidel hordes beyond the seas, the valiant leader of the Spanish armies laid aside his bright armour, and the slayer of Moorsbecame once more a messenger of the faith. As fisher of men, he entered his bark, and gathering around it the gallant fleets of Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Albuquerque, he led them over unknown seas to lands that had never yet heard the name of the Lord. For his contribution to the labours of the twelve, James drew ashore his wellfilled nets from west and east and south, from new worlds, renewing Peter’s astonishment at the sight of such captures. He, whose apostolate seemed at the time of Herod III to have been crushed in the bud before bearing any fruit, may say with St. Paul: I have no way come short of them that are above measure apostles, for by the grace of God I have laboured more abundantly than all they.[4]

Let us now read the lines consecrated by the Church to his honour:

Jacobus, Zebedæi filius, Joannis apostoli germanus frater, Galilæus, inter primos apostolos vocatus cum fratre, relictis patre ac retibus, secutus est Dominum, et ambo ab ipso Jesu Boanerges, id est, tonitrui filii sunt appellati. Is unus fuit ex tribus apostolis, quos Salvator maxime dilexit, et testes esse voluit suæ transfigurationis, et interesse miraculo, quum archisynagogi filiam a mortuis excitavit, et adesse cum secessit in montem Oliveti, Patrem oraturus, antequam a Judæis comprehenderetur.

Post Jesu Christi ascensum in cœlum, in Judæa et Samaria ejus divinitatem prædicans, plurimos ad Christianam fidem perduxit. Mox in Hispaniam profectus, ibi aliquos ad Christum convertit: ex quorum numero septem postea episcopi a beato Petro ordinati, in Hispaniam primi directi sunt. Deinde Jerosolymam reversus, quum inter alios Hermogenem magum fidei veritate imbuisset, Herodes Agrippa Claudio imperatore ad regnum elatus, ut a Judæis gratiam iniret, Jacobum libere Jesum Christum Deum confitentem capitis condemnavit. Quem quum is, qui eum duxerat ad tribunal, fortiter martyrium subeuntem vidisset, statim se et ipse Christianum esse professus est.

Ad supplicium quum raperentur, petiit ille a Jacobo veniam: quem Jacobus osculatus, Pax, inquit, tibi sit. Itaque uterque est secure percussus, quum Paulo ante Jacobus paralyticum sanasset. Corpus ejus postea Compostellam translatum est, ubi summa celebritate colitur, convenientibus eo religionis et voti causa ex toto terrarium orbe peregrinis. Memoria ipsius natalis hodierno die, qui translationis dies est, ab Ecclesia celebratur, quum ipse circa festum Paschæ primus Apostolorum Jerosolymis profuse sanguine testimonium Jesu Christo dederit.
James, the son of Zebedee, and own brother of John the apostle, was a Galilæan. He was one of the first to be called to the apostolate together with his brother, and, leaving his father and his nets, he followed the Lord. Jesus called them both Boanerges, that is to say, sons of thunder. He was one of the three apostles whom our Saviour loved the most, and whom He chose as witnesses of His Transfiguration, and of the miracle by which He raised to life the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, and whom He wished to be present when He retired to the Mount of Olives, to pray to His Father, before being taken prisoner by the Jews.

After the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, James preached His divinity in Judæa and Samaria, and led many to the Christian faith. Soon, however, he set out for Spain, and there made some converts to Christianity; among these were the seven men who were afterwards consecrated bishops by St. Peter, and were the first sent by him into Spain. James returned to Jerusalem, and, among others, instructed Hermogenes, the magician, in the truths of faith. Herod Agrippa, who had been raised to the throne under the Emperor Claudius, wished to curry favour with the Jews; he therefore condemned the apostle to death for openly proclaiming Jesus Christ to be God. When the man who had brought him to the tribunal saw the courage with which he went to martyrdom, he declared that he too was a Christian.

As they were being hurried to execution, he implored James's forgiveness. The apostle kissed him, saying: ‘Peace be with you.’ Thus both of them were beheaded; James having a little before cured a paralytic. His body was afterwards translated to Compostella, where it is honoured with the highest veneration; pilgrims flock thither from every part of the world, to satisfy their devotion or pay their vows. The memory of his natalis is celebrated by the Church to-day, which is the day of his translation. But it was near the feast of the Pasch that. first of all the apostles, he shed his blood at Jerusalem as a witness to Jesus Christ.

