Category: Dominican Saints

Sts Philip and James, Apostles ~ Br. Chip Noon, Novice

Today is the feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles.

During this time between Easter and Pentecost, we continue to see that the Apostles still were unsure of what was happening in their lives. At the Last Supper, Philip continues to pester Jesus about his ministry. “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Of course, he lumps the others Apostles in to this plea, perhaps as a way of strengthening his argument. And we do know from other Gospel passages that they really were not sure of their ultimate mission.

But Jesus says to him,  

“Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”

And let’s look at the first reading from Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians. He gives them a version of the Creed, and then lists those to whom Jesus appeared after his death, ending with himself. He says, “I am reminding you…” It’s as if he is reciting known facts in order to strengthen his preaching as well as recapping a message, all the better to strengthen his audience’s understanding.

Similarly, in the Responsorial Psalm, there is a teaching from heaven to all the earth, declaring the glory of God.

For me, this day of Saints Philip and James is like the overture to an opera. Little pieces of the whole, presented as a warm-up to the opening of the curtain and the glorious theatrical production. And isn’t that also what this time between Easter and Pentecost is? Time and again, we are told that certain things happened with Jesus and the Apostles after the Resurrection, but it never really takes hold, the Apostles continue to have doubts and anxieties. We hear themes, we get snippets of the whole, we recognize the very beginnings of the church that Jesus is presenting.

We don’t know much about Philip…some stories in the Gospels, some traditions that he preached in Greece, Syria, and Phrygia, that he was martyred on a cross, upside down, and only recently, that his tomb may have been discovered in Turkey. We know that James, called James the Lesser, became the bishop of Jerusalem and wrote one of the epistles in the New Testament.

But we do know, and especially from today’s Gospel, that eventually all the Apostles and many of the disciples all went out into the world after Pentecost and did what Jesus said: “…whoever believes in me will do the works that I do…”

And we do know that we have thirty-two days before Pentecost. And we do know that during this time, we can gather as many of the tools that we can to do what James says in his epistle, that we may have faith, but we also must have good works.

And so, while we listen to the stories of the overture, we can use them all as review sessions for what we have been, as Christians, chosen to do: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Lord, help us in these days of Easter to prepare ourselves for your kingdom. Help us to ask of you the things that we need to complete your mission on earth. And help us to store up in heaven the riches of your word and your blessings. In Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Saint Catherine of Siena

She was the youngest but one of a very large family. Her father, Giacomo di Benincasa, was a dyer; her mother, Lapa, the daughter of a local poet. They belonged to the lower middle-class faction of tradesmen and petty notaries, known as “the Party of the Twelve”, which between one revolution and another ruled the Republic of Siena from 1355 to 1368. From her earliest childhood Catherine began to see visions and to practice extreme austerities. At the age of seven she consecrated her virginity to Christ; in her sixteenth year she took the habit of the Dominican Tertiaries, and renewed the life of the anchorites of the desert in a little room in her father’s house. After three years of celestial visitations and familiar conversation with Christ, she underwent the mystical experience known as the “spiritual espousals”, probably during the carnival of 1366. She now rejoined her family, began to tend the sick, especially those afflicted with the most repulsive diseases, to serve the poor, and to labor for the conversion of sinners. Though always suffering terrible physical pain, living for long intervals on practically no food save the Blessed Sacrament, she was ever radiantly happy and full of practical wisdom no less than the highest spiritual insight. All her contemporaries bear witness to her extraordinary personal charm, which prevailed over the continual persecution to which she was subjected even by the friars of her own order and by her sisters in religion. She began to gather disciples round her, both men and women, who formed a wonderful spiritual fellowship, united to her by the bonds of mystical love. During the summer of 1370 she received a series of special manifestations of Divine mysteries, which culminated in a prolonged trance, a kind of mystical death, in which she had a vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, and heard a Divine command to leave her cell and enter the public life of the world. She began to dispatch letters to men and women in every condition of life, entered into correspondence with the princes and republics of Italy, was consulted by the papal legates about the affairs of the Church, and set herself to heal the wounds of her native land by staying the fury of civil war and the ravages of faction. She implored the pope, Gregory XI, to leave Avignon, to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States, and ardently threw herself into his design for a crusade, in the hopes of uniting the powers of Christendom against the infidels, and restoring peace to Italy by delivering her from the wandering companies of mercenary soldiers. While at Pisa, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, 1375, she received the Stigmata, although, at her special prayer, the marks did not appear outwardly in her body while she lived.

