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November (end of the year)

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

A HUMBLE lay-brother, Didacus of St. Nicholas, is welcomed to-day by his father St. Francis into the company of Bernardine of Siena and John Capistran, who preceded him by a few years to heaven. The two latter left Italy and the whole of Europe still echoing with their voices, the one making peace between cities in the name of the Lord Jesus, the other urging on the Christian hosts to battle with the victorious Crescent. The age which they contributed so powerfully to save from the results of the great schism and to restore to its Christian destinies, knew little of Didacus but his unbounded charity. It was the year of the great Jubilee, 1450. Rome having become once more, practically as well as theoretically, the holy city in the eyes of the nations, not even the most terrible scourges could keep her children at a distance. From every quarter of the globe, crowds, urged by the evils of the time, flocked to the sources of salvation; and Satan's work of ruin was retarded by seventy years.

Men doubtless attributed but a very small share of such results to the humble brother, who was spending himself in the Ara-Coeli, in the service of the plague-stricken; especially if they compared, him with his brethren, the great Franciscan apostles. And yet the Church pays to Didacus today the very same honours as we have seen her pay to Bernardine and John Capistran. What is this but asserting that before God heroin acts of hidden virtue are not inferior to the noble deeds that dazzle the world, if, proceeding from the same ardent love, they produce in the soul the same increase of divine charity.

The Pontificate of Nicholas V., which witnessed the imposing concourse of people to the tombs of the Apostles in 1450, was also, and still is, justly admired for the new impetus given to the culture of letters and the arts in Rome; for it belongs to the Church to adorn herself, for the honour of her Spouse, with all that men rightly deem great and beautiful. Nevertheless, who is there now of all the humanists, as the learned men of that age were called, who would not prefer the glory of the poor, unlettered Friar Minor, to that which vainly held out to them the hope of immortality? In the fifteenth century, as at all other times, God chose the foolish and the weak to confound the wise and the strong. The Gospel is always in the right.

Let us read the luminous life of this unlearned man, as given in the book of holy Church.

Didacus Hispanus, ex opido sancti Nicolai de Portu dioecesis Hisplanensis, ab ineunte aetate pii sub sacerdotis disciplina, sanctoris vitae solitaria in ecclesia, tyrocinium exercuit. Deinde ut firmius Deo se conjungeret, in conventu de Arizzafa fratrum Minorum (quos Observantes vocant) sancti Francisci regulam in status laicali professus est. manga ibi alacritate humilis obedientiae et regularis observantiae jugum subiens, contemplationi in primis deditus, mira Dei luce perfundebatur, adeo ut de rebus coelestibus, litterarum expers, mirandum in modum et plane divinitus loqueretur.

Canariis in insulis, ubi fratribus sui Ordinis praefuit, multa perpessus, martyrii aestuans desiderio, plures infideles verbo et exemplo ad Christi fidem convertit. Romam veniens anno jubilaei, Nicolao quinto Pontifice, aegrotorum curae in couventu Arae Coeli destinatus, eo caritatis affectu munus hoc exercuit, ut Urge annoniae inopia laborante, aegrotis tamen, quorum aliquando ulcera etiam lambendo abstergebat, nihil penitus necessarium defecerit. Eximia quoque fides et gratia curationum in so eluxit, cum lampadis, quae colucebat ante imaginem bestissimae Dei Genitricis, qum summa devotione colebat, oleo aegros inungens, signo crucis impresso, multorum morbos mirabiliter sanaverit.

Demum Compluti finem sibi, vitae adesse intelligens, lucera et obsoleta indutus tunica, conjectis in crucem oculis, singulari devotione illis verbis ex sacro hymno pronuntiatis: Dulce lignum, dulces, clavos, dulcia ferens pondea quae fuisti digna portare Regem coelorum et Dominum, animam Deo reddidit, pridie idus novembris, anno Domini supra millesimum quadringentesimo sexagesimo tertio. Ejus corpous cum menses non paucos (ut pio confluentium desiderio fieret satis_ insepultum mansisset, quasi jam incorruptionem induerit, odorem suavissimum efflavit. Illum multis et illustribus miraculis clarum Sixtus quintu Pontifix Maximus Sanctorum numero adscripsit.
Didacus[1] was a Spaniard, born at the little town of St. Nicholas de Porto in the diocese of Seville. From his early youth he began the practice of a perfect life, under the guidance of a pious priest in a solitary church. Then, in order to bind himself more closely to God, he made profession of the rule of St. Francis, in the convent of the Observantine Friars Minor at Arizzafa. There he bore the yoke of humble obedience and regular observance with great alacrity; and devoted himself especially to contemplation, in which he received wonderful lights from God, so that, illiterate as he was, he spoke of heavenly things in an ad­mirable manner, evidently by a divine gift.

He was sent to the Canary Isles to govern the brethren of his Order; and there he had much to suffer. He was burning with the desire of martyrdom; and by his words and example, he converted many infidels to the faith of Christ. Coming to Rome in the Jubilee year, in the pontificate of Nicholas V., he was entrusted with the care of the sick in the convent of Ara Cceli. With such loving charity did he acquit himself of this duty, that the sick wanted for nothing even during a famine in the city; he also sometimes cleansed their ulcers by suckir, them. He was remarkable for his great faith and his gift of healing; for by signing the cross upon the sick with oil from a lamp burning before an image of the Mother of God, to whom he had the greatest devotion, he miraculously cured many of them.

At length, when at Alcala, he understood that the end of his life was at hand. Clad in an old torn tunic, with his eyes fixed on the cross, he devoutly pronounced these words of the sacred hymn: O sweet wood, sweet are thy nails, and sweet thy burden; thou west worthy to bear the King and Lord of heaven He then gave up his soul to God, on the day before the Ides of November, in the year of our Lord 1463. His body was left unburied for several months, in order to satisfy the pious devotion of the numbers who came to see it; and, as though already clothed with immortality, it exhaled a sweet odour. He was renowned for many striking miracles, and was enrolled among the Saints by Pope Sixtus V.

“O Almighty, everlasting God, who by an admirable order dost choose the weak things of the world, that thou mayest confound whatever is strong; mercifully grant to our lowliness, that by the pious prayers of blessed Didacus, thy Confessor, we may be made worthy to be exalted to everlasting glory in heaven.”[2]

Such is the prayer addressed to God by the Church at all the liturgical Hours on this thy feast, O Didacus. Second her supplications; for thou art in high favour with him whom thou didst follow so lovingly along the way of humility and voluntary poverty. A royal road indeed, since it brought thee to a throne which far outshines all earthly thrones. Even here below, thou dost far surpass in renown many of thy contemporaries, who are now as forgotten as they were once illustrious. Sanctity alone merits crowns that endure through all ages of time and for all eternity; for God is the final awarder, as he is the supreme reason, of all glory, just as in him lies the principle of all true happiness both for this world and for the next. May we all, after thine example and by thine assistance, learn this by our own blessed experience!

[1] This name is merely a Latin form of the Spanish Deigo, i.e. James.
[2] Collect of the feast.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

ALTHOUGH the blessed in heaven shine each with his own peculiar glory, God is pleased to group them in families, as he groups the stars in the material firmament. It is grace that presides over the arrangement of these constellations in the heaven of the Saints; but sometimes it seems as if God wished to remind us that he is the sole Author of both grace and nature ; and inviting them, in spite of the fall, to honour him unitedly in his elect, he causes sanctity to become a glorious heirloom, handed down from generation to generation in the same family on earth. Among these races, none can compare with that royal line which, beginning in ancient Pannonia, spread its branches over the world in the most flourishing days of Christendom : Rich in virtue and studying beautifulness,[1] as Scripture says, it brought peace into all the royal houses of Europe, with which it was allied; and the many names it has inscribed in the golden book of the blessed, perpetuate its glory.

Among these illustrious names, and surrounded by them as a diamond set in a circle of pearls, the greatest, in the esteem of the Church and of the people, is that of the amiable Saint, who was ripe for heaven at the age of twenty-four years, and who ascended on this day into the company of Stephen, Emeric, and Ladislas. Elizabeth was not inferior to them in manly virtues; but the simplicity of her loving soul added to the heroism of her race a sweetness, whose fragrance drew after her along the path of sanctity her daughter Gertrude of Thuringia, and her relatives Hedwige of Silesia, Agnes of Bohemia, Margaret of Hungary, Cunigund of Poland, and Elizabeth of Portugal.

All the poetry of those chivalrous times appears in the beautiful pages of contemporaneous writers, as they describe to us the innocent child, transplanted like a tender flower from the court of Hungary to that of Thuringia; and her life of devotedness there, with a bridegroom worthy to witness the ecstasies of her lofty but ingenuous piety, and to defend her heroic virtue against her slanderers. To the stewards who complained that during the absence of Duke Lewis she had, in spite of their remonstrances, exhausted the revenues upon the poor, he replied: “I desire that my Elizabeth be at liberty to act as she wishes, provided she leaves me Warteburg and Naumburg.” Our Lord opened the landgrave's eyes to see transformed into beautiful roses the provisions Elizabeth was carrying to the poor. Jesus crucified appeared in the leper she had taken into her own apartments that she might the better tend him. If it happened that illustrious visitors arrived unexpectedly, and the duchess having bestowed all her jewels in alms was unable to adorn herself becomingly to do them honour, the Angels so well supplied the deficiency that, according to the German chroniclers of the time, it seemed to the astonished guests that the Queen of France herself could not have appeared more strikingly beautiful or more richly attired.

Elizabeth indeed was never wanting to any of the obligations or requirements of her position as a wife and as a sovereign princess. As graciously simple in her virtues as she was affable to all, she could not understand the gloomy moroseness which some affected in their prayers and austerities. “They look as if they wanted to frighten our Lord,” she would say, “whereas he loves the cheerful giver.”[2]

The time soon came, when she herself had to give generously without counting the cost. First there was the cruel separation from her husband, Duke Lewis, on his departure for the crusade; then the heart-rending scene, when his death was announced to her, just as she was about to give birth to her fourth child; and thirdly the atrocious act of Henry Raspon, the landgrave's unworthy brother, who, thinking this a good opportunity for seizing the deceased's estates, drove out his widow and children, and forbade anyone to give them hospitality. Then in the very land where every misery had been succoured by her charity, Elizabeth was reduced to the necessity of begging, and not without many rebuffs, a little bread for her poor children, and of seeking shelter with them in a pig-sty.

