From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
We open our Proper of Saints for Advent with St. Andrew, because, although his feast frequently occurs before this holy season has begun, it sometimes happens that we have entered Advent when the memory of this great apostle has to be celebrated by the Church. This feast is therefore destined to terminate with solemnity the cycle which is at its close, or to add lustre to the new one which has just begun. It seems, indeed, fitting that the Christian year should begin and end with the cross, which has merited for us each of the years that it has pleased the divine goodness to grant us, and which is to appear, on the last day, in the clouds of heaven, as the seal put on time.
We should remember that Saint Andrew is the apostle of the cross. To Peter, Jesus has given firmness of faith; to John, warmth of love; the mission of Andrew is to represent the cross of his divine Master. Now it is by these three, faith, love, and the cross, that the Church renders herself worthy of her Spouse. Everything she has or is, bears this threefold character. Hence it is that after the two apostles just named, there is none who holds such a prominent place in the universal liturgy as Saint Andrew.
But let us read the life of this glorious fisherman of the lake of Genesareth, who was afterwards to be the successor of Christ Himself, and the companion of Peter, on the tree of the cross. The Church has compiled it from the ancient Acts of the martyrdom of the holy apostle, drawn up by the priests of the Church of Patras, which was founded by the saint. The authenticity of this venerable piece has been contested by Protestants, inasmuch as it makes mention of several things which would militate against them. Their sentiment has been adopted by several critics of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. On the other hand, these Acts have been received by a far greater number of Catholic writers of eminence; amongst whom may be mentioned the great Baronius, Labbe, Natalis Alexander, Gallandus, Lumper, Morcelli, &c. The Churches, too, of both east and west, which have inserted these Acts in their respective Offices of St. Andrew, are of some authority, as is also St. Bernard, who has made them the groundwork of his three admirable sermons on St. Andrew.
Andreas apostolus Bethsaidæ natus, qui est Galilææ vicus, frater Petri, discipulus Joannis Baptistae, quum eum de Christo dicentem audisset, Ecce Agnus Dei, secutus Jesum, fratrem quoque suum ad eumdem perduxit. Quum postea una cum fratre piscaretur in mari Galilææ, ambo a praetereunto Christo Domino ante alios apostolos vocati illis verbis: Venite post me, faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum: nullam interponentes moram, et relictis retibus secuti sunt eum. Post cujus Passionem et Resurrectionem Andreas cum in Scythiam Europæ, quæ ei provincia ad Christi fidem disseminandam obtigerat, venisset, deinde Epirum ac Thraciam peragrasset, doctrina et miraculis innumerabiles homines ad Christum convertit. Post Patras Achaiæ profectus, et in ea urbe plurimis ad veritatem Evangelicam perductis, Ægeam proconsulem prædicationi Evangeliæ resistentem, liberrime increpavit quod qui judex hominum haberi vellet, Christum Deum omnium Judicem a dæmonibus elusus non agnosceret.
Tunc Ægeas iratus: Desine, inquit, Christum jactare, cui similia verba nihil profuerunt, quominus a Judæis crucifigeretur. Andream vero do Christo nihilominus libere praedicantem, quod pro salute humani generis se crucifigendum obtulisset, impia oratione interpellat; ac demum hortatur, ut sibi consulens, diis velit immolare. Cui Andreas: Ego omnipotenti Deo, qui unus et verus est, immolo quotidie, non taurorum carnes, nec hircorum sanguinem, sed immaculatum Agnum in altari, cujus carnem posteaquam omnis populus credentium manducaverit, Agnus, qui sacrificatus est, integer perseverat et vivus. Quamobrem ira accensus Ægeas jubet eum in carcerem detrudi: unde populus Andream facile liberasset, nisi ipse sedasset multitudinem; vehementius rogans, ne se ad optatissimam martyrii coronam properantem impedirent.
Igitur paulo post in tribunal productum, cum Ægeas crucis extollentem mysteria, sibique suam impietatem exprobrantem diutius ferre non posset, in crucem tolli, et Christi mortem imitari jussit. Adduotus Andreas ad locum martyrii, cum crucem vidisset longe, exclamare cœpit: O bona crux, quæ decorem ex membris Domini suscepisti, diu desiderata, sollicite amata, sine intermissione quaesita, et aliquando cupienti animo praeparata: accipe me ab hominibus, et redde me magistro meo; ut per te me recipiat, qui per te me redemit. Itaque cruci affixus est: in qua biduum vivus pendens, et Christi fidem prædicare numquam intermittens, ad eum migravit, cujus mortis similitudinem concupierat. Quæ omnia presbyteri et diaconi Achaiæ qui ejus passionem scripserunt, se ita ut commemorata sunt audisse et vidisse testantur. Ejus ossa primum Constantio imperatore Constantinopolim, deinde Amalphim translata sunt. Caput, Fio secundo Pontifice, Romam allatum, in basilica sancti Petri collocatum est.
Andrew, the apostle, born at Bethsaida, a town of Galilee, was brother of Peter, and disciple of John the Baptist. Having heard his master say, speaking of Christ: Behold the Lamb of God! he followed Jesus, and brought to him his brother also. When, afterwards, he was fishing with his brother in the sea of Galilee, they were both called, before any of the other apostles, by our Lord, who, passing by, said to them: Come after me; I will make you to be fishers of men. Without delay, they left their nets and followed him. After the Passion and Resurrection, Andrew went to spread the faith of Christ in Scythia in Europe, which was the province assigned to him; then he travelled through Epirus and Thrace, and by his teaching and miracles converted innumerable souls to Christ. Afterwards, having reached Patras in Achaia, he persuaded many in that city to embrace the truth of the Gospel. Finding that the proconsul Ægeas resisted the preaching of the Gospel, he most freely upbraided him for that he, who desired to be considered as a judge of men, should be so far deceived by devils as not to acknowledge Christ to bo God, the Judge of all.
Then Ægeas being angry, said: Cease to boast of this Christ, whom such words as these kept not from being crucified by the Jews. But finding that Andrew continued boldly preaching that Christ had offered himself to be crucified for the salvation of mankind, he interrupts him by an impious speech, and at length exhorts him to look to his own interest and sacrifice to the gods. Andrew answered him: I offer up every day to almighty God, who is one and true, not the flesh of oxen, nor the blood of goats, but the spotless Lamb upon the altar; of whose flesh the whole multitude of the faithful eat, and the Lamb that is sacrificed, remains whole and living. Whereupon Ægeas being exceedingly angry, orders him to be thrust into prison, whence the people would easily have freed Andrew, had he not himself appeased the multitude, begging of them, with most earnest entreaty, that they would not keep him from the long-desired crown of martyrdom, to which he was hastening.
Not long after this, he was brought before the tribunal; where he began to extol the mystery of the cross, and rebuke the judge for his impiety. Ægeas, no longer able to contain himself on hearing these words, ordered him to be hoisted on a cross, and so to die like Christ. Andrew, having been brought to the place of execution, seeing the cross at some distance, began to cry out: O good cross, made beautiful by the body of my Lord! so long desired, so anxiously loved, so unceasingly sought after, and now at last ready for my soul to enjoy! take me from amidst men, and restore me to my Master; that by thee he may receive me, who by thee redeemed me. He was therefore fastened to the cross, on which he hung alive two days, preaching without cessation the faith of Christ: after which he passed to him, whose death he had so coveted. The priests and deacons of Achaia, who wrote his passion, attest that all the things which they have recorded were heard and seen by them. His relics were first translated to Constantinople under the emperor Constantius, and afterwards to Amalfi. During the Pontificate of Pius II., the head was taken to Rome, and placed in the basilica of St. Peter.
Let us now listen to the several Churches on earth, celebrating the grand triumph of our apostle. Let us begin with Rome, the mother and mistress of all Churches. Nothing could be more expressive than the language she uses in praise of the apostle of the cross. First, she employs the words of the Gospel, which record the circumstances of his vocation; then, she selects the most touching passages from the Acts of his martyrdom, drawn up by the priests of Patras; and both are intermingled with appropriate sentiments of her own. Our first selection shall be from the responsories of Matins.
R. Cum perambularet Dominus juxta mare Galilææ, vidit Petrum et Andream retia mittentes in mare: et vocavit eos, dicens: * Venite post me, faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum.
V. Erant enim piscatores, et ait illis: * Venite post me, faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum.
R. Mox ut vocem Domini prædicantis audivit beatus Andreas, relictis retibus, quorum usu actuque vivebat, * Æternæ vitæ secutus est præmia largientem. V. Hic est qui pro amore Christi pependit in cruce, et pro lege ejus sustinuit passionem. * Æternæ vitae secutus est præmia largientem.
R. Doctor bonus, et amicus Dei Andreas ducitur ad crucem; quam a longe aspiciens dixit: Salve, crux! * Suscipe discipulum ejus, qui pependit in te, magister meus Christus. V. Salve, crux, quæ in corpore Christi dedicata es; et ex membris ejus tamquam margaritis ornata. * Suscipe discipulum ejus qui pependit in te, magister meus Christus.
R. Videns crucem Andreas exclamavit, dicens: O crux admirabilis! O crux desiderabilis! O crux quae por totum mundum rutilas! * Suscipe discipulum Christi, ac per te me recipiat, qui per te moriens me redemit. V. O bona crux, quæ decorem et pulchritudinem de membris Domini suscepisti. * Suscipe discipulum Christi, ac per te me recipiat, qui per te moriens me redemit.
R. Oravit sanctus Andreas, dum respiceret in cœlum, et voce magna clamavit et dixit: Tu es Deus meus, quem vidi: ne me patiaris ab impio judico deponi: * Quia virtutem sanctæ crucis agnovi. V. Tu os magister meus Christus, quem dilcxi, quem cognovi, quem confessus sum: tantummodo in ista voce, exaudi me. * Quia virtutem sanctæ crucis agnovi.
R. When the Lord was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw Peter and Andrew casting nets into the sea, and he called them, saying: * Come after me, I will make you to be fishers of men.
V. For they were fishers, and he saith to them: * Come after me, I will make you to be fishers of men.
R. As soon as blessed Andrew heard the voice of the Lord calling him, leaving his nets, by the use and working of which he lived, * He followed him who gives the reward of eternal life. V. This is he who, for the love of Christ, hung upon a cross, and for his law endured a passion. * He followed him who gives the reward of eternal life.
R. Andrew, the good teacher, and the friend of God, is led to the cross; which seeing afar off, he says: Hail, O cross! * Receive the disciple of him who hung upon thee, Christ, my Master. V. Hail, O cross, which art consecrated by the body of Christ, and art adorned by his members, as with pearls. * Receive the disciple of him who hung upon thee, Christ, my Master.
R. Andrew seeing the cross, cried out, saying: O admirable cross; O desirable cross! O cross which shinest throughout the whole world! * Receive the disciple of Christ, and by thee may he receive me, who dying by thee redeemed me. V. O good cross, which art made fair and beautiful by the body of the Lord. * Receive the disciple of Christ, and by thee may he receive me, who dying by thee redeemed me.
R. Saint Andrew prayed, as he looked up to heaven, and with a loud voice, cried out and said: Thou art my God, whom I have seen: suffer me not to be detached by the impious judge: * For I have learnt the power of the holy cross. V. Thou art the Christ my master, whom I have loved, whom I have known, whom I have confessed: graciously hear me in this one prayer. * For I have learnt the power of the holy cross.
The antiphons of Vespers are full of a lyric gracefulness and unction.
Salve crux pretiosa! suscipe discipulum ejus qui pepondit in te, magister meus Christus.
Beatus Andreas orabat, dicens: Domine, Rex æternæ gloriæ, suscipe me pendentem in patibulo.
Andreas Christi famulus, dignus Dei apostolus, germanus Petri, et in passione socius.
Maximilla Christo amabilis, tulit corpus apostoli, optimo loco cum aromatibus sepelivit.
Qui persequebantur justum, demersisti eos, Domine, in inferno, et in ligno crucis dux justi fuisti.
Hail, O precious cross! receive the disciple of him who hung upon thee, Christ my master.
The blessed Andrew prayed saying: O Lord, King of eternal glory, receive me hanging on this gibbet.
Andrew, the servant of Christ, the worthy apostle of God, the brother of Peter, and his companion in the cross.
Maximilla, a woman dear to Christ, took the body of the apostle, and embalming it, buried it in a most honoured place.
Thou, O Lord, didst plunge into hell them that persecuted thy just one, and wast his guide and helper on the wood of the cross.
The following hymn was composed in honour of the holy apostle, by Pope St. Damasus, the friend of St. Jerome. There is an allusion in it to the name Andrew, which amongst its many meanings has that of beauty.
Decus sacrati nominis,
Vitamque nomen exprimens,
Hoc to decorum prædicat
Crucis beatæ gloria.
Andrea, Christi apostolo,
Hoc ipso jam vocabulo
Signaris, isto nomine
Decorus idem mystice.
Quem crux ad alta provehit,
Crux quem beata diligit,
Cui crux amara præparat
Lucis futurae gaudia.
In te crucis mysterium
Cluit gemello stigmate,
Dum probra vincis per crucem,
Crucisque pandis sanguinem.
Jam nos foveto languidos,
Curamque nostri suscipe,
Quo por crucis victoriam
Cœli potamus patriam.
The beauty of thy sacred name,
expressive of thy life,
declares how beautiful thou art
in the glory of thy blessed cross.
Andrew, apostle of Christ,
thy very name
points to the mystic
beauty of thy soul.
The cross exalts thee,
the blessed cross loves thee,
the bitter cross prepares for thee
the joys of the light to come.
The mystery of the cross
shines in thee with a twofold beauty:
for by the cross thou dost vanquish insults,
and thou preachest to men the divine blood shed on the cross.
Then warm up our languid hearts,
and take us under thy care;
that so, by the victory of the cross,
we may reach our heavenly country.
The two following sequences, in honour of the apostle of the cross, were written in the middle ages. The first belongs to the eleventh century. Like all the sequences of that period, it has no regular rhythm.
Sacrosancta hodiernae festivitatis praeconia,
Digna laude universa categorizet Ecclesia.
Mitissimi sanctorum sanctissima extollenda merita,
Apostoli Andreæ, admiranda praefulgentis gratia.
Hic accepto a Joanne Baptista quod venisset qui tolleret peccata:
Mox ejus intrans habitacula, audiebat eloquia.
Inventoque fratre suo Barjona: Invenimus, ait ovans, Messiam.
Et duxit eum ad dulcifluam Salvatoris presentiam.
Hunc perscrutantem maria, Christi vocavit clementia.
Artem piscandi commutans dignitate apostolica.
Hujus animam post clara festi Paschalis gaudia,
Sancti Spiritus præclara perlustravit potentia;
Ad prædicandum populis pœnitentiam, et Dei Patris per Filium clementiam.
Gratulare ergo tanto patre, Achaia;
Illustrata ejus salutari doctrina;
Honorata multimoda signorum frequentia.
Et tu gemens plora, trux carnifex Ægea.
Te lues inferna et mors tenet æterna.
Sed Andream felicia per crucem manent gaudia.
Jam Regem tuum spectas, jam in ejus conspectu, Andrea, stas.
Odorem suavitatis jam adspiras, quem divini amoris aroma dat.
