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The Liturgical Year

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Under this heading of Proper of the Time, we here comprise the movable Office of the Sundays and Ferias of Advent. Though anxious to give to the faithful the flowers of the Advent liturgy, yet were we to bring forward even those which might be considered as the choicest, four volumes would have barely sufficed. The fear of making our work too expensive to the faithful, persuaded us to limit it within much narrower bounds, and out of the abundant treasures before us, to give what we thought could be least dispensed with.

The plan we have adopted is this: We give the whole of the Mass and Vespers for the four Sundays of Advent. On the ferial days, we give one, at least, of the lessons from Isaias, which are read in the Office of Matins; adding to this a hymn or sequence, or some other poetic liturgical composition. All these have been taken from the gravest sources, for example, from the Roman and Mozarabic breviaries, from the Greek anthology and menæa, from the missals of the middle ages, &c. After this hymn or sequence, we have given a prayer from the Ambrosian, Gallican, or Mozarabic missal. So that the faithful will find in our collection an unprecedented abundance of liturgical formulæ, each of which carries authority with it, as being taken from ancient and approved sources.

We have not thought it desirable to give a commentary to each of the liturgical formulæ inserted in our work. It seemed to us that they would be rendered sufficiently intelligible by the general explanation which runs through our work, in which explanation we have endeavoured to excite the devotion of the reader, give unity to the several parts, and afford solid instruction. We shall thus avoid all those repetitions and commonplace remarks, which do little more than fatigue the reader.

We have inserted the Great Antiphons and the Office of Christmas Eve in the proper of the saints, because both of these have fixed days in the calendar, and to put them in the proper of the time, as they stand in the breviary and missal, would have required us to introduce into a book, destined for the laity, rubrics somewhat complicated, which would, perhaps, not have been understood.

For more information on the season of Advent, visit here.

We apply the name of Christmas to the forty days which begin with the Nativity of our Lord, December 25, and end with the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, February 2. It is a period which forms a distinct portion of the Liturgical Year, as distinct, by its own special spirit, from every other, as are Advent, Lent, Easter, or Pentecost. One same Mystery is celebrated and kept in view during the whole forty days. Neither the Feasts of the Saints, which so abound during this Season; nor the time of Septuagesima, with its mournful Purple, which often begins before Christmastide is over, seem able to distract our Holy Mother the Church from the immense joy of which she received the good tidings from the Angels[1] on that glorious Night for which the world had been longing four thousand years. The Faithful will remember that the Liturgy commemorates this long expectation by the four penitential weeks of Advent.
[1] St Luke ii 10.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Christmas)

For more information on the season of Christmas, visit here.

This third section of the liturgical year is much shorter than the two preceding ones; and yet it is one of real interest. The season of Septuagesima has only three weeks of the Proper of the Time, and the feasts of the saints are far less frequent than at other periods of the year. The volume we now offer to the faithful may be called one of transition, inasmuch as it includes the period between two important seasons—viz., Christmas and Lent. We have endeavoured to teach them how to spend these three weeks; and our instructions, we trust, will show them that, even in this the least interesting portion of the ecclesiastical year, there is much to be learned. They will find the Church persevering in carrying out the one sublime idea which pervades the whole of her liturgy; and, consequently, they must derive solid profit from imbibing the spirit peculiar to this season.

Were we, therefore, to keep aloof from the Church during Septuagesima, we should not have a complete idea of her year, of which these three weeks form an essential part. The three preliminary chapters of this volume will convince them of the truth of our observation; and we feel confident that, when they have once understood the ceremonies, and formulas, and instructions, offered them by the Church during this short season, they will value it as it deserves.

For more information on the season of Septuagesima, visit here.

We begin, with this volume, the holy season of Lent; but such is the richness of its liturgy, that we have found it impossible to take our readers beyond the Saturday of the fourth week. Passion-week and Holy Week, which complete the forty days of yearly penance, require to be treated at such length, that we could not have introduced them into this volume without making it inconveniently large.

The present volume is a very full one, although it only comprises the first four weeks of the season of Lent. We have called it Lent; and yet the two weeks of the next volume are also comprised in Lent; nay, they are its most important and sacred part. But, in giving the name of Lent to this first section, we have followed the liturgy itself, which applies this word to the first four weeks only; giving to the two that remain the names of Passion-week and Holy Week. Our next volume will, therefore, be called Passiontide and Holy Week.

For more information on Lent, visit here.

After having proposed the forty-days’ fast of Jesus in the desert to the meditation of the faithful during the first four weeks of Lent, the holy Church gives the two weeks which still remain before Easter to the commemoration of the Passion. She would not have her children come to that great day of the immolation of the Lamb, without having prepared for it by compassionating with Him in the sufferings He endured in their stead.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Passiontide and Holy Week)

For more information on Passiontide and Holy Week, visit here.

WITH this volume we begin the season of Easter, wherein are accomplished the mysteries prepared for, and looked forward to, since Advent. Such are the liturgical riches of this portion of the Christian year, that we have found it necessary to devote three volumes to it.

The present volume is wholly taken up with Easter Week. A week is indeed a short period; but such a week as this, with the importance of the events it brings before us, and the grandeur of the mysteries it celebrates, is, at least, equivalent to any other section of our Liturgical Year. We have abridged our explanations as much as possible; and yet we have exceeded two-thirds of one of our ordinary volumes. Hence, it was out of the question to add the remaining weeks; the more so, as the saints’ feasts recommence on the Monday following the Easter Octave, and their insertion would have obliged us to have made our volume considerably more bulky than even that of Passiontide. We have, therefore, been satisfied with giving the Mass and Office of the Annunciation, already given in our volume for Lent, but which are needed for the Monday after Low Sunday, when Easter falls between March 22 and April 2, which is frequently the case.

For more information on Paschal Tide, visit here.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE holy Popes of the primitive ages of the Church abound during these last days of our Paschal season. To-day we have Felix I, a martyr of the persecution under Aurelian, in the third century. His Acts have been lost, with the exception of this one detail: that he proclaimed a dogma of the Incarnation, with admirable precision, in a letter addressed to the Church of Alexandria, a passage of which was read with much applause at the two (Ecumenical Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon.

We also learn from a law he passed for those troubled times of the Church, that this holy Pontiff was zealous in procuring for the martyrs the honour that is due to them. He decreed that the Holy Sacrifice should be offered up on their tombs. The Church still keeps this law in mind by requiring that all altars, whether fixed or portable, must have, amongst the relics that are placed in them, a portion of some belonging to the martyrs. We shall have to speak of this custom in a future volume.

The Liturgy gives us this short notice regarding the holy Pontiff:

Felix Romanus, patre Constantio, Aureliano imperatore præfuit Ecclesiæ. Constituit ut Missa supra memorias et sepulchra martyrum celebraretur. Qui cum mense Decembri habuisset ordinationes duas, et creasset presbyteros novem, diaconos quinque, episcopos per diversa locaquinque, martyrio coronatus, via Aurelia sepelitur in Basilica quam a se ædificatam dedicarat. Vixit in pontificatu annos duos, menses quatuor, dies viginti novem.
Felix, a Roman by birth, and son of Constantius, governed the Church during the reign of the emperor Aurelian. He decreed that the Mass should be celebrated upon the shrines and tombs of the martyrs. He held two ordinations in the month of December, and made nine priests, five deacons, and five bishops for divers places. He was crowned with martyrdom, and was buried on the Aurelian Way, in a Basilica which he himself had built and dedicated. He reigned two years, four months, and twenty-nine days.

Thou, O holy Pontiff, didst imitate thy divine Master in his death, for thou gavest thy life for thy sheep. Like him, too, thou art to rise from thy tomb, and thy happy soul shall be reunited to its body, which suffered death in testimony of the truth thou proclaimedst at Rome. Jesus is the first-born of the dead;[1] thou didst follow him in his Passion, thou shalt follow him in his Resurrection. Thy body was laid in those venerable vaults, which the piety of early Christians honoured with the appellation of Cemeteries—a word which signifies a place wherein to sleep. Thou, O Felix, wilt awaken on that great day whereon the Pasch is to receive its last and perfect fulfilment: pray that we also may then share with thee in that happy resurrection. Obtain for us that we may be faithful to the graces received in this year's Easter; and prepare us for the visit of the Holy Ghost, who is soon to descend upon us, that he may give stability to the work that has been achieved in our souls by our merciful Saviour.

[1] Apoc. i 5.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

DURING the season consecrated to the mystery of our Emmanuel's Birth, we saw standing near his crib the blessed Emperor Charlemagne. Crowned with the imperial diadem, and with a sword in his fearless hand, he seemed to be watching over the Babe, whose first worshippers were shepherds. And now near the glorious Sepulchre, which was first visited by Magdalene and her companions, we perceive a king—Ferdinand the Victorious—wearing a crown, and keeping guard with his valiant sword, the terror of the Saracen.

Catholic Spain is personified in her Ferdinand. His mother Berengaria was sister to Blanche, the mother of St Louis of France. In order to form ‘the Catholic Kingdom,’ there was needed one of our Lord's Apostles, St James the Great; there was needed a formidable trial, the Saracen invasion, which deluged the Peninsula; there was needed a chivalrous resistance, which lasted eight hundred years, and by which Spain regained her glory and her freedom. St Ferdinand is the worthy representative of the brave heroes who drove out the Moors from their fatherland and made her what she is: but he had the virtues of a saint, as well as the courage of a soldier.

His life was one of exploits, and each was a victory. Cordova, the city of the Caliphs, was conquered by this warrior Saint. At once its Alhambra ceased to be a palace of Mahometan effeminacy and crime. Its splendid Mosque was consecrated to the divine service, and afterwards became the Cathedral of the City. The followers of Mahomet had robbed the Church of St James at Compostella of its bells, and had them brought in triumph to Cordova; Ferdinand ordered them to be carried thither again, on the backs of the Moors.

