November 13, 2018: ST. DIDACUS, CONFESSOR
Lord, thou deliveredst to me five talents: behold I have gained other five.
O Almighty and eternal God, who, by a wonderful providence, makest choice of the weak things of this world to confound the strong; mercifully grant, that, being perfected in all humility, we may be raised by the prayers of thy holy Confessor, blessed Didacus, to the everlasting glory of heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
A humble lay-brother, Didacus of St. Nioholas, is welcomed to-day by his father St. Francis into the company of Bernardino of Siena and John Capistran, who preceded him by a few years to heaven. The two latter left Italy and the whole of Europe still echoing with their voices, the one making peace between cities in the name of the Lord Jesus, the other urging on the Christian hosts to battle with the victorious Crescent. The age which they contributed so powerfully to save from the results of the great schism and to restore to its Christian destinies, knew little of Didacus but his unbounded charity. It was the year of the great Jubilee, 1450. Rome having become once more, practically as well as theoretically, the holy city in the eyes of the nations, not even the most terrible scourges could keep her children at a distance. From every quarter of the globe, crowds, urged by the evils of the time, flocked to the sources of salvation; and Satan's work of ruin was retarded by seventy years.
Men doubtless attributed but a very small share of such results to the humble brother, who was spending himself in the Ara-Cœli, in the service of the plague-stricken; especially if they compared him with his brethren, the great Franciscan apostles. And yet the Church pays to Didacus to-day the very same honours as we have seen her pay to Bernardine and John Capistran. What is this but asserting that before God heroic acts of hidden virtue are not inferior to the noble deeds that dazzle the world, if, proceeding from the same ardent love, they produce in the soul the same increase of divine charity.
The Pontificate of Nioholas V, which witnessed the imposing concourse of people to the tombs of the Apostles in 1450, was also, and still is, justly admired for the new impetus given to the culture of letters and the arts in Rome; for it belongs to the Church to adorn herself, for the honour of her Spouse, with all that men rightly deem great and beautiful. Nevertheless, who is there now of all the humanists, as the learned men of that age were called, who would not prefer the glory of the poor, unlettered Friar Minor, to that which vainly held out to them the hope of immortality? In the fifteenth century, as at all other times, God chose the foolish and the weak to confound the wise and the strong. The Gospel is always in the right.
Let us read the luminous life of this unlearned man, as given in the book of holy Church.
Didacus was a Spaniard [this name is merely a Latin form of the Spanish Diego, i.e. James], born at the little town of St. Nicholas de Porto in the diocese of Seville. From his early youth he began the practice of a perfect life, under the guidance of a pious priest in a solitary church. Then, in order to bind himself more closely to God, he made profession of the rule of St. Francis, in the convent of the Observantine Friars Minor at Arizzafa. There he bore the yoke of humble obedience and regular observance with great alacrity; and devoted himself especially to contemplation, in which he received wonderful lights from God, so that, illiterate as he was, he spoke of heavenly things in an admirable manner, evidently by a divine gift.
He was sent to the Canary Isles to govern the brethren of his Order; and there he had much to suffer. He was burning with the desire of martyrdom; and by his words and example, he converted many infidels to the faith of Christ. Coming to Rome in the Jubilee year, in the pontificate of Nicholas V, he was entrusted with the care of the sick in the convent of Ara Cœli. With such loving charity did he acquit himself of this duty, that the sick wanted for nothing even during the famine in the city; he also sometimes cleansed their ulcers by sucking them. He was remarkable for his great faith and his gift of healing; for by signing the cross upon the sick with oil from a lamp burning before an image of the Mother of God, to whom he had the greatest devotion, he miraculously cured many of them.
At length, when at Alcala, he understood that the end of his life was at hand. Clad in an old torn tunic, with his eyes fixed on the cross, he devoutly pronounced these words of the sacred hymn: O sweet wood, sweet are thy nails, and sweet thy burden; thou wast worthy to bear the King and Lord of heaven! He then gave up his soul to God, on the day before the Ides of November, in the year of our Lord 1463. His body was left unburied for several months, in order to satisfy the pious devotion of the numbers who came to see it; and, as though already clothed with immortality, it exhaled a sweet odor. He was renowned for many striking miracles, and was enrolled among the Saints by Pope Sixtus V.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. VI, Edition 1903; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
St. Didacus, pray for us.
November 12, 2018: ST. MARTIN I, POPE AND MARTYR
This saint fought even unto death for the law of his God, and feared not the words of the wicked; for he was founded on a firm rock.
O God, who, by the yearly solemnity of blessed Martin, thy Martyr and Bishop, rejoicest the hearts of thy faithful: mercifully grant that we, who celebrate his martyrdom, may enjoy his protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
While the concourse of pilgrims to the sepulchre of the Bishop of Tours [St. Martin of Tours; feast Nov. 11] induced his third successor Perpetuus, to raise over his precious remains the basilica, in which so many prodigies were to be wrought all through the middle ages, Rome herself was dedicating to St. Martin one of her noblest churches, uniting with him as joint titular her own illustrious Pontiff and Confessor Sylvester. Adorned with this twofold glory, St. Martin-on-the-hill worthily inaugurated in the eternal City the cultus of Confessors side by side with that of the Martyrs. But another honour awaited the venerable sanctuary. Beside the wonder-working apostle and the pontiff of peace, both vanquishers of idolatory, who had escaped the sword only through the conversion of the persecutors, the last of the martyr-popes, also Martin by name, came to seek a resting-place, long after the pagan persecutions had ceased. “Martin I,” says Baronius, “fared better than any of his predecessors since the time of Constantine. Found worthy to suffer more than all of them for the Name of Jesus Christ, he had the good fortune to find a Decius and a Diocletian in a baptised prince.”
The emperor thus stigmatised by the great annalist was Constans II. From his grandfather Heraclius, who at least had given the world a few years of glory, he inherited nothing but the Byzantine pretension of imposing his dogmatic edicts upon the Church. Like the Ecthesis of Heraclius, the Type of Constans aimed at silencing the Catholics in their struggle with the Monothelites. St. Leo II, on the 28th June, has already initiated us into these contests concerning the integrity of the two natures, divine and human, in the Man-God. Could the Church, without protesting, allow it to be said that her Spouse had taken from Adam a mere appearance of humanity, a half-formed nature without a will, such as the new sectaries imagined?