On the return of the knights who had accompanied Duke Lewis to the Holy Land, justice was at length done to our Saint. But Elizabeth, who had become the passionate lover of holy poverty, chose to remain among the poor. She was the first professed Tertiary of the Seraphic Order; and the mantle sent by St. Francis to his very dear daughter, became her only treasure. The path of perfect self-renunciation soon brought her to the threshold of heaven. She who, twenty years before, had been carried to her betrothed in a silver cradle, and robed in silk and gold, now took her flight to God from a wretched hovel, her only garment being a patched gown. The min­strels, whose gay competitions had signalized the year of her birth, were no longer there; but the Angels were heard singing, as they bore her up to heaven : The kingdom of this world have I despised, for the love of Jesus Christ my Lord, whom I have seen, whom I have loved, in whom I have believed, whom I have tenderly loved.

Four years later, Elizabeth, now declared a Saint by the Vicar of Christ, beheld all the nations of the holy Empire, with the emperor himself at their head, hastening to Marburg, where she lay at rest in the midst of the poor whose life she had imitated. Her holy body was committed to the care of the Teutonic Knights, who in return for the honour, made Marburg one of the headquarters of their Order, and raised to her name the first Gothic church in Germany. Numerous miracles long attracted the Christian world to the spot.

And now, though still standing, though still beautiful in its mourning, St. Elizabeth's at Marburg knows its glorious titular only by name. And at Warteburg, where the dear Saint went through the sweetest episodes of her life as a child and as a bride, the great memorial now shown to the traveller is the pulpit of an excommunicated monk, and the ink-stain with which, in a fit of folly or drunkenness, he had soiled the wall, as he afterwards endeavoured with his pen to profane and sully everything in the Church of God.

It is time to read the liturgical history of the feast.

Elisabeth Andreae regis Hungariae filia ab infantia Deum timere coepit: et crescens aetate, crevit etiam pietate. Ludovico Lantgravio Hassiae et Thuringiae in conjugem copulata, non minori cura quae Dei, quam quae viri sui erant, exsequebatur. Surgens enim nocturno tempore, orationi diu incumbebat; ac variis misericordiae officiis dedita, viduis, pupillis aegrotis, egentibus sedulo inserviebat; gravique fame urgent, domus suae frumenta liberaliter erogabat. Leprosos hospitio suscipiens, manus eorum et pedes osculabatur. Curandis autem et alendis pauperibus insigne xenodochium construxit.

Defuncto conjuge, ut Deo liberius serviret, depositis omnibus saecularis gloriae indumentis, vili tunica induta est, atque ordinem Poenitentium sancti Francisco ingressa, patientiae et humilitatis virtute maxime enituit. Nam bonis omnibus exuta, a propriis aedibus ejecta, ab omnibus derelecta, contumelias, irrisiones, obtrectationes invicto animo toleravit, adeo ut summopere gauderet, se talia pro Deo pati. Ad infima quaeque ministeria erga pauperes et aegrotos se abjiciens, eis necessaria procurabat, solis oleribus et leguminibus pro suo victu contenta.

Cum vero in his aliisque plurimis sanctis operibus vitam religiosissime transegisset, finis tandem suae peregrinationis advenit, quem domesticis suis ante praedixit. Cumque defixis in coelum oculis divinae contemplationi vacaret, a Deo mirabiliter recreata, et sacramentis refecta, obdormivit in Domino. Statimque plurima ad ejus tumulum miracula patrata sunt. Quibus auditis, et rite probatis, regorius nonus Sanctorum numero eam adcripsit.
Elizabeth, daughter of Andrew king of Hungary feared God from her infancy, and increased in piety as she advanced in age. She was married to Lewis, landgrave of Hesse and Thuringia, and devoted herself to the service of God and of her husband. She used to rise in the night and spend a long time in prayer; and moreover she devoted herself to works of mercy, diligently caring for widows and orphans, the sick and the poor. In time of famine she freely distributed her store of corn. She received lepers into her house, and kissed their hands and fee; she also built a splendid hospital, where the poor might be fed and cared for.

On the death of her hus­band, she, in order to serve God with greater freedom, laid aside all worldly ornaments, clothed herself in a rough tunic, and entered the Order of Penance of St. Francis. She was very remarkable for her patience and humility. Being despoiled of all her possessions and turned out of her own house, and abandoned by all, she bore insults, mockeries, and reproaches with undaunted courage, rejoicing exceedingly to suffer thus for God's sake. She humbled herself by performing the lowest offices for the poor and sick, and procured them all they needed, contenting herself with herbs and vegetables for her only food.

She was living in this holy manner, occupied with these and many other good works, when the end of her pilgrimage drew nigh, as she had foretold to her companions. She was absorbed in divine contemplation, with her eyes fixed on heaven; and after being wonderfully consoled by God, and strengthened with the Sacraments, she fell asleep in our Lord. Many miracles were immediately wrought at her tomb; and on their being duly proved, Gregory IX. enrolled her among the Saints.

The following Hymn in honour of St. Elizabeth was sung in Germany in the fourteenth century.

Hymn

Hymnum Deo vox jocunda
Decantat Ecclesiae;
Nam congaudet laetabunda
Sion mater filiae
Ascendenti de profunda
Convalle miseriae.

Quam regali stirpe natam
In annis infantiae
Vir accepti desponsatam
Indolis eximiae,
Semper tamen inspiratum
Voto continentiae.

Fide, prole, sacramento
Ratum hoc conjugium,
Vero docet argumento
Quod patrum coelestium
Vitae sanctae succremento
Attigit consortium.

Lege caris sic ligata
Non extinxit spiritum,
Sed implevit fide rata
Nec reliquit irritum
Quod a Deo mens parata
Gerebat propositum.

Haec insignis, haec beata
Pauperum nutritia
Fastu mundi non elata
Nec parentum gloria,
In se carne trucidata
Crucifixit vitia.

Aquam eam dum rogavit
Hostis innocentiae,
Potum lacte perforavit
Clavo poenitentiae,
Et sic sese liberavit
Virtus patientiae.

Tandem viro destituta
Munda mundum exuit,
Christum mente jam induta
Saccum carni consuit,
Et in tempus hoc statuta
Sic lampas emicuit.

Veras censu paupertatis
Redimens divitias
De thesauro pietatis
Fudit auri copias,
Et multorum egestatis
Supplevit inopias.

Fecit opus fuso, cibi
Quaerents alimoniam,
Et vilescens ipsa sibi
Sprevit ignominiam,
Sciens soli, Christe, tibi
Recte dari gloriam.

Gloria sit, Jesu bone,
Tibi nunc et jugiter,
Qui certantes in agone
Adjuvas fideliter,
Et mercedem das coronae
Vindenti viriliter.

Amen.
The Church in joyous accents
sings a hymn to God;
Sion is in gladness,
rejoicing with her daughter
who ascends from
the valley of misery.

Born of royal race,
she is affianced
while yet a babe;
her husband finds her
adorned with every gift
and enamoured of purity.

Their union is hallowed
by fidelity, fecundity, and the grace of the Sacrament;
Elizabeth's increasing holiness
proves that she is being led
to the company
of her fathers in heaven.

Though subject
to the law of the flesh,
her spirit was not quenched;
faithful to her sacred engagements,
she obeyed the inspirations
her willing heart received from God.

She became the noble
and blessed feeder of the poor;
neither by worldly glory
nor by her kingly origin was she elated,
but she crucified the vices
in her mortified flesh.

The enemy of innocence
asked her for water, as Sisara asked Jahel; 
she deceived him with milk,
and transpiercing him
with the nail of penance,
she delivered herself by her virtue of patience.

Bereaved of her husband,
she abandoned the world, unsullied by its contact;
and having already put on Christ interiorly,
she now clothed her body with sack-cloth,
and, even in the time of her mortality,
shone as a bright lamp.

Buying true riches
at the price of poverty,
she poured out the golden
treasures of her piety,
and supplied the needs
of innumerable poor.

Working with her spindle,
she earned her daily bread;
and, vile in her own eyes
she made light of shame,
knowing that to thee alone,
O Christ, honour is due.

Glory be to thee, O good Jesus,
both now and forever;
for thou faithfully assistest
them that fight the good fight,
and rewardest the valiant
victor with a crown.

Amen.

What a lesson thou leavest to the earth, as thou mountest up to heaven, O blessed Elizabeth! We ask with the Church, for ourselves and for all our brethren in the faith: may thy glorious prayers obtain from the God of mercy that our hearts may open to the light of thy life's teaching, so that despising worldly prosperity we, may rejoice in heavenly consolations.[3] The Gospel read in thy honour today tells us that the kingdom of heaven is like to a hidden treasure, and to a precious pearl; the wise and prudent man sells all he has, to obtain the treasure or the pearl.[4] Thou didst well understand this good traffic, as the Epistle calls it,[5] and it became the good fortune of all around thee : of thy happy subjects, who received from thee succour and assistance for both soul and body, of thy noble husband, who found an honourable place among those princes who knew how to exchange a perishable diadem for an eternal crown; in a word, of all who belonged to thee. Thou wast their boast; and several among them followed in thy footsteps along the heavenward path of self-renunciation. How is it that others, in an age of destruction, could abjure their title of children of Saints, and draw the people after them to deal so wantonly with the sweetest memorials and the noblest traditions? May our Lord restore to his Church and to thee the country where thou didst experience his love; may thy supplications, united with ours, revive the ancient faith in those branches of thy stock which are no longer nourished with that life-giving sap; and may the glorious trunk continue, in its faithful branches, to give saints to the world.