After a siege of sixteen months, Seville also fell into Ferdinand's hands. Its fortifications consisted of a double wall, with a hundred and sixty-six towers. The Christian army was weak in numbers; the Saracens fought with incredible courage, and had the advantages of position and tactics on their part: but the Crescent was to be eclipsed by the Cross. Ferdinand gave the Saracens a month to evacuate the city and territory. Three hundred thousand withdrew to Xeres, and a hundred thousand passed over into Africa. The brave Moorish General, when taking his last look at the city, wept, and said to his officers: ‘None but a Saint could, with such a small force, have made himself master of so strong and well-manned a place.’

We will not enumerate the other victories gained by our Saint. The Moors foresaw that the result would be their total expulsion from the Peninsula. But this was not all that Ferdinand proposed: he even intended to invade Africa, and thus crush the Mussulman power for ever. The noble project was prevented by his death, which took place in the fifty-third year of his age.

He always looked upon himself as the humble instrument of God’s designs, and zealously laboured to accomplish them. Though most austere towards himself, he was a father in his compassion for his people, and was one day heard to say: ‘I am more afraid of the curse of one poor woman, than of all the Saracen armies together.’ He richly endowed the churches which he built in Spain. His devotion to the holy Mother of God was most tender, and he used to call her his Lady: in return, Mary procured him victory in all his battles, and kept away all pestilence and famine from the country during his entire reign, which, as the contemporary chroniclers observe, was an evident miracle, considering the circumstances of the age and period. The life of our Saint was one of happiness and success, whereas the life of that other admirable king, St Louis of France, was one of almost uninterrupted misfortune; as though God would give to the world, in these two Saints, a model of courage in adversity, and an example of humility in prosperity. They form unitedly a complete picture of what human life is, regenerated as it has now been by our Jesus, in whom we adore both the humiliations of the Cross and the glories of the Resurrection. What happy times were those, when God chose kings whereby to teach mankind such sublime lessons!

One feels curious to know how such a man, such a king, as Ferdinand, would take death when it came upon him. When it came, he was in his fifty-fourth year. The time approached for his receiving the Holy Viaticum. As soon as the priest entered the room with the blessed Sacrament, the holy king got out of bed, prostrated himself in adoration, and, humbly putting a cord round his neck, received the Sacred Host. This done, and feeling that he was on the verge of eternity, he ordered his attendants to remove from him every sign of royalty, and called his sons round his bed. Addressing himself to the eldest, who was Alphonsus the Good, he entrusted him with the care of his brothers, and reminded him of the duties he owed to his subjects and soldiers; he then added these words: ‘My son, thou seest what armies, and possessions, and subjects thou hast, more than any other Christian king; make a proper use of these advantages; and as thou hast the power, be good and do good. Thou art now master of the country which the Moors took, in times past, from king Rodriguez. If thou keep the kingdom in the state wherein I now leave it to thee, thou wilt be, as I have been, a good king, which thou wilt not be, if thou allowest any portion of it to be lost.’

As his end drew nigh, the dying king was favoured with an apparition from heaven. He thanked God for granting him that consolation, and then asked for the blessed candle; but before taking it in his hand, he raised up his eyes to heaven, and said: 'Thou, O Lord, hast given me the kingdom, which I should not otherwise have had; thou hast given me more honour and power than I deserved; receive my thanks! I give thee back this kingdom, which I have increased as far as I was able; I also commend my soul into thy hands!' He then asked pardon of the bystanders, begging them to overlook any offence that he might have committed against them. The whole court was present, and, with tears, asked the Saint to forgive them.

The holy king then took the blessed candle into his hands, and raising it up towards heaven, said: ‘Lord Jesus Christ! my Redeemer! naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I return to the earth. Lord, receive my soul! and, through the merits of thy most holy Passion, deign to admit it among those of thy servants!’ Having said this, he gave back the candle, and asked the bishops and priests, who were present, to recite the Litanies; which being ended he bade them sing the Te Deum. When the hymn was finished, he bowed down his head, closed his eyes, and calmly expired.

Thus died those men, whose glorious works were the result of their faith, and who looked on themselves as only sent into this world that they might serve Christ and labour to propagate his kingdom. It was to them that Europe owed its highest glory; they made the Gospel its first law, and based its constitution on the Canons of the Church. It is now governed by a very different standard; it is paying dearly for the change, and is drifting rapidly to dissolution and ruin.

The following are the Lessons used in the Office of St Ferdinand:

Ferdinandus Tertius, Castellæ et Legionis rex, cui sancti cognomentum jam inde a quatuor sæculis ecclesiasticorum et sæcularium consensus dedere, tantum prudentiæ adolescens adhuc specimen præbuit, ut Berengaria mater, Castellæ regina, a qua persancte educatus fuerat, abdicatum a se regnum in filium transtulerit. In eo, adjunctis regni curis, regiæ virtutes emicuere: magnanimitas, dementia, justitia, et præ cæteris catholicæ fidei zelus, ej usque religiosi cultus tuendi ac propagandi ardens studium. Id præstitit in primis hæreticos insectando, quos nullibi regnorum suorum consistere passus est. Præstitit insuper in erigendis, dotandis, et consecrandis christiano ritu Cordubensi, Giennensi, Hispalensi et aliarum urbium ecclesiis, a maurico ereptarum jugo, simulque in instaurandis primariis templis Toletano, Burgensi et aliis pia et regia munificentia.

Inter hæc, per Castellæ et Legionis regnum, in quo patri Alphonso successerat, collectis magnis exercitibus, annuas expeditiones contra Saracenos, Christiani nominis hostes, suscepit. In queis, ut semper vinceret, præcipui exercitus fuere preces piissimi regis ad Deum fusæ, et quod ante pugnam, ut sibi Deum propitiaret, flagris in se sæviebat, atque aspero cilicio muniebat corpus. Sicque insignes contra ingentes Maurorum acies victorias reportavit, et plures urbes christiano cultui imperioque restituit, conquisitis Giennii, Cordubæ et Murciæ regnis, ac Granatensi vectigali facto. Ad expugnandam Hispalim primariam Bæticæ urbem, hortante in visione (ut traditum est) beato Isidoro olim illius urbis episcopo, victricia signa transtulit. In ea obsidione præsentem divinam opem habuisse fertur; nam ferream catenam, quæ super Bætim transversim extensa Mahometanis pro repagulo erat, coorto validiori vento, una ex navibus regiis, regis jussu eo delata, tanto impetu fregit, ut longius prætervecta, pontem quoque ligneum, et simul spes Maurorum obruperit et ad deditionem coegerit.

Tot victorias beatæ Virginis Mariæ patrocinio ferebat acceptas, cujus imaginem secum in castris habens, peculiari cultu prosequebatur. Capta Hispali, prima religionis cura fuit: nam templum Maurorum expiatum et Christianorum dedicatum sacris, insigni archiepiscopatu, et honestissimo canonicorum et dignitatum collegio, regia et religiosa liberalitate exornavit. Alia deinde in urbe templa et cœnobia erexit: inter quæ pietatis officia, dum trajicere in Africam parat, mahumetanum in ea imperium eversurus, ad cœlestem regiam vocatur. In extremo vitæ agone sacram Eucharistiam pro viatico allatam, fune ad collum alligato, et humi stratus, cum lacrymis ubertim fusis adorans, eaque dignis reverentiæ, humilitatis et catholicæ fidei obtestationibus accepta, obdormivit in Domino. Jacet ejus corpus, incorruptum adhuc post sex sæcula, in templo maximo Hispalensi, honorificentissimo inclusum sepulchro.
Ferdinand the Third, king of Castile and Leon, to whom, for now four centuries, the title of saint has been given both by clergy and laity, exhibited so much prudence in his youthful years, that his mother Berengaria, queen of Castile, who had educated him in a very holy manner, resigned her kingdom in his favour. Scarcely had Ferdinand assumed the government, than he displayed conspicuously all the virtues becoming a king: magnanimity, clemency, justice, and above ail, zeal for Catholic faith and worship, which he ardently defended and propagated. He mainly showed this zeal by forbidding heretics to settle in his states. He also gave proofs of it by building, endowing, and dedicating to Christian worship, churches in Cordova, Jaen, Seville, and other cities rescued from the Moorish yoke. He restored, with holy and royal munificence, the Cathedrals of Toledo, Burgos, and other cities.

At the same time, he levied powerful armies in the kingdom of Castile and Leon, which he inherited from his father Alphonsus; and, each year, gave battle to the Saracens, the enemies of the Christian religion. The great means whereby this most holy king secured victory in every engagement, were the prayers he offered up to God: he used also to chastise his body with disciplines and a rough hair-shirt, with the intention of rendering God propitious. By so doing, he gained extraordinary victories over the mighty armies of the Moors, and, after taking possession of Jaen, Cordova, and Murcia, and making a tributary of the kingdom of Granada, he restored many cities to the Christian religion and to Spain. He led his victorious standard before Seville, the capital of Baeza, being, as it is related, urged thereto by St Isidore, who had formerly been bishop of that city, and who appeared to him in a vision. Historians also relate that he was miraculously aided during that siege, and in the following manner: The Mahometans had stretched an iron chain across the Guadalquivir, in order to block up the passage. Suddenly there arose a violent wind, and one of the royal ships was, by the king’s order, sent against the chain, which was thus broken, and with so much violence that it was carried far on, and bore down a bridge of boats. The Moors lost all their hope, and surrendered the city.