More clear-sighted than Honorius, Martin I understood the danger, and knew how to repair the past, while securing the future. Scarcely had he ascended the apostolic throne, when he gathered, in the Church of our Saviour, one of the most beautiful assemblies ever held there. “Sound the trumpet, cry out upon the mountain; soldiers of God, awake!” Thus from its very opening did the Lateran Council of 649, repair the fatal silence and avenge the Church's honour. On reading its splendid and ample definitions, which present to the world the Son of the Virgin Mother in all his adorable integrity, we are reminded of the solemn declaration in the pretorium on the great Friday: “Behold the Man!” only that this time it was proclaimed in triumph and by those who loved him. Truly, O God our Saviour, thou art the most complete, the most perfect, the most beautiful of the sons of men.
What a solace to the mind, to see the imperial lucubrations returned, with the qualification of wicked and impious? To the Byzantine Cӕsar, who held the defenceless Pontiff at his mercy in still dependent Rome! Martin I like St. Paul, could take the Church of God to witness that he had not neglected his duty of enlightening the flock; he could remind the pastors of the price at which Christ had purchased the sheep committed to their care: he himself was ready for everything. His martyrdom was to secure the final triumph, of which the sixth general Council and St. Leo II were destined to gather the fruits.
The Greeks celebrate on the 13th April the feast of this glorious Pope, whom they call a “corypheus of divine dogmas, the honour of Peter's See, the pontiff who maintained the Church unshaken on the divine Rock.”
Rome gives the following brief notice of him in her Liturgy.
Martin was born at Todi in Umbria. Upon ascending the pontifical throne, he strove by letters and embassies to recall Paul, Patriarch of Constantinople from his wicked heresy to the true Catholic faith. But, supported by the heretical emperor Constans, Paul was so carried away as to exile the legates of the Apostolic See to various islands. The Pope, indignant at this outrage, summoned a council of one hundred and five bishops at Rome, in which he condemned Paul.
Upon this Constans sent the exarch Olympius into Italy, with orders either to kill Pope Martin or else to bring him to the emperor. Olympius, on reaching Rome, charged a lictor to assassinate the Pope as he was celebrating Mass in St. Mary's at the Crib. But the man, attempting to do so, was suddenly struck blind.
From that time many calamities befel the emperor Constans, which however made him no better; and he sent Theodore Calliopus to Rome to seize the Pope. By his deceitful dealing Martin was arrested and led prisoner to Constantinople. Thence he was banished into the Chersonesus; where, on the eve of the Ides of November, he died worn out by his sufferings for the Catholic faith, and not without the glory of miracles. His body was afterwards translated to Rome, and placed in the church dedicated to Saints Sylvester and Martin. He governed the church six years, one month, and twenty-six days. He held two ordinations in the month of December, and ordained eleven priests, five deacons, and thirty-three bishops for divers places.
Another account of Pope St. Martin I
St. Martin was a native of Todi, in Tuscany, and became renowned in the clergy of Rome for his learning and sanctity. Whilst he was deacon of that church he was sent by the Pope Theodorus, in quality of apocrisiarius or nuncio, to Constantinople, where he showed his zeal against the reigning heresy of the Mouothelites. Upon the death of Theodorus, after a vacancy of near three weeks, Martin was elected pope, in July, 649, and, in the October following, held in the Lateran church a council of one hundred and five bishops, against the Monothelites, in which he condemned the ringleaders of that sect, particularly Sergius and Pyrrhus, who had been formerly bishops of Constantinople, and Paul, who was then in possession of that see. The Ecthesis of Heraclius and the Typus of Constans, two imperial edicts, were likewise censured: the former, because it contained an exposition of faith entirely favourable to the Monothelites: the latter, because it was a formulary by which silence was imposed on both parties, and it was forbid by it to mention either one or two operations in Christ. “The Lord,” said the Lateran fathers, “hath commanded us to shun evil and do good; but not to reject the good with the evil. We are not to deny at the same time both truth and error.”
The Emperor Constans sent Olympius, his chamberlain, in quality of exarch into Italy, with an order either to cause Martin to be massacred, or to send him prisoner into the East. Olympius, coming to Rome whilst the council was assembled, endeavoured to raise a schism; but not succeeding by open violence, had recourse to treachery, and commanded one of his attendants to murder the pope whilst he was administering the communion in the Church of St. Mary Major, which might be more easily done, as the pope carried the communion to every one in his own place. The servant who had undertaken to execute this commission afterwards swore that he had been struck with blindness, and could not see the pope. Olympius, therefore, seeing the pope had been thus protected by heaven, declared to him the orders which he had received, made his peace with him, and marched into Sicily, then in the hands of the Saracens, where his army perished, and he died of sickness. The emperor then sent Theodorus Calliopes exarch, with Theodorus Pellurus, one of his chamberlains, with a strict charge to seize Martin, whom he accused of heresy, because he condemned the type; and charged him with Nestorianism, as the Egyptians did all Catholics. The new exarch and the chamberlain arrived at Rome with the army from Ravenna on Saturday, the 15th of June, 653. The pope, who had been sick ever since October, shut himself up in the Lateran church, but sent some of his clergy to salute the exarch, who inquired where the pope was, saying, he desired to adore him, which he repeated the next day. Two days after, on Monday, Calliopas accused him of having arms concealed; but the pope bade him search his palace, which he did; and no arms being found, the pope said, “Thus have calumnies been always employed against us.” Half an hour after, the soldiers returned and seized the pope, who lay sick on a couch near the gate of the church; and Calliopas presented the clergy a rescript of the emperor, commanding St. Martin to be deposed as unworthy of the popedom. The clergy cried out, “Anathema to him who shall say that Pope Martin hath changed any point of faith, and to him who perseveres not in the Catholic faith till death.” Calliopas, fearing the multitude, said, “There is no other faith but yours; nor have I any other.” Several of the bishops said, “We will live and die with him.” The pope was led out of the church into the palace, and, on the 18th of June, taken thence at midnight, and carried in a boat down the Tiber to Porto, where he was put on board of a vessel to be conveyed to Constantinople. After three months' sail he arrived at the isle of Naxos, where he stayed with his guards a whole year, being allowed to lodge in a house. For a long time he was afflicted with a dysentery, and a loathing of food. When the bishops and inhabitants sent him any provisions, the guards plundered them, and abused with injurious language and blows those who brought him presents, saying, “Whoever shows any kindness to this man is an enemy to the state.” St. Martin was more afflicted at the injuries which his benefactors received than at his own sufferings. He was brought to Constantinople on the 17th of September, in 654, and, after much