Commemoration Of Saint Pontian, Martyr

The Church honours today a holy Pope of the persecution times, by name Pontian. Transported by order of the emperor Maximin to an island in the Mediterranean, he there suffered most cruel treatment, which earned him the crown of martyrdom. His second successor, St. Fabian, translated his body to the cemetery of Callixtus.

Infirmitatem nostram respice omnipotens Deus: et quia podus propriae actionis gravat, beati Pontiani Martyris tui atque Pontificis intercessio gloriosa nos protegat. Per Dominum.
Have regard to our weakness, O Almighty God: and since the weight of our own deeds is grievous to us, may the glorious intercession of blessed Pontian, thy Martyr and Bishop, protect us. Through our Lord.

[1] Eccli. xliv. 6.
[2] Montalembert, Histoire de sainte Elisabeth de Hongrie, ch. vii.
[3] Collect of the feast.
[4] Gospel, from St. Matthew, xii.
[5] Epistle, Proverbs xxxi.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

JOSAPHAT Kuncewicz, contemporary with St. Francis de Sales and St. Vincent de Paul, might have been taken for a Greek monk of the eleventh century, or an ascetic of the Thebaid. A stranger to the intellectual culture of the West, he knew only the liturgical books and sacred texts used in his own church ; as a priest, an archimandrite, a reformer of his Order of St. Basil, and lastly as Archbishop, he combated all his life against the consequences of the schism of Photius, and closed the struggle by culling the palm of martyrdom. Yet all this took place in the heart of Europe, in the countries then subject to Catholic Poland, during the reign of the most pious of its kings. How is this mystery to be explained?

Immediately after the Mongolian invasions, Poland received into her arms, rather than conquered, the Ruthenian nation, that is to say the Slays of the Greek rite from the Dnieper and the Dwina, who had formed around their capital and religious metropolis, Kiev, the nucleus of the power now known as Russia. Had she granted a participation in her own national life to these brethren separated from, but not enemies to, the Roman unity, who came to her full of confidence in her strength and her justice, Poland would have secured the triumph of the Catholic cause, and her own dominion throughout Slavonia. The union of the newcomers with the Roman Pontiff, which a little more political insight and religious zeal might have brought about in the fourteenth century, was not concluded until 1595.

This was the union of Brzeso. By the compact signed in this little town of Lithuania, the metropo­litan of Kiev and the other Greek bishops declared that they returned to the communion of the holy Apostolic See. Being the spiritual superiors of half the nation, they thus completed the union of the three peoples, Ruthenian, Lithuanian, and Polish, then subject to Sigismund III. Now, a religious reform, even if decreed by a council, does not become a reality until men of God, true apostles, and if need be martyrs, come forward to consummate it. This was the vocation of St. Josaphat, the apostle and martyr of the Union of Brzeso. What he did not himself carry out was completed by his disciples. A century of glory was secured to the nation, and its political ruin was delayed for two hundred years.

But Poland left in a state of humiliating inferiority the clergy and people of the Graeco-Slavonic rite, who had taken shelter in her bosom; her politicians never admitted practically that Christians of the Greek rite could be true Catholics, on an equality with their Latin brethren. Soon, however, the Latin Poles were engaged in deadly combat with the Muscovites, and we know how the former were van­quished. Historians lay down the causes of Poland's defeat; but they usually forget the principal one, which rendered it irremediable, viz: the almost total destruction of the Union of Brzesc, the forced return to schism of the immense majority of the Ruthenians whom St. Josaphat had brought into the Catholic Church. The consummation of this execrable work contributed, far more than political circumstances or military triumphs, to establish Russia's victory. Poland, reduced to nine or ten million Latins, could no longer struggle against her former rival now become her stern ruler.

The power of the Slays separated from Catholic unity is on the increase. Young nations, emanci­pated from the Mussulman yoke, have formed in the Balkan Peninsula. Fidelity to the Graeco-Slavonian rite, identified in their eyes with their nationality and with Christianity, was alone able to save these peoples from being stamped out by the Turkish forces. Victorious over the universal enemy, they cannot forget whence came their safety: the moral and religious direction of these resuscitated nations belongs accordingly to Russia. Profiting of these advantages with consummate skill and energy, she continues to develop her influence in the East. In Asia her progress is still more prodigious. The Czar, who at the end of the eighteenth century ruled over thirty million men, now governs one hundred and twenty-five millions; and by the normal increase of an exceptionally prolific population, the Empire, within another half century, will reckon more than two hundred millions of subjects.

Unhappily for Russia and for the Church, this power is guided at present by blind prejudice. Not only is Russia separated from Catholic unity, but political interest and the recollection of ancient strifes, convince her that her greatness depends upon the triumph of what she calls orthodoxy, which is simply the Photian schism. Yet the Roman Church, ever devoted and generous, opens wide her arms to welcome back her wandering daughter; forgetting the injuries she has received, she asks but to be greeted with the name of mother. Let this word be uttered, and a whole sad past will be effaced.

Russia becoming Catholic would mean an end to Islamism, and the definitive triumph of the Cross upon the Bosphorus, without any danger to Europe; the Christian empire in the East restored with a glory and a power hitherto unknown; Asia evangelized, not by a few poor isolated priests, but with the help of an authority greater than that of Charlemagne ; and lastly, the Slavonic race brought into unity of faith and aspirations, for its own greater glory. This transformation will be the greatest event of the century that shall see its accomplishment; it will change the face of the world.

Is there any foundation for such hopes? Come what may, St. Josaphat will always be the patron and model of future apostles of the Union in Russia, and in the whole Graeco-Slavonic world. By his birth, education, and studies, by the bent of his piety and all his habits of life, he resembled far more the Russian monks of the present day, than the Latin prelates of his own time. He always desired the ancient Liturgy of his Church to be preserved entire; and even to his last breath he carried it out lovingly, without the least alteration or diminution, just as the first apostles of the Christian faith had brought it from Constantinople to Kiev. May prejudices born of ignorance be obliterated; and then, despised though his name now is in Russia, St. Josaphat will no sooner be known, than he will be loved and invoked by the Russians themselves.

Our Grieco-Slavonian brethren cannot much longer turn a deaf ear to the invitations of the Sovereign Pontiff. Let us hope, then, that the day will come, and that before very long, when the wall of separation will crumble away for ever, and the same hymn of thanksgiving will echo at once under the dome of St. Peter’s and the cupolas of Kiev and of St. Petersburg.[1]

We cannot presume to ad anything to these authoritative words; the details will be filled up by the liturgical Legend.

Josaphat Kuncewitius nobilibus et catholicis parentibus Vladimirae in Volhinia natus, cum puerulus matrem de Christi passione loquentem audiret, jaulo a latere imaginis Jesu crucifixi immisso, vulnus in corde suscepit. Dei amore incensus, adeo orationi aliisque piis operibus instare coepit, ut provectioribus adolescentibus exemplo et admirationi esset. Vicennis inter claustrales sancti Basilii alumnos monasticam regularm professus, mirum quos in evangelica perfectione progressus fecerit. Nudis pedibus, frigidissima licet saeviente regionis hieme, incedebat: carnes numquam, vinum nonnisi ex obedientia adhibuit, asperrimoque cilicio ad obitum usque corpus affixit. Castitatis florem, quem ab abdolescentia Virgini Deiparae voverat, inviolatum servavit. Virtutis doctrinaeque ejus brevi sic fama percrebuit, ut quamvia junior. Bytenii monasterio praefectus sit; mox Viluensis archimandrita, ac demum archiepiscopus Polocensis, invitus quidem, sed Catholicis gestientibus, fuerit renuntiatus.

Hac dignitate auctus, nihil de priori vivendi ratione remittens, nonnisi divinum cultum et creditarum sibi ovium salutem cordi habuit. Catholicae unitatis ac veritatis strenuus propugnator, totis viribus adlaboravit ut schismaticos haereticosque ad communionem cum beati Petri sede reduceret. Summum Pontificem ejusque potestatis plenitudinem ab impudentissimis impiorum calumniss et erroribus, qua concionibus, qua scriptis pietate ac doctrina refertis defendere numquam destitit. Episcopalem jurisdictionem et Ecclesiae bona a laicis usurpata vindicavit. Incredible dictu est quot haereticos in sinum matris Ecclesiae revocaverit. Unionis vero Graecae Ecclesiae cum Latina Josaphatum promotorem exstitisae praeclarissimum, etiam pontificia oracula diserta testantur. Ad haec, et templi Dei decori instaurando, et sacrarum virginum exstruendis aedibus, aliisque piis operibus juvandis, mensae suae proventus ultro erogavit. In pauperes adeo effusus, ut cum olim inopiae cujusdam viduae sublevandae nihil occurreret, episcopale pallium, seu Omophorion, oppignorari jusserit.

