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Lives and Prayers of Dominican Saints,

Blessed and Pius Men and Women

 

Image:Anthonyneyrot.JPG

The death of Blessed Anthony Neyrot

Blessed Anthony Neyrot, M.O.P.

Memorial Day: April 10th

 

Profile

    Blessed Anthony Neyrot occupies a unique place in Dominican history, as he is the only one among the beautified who ever renounced the faith. He expiated his sin with an act of heroism that merited heaven, washing away in his own blood the denial that might have cost him his soul.

    Of the childhood of Blessed Anthony, we know nothing that he was born at Rivoli, in Italy. He was accepted into the Order by Saint Antoninus, who must have been particularly fond of the young man, since he gave him his own name. Completing his studies, Anthony was ordained and lived for a time at San Marco, the famous Dominican convent in Florence. Then, becoming restless and dissatisfied, he asked for a change of mission. He was sent to Sicily, but this did not prove to his liking either so he set out for Naples.

    Brother Anthony was sailing from Sicily to Naples when pirates captured the ship. Anthony was taken to Tunis and sold as a slave. He was able to win his freedom, but fell away from the Church. He denied his faith in Jesus and abandoned his religious vocation. He accepted the Koran, the diabolical book of the Muslims. For several months, he practiced the Muslim religion. He also married.

    In the meantime, his former Dominican prior, the saintly Antoninus, died. This led Anthony to have a shocking experience. It seems that one night, Anthony had something like a dream. St. Antoninus appeared to him. The conversation between the two men was to lead to a radical change in Anthony. He became truly sorry for having betrayed the Lord. He knew that in his heart he could never give up his faith in Jesus. He knew that he could only be a Catholic. And he realized that he still wanted very much to be a Dominican brother.

    Blessed Anthony sent his wife back to her family. He then put on his white Dominican habit. In spite of his fear, he went to see the ruler of Tunis. A large crowd gathered and the ruler came out to the courtyard. Brother Anthony publicly admitted he had made a terrible mistake becoming a Muslim. He was a Catholic. He believed in and loved Jesus. He was a Dominican and wanted to be so for all his life. The ruler was angry. He threatened and then made promises of rewards if only Anthony would take back what he was saying. But Anthony would not. He knew this meant his death.

    Anthony knelt and began to pray for the courage to give his life for Jesus. Suddenly he felt the large stones pounding him. He just kept praying for the strength to remain true to the Lord. Then he lost consciousness. Anthony died a martyr in 1460. Some merchants from Genoa, Italy, took his remains back to his own country.

Born: 1420

Died: Martyred on Holy Thursday, 1460

 

First Vespers

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

V. Pray for us Blessed Anthony

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

 

Lauds:

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

V. A Crown of gold is on his head,.

R. Signed with the sign of sanctity.

 

Second Vespers

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

V. Pray for us, Blessed Anthony.

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

 

Prayer

Let us Pray: O God, who didst mercifully bring Blessed Anthony back to the Light of Truth, and didst make him a glorious Martyr, grant, through his intercession, that we may ever be effectual in the performance of good works. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pascal Times

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant.  Come, O daughters of Jerusalem, and behold a Martyr with a crown wherewith the Lord crowned him on the day of solemnity and rejoicing, alleluia, alleluia

V. Pray for us, Blessed Anthony alleluia

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

 

Lauds:

Ant. Perpetual light will shine upon Thy Saints, O lord, alleluia, and an eternity of ages, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

V. A crown of gold is on his head, alleluia.

R. Signed with the sign of sanctity, alleluia

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. In the city of the Lord the music of the Saints incessantly resounds: there the angels and archangels sing a canticle before the throne of God, alleluia.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Anthony, alleluia

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

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst mercifully bring Blessed Anthony back to the Light of Truth, and didst make him a glorious Martyr, grant, through his intercession, that we may ever be effectual in the performance of good works. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Margaret of Castello

Memorial Day: April 13th

 

Profile

    Margaret was born blind into a poor, mountain family, who were embittered by her affliction. When she was five years old, they made a pilgrimage to the tomb of a holy Franciscan at Castello to pray for a cure. The miracle failing, they abandoned their daughter in the church of CittÓ-di-Castello and returned to their home.

