Lives of the Saints to Inspire and Imitate
St. Clotilde, Queen of the German tribe of the Franks, was a daughter of Chilperic, whose older brother was the tyrannical King of Burgundy, who killed his wife and all his other brothers except one, in order to usurp their kingdoms. Clotilde was reared in her uncle's Court. Though educated among Arians, it was her happiness to have been instructed in the Catholic Faith. She married Clovis I, King of the Franks, and by her good example and prayers endeavored to win him to God. Fear of offending his people delayed his conversion. However, after his miraculous victory over the Alemanni, he embraced Catholicism, and built many religious institutions at the request of St. Clotilde. Among these was the grand church of Saints Peter and Paul, now called the Church of St. Genevieve.
St. Clotilde suffered greatly on account of the dissensions between her sons. Her most sensible affliction was the murder of the two eldest sons of Clodimir, in 526, by their uncles Childebert and Clotaire. This tragedy aided in weaning her heart from the world.
The remaining years of St. Clotilde's life were spent in performing good works, fasting, penance and exercises of piety. She longed for Eternity, and foretold her death thirty days before it occurred. She departed this life on June 3, 545, and in accordance with her request, was buried in the Church of St. Genevieve.
St. Francis Caracciolo
Francis, of the noble family of Caracciolo, co-founder with John Augustine Adorno of the Congregation of the Minor Clerks Regular, was born in Villa Santa Maria, in the Abruzzo (Italy), October 13, 1563. He received in baptism the name of Asconia. From infancy he was remarkable for his gentleness and uprightness. At the age of twenty-two he was cured of leprosy and made a vow to become a Priest. After distributing his goods to the poor, he went to Naples in 1585 to study theology, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1587.
Giovanni Agostina Adorno wrote a letter to Ascanio Caracciolo, begging him to assist him in founding a new religious institute. By mistake the letter was delivered to our saint, who regarded it as evidence of God's Will towards him. In consequence, he assisted in drawing up the Rule for the new Congregation, which was approved by Pope Sixtus V in 1588. The Rules included that each day one Father fasted on bread and water, another took the discipline, a third wore a hair-shirt, while they always watched by turns in perpetual adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
In spite of his reluctance, Francis was chosen Superior General on March 9, 1593, in the first house of the Congregation in Naples. He redoubled his austerities, and devoted seven hours daily to meditation on the Passion, besides passing most of the night praying before the Blessed Sacrament. He made three visits to Spain to establish the religious foundations under the protection of Philip II and Philip III. He always traveled on foot and without money, content with the shelter and crusts given him in charity. Francis was commonly called the Preacher of Divine Love. But it was before the Blessed Sacrament that his ardent devotion was most clearly perceptible. In the presence of his Divine Lord his face usually emitted brilliant rays of light; and he often bathed the ground with his tears when he prayed, according to his custom, prostrate on his face before the tabernacle, and constantly repeating, as one devoured by internal fire, "The zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up!"
St. Francis died of fever at Agnone on the vigil of Corpus Christi, June 4, 1608, at the age of forty-four, saying, "Let us go, let us go to Heaven!" When his body was opened after death, his heart was found, as it were, burnt up, and these words imprinted around it: Zelus domus Tuæ comedit me – "The zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up." He was canonized by Pope Pius VII May 24, 1807.
Reflection: It is for men, and not for angels, that our Blessed Lord resides upon the altar. Yet angels throng our churches to worship Him, while men desert Him. Learn from St. Francis to avoid such ingratitude, and to spend, as he did, every possible moment before the Most Holy Sacrament.