Patron of Spain, forget not the grand nation which owes to thee both its heavenly nobility and its earthly prosperity; preserve it from ever diminishing those truths which made it, in its bright days, the salt of the earth; keep it in mind of the terrible warning that if the salt lose its savour, it is good for nothing any more but to be cast out and to be trodden on by men.[5] At the same time remember, O apostle, the special cultus wherewith the whole Church honours thee. Does she not to this very day keep under the immediate protection of the Roman Pontiff both thy sacred body, so happily rediscovered in our times,[6] and the vow of going on pilgrimage to venerate those precious relics?

Where now are the days when thy wonderful energy of expansion abroad was surpassed by thy power of drawing all to thyself? Who but he that numbers the stars of the firmament could count the saints, the penitents, the kings, the warriors, the unknown of every grade, the ever-renewed multitude, ceaselessly moving to and from that field of stars, whence thou didst shed thy light upon the world? Our ancient legends tell us of a mysterious vision granted to the founder of Christian Europe. One evening after a day of toil, Charlemagne, standing on the shore of the Frisian Sea, beheld a long belt of stars, which seemed to divide the sky between Gaul, Germany, and Italy, and crossing over Gascony, the Basque territory, and Navarre, stretched away to the far-off province of Galicia. Then thou didst appear to him and say: ‘This starry path marks out the road for thee to go and deliver my tomb; and all nations shall follow after thee.’[7] And Charles, crossing the mountains, gave the signal to all Christendom to undertake those great crusades, which were both the salvation and the glory of the Latin races, by driving back the Mussulman plague to the land of its birth.

When we consider that two tombs formed, as it were, the two extreme points or poles of this movement unparalleled in the history of nations: the one wherein the God-Man rested in death, the other where thy body lay, O son of Zebedee, we cannot help crying out with the Psalmist: Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable![8] And what a mark of friendship did the Son of Man bestow on His humble apostle by sharing His honours with him, when the military orders and Hospitallers were established, to the terror of the Crescent, for the sole purpose, at the outset, of entertaining and protecting pilgrims on their way to one or other of these holy tombs! May the heavenly impulse, now so happily showing itself in the return to the great Catholic pilgrimages, gather once more at Compostella the sons of thy former clients. We, at least, will imitate St. Louis before the walls of Tunis, murmuring with his dying lips the collect of thy feast; and we will repeat in conclusion: ‘Be Thou, O Lord, the sanctifier and guardian of Thy people; that, defended by the protection of Thy apostle James, they may please Thee by their conduct, and serve Thee with secure minds.’

 


[1] Wild. iii. 6-8.
[2] Battle of Clavijo, under Ramiro I, about 845.
[3] Zach. zii. 6.
[4] 2 Cor. xii. 11, and 1 Cor. xv. 10.
[5] St. Matt. v. 13.
[6] Litteræ Leonis XIII, diei 1 Novemb. 1884, ad Archiep. Compostell.
[7] Pseudo-TURPIN. De vita Car. Magn.
[8] Ps. cxxxviii. 17

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

UNITING the blood of kings with that of pontiffs, the glory of Anne’s illustrious origin is far surpassed by that of her offspring, without compare among the daughters of Eve. The noblest of all who have ever conceived by virtue of the command to ‘increase and multiply,’ beholds the law of human generation pause before her as having arrived at its summit, at the threshold of God; for from her fruit God Himself is to come forth, the fatherless Son of the Blessed Virgin, and the grandson of Anne and Joachim.

Before being favoured with the greatest blessing ever bestowed on an earthly union, the two holy grandparents of the Word made Flesh had to pass through the purification of suffering. Traditions which, though mingled with details of less authenticity, have come down to us from the very beginning of Christianity, tell us of 

these noble spouses subjected to the trial of prolonged sterility, and on that account despised by their people; of Joachim cast out of the temple and going to hide his sorrow in the desert; of Anne left alone to mourn her widowhood and humiliation. For exquisite sentiment this narrative might be compared with the most beautiful histories in Holy Scripture.