    Margaret was passed from family to family until she was adopted by a kindly peasant woman named Grigia, who had a large family of her own. Margaret's natural sweetness and goodness soon made themselves felt, and she more than repaid the family for their kindness to her. She was an influence for good in any group of children. She stopped their quarrels, heard their catechism, told them stories, taught them Psalms and prayers. Busy neighbors were soon borrowing her to soothe a sick child or to establish peace in the house.

    Her reputation for holiness was so great that a community of sisters in the town asked for her to become one of them. Margaret went happily to join them, but, unfortunately, there was little fervor in the house. The little girl who was so prayerful and penitential was a reproach to their lax lives, so Margaret returned to Grigia, who gladly welcomed her home.

    Later, Margaret was received as a Dominican Tertiary and clothed with the religious habit. Grigia's home became the rendezvous site of troubled souls seeking Margaret's prayers. She said the Office of the Blessed Virgin and the entire Psalter by heart, and her prayers had the effect of restoring peace of mind to the troubled.

    Denied earthly sight, Margaret was favored with heavenly visions. "Oh, if you only knew what I have in my heart!" she often said. The mysteries of the rosary, particularly the joyful mysteries, were so vivid to her that her whole person would light up when she described the scene. She was often in ecstasy, and, despite great joys and favors in prayer, she was often called upon to suffer desolation and interior trials of frightening sorts. The devil tormented her severely at times, but she triumphed over these sufferings.

    A number of miracles were performed by Blessed Margaret. On one occasion, while she was praying in an upper room, Grigia's house caught fire, and she called to Margaret to come down. The blessed, however, called to her to throw her cloak on the flames. This she did, and the blaze died out. At another time, she cured a sister who was losing her eyesight.

    Beloved by her adopted family and by her neighbors and friends, Margaret died at the early age of 33. From the time of her death, her tomb in the Dominican church was a place of pilgrimage. Her body, even to this day, is incorrupt. More than 200 miracles have been credited to her intercession after her death. She was beatified in 1609. Thus the daughter that nobody wanted is one of the glories of the Church

    After her death, the fathers received permission to have her heart opened. In it were three pearls, having holy figures carved upon them. They recalled the saying so often on the lips of Margaret: "If you only knew what I have in my heart!" (Attwater2, Benedictines, Dorcy).

Born: in 1287 at Meldola, Vado, Italy

Died: April 13th, 1320 of Natural Causes (Her body is incorrupt)

Beatified: October 19th, 1609 by Pope Paul V

Patronage: Against poverty, disabled people, handicapped people, impoverishment, people rejected by religious orders, physically challenged people, poverty.

 

First Vespers:

Ant. This is a wise Virgin whom the Lord found watching, who took her lamp and oil, and when the Lord came she entered with Him into the marriage feast. (P.T. Alleluia.)

V. Pray for us Blessed Margaret. (P.T. Alleluia.)

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. (P.T. Alleluia.)

 

Lauds:

Ant. Come, O my chosen one, and I will place my throne in thee, for the King hath exceedingly desired thy beauty. (P.T. Alleluia.)

V. Virgins shall be led to the King after her. (P.T. Alleluia.)

R. Her companions shall be presented to Thee. (P.T. Alleluia.)

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. She has girded her loins with courage and hath strengthened her arm; therefore shall her lamp not be put out forever. (P.T. Alleluia.)

V. Pray for us Blessed Margaret. (P.T. Alleluia.)

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. (P.T. Alleluia.)

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who wast pleased that Blessed Margaret, Virgin, should be born blind, that, the eye of her heart being inwardly enlightened, she might continually contemplate Thee alone, be Thou the light of our eyes, that we may have no part in the darkness of this world, but be enabled to arrive at the land of eternal brightness Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers
 

Compassionate God, you gave your divine light to Blessed Margaret who was blind from birth, that with the eye of her heart she might contemplate you alone. Be the light of our eyes that we may turn from what is evil and reach the home of never-ending light. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. - General Calendar of the Order of Preachers

[Saint Peter holy card]

Saint Peter Gonzalez, C.O.P.

