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Lives and Prayers of Dominican Saints,

Blesseds and Pius Men and Women

 

[Blessed Stephana holy card]

Blessed Stephanie of Quinzanis

Memorial day: January 2nd

 

Profile

    Born to pious parents; her father became a Dominican tertiary while Stephana was very young. She was taught her catechism by the stigmatic Blessed Matthew Carrieri who lived at the nearby Dominican convent; though she was too small to understand, he told her that she was to be his spiritual heiress. Began receiving visions of Dominican saints from age seven, at which point she made vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Carrieri died when Stephana was 14; soon after he appeared to her in a vision, and she received the stigmata.

    Dominican tertiary at Soncino at age 15. Devoted to caring for the poor and sick. She founded a community of Third Order sisters in Soncino, and served as its first abbess. Her counsel was sought by many including Saint Angela Merici, Blessed Augustine of Biella, and Blessed Osanna of Mantua.

    Though she had no formal theological training, she could discuss mystical theology at the most profound level. She could read the hearts and minds of the people around her, and had the gift of prophesy and healing. She lived in a nearly continuous fast, and inflicted severe penances on herself. Stephana accurately predicted the date of her own death.

Born: 1457 at Soncino, Italy

Died: 2 January 1530 of natural causes

Beatified: December 14, 1740 by Pope Benedict XIV (cultus confirmed)

 

Prayers/Commemorations
First Vespers:
Ant. This is a wise Virgin whom the Lord found watching, who took her lamp and oil, and when the Lord came, she entered with Him into the marriage feast.
V. Prayer for us Blessed Stephana
R. That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.
 
Lauds:
Ant. Come O my chosen one and I will place My throne in thee for the King hath exceedingly desired thy beauty.
V. Virgins shall be led to the King after her.
R. Her companions shall be presented to Thee.
 
Second Vespers:
Ant. She hath girded her loins with courage, and hath strengthened her arm; therefore, shall he rlamp not beput out forever.
V. Pray for us, Blessed Stephana
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
 
Prayers:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst wonderfully cause Thy holy Virgin, Blessed Stephana, inflamed with the love of the Crucified, to become a partaker of His passion, grant , we beseech Thee, that we, by her prayers and example may likewise deserve to be made conformable to the image of Thy Son. Who with Thee liveth and reigneth world without end. Amen.

 

Prayer II

God of all consolation, you made Blessed Stephana a sharer in the passion of Christ. With the help of her prayers and by following her example may we be conformed to the image of your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. - General Calendar of the Order of Preachers

Blessed Zedislava, Matron, O.P.

Memorial day: January 3rd

 

   Profile

    Born of a warrior race to noble parents, Zedislava lived in a fortified castle on the borders of Christendom, in an age when the fierce Mongol hordes were the world's worst menace. Her whole life was spent within the sound of clashing arms, and the moans of the dying. The gentleness and purity of her life stand out in surprising beauty against the dark background of a warlike and materialistic people.

    Zedislava learned Christian charity early in life from her mother, who taught her not only the secrets of preparing medicinal herbs but also the healing balm of prayer. Going each day to the castle gate with alms and medicines for the poor and the wretched who crowded there for help, she was soon well acquainted with human misery. Cheerful, prayerful, and alert to see the sorrows of others, the child became a light of hope to the miserable. Because of her sweetness and natural charm, she was able to teach many lessons to those about her.

    As a child, she is said to have fled from her home for a time to live as a hermit, but she returned to live a more normal life that included an early marriage to a soldier, the duke of Lemmberk, who, like her own father, was a rich nobleman in command of a castle on the frontier. The couple produced four children. Zedislava cared judiciously for her own family and lavished great care on the poor, especially the fugitives and victims of the Tartar invasions.

    Her husband was a good man, but a rough and battle-hardened soldier who liked nothing better than the clash of swords. He may have treated Zedislava badly and he certainly tried his young wife's patience and obedience in a thousand ways. He insisted that she dress in her finest gowns and attend the long and barbarous banquets that pleased him so. (In return, she tried his patience because of her generosity towards the poor.)

    Being of a retiring disposition and much given to prayer--and, moreover, having a family and a large castle to care for--she found this a real sacrifice. However, obedience and patience had been an important part of her training, and she taught herself to spiritualize the endless trials that would beset the mother of four children in a medieval fortress.

    The Polish missionaries, Saint Hyacinth and Blessed Ceslaus, brought Zedislava the first knowledge of the new religious order which had begun but a few years before. Saint Dominic, a Spaniard, had met them in Italy, where he had gone to have his order approved. Begun in France, the Dominican Order was already international, and with the profession of Zedislava as the first Slavic Tertiary, its world-wide scope became apparent.

    Enchanted with the possibilities of an order that allowed her to share in its benefits and works while caring for her family, Zedislava threw herself into the new project with enviable zeal. She encouraged her husband to build a hostel for the many poor pilgrims who came homeless to the gate. She visited the prisoners in the frightful dungeons, and used her influence to obtain pardons from the severe sentences meted out to them. She fed and cared for the poor, taught catechism to the children of the servants, and showed all, by the sweetness of her life, just what it meant to be a Christian lady and a Dominican Tertiary. On the occasion of a Mongol (Tartar) attack, when homeless refugees poured into the castle stronghold, her calm, invincible charity was a bulwark of strength to all.

    With her own funds, Zedislava determined to build a church (Priory of Saint Lawrence) where God might be fittingly worshipped. As an act of zeal and penance, she herself carried many of the heavy beams and materials that went into the building. She did this at night so that no one would know of her hard work. Zedislava experienced visions and ecstasies during this time. She also received Holy Communion nearly every day in an age when this was not customary.