It was one of the great festival days of the Lord. In spite of extreme sorrow, Anne laid aside her mourning garments, and adorned her head and clothed herself with her nuptial robes. And about the ninth hour she went down to the garden to walk; seeing a laurel she sat down in its shade, and poured forth her prayer to the Lord God, saying: “God of my fathers, bless me and hear my supplication, as Thou didst bless Sara and didst give her a son!”

And raising her eyes to heaven, she saw in the laurel a sparrow's nest, and sighing she said: "Alas! of whom was I born to be thus a curse in Israel?

"To whom shall I liken me? I cannot liken me to the birds of the air; for the birds are blessed by Thee, O Lord.

"To whom shall I liken me? I cannot liken me to the beasts of the earth: for they, too, are fruitful hefore thee.

"To whom shall I liken me? I cannot liken me to the waters; for they are not barren in thy sight. and the rivers and the oceans full of fish praise thee in their heavings and in their peaceful flowing.

"To whom shall I liken me? I cannot liken me even to the earth, for the earth too bears fruit in season, and praises thee, O Lord."

And behold an angel of the Lord stood by, and said to her: "Anne, God has heard thy prayer; thou shalt conceive and bear a child, and thy fruit shall be honoured throughout the whole inhabited earth.”And in due time Anne brought forth a daughter, and said: "My soul is magnified this hour." And she called the child Mary; and giving her the breast, she intoned this canticle to the Lord:

"I will sing the praise of the Lord my God: for he has visited me and has taken away my shame, and has given me a fruit of justice. Who shall declare to the sons of Ruben that Anne is become fruitful? Hear, hear, O ye twelve tribes: behold Anne is giving suck!"[1]

The feast of St. Joachim, which the Church celebrates on the day following his blessed daughter's Assumption, will give us an occasion of completing the account of these trials and joys in which he shared. Warned from heaven to leave the desert, he met his spouse at the golden gate which leads to the Temple on the east side. Not far from here, near the Probatica piscina, where the little white lambs were washed before being offered in sacrifice, now stands the restored basilica of St. Anne originally called St. Mary of the Nativity. Here, as in a peaceful paradise, the rod of Jesse produced that blessed branch which the prophet hailed as about to bear the flower that had blossomed from eternity in the bosom of the Father. It is true that Sepphoris, Anne’s native city, and Nazareth, where Mary lived, dispute with the Holy City the honour which ancient and constant tradition assigns to Jerusalem. But our homage will not be misdirected if we offer it to-day to blessed Anne, in whom were wrought the prodigies, the very thought of which brings new joy to heaven, rage to Satan, and triumph to the world.

Anne was, as it were, the starting-point of redemption, the horizon scanned by the prophets, the first span of the heavens to be empurpled with the rising fires of dawn; the blessed soil whose produce was so pure as to make the angels believe that Eden had been restored to us. But in the midst of the incomparable peace that surrounds her, let us hail her as the land of victory surpassing the most famous fields of battle; as the sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception, where our humiliated race took up the combat begun before the throne of God by the angelic hosts; where the serpent’s head was crushed, and Michæl, now surpassed in glory, gladly handed over to his sweet Queen, at the first moment of her existence, the command of the Lord’s armies.

What human lips, unless touched like the prophet’s with a burning coal, could tell the admiring wonder of the angelic Powers, when the Blessed Trinity, passing from the burning Seraphim to the lowest of the nine choirs, bade them turn their fiery glances and contemplate the flower of sanctity blossoming in the bosom of Anne? The Psalmist had said of the glorious City whose foundations were now hidden in her that was once barren: The foundations thereof are in the holy mountains;[2] and the heavenly hierarchies crowning the slopes of the eternal hills beheld in her heights to them unknown and unattainable summits approaching so near to God, that He was even then preparing His throne in her. Like Moses at the sight of the burning bush on Horeb, they were seized with a holy awe on recognizing the mountain of God in the midst of the desert of this world; and they understood that the affliction of Israel was soon to cease. Although shrouded by the cloud, Mary was already that blessed mountain whose base—i.e., the starting-point of her graces—was set far above the summits where the highest created sanctities are perfected in glory and love.