ill usage, lay in a dungeon without speaking to anybody but his keepers for near three months, from the 17th of September to the 15th of December. In one of his letters he wrote as follows: “It is now forty-seven days since I have been permitted to wash myself either in cold or warm water. I am quite wasted and chilled, and have had no respite either upon sea or land from the flux which I suffer. My body is broken and spent, and, when I would take any nourishment, I want such kind of food as is necessary to support me; and have a perfect aversion and loathing to what I have. But I hope that God, who knows all things, when he shall have taken me out of this world, will bring my persecutors to repentance.” On the 15th of December he was examined by the Sacellarius, or treasurer, in the chamber of that magistrate, in presence of the senate, which was then assembled there. He was removed thence to a terrace, where the emperor might have a sight of him from his window, and the Sacellarius ordered his guards to divest him of the marks of his episcopal dignity. Then delivering him into the hands of the prefect of the city, he said, “Take him, my lord prefect, and pull him to pieces immediately.” He likewise commanded those that were present to anathematize him. But not above twenty persons cried out anathema; all the rest hung down their heads, and retired overwhelmed with grief. The executioners, laying hold of the saint, took away his sacerdotal pallium, and stripped him of all his clothes, except a tunic, which they left him without a girdle, having torn it from the top to the bottom, so that his naked body was exposed to sight. They put an iron collar about his neck, and dragged him in this manner from the palace through the midst of the city, the gaoler being fastened to him, and an executioner carrying the sword before him, to show that he was condemned to die. The people wept and sighed, except a small number who insulted him; but the martyr preserved a calm and serene countenance. Being come to the prӕtorium, he was thrown into the prison with murderers; but about an hour afterwards was taken thence, and cast into the prison of Diomedes, so much hurt and bruised, that he left the staircase besmeared with his blood, and seemed ready to give up the ghost. He was placed on a bench, chained as he was, and almost dead with cold; for the winter was very severe. He had none of his own friends or servants about him but a young clerk who had followed him weeping. The gaoler was chained to him, and the order for his execution was expected every moment, and the holy pope impatiently waited for martyrdom. But it was delayed, and his irons were knocked off.
St. Martin continued in the prison of Diomedes near three months, to the 10th of March, 655, when he was ordered to be banished to the Taurica Chersonesus on the 15th of May. The famine was so great in that country, that the pope assured his friends in one of his letters, “Bread is talked of here, but never seen. If some relief is not sent us from Italy, or Pontus, it is impossible to live.” He wrote another letter in September, wherein he says, “We are not only separated from the rest of the world, but are even deprived of the means to live. The inhabitants of the country are all pagans; and they who come hither, besides their learning the manners of the people of the country, have no charity, nor even that natural compassion which is to be found among barbarians. Neither do they bring anything from other places in the barks which come hither to be loaded with salt; nor have I been able to buy anything but one bushel of corn, which cost me four gold pence. I admire the insensibility of all those who have heretofore had some relation to me, who have so entirely forgot me, that they do not so much as seem to know whether I am in the world. I wonder still more at those who belong to the church of St. Peter, for the little concern they show for one of their body. If that church has no money, it wants not corn, oil, or other provisions, out of which they might send us some small supply. What fear hath seized all these men, which can hinder them from fulfilling the commands of God, in relieving the distressed? Have I appeared such an enemy to the whole church, or to them in particular? However, I pray God, by the intercession of St. Peter, to preserve them steadfast and immovable in the orthodox faith. As to this wretched body, God will have care of it. ‘He is at hand;’ why should I give myself any trouble? I hope in his mercy, he will not prolong my course.” The good pope was not disappointed of his hope; for he died on the 16th of September, in 655, having held the holy see six years, one month, and twenty-six days. He was interred in a church of the Blessed Virgin, within a furlong from the city of Chersona; a great concourse of people resorted to his tomb. His relics were afterwards carried to Rome, and deposited in a church dedicated long before in honour of St. Martin of Tours. He is honoured by the Latins, on the 12th of November, the day of the translation of his relics to Rome, and by the Greeks on the 13th of April; also on the 15th and 20th of September. By the Muscovites on the 14th of April. His constancy and firmness appear in his letters. They are well written, with strength and wisdom; the style is great and noble, worthy of the majesty of the holy see.
The saints equally despised the goods and the evils of this life, because they had before their eyes the eternal glory with which momentary labours and sufferings will be abundantly recompensed. Can we be called Christians, who, by our murmuring and impatience under the least trials, and by recoiling at the least harsh word, show ourselves to be strangers to the spirit, and enemies to the cross of Christ? It is only by bearing the marks of his sufferings, and by practising the heroic virtues which tribulation calls forth, that we can enter into the bliss which he has purchased for us by his cross. If with the saints we look up at the joys which are to be the recompense of our patience, and consider attentively the example of Christ, we shall receive our sufferings, not only with resignation, but with joys, as graces of which we are most unworthy.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. VI, Edition 1903;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. II; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
Pope St. Martin I, pray for us.
November 11, 2018: COMMEMORATION OF ST. MARTIN (OF TOURS), BISHOP AND CONFESSOR
O man beyond all praise! neither conquered by labour, nor conquerable by death; who neither feared to die, nor refused to live. Ever intent with eyes and hands raised to heaven, he never relaxed from prayer his invincible spirit. Alleluia.
Martin is received with joy in Abraham's bosom: Martin here poor and humble, enters heaven rich, and is honoured with celestial hymns.
O God, who seest we rely on no strength of our own; mercifully grant, by the prayers of blessed Martin, thy Confessor and Bishop, that we may be defended against all adversities. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
O holy Martin, have compassion on our depth of misery! A winter more severe than that which caused thee to divide thy cloak now rages over the world; many perish in the icy night brought on by the extinction of faith and the cooling of charity. Come to the aid of those unfortunates, whose torpor prevents them from asking assistance. Wait not for them to pray; but forestall them for the love of Christ in whose name the poor man of Amiens implored thee, whereas they scarcely know how to utter it. And yet their nakedness is worse than the beggar's, stripped as they are of the garment of grace, which their fathers received from thee and handed down to posterity.