Sis ergo nobis inclyta dulcedo, spirans intima cœlestis vitæ balsama.
The most holy praises of this day’s solemnity,
Let the universal Church sing in worthy strains.
The most holy merit of the meekest of saints is to be extolled,
Of the apostle Andrew, so bright in his admirable graces.
Having learned from John the Baptist, that he had come who would take sin away,
He straightway entered his dwelling, and listened to his words;
And finding his own brother, Barjona, he said to him with great joy: We have found the Messias.
And he led him to the loved presence of the Saviour.
As Andrew was fishing in the sea, the mercy of Christ called him,
Giving him, in exchange for his art of fishing, the dignity of an apostle.
His soul, after the grand joys of the Paschal feast,
Was visited by the glorious power of the Holy Ghost,
That he might go and preach penance to the world, and tell it of the mercy of the Father by the Son.
Rejoice, then, O Achaia! that thou hast such an apostle,
Who enlightened thee with his saving doctrine,
And honoured thee with his many and manifold miracles.
But thou fierce torturer, Ægeas, cry and weep:
The pains of hell and eternal death are thine:
Whilst Andrew has won happiness and joy by his cross.
O Andrew! now thou seest thy King: now thou art in his presence;
Now thou art breathing the odour of sweetness, which comes from the aroma of divine love.
Be, then, unto us a delicious sweetness, giving out the hidden balsam of the celestial life.
The second sequence, written in rhythm and correct metre, is the composition of the pious Adam of Saint Victor, the greatest lyric poet of the middle ages.
Exsultemus et lætemur:
Et Andreae delectemur
Hujus fidem, dogma, mores,
Et pro Christo tot labores,
Digne decet recoli.
Hic ad fidem Petrum duxit,
Cui primum lux illuxit,
Secus mare Galilaeæ,
Petri simul et Andreæ
Ambo prius piscatores,
Verbi fiunt assertores,
Et forma justitiæ.
Rete laxant in capturam;
Vigilemque gerunt curam
A fratre dividitur,
Et in partes mittitur
In Andreæ retia
Currit, Dei gratia,
Magna pars provinciæ.
Fide, vita, verbo, signis,
Doctor pius et insignis
Cor informat populi.
Ut Ægeas comperit
Quid Andreas egerit,
Iræ surgunt stimuli.
Mens secura, mens virilis,
Cui præsens vita vilis,
Blandimentis aut tormentis
Non enervat robur mentis
Crucem videns præparari,
Suo gestit conformari
Mors pro morte solvitur,
Et crucis appetitur
In cruce vixit biduum,
Victurus in perpetuum:
Neo vult volente populo
Deponi de patibulo.
Hora fere dimidia,
Luce perfusus nimia,
Cum luce, cum lætitia,
Pergit ad lucis atria.
O Andrea gloriose,
Cujus preces pretiosæ,
Cujus mortis luminosae
Dulcis est memoria,
Ab hac valle lacrymarum,
Nos ad illud lumen clarum,
Pie pastor animarum,
Tua transfer gratia.
Let us exult and rejoice,
and be delighted in the praises
sung to Andrew the apostle.
His faith and teachings, and actions,
and all his labours for Christ,
deserve a worthy celebration.
’Twas he led Peter to the faith.
’Twas he on whom the light first shone;
the Baptist showed it him.
Near the sea of Galilee,
our Lord called Peter and Andrew
by the one same election.
They who were once fishermen,
are become heralds of the Word,
and models of every virtue.
They let down their nets for a draught of men;
and carefully watch over
the infant Church.
Andrew is separated
from his brother, and sent
into the country about Achaia.
A great portion of that province enters,
by the grace of God,
into Andrew’s net.
The holy and learned doctor
forms the hearts of his people
by his faith, life, preaching, and miracles.
When Ægeas discovered
what Andrew had done,
he was excited to great anger.
But Andrew’s mind, ever calm and manly,
set little value on this life,
and armed itself with patience.
The senseless judge offers him his favour,
or threatens him with tortures,
but cannot shake his constant soul.
Seeing the cross being prepared,
Andrew, as a true disciple, is proud
to be thus made like his Master.
He repays the death of Jesus by his own,
ambitious to have
the trophy of triumph, the cross.
He lived two days hanging on that cross,
which was to make him live for ever;
the people resolve to loose him from it:
but he would not have it so; and clings to his cross.
An exceeding bright light surrounds him
for nearly half an hour;
and then, in this light, and in this joy,
he mounts to the realms of light.
O glorious Andrew,
whose prayers are so precious,
and whose bright death
is so sweet to think on,
Take us, by thy loving prayers,
from this vale of tears,
and transfer us to that fair land of light,
O thou good shepherd of souls.
The pieces so far given belong to the Roman liturgy, being taken from the books of this mother of Churches, or from those of the different Churches of the west, which follow the form of her Offices. We will now give, in honour of our holy apostle, some of the formulæ which the other ancient liturgies used for his feast; we will begin with the Ambrosian rite, from which we take the following beautiful preface.
Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus. Adest enim nobis dies sacri votiva mysterii: qua beatus Andreas germanum se Petri apostoli tam prædicatione Christi tui, quam confessione monstravit; et apostolicæ numerum dignitatissimul passione supplevit et gloria; ut id, quod libera prædicaverat voce, nec pendens taceret in cruce: auctoremque vitae perennis tam in hac vita sequi, quam in mortis genere meruit imitari: ut cujus præcepto terrena in semetipso crucifixerat desideria, ejus exemplo ipse patibulo figeretur. Utrique igitur germani piscatores, ambo cruce elevantur ad cœlum; ut, quos in hujus vitae cursu tua gratia tot vinculis pietatis constrinxerat, hos similis in regno cœlorum necteret et corona: et quibus erat una causa certaminis, una retributio esset et praemii.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God; for we are keeping the feast of a sacred mystery, a day on which the blessed Andrew showed himself to be indeed the brother of Peter the apostle, both by his preaching and his confession of thy Christ: and filled up the measure of the apostolic dignity by his passion and his glory; for what he had loudly and boldly preached, he would not cease to proclaim even on his cross: and he deserved to follow, during life, the author of eternal life, and to imitate him in the manner of his death; that thus having, in obedience to his precept, crucified in himself all earthly desires, he might, in accordance with his example, be fastened to a cross. The two brothers, the two fishermen, are both, therefore, raised up to heaven by a cross; that so, having been, by thy grace, bound together by so many ties during this life, they might also be like each other by the crown they wear in heaven; and as their combat was the same, their reward might be the same.
The Gallican liturgy also celebrated the glories of St. Andrew. Amongst the few fragments which have been handed down to us of this liturgy, there is not a single piece in poetry. The following preface, or, as it was then called, Contestation, will show that the Church of Gaul, from the fourth to the eighth century, shared the enthusiasm of the Roman and Ambrosian Churches for the glorious apostle of the cross.
Dignum et justum est; æquum et justum est; piotati tuæ ineffabiles gratias referre, omnipotens sempiterne Deus; et inæstimabili gaudio passionem tuorum prædicare sanctorum, per Christum Dominum nostrum. Qui beato Andreæ in prima vocatione dedit fidem; et in passione donavit victoriam. Acceperat hæc utraque beatus Andreas; ideo habebat et in prædicatione constantiam, et in passione tolerantiam. Qui post iniqua verbera, post carceris septa, alligatus suspendio se purum sacrificium tibi obtulit Deo. Extendit mitissimus brachia ad cœlos; amplectitur crucis vexillum; defigit in osculis ora: Agni cognoscit arcana. Denique dum ad patibulum duceretur, in cruce suspenderetur, carne patiebatur, et Spiritu loquebatur. Obliviscitur crucis tormenta; dum de cruce Christum præconat. Quantum enim corpus ejus in ligno extendebatur: tantum in lingua ejus Christus exaltabatur: quia pendens in ligno, sociari se ei gratulabatur. Absolvi se non patitur a cruce, ne tepescat certamen in tempore. Turba circumspicit, et lamentat: demitti a vinculo petit, quem reparatorem mentis intelligit. Laxari postulat justum, ne pereat populus hoc delicto. Interea fundit martyr spiritum, possessurus sempiterni Judicis regnum: pro cujus meritis concede nobis, omnipotens Deus, ut a malis omnibus tuti atque defensi, tibi Domino nostro, Deo martyrum et Principi apostolorum, laudes semper et gratias referamus.
It is meet and just; it is right and just, that we should give ineffable thanks to thy mercy, O almighty and eternal God! and celebrate with incomparable joy the sufferings of thy saints, through Christ our Lord. Who gave to the blessed Andrew, at his first calling him, the gift of faith; and in his martyrdom, victory. Both had the blessed Andrew received; therefore had he constancy in his preaching, and patience in his passion. After being unjustly scourged, and thrust into prison, he was tied to a gibbet, and on it offered himself a pure sacrifice to thee his God. Most gentle saint, he lifts up his hands to heaven; he embraces the standard of the cross; he kisses it; he understands the secrets of the Lamb. When, at last, he was led to the cross, and fastened to it, his flesh suffered, but he spoke by the holy Spirit. He forgot the torture of the cross whilst he preached Christ from the cross; for the more his body was being stretched on the wood, the more did his tongue extol Christ, seeing that by thus hanging on the cross he was honoured with being made a companion of Christ. He suffers not himself to be loosened from the cross, lest the combat should lose intensity by the delay. The crowd looks upon him, and is in lamentation; it knows him to be the physician of the soul, and demands that he be freed from his chains. It demands that the just man be liberated, lest this crime should destroy the people. Meanwhile the martyr breathes forth his soul, and goes to take possession of the kingdom of the eternal Judge. Grant us, O almighty God, by his merits, that we, being safe and protected from all evils, may for ever give praise and thanks to thee, our Lord, the God of the martyrs, and the Prince of the apostles.
The Mozarabic liturgy is extremely rich in its praises of St. Andrew, both in the missal and the breviary: we must limit ourselves to the following beautiful prayer.
Christe Dominus noster, qui beatissimum Andream, et apostolatus gratia, et martyrii decorasti corona; hoc illi specialiter in munere præstans, ut crucis prædicando mysterium, ad crucis mereretur pervenire patibulum: da nobis, ut sanctae crucis tuæ verissimi amatores effecti, abnegantes nosmetipsos tollamus crucem nostram, et sequamur te: ut passionibus tuis in hac vita communicantes, ad æternam vitam pervenire mereamur felices.
O Christ, our Lord, who didst beautify the most blessed Andrew with the grace of apostleship, and the crown of martyrdom, by granting to him this special gift, that by preaching the mystery of the cross, he should merit the death of the cross: grant us to become most true lovers of thy holy cross, and, denying ourselves, to take up our cross and follow thee; that by thus sharing thy sufferings in this life, we may deserve the happiness of obtaining life everlasting.
The Greek Church is as fervent as any of the Churches of the west in celebrating the prerogatives and merits of St. Andrew. He is the more dear to it, because Constantinople considers him as her patron apostle. It would, perhaps, be difficult for the Greeks to give any solid proofs of St. Andrew’s having founded, as they pretend, the Church of Byzantium; but this is certain, that Constantinople enjoyed, for many centuries, the possession of the precious treasure of the saint’s relics. They were translated to that city in the year 357, through the interest of the emperor Constantius, who placed them in the basilica of the apostles built by Constantine. Later on, that is, about the middle of the sixth century, Justinian caused them to be translated a second time, but only from one part of that same basilica to another. We borrow the two following beautiful hymns from the Menæa of the Greeks; the first is sung in the evening Office, the second in the morning Office.
In the solemn evening office
Luci antelucanæ assimilatus, quem splendorem hypostaticum Paternæ gloriæ dicimus, hominum genus per suam magnam misericordiam salvare cum voluisset, tunc primus, gloriose illi occurristi, illustratus interius perfectissima ejus Deitatis claritate: unde et præco et apostolus vocaris Christi Dei nostri; quem deprecare salvare et illuminare animas nostras.
Præcurrenti voce insonans, quando omnisanctum Verbum caro factum est, quando nobis vitam donavit, salutemque in terris evangelizavit, tunc, sanctissime, istud secutus es, et teipsum primitias et sacrificium quasi primam ipsi oblationem constituisti: quem cognoscere fecisti, fratri que tuo monstrasti Deum nostrum; hunc deprecare salvare animas nostras.
Qui carnem e sterili florescenti induit, quando Virginalis Filius apparuit, præceptor pietatis puritatem demonstrans, tunc tu, ardentissime virtutis amator, Andrea, beatus effectus es; ascensiones in tuo corde disponens, a gloria in gloriam sublimatus es inauditam Domini Dei nostri: quem deprecare salvare et illuminare animas nostras.
Piscium piscationem derelinquens, homines carpis calamo prædicationis, mittens hamum pietatis, et extrahens e profundo erroris omnes Gentes, Andrea apostolo, coryphæi frater, et terræ dux celeberrime, excellens et non deficiens; tenebrosos homines illustra tua veneranda memoria.
Primovocatus discipulus et imitator passionis tuæ, assimilatus tibi, Domine, Andreas apostolus in abysso degentes ignorantiæ olimque errantes, hamo tuae crucis cum abstraxisset, tibimetipsi adduxit: et ideo salvati fideles ad te clamamus precibus illius, optime, Domine, vitam nostram pacifica, et salva animas nostras.
Ignis illuminans mentes et comburens peccata, in corde interius arripiens, apostolus Christi discipulus fulget mysticis radiis instructionum in Gentium tenebrosis cordibus. Urit autem iterum surculosas impiorum fabulas; ignis enim Spiritus tantam habet energiam! O mirabiliter terribile! Cœnosa lingua, fictilis natura, corpus pulverinum, intellectualem et immaterialem praebuit Gnosim. Sed tu, O initiate rerum ineffabilium, et contemplator cœlestium, deprecare illuminari animas nostras.
Gaudeas, disertum cœlum, gloriam Dei passim enarrans. Primus Domino obediens ardenter effectus, ipsi immediate adhærens, ab ipso accensus, lumen apparuisti alterum, et degentes in tenebris, tuis illuminasti radiis, hanc Domini benignitatem imitatus: unde tuam omni8anctam perficimus laudem et reliquiarum thecam cum gaudio magno deosculamur, ex qua scaturit salus petentibus et magna misericordia.
Gentes nescientes Deum quasi ex abysso ignorantiæ vivas carpsisti sagena tuorum oraculorum, salsaque commoves æquora sapienter, equus optimus visus Dominatoris maris, celebrande; qui siccasti putredinem impietatis, sal honorandum, spargens sapientiam tuam: quam stupentes admirati sunt, apostole gloriose, qui malesanam sapientiam inflati amplexi erant, ignorantes Dominum donantem mundo magnam misericordiam.
When he, who is likened to the star of early mom, whom we call the hypostatic splendour of the Father’s glory, willed in his great mercy to save the human race: thou, O glorious Andrew, wast the first to meet him, being enlightened interiorly with the most perfect brightness of his Divinity; hence thou art called the herald and apostle of Christ our Lord. Pray to him for us, that he may save and enlighten our souls.
When he, whom the Precursor’s voice had proclaimed, the all-holy Word, was made flesh, and gave us life, and gave the good tidings of salvation to the earth; then didst thou, most holy Andrew, follow him, and make thyself his first-fruits, and sacrifice, and as it were the first oblation of men: thou didst make him known to thy brother, telling him that this was our God. Pray to Jesus for us, that he save our souls.