    Her death came soon after the completion of the church. The mourning people who knelt by her deathbed could see evidence of her strong Christian virtues in the monuments she had left: her children, her church, and the inspiration of a saintly wife and mother. She consoled her husband in life and appeared to him in glory after death, which strongly encouraged his desire for conversion. Numerous miracles are ascribed to Saint Zedislava, including the raising of the dead to life, though Pope Pius X did not refer to these in his approval of the cultus given to her in her native country (Benedictines, Dorcy, Farmer).

Born: (Unknown Year ) diocese of Litomerici, Bavaria

Died: 1252

Beatified: 1907 (cultus confirmed) by Pope Pius X

Patronage: difficult marriages; people ridiculed for their piety

Representation: In art she is depicted as a Dominican tertiary with a crucifix wound with roses, lying in the place of a sick person in bed (Roeder). Venerated in Bohemia (Roeder).

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant: Come, O My chosen one, and I will place My throne in thee, for the King hath exceedingly desired thy beauty.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Zedislava

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant: She hath opened her hands to the needy, her palms she hath extended to the poor; fortitude and beauty are her vesture, and she shall rejoice on the last day.

V. God hath chosen her, and preferred her.

R. He maketh her to dwell in His tabernacle

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. She hath girded her loins, with courage and hath strengthened her arms: she hath tatsed and seen , for her occupation is good: her lamp shall not be put out in the night.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Zedislava

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God who didst deign to grant the Blessed Zedislava constantly to contemplate Thee with a right might, while being at the same time solicitous for the neighbor's welfare, make us, through her intercession, diligently to attend to heavenly things and to exercise our charity by pious works. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

 

Prayer II:

Faithful God, by her married life and works of charity you taught Blessed Zedislava to pursue the way of perfection. By her prayers may family life be strengthened and be a witness to Christian virtue. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. - General Calendar of the Order of Preachers

Frans Fernández de Capillas (1607-1648)

Blessed Francis of Capillas, M.O.P.

Memorial day: January 15th

 

   Profile

    The 17th century was a period of great missionary activity. Many martyrs shed their blood on distant shores. Dominicans and Jesuits contributed a great share to the blood of martyrs. Among this glorious company, the Dominican Francis de Capillas has become the type and exemplar of them.

    Nothing is known of his childhood. He entered the Dominicans at Valladolid at age 17. The Spain of his youth was still ringing with the missionary zeal of Saints Louis Bertrand, Philip de las Casas, and Francis Xavier; the report of the martyrdom of Alphonsus Navarette (June 1), in Japan, was news at the time. Perhaps the bravery of these men helped to fire the young Francis with apostolic longing, for he volunteered for the Philippine mission while he was a deacon. At age 23 (1631) he left Spain and was ordained in Manila. Here, at the gateway to the Orient, the Dominicans had founded a university in 1611, and the city teemed with missionaries traveling throughout the Orient.

    The young priest labored for 10 years in the province of Cagayan, the Philippines, where heat, insects, disease, and paganism leagued against the foreigner to make life very hard. But it was not hard enough for Francis. He begged for a mission field that was really difficult; perhaps, like many of the eager young apostles of that time, he was hoping for an assignment in Japan, where the great persecution was raging. He was sent to Fukien, China, where he worked uneventfully for some years. Then a Tartar invasion put his life in jeopardy. He was captured by a band of Tartars and imprisoned as a spy.

    Francis, like his Master, was subjected to a mock trial. Civil, military, and religious officials questioned him, and they accused him of everything from political intrigue to witchcraft. He was charged with disregarding ancestor worship, and, finally, since they could "find no cause in him," he was turned over to the torturers.

    He endured the cruel treatment of these men with great courage. Seeing his calmness, the magistrates became curious about his doctrines. They offered him wealth, power, and freedom, if he would renounce his faith, but he amazed and annoyed them by choosing to suffer instead. They varied the tortures with imprisonment, and he profitably used the time to convert his jailor and fellow prisoners. Even the mandarin visited him in prison, asking Francis if he would renounce his faith or would he prefer to suffer more. Being told that he was glad to suffer for Christ, the mandarin furiously ordered that he be scourged again "so he would have even more to be glad about."

    Francis was finally condemned, as it says in the breviary, as "the leader of the traitors," these being (presumably) the rebel army that was besieging the city. The official condemnation is stated in those words: "After long suffering, he was finally beheaded and so entered into the presence of the Master, who likewise suffered and died under a civil sentence" (Benedictines, Dorcy).

Born:1608 in Old Castile, Spain

Died: Martyred in January 15, 1640 in China

Beatified: May 2,1909 by Pope Pius X

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. This is a martyr indeed, who for the name of Christ shed his blood; who neither feared the threats of judges, nor sought the glory of  earthly dignity, but has joyously come to the the heavenly kingdom.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Francis.

R. That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Let him that would come after Me de deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.

V. A crown of gold is on his head.

R. Signed with the sign of sanctity.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. This is he for the law of his God delivered himself to death. He did not hesitate to die; he was slain by the wicked and lives forever with Christ: he followed the Lamb and has received the palm.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Francis

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst strengthen with wonderful constancy the faith of Thy Blessed martyr, Francis, grant propitiously to Thy church, that aided by his prayer it may deserve to celebrate in all places new triumphs of faith. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
 

 

Blessed Gonsalvo, C.O.P.