St. Boniface, an apostle to northern and eastern Germany, was an Anglo-Saxon (the Saxons were a German tribe who had conquered England), born in Devonshire, England in 680, and received the name Winfrid at his Baptism. When only five years old, some holy Benedictine Monks preaching in that country came to his father's home. Winfrid was deeply impressed and longed to be a Religious, but his father exerted his authority to change the boy's mind until the child was afflicted with a serious illness. Seeing in it the hand of God chastising him for opposing his son's vocation, he left Winfrid free to pursue his vocation. At thirteen years of age he was sent to Exminster to be educated, and before he left he received the religious Habit of the Benedictines, taking the name of Boniface. He was ordained to the priesthood when thirty years old, and was so highly thought of by his superiors that he was entrusted with an important commission to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Night and day the holy servant of God bewailed the misfortune of those people living in idolatry. In 716 he went into Friesland to preach the Gospel. This missionary expedition proved a failure. Upon his return to England he was chosen Abbot of the monastery. In 718 he went to Rome to ask the Pope's blessing on his proposed new mission, and received his authority to preach to the people of northern and eastern Germany. (The Rhineland and southwestern part of Germany had been Catholic already since the earliest years of Christianity. The first Bishop of Köln was the son of the widow of Naim, healed by Our Lord.) He began with Bavaria and Thuringia, and his life was in constant danger. The work was slow, but his courage never failed. He next visited Friesland, Hesse and Franconia, everywhere striving to enlighten the infidels.
In 723 Pope Gregory II consecrated St. Boniface Bishop, with jurisdiction over part of Germany. He continued his spiritual conquests, and founded many churches and monasteries throughout the country. Obtaining new laborers from western Germany and England, he stationed them in Hesse and Thuringia. In 732 the new Pope, Gregory III, constituted St. Boniface Archbishop, in 738, Papal Legate, and in 747, Archbishop of Mainz. Several years before his death he founded the Abbey of Fulda (where his body now rests), as a center of German missionary work.
Although advanced in years, St. Boniface appointed a successor to his monastery and set out to convert a pagan tribe. One day while waiting to administer Confirmation to some newly-baptized Christians, a band of enraged infidels rushed into the tent. His attendants desired to resist them, but St. Boniface declared that the day he had long awaited was come, which would bring him to the eternal joys of the Lord. Then he encouraged the rest to meet with cheerfulness and constancy a death which would be to them the gate of everlasting life.
St. Boniface, at the age of seventy-five, was martyred on June 5, 755, at Dokkum, Holland, with fifty-two of his companions. Innumerable miracles have been wrought by God through the intercession of St. Boniface.
Bishop and Confessor, c. 1080-1134 a.d.
God awakens the saints to the reality of His presence in a variety of ways, some of them quite dramatic: thunder and lightning was the way for Saint Norbert. A relative of the German Emperor, Henry V, Norbert was born about 1080 at Xanten, on the Rhine, and spent the first thirty years of his life in attendance at the royal court, where he was a great favorite. It was a pleasant, amusing, and purposeless existence, although he had already received the tonsure with a worldly spirit; he sought in vain contentment and peace of mind.
In 1111 he accompanied the German Emperor to Rome, and although his conscience was awakened when he saw the corruption of the Italian "nobility" and Church officials, it was only little by little that he left the court life and broke with the worldliness of that life. The decisive moment came for the young man as he was riding a horse through the German countryside one day; when a violent storm occurred, punctuated by thunder and a ball of fire or lightning, the horse bolted, throwing Norbert to the ground. The fall nearly killed him; like Saul on the road to Damascus, Norbert emerged from the experience a different man. Coming to, he cried to God, like St. Paul, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" An interior voice replied: "Turn away from worldliness, and do good; seek after peace, and pursue it." Upon the spot he became a sincere penitent and resolved to lead a new life. His brush with death had revealed to him, in one sickening flash, the enormous emptiness of his life, and he resolved to make amends to God.
St. Norbert left the court and retired to his canonry to lead a life of silence and retirement. Two years were spent in tears, holy prayer, and penance. He returned to Xanten, found a little hermitage, and gave himself up to prayer and mortification. He left his solitude only to seek the advice and direction of Konrad of Regensburg, the celebrated Abbot of Siegburg. Konrad advised study for the priesthood, and in 1115 Norbert received Holy Orders from the Archbishop of Köln (Cologne, Germany). He returned again to Xanten to start his priestly career. In his youth, Norbert's family had secured an appointment for him as a canon at the collegiate church in Xanten; such positions were largely honorary, although usually given to priests, and people were accustomed to seeing the canons leading very worldly lives. Remembering his own faults in this regard, Norbert began preaching to the canons on the need for more spirituality in their lives; his listeners, who had no taste for such medicine, laughed in his face and in 1118 denounced Norbert to the Council of Fritzlar as an unorthodox, meddling troublemaker.