How justly is the mother named Anne, which signifies grace, she in whom for nine months were centred the complacencies of the Most High, the ecstasy of the angelic spirits, and the hope of all flesh! No doubt it was Mary, the daughter, and not the mother, whose sweetness so powerfully attracted the heavens to our lowly earth. But the perfume first scents the vessel which contains it, and, even after it is removed, leaves it impregnated with its fragrance. Moreover, it is customary to prepare the vase itself with the greatest care; it must be all the purer, made of more precious material, and more richly adorned, according as the essence to be placed in it is rarer and more exquisite. Thus Magdalen enclosed her precious spikenard in alabaster. The Holy Spirit, the preparer of heavenly perfumes, would not be less careful than men. Now the task of blessed Anne was not limited, like that of a material vase, to containing passively the treasure of the world. She furnished the body of her who was to give flesh to the Son of God; she nourished her with her milk; she gave to her, who was inundated with floods of divine light, the first practical notions of life. In the education of her illustrious daughter, Anne played the part of a true mother: not only did she guide Mary's first steps, but she co-operated with the Holy Ghost in the education of her soul and the preparation for her incomparable destiny; until, when the work had reached the highest development to which she could bring it, she, without a moment’s hesitation or a thought of self, offered her tenderly loved child to Him from whom she had received her.

Sic fingit tabernaculum Deo—'Thus she frames a tabernacle for God.' Such was the inscription around the figure of St. Anne instructing Mary, which formed the device of the ancient guild of joiners and cabinetmakers; for they, looking upon the making of tabernacles wherein God may dwell in our churches as their most choice work, had taken St. Anne for their patroness and model. Happy were those times when the simplicity of our fathers penetrated so deeply into the practical understanding of mysteries which their infatuated sons glory in ignoring. The valiant woman is praised in the Book of Proverbs for her spinning, weaving, sewing, embroidering, and household cares: naturally, then, those engaged in these occupations placed themselves under the protection of the spouse of Joachim. More than once, those suffering from the same trial which had inspired Anne’s touching prayer beneath the sparrow’s nest, experienced the power of her intercession in obtaining for others, as well as for herself, the blessing of the Lord God.

The East anticipated the West in the public cultus of the grandmother of the Messias. Towards the middle of the sixth century a church was dedicated to her in Constantinople. The Typicon of St. Sabbas makes a liturgical commemoration of her three times in the year: on September 9, together with her spouse St. Joachim, the day after the birthday of their glorious daughter; on December 9, whereon the Greeks, a day later than the Latins, keep the feast of our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, under a title which more directly expresses St. Anne’s share in the mystery; and lastly, July 25, not being occupied by the feast of St. James, which was kept on April 30, is called the Dormitio or precious death of St. Anne, mother of the most holy Mother of God: the very same expression which the Roman martyrology adopted later.

Although Rome, with her usual reserve, did not until much later authorize the introduction into the Latin Churches of a liturgical feast of St. Anne, she nevertheless encouraged the piety of the faithful in this direction. So early as the time of Leo III[3]and by that illustrious Pontiffs express command, the history of Anne and Joachim was represented on the sacred ornaments of the noblest basilicas in the Eternal City.[4] The Order of Carmel, so devout to St. Anne, powerfully contributed, by its fortunate migration into our countries, to the growing increase of her cultus. Moreover, this development was the natural outcome of the progress of devotion among the people to the Mother of God. The close relation between the two cults is noticed in a concession, whereby in 1381 Urban VI satisfied the desires of the faithful in England by authorizing for that kingdom a feast of the blessed Anne. The Church of Apt in Provence had been already a century in possession of the feast; a fact due to the honour bestowed on that Church of having received, almost together with the faith, the saint's holy body, in the first age of Christianity.

Since our Lord, reigning in heaven, has willed that His blessed Mother should also be crowned there in her virginal body, the relics of Mary's mother have become doubly dear to the world, first, as in the case of others, on account of the holiness of her whose precious remains they are, and then above all others, on account of their close connection with the mystery of the Incarnation. The Church of Apt was so generous out of its abundance, that it would now be impossible to enumerate the sanctuaries which have obtained, either from this principal source or from elsewhere, more or less notable portions of these precious relics. We cannot omit to mention as one of these privileged places, the great basilica of St. Paul outside the walls; St. Anne herself, in an apparition to St. Bridget of Sweden,[5] confirmed the authenticity of the arm which forms one of the most precious jewels in the rich treasury of that Church.