Memorial Day: January 16th

 

Profile

    Gonsalvo de Amarante was a true son of the Middle Ages, a man right out of the pages of the 'Golden Legend.' His whole life reads like a mural from the wall of a church--full of marvelous things and done up in brilliant colors.

    In his boyhood Gonsalvo Pereira was gave wonderful indications of his holiness. While still small, he was consecrated to study for the Church, and received his training in the household of the archbishop of Braga. After his ordination he was given charge of a wealthy parish, an assignment that should have made him very happy. Gonsalvo was not as interested in choice parishes as some of his companions; he went to his favorite Madonna shrine and begged Our Lady to help him administer this office fairly.

    There was no complaint with Gonsalvo's governance of the parish of Saint Pelagius. He was penitential himself, but indulgent with everyone else. Revenues that he might have used for himself were used for the poor and the sick. The parish, in fact, was doing very well when he turned it over to his nephew, whom he had carefully trained as a priest, before making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

    Gonsalvo would have remained his entire life in the Holy Land, but after 14 years his archbishop commanded him to return to Portugal. Upon his arrival, he was horrified to see that his nephew had not been the good shepherd that he had promised to be, the money left for the poor had gone to purchase a fine stable of thoroughbred horses and a pack of fine hounds. The nephew had told everyone that his old uncle was dead, and he had been appointed pastor in his place by an unsuspecting archbishop. When the uncle appeared on the scene, ragged and old, but very much alive, the nephew was not happy to see him. Gonsalvo seems to have been surprised as well as pained.

    The ungrateful nephew settled the matter by turning the dogs on his inconvenient uncle. They would have torn him to pieces, but the servants called them off and allowed the ragged pilgrim to escape. Gonsalvo decided then that he had withstood enough parish life, and went out into the hills to a place called Amarante. Here he found a cave and other necessities for an eremitical life and lived in peace for several years, spending his time building a little chapel to the Blessed Virgin. He preached to those who came to him, and soon there was a steady stream of pilgrims seeking out his retreat.

    Happy as he was, Golsalvo felt that this was not his sole mission in life, and he prayed to Our Lady to help him to discern his real vocation. She appeared to him one night as he prayed and told him to enter the order that had the custom of beginning the office with "Ave Maria gratia plena." She told him that this order was very dear to her and under her special protection. Gonsalvo set out to learn what order she meant, and eventually came to the convent of the Dominicans. Here was the end of the quest, and he asked for the habit.

    Blessed Peter Gonzales was the prior, and he gave the habit to the new aspirant. After Gonsalvo had gone through his novitiate, he was sent back to Amarante, with a companion, to begin a regular house of the order. The people of the neighborhood quickly spread the news that the hermit was back. They flocked to hear him preach, and begged him to heal their sick.

    One of the miracles of Blessed Gonsalvo concerns the building of a bridge across a swift river that barred many people from reaching the hermitage in wintertime. It was not a good place to build a bridge, but Gonsalvo set about it and followed the heavenly directions he had received. Once, during the building of the bridge, he went out collecting, and a man who wanted to brush him off painlessly sent him away with a note for his wife.

    Gonsalvo took the note to the man's wife, and she laughed when she read it. "Give him as much gold as will balance with the note I send you," said the message. Gonsalvo told her he thought she ought to obey her husband, so she got out the scales and put the paper in one balance. Then she put a tiny coin in the other balance, and another, and another--the paper still outweighed her gold--and she kept adding. There was a sizeable pile of coins before the balance with the paper in it swung upwards.

    Gonsalvo died about 1259, after prophesying the day of his death and promising his friends that he would still be able to help them after death. Pilgrimages began soon, and a series of miracles indicated that something should be done about his beatification. Forty years after his death he appeared to several people who were apprehensively watching a flood on the river. The water had arisen to a dangerous level, just below the bridge, when they saw a tree floating towards the bridge, and Gonsalvo was balancing capably on its rolling balk. The friar carefully guided the tree under the bridge, preserving the bridge from damage, and then disappeared (Benedictines, Dorcy).

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As he was being carried to the baptismal font as an infant, he fixed his eyes on the church's crucifix with a look of extraordinary love.
 

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He was directed to the Dominicans by a supernatural directive that he should join the Order in which the Office began and ended with the Ave Maria.
 

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When workers who helped briefly with his bridge building ran out of wine, Gonzalo prayed, smacked a rock with a stick, it split open, and wine poured out.
 

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When the workers ran out of food, Gonzalo went to the water, called out, and fish jumped onto the river bank to feed them.
 

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During a homily, in which he wanted to show the horror of exclusion from the Church, he 'excommunicated' a basket of bread; the loaves immediately became black, rotted and inedible. When he removed the 'excommunication' a few minutes later, the bread became fresh and wholesome again.

 

Born: 1187 at Vizella, diocese of Braga, Portugal

Died: January 10, 1259 of natural causes

Beatified: By Pius IV in 1560

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Gonsalvo, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Gonsalvo.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou has been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Gonsalvo.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst wonderfully enflame the mind of Blessed Gonsalvo, Thy confessor with the love of Thy holy name, grant, we beseech Thee, that, treading in his footsteps, we may ever think of Thee, and with fervent zeal do those things that are agreeable to Thee. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Prayer II:

God of mercy and compassion, in your grace Blessed Gonsalvo came to love your holy name and served you in the solitary life. By the help of his prayer and the grace of the Spirit may we keep you in our thoughts and with burning zeal do what is pleasing to you. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. - General Calendar of the Order of Preachers

Blessed Andrew of Peschiera. C.O.P.