When he appeared who clothed himself with our flesh in a virginal yet fruitful womb, and was thus the Son of a Virgin, the teacher of piety, giving us this model of purity; then wast thou happy, O Andrew, most ardent lover of virtue; disposing in thy heart to ascend step by step, and wast raised up from glory to the unspeakable glory of the Lord our God. Beseech him, that he save and enlighten our souls.
Leaving thy fishing of fish, thou catchest men by the rod of thy preaching, throwing to them the bait of virtue, and dragging all nations from the depths of error. O Andrew, the apostle, brother of the leader, most honoured prince of the earth, excelling and unfailing! may the venerable remembrance of thee enlighten them that are in darkness.
Andrew, the apostle, the first-called of thy disciples, O Lord, and the imitator of thy Passion, and made like to thee, drew out with the hook of thy cross them that lived and wandered in the sea of ignorance, and then brought them unto thee: therefore do we thy faithful. who have been saved, cry to thee by his prayers, O infinitely good Lord: grant us peaceful lives, and save our souls.
The apostle, disciple of Christ, is a fire which inflames men’s minds and bums out their sins, penetrating into the very depth of their hearts: and by the mystic rays of his instructions he shines in the dark hearts of the Gentiles. Then, too, he bums the wild brambles of pagan fables, for the fire of the Spirit has such energy! And is it not a wonder to be trembled at, that a tongue of slime, a nature of clay, a body of dust, should make known the intellectual and the immaterial Knowledge? Do thou, the initiated into unspeakable things, the contemplator of heavenly truths, pray that our minds be illumined.
Be glad, O thou heaven of eloquence, everywhere telling the glory of God! The first to obey our Lord with ardour, immediately uniting thyself to him, thou wast set on fire by him, and didst appear as a second light, enlightening with thy rays them that sat in darkness, thus imitating the mercy of Jesus for man. Therefore do we celebrate thy most holy memory, and kiss with great joy the shrine of thy relics, from which flows health and every sort of boon to thy clients.
By the nets of thy oracles thou didst draw from the abyss of ignorance the nations that knew not God, and gavest them life. Like the splendid courser of the Ruler of the sea, thou, O worthy of all praise, didst stir up the bitter waves by thy wisdom. Thou, the venerable salt of earth, didst season with thy penetrating wisdom what ungodliness was corrupting. This thy wisdom, O glorious apostle, struck dumb with admiration those who had become imbued and puffed up with an unsound wisdom, and ignored the Lord that showed his great mercy to the world.
In the morning office
Accurristi siti non vocatus, Andrea, sed voluntarie, sicut cervus ad fontem vitæ. Fide innixus, de incorruptionis fontibus siti fatigatas extremas usque regiones potasti.
Cognovisti naturæ leges, Andrea admirande, et comparticipem accepisti fratrem, clamans: Invenimus Desideratum; atque ei qui iter fecerat secundum camis generationem, accersisti Spiritus cognitionem.
Verbum cum dixisset: 'Hic retro mei,' Christum alacer secutus est cum Andrea et Cephas, genitori valedicentes, et naviculæ, et retibus, tanquam fidei propugnacula.
Deifica inexhaustaque potentis omnifactoris atque flammantis Spiritus virtus in te, Andrea divine, inhabitans in igneæ linguæ forma, ineffabilium te indicavit praeconem.
Non arma ad defensionem attulit carnea, et ad destructionem terribilium inimici propugnaculorum, Andreas honoratissimus; sed ad Christum loricatus, quas captivitate redegerat Gentes, adduxit submissas.
Tuam ineffabilem pulchritudinem Andreas videns primus, Jesu, fratrem clara voce vocavit: Petre ardenter desiderans, invenimus Messiam, qui in Lege et in Prophetis proclamatus est; veni, veræ Vitæ agglutinemur.
Hunc pro mercede recuperasti quem desiderabas, Andrea apostole, ligatis cum eo laborum manipulis, tuisque digne cum eo collectis: unde te hymnis glorificamus.
Magistrum desiderasti, et illum insecutus es, qui illius vestigiis ad vitam ambulasti, et illius passiones, vere honorande Andrea, usque ad mortem imitatus.
Spiritualem vitæ tranquille navigatus abyssum, apostole, perambulasti cum velo Spiritus, fide Christi: ideoque ad vitæ portum pervenisti gaudens in cuncta sæcula.
Spiritali Sole in cruce occidente, voluntate propria, solis jubar cum illo quaerens dissolvi et occidere in Christum, in ligno suspensus est Andreas, fax magna et fulgida Ecclesiae.
Velut discipulus omnium optimus, illius qui voluntarie affixus est cruci, magistrum tuum usque ad mortem secutus, cum gaudio in altitudinem ascendisti crucis, viam instruens ad cœlos, beate apostole.
Gaude nunc, Bethsaida; in te enim floruerunt e materno fonte nimis odorifera lilia, Petrus et Andreas, universo mundo fidei prædicationis odorem ferentes gratia Christi, cujus passionibus communicaverunt.
Te patrum civitas pastorem possidet, et divinum præsidem, et periculorum omnium liberatorem, et custodem te, Andrea sapiens; gratanter honoravit te: sed tu deprecare incessanter pro ea, ut sorvetur ab omni perditione.
Not by thirst but by love wast thou urged, O Andrew, when thou didst run, as a stag, to the fountain of life. Leaning on faith, thou didst give to drink of the fountains of incorruption to the distant nations that were parched with thirst.
Thou didst feel the law of nature, O admirable Andrew, and thou didst take thy brother into partnership, crying out to him: ‘We have found the Desired One!’ and thus he who was walking in the ways of the flesh, was brought by thee to the knowledge of the Spirit.
When the Word said: ‘Now, follow me,' Cephas also joyfully followed Christ with Andrew, and bidding farewell to father, boat, and nets, they became the citadels of the faith.
The deifying and exhaustless virtue of the mighty Creator of all things, and of the burning Spirit, dwelt in thee in the form of a fiery tongue; showing that thou, O divine Andrew, wast a herald of unspeakable things.
Most honoured Andrew! he boro not weapons of the flesh for his defence, or for the destruction of the formidable ramparts of the enemy; but with a breast plate on him, he led subject to Christ the nations which had been redeemed by Christ from captivity.
Thy ineffable beauty, O Jesus, was first seen by Andrew, who then called out with a loud voice to his brother: 'Peter,' he said, 'thou man of ardent desires! we have found the Messias, whom the Law and the Prophets have foretold. O come, let us cling to this true life.’
As thy reward, O apostle Andrew, thou hast regained him whom thou desiredst: him with whom thou didst bind up and worthily garner the sheaves of thy labours. Therefore do we sing to thee our hymns of praise.
Thou desiredst the Master, and thou hast followed him, walking unto life in his footsteps, and imitating, even unto death, his passion, O verily venerable Andrew!
Calmly sailing the sea of the spiritual life, O apostle, thou didst cross it with the sails of the Spirit and the faith of Christ. Therefore didst thou enter with joy into the port of life for ever.
The spiritual Sun having, by his own will, sunk on the cross, Andrew, that Sun’s reflection, the great and bright light of the Church, wishing also to be dissolved and to set with him, was hung upon a cross.
As the best of all the disciples of him, who, of his own will, was fastened to the cross, thou, O blessed apostle, following thy Master even unto death, didst ascend with joy to the summit of the cross, showing us the way that leads to heaven.
Rejoice now, O Bethsaida! for in thee and thy maternal fount bloomed the two most fragrant lilies, Peter and Andrew, bearing by the grace of Christ, whom they resembled in his passion, the odour of the preaching of the faith to the whole world.
The city of the fathers possesses thee as its pastor, and its divine chief, and its liberator in all dangers, and its keeper, O Andrew, full of wisdom! Gratefully has it kept thy feast; but do thou unceasingly pray for it, that it may be preserved from all danger.
The Church of Constantinople, so devoted, as we have seen, to the glory of St. Andrew, was at length deprived of the precious treasure of his relics. This happened in the year 1210, when the city was taken by the crusaders. Cardinal Peter of Capua, the legate of the holy See, translated the body of St.
Andrew into the cathedral of Amalfi, a town in the kingdom of Naples, where it remains to this day, the glorious instrument of numberless miracles, and the object of the devout veneration of. the people. It is well known how, at the same period, the most precious relics of the Greek Church came, by a visible judgement of God, into the possession of the Latins. Byzantium refused to accept those terrible warnings, and continued obstinate in her schism. She was still in possession of the head of the holy apostle, owing, no doubt, to this circumstance, that in the several translations which had been made, it had been kept in a separate reliquary by itself. When the Byzantine empire was destroyed by the Turks, divine Providence so arranged events, as that the Church of Rome should be enriched with this magnificent relic. In 1462, the head of St. Andrew was, therefore, brought thither by the celebrated Cardinal Bessarion; and on Palm Sunday, the twelfth of April, the heroic Pope Pius II. went in great pomp to meet it as far as the Milvian bridge (Ponte Molle), and then placed it in the basilica of St. Peter, on the Vatican, where it is at present, near the confession of the prince of the apostles. At the sight of this venerable head, Pius II. was transported with a religious enthusiasm, and before taking up the glorious relic in order to carry it into Rome, he pronounced the following magnificent address, which we give as a conclusion to the liturgical praises given by the several Churches to St. Andrew.
‘At length thou hast arrived, O most holy and venerable head of the saintly apostle! The fury of the Turks has driven thee from thy resting-place, and thou art come as an exile to thy brother, the prince of the apostles. Thy brother will not fail thee; and by the will of God, the day will come when men shall say in thy praise: O happy banishment, which caused thee to receive such a welcome! Meanwhile, here shalt thou dwell with thy brother, and share in his honours.
‘This is Rome, the venerable city, which was dedicated by thy brother’s precious blood. The people thou seest, are they whom the blessed apostle, thy most loving brother, and St. Paul, the vessel of election, regenerated unto Christ our Lord. Thus the Romans are thy kinsmen. They venerate, and honour, and love thee as their father’s brother; nay, as their second father; and are confident of thy patronage in the presence of the great God.
‘O most blessed apostle Andrew! thou preacher of the truth, and defender of the dogma of the most holy Trinity! with what joy dost thou fill us on this day, whereon it is given us to behold thy sacred and venerable head, which deserved that, on the day of Pentecost, the holy Paraclete should rest upon it in the form of fire!
‘O ye Christians that visit Jerusalem out of reverence for your Saviour, that there ye may see the places where His feet have stood; lo! here is the throne of the Holy Ghost. Here sat the Spirit of the Lord. Here was seen the Third Person of the Trinity. Here were the eyes that so often saw Jesus in the flesh. This was the mouth that so often spake to Jesus; and on these cheeks did that same Lord doubtless impress His sacred kisses.
‘O wondrous sanctuary, wherein dwelt charity, and kindness, and gentleness, and spiritual consolation. Who could look upon such venerable and precious relics of the apostle of Christ, and not be moved? and not be filled with tender devotion? and not shed tears for very joy? Yea, O most admirable apostle Andrew! we rejoice, and are glad, and exult, at this thy coming, for we doubt not that thou thyself art present here, and bearest us company as we enter with thy head into the holy city.
‘The Turks are indeed our enemies, as being the enemies of the Christian religion: but in that they have been the occasion of thy coming amongst us, we are grateful to them. For what greater blessing could have befallen us than that we should be permitted to see thy most sacred head, and that our Rome should be filled with its fragrance? Oh! that we could welcome thee with the honours which are due to thee, and receive thee in a way becoming thy exceeding holiness! But accept our good will, and our sincere desires to honour thee, and suffer us now to touch thy relics with our unworthy hands, and, though sinners, to accompany thee within the walls of the city.
‘Enter, then, the holy city, and show thy love to her people. May thy coming be a boon to Christendom. May thy entrance be peaceful, and thy abode amongst us bring happiness and prosperity. Be thou our advocate in heaven, and, together with the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, defend this city, and protect, with thy love, all Christian people; that, by thy intercession, the mercy of God may be upon us; and if His indignation be enkindled against us by reason of our manifold sins, let it fall upon the impious Turks and the pagan nations that blaspheme our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.’
Thus has the glory of St. Andrew been blended, in Rome, with that of St. Peter. But the apostle of the cross, whose feast was heretofore kept in many Churches with an octave, has also been chosen as patron of one of the kingdoms of the west. Scotland, when she was a Catholic country, had put herself under his protection. May he still exercise his protection over her, and, by his prayers, hasten her return to the true faith!
Let us now, in union with the Church, pray to this holy apostle, for this is the glorious day of his feast: let us pay him that honour which is due to him, and ask him for the help of which we stand in need.
We have scarce begun our mystic journey of Advent, seeking our divine Saviour Jesus, when lo! God grants us to meet thee, O blessed Andrew, at our very first step. When Jesus, our Messias, began His public life, thou hadst already become the obedient disciple of His Precursor, who preached His coming: thou wast among the first of them who received the Son of Mary as the Messias foretold in the Law and the Prophets. But thou couldst not keep the heavenly secret from him who was so dear to thee; to Peter, then, thou didst bear the good tidings, and didst lead him to Jesus.
O blessed apostle! we also are longing for the Messias, the Saviour of our souls; since thou hast found Him, lead us also unto Him. We place under thy protection this holy period of expectation and preparation, which is to bring us to the day of our Saviour’s Nativity, that divine mystery in which He will manifest Himself to the world. Assist us to render ourselves worthy of seeing Him on that great night. The baptism of Penance prepared thee for receiving the grace of knowing the Word of life; pray for us that we may become truly penitent and may purify our hearts, during this holy time, and thus be able to behold Him, who has said: ‘Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.’
Thou hast a special power of leading souls to Jesus, O glorious saint! for even he, who was to be made the pastor of the whole flock, was presented to the Messias by thee. By calling thee to Himself on this day, our Lord has given thee as the patron of Christians who, each year at this season, are seeking that God in whom thou art now living: they must begin it with praying to thee to show them the way which leads to Jesus.
Thou teachest us this way; it is that of fidelity, of fidelity even to the cross. In that way thou didst courageously walk: and because the cross leads to Jesus Christ, thou didst passionately love the cross. Pray for us, O holy apostle! that we may begin to understand this love of the cross; and that, having understood it, we may put it in practice. Thy brother says to us in his Epistle: ‘Christ having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought.’ Thy feast, O blessed Andrew! shows us thee as the living commentary of this doctrine. Because thy Master was crucified, thou wouldst also be crucified. From the high throne to which thou hast been raised by the cross, pray for us, that the cross may be unto us the expiation of the sins which are upon us, the quenching of the passions which burn within us, and the means of uniting us by love to Him, who, through love alone for us, was nailed to the cross.
Important, indeed, and precious are these lessons of the cross: but the cross, O blessed apostle, is the perfection and the consummation, and not the first commencement. It is the Infant God, it is the God of the crib that we must first know and love; it was the Lamb of God that St. John pointed out to thee; and it is that Lamb whom we so ardently desire to contemplate. The austere and awful time of Jesus’ Passion has not come; we are now in Advent. Fortify us for the day of combat; but the grace we now most need is compunction and tender love. We put under thy patronage this great work of our preparation for the coming of Jesus into our hearts.
