From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
The Church of Rome does not keep this day as a feast of any saint; she simply recites the Office of the feria, unless it happen that the first Sunday of Advent fall on this first day of the month, in which case the Office of that Sunday is celebrated, as given above in the Proper of the Time.
But should this first day of December be a simple feria of Advent, we shall do well to begin at once our considerations upon the preparations which were made for the merciful coming of the Saviour of the world.
Four thousand years of expectation preceded that coming, and they are expressed by the four weeks of Advent, which we must spend before we come to the glorious festivity of our Lord’s Nativity. Let us reflect upon the holy impatience of the saints of the old Testament, and how they handed down, from age to age, the grand hope, which was to be but hope to them, since they were not to see it realized. Let us follow, in thought, the long succession of the witnesses of the promise: Adam, and the first patriarchs, who lived before the deluge; then, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs of the Hebrew people; then Moses, Samuel, David, and Solomon; then, the prophets and the Machabees; and, at last, John the Baptist and his disciples. These are the holy ancestors, of whom the Book of Ecclesiasticus speaks, where it says: ‘Let us praise men of renown, and our fathers in their generation’: and of whom the apostle thus speaks to the Hebrews: ‘All these being approved by the testimony of faith, received not the promise; God providing some better thing for us, that they should not be perfected without us their faith was tried and approved, and yet they received not the object of the promises made to them. It is for us that God had reserved the stupendous gift, and therefore He did not permit them to attain the object of their desires.
Let us honour them for their faith; let us honour them as our veritable fathers, since it is in reward of their faith, that our Lord remembered and fulfilled His merciful promise; let us honour them, too, as the ancestors of the Messias in the flesh. We may imagine each of them saying, as he lay on his dying bed, this solemn prayer to Him who alone could conquer death: ‘I will look for Thy Salvation, O Lord!’ It was the exclamation of Jacob, at his last hour, when he was pronouncing his prophetic blessings on his children: ‘and then,’ says the Scripture, ‘he drew up his feet upon his bed, and died, and he was gathered unto his people.’
Thus did all these holy men, on quitting this life, go to await, far from the abode of eternal fight, Him who was to come in due time and reopen the gate of heaven. Let us contemplate them in this place of expectation, and give our grateful thanks to God, who has brought us to His admirable light, without requiring us to pass through a limbo of darkness. It is our duty to pray ardently for the coming of the Deliverer, who will break down, by His cross, the gates of the prison, and will fill it with the brightness of His glory. During this holy season, the Church is continually borrowing the fervent expressions of these fathers of the Christian people, making them her own prayer for the Messias to come. Let us turn to those great saints, and beg of them to pray, that our work of preparation for Jesus’ coming to our hearts may be blessed by God.
We will make use, for this end, of the beautiful hymn wherein the Greek Church celebrates the memory of all the saints of the old Testament, on the Sunday immediately preceding the feast of Christmas.
Hymn for the Feast of the Holy Fathers
(Taken from the Menæa of the Greeks)
Avorum hodie, fideles, perficientes memorias, renymnificemus Christum Redemptorem, qui illos magnificavit in omnibus gentibus, et qui incredibilia in eis per fidem operatus est; Dominum, utpote fortem et potentem; et ex illis manifestavit virgam potentiae nobis, unicam virum nescientem et Deiparam, Mariam castam, ex qua flos prodiit, Christus germinans omnibus vitam, et salutem aeternam.
Tu es qui sanctos pueros ex igne liberasti, Domine, et ex ore leonum Daniel; qui Abraham benedixisti, et Isaac servum tuum, et filium ejus Jacob; qui dignatus es ex illorum semine nasci apud nos, ut prius lapsos salvares proavos nostros, crucifigi autem et sepeliri; et rupisti mortis vincula, et consurgere facis omnes qui a saeculo inter mortuos erant, adorantes tuum, Christe, regnum aeternum.
Adam primum veneremur, manu honoratum Creatoris et omnium nostrum proavum, jam nunc habitantem in cœlestibus tabernaculis, inter sanctos electos quiescentem.
Abel dona proferentem mente generosa, admisit omnium Deus et Dominus; eumque homicida olim manu peremptum, in altum recepit ad lumen, ut divinum martyrem.
Canitur in mundo Seth pro suo erga Creatorem ardore: nam in irreprehensibili vitæ ratione et animæ dispositione illum vere sanavit; et in regione vivorum clamat: Sanctus es, Domine.
Ore et lingua et corde Enos admirabilis cognominatus prophetice, in omnium Dominum speravit in spiritu, et optime vita in terris acta, gloriosus decessit.
Sacris eloquiis et orationibus Henoch beatum prædicemus; qui, cum Deo placuisset, translatus est in gloriam, visus, ut fertur, mortem superasse, sicut Dei servus fidelissimus.
Laudem proferamus Deo, honorantes melodiis Noe, qui fuit justus: in omnibus enim divinis mandatis ornatus, visus est Christo beneplacitus; cui canamus cum fide: Gloria virtuti tuæ, Domine.
Videns tuam Deus nobilem indolem et mentis tuæ sinceritatem, et te in omnibus, Noe, perfectum, secundi mundi ducem te signat, salvantem ex omni genere contra diluvium, sensibile semen, ut ipse mandaverat.
Noe, Dei legem incorruptam servantem, justum que inventum in generatione sua, et qui lignea salvavit olim in arca irrationabilia genera, ordinatione omnimoda, beatum piis prædicemus hymnis.
Vinum compunctionis nobis scaturire facit honorantibus te, Noe beate, memoria tua, lætificans et animas et corda undique beatificantium sincere mores tuos honestos, et divinam agendi rationem.
Laudibus honoretur Sem, qui fructificare fecit paternam benedictionem, et ante Deum placidus demonstratus, et proavorum choris adscriptus, et in regione vivorum laetantissime requiescens.
Videre meruit, tamquam Dei amicus, Abraham diem Creatoris sui, plenus factus lætitiæ paternæ; hunc ergo recto corde honorantes, beatum dicamus omnes, ut Dei fidelem servum.
Vidisti, ut homini videre fas est, Trinitatem, et illam hospitatus es: undo mercedem recopisti hospitalitatis, factus immensarum gentium in fide pater.
Typus Christi passionis factus es sapienter, Isaac beatissime, patris bona fide ad immolandum adducte: ideoque beatus effectus es et amicus Dei visus es fidelissimus, et cum omnibus justis sedem consecutus es.
Visus est Jacob omnium Dei servorum fidelissimus: ideoque pugnavit cum angelo, in mente videns Deum, et nomen mutavit, dormiensque divinam contemplatus est scalam, cui insidebat Deus, carni in bonitate sua adhærens.
Patris obedientiam cum amore amplectens Joseph in puteum demissus, tamquam illius prototypus venditur qui immolatus est, et in puteum demissus est Christus; et Ægypto frumenta distribuens monstratus est, sapiens et justus effectus, rexque concupiscentiarum verissimus.
Legitime incessantium certamini tentationum luctatus, celebratus est Job Dei servus verissimus, mitis, vir sine malitia, rectus, perfectus, irreprehensibilis, clamans: Benedictus es, Deus.
In fide Moysen Aaronque et Hor honoremus, adhuc celebrantes Josue et Levi sanctissimum, Gedeonque et Samson, et clamemus: Deus patrum, benedictus es.
Phalangem Deo gratam divinorum patrum celebremus, Baruch et Nathan, et Eleazarum, Josiam et David, Jephte, Samuel qui anteacta videbat, et clamabat: Benedicat omnis creatura Dominum.
Laudem melodiæ Dei prophetis feramus, celebrantes Osee, Michæam, Sophoniam et Habacuc, Zachariam, Jonam, Aggæum et Amos, et cum Abdia, Malachia, Nahum, Isaiam, et Jeremiam, et Ezechiel, et simul Daniel, Eliam et Elisæum.
Fortitudine tua, Domine, virtutes operatæ sunt sorores nostrae Anna, Judith et Debbora, Olda, Jahelque, et Esther, Sara, Maria Moysis, et Rachel, et Rebecca, et Ruth, magnanimes.
Venite omnes, cum fide panegyrim dicamus patribus ante Legem: Abrahæ, et eorum qui cum illo sunt festivam memoriam celebremus; Judæ tribum digne honoremus; juvenes in Babylone qui flammam in camino exstinxerunt, ut Trinitatis typum, cum Daniele celebremus; prophetarum vaticinia tuto servantes, cum Isaia magna voce clamemus: Ecce Virgo in utero concipiet et pariet Filium, Emmanuel, quod est, Nobiscum Deus.
Celebrating, O ye faithful, on this day, the memory of the ancient fathers, let us sing a new hymn to our Redeemer Christ, who magnified them in all nations, and worked incredible things in them by faith, for he is the strong and mighty Lord. By them did he manifest to us the sceptre of his power, the unparalleled Virgin-Mother of God, the chaste Mary, from whom came Christ, the Flower that buds forth life and eternal salvation to all.
It is thou, O Lord, that didst deliver the holy children from the furnace, and Daniel from the mouth of the lions; that didst bless Abraham, and Isaac thy servant, and Jacob his son: that didst vouchsafe to be bora among us from their seed, so to save our first parents who had fallen, and to be crucified and buried; that didst break the bonds of death, and gavest resurrection to all them who had died from the beginning, and who adored, O Christ, thy eternal kingdom.
And first let us venerate Adam, who was honoured by the Creator’s hand, and was the first father of us all: who now dwells in the heavenly tabernacles, and rests amidst the holy elect.
The God and the Lord of all things received Abel, who offered his gifts with a generous heart; and took him into the heavenly light as a divine martyr, when he was slain by the murderer’s hand.
Seth is celebrated throughout the world for his ardour towards the Creator: who saved him for his irreproachable life and this holy disposition of mind; and now, m the region of the living, he sings: Holy art thou, O Lord!
Enos, prophetically called the admirable, for his words and voice and heart, hoped in spirit in the Lord of all, and after a life spent on earth in exceeding goodness, he departed full of glory.
Let us praise, in our sacred canticles and prayers, the blessed Henoch; who, when he had pleased God, was translated to glory, and, as became so faithful a servant of God, without being overcome by death, as it is written of him.
Let us give praise to God by celebrating, with our hymns, Noah, who was just: in all things, God honoured him with his divine commands, and he was well pleasing to Christ, to whom let us sing with faith: Glory be to thy power, O Lord!
God, seeing thy noble heart, and the sincerity of thy mind, and how in all things thou wast perfect, O Noah, makes thee the father of the second world, and bids thee save from the deluge a remnant of every species of animal.
Let us in our holy hymns praise Noah, who kept the law of God without reproof, and was found just in his generation, and who, by an admirable arrangement, saved, in the wooden ark, all the brute creation.
Thy memory, O blessed Noah, fills us with the wine of compunction, which gladdens our souls and hearts, whilst we devoutly extol thy holy life and thy divine manner of acting.
Sem is worthy of our praise, who brought forth plentiful fruit from his father’s blessing, and by his meekness found favour with God, and was numbered in the choir of the fathers, and now rests in perfect joy in the land of the living.
Abraham merited, as the friend of God, to see the day of his Creator, and was filled with the joy promised to the fathers: him, therefore, let us honour with sincere devotion, and let us all proclaim him the blessed Abraham, God’s faithful servant.
Thou didst see, as far as it is permitted man to see, the Trinity, and thou didst make it thy guest: wherefore thou receivedst the reward of thy hospitality, and wast made the father, in the faith, of countless nations.
Most blessed Isaac, the divine wisdom made thee the type of Jesus in his Passion, when thy father’s sublime faith led thee to the sacrifice: therefore art thou blest, and loved of God as a most faithful friend, and seated on a throne with all the just.
Of all the servants of God Jacob was the most faithful: therefore is it that he wrestled with the angel, seeing God in spirit, and his name was changed; and as he slept, he beheld the divine ladder, on which God was leaning; it was God, assuming to himself, in his mercy, human flesh.
Joseph, when he lovingly obeyed his father, was let down into a well and sold, and was the prototype of him that was sacrificed, and thrown down into a pit. He gave com to Egypt and saved it; he was wise and just, and a most true king over his passions.
Job lawfully endured the combat of ceaseless temptations, and deserves to be praised; he was God’s most true servant, he was meek, and a man without guile, upright, perfect, without reproof, ever saying: Blessed art thou, O God!
Let us faithfully honour Moses, and Aaron, and Hor: let us commemorate Josue, and the most holy Levi, and Gedeon, and Samson; and let us sing: Blessed art thou, O God of our fathers!
