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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Mark, successor to Sylvester the Pontiff of peace, has been honoured on this day from time immemorial. According to the testimony of St. Damasus, his virtues no less than his name recalled St. Mark the Evangelist.[1] He occupied the supreme See only eight months, but in that short time, he followed up the recent triumph of the Church by wise organizations. He built two new sanctuaries in Rome. He gave the pallium, of which this is the first mention in history, to the bishop of Ostia, to enhance his high privilege of being the appointed consecrator of the Roman Pontiffs.

This pontificate witnessed the awful death of Arius. Constantine had been deceived into ordering the reinstatement of this wicked man, who taught that the Word Incarnate was a mere creature. The heresiarch, followed by his partisans, was proceeding in triumph through the streets of Constantinople, intending to force open the doors of the basilica, where the faithful, with their bishop St. Alexander, were beseeching God, with fasting and tears, to avert the profanation. Suddenly, seized with an ignominious trembling, Arius was obliged to retire to a secret place, where his flatterers soon afterwards found him stretched upon the floor with his bowels cast out. He had merited the death of a Judas, for having delivered up the Son of God to the disputes of the people, to the mockeries of the proud, to the contradictions of the pretorium.

Among the martyrs annually commemorated on this day, the names of Marcellus and Apuleius carry back the mind to apostolic times. They had been disciples of Simon Magus, hut were convinced of his lying deceit by the miracles of St. Peter, and shed their blood in testimony of their faith in the true God.

St. Sergius is regarded in the east as one of the most glorious witnesses to our Lord. He suffered in the tenth and last persecution, with his companion St. Bacchus, a soldier like himself of the Roman army in Syria. So illustrious became his sepulchre, that a city sprang up around it, which was called Sergiopolis, and became a metropolitan See. The west soon joined the east in honouring these holy martyrs, and a church was dedicated to them in Rome. Saint-Serge at Angers, founded by Clovis II, testifies to the veneration in which they were held by the Franks.


Exaudi, Domine, preces nostras, et interveniente beato Marco, confessore tuo atque pontifice, indulgentiam nobis tribue placatus et pacem. Per Dominum.

Hear, O Lord, our prayers; and appeased by the intercession of blessed Mark, thy confessor and bishop, grant us pardon and peace. Through our Lord.


Sanctorum martyrum tuorum nos, Domine, Sergii, Bacchi, Marcelli et Apuleii beata merita prosequantur: et tuo semper faciant amore ferventes. Per Dominum.

May the blessed merits of thy holy martyrs, Sergius, Bacchus, Marcellus, and Apuleius accompany us, O Lord, and make us ever fervent in thy love. Through our Lord.

Memor ero tui, Justina virgo. I will ever bear thee in mind, O virgin Justina.’ This inscription Venice engraved on the coin of its republic, after the victory of Lepanto. On that day of triumph, the martyr, who had won her palm on October 7 fifteen centuries before, had united the power of her prayers with the strength of St. Mark’s lion; and the dukedom proclaimed Justina its second patron. But Lepanto is not her only claim upon the world’s gratitude. In her native city, the sons of St Benedict had gathered round the tomb where lay her precious relics. The great movement initiated by the Venetian, Luigi Barbo (1408), began at St. Justina’s monastery in Padua: the Order was rescued from the disastrous consequences of having secular abbots in commendam; and thus Monte Cassino itself was restored to some part of its ancient splendour.

Honour, then, to this day of salvation! And glory to her, through whose intercession the heavens have rained down their dew of consolation upon the earth!


Deus, qui nos annua beatæ Justinæ virginis et martyris tuæsolemnitate lætificas: da, ut quam veneramur officio, etiam piæconversationis sequamur exemplo. Per Dominum.

O God, who givest us joy by the annual solemnity of blessed Justina thy virgin and martyr; grant that we may follow the example of her pious life, whom we venerate by this Office. Through our Lord.

On the same day, in the Roman martyrology, the commemoration of our Lady of Victory, established under the circumstances mentioned on the first Sunday of this month. Although the Virgin of virgins gave to the youthful martyr Justina a share in the triumph of Lepanto, nevertheless the chief honour of the day redounds to Mary herself. It behoves us, then, to renew our homage to the Queen of the holy rosary, on the exact anniversary of her deliverance of Christendom under that title. Let us do so by offering her the three hymns of her Office, which recall the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries of the rosary, and which are epitomized in that of second Vespers given on the feast.[2]

Hymn of First Vespers

Cœlestis aulæ nuntius,
Arcana pandens Numinis,
Plenam salutat gratia
Dei Parentem Virginem.

Virgo propinquam sanguine
Matrem Joannis visitat,
Qui clausus alvo gestiens
Adesse Christum nuntiat.

Verbum, quod ante sæcula
E mente Patris prodiit,
E Matris alvo Virginis
Mortalia infans nascitur.

Tempio puellus sistitur,
Legique paret Legifer,
Hic se Redemptor paupere
Pretio redemptus immolat.

Quem jam dolebat perditum,
Mox læta Mater invenit
Ignota doctis mentibus
Edisserentem Filium.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu
In sempiterna sæcula.

The messenger of the heavenly court,
disclosing the hidden myateries of the Divinity,
hails as full of grace
the Virgin about to become Mother of God.

The Virgin visits her relative,
the mother of John, who,
though yet a captive in the womb,
leaps with joy announcing the presence of Christ.

The Word that before all ages
had proceeded from the Father’s Intellect,
is born a mortal Babe
of a Virgin Mother.

The little One is presented in the temple,
the Legislator obeys the Law,
the Redeemer offers himself in sacrifice,
and is redeemed at a pauper’s price.

And now the joyful Mother finds her Son,
whom she had mourned as lost;
finds him expounding to learned minds
things unknown to them.

Glory be to thee, O Jesus
born of the Virgin;
together with the Father and the holy Spirit,
through everlasting ages.


Hymn of Matins

In monte Olivis consito
Redemptor orans, procidit,
Mœret, pavescit, deficit,
Sudore manans sanguinis.

A proditore traditus
Raptatur in pœnas Deus,
Durisque vinctus nexibus
Flagris cruentis cæditur.

Intexta acutis sentibus,
Corona contumeliæ,
Squallenti amictum purpura,
Regem coronat gloriæ.

Molis crucem ter arduæ,
Sudans, anhelans, concidens,
Ad montis usque verticem
Gustare vi compellitur.

Confixus atro stipite
Inter scelestos innocens,
Orando pro tortoribus,
Exsanguis efflat spiritum.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu
In sempiterna sæcula.

On the mount with olives planted,
prostrate the Redeemer prays;
he grieves, he fears, he well-nigh faints,
pouring forth a sweat of blood.

God, delivered up by a traitor,
is dragged away to punishment;
bound with tight bonds,
he bleeds beneath the cruel scourges.

A crown of ignominy,
woven of sharp thorns,
adorns the King of glory
clothed with purple tatters.

Labouring, breathless,
thrice falling beneath the heavy cross,
he is compelled by force
to bear it to the mountain-top.

Nailed to the awful gibbet,
the Innocent hangs between two criminals;
till, praying for his torturers,
he yields up his Spirit with the last drop of his Blood.

Glory be to thee, O Jesus
born of the Virgin;
together with the Father and the holy Spirit,
through everlasting ages.


Hymn of Lauds

Jam morte victor obruta
Ab inferis Christus redit,
Fractisque culpæ vinculis,
Cœli recludit limina.

Visus satis mortalibus
Ascendit ad cœlestia,
Dextræque Patris assidet
Consors paternæ gloriæ.

Quem jam suis promiserat,
Sanctum daturus Spiritum,
Linguis amoris igneis
Mœstis alumnis impluit.

Soluta carnis pondere
Ad astra Virgo tollitur,
Excepta cœli jubilo,
Et angelorum canticis.

Bis sena cingunt sidera
Almæ parentis verticem:
Throno propinqua Filii
Cunctis creatis imperat.

Jesu tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu
In sempiterna sæcula.

Death overthrown,
Christ rises victorious from limbo,
and breaking the bonds of sin,
throws open heaven’s gate.

Having appeared long enough to men,
he ascends to the heavenly dwellings,
and is enthroned at his Father’s right hand,
a partner in his glory.

The holy Spirit,
whom he had promised to give them,
he sends down upon his sorrowing disciples
in fiery tongues of love.

With her body set free from earthly weight,
the Virgin is raised above the stars;
she is welcomed with heaven’s jubilant delight,
and with the songs of angels.

Twelve stars now crown
the lovely Mother’s brow;
and from her throne beside her Son,
she reigns over all creation.

Glory be to thee, O Jesus
born of the Virgin;
together with the Father and the holy Spirit,
through everlasting ages.


[1] De Rossi. Inscript. Christ. ii. 108.
[2] The four hymns arc of the eighteenth century. Though now slightly modified, the three here given were composed by Thomas Ricchini, Master of the sacred Palace, and that of second Vespers by the Dominican Eustace Sirena.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

‘Who, O Lord, has treated Thee thus?’ ‘They that despise Me and forget My love.’ This was the first revelation of the Son of God to Bridget of Sweden. Francis of Assisi, raising before the world the standard of the cross, had announced that Christ was about to recommence the dolorous way; not now in His own Person, but in the Church, who is flesh of His flesh. The truth of this declaration Bridget experienced from the very opening of that fatal fourteenth century, during which such innumerable disasters, the results of crime, fell at once upon the west.