Ferdinand attributed all these victories to the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose image he always had in his camp, and honoured it with much devotion. Having taken Seville, his first thoughts were directed to religion. He immediately caused the Mosque of the Saracens to be purified and dedicated as a Christian church, having, with a princely and pious munificence, provided it with an archiepiscopal see, richly endowed, as also with a well-appointed college of Canons and dignitaries. He moreover built several other churches and monasteries in the same city. Whilst engaged in these holy works, he was making preparations to pass over to Africa, there to crush the Mahometan empire; but he was called to the kingdom of heaven. When his last hour came, he fastened a cord round his neck, prostrated on the ground, and, shedding abundant tears, adored the Blessed Sacrament which was brought to him as Viaticum. Having received it in admirable dispositions of reverence, humility and faith, he slept in the Lord. His body, which has remained incorrupt for six centuries, is buried in a tomb of extraordinary richness, in the Cathedral Church of Seville.

By delivering thy people from the yoke of the infidel, thou, O Ferdinand, didst imitate our Risen Jesus, who rescued us from death and restored us to the life we had lost. Thy conquests were not like those of this world’s conquerors, who have no other aim than to satisfy their own and their people’s pride. Thy ambition was to deliver thy people from an oppression which had weighed heavily on them for long ages. Thy object was to save them from the danger of apostasy, which they incurred by being under the Moorish yoke. O Champion of Christ! it was for his dear sake that thou didst lay siege to the Saracen cities. His banner was thine; and thy first anxiety was to spread his kingdom. He, in return, blessed thee in all thy battles, and made thee ever victorious.

Thy mission, O Ferdinand, was to form for our God a nation, which has been honoured by Holy Church above all others with the glorious name of the 'Catholic Kingdom.’ Happy Spain, for by her perseverance and courage she broke the Mussulman yoke, that still weighs down the other countries which it made its prey! Happy Spain, for she repelled the invasion of Protestantism, and, by this, preserved the faith, which both saves souls and constitutes a nation’s strongest power! Pray for thy country, O saintly king! False doctrines and treacherous influences are now rife within her, and many of her children have been led astray. Never permit her to injure, by cowardly compromise, that holy faith which has hitherto been her grandest glory and safeguard. Frustrate the secret plots which are working to undermine her Catholicity. Keep up within her her old hatred of heresy, and maintain her in the rank she holds among Catholic nations. Unity in faith and worship may still save her from the abyss into which so many other countries have fallen. O holy king! save once more the land that God entrusted to thy keeping, and which thou didst restore to him with such humble gratitude, when thou wast about to change thine earthly for a heavenly crown. Thou art still her beloved protector; hasten, then, to her aid!

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

WHILE the angelic hosts acclaim the Incarnate Word as he takes possession of his eternal throne, a virgin at the head of the armies of earth re-echoes the praises of heaven. She was a child of the countryside, pious, gentle, and utterly ignorant, especially of the art of war, but Michael the soldier of God trained her with the aid of the Virgin Martyrs Catharine and Margaret, and suddenly, like a challenge thrown to modem naturalism in the broad daylight of history, she made her appearance, at the age of seventeen, as an incomparable warrior. Her victories, her personal influence and strategical genius equal those of the most famous captains of any times. But she surpasses them all in heroism, in her childlike simplicity, virginal purity, and faith in her Lord Jesus, the Son of St Mary, for whom she died—even greater at the stake at Rouen than in the days of her triumph. ‘De par le Roi du ciel’ (‘By order of the King of heaven’) was the motto on her banner. By order of the King of heaven, her sovereign liege, in whose royal service she is day by day, she calls upon cities to return, to their lawful obedience. By order of the King of heaven she intimates to the English that she has been sent to drive them out of France. ‘For,’ as she declared to the Dauphin's representative, 'the kingdom does not appertain to the Dauphin, but to my Lord. But it is the will of my Lord that the Dauphin should be made king and should hold the kingdom in commendam.’ ‘And who is thy Lord?’ asked Baudricourt. ‘My Lord is the King of heaven.’

To Charles she said: ‘I am called Joan the Maid, and through me does the King of heaven give you to understand that you shall be viceregent of the King of heaven who is king of France.' To the Duke of Burgundy, who was then in alliance with the enemy, she said: 'I tell you by order of the King of heaven, that all who make war on the said holy kingdom, make war on the King Jesus, the King of heaven and of all the earth.'

Joan came into the world on the feast of the glorious Epiphany, which manifested the divine Child to the world as the Lord of lords. It was during these days of his Ascension, when he takes his seat at the right hand of his Father, that she began her campaigns in 1428, achieved her greatest triumph in 1429, and closed her warlike career in 1430.

She died May 30, 1431, the eve of the Feast of Corpus Christi—a worthy consummation for a life like hers, a supreme consecration for her cause. As her soul rose from the flames to join Michael and his hosts and the Virgin Martyrs at the court of the immortal King of Ages, she left the Church on earth prostrate before Christ the King, the Ruler of the Nations, who, as it were, holds his royal assizes where he is glorified in the mystery of faith.

The following account of her life is given by the Church:

Joanna de Arc, in oppido Domremensi, olim diœcesis Tullensis, nunc Sancti Deodati, conspicuis fide et morum integritate parentibus, orta est anno Christi millesimo quadringentesimo duodecimo. Vix tredecim annos habebat, solummodo domestica negotia, opus rusticum, et prima rerum divinarum elementa edocta erat, quum se a Deo electam esse admonita est, ad Galliam ab hostibus liberandam, et ad pristinum regnum restituendum. Postquam per quinque annos, Michael Archangelus atque Catharina et Margarita, virgines sanctæ, quibus familiariter utebatur, certiorem eam fecerunt, quomodo rem jussam perageret, Deo parendum esse rata, a præfecto Valiis Colorum petiit, et, post nonnullas repulsas, obtinuit, ut viros sibi daret, qui se ad Carolum regem ducerent.

Supernis monitis obtemperans, superatis longi itineris difficultatibus ad Castrum Cainonense in agro Turonico pervenit, et Carolo regi facta fide, se a Deo missam esse, in urbem Aureliam profecta est. Paucis diebus, terribili impetu, triplicem cladem hostibus inflixit, castella expugnavit, suumque sustulit vexillum. Inde, post alia bellica facta, in quibus mirum in modum apparuit auxilium Dei, Rhemos Carolum duxit, ut regia consecratione inungeretur. Nec quiescendum esse censuit: sed quum a cælestibus nuntiis accepisset, se, Deo permittente, in hostium potestatem esse venturam, libenti animo, quæ fieri necesse esset, suscepit.

Capta Joanna in civitate Compendio, et hostibus pretio tradita, Rothomagum mox ducta, quum ibi in jus rapta esset quamplurimis criminationibus, excepta morum castitate, fuit obnoxia; sed omnia pro Jesu patienter toleravit. Acta per corruptissimos judices causa, innocens et mitis virgo damnata est pæna combustionis. Igitur sacra Eucharistia, quara tamdiu desideraverat, refecta, oculis ad crucem conversis, nomen Jesu sæpissime ingeminans, ad cælum evolavit die trigesima Maii, nondum expleto ætatis suæ anno vigesimo. Romana Ecclesia, quam semper dilexerat, et ad quam sæpius provocaverat, eam ab omni crimine vindicandam, Callisto tertio, summo Pontifice, curavit. Vergente in finem sæculo undevicesimo, Leo decimus tertius, Aurelianensis puellæ causam introduci permisit Postremo Pius decimus, re diligentissime examinata, Joannam de Arc, recentibus claram miraculis, in Beatorum numerum retulit, ac Officium et Missam propriam toti Galliæ, de speciali gratia, benigne indulsit.

Joan of Arc was born in the town of Domrémy (which was once in the diocese of Toul, but belongs now to that of Saint Dié) in the year of our Lord 1412. Her parents were noted for their virtue and piety. When she was but thirteen years old, and knew nothing but house work, field work, and the first elements of religion, she learnt that God had chosen her to deliver France from her enemies and restore the kingdom to its former independence. She enjoyed familiar intercourse with the Archangel Michael and SS Catherine and Margaret, who, during five years, instructed her how to fulfil her mission. Then, desiring to obey the command of God, she addressed herself to the governor of Vaucouleurs, who, after having several times repulsed her, at length gave her an escort to take her to King Charles.

Following in all things the divine commands, she overcame all the difficulties of the long journey, and arrived at Chinon in Touraine, where she furnished the king with proofs that her mission was from God. She proceeded to Orleans, and in a few days inflicted three defeats on the enemy, relieved the town, and raised her banner aloft in triumph. Then, after other military successes in which the assistance of God was clearly manifested, she brought Charles to Rheims, where he was solemnly crowned king. She would not rest even then, but, having learnt from her heavenly voices that God would permit her to fall into the hands of the enemy, she went bravely on to meet what was to befall her.

She was taken prisoner at Compiègne, sold to the English, and sent to Rouen for trial. She had to defend herself against many accusations, but her purity was never impugned. She suffered all things with patience for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. The wicked judges who tried this gentle and innocent virgin, condemned her to be burnt. So, fortified by the holy Eucharist, which she had long desired, and her eyes fixed upon the Cross, while she constantly murmured the name of Jesus, she took her flight to heaven on May 30, in the nineteenth year of her age. The holy Roman Church which she had always loved, and to which she had often appealed, undertook, under Pope Calixtus III, her rehabilitation, and towards the end of the nineteenth century Leo XIII gave permission for the introduction of the cause of beatification. Finally, after diligent examination and approbation of fresh miracles Pius X inscribed her among the Blessed, and permitted the dioceses of France to keep the feast with a special Office and Mass.