The council condemned him only for preaching without proper authorization, but Norbert was stunned by the cruelty of his fellow clerics. Giving away the remains of his family fortune, he set out for Languedoc in France, where Pope Gelasius II was temporarily residing. It was winter, and Norbert walked barefoot the entire way. When he was admitted to the Pope, he begged pardon for a sinful life and requested that a suitable penance be given him. The Pope saw the caliber of the man before him and rewarded the saint's act of humility by giving him permission to preach at will throughout Europe.
Thus vindicated, Norbert began a busy apostolic career that took him--preaching with great success--throughout the dioceses of Flanders, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. In 1119, the Bishop of Lâon persuaded Norbert to go there, where the canons were no better than they had been at Xanten. As before, the saint had little success with the worldly clerics; as an alternative line of action, however, the Bishop suggested that Norbert found his own community of canons and gave him land for this purpose in the desolate valley of Prémontré, near the city of Lâon. The Bishop erected a monastery for St. Norbert, who assembled thirteen brethren from Brabant desirous of serving God under his direction. The number soon increased to forty, and there, on Christmas day, 1121, a new type of religious order was born: the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré. The order was an austere one, based on the Rule of Saint Augustine, and Norbert had the satisfaction of seeing it attract canons from all over Europe, even many of those who had earlier rejected his attempts at reform. A branch for lay people was established at the request of Theobald, count of Champagne; Norbert gave him a small scapular he could wear under his clothes and a simple rule that could be followed in secular life. This "third order", or secular tertianship, is regarded as the first to be attached to any religious order. After making other foundations (one was in Antwerp, where St. Norbert gained fame by putting to rout a celebrated heretic), the saint went to Rome in 1125 to have Pope Honorius II give formal approval to the Premonstratensians (also known as the Norbertines).
There were no longer any doubts about the worth of this holy man. When he appeared in Germany on a visit in 1126, at the Diet of Speyer, he was prevailed upon by the hierarchy there to accept consecration as Archbishop of Magdeburg. Leaving his order under the direction of a capable disciple, Hugh of Fosses, Norbert took up residence in Magdeburg, where he once more became a stumbling-block to Christians who had forgotten the meaning of their Faith. Unchaste priests, laymen who plundered the Church of its property, these and others were soon influenced by Norbert's authority. Despite opposition (a mob once attacked him in his own cathedral), the Archbishop carried out his reforms and by his life of stern authority, inspired eloquence and holy example, he reformed both the clergy and the laity of his German diocese. Several attempts were made to take his life, but he calmly said, "Can you be surprised that the Devil, after having offered violence to our Divine Head, should assault His members?"
The last achievement in Norbert's full life was to join Saint Bernard and the Emperor Lothair to uphold Innocent II in his struggle against the antipope Anacletus II and the ensuant disorders of schism. That fight took Norbert to Rome again, in 1133; although the outcome was successful, the effort proved too much for Norbert's health. He became ill on his return to Magdeburg and, shortly after his arrival there, died on June 6, 1134. His order continued to expand after his death and flourished until the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's. He was canonized by Gregory XIII in 1582. He is usually depicted in art holding a ciborium, on account of his extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Reflection: Reparation for the injuries offered to the Blessed Sacrament was the aim of St. Norbert's great work of reform – in himself, in the clergy, and in the faithful. How much does our present worship repair for our own past irreverence, and for the outrages offered by others to the Blessed Eucharist?
St. Medard was born at Salency, France about 457. His father, Nectard, was a French nobleman, while his mother, Protogia, was a lady of extraordinary piety, descended from an ancient Roman family which had settled in Gaul. Protogia converted her husband from paganism and instilled into Medard a tender compassion for the poor. From an early age it was also his delight to assist the needy, to fast, and to spend considerable time in prayer. When he was old enough his parents sent him abroad to pursue his higher studies. Upon his return, they entreated the Bishop to instruct him in Sacred Scripture. At the age of thirty-three Medard was ordained a Priest, and became one of the most illustrious prelates of the Church in France.
In 530 St. Medard was consecrated Bishop by St. Remigius. He continued his austere life and, although seventy-two years of age, redoubled his labors. No opportunity was lost in his efforts to dispel idolatry throughout his Diocese. The inhabitants of Flanders were the most savage and fierce barbarians of all the Gauls and Franks, rendering St. Medard's task difficult and perilous. He inspired them with the meek spirit of Jesus and made them a civilized, Christian nation.
Having completed this great work in Flanders, St. Medard returned to Noyon. Shortly afterwards he fell sick and died, in 545. The entire country lamented the loss of their common father and protector. His body was laid to rest in his own Cathedral, but King Clotaire was so moved by the many miracles wrought at St. Medard's tomb that he translated his remains to Soissons.
St. Margaret was long the faithful wife of King Malcolm Canmore, the third of his name.
Princess Margaret's early life was darkened by many adverse events, but brightened by her piety. Her father Edward, a Saxon prince, and Agatha, her mother, a scion of the royal houses of Germany and Hungary, were disinherited and exiled.
Margaret was eleven or twelve years old when the greatest changes in her life occurred. Her father after a long period of exile was summoned to return to his country, at the time governed by his uncle Edward, known in later years as "the Confessor". Margaret's life in England was not very different from what it had been in Hungary, for the saintly Edward kept an austere court. Each morning at dawn the entire household attended Mass.
High indeed had been the hopes with which Prince Edward and his family had taken up their abode in England. It was not long, however, before Margaret's father died and she was called upon to bear all the difficulties and anxieties of the troubled, stormy periods that followed upon her father's death, and that of her saintly uncle shortly afterwards.
England could no longer be a safe home for them, and Princess Agatha prudently prepared to leave the country. Some historians claim that it was her intention to go to Scotland and place herself under the protection of King Malcolm. Landing on the coast of Scotland, the voyagers had to walk towards Dunfermline. King Malcolm met them on the way and took the party to his own castle, or "Tower" as it was called, and entertained them for many months. The following spring, in the year 1050, Princess Margaret and King Malcolm were married, and she reigned as Queen of Scotland until her death in 1093. Promptly she threw herself into the manifold duties incumbent upon a wife, who was also the consort sovereign of a wild and turbulent people. Two years later their home and capital was changed to Edinburgh, Malcolm Canmore being the first of the Scottish Kings to make the little burgh of St. Edwin the chief seat of the kingdom.
Amidst her varied duties, Margaret made time to converse with God, and she won her husband to imitate her sanctity. He would rise at night to pray with her. She did not rest until she saw the laws of God and his Church observed throughout the realm.
St. Margaret spared no pains in the education of her eight children, and their sanctity can be attributed to the prudent zeal of their holy mother. Before five each morning she dressed and fed nine infant orphans; she also distributed food and alms to three hundred of the poor in her kingdom. She was the most trusted counselor of her husband, and she labored for the material and spiritual improvement of her country.
King Malcolm had often had wars with William the Conqueror. Queen Margaret was opposed to her husband going to battle with William Rufus. She was in ill-health at the time and shortly after her husband left she became worse. Yet each day she dragged herself to the chapel to assist at Mass. On November 16, 1093, she had to leave the chapel and be supported to her own chamber. Her end was near. The Chaplain, her maids, and her children were around her couch. She bade them not lament for her as she would soon reach the eternal Home where she had longed to be. Then turning to her confessor, she earnestly begged him to guard and watch over her children and bring them up in the fear of the Lord. With the words "Deliver me, O Lord" she breathed her pure soul into the hands of God.
So much loved and honored had she been that successive generations cried aloud for her canonization. Many churches were built in her honor; many miracles were performed at her tomb.
Pope Innocent III placed St. Margaret's name on the calendar of the Church's Saints in 1251.
Reflection: All perfection consists in keeping a guard upon the heart. Wherever we are, we can make a solitude in our hearts, detach ourselves from the world, and converse familiarly with God. Let us take St. Margaret, for our example and encouragement.
St. Basil, one of the four great Doctors of the East, was born at Caesarea in Asia Minor. His parents, as well as his paternal grandparents, two of his brothers and one sister are all honored as Saints. After attending the schools in Caesarea and Constantinople, St. Basil then studied in Athens, and there met again St. Gregory Nazianzen, whom he had first met in Caesarea; they became staunch friends.