Memorial day: January 19th

 

Profile

    As a child, Andrew Grego lived on the southern shore of Lake Garda, in northern Italy. His training for a life of heroic sanctity began early, with voluntary penances and unquestioning obedience to his father. Andrew's first desire was to be a hermit, an ambition that was met with ridicule from his brothers. Failing to realize this hope, he made for himself a severe schedule of prayer and penance, and, in his own house, lived the life of one wholly given to God.

    After the death of his father, it became increasingly difficult to carry out his plan, so he resolved to enter the cloister. Although his brothers had persecuted him without mercy, he knelt and humbly begged their prayers and forgiveness for having annoyed them. Then he gave them the only possession he had, a walking-stick. This stick, thrown carelessly in a corner by the brothers, was forgotten until, long afterwards, it bloomed like the legendary rod of Saint Joseph in token of Andrew's holiness.

    The 15-year old received the Dominican habit at Brescia and then was sent to San Marco in Florence. This convent was then at its peak of glory, stamped with the saintly personalities of Saint Antoninus and the Blesseds of Lawrence of Riprafratta, Constantius, and Antony della Chiesa. Andrew's soul caught the fire of their apostolic zeal, and set forth on his mission in the mountains of northern Italy.

    Heresy and poverty had combined to draw almost this entire region from the Church. It was a country of great physical difficulties, and, in his travels in the Alps, he risked death from snowstorms and avalanches as often as from the daggers of the heretics. Nevertheless, he travelled tirelessly, preaching, teaching, and building--for his entire lifetime (45 years).

    Churches, hospitals, schools, and orphanages were built under Andrew's direction. He would retire from time to time to these convents for periods of prayer and spiritual refreshment, so that he could return with renewed courage and zeal to the difficult apostolate. He was known as "the Apostle of the Valtelline," because of the district he evangelized.

    Blessed Andrew performed many miracles. Probably his greatest miracle was his preaching, which produced such fruits in the face of great obstacles. At one time, when he was preaching to the people, the heretics presented him with a book in which they had written down their beliefs. He told them to open the book and see for themselves what their teachings amounted to. They did so, and a large viper emerged from the book.

    Blessed Andrew closed a holy life by an equally holy death and was buried in Morbegno. He had labored so long among the poor and the neglected that his place in their hearts was secured. Because of the miracles worked at his tomb, and the persistent devotion of the people, his relics were twice transferred to more suitable tombs (Attwater2, Benedictines, Dorcy).

Born: Early 15th Century in Peschiera, Italy

Died: in Valtellina District (near Swiss border), Italy, 1485

Beatified: cultus confirmed 1820 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Andrew, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Andrew.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou has been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Gonsalvo.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let Us Pray: O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst adorn Blessed Andrew, Thy Confessor, with the apostolic spirit, grant that in imitation of him we may so advanced by word and example as to bear abundant fruit. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Saint Raymund of Pennafort

Memorial day: January 23rd

 

Profile

    From the bull of his canonization, by Clement VIII in 1601, and his life, written by several Spanish, Italian and French authors. See Fleury, b. 78, n. 55, 64, and chiefly Touron Hommes Illustres de l'Ordre de S. Domin. t. 1, p. I

The house of Pegnafort, or, as it is pronounced, Pennafort, was descended from the counts of Barcelona, and nearly allied to the kings of Aragon. Raymund was born in 1175, at Pennafort, a castle in Catalonia, which in the fifteenth century was changed into a convent of the order of St. Dominick. Such was his rapid progress in his studies, that at the age of twenty he taught philosophy at Barcelona, which he did gratis, and with so great reputation, that he began then to be consulted by the ablest masters. His principal care was to instil into his scholars the most perfect maxims of a solid piety and devotion, to compose all differences among the citizens, and to relieve the distressed. He was about thirty years of age when he went to Bologna, in Italy, to perfect himself in the study of the canon and civil law, commenced Doctor in that faculty, and taught with the same disinterestedness and charity as he had done in his own country. In 1219 Berengarius, bishop of Barcelona, who had been at Rome, took Raymund home with him, to the great regret of the university and senate of Bologna; and, not content with giving him a canonry in his church, made him his archdeacon, grand vicar, and official. He was a perfect model to the clergy, by his innocence, zeal, devotion, and boundless liberalities to the poor, whom he called his creditors. In 1222 he took the religious habit of St. Dominick at Barcelona, eight months after the death of the holy founder, and in the forty-seventh year of his age. No person was ever seen among the young novices more humble, more obedient, or more fervent. To imitate the obedience of a Man-God, who reduced himself to a state of subjection to his own creatures, to teach us the dangers and deep wound of self-will, and to point out to us the remedy, the saint would depend absolutely on the lights of his director in all things. And it was upon the most perfect self-denial that he laid the foundation of that high sanctity which he made the object of his most earnest desires. The grace of prayer perfected the work which mortification had begun. In a spirit of compunction he begged of his superiors that they would enjoin him some severe penance, to expiate the vain satisfaction and complacency which he said he had sometimes taken in teaching. They indeed imposed on him a penance, but not such a one as he expected. It was to write a collection of cases of conscience for the instruction and conveniency of confessors and moralists. This produced his Sum the first work of that kind. Had his method and decisions been better followed by some later authors of the like works, the holy maxims of Christian morality had been treated with more respect by some moderns than they have been, to our grief and confusion.