It was not until 1584 that Gregory XIII ordered the celebration of this feast of July 26 throughout the whole Church, with the rite of a double. Leo XIII in recent times (1879) raised it, together with that of St. Joachim, to the dignity of a solemnity of the second class. But before that, Gregory XV, after having been cured of a serious illness by St. Anne, had ranked her feast among those of precept, with the obligation of resting from servile work.

Now that St. Anne was receiving the homage due to her exalted dignity, she made haste to show her recognition of this more solemn tribute of praise. In the years 1623, 1624., and 1625, in the village of Kerouanne, near Auray, in Brittany, she appeared to Yves Nicolazic, and discovered to him an ancient statue buried in the field of Bocenno, which he tenanted. This discovery brought the people once more to the place where, a thousand years before, the inhabitants of ancient Armorica had honoured that statue. Innumerable graces obtained on the spot spread its fame far beyond the limits of the province, whose faith, worthy of past ages, had merited the favour of the grandmother of the Messias; and St. Anne d'Auray was soon reckoned among the chief pilgrimages of the Christian world.

More fortunate than the wife of Elcana, who prefigured thee both in her trial and by her name, thou, O Anne, now singest the magnificent gifts of the Lord. Where is now the proud synagogue that despised thee? The descendants of the barren one are now without number; and all we, the brethren of Jesus, children, like Him, of thy daughter Mary, come joyfully, led by our Mother, to offer thee our praises. In the family circle the grandmother's feast day is the most touching of all, when her grandchildren surround her with reverential love, as we gather around thee to-day. Many, alas! know not these beautiful feasts, where the blessing of the earthly paradise seems to revive in all its freshness; but the mercy of our God has provided a sweet compensation. He, the Most High God, willed to come so nigh to us as to be one of us in the flesh; to know the relations and mutual dependencies which are the law of our nature; the cords of Adam, with which He had determined to draw us and in which He first bound Himself. For in raising nature above itself, He did not eliminate it; He made grace take hold of it and lead it to heaven; so that, joined together on earth by their divine Author, nature and grace were to be united for all eternity. We, then, being brethren by grace of Him who is ever thy grandson by nature, are, by this loving disposition of Divine Wisdom, quite at home under thy roof; and to-day’s feast, so dear to the hearts of Jesus and Mary, is our own family feast.

Smile then, dear mother, upon our chants and bless our prayers. To-day and always be propitious to the supplications which our land of sorrows sends up to thee. Be gracious to wives and mothers who confide to thee their holy desires and the secret of their sorrows. Keep up, where they still exist, the traditions of the Christian home. Over how many families has the baneful breath of this age passed, blighting all that is serious in life, weakening faith, leaving nothing but languor, weariness, frivolity, if not even worse, in the place of the true and solid joys of our fathers. How truly might the Wise Man say at the present day: Who shall find a valiant woman? She alone by her influence could counteract all these evils; but on condition of recognizing wherein her true strength lies: in humble household works done with her own hands; in hidden, self-sacrificing devotedness; in watchings by night; in hourly foresight; working in wool and flax, and with the spindle; all those strong things which win for her the confidence and praise of her husband; authority over all, abundance in the house, blessings from the poor whom she has helped, honour from strangers, reverence from her children; and for herself in the fear of the Lord, nobility and dignity, beauty and strength, wisdom, sweetness and content, and calm assurance at the latter day.[6]

O blessed Anne, rescue society, which is perishing for want of virtues like thine. The motherly kindnesses thou art ever more frequently bestowing upon us have increased the Church’s confidence; deign to respond to the hopes she places in thee. Bless especially thy faithful Brittany; have pity on unhappy France, for which thou hast shown thy predilection, first, by so early confiding to it thy sacred body; later on, by choosing in it the spot whence thou wouldst manifest thyself to the world; and, again, quite recently entrusting to its sons the church and seminary dedicated to thy honour in Jerusalem. O thou who lovest the Franks, who deignest still to look on fallen Gaul as the kingdom of Mary, continue to show it that love which is its most cherished tradition. Mayest thou become known throughout the whole world. As for us, who have long known thy power and experienced thy goodness, let us ever seek in thee, O mother, our rest, security, strength in every trial; for he who leans on thee has nothing to fear on earth, and he who rests in thy arms is safely carried.