Mainly through the misgovernment of the papal officials, war broke out between Florence and the Holy See, and almost the whole of the Papal States rose in insurrection. Catherine had already been sent on a mission from the pope to secure the neutrality of Pisa and Lucca. In June, 1376, she went to Avignon as ambassador of the Florentines, to make their peace; but, either through the bad faith of the republic or through a misunderstanding caused by the frequent changes in its government, she was unsuccessful. Nevertheless she made such a profound impression upon the mind of the pope, that, in spite of the opposition of the French king and almost the whole of the Sacred College, he returned to Rome (17 January, 1377). Catherine spent the greater part of 1377 in effecting a wonderful spiritual revival in the country districts subject to the Republic of Siena, and it was at this time that she miraculously learned to write, though she still seems to have chiefly relied upon her secretaries for her correspondence. Early in 1378 she was sent by Pope Gregory to Florence, to make a fresh effort for peace. Unfortunately, through the factious conduct of her Florentine associates, she became involved in the internal politics of the city, and during a popular tumult (22 June) an attempt was made upon her life. She was bitterly disappointed at her escape, declaring that her sins had deprived her of the red rose of martyrdom. Nevertheless, during the disastrous revolution known as “the tumult of the Ciompi”, she still remained at Florence or in its territory until, at the beginning of August, news reached the city that peace had been signed between the republic and the new pope. Catherine then instantly returned to Siena, where she passed a few months of comparative quiet, dictating her “Dialogue”, the book of her meditations and revelations.

In the meanwhile the Great Schism had broken out in the Church. From the outset Catherine enthusiastically adhered to the Roman claimant, Urban VI, who in November, 1378, summoned her to Rome. In the Eternal City she spent what remained of her life, working strenuously for the reformation of the Church, serving the destitute and afflicted, and dispatching eloquent letters in behalf of Urban to high and low in all directions. Her strength was rapidly being consumed; she besought her Divine Bridegroom to let her bear the punishment for all the sins of the world, and to receive the sacrifice of her body for the unity and renovation of the Church; at last it seemed to her that the Bark of Peter was laid upon her shoulders, and that it was crushing her to death with its weight. After a prolonged and mysterious agony of three months, endured by her with supreme exultation and delight, from Sexagesima Sunday until the Sunday before the Ascension, she died. Her last political work, accomplished practically from her death-bed, was the reconciliation of Pope Urban VI with the Roman Republic (1380).

Among Catherine’s principal followers were Fra Raimondo delle Vigne, of Capua (d. 1399), her confessor and biographer, afterwards General of the Dominicans, and Stefano di Corrado Maconi (d. 1424), who had been one of her secretaries, and became Prior General of the Carthusians. Raimondo’s book, the “Legend”, was finished in 1395. A second life of her, the “Supplement”, was written a few years later by another of her associates, Fra Tomaso Caffarini (d. 1434), who also composed the “Minor Legend”, which was translated into Italian by Stefano Maconi. Between 1411 and 1413 the depositions of the surviving witnesses of her life and work were collected at Venice, to form the famous “Process”. Catherine was canonized by Pius II in 1461. The emblems by which she is known in Christian art are the lily and book, the crown of thorns, or sometimes a heart–referring to the legend of her having changed hearts with Christ. Her principal feast is on the 30th of April, but it is popularly celebrated in Siena on the Sunday following. The feast of her Espousals is kept on the Thursday of the carnival.