Born in the year when Sciarra Colonna, a new Pilate’s servant, dared to strike the Vicar of Christ, Bridget’s childhood was contemporaneous with those sad falls, which caused the Church to be despised by her enemies. There were no saints in Christendom comparable to the great ones of old; in the preceding age the Latin races had exhausted their vitality in producing flowers; but where were the promised fruits? Ancient Europe had nought but affronts for the Word of God; this feast, this apparition of Jesus in cold Scandinavia, seems to point to His flight from the habitual centre of His predilection. Bridget was ten years old, when the Man of sorrows sought a resting-place in her heart: and at that very time, the death of Clement V and the election of John XXII in a foreign land, fixed the papacy in its seventy years’ exile.

Rome meanwhile, widowed of her Pontiff, appeared the most miserable of cities: ‘The ways of Sion mourn, because there are none that come to the solemn feast.’[1] Sacked by her own sons, she was daily losing some remnant of her ancient glory; her public roads were scenes of bloodshed; solitude reigned amid the ruins of her crumbling basilicas; sheep grazed in St. Peter’s and the Lateran. From the seven hills anarchy had spread throughout Italy, transforming the towns into haunts of brigands, and the country parts into deserts. France was doomed to expiate, in the horrors of a hundred years' war, the captivity of the sovereign Pontiff.

Unfortunately, the captivity was loved; the court of Avignon did not mourn like the Hebrews by the rivers in Babylon; richer in gold than in virtues, it were well, had they not, for a long time, shaken the influence of the Holy See over the nations. The German empire and Louis of Bavaria could easily refuse obedience to the ward of the Valois; the Fratricelli accused the Pope of heresy; while, countenanced by the doctors of the law, Marsillus of Padua attacked the very principle of the papacy. Benedict XII discouraged by the troubles of Italy, abandoned his design of returning to Rome; and built upon the rock of Doms the famous castle, at once fortress and palace, which seemed to fix the residence of the Popes for ever on the banks of the Rhone. The misery of Rome, and the splendour of Avignon, reached their height under Clement VI who entered into a contract with Jane of Naples, Countess of Provence, securing to the Church the definitive possession of Avignon. At that time the papal court surpassed all others in luxury and worldliness. God in His justice visited the nations with the scourge of the black death; while in His mercy He sent warnings from heaven to Pope Clement:

Arise; make peace between the kings of France and England; and go into Italy to preach the year of salvation, and to visit the places watered by the blood of saints. Consider how, in the past, thou hast provoked My anger, doing thy own will and not thy duty; and I have held My peace. But now ray time is at hand. If thou wilt not obey, I shall require of thee an account of the unworthiness wherewith thou hast passed through all the degrees by which I permitted thee to be exalted in glory. Thou wilt be answerable for all the avarice and ambition that have been rife in the Church in thy days. Thou couldst have done much towards a reformation, but being carnal-minded thou wouldst not. Repair the past by zeal during the rest of thy life. Had not My patience preserved thee, thou wouldst have fallen lower than any of thy predecessors. Question thy conscience, and thou wilt see that I speak the truth.[2]

This severe message, dictated by the Son of God to the prophetess Bridget of Sweden, came from that northern land where sanctity seemed to have taken refuge during the past half century. Though incurring such reproaches, the Pope still had great faith, and he accordingly received with generous courtesy the messengers from the princess of Nericia. But, though he promulgated the celebrated Jubilee of the half-century, Clement VI allowed the holy year to pass away without going himself to prostrate at the tombs of the apostles, to which he convoked the entire world. The patience of God was at an end. The judgment of that soul was revealed to Bridget; she saw its terrible chastisement, which however was not eternal, and was tempered by hope.[3]

Hitherto wholly engaged with the supernatural interests of her own country, Bridget suddenly found her mission embrace the whole world. In vain, by her prayers to God, by her warnings to princes, had the saint striven to avert from Sweden the trials that were to end in the union of Calmar. Neither Magnus II nor his consort Blanche of Dampierre, took to heart the menaces of their noble relative: ‘I saw the sun and the moon shining together in the heavens, until both having given their power to the dragon, the sky grew pale, reptiles filled the earth, the sun sank into the abyss, and the moon disappeared, leaving no trace behind.’[4]

The criminal coldness of the south had been the occasion of grace for the north; but the latter in its turn did not profit by the time of its visitation: and Bridget quitted it for ever. She herself was a city of refuge to our Lord. Taking up her abode in Rome, she there, by her holiness, prepared the way for the return of Christ’s vicar. There for twenty years she, as it were, personified the eternal city, enduring all its bitter sufferings, knowing all its moral miseries, presenting its tears and prayers to our Lord; continually visiting the tombs of the apostles and martyrs throughout the peninsula; and at the same time never ceasing to transmit to Pontiffs and kings the messages dictated to her by God.

At length the horizon appeared to be brightening: while the just and inflexible Innocent VI reformed the papal court, Albornoz was restoring peace in Italy. In 1367 Bridget had the great joy of receiving in the Vatican the blessing of Urban V. Unhappily, in three short years Urban quitted the threshold of the apostles to return to his native land; but, as Bridget foretold, he re-entered Avignon only to die. He was succeeded by the nephew of Clement VI, Roger de Beaufort, under the name of Gregory XI, who was destined to put an end to the exile and break the chains of the Roman Pontiffs.

But Bridget’s hour had come. Another was to reap in joy what she had sown in tears; Catharine of Siena was to bring back to the holy city the vicar of our Lord. As to the valiant Scandinavian, who had never lost courage or faltered in faith through the failure of her missions, she was inspired by her divine Spouse to visit the holy places, the scenes of His Passion. It was on her return from this last pilgrimage, that, far from her native land, in that desolate Rome whose widowhood she had striven in vain to terminate, she was called to her heavenly reward. Her body was carried back to Scandinavia by her daughter St. Catharine of Sweden. It was laid in the yet unfinished monastery of Vadstena, mother-house of that projected Order of our Saviour, the foundations of which, like all the undertakings imposed by God upon Bridget, was not to be completed until after her death. Twenty-five years before, she had received almost simultaneously the command to found, and the command to quit, this holy retreat; as though the Lord would give her a glimpse of its blessed peace, only to crucify her the more in the very different path into which He immediately led her. Such is God’s severity towards His dear ones, and such His sovereign independence with regard to His gifts. In the same manner, He had allowed the saint, in her early years, to be attracted by the beautiful lily of virginity, and had then signified His will that the flower should not be hers. 'When I cry,’ said the prophet, in a captivity figurative of that whereof Bridget felt all the bitterness, ‘when I cry and entreat, He hath shut out my prayer. He hath shut up my ways with square stones, He hath turned my paths upside down.’[5]

Before reading the liturgical legend, let us call to mind that St. Bridget died on July 23, 1373; October 8 is the anniversary of the first Mass celebrated in her honour by Pope Boniface IX on the day following her canonization.[6] Martin V confirmed the Acts of Boniface IX in her honour; and approved her Revelations, which had been violently attacked in the Councils of Constance and Basle, only to come forth with a higher recommendation to the piety of the faithful. Many Indulgences are attached to the rosary which bears the saint's name. These are now, by the favour of the apostolic See, frequently applied to ordinary rosaries; but it must be remembered that the true rosary of St. Bridget is composed of the Ave Maria recited sixty-three times, the Pater nosterseven times, and the Credo seven times, in honour of the supposed number of our Lady’s years on earth, and of her joys and sorrows. It was also from a desire of honouring our Lady, that the saint vested in the abbess the superiority over the double monasteries in the Order of our Saviour.

Birgitta in Suecia illustribus et piis parentibus orta, sanctissime vixit. Cum adhuc in utero gestaretur, a naufragio propter eam mater crepta est. Decennis post auditum de passione Domini sermonem, sequenti nocte Jesum in cruce, recenti sanguine perfusum, vidit, et de eadem passiono secum loquentem. Quo ex tempore in ejusdem meditatione ita afficiebatur, ut de ea sine lacrimis cogitare deinceps numquam posset.

Ulfoni Nericiæ principi in matrimoninm tradita, virum ipsum ad pietatis officia, tum optimis exemplis, tum efficacibus verbis adhortata est. In filiorum educatione piissima; pauperibus, et maxime infirmis, domo ad id muneris dicata, inserviebat quam diligentissime, illorum pedes solita lavare et osculari. Cum autem una cum viro suo rediret Compostella, ubi sancti Jacobi apostoli sepulchrum visitaverant, et Atrebati Ulfo graviter ægrotaret, sanctus Dionysius Birgittæ noctu apparuit, et de mariti salute aliisque de rebus, quæ futuræ erant, præmonnit.