Let us celebrate the memory of that group of fathers so loved of God, Baruch and Nathan and Eleazar; Josias, David, Jephte, and Samuel who had the vision of what had passed, and cried out: Lot every creature bless the Lord!
Lot our melodies praise God’s prophets, celebrating Osee, Micheas, Sophonias, Habacuc, Zacharias, Jonas, Aggeus, Amos, Abdias, Malachias, Nahum, Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, Daniel, Elias, Eliseus.
By thy power, O Lord, virtuous exploits were achieved by those magnanimous women, our sisters, Anna, Judith, Debbora, Olda, Jahel, Esther, Sara, Mary, sister of Moses, Rachel, Rebecca and Ruth.
Come, all ye people, let us, with faith, give praise to the fathers who were before the Law; let us celebrate the festive memory of Abraham and them that are with him; let us give due honour to the tribe of Juda; let us celebrate the children who quenched the fiery furnace in Babylon, the blessed three, the type of the Trinity, and with them Daniel; let us hold fast to the oracles of the prophets, and with Isaias sing with a loud voice: Lo! a Virgin shall conceive in her womb and shall bring forth a Son, Emmanuel, that is, God with us.
A responsory for Advent
(The Roman breviary, first Sunday of Advent, at Matins)
R. Adspiciens a longe, ecco video potentiam Dei venientem et nebulam totam terram tegentem: * Ite obviam ei, et dicite: * Nuncia nobis si tu es ipse, * Qui regnaturus es in populo Israel.
V. Quique terrigenæ et filii hominum, simul in unum dives et pauper,
* Ite obviam ei et dicite,
V. Qui regis Israel intende, qui deducis velut ovem Joseph,
* Nuncia nobis si tu es ipse.
V. Tollite portas, principes, vestras, et elevamini, portæ ætern ales, et introibit Rex gloriæ.
* Qui regnaturus es in populo Israel.
R. Looking afar off, lo! I see the power of God coming and a cloud that covereth the whole earth: * Go ye out to meet him and say: Tell us, if thou be he, * Who art to rule over the people of Israel.
V. All ye that are earthborn and children of men, both rich and poor together,
* Go ye out to meet him, and say:
V. Give ear, O thou that rulest Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep,
* Tell us if thou be he.
V. Lift up your gates, O ye princes; and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of glory shall enter in.
* Who art to rule over the people of Israel.
 Ecclus. xliv. 1.
 Heb. xi. 39, 40.
 Gen. xlix. 32.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
Of the saints whose feasts are kept during Advent, five are virgins. The first, St. Bibiana, whom we honour to-day, is a daughter of Rome; the second, St. Barbara, is the glory of the eastern Churches; the third, St. Eulalia of Merida, is one of Spain’s richest treasures; the fourth, St. Lucy, belongs to beautiful Sicily; the fifth, St. Odilia, is claimed by France. These five wise virgins lighted their lamps and watched, waiting for the coming of the Spouse. Such was their constancy and fidelity, that four of them shed their blood for the love of Him, after whom they longed. Let us take courage by this noble example; and since we have not, as the apostle expresses it, as yet resisted unto blood, let us not think it hard if we suffer fatigue and trouble in the holy exercises of this penitential season of Advent: He, for whom we do them all, will soon be with us and repay us. To-day, it is the chaste and courageous Bibiana, who instructs us by her glorious example.
Bibiana, virgo Romana, nobili genere nata, Christiana fide nobilior fuit. Ejus enim pater Flavianus sub Juliano apostata impiissimo tyranno expræfectus, servilibusque notis compunctus, ad Aquas Taurinas deportatus, martyr occubuit. Mater Dafrosa, et ftliæ primum condusse domi, ut inedia conficerentur; mox relegata mater extra urbem capite plexa est. Mortuis autem piis parentibus, Bibiana cum sorore sua Demetria bonis omnibus spoliatur. Apronianus, urbis prætor, pecuniis inhians, sorores persequitur, quas humana prorsus ope destitutas, Deo mirabiliter, qui dat escam esurientibus, enutriente, quum vivaciores vegetioresque conspexisset, vehementer est admiratus.
Suadet nihilominus Apronianus, ut venerentur deos Gentium; amissas ideo opes, imperatoris gratiam, præclarissimas nuptias consecuturae. Si secus fecerint, minatur carceres, virgas, secures. At illæ neque blanditiis neque minis a recta fide declinantes, paratæ potius mori, quam fœdari moribus ethnicorum, prætoris impietatem constantissime detestantur. Quare Demetria ob oculos Bibianæ repente corruens, obdormivit in Domino: et Bibiana Rufinæ mulieri vaferrimae seducenda traditur: quæ ab incunabulis edocta Christianas leges, et illibatum servare virginitatis florem, seipsa fortior, feminæ superavit insidias, et prætoris astus delusit.
Nihil autem proficiente Rufina, quæ praeter dolosa verba, illam quotidie verberibus affligebat, ut de sancto proposito dimoveret, spe sua frustratus prætor, accensus ira, quod in Bibiana perdidisset operam, a lictoribus eam denudari, vinctisque manibus columnæ alligari, eam que plumbatis cædi jubet donec efflaret animam. Cujus sacrum corpus objectum canibus biduo jacuit in foro Tauri, illaesum tamen, et divinitus servatum: quod deinde Joannes presbyter sepelivit noctu juxta sepulchrum sororis et matris ad palatium Licinianum, ubi usque in præsens extat ecclesia Deo, sanctæ Bibianæ nomine dicata; quam Urbanus octavus instauravit, sanctarum Bibianæ, Demetriæ et Dafrosæ corporibus in ea repertis, et sub ara maxima collocatis.
Bibiana was a Roman virgin, noble by birth, but more noble by her profession of the Christian faith. For under the most wicked tyrant Julian the apostate, Flavian, her father, was deprived of his dignity of prefect, and being branded with the mark of slavery, he was banished to Aquae Taurinae, and there died a martyr. Her mother, Dafrosa, was first shut up in her own house with her daughters, that she might die by starvation; but shortly afterwards was banished from Rome and beheaded. The virtuous parents thus put to death, Bibiana was deprived of all her possessions, as also was her sister, Demetria. Apronianus, the city prætor, thirsting after their wealth, persecutes the two sisters. They are bereaved of every human help. But God, who gives food to them that are in hunger, wonderfully nourishes them; and the prætor is exceedingly astonished on finding them in better health and strength than before.
Apronianus, notwithstanding, endeavours to induce them to venerate the gods of the Gentiles. If they consent, he promises them the recovery of all their wealth, the emperor’s favour, and marriage to the noblest in the empire: but should they refuse, he threatens them with prison and scourgings, and the sword. But neither promises nor threats can make them abandon the true faith; they would rather die than be defiled by the idolatrous practices of paganism; and they resolutely resist the impious prætor. Whereupon, Demetria was struck down in the presence of Bibiana, and slept in the Lord. Bibiana was delivered over to a woman by name Rufina, who was most skilled in the art of seduction. But the virgin, taught from her infancy to observe the Christian law, and to preserve with the utmost jealousy the flower of her virginity, rose above nature, defeated all the artifices of the wretched Rufina, and foiled the craft of the prætor.
Finding, therefore, that Rufina could in no wise shake the virgin’s holy resolution, and that both her wicked words and frequent blows were of no avail; and seeing his hopes disappointed and his labour thrown away; the prætor became violently enraged, and ordered Bibiana to be stripped by the lictors, to be fastened to a pillar with her hands bound, and to be beaten to death with leaded whips. Her sacred body was left for two days in the Bull-Forum, as food for dogs; but received no injury, being divinely preserved. A priest called John then buried it during the night, close to the grave of her sister and mother, near the palace of Licinius, where there stands at this day a church consecrated to God under the title of St. Bibiana. Urban VIII. restored this church, having there discovered the bodies of saints Bibiana, Demetria, and Dafrosa, which he placed under the high altar.
Holy Bibiana, most wise virgin! thou hast gone through the long unbroken watch of this life; and when! suddenly, the Spouse came, thy lamp was bright and richly fed with oil. Now thou art dwelling in the abode of the eternal marriage-feast, where the Beloved feeds among the lilies. Remember us who are still living in the expectation of that same divine Spouse, whose eternal embrace is secured to thee for ever. We are awaiting the birth of the Saviour of the world, which is to be the end of sin and the beginning of justice; we are awaiting the coming of this Saviour into our souls, that He may give them life and union with Himself by love; we are awaiting our Judge, the Judge of the living and the dead. Most wise virgin! intercede for us, by thy fervent prayers, with this our Saviour, our Spouse, and our Judge; pray that each of these three visits may work and perfect in us that divine union, for which we have all been created. Pray also, G faithful virgin, for the Church on earth, which gave thee to the Church in heaven, and which so devoutly watches over thy precious remains. Obtain for her that strict fidelity, which will ever render her worthy of Him, who is her Spouse as He is thine. Though He has enriched her with the most magnificent gifts, and given her confidence by His promises which cannot fail, yet does He wish her to ask, and us to ask for her, the graces which will lead her to the glorious destiny which awaits her.
We will to-day consider the state of nature at this season of the year. The earth is stripped of her wonted verdure, the flowers are gone, the fruits are fallen, the leaves are torn from the trees and scattered by the wind, and every living thing stiffens with the cold. It seems as though the hand of death had touched creation. We see the sun rise after the long night of his absence; and scarcely have we felt his warmth at noon, than he sets again, and leaves us in the chilly darkness. Each day he shortens his visit. Is the world to become sunless, and are men to live out the rest of life in gloom? The old pagans, who witnessed this struggle between light and darkness, and feared the sun was going to leave them, dedicated the twenty-fifth day of December, the winter solstice, to the worship of the sun. After this day their hopes revived on seeing the glorious luminary again mounting up in the sky, and gradually regaining his triumphant position.
We Christians can have no such feelings as these; our light is the true faith, which tells us that there is a Sun to be sought for which never sets, and is never eclipsed. Having Him, we care little for the absence of any other brightness; nay, all other light, without Him, can only lead us astray. O Jesus! Thou true light, that enlightenest every man coming into this world! Thou didst choose, for Thy birth among us, a time of the year which forces us to reflect upon the miserable state of the world when Thou didst come to save it. ‘The evening was coming on, and the day was far spent,’ says St. Bernard: 'the Sun of justice had all but set, so that exceeding scanty was His light or warmth on earth: for the light of divine knowledge was very faint, and, sin abounding, the heat of charity had grown cold. There was neither angel to visit men, nor prophet to speak to them; both seemed in despair, for the hardness and obstinacy of man had made every effort useless: then I said —they are the words of our Redeemer—then I said, lo! I come!’ O Jesus! O Sun of justice! give us a clear knowledge of what the world is without Thee; what our understanding is without Thy light; and what our heart, without Thy divine heat. Open Thou the eyes of our faith; that whilst seeing with the eyes of the body the gradual decrease of the material light, we may think of that other darkness, which is in the soul that has not Thee. Then, indeed, will the cry which comes from the depths of our misery make its way to Thee, and Thou wilt come on the day Thou hast fixed, dispelling every shadow of darkness by Thy irresistible brightness.
Prayer for the Time of Advent
(The Mozarabic breviary, Wednesday of the second week of Advent, Capitula)
Domine, Jesu Christe, qui assumpto homine, hominum susceptor effectus, in lucem gentium datus es; aperi oculos cordium in te credentium populorum, atque abstrahe misericors de conclusione religatos adhuc vinculis diffidentiæ: et quos in domo carceris detineri conspicis in tenebris ignorantiæ, tuæ, quæsumus, scientiæirradies splendore.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who having assumed human nature, and becoming the Saviour of the human race, wast given as a light to the nations; open the eyes of the hearts of them that believe in thee, and mercifully set free from their prison them that are bound in the fetters of unbelief; and whom thou seest captives in prison in the darkness of ignorance, enlighten them, we beseech thee, by the splendour of the knowledge of thee.
 First Sermon of Advent.
From Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year.
The apostles being the heralds of the coming of the Messias, it was fitting that Advent should have in its calendar the name of some one among them. Divine Providence has provided for this; for, to say nothing of St. Andrew, whose feast is oftentimes past before the season of Advent has commenced, St. Thomas’s day is unfailingly kept immediately before Christmas. We will explain, later on, why St. Thomas holds that position rather than any other apostle; at present, we simply assert the fitness of there being at least one of the apostolic college, who should announce to us, in this period of the Catholic cycle, the coming of the Redeemer. But God has not wished that the first apostolate should be the only one to appear on the first page of the liturgical calendar; great also, though in a lower degree, is the glory of that second apostolate, whereby the bride of Jesus Christ multiplies her children, even in her fruitful old age, as the psalmist expresses it. There are Gentiles who have still to be evangelized; the coming of the Messias is far from having been announced to all nations. Now of all the valiant messengers of the divine Word who have, during the last few hundred years, proclaimed the good tidings among infidel nations, there is not one whose glory is greater, who has worked greater wonders, or who has shown himself a closer imitator of the first apostles, than the modern apostle of the Indies, St. Francis Xavier.