 

    Raymund joined to the exercises of his solitude the functions of an apostolical life, by laboring without intermission in preaching, instructing, hearing confessions with wonderful fruit, and converting heretics, Jews, and Moors Among his penitents were James, king of Aragon, and St. Peter Nolasco, with whom he concerted the foundation of the Order of the B. Virgin of mercy for the redemption of captives. James, the young king of Aragon had married Eleonora of Castile within the prohibited degrees, without a dispensation. A legate was sent by pope Gregory IX. to examine and judge the case. In a council of bishops of the two kingdoms, held at Tar rayon, he declared the marriage null, but that their son Don Alphonso should be reputed lawfully born, and heir to his father's crown. The king had taken his confessor with him to the council, and the cardinal legate was so charmed with his talents and virtue, that he associated him in his legation and gave him a commission to preach the holy war against the Moors. The servant of God acquitted himself of that function with so much prudence, zeal, and charity, that he sowed the seeds of the total overthrow of those infidels in Spain. His labors were no less successful in the reformation of the manners of the Christians detained in servitude under the Moors which were extremely corrupted by their long slavery or commerce with these infidels. Raymund showed them, by words full of heavenly unction and fire, that, to triumph over their bodily, they must first conquer their spiritual enemies, and subdue sin in themselves, which made God their enemy. Inculcating these and the like spiritual lessons, he ran over Catalonia, Aragon, Castile, and other countries. So general a change was wrought hereby in the manners of the people, as seemed incredible to all but those who were witnesses of it. By their conversion the anger of God was appeased, and the arms of the faithful became terrible to their enemies. The kings of Castile and Leon freed many places from the Moorish yoke. Don James, king of Aragon, drove them out of the islands of Majorca and Minorca, and soon after, in 1237, out of the whole kingdom of Valentia. Pope Gregory IX. having called St. Raymund to Rome in 1230, nominated him his chaplain, (which was the title of the Auditor of the causes of the apostolic palace,) as also grand penitentiary. He made him likewise his own confessarius, and in difficult affairs came to no decision but by his advice. The saint still reserved himself for the poor, and was so solicitous for them that his Holiness called him their father. He enjoined the pope, for a penance, to receive, hear, and expedite immediately all petitions presented by them. The pope, who was well versed in the canon law, ordered the saint to gather into one body all the scattered decree of popes and councils, since the collection made by Gratian in 1150. Raymund compiled this work in three years, in five books, commonly called the Decretals, which the same pope Gregory confirmed in 1234. It is looked upon as the best finished part of the body of the canon law; on which account the canonists have usually chosen it for the texts of their comments. In 1235, the pope named St. Raymund to the archbishopric of Tarragon, the capital of Aragon: the humble religious man was not able to avert the storm, as he called it, by tears and entreaties; but at length fell sick through anxiety and fear. To restore him to his health, his Holiness was obliged to consent to excuse him, but required that he should recommend a proper person. The saint named a pious and learned canon of Gironne. He refused other dignities with the like constancy.

 

    For the recovery of his health he returned to his native country, and was received with as much joy as if the safety of the whole kingdom. and of every particular person, had depended on his presence. Being restored again to his dear solitude at Barcelona, he continued his former exercises of contemplation, preaching, and administering the sacrament of penance. Except on Sundays, he never took more than one very small refection in the day. Amidst honors and applause he was ever little in his own eyes: he appeared in the schools like a scholar, and in his convent begged the superior to instruct him in the rules of religious perfection, with the humility and docility of a novice. Whether he sung the divine praises with his brethren, or prayed alone in his cell, or some corner of the church, ho poured forth an abundance of tears; and often was not able to contain within himself the ardor of his soul. His mildness and sweetness were unalterable. The incredible number of conversions of which he was the instrument, is known only to Him who, by his grace, was the author of them. He was employed frequently in most important commissions, both by the holy see and by the king. But he was thunderstruck by the arrival of four deputies from the general chapter of his order at Bologna, in 1238, with the news that he was chosen third general, Jordan of Saxony being lately dead. He wept and entreated, but at length acquiesced in obedience. He made the visitation of his order on foot, without discontinuing any of his penitential austerities, or rather exercises. He instilled into his spiritual children a love of regularity, solitude, mortification, prayer, sacred studies, and the apostolical functions, especially preaching. He reduced the constitutions of his order into a clearer method, with notes on the doubtful passages. This his code of rules was approved in three general chapters. In one held at Paris in 1239, he procured the establishment of this regulation, that a voluntary demission of a superior, founded upon just reasons, should be accepted. This he contrived in his own favor; for, to the extreme regret of the order, he in the year following resigned the generalship, which he had held only two years. He alleged for his reason his age of sixty-five years. Rejoicing to see himself again a private religious man, he applied himself with fresh vigor to the exercises and functions of an apostolical life, especially the conversion of the Saracens. Having this end in view he engaged St. Thomas to write his work 'Against the Gentiles;' procured the Arabic and Hebrew tongues to be taught in several convents of his order; and erected convents, one at Tunis, and another at Murcia, among the Moors. In 1256, he wrote to his general that ten thousand Saracens had received baptism. King James took him into the island of Majorca. The saint embraced that opportunity of cultivating that infant church. This prince was an accomplished soldier and statesman, and a sincere lover of religion, but his great qualities were sullied by a base passion for women. He received the admonitions of the saint with respect, and promised amendment of life, and a faithful compliance with the saint's injunctions in every particular; but without effect. St. Raymund, upon discovering that he entertained a lady at his court with whom he was suspected to have criminal conversation, made the strongest instances to have her dismissed, which the king promised should be done, but postponed the execution. The saint, dissatisfied with the delay, begged leave to retire to his convent at Barcelona. The king not only refused him leave, but threatened to punish with death any person that should undertake to convey him out of the island. The saint, full of confidence in God, said to his companion, "A king of the earth endeavors to deprive us of the means of retiring; but the King of heaven will supply them." He then walked boldly to the waters, spread his cloak upon them, tied up one corner of it to a staff for a sail, and having made the sign of the cross, stepped upon it without fear, while his timorous companion stood trembling and wondering on the shore. On this new kind of vessel the saint was wafted with such rapidity, that in six hours he reached the harbor of Barcelona, sixty leagues distant from Majorca. Those who saw him arrive in this manner met him with acclamations. But he, gathering up his cloak dry, put it on, stole through the crowd, and entered his monastery. A chapel and a tower, built on the place where he landed, have transmitted the memory of this miracle to posterity. This relation is taken from the bull of his canonization, and the earliest historians of his life. The king became a sincere convert, and governed his conscience, and even his kingdoms, by the advice of St. Raymund from that time till the death of the saint. The holy man prepared himself for his passage to eternity, by employing days and nights in penance and prayer. During his last illness, Alphonsus, king of Castile, with his queen, sons, and brother; and James, king of Aragon, with his court, visited him, and received his last benediction. He armed himself with the last sacraments; and, in languishing sighs of divine love, gave up his soul to God, on the 6th of January, in the year 1275, and the hundredth of his age. The two kings, with all the princes and princesses of their royal families, honored his funeral with their presence: but his tomb was rendered far more illustrious by miracles. Several are recorded in the bull of his canonization, published by Clement VIII. in 1601. Bollandus has filled fifteen pages in folio with an account of them. His office is fixed by Clement X. to the 23d of January.