Viro Cisterciensi monacho facto, et paulo post defuncto, Birgitta, audita Christi voce in somnis, arctiorem vitæ formam est aggressa. Cui deinde arcana multa fuerunt divinitus revelata. Monasterium Vastanense sub regula sancti Salvatoris ab ipso Domino accepta, instituit. Romam Dei jussu venit, ubi plurimos ad am orerem divinum vehementer accendit. Inde Jerosolymam petiit, et iterum Romam. Qua ex peregrinatione cum in febrim incidisset, gravibus per annum integrum afflictata morbis, cumulata mentis, prænuntiato mortis die, migravit in cœlum. Corpus ejus ad Vastanense monasterium translatum est: et miraculis illustrem Bonifacius nonus in sanctorum numerum retulit.
Bridget was born in Sweden of noble and pious parents, and led a most holy life. While she was yet unborn, her mother was saved from shipwreck 'or her sake. At ten years of age, Bridget heard a sermon on the Passion of our Lord; and the next night she saw Jesus on the cross, covered with fresh blood, and speaking to her about his Passion. Thenceforward meditation on that subject affected her to such a degree, that she could never think of our Lord’s sufferings without tears.

She was given in marriage to Ulfo prince of Nericia; and won him, by example and persuasion, to a life of piety. She devoted herself with maternal love to the education of her children. She was most zealous in serving the poor, especially the sick; and set apart a house for their reception, where she would often wash and kiss their feet. Together with her husband, she went on pilgrimage to Compostella, to visit the tomb of the apostle St. James. On their return journey, Ulfo fell dangerously ill at Arras; but St. Dionysius, appearing to Bridget at night, foretold the restoration of her husband’s health, and other future events.

Ulfo became a Cistercian monk, but died soon afterwards. Whereupon Bridget, having heard the voice of Christ calling her in a dream, embraced a more austere manner of life. Many secrets were then revealed to her by God. She founded the monastery of Vadstena under the rule of our Saviour, which was given her by our Lord himself. At his command, she went to Rome, where she kindled the love of God in very many hearts. She made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; but on her return to Rome she was attacked by fever, and suffered severely from sickness during a whole year. On the day she had foretold, she passed to heaven, laden with merits. Her body was translated to her monastery of Vadstena; and becoming illustrious for miracles, she was enrolled among the saints by Boniface IX.

O valiant woman! support of the Church in most unhappy times, mayst thou now be blest by all nations! When the earth, grown poor in virtue, no longer paid its debts to the Lord, thou wast the treasure discovered and brought from the uttermost coasts to supply for the indigence of many. Thou didst earn the good-will of heaven for the hitherto despised north. Then the holy Spirit was moved by the prayers of apostles and martyrs to lead thee to the land which their blood had not sufficed to render fruitful for the Spouse; thou didst appear as the merchant's ship bringing bread from afar to countries wasted and barren. At thy voice, Rome took heart again; after thy example, she expiated the faults which had wrought her ruin; thy prayers and hers won back to her the heart of her Spouse and of His vicar.

Thine own portion was one of suffering and labour. When, to the joy of all, thy work was consummated, thou hadst already quitted this world. Thou didst resemble the heroes of the old Testament, saluting from afar the promises that others were to see fulfilled, and acknowledging themselves to be strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Like them thou didst seek, not the fatherland thou hadst abandoned and whither thou couldst have returned, but the only true home which is heaven. Moreover God made it a glory to be called thy God.

From the eternal city where thine exile is at an end, preserve in us the fruit of thy example and teachings. Thy Order of our Saviour perpetuates them in the countries where it still exists though so much diminished; may it revive at Vadstena in its primitive splendour! By it and its rivals in holiness, bring hack Scandinavia to the faith, now so unhappily lost, of its apostle Anscharius, and of Eric and Olaf its martyr kings. Lastly, protect Home, whose interests were so specially confided to thee by our Lord; may she never again experience the terrible trial which cost thee a life-time of labour and suffering!

[1] Lam. i. 4.
[2] Birgett. Revelat. lib. vi. cap. lxiii.
[3] Ibid. lib. iv. cap. cxliv.
[4] Birgett. Revelat. lib. viii. cap. xxxi.
[5] Lam. iii. 8, 9.
[6] October 7 and 8, 1391.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Ushered in by Bridget the northern prophetess, Dionysius appears as the brightest star in that constellation of mystics, which illumines the close of the cycle with the first glimmers of eternal union. Soon we shall salute Teresa of Jesus, and her guide Peter of Alcantara; while from the shades of his Obscure night, John of the cross will rise in glory next month near to the great St. Gertrude.

The Man-God began to do and to teach, gave us first example then doctrine; so too the Church, in her liturgical year, first sets before us the examples of the saints, and afterwards teaches us the rules of sanctity as formulated by these holy ones themselves. Strong in the results she has obtained, she now seems to rest in the security gained by experience; and, as in the proper of the time, of which that of the saints is the faithful echo, she yields to her desire of seeing her children able to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth. To know also the charity of Christ, which surpasseth all knowledge, that they may be filled unto all the fulness of God.[1]Is not this the good work which the apostle prays may be perfected in us by that last day,[2] for which these weeks after Pentecost are preparing us, viz: perfect justice, the fruit of love in its full development? But this development of love cannot be without the progress of the soul in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;[3] and that approving of better things, of which St. Paul speaks, can be acquired only by the imitation of the saints or the study of their works.[4]

To-day the incomparable teacher Dionysius presides over the assembly of the faithful. With east and west let us keep silence; for it behoveth the master to speak and teach, and it beseemeth the disciple to hold his peace and listen.[5]

Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.[6] Every emanation of splendour overflowing from the divine goodness upon man, reacts in him as a principle of spiritual simplification and of heavenly union; and by its own power leads him back towards the sovereign unity and godlike simplicity of the Father. For all things come from God, and return to God.

By the very fact that they exist, inanimate objects partake of God, who, by the sublimity of His Essence, is the being of all that is. Living things partake of His vital energy, which is superior to all life. Rational and intellectual creatures partake of His wisdom, which surpasses all reason and intelligence. The various beings approach nearer to the Divinity, in proportion as they partake of It in more ways.

It is a general law, that divine graces are communicated to the lower orders through the ministry of the higher.[7] The indivisible Trinity, who possesses Divinity by nature, has established the hierarchy for the deification of all beings, whether rational or purely spiritual. For salvation is possible only to deified spirits.[8] As deification is nothing else but the attainment of union with God, and resemblance to Him, the aim of the hierarchy is to assimilate and unite to God;[9]first of all by the absolute retrenchment of all that is contrary to His love; then by the knowledge of sacred truths; by participation in the simplicity of Him who is One, and by the nuptial banquet of the vision.[10]

The order of all hierarchy is therefore this: that some should be purified, and others should purify; that some should be enlightened, and others should enlighten; that some should be perfected, and others should work that perfection. Every function it imposes, tends to the twofold end of receiving and of giving purity, light, and perfect holiness.

The first hierarchy of blessed spirits receives the first influx of the virtues of Jesus the supreme initiator, and imitates Him in the highest manner. This first hierarchy is obeyed by the second, the second by the third, and the third by the hierarchy of men. And thus, by a divine harmony they rise, one by moans of another, towards Him who is the beginning and the end of all beautiful order.

As each hierarchy includes Powers of three different ranks, the same wonderful harmony exists between these several ranks. Moreover, in every intelligence, human or angelic, are to be found faculties corresponding to the three orders of each hierarchy. It is by passing through these successive degrees, that spirits partake, according to their capacity, of purity, light, and unlimited perfection. For nothing is perfect in itself; nothing is incapable of further progrees, save Him who is the primitive and infinite perfection.[11]

The blessed inhabitants of heaven, who have nothing sensible or corporeal, God attracts and raises to divine things, not by exterior means; He causes the pure rays and intelligible splendours of His adorable will to shine within them. What is thus imparted to them directly and in unity, is transmitted to us as it were in fragments, under the multiplicity of varied symbols: in the holy Scripture; in the figures wherein our hierarchy, adapting itself to human nature, shrouds for us the mystery of divine regeneration and all the other holy mysteries;[12] and again, in the harmony of the universe, which shows forth the images and footprints of the divine ideas.