Upon completion of his studies, St. Basil was regarded in Athens as an oracle both in sacred and profane learning. He returned to Caesarea and opened a school of oratory, and was prevailed upon to plead at the bar. Seeing himself applauded by his countrymen, and dreading the honors of the world, he determined to renounce the world. His holy sister Macrina, and his friend Gregory Nazianzen, encouraged him in his resolution.
After visiting some monasteries and hermits in Egypt, Palestine and Syria, St. Basil founded a monastery on the river Iris, in Pontus, and became the father of monastic life in the East. His Rule is followed, even today, by all Eastern Monks. Alarmed at the dangers to the Church on account of the Arian heretics, who were supported by the Court, when his Bishop summoned him from his retirement, St. Basil hastened to defend the Church against their heretical teachings. Upon his arrival in Caesarea he opposed the Arians with so much prudence and courage they were obliged to desist from their pretensions with shame and confusion. St. Basil preached to his people daily, morning and evening; throngs came to listen to him, and Cappadocia was saved for the Catholic Faith.
In 370 he was consecrated Archbishop of Caesarea, and lived in the greatest poverty possible; fasted, performed great austerities, and prayed continually.
When St. Basil refused to accede to the Imperial command to admit the Arians to Communion, the prefect, finding that soft words had no effect, said to him, "Are you mad, that you resist the will of the Emperor before which the whole world bows? Do you not dread the wrath of the Emperor, nor exile, nor death?" "No," said Basil calmly; "he who has nothing to lose need not dread loss of goods; you cannot exile me, for the whole earth is my home; as for death, it would be the greatest kindness you could bestow upon me; torments cannot harm me: one blow would end my frail life and my sufferings together." "Never," said the prefect, "has any one dared to address me thus." "Perhaps," suggested Basil, "you never before measured your strength with a Catholic bishop." The Emperor desisted from his commands. St. Basil's whole life was one of suffering. He lived amid jealousies and misunderstandings and seeming disappointments. But he sowed the seed which bore goodly fruit in the next generation, and was God's instrument in beating back the Arians and other heretics in the East, and restoring the spirit of discipline and fervor in the Church.
Peace was restored to the Church in 378 by Emperor Gratian. That same year St. Basil fell sick and prepared himself for his passage to eternity. The entire populace was grief-stricken when their holy Archbishop died on January 1, 379.
Reflection. "Fear God," says the Imitation of Christ, "and thou shalt have no need of being afraid of any worldly power."
Vitus was a child nobly born, who had the happiness to be instructed in the Faith, and inspired with the most perfect sentiments of his religion, by his Christian nurse, named Crescentia, and her faithful husband, Modestus. His father, Hylas, was extremely incensed when he discovered the child's invincible aversion to idolatry; and finding him not to be overcome by stripes and such like chastisements, he delivered him up to Valerian, the governor, who in vain tried all his arts to work him into compliance with his father's will and the Emperor's edicts. He escaped out of their hands, and, together with Crescentia and Modestus, fled into Italy. They there met with the crown of martyrdom in Lucania, in the persecution of Diocletian. The heroic spirit of martyrdom which we admire in St. Vitus was owing to the early impressions of piety which he received from the lessons and example of a virtuous nurse. Of such infinite importance is the choice of virtuous preceptors, nurses, and servants about children.
Reflection. What happiness for an infant to be formed naturally to all virtue, and for the spirit of humility, simplicity, meekness, goodness, and piety to be molded in its tender frame! Such a foundation being well laid, further graces are abundantly communicated, and a soul progesses daily from these seeds, and rises to the height of Christian virtue, often without experiencing severe conflicts of the passions.
St. John Francis Regis was born January 31, 1597, at Font-Couverte, Languedoc, France. At the age of five he fainted when he heard his mother speak of the terrible misfortune of being eternally damned. He was a modest, quiet, studious child, and when the Jesuits opened a college at Beziers, John was one of the first to he enrolled. His seriousness increased with his years; frequently he retired to the chapel and could be seen bathed in tears in the presence of Jesus. In his eighteenth year he was visited with a serious sickness. Soon after his recovery he made a retreat to decide on a state of life. Following the advice of his confessor, he asked admittance into the Society of Jesus. The Provincial readily received him and he entered his noviceship with great joy at Toulouse when nineteen years old.