Remember also, O blessed Andrew, the holy Church, of which thou wast the pillar, and which thou hast beautified by the shedding of thy blood: lift up thy hands for her to Him, whose battle she is for ever fighting. Pray that the cross she has to bear in this her pilgrimage may be lightened; that she may love this cross, and that it may be the source of her power and her glory. Remember with especial love the holy Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all Churches; and by reason of that fervent love she has for thee, obtain for her victory and peace by the cross. Visit anew, in thy apostolic zeal, the Church of Constantinople, which has forfeited true light and unity, because she would not render homage to Peter, thy brother, whom thou honouredst as thy chief, out of love to Him who is the common Master of both him and thee. And lastly, pray for Scotland, that has dishonoured thy protection for these three past ages; obtain for her that the days of her rebellion from the faith may be shortened, and, with the rest of our isle of saints, she may soon return to the fold of the one Shepherd.
We will close this day with a prayer to the Saviour, whom we are expecting; and celebrate, by this ancient and venerable hymn, the mystery of His coming.
Hymn for the time of Advent
(In the Mozarabic breviary; in the hymnarium)
Gaudete, flores martyrum!
Salvete, plebes gentium,
Visum per astra mittite,
Sperate signum gloriæ.
Voces prophetarum sonant,
Venire Jesum nuntiant,
Quæ nos redemit gratia.
Hic mane nostrum promicat,
Et corda laeta exaestuant,
Cum vox fidelis personat
Tantæ salutis gaudium,
Quo est redemptum saeculum,
Abhinc ciamus canticum.
Adventus hic primus fuit,
Punire quo non saeculi
Venit, sed ulcus torgere,
Salvando quod perierat.
At hunc secundus præmonet
Adesse Christum januis,
Sanctis coronas reddere,
Cœli que regna pandere.
Æterna lux promittitur,
Sidusque salvans promitur;
Jam nos jubar præfulgidum
Ad jus vocat cœlestium.
Te, Christe, Solum quaerimus
Videre sicut es Deus,
Ut laeta nos haec visio
Evellat omni tartaro.
Quo dum Redemptor veneris,
Cum candidato martyrum
Globo, adunes cœlibi
Nos tunc beato cœtui.
Deo Patri sit gloria,
Eljusque soli Filio,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito,
Et nunc et in perpetuum.
Rejoice, ye flowers of the martyrs!
Hail, all ye people and nations!
lift up your eyes to heaven,
and await the sign of glory.
The voice of the prophets is heard,
announcing the coming of Jesus;
it is the harbinger of our redemption,
of the grace which saved us.
How bright is our morn,
and how do our hearts swell with joy,
when the faithful voice comes
heralding in our glory!
May the joy of so great a salvation,
whereby the world is redeemed,
inspire us with a solemn canticle
in praise of Jesus’ coming.
It was his first:
and he came not to punish,
but to heal the sores and sins of the world,
saving his creature that was lost.
But when the second Advent comes,
it will tell the world that Christ is at its very doors,
to give the saints their crowns,
and throw open the kingdom of heaven.
We have a promise of eternal light:
the star of our salvation is rising;
and even now its splendid rays are calling us
to our right to heaven.
Thee alone, O Jesus, do we seek,
and wish to see thee as thou art, God.
which will put us out of all reach of hell!
That thus, when thou comest, O Redeemer,
surrounded by the white-robed army of martyrs,
thou mayst admit us also
into their pure company.
To God the Father,
and to his only Son,
and to the holy Paraclete,
be glory both now and for over.
 1 St. Peter iv. 1.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
The Church of Rome does not keep this day as a feast of any saint; she simply recites the Office of the feria, unless it happen that the first Sunday of Advent fall on this first day of the month, in which case the Office of that Sunday is celebrated, as given above in the Proper of the Time.
But should this first day of December be a simple feria of Advent, we shall do well to begin at once our considerations upon the preparations which were made for the merciful coming of the Saviour of the world.
Four thousand years of expectation preceded that coming, and they are expressed by the four weeks of Advent, which we must spend before we come to the glorious festivity of our Lord’s Nativity. Let us reflect upon the holy impatience of the saints of the old Testament, and how they handed down, from age to age, the grand hope, which was to be but hope to them, since they were not to see it realized. Let us follow, in thought, the long succession of the witnesses of the promise: Adam, and the first patriarchs, who lived before the deluge; then, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs of the Hebrew people; then Moses, Samuel, David, and Solomon; then, the prophets and the Machabees; and, at last, John the Baptist and his disciples. These are the holy ancestors, of whom the Book of Ecclesiasticus speaks, where it says: ‘Let us praise men of renown, and our fathers in their generation’: and of whom the apostle thus speaks to the Hebrews: ‘All these being approved by the testimony of faith, received not the promise; God providing some better thing for us, that they should not be perfected without us their faith was tried and approved, and yet they received not the object of the promises made to them. It is for us that God had reserved the stupendous gift, and therefore He did not permit them to attain the object of their desires.
Let us honour them for their faith; let us honour them as our veritable fathers, since it is in reward of their faith, that our Lord remembered and fulfilled His merciful promise; let us honour them, too, as the ancestors of the Messias in the flesh. We may imagine each of them saying, as he lay on his dying bed, this solemn prayer to Him who alone could conquer death: ‘I will look for Thy Salvation, O Lord!’ It was the exclamation of Jacob, at his last hour, when he was pronouncing his prophetic blessings on his children: ‘and then,’ says the Scripture, ‘he drew up his feet upon his bed, and died, and he was gathered unto his people.’
Thus did all these holy men, on quitting this life, go to await, far from the abode of eternal fight, Him who was to come in due time and reopen the gate of heaven. Let us contemplate them in this place of expectation, and give our grateful thanks to God, who has brought us to His admirable light, without requiring us to pass through a limbo of darkness. It is our duty to pray ardently for the coming of the Deliverer, who will break down, by His cross, the gates of the prison, and will fill it with the brightness of His glory. During this holy season, the Church is continually borrowing the fervent expressions of these fathers of the Christian people, making them her own prayer for the Messias to come. Let us turn to those great saints, and beg of them to pray, that our work of preparation for Jesus’ coming to our hearts may be blessed by God.
We will make use, for this end, of the beautiful hymn wherein the Greek Church celebrates the memory of all the saints of the old Testament, on the Sunday immediately preceding the feast of Christmas.
Hymn for the Feast of the Holy Fathers
(Taken from the Menæa of the Greeks)
Avorum hodie, fideles, perficientes memorias, renymnificemus Christum Redemptorem, qui illos magnificavit in omnibus gentibus, et qui incredibilia in eis per fidem operatus est; Dominum, utpote fortem et potentem; et ex illis manifestavit virgam potentiae nobis, unicam virum nescientem et Deiparam, Mariam castam, ex qua flos prodiit, Christus germinans omnibus vitam, et salutem aeternam.
Tu es qui sanctos pueros ex igne liberasti, Domine, et ex ore leonum Daniel; qui Abraham benedixisti, et Isaac servum tuum, et filium ejus Jacob; qui dignatus es ex illorum semine nasci apud nos, ut prius lapsos salvares proavos nostros, crucifigi autem et sepeliri; et rupisti mortis vincula, et consurgere facis omnes qui a saeculo inter mortuos erant, adorantes tuum, Christe, regnum aeternum.
Adam primum veneremur, manu honoratum Creatoris et omnium nostrum proavum, jam nunc habitantem in cœlestibus tabernaculis, inter sanctos electos quiescentem.
Abel dona proferentem mente generosa, admisit omnium Deus et Dominus; eumque homicida olim manu peremptum, in altum recepit ad lumen, ut divinum martyrem.
Canitur in mundo Seth pro suo erga Creatorem ardore: nam in irreprehensibili vitæ ratione et animæ dispositione illum vere sanavit; et in regione vivorum clamat: Sanctus es, Domine.
Ore et lingua et corde Enos admirabilis cognominatus prophetice, in omnium Dominum speravit in spiritu, et optime vita in terris acta, gloriosus decessit.
Sacris eloquiis et orationibus Henoch beatum prædicemus; qui, cum Deo placuisset, translatus est in gloriam, visus, ut fertur, mortem superasse, sicut Dei servus fidelissimus.
Laudem proferamus Deo, honorantes melodiis Noe, qui fuit justus: in omnibus enim divinis mandatis ornatus, visus est Christo beneplacitus; cui canamus cum fide: Gloria virtuti tuæ, Domine.
Videns tuam Deus nobilem indolem et mentis tuæ sinceritatem, et te in omnibus, Noe, perfectum, secundi mundi ducem te signat, salvantem ex omni genere contra diluvium, sensibile semen, ut ipse mandaverat.
Noe, Dei legem incorruptam servantem, justum que inventum in generatione sua, et qui lignea salvavit olim in arca irrationabilia genera, ordinatione omnimoda, beatum piis prædicemus hymnis.
Vinum compunctionis nobis scaturire facit honorantibus te, Noe beate, memoria tua, lætificans et animas et corda undique beatificantium sincere mores tuos honestos, et divinam agendi rationem.
Laudibus honoretur Sem, qui fructificare fecit paternam benedictionem, et ante Deum placidus demonstratus, et proavorum choris adscriptus, et in regione vivorum laetantissime requiescens.
Videre meruit, tamquam Dei amicus, Abraham diem Creatoris sui, plenus factus lætitiæ paternæ; hunc ergo recto corde honorantes, beatum dicamus omnes, ut Dei fidelem servum.
Vidisti, ut homini videre fas est, Trinitatem, et illam hospitatus es: undo mercedem recopisti hospitalitatis, factus immensarum gentium in fide pater.
Typus Christi passionis factus es sapienter, Isaac beatissime, patris bona fide ad immolandum adducte: ideoque beatus effectus es et amicus Dei visus es fidelissimus, et cum omnibus justis sedem consecutus es.
Visus est Jacob omnium Dei servorum fidelissimus: ideoque pugnavit cum angelo, in mente videns Deum, et nomen mutavit, dormiensque divinam contemplatus est scalam, cui insidebat Deus, carni in bonitate sua adhærens.
Patris obedientiam cum amore amplectens Joseph in puteum demissus, tamquam illius prototypus venditur qui immolatus est, et in puteum demissus est Christus; et Ægypto frumenta distribuens monstratus est, sapiens et justus effectus, rexque concupiscentiarum verissimus.
Legitime incessantium certamini tentationum luctatus, celebratus est Job Dei servus verissimus, mitis, vir sine malitia, rectus, perfectus, irreprehensibilis, clamans: Benedictus es, Deus.
In fide Moysen Aaronque et Hor honoremus, adhuc celebrantes Josue et Levi sanctissimum, Gedeonque et Samson, et clamemus: Deus patrum, benedictus es.
Phalangem Deo gratam divinorum patrum celebremus, Baruch et Nathan, et Eleazarum, Josiam et David, Jephte, Samuel qui anteacta videbat, et clamabat: Benedicat omnis creatura Dominum.
Laudem melodiæ Dei prophetis feramus, celebrantes Osee, Michæam, Sophoniam et Habacuc, Zachariam, Jonam, Aggæum et Amos, et cum Abdia, Malachia, Nahum, Isaiam, et Jeremiam, et Ezechiel, et simul Daniel, Eliam et Elisæum.
Fortitudine tua, Domine, virtutes operatæ sunt sorores nostrae Anna, Judith et Debbora, Olda, Jahelque, et Esther, Sara, Maria Moysis, et Rachel, et Rebecca, et Ruth, magnanimes.
Venite omnes, cum fide panegyrim dicamus patribus ante Legem: Abrahæ, et eorum qui cum illo sunt festivam memoriam celebremus; Judæ tribum digne honoremus; juvenes in Babylone qui flammam in camino exstinxerunt, ut Trinitatis typum, cum Daniele celebremus; prophetarum vaticinia tuto servantes, cum Isaia magna voce clamemus: Ecce Virgo in utero concipiet et pariet Filium, Emmanuel, quod est, Nobiscum Deus.
Celebrating, O ye faithful, on this day, the memory of the ancient fathers, let us sing a new hymn to our Redeemer Christ, who magnified them in all nations, and worked incredible things in them by faith, for he is the strong and mighty Lord. By them did he manifest to us the sceptre of his power, the unparalleled Virgin-Mother of God, the chaste Mary, from whom came Christ, the Flower that buds forth life and eternal salvation to all.
It is thou, O Lord, that didst deliver the holy children from the furnace, and Daniel from the mouth of the lions; that didst bless Abraham, and Isaac thy servant, and Jacob his son: that didst vouchsafe to be bora among us from their seed, so to save our first parents who had fallen, and to be crucified and buried; that didst break the bonds of death, and gavest resurrection to all them who had died from the beginning, and who adored, O Christ, thy eternal kingdom.
And first let us venerate Adam, who was honoured by the Creator’s hand, and was the first father of us all: who now dwells in the heavenly tabernacles, and rests amidst the holy elect.
The God and the Lord of all things received Abel, who offered his gifts with a generous heart; and took him into the heavenly light as a divine martyr, when he was slain by the murderer’s hand.
Seth is celebrated throughout the world for his ardour towards the Creator: who saved him for his irreproachable life and this holy disposition of mind; and now, m the region of the living, he sings: Holy art thou, O Lord!
Enos, prophetically called the admirable, for his words and voice and heart, hoped in spirit in the Lord of all, and after a life spent on earth in exceeding goodness, he departed full of glory.
Let us praise, in our sacred canticles and prayers, the blessed Henoch; who, when he had pleased God, was translated to glory, and, as became so faithful a servant of God, without being overcome by death, as it is written of him.
Let us give praise to God by celebrating, with our hymns, Noah, who was just: in all things, God honoured him with his divine commands, and he was well pleasing to Christ, to whom let us sing with faith: Glory be to thy power, O Lord!
God, seeing thy noble heart, and the sincerity of thy mind, and how in all things thou wast perfect, O Noah, makes thee the father of the second world, and bids thee save from the deluge a remnant of every species of animal.
Let us in our holy hymns praise Noah, who kept the law of God without reproof, and was found just in his generation, and who, by an admirable arrangement, saved, in the wooden ark, all the brute creation.
Thy memory, O blessed Noah, fills us with the wine of compunction, which gladdens our souls and hearts, whilst we devoutly extol thy holy life and thy divine manner of acting.
Sem is worthy of our praise, who brought forth plentiful fruit from his father’s blessing, and by his meekness found favour with God, and was numbered in the choir of the fathers, and now rests in perfect joy in the land of the living.
Abraham merited, as the friend of God, to see the day of his Creator, and was filled with the joy promised to the fathers: him, therefore, let us honour with sincere devotion, and let us all proclaim him the blessed Abraham, God’s faithful servant.
Thou didst see, as far as it is permitted man to see, the Trinity, and thou didst make it thy guest: wherefore thou receivedst the reward of thy hospitality, and wast made the father, in the faith, of countless nations.
Most blessed Isaac, the divine wisdom made thee the type of Jesus in his Passion, when thy father’s sublime faith led thee to the sacrifice: therefore art thou blest, and loved of God as a most faithful friend, and seated on a throne with all the just.