Tot catholicae fidei incrementa perditissimorum hominum adeo excitaverunt odia, ut, conspiratione inita, Christi athletam ad nocem quaererent; quam sibi imminere ipse in suo ad populum sermone praenuntiavit. Cum itaque Vitepacuum pastoralis visitationis gratia profectus esset, illi archiepiscopales invadunt aedes; obvios quosque feriunt ac caedunt. Tum vir mitissimus quaerentibus sponte occurrit, eosque amice compellans, Filioli, in quit, quare familiares meos caeditis? Si quid contra me habetis, ecce adsum. Hinc impetu facto, eum verberibus contundunt telis confodiunt, ac demum immani securi necatum, in flumen projiciunt; die duodecima novembris anni sexcentesimi vicesimi tertii supra millesimum, aetatis ejus quadragesimi tertii. Corporus mirabili luce circumfusum, ex imo fluminis alveo elatum est. sanguis Martyris parricidis ipsis in primis profuit, qui fere omnes capitis damnati, ejurato schismate suum scelus detestati sunt. Cum tantus Praesul plurimis post obitum coruscaret miraculis, eum Urbanus octavus Pontifex Maximus Beatorum honoribus dcoravit. Pius nonus tertio calendas julias anni millesimi octingentesimi sexage simi septimi, cum saecularia Apostolorum Principum solemnia celebrarentur, coram Patrum Cardinalium senatu, simulque astintibus fere quingentis, Patriarchis, Metropolitis et Episcopis cujuscumque ritus, qui ex toto terrarum orbe convenerant, hunc ecclesiasticae unitatis assertorem, primum ex orientalibus, solemni ritu in Vaticana Basilica Sanctorum ordini accensuit. Cujus Officium ac Missam Leo decimus tertius Summus Pontifex ad universam extendit Ecclesiam.
Josaphat Kuncewicz was born of noble Catholic parents at Vladimir in Volhynia. When a child, as he was listening to his mother telling him about the Passion of Christ, a dart issued from the image of Jesus crucified and wounded him in the heart. Set on fire with the love of God, he began to devote himself with such zeal to prayer and other works of piety, that he was the admiration and the model of his older companions. At the age of twenty he became a monk under the Rule of St. Basil, and made won­derful progress in evangelical perfection. He went barefoot even in the severe winter of that country; he never ate meat, drank wine only when obliged by obedience, and wore a rough hair-shirt until his death. The flower of his chastity, which he had vowed in early youth to the Virgin Mother of God, he preserved unspotted. He soon became so renowned for virtue and learning, that in spite of his youth he was made superior of the monastery of Byten ; soon afterwards he became lastly, much against his will, but to the great joy of Catholics, he was chosen Archbishop of Polock.

In this dignity he relaxed nothing of his former manner of life; and had nothing so much at heart as the divine service and the salvation of the sheep entrusted to him. He energetically defended Catholic faith and unity, and laboured to the utmost of his power to bring back schismatics and heretics to commu­nion with the See of blessed Peter. The Sovereign Pontiff and the plenitude of his power he never ceased to defend, both by preaching, and by writings full of piety and learning, against the most shameless calumnies and errors of the wicked. He vindicated episcopal rights, and restored ecclesiastical possessions which had been seized by laymen. Incredible was the number of heretics he won back to the bosom of Mother Church; and the words of the Popes bear witness how greatly he promoted the union of the Greek and Latin churches. His revenues were entirely expended in restoring the beauty of God's house, in building dwellings for conse­crated virgins, and in other pious works. So bountiful was he to the poor, that, on one occasion having nothing wherewith to supply the needs of a certain widow, he ordered his Omophorion or episcopal pallium to be pawned.

The great progress made by the Catholic faith so stirred up the hatred of wicked men against the soldier of Christ, that they determined to put him to death. He knew what was threatening him; and foretold it when preaching to the people. As he was making his pastoral visitation at Vitebsk, the murderers broke into his house, striking and wounding all whom they found. Josaphat meekly went to meet them, and accosted them kindly, saying: My little children, why do you strike my servants? If you have any complaint against me, here I am. Hereupon they rushed on him, overwhelmed him with blows, pierced him with their spears, and at length despatched him with an axe and threw his body into the river. This took place on the twelfth of November 1623, in the forty-third year of his age. His body surrounded with a miraculous light was rescued from the waters. The martyr's blood won a blessing first of all for his murderers; for, being condemned to death, they nearly all abjured their schism and repented of their crime. As the death of this great bishop was followed by many miracles, Pope Urban VIII. granted him the honours of beatification. On the third of the Calends of July, 1867, when celebrating the centenary of the Princes of the Apostles, Pius IX. in the Vatican basilica, in presence of the College of Cardinals, and of about five hundred Patriarchs, Metropolitans, and Bishops of every rite, assembled from all parts of the world, solemnly enrolled among the Saints this great defender of the Church's unity, who was the first Oriental to be thus honoured. Pope Leo XIII. extended his Mass and Office to the universal Church.

“Stir up, O Lord, we beseech thee, in thy Church the Spirit wherewith the blessed Josaphat thy Martyr and Pontiff was filled.”[2]

Thus prays our Mother to-day ; and the Gospel likewise points to her desire of obtaining pastors like to thee, O holy Bishop! The sacred text speaks of the false shepherd, who flees at first sight of the wolf; but the Homily, which explains it in the Night Office, brands equally with the title of hireling the keeper who, though he does not flee, suffers the enemy unresisted to work havoc in the fold. May the divine Shepherd, whom thou didst imitate unto the end, even unto laying down thy life for the sheep, live again in all those whom he calls, like Peter, to exercise a greater love.

Apostle of unity, second the designs of the Sovereign Pontiff, calling back his scattered sheep to the one fold. The Guardian Angels of the Slavonic race applauded thy combats: thy blood ought to produce other heroes; the graces won by the shedding of that blood still uphold the admirable population of the humble and the poor of Ruthenia, in resisting the all-powerful schism; while, on the confines of that land of martyrs, hope springs up anew with the revival of the great Basilian Order, of whioh thou wast the glory. May these graces overflow upon the children of the persecutors; may the present state of peace be the prelude to a full development of the light, and lead them back, in their turn, to that Rome whioh holds for them the promises both of time and of eternity.

[1] R. R.. Dom A. Guepin, Un apôtre de l’union des Eglises au 17o siecle, saint Josaphat; Preface, passim.
[2] Collect of the Feast.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE school which is founded upon the rule of the great Patriarch of the Monks of the West, began with St. Gregory the Great. Such was the independent action of the Holy Spirit who guided it, that in it women have prophesied as well as men. It is enough to mention St. Hildegarde and St. Gertrude, with whom we may fitly associate St. Mechtilde and St. Frances of Rome. Anyone who has tried modern methods will find, on making acquaintance with these ancient writers, that he is breathing another atmosphere, and is urged onward by a gentle authority which is never felt, but which allows no rest. He will not find that subtlety, that keen and learned analysis, he has met with elsewhere, and which rather weary than aid the soul.

The pious and learned Father Faber has brought out, with his characteristic sagacity, the advantages of that form of spirituality whioh gives the soul breadth and liberty, and so produces in many persons effects which some modern methods fail of producing: “No one,” says he, “can be at all acquainted with the old-fashioned Benedictine school of spiritual writers, without perceiving and admiring the beautiful liberty of spirit which pervades and possesses their whole mind. It is just what we should expect from an order of such matured traditions. St. Gertrude is a fair specimen of them. She is thoroughly Benedictine... A spirit of breadth, a spirit of liberty, that is the Catholic spirit; and it was eminently the badge of the old Benedictine ascetics. Modern writers for the most part have tightened things, and have lost by it instead of gaining. By frightening people, they have lessened devotion in extent; and by overstraining it, they have lowered it in degree.”[1]

In any ease, there are many ways, and every way is good which brings men back to God by a thorough conversion of heart. But we are sure that those who may be led to commit themselves to the guidance of a saint of the old school will not lose their time; and that if they meet with less philosophy and less psychology on their way, they will be subdued by the simplicity and authority of her language, and be moved and melted as they contrast their own souls with that of their saintly guide. And this blessed revolution will take place in almost every soul that follows St. Gertrude in the week of Exercises she proposes to them, if only they really desire to draw yet more closely the ties which unite them to God, if their intention be fixed aright, and their souls truly recollected in God. We may almost venture to assure such persons that they will come forth from these Exercises transformed in their whole being. They will return to them again and again with ever increasing pleasure; for they will have no discouraging memory of fatigue, nor of the slightest constraint laid upon their liberty of spirit. They will feel confounded, indeed, to be admitted so near the inmost heart of so great a saint; but they will also feel that they have been created for the same end as that saint, and that they must bestir themselves, and quit all easy, dangerous ways, which lead to perdition.

And if we be asked whence comes that wonderful influence which our Saint exercises over all who listen to her, our answer would be: from her surpassing holiness. She does not prove the possibility of spiritual movement and advance; she moves and advances. A blessed soul, sent down from heaven to dwell awhile with men, and speaking the language of the heavenly country in this land of exile, would doubtless, utterly transform those who heard its speech. Now St. Gertrude was admitted to such familiar converse with the Son of God, that her words have just the accent of such a soul; and this is why they have been and are like winged arrows, which pierce and wound all within their range. The understanding is enlarged and enlightened by her pure and elevated doctrine, and yet St. Gertrude never lectures or preaches; the heart is touched and melted, and yet St. Gertrude speaks only to God; the soul judges itself, condemns itself, renews itself by compunction, and yet St. Gertrude has made no effort to move or convict it.

And if we ask what is the source of the special blessing attached to the language of St. Gertrude, the answer is, that it blesses because it is so impregnated with the divine Gertrude received from her heavenly Spouse, Word, not only with the revelations which St. but with the sacred Scriptures and the liturgy of the Church. This holy daughter of the cloister drank in light and life day by day from the sources of all true contemplation, from the very fountain of living waters which gushes forth from the psalms and the inspired words of the divine Office. Her every sentence shows how exclusively her soul was nourished with this heavenly food. She so lived into the liturgy of the Church that we continually find in her revelations that the Saviour discloses to her the mysteries of heaven, and the Mother of God and the saints hold converse with her on some Antiphon, or Response, or Introit, which the Saint is singing with delight, and of which she is striving to feel all the force and the sweetness.

Hence that unceasing flow of unaffected poetry which seems to have become quite natural to her, and that hallowed enthusiasm which raises the lite­rary beauty of her writings almost to the height of mystical inspiration. This child of the thirteenth century, buried in a monastery of Suabia, preceded Dante in the paths of spiritual poetry. Sometimes her soul breaks forth into tender and touching elegy; sometimes the fire which consumes her bursts forth in transports of fervour; sometimes her feelings clothe themselves quite instinctively in a dramatic form; sometimes she stops short in her sublimed flights, and she who almost rivals the seraphim, descends to earth, but only to prepare herself for a still higher flight. It is as though there had been an unending struggle between the humility which held her prostrate in the dust and the aspirations of her soul, panting after Jesus, who was drawing her, and who had lavished on her such exceeding love.

