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Lives and Prayers of Dominican Saints,

Blessed and Pius Men and Women

 

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 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.