Three thousand six hundred and sixty churches dedicated to St. Martin in France alone, and well-nigh as many in the rest of the world, bear witness to the immense popularity of the great thaumaturgus. In the country, on the mountains, and in the depth of forests, trees, rocks, and fountains, objects of superstitious worship to our pagan ancestors, received, and in many places still retain, the name of him who snatched them from the dominion of the powers of darkness to restore them to the true God. For the vanquished idols, Roman, Celtic or German, Christ substituted their conqueror, the humble soldier, in the grateful memory of the people. Martin's mission was to complete the destruction of paganism, which had been driven from the towns by the martyrs, but remained up to his time master of the vast territories removed from the influence of the cities.
While on the one hand he was honoured with God's favours, on the other he was pursued by hell with implacable hatred. At the very outset he had to encounter Satan, who said to him: “I will beset thy path at every turn;” and he kept his word. He has kept it to this very day: century after century, he has been working ruin around the glorious tomb, which once attracted the whole world to Tours; in the sixteenth, he delivered to the flames, by the hands of the Huguenots, the venerable remains of the protector of France: by the nineteenth, he had brought men to such a height of folly, as themselves to destroy, in time of peace, the splendid basilica which was the pride and the riches of their city. The gratitude of Christ, and the rage of Satan, made known by such signs, reveal sufficiently the incomparable labours of the pontiff, apostle, and monk, St. Martin.
A monk indeed he was, both in desire and in reality, to the last day of his life. “From earliest infancy he sighed after the service of God. He became a catechumen at the age of ten, and at twelve he wished to retire to the desert; all his thoughts were engaged on monasteries and churches. A soldier at fifteen years of age, he so lived as even then to be taken for a monk. After a first trial of religious life in Italy, he was brought by St Hilary to this solitude of Ligugé, which, thanks to him, became the cradle of monastic life in Gaul. To say the truth, Martin, during the whole course of his life, felt like a stranger everywhere else, except at Ligugé. A monk by attraction, he had been forced to be a soldier, and it needed violence to make him a Bishop: and even then he never relinquished his monastic habits. He responded to the dignity of a Bishop, says his historian, without declining from the rule and life of a monk. At first he constructed for himself a cell near his church of Tours; and soon afterwards built, at a little distance from the town, a second Ligugé, under the name of Marmoutier or the great monastery.”
The holy Liturgy refers to St. Hilary the honour of the wonderful virtues displayed by Martin. What were the holy bishop's reasons for leading his heaven-sent disciple by ways then so little known in the West, he has left us to learn from the most legitimate heir of his doctrine as well as of his eloquence. “It has ever been,” says Cardinal Pie, “the ruling idea of all the Saints, that, side by side with the ordinary ministry of the pastors, obliged by their functions to live in the midst of the world, the Church has need of a militia, separated from the world and enrolled under the standard of evangelical perfection, living in self-renunciation and obedience, and carrying on day and night the noble and incomparable function of public prayer. The most illustrious pontiffs and the greatest doctors have thought, that the secular clergy themselves could never be better fitted for spreading and making popular the pure doctrines of the Gospel, than if they could be prepared for their pastoral office by living either a monastic life, or one as nearly as possible resembling it. Read the lives of the greatest bishops both in East and West, in the times immediately preceding or following the peace of the Church, as well as in the middle ages: they have all, either themselves at some time professed the monastic life, or lived in continual contact with those who professed it. Hilary, the great Hilary, had, with his experienced and unerring glance, perceived the need; he had seen the place that should be occupied by the monastic Order in Christendom, and by the regular clergy in the Church. In the midst of his struggles, his combats, his exile, when he witnessed with his own eyes the importance of the monasteries in the East, he earnestly desired the time when, returning to Gaul, he might at length lay the foundations of the religious life at home. Providence was not long in sending him what was needful for such an enterprise: a disciple worthy of the master, a monk worthy of the bishop.”
Elsewhere, comparing together St. Martin, his predecessors, and St. Hilary himself in their common apostolate of Gaul, the illustrious Cardinal says: “Far be it from me to undervalue all the vitality and power already possessed by the religion of Jesus Christ in our divers provinces, thanks to the preaching of the first apostles, martyrs, and bishops, who may be counted back in a long line almost to the day of Calvary. Still I fear not to say it: the popular apostle of Gaul, who converted the country parts, until then almost entirely pagan, the founder of national Christianity, was principally St. Martin. And how is it that he, above so many other great bishops and servants of God, holds such pre-eminence in the apostolate? Are we to place Martin above his master Hilary? With regard to doctrine, certainly not; and as to zeal, courage, holiness, it is not for me to say which was greater, the master's or the disciple's. But what I can say is, that Hilary was chiefly a teacher, and Martin was chiefly a thaumaturgus. Now, for the conversion of the people, the thaumaturgus is more powerful than the teacher; and consequently, in the memory and worship of the people, the teacher is eclipsed and effaced by the thaumaturgus.
“Now-a-days there is much talk about the necessity of reasoning in order to persuade men as to the reality of divine things: but that is forgetting Scripture and history; nay more, it is degenerating. God has not deemed it consistent with his Majesty to reason with us. He has spoken; he has said what is and what is not; and as he exacts faith in his word, he has sanctioned his word. But how has he sanctioned it? After the manner of God, not of man; by works, not by reasons: non in sermone, sed in virtute, not by the arguments of a humanly persuasive philosophy: non in persuasibilibus humanӕ sapientiӕ verbis, but by displaying a power altogether divine: sed in ostensiane spiritus et virtutis. And wherefore? For this profound reason: Ut fides non sit in sapientia hominum, sed in virtute Dei; that faith may not rest upon the wisdom of man, but upon the power of God (I Cor, ii. 4). But now men will not have it so: they tell us that in Jesus Christ the theurgist wrongs the moralist; that miracles are a blemish in so sublime an ideal. But they cannot reverse this order; they cannot abolish the Gospel, nor history. Begging the pardon of the learned men of our age and their obsequious followers: not only did Christ work miracles, but he established the faith upon the foundation of miracles. And the same Christ, — not to confirm his own miracles, which are the support of all others; but out of compassion for us, who are so prone to forgetfulness, and who are more impressed by what we see than by what we hear, — the same Jesus Christ has placed in his Church, and that for all time, the power of working miracles. Our age has seen some, and will see yet more. The fourth century witnessed in particular those of St. Martin.