Of all the servants of God Jacob was the most faithful: therefore is it that he wrestled with the angel, seeing God in spirit, and his name was changed; and as he slept, he beheld the divine ladder, on which God was leaning; it was God, assuming to himself, in his mercy, human flesh.
Joseph, when he lovingly obeyed his father, was let down into a well and sold, and was the prototype of him that was sacrificed, and thrown down into a pit. He gave com to Egypt and saved it; he was wise and just, and a most true king over his passions.
Job lawfully endured the combat of ceaseless temptations, and deserves to be praised; he was God’s most true servant, he was meek, and a man without guile, upright, perfect, without reproof, ever saying: Blessed art thou, O God!
Let us faithfully honour Moses, and Aaron, and Hor: let us commemorate Josue, and the most holy Levi, and Gedeon, and Samson; and let us sing: Blessed art thou, O God of our fathers!
Let us celebrate the memory of that group of fathers so loved of God, Baruch and Nathan and Eleazar; Josias, David, Jephte, and Samuel who had the vision of what had passed, and cried out: Lot every creature bless the Lord!
Lot our melodies praise God’s prophets, celebrating Osee, Micheas, Sophonias, Habacuc, Zacharias, Jonas, Aggeus, Amos, Abdias, Malachias, Nahum, Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, Daniel, Elias, Eliseus.
By thy power, O Lord, virtuous exploits were achieved by those magnanimous women, our sisters, Anna, Judith, Debbora, Olda, Jahel, Esther, Sara, Mary, sister of Moses, Rachel, Rebecca and Ruth.
Come, all ye people, let us, with faith, give praise to the fathers who were before the Law; let us celebrate the festive memory of Abraham and them that are with him; let us give due honour to the tribe of Juda; let us celebrate the children who quenched the fiery furnace in Babylon, the blessed three, the type of the Trinity, and with them Daniel; let us hold fast to the oracles of the prophets, and with Isaias sing with a loud voice: Lo! a Virgin shall conceive in her womb and shall bring forth a Son, Emmanuel, that is, God with us.
A responsory for Lent
(The Roman breviary, first Sunday of Advent, at Matins)
R. Adspiciens a longe, ecco video potentiam Dei venientem et nebulam totam terram tegentem: * Ite obviam ei, et dicite: * Nuncia nobis si tu es ipse, * Qui regnaturus es in populo Israel.
V. Quique terrigenæ et filii hominum, simul in unum dives et pauper,
* Ite obviam ei et dicite,
V. Qui regis Israel intende, qui deducis velut ovem Joseph,
* Nuncia nobis si tu es ipse.
V. Tollite portas, principes, vestras, et elevamini, portæ ætern ales, et introibit Rex gloriæ.
* Qui regnaturus es in populo Israel.
R. Looking afar off, lo! I see the power of God coming and a cloud that covereth the whole earth: * Go ye out to meet him and say: Tell us, if thou be he, * Who art to rule over the people of Israel.
V. All ye that are earthborn and children of men, both rich and poor together,
* Go ye out to meet him, and say:
V. Give ear, O thou that rulest Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep,
* Tell us if thou be he.
V. Lift up your gates, O ye princes; and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of glory shall enter in.
* Who art to rule over the people of Israel.
 Ecclus. xliv. 1.
 Heb. xi. 39, 40.
 Gen. xlix. 32.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
Of the saints whose feasts are kept during Advent, five are virgins. The first, St. Bibiana, whom we honour to-day, is a daughter of Rome; the second, St. Barbara, is the glory of the eastern Churches; the third, St. Eulalia of Merida, is one of Spain’s richest treasures; the fourth, St. Lucy, belongs to beautiful Sicily; the fifth, St. Odilia, is claimed by France. These five wise virgins lighted their lamps and watched, waiting for the coming of the Spouse. Such was their constancy and fidelity, that four of them shed their blood for the love of Him, after whom they longed. Let us take courage by this noble example; and since we have not, as the apostle expresses it, as yet resisted unto blood, let us not think it hard if we suffer fatigue and trouble in the holy exercises of this penitential season of Advent: He, for whom we do them all, will soon be with us and repay us. To-day, it is the chaste and courageous Bibiana, who instructs us by her glorious example.
Bibiana, virgo Romana, nobili genere nata, Christiana fide nobilior fuit. Ejus enim pater Flavianus sub Juliano apostata impiissimo tyranno expræfectus, servilibusque notis compunctus, ad Aquas Taurinas deportatus, martyr occubuit. Mater Dafrosa, et ftliæ primum condusse domi, ut inedia conficerentur; mox relegata mater extra urbem capite plexa est. Mortuis autem piis parentibus, Bibiana cum sorore sua Demetria bonis omnibus spoliatur. Apronianus, urbis prætor, pecuniis inhians, sorores persequitur, quas humana prorsus ope destitutas, Deo mirabiliter, qui dat escam esurientibus, enutriente, quum vivaciores vegetioresque conspexisset, vehementer est admiratus.
Suadet nihilominus Apronianus, ut venerentur deos Gentium; amissas ideo opes, imperatoris gratiam, præclarissimas nuptias consecuturae. Si secus fecerint, minatur carceres, virgas, secures. At illæ neque blanditiis neque minis a recta fide declinantes, paratæ potius mori, quam fœdari moribus ethnicorum, prætoris impietatem constantissime detestantur. Quare Demetria ob oculos Bibianæ repente corruens, obdormivit in Domino: et Bibiana Rufinæ mulieri vaferrimae seducenda traditur: quæ ab incunabulis edocta Christianas leges, et illibatum servare virginitatis florem, seipsa fortior, feminæ superavit insidias, et prætoris astus delusit.
Nihil autem proficiente Rufina, quæ praeter dolosa verba, illam quotidie verberibus affligebat, ut de sancto proposito dimoveret, spe sua frustratus prætor, accensus ira, quod in Bibiana perdidisset operam, a lictoribus eam denudari, vinctisque manibus columnæ alligari, eam que plumbatis cædi jubet donec efflaret animam. Cujus sacrum corpus objectum canibus biduo jacuit in foro Tauri, illaesum tamen, et divinitus servatum: quod deinde Joannes presbyter sepelivit noctu juxta sepulchrum sororis et matris ad palatium Licinianum, ubi usque in præsens extat ecclesia Deo, sanctæ Bibianæ nomine dicata; quam Urbanus octavus instauravit, sanctarum Bibianæ, Demetriæ et Dafrosæ corporibus in ea repertis, et sub ara maxima collocatis.
Bibiana was a Roman virgin, noble by birth, but more noble by her profession of the Christian faith. For under the most wicked tyrant Julian the apostate, Flavian, her father, was deprived of his dignity of prefect, and being branded with the mark of slavery, he was banished to Aquae Taurinae, and there died a martyr. Her mother, Dafrosa, was first shut up in her own house with her daughters, that she might die by starvation; but shortly afterwards was banished from Rome and beheaded. The virtuous parents thus put to death, Bibiana was deprived of all her possessions, as also was her sister, Demetria. Apronianus, the city prætor, thirsting after their wealth, persecutes the two sisters. They are bereaved of every human help. But God, who gives food to them that are in hunger, wonderfully nourishes them; and the prætor is exceedingly astonished on finding them in better health and strength than before.
Apronianus, notwithstanding, endeavours to induce them to venerate the gods of the Gentiles. If they consent, he promises them the recovery of all their wealth, the emperor’s favour, and marriage to the noblest in the empire: but should they refuse, he threatens them with prison and scourgings, and the sword. But neither promises nor threats can make them abandon the true faith; they would rather die than be defiled by the idolatrous practices of paganism; and they resolutely resist the impious prætor. Whereupon, Demetria was struck down in the presence of Bibiana, and slept in the Lord. Bibiana was delivered over to a woman by name Rufina, who was most skilled in the art of seduction. But the virgin, taught from her infancy to observe the Christian law, and to preserve with the utmost jealousy the flower of her virginity, rose above nature, defeated all the artifices of the wretched Rufina, and foiled the craft of the prætor.
Finding, therefore, that Rufina could in no wise shake the virgin’s holy resolution, and that both her wicked words and frequent blows were of no avail; and seeing his hopes disappointed and his labour thrown away; the prætor became violently enraged, and ordered Bibiana to be stripped by the lictors, to be fastened to a pillar with her hands bound, and to be beaten to death with leaded whips. Her sacred body was left for two days in the Bull-Forum, as food for dogs; but received no injury, being divinely preserved. A priest called John then buried it during the night, close to the grave of her sister and mother, near the palace of Licinius, where there stands at this day a church consecrated to God under the title of St. Bibiana. Urban VIII. restored this church, having there discovered the bodies of saints Bibiana, Demetria, and Dafrosa, which he placed under the high altar.
Holy Bibiana, most wise virgin! thou hast gone through the long unbroken watch of this life; and when! suddenly, the Spouse came, thy lamp was bright and richly fed with oil. Now thou art dwelling in the abode of the eternal marriage-feast, where the Beloved feeds among the lilies. Remember us who are still living in the expectation of that same divine Spouse, whose eternal embrace is secured to thee for ever. We are awaiting the birth of the Saviour of the world, which is to be the end of sin and the beginning of justice; we are awaiting the coming of this Saviour into our souls, that He may give them life and union with Himself by love; we are awaiting our Judge, the Judge of the living and the dead. Most wise virgin! intercede for us, by thy fervent prayers, with this our Saviour, our Spouse, and our Judge; pray that each of these three visits may work and perfect in us that divine union, for which we have all been created. Pray also, G faithful virgin, for the Church on earth, which gave thee to the Church in heaven, and which so devoutly watches over thy precious remains. Obtain for her that strict fidelity, which will ever render her worthy of Him, who is her Spouse as He is thine. Though He has enriched her with the most magnificent gifts, and given her confidence by His promises which cannot fail, yet does He wish her to ask, and us to ask for her, the graces which will lead her to the glorious destiny which awaits her.
We will to-day consider the state of nature at this season of the year. The earth is stripped of her wonted verdure, the flowers are gone, the fruits are fallen, the leaves are torn from the trees and scattered by the wind, and every living thing stiffens with the cold. It seems as though the hand of death had touched creation. We see the sun rise after the long night of his absence; and scarcely have we felt his warmth at noon, than he sets again, and leaves us in the chilly darkness. Each day he shortens his visit. Is the world to become sunless, and are men to live out the rest of life in gloom? The old pagans, who witnessed this struggle between light and darkness, and feared the sun was going to leave them, dedicated the twenty-fifth day of December, the winter solstice, to the worship of the sun. After this day their hopes revived on seeing the glorious luminary again mounting up in the sky, and gradually regaining his triumphant position.
We Christians can have no such feelings as these; our light is the true faith, which tells us that there is a Sun to be sought for which never sets, and is never eclipsed. Having Him, we care little for the absence of any other brightness; nay, all other light, without Him, can only lead us astray. O Jesus! Thou true light, that enlightenest every man coming into this world! Thou didst choose, for Thy birth among us, a time of the year which forces us to reflect upon the miserable state of the world when Thou didst come to save it. ‘The evening was coming on, and the day was far spent,’ says St. Bernard: 'the Sun of justice had all but set, so that exceeding scanty was His light or warmth on earth: for the light of divine knowledge was very faint, and, sin abounding, the heat of charity had grown cold. There was neither angel to visit men, nor prophet to speak to them; both seemed in despair, for the hardness and obstinacy of man had made every effort useless: then I said —they are the words of our Redeemer—then I said, lo! I come!’ O Jesus! O Sun of justice! give us a clear knowledge of what the world is without Thee; what our understanding is without Thy light; and what our heart, without Thy divine heat. Open Thou the eyes of our faith; that whilst seeing with the eyes of the body the gradual decrease of the material light, we may think of that other darkness, which is in the soul that has not Thee. Then, indeed, will the cry which comes from the depths of our misery make its way to Thee, and Thou wilt come on the day Thou hast fixed, dispelling every shadow of darkness by Thy irresistible brightness.
Prayer for the Time of Advent
(The Mozarabic breviary, Wednesday of the second week of Advent, Capitula)
Domine, Jesu Christe, qui assumpto homine, hominum susceptor effectus, in lucem gentium datus es; aperi oculos cordium in te credentium populorum, atque abstrahe misericors de conclusione religatos adhuc vinculis diffidentiæ: et quos in domo carceris detineri conspicis in tenebris ignorantiæ, tuæ, quæsumus, scientiæirradies splendore.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who having assumed human nature, and becoming the Saviour of the human race, wast given as a light to the nations; open the eyes of the hearts of them that believe in thee, and mercifully set free from their prison them that are bound in the fetters of unbelief; and whom thou seest captives in prison in the darkness of ignorance, enlighten them, we beseech thee, by the splendour of the knowledge of thee.
 First Sermon of Advent.
From Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year.
The apostles being the heralds of the coming of the Messias, it was fitting that Advent should have in its calendar the name of some one among them. Divine Providence has provided for this; for, to say nothing of St. Andrew, whose feast is oftentimes past before the season of Advent has commenced, St. Thomas’s day is unfailingly kept immediately before Christmas. We will explain, later on, why St. Thomas holds that position rather than any other apostle; at present, we simply assert the fitness of there being at least one of the apostolic college, who should announce to us, in this period of the Catholic cycle, the coming of the Redeemer. But God has not wished that the first apostolate should be the only one to appear on the first page of the liturgical calendar; great also, though in a lower degree, is the glory of that second apostolate, whereby the bride of Jesus Christ multiplies her children, even in her fruitful old age, as the psalmist expresses it. There are Gentiles who have still to be evangelized; the coming of the Messias is far from having been announced to all nations. Now of all the valiant messengers of the divine Word who have, during the last few hundred years, proclaimed the good tidings among infidel nations, there is not one whose glory is greater, who has worked greater wonders, or who has shown himself a closer imitator of the first apostles, than the modern apostle of the Indies, St. Francis Xavier.
The life and apostolate of this wonderful man were a great triumph for our mother the holy Catholic Church; for St. Francis came just at a period when heresy, encouraged by false learning, by political intrigues, by covetousness, and by all the wicked passions of the human heart, seemed on the eve of victory. Emboldened by all these, this enemy of God spoke, with the deepest contempt, of that ancient Church which rested on the promises of Jesus Christ; it declared that she was unworthy of the confidence of men, and dared even to call her the harlot of Babylon, as though the vices of her children could taint the purity of the mother. God’s time came at last, and He showed Himself in His power: the garden of the Church suddenly appeared rich in the most admirable fruits of sanctity. Heroes and heroines issued from that apparent barrenness; and whilst the pretended reformers showed themselves to be the most wicked of men, two countries, Italy and Spain, gave to the world the most magnificent saints.
One of these is brought before us to-day, claiming our love and our praise. The calendar of the liturgical year will present to us, from time to time, his contemporaries and his companions in divine grace and heroic sanctity. The sixteenth century is, therefore, worthy of comparison with any other age of the Church. The so-called reformers of those times gave little proof of their desire to convert infidel countries, when their only zeal was to bury Christianity beneath the ruin of her churches. But at that very time, a society of apostles was offering itself to the Roman Pontiff, that he might send them to plant the true faith among people who were sitting in the thickest shades of death. But, we repeat, not one of these holy men so closely imitated the first apostles as did Francis, the disciple of Ignatius. He had all the marks and labours of an apostle: an immense world of people evangelized by his zeal, hundreds of thousands of infidels baptized by his indefatigable ministration, and miracles of every kind, which proved him, to the infidel, to be marked with the sign which they received who, living in the flesh, planted the Church, as the Church speaks in her liturgy. So that, in the sixteenth century, the east received from the ever holy city of Rome an apostle, who, by his character and his works, resembled those earlier ones sent her by Jesus Himself. May our Lord Jesus be for ever praised for having vindicated the honour of the Church, His bride, by raising up Francis Xavier, and giving to men, in this His servant, a representation of what the first apostles were, whom He sent to preach the Gospel when the whole world was pagan.