O King of Glory, who dost to-day ascend above the heights of heaven, thou didst drink of the torrent in the way and therefore dost thou now lift up thy head. Thy ancestor David prophesied it, thine Apostle proclaimed it. Thou didst humble thyself unto death, even the death of the cross, and therefore has God the Father exalted thee on this day, therefore does every knee bow at thy name, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. It was becoming that the law of the Head should be the law also of all those who were to be called to share his glory. Before all the ages, in the great Counsel of which, as the Church sings on Christmas Day, thou wert the Angel, the conditions of definitive victory and eternal success were thus laid down.

The Gospel tells us that the hour would come for the disciples of Jesus to give testimony and that men would think to serve God by putting them to death. Joan, like Jesus, was questioned, judged and condemned with all the legal forms and imposing ceremonial of orthodoxy. But, O ye enemies of Joan and of France, ye thought yourselves her executioners, and ye were offering her in sacrifice. France was saved, for God accepted the virginal victim. Her passing mission became a permanent patronage, and the deliverer of her country on earth has become her immortal protectress in heaven.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THIS last day of May, which is honoured by the virginal triumph of Aurelia Petronilla, in the first age of the Church, is also fragrant with the lilies that wreathe the brow of Angela de Merici. The sixteenth century, which, a few days back, offered to our Risen Lord the seraphic Magdalen de Pazzi, now presents him with this second fruit of heroic sanctity. Angela realized the whole meaning of her beautiful name. She possessed the purity of the blessed spirits in a mortal body, and she imitated their celestial energy by the vigorous practice of every virtue. This heroine of grace trampled beneath her feet everything that could impede her heavenward march. Gifted at an early age with the highest contemplation, she bravely travelled to Palestine, there to venerate the footsteps of her divine Spouse Jesus. After this, she visited the New Jerusalem, Rome, and offered up her fervent prayers at the Confession of St Peter. She then returned to her life of seclusion, and founded a Religious Order which is, and will be to the end of time, one of the glories and aids of Holy Church.

The thought of the great St Ursula and her virginal legion made a deep impression on Angela’s soul, and she too would form to our Lord an army of valiant women. Ursula confronted the barbarian host; Angela would give battle to the world and to its seductions, which are so dangerous to young girls. God blessed her with victory. As a trophy of her combats, she can point to the countless generations of young people whom her Order has saved during the last three centuries, by giving them a solid Christian education.

The Liturgy thus speaks of the virtues and actions of St Angela:

Angela Merida, Decentiani Veronensis diœcesis oppido ad lacum Benacum, in ditione Veneta, piis orta parentibus, a prima ætate virginitatis lilium, quod perpetuo servare statuerat, sedula sepsit. Ab omni muliebri ornatu abhorrens, egregiam vultus formam, pulchram cæsariem studiose fædavit, ut cœlesti duntaxat animarum sponso placeret. In ipso autem adolescentiæ flore parentibus orbata, austerioris vitæ desiderio in desertum locum aufugere tentavit; sed ab avunculo prohibita, novit præstari domi, quod in solitudine non licuit. Cilicio ac flagellis frequenter usa; carnem non nisi infirma valetudine, vinum in Nativitatis et Resurrectionis Dominicæ tantum celebritate, complures vero dies nihil omnino degustavit. Orationi dedita brevissimum humi carpebat somnum; dæmonem vero sub lucentis angeli forma sibi illudere conantem agnovit protinus, et conjecitin fugam. Tandem patemis bonis abdicatis, et habitum ac regulam tertii Ordinis sancti Francisci amplexa, evangelicam paupertatem virginitatis laudi conjunxit.

Nullum pietatis officium erga proximos omittens, pauperibus quidquid sibi ex emendicato victu superesset, largiebatur. Libenter ministrabat ægrotis, pluraque cum magna sanctitatis fama peregravit loca, ut vel solatio esset afflictis, vel reis veniam impetraret, vel infensos invicem reconciliaret animos, vel e vitiorum cœno scelestos revocaret. Angelorum pane, quem unice esuriebat, frequentissime refecta, tanti charitatis vi ferebatur in Deum, ut sæpius extra sensus raperetur. Sacra Palæstinæ loca summa cum religione obivit. Quo in itinere, et visum quem ad Cydonias appulsa oras amiserat, eodem regressa recuperavit, et barbarorum captivitatem ac naufragium imminens divinitus evasit. Romam denique firmam Ecclesiæ petram veneratura, et amplissimæ Jubilæi veniæ percupida, sedente Clemente Septimo accessit, quam summus pontifex aliocutus, ejusdem sanctimoniam suspexit, et commendavit summopere; nec ab Urbe ipsam abire ante permisit quam alio cœlitus vocatam agnovit.

Brixiam itaque, ubi domum ad sanctæ Aphræ templum conduxit, reversa, novam ibi virginum societatem, sicut cœlesti voce ac visione mandatum sibi fuerat, sub certa disciplina sanctisque vivendi regulis constituit, quams anctæ Ursulæ invictæ virginum ducis patrocinio ac nomine insignivit, eam vero perennem futuram morti proxima prædixit. Tandem prope septuagenaria, dives meritis avolavit in cœlum sexto kalendas februarias anni millesimi quingentesimi et quadragesimi; cujus cadaver per ipsos triginta dies inhumatum, flexibile ac vivo simillimum perseveravit. Demum in sanctæ Aphræ templo inter cæteras quibus illud abundat sanctorum reliquias reposito, plurima ad ejus sepulchrum agi statim cœpere miracula: quorum fama late diffusa non Brixiæ modo et Decentiani, sed alibi etiam vulgo cœpit nuncupari Beata, ejusque imago aris imponi. Imo sanctus ipse Carolus Borromæus non multis post annis dignam, quæ ab Apostolica Sede in sanctorum virginum album referretur, Brixiæ palam asseruit. Cultum vero illi jamdiu a populis exhibitum, et tum locorum ordinariis probatum, tum pluribus etiam summorum pontificum indultis munitum, Clemens papa Tertius Decimus solemni decreto ratum habuit et confirmavit. Eam tamdem, novis miraculis rite probatis insignem, Pius papa Septimus solemni canonizatione in vaticana basilica peracta, die vigesima quarta Maii, anno millesimo octingentesimo septimo sanctarum virginum catalogo adscripsit.

Angela de Merici was bom of virtuous parents at Decenzano, a town in the diocese of Verona, near lake Benago, in the Venetian territory. From her earliest years she kept the strictest guard over the lily of her virginity, which she had resolved should never be taken from her. She had a thorough contempt for those outward deckings on which so many women set their hearts. She purposely disfigured the beauty of her features and hair, that she might find no favour save with the Spouse of our souls. Whilst yet in the bloom of youth, she lost her parents; whereupon she sought to retire into a desert, that she might lead a life of penance; but being prevented by an uncle, she fulfilled at home what she was not permitted to do in a wilderness. She frequently wore a hairshirt, and took the discipline. She never ate flesh-meat, except in case of sickness; she never tasted wine, except on the Feasts of our Lord’s Nativity and Resurrection; and, at times, would pass whole days without taking any food. She spent much time in prayer, and exceedingly little in sleep, and that little on the ground. The devil having once appeared to her in the form of an angel of light, she at once detected his craft, and put him to flight. At length, having resigned her right to the fortune left her by her parents, she embraced the rule of the Third Order of St Francis, received the habit, and united evangelical poverty to the merit of virginity.

She showed her neighbour every kind office in her power; and gave to the poor a portion of her own food, which she procured by begging. She gladly served the sick. She gained the reputation of great sanctity in several places, which she visited either that she might comfort the afflicted, or obtain pardon for criminals, or reconcile them that were at variance, or reclaim sinners from the sink of crime. She had a singular hunger for the Bread of Angels, which she frequently received; and such was the vehemence of her love of God, that she was often in a state of ecstasy. She visited the Holy Places of Palestine with extraordinary devotion. During her pilgrimage, she lost her sight on landing on the isle of Candia, but recovered it when leaving. She also miraculously escaped shipwreck and falling into the hands of barbarians. She went to Rome during the Pontificate of Pope Clement the Seventh, in order to venerate the firm Rock of the Church, and to gain the great Jubilee Indulgence. The Pope had an interview with her, at once discovered her sanctity and spoke of her to others in terms of highest praise; nor would he have allowed her to leave the city, had he not been convinced that heaven called her elsewhere.

Having returned to Brescia, she took a house near the church of Saint Afra. There, by God's command, which was made known to her by a voice from heaven and by a vision, she instituted a new society of virgins under a special discipline, and holy rules, which she herself drew up. She put her Institute under the title and patronage of Saint Ursula, the brave leader of the army of virgins: she also foretold, shortly before her death, that this Institute would last to the end of the world. At length, being close upon seventy years of age, laden with merit, she took her flight to heaven in the year 1540, on the sixth of the Calends of February (January 27). Her corpse was kept thirty days before being put in the grave, and preserved the flexibility and appearance of a living body. It was laid in the church of Saint Afra, amidst the many other relics wherewith that church is enriched. Many miracles were wrought at her tomb. The rumour of these miracles spread not only through Brescia and Decenzano, but also in other places. The name of Blessed was soon given to Angela, and her image used to be placed on the altars. St Charles Borromeo affirmed, whilst preaching at Brescia, a few years after Angela’s death, that she was worthy of canonization: Clement the Thirteenth ratified and confirmed the devotion thus paid her by the faithful, which had already received the approbation of several bishops, and the encouragement of several Indults of Sovereign Pontiffs. Finally, after several new miracles had been juridically proved, Pius the Seventh enrolled Angela in the list of holy virgins, in the solemn canonization celebrated in the Vatican Basilica, on May 24 in the year 1807.