The life and apostolate of this wonderful man were a great triumph for our mother the holy Catholic Church; for St. Francis came just at a period when heresy, encouraged by false learning, by political intrigues, by covetousness, and by all the wicked passions of the human heart, seemed on the eve of victory. Emboldened by all these, this enemy of God spoke, with the deepest contempt, of that ancient Church which rested on the promises of Jesus Christ; it declared that she was unworthy of the confidence of men, and dared even to call her the harlot of Babylon, as though the vices of her children could taint the purity of the mother. God’s time came at last, and He showed Himself in His power: the garden of the Church suddenly appeared rich in the most admirable fruits of sanctity. Heroes and heroines issued from that apparent barrenness; and whilst the pretended reformers showed themselves to be the most wicked of men, two countries, Italy and Spain, gave to the world the most magnificent saints.
One of these is brought before us to-day, claiming our love and our praise. The calendar of the liturgical year will present to us, from time to time, his contemporaries and his companions in divine grace and heroic sanctity. The sixteenth century is, therefore, worthy of comparison with any other age of the Church. The so-called reformers of those times gave little proof of their desire to convert infidel countries, when their only zeal was to bury Christianity beneath the ruin of her churches. But at that very time, a society of apostles was offering itself to the Roman Pontiff, that he might send them to plant the true faith among people who were sitting in the thickest shades of death. But, we repeat, not one of these holy men so closely imitated the first apostles as did Francis, the disciple of Ignatius. He had all the marks and labours of an apostle: an immense world of people evangelized by his zeal, hundreds of thousands of infidels baptized by his indefatigable ministration, and miracles of every kind, which proved him, to the infidel, to be marked with the sign which they received who, living in the flesh, planted the Church, as the Church speaks in her liturgy. So that, in the sixteenth century, the east received from the ever holy city of Rome an apostle, who, by his character and his works, resembled those earlier ones sent her by Jesus Himself. May our Lord Jesus be for ever praised for having vindicated the honour of the Church, His bride, by raising up Francis Xavier, and giving to men, in this His servant, a representation of what the first apostles were, whom He sent to preach the Gospel when the whole world was pagan.
Let us now read the short account given us, in the words of the Church, of this new apostle.
Franciscus in Xaverio diœcesis Pampelonensis nobilibus parentibus natus, Parisiis sancto Ignatio sese comitem et discipulum junxit. Ipso magistro, eo brevi devenit, ut in rerum divinarum contemplatione defixus a terra aliquando sublimis elevaretur: quod illi sacrificanti coram populi multitudine aliquoties evenit. Has animi delicias magnis sui corporis cruciatibus merebatur. Nam, interdicto sibi, non camis solum et vini, sed panis quoque triticei usu, vilibus cibis vesci solitus, per biduum subinde triduumque omni prorsus alimento abstinuit. Ferreis in se flagellis ita sæviit, ut sæpe copioso cruore difflueret: somnum brevissimum humi jacens capiebat.
Vitae austeritate, ac sanctitate apostolico muneri jam maturus, quum Joannes tertius Lusitaniae rex aliquot nascentis Societatis viros a Paulo tertio pro Indiis postulasset, Sancti Ignatii hortatu ab eodem Pontifice ad tantum opus cum apostolici nuncii potestate deligitur. Eo appulsus, illico variarum gentium difficillimis et variis linguis divinitus instructus apparuit. Quin eum quandoque unico idiomate ad diversas gentes condonantem, unaquaeque sua lingua loquentem audivit. Provincias innumeras pedibus semper, et saepe nudis, peragravit. Fidem Japoniæ et sex aliis regionibus invexit. Multa centena hominum millia ad Christum in Indiis convertit; magnosque principes, regesque complures sacro fonte expiavit. Et quum tam magna pro Deo ageret, ea erat humilitate, ut sancto Ignatio, tunc præposito suo, flexis genibus scriberet.
Hunc dilatandi Evangelii ardorem multitudine, et excellentia miraculorum Dominus roboravit. Caeco visum reddidit. Tantum marinæ aquæ signo crucis convertit in dulcem, quantum quingentis vectoribus, qui siti adigebantur ad mortem, diu suffecit. Qua in varias quoque regiones asportata, ægri plurimi subito curati sunt. Plures mortuos revocavit ad vitam, inter quos pridie sepultum erui jussum e tumulo suscitavit, duosque alios dum efferebantur, apprehensa eorum manu, parentibus e feretro vivos restituit. Prophetiae spiritu passim afflatus, plurima et loco et tempore remotissima enuntiavit. Demum in Sanciano Sinarum insula, die secunda Decembris obiit plenus meritis laboribusque confectus. Demortui cadaver viva calce per multos menses bis obrutum, sed penitus incorruptum, odore et sanguine manavit, et ubi Malacam delatum est, pestem sævissimam confestim exstinxit. Denique ubique terrarum novis maximisque fulgentem miraculis, Gregorius decimus quintus sanctis adscripsit. Pius autom decimus ipsum sodalitati et operi Propagandæ Fidei cœlestempatronum elegit atque constituit.
Francis was born of noble parents, at Xavier, in the diocese of Pampelona. Having gone to Paris, he there became the companion and disciple of Saint Ignatius. Under such a master, he arrived at so high a contemplation of divine things, as to be sometimes raised above the ground: which occasionally happened to him whilst saying Mass before crowds of people. He had merited these spiritual delights by his severe mortifications of the body; for he never allowed himself either flesh meat, or wine, or even wheaten bread, and ate only the coarsest food; he not unfrequently abstained, for the space of two or three days, from every sort of nourishment. He scourged himself so severely with disciplines, to which were fastened pieces of iron, as to be frequently covered with blood. His sleep, which he took on the ground, was extremely short.
Such austerity and holiness of life had fitted him for the labours of an apostle; so that when John III., king of Portugal, asked of Paul III. that some of the newlyfounded Society might be sent to the Indies, that Pontiff, by the advice of St. Ignatius, selected Francis for so important a work, and gave him the powers of apostolic nuncio. Having reached those parts, he was found to be, on a sudden, divinely gifted with the knowledge of the exceedingly difficult and varied languages of the several countries. It sometimes even happened, that whilst he was preaching in one language to the people of several nations, each heard him speaking in their own tongue. He travelled over innumerable provinces, always on foot, and not unfrequently bare-footed. He carried the faith into Japan, and six other countries. He converted to Christ many hundred thousands in the Indies, and baptized several princes and kings. And yet, though he was doing such great things for God, he was so humble, that he never wrote to St. Ignatius, then General of the Society, but on his knees.
God blessed this zeal for the diffusion of the Gospel by many and extraordinary miracles. The saint restored sight to a blind man. By the sign of the cross he changed sea-water into fresh, sufficient for many days, for a crew of five hundred men, who were dying from thirst. This water was afterwards taken into several countries, and being given to sick people, they were instantly cured. He raised several dead men to life; one of these had been buried on the previous day, so that the corpse had to be taken out of the grave; two others were being carried to the grave, when the saint took them by the hand, and, raising them from the bier, restored them to their parents. Being continually gifted with the spirit of prophecy, he foretold many future events, or such as were happening in most distant parts. At length, full of merit, and worn out by his labours, he died on the second day of December, in Saneian, an island off the coast of China. His corpse was twice buried in unslaked lime, but was found, after several months, to bo incorrupt: blood flowed from it, and it exhaled a pleasing fragrance: when it was brought to Malacca, it instantly arrested a raging pestilence. At length, fresh and extraordinary miracles being everywhere wrought through the intercession of the man of God, he was enrolled among the saints by Gregory XV; and Pope Pius X declared him heavenly patron of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and its work.
Glorious apostle of Jesus Christ, who didst impart His divine light to the nations that were sitting in the shadows of death! we, though unworthy of the name of Christians, address our prayers to thee, that by the charity which led thee to sacrifice everything for the conversion of souls, thou wouldst deign to prepare us for the visit of the Saviour, whom our faith and our love desire. Thou wast the father of infidel nations; be the protector, during this holy season, of them that believe in Christ. Before thy eyes had contemplated the Lord Jesus, thou didst make Him known to countless people; now that thou seest Him face to face, obtain for us that, when He is come, we may see Him with that simple and ardent faith of the Magi, those glorious first-fruits of the nations to which thou didst bear the admirable light.
Remember also, O great apostle, those nations which thou didst evangelize, and where now, by a terrible judgement of God, the word of life has ceased to bring forth fruit. Pray for the vast empire of China, on which thou didst look when dying, but which was not blessed with thy preaching. Pray for Japan, thy dear garden which has been laid waste by the savage wild beast, of which the psalmist speaks. May the blood of the martyrs, which was poured out on that land like water, bring it the long-expected fertility. Bless, too, all the missions which our holy mother the Church has undertaken in those lands where the cross has not yet triumphed. May the heart of the infidel be opened to the grand simplicity and light of faith; may the seed bring forth fruit a hundred-fold; may the number of thy successors in the new apostolate ever increase; may their zeal and charity fail not; may their toil receive its reward of abundant fruit; and may the crown of martyrdom, which they receive, be not only the recompense but the perfection and the triumph of their apostolic ministry. Recommend to our Lord the innumerable members of that Association, which is the means of the faith being propagated through the world, and which has thee for its patron. Pray, with a filial affection and earnestness, for that holy Society, of which thou art so bright an ornament, and which reposes on thee its firmest confidence. May it more and more flourish under the storm of trial which never leaves it at rest; may it be multiplied, that so the children of God may be multiplied by its labours; may it ever have ready, for the service of the Christian world, zealous apostles and doctors; may it not be in vain that it bears the name of Jesus.
Let us consider the wretched condition of the human race, at the time of Christ’s coming into the world. The diminution of truths is emphatically expressed by the little light which the earth enjoys at this season of the year. The ancient traditions are gradually becoming extinct; the Creator is not acknowledged, even in the very work of His hands; everything has been made God, except the God who made all things. This frightful pantheism produces the vilest immorality, both in society at large, and in individuals. There are no rights acknowledged, save that of might. Lust, avarice, and theft, are honoured by men in the gods of their altars. There is no such thing as family, for divorce and infanticide are legalized; mankind is degraded by a general system of slavery; nations are being exterminated by endless wars. The human race is in the last extreme of misery; and unless the hand that created it reform it, it must needs sink a prey to crime and bloodshed. There are indeed some few just men still left upon the earth, and they struggle against the torrent of universal degradation; but they cannot save the world; the world despises them, and God will not accept their merits as a palliation of the hideous leprosy which covers the earth. All flesh has corrupted its way, and is more guilty than even in the days of the deluge: and yet, a second destruction of the universe would but manifest anew the justice of God; it is time that a deluge of His divine mercy should flood the universe, and that He who made man, should come down and heal him. Come then, O eternal Son of God! give life again to this dead body; heal all its wounds; purify it; let grace superabound, where sin before abounded; and having converted the world to Thy holy law, Thou wilt have proved to all ages that Thou, who camest, wast in very truth the Word of the Father; for as none but a God could create the world, so none but the same omnipotent God could save it from satan and sin, and restore it to justice and holiness.
A Responsory in Advent
(The Roman breviary, fourth Sunday of Advent)
R. Intuemini quantus sit iste, qui ingreditur ad salvandas gentes: ipse est Rex justitiæ, * Cujus generatio non habet finem.
V. Praecursor pro nobis ingreditur, secundum ordinem Melchisedech Pontifex factus in aeternum; * Cujus generatio non habet finem.
R. Behold! how great is he that cometh in to save the nations; he is the King of justice, * Whose generation hath no end.
V. He comes in as our precursor, made Priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech; * Whose generation hath no end.
 Ps. xci. 15.
 1 St. Peter ii. 9.
 Ps. xi. 2.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
The same divine Providence, which would not that the Church should be deprived of the consolation of keeping, during Advent, the feast of some of the apostles, who announced to the Gentiles the coming of the Messias, has also willed that the holy doctors, who defended the true faith against heretics, should be represented in this important season of the Ca holic year. Two of them, Saint Ambrose and Saint Peter Chrysologus, shine as two brilliant stars in the firmament of the Church during Advent. It is worthy of note, that both of them were the zealous avengers of that Son of God whom we are preparing to receive. The first was the valiant opponent of the Arians, whose impious doctrine taught that Jesus, the object of our hopes, is merely a creature and not God; the second was the adversary of Eutyches, whose sacrilegious system robs the Incarnation of the Son of God of all its glory, by asserting that, in this mystery, the human nature was absorbed by the Divinity.