Let us now read the short account given us, in the words of the Church, of this new apostle.
Franciscus in Xaverio diœcesis Pampelonensis nobilibus parentibus natus, Parisiis sancto Ignatio sese comitem et discipulum junxit. Ipso magistro, eo brevi devenit, ut in rerum divinarum contemplatione defixus a terra aliquando sublimis elevaretur: quod illi sacrificanti coram populi multitudine aliquoties evenit. Has animi delicias magnis sui corporis cruciatibus merebatur. Nam, interdicto sibi, non camis solum et vini, sed panis quoque triticei usu, vilibus cibis vesci solitus, per biduum subinde triduumque omni prorsus alimento abstinuit. Ferreis in se flagellis ita sæviit, ut sæpe copioso cruore difflueret: somnum brevissimum humi jacens capiebat.
Vitae austeritate, ac sanctitate apostolico muneri jam maturus, quum Joannes tertius Lusitaniae rex aliquot nascentis Societatis viros a Paulo tertio pro Indiis postulasset, Sancti Ignatii hortatu ab eodem Pontifice ad tantum opus cum apostolici nuncii potestate deligitur. Eo appulsus, illico variarum gentium difficillimis et variis linguis divinitus instructus apparuit. Quin eum quandoque unico idiomate ad diversas gentes condonantem, unaquaeque sua lingua loquentem audivit. Provincias innumeras pedibus semper, et saepe nudis, peragravit. Fidem Japoniæ et sex aliis regionibus invexit. Multa centena hominum millia ad Christum in Indiis convertit; magnosque principes, regesque complures sacro fonte expiavit. Et quum tam magna pro Deo ageret, ea erat humilitate, ut sancto Ignatio, tunc præposito suo, flexis genibus scriberet.
Hunc dilatandi Evangelii ardorem multitudine, et excellentia miraculorum Dominus roboravit. Caeco visum reddidit. Tantum marinæ aquæ signo crucis convertit in dulcem, quantum quingentis vectoribus, qui siti adigebantur ad mortem, diu suffecit. Qua in varias quoque regiones asportata, ægri plurimi subito curati sunt. Plures mortuos revocavit ad vitam, inter quos pridie sepultum erui jussum e tumulo suscitavit, duosque alios dum efferebantur, apprehensa eorum manu, parentibus e feretro vivos restituit. Prophetiae spiritu passim afflatus, plurima et loco et tempore remotissima enuntiavit. Demum in Sanciano Sinarum insula, die secunda Decembris obiit plenus meritis laboribusque confectus. Demortui cadaver viva calce per multos menses bis obrutum, sed penitus incorruptum, odore et sanguine manavit, et ubi Malacam delatum est, pestem sævissimam confestim exstinxit. Denique ubique terrarum novis maximisque fulgentem miraculis, Gregorius decimus quintus sanctis adscripsit. Pius autom decimus ipsum sodalitati et operi Propagandæ Fidei cœlestempatronum elegit atque constituit.
Francis was born of noble parents, at Xavier, in the diocese of Pampelona. Having gone to Paris, he there became the companion and disciple of Saint Ignatius. Under such a master, he arrived at so high a contemplation of divine things, as to be sometimes raised above the ground: which occasionally happened to him whilst saying Mass before crowds of people. He had merited these spiritual delights by his severe mortifications of the body; for he never allowed himself either flesh meat, or wine, or even wheaten bread, and ate only the coarsest food; he not unfrequently abstained, for the space of two or three days, from every sort of nourishment. He scourged himself so severely with disciplines, to which were fastened pieces of iron, as to be frequently covered with blood. His sleep, which he took on the ground, was extremely short.
Such austerity and holiness of life had fitted him for the labours of an apostle; so that when John III., king of Portugal, asked of Paul III. that some of the newlyfounded Society might be sent to the Indies, that Pontiff, by the advice of St. Ignatius, selected Francis for so important a work, and gave him the powers of apostolic nuncio. Having reached those parts, he was found to be, on a sudden, divinely gifted with the knowledge of the exceedingly difficult and varied languages of the several countries. It sometimes even happened, that whilst he was preaching in one language to the people of several nations, each heard him speaking in their own tongue. He travelled over innumerable provinces, always on foot, and not unfrequently bare-footed. He carried the faith into Japan, and six other countries. He converted to Christ many hundred thousands in the Indies, and baptized several princes and kings. And yet, though he was doing such great things for God, he was so humble, that he never wrote to St. Ignatius, then General of the Society, but on his knees.
God blessed this zeal for the diffusion of the Gospel by many and extraordinary miracles. The saint restored sight to a blind man. By the sign of the cross he changed sea-water into fresh, sufficient for many days, for a crew of five hundred men, who were dying from thirst. This water was afterwards taken into several countries, and being given to sick people, they were instantly cured. He raised several dead men to life; one of these had been buried on the previous day, so that the corpse had to be taken out of the grave; two others were being carried to the grave, when the saint took them by the hand, and, raising them from the bier, restored them to their parents. Being continually gifted with the spirit of prophecy, he foretold many future events, or such as were happening in most distant parts. At length, full of merit, and worn out by his labours, he died on the second day of December, in Saneian, an island off the coast of China. His corpse was twice buried in unslaked lime, but was found, after several months, to bo incorrupt: blood flowed from it, and it exhaled a pleasing fragrance: when it was brought to Malacca, it instantly arrested a raging pestilence. At length, fresh and extraordinary miracles being everywhere wrought through the intercession of the man of God, he was enrolled among the saints by Gregory XV; and Pope Pius X declared him heavenly patron of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and its work.
Glorious apostle of Jesus Christ, who didst impart His divine light to the nations that were sitting in the shadows of death! we, though unworthy of the name of Christians, address our prayers to thee, that by the charity which led thee to sacrifice everything for the conversion of souls, thou wouldst deign to prepare us for the visit of the Saviour, whom our faith and our love desire. Thou wast the father of infidel nations; be the protector, during this holy season, of them that believe in Christ. Before thy eyes had contemplated the Lord Jesus, thou didst make Him known to countless people; now that thou seest Him face to face, obtain for us that, when He is come, we may see Him with that simple and ardent faith of the Magi, those glorious first-fruits of the nations to which thou didst bear the admirable light.
Remember also, O great apostle, those nations which thou didst evangelize, and where now, by a terrible judgement of God, the word of life has ceased to bring forth fruit. Pray for the vast empire of China, on which thou didst look when dying, but which was not blessed with thy preaching. Pray for Japan, thy dear garden which has been laid waste by the savage wild beast, of which the psalmist speaks. May the blood of the martyrs, which was poured out on that land like water, bring it the long-expected fertility. Bless, too, all the missions which our holy mother the Church has undertaken in those lands where the cross has not yet triumphed. May the heart of the infidel be opened to the grand simplicity and light of faith; may the seed bring forth fruit a hundred-fold; may the number of thy successors in the new apostolate ever increase; may their zeal and charity fail not; may their toil receive its reward of abundant fruit; and may the crown of martyrdom, which they receive, be not only the recompense but the perfection and the triumph of their apostolic ministry. Recommend to our Lord the innumerable members of that Association, which is the means of the faith being propagated through the world, and which has thee for its patron. Pray, with a filial affection and earnestness, for that holy Society, of which thou art so bright an ornament, and which reposes on thee its firmest confidence. May it more and more flourish under the storm of trial which never leaves it at rest; may it be multiplied, that so the children of God may be multiplied by its labours; may it ever have ready, for the service of the Christian world, zealous apostles and doctors; may it not be in vain that it bears the name of Jesus.
Let us consider the wretched condition of the human race, at the time of Christ’s coming into the world. The diminution of truths is emphatically expressed by the little light which the earth enjoys at this season of the year. The ancient traditions are gradually becoming extinct; the Creator is not acknowledged, even in the very work of His hands; everything has been made God, except the God who made all things. This frightful pantheism produces the vilest immorality, both in society at large, and in individuals. There are no rights acknowledged, save that of might. Lust, avarice, and theft, are honoured by men in the gods of their altars. There is no such thing as family, for divorce and infanticide are legalized; mankind is degraded by a general system of slavery; nations are being exterminated by endless wars. The human race is in the last extreme of misery; and unless the hand that created it reform it, it must needs sink a prey to crime and bloodshed. There are indeed some few just men still left upon the earth, and they struggle against the torrent of universal degradation; but they cannot save the world; the world despises them, and God will not accept their merits as a palliation of the hideous leprosy which covers the earth. All flesh has corrupted its way, and is more guilty than even in the days of the deluge: and yet, a second destruction of the universe would but manifest anew the justice of God; it is time that a deluge of His divine mercy should flood the universe, and that He who made man, should come down and heal him. Come then, O eternal Son of God! give life again to this dead body; heal all its wounds; purify it; let grace superabound, where sin before abounded; and having converted the world to Thy holy law, Thou wilt have proved to all ages that Thou, who camest, wast in very truth the Word of the Father; for as none but a God could create the world, so none but the same omnipotent God could save it from satan and sin, and restore it to justice and holiness.
A Responsory in Advent
(The Roman breviary, fourth Sunday of Advent)
R. Intuemini quantus sit iste, qui ingreditur ad salvandas gentes: ipse est Rex justitiæ, * Cujus generatio non habet finem.
V. Praecursor pro nobis ingreditur, secundum ordinem Melchisedech Pontifex factus in aeternum; * Cujus generatio non habet finem.
R. Behold! how great is he that cometh in to save the nations; he is the King of justice, * Whose generation hath no end.
V. He comes in as our precursor, made Priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech; * Whose generation hath no end.
 Ps. xci. 15.
 1 St. Peter ii. 9.
 Ps. xi. 2.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
The same divine Providence, which would not that the Church should be deprived of the consolation of keeping, during Advent, the feast of some of the apostles, who announced to the Gentiles the coming of the Messias, has also willed that the holy doctors, who defended the true faith against heretics, should be represented in this important season of the Ca holic year. Two of them, Saint Ambrose and Saint Peter Chrysologus, shine as two brilliant stars in the firmament of the Church during Advent. It is worthy of note, that both of them were the zealous avengers of that Son of God whom we are preparing to receive. The first was the valiant opponent of the Arians, whose impious doctrine taught that Jesus, the object of our hopes, is merely a creature and not God; the second was the adversary of Eutyches, whose sacrilegious system robs the Incarnation of the Son of God of all its glory, by asserting that, in this mystery, the human nature was absorbed by the Divinity.
It is this second doctor, the holy bishop of Ravenna, that we are to honour to-day. His pastoral eloquence gained for him a great reputation, and a great number of his sermons have been handed down to us. In almost every page we find passages of the most exquisite beauty, though we also occasionally meet with indications of the decay of literature, which began in the fifth century. The mystery of the Incarnation is a frequent subject of the saint’s sermons, and he always speaks upon it with a precision and enthusiasm, which show his learning and piety. His veneration and love towards Mary, the Mother of God, who, in that very age, had triumphed over her enemies by the decree of the Council of Ephesus, inspire him with thoughts and language which are extremely fine. Let us take a passage from the sermon on the Annunciation. ‘God sends to the Virgin an angelic messenger, who, whilst he brings graces, gives her the entrusted pledge, and receives hers. Then does Gabriel return with Mary’s plighted troth. But, before ascending to heaven, there to tell the consent promised him by the Virgin, he delivers to her the gifts due to her virtues. Swiftly does this ambassador fly to the bride, that he may assert God’s claim to her as His own. Gabriel takes her not from Joseph, but he restores her to Christ, to whom she was espoused when she was first formed in the womb. Christ, therefore, did but take His own, when He thus made Mary His bride. It is not a separation that He thus produces, but a union with Himself of His own creature by becoming Incarnate in her womb.
‘But let us hearken to the angel’s words. Being come in, he said unto her: Hail, full of grace! the Lord is with thee! These words are not a mere salutation; they convey the heavenly gift. Hail! that is, Take, O Mary, the grace I bring thee; fear not; this is not the work of nature. Full of grace! that is, thou art not in grace as others are; thou art to be filled with it. The Lord is with thee!What means this, but that He is coming to thee not merely to visit thee, but to enter within thee by the new mystery of becoming thy Child? Blessed art thou among women. How fittingly does he add these words! They imply, that they who heretofore were mothers with the curse of Eve upon them, now have the blessed Mary as their joy, and honour, and type: and whereas Eve was by nature the mother of children of death, Mary is by grace the mother of children of life.’
In the following passage from another sermon, the holy doctor teaches us with what profound veneration we ought to contemplate Mary during these days when God is still residing in her womb. ‘What reverence and awe are shown to that inner chamber of a king, where he sits in all the majesty of his power! Therein no man may enter that is a stranger, or unclean, or unfaithful. The usages of courts require, that when men come to pay their homage, everything must be the best, and fairest, and most loyal. Who would go to the palace-gate in rags? Who would go, that knew he was odious to the prince? So it is with the sanctuary of the divine Spouse. No one is permitted to come nigh, but he that is of God’s family, and is intimate, and has a good conscience, and has a fair name, and leads a holy life. Within the holy place itself God receives but the Virgin, and spotless virginity. Hence learn, O man, to examine thyself: who thou art, and what thou art, and what merits thou hast. Ask thyself, after this, if thou mayst dare to penetrate into the mystery of the birth of thy Lord, or canst be worthy to approach that living sanctuary, wherein reposes the whole majesty of thy King, and thy God.’ Let us now listen to our holy mother the Church, who thus speaks of our saint:
Petrus, qui ob auream ejus eloquentiam Chrysologi cognomen adeptus est, ForoCornelii in Æmilia honestis parentibus natus, a prima ætate animam ad religionem adjiciens, Cornelio Romano, tunc ejusdem urbis Corneliensis episcopo, operam dedit: a quo etiam scientia et vitæ sanctitate quum brevi profecisset, diaconus creatus est. Postmodum contigit, ut Ravennates ob mortem archipræsulis sui, alium, ut moris erat, ab eis electum, Romam ad sanctum Sixtum Papam tertium pro confirmatione miserint una cum legatis suis, et cum prædicto Cornelio, qui eumdem levitam secum perduxit. Interim sanctus Petrus apostolus, et martyr Apollinaris summo Pontifici in somnis apparuerunt, mediumque habentes hunc juvenem, jusserunt, ut illum et non alium, in archiepi8copum Ravennæ crearet. Hinc pontifex, mox ut vidit Petrum, cognovit eum a Domino Deo præelectum: propterea rejecto illo quem ipsi offerebant, hunc solum anno Christi quadringentesimo trigesimo tertio, illi metropolitanæ præfecit Ecclesiae. Quod quum legati Ravennatenses ægre ferrent, audita visione, divinæ voluntati libenter acquiescentes, novum archiepiscopum maxima cum reverentia susceperunt.