Let us offer blessed Anne a wreath gathered from the liturgy. We will first cull from the Menæa of the Greeks, as being the earliest in date:

Mensis Julii Die xxv
Ex Officio Vespertino

En splendida solemnitas et dies clara, universo mundo jucunda, venerabilis atque laudanda dormitio Annæ gloriosæ, ex qua prodiit Mater vitæ.

Quæ prius infecunda et sterilis, primitias nostræ salutis germinavit, Christum rogat ut culparum veniam largiatur his qui cum fide eum collaudant.

Salve, avis spiritualis, verni nuntia gratiæ. Salve, ovis agnam parta, quæ Agnum tollentem peccata mundi, Verbum, verbo genuit.

Salve, terra benedicta, quæ virgam divinitus germinantem mundo florescere fecisti.

Sterilitatem tuo partu fugasti, Anna in Deo beatissima, avia Christi Dei, quæ fulgentem lucernam, Dei genitricem, edidisti: quacum intercedere digneris, ut animabus nostris magna misericordia donetur.

Venite universæ creaturæ, in cymbalis psalmorum Annæ piæ acclamemus, quæ e visceribus suis genuit divinum Montem, et ad montes spirituales ac tabernacula Paradisi est translata.

Ad ipsam dicamus: Beata alvus tua quæ vere gestavit illam quæ in ventre suo portavit lumen mundi: gloriosa ubera tua, quibus lactata est ea qua Christum, cibum vitæ nostræ, aluit. Hunc deprecare, ut ab omni vexatione et incursu inimici liberemur, et anima nostra salventur.
O brilliant solemnity, day full of light and joy to the whole world! This day we celebrate the venerable and praiseworthy passage of the glorious Anne, of whom was born the Mother of life.

She who was once unfruitful and barren brought forth the firstfruits of our salvation; she beseeches Christ to grant pardon of their sins to them that sing His praises with faith.

Hail, spiritual bird, announcing the springtime of grace! Hail, sheep, mother of the ewe-lamb, who by a word conceived the Word, the Lamb who taketh away the sins of the world!

Hail, blessed earth, whence sprang the branch that bore a divine fruit. Thy fruitfulness put an end to barrenness, O Anne, most blessed in God, grandmother of Christ our God, who didst give to the world a shining lamp, the Mother of God; together with her deign to intercede, that great may be the mercy granted to our souls.

Come all ye creatures, let us cry out to holy Anne with cymbals and psaltery. She brought forth the mountain of God, and was borne up to the spiritual mountains, the tabernacles of Paradise. Let us say to her: Blessed is thy womb wherein she rested who herself bore the Light of the world; glorious are thy breasts which suckled her who fed Christ the food of our life. Beseech Him to deliver us from all harassing attacks of the enemy, and to save our souls.

Let us turn to our Western lands and join in the chants of the various churches. The Mozarabic liturgy thus interprets the feelings of the once barren woman, after her prayer had been so magnificently answered:

Antiphona

Confitebor tibi, Domine, in toto corde meo: quia exaudisti verba oris mei.
℟. In conspectu angelorum psallam tibi.
℣. Deus meus es tu, et confitebor tibi: Deus meus, et exaltabo te.
℟. In conspectu.
℣. Gloria et honor Patri, et Filio. et Spiritui Sancto in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
℟. In conspectu.
I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; for Thou hast heard the words of my mouth.
℟. In the sight of angels I will sing praise to Thee.
℣. Thou art my God, and I will praise Thee: my God, and I will exalt Thee.
℟. In the sight.
℣. Glory and honour be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.
℟. In the sight.

Apt shall speak in the name of all Provence, and tell of its glorious honour:

Antiphon

O splendor Provinciæ, nobilis mater Mariæ Virginis, et Davidis filia; avia Redemptoris. nobis opem feras veniæ ut vivamus cum beatis.
O glory of Provence, noble mother of the Virgin Mary, daughter of David, grandmother of our Redeemer, bring us the grace of pardon, that we may live with the blessed.