Though all things speak of God to man, not one of them speaks aright. God is accessible to the understanding, to reason, to science; He is discerned by the sensibility, by thought, by the imagination; in a word, He can be named; nevertheless He is incomprehensible, ineffable, nameless. Everything reveals Him to all men, and yet nothing manifests Him to anyone. Everything may be predicated of Him, as being the universal cause;[13] but as He is beyond all expression, everything may be more truly denied of Him.[14]

Hence many, in their progress towards God, are not content with passing beyond the starting-point of exterior senses necessary to our nature, but rise beyond the manifold operations of reasoning and argumentation. As the senses are a hindrance, when the soul applies herself to intelligible things by the pure understanding; so the intellectual faculty itself becomes useless when the divinized soul, sublimely ignorant, forgetful of all things, plunges herself into the abysses of unfathomable wisdom. The simple adhesion of the angelic natures to Him who surpasses all knowledge, has become the property of these souls; emulating the angels, they have attained the aim of all hierarchy, by becoming as entirely as possible united with God.[15]

Guide of Christians in sacred wisdom, O Trinity, sovereignly good, lead us to that height, where all light is outshone by a darkness which coruscates in brilliant lightnings, and, though it can be neither seen nor grasped, inundates with the beauty of its fires the blessedly blinded spirits.[16]

Could we presume to add anything? As we have already remarked,[17] the Church herself, at this season which prepares the world for the last coming of the Spouse, moderates her voice. Especially ought we to imitate her to-day, when the divinely inspired Areopagite, oppressed with the weight of his own powerlessness, cries out:

‘Our language is the more redundant in proportion as it is less pertinent to God. As man rises nearer to heaven, the glance he casts upon the spiritual world becomes simplified and his speech abridged; nigh to the summit, not only do words grow fewer, but all language, nay thought itself, at length fails. Formerly our discourse expanded in proportion to the height whence it descended; as it ascends, it must equally diminish, until, arrived at the final term, it will altogether cease and be lost in the. ineffable.[18]

Meanwhile, Home will tell us how the revealer of the heavenly hierarchies, coming from Athens into the west, watered with his generous blood the seed he sowed in the future capital of France. Enriched with his sacred body, the humble borough now known as Saint-Denis long surpassed in renown its neighbour Lutetia (Paris). France repaid her apostle’s devotedness by the glory wherewith she surrounded him; it would seem as if, by a chivalrous inspiration, she had undertaken to compensate him for having abandoned his native country for her sake. Immense was the concourse of people to his holy tomb; and still greater was the piety of the kings. The martyr’s banner, the oriflamme, was their standard, Mountjoy St. Denys their battle-cry, in every clime whither victory led them. As in life they never quitted the kingdom without entrusting it to the protector of France in his abbey, so at death they bequeathed to him their mortal remains. In spite of sacrilegious profanations, what a sublime spectacle will the holy necropolis present to the world on the last day, when, before the eyes of Adrian and his prefects, he whom they executed at Montmartre and condemned to infamy, will rise from his tomb escorted by three dynasties of monarch proud to form, at the resurrection, the court of him whom they deemed it an honour to surround in death. Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable![19]

The account given by Rome of St. Dionysius and his companions, is the same as that in the Menæa of the Greek Church, though the latter keeps their feast on October 3.

Dionysius Atheniensis, unus ex Areopagitis judicibus, vir fuit omni doctrinæ genere instructus. Qui cum adhuc in Gentilitatis errore versaretur, eo die quo Christus Dominus cruci affixus est, solem præter naturam defecisse animadvertens exclamasse traditur: Aut Deus naturæ patitur, aut mundi machina dissolvetur. Sed cum Paulus apostolus veniens Athenas, et in Areopagum ductus rationem reddidisset ejus doctrinæ quam prædicabat, affirmans Christum Dominum resurrexisse, et mortuos omnes in vitam redituros esse: cum alii multi, tum ipse Dionysius in Christum credidit.

I taque et baptizatus est ab apostolo et Atheniensium ecclesiæ præfectus. Qui cum postea Romam venisset, a Clemente Pontifice missus est in Galliam prædicandi Evangelii causa. Quem Lutetiam usque Parisiorum Rusticus presbyter, et Eleutherius diaconus prosecuti sunt: ubi a Fescennio præfecto, quod inultos ad christianam religionem convertisset, ipse cum sociis virgis cæsus est: cumque in prædicatione Christianæ fidei constantissime perseveraret, in craticulam subjecto igne injicitur, multisque præterea suppliciis una cum sociis cruciatur.

Sed ea tormentorum genera omnibus forti ac libenti animo perferentibus, Dionysius annum agens supra centesimum, cum reliquis securi percutitur, septimo Idus octobris. De quo illud memoriæ proditum est, abscissum suum caput sustulisse, et progressum ad duo millia passuum in manibus gestasse. Libros scripsit admirabiles, ac plane cœlestes, de divinis nominibus, de cœlesti et ecclesiastica hierarchia, de mystica theologia, et alios quosdam.
Dionysius, an Athenian, was one of the judges of the Areopagus, and a man learned in every science. It is related of him that, on the day Christ our Lord was crucified, he, though still a pagan, on perceiving the unnatural eclipse of the sun, cried out: 'Either the God of nature is suffering, or the world is coming to an end.' Paul the apostle, coming to Athens, was brought before the Areopagus, to give an account of the doctrine he preached. He there proclaimed that Christ our Lord had risen from the tomb, and that the dead would all live again. Many thereupon believed in Christ, and among them Dionysius.

He was baptized by St. Paul, and appointed to govern the Church of Athens. Later on he came to Rome; whence Pope Clement sent him to preach the Gospel in Gaul; Rusticus a priest, and Eleutherius a deacon, accompanying him as far as Paris. As he converted many in that town to Christianity, Fescennius the prefect commanded him and his companions to be beaten with rods; but continuing to preach the faith as zealously as before, they were placed on hot gridirons, and suffered several other tortures.

They all endured the torments bravely and joyfully. Finally Dionysius, who was a hundred and one years old, was beheaded with his companions, on the seventh of the Ides of October. It is related of Dionysius, that after his decapitation, he took up his head and carried it in his hands for two miles. He wrote some wonderful and truly heavenly books on the divine names, on the celestial and the ecclesiastical hierarchy, on mystical theology, and several others.

Honour to thee on this day of thy triumph! Honour to the apostle of the Gentiles, who comes to meet thee, as his noble conquest, on the threshold of eternity. From early youth how thy soul yearned for that unknown God, whom the apostle at length revealed to the longing aspirations of thy grand, upright nature! To the darkness of polytheism, to the doubts of philosophy, to the vague glimmers of confused traditions, suddenly succeeded the light of truth; and its triumph was complete. Thou, O Christian Plato, didst enlarge the horizon of philosophy, and didst so rectify its formulas that in them truth eould be fittingly clothed. Thou, in thy turn, didst become an apostle; the distinction of Greek and barbarian, that law of the ancient world, was lost in the common origin assigned by St. Paul to all peoples; to the eyes of thy faith, slaves and freemen were equal in that nobility which makes the human race the race of God; while the charity, which overflowed in thy heart, filled it with the immense pity of God Himself for the long ages of ignorance in which mankind had been plunged.

Thus in thy zeal, obeying the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, thou, like a cloud laden with the blessings of the Lord, didst bring fertility to the far west. The people of Gaul learnt from thee to seek God, to find Him, and to live in Him; and this new church had no reason to envy the earlier ones built on the foundations of prophets and apostles. O chosen stone, good for the foundations, so intimately united to the Corner-Stone that every construction thou upholdest becomes a holy temple of the Lord: the church of France built upon thee, is also the house of God.

O Dionysius, quicken again the divine seed thou didst sow. Restore to Paris and to France their traditions, now forgotten in the fever of gain and pleasure. Bring back Athens to the communion of Christ’s vicar, the indispensable condition of union with our Lord. For every church under heaven obtain such pastors as thou didst describe in the following lines which reveal thyself: ‘By the holy love which draws us to Him, Jesus calms the tempest of distracting cares; and recalling our souls to the unity of the divine life, He confirms us in the permanent fruitfulness of this noble ministry. Soon, by the exercise of the sacred functions, we draw nigh to the angels, striving to set ourselves, like them, in the fixed state of unchangeable holiness. Thence, gazing upon the divine splendours of the blessed Jesus, and enriched with the profound knowledge of mystioal contemplation, we become fitted to be our-selves consecrated in order that we may consecrate, to receive light in order to communicate it, to become perfect in order to lead others to perfection.’[20]

[1] Eph. iii. 18, 19. Epistle of the 16th Sunday after Pentecost.
[2] Phil. i. 6-11. Epistle of the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost.
[3] Col. i. 9-14. Epistle of the last Sunday after Pentecost.
[4] Phil. iii. 17. Epistle of the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost.
[5] S. Benedict. Rig. vi.
[6] St. James i. 17.
[7] Dionys. Be eælesti hierarchia. i, iv, viii.
[8] De ecclesiastica hierarchia. i.
[9] De cælest. hier. iii.
[10] De eccl. hier. i.
[11] De cælesti hier. iii, vii, x.
[12] De eccl. hier. i-vii.
[13] De divinis nominibus, i-xiii.
[14] De mystica theologia, i-v.
[15] De divinis nominibus, i, iv, vii, xiii.
[16] De myst. theol, i.
[17] On the Decollation of St. John the Baptist.
[18] De mystica thialogia, iii.
[19] Ps. cxxxviii. 17.
[20] Dionys. Dt eccl. hier. i.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Vanity of vanities and all is vanity.[1] No argument was needed to impress this truth upon the saint of to-day, when the coffin was opened which contained all that Spain had admired of youth and loveliness, and death suddenly revealed to him its awful reality. O ye beauties of all times, death alone never dies; it invites itself to your dances and pleasures, it assists at all your triumphs, it hears promises said to be eternal: and how quickly it can scatter your adorers! A few years, a few days, perhaps even less, and all your borrowed sweetness will be decaying in the tomb!