Thou didst fight the battles of our Lord, O Angela, and thy holy labours merited for thee a glorious rest in the mansions of eternal bliss. An insatiable zeal for the honour of Jesus whom thou hadst chosen as thy Spouse, and an ardent charity for the creatures redeemed by his precious Blood were the characteristics of thy whole life. This love of thy neighbour made thee the mother of a countless progeny; for who can number the young children that have been educated, in sound doctrine and piety, by thy daughters? Thou didst powerfully contribute to the welfare of Christian society, by thus preparing so many for the duties of domestic life; and how many other Congregations, in imitation of thy Ursulines, have taken up the same admirable work, and have brought consolation to the Church, and happiness to the world? The sovereign Pontiff has ordered that thy feast should be kept throughout the whole Church. He declared, in issuing this decree, that he wished to put under thy maternal protection the young girls who are nowadays exposed to such fearful dangers by the enemies of Christ and his Church. They have formed the project of undermining the faith of women, that so their good influence may be destroyed in their families. Disconcert these impious plans, O Angela! Protect thy sex; nourish within it the sentiment of the dignity of Christian woman, and society may still be saved.

We turn to thee, O Spouse of Christ, and ask for fervour in the liturgical year, wherein we are made to follow in the path that was so dear to thee. Thy devotion in following the divine Mysteries which are successively brought before us, led thee to visit the Holy Land. Thou didst long to see Nazareth and Bethlehem, to traverse Galilee and Judea, to give thanks in the Cenacle, to weep on Calvary, and to adore the glorious Sepulchre. Deign to bless our feeble desires and efforts to tread in these same holy paths. We have still to follow thee to Mount Olivet, whence our Redeemer ascended into heaven; we have to return to the Cenacle, which the Holy Ghost is preparing to light up with his divine Fire. Obtain for us, O Angela, that we may follow thee to these hallowed spots, which made thee quit thy country and undertake a long and perilous pilgrimage. Oh! prepare our hearts for the sublime Mysteries which are to crown our Paschal season.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THOUGH the Church makes but a simple commemoration of this illustrious virgin in the office of this day, we will not fail to offer her the homage of our devout veneration. On the twelfth of this month we kept the feast of the noble virgin and martyr, Flavia Domitilla; it is probable that Aurelia Petronilla was also of the imperial family of the Flavii. The early traditions of the Church speak of her as being the spiritual daughter of the Prince of the Apostles; and though she did not, like Domitilla, lay down her life for the faith, yet she offered to Jesus that next richest gift, her virginity. The same venerable authorities tell us also that a Roman Patrician, by name Flaccus, having asked her in marriage, she requested three days for consideration, during which she confidently besought the aid of her divine Spouse. Flaccus presented himself on the third day, but found the palace in mourning, and her family busy in preparing the funeral obsequies of the young virgin, who had taken her flight to heaven, as a dove that is startled by an intruder’s approach.

In the eighth century, the holy Pope Paul I had the body of Petronilla taken from the cemetery of Domitilla, on the Ardeatine Way. Her relics were found in a marble sarcophagus, the lid of which was adorned, at each corner, with a dolphin. The Pope had them enshrined in a little church, which he built near the south side of the Vatican Basilica. This church was destroyed in the sixteenth century, in consequence of the alterations needed for the building of the new Basilica of St Peter; and the relics of St Petronilla were translated to one of its altars on the west side. It was but just that she should await her glorious resurrection under the shadow of the great Apostle who had initiated her in the faith, and prepared her for her eternal nuptials with the Lamb.

Thy triumph, O Petronilla, is one of our Easter joys. We lovingly venerate thy blessed memory. Thou didst disdain the pleasures and honours of the world, and thy virginal name is one of the first on the list of the Church of Rome, which was thy mother. Aid her now by thy prayers. Protect those who seek thine intercession, and teach us how to celebrate, with holy enthusiasm, the solemnities that are soon to gladden us.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE glory of martyrdom illumines this day with a profusion rarely met with in the cycle; and already we seem to descry the rosy dawn of that brightest day of this month, on which Peter and Paul will consummate in their blood their own splendid confession. Italy and Gaul, Rome and Lyons concur in forming a legion of heroes in the service of heaven. For to-day Lyons, the illustrious daughter of Rome, is keeping the special festival of a whole phalanx of warriors, headed by the veteran chief, St Pothinus, disciple of St Polycarp, who, in the second century, levied the brave recruits of his battalion on the banks of the Rhone.[1] But to the mother Church are due the first honours. Let us, then, hail Marcellinus, together with the numerous progeny begotten by his fruitful priesthood, and rendered worthy by the Holy Ghost to share in his triumph. Let us hail, likewise, the exorcist, Peter, leading to the sacred font a long line of pagans whom he won over to Christ by proving to them the weakness of the demons.

When Christianity appeared on earth, Satan was visibly the prince of this world. To him was every altar reared; to his empire were all laws and customs subservient. From the depths of their famous temples, the demon chiefs directed the political affairs of the cities that came to consult their oracles; under divers names the lowest of the fallen angels found honour and influence at the domestic hearth; others had functions assigned to them, in forests, on mountains, at fountains, or on sea, occupying, in opposition to God, this world that had been created by him for his glory, but which Satan, through man’s connivance, had conquered. Four thousand years of abandonment on the part of heaven permitted the usurper to consolidate his conquest; and a strong defence had been planned in preparation for the day on which the lawful King should offer to re-enter on his rights.

The coming of the Word made Flesh was the signal for the assertion of the divine claim. The prince of this world, personally vanquished by the Son of God, understood well enough that he must needs return to the depths of hell. But the countless powers of darkness constituted by him would maintain the struggle through the length of ages, and dispute their position inch by inch. Driven from towns by the abjurations of holy Church and the triumph of martyrs, the infernal legions would fain marshal their ranks in the wilderness; there, under the leadership of an Anthony or a Pachomius, the soldiers of Christ must wage against them ceaseless and terrific battle. In the west, Benedict, the patriarch of monks, finds altars to the demons, and even demons themselves, on the heights of Cassino as late as the sixth century. Even in the seventh, they are found contending against St Gall for possession of the woods, lakes and rocks of what we now call Switzerland; and at last they are heard uttering mournful complaint, because, driven from the haunts of men, even such desolate spots as these are denied them. Verily, in the divine mind, the vocation of a monk to the desert has for itsend, not only flight from the world and its concerns, but likewise the pursuit of demons into their last entrenchments.

We have dwelt upon these considerations because their importance is extreme, and because this subject is now systematically ignored. True Christians firmly believe, now as formerly, in the spiritual combat which the soul has to sustain against hell, in the secrecy of conscience; but too many have no scruple in rejecting, as if belonging to the domain of the imagination, whatever is related of the public combats maintained by our fathers against the demons. The excuse for such Christians is, no doubt, the fact that they live in a land where this external war was ended centuries ago by the social victory of Christendom. But the Holy Ghost has declared that the old serpent, bound up for a thousand years, is at last to be again unchained for a while.[2] If we be nearing this fatal epoch, it is high time to look about us; we shall be ill prepared for waging the old battles, if we persist in our ignorance, and in branding with the name of legend the best attested facts in the history of our ancestors. After all, what is history, since the revolt of Lucifer, but a picture of the war that is being waged between God and Satan? Now if Satan has, by divine permission, invaded the exterior world as well as that of souls, must not the struggle to cast him out[3] be a hand to hand fight, an exterior and visible encounter?

‘The Word,’ says St Justin, ‘was made Flesh for two ends: to save believers, and to drive away demons.’[4] So also, the expulsion of demons from the places they occupy in this material world, and specially in the noblest part thereof, the bodies of men, appears in the Gospel to have been one of the chief characteristics of our Saviour’s power. Again, when on quitting the earth he sent his apostles to continue his work amidst the nations, this is the very thing he singled out as a primary sign of the mission they were to fulfil.[5] The world of that day made no mistake about it. Soon enough had the pagans to witness the cessation of the ancient oracles in every place;[6] and the cause of a phenomenon of such import to the ancient religion was evident to all: the very demons themselves were not backward in ascribing to the Christians their enforced silence. As regards this power of Christianity against hell, the apologists of the second and third centuries appeal on the subject to public testimony, without fear of contradiction. ‘Before the eyes of everyone,’ says St Justin to the emperors, ‘ the Christians drive out demons in the name of Jesus Christ, not only in Rome, but in the whole universe.᾽[7] The gods of Olympus beheld themselves shamefully unmasked, in the presence of their confused adorers, and Tertullian might well challenge the magistrates of the empire thus: ‘Let one of those men who declare themselves to be under the power of the gods, be brought before your tribunals: at the command of the first comer amongst us, the spirit whereby they are possessed will be constrained to confess what he is; if he avow not himself a demon and no god, fearing to lie to a Christian, at once shed the blood of this Christian blasphemer. But no; it is the terror they have of Christ that forces them to take flight at the mere touch or even the breath of one of his servants.᾽[8]

Baptism sufficed to give man such power as this; and this was the real meaning of our Lord’s promise, when speaking not only of the heads of the Church, but of all who would believe in him, he said: ‘In my name they shall cast out devils.᾽[9] At an early date, however, the Church, organizing the holy war, constituted among her sons one special Order having for its direct mission the pursuit of Satan on every point of this visible world. The exorcists were, by this delegation, invested with a power that accelerates the downfall of the prince of this world; and to render this defeat more odious and humiliating the Church raised no higher than to the rank of inferior clergy an Order so terrible to hell. Lucifer had aimed at being equal to the Most High;[10]hurled down from heaven, he flattered himself in his folly that he would be able to supplant God upon the earth: and lo! the charge of defeating him here is confided not to angels, his equals by nature, but to men, and even to the least of this credulous race which for long ages he had seen prostrate before him! Their hand of flesh constrains him, spirit though he be, to come off his throne; at their word he must needs cast away his vain adornments, he must unmask himself; the water they bless rekindles within him his eternal tortures; of the prince of this world and his pomps nought remains but mere Satan, the ugly-faced apostate, the condemned criminal wincing in the dust at the feet of the sons of men, or fleeing like a dry leaf before the breath of their mouth.