In our opinion the writings of St. Gertrude lose nothing of their indescribable beauty, even when placed beside those of St. Teresa. Nay, we think that the saint of Germany is not unfrequently superior to her sister of Spain. The latter, full of impetuous ardour, has not, it is true, the tinge of pensive melancholy which colours the writings of the former; but St. Gertrude knew Latin so well, and was so profoundly versed in the letter and the spirit of the holy Scriptures, that we do not hesitate to pronounce her style superior in richness and in force to that of St. Teresa.

Still we pray the reader not to be frightened at the thought of being placed under the guidance of a seraph, when his conscience tells him that he has still so much to do in the purgative way, before he can venture to enter upon paths which may never open to him on earth Let him simply listen to St. Gertrude, let him fix his eye upon her, and have faith in the end she proposes to him. When the holy Church puts in our mouths the language of the Psalms, she knows full well that that language is often far beyond the feelings of our soul; but if we wish to bring ourselves up to the level of these divine hymns, our best method is certainly to repeat them frequently in faith and humility, and await the transformation they will assuredly effect. St. Gertrude detaches us gently from ourselves, and brings us to Jesus by going before us herself, and by drawing us after her, though at a great distance. She goes straight to the heart of her divine Spouse, and she might well do so; but will it not be an inestimable blessing if she bring us to his feet like Magdalen, penitent and transformed by love?

Even when she writes for her sisters alone, let us not suppose that these exquisite pages are useless to those of us who are living in the midst of the world. The religious life, when expounded by such an interpreter, is a spectacle as instructive as it is striking. Need we say that the practice of the precepts of the Gospel becomes more easy to those who have well pondered and admired the practice of its counsels? What is the Imitation of Christ but a book written by a monk for the use of monks; and yet who is not familiar with its teaching? How many seculars delight in the writings of St. Teresa; and yet the holy Carmelitess makes the religious life the one theme of her teaching.

We will not now speak of her wonderful style of expression. We are so unused to the decided and elevated language of the ages of faith, that some readers, accustomed to modern books alone, may be startled, and even pained, by St. Gertrude. But what is the remedy for this inconvenience? If we have unlearned the language of that antique piety which fashioned saints, surely our best way is to learn it again as soon as we can ; and St. Gertrude will give us wonderful help in doing so.

The list of the devoted admirers of her writings would be long and imposing. But there is an authority far higher still — that of the Church herself. That mother of the faithful, ever guided by the Holy Ghost, has in her holy liturgy set her seal upon St. Gertrude. The Saint herself, and the spirit which animated her, are there forever recommended and glorified in the eyes of all Christians, in virtue of the solemn judgment contained in the Office of her festival.[2]

The life of Gertrude the Great, as she has merited to be distinguished among the Saints of the same name, was humble and obscure. (1256-1302). At five years of age she entered the Abbey of Helfta near Eisleben, and there she remained hidden in the secret of God's face.[3] For several centuries, by an error which has also found its way into the Legend of the feast, she was confounded with the Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn, who governed the monastery during our Saint's life-time, and was herself favoured with divine gifts. It was not until Gertrude's sublime Revelations, contained in the five books of the Legatus of divine pietatis, or Legate of divine love, had at length been published, that in 1677 her name was inscribed in the Roman Martyrology. In the following century (1738) Clement XII. ordered her feast to be celebrated, as a Double, by the whole Church. The West Indies chose her as patroness; and a town in New Mexico bears her name.

Hymn

Gertrudis, arca Numinus,
Sponsoque juncta virginum,
Da nuptialis pangere
Castos amores foederis.

Quadrima Christo nubilis
In claustra prompe convolas;
Spretoque nutricis sinu,
Sponsi requiries oscula.

Candentia instar lilii
Odore muloes sidera;
Et virginali coelitum
Regem decore pertrahis.

Qui vivit in sinu Patris
Cinctas perenni gloria,
Amanter, ut sponsus, tua
Recumbit inter ubera.

Amore Christum vulneras;
Hie te vicissim vulnerat,
Tuoque cordi propria
Inurit alte stigmata.

O singularis charitas,
O mira commutatio;
Hic corde respirat tuo:
Tu vivis hujus spiritu.

To, sponse Jesu, virginum
Beata laudent agmina;
Patri, simul Paraclito,
Par sit per aevum gloria.

Amen.
O Gertrude, shrine of the Divinity,
united to the Spouse of virgins;
grant us to celebrate
the chaste love of thy espousals.

Scarcely hadst thou completed thy fourth year
when thou vast espoused to Christ, and didst flee to the shelter of the cloister.
Thou didst put from thee the breast of thy nurse,
and seek the divine kiss of thy Spouse.

Like a fair spotless lily thou dost give forth
a perfume which gladdens heaven;
and the splendour of thy virgin beauty
draweth to thee the King of Saints.

He who dwelleth
in the bosom of the Father,
surrounded with everlasting glory,
deigns to take his repose in thy love.

Thou woundest Jesus with love;
and he woundeth thee in return,
and deeply graveth on thy heart
the marks of his sacred Passion.

O peerless love, O wondrous interchange;
he it is who breatheth in thy heart,
and thy life hangeth
on the breath of his mouth.

Let the blessed choirs of virgins sing thy praise,
O Jesus, Spouse of virgins;
and equal glory be ascribed
to Father and to Paraclete.

Amen.

Antiphon

O dignissima Christi sonsa, quam lux prophetiae illustravit, zelus apostolicus inflammavit, laurea virginum coronavit, divini amoria incendium consummavit.
O most worthy spouse of Christ, on whom the prophetic light hath shone, whose heart an apostolic zeal inflamed, whose head the wreath of virgins hath crowned, whom the glowing fire of divine love consumed.

Prayer

Deus, qui in purissimo corde beatae Gertrudis virginis tuae jucundam tibi habitationem praeparasti; ejus meritis et intercessione cordis nostri maculas clementer absterge; ut digna divinae majestatis tuae habitatio effici mereatur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
O God, who hast prepared for thyself a dwelling-place of delights in the most pure heart of the blessed virgin Gertrude; deign, we beseech thee, through her merits and inter­cession, to wipe away all stains from our hearts, that they may become meet abodes of thy divine majesty. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O revealer of the Sacred Heart, what better prayer could we offer in thine honour than to say with thee to the Son of the Blessed Virgin:

O thou my soul's calm untroubled Light! O dawn of morning, soft-gleaming with thy beauteous light, become in me the perfect day. O my Love, who dost not only enlighten but deify, come unto me in all thy might; come and gently melt my whole being. May all that is of me be destroyed utterly; may I wholly pass into thee, so that I may no more find myself in time, but may be already and most intimately united to thee for all eternity.

Thou hast first loved me; it is thou who hast chosen me, and not I who have first chosen thee. Thou art he who of his own accord runneth towards his thirsting creature; and on thy kingly brow gleams the fair splendour of the everlasting light. Show me thy countenance, and let me gaze upon thy beauty. How mild and full of charms is that face, all radiant with the rosy light of the dawn of the divine Sun! How can the spark live and glow far from the fire that gave it being? Or how can the drop of water abide far from the spring from whence it was taken? O compassionate Love, why hast thou loved a creature so defiled and so covered with shame, but that thou hast willed to render it all fair in thee? O thou delicate flower of the Virgin Mary, thy goodness and thy tender mercy have won and ravished my heart. O Love, my glorious noontide, to take my rest in thee, gladly would I die a thousand deaths.

O Charity, O Love, at the hour of my death thou wilt sustain me with thy words, more gladdening far than choicest wine. Thou wilt then be my way, my unobstructed way, that I may wander no more nor stray. Thou wilt aid me then, O love, thou queen of heaven; thou wilt clear my way before me to those fair and fertile pastures hidden in the divine wilderness, and my soul shall be inebriate with bliss; for there shall I see the fake of the Lamb, my Spouse and my God. O Love, who art God, thou art my best beloved possession. Without thee neither earth nor heaven could excite in me one hope, nor draw forth one desire: vouchsafe to effect and perfect within me that union which thou thyself desirest: may it be the end, the crown, and consum­mation of my being. In the countenance of my God thy light beameth soft and fair as the evening star. O thou fair and solemn Evening, let me see thy ray when my eye shall close in death.

O Love, thou much-loved Evening-tide, at that dread moment let the sacred flame, which burneth evermore in thy divine essence, consume all the stains of my mortal life. O thou my calm and peaceful Evening, when the evening-tide of my life shall come, give me to sleep in thee in tranquil sleep, and to taste that blissful rest which thou hast prepared in thyself for them that love thee. With thy serene, enchanting look vouchsafe to order all things and prepare all things for my everlasting espousal. O Love, be thou unto me an eventide so bright and calm, that my ravished soul may bid a loving farewell to its body, and return to God who gave it, and rest in peace beneath thy beloved shadow![4]


[1] All for Jesus.
[2] Dom Gueranger, Exercises of St. Gertrude, (1865) Preface.
[3] Ps. xxx.21.
[4] From the 5th Exercise. To enkindle in the soul the love of God.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

MOSES instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, mighty in his words and in his deeds,[1] retired into the desert: Gregory, adorned with the best gifts of birth and nature, brilliant in rhetoric, rich in every science, hid himself from men in the flower of his youth, and hastened to offer to God in solitude the holocaust best pleasing to the Lord. Each was the hope of his race; yet each turned away to lose himself in the contemplation of heavenly mysteries. Meanwhile, the yoke of Pharaoh lay heavy upon Israel; meanwhile, souls were perishing, whom one of Gregory's burning words might have snatched from the empire of idolatry: was not such flight, then, desertion?

Is it for man to proclaim himself a saviour, when Jesus did not arrogate that title to himself? And when evil was rife all around, did the Carpenter of Nazareth do wrong to remain in the shade for thirty years previous to his short period of ministry? O ye teachers of our excited, fevered times, who dream of a new hierarchy among the virtues, and understand divine charity far otherwise than did our fathers: not those are of the race of Israel's saviours whose ideas concerning social good differ from those of the world's Redeemer.