‘Enough of vain phantoms; enough of serving mortal kings; awaken, O my soul!’ Such was Francis Borgia’s reply to the teachings of death. The friend of Charles V, the great lord unequalled for nobility, fortune, and brilliant qualities, quitted the court as soon as possible. Ignatius, the soldier of the siege of Pampeluna, beheld at his feet the viceroy of Catalonia, begging to be protected against the honours which pursued him even under the poor habit of a Jesuit, which was now his glory.

The Church relates his life in the following lines.

Franciscus Gandiæ dux quartus, Joanne Borgia et Joanna Aragonia Ferdinandi Catholici nepte genitus, post puerilem ætatem inter domesticos mira innocentia et pietate transactam, in aula primum Caroli quinti Cæsaris, mox in Catalauniæ administratione admirabilior fuit christianæ virtutis et vitæausterioris exemplis. Ad Granatense sepulchrum Isabellam imperatricem cum detulisset, in ejus vultu fœde commutato, mortalium omnium caducitatem relegens, voto se adstrinxit, rebus omnibus, cum primum liceret, abjectis, regum Regi unice inserviendi. Inde tantum virtutis incrementum fecit, ut inter negotiorum turbas religiosæ perfectionis simillimam imaginem referens, miraculum principum appellaretur.

Mortua Eleonora de Castro, conjuge, ingressus est Societatem Jesu, ut in ea lateret securius, et præcluderet dignitatibus aditum, interposita voti religione: dignus, quem et viri principes complures in amplectendo severiori instituto fuerint secuti, et Carolus quintus ipse in abdicando imperio hortatorem sibi, aut ducem exstitisse non diffiteretur. In eo arctioris vitæ studio Franeiscus jejuniis, catenis ferreis, asperrimo cilicio, cruentis longisque verberationibus, somno brevissimo, corpus ad extremam usque maciem redegit: nullis præterea parcens laboribus ad sui victoriam et ad salutemanimarum. Tot itaque instructus virtutibus, a sancto Ignatio primum generaliscommissarius in Hispaniis, nec multo post præpositus generalis tertius a Societate universa, licet invitus, eligitur. Quo in munere principibus ac summis Pontificibus prudentia ac morura sanctitate apprime carus, præter complura vel condita vel aucta ubique domicilia, socios in regnum Poloniæ, in insulas Oceani, in Mexicanam et Peruanam provincias invexit: missis quoque in alias regiones apostolicis viris, qui prædicatione, sudoribus, sanguine, fidem catholicam Romanam propagarunt.

De se ita demisse sentiebat, ut peccatoris nomen sibi proprium faceret. Romanam purpuram, a summis Pontificibus sæpius oblatam, invicta humilitatis constantia recusavit. Verrere sordes, emendicare victum ostiatim,ægris ministrare in nosocomiis, mundi ac sui contemptor, in deliciis habuit. Singulis diebus multas continenter horas, frequenter octo, quandoque decena dabat cœlestium contemplationi. Centies quotidie de genu Deum adorabat. Numquam a sacrificando abstinuit, prodebatque sese divinus ardor, ejus vulfcu sacram Hostiam offerentis, aut concionantis interdum radiante. Sanctissimum Christi corpus in Eucharistia latens, ubi asservaretur, instinctu cœlesti sentiebat. Cardinali Alexandrino, ad conjungendos contra Turcas christianos principes, legato comes additus a beato Pio quinto, arduum iter, fractis jam pene viribus, suscepit ex obedientia, in qua et vitæ cursum Romæ, ut optarat, feliciter consummavit, anno ætatis suæ sexagesimo secundo, salutis vero millesimo quingentesimo septuagesimo secundo. A sancta Teresia, quæejus utebatur consiliis, vir sanctus, a Gregorio decimo tertio fidelis administer appellatus; demum a Clemente decimo, pluribus magnisque clarus miraculis, in sanctorum numerum est adscriptus.
Francis, fourth Duke of Gandia, was the son of John Borgia and of Joanna of Aragon, grand-daughter of Ferdinand the Catholic. He passed his childhood, in his father’s house, in wonderful innocence and piety; but appeared still more admirable when he showed himself a pattern of Christian virtue and austerity, first at the court of the emperor, Charles V, and afterwards as viceroy of Catalonia. He was charged to convey the body of the empress Isabella to her sepulchre at Granada. Seeing the horrible change in her features, he understood how fleeting are all earthly things, and vowed to renounce everything as soon as possible, and devote himself to the service of the King of kings. From that day forward he made such progress in virtue, that, in the midst of overwhelming occupations, his life was a faithful copy of religious perfection, so that he was called the miracle of princes.

On the death of his wife Eleanora de Castro, he entered the Society of Jesus, that he might be therein more hidden, on account of the vow which closes the door to ecclesiastical preferment. Many princes followed him in embracing a severe manner of life; and Charles V himself did not hesitate to acknowledge that his advice and example had led him to abdicate the throne. Francis devoted himself to the exercises of a penitential life, and macerated his body by fasting, iron chains, a rough Imir-shirt, long and bloody disciplines, allowing himself very little sleep; while at the same time he spared no elfort to conquer himself and to gain souls. His great virtue caused St. Ignatius to appoint him commissary general for Spain; and soon afterwards, against his will, he was chosen by the whole Society third General of the Order. In this position his prudence and holiness endeared him both to Popes and to temporal rulers. He founded and enlarged many houses of his Order, and introduced the Society into Poland, the islands of the Atlantic, Mexico, and Peru, and sent apostolic men into other regions who spread the Catholic, Roman faith by their preaching, their labours, and their blood.

He had a most lowly opinion of himself, always calling himself the sinner. This humility led him to persistently refuse the Roman purple, which was more than once offered him by the Pope. Filled with contempt for himself and the world, he delighted in sweeping away dirt, begging alms from door to door, and serving the sick in the hospitals. He devoted many hours every day to heavenly contemplation, spending sometimes eight or even ten hours in prayer, and genuflecting in adoration a hundred times in the day. He never omitted saying Mass; While he was offering the divine Victim, or preaching, the heavenly ardour which consumed him betrayed itself by the radiance of his countenance. He knew by a heavenly instinct where the most holy Body of Christ, hidden in the Eucharist, was kept. Saint Pius V appointed Francis companion to Cardinal Alessandrino,in an embassy for uniting the Christian princes against the Turks. Although his strength was almost exhausted, he undertook this journey in obedience; but on the way he happily closed his life, as he had wished, at Rome, in the sixty-second year of his age, and in the year of salvation 1572. By St. Teresa, who had often sought his advice, he was called a saint, and by Gregory XIII, a faithful servant of God. Finally, after many great miracles, he was canonized by Clement X.

‘O Lord Jesus Christ, the pattern and reward of true humility, we beseech Thee, that as Thou didst make blessed Francis a glorious follower of Thee in the contempt of worldly honour, so Thou wouldst grant us to be partakers of the same imitation and glory.’[2] Such is the prayer the Church offers through thee to her divine Spouse. She knows that the saints always have great power with God; but especially when they would obtain for their devout clients the virtues they themselves more particularly cultivated when on earth.

How precious is this prerogative in thy case, O Francis, for it concerns the virtue which attracts God’s grace in this life, and wins such glory hereafter! Since pride has hurled Lucifer into the abyss, and the self-abasement of the Son of God has led to His exaltation above the heavens, humility, whatever men may now say, has lost nothing of its inestimable value; it is still the indispensable foundation of every durable edifice, whether spiritual or social; the basis, without which the other virtues, and even charity the queen of them all, could not subsist a single day. Therefore, O Francis, obtain for us this humility; thoroughly convince us of the vanity of this world’s honours and false pleasures. May the holy Society, which thou after St. Ignatius didst render still more valuable to the Church, cherish this spirit of thine, so that it may deserve more and more the esteem of heaven and the gratitude of earth.

[1] Eccles. i. 2.
[2] Collect of the day.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

In the sixteenth century, even amidst their many divergences, the so-called Reformers agreed in utterly rejecting all the honours paid by the Catholic Church to the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the grounds that such veneration of the Mother detracted from the supreme worship due to her divine Son. Four centuries have more than sufficed to show the result of so doing: the Son has followed the Mother! The descendants of those who refused to Mary the title and rights of Theotokos—Mother of God—refuse to Jesus the title of Son of God in the traditional sense of the term. Many

reject his Godhead altogether, placing him merely at the head of the line of great moral and social world-teachers; others still retain the word “divinity” with respect to him, but for them it is no longer synonymous with “deity.”

Holy Scripture tells us that those who first came to adore him who is Son of God and Son of Mary found him “with Mary his Mother.” At the scene of the first miracle at Cana, which marked the opening of his public life, “the Mother of Jesus was there.” In the tremendous hour when all was consummated, when types and shadows gave place to the mighty reality, “there stood by the cross of Jesus his Mother.” And when the little flock who were to be the nucleus of the Church of God awaited in prayer the coming of the Paraclete, who would teach them all truth, again it was in company with “Mary the Mother of Jesus.” Far from taking from the honour and love due to the Word Incarnate, devotion to Mary is a strong bulwark protecting the central doctrine. He is ever found with his Mother; where Mary is denied her rights, sooner or later Jesus is denied his; they stand or fall together.