“The working of wonders seemed mere play to him; all nature obeyed him; the animals were subject to him. ‘Alas!’ cried the Saint one day: ‘the very serpents listen to me, and men refuse to hear me.’ Men, however, often did hear him. The whole of Gaul heard him; not only Aquitaine, but also Celtic and Belgic Gaul. Who could resist words enforced by so many prodigies? In all these provinces he overthrew the idols one after another, reduced the statues to powder, burnt or demolished all the temples, destroyed the sacred groves and all the haunts of idolatry. Was it lawful? you may ask. If I study the legislation of Constantine and Constantius, perhaps it was. But this I know: Martin, eaten up with zeal for the house of the Lord, was obeying none but the Spirit of God. And I must add, that against the fury of the pagan population Martin's only arms were the miracles he wrought, the visible assistance of Angels sometimes granted him, and, above all, the prayers and tears he poured out before God, when the hard-heartedness of the people resisted the power of his words and of his wonders. With these means Martin changed the face of the country. Where he found scarcely a Christian on his arrival, he left scarcely an infidel at his departure. The temples of the idols were immediately replaced by temples of the true God; for, says Sulpicius Severus, as soon as he had destroyed the homes of superstition, he built churches and monasteries. It is thus that all Europe is covered with sanctuaries bearing the name of St. Martin.”
His beneficial actions did not cease with his death; they alone explain the uninterrupted concourse of people to his holy tomb. His numerous feasts in the year, the Deposition or Natalis, the Ordination, Subvention and Reversion, did not weary the piety of the faithful. Kept everywhere as a holiday of obligation, and bringing with it the brief return of bright weather known as St. Martin's summer, the eleventh of November rivalled with St. John's day in the rejoicings it occasioned in Latin Christendom. Martin was the joy of all, and the helper of all.
St. Gregory of Tours does not hesitate to call his blessed predecessor the special patron of the whole world; while monks and clerics, soldiers, knights, travellers and inn-keepers on account of his long journeys, charitable associations of every kind in memory of the cloak of Amiens, have never ceased to claim their peculiar right to the great Pontiff's benevolence. Hungary, the generous land which gave him to us, without exhausting its own provision for the future, rightly reckons him among its most powerful protectors. But to France he was a father: in the same manner as he laboured for the unity of the faith in that land, he presided also over the formation of national unity; and he watches over its continuance. As the pilgrimage of Tours preceded that of Compostella in the Church, the cloak of St. Martin led the Frankish armies to battle even before the oriflamme of St. Denis. “How,” said Clovis, “can we hope for victory, if we offend blessed Martin?”
Let us read the account given by holy Church, who lingers lovingly over the last moments of her illustrious son, worthy as they are of all admiration.
Martin was born at Sabaria in Pannonia. When ten years old he fled to the church, against his parents' will, and had himself enrolled among the catechumens. At the age of fifteen he became a soldier, and served in the army first of Constantius and afterwards of Julian. On one occasion, when a poor naked man at Amiens begged an alms of him in the name of Christ, having nothing but his armour and clothing, he gave him half of his military cloak. The following night Christ appeared to him clad in that half-cloak, and said: Martin, while yet a catechumen has clothed me with this garment.
At eighteen years of age, he was baptized; and abandoning his military career, betook himself to Hilary, bishop of Poitiers, by whom he was made acolyte. Later on, having become bishop of Tours, he built a monastery, where he lived for some time in a most holy manner, in company with eighty monks. He was seized with a violent fever at Cande, a village in his diocese; and he earnestly besought God to free him from the prison of the body. His disciples hearing, asked him: Father, why dost thou abandon us? or to whom dost thou leave us in our desolation? Martin, touched by their words, prayed to God in this manner: O Lord, if I am still necessary to thy people, I do not refuse to labour.
When his disciples saw him praying in the height of the fever, lying on his back, they besought him to turn over for a little while, that he might get some rest and relief. But Martin answered: Suffer me to gaze on heaven rather than earth, that my spirit, which is about to depart, may be directed on its way to our Lord. As death drew nigh, he saw the enemy of mankind, and exclaimed: What art thou doing here, thou cruel beast? Thou wilt find no evil in me. While uttering these words he gave up his soul to God, at the age of eighty-one. He was received by a choir of Angels, whom many, and in particular St. Severinus Bishop of Cologne, heard singing the praises of God.
Another account of St. Martin
St. Martin, celebrated throughout the whole Church of Christ, and praised and exalted in the works of several holy Fathers, was born in Hungary of heathen parents. Having reached his tenth year, he went often secretly to the Church of the Christians to assist at Mass and to listen to instructions. All seemed to him so good and holy, that without the knowledge of his parents, he desired to be enrolled among the catechumens, that is, among those who are to receive holy baptism. From that moment, he became devoted to prayer, and performed other good works with great zeal. At the age of fifteen years, he was enlisted in the Roman army, in which he served until the reign of Julian, without, however, indulging in any of the vices so common among soldiers. An oath, a lie, an indecent expression was never heard from his lips. The time that most of his comrades passed in gaming and drinking, he devoted to prayer and devout reading. His kindness to the poor is known to the whole Christian world. In the depth of winter, he once met, not far from Amiens, a half-naked beggar, who asked an alms for Christ's sake. Martin had no money with him, but unwilling to send the man away without comfort, he took the cloak from his shoulders, cut it into two pieces and gave one of them to the beggar. His comrades laughed at him, but Martin, in a vision during the following night, saw Christ covered with the piece of the cloak, and heard Him say to the Angels surrounding Him: “Martin, not yet baptized, has covered me with this!” This vision not only comforted Martin greatly, but also induced him to give himself wholly to the service of the Most High. Hence, in his eighteenth year, he received holy baptism, left the army, and, in order to learn how to lead a Christian life, went to the holy bishop Hilarius, who joyfully received him and instructed him in virtue and holiness. Being thoroughly instructed, he went, with the consent of his holy teacher, to Hungary, intending to convert his parents. His mother and many others were easily persuaded to embrace the true faith, but his father proved obstinate. Martin was sorely grieved at this, and desired to remain longer in the hope of yet gaining his father and other heathens; but the Arians drove him away. He therefore returned to his holy master in France. With his consent, he built a small monastery outside the walls of Poitiers, and lived there, with a few disciples, in the practice of austere penance. The fame of his sanctity soon spread far and wide, especially when it became known that he had recalled to life a man who had died before receiving the holy sacrament of regeneration. On account of this and other miracles, Martin was obliged, after the death of the bishop of Tours, to become his successor. Hard as it seemed to the humble servant of God to receive the episcopal dignity, yet he administered his new functions with wonderful zeal and untiring energy. He erected a monastery not far from Tours, into