The works of St. Catherine of Siena rank among the classics of the Italian language, written in the beautiful Tuscan vernacular of the fourteenth century. Notwithstanding the existence of many excellent manuscripts, the printed editions present the text in a frequently mutilated and most unsatisfactory condition. Her writings consist of the “Dialogue”, or “Treatise on Divine Providence”; a collection of nearly four hundred letters; and a series of “Prayers”.

The “Dialogue” especially, which treats of the whole spiritual life of man in the form of a series of colloquies between the Eternal Father and the human soul (represented by Catherine herself), is the mystical counterpart in prose of Dante’s “Divina Commedia”.

A smaller work in the dialogue form, the “Treatise on Consummate Perfection”, is also ascribed to her, but is probably spurious. It is impossible in a few words to give an adequate conception of the manifold character and contents of the “Letters”, which are the most complete expression of Catherine’s many-sided personality. While those addressed to popes and sovereigns, rulers of republics and leaders of armies, are documents of priceless value to students of history, many of those written to private citizens, men and women in the cloister or in the world, are as fresh and illuminating, as wise and practical in their advice and guidance for the devout Catholic today as they were for those who sought her counsel while she lived. Others, again, lead the reader to mystical heights of contemplation, a rarefied atmosphere of sanctity in which only the few privileged spirits can hope to dwell. The key-note to Catherine’s teaching is that man, whether in the cloister or in the world, must ever abide in the cell of self-knowledge, which is the stable in which the traveler through time to eternity must be born again.

Born: March 25, 1347 at Siena, Tuscany, Italy

Died: April 29, 1380 of a mysterious and painful illness that came on without notice, and was never properly diagnosed

Canonized: July 1461 by Pope Pius II

Representation:  cross; crown of thorns; heart; lily; ring; stigmata

Patronage:  against fire, bodily ills, diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA, Europe, fire prevention, firefighters, illness, Italy, miscarriages, nurses, nursing services, people ridiculed for their piety, sexual temptation, sick people, sickness, Siena Italy, temptations

 

 

Saint Peter of Verona

Saint Peter’s parents belonged to the heretical sect of the Cathari, theological descendants of the Manichees. Miraculously, he became Catholic, regardless of his heresy believing parents. Because of his Catholic convictions, he was ridiculed for his faith throughout his youth, it was preserved in purity and he became a Dominican. His father sent him to a Catholic school for a good early education, thinking that the heretical environment at home would keep Peter from being “deceived” by the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Nevertheless, one of the first things Peter learned there was the Apostle’s Creed, which the Cathari abhorred. Making conversation on day, his uncle asked him his lesson. The boy recited the creed and explained it in the Catholic sense, especially in those words: Creator of heaven and earth. In vain his uncle tried to persuade him it was false. He said that it was not God, but the evil principle that made all things that are visible; the Cathari viewed the physical world as ugly and bad, which is inconsistent with the concept of an infinitely perfect being. The boy’s resolute steadiness concerned his uncle, but his father laughed at his brother’s fears believing that the world would influence  his son into his beliefs.

When he was 15, Peter was sent to the University of Bologna, a hotbed of licentiousness. There he met Saint Dominic, and instantly threw himself at the saint’s feet to beg admission to the Order of Friar Preachers. Peter was present at the death of the founder soon after, and shared in the primitive zeal and courage of the sons of a saint.

While still a student, Peter experienced a severe trial. He was publicly reprimanded and punished because a brother, passing Peter’s cell late at night, thought he had heard women’s voices in his room. The voices were those of angels, who frequently visited the saint: but in his humility, he thought it better to accept the punishment and say nothing about the favors God had granted him. He was sent to the remote little Dominican convent of Jesi, in the marquisate of Ancona, to do penance, and his ordination was delayed.

Peter found great strength in prayer. Nevertheless, he was human and felt the sting of the disgrace. One day he complained to the Lord: “Lord, You know that I am innocent of this: Why do you allow them to believe it?” A sorrowful voice replied from the crucifix: “And I, Peter, what have I done that they should do this to Me?” Peter complained no more. The truth was eventually discovered, and Peter resumed his studies and was ordained to the priesthood.