 

    The saints first learned in solitude to die to the world and themselves, to put on the spirit of Christ, and ground themselves in a habit of recollection and a relish only for heavenly things, before they entered upon the exterior functions even of a spiritual ministry. Amidst these weighty employments, not content with reserving always the time and means of frequent retirement for conversing with God and themselves, in their exterior functions by raising their minds to heaven with holy sighs and desires, they made all their actions in some measure an uninterrupted prayer and exercise of divine love and praise. St. Bonaventure reckons it among the general exercises of every religious or spiritual men, "that he keep his mind always raised, at least virtually, to God: hence, whensoever a servant of God has been distracted from attending to him for ever so short a space, he grieves and is afflicted, as if he was fallen into some misfortune, by having been deprived of the presence of such a friend who never forgets us. Seeing that our supreme felicity and glory consists in the eternal vision of God, the constant remembrance of him is a kind of imitation of that happy state: this the reward, that the virtue which entitles us to it. Till we are admitted to his presence, let us in our exile always bear him in mind: every one will behold him in heaven with so much the greater joy, and so much the more perfectly, as he shall more assiduously and more devoutly have remembered him on earth. Nor is it only in our repose, but also in the midst of our employments, that we ought to have him present to our minds, in imitation of the holy angels, who, when they are sent to attend on us, so acquit themselves of the functions of this exterior ministry as never to be drawn from their interior attention to God. As much as the heavens exceed the earth, so much larger is the field of spiritual meditation than that of all terrestrial concerns."

(Taken from Vol. I of "The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints" by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company)

Born: 1175 at Penafort, Catalonia, Spain

Died: January 6, 1275 at Barcelona, Spain

Canonized: April 29, 1601 by Pope Clement VIII

Representation: Cloak

Patronage: barristers; canonists; lawyers; medical record librarians

Writings: Summa Cassuam

 

First Vespers:

Ant. By the rays of his doctrine he enlightened those who were sitting in darkness of error, and by ardor of his charity he became a redeemer of the poor and the captive.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Raymund.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Lauds:

Ant. He liberated those in chains from the hand of the enemy, and brought back the wayward from the path of iniquity, that their steps might be directed in the way of peace.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. O Blessed Raymund, who art commended by truth of doctrine and adorned with virginal chastity , teach us the way of salvation, and obtain for us purity of heart that by thy prayers we may obtain eternal joys.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Raymund.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayers:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst chose Blessed Raymund for a glorious minister of the Sacrament of Penance, and didst guide him wonderfully across the waves of the sea, grant that we, through his intercession may bring forth fruits worthy of penance, and at length reach the haven of salvation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Readings

"Look then on Jesus, the author and preserver of faith: in complete sinlessness he suffered, and at the hands of those who were his own, and was numbered among the wicked. As you drink the cup of the Lord Jesus (how glorious it is!), give thanks to the Lord, the giver of all blessings.

May the God of love and peace set your hearts at rest and speed you on your journey; may he meanwhile shelter you from disturbance by others in the hidden recesses of his love, until he brings you at last into that place of complete plenitude where you will repose for ever in the vision of peace, in the security of trust, and in the restful enjoyment of his riches."

--from a letter by Saint Raymond

Blessed Marcolinus of Forli

Memorial day: January 24th

 

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    Marcolino Amanni entered the Dominicans at age 10. He occupies a place unique in Dominican annals because he was almost purely contemplative . There is outwardly little to record of Blessed Marcolino, except that for 70 years he kept the Dominican Rule in all its rigor. That is a claim to sanctity that can be made by very few, and is of itself enough to entitle him to canonization. He did accomplish the reform of several convents that had fallen from their primitive fervor, but this he did by his prayers and his example rather than by teaching or preaching.