Gregory, like Moses, was of that blessed race. His friends and enemies agreed in saying that he resembled the Hebrew legislator in the excellence of his virtue, and in the splendour of the prodigies wrought by his word.[2] Both were actuated by the desire of knowing God, and manifesting him to the men they were called to lead: the fulness of doctrine is the gift most necessary to the guides of the people, and their want of it the greatest penury. I am who am was the answer to Moses' enquiry; and this sublime formula, confided to him from the midst of the burning bush, authenticated the mission which called him forth from the desert. When Gregory was commanded by God to go out into the world, the blessed Virgin, of whom the burning bush was a figure, appeared before his dazzled eyes in the dark night when he was praying for light. And St. John, following the Mother of God, let fall from his lips this other formula completing the former for the disciples of the Law of love:

One only God, Father of the living Word, of that substantial and mighty Wisdom who is the eternal expression of himself; the perfect principle of the only and perfect Son begotten by him. One only Lord, sole-begotten of the Only one; God of God, efficacious Word, Wisdom embracing and containing the world, creative power of all creation, true Son of a true Father. One only Holy Spirit, holding of God his divine existence, revealed to men by the Son of whom he is the perfect likeness, life and life-giving, holy and imparting holiness. The perfect Trinity, immutable, inseparable in glory, in eternity, in dominion.[3]

This was the message our Saint was to communicate to his country, the creed that was to bear his name in the Church. By his faith in the most holy Trinity he was to remove mountains, and set limits to the waves, to drive out Satan, and eradicate infidelity from Pontus. When, towards the year 240, Gregory, then bishop, was on his way to Neocaesarea, he saw on all sides the temples of idols, and stopped for the night at a famous sanctuary. In the morning all the gods had taken to flight and refused to come back; but the Saint gave to the priest of the oracle a note thus worded: Gregory to Satan: return. A more bitter defeat awaited the demons; forced to stay their precipitate retreat, they were compelled to witness the ruin of their empire over the souls they had abused. The priest was the first to give himself up to the Bishop, and became his deacon ; and soon upon the ruins of the temples everywhere overthrown arose the Church of Christ, the only God.

Happy was that Church, so firmly founded that heresy was powerless against it in the following century, when so many others bowed before the storm of Arianism. On the testimony of St. Basil, the successors of St. Gregory, themselves eminent men, were as an adornment of precious stones, a crown of stars, to the Church of Neocaesarea. Now all these illustrious Pontiffs, says he, considered it an honour to keep up the memory of their great predecessor; they would never suffer that any act, word, or movement other than his, in performing the sacred rites, should prevail over the traditions he had left.[4]

When Clement XII., as we have seen, established in the entire Church the feast of St. Gertrude the Great, he at first decreed that it should be kept on this day, on which it is still celebrated by the Order of St. Benedict. But as the 17th November had been for long centuries assigned to St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, it seemed unfitting, said Benedict XIV. that he who moved mountains should himself be moved from his place by the holy virgin. Accordingly in 1739, the year following its institution, the feast of St. Gertrude was fixed on the fifteenth of this month.[5]

Let us read the brief account of the great Thaumaturgus given in the holy Liturty.

Gregorius Neocaesareae Ponti episcopus sanctitate doctrinaque illustris, signis vero ac miraculis multo illustrior, quorum multitudine atque praestantis Thaumaturgus appelatus est, et sancti Basilii testimonio cum Moyse, Prophetis et Apostolis comparatus; montem, qui ecclesiae aedificationem impediebat, oratione alio transtulit. Item paludem, inter fratres causam discordiarum, exsiccavit. Lycum fluvium, perniciose agros unundantem defixo ad ripam, quo sustentabutur, baculo, qui statim virentem crevit in arborem, coercuit, ut postea ultra eum terminum non effluxerit.

Saepissime daemones ex idolorum simulcris, atque ex hominum corporibus ejecit, multaque alia mirabiliter efficit, quibus innumerabiles homines traduxit ad Jesu Christi fidem, cum etiam propetico spiritu futura praediceret. Qui migraturus e vita, cum quaesisset quot in civitate Neocaesariensi reliqui esset tantum esse septemdecim; Deo gratias agens, Totidem inquit, erant fideles, cum coepi episcopatum. Plura scripsit, quibus etiam non solum miraculis, Dei Ecclesiam illustravit.
Gregory, bishop of Neocaesarea in Pontus, was illustrious for his holiness and learning, but still more for his miracles, which were so startling and so numerous that he was called the Thaumaturgus; and, according to St. Basil, he was considered comparable to Moses, the Pro­phets, and the Apostles. By his prayer he removed a mountain, which was an obstacle to the building of a church. He also dried up a lake which was a cause of dissension be­tween brothers. The river Lycus, which was inundating and devastating the fields, he restrained by fixing in the bank his stick which immediately grew into a green tree, and served as a limit which the river henceforth never overpassed.

He frequently expelled the devils from idols and from men's bodies, and worked many other miracles, by means of which he led multitudes to the faith of Christ. He also foretold future events by the spirit of prophecy. When he was dying, he asked how many infidels remained in the city of Neocaesarea; and on being informed that there were only seventeen, he gave thanks to God, and said: When I was made bishop, there were but seventeen believers. He wrote several works, by which, as well as by his miracles, he adorned the Church of God.

O holy Pontiff, thy faith, removing mountains and commanding the waves, was a justification of our Lord's promise. Teach us in our turn to do honour to the Gospel, by never doubting of our Lord's word and of the help he promises us against Satan, whom the Church points out to us today as the proud mountain that is to be cast into the sea;[6] and also against the overflowing tide of our passions, and the enticements of the world, of which thy writings teach us the vanity.[7] After the victory let us not forget that the succour came to us from heaven; preserve us from ingratitude, which thou didst so detest. We still possess the touching eulogy dictated by thy gratitude towards the illustrious master, to whose teachings, under God, thou didst owe the glorious strength and splendour of thy faith. Here is a precious and practical lesson for all: while praising divine Providence in the man who was his predestined instrument in thy regard, thou didst not forget the homage due to the Angel of God, who had preserved thee from falling into the abyss, during the darkness of infidelity in which thy first years were spent; that heavenly Guardian who, ever watchful in his active, enlightened, persevering devotedness, supplies for our insufficiencies, nourishes and instructs us, leads us by the hand, and secretly arranges for our souls those blessed circumstances and occasions, which transform our life and secure eternal happiness.[8]

How can wo sinful creatures sufficiently thank the Author of all good, the infinite Being who gives to man both the holy Angels and the visible intermediaries of divine grace on earth? But let us take courage, for we have as our Head his own Son, his Word who saved our souls, and who rules the universe. He alone, and that without effort, can render to his Father unceasing, eternal thanksgiving, for himself and for us all, without risk of not knowing or of forgetting the least subject of gratitude, without fear of any imperfection in the manner or the magnitude of his praise. To him, then, to the divine Word, we commit as thou didst, O Gregory, the care of perfecting the expression of our gratitude for the unspeakable kindness of our heavenly Father; for the Word is to us, as to thee, the only channel of piety, gratitude, and love.[9] May he give us in these days pastors who will imitate thy works; and may he raise up again the ancient churches of the East, which once received such light from thee!


[1] Acts vii. 22.
[2] Basil. De Spiritu Sancto. xxix.
[3] Greg. Nyss. Vita Greg. Thaumaturg.
[4] Basil. De Spiritu Sancto xxix.
[5] Benedict xiv. De canonizat. SS. Lib. i. cap. xli. 40, 41.
[6] Homil. Ad Matut. Ex Beda in Marc.
[7] Greg. Thaumat. Metaphrastis in Ecclesiasten Salomonis.
[8] In Origeuem oration panegyrica.
[9] Ibid.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

QUOD DUCE TE MUNDUS SURREXIT IN ASTRA TRIUMPHANS, HANC CONSTANTINUS VICTOR TIBI CONDIDIT AULAM.

Because the world under thy conduct has risen triumphant to the very heavens, Constantine the conqueror has built this temple in thy honour. This inscription stood in letters of gold over the triumphal arch in the ancient Vatican Basilica.[1] Never did the Roman genius frame a more magnificent utterance in so few words; never did the greatness of Simon BarJona appear to such advantage on the seven hills. In 1506 the great arch, that had looked down upon twelve centuries of prostrate pilgrims, fell from old age, and the beautiful inscription perished. But Michael Angelo's lofty dome points out to the city and the world the spot where sleeps the Galilaean fisherman, the successor of the Caesars, the Vicar of Christ, the ruler of the destinies of Rome.

The second glory of the eternal City is the tomb of St. Paul on the Ostian Way. Unlike that of St. Peter, which lies deep down in the Vatican crypt, this tomb is raised to the level of the floor by massive masonry, on which rests the great sarcophagus. This circumstance was ascertained in 1841, when the papal altar was reconstructed. It was evidently to obviate the consequences of inundations from the Tiber, that the sarcophagus had thus been raised above the place where Lucina had first laid it.[2] The pilgrim certainly finds nothing to blame in this arrangement, when, on looking through the small opening in the centre of the altar, his respectful glance falls upon the marble of the tomb, and he reads these imposing words traced in large characters of Constantine's period: PAULO APOSTOLO ET MARTYRI. To Paul Apostle and Martyr.[3]

Thus Christian Rome is protected on the North and South by these two citadels. Let us enter into the sentiments of our fathers, when they said of this privileged city: “Peter the door-keeper, sets his holy dwelling at the entrance: who can deny that this city is like heaven? At the other extremity, Paul from his temple guards the walls; Rome lies between the two: here then God dwelleth.”[4]

The present feast therefore deserves to be more than a local solemnity; its extension to the universal Church is a subject for the world's gratitude. Thanks to this feast, we can all make together in spirit today the pilgrimage ad limina Apostolorum,[5] which our ancestors performed with such fatigue and danger, yet never thought they purchased too dearly its holy joys and blessings. “Heavenly mountains, glittering heights of the new Sion! There are the gates of our true country, the two lights of the immense world. There Paul's voice is heard like thunder; there Peter withholds or hurls the bolt. The former opens the hearts of men, the latter opens heaven. Peter is the foundation-stone, Paul the architect of the temple where stands the altar by which God is propitiated. Both together form a single fountain, which pours " out its healing and refreshing waters.”[6]

In the following Lessons the Roman Church gives us her traditions concerning the two basilicas whose dedication feast we are celebrating.