which he gathered a community of eighty monks, with whom he lived an extremely severe life. His clergy were instructed by him in such a manner, that they were always able and willing to assist him efficaciously in the care of his flock. With some of these, he visited his entire diocese, preaching everywhere, administering the sacraments, visiting the sick, and giving alms to the poor. He was most earnest in exhorting the faithful to make their churches fit dwelling-places for the Majesty of God, and to behave in them with due reverence. He himself was often seen to tremble when he stood at the entrance of a Church; and being asked the reason of it, he replied: “Shall I not tremble for fear, when appearing before the Highest Majesty, before my God, my Judge?” While at Church he was never seen either sitting or standing, except when his office or the service required it; and unless it was necessary, he never spoke a word while there. He was a shining example of every virtue to all under him, laity as well as clergy. His historians say that he was never seen angry and never heard to laugh aloud. One of his priests, who had previously been very virtuous, gradually lost his fervor and began to show some levity in his conduct, for which he was kindly rebuked by the bishop. Offended at the admonition, the guilty man endeavored to arouse in others ill-feelings against the Saint, and went so far as to blame all his actions and to abuse him publicly. St. Martin bore it all patiently, treated him with great sweetness, and prayed unceasingly for him. All were greatly astonished at this, and some endeavored to persuade the Saint to banish the wicked man from the convent. Martin however, said: “If Christ bore with Judas, why should I not bear with Britius?” He then foretold that this very Britius would be his successor in the See. No one would believe this, and even Britius laughed at it; but time revealed the truth of the prophecy: for, Britius soon commenced a different course of life, and on St. Martin's death, was raised to the episcopal throne of Tours. Greatly as we must admire the patience and meekness of the holy bishop towards offenders, the zeal which he manifested in destroying idolatry, which still lingered in many places, was no less worthy of praise. Wherever he found an idolatrous temple, he destroyed it either by his prayers or by force, though not without danger of his life. One day, he was about to fell a tree, because the heathens used it for their idolatry. They opposed him, most violently; at length, one of them said: “Behold! we ourselves will fell the tree if you promise that, as it falls, you will support it in your hands. By this sign we shall be convinced of the might of the God whose word you preach.” The Saint promised without any hesitation, to do as they desired. The tree was cut so that it would fall towards Martin; and when it came down, he made the sign of the Cross and stretching out his hands, not only received the tree into them, but threw it back to the opposite side, without injuring any one. By this and several other miracles, the holy bishop not only converted a great many heathens, but also made a great impression on the Arians, who, at that time, cruelly persecuted the Catholics. The holy man was greatly esteemed and highly honored on account of his apostolic zeal, his great virtues, and the gifts bestowed upon him by the Almighty. Therefore Satan was much embittered against him and sought to ruin him. One day he appeared to the Saint, in royal magnificence, saying that he was Christ, and had come to visit him, Martin, startled at this apparition, said: “My Lord Jesus Christ did not say that He would come in such splendid array, but in the same form in which He ascended to heaven.” At these words Satan vanished. Many other incidents of the life of this Saint we omit, in order to give space for a short account of his death.
The holy man had reached his eighty-first year, when he desired to be released from the fetters of earth, and go to God. The Almighty visited him with a dangerous fever and revealed to him his approaching end. His disciples grieved greatly at the thought of his being taken from them, and said with weeping eyes: “Why dost thou leave us, father? To whom dost thou give us? Wolves will attack thy flock, and when our shepherd is gone, who will defend us? Have pity on us and remain yet for a time among us.” The Saint sighed, and prayed to the Almighty: “Lord, if I am needful to Thy people, I do not refuse the labor. But not my will, but Thine be done.” Hereupon he received the holy sacraments, and lying down, in his penitential garment, upon the floor strewn with ashes, he said: “Thus must a Christian soldier die in his armor.” And when his disciples, perceiving that he lay continually on his back, and kept his eyes fixed on heaven, said to him that, in order to ease his pain, he should turn to the right or left side, he replied: “Rather let me look up to heaven than towards the earth.” In his last hour, the tempter came once more to the holy bishop, who, fearlessly addressing him, said: “Wherefore art thou standing there, thou bloodthirsty beast? Thou hast nothing to expect from me.” With these words, the holy bishop closed his eyes and ended his holy life, in the year of our Lord 402. St. Severin, bishop of Cologne, although far away, saw his spotless soul borne to heaven by Angels. The same was witnessed by many others. The Roman Martyrology testifies that St. Martin, during his life, raised three from the dead. Many other great miracles are to be found in his biography. In conclusion, we add the words of St. Gregory of Tours in his praise: “Oh happy man,” said he, “at the close of whose life, the Saints of the Most High sing hymns of praise, the Angels rejoice and come in crowds to meet him, the Evil One is confounded, and the Church of God strengthened in virtue.”
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. VI, Edition 1903;
The Lives of the Saints, Rev. F.X. Weninger D.D., S.J. Vol. II, Permissu Superiorum, 1876; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
Also Read – November 11, 2018: St. Mennas, Martyr.
St. Martin, pray for us.
November 11, 2018: COMMEMORATION OF ST. MENNAS, MARTYR
“And I say to you, whosoever shall
confess me before men, him shall the son of man also confess before the Angels of God.”
(St. Luke, xii. 8)
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God that we, who celebrate the festival of blessed Mennas, thy Martyr, may by his intercession, be strengthened in the love of thy name. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
The soldier Mennas was a native of Egypt, and after his martyrdom became the protector of Alexandria. It is not a rare thing to find, even at this date, phials formerly brought by pilgrims to be filled with oil from the lamp burning before his tomb.
Mennas was an Egyptian, but a soldier in the Roman army. He professed Christianity. He was at Cotyӕus in Phrygia when the edicts of persecution in the army were published by Diocletian and Maximian in 298. He abandoned the army thereupon, and retired into a solitary place with some other Christians, to escape the rage of the persecutor. There he remained till the general persecution in 303, when, filled with enthusiasm, and burning with desire of martyrdom, he went back to Cotyӕus, and entering the theatre, where the people were seeing a martyrs’ exhibition, he cried at the top of his voice, “I am found of them that sought me not.” (Isaias, lxv. 1) All eyes were turned on him. Pyrrhus, the president, sent for him and questioned him, and he said he was a Christian. Thereupon he was consigned to prison. Next day he was scourged. When the soil was red with his blood one of those present urged him to give way. He replied, “Retire, miserable one; I have always sacrificed to my God, and to Him alone will I offer sacrifice. These torments are not insupportable. Nay, rather I rejoice in them.” The judge then ordered his sides to be torn with iron hooks, and the wounds to be fretted with horsehair cloth. Finally, wearied with tormenting him, the judge ordered him to be burned alive.