    It is related that Marcolino was most at home with the lay brothers, or with the neighborhood children who enjoyed talking to him. He seldom went out of his cell, and could not have engaged in any active works; neither did he leave any writings. His work was the unseen labor presided over by the Holy Spirit, the work of contemplation. "To give to others the fruits of contemplation," is the Dominican motto and one might be curious to know how Blessed Marcolino accomplished this. In order to understand the need for just such a type of holiness, it is well to remember the state of the Church in the 14th century. Devastated by plague and schism, divided and held up to scorn, preyed upon by all manner of evils, the Church militant was in need, not only of brave and intelligent action, but also of prayer. Consistently through the centuries, God has raised up such saints as could best avert the disasters that threatened the world in their day, and Marcolino was one answer to the need for mystics who would plead ceaselessly for the Church.

    The interior life of Marcolino was not recorded by himself or by others. He lived the mystical life with such intensity that he was nearly always in ecstasy and unconscious of the things around him. Some one of his brothers recorded that he seemed "a stranger on earth, concerned only with the things of heaven." Most of his brethren thought him merely sleepy and inattentive, but actually he was, for long periods, lost in converse with God. Some had heard him talking earnestly to the statue of Our Lady in his cell; some fortunate few had heard Our Lady replying to his questions, with the same simplicity.

    At the death of Marcolino, a beautiful child appeared in the streets, crying out the news to the little town that the saintly friar was dead. As the child disappeared when the message was delivered, he was thought to have been an angel. Many miracles were worked at the tomb of Marcolino. One was the miraculous cure of a woman who had been bedridden for 30 years. Hearing of the death of the blessed, she begged him to cure her so that she could visit his tomb (Attwater2, Benedictines, Dorcy).


Born: 1317 at Forli, Italy

Died: January 2, 1397

Canonized: Benedict XIV confirmed his cult in 1750
 

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Marcolino of Forli, confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Marcolino.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou has been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed MarcolinoGonsalvo.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayers:

Let us Pray: O God, to whom the prayer of the humble and meek hath always been pleasing, grant that we may so profit by the prayers an example of Blessed Marcolino that, becoming truly meek and humble of heart, we may the more readily receive Thy gifts. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Saint Margaret of Hungary

Memorial day: January 26th

 

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    Margaret, the daughter of King Bela IV, champion of Christendom, and Queen Mary Lascaris of Hungary, was offered to God before her birth, in petition that the country would be delivered from the terrible scourge of the Tartars. The prayer having been answered, the king and queen made good their promise by placing the rich and beautiful three-year-old in the Dominican convent at Vesprim. Here, in company with other children of nobility, she was trained in the arts thought fitting for royalty.

    Margaret was not content with simply living in the house of God; she demanded the religious habit--and received it--at the age of four. Furthermore, she took upon herself the austerities practiced by the other sisters--fasting, hairshirts, the discipline (scourge), and night vigils. She soon learned the Divine Office by heart and chanted it happily to herself as she went about her play. She chose the least attractive duties of the nuns for herself. She would starve herself to keep her spirit humble. No one but Margaret seemed to take seriously the idea that she would one day make profession and remain as a sister, for it would be of great advantage to her father if she were to make a wise marriage.

    This question arose seriously when Margaret was 12. She responded in surprise. She said that she had been dedicated to God, even before her birth, and that she intended to remain faithful to that promise. Some years later her father built for her a convent on the island in the Danube between Buda and Pest. To settle the matter of her vocation, here she pronounced her vows to the master general of the order, Blessed Humbert of the Romans, in 1255, and took the veil in 1261.

    Again, when Margaret was 18, her father made an attempt to sway her from her purpose, because King Ottokar of Bohemia, hearing of her beauty, had come seeking her hand. He even obtained a dispensation from the pope and approached Margaret with the permission. Margaret replied as she had previously, "I esteem infinitely more the King of Heaven and the inconceivable happiness of possessing Jesus Christ than the crown offered me by the King of Bohemia." Having established that she was not interested in any throne but a heavenly one, she proceeded with great joy to live an even more fervent religious life than she had before.

    Margaret's royal parentage was, of course, a matter of discussion in the convent. But the princess managed to turn such conversation away from herself to the holy lives of the saints who were related to her by blood--King Saint Stephen, Saint Hedwig, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, and several others. She did not glory in her wealth or parentage, but strove to imitate the saints in their holiness. She took her turn in the kitchen and laundry, seeking by choice much heavy work that her rank might have excused her from doing. She was especially welcome in the infirmary, which proves that she was not a sad-faced saint, and she made it her special duty to care for those who were too disagreeable for anyone else to tend.

    Margaret's austerities seem excessive to us of a weaker age. The mysteries of the Passion were very real to her and gave reason for her long fasts, severe scourgings, and other mortifications detailed in the depositions of witnesses taken seven years after her death (of which records are still in existence). Throughout Lent she scarcely ate or slept. She not only imitated the poverty- striken in their manual labor and hunger, but also in their lack of cleanliness--a form of penance at that time. Some of her acts of self-immolation have been described as "horrifying" and verging on fanaticism, and there seems to have been an element of willfulness in her mortifications.

    She had a tender devotion to Our Lady, and on the eve of her feasts, Margaret said a thousand Hail Mary's. Unable to make the long pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to Rome, or to any of the other famous shrines of Christendom, the saint developed a plan by which she could go in spirit: she counted up the miles that lay between herself and the desired shrine, and then said an Ave Maria for every mile there and back. On Good Friday she was so overcome at the thoughts of Our Lord's Passion that she wept all day. She was frequently in ecstasy, and very embarrassed if anyone found her so and remarked on her holiness.

