June 1, 2018: ST. ANGELA MERICI
June 1, 2018: ST. ANGELA MERICI, VIRGIN
Thou foughtest the battles of our Lord, O Angela, and thy holy labours merited for thee a glorious rest in the mansions of eternal bliss.
The Sovereign Pontiff has ordered that thy Feast should be kept throughout the whole Church. He declared, in issuing this Decree, that he wished to put under thy maternal protection the young girls who are exposed to such fearful dangers by the enemies of Christ and his Church. They have formed the project of undermining the faith of women, that so their good influence may be destroyed in their families. Disconcert these impious plans, O Angela! Protect thy sex; nourish within it the sentiment of the dignity of Christian Woman,—and Society may still be saved.
Give ear to us, o God, our Saviour, that as we celebrate with joy the solemnity of blessed Angela, thy Virgin, so we may improve in the affection of piety. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in unity of the Holy Ghost, God, World without end. Amen.
The 16th Century, which, a few days back, offered to our Lord the seraphic Magdalene de Pazzi, now presents him with this second fruit of heroic Sanctity. Angela realised the whole meaning of her beautiful name. In a mortal body, she possessed the purity of the blessed Spirits, and imitated their celestial energy by the vigorous practice of every virtue. This heroine of grace trampled beneath her feet everything that could impede her heavenward march. Gifted at an early age, with the highest contemplation, she bravely travelled to Palestine, there to venerate the footsteps of her Divine Spouse Jesus. After this, she visited the new Jerusalem,—Rome,—and offered up her fervent prayers at the Confession of Saint Peter. She then entered into her rest, and founded a Religious Order, which is, and will be to the end of time, one of the glories and aids of Holy Church.
The thought of the great St. Ursula and her virginal Legion made a deep impression on Angela's soul, and she, too, would form to our Lord an army of valiant women. Ursula confronted the barbarian host; Angela would give battle to the world and to its seductions, which are so dangerous to young girls. God blessed her with victory. As a trophy of her combats, she can point to the countless generations of young people, whom her Order has saved during the last [few] Centuries, by giving them a solid Christian education.
The Liturgy thus speaks of the virtues and actions of St. Angela.
Angela de Merici was born of virtuous parents at Decenzano, a town in the diocese of Verona, near lake Benago, in the Venetian territory. From her earliest years, she kept the strictest guard over the lily of her virginity, which she had resolved should never be taken from her. She had a thorough contempt for those outward deckings on which so many women set their hearts. She purposely disfigured the beauty of her features and hair, that she might find no favour save with the Spouse of our souls. Whilst yet in the bloom of youth, she lost her parents; whereupon, she sought to retire into a desert, that she might lead a life of penance; but being prevented by an uncle, she fulfilled at home what she was not permitted to do in a wilderness. She frequently wore a hairshirt, and took the discipline. She never eat flesh-meat, except in case of sickness; she never tasted wine, except on the feasts of our Lord's Nativity and Resurrection; and, at times, would pass whole days without taking any food. She spent much time in prayer, and exceedingly little in sleep, and that little on the ground. The devil having once appeared to her in the form of an angel of light, she at once detected his craft, and put him to flight. At length, having resigned her right to the fortune left her by her parents, she embraced the rule of the Third Order of St. Francis, received the habit, and united evangelical poverty to the merit of virginity.
She showed her neighbour every kind office in her power; and gave to the poor a portion of her own food, which she procured by begging. She gladly served the sick. She gained the reputation of great sanctity in several places, which she visited either that she might comfort the afflicted, or obtain pardon for criminals, or reconcile them that were at variance, or reclaim sinners from the sink of crime. She had a singular hungering after the Bread of Angels, which she frequently received; and such was the vehemence of her love of God, that she was often in a state of ecstacy. She visited the Holy Places of Palestine with extraordinary devotion. During her pilgrimage, she lost her sight on landing on the isle of Candia, but recovered it when leaving. She also miraculously escaped shipwreck and falling into the hands of barbarians. She went to Rome, during the Pontificate of Pope Clement the Seventh, in order to venerate the firm Rock of the Church and to gain the great Jubilee Indulgence. The Pope having had an interview with her, he at once discovered her sanctity and spoke of her to others in terms of highest praise; nor would he have allowed her to leave the City, had he not been convinced that heaven called her elsewhere.
Having returned to Brescia, she took a house near the Church of Saint Afra. There, by God's command, which was made known to her by a voice from heaven and by a vision, she instituted a new society of Virgins under a special discipline, and holy rules, which she herself drew up. She put her Institute under the title and patronage of Saint Ursula, the brave leader of the army of virgins: she also foretold, shortly before her death, that this Institute would last to the end of the world. At length, being close upon seventy years of age, laden with merit, she took her flight to heaven, and in the year 1540, on the sixth of the Calends of February (January 27). Her corpse was kept thirty days before being put in the grave, and preserved the flexibility and appearance of a living body. It was laid in the Church of Saint Afra, amidst the many other Relics wherewith that Church is enriched. Many miracles were wrought at her tomb. The rumour of these miracles spread not only through Brescia and Decenzano, but also in other places. The name of Blessed was soon given to Angela, and her image used to be put on the Altars. St. Charles Borromeo, a few years after Angela's death, affirmed, whilst preaching at Brescia, that she was worthy of Canonisation. Clement the Thirteenth ratified and confirmed the devotion thus paid her by the Faithful, which had already received the approbation of several Bishops, and the encouragement of several Indults of Sovereign Pontiffs. Finally, after several new miracles had been juridically proved, Pius the Seventh enroled Angela in the list of holy Virgins, in the solemn Canonisation celebrated in the Vatican Basilica, on the 24th of May, in the year 1807.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - The Paschal Time, Vol. II, Dublin, Edition 1871; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
St. Angela Merici, pray for us.