Some Christians succeeded in recovering the bones from among the ashes of the pyre, and they were carried, as he had requested, to be laid in his native land, at Alexandria in Egypt. A basilica was erected over his remains as soon as Constantine gave peace to the Church. Timothy, patriarch of Alexandria (380—385), relates some of the miracles wrought by the saint, some grotesque in their marvellousness.
A traveller, intending to visit the church of S. Mennas, and make an offering at his tomb, lodged for the night in a tavern. The innkeeper, seeing he had a large portmanteau, murdered the man in the night, cut him up, packed his limbs in a sack, and hung up his head to a beam of the roof, intending to take his money and throw the body into the water at the earliest opportunity. But S. Mennas rode up to the inn door, attended by many saints, put the bits of the man together, restored him to life, gave him his port manteau, scolded the taverner, and vanished.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. VI, Edition 1903;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. XIII; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
Also Read – November 11, 2018: St. Martin, Bishop and Confessor.
St. Mennas, pray for us.
November 10, 2018: ST. ANDREW AVELLINO, CONFESSOR
The Lord loved him, and hath adorned him. He hath clothed him with a robe of glory.
O God, who didst dispose the heart of blessed Andrew, thy Confessor, by the difficult vow of every day advancing in virtue, to ascend by wonderful steps to thee: grant, by his merits and intercession, that we may be so far partakers of the same grace, as to make a continual progress towards perfection, and be happily brought to an eminent degree of glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
In the sixteenth century, in reply to the reproach of exhaustion hurled against the Church, the Holy Ghost raised from her soil an abundant harvest of sanctity. Andrew was one of his most worthy cooperators in the work of holy reformation and supernatural renaissance, which then took place. Eternal Wisdom had as usual suffered Satan to go before, for his own greater shame, cloaking his evil works under the grand names of renaissance and reform.
It was nine years since St. Cajetan had departed this world, leaving it strengthened by his labours and all embalmed with the fragrance of his virtues; the former Bishop of Theate, his companion and collaborator in founding the first Regular Clerks, was now governing the Church under the name of Paul IV; when in 1556 God bestowed upon the Theatines, in the person of our Saint, an heir to the supernatural gifts, the heroic sanctity, and the zeal for the sanctuary, that had characterized their father. Andrew was the friend and support of the great Bishop of Milan, St. Charles Borromeo, whose glory in heaven he went to share on this day. His pious writings are still used in the Church. He himself formed some admirable disciples, such as Laurence Scupoli, author of the well-known work so prized by the Bishop of Geneva, the Spiritual Combat.
Nothing need be added to the following history of his life.
Andrew Avellino, formerly called Lancelot, was born at Castro Nuovo in Lucania; and, while still an infant, gave evident signs of future holiness. He left his father's house to study the liberal arts; in the pursuit of which he passed so blamelessly through the slippery age of youth, as ever to keep before his eyes the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom. Of a comely appearance, he was so great a lover of holy purity that he was able to escape snares laid for his chastity by shameless women, and even to repel open attacks. After being made a cleric, he went to Naples to study law, and there took his degree. Meanwhile he was promoted to the priesthood; after which he began to plead, but only in the ecclesiastical court and for private individuals, in accordance with the prescriptions of Canon Law. Once, however, when pleading a cause, a slight untruth escaped him; and happening soon after, in reading the Holy Scripture, to come upon these words: The mouth that belieth killeth the soul, he conceived so great a sorrow and repentance for his fault, that he determined at once to abandon that kind of life. He therefore left the bar, and devoted himself entirely to the divine service and the sacred ministry. As he was eminent in priestly virtues, the Archbishop of Naples confided to him the direction of certain nuns. In discharging this office he incurred the hatred of some evil men, who attempted his life. He escaped their first assault; but soon afterwards one of the assassins gave him three wounds in the face: an injury which he bore unmoved. Desirous of a more perfect life, he humbly begged to be admitted among the Regular Clerks; and on obtaining his request, he asked to be called by the name of Andrew, on account of his ardent love of the Cross.
He earnestly devoted himself to the stricter manner of life he had embraced, and to the practice of the virtues, going so far as to bind himself thereto by two most difficult vows, viz; never to do his own will, and ever to advance in Christian perfection. He had the greatest respect for religious discipline, and zealously promoted it when he was superior. Whatever time remained over after the discharge of his duties and the prescriptions of the rule, he devoted to prayer and the salvation of souls. He was noted for his piety and prudence in hearing Confessions. He frequently visited the towns and villages near Naples, exercising the apostolic ministry with profit to souls. Our Lord was pleased to show by miracles how great was this holy man's love of his neighbour. As he was once returning home late at night from hearing a sick man's confession, a violent storm of wind and rain put out the light that was carried before him; but neither he nor his companions were wet by the pouring rain; and moreover a wonderful light shining from his body enabled them to find their way through the darkness. His abstinence and patience were extraordinary, as also his humility and hatred of self. He bore the assassination of his nephew with unruffled tranquillity, withheld his family from seeking revenge, and even implored the judges to grant mercy and protection to the murderers.
He propagated the Order of the Regular Clerks in many places, and founded houses for them in Milan and Piacenza. The Cardinals Charles Borromeo and Paul of Arezzo a Regular Clerk, bore him great affection, and availed themselves of his assistance in the discharge of their pastoral office. The Virgin Mother of God he honoured with a very special love and worship. He was permitted to converse with the Angels; and affirmed that when saying the Divine Office, he heard them singing with him as if in Choir. At length, after giving heroic examples of virtue, and becoming illustrious for his gift of prophecy, whereby he knew the secrets of hearts, and distant and future events, he was worn out with old age and broken down with labours. As he was at the foot of the Altar about to say Mass, he thrice repeated the words: I will go in to the altar of God, and fell down struck with apoplexy. After being strengthened by the Sacraments of the Church, he peacefully expired in the midst of his brethren. His body was buried at Naples in the church of St. Paul, and is honoured even to this day by as great a concourse of people as attended the interment. Finally, as he had been illustrious for miracles both in life and after death, he was solemnly enrolled among the Saints by Pope Clement XI.