Brittany shall declare the confidence it places in its illustrious protectress:

Responsory

Hæc est mater nobis electa a Domino, Anna sanctissima Britonum spes et tutela: * Quam in prosperis adjutricem, in adversis auxiliatricem habemus.
℣. Populi sui memor sit semper; adsitque grata filiis suis, terra marique laborantibus. * Quam in prosperis.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. * Quam in prosperis.
Behold the mother chosen for us by our Lord, most holy Anne, the hope and protection of the Bretons. * In prosperity our helper, in adversity our succour.
℣. May she be ever mindful of her people, ever gracious to her children, whether on land or toiling o’er the sea. * In prosperity.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. * In prosperity.

Let us all unite with Brittany in the following hymn:

Hymn

Lucis beatæ gaudiis Gestit parens Ecclesia, Annamque Judææ decus Matrem Mariæ concinit.
Regum piorum sanguini Jungens sacerdotes avos, Illustris Anna splendidis Vincit genus virtutibus.
Cœlo favente nexuit Vincli jugalis fœdera, Alvoque sancta condidit Sidus perenne virginum.
O mira cœli gratia! Annæ parentis in sinu Concepta virgo conterit Sævi draconis verticem.
Tanto salutis pignore Jam sperat humanum genus: Orbi redempto prævia Pacem columba nuntiat.
Sit laus Patri, sit Filio Tibique Sancte Spiritus. Annam pie colentibus Confer perennem gratiam. Amen.
Mother Church exults with the joy of this blessed day, and sings the praise of Anne, the beauty of Judea, the mother of Mary.
Uniting the blood of holy kings with that of pontiffs, the glory of her ancestry is far outstripped by Anne’s resplendent virtues.
Neath heaven’s smile she ties the nuptial bond; and in her holy tabernacle hides the unwaning star of virgins.
O wondrous grace of heaven! Scarce is the Virgin conceived in the womb of her mother when she there crushes the head of the cruel dragon.
With such a pledge of salvation mankind finds hope at length; the dove has come foretelling peace to the redeemed world.
Praise be to the Father, to the Son, and to Thee, O holy Spirit! To them that lovingly honour blessed Anne, grant everlasting grace. Amen,

We will conclude with these beautiful formulæ of praise and prayer to our Lord, from the Ambrosian Missal of Milan:

Preface

Æterne Deus, qui beatam Annam singulari tuæ gratiæ privilegio sublimasti. Cui desideratæ fœcunditatis munus magnificum, et excellens adeo contulisti; ut ex ipsa Virgo virginum, Maria, angelorum Domina, Regina mundi, maris stella, Mater Filii tui Dei et hominis nasceretur. Et ideo cum angelis.
It is right and just to give thanks to Thee, O eternal God, who by a singular privilege of Thy grace, hast exalted the blessed Anne. To whose desire of fruitfulness Thou didst give a gift so magnificent and so far surpassing all others, that from her was born Mary, the Virgin of virgins, the Lady of the angels, the Queen of the world, the star of the sea, the Mother of Thy Son, who is both God and Man. And, therefore, with the angels, etc.

Oratio Super Sindonem

Omnipotens, sempiterne Deus, qui beatam Annam, diuturna sterilitate afflictam, gloriosæ prolis fœtu tua gratia fœcundasti; da, quæsumus: ut, pro nobis apud te intervenientibus ejus meritis, efificiamur sincera fide fœcundi, et salutiferis operibus fructuosi. Per Dominum.
O almighty everlasting God, who didst give to blessed Anne, after the affliction of a long barrenness, the grace to bear a glorious fruit; grant, we beseech thee, that, as her merits intercede with thee for us, we may be made rich in sincere faith and fruitful in works of salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

[1] Protevangelium Jacobi.
[2] Ps. lxxxvi. 1.
[3] 795-816.
[4] Lib. pontif. in Leon. 111.
[5] Revelationes S. Birgittæ, lib. vi, cap. 104.
[6] Cf. Prov. xxxi. 10-31.