It is this second doctor, the holy bishop of Ravenna, that we are to honour to-day. His pastoral eloquence gained for him a great reputation, and a great number of his sermons have been handed down to us. In almost every page we find passages of the most exquisite beauty, though we also occasionally meet with indications of the decay of literature, which began in the fifth century. The mystery of the Incarnation is a frequent subject of the saint’s sermons, and he always speaks upon it with a precision and enthusiasm, which show his learning and piety. His veneration and love towards Mary, the Mother of God, who, in that very age, had triumphed over her enemies by the decree of the Council of Ephesus, inspire him with thoughts and language which are extremely fine. Let us take a passage from the sermon on the Annunciation. ‘God sends to the Virgin an angelic messenger, who, whilst he brings graces, gives her the entrusted pledge, and receives hers. Then does Gabriel return with Mary’s plighted troth. But, before ascending to heaven, there to tell the consent promised him by the Virgin, he delivers to her the gifts due to her virtues. Swiftly does this ambassador fly to the bride, that he may assert God’s claim to her as His own. Gabriel takes her not from Joseph, but he restores her to Christ, to whom she was espoused when she was first formed in the womb. Christ, therefore, did but take His own, when He thus made Mary His bride. It is not a separation that He thus produces, but a union with Himself of His own creature by becoming Incarnate in her womb.
‘But let us hearken to the angel’s words. Being come in, he said unto her: Hail, full of grace! the Lord is with thee! These words are not a mere salutation; they convey the heavenly gift. Hail! that is, Take, O Mary, the grace I bring thee; fear not; this is not the work of nature. Full of grace! that is, thou art not in grace as others are; thou art to be filled with it. The Lord is with thee!What means this, but that He is coming to thee not merely to visit thee, but to enter within thee by the new mystery of becoming thy Child? Blessed art thou among women. How fittingly does he add these words! They imply, that they who heretofore were mothers with the curse of Eve upon them, now have the blessed Mary as their joy, and honour, and type: and whereas Eve was by nature the mother of children of death, Mary is by grace the mother of children of life.’
In the following passage from another sermon, the holy doctor teaches us with what profound veneration we ought to contemplate Mary during these days when God is still residing in her womb. ‘What reverence and awe are shown to that inner chamber of a king, where he sits in all the majesty of his power! Therein no man may enter that is a stranger, or unclean, or unfaithful. The usages of courts require, that when men come to pay their homage, everything must be the best, and fairest, and most loyal. Who would go to the palace-gate in rags? Who would go, that knew he was odious to the prince? So it is with the sanctuary of the divine Spouse. No one is permitted to come nigh, but he that is of God’s family, and is intimate, and has a good conscience, and has a fair name, and leads a holy life. Within the holy place itself God receives but the Virgin, and spotless virginity. Hence learn, O man, to examine thyself: who thou art, and what thou art, and what merits thou hast. Ask thyself, after this, if thou mayst dare to penetrate into the mystery of the birth of thy Lord, or canst be worthy to approach that living sanctuary, wherein reposes the whole majesty of thy King, and thy God.’ Let us now listen to our holy mother the Church, who thus speaks of our saint:
Petrus, qui ob auream ejus eloquentiam Chrysologi cognomen adeptus est, ForoCornelii in Æmilia honestis parentibus natus, a prima ætate animam ad religionem adjiciens, Cornelio Romano, tunc ejusdem urbis Corneliensis episcopo, operam dedit: a quo etiam scientia et vitæ sanctitate quum brevi profecisset, diaconus creatus est. Postmodum contigit, ut Ravennates ob mortem archipræsulis sui, alium, ut moris erat, ab eis electum, Romam ad sanctum Sixtum Papam tertium pro confirmatione miserint una cum legatis suis, et cum prædicto Cornelio, qui eumdem levitam secum perduxit. Interim sanctus Petrus apostolus, et martyr Apollinaris summo Pontifici in somnis apparuerunt, mediumque habentes hunc juvenem, jusserunt, ut illum et non alium, in archiepi8copum Ravennæ crearet. Hinc pontifex, mox ut vidit Petrum, cognovit eum a Domino Deo præelectum: propterea rejecto illo quem ipsi offerebant, hunc solum anno Christi quadringentesimo trigesimo tertio, illi metropolitanæ præfecit Ecclesiae. Quod quum legati Ravennatenses ægre ferrent, audita visione, divinæ voluntati libenter acquiescentes, novum archiepiscopum maxima cum reverentia susceperunt.
Petrus igitur, licet invitus, in archipræsulem consecratus Ravennam deducitur: ubi a Valentiniano imperatore, et a Galla Placidia ejus matre, et ab universo populo maxima lætitia exceptus est. Et ille ab eis id unum petere dixit, ut quando tantum oneris pro ipsorum salute subire non recusaret, studerent ipsi monitis suis obtemperare, divinisque præceptis non obsistere. Suorum sanctorum tunc ibi defunctorum corpora optimis unguentis condita sepelivit; Barbatiani videlicet presbyteri, et Germani Antissiodorensis episcopi, cujus etiam cucullam et cilicium sibi vindicavit in hæreditatem. Projectum et Marcellinum episcopos ordinavit. In Classe fontem exstruxit magnitudinis vero admirabilis, et templa quædam magnifica ædificavit, tum beato Andreæ apostolo, tum aliis sanctis. Ludos ab hominibus personatis cum variis saltationibus, Kalendis Januarii fieri solitos, concione cohibuit acerrima, ubi inter alia illud præclare dixit: Qui jocari voluerit cum diabolo, non poterit gaudere cum Christo. Jussu sancti Leonis Papæ primi scripsit ad Chalcedonense Concilium adversus hæresim Eutychetis. Respondit præterea ad Eutychen ipsum et alia epistola, quæ eidem Concilio in novis editionibus praefixa, et in annales ecclesiasticos rolata fuit.
Dum publice sermones haberet ad populum, adeo vehemens erat in dicendo, ut præ nimio ardore vox illi interdum defecerit: sicut contigit in concione mulieris hæmorrhoissæ. Unde Ravennates commoti, tot lacrymis, clamoribus et orationibus locum repleverunt, ut postea ipse gratias ageret Deo, quod in lucrum amoris verterit damnum ejusdem sermonis. Cum tandem annos circiter decem et octo eam Ecclesiam sanctissime rexisset, laborum suorum finem adesse divinitus praenoscens, in patriam se contulit; ubi sancti Cassiani templum ingressus, magnum diadema aureum, gemmis distinctum pretiosissimis offerens, super altare majus posuit; neenon aureum craterem et patenam argenteam, quam tum rabidi canis morsus, tum febres sanare expertum est, aqua inde demissa. Ex tunc Ravennates qui eumdem secuti fuerant dimisit, admonens, ut in eligendo optimo pastore invigilarent attente. Mox Deum humiliter precatus, et sanctum Cassianum patronum, ut benigne animam ejus exciperet, tertio Nonas Decembris, placide ex hac vita migravit, anno Domini circiter quadringentesimo quinquagesimo. Sacrum illius corpus communi totius civitatis fletu ac pietate prope corpus ejusdem sancti Cassiani honorifice conditum, nostris etiam temporibus religiose colitur: cujus tamen brachium, auro et gemmis ornatum, Ravennam delatum in Ursicana æde veneratur.
Peter, surnamed, for hia golden eloquence, Chrysologus, was born at Forum Cornelii (Imola) in Æmilia, of respectable parents. Turning his mind to religion from his childhood, he put himself under Cornelius, the bishop of that city, who was a Roman, In a short while he made such progress in learning and holiness of life, that, in due time, the bishop ordained him deacon. Not long after, it happened that the archbishop of Ravenna having died, the inhabitants of that city sent, as usual, to Rome the successor they had elected, that this election might be confirmed by the holy Pope Sixtus III. Cornelius, who was also sent in company with the deputies of Ravenna, took with him the young deacon. Meanwhile, the apostle Saint Peter, and the holy martyr Apollinaris, appeared to the Roman Pontiff in his sleep. They stood with the young levite between them, and ordered the Pontiff to create him, and none other, archbishop of Ravenna. The Pontiff, therefore, no sooner saw Peter than he recognized him as the one chosen by God; and rejecting the one presented to him, he appointed Peter to the metropolitan Church of that city, in the year of our Lord 433. At first, the deputies from Ravenna were dissatisfied at this decision of the Pope; but, having been told of the vision, they readily acquiesced in the divine will, and received the new archbishop with the greatest reverence.
Peter, therefore, being, though reluctant, consecrated archbishop, was conducted to Ravenna, where he was received with the greatest joy by the emperor Valentinian, and Galla Placidia the emperor’s mother, and the whole people. On his part, he told them that he asked of them but this, that since he had not refused this great burden for their salvation’s sake, they would make it their study to follow his counsels, and to obey the commandments of God. He then buried in the city the bodies of two saints, after having embalmed them with the most precious perfumes; Barbatian, a priest, was one; and the other, Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, whose cowl and hair-shirt he claimed as his own inheritance. He ordained Projectus and Marcellinus bishops. In the town of Classis he erected a fountain of an incredible size, and built some magnificent churches in honour of several saints, of Saint Andrew among the rest. The people had a custom of assisting at certain games, on the first day of January, which consisted of theatrical performances and dances; the saint repressed these by the severity with which he preached against them. One of his expressions deserves to be handed down: He that would play with the devil, can never enjoy the company of Jesus. At the command of Pope St. Leo I., he wrote to the Council of Chalcedon against the heresy of Eutyches. He answered Eutyches himself by another epistle, which has been added to the acts of that same Council in the new editions, and has been inserted in the ecclesiastical annals.
In his sermons to the people he was so earnest, that at times his voice completely failed him, as in his sermon on the woman healed by our Lord, as mentioned in the ninth chapter of St. Matthew; on which occasion his people of Ravenna were so affected, and so moved to tears, that the whole church rang with their sobbings and prayers, and the saint afterwards thanked God that he had turned the failure of his speech into the gain of so much love. After having governed that Church, in a most holy manner, about eighteen years, and having received a divine warning that his labours were soon to end, he withdrew to his native town. There he visited the church of St Cassian, and presented an offering of a largo golden diadem, set with most precious stones, which he placed upon the high altar: he also gave a golden cup, and a silver paten, which imparts to water poured on it the virtue of healing the bites of mad dogs, and of assuaging fevers, as frequent instances have attested. He then took leave of those who had accompanied him from Ravenna, admonishing them to spare no pains in electing for their pastor him who was the most worthy. Immediately after this he turned in humble prayer to God, that, through the intercession of his patron St. Cassian, he would mercifully receive his soul; and calmly passed out of this life, on the third of the Nones of December (Dec. 3), about the year 450. His holy body was buried, amidst the tears and prayers of the whole city, near the body of the same St. Cassian: there it is venerated even at this day; though Ravenna possesses and venerates one of the arms, which was enshrined in gold and gems and placed in the basilica Ursicana.
Holy pontiff, who didst open thy lips and pour out on the assembly of the faithful, in the streams of thy golden eloquence, the knowledge of Jesus, cast an eye of compassion on the Christians throughout the world, who are watching in expectation of that same God-Man, whose two Natures thou didst so courageously confess. Obtain for us grace to receive Him with the sovereign respect which is due to a God who comes down to His creatures, and with the loving confidence which is due to a Brother who comes to offer Himself in sacrifice for His most unworthy brethren. Strengthen our faith, most holy doctor! for the love we stand in need of comes from faith. Destroy the heresies which lay waste the vineyard of our Father; and uproot that frightful pantheism, which is the form under which the heresy thou didst combat is still among us. May the numerous Churches of the East abjure that heresy of Eutyches which reigns so supreme amongst them, and gives them the knowledge of the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation only to blaspheme it. Pray that the children of the Church may show to the judgements of the apostolic See that perfect obedience, to which thou didst so eloquently urge the heresiarch Eutyches, in the epistle thou didst address to him, and which will ever be precious to the world: ‘We exhort thee above all things, most honoured brother, that thou receive with obedience whatsoever has been written by the most blessed Pope of the city of Rome: for, blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own See, shows the truth of faith to all them that seek it.’ (Letter 25.)
 St. Peter Chrysologus here asserts the mystery of the Immaculate Conception. If Mary was espoused to the Son of God from the first moment of her existence, how could original sin ever have been upon her?