Petrus igitur, licet invitus, in archipræsulem consecratus Ravennam deducitur: ubi a Valentiniano imperatore, et a Galla Placidia ejus matre, et ab universo populo maxima lætitia exceptus est. Et ille ab eis id unum petere dixit, ut quando tantum oneris pro ipsorum salute subire non recusaret, studerent ipsi monitis suis obtemperare, divinisque præceptis non obsistere. Suorum sanctorum tunc ibi defunctorum corpora optimis unguentis condita sepelivit; Barbatiani videlicet presbyteri, et Germani Antissiodorensis episcopi, cujus etiam cucullam et cilicium sibi vindicavit in hæreditatem. Projectum et Marcellinum episcopos ordinavit. In Classe fontem exstruxit magnitudinis vero admirabilis, et templa quædam magnifica ædificavit, tum beato Andreæ apostolo, tum aliis sanctis. Ludos ab hominibus personatis cum variis saltationibus, Kalendis Januarii fieri solitos, concione cohibuit acerrima, ubi inter alia illud præclare dixit: Qui jocari voluerit cum diabolo, non poterit gaudere cum Christo. Jussu sancti Leonis Papæ primi scripsit ad Chalcedonense Concilium adversus hæresim Eutychetis. Respondit præterea ad Eutychen ipsum et alia epistola, quæ eidem Concilio in novis editionibus praefixa, et in annales ecclesiasticos rolata fuit.
Dum publice sermones haberet ad populum, adeo vehemens erat in dicendo, ut præ nimio ardore vox illi interdum defecerit: sicut contigit in concione mulieris hæmorrhoissæ. Unde Ravennates commoti, tot lacrymis, clamoribus et orationibus locum repleverunt, ut postea ipse gratias ageret Deo, quod in lucrum amoris verterit damnum ejusdem sermonis. Cum tandem annos circiter decem et octo eam Ecclesiam sanctissime rexisset, laborum suorum finem adesse divinitus praenoscens, in patriam se contulit; ubi sancti Cassiani templum ingressus, magnum diadema aureum, gemmis distinctum pretiosissimis offerens, super altare majus posuit; neenon aureum craterem et patenam argenteam, quam tum rabidi canis morsus, tum febres sanare expertum est, aqua inde demissa. Ex tunc Ravennates qui eumdem secuti fuerant dimisit, admonens, ut in eligendo optimo pastore invigilarent attente. Mox Deum humiliter precatus, et sanctum Cassianum patronum, ut benigne animam ejus exciperet, tertio Nonas Decembris, placide ex hac vita migravit, anno Domini circiter quadringentesimo quinquagesimo. Sacrum illius corpus communi totius civitatis fletu ac pietate prope corpus ejusdem sancti Cassiani honorifice conditum, nostris etiam temporibus religiose colitur: cujus tamen brachium, auro et gemmis ornatum, Ravennam delatum in Ursicana æde veneratur.
Peter, surnamed, for hia golden eloquence, Chrysologus, was born at Forum Cornelii (Imola) in Æmilia, of respectable parents. Turning his mind to religion from his childhood, he put himself under Cornelius, the bishop of that city, who was a Roman, In a short while he made such progress in learning and holiness of life, that, in due time, the bishop ordained him deacon. Not long after, it happened that the archbishop of Ravenna having died, the inhabitants of that city sent, as usual, to Rome the successor they had elected, that this election might be confirmed by the holy Pope Sixtus III. Cornelius, who was also sent in company with the deputies of Ravenna, took with him the young deacon. Meanwhile, the apostle Saint Peter, and the holy martyr Apollinaris, appeared to the Roman Pontiff in his sleep. They stood with the young levite between them, and ordered the Pontiff to create him, and none other, archbishop of Ravenna. The Pontiff, therefore, no sooner saw Peter than he recognized him as the one chosen by God; and rejecting the one presented to him, he appointed Peter to the metropolitan Church of that city, in the year of our Lord 433. At first, the deputies from Ravenna were dissatisfied at this decision of the Pope; but, having been told of the vision, they readily acquiesced in the divine will, and received the new archbishop with the greatest reverence.
Peter, therefore, being, though reluctant, consecrated archbishop, was conducted to Ravenna, where he was received with the greatest joy by the emperor Valentinian, and Galla Placidia the emperor’s mother, and the whole people. On his part, he told them that he asked of them but this, that since he had not refused this great burden for their salvation’s sake, they would make it their study to follow his counsels, and to obey the commandments of God. He then buried in the city the bodies of two saints, after having embalmed them with the most precious perfumes; Barbatian, a priest, was one; and the other, Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, whose cowl and hair-shirt he claimed as his own inheritance. He ordained Projectus and Marcellinus bishops. In the town of Classis he erected a fountain of an incredible size, and built some magnificent churches in honour of several saints, of Saint Andrew among the rest. The people had a custom of assisting at certain games, on the first day of January, which consisted of theatrical performances and dances; the saint repressed these by the severity with which he preached against them. One of his expressions deserves to be handed down: He that would play with the devil, can never enjoy the company of Jesus. At the command of Pope St. Leo I., he wrote to the Council of Chalcedon against the heresy of Eutyches. He answered Eutyches himself by another epistle, which has been added to the acts of that same Council in the new editions, and has been inserted in the ecclesiastical annals.
In his sermons to the people he was so earnest, that at times his voice completely failed him, as in his sermon on the woman healed by our Lord, as mentioned in the ninth chapter of St. Matthew; on which occasion his people of Ravenna were so affected, and so moved to tears, that the whole church rang with their sobbings and prayers, and the saint afterwards thanked God that he had turned the failure of his speech into the gain of so much love. After having governed that Church, in a most holy manner, about eighteen years, and having received a divine warning that his labours were soon to end, he withdrew to his native town. There he visited the church of St Cassian, and presented an offering of a largo golden diadem, set with most precious stones, which he placed upon the high altar: he also gave a golden cup, and a silver paten, which imparts to water poured on it the virtue of healing the bites of mad dogs, and of assuaging fevers, as frequent instances have attested. He then took leave of those who had accompanied him from Ravenna, admonishing them to spare no pains in electing for their pastor him who was the most worthy. Immediately after this he turned in humble prayer to God, that, through the intercession of his patron St. Cassian, he would mercifully receive his soul; and calmly passed out of this life, on the third of the Nones of December (Dec. 3), about the year 450. His holy body was buried, amidst the tears and prayers of the whole city, near the body of the same St. Cassian: there it is venerated even at this day; though Ravenna possesses and venerates one of the arms, which was enshrined in gold and gems and placed in the basilica Ursicana.
Holy pontiff, who didst open thy lips and pour out on the assembly of the faithful, in the streams of thy golden eloquence, the knowledge of Jesus, cast an eye of compassion on the Christians throughout the world, who are watching in expectation of that same God-Man, whose two Natures thou didst so courageously confess. Obtain for us grace to receive Him with the sovereign respect which is due to a God who comes down to His creatures, and with the loving confidence which is due to a Brother who comes to offer Himself in sacrifice for His most unworthy brethren. Strengthen our faith, most holy doctor! for the love we stand in need of comes from faith. Destroy the heresies which lay waste the vineyard of our Father; and uproot that frightful pantheism, which is the form under which the heresy thou didst combat is still among us. May the numerous Churches of the East abjure that heresy of Eutyches which reigns so supreme amongst them, and gives them the knowledge of the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation only to blaspheme it. Pray that the children of the Church may show to the judgements of the apostolic See that perfect obedience, to which thou didst so eloquently urge the heresiarch Eutyches, in the epistle thou didst address to him, and which will ever be precious to the world: ‘We exhort thee above all things, most honoured brother, that thou receive with obedience whatsoever has been written by the most blessed Pope of the city of Rome: for, blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own See, shows the truth of faith to all them that seek it.’ (Letter 25.)
 St. Peter Chrysologus here asserts the mystery of the Immaculate Conception. If Mary was espoused to the Son of God from the first moment of her existence, how could original sin ever have been upon her?
 Sermon 140.
 Sermon 141.
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
Although, in the Roman liturgy, St. Barbara is merely commemorated in the Office of St. Peter Chrysologus, yet the Church has approved an entire Office for the use of those Churches which honour the memory of this illustrious virgin in a special manner. The legend which follows, although of considerable weight, has not, consequently, the authority of those which are promulgated for the use of the whole Church, in the Roman breviary. Let us not, on this account, be less fervent in honouring this glorious martyr, so celebrated in the east, and whose feast has been for so many ages admitted, with more or less solemnity, into the Roman Church. The acts of her martyrdom, though not of the highest antiquity, contain nothing in them but what redounds to the glory of God and the honour of the saint. We have already shown the liturgical importance which attaches to St. Barbara in this season of Advent. Let us admire the constancy wherewith this virgin waited for her Lord, who came at the appointed hour, and was for her, as the Scripture speaks, a Spouse of blood, because He put the strength of her love of Him to the severest of all tests.
Barbara, virgo Nicomediensis, Dioscori nobilis sed superstitiosi hominis filia, per ea quæ visibilia facta sunt ad invisibilia, divina opitulante gratia, facile pervenit. Quapropter soli Deo rebusque divinis vacare cœpit. Eam pater, utpote forma venustiori nitentem, a quocumque virorum occursu tutari cupiens, turri inclusit: ubi pia virgo meditationibus et precibus addicta, soli Deo, quem sibi in sponsum elegerat, placere studebat. Oblata a patre pluries nobilium connubia fortiter sprevit. Pater vero per sui absentiam filiae animum posse facilius emolliri confidens, jussit primo balneum extrui, ne quid ei deesset ad commoditatem; deinde peregre in exteras regiones profectus est.
Absente patre, jussit Barbara duabus fenestris quæ in turri erant, tertiam addi in honorem divinæ Trinitatis, labiumque balnei sacrosanctæ crucis signo muniri: quod ubi rediens Dioscorus inspexit, audita novitatis causa, adeo in filiam excanduit ut stricto ense eam appetens, parum abfuerit ut eam dire confoderet; sed præsto adfuit Deus; nam fugienti Barbaræ saxum ingens se patefaciens viam aperuit, per quam montis fastigium petere, et sic in specu latere potuit; sed paulo post quum a nequissimo genitore reperta fuisset, ejus latera pedibus dorsumque pugnis immaniter percussit, et crinibus per loca aspera difficilesque vias raptatam Marciano præsidi puniendam tradidit. Itaque ab ipso omnibus modis, sed incassum tentata nudam nervis cædi et inflicta vulnera testulis confricari, deinde in carcerem trahi præcepit: ubi immensa luce circumdatus ei Christus apparens, mirifice confortatam in passionum tolerantia confirmavit: quod animadvertens Juliana matrona, ad fidem conversa ejusdem palmæ particeps effecta est.
Barbaræ demum ferreis unguibus membra laniantur, facibus latera incenduntur, et malleolis caput contunditur: quibus in cruciatibus consortem solabatur, et hortabatur ut ad finem usque constanter certaret. Præcisis tandem utrique uberibus, nudæ per loca publica tractæ, filiæque cervicem ipse scelestissimus pater, humanitatis expers, propriis manibus amputavit; cujus fera crudelitas non diu inulta remansit; nam statina eo ipso in loco fulmine percussus interiit. Corpus hujus beatissimæ virginis Justinus Imperator Nicomedia auferens, Constantinopolim primum transportavit. Illud idem, cum in progressu temporis ab Imperatoribus Constantino et Basilio impetrassent Veneti, Constantinopoli deductum in sancti Marci basilica fuit deinde solemniter collocatum. Postremo et ultimo, supplicantibus Torcellano episcopo ejusque sorore abbatissa, ad ecclesiam monialium Sancti Joannis Evangelistæ Torcellanæ diœcesis, anno salutis millesimo nono defertur: ubi et honorifice conditum, perpetuo cultu ad præsens usque tempus summopere veneratur.
Barbara, a virgin of Nicomedia, the daughter of Dioscorus, a nobleman but a superstitious pagan, came readily, by the assistance of divine grace, from the contemplation of the visible things of creation to the knowledge of the invisible. Wherefore, she devoted herself to God alone and to the things of God. Her father, desirous to preserve her from all danger of insult, to which he feared her great beauty might expose her, shut her up in a tower. There the pious virgin passed her days in meditation and prayer, studying to please God alone, whom she had chosen as her Spouse. She courageously rejected several offers of marriage, which were made to her, through her father, by rich nobles. But her father hoped that, by separating himself by a long absence from his child, her intentions would easily change. He first ordered that a bath should be built for her in the tower, so that she might want for nothing; and then he set out on a journey into distant countries.
During her father’s absence, Barbara ordered that to the two windows already in the tower a third should be added, in honour of the blessed Trinity; and that on the edge of the bath the sign of the most holy cross should be drawn. When Dioscorus returned home, and saw these changes, and was told their meaning, he became so incensed against his daughter, that he went in search of her with a naked sword in his hand, and, but for the protection of God, he would have cruelly murdered her. Barbara had taken to flight: an immense rock opened before her, and she found a path by which she reached the top of a mountain, and there she hid herself in a cave. Not long after, however, she was discovered by her unnatural father, who savagely kicked and struck her, and dragging her by the hair over the sharp rocks, and rugged ways, he handed her over to the governor Marcian, that he might punish her. He, therefore, having used every means to shake her constancy, and finding that all was in vain, gave orders for her to be stripped and scourged with thongs, to have her wounds scraped with potsherds, and then to be dragged to prison. There Christ, surrounded by an immense light, appearing to her, strengthened her in a divine manner for the sufferings she was yet to endure. A matron, named Juliana, who witnessed this, was converted to the faith, and became her companion in martyrdom.
At length Barbara had her body tom with iron hooks, her sides burnt with torches, and her head bruised with mallets. During these tortures she consoled her companion, and exhorted her to fight manfully to the last. Both of them had their breasts cut off, were dragged naked through the streets, and beheaded. The head of Barbara was cut off by her own father, who in his excessive wickedness had hardened his heart thus far. But his ferocious cruelty was not long left unpunished, for instantly, and on the very spot, he was struck dead by lightning. The emperor Justinus had the body of this most holy virgin translated from Nicomedia to Constantinople. It was afterwards obtained by the Venetians from the emperors Constantine and Basil; and having been translated from Constantinople to Venice, was deposited with great solemnity in the basilica of St. Mark. Lastly, at the earnest request of the bishop of Torcello and his sister, who was abbess, it was translated in the year of grace 1009, to the nuns’ church of St. John the Evangelist, in the diocese of Torcello; where it was placed in a worthy sepulchre, and from that time has never ceased to be the object of most fervent veneration.
Such is the account of the life and martyrdom of the courageous virgin of Nicomedia. She is invoked in the Church against lightning, on account of the punishment inflicted by divine justice on her execrable father. This same incident of the saint’s history has suggested several Catholic customs: thus her name is sometimes given to the hold of men-of-war where the ammunition is stowed; she is the patroness of artillery men, miners, etc.; and she is invoked by the faithful against the danger of a sudden death.
Of the liturgical pieces, used in our western Churches in honour of St. Barbara, we will content ourselves with the following beautiful antiphon, composed in the days of chivalry.