Peter soon became a celebrated preacher throughout northern and central Italy, and, in 1232, an inquisitor to fight against the heresy that had infected his family and others in Lombardy. Many miracles (filling 22 pages in folio in the Acta Sanctorum) were worked through his prayers, to the rage of the heretics. Crowds nearly pressed him to death many times: some to ask his blessing, others to offer the sick to him to be cured, others to receive his holy instructions.

In one city, a prominent man had been won to heresy, because the devil, taking the form of the Blessed Virgin, appeared at the heretics’ meetings and encouraged him to join them. Peter, determined to win the man back to the truth, went to the meeting and, when the devil appeared in his disguise, held up a small pox in which he had placed a consecrated Host. “If you are the Mother of God,” cried Peter, “adore your Son!” The devil fled in dismay and many were converted.

Among other miracles, he predicted that he would be murdered by heretics, who indeed waylaid him on the road between Como and Milan. Peter went to his death singing the Easter Sequence, and fell unprotesting beneath the blows of his assassins. Carino cut his head with an ax, and then his companion Dominic stabbed him. As Peter rose to his knees and commended himself to God, Carino killed him with a blow of his axe to Peter’s side. One of his murderers, “Blessed” Carino, was touched by grace at the sight of a saint, was converted, and eventually became a Dominican at Forli. To him as to us, Peter had pointed out the way to heaven when he traced on the dust of the road, in his own blood, the creed that had lighted his path: “Credo in unum Deum.”

Peter’s body was ceremoniously buried in the Dominicans’ church dedicated to St. Eustorgius, in Milan, where he still rests. His head is kept separately in a crystal and gold case. So many miracles were worked at his shrine that many of the Cathari asked to be admitted to the Catholic Church.

Born: Verona, Italy, 1206

Died: Martyred April 6, 1252

Canonized: canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1253–a single year after his death.

Patronage: Peter is the patron of midwives and inquisitors and venerated in Verona.

Representation: In art, Saint Peter is a Dominican with a gash or knife in his head. Occasionally, the knife is in his shoulder. Sometimes he is portrayed (1) with his finger on his lips; (2) writing credo in unum deum in the dust as he dies; (3) stabbed in the forest with his companion; or (4) with the Virgin and four female saints appearing to him

 

Saint Lewis Mary Grignon De Montfort

Louis’ parents were poor, hard-working people who raised eight children, the oldest of whom was Louis. In the normal course of events, Louis would have learned a trade and helped to educate his siblings, but early in his life his mother recognized that he was destined for the priesthood. At the pleading of her and his teacher, he was allowed to begin his studies. Some charitable people provided the funds for his education.

As a very young child, Louis had organized Rosary societies, preached sermons, told stories of the saints, and led the Rosary with groups of neighborhood children. He was particularly devoted to Our Lady, and he took her name in confirmation. As a student with the Jesuits at Rennes, he continued his devotions; he joined the sodality, and became an exemplary member. When he had completed his studies, he left for Paris in 1693 to begin his studies for the priesthood. He walked the 130 miles in the rain, sleeping in haystacks and under bridges, and, on arriving in Paris, he entered a poverty-stricken seminary in which the students had scarcely enough to eat, which caused him serious illness. On the verge of ordination, his funds were withdrawn by his benefactor, and it looked as though Louis would have to return home. He was taken in by a kindly priest, however.

Louis was ordained in 1700, and, after saying his first Mass in the Lady Chapel of Saint Sulpice, he was sent as chaplain to a hospital in Poitiers where mismanagement and quarreling were a tradition. He endeared himself to the patients, and he angered the managers of the hospital when he reorganized the staff. Consequently, he was sent away, but not before he had laid the foundation of what was later to be a religious congregation of women known as the Institute of the Daughters of Divine Wisdom at Poitiers, to nurse the sick poor and conduct free schools.

This rebuff was not the first Louis had to suffer; in the seminary, his superiors had exhausted themselves in trying his patience– making him seem to be a fool. All his life he was to meet the same stubborn opposition to everything he tried to do. Many of the clergy, even some of the bishops, were infected with Jansenism, and they fought him secretly and openly. In his work giving missions, his moving from one place to another was occasioned as often by the persecution of his enemies as it was by the need of his apostolate. Going to Rome, he begged Pope Clement XI to be sent on the foreign missions, but he was refused and sent back to Brittany, France, as missionary apostolic. He returned in his usual spirit of buoyant obedience, even though he knew that several bishops had already forbidden him to set foot in their dioceses.

For the rest of his life, Louis gave flamboyant missions in country parishes, some of which had been without the care of a priest for generations. Ruined churches were repaired, marriages rectified, children baptized and instructed, and Catholicity rebuilt. He joined the third order of Dominicans, and everywhere he went, he established the Rosary devotion. People who came to his missions out of curiosity, remained, and his preaching did much to renew religion in France.

His enemies were as busy as he was, however. They gave false reports to the bishops, drove him from place to place, and, in one case, succeeded in poisoning him. The poison was not fatal, and it had an unforeseen result. While he recuperated from its evil effects, he wrote True devotion to the Blessed Virgin, which he himself prophesied would be hidden away by the malice of men and the devil. After nearly 200 years, the manuscript was rescued from its hiding place, and, only a few years ago, it was given the publicity that it deserved.

In 1715, Louis founded a second religious congregation to train helpers in his forceful methods of preaching called the Missionaries of the Company of Mary.

Born: January 13, 1673 at Montfort-La-Cane, Brittany, France

Died: 1716 at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sovre, France

Canonized:  1947 by Pope Pius XII

 

Blessed Hosanna of Catharo

Catherine Kosic (Cosie) was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church. As a young girl, when tending her family’s sheep; thus, left alone for long periods of time, she developed a habit of contemplative prayer. One day while watching the flocks, she saw a pretty child lying asleep on the grass. Attracted by its beauty, she went to pick up the baby, but it disappeared, leaving Catherine with a feeling of great loneliness.

She told her mother about the incident but received little understanding; her mother told her that God didn’t appear to such poor people, and that the Christ Child was simply a figment of her imagination. After several more apparitions of which she wisely said nothing, Catherine developed a desire to visit Cattaro because there were several churches there in which she felt that she could pray better. Her mother thought this urge was unreasonable, but she finally arranged for Catherine to go to Cattaro as a servant of a wealthy woman. Her mother gave little thought to the fact that the woman was a pious Catholic, but the girl rejoiced in her good luck. At the age of 12, Catherine settled down as a servant to the kindly woman who made no objection to the fact that Catherine’s errands invariably led her past the church, where she would stop for a visit.

After a few years of the pleasant life, Catherine consulted her spiritual director about becoming a recluse. He thought her too young, but she continued to insist. After much prayer and discussion, they decided that she should follow the life of a hermit. In the Middle Ages, it was common for every church or place of pilgrimage to have one or more cells in which solitaries dwelt in prayer and penance. Such a cell was built near the Saint Bartholomew’s in Cattaro. It had a window through which the anchorite could hear Mass and another tiny window to which people would come occasionally to ask for prayers or to give food. Catherine was conducted to her cell in solemn ceremony, and, after making promises of stability, the door was sealed.

In response to a vision, she was later transferred to a cell at the Church of St. Paul, where she followed the rule of the tertiaries of Saint Dominic for 52 years. Upon becoming a Dominican, she chose the name Osanna, in honor of Blessed Osanna of Mantua, a Dominican tertiary who had died in 1505. The life of an anchorite is barren of comforts and replete with penances. Even without the spiritual punishments that she endured, it was a rugged life. Osanna wore the coarsest of clothes, ate almost nothing, and endured the heat and cold and misery of enclosure in a small space for half a century. Her tiny cell, however, was often bright with heavenly visitors. Our Lord appeared to her many times, usually in the form of the beautiful baby she had seen while tending her flocks. Our Lady visited, too, with several of the saints, as well as demons who attempted to distract her from prayer. Once the devil appeared to her in the form of the Blessed Virgin and told her to modify her penances. By obedience to her confessor, she managed to penetrate this clever disguise and vanquish her enemy.