 Sermon 140.
 Sermon 141.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
Although, in the Roman liturgy, St. Barbara is merely commemorated in the Office of St. Peter Chrysologus, yet the Church has approved an entire Office for the use of those Churches which honour the memory of this illustrious virgin in a special manner. The legend which follows, although of considerable weight, has not, consequently, the authority of those which are promulgated for the use of the whole Church, in the Roman breviary. Let us not, on this account, be less fervent in honouring this glorious martyr, so celebrated in the east, and whose feast has been for so many ages admitted, with more or less solemnity, into the Roman Church. The acts of her martyrdom, though not of the highest antiquity, contain nothing in them but what redounds to the glory of God and the honour of the saint. We have already shown the liturgical importance which attaches to St. Barbara in this season of Advent. Let us admire the constancy wherewith this virgin waited for her Lord, who came at the appointed hour, and was for her, as the Scripture speaks, a Spouse of blood, because He put the strength of her love of Him to the severest of all tests.
Barbara, virgo Nicomediensis, Dioscori nobilis sed superstitiosi hominis filia, per ea quæ visibilia facta sunt ad invisibilia, divina opitulante gratia, facile pervenit. Quapropter soli Deo rebusque divinis vacare cœpit. Eam pater, utpote forma venustiori nitentem, a quocumque virorum occursu tutari cupiens, turri inclusit: ubi pia virgo meditationibus et precibus addicta, soli Deo, quem sibi in sponsum elegerat, placere studebat. Oblata a patre pluries nobilium connubia fortiter sprevit. Pater vero per sui absentiam filiae animum posse facilius emolliri confidens, jussit primo balneum extrui, ne quid ei deesset ad commoditatem; deinde peregre in exteras regiones profectus est.
Absente patre, jussit Barbara duabus fenestris quæ in turri erant, tertiam addi in honorem divinæ Trinitatis, labiumque balnei sacrosanctæ crucis signo muniri: quod ubi rediens Dioscorus inspexit, audita novitatis causa, adeo in filiam excanduit ut stricto ense eam appetens, parum abfuerit ut eam dire confoderet; sed præsto adfuit Deus; nam fugienti Barbaræ saxum ingens se patefaciens viam aperuit, per quam montis fastigium petere, et sic in specu latere potuit; sed paulo post quum a nequissimo genitore reperta fuisset, ejus latera pedibus dorsumque pugnis immaniter percussit, et crinibus per loca aspera difficilesque vias raptatam Marciano præsidi puniendam tradidit. Itaque ab ipso omnibus modis, sed incassum tentata nudam nervis cædi et inflicta vulnera testulis confricari, deinde in carcerem trahi præcepit: ubi immensa luce circumdatus ei Christus apparens, mirifice confortatam in passionum tolerantia confirmavit: quod animadvertens Juliana matrona, ad fidem conversa ejusdem palmæ particeps effecta est.
Barbaræ demum ferreis unguibus membra laniantur, facibus latera incenduntur, et malleolis caput contunditur: quibus in cruciatibus consortem solabatur, et hortabatur ut ad finem usque constanter certaret. Præcisis tandem utrique uberibus, nudæ per loca publica tractæ, filiæque cervicem ipse scelestissimus pater, humanitatis expers, propriis manibus amputavit; cujus fera crudelitas non diu inulta remansit; nam statina eo ipso in loco fulmine percussus interiit. Corpus hujus beatissimæ virginis Justinus Imperator Nicomedia auferens, Constantinopolim primum transportavit. Illud idem, cum in progressu temporis ab Imperatoribus Constantino et Basilio impetrassent Veneti, Constantinopoli deductum in sancti Marci basilica fuit deinde solemniter collocatum. Postremo et ultimo, supplicantibus Torcellano episcopo ejusque sorore abbatissa, ad ecclesiam monialium Sancti Joannis Evangelistæ Torcellanæ diœcesis, anno salutis millesimo nono defertur: ubi et honorifice conditum, perpetuo cultu ad præsens usque tempus summopere veneratur.
Barbara, a virgin of Nicomedia, the daughter of Dioscorus, a nobleman but a superstitious pagan, came readily, by the assistance of divine grace, from the contemplation of the visible things of creation to the knowledge of the invisible. Wherefore, she devoted herself to God alone and to the things of God. Her father, desirous to preserve her from all danger of insult, to which he feared her great beauty might expose her, shut her up in a tower. There the pious virgin passed her days in meditation and prayer, studying to please God alone, whom she had chosen as her Spouse. She courageously rejected several offers of marriage, which were made to her, through her father, by rich nobles. But her father hoped that, by separating himself by a long absence from his child, her intentions would easily change. He first ordered that a bath should be built for her in the tower, so that she might want for nothing; and then he set out on a journey into distant countries.
During her father’s absence, Barbara ordered that to the two windows already in the tower a third should be added, in honour of the blessed Trinity; and that on the edge of the bath the sign of the most holy cross should be drawn. When Dioscorus returned home, and saw these changes, and was told their meaning, he became so incensed against his daughter, that he went in search of her with a naked sword in his hand, and, but for the protection of God, he would have cruelly murdered her. Barbara had taken to flight: an immense rock opened before her, and she found a path by which she reached the top of a mountain, and there she hid herself in a cave. Not long after, however, she was discovered by her unnatural father, who savagely kicked and struck her, and dragging her by the hair over the sharp rocks, and rugged ways, he handed her over to the governor Marcian, that he might punish her. He, therefore, having used every means to shake her constancy, and finding that all was in vain, gave orders for her to be stripped and scourged with thongs, to have her wounds scraped with potsherds, and then to be dragged to prison. There Christ, surrounded by an immense light, appearing to her, strengthened her in a divine manner for the sufferings she was yet to endure. A matron, named Juliana, who witnessed this, was converted to the faith, and became her companion in martyrdom.
At length Barbara had her body tom with iron hooks, her sides burnt with torches, and her head bruised with mallets. During these tortures she consoled her companion, and exhorted her to fight manfully to the last. Both of them had their breasts cut off, were dragged naked through the streets, and beheaded. The head of Barbara was cut off by her own father, who in his excessive wickedness had hardened his heart thus far. But his ferocious cruelty was not long left unpunished, for instantly, and on the very spot, he was struck dead by lightning. The emperor Justinus had the body of this most holy virgin translated from Nicomedia to Constantinople. It was afterwards obtained by the Venetians from the emperors Constantine and Basil; and having been translated from Constantinople to Venice, was deposited with great solemnity in the basilica of St. Mark. Lastly, at the earnest request of the bishop of Torcello and his sister, who was abbess, it was translated in the year of grace 1009, to the nuns’ church of St. John the Evangelist, in the diocese of Torcello; where it was placed in a worthy sepulchre, and from that time has never ceased to be the object of most fervent veneration.
Such is the account of the life and martyrdom of the courageous virgin of Nicomedia. She is invoked in the Church against lightning, on account of the punishment inflicted by divine justice on her execrable father. This same incident of the saint’s history has suggested several Catholic customs: thus her name is sometimes given to the hold of men-of-war where the ammunition is stowed; she is the patroness of artillery men, miners, etc.; and she is invoked by the faithful against the danger of a sudden death.
Of the liturgical pieces, used in our western Churches in honour of St. Barbara, we will content ourselves with the following beautiful antiphon, composed in the days of chivalry.
O divinæ bonitatis immensa dementia, quae Barbaram illustravit vero claritatis lumine, ut terrenae dignitatis contempto splendore, divinitatisconscia effici mereretur: hæc velut lilium inter spinis enituit, et lux in tenebris eluxit. Alleluia.
O immeasurable mercy of divine goodness, which did enlighten Barbara with the brightness of the true light, making her worthy, by her contempt for what was dazzling in earthly grandeur, to be admitted to a union with God! As the lily among thorns, as light in darkness, so shone Barbara. Alleluia.
The Greek Church is profuse in its praises of St. Barbara. We will take from the Menæa a few out of the many strophes which are sung in honour of the holy martyr:
Hymn of the Greek Church
Quando coram te, veneranda martyr Barbara, dulcis mors apparuit, gaudens et festinans cursum complevisti, impiique genitoris injustis manibus sacrificata es, et Deo oblata es victima: unde vere prudentium virginum conjuncta choris, tui Sponsi contemplaris splendorem.
Agna tua, Jesu, magna voce clamat: Te, Sponse mi, desidero, et quærens te pugno, et confixa sum et consepulta tuo baptismati, et patior propter te, ut regnemtecum; et morior pro te, ut et vivam in te: igitur ut sacrificium irreprehensibile suscipe amanter sacrificatam tibi. Illius precibus, ut misericors, salva animas nostras.
E spinosa exorta radice, rosa sacratissima, Ecclesiam suaviter inodorans, te rubore prælii per sanguinem purpuratam, gloriosa Barbara, nunc dignissime beatam celebramus.
Non deliciarum jucunditas, non pulchritudinis flos, neque divitiæ, neque juventutis voluptates te mulserunt, Barbara gloriosa, Christo desponsata, pulcherrima virgo.
In certamine tuo omnes obstupefecisti; nam tolerasti tyrannorum cruciatus, vincula, tormenta, Barbara celeberrima; quapropter et corona Deus te donavit quam desiderasti: cum animo cucurristi, et ille sanam te fecit.
Sponsum tuum Christum adamata, lampadis tuse fulgore præparato, virtutibus refulsisti, laude digna: unde ingressa es cum eo ad nuptias, ab eo recipiens certaminis coronam: sed a periculis libera nos celebrantes, Barbara, tui memoriam.
Tribus ostiolis lavacrum illustrari jubens mystice indicasti Baptisma, O Barbara, Trinitatis lumine animabus splendidam suppetens purgationem.
Furore terribili patris declinato, Barbaram statim se scindens mons recepit, ut olim illustrem protomartyrem Theclam, miraculum operante Christo.
Gladio te, martyr Barbara, immolans pater, Abraham alter, sed diabolo favit.
Apparuit Christus in lumine inaccessibili tibi inclusæ, O Barbara, in carcere, ut confidentem te incitans et vibices sanans et lætitiam præbens: unde alas accepisti Sponsi tui amore.
Angelus fulgidus te, propter Christum denudatam veneranda Barbara, vestivit, ut sponsam, veste splendida quæ vulnera texit; stolam enim induisti divinam afferentem mutationem.
Demonstrata est evidenter, Christe, prophetia tua adimpleta: pater namque filiam ad caedem tradit, ipse artifex jugulationis; qui improbus genitor tuæ martyris stupendo modo e cœlo igne consumitur.
Athleticam ingressa viam, paternam renuisti voluntatem, tota honorabilis, et virgo quidem sapiens lampadem ferens, egressa es ad mansiones Domini tui; et ut martyr generosa, gratiam accepisti sanandi carnis putidam pestilentiam: et nos hymnificantes te spiritualibus doloribus libera, tuis ad Deum precibus.
When welcome death came before thee, O venerable martyr Barbara! joyously and nimbly didst thou run thy course, and being immolated by the wicked hands of an impious parent, thou wast offered a victim to God. Now, therefore, art thou in the choir of the truly wise virgins, and contemplatest the beauty of thy Spouse.
This lamb of thine, O Jesus, cries to thee with a loud voice: Thee, O my Spouse, do I desire, thee do I seek by my combat; I am immolated and buried in thy baptism; I suffer for thee, that I may reign with thee; I die for thee, that I may live in thee; receive me, therefore, as an unreserved sacrifice lovingly sacrificed to thee. Save our souls, O merciful Jesus, by her prayers.
Glorious Barbara! most sacred rose grown out of a thorny stem, sweetly perfuming the Church, and ruddy by the blood of thy battle! we this day most fervently proclaim thee blessed.
Neither the sweetness of luxury, nor the flower of beauty, nor riches, nor the pleasures of youth, could rob thee of thy energy, O glorious Barbara, most fair virgin, espoused to Christ.
All stood in amazement at witnessing thy combat; for thou didst endure the tortures, and chains, and cruelties, of thy persecutors, O Barbara, of wide-world fame! Therefore, did God give thee the crown thou didst covet; thou didst run thy course with courage, and he healed thee.
Full of love for Jesus thy Spouse, thy bright lamp was well trimmed, and thy virtues shed forth their splendour, O virgin worthy of praise! Therefore didst thou enter in with Christ to the marriage-feast, and he wreathed thee with the crown of thy combat. We celebrate thy memory, O Barbara! Deliver us from danger.
By those three apertures, which thou wouldst have to thy bath, thou didst symbolize, O Barbara, the mystery of Baptism, which, by the light of the Trinity, imparts to our souls a cleansing that illuminates.