After his ordination in 1631, he began his apostolic work at Montpellier and spent himself in preaching to the unlettered people of Languedoc and Auvergne. He made many converts among the Huguenots; established an association of women to procure aid for prisoners; and founded Confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament. In his works of mercy God frequently helped him by miracles. On one of his missionary journeys in November, 1637, snow and ice filled the valleys and precipitous crags he had to cross. Despite the fact that he fell and broke his leg, with the help of his companion, he continued the remaining six miles of the journey. Instead of seeing a surgeon when be reached his destination, he insisted on going into the confessional. After hearing confessions for several hours the parish Priest learned of his accident. When the leg was examined it was found to be miraculously cured.
He was so inflamed with the love of God that he seemed to breathe, think, speak of that alone, and he offered up the Holy Sacrifice with such attention and fervor that those who assisted at it could not but feel something of the spiritual fire with which he burned.
St. John Francis' successes everywhere were wonderful, but, as in the life of every Saint, God permitted him to be misunderstood, slandered, and persecuted. He edified all by his humility and saintly life. While on his way to his last mission assignment, he fell ill and took refuge in an abandoned house. Exposed to the piercing winter wind, pleurisy set in. The following morning he crawled to the church and opened the mission. After preaching three times on Christmas day and three times on St. Stephen's day, he went to hear confessions and fainted twice. The physicians found him seriously ill. On December 31, 1640, at the age of forty-three, St. John Francis Regis rendered his pure soul to God. He was canonized by Pope Clement XII in 1737.
Reflection. Those whose souls are consumed with the love of God possess a great zeal for the conversion of souls to God's Church.
(sometimes spelled Ephraim)
St. Ephrem is the light and glory of the Syriac Church.
A mere youth, he entered on the religious life at Nisibis, his native place. Long years of retirement from the spirit of the world taught him the science of the Saints, and then God called him to Edessa, there to teach what he had learned so well. He defended the Faith against heresies, in books which have made him known as the Prophet of the Syrians. Crowds hung upon his words. Tears used to stop his voice when he preached. He trembled and made his hearers tremble at the thought of God's judgments; but he found in compunction and humility the way to peace, and he rested with unshaken confidence in the mercy of Our Blessed Lord. "I am setting out," he says, speaking of his own death, "I am setting out on a journey hard and dangerous. Thee, O Son of God, I have taken for my Viaticum. When I am hungry, I will feed on Thee. The infernal fire will not venture near me, for it cannot bear the fragrance of Thy Body and Thy Blood." His hymns won the hearts of the people, drove out the hymns of the Gnostic heretics, and gained for him the title which he bears in the Syriac Liturgy to this day B "the Harp of the Holy Ghost." Passionate as he was by nature, from the time he entered Religion no one ever saw him unjustifiably angry. Abounding in labors until the last, he toiled for the suffering poor at Edessa in the famine of 378, and there lay down to die in extreme old age. What was the secret of success so various and so complete? Humility, which made him distrust himself and trust God. Until his death, he wept for the slight sins committed in the thoughtlessness of boyhood. Feeling himself unworthy, he refused the dignity of the priesthood. "I," he told St. Basil whom he went to see at the bidding of the Holy Ghost, "I am that Ephrem who has wandered from the path of Heaven." Then bursting into tears, he cried out, "O my Father, have pity on a sinful wretch, and lead me on the narrow way."
Reflection. Humility is the path which leads to abiding peace and brings us near to the consolations of God. Narrow is the path to salvation.
Juliana Falconieri was born in answer to prayer, in 1270. Her father built the splendid church of Annunziata in Florence, while her uncle, Blessed Alexius, became one of the founders of the Servite Order. Under his care Juliana grew up, as he said, more like an angel than a human being. Such was her modesty that she never used a mirror or gazed upon the face of a man during her whole life. The mere mention of sin made her shudder and tremble and once hearing a scandal related she fell into a dead swoon. Her devotion to the sorrows of Our Lady drew her to the Servants of Mary; and, at the age of fourteen, she refused an offer of marriage, and received the habit from St. Philip Benizi himself. Her sanctity attracted many novices, for whose direction she was bidden to draw up a rule, and thus with reluctance she became foundress of the "Mantellate". Outside her convent she led a life of apostolic charity, converting sinners, reconciling enemies, and healing the sick by sucking with her own lips their ulcerous sores. She was sometimes rapt for whole days in ecstasy, and her prayers saved the Servite Order when it was in danger of being suppressed. She was visited in her last hour by angels in the form of white doves, and Jesus Himself, as a beautiful child, crowned her with a garland of flowers. She wasted away through a disease of the stomach, which prevented her taking food. She bore her silent agony with constant cheerfulness, grieving only for the privation of Holy Communion. At last, when, in her seventieth year, she had sunk to the point of death, she begged to be allowed once more to see and adore the Blessed Sacrament. It was brought to her cell, and reverently laid on a corporal, which was placed over her heart. At this moment she expired, and the Sacred Host disappeared. After her death the form of the Host was found stamped upon her heart in the exact spot over which the Blessed Sacrament had been placed.