The archangel Michael recognizes, in these sons of Adam, the worthy allies of the faithful angels he led forward to victory. But amid those who continue the mighty battle begun on the heights of heaven,[11] the exorcist Peter comes before us to-day radiant with matchless splendour. The triumph of martyrdom has been added to his victories won over Satan's cohorts. None better than he drove hell back; for, chasing the demons out of men’s bodies, he moreover made conquest of their souls. The priest Marcellinus, the companion of his victories and martyrdom, is likewise his associate in glory. The Church wishes that these two names, so formidable to the spirits of darkness, should shine in one same aureole here below as in heaven. Daily does she render them the most solemn homage in her power by naming them both, on the diptych of the holy Sacrifice, together with the apostles and her first sons. Such was the importance of the mission they fulfilled and the renown of their final combat, that their bodies, translated to the Via Latina, became the nucleus of an illustrious cemetery. In the age of peace, that came soon after their glorious confession, the Christians vied with one another in obtaining sepulture near these soldiers of Christ, whose protection they craved. Constantine the Great, the vanquisher of idolatry, deposited at their sacred feet the remains of his mother, St Helena, who had herself become a terror to the demons by her discovery of the true Cross. A celebrated inscription was composed in their honour by St Damasus, who in childhood had learned the details of their martyrdom from their executioner himself after his conversion; this inscription, near their tomb, completed the monuments of that catacomb wherein Christian art had multiplied its richest teachings.

To the memory of Saints Marcellinus and Peter is joined, in the liturgy of to-day, the name of a holy bishop and martyr, formerly well known to the faithful. If the acts of his life which have reached us are not free from all reproach from a critical point of view, the favours obtained by the intercession of St Erasmus or Elmo wafted his name over the whole of Christendom, as is attested by the numberless forms this name assumed in various countries of the west during the middle ages. He holds a place in the group of saints styled auxiliatores or helpers, whose cultus is widespread particularly in Germany and Italy. Mariners look upon him as their patron, because of a certain miraculous voyage related in his life; one of the tortures to which he was subjected during his martyrdom has caused him to be invoked for colic. Nor should we forget to mention here how great a veneration St Benedict, the patriarch of western monks, had for St Erasmus; when he quitted the Campagna for his solitude on the banks of the Anio, he marked his principal station between Subiaco and Monte Cassino, by building a church and monastery at Veroli under the invocation of this holy martyr; he dedicated another in Rome itself to St Erasmus.

Let us now read the few lines devoted by the Church to the memory of our three Saints.

Petrus, exorcista, Diocletiano imperatore, Romæ a Sereno judice propter Christianæ fidei confessionem missus in carcerem, Paulinam Artemii, qui carceri præerat, filiam a dæmone agitatam liberavit. Quo facto et parentes puellæ cum tota familia et vicinos, qui ad rei novitatem concurrerant, Jesu Christo conciliatos, ad Marcellinum presbyterum adduxit, a quo omnes baptizati sunt. Quod ubi rescivit Serenus, Petrum et Marcellinum ad se vocatos asperius objurgat et ad verborum acerbitatem minas ac terrores adjungit, nisi Christo renuntient. Cui cum MarcellinusChristiana libertate responderet, pugnis contusum et a Petro sejunctum, nudum includit in carcerem stratum vitri fragmentis, sine cibo ac sine lumine. Petrum item constringi imperat arctissimis vinculis. Sed cum utrique ex tormentis fides et animus cresceret, constanti confessione, et abscisso capite, illustre testimonium Jesu Christo dederunt. Erasmus, episcopus imperatoribus Diocletiano et Maximiano, in Campania plumbatis et fustibus cæsus, resina quoque, sulphure, plumbo liquefacto et ferventi pice, cero oleoque perfusus, inde tamen integer et inviolatus evasit. Quo miraculo multi se ad Christi fidem converterunt. Verum is, iterum detrusus in carcerem, constrictus ferreis gravissimisque vinculis, inde ab angelo mirabiliter ereptus est. Deinde Formiis a Maximiano variis affectus suppliciis, tunicaque ærea candenti indutus, illa etiam tormenta divina virtute superavit. Denique, plurimis et in fide confirmatis et ad fidem conversis, insignem martyrii palmam adeptus est.
Peter, an exorcist, was cast into prison at Rome, under the emperor Diocletian, by the judge Serenus, for confessing the Christian faith. He there set free Paulina, the daughter of Artemius, the keeper of the prison, from an evil spirit which tormented her. Upon this, Artemius and his wife and all their house, with their neighbours who had run together to see the strange thing, were converted to Jesus Christ. Peter therefore brought them to Marcellinus the priest, who baptized them all. When Serenus heard of it, he called Peter and Marcellinus before him, and sharply rebuked them, adding to his bitter words threats and terrors, unless they would deny Christ. Marcellinus answered him with Christian boldness, whereupon he caused him to be buffeted, separated him from Peter, and shut him up naked, in a prison strewn with broken glass, without either food or light. Peter also he straitly confined. But when both of them were found to increase in faith and courage in their bonds, they were beheaded, unshaken in their testimony, and confessing Jesus Christ gloriously by their blood. In Campania the bishop Erasmus was, under the empire of Diocletian and Maximian, beaten with clubs and whips loaded with lead, and afterwards plunged into resin, sulphur, melted lead, boiling pitch, wax, and oil. From all this he came forth whole and sound: which wonder converted many to believe in Christ. He was remanded to prison, and straitly bound in iron fetters. But from these he was wondrously delivered by an angel. At last, being taken to Formi, Maximian caused him to be subjected to divers torments, being clad in a coat of red-hot brass, but the power of God made him more than conqueror in all these things also. Afterwards, having converted many to the faith and confirmed them therein, he obtained the palm of a glorious martyrdom.

Holy martyrs, you all confessed Jesus Christ, in the midst of the most terrific storm ever raised by the demon against the Church. Though all three in different grades of the hierarchy, you were alike guides of the Christian people, drawing them by thousands in your train, into the arena of martyrdom, and, by still more numerous conversions, filling up the void made in earth's chosen band by the departure of your victorious companions to heaven. Wherefore the Church this day joins her grateful homage here below, with the congratulation that rings through the Church triumphant. Be propitious, as of yore, in alleviating the ills that overwhelm mankind in this vale of tears. The excess of man's misery is that he seems to have forgotten how to call on such powerful protectors in his hour of need. Revive your memory, in our midst, by new benefits to our race.

As thou, O Erasmus, wast formerly protected by heaven, do thou now, in thy turn, succour those who are a prey to the tempest-tossed sea. In thy last hour of bitter anguish, thou didst suffer thine executioners to tear thy very bowels; lend a kindly aid to such as call upon thy name when racked by pains which bear some resemblance, though but faint, to what thou didst endure for Christ.

Peter and Marcellinus, linked one to another both in toil and in glory, cast gentle eyes upon us: one glance of yours would make all hell to tremble, and would drive far from us its cohorts. But how much is your aid needed in society at large, in the whole visible world! The foe you so mightily thrust backwards into the fiery pit is once more master. Alas! have we come to the time in which, again taking up war against the saints, it shall be granted him to overcome them?[12] Scarce does he even hide himself nowadays. Societies which formerly worked in secret have now openly surrendered to him a thousand sources of evil; he may be seen trying to push his way into gatherings of all sorts, into the very bosom of homes, as a family guest, as a comrade in diversion or in business, with table-turning and all those processes for divination, such as Tertullian denounced in your early day.[13] The expulsion of demons by Christianity had been so absolute that, up to more recent times, such fatal practices had fallen into utter oblivion amongst us. If at first, in Christian families, the warning voice of the pastors of God's Church has prevailed over the incitements of an unhealthy curiosity, a sect has since been formed, in which Satan is sole guide and oracle. The spiritists, as they are called, in concert with freemasonry, are preparing the way for the final invasion of the exterior world by infernal bands. Antichrist, with his usurped power and vain prestige, will be but the common product of political lodges and of this sect which proposes to bring back, under a new form, the ancient mysteries of paganism. Valiant soldiers of the Church, make us, we beseech you, worthy of our forefathers. If the Christian army must needs decrease in numbers, let its faith wax all the stronger; let its courage neither fail nor go astray; may its ranks be seen facing the foe, at that last hour in which the Lord Jesus will slay, with the breath of his mouth, the man of sin,[14] and plunge once again and for ever the whole of Satan's crew down into the lowest depths of the bottomless pit.


[1] Note of the Translator. SS. Pothinus, Blandina, and companions, martyrs of Lyons, are marked on this day in the Roman Martyrology, but as the feast is kept only in France, we have omitted in our translation the pages devoted to their memory in this place.
[2] Apoc. xx 2, 3.
[3] St John xii 31.
[4] 2 Apol. vi.
[5] St Mark xvi 17.
[6] Plutarch, De oraculor. defectu.
[7] 2 Apol. vi.
[8] Apol. xxiii.
[9] St Mark xvi 17.
[10] Is. xiv 12-15.
[11] Apoc. xii 7-9.
[12] Apoc. xiii 7.
[13] Apolog. xxiii.
[14] 2 Thess. ii 8.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

At this season, in which the Office of the time is leading us to consider the early developments of holy Church, eternal Wisdom so arranges, now as ever, that the feasts of the saints should complete the teachings of the movable cycle. The Paraclete, who has but just come down upon us, is to fill the whole earth;[1] the Man-God has sent Him expressly to win over the whole earth and to secure all time to His Church. Now, it is by subjecting kingdoms to the faith, that He is to form Christ’s empire;

 it is by enabling the Church to assimilate all nations to herself, that He gives growth and continuance to the bride. See, therefore, how at this Season wherein He has but just taken possession of the world anew, His co-operators in this His work of conquest shine out on every side in the heavens of the holy liturgy. But the west above all concurs in forming the magnificent constellation that is mingling its radiant splendour with the fires of Pentecost. Indeed, what could better show the omnipotence of the Spirit of Christ, than the establishment of this Latin Christendom, in these distant lands of the west?