Fleeing the terrible violence of her father, a rock immediately opened a reception of safety to Barbara, as happened heretofore to the illustrious protomartyr of her sex, Thecla, for whom Christ worked a like miracle.
O martyr Barbara! thou wast sacrificed with a sword, by thy father; like in this to Abraham, but his devotedness was to the devil.
Jesus appeared to thee, O Barbara, in thy prison: he was surrounded by light inaccessible, but he came to animate thy confidence, heal thy wounds and make thee glad: this gave wings to thy love of thy Lord.
When for Christ’s sake thou wast stripped of thy garments, O venerable Barbara! a bright angel clothed thee, as a bride, with a splendid robe, which covered thy wounds; for thou hast put on the stole which gives creatures a divine transformation.
Thy prophecy, O Christ, has been evidently fulfilled: for the father delivers his daughter up to death, nay himself becomes her murderer; but this cruel parentof thy martyr is, in a wonderful manner, consumed by fire from heaven.
Thou, most honoured virgin, having entered the path of combatants, didst resist thy father’s demands, and, as a wise virgin bearing her lamp, thou didst go into the mansions of thy Lord; he gave thee, O generous martyr, the power to drive away pestilence; pray to God for us who hymn thy praises, and deliver us from our spiritual diseases.
To this the voice of so many Churches we join ours, O faithful virgin! and though we are unworthy, yet do we offer thee our praise and our prayers. Behold! our Lord cometh, and the darkness of the night is upon us; give to our lamp both the light which will guide us, and the oil which will keep in the light. Thou knowest that He who came for love of thee, and with whom thou art now united for all eternity, is coming to visit us too; pray for us that nothing may keep us from receiving Him. May we go towards Him courageously and swiftly as thou didst; and being once with Him, may we never be separated from Him again, for He is the centre where we creatures find our only rest. Pray also, O glorious martyr, that the faith in the blessed Trinity may be ever increasing in this world. May our enemy, satan, be confounded by every tongue confessing the threefold light, and the triumphant cross which sanctifies the waters of Baptism. Remember, O blessed Barbara, thou bride of Jesus, that He has put in thy gentle hands the power not of hurling, but of staying and averting, the thunderbolt. Protect our ships against the fires of heaven and of war. Shield by thy protection the arsenals where are placed the defences of our country. Hear the prayers of them that invoke thee, whether in the fierceness of the storm, or in the dark depths of the earth; and save us all from the awful chastisement of a sudden death.
Let us consider how the various nations on the face of the earth, though differing in customs, and speech, and interests, are all united in the expectation of a Deliverer soon to come. Neither the frightful corruption of morals, nor the long ages which have passed since the promises were given, have been able to efface the tradition, or the hope it inspired. At the very time when the world seems crumbling into dissolution, a strong symptom of vigour is evinced, and from one end of the earth to the other there is heard this cry: The King of the universe is soon to appear; a new empire, holy and everlasting, is to bring all peoples into one. It is thus, O Jesus! that Jacob prophesied on his dying bed, when he said, speaking of Thee: 'He shall be the expectation of nations.’ Men have, indeed, searched after, and found, the way to the lowest degradation; but they could not prevent the fulfilment of this prophecy: and by their expectation of a happier state of things, they themselves fulfil it; and by fulfilling it, are confessing that their misery has no remedy save Thyself. Come, then, O Son of God! and cherish this ray of hope of the ancient world, which renders Thee this its only homage, even whilst falling under the weight of its own wretchedness. The expectation of a Deliverer is the bond of union between the two great divisions of the human race, those who preceded and those who have lived since Thy Nativity. But if the pagan world, from the depth of its vices and errors, could sigh after Thee, O Jesus! what shall we not do, who have inherited what was promised, now that Thou art preparing to come and take possession of our souls? We already know Thee, for Thou hast initiated us into Thy mysteries; we cannot do less, dear Jesus! we are longing for Thee during these days of Advent. When the beautiful day of Thy visit comes, mayst Thou find that Thy love is already in our hearts. Make our expectation more fervid, increase our faith, and come!
A Responsory of Advent
(The Roman breviary, Matins of the first Sunday)
R. Salvatorem exspectamus Dominum Jesum Christum; * Qui reformabit corpus humilitatis nostræ configuratum corpori claritatis suæ. V. Sobrie, juste, et pie, vivamus in hoc sæculo, exspectantes beatam spem, et adventum gloriæ magni Dei, * Qui reformabit corpus humilitatis nostræ configuratum corpori claritatis suæ.
R. We look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ; * Who will reform the body of our lowliness made like to the body of his glory. V. Let us live soberly, and justly, and piously in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God, * Who will reform the body of our lowliness made like to the body of his glory.
 Gen. xlix. 10.
From Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year.
The Roman Church confines herself to-day to the Office of the feria: but to that she joins a commemoration of St. Sabas, abbot of the celebrated laura of Palestine which still exists under his name. This saint, who died in 533, is the only one of the monastic Order of whom the Church makes any mention in her liturgy during the whole period of Advent; we might even say that he is the only simple confessor whose name occurs in the calendar of this part of the year: for, as regards St. Francis Xavier, the glorious title of apostle of the Indies puts him in a distinct class of saints. Here, again, we should recognize divine Providence, which has selected for these days of preparation for Christmas, those saints whose characteristic virtues would make them our fittest models in this work of preparation. We have the feasts of apostles, pontiffs, doctors, virgins: Jesus, the Man-God, the King and Spouse of men, is preceded by this magnificent procession of the noblest of His servants: simple confession has but a single representative, the anchoret and cenobite Sabas, who, by his profession of the monastic life, is of that family of holy solitaries, which began with the prophet Elias under the old Testament, and continued up to the time of St. John the Precursor, who was one of its members, and will continue on, during the new Covenant, until the last coming of Jesus. Let us, then, honour this holy abbot, towards whom the Greek Church professes a filial veneration, and under whose invocation Rome has consecrated one of her churches. Let us beg his prayers by this Collect of the holy liturgy.
Intercessio nos, quæsumus, Domine, beati Sabbæ abbatis commendet, ut quod nostris meritis non valemus, ejus patrocinio assequamur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
May the intercession, we beseech thee, O Lord, of the blessed abbot Sabas recommend us to thee; that what we cannot hope for through our own merits, we may obtain by his prayers. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Sabas, thou man of desires! in thy expectation of that Lord, who has bidden His servants watch until He come, thou didst withdraw into the desert, fearing lest the turmoil of this world might distract thy mind from its God. Have pity on us who are living in the world, and are so occupied in the affairs of that world, and yet who have received the commandment, which thou didst so take to heart, of keeping ourselves in readiness for the coming of our Saviour and our Judge. Pray for us, that when He comes we may be worthy to go out to meet Him. Kemember also the monastic state, of which thou art one of the brightest ornaments; raise it up again from its ruins; let its children be men of prayer and faith, as of old; let thy spirit be among them, and the Church thus regain, by thy intercession, all the glory which is reflected on her from the sublime perfection of this holy state.
Let us look again at the prophecy of Jacob. The holy patriarch not only foretells that the Messias will be the Expectation of nations; he adds that, when this promised Deliverer comes, the sceptre will have been taken away from Juda. This oracle is now fulfilled. The flag of Cæsar Augustus floats on the ramparts of Jerusalem. The temple is still untouched; the abomination of desolation stands not yet in the holy place; sacrifices are there still offered up to God; but then, the true temple of God, the Incarnate Word, has not yet been built; the Synagogue has not denied Him, who was her expectation; the Victim, that was to supersede all others, has not been immolated. Yet, Juda has no chief of her own race; Cæsar’s coin is current throughout all Palestine; and the day is not far off when the leaders of the Jewish people will own, in the presence of the Roman governor, that they have not the power to put any man to death. So that there is now no king upon the throne of David and Solomon, that throne which was to abide for ever. O Jesus! Son of David, and King of peace, now is the time when Thou must show Thyself and take possession of the sceptre which has been taken in battle from the hand of Juda, and put, for a time, into that of an emperor. Come! for Thou art King, and the psalmist, Thy ancestor, thus sang of Thee: 'Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O Thou Most Mighty! With Thy comeliness and Thy beauty set out, proceed prosperously, and reign, because of truth and meekness and justice, and Thy right hand shall conduct Thee wonderfully. Thy arrows are sharp: under Thee shall people fall: Thy arrows shall go into the hearts of the King’s enemies. Thy throne is for ever and ever; the sceptre of Thy kingdom is a sceptre of uprightness. . . . God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee, O Christ! who takest thence Thy name, with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows, who have been honoured with the name of king.’ When Thou hast come, O Messias! men will be no more as sheep going astray without a shepherd; there will be but one fold, in which Thou wilt reign by love and justice, for all power will be given unto Thee in heaven and on earth. When, in the hour of Thy Passion, Thy enemies shall ask Thee: ‘Art Thou King?’ Thou wilt answer them in all truth: ‘Verily, I am.’ Come, dearest King, and reign over our hearts; come, and reign over this world, which is Thine because Thou didst create it, and will soon be Thine because Thou wilt have redeemed it. Reign, then, over this world, and delay not the manifestation of Thy royal power until the day of which it is written: 'He will break kings in the day of His wrath’; reign from this very hour, and let all people fall at Thy feet and adore Thee in one grand homage of love and obedience.
Sequence for the Time of Advent
(Composed in the eleventh century, and taken from the ancient Roman-French missals)
Qui regis sceptra forti dextra solus cuncta;
Tu plebi tuam ostende magnam excitando potentiam; Praesta illi dona salutaria.
Quem praedixerunt prophetica vaticinia, A clara poli regia,
In nostra Jesum mitte, Domine, arva.
O thou that, in the might of thy right hand, alone rulest over all sceptres,
Raise up thy great power, and show it to the people, To whom grant the gifts of salvation.
Jesus whom the oracles of the prophets foretold, Send him from the bright palace of heaven,
Send him, O Lord, into our land.
 Gen. xlix. 10.
 St. John xviii. 31.
 Ps. xliv.
 St. John xviii. 37.
 Ps. cix. 5.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
Divine Wisdom has willed that on the way which leads to the Messias, our great High Priest, there should be many pontiffs to pay Him the honour due to Him. Two Popes, St. Melchiades and St. Damasus; two holy doctors, St. Peter Chrysologus and St. Ambrose; two bishops, St. Nicholas and St. Eusebius; these are the glorious pontiffs who have been entrusted with the charge of preparing, by their prayers, the way of the Christian people towards Him, who is the sovereign Priest according to the order of Melchisedech. As each of their feasts comes we will show their right to have been thus admitted into the court of Jesus. To-day the Church celebrates with joy the feast of the great thaumaturgus Nicholas, who is to the Greek Church what St. Martin is to us. The Church of Rome has honoured the name of Nicholas for nearly a thousand years. Let us admire the wonderful power which God gave him over creation; but let us offer him our most fervent congratulations for that he was permitted to be one of the three hundred and eighteen bishops, who proclaimed, at Nicæa, that the Word is consubstantial with the Father. The humiliations of the Son of God did not scandalize him. Neither the lowliness of the flesh, which the sovereign Lord of all things assumed to Himself in the womb of the Virgin, nor the poverty of the crib, hindered him from confessing the Son of Mary to be Son of God, equal to God; and for this reason, God has glorified this His servant, and given him the power to obtain, each year, for the children of the Church, the grace of receiving this same Jesus, the Word, with simple faith and fervent love. Let us now listen to the eulogy of St. Nicholas, which the Roman Church has inserted in her liturgy.
Nicolaum, illustri loco Pataræ in Lycia natum, parentes a Deo precibus impetrarunt. Cujus viri sanctitas, quanta futura esset, jam ab incunabulis apparuit. Nam infans, quum reliquos dies lac nutricis frequens sugeret, quarta et sexta feria semel dumtaxat, idque vesperi, sugebat: quam jejunii consuetudinem in reliqua vita semper tenuit. Adolescens parentibus orbatus, facultates suas pauperibus distribuit. Cujus illud insigne est Christianæ benignitatis exemplum, quod quum ejus civis egens tres filias jam nubiles in matrimonio collocare non posset, earumque pudicitiam prostituere cogitaret: re cognita, Nicolaus noctu per fenestram tantum pecuniæ in ejus domum injecit, quantum unius virginis doti satis esset: quod quum iterum et tertio fecisset, tres illæ virgines honestis viris in matrimonium datæ sunt.