This was realized in the year 431 when, at the General Council of Ephesus, the Church condemned the Nestorian heresy, whereby the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, had taught that, since in Christ there are two persons, a divine and a human, Mary was mother only of the Man Christ, and therefore could not be called “Mother of God.” He therefore denied “that wondrous and substantial union of the two natures which we call hypostatic.”

On the occasion of the fifteenth centenary of the Council of Ephesus, the Sovereign Pontiff, Pius XI, issued the Encyclical Lux Veritatis, recalling the history of the heresy and commenting thus upon the dogma of the hypostatic union: “When once the doctrine of the hypostatic union is abandoned, whereon the dogmas of the Incarnation and of man’s Redemption rest and stand firm, the whole foundation of the Catholic religion falls and comes to ruin. . . . When once this dogma of the truth is securely established, it is easy to gather from it that, by the mystery of the Incarnation, the whole aggregate of men and of mundane things has been endowed with a dignity than which certainly nothing greater can be imagined, and surely grander than that to which it was raised by the work of creation.”

Proceeding to speak of the special dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Pope emphasizes that, " because she brought forth the Redeemer of mankind, she is also in a manner the most tender Mother of us all, whom Christ our Lord deigned to have as his brothers; wherefore we may confidently ehtrust to her all things that are ours, our joys, our troubles, our hopes; especially if more difficult times fall upon the Church—if faith fail because charity has grown cold, if private and public morals take a turn for the worse.”

In this last connection we are reminded of another result of the loss of devotion to the Mother of God. Frequently and truly we hear and speak of the “paganism” of the present age. The decay of faith has been followed inevitably by a decline in morality, and our elaborate and complex civilization is threatened with the dissolving agent which contributed in no small measure to the overthrow of the magnificent civilization of old Rome: namely, the loss of the domestic virtues, the disappearance of healthy, normal family life, consequent upon the abandonment of the Christian ideals of marriage and parenthood.

It is a truism that one of the greatest social effects of Christianity was to raise the status of womanhood. Her legal position in the Ancient World was little better than that of a slave, and although classical literature furnishes us with examples of women who, in pagan homes, yet enjoyed high honour and affection, such are few indeed, and but serve to prove the rule. Divorce, infanticide, general degradation of womanhood, and not infrequently of childhood, were accepted features of pagan social order. The ideal and model of the “new woman” of the Christian dispensation was the Mother of God. It was Mary, “Mother of fair love,” “Madonna,” “our Lady,” who ennobled the degenerate old civilization, just as she tamed the fierce barbarian peoples; she it was who inspired the ideals of the later chivalry. In Mary, all her sex was uplifted; in her motherhood all motherhood became blessed. Now again the world needs the hallowing influence of the Mother of God and of men, if “the life of the family, the beginning and the foundation of all human society” is to be preserved in all its nobility and its purity.

Desirous “to mark the commemoration, and help to nourish the piety of clergy and people towards the great Mother of God,” His Holiness concludes the Encyclical by establishing the new feast of the Divine Motherhood, to be celebrated on October 11 by the universal Church.





Ecce, Virgo concipiet, et pariet Filium, et vocabitur nomen ejus Emmanuel.

Cantate Domino canticum novum, quia mirabilia fecit. Gloria Patri. Ecce.

Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.

Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: because he hath done wonderful things. Glory be to the Father. Behold.


Deus, qui de beatæ Mariæ Virginis utero Verbum tuum, angelo nuntiante, carnem suscipere voluisti: præsta supplicibus tuis; ut, qui vere eam Genetricem Dei credimus, ejus apud te intercessionibus adjuvemur. Per eumdem Dominum.

O God, who wast pleased that at the message of an angel, thy Word should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary: grant that we, thy suppliants, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with thee. Through the same.


Lectio libri Sapientiæ
Eccli. xxiv.

Ego quasi vitis fructificavi suavitatem odoris: et flores mei fructus honoris et honestatis. Ego mater pulchræ dilectionis et timoris et agnitionis et sanctæ spei. In me gratia omnis viæ et veritatis: in me omnis spes vitæ et virtutis. Transite ad me, omnes qui concupiscitis me, et a generationibus meis implemini. Spiritus enim meus super mel dulcis, et hereditas mea super mel et favum. Memoria mea in generationes sæculorum. Qui edunt me adhuc esurient: et qui bibunt me, adhuc sitient. Qui audit me, non confundetur: et qui operantur in me non peccabunt. Qui elucidant me, vitam æternam habebunt.

Lesson from the book of Wisdom
Ecclus. xxiv.

As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour: and my flowers are the fruit of honours and riches. I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is ail grace of the way and of the truth: in me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me, all ye that desire me: and be filled with my fruits. For my spirit is sweet above honey and the honeycomb. My memory is unto everlasting generations. They that eat me shall yet hunger: and they that drink me shall yet thirst. He that hearkeneth to me shall not be confounded: and they that work by me shall not sin. They that explain me shall have life everlasting.


Egredietur virga de radice Jesse, et flos de radice ejus ascendet.
℣. Et requiescet super eum Spiritus Domini.
Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. Virgo Dei Genetrix, quem totus non capit orbis, in tua so clausit viscera factus homo. Alleluia.

There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.
℣. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.
Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. O Virgin Mother of God, the world sufficeth not to contain him who, made man, was shut up in thy womb. Alleluia.


Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.
Cap. ii.

In illo tempore: Cum redirent puer remansit Jesus in Jerusalem, et non cognoverunt parentes ejus. Existimantes autem ilium esse in comitatu, venerunt ter diei, et requi rebant eum inter cognatos et notos. Et non invenientes, regressi sunt in Jerusalem, requirentes eum. Et factum est, post triduum invenerunt ilium in tempio sedentem in medio doctorum, audientem illos et interrogantem eos. Stupebant autem omnes qui eum audiebant, super prudentia et responsis ejus. Et videntes admirati sunt. Et dixit mater ejus ad ilium: Fili, quid fecisti nobis sic? Ecce, pater tuus et ego dolentes quærebamus te. Et ait ad illos: Quid est, quod me quærebatis? Nesciebatis quia in his quæ Patris mei sunt, oportet me esse? Et ipsi non intellexerunt verbum, quod locutus est ad eos. Et descendit cum eis, et venit Nazareth: et erat subditus illis.

Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
Ch. ii.

At that time: When they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem. And his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day’s journey and sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem seeking him. And it came to pass that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. And seeing him they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them. And he went down with them to Nazareth, and was subject to them.


Cum esset desponsata mater ejus Maria Joseph, inventa est in utero habens de Spiritu Sancto.

When his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.


Tua, Domine, propitiatione, et beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis, Unigeniti tui matris, intercessione, ad perpetuam atque præsentem hæc oblatio nobis proficiat prosperitatem et pacem. Per eumdem Dominum.

Through thy merciful forgiveness, O Lord, and through the intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, may this oblation avail us to the ensuring, now and always, of prosperity and peace. Through the same.

Preface of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Et te in festivitate.



Beata viscera Mariæ Virginis, quæ portaverunt æterni Patris Filium.

Blessed is the womb of Mary the Virgin, which bare the Son of the eternal Father.


Hæc nos communio, Domine, purget a crimine: et, intercedente beata Virgine Dei Genetrice Maria, cælestis remedii faciat esse consortes. Per eumden Dominum.

May this communion, O Lord, cleanse us from sin: and by the intercession of Blessed Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, may it unite us in him who is the heavenly healer of our souls. Through the same.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

This glorious saint was like a beautiful lily, crowning the ancient branch of the kings of Wessex. The times had progressed since that sixth century, when the pagan Cerdic and other pirate chiefs from the North Sea scattered with ruins the island of saints. Having accomplished their mission of wrath, the Anglo-Saxons became instruments of grace to the land they had conquered. Evangelized by Rome, even as the Britons they had just chastised, they remembered, better than the latter, whence their salvation had come; a spring-tide blossoming of sanctity showed the pleasure God took once more in Albion, for the constant fidelity of the princes and people of the heptarchy towards the See of Peter. In the year of our Lord 800, Egbert, a descendant of Cerdic, had gone on pilgrimage to Rome, when a deputation from the West Saxons offered him the crown, beside the tomb of the Prince of the apostles, at whose feet Charlemagne, at that very time, was restoring the empire. As Egbert united under one sceptre the power of the seven kingdoms, so Saint Edward, his last descendant, represents to-day in his own person the glorious holiness of them all.

Nephew to St. Edward the martyr, our holy king is known to God and man by the beautiful title of the Confessor. The Church, in her account of his life, sets forth more particularly the virtues which won him so glorious an appellation; but we must remember moreover that his reign of twenty-four years was one of the happiest England has ever known. Alfred the Great had no more illustrious imitator. The Danes, so long masters, now entirely subjugated within the kingdom, and without, held at bay by the noble attitude of the prince; Macbeth, the usurper of the Scotch throne, vanquished in a campaign that Shakespeare has immortalized; St. Edward's Laws, which remain to this day the basis of the British constitution; the saint’s munificence towards all noble enterprises, while at the same time he diminished the taxes: all this proves with sufficient dearness, that the sweetness of virtue, which made him the intimate friend of St. John the beloved disciple, is not incompatible with the greatness of a monarch.