Although she lived alone, there was nothing selfish about Osanna’s spirituality. A group of her Dominican sisters, who considered her their leader, consulted her frequently and sought her prayers. A convent of sisters founded at Cattaro regarded her as their foundress, because of her prayers, although she never saw the place. When the city was attacked by the Turks, the people ran to her for help, and they credited their deliverance to her prayers. Another time, her prayers saved them from the plague.

Born: 1493 at Kumano, Montenegro as Catherine Cosie

Died: 1565 of natural causes

Beatified: 1928 (cultus confirmed); 1934 (beautified)

Blessed Gregory & Blessed Dominic

Very little is known about these two Dominican preachers. Their legend tells us that they evangelized the mountainous Somontano region of Moorish Spain near Barbastro, Aragon. One day they were caught in a storm as they traveled from one village to another. The storm loosed the rocks of the cave in which they had sought shelter and they were buried in a landslide. The bells of Perarúa rang out of their own accord, indicating that something remarkable was afoot, and villagers, who ventured out after the storm, found the cave surrounded by lights and angelic music. Digging into the rubble, they found the two Dominicans crushed to death. Miracles surrounded their burials and their tombs at Besians in the diocese of Barbastro, where pilgrims came to pray, especially against the danger from storms. Formerly on Rogation days, and in times of drought, their relics were carried in procession.

Born: 11th Century

Died: Martyred about 1300

Beatified: Pius IX approved their cult in 1854

Blessed Bartholomew Cerveri

Carrying on the glorious tradition of death in the cause of truth. Blessed Bartholomew of Cerveri was the fourth Dominican inquisitor to win his crown in Piedmont, in the stronghold of thee Catharists, who had taken the lives of Peter of Verona, Peter of Ruffia, and Anthony of Pavonio.

Bartholomew was born at Savigliano, in 1420 , and, even in his early years, displayed precocious solemnity and piety. He entered the Order in the convent of his native town, and progressed rapidly in his studies. on May 8th , 1452, he distinguished he himself by obtaining the licentiate, the doctorate and master’s degree from the capital university of Turin; the only time in the history of the university that anyone had acquired three degrees in one day.

Bartholomew taught for a year at the university, and then he was made prior of the convent at Savigilano. In his short apostolate of 12 years, he converted many heretics and worked steadfastly to eradicate heresy. He was appointed inquisitor in Piedmont, which made it clear to him that a martyr’s death was marked out for him. Being a Dominican in Lombardy was a dangerous business, at best; too be appointed inquisitor meant the heretics were given a target for their hatred.

In many ways the murder of Bartholomew and his companions repeats the martyrdom of Peter of Verona. Bartholomew knew beforehand that he was to die, and he made a general confession before starting out on his last trip. He remarked to his confessor, “They will call me , Bartholomew of Cerverio, though I have never set foot there. Today I go there as a inquisitor and there I must die.” On the road entering Cerverio, he and his party were attacked by five heretics. His companions were wounded, but escaped. Bartholomew died, riddled with dagger wounds, before they could get help.

Some people of Savigliano saw a bright light in the sky over Cerverio and surmised what had happened. They went out and brought home the relics, marveling back, despite all the wounds, the martyr had not bled. Laying him down in the church of the Dominicans, they saw his wounds bleed, and the hastily rescued the blood for relics. He was buried n a Dominican Church of Savigliano, and , later, when the church was ruined by revolution, the relics were moved to the parish church.

A chapel was built at the sight of the martyrdom and richly decorated with narrative frescoes. Processions were made there several times a year by the people of Savigliano and Cerverio, invoking Bartholomew against thunder and hail especially. At The same place a fig tree was honored for many years for its connection with Capital Blessed Bartholomew; it was supposed to have sprung up at the time of the martyrdom, at the very place the martyr fell.

Born: 1420

Died: Martyred in 1466

Beatified: Pope Pius IX beatified Bartholomew of Cerverio in 1853