Ex locis sacris quae clim apud Christianos venerationem habuerunt, illa celeberrima et frequentissima fuerunt, in quibus condita sanctorum corpora, vel aliquod Martyrum vestigium aut monumentum esset. In quorum numero sanctorum locorum, in primis semper fuit insignis es Vaticani pars, quam, sancti Petri Confessionem appellabant. Nam eo Christiani ex omnibus orbus terrae partibus, tamquam ad fidei petram et Ecclesiae fundamentum convenientes, locum Principis Apostolorum sepulchro consecratum, summa religione ac pietate venerabantur.

Illuc Constintinus Magnus imperator octavo die post susceptum baptismum venit, depositoque diademate, et humi jacens, vim lacrimarum profudit: mox sumpto ligone ac bidente terram eruit: indeque duodedim terrae cophinis, honoris causa duodecim Apostolorum, ablatis, ac loco basilicae Principis Apostolorum designate, ecclesiam aedificavit. Quam sanctus Silvester Papa decimo quarto calendas decembris, eo modo quo Lateranensem ecclesiam quinto idus novembris consecraverat, dedicavit: et in ea altare lapideum chrismate delibutum erexit; atque ex eo tempore sancivit, ne deinceps altaria nisi ex lapide fierent. Idem beatus Silvester basilicam sancti Pauli Apostoli in via Ostiensi ab eodem Constantino imperatore magnificentissime aedificatem dedicavit. Quas basilicas idem imperator multis praediis attributis locupletavit, ac muneribus amplissimis exornavit.

Porro Vaticanam basilicam vetustate jampridem collabentem, ac propterea multorum Pontificum pietate latius ac magnificentius a fundamentis erectam, Urbanus Octavus hac eadem recurrente die anni milesimi sexcentesimi vigesimi sexti, solemni ritu consecravit. Basilicam vero Ostiensem, quum dira incendi vis, anno millesimo octingentesimo vigesimo tertio penitus consumpsisset, indefessa quatuor Pontificum cura splendidius quam antea erectam, et ab interitu veluti vindicatam. Pius Nonus auspicatissimam nactus occasionem qua dogma de Immaculata beatae Mariae Virginis Conceptione nuper ab ipso proclamatum, in gentem cardinalium et episcoporum numerum ex dissitis etiam catholici orbis regionibus Roman attraxerat, die decima decembris anni millesimi octingentesimi quinquagesimi quarti, tanta circumdatus purpuratorum patrum et antistitum corona solemniter dedicavit, ejusque celebritatis memoriam hac die recolendam decrevit.
Among the holy places ve­nerated of old by the Christians, those were the most honoured and most frequented in which the bodies of the Saints were preserved, or some relic or memorial of the Martyrs. Chief among these holy places has ever been that part of the Vatican hill which was called the Confession of St. Peter. Christians from all parts of the world flocked thither, as to the rock of the faith and the foundation of the Church, and honoured with the greatest reverence and piety the spot hallowed by the sepulchre of the prince of the Apostles.

Hither on the octave day of his baptism, came the emperor Constantine the Great; and taking off his diadem, he prostrated on the ground with many tears. Then taking a hoe and mattock he broke up the earth, of which twelve basketfuls were taken away in honour of the twelve Apostles; and on the site thus marked out, he built the basilica of the Prince of the Apostles. Pope St. Sylvester dedicated it on the fourteenth of the Calens of December, just as he had consecrated the Lateran church on the fifth of the Ides of November. He erected in it a stone altar which he anointed with chrism, and decreed that thencefor­ward all altars should be made of stone. The same blessed Sylvester dedicated the basilica of St. Paul the Apostle on the Ostian Way, also magni­ficently built by the emperor Constantine, who enriched both basilicas with many estates and rich gifts and ornaments.

The Vatican basilica, however, began to decay through age; and was rebuilt from its foundations on a more extensive and magnificent scale, through the piety of several Pontiffs. It was solemnly dedicated by Urban VIII., on this day in the year 1626. In the year 1823 the Ostian basilica was burnt to the ground; but the ruins were repaired and it was rebuilt more splendidly than before, through the unwearied exertions of four Popes. Pius IX., seizing the auspicious occasion, when his Definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the blessed Virgin Mary had drawn an immense number of Cardinals and Bishops even from distant parts of the Catholic world to Rome, solemnly dedicated this basilica on the tenth of December 1854, assisted and surrounded by this noble gathering of prelates; and he decreed that the anniversary commemoration should be celebrated on this day.

In honour of the holy Apostles we gladly borrow from the libraries of our Anglican brethren the following Sequence, sung four centuries ago by the venerable church of York.

Sequence

In sollemni memoria
Apostolorum principis,
Piae laudis harmonia
Laetis resonet canticis.

Veneremur simul pari
Dignum lade venerari apostolum gentium;
Ut quos amor vita junxit,
Nec mors ipsa post disjunxit jungat et praeconium.

Horum laus est quod destructa
Romanae potentiae idolatria,
Jam fundata et firmata
Ibidem orbem gubernat Ecclesia.

Fide Petri fundamentum
Pauli tenet firmamentum dogmate Ecclesia;
Clavis huic potentiae,
Illi cessit scientiae juncta ad officia.

Petro namque sub pastore
Gratulatur et rectore inter fluctus saeculi;
Pauli viget ex doctrina,
Vitae sumpta medicina grex fidelis populi.

Iste verbo instruit,
Ille coelum aperit verbo vitae credulis,
Et quod unus praedicat
Alter verum comprobat crebris hoc miraculis.

Hic Judaeos, ille gentes
Viam vitae nescientes ad salutem convocat;
Ambo praesunt convocatis,
Ambo certant desolatis, hostis ne prevaleat.

Contra summae potentiae
Consurgunt imperium,
Unus crucis, alter ensis
Perpessus supplicium.

Sicque una urbe mortem
Una die passi, sortem ad justorum transmeant;
Qui malorum noe exsortes
Sua prece et consortes beatorum faciant.

Amen.
On this solemn commemoration
of the Prince of the Apostles,
let the harmony of our loving praise
resound in joyous canticles.

With him let us also honour
the Apostle of the Gentiles, worthy of equal praise;
that those whom love united in life,
and death itself did not sever, may together receive our homage.

Their praise consists in this,
that the idolatry of the Roman empire has been destroyed;
and in that same Rome the Church
has been founded and built up, and rules the world.

The Church is founded on Peter's faith,
and strengthened by Paul's teaching;
one holds the key of authority,
the other that of knowledge, both for the same work.

With Peter for their shepherd and guide,
the faithful people rejoice amid the billows of this world;
while they grow strong
and receive life-giving medicine from Paul's doctrine.

Paul instructs them by his word,
Peter opens heaven to believers in the word of life,
and what the one preaches
the other proves by many miracles.

One calls the Jews to salvation, the other the Gentiles
ignorant of the way of life;
together they direct the called,
together they strive lest the enemy should prevail against them.

They stand against the highest power of the empire,
and incur the penalty,
one of the cross,
the other of the sword.

Thus they suffer death in the same city,
on the same day, and together pass to the reward of the just;
by their prayer may they deliver us from all evil,
and make us companions of the blessed.

Amen.

Today let us call to mind and complete the instructions we received on the general feast of the Dedication of churches; and let us conclude with the following Sequence, worthy of the pen of Adam of St. Victor, to whom it was long attributed. It sets forth in all the figures once so well known, the great mystery of Christ's union with the human race, which is expressed in the consecration of Christian temples.

Sequence

Quam dilecta tabernacula
Domini virtutum
et atria!

Quam electi Architecti,
Tuta aedificia, quae non movent
Imo fovent vectus, flumen, pluvia!

Quam decora fundamenta
Per concinna sacramenta
Umbrae praecurrentia!

Latus dae dormientis
Evam fundit, in manentis
Copulae primoria.

Arca ligno fabricata
Noe servat, gubernata
Mundi per diluvium.

Prole sera tandem foeta
Anus Sara ridet laeta,
Nostrum lactans gaudium.

Servus bibit qui legatur
Et camelus adaquatur
Ex Rebeccae hydria.

Haec insures et armillas
Aptat sibi, ut per illas
Virgo fiat congrua,

Synagoga supplantatur
A Jacob, dum devagatur
Nimis freta litterae.

Liam lippam latent multa:
Quibus Rachel videns fulta,
Pari nubit foedere.

In bivio tegens nuda,
Geminos parit ex Juda
Thamar diu vidua.

Hic Moyses a puella
Dum se lavat, in fiscella
Reperitur scirpea.

Hic mas agnus immolatur
Quo Israel satiatur,
Tinctus ejus sanguine;

Hic transitur rubens unda,
Egyptios sub profunda
Obruens voragine.

Hic est urna manna plena,
Hic mandata legis dena,
Sed in arca foederis.

Hic sunt aedis ornaments,
Hic Aaron indumenta
Quae praecedit poderis.

Hic Urias viduatur,
Bethsabee sublimatur,
Sedis consors regiae.

Haec regi varietate
Vestis astat deauratae,
Sicut regum filiae.

Huc venit Austri regina,
Salomonis quam divina
Condit sapientis,

Haec est nigra sed formosa,
Myrrhae et thuris fumosa,
Virga pigmentaria.

Haec futura
Quae figura obumbravit,
Reseravit nobis die gratiae;

Jam in lecto cum dilecto quiescamus,
Et peallamus:
Adsunt enim nuptiae.

Quarum tonat initium
In tubis epulantium
Et finis per pealterium.

Sponsum millena millia
Una canunt melodia,
Sine fine dicentia: Alleluia!

Amen.
How lovely are the tabernacles
and courts of the Lord
of hosts!