Eduardus, cognomento Confessor, nepos sancii Eduardi regis et martyris, Anglo-Saxonum regum ultimila, quem futurum regem Brithualdo viro sanctissimo in mentis excessu Dominus demonstravit, decennis a Dania Angliam vastantibus quæsitus ad necem: exsulare cogitur apud avunculum, Normanniæ ducem: ubi in mediis vitiorum illecebris talem se exhibuit integriate vitæ, morumque innocentia, ut omnibus admirationi esset. Eluxit in eo vel tum mira pietas in Deum ac res divinas, fuitque ingenio mitissimo, atque ab omni dominandi cupiditate alieno. Cujus ea vox fertur, malle se regno carere, quod sine cæde et sanguine obtineri non possit.

Exstinctis mox tyrannis, qui fratribua suis vitam et regnum eripuerant, revocatur in patriam: ubi summis omnium votis et gratulatione regno potitus, ad hostilium irarum delenda vestigia totum se convertit, a sacris exorsus ac Divorum templis: quorum alia a fundamentis erexit, alia refecit, auxitque redditibus ac privilegiis; in eam curam potissimum intentus, ut reflore sceret collapsa religio. Ab aulæ proceribus compulsum ad nuptias, constans est assertio scriptorum, cum virgine sponsa virginitatem in matrimonio servasse. Tantus in eo fuit in Christum amor et fides, ut illum aliquando inter Missarum solemnia videre meruerit blando vultu et divina luce fulgentem. Ob profusam caritatem, orphanorum et egenorum pater passim dicebatur, numquam lætior, quam cum regios thesauros exhausisset in pauperes.

Prophetiæ dono illustris, de Angliæ futuro statu multa cœlitus prævidit: et illud in primis memorabile quod Sweyni Danorum regia in mare demersi mortem, dum Angliam invadendi animo classem conscenderet, eodem quo accidit momento, divinitus intellexit. Joannem evangelistam mirifice coluit, nihil cuiquam, quod ejus nomine peteretur, negare solitus. Cui olim sub lacera veste suo nomine stipem roganti, cum nummi deessent, detractum ex digito annulum porrexit, quem Divus non ita multo post Eduardo remisit, una cum nuntio secuturæ mortis. Quare rex, indictis pro se precibus, ipso ab evangelista prædicto die, piissime obiit nonis videlicet Januarii, anno salutis millesimo sexagesimo sexto. Quem, sequenti sæculo, Alexander Papa tertius miraculis darum sanctorum fastis adscripsit. At ejus memoriam Innocentius undecimus Officio publico per universam Ecclesiam eo die celebrari præcepit, quo annis ab obitu sex et triginta translatum ejus corpus incorruptum, et suavem spirans odorem, repertum est.
Edward, surnamed the Confessor, nephew to St. Edward king and martyr, was the last king of the Anglo-Saxon race. Our Lord had revealed that he would one day be king, to a holy man named Brithwald. When Edward was ten years old, the Danes, who were devastating England, sought his life; he was therefore obliged to go into exile, to the court of his uncle the duke of Normandy. Amid the vices and temptations of the Norman court, he grew up pure and innocent, a subject of admiration to all. His pious devotion towards God and holy things was most remarkable. He was of a very gentle disposition, and so great a stranger to ambition that he was wont to say he would rather forgo the kingdom than take possession of it by violence and bloodshed.

On the death of the tyrants who had murdered his brothers and seized their kingdom, he was recalled to his country, and ascended the throne to the greatest satisfaction and joy of all his subjects. He then applied himself to remove all traces of the havoc wrought by the enemy. To begin at the sanctuary, he built many churches, and restored others, endowing them with rents and privileges; for he was very anxious to see religion, which had been neglected, flourishing again. All writers assert that, though compelled by his nobles to marry, both he and his bride preserved their virginity intact. Such were his love of Christ and his faith, that he was one day permitted to see our Lord in the Mass, shining with heavenly light and smiling upon him. His lavish charity won him the name of the father of orphans and of the poor; and he was never so happy as when he had exhausted the royal treasury on their behalf.

He was honoured with the gift of prophecy, and foresaw much of England’s future history. A remarkable instance is, that when Sweyn, king of Denmark, was drowned in the very act of embarking on his fleet to invade England, Edward was supernaturally aware of the event the very moment it happened. He had a special devotion to St. John the evangelist, and was accustomed never to refuse anything asked in his name. One day St. John appeared to him as a poor man begging an alms in this manner; the king, having no money about him, took off his ring and gave it to him. Soon afterwards the saint sent the ring back to Edward, with a message that his death was at hand. The king then ordered prayers to be said for himself; and died most piously on the day foretold by St. John, the Nones of January, in the year of salvation 1066. In the following century Pope Alexander III enrolled him, famous for miracles, among the saints. Innocent XI ordered his memory to be celebrated by the whole Church with a public Office, on the day of his Translation, which took place thirty-six years after his death, his body being found incorrupt and exhaling a sweet fragrance.

Thou representest on the sacred cycle the nation which Gregory the Great foresaw would rival the angels; so many holy kings, illustrious virgins, grand bishops, and great monks, who were its glory, now form thy brilliant court. Where are now the unwise in whose sight thou and thy race seemed to die?[1] History must be judged in the light of heaven. While thou and thine reign there eternally, judging nations and ruling over peoples;[2] the dynasties of thy successors on earth, ever jealous of the Church, and long wandering in schism and heresy, have become extinct one after another, sterilized by God’s wrath, and having none but that vain renown whereof no trace is found in the book of life. How much more noble and more durable, O Edward, were the fruits of thy holy virginity! Teach us to look upon the present world as a preparation for another, an everlasting world; and to value human events by their eternal results. Our admiring worship seeks and finds thee in thy royal abbey of Westminster; aud we love to contemplate, by anticipation, thy glorious resurrection on the day of judgment, when all around thee so many false grandeurs will acknowledge their shame and their nothingness. Bless us, prostrate in spirit or in reality beside thy tomb, where heresy, fearful of the result, would fain forbid our prayer. Offer to God the supplications rising to-day from all parts of the world, for the wandering sheep, whom the Shepherd’s voice is now so earnestly calling back to the one fold!

[1] Wisd. iii. 2.
[2] Ibid. iii. 8.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

He was a sign of contradiction in Israel. In his own time, Christians were ranged either around him or against him. The trouble excited by his mere name sixteen hundred years ago, was renewed in the middle of the nineteenth century by the discovery of a famous book, which gave an occasion to the sectaries of our own days to stand with those of old against Callixtus and the Church. The book, entitled Philosophumena or refutation of heresies, was composed in the third century; it represented Callixtus, whose life and character were painted in the darkest colours, as one of the worst corruptors of doctrine.

In that third century, however, the author of the Philosophumena, attacking the Pontiff he wished to supplant, and setting up in Rome, as he himself acknowledges, Chair against Chair, did but publish to the Church his own shame, by ranging himself among those very dissenters of whom his book professed to be the refutation and the history. The name of this first antipope has not come down to us. But behold his punishment! The work of his envious pen, despised by his contemporaries, was to reappear at the right moment to awaken the slumbering attention of a far-off posterity. The impartial criticism of these latter ages, setting aside the insinuations, took up the facts brought forward by the accuser; and with the aid of science, disentangling the truth from among his falsehoods, rendered the most unexpected testimony to his hated rival. Thus once more iniquity lied to itself;[1] and this word of to-day’s Gospel was verified: Nothing is covered that shall not be revealed; nor hid that shall not be known.[2]

Let us listen to the greatest of Christian archaeologists, whose mind, so sure and so reserved, was overcome with enthusiasm on finding so much light springing from such a source.; ‘All this,’ said the Commandant de Rossi on studying the odious document, ‘gives me clearly to understand why the accuser said ironically of Callixtus that he was reputed most admirable; why, though all knowledge of his acts was lost, his name has come down to us with such great veneration; and lastly, why, in the third and fourth centuries when the memory of his government was still fresh, he was honoured more than any of his predecessors, or of his successors, since the ages of persecution. Callixtus ruled the Church when she was at the term of the first stage in her career, and was marching forward to new and greater triumphs. The Christian faith, hitherto embraced only by individuals, had then become the faith of families; and fathers made profession of it in their own and their children’s name. These families already formed almost the majority in every town; the religion of Christ was on the eve of becoming the public religion of the nation and the empire. How many new problems concerning Christian social rights, ecclesiastical law, and moral discipline, must have daily arisen in the Church, considering the greatness of her situation at the time, and the still greater future that was opening before her! Callixtus solved all these doubts; he drew up regulations concerning the deposition of clerics; took the necessary measures against the deterring of catechumens from Baptism, and of sinners from repentance; and defined the notion of the Church, which St. Augustine was afterwards to develop.[3] In opposition to the civil laws, he asserted the Christian’s right over his own conscience, and the Church’s authority with regard to the marriage of the faithful. He knew no distinction of slave and freeman, great and lowly, noble and plebeian, in that spiritual brotherhood that was undermining Homan society, and softening its inhuman manners. For this reason, his name is so great at the present day; for this reason, the voice of the envious, or of those who measured the times by the narrowness of their own proud mind, was lost in the cries of admiration, and was utterly despised.’[4]