O divinæ bonitatis immensa dementia, quae Barbaram illustravit vero claritatis lumine, ut terrenae dignitatis contempto splendore, divinitatisconscia effici mereretur: hæc velut lilium inter spinis enituit, et lux in tenebris eluxit. Alleluia.
O immeasurable mercy of divine goodness, which did enlighten Barbara with the brightness of the true light, making her worthy, by her contempt for what was dazzling in earthly grandeur, to be admitted to a union with God! As the lily among thorns, as light in darkness, so shone Barbara. Alleluia.
The Greek Church is profuse in its praises of St. Barbara. We will take from the Menæa a few out of the many strophes which are sung in honour of the holy martyr:
Hymn of the Greek Church
Quando coram te, veneranda martyr Barbara, dulcis mors apparuit, gaudens et festinans cursum complevisti, impiique genitoris injustis manibus sacrificata es, et Deo oblata es victima: unde vere prudentium virginum conjuncta choris, tui Sponsi contemplaris splendorem.
Agna tua, Jesu, magna voce clamat: Te, Sponse mi, desidero, et quærens te pugno, et confixa sum et consepulta tuo baptismati, et patior propter te, ut regnemtecum; et morior pro te, ut et vivam in te: igitur ut sacrificium irreprehensibile suscipe amanter sacrificatam tibi. Illius precibus, ut misericors, salva animas nostras.
E spinosa exorta radice, rosa sacratissima, Ecclesiam suaviter inodorans, te rubore prælii per sanguinem purpuratam, gloriosa Barbara, nunc dignissime beatam celebramus.
Non deliciarum jucunditas, non pulchritudinis flos, neque divitiæ, neque juventutis voluptates te mulserunt, Barbara gloriosa, Christo desponsata, pulcherrima virgo.
In certamine tuo omnes obstupefecisti; nam tolerasti tyrannorum cruciatus, vincula, tormenta, Barbara celeberrima; quapropter et corona Deus te donavit quam desiderasti: cum animo cucurristi, et ille sanam te fecit.
Sponsum tuum Christum adamata, lampadis tuse fulgore præparato, virtutibus refulsisti, laude digna: unde ingressa es cum eo ad nuptias, ab eo recipiens certaminis coronam: sed a periculis libera nos celebrantes, Barbara, tui memoriam.
Tribus ostiolis lavacrum illustrari jubens mystice indicasti Baptisma, O Barbara, Trinitatis lumine animabus splendidam suppetens purgationem.
Furore terribili patris declinato, Barbaram statim se scindens mons recepit, ut olim illustrem protomartyrem Theclam, miraculum operante Christo.
Gladio te, martyr Barbara, immolans pater, Abraham alter, sed diabolo favit.
Apparuit Christus in lumine inaccessibili tibi inclusæ, O Barbara, in carcere, ut confidentem te incitans et vibices sanans et lætitiam præbens: unde alas accepisti Sponsi tui amore.
Angelus fulgidus te, propter Christum denudatam veneranda Barbara, vestivit, ut sponsam, veste splendida quæ vulnera texit; stolam enim induisti divinam afferentem mutationem.
Demonstrata est evidenter, Christe, prophetia tua adimpleta: pater namque filiam ad caedem tradit, ipse artifex jugulationis; qui improbus genitor tuæ martyris stupendo modo e cœlo igne consumitur.
Athleticam ingressa viam, paternam renuisti voluntatem, tota honorabilis, et virgo quidem sapiens lampadem ferens, egressa es ad mansiones Domini tui; et ut martyr generosa, gratiam accepisti sanandi carnis putidam pestilentiam: et nos hymnificantes te spiritualibus doloribus libera, tuis ad Deum precibus.
When welcome death came before thee, O venerable martyr Barbara! joyously and nimbly didst thou run thy course, and being immolated by the wicked hands of an impious parent, thou wast offered a victim to God. Now, therefore, art thou in the choir of the truly wise virgins, and contemplatest the beauty of thy Spouse.
This lamb of thine, O Jesus, cries to thee with a loud voice: Thee, O my Spouse, do I desire, thee do I seek by my combat; I am immolated and buried in thy baptism; I suffer for thee, that I may reign with thee; I die for thee, that I may live in thee; receive me, therefore, as an unreserved sacrifice lovingly sacrificed to thee. Save our souls, O merciful Jesus, by her prayers.
Glorious Barbara! most sacred rose grown out of a thorny stem, sweetly perfuming the Church, and ruddy by the blood of thy battle! we this day most fervently proclaim thee blessed.
Neither the sweetness of luxury, nor the flower of beauty, nor riches, nor the pleasures of youth, could rob thee of thy energy, O glorious Barbara, most fair virgin, espoused to Christ.
All stood in amazement at witnessing thy combat; for thou didst endure the tortures, and chains, and cruelties, of thy persecutors, O Barbara, of wide-world fame! Therefore, did God give thee the crown thou didst covet; thou didst run thy course with courage, and he healed thee.
Full of love for Jesus thy Spouse, thy bright lamp was well trimmed, and thy virtues shed forth their splendour, O virgin worthy of praise! Therefore didst thou enter in with Christ to the marriage-feast, and he wreathed thee with the crown of thy combat. We celebrate thy memory, O Barbara! Deliver us from danger.
By those three apertures, which thou wouldst have to thy bath, thou didst symbolize, O Barbara, the mystery of Baptism, which, by the light of the Trinity, imparts to our souls a cleansing that illuminates.
Fleeing the terrible violence of her father, a rock immediately opened a reception of safety to Barbara, as happened heretofore to the illustrious protomartyr of her sex, Thecla, for whom Christ worked a like miracle.
O martyr Barbara! thou wast sacrificed with a sword, by thy father; like in this to Abraham, but his devotedness was to the devil.
Jesus appeared to thee, O Barbara, in thy prison: he was surrounded by light inaccessible, but he came to animate thy confidence, heal thy wounds and make thee glad: this gave wings to thy love of thy Lord.
When for Christ’s sake thou wast stripped of thy garments, O venerable Barbara! a bright angel clothed thee, as a bride, with a splendid robe, which covered thy wounds; for thou hast put on the stole which gives creatures a divine transformation.
Thy prophecy, O Christ, has been evidently fulfilled: for the father delivers his daughter up to death, nay himself becomes her murderer; but this cruel parentof thy martyr is, in a wonderful manner, consumed by fire from heaven.
Thou, most honoured virgin, having entered the path of combatants, didst resist thy father’s demands, and, as a wise virgin bearing her lamp, thou didst go into the mansions of thy Lord; he gave thee, O generous martyr, the power to drive away pestilence; pray to God for us who hymn thy praises, and deliver us from our spiritual diseases.
To this the voice of so many Churches we join ours, O faithful virgin! and though we are unworthy, yet do we offer thee our praise and our prayers. Behold! our Lord cometh, and the darkness of the night is upon us; give to our lamp both the light which will guide us, and the oil which will keep in the light. Thou knowest that He who came for love of thee, and with whom thou art now united for all eternity, is coming to visit us too; pray for us that nothing may keep us from receiving Him. May we go towards Him courageously and swiftly as thou didst; and being once with Him, may we never be separated from Him again, for He is the centre where we creatures find our only rest. Pray also, O glorious martyr, that the faith in the blessed Trinity may be ever increasing in this world. May our enemy, satan, be confounded by every tongue confessing the threefold light, and the triumphant cross which sanctifies the waters of Baptism. Remember, O blessed Barbara, thou bride of Jesus, that He has put in thy gentle hands the power not of hurling, but of staying and averting, the thunderbolt. Protect our ships against the fires of heaven and of war. Shield by thy protection the arsenals where are placed the defences of our country. Hear the prayers of them that invoke thee, whether in the fierceness of the storm, or in the dark depths of the earth; and save us all from the awful chastisement of a sudden death.
Let us consider how the various nations on the face of the earth, though differing in customs, and speech, and interests, are all united in the expectation of a Deliverer soon to come. Neither the frightful corruption of morals, nor the long ages which have passed since the promises were given, have been able to efface the tradition, or the hope it inspired. At the very time when the world seems crumbling into dissolution, a strong symptom of vigour is evinced, and from one end of the earth to the other there is heard this cry: The King of the universe is soon to appear; a new empire, holy and everlasting, is to bring all peoples into one. It is thus, O Jesus! that Jacob prophesied on his dying bed, when he said, speaking of Thee: 'He shall be the expectation of nations.’ Men have, indeed, searched after, and found, the way to the lowest degradation; but they could not prevent the fulfilment of this prophecy: and by their expectation of a happier state of things, they themselves fulfil it; and by fulfilling it, are confessing that their misery has no remedy save Thyself. Come, then, O Son of God! and cherish this ray of hope of the ancient world, which renders Thee this its only homage, even whilst falling under the weight of its own wretchedness. The expectation of a Deliverer is the bond of union between the two great divisions of the human race, those who preceded and those who have lived since Thy Nativity. But if the pagan world, from the depth of its vices and errors, could sigh after Thee, O Jesus! what shall we not do, who have inherited what was promised, now that Thou art preparing to come and take possession of our souls? We already know Thee, for Thou hast initiated us into Thy mysteries; we cannot do less, dear Jesus! we are longing for Thee during these days of Advent. When the beautiful day of Thy visit comes, mayst Thou find that Thy love is already in our hearts. Make our expectation more fervid, increase our faith, and come!
A Responsory of Advent
(The Roman breviary, Matins of the first Sunday)
R. Salvatorem exspectamus Dominum Jesum Christum; * Qui reformabit corpus humilitatis nostræ configuratum corpori claritatis suæ. V. Sobrie, juste, et pie, vivamus in hoc sæculo, exspectantes beatam spem, et adventum gloriæ magni Dei, * Qui reformabit corpus humilitatis nostræ configuratum corpori claritatis suæ.
R. We look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ; * Who will reform the body of our lowliness made like to the body of his glory. V. Let us live soberly, and justly, and piously in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God, * Who will reform the body of our lowliness made like to the body of his glory.
 Gen. xlix. 10.
From Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year.
The Roman Church confines herself to-day to the Office of the feria: but to that she joins a commemoration of St. Sabas, abbot of the celebrated laura of Palestine which still exists under his name. This saint, who died in 533, is the only one of the monastic Order of whom the Church makes any mention in her liturgy during the whole period of Advent; we might even say that he is the only simple confessor whose name occurs in the calendar of this part of the year: for, as regards St. Francis Xavier, the glorious title of apostle of the Indies puts him in a distinct class of saints. Here, again, we should recognize divine Providence, which has selected for these days of preparation for Christmas, those saints whose characteristic virtues would make them our fittest models in this work of preparation. We have the feasts of apostles, pontiffs, doctors, virgins: Jesus, the Man-God, the King and Spouse of men, is preceded by this magnificent procession of the noblest of His servants: simple confession has but a single representative, the anchoret and cenobite Sabas, who, by his profession of the monastic life, is of that family of holy solitaries, which began with the prophet Elias under the old Testament, and continued up to the time of St. John the Precursor, who was one of its members, and will continue on, during the new Covenant, until the last coming of Jesus. Let us, then, honour this holy abbot, towards whom the Greek Church professes a filial veneration, and under whose invocation Rome has consecrated one of her churches. Let us beg his prayers by this Collect of the holy liturgy.
Intercessio nos, quæsumus, Domine, beati Sabbæ abbatis commendet, ut quod nostris meritis non valemus, ejus patrocinio assequamur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
May the intercession, we beseech thee, O Lord, of the blessed abbot Sabas recommend us to thee; that what we cannot hope for through our own merits, we may obtain by his prayers. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Sabas, thou man of desires! in thy expectation of that Lord, who has bidden His servants watch until He come, thou didst withdraw into the desert, fearing lest the turmoil of this world might distract thy mind from its God. Have pity on us who are living in the world, and are so occupied in the affairs of that world, and yet who have received the commandment, which thou didst so take to heart, of keeping ourselves in readiness for the coming of our Saviour and our Judge. Pray for us, that when He comes we may be worthy to go out to meet Him. Kemember also the monastic state, of which thou art one of the brightest ornaments; raise it up again from its ruins; let its children be men of prayer and faith, as of old; let thy spirit be among them, and the Church thus regain, by thy intercession, all the glory which is reflected on her from the sublime perfection of this holy state.
Let us look again at the prophecy of Jacob. The holy patriarch not only foretells that the Messias will be the Expectation of nations; he adds that, when this promised Deliverer comes, the sceptre will have been taken away from Juda. This oracle is now fulfilled. The flag of Cæsar Augustus floats on the ramparts of Jerusalem. The temple is still untouched; the abomination of desolation stands not yet in the holy place; sacrifices are there still offered up to God; but then, the true temple of God, the Incarnate Word, has not yet been built; the Synagogue has not denied Him, who was her expectation; the Victim, that was to supersede all others, has not been immolated. Yet, Juda has no chief of her own race; Cæsar’s coin is current throughout all Palestine; and the day is not far off when the leaders of the Jewish people will own, in the presence of the Roman governor, that they have not the power to put any man to death. So that there is now no king upon the throne of David and Solomon, that throne which was to abide for ever. O Jesus! Son of David, and King of peace, now is the time when Thou must show Thyself and take possession of the sceptre which has been taken in battle from the hand of Juda, and put, for a time, into that of an emperor. Come! for Thou art King, and the psalmist, Thy ancestor, thus sang of Thee: 'Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O Thou Most Mighty! With Thy comeliness and Thy beauty set out, proceed prosperously, and reign, because of truth and meekness and justice, and Thy right hand shall conduct Thee wonderfully. Thy arrows are sharp: under Thee shall people fall: Thy arrows shall go into the hearts of the King’s enemies. Thy throne is for ever and ever; the sceptre of Thy kingdom is a sceptre of uprightness. . . . God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee, O Christ! who takest thence Thy name, with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows, who have been honoured with the name of king.’ When Thou hast come, O Messias! men will be no more as sheep going astray without a shepherd; there will be but one fold, in which Thou wilt reign by love and justice, for all power will be given unto Thee in heaven and on earth. When, in the hour of Thy Passion, Thy enemies shall ask Thee: ‘Art Thou King?’ Thou wilt answer them in all truth: ‘Verily, I am.’ Come, dearest King, and reign over our hearts; come, and reign over this world, which is Thine because Thou didst create it, and will soon be Thine because Thou wilt have redeemed it. Reign, then, over this world, and delay not the manifestation of Thy royal power until the day of which it is written: 'He will break kings in the day of His wrath’; reign from this very hour, and let all people fall at Thy feet and adore Thee in one grand homage of love and obedience.
Sequence for the Time of Advent
(Composed in the eleventh century, and taken from the ancient Roman-French missals)
Qui regis sceptra forti dextra solus cuncta;
Tu plebi tuam ostende magnam excitando potentiam; Praesta illi dona salutaria.
Quem praedixerunt prophetica vaticinia, A clara poli regia,
In nostra Jesum mitte, Domine, arva.
O thou that, in the might of thy right hand, alone rulest over all sceptres,
Raise up thy great power, and show it to the people, To whom grant the gifts of salvation.
Jesus whom the oracles of the prophets foretold, Send him from the bright palace of heaven,
Send him, O Lord, into our land.
 Gen. xlix. 10.
 St. John xviii. 31.
 Ps. xliv.
 St. John xviii. 37.
 Ps. cix. 5.