    A number of miracles were performed during Margaret's lifetime and many more after her death because Margaret had an implicit faith in the power and efficacy of prayer. The princess nun was only 28 when she died. Most of the particulars of her life are recorded in existing depositions of witnesses taken in 1277. Her friends and acquaintances petitioned for her to be acclaimed a saint almost immediately after her death. Among them was her own servant, Agnes, who rightly observed that this daughter of a monarch showed far more humility than any of the monastery's maids. Although their testimony expressed Margaret's overpowering desire to allow nothing to stand between her and God, the process of canonization was not complete until 1943. The island where her convent stood, called first the "Blessed Virgin's Isle," was called "Isle of Margaret" after the saint (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Coulson, Dorcy, Farmer).

 

Born: 1242

 

Died: January 18, 1271 at Budapest, Hungary; remains given to the Poor Clares at Pozsony when the Dominican Order was dissolved; most relics were destroyed in 1789, but portions still preserved at Gran, Gyor, Pannonhalma

 

Beatified: July 28, 1789

 

Canonized: 1943 by Pope Pius XII

 

Representation: In art Saint Margaret is a crowned Dominican nun with the stigmata. Sometimes she is shown (1) as a crowned Dominican with a processional cross; (2) as a crowned Dominican with a nun at her feet; or (3) with the stigmata, cross, lily, and book; the crown at her feet. She can be distinguished from the Dominican Saint Catherine of Siena by her crown, which is never absent. Saint Catherine may have three crowns, but never just one. Venerated in Budapest (Roeder).

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Blessed Margaret emulating the purity of the angels, dedicated herself as the bride of Him who is the spouse of perpetual virginity and the Son of the perpetual Virgin.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Margaret.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

 

Lauds:

Ant. O Most holy spouse of Christ, adorn with the diadem of virgins, honored with the grace of healing, endowed with the heavenly gift of reading hearts, consumed with the fire of divine love!

V. Virgins shall be lead to the King after her.

R. Her companions shall be presented to thee.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. O Blessed Margaret, who here on earth didst give to all the afflicted the solace of charity, help us from heaven in our miseries and obtain for us life with the saints in heaven.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Margaret.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us pray: O God, the lover and guardian of chastity, by whose gifts Thy handmaid Margaret united the beauty of virginity and the merit of good works, grant we pray, that through the spirit of salutary penance we may be able to recover integrity of soul. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Mary Mancini of Pisa

Memorial day: January 30th

 

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    Catherine Mancini was born in Pisa, of noble parentage, and almost in babyhood began enjoying the miraculous favors with which her life was filled. At the age of three, she was warned by some heavenly agency that the porch on which she had been placed by a nurse was unsafe. Her cries attracted the nurse's attention, and they had barely left the porch when it collapsed. When she was five, she beheld in an ecstasy the dungeon of a place in Pisa in which Peter Gambacorta, one of the leading citizens, was being tortured. At Catherine's prayer, the rope broke and the man was released. Our Lady told the little girl to say prayers every day for this man, because he would one day be her benefactor.

 

    Catherine would have much preferred the religious life to marriage, but she obeyed her parents and was married at the age of twelve. Widowed at sixteen, she was compelled to marry again. Of her seven children, only one survived the death of her second husband., and Catherine learned through a vision that this child, too, was soon to be taken from her. Thus she found herself, at the age of twenty five, twice widowed and bereft of all her children. Refusing a third marriage, she devoted herself to prayers and works of charity.

 

    She soon worked out for herself a severe schedule of prayers and good works, fasting and mortifications. She        tended  the sick and the poor, bringing them into her own home and regarding them as Our Lord Himself. She gave her goods to the poor and labored for them with her own hands. Our Lord was pleased  to show her that He approved of her works by appearing to her in the guise of a poor young man, sick, and in need of both food and medicine. She carefully dressed his wounds, and she was rewarded by the revelation that it was in reality her redeemer whom she had served.

 

    St. Catherine of Siena visited Pisa at about this time, and the two saintly women were drawn together into a holy friendship. As they prayed together in the Dominican church one day, they were surrounded by a bright cloud, out of which flew a white dove. They conversed joyfully on spiritual matters, and were mutually strengthened by the meeting.

    On the advice of St. Catherine of Siena, Catherine (Mary Mancini) retired to an enclosed convent of the Second Order. In religion, she was given the name Mary, by which she is usually known. She embraced the religious life in all its primitive austerity, and, with Blessed Clare Gambarcota and a few other members of the convent, she founded a new and much more austere house, which had been built by Peter Gambacorta. Our Lady's prophecy of his benefactions was thus fulfilled.

    Blessed Mary was favored with many visions and was in almost constant prayer. She became prioress of the house on the death of her friend Blessed Clare Gambacorta, and ruled it with justice and holiness until her death.

 

Born: 1355

Died: 1431

Beatified: Pius IX confirmed her cult in 1855

 

First Vespers:

Ant. Come, O My chosen one, and I will place My throne in therefore the King hath exceedingly desired thy beauty.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Mary

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Lauds:

Ant. She hath opened her hand to the needy; her palms she hath extended to the poor; fortitude and beauty are her vesture, and she shall rejoice on the last day.

V. God hath chosen her, and preferred her.

R. He maketh her to dwell in His tabernacle.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. She hath girded her loins with courage and hath, strengthened her arm. She hath tasted and seen, for her occupation is good: her lamp shall not be put out in the night.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Mary.

R. That we maybe made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Prayer:

Let us pray: O God, who didst make Blessed Mary, early enriched with the abundance for the gift of contemplation, and for singular charity towards the neighbor, grant us that, in imitation of her, by meditation on heavenly things and showing mercy to others, we may merit to attain with her to everlasting glory. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.