So firmly is the temple built by the incomparable architect,
that wind and flood
and rain instead of shaking  strengthen it.

Beauteous are its foundations,
aptly prefigured by the mysteries
of the time of shadows!

While Adam sleeps
Eve comes forth from his side,
the first type of an eternal union.

The ark, built of wood,
preserves Noe, safely sailing
through the deluge that destroys the world.

Sara, advanced in years,
laughs joyously to see herself a mother
suckling the child whose name signifies our joy.

The servant sent as ambassador
drinks from Rebecca's pitcher,
and she waters his camels;

then she adorns herself
with ear-rings and bracelets,
that she may appear as beseems a virgin.

The synagogue, wandering away
and trusting too much to the letter,
is supplanted by Jacob.

Many things lie hid from blear-eyed Lia,
which are a strength to Rachel the clear-sighted,
and give her equal rights.

Thamar, long a widow,
veils herself on the highway,
and gives twin sons to Juda.

Moses, in a wicker-basket,
is found by the maiden
as she is bathing.

The male lamb being im­molated,
the Israelites are fed therewith,
and are marked with its blood.

They cross the Red Sea,
whose rushing waves
engulf the Egyptians.

Here is the urn full of manna;
here in the Ark of the Covenant
are the ten commandments of the Law.

Here are the ornaments of the temple;
here the garments of Aaron,
and first of them all the Pontiff's ephod.

Bethsabee, widow of Urias, 
is raised as bride
even to share the royal throne,

and stands before the king
in robes of gold and all variety,
even as the daughters of princes.

Hither comes the queen of the South,
whom Solomon instructs
with his divine wisdom;

Though black, she is beautiful,
breathing the fragrance of myrrh
and incense and every perfume.

These future things
foreshadowed thus in figures,
the day of grace has revealed to us;

Let us rest in peace
with the Beloved and sing to him,
for it is the Nuptial-day.

The feast was opened
by the clang of trumpets,
and closes with the psaltery.

Millions of voices hail the Spouse
with one same melody,
repeating without end: Alleluia!

Amen.

[1] De Rossi, Inscript. Christ. T. II. 345.
[2] See the Legend of St. Cornelius, Sept. 16th.
[3] Dom Gueranger, Saint Cécile et la Société romaine aux deux premiers siècles, ch vi.
[4] Janitor ante fores fixit sacraria Petrus: Quis neget has arces instar esse poli? Parte alia Pauli circumdant atria muros: Hos inter Roma est: hic sedet ergo Deus. Inscription on the gate of Rome which was called n the 6th century the gate of St. Peter. (DE ROSSI, INSCRIPT. ii. 99.)
[5] To the threshold of the Apostles, i. e. of their basilicas, where pilgrims used to prostrate before entering.
[6] Venant. Fortunat. Miscellania, iii. 7.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

FELIX was called in his youth to dwell in the desert; and he thought to die there, forgotten by the world he had despised. But our Lord had decreed that his old age should yield fruit before men.

It was one of those epochs, which may be called turning-points in history. The first of the great active Orders was about to be raised up in the Church by St. John of Matha; others were soon to follow, called forth by the new requirements of the times. Eternal Wisdom, who remaining herself the same reneweth all things,[1] would prove that sanctity also never changes, and that charity, though assuming different forms, is ever the same, having but one principle and one aim, — God, loved for his own sake. Hence John of Matha was led by the Holy Spirit to Felix of Valois, as a disciple to the master; and then, upon pure contemplation personified by the anchorite living out his declining years in the depths of the forest, was grafted the intensely active life of the redeemer of captives. The desert of Cerfroid became the cradle, and remained the chief centre, of the Trinitarian Order.

Let us read the Church's history of the servant of God, remembering that it requires to be completed by that of his son and disciple. (Feb. 8th).

Felix, Hugo antea dictus, ex regali Valesiorum familia ortus in Gallia, ab ineunte aetate non levis dedit futurae sanctitatis indicia, praesertim misericordiae erga pauperes: nam adhuc infantulus, manu propria, ac si grandior esset, et judicii maturitate polleret, nummos egenis distribuit. Jame grandiusculus, solebat ex appositis in mensa dapibus ad ipsos mittere, et ferme eo, quod sapidius erat, obsonio pauperculos pueros recreabat. Adolescens non semel vestibus se exspoliavit, ut inopes cooperiret. Ab avunculo Theobaldo, Xamphanae et Blesii comite, vitam reo mortis impetravit, praedicens hunc infamem hactenus sicarium, mox sanctissimis praeditum moribus evasurum: veridicum testimonium monstravit eventus.

Post exactam laudabiliter adolescentiam, coepit coelestis contemplationis studio solitudinem cogitare; prius tmen voluit sacria initiari, ut omnem regni, a cujus successione jure legis Salicae non longe distabat, spem sibi praecideret. Saceerdos factus, et prima missa devotissime celebrata, non multo post in eremum secessit, ubi summa abstinentia victitans, coelestium charismatum abundantia pascebatur. Ibi cum sancto Joanne de Matha Parisiensi doctore, a quo ex divina inspiratione quaesitus et inventus, per aliquot annos sanctissime vixit; donec ambo per Angelum a Deo admoniti Romam petierunt, specialem a Summo Pontifice vivendi regulam impetratur. Facta igitur Innocentio Papae tertio inter Missarum solemnis revelatione religionis et instituti de redimendis captivis, ab ipso Pontifice, simul cum socio, candidis vestibus bicolori cruce signatis induitur, ad eam formam qua Angelus indutus apparuit: et insuper voluit Pontifax, ut nova religio juxta triplicem colorem, quo habitus constat, sanctissimme Trinitatis titulo decoraretur.

Regula propria ex Summi Pontificis Innocentii confirmatione accepta, in dicecesi Meldensi apud locum, qui Cervus Frigidus dicitur, primum ordinis paulo ante a se et socio exstructum coenobium ampliavit, ubi religiosam observantiam, et Redemptionis institutum mirifice coluit, ac inde per alumnos in alias provincisa diligentissime propagavit. Illustrem hic a beata Virgine Matre favorem accepit: dormientibus siquidem cunctis fratribus, et ad matutinas preces in pervigilio Nativitatis Deiparae media nocte recitandas, Deo sic disponente, non surgentibus, Felix de more vigilaus, et horas praeveniens, chorum ingressus, reperit beatam Virginem in medio chroi habitu cruce ordinis insignito indutam, ac coelitibus similiter indutis sociatam. Quibus permixtus Felix, praecinente Deipara, laudes divinas concinuit, riteque persolvit. Et quasi jam a terrestri ad coelestem chroum evocaretur, instantis mortis ab Angelo certiot factus, filios ad caritatem erga pauperes et captivos adhortans, animam Deo reddidit, aetate ac meritis consummatus, anno post Christum natum ducentesimo duodecimo supra millesimum, sub eodem Pontifice Innocentio tertio.
Felix, formerly called Hugh, was born in France, of the royal family of the Valois, and from his cradle gave promise of future sanctity and especially of charity towards the poor. While still an infant, he would distribute money to the needy with his own hand, as if he were grown up and had full use of reason. When somewhat older, he used to send them meat from the ta­ble, and would choose what was daintiest for poor little children. When a youth, he more than once stripped himself of his own garments to clothe the poor. He obtained the life of a condemned criminal from his uncle Theobald, Count of Champagne and Blois; foretelling that the man, hitherto an infamous murderer, would shortly become a saint; the truth of which prophecy was proved by the event.

Having spent his youth in the practice of virtue, he was induced by his love of heavenly contemplation to think of retiring into solitude. He determined, however, first to take Holy Orders, and thus cut off all possibility of succeeding to the crown, of which he had some expectations on account of the Salic Law. After being ordained priest, and celebrating his first Mass with the greatest devotion, he retired into the desert, where he lived in the severest abstinence, but enjoying an abundance of heavenly gifts and graces. There he was joined by John of Matha, a Parisian doctor, who had been inspired by God to seek him; and they lived together in a most holy manner for some years. God then sent an Angel, who bade them go to Rome and obtain a special rule of life from the Sovereign Pontiff. Pope Innocent M. received, during solemn Mass, a revelation concerning the religious Order to be insti­tuted for the ransom of captives; and he himself clothed Felix and John in a white habit with a red and blue cross, such as was worn by the Angel who had appeared. Moreover the Pontiff determined that on account of the three colours of the habit, the new Order should bear the name of the most holy Trinity.

Upon receiving the confirmation of their rule from Pope Innocent, Felix returned to Cerfroid, in the diocese of Meaux, and enlarged the first convent of the Order, which he and his companion had built there shortly before. There he caused religious observance and the work of ransom to flourish; and he dili­gently propagated the Order by sending disciples into other provinces. In this place he was favoured with a remarkable grace by the blessed Virgin Mary. On the vigil of the Nativity of the Mother of God, while the brethren, God so disposing, remained asleep instead of rising at midnight for Matins, Felix who was watching according to his custom before the appointed hour, entered the church, and found the blessed Virgin in the middle of the choir, clad in the habit and cross of the Order, and surrounded by Angels in the same attire. Felix joined them, and the Mother of God having intoned the Office, he sang the divine praises with them even to the end. Then, as if calling him from the choir of earth to that of heaven, an Angel informed him that his death was at hand. He exhorted his sons to love of the poor and of captives; and gave up his soul to God, full of days and of merits, in the year of our Lord 1212, in the pontificate of the said Innocent III.

Felix, happy lover of charity, teach us the worth, and also the nature, of this queen of virtues. It was she that attracted thee into solitude in pursuit of her divine Object; and when thou hadst learnt to find God in himself, she showed him to thee and taught thee to love him in thy brethren. Is not this the secret which makes love become strong as death, and daring enough, as in the case of thy sons, to defy hell itself? May this love inspire us with every sort of devotedness; may it ever remain the excellent portion of thy holy Order, leading it to adapt itself to every new requirement, in a society where the worst kind of slavery, under a thousand forms, reigns supreme.

[1] Wisd. vii. 27.

 

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