Quum vero se totum Deo dedisset, in Palæstinam profectus est, ut loca sancta viseret, et præsens veneraretur. Qua in peregrinatione navem conscendens sereno cœlo et tranquillo mari, horribilem nautis tempestatem prædixit: moxque ortam, quum essent omnes in summo periculo, orans mirabiliter sedavit. Unde quum domum reversus singularis sanctitatis omnibus documenta præberet, Dei admonitu Myram, quæ Lyciæ metropolis erat, venit: quo tempore ejus urbis episcopo mortuo, provinciales episcopi de successore deligendo consultabant. Itaque in ea deliberatione divinitus admoniti Bunt, ut eum eligerent, qui postridie mane primus in ecclesiam ingrederetur, Nicolaus nomine. Qua observatione adbibita, in ecclesiæ janua deprehensus est Nicolaus, et summo omnium consensu Myræ episcopus creatur. In episcopatu castitatem, quam semper coluerat, gravitatem, orationis assiduitatem, vigilias, abstinentiam, liberalitatem et hospitalitatem, in adhortando mansuetudinem, in reprehendendo severitatem, perpetuo adhibuit.
Viduis et orphanis pecunia, consilio, opere non defuit: oppressos adeo sublevavit, ut etiam tres tribunos, per calumniam a Constantino Augusto condemnatos, qui se propter famam miraculorum ejus orationibus, longissime absenti, commendarant, adhuc vivens, quum imperatori, minaciter eum terrens, apparuisset, liberaverit. Quum vero contra edictum Diocletiani et Maximiani Christianae fidei veritatem Myræ praedicaret, ab imperatorum satellitibus comprehensus, et longissime abductus in carcerem conjectus est; ubi fuit usque ad Constantinum imperatorem: cujus jussu ex custodia ereptus, Myram rediit. Mox ad Nicænum Concilium se contulit: ubi cum trecentis illis decem et octo patribus Arianam hæresim condemnavit. Inde reversus ad episcopatum, non ita multo post instante morte, suspiciens in cœlum, quum angelos sibi occurrentes intueretur, illo psalmo pronunciato: In te, Domine, speravi, usque ad eum locum: In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum: in cœlestem patriam migravit. Ejus corpus Barium in Apulia translatum, ibidem summa celebritate ac veneratione colitur.
Nicholas was born of a noble family at Patara, in the province of Lycia. His birth was the fruit of his parents’ prayers. Evidences of his great future holiness were given from his very cradle. For when he was an infant, he would take his food only once on Wednesdays and Fridays, and then not till evening; whilst on all other days he frequently took the breast: he kept up this custom of fasting during the rest of his life. Having lost his parents when he was a boy, he gave all his goods to the poor. Of his Christian kindheartedness there is the following noble example. One of his fellow-citizens had three daughters; but being too poor to obtain them an honourable marriage, he was minded to abandon them to a life of prostitution. Nicholas having come to know the case, went to the house during the night, and threw in by the window a sum of money sufficient for the dower of one of the daughters; he did the same a second and a third time; and thus the three were married to respectable men.
Having given himself wholly to the service of God, he set out for Palestine, that he might visit and venerate the holy places. During this pilgrimage, which he made by sea, he foretold to the mariners on embarking, though the heavens were then serene and the sea tranquil, that they would be overtaken by a frightful storm. In a very short time the storm arose. All wore in the most imminent danger, when he quelled it by his prayers. His pilgrimage ended, he returned home, giving to all men example of the greatest sanctity. He went, by an inspiration from God, to Myra, the metropolis of Lycia, which had just lost its bishop by death, and the bishops of the province had come together for the purpose of electing a successor. Whilst they were holding council for the election, they were told by a revelation from heaven, that they should choose him who, on the morrow, should be the first to enter the church, his name being Nicholas. Accordingly, the requisite observations were made, when they found Nicholas to be waiting at the church door: they took him, and, to the incredible delight of all, made him the bishop of Myra. During his episcopate, he never flagged in the virtues looked for in a bishop; chastity, which indeed he had always preserved, gravity, assiduity in prayer, watchings, abstinence, generosity, and hospitality, meekness in exhortation, severity in reproving.
He befriended widows and orphans by money, by advice, and by every service in his power. So zealous a defender was he of all who suffered oppression, that, on one occasion, three tribunos having been condemned by the emperor Constantine, who had been deceived by calumny, and having heard of the miracles wrought by Nicholas, they recommended themselves to his prayers, though he was living at a very great distance from that place: the saint appeared to Constantine, and looking angrily upon him, obtained from the terrified emperor their deliverance. Having, contrary to the edict of Diocletian and Maximian, preached in Myra the truth of the Christian faith, he was taken up by the servants of the two emperors. He was taken off to a great distance and thrown into prison, where he remained until Constantine, having become emperor, ordered his release, and the saint returned to Myra. Shortly afterwards, he repaired to the Council which was being held at Nicæa; there he took part with the three hundred and eighteen fathers in condemning the Arian heresy. Scarcely had he returned to his see, than he was taken with the sickness of which he soon died. Looking up to heaven, and seeing angels coming to meet him, he began the psalm, ‘In thee, O Lord, have I hoped;' and having come to those words, ‘Into thy hands I commend my spirit,’ his soul took its flight to the heavenly country. His body, having been translated to Bari in Apulia, is the object of universal veneration.
Almost all the breviaries of the Latin Church, up to the seventeenth century, contain most fervent praises of the virtues and miracles of St. Nicholas, and give the beautiful Office of the holy bishop, which was composed about the twelfth century. We have spoken elsewhere of this Office as regards the music; at present we will only mention its being drawn up exclusively on the Acts of St. Nicholas, and its being more explicit on some circumstances of the saint’s life than is the legend of the Roman breviary. The following portions of this Office dwell with complacency on a fact which is not mentioned in our liturgy: we mean the miraculous oil, which, for almost eight hundred years, has flowed without ceasing from the tomb of the holy bishop, and by means of which God has frequently wrought miracles. The responsory and antiphon which we give are upon the miracle of the oil itself. They were formerly so familiar to the faithful, that in the thirteenth century their music was sung to the responsory Unus Panis, and to the antiphon O quam suavis est, of the Office of Corpus Christi.
R. Ex ejus tumba marmorea sacrum resudat oleum, quo liniti sanantur cæci: * Surdis auditus redditur et debilis quisque sospes regreditur.
V. Catervatim ruunt populi cernere cupientes, quæ per eum fiunt mirabilia. * Surdis auditus redditur; et debilis quisque sospes regreditur.
R. From his marble tomb there flows a holy oil, wherewith the blind are anointed and healed: * The deaf recover their hearing: and the weak return home strong.
V. The people rush in crowds, desiring to witness the wonderful works which are done by him. * The deaf recover their hearing: and the weak return home strong.
O Christi pietas omni prosequenda laude! Quæ sui famuli Nicolai merita longe lateque declarat: nam ex tumba ejus oleum manat, cunctosque languidos sanat.
Oh! the mercy of Christ, worthy of all our praise! which makes known, through the length and breadth of the world, the merits of his servant Nicholas: for from his tomb there flows an oil, and it heals all that are infirm.
Pange lingua Nicolai
Ut nos summus Adonai,
Rex et Pater omnium,
Ad salutis portum trahi
Faciat per Filium.
Dum penderet ad mamillam
Matris, ab infantia,
Quarta semel bibit illam,
Atque sexta feria;
Ne per lactis puer stillam
Sublimatus ad honorem
Pietatis ita rorem
Cunctis pluit populis,
Ut vix parem aut majorem
Habeat in sæculis.
Auro dato, violari
Far in fame, vas in mari,
Servat et distribuit;
Qui timebant naufragari,
Nautis opem tribuit.
A defunctis suscitatur
Furtem qui commiserat;
Et Judæus baptizatur,
Illi vita restauratur;
Hic ad fidem properat.
Decus, honor, gloria,
Plebem omnem, clerum totum,
Mentes, manus, labia,
Ad reddendum Deo votum,
Tua juvet gratia.
Sit laus summæ Trinitati,
Virtus et victoria,
Quae det nobis ut beati
Post vitam in patria.
Tell, O my tongue,
the praise of the pontiff Nicholas;
that so the sovereign Adonai,
the King and Father of all creatures,
may grant us to be brought by his Son,
to the port of salvation.
When yet a babe at his mother’s breast,
he took it but once
on each fourth and sixth feria,
nor would the child
break his fast
by one drop of milk.
Elevated to the dignity of pontiff,
Nicholas so abundantly
gave to all men the dew of piety,
that scarce could any age
find a better
or so good a pastor.
He gives his gold to secure virgins their treasure;
he distributes corn to the people in a famine;
he brings up from the depths of the sea a vase
that had fallen in;
he brings help to mariners
who were well nigh to shipwreck.
He brings to life a dead man
who had committed a theft;
the Jew is baptized and recovers
what had been stolen from him;
the one is restored to life;
the other is brought to the faith.
Nicholas! thou fair gem,
and honour, and glory of the priesthood!
help by thy gracious intercession
the whole people, the whole clergy;
that their minds, and hands, and lips,
may pay their tribute to our God.
Praise, power, and triumph,
to the most high Trinity!
May it give us to come, after this life,
with our laurel wreaths upon us,
to the joys which Nicholas the blessed
possesses in our country of heaven.
Cleri patrem et patronum
Læte promens vocis sonum
Clerus, et magnificet:
Se cor promptum, se cor pronum
Sono vocis ampliet.
Graecus omnis et Latinus,
Lingua, tribus, natio:
Orbis terræ, maris sinus,
Sexus et conditio;
Hospes, cives, peregrinus,
Pari psallat studio.
Semper dedit, dat et dabit
Præsul, cujus nomen abit
Numquam e memoria;
Quisque mœstus germinabit,
Florens sicut lilia.
Hio in carne constitues
Carnis spernens opera,
Nihil agens aut locutus,
Vinclis carnis absolutus,
Tandem scandit æthera.
Quæ sit virtus charitatis
Hoc præsenti sæculo,
Oleum declarat satis,
Quod manat de tumulo;
Et dat munus sanitatis
Sit laus summæ Trinitati,
Virtus et victoria,
Quæ det nobis ut beati
Post vitam in patria.
Let the clergy
joyfully raise their voice in song,
and magnify Nicholas
the father and patron of the clergy;
and let their chants give fresh devotion
to their already fervent and docile heart.
Let the Greeks, and Latins,
and every tongue and tribe and nation;
let the sea, and land;
let all, whatever their sex or condition,
guest or citizen or stranger,
sing the praises of Nicholas with one like enthusiasm.
This pontiff, whose name is immortal
in the memory of men,
ever gave, gives, and will give favours to all;
he will make him,
who was pining away in grief,
bloom in joy as a lily.
Whilst living in the flesh
he spurned the deeds of the flesh;
he did nothing and spoke nothing
but what was unto salvation:
and now, having been loosed from the bonds of the flesh,
he has mounted to the starry realms.
How great is the power of his charity,
even in this very age,
is plainly enough manifested by the oil
which flows from his tomb,
giving to all people, that ask it,
the boon of health.
Praise, power, and triumph
to the most high Trinity.
May it give us to come, after this life,
with our laurel wreaths upon us,
to the joys which Nicholas the blessed
possesses in our country of heaven.
It was impossible for Adam of Saint-Victor to remain silent in the praise of St. Nicholas. The Churches, in the middle ages, received from him the following beautiful sequence.
Ad beati Nicolai
Qui in cunis adhuc jacens,
A papillis cœpit summa
Alienus et immunis
Ab omni lascivia.
Cujus fuit dignitatis
Vox de cœlo nuntia.
Per quam provectus,
Ad summa fastigia.
Erat in ejus animo
Et oppressis impendebat
Auro per eum virginum
Atque patris earumdem
Quidam nautæ navigantes
Et contra fluctuum
Navi pene dissoluta;
Jam de vita desperantes,
In tanto positi
Voce dicunt omnes una:
O beate Nicolae,
Nos ad maris portum trahe
De mortis angustia.
Trahe nos ad portum maris:
Tu qui tot auxiliaris
Dum clamarent, nec incassum,
Ecce quidam, dicens: Adsum
Ad vestra præsidia.
Statim aura datur grata:
Et tempestas fit sedata,
Ex ipsius tumba manat
Quae infirmos omnes sanat
Per ejus suffragia.
Nos qui sumus in hoc mundo
Vitiorum in profundo
Jam passi naufragia,
Ad salutis portum trahe,
Ubi pax et gloria.
Ipsam nobis unctionem
Impetres a Domino,
Quæ sanavit læsionem
Hujus festum celebrantes
Gaudeant per sæcula;
Et coronet eos Christus
Post vitæ curricula.