What star is this shining to-day in such silvery beauty on the land of the Franks? The city of Lyons, prepared by the blood of martyrs for this her second glory, sees this new light rise in her midst. Clotilde is a mother; and the cruel sufferings which wrung her heart while she was yet young matured her soul for the grand destinies reserved by God for the privileged children of sorrow. The violent death of her father Chilperic, dethroned by a fratricidal usurper; the sight of her brothers massacred, and of her mother drowned in the Rhone; her long captivity in the Arian court of the murderer who brought heresy with him to the throne of the Burgundians, developed in her the heroism that was to make this niece of Gondebaud become the mother of a whole nation to Christ.

God drew the visible universe out of nothingness, solely to manifest His goodness. In like manner, He has willed that man, coming from His hands without power as yet to recognize his Creator, should recognize, at least, a mother’s tender love, the first sensible ray, as it were, of infinite love. Irresistible is this ray, sublime in its gentleness, exquisite in its purity, giving to the mother a facility, belonging only to her, to complete in the soul of her child the reproduction of the divine ideal that is to be impressed upon him. Now this she does by education. To-day’s feast reveals how much more sublime, more potent, more extensive, is maternity in the order of grace than in that of nature. For when God, coming down amongst us, was pleased, to take Flesh of a daughter of Adam, maternity was raised in her to the extreme limit that separates the endowments of a simple creature from the divine attributes. Thus rising above the heavens, maternity at the same time embraced the world, bringing all mankind together into close union, without distinction of nation or family, in the one filiation of that Virgin-Mother. The new Adam, the perfect model of our race, and our first born,[2] willed to have us for His brethren, in all fullness, brethren in Mary as in God.[3] The Mother of God was then proclaimed Mother of men on Calvary; from the summit of the cross, the Man-God replaced upon the brow of Mary that diadem of Eve, broken beneath the fatal tree. Constituted sole Mother of the living by this noble investiture,[4]our Lady once again participated in the privileges of the Father who is in heaven. Not only was she Mother by nature, as He is Father, of His Son; but, just as all paternity flows down from the eternal Father, and borrows thence supereminent dignity; so from that moment, all maternity was nought but an outflow of Mary’s in the truest sense; a delegation of her love, and a communication of her august privilege whereby she brings forth men unto God, whose sons they are to be.

Good reason, therefore, have Christian mothers to glory in their maternity, for in that does their greatness consist; through Mary, their dignity has increased to a degree that nature could never have dreamed of. But at the same time, under the aegis of Mary, not less real is the maternity of holy virgins, not only in God’s eyes, but often manifested to their own: the wife, too, prepared by a special call from God and by suffering, is sometimes, like Clotilde, endowed with a fecundity of a spiritual order, a thousand times more prolific than that of earth. Happy the fruits of this supernatural maternity, which under the favour of Mary is fraught with so much greatness! Happy the nations on whom the divine munificence has bestowed a mother!

History tells us how the founders of empires have ever had the terrible prerogative of impressing upon nations the distinctive character, disastrous or beneficial, which, through length of ages, continues to be theirs. How often does that want of counterpoise to the preponderance of power, make itself only too evident in the impetus given rather to destroy than to build up! And wherefore? Because ancient empires never had a mother; for this noble title cannot be applied to those heroines who have transmitted their names to posterity merely for having rivalled the ambition and pomp of conquerors. To Christian times it was reserved to behold introduced into a people’s life this element of maternity, more salutary, more efficacious in its humble gentleness, than that which springs from the talents or vices, from the power or genius, of their first princes.

Time was needed to subdue the savage instincts of the warriors of Clovis, and to fit his sword to the noble destiny that awaited it in the hand of a Charlemagne, or of a St. Louis. With good reason has it been said that the honour of this labour is due to the bishops and the monks. But to be more accurate and to prove a deeper insight into the ways of divine Providence, it would have been well, perhaps, to pass less lightly over woman’s part in the work of conversion and of education, which made the Frankish nation become the eldest son of the Church. Clotilde it was who led the Franks to the baptistery of Rheims, and presented to Remigius the proud Sicambrian, transformed far less by the exhortations of the holy bishop than by the force of prayer, the prayer of that strong woman elected by God to bear away this rich spoil from the camp of hell. What manly energy, what devotedness to God, are displayed in every measure taken by this noble daughter of the Burgundians’ dethroned king! Beneath the suspicious eye of the usurper, the murderer of her family, she awaits, in the silence of prayer and in the exercise of charity, heaven’s appointed hour. When at last the moment comes, taking counsel of none save the Holy Ghost and her own heart, how nobly does she dart forward to conquer unto Christ her betrothed, though yet a stranger to her, out-doing in valour, in this instance, all the warriors of her escort! Strength and beauty were indeed her covering,[5] her adornment on her bridal day; and the heart of Clovis soon learnt that the conquests reserved to his bride far out-stripped in importance the booty he had hitherto seized by force of arms. Clotilde, on the other hand, found her work already prepared on the banks of the Seine. For fifty years, St. Genevieve had been busy defending Paris against the pagan hordes, and only awaiting the Baptism of the king of the Franks in order to open to him the city gates.

Still, when on that Christmas night Clotilde gave birth to the eldest son of holy Church in Mary’s name, the great work was far from being completed; this new-born people had yet, by the slow process of a laborious education to be fashioned into the most Christian nation. This chosen one of God and of our Lady does not fall short of the maternal task. But still what anguish of heart to be endured, what tears yet to be shed over these her sons, whose inborn violence seems simply indomitable, and the very exuberance of whose rich nature yields them up to the fury of passions, urging them blindly on to crimes the most atrocious! Her grand-children, inveigled from her side and caught in the perfidious trap laid for them by their faithless uncles, are massacred. Fratricidal wars carry devastation over the whole of that territory of ancient Gaul, purged by her from paganism and heresy. Finally another pang, but one of a more glorious kind, seems given as a compensation for the bitterness of intestine strife. Her cherished daughter, Clotilde the younger, dies, worn out by ill usage endured for her faith at the hand of her Arian husband. Surely all this must have shown clearly enough to the queen of the Franks, that if she was chosen by heaven to be their mother, she was to have all the pangs as well as the honour that title involves. Thus does Christ ever deal with His own, when they have earned His confidence. Clotilde well understood this: already a widow and deprived by death of the aid of Genevieve likewise, she had long ago retired to Tours, near to the sepulchre of the Thaumaturgus of the Gauls. There, in the secret of prayer and in the heroism of her childhood’s faith, did she continue, aided by St. Martin, the preparation of this new people for its mighty destinies.

An immense work was this, and one for which no single life-time could suffice! But though Clotilde was not to witness the desired transformation accomplished, her life was not to close until she had pressed to her heart, at Tours, her illustrious daughter-in-law, Radegonde; and having by this last embrace invested her with her own sublime maternity, she sends her to Poitiers, there to continue, at the tomb of St. Hilary, this great work of intercession. Then, when at length Radegonde herself, having ended her task of suffering and love, must likewise quit this earth, Bathilde will presently come forward to consummate the work, in that remarkable seventh century, when ‘the Frank, at last ready for his mission, is betrothed to holy Church, and dubbed a knight of God.’[6]

Clotilde, Radegonde, Bathilde, all three of them mothers of France, bear a striking resemblance to one another. All three are prepared, from the early dawn of life, to the devotedness their grand mission would require, by the like trials, captivity, slavery, and massacre or loss of their own relatives: all three bring to the throne nought but a dauntless love of Christ, the King, and a desire of seeing Him rule the people; all three set aside the queenly diadem as soon as may be, in order to be able, prostrate before God in retirement and penitence, to attain more surely the one object of their maternal and royal ambition. Heiresses of Abraham, in very deed, they found in his faith[7] the fecundity which made them mothers of those countless multitudes, which the soil watered by their tears produced for heaven. Even in these weakened times of ours, there is still a goodly throng ever passing from the land of the Franks to their true home yonder, there to join the happy bands of the combatants of better days. At the sight of this ever increasing group of sons joyously pressing round their thrones, the hearts of Clotilde, Radegonde, and Bathilde, overflowing with love, give utterance in one united cry, to this word of the Prophet: ‘Who hath begotten these? I was barren and brought not forth, led away, and captive: and who hath brought up these? I was destitute and alone: and these where were they?’ Then the Lord answering, saith: ‘As I live, thou shalt be clothed with all these as with an ornament, and as a bride thou shalt put them about thee. For thy deserts, and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction shall now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants. The children of thy barrenness shall still say in thine ear: the place is too strait for me, make me room to dwell in. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nurses. And thou shalt know that I am the Lord, for they shall not be confounded that wait for Him.’[8]

But it is time to listen to the liturgical account of Saint Clotilde’s life.