We have not space to develop, as it deserves, this masterly exposition. We have already seen how, when the virgin martyr Cæcilia yielded to the Popes the place of her first sepulture, Callixtus, then deacon of Zephyrinus, arranged the catacomb of the Cæcilii for its new destiny. Venerable crypt, in which the State for the first time recognized the Church’s right to earthly possessions; sanctuary, no less than necropolis, wherein, before the triumph of the cross, Christian Rome laid up her treasures for the resurrection-day. Our great martyr-Pontiff was deemed the most worthy to give his name to this the principal cemetery, although Providence had disposed that he should never rest in it. Under the benevolent reign of Alexander Severus, he met his death in the Traste. vere, in a sedition raised against him by the pagans. The cause of the tumult appears to have been his having obtained possession of the famous Taberna meritoria, from the floor of which, in the days of Augustus, a fountain of oil had sprung up and had flowed for a whole day. The Pontiff built a church on the spot, and dedicated it to the Mother of God; it is the basilica of St. Mary in Trastevere. Its ownership was contended for; and the case was referred to the emperor, who decided in favour of the Christians.[5] We may attribute to the vengeance of his adversaries the saint’s violent death, which took place close to the edifice his firmness had secured to the Church. The mob threw him into a well, which is still to be seen in the church of St. Callixtus, a few paces from St. Mary’s basilica. For fear of the sedition, the martyr’s body was not carried to the Appian Way; but was laid in a cemetery already opened on the Aurelian Way, where his tomb originated a new historic centre of subterranean Rome.[6]

The following brief history was drawn up at a period, when the history of Callixtus was less known than at present.

Callistus Romanus præfuit Ecclesiæ Antonino Heliogabalo imperatore. Constituit quatuor anni tempora, quibus jejunium ex apostolica traditione acceptum ab omnibus servaretur. Ædificavit basilicam sanctæ Mariæ trans Tiberim, et in via Appia vetus cœmeterium ampliavit, in quo multi sancti sacerdotes et martyres sepulti sunt: unde ab eo Callisti cœmeterium appellatur.

Ejusdem pietatis fuit, quod beati Calepodii presbyteri et martyris corpus jactatum in Tiberim conquiri diligenter curavit, et inventum honorifice sepelivit. Palmatium consulari, Simplicium senatoria dignitate illustres, Felicem et Blandam, qui deinde omnes martyrium subiere, cum baptismo lustrasset, missus est in carcerem, ubi Privatum militem, ulceribus plenum, admirabiliter sanitati restitutum, Christo adjunxit: pro quo idem, recens adhuc a fide suscepta, plurabatis usque ad mortem cæsus occubuit.

Sedit Callistus annos quinque, mensem unum, dies duodecim. Ordinationibus quinque mense Decembri, creavit presbyteros sexdecim, diaconos quatuor, episcopos octo. Post longam famem crebrasque verberationes, præceps jactus in puteum, atque ita martyrio coronatus sub Alexandro imperatore, illatus est in cœmeterium Calepodii, via Aurelia, tertio ab Urbe la pide, pridie idus octobris. Ejus postmodum corpus in basilicam sanctæ Mariæ trans Tiberini, ab ipso ædificatam, delatum, sub ara majori, maxima veneratione colitur.
Callixtus, a Roman by birth, ruled the Church in the time of the emperor Antoninus Heliogabalus. He instituted the Ember days, on which four times in the year, fasting, according to apostolic tradition, should be observed by all. He built the basilica of Saint Mary across the Tiber; andenlarged the cemetery on the Appian Way, in which many holy pontiffs and martyrs were buried; hence this cemetery is called by his name.

The body of the blessed Calepodius, priest and martyr, having been thrown into the Tiber, Callixtus in his piety caused it to be diligently sought for, and when found to be honourably buried. He baptized Palmatius, Simplicius, Felix and Blanda, the first of whom was of consular and the others of senatorial rank; and who all afterwards suffered martyrdom. For this he was cast into prison, where he miraculously cured a soldier named Privatus, who was covered with ulcers; whom he also won over to Christ. Though so recently converted, Privatus died for the faith, being beaten to death with scourges tipped with lead.

Callixtus was Pope five years, one month, and twelve days. He held five ordinations in the month of December, wherein he made sixteen priests, four deacons, and eight bishops. He was tortured for a long while by starvation and frequent scourgings, and finally, by being thrown headlong into a well, was crowned with martyrdom under the emperor Alexander. His body was carried to the cemetery of Calepodius, on the Aurelian Way, three miles from Rome, on the day before the Ides of October. It was afterwards translated into the basilica of St. Mary across the Tiber, which he himself had built, and placed under the high altar, where it is honoured with great veneration.

The Holy Ghost, the protector of the Church, prepared thee, by suffering’ and humiliation, to become His chosen auxiliary. Thou wast born a slave; Jewish perfidy soon spread snares beneath thy feet; and while still young thou wast condemned to the mines of Sardinia, for the name of our Lord. Thou wast a bond-slave, it is true, but not now for thy former master. And when delivered from the mines at the time appointed by Him who regulates circumstances according to His good pleasure, thou wast ennobled by the title of Confessor, which recommended thee to the maternal attention of the Church.

Such were thy merits and virtues, that Zephyrinus, entering upon the longest pontificate of the persecution period, chose thee for the counsellor, support, and coadjutor of his old age; and after the experience of those eighteen years, the Church elected thee for her supreme Pastor. At the hour of thy death, how prosperous didst thou leave this bride of our Lord! All the nobility of ancient days, all the moral worth and intellectual eminence of the human race, seemed to be centred in her. Where was then the contempt of old, where the calumnies of a while ago? The world began to recognize in the Church the queen of the future. If the pagan state was yet to inflict cruel persecutions upon her, it would be from the conviction that it must struggle desperately for its very existence. It even hesitated, and seemed, for the moment, more inclined to make a compact with the Christians.

Thou didst open to the Church new paths, full of peril, but also of grandeur. From the absolute and brutal Non licet vos esse[7] of the lawyer-executioners, thou wast the first to bring the empire to recognize officially, to a certain extent, the rights of the Christian community. Through thee, Cæcilia assured to them the power of assembling together, and making collections to honour their dead; thou didst consecrate to Mary, fons olei, the first sanctuary legally acquired by the Christians in Rome; and thou wast rewarded for the act by martyrdom. Now, far from compromising the least of God’s rights in coming to terms with Cæsar, thou didst, at that very time, oppose the latter, asserting, as no other had yet done, the absolute independence of the Church with regard to marriage, which Christ had withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the civil power. Already, ‘would not one be inclined to say that we have a nation within the nation? Yes; and it will continue to be so, until the whole nation itself have passed into the ranks of this new people.’[8]

Within the bosom of the Church thou hadst other cares. Doctrinal contests were at their height, and attacked the first of our mysteries: Sabellius, condemned for his audacity in declaring that the real distinction of Persons in the most holy Trinity is incompatible with the unity of God, left the field open to another sect, who so separated the three divine Persons as to make them three Gods. Again, there was Montanus, whose disciples, enemies of the Sabellian theories even before Sabellius appeared, courted the favour of the holy See for their system of false mysticism and extravagant reformation. But as an experienced pilot avoids the rooks and shoals, so between the subtilities of dogmatizers, the pretensions of rigorists, and the utopias of politicians, thou, under the infallible guidance of the holy Spirit, didst, with a sure hand, steer the bark of Peter towards its glorious destination. The more satan hates thee and pursues thee even to the present day, the more mayst thou be glorified for ever. Give thy blessing to us, who are thy sons and thy disciples.

[1] Psalm xxvi. 12.
[2] St. Matt. x. 26.
[3] Quo referendum aiebat apostoli rerbum:Tu quis es qui judicas servum alienum?' Atque etiam lolii parubolam, ‘Sinite zizania crescore cum tritico,’ id est, sinite peccatores in Ecclesia manere. Dicebat etiam Ecclesiæ instar arcam Noe fuisse, qua canes, lupi, corvi, aliaque omnia pura et impura animantia comprehendebantur; oportere autem item esse de Ecclesia. Philosophumena, lib. ix. de Callisto.
[4] De Rossi, Bullettino, 1866, n. 1, 2, 5, 6.
[5] Lamprid. in Alex. Severo, cap. xix.
[6] Histoire de sainte Cécile. 1849 p. 5; Sainte Cécile et la société romaine aux deux primiers siècles. 1874, p. 424.
[7] It is not lawful for you to exist.
[8] Paschal Time, vol. ii; Thursday of the third week after Easter.