With our hearts and songs in unison,
let us exult
on this festive solemnity
of blessed Nicholas.
When a babe in his cradle,
he began to fast,
And thus deserved, before weaned from the breast,
the joys of heaven.
He enters, when a boy,
upon a course of studies,
Yet follows not,
yet knows not, impurity.
Blessed confessor indeed,
whose worth was known
by a message from heaven,
At whose bidding
he was promoted and exalted
to the supreme dignity of pontiff.
There was in his soul
the most tender compassion,
which prompted him to bestow continual benefits
on those who suffered oppression.
He averted infamy
from virgins by the gold he gave;
and by the same he relieved
their father’s poverty.
Some mariners had set sail;
when a furious storm
and their bark was well-nigh wrecked:
Despairing of life,
and in this extreme danger,
they cry out
with one voice, saying:
‘O holy Nicholas!
help us out of these straits of death,
and lead us into harbour!
‘Yea, lead us into harbour,
thou whose kind heart is ever ready
to help them that are in affliction.’
They prayed; nor was it in vain:
for lo! a voice was heard saying: ‘I am here
to help you.’
Straightway arose a favourable wind:
the storm was lulled:
the sea was calm.
From his tomb there flows
an abundant oil:
It heals all kinds of sickness,
through the intercession of the saint.
We who are now living in this world,
have already suffered
shipwreck in the sea of sin:
Ah! glorious Nicholas,
lead us into the harbour of salvation,
where there is peace and glory.
There is an unction,
which thy merciful prayers
must get us from the Lord:
It is that unction
which healed the wound
of Magdalene’s many sins.
May they that keep this feast
come to the eternal joys;
And may Jesus crown them
after this life is run.
But none of the sequences of St. Nicholas was so popular as the one we now give. It is to be found in a great many processionals up to the seventeenth century, and on its model were composed innumerable others, which, though drawn up in praise of various patrons, not only kept the measure and the melody, but the very expressions, ingeniously turned here and there, of the sequence of St. Nicholas.
Sospitati dedit ægros
Relevavit a defunctis
Defunctum in bivio.
Baptizatur auri viso
Vas in mari mersum, patri
Redditur cum filio.
O quam probat sanctum Dei
Ergo laudes Nicolao
Concinat hæc concio.
Nam qui corde poscit illum
The sick are restored to health
by the miraculous oil.
They who are in danger of shipwreck
are delivered by Nicholas’ prayers.
He raised from amongst the dead
a corpse which lay on the road.
A Jew asks for baptism,
on witnessing the miraculous recovery of his money.
A vase that had sunk in the deep sea,
and a child that was lost to his father, are both recovered.
Oh how great a saint did he appear
by multiplying corn in a famine!
Let, then, this congregation
sing the hymns of Nicholas’ praise;
For all who pray to him
with earnest hearts,
will go back cured of their spiritual ailments.
But no Church has evinced such enthusiasm for St. Nicholas as the Greek Church in its Menæa. The illustrious thaumaturgus was evidently one of the firmest hopes of the Byzantine empire, and Constantinople transmitted the same confidence to Russia, which even to this day professes great devotion to St. Nicholas. We extract, as usual, a few stanzas from the sacred chants which the Church of St. Sophia anciently sang in the Greek language, and which the gilded domes of Moscow re-echo still, every year, in Slavonic.
Hymn to St. Nicholas
(Taken from the Menæa of the Greeks)
Myræ quidem habitasti, et myrrham seu unguentum vere demonstrasti, unguento tinctus spirituali, sancte Nicolae, summe Christi archierarcha, et ungis facies illorum qui cum fide et amore tui celebrandam memoriam semper perficiunt; solvens eos ab omni necessitate, et periculo, et tribulatione, pater, in tuis ad Dominum precibus.
Victoria populi vere nomine proprio demonstratus es in tentationibus potens, sancte Nicolae, summe Christi sacerdos; nam passim invocatus, velociter prævenis eos qui cum amore ad tuum præsidium confugiunt; tu enim die ac nocte cum fide visus, salvas eos a tentationibus et necessitatibus.
Constantino imperatori et Ablavio in somnis apparuisti, iliisque terrorem injiciens, ad illos ut liberarent festinanter: Quos in carcere, aiebas, habetis vinctos, innocentes sunt ab illegitima jugulatione: quod si me audire neglexeris, precem contra te, princeps, ad Dominum obsecrans intentabo.
Defixis acriter oculis, inspexisti in Gnoseos altitudines, et caliginosum inspexisti Sapientiæ abyssum: tu qui tuis documentis ditasti mundum, pater, pro nobis Christum deprecare, summe sacerdos Nicolae.
Regulam fidei et dulcedinis imaginem monstravit te gregi tuo Christus Deus, summe sacerdos, hierarcha Nicolae: in Myra namque unguentum spargis, illucescunt tua præclara facta orphanorum ac viduarum protector: ideoque deprecari ne cesses salvari animas nostras.
Gaude, sacratissima mens, Trinitatis mansio purissima, Ecclesiæ columna, fidelium stabilimentum, fatigatorum auxilium, stella quæ bene acceptarum precum fulgoribus tentationum tenebras undique depellis, sancte sacerdos Nicolae; portus placidissimus, in quo fugientes tempestatibus circumventi salvantur, Christumdeprecare dari animabus nostris magnam misericordiam.
Gaude, O divino zelo accense, qui tua terribili animadversione et in somnis allocutione liberasti injuste cædendos. Fons fluens in Myra unguenta ditissima, animas irrigans, foetida cupiditatum expurgans, gladio zizania erroris amputans; expurgans ventilabro, dissipa Arii acerosa documenta; et Christum deprecare dari animabus nostris magnam misericordiam.
Altissime Rex regum, magnipotens, precibus sancti pastoris, vitam, O Verbum, pacifica, quæsumus, cunctorum Christianorum; donans contra barbaros pio regi victoriam et fortitudinem, ut omnes semper hymnificemus potentiam tuam, et extollamus usque ad omnia sæcula.
Thou didst dwell in Myra, and being spiritually anointed, thou didst show thyself to be truly a mystic myrrh, O saintly Nicholas, great high priest of Christ! Thou anointest them that ever come with faith and love to celebrate thy memory; for, by thy prayers to God, O father, thou deliverest them from every necessity, and peril, and tribulation.
How well indeed hast thou fulfilled thy name, The people's victory! for, saintly Nicholas, and high priest of Christ, thou art the powerful helper of them that are in temptation. Wheresoever thou art invoked, thou swiftly art with those that lovingly have recourse to thy protection, for day and night thou showest thyself to the eye of faith, and savest them from temptations and necessities.
Thou didst appear to the emperor Constantine and to Ablavius in their sleep, terrifying them, and thus bidding them speedily set their prisoners free: ‘These men, whom ye keep bound in prison, deserve not the death to which ye have unjustly sentenced them: and if thou, O prince, settest my word at nought, I will beseechingly bear a petition against thee to the Lord.’
Thou didst fix thy keen vision on the heights of the mystery, and didst look down into the cloud-covered abyss of Wisdom. O father, who didst enrich the world by thy doctrines, pray for us to Christ, O high priest Nicholas!
Christ our God showed thee to thy flock as the rule of faith and the model of meekness, thou high priest, thou sainted hierarch Nicholas! for thou pourest forth in Myra a delicious fragrance, and thy splendid deeds give out their bright light, thou the protector of the orphan and the widow: therefore, cease not to pray for the salvation of our souls.
Rejoice, most holy soul, most pure abode of the Trinity, pillar of the Church, support of the faithful, help of the wearied, star, which by the vivid rays of thy most efficacious prayers, dost dispel the darkness of every temptation, holy priest Nicholas! most tranquil port, into which the tempest-tossed run and find safety, beseech Jesus to show unto our souls his great mercy.
Rejoice, O thou that burnest with divine zeal, who, by thy terrible threat spoken to men in their dream, didst rescue them that were unjustly condemned to death. O fount of Myra overflowing with sweetness, that refreshest souls, that cleansest what passion defiles! Sword that cuttest down the tares of error! Oh come and winnow away the chaffy doctrines of Arius; and beseech Jesus to grant unto our souls his great mercy.
O thou the most high King of kings, almighty Lord, O divine Word, we beseech thee hear the prayer of this thy holy pastor, and give to all Christians to pass their days in peace: grant to our good king victory and energy against the barbarians: that thus we may all and in all times hymn thy power, and extol thee for ever and ever.
Holy pontiff Nicholas, how great is thy glory in God’s Church! Thou didst confess the name of Jesus before the proconsuls of the world’s empire and suffer persecution for His name’s sake; afterwards thou wast witness to the wonderful workings of God, when He restored peace to His Church; and a short time after this again, thou didst open thy lips, in the assembly of the three hundred and eighteen fathers, to confess with supreme authority the Divinity of our Saviour Jesus Christ, for whose sake so many millions of martyrs had already shed their blood. Receive the devout felicitations of the Christian people throughout the universe, who thrill with joy when they think of thy glorious merits. Help us by thy prayers during these days when we are preparing for the coming of Him, whom thou didst proclaim to be consubstantial with the Father, Vouchsafe to assist our faith and to obtain fresh fervour to our love. Thou now beholdest face to face that Word by whom all things were made and redeemed; beseech Him to permit our unworthiness to approach Him. Be thou our intercessor with Him. Thou hast taught us to know Him as the sovereign and eternal God; teach us also to love Him as the supreme benefactor of the children of Adam. It was from Him, O charitable pontiff, that thou didst learn that tender compassion for the sufferings of thy fellow-men, which made all thy miracles to be so many acts of kindness: cease not, now that thou art in the company of the angels, to have pity on us and to succour our miseries.
Stir up and increase the faith of mankind in the Saviour whom the Lord hath sent them. May this be one of the fruits of thy prayer, that the divine Word may be no longer unknown and forgotten in this world, which He has redeemed with His Blood. Ask for the pastors of the Church that spirit of charity, which shone so brilliantly in thee; that spirit which makes them like their divine Master, and wins them the hearts of their people.
Remember, too, O holy pontiff, that Church of the east which still loves thee so fervently. When thou wast on this earth, God gave thee power to raise the dead to life; pray now, that the true life, which consists in faith and unity, may return once more and animate that body which schism has robbed of its soul. By thy supplications, obtain of God that the sacrifice of the Lamb, who is so soon to visit us, may be again and soon celebrated under the cupolas of St. Sophia. May the sanctuaries of Kiew and Moscow become resanctified by the return of the people to unity. May the pride of the crescent be humbled into submission to the cross, and the schismatic be brought to acknowledge the power of the keys of St. Peter; that thus there may be henceforth neither Scythian, nor barbarian, but one fold under one Shepherd.
Let us resume our considerations upon the state of the world at the time immediately preceding the coming of the Messias. Everything proves that the prophecies which foretold the great event have now been fulfilled. Not only has the sceptre been taken from Juda; the weeks of Daniel also are almost expired. The other scriptural predictions relative to the great revolutions, which were to take place in the world, have been successively fulfilled. The empires of the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, and the Greeks, have fallen one after the other; that of the Romans is now at the zenith of its greatness; in its turn, it must yield to the eternal empire of the Messias. This succession of empires, which was to result in a perfect kingdom, was foretold; and all is now ready for its final accomplishment. God has also said, by one of His prophets: ‘Yet one little while, and I will move heaven and earth . . . and I will move all nations, and the Desired of all nations shall come.’ Descend, therefore, O Thou eternal Word! All is consummated. The misery of the world is extreme; the crimes of men cry to heaven for vengeance; the whole human race is threatened with self-destruction, and without knowing what it does, it calls for Thee as its only resource. Then come! All the predictions which were to designate the Redeemer have been spoken and promulgated. There is no longer a prophet in Israel, and the oracles of the Gentile world have ceased to speak. Come, Lord Jesus, and fulfil all things, for the fulness of time has come.
Prayer for the Time of Advent
(The Mozarabic breviary, first Sunday of Advent, Capitulum)
Preces nostras ne despexeris, Domine: intende jam et exaudi clementer: ut qui voce inimici turbati dejicimur, Unigeniti tui adventu sacratissimo consolemur: et fide pennigerati, velut columba, ad superna tendamus. Elonga nos, Domine, a saeculo maligno, et a laqueo inimici custodi. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Despise not our prayers, O Lord: look down upon us and mercifully hear us: that we who are in trouble and cast down at the voice of our enemy, may be comforted by the most sacred coming of thine only begotten Son. May faith give us wings, that, like the dove, we may take our flight to the things that are above. Separate us, O Lord, from the wicked world, and keep us from the snare of the enemy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
 Aggeus ii 7. 8.