Clotildis, Chilperici regis filia, post parentum necem a patruo Gundobaldo Burgundiorum rege educata, Clodovæo adhuc ethnico ab ipso Gundobaldo in conjugem tradita est. Quæ cum primogenitum, peperisset, eum, tolerante magis quam approbante Clodovæo, baptizari jussit. Cum autem infantis, cui nomen impositum fuerat Ingomeres, in albis extincti mortem ægre ferret Clodovæus ac baptismo imputaret, graviter Clotildem objurgavit, asserens deos patrios, ob contemptum numinis sui iratos, sibi filium eripuisse. At illa: Deo, inquit, omnipotenti Creatori omnium, gratias ago, qui me non usquequaque judicavit indignam ut de utero meo genitum regno suo dignaretur adscire.

Alterum filium regina cum genuisset, hunc quoque baptizari voluit, et appellatus est Clodomeres. Qui cum ægrotare cœpisset, affirmante rege fore ut idem ei quod fratri contingeret, matris precibus convaluit. At regina non cessabat hortari virum, ut abjecta idololatria unum ac trinum Deum coleret. Sed ille superstitioni Francorum adhæsit, donec in expeditione Alamannica, inclinatam cernens suorum aciem, monitorum conjugis memor, auxilio Christi implorato, de hostibus triumphavit. Cui apud Remos læta uxor occurens, ubiordinem rei gestæ cognovit, advocavit sanctum Remigium, a quo Clodovæus,fidem edoctus, baptizatus est, et chrismate sacro inunctus.

Post mortem Clodovæi, Turonos adiit Clotildis; ibique ad sepulchrum sancti Martini summa pietate reliquum vitæ exegit: pernox in vigiliis, eleemosynis aliisque piis operibus intenta, munifica erga ecclesias et monasteria. Clodomeris in bello Burgundico occisi filios nepotes suos, Theobaldum, Guntarium et Clodoaldum apud se educavit. Tandem piena dierum, Turonis migravit ad Dominum: et Parisios inter psallentium choros translata, sepulta est a filiis Childeberto et Clotario regibus, ad latus Clodovæi, in sacrario basilicæ sancti Petri, quæ postea sanctæ Genovefænomine appellata est.

Ad ejus tumulum comscantibus miraculis sanctæ reginæ corpus, jam pridem elevatum, in hierotheca honorifice repositum fuit. Quoties autem urbs regia aliquo discrimine pulsaretur, ex avito more publics in supplicationibus pio apparatu perferebatur. Exeunte vero octavo decimo sæculo cum impii sumpsissent principatum, et Sanctorum exuviae undique per Gallias sacrilego furore conculcarentur: ossa beatæ reginæ, mira Dei providentia, piorum manibus subtracta sunt. Pace tandem Ecclesiae restituta, sacræ reliquiæ in nova theca repositæ fuerunt, et in ecclesia sanctorum Lupi et Ægidii, urbis Parisiensis, collocatæ, ubi nunc honorifice coluntur.
Clotilde, daughter of king Chilperic, after the murder of her parents, was brought up by her uncle Gondebaud, king of Burgundy, who gave her in marriage to Clovis still a pagan. Having brought forth her first-born son, she had him baptized, a thing rather tolerated by Clovis than consented to. The child to whom was given the name of Ingomer, chancing to die whilst still wearing the white robe of Baptism, Clovis bitterly complained to Clotilde, attributing the death of his son to the vengeance of the gods of his fathers,irritated at this contempt offered to their divinity. But Clotilde said: ‘I give thanks to the almighty Creator of all things, that he hath not judged me unworthy to give birth to a son whom he hath deigned to admit to share his kingdom.

Having brought forth a second son, she wished that he likewise should be baptized, and the name of Clodomir was given to him. The child having fallen ill, the king declared that the fate of the brother was to befall this son also; but he was, contrariwise, cured by his mother’s prayers. The queen continued to exhort her husband to reject idolatry and to adore the one God in three Persons; Clovis, however, persisted in the superstitions of the Franks, until at length, being on an expedition against the Alamanni, and one day seeing his army waver, he remembered the counsels of Clotilde, and implored the help of Christ, who thereupon granted him victory. Clotilde, filled with joy came to meet him, as far as Rheims, having learnt how all had happened. Saint Remigius, at her request, instructed Clovis in the faith, and baptized him, anointing him likewise with the sacred chrism.

After the death of Clovis, Clotilde settled herself at Tours, where she passed the rest of her life at the tomb of St. Martin, giving herself up to watching, alms, and other works of piety, exercising her munificence upon churches and monasteries, Clodomir having been killed in the war of Burgundy, she brought up her grandchildren herself, namely Theobald, Gontaire, and Clodoald. At last, full of days, she gave up her soul to God, at Tours, and her body was transferred to Paris, escorted by choirs chanting psalms. Her sons, the kings Childebert and Clotaire, buried her beside Clovis, in the sanctuary of the basilica of Saint Peter, since called by the name of St. Genevieve.

The glory of miracle’s illustrating the tomb of this holy queen, at an early date her body was taken up to be honoured, and was placed in a shrine. Whenever the city of Paris suffered any calamity, it was the custom in ancient times to carry the body in procession, with every demonstration of piety. At the end of the eighteenth century, the impious having seized upon the government, the relies of the saints being likewise profaned all over France by sacrilegious fury, the bones, nevertheless, of this blessed queen, thanks to the admirable providence of God, were concealed by some pious persons. Peace being, later on, restored to the Church, the holy relics were placed in a new shrine, and deposited in the Church, of Saints Lupus and Giles at Paris, where they are honoured with fervent worship.

Great is thy glory on earth and in heaven, O Clotilde, mother of nations! Not only hast thou given to holy Church that people of France, surnamed the most Christian; but our own England and Spain also claim their descent from thee (in the pedigree of faith) by Bertha and Ingonda, thy noble granddaughters. Ingonda, more fortunate than thy daughter Clotilde, succeeded, by the help of Saint Leander of Seville, in bringing back to the true faith her husband Hermenegilde, and even leading him to the crown of martyrdom. Bertha, queen of our own fair Kent, welcomed Augustine to our Saxon shores, and through her influence was our royal Ethelbert brought from the darkness of paganism even unto Baptism and the aureola of sanctity: realizing thus that word of the apostle, that the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife.[9] Since those early days, in how many other parts of Europe, and on how many other more distant shores, have the sons of thine own nation, that nation of which thou wast mother, propagated that light of faith which they received of thee: whether brandishing the sword in defence of the Church’s right to teach freely and everywhere the word of truth; or whether, becoming themselves missioners and apostles, carrying that same truth to infidel nations, far beyond reach of any possible protection, and at the expense of their sweat and of their blood. Happy thou, to be the first in bringing forth unto Christ, the King, a nation pure from every stain of heresy and vowed to holy Church from the first moment of its new birth! Rightly indeed the church of Sainte-Marie at Rheims was the one selected on that Christmas day of the year 496, for this birth unto God of the Frankish nation; wherein our Lady, in a proportionate measure, gave thee to share her own motherhood of our race.

There especially lies our motive of confidence as we turn to thee, O Clotilde, in our intercessory prayer this day. Alas! how many of thy sons are far from being what they should be towards such a mother! But when our Lady gave thee a share in her own maternal rights, she necessarily communicated to thee also her own tender compassion for beguiled children deaf to their mother’s voice. Take pity on these unfortunate sons, led so very far astray by strange doctrines.[10] The Christian monarchy founded by thee is no more. Thou didst build it upon the recognized rights of God in His Christ and in the Vicar of His Christ. Princes with shortsighted views of self-interest, traitors to the mission they had received to maintain thy work, imagined they were performing marvels, when they allowed maxims to be spread in thy France, proclaiming the independence of civil power in respect of that of holy Church; and now by a just retribution, society has proclaimed its independence of princes! But at the same time, the infatuated populace has really no other idea than that of being its own sovereign; and intoxicated by this false liberty which it dreams of having acquired, it goes so far as to contemn even the supreme dominion of the Creator Himself. The rights of man have usurped the rights of God, as the basis of social contract; a new-fangled Gospel, which France, with misguided proselytism, is fain to carry over the whole world in place of the true Gospel so loved of yore!

In that unhappy country poisoned by a lying philosophy, such is the excess of delirium, that many who deplore the apostasy of the mass of the population, and wish to remain themselves Christians, imagine they can do so whilst at the same time maintaining the destructive principle of liberalism, the very essence of revolution. Let Christ have heaven and souls, say they, but let man have earth, together with full right of governing it as he chooses, and of thinking as suits him best. While they fall on their adoring knees before the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ in the sanctuary of their own conscience, they search the Scriptures, and are too blind to see there expressed how the Man-God is and must be King of the whole earth. In learned theses they inform us that they have probed the very depths of history, and find therein nothing that can contradict their arguments. If indeed they must admit that the government of a Clovis, or a Charlemagne, or a St. Louis does not correspond in everything with their political axioms, we must, they say, make allowances for those primitive ages: a nation cannot be expected to come in a day to the perfect age attained at last by the law of progress! Alas! have pity, O dear mother of France, on the ravings of these poor sons of thine! Arouse once more, in that noble land, the faith of the Franks! Oh! may the God of Clotilde, the Lord of hosts, the King of nations, show Himself once more, leading on thy sons to victory, in the name that won for Clovis the field of Tolbiac: Jesus Christ!


[1] Wisdom i. 7.
[2] Rom. viii. 29; Heb. ii. 11, 12.
[3] St. Matt. i. 25; Heb. i. 6.
[4] Gen. iii; St. John xix. 26, 27.
[5] Prov. xxxi.
[6] Hist. St. Léger, Introduction.
[7] Rom. iv. 18; Heb. xi. 11.
[8] Is. xlix. 18-23.
[9] 1 Cor. vii. 14.
[10] Heb. xiii. 9.

 

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