Another account of St. Andrew Avellino
St. Andrew Avellino was a native of Castro Nuovo, a small town in the kingdom of Naples, and born in 1620. In his infancy he gave early tokens of the most happy dispositions to virtue. At school he had the fear of God always before his eyes, and dreaded the very shadow of the least sin. A beautiful complexion exposed his chastity to several snares and dangers, which he escaped by assiduous prayer, mortification, watchfulness over himself, and care in shunning all dangerous company. After mature deliberation he took the ecclesiastical tonsure, and was sent to Naples to study the civil and canon law. Being there promoted to the degree of doctor in laws, and to the dignity of the priesthood, he began to plead such causes in the ecclesiastical court as the canons allow clergymen to undertake. This employment, however, engrossed his thoughts, too much dissipated his mind, and insensibly weakened his affection for holy meditation and prayer. A fault into which he fell, opened his eyes, and made him see the precipice which lay before him. Once, in pleading a cause, in a matter, indeed, which was of no weight, a lie escaped him, for which, upon reading these words of holy soripture, “The mouth that lieth killeth the soul,” he was struck with so great remorse and deep compunction, that he resolved immediately to renounce his profession, and to give himself up entirely to a penitential life, and to the spiritual care of souls. This he did with so much ardour, that his whole conduct was a model of perfect virtue.
The archbishop judging no one more proper than Andrew to be the director of souls that were engaged by the obligations of their state in the career of evangelical perfection, committed to him the care of a certain nunnery in that city. The holy man's zeal for removing all obstacles to the recollection of those spouses of Christ, in which consists the very essence of their state and virtue, stirred up the malice and rage of certain wicked men in the city, whom he had forbid being ever admitted to the grate to speak to any of the nuns. He once narrowly escaped death, with which they threatened him, and another time received three wounds in his face. These injuries he bore with invincible meekness, being ready with joy to lay down his life for the spiritual interest of souls, and for the defence of justice and virtue. Out of an earnest desire of more readily attaining to a perfect disengagement of his heart from all earthly things, in 1556 he embraced, at Naples, the rule of the Regular Clerks, called Theatins, in whom flourished at that time, to the great edification of the whole city, the religious spirit and fervour which they had inherited of St. Cajetan, who died there in the convent of St. Paul, in 1547. Our saint, out of the love he bore to the cross, on this occasion changed his name of Lancelot into that of Andrew. By the humiliations and persecutions which he had met with even amongst his dearest friends (which trials are always the most severe to flesh and blood), he learned what incomparable sweetness and spiritual advantages are found in suffering with patience and joy, and in studying in that state to conform ourselves to the holy spirit and sentiments of Christ crucified for us. Nor can it be conceived what improvement a soul makes by this means in experimental perfect meekness, in patience, humility, and the crucifixion of self-love, and all her passions, by which Christ (or his Spirit) begins to live in her, and to establish the reign of his pure love in all her affections. Of this St. Andrew was an example. To bind himself the more strictly to the most fervent pursuit of perfect virtue in all his actions, he made two private vows which only an extraordinary impulse of fervour could suggest, or, even according to the necessary rules of Christian prudence, make allowable or lawful, for fear of sacrilegious transgressions, or scrupulous anxious fears. The first was, perpetually to fight against his own will; the second, always to advance to the utmost of his power in Christian perfection. Wonderful were his abstinence and exterior mortifications, and the indifference with which he treated his body; but much more his love of abjection and hatred of himself, that is, of his flesh and his own will. He bore without the least disturbance of mind the barbarous murder of his nephew; and, not content to withdraw all his friends from prosecuting the assassin, became himself an earnest supplicant to the judges for his pardon. His exactitude in the observance of regular discipline in every point, and his care to promote the same in others, especially whilst he was superior in his Order, were equal to the ardour of his zeal for the divine honour in all things. All the hours that were free from exterior employments of duty or charity, were by him devoted to prayer and contemplation; and these were the source of his interior eminent spirit of piety and charity, by which his labours in the conversion and direction of innumerable souls were miraculously successful. By the eminent sanctity of many of both religious and secular persons who had the happiness to be his penitents, it appeared visible that saints possess the art of forming saints.
Cardinal Paul Aresi, Bishop of Tortona, the author of many works of piety and ecclesiastical learning, and the Mecӕnas of his age, had a particular esteem for our saint, and often made use of his advice and assistance in his most important affairs. St. Charles Borromeo did the same, and obtained of him some religious men formed by his hand, and animated with his spirit, for the foundation of a convent of his Order at Milan. He had, soon after he was made archbishop, pitched upon the Theatins, whom St. Andrew had formed to a perfect ecclesiastic spirit, to set before the eyes of his clergy a model and living example from which they might learn the apostolic spirit of the most perfect disengagement from the world. Our saint founded new convents of his Order at Placentia, and in some other places; and was honoured by God with the gifts of prophecy and miracles. After having given the world an example of the most heroic virtues, being broken with labours and old age, he was seized with an apoplexy at the altar as he was beginning mass, at those words, Introibi ad altare Dei, which he repeated thrice, and was not able to proceed. He was prepared for his passage by the holy sacraments, and calmly resigned his soul into the hands of his Creator, on the 10th of November, 1608. His body is kept with honour in the church of his convent of St. Paul, at Naples; and he was canonized by Clement XI.
This saint was a fit instrument of the Holy Ghost in directing others in the paths of perfect virtue, because dead to himself, and a man of prayer. He never spoke of himself, never thought of his own actions, except of his weaknesses, which he had always before his eyes in the most profound sense of his own nothingness, baseness, total insufficiency, and weakness. Those who talk often of themselves, discover that they are deeply infected with the disease of the devil, which is pride, or with the poison of vanity, its eldest daughter. They have no other reward to expect but what they now receive—the empty breath of sinners. Even this incense is only affected hypocrisy. For men, by that base passion which they betray, become justly contemptible and odious to those very persons whose vain applause they seem to court. St. Teresa advises all persons to shun such directors, as pernicious to souls, both by the contagion of self-conceit and vain-glory which they spread, and by banishing the Holy Ghost with his light and blessing; for nothing is more contrary to him than a spirit of vanity and pride. The most perfect disinterestedness, contempt of the world, self-denial, obedience and charity, are no less essential ingredients of a Christian, and especially an ecclesiastical spirit, than meekness and humility. The vows of regular canons, and their strictest rules, only point out what are the duties, and what ought essentially to be the spirit of every clergyman by the obligation of his state, without the tie of particular vows, as the example of Christ and his apostle shows.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. VI, Edition 1903;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. II; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
St. Andrew Avellino, pray for us.