St. Juliana died in her convent in Florence in 1340 and miracles have been frequently effected through her intercession. She was canonized by Pope Clement XII.
Reflection. "Meditate often," says St. Paul of the Cross, "on the sorrows of the holy Mother, sorrows inseparable from those of her beloved Son. If you seek the Cross, there you will find the Mother; and where the Mother is, there also is the Son."
Silverius was son of Pope Hermisdas, who had been married before he entered the ministry.
When Justinian became master of Rome, the Empress Theodora in Constantinople, a violent and crafty women, resolved to promote the sect of the Acephali, which rejected the Council of Chalcedon. Anthimus, Patriarch of Constantinople, was suspected of aiding the Acephali, and against the wishes of the Canons, the Empress used her influence in having him transferred from the See of Trapezus to that of the Imperial City. Pope Agapitus visited Constantinople in 536 and refused to communicate with Anthimus because of his heretical beliefs concerning the two natures of Christ. Justinian banished the Bishop, and St. Mennas was consecrated Bishop by Pope Agapitus to replace Anthimus.
Upon the death of St. Agapitus, after a vacancy of forty-seven days, Silverius, then subdeacon, was chosen Pope, and ordained on the 8th of June, 536. Theodora endeavored to win Silverius over to her interest, and wrote to him, ordering that he should acknowledge Anthimus lawful Bishop, or repair in person to Constantinople and reexamine his cause on the spot. Without the least hesitation or delay, Silverius returned her a short answer, by which He peremptorily gave her to understand that He neither could nor would obey her unjust demands and betray the cause of the Catholic Faith. The Empress, finding that she could expect nothing from Him, resolved to have Him deposed. Vigilius, archdeacon of the Roman Church, a man of address, was then at Constantinople. To him the Empress made her application and finding him taken by the bait of ambition, promised to make him Pope, and to bestow on him seven hundred pieces of gold, provided he would engage himself to condemn the Council of Chalcedon and receive into Communion with the Church, the three deposed Eutychian patriarchs, Anthimus of Constantinople, Severus of Antioch, and Theodosius of Alexandria. The unhappy Vigilius having assented to these conditions, the Empress sent him to Rome, charged with a letter to the general Belisarius, commanding him to drive out Silverius and to contrive the election of Vigilius to the pontificate. Vigilius urged the general to execute the project. The more easily to carry out this project, the Pope was accused of corresponding with the enemy and a letter was produced which was pretended to have been written by Him to the King of the Goths, inviting him into the city, and promising to open the gates to him. Pope Silverius was banished to Patara in Lycia. The Bishop of that city received the illustrious Exile with all possible marks of honor and respect; and thinking himself bound to undertake His defense, repaired to Constantinople, and spoke boldly to the Emperor, terrifying him with the threats of the Divine judgments for the expulsion of a Bishop of so great a See, telling him, "There are many kings in the world, but there is only one Pope over the Church of the whole world." It must be observed that these were the words of an Eastern bishop, and a clear confession of the supremacy of the Roman See. The Emperor Justinian appeared startled at the atrocity of the proceedings, and gave orders that Silverius should be sent back to Rome, but the enemies of the Pope contrived to prevent it, and He was intercepted on his road toward Rome and carried to a desert island, where he died on the 20th of June, 538.
Reflection: The powers of the world and state authorities often maliciously conspire against the Church and Her Bishops. Faithful Catholics must ever be ready to vigorously come to their defense.
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