(also known as Elmo-Erasmus, Telmo)

Memorial Day: April 14th

 

Profile

    The parents of Peter Gonzales were wealthy and apparently expected their son to become a priest so that he might in time obtain some rank. It was a period in history when this sort of thing was a trial to the Church, and Peter's worldly youth was only one of many examples. He was educated by his uncle, the bishop of Astorga, who invested him with a canonry at Palencia and deanery when he was still quite young.

    Full of pride, for a special Bull had been procured so that he might obtain the deanery while he was under age, he resolved to be installed with great pomp, and for his state entry into Astorga chose Christmas Day when the streets were likely to be crowded. He wanted to impress his flock with his fine clothes and vivid personality.

    He paraded through the town on horseback, magnificently equipped, but in the noise and excitement the animal reared and threw him upon a dung heap. The Spanish people, who have a fine sense of comedy, responded with loud gusts of laughter. Picking himself up in shame, he cried: "If the world mocks me, henceforth, I will mock the world." Covered with filth and confusion, Peter withdrew to clean up and ponder his sins.

    Surprisingly enough, when his wounded feelings had healed, Peter reformed his pointless life and immediately entered the Dominican monastery at Palencia. He was never to forget to weep for his sins, and his life was spent in prayer and penance to offset the wasted years of his youth.

    Peter's friends did not allow this to happen without protest. They had been amused by his accident, but not converted by it as he was, and they did their best to talk him into leaving religious life and returning to the luxurious world he had left behind. It was probably a serious temptation to the young man, for it is not easy to reform overnight. But he did not turn back. Instead, he said to his friends, "If you love me, follow me! If you cannot follow me, forget me!" He became, by close application to the rule, one of the shining exemplars of this difficult way of life.

    After his studies were completed, Peter entered into his apostolate. It was to take him into places where his worldly background would be a help rather than a hindrance, for he could well understand the temptations and troubles of worldly people. He was first of all a military chaplain with the royal army. He also began to preach in the region. He did not talk about trivia, his sermons drew large crowds. The recitation of the Psalms was his most constant prayer.

    The fame of his piety and zeal spread throughout Spain and reached the ears of King Saint Ferdinand of Castile, who sent for him and attached him to his court as chaplain and as his confessor. Appalled by its licentiousness, Gonzales immediately set about reforming it, which so displeased the younger courtiers that they tried to corrupt him; but he was proof against all temptations and won the confidence of the saintly king.

    Peter did much to foster the crusade against the Moors. When Ferdinand finally acted, Peter accompanied him on his expedition against the Moors. Upon the capture of Cordova and Seville, Peter used his influence and authority on the side of the vanquished and was instrumental in reducing rape and bloodshed. He also took over the Moorish mosques and converted them into Christian churches.

    He was showered with favors by the king, who had the utmost confidence in him. Fearing honors, however, Peter quit the king's service upon his return to Spain. Instead, moved by compassion, he lived among the poor peasants and sought to evangelize them. Although he was met everywhere with ignorance and brutality, his work proved efficacious. He penetrated the wildest and most inaccessible areas, seeking out the peasants in villages and the shepherds in the mountains of the Asturias. His preaching brought about reconciliation between neighbors and between men and God. He gave reassurance to the dismayed and the perplexed.

    Most of the anecdotes of his life come from this period, and they have to do with miracles that he worked for these people. At his prayer, storms ceased, droughts were ended, bottles were refilled with wine, bread was found in the wilderness. The bridge that he built across the swift river Minho made his name famous throughout Spain, and it existed up until recent times. During the time he was directing work on this bridge, he used to call the fish to come and be caught; it was a way of helping to feed the workers.

    He visited also the seaports of Galicia--boarding ships and preaching on their open decks. He had a great liking for sailors, and is often portrayed in the habit of his Order, holding a blue candle which symbolized Saint Elmo's fire, the blue electrical discharge which sometimes appears in thunder storms at the mast- heads of ships, and which was supposed to be a sign that the vessel was under the saint's protection. (The name of Saint Elmo is of earlier origin. Peter Gonzales, in the popular devotion of the sailors of the Mediterranean, has replaced the name and memory of the older saints associated with the sea, particularly the 4th century Saint Erasmus.)

    He retired finally to Tuy in a state of extreme exhaustion. During Lent he preached each day in the cathedral, on Palm Sunday he foretold his death, and on the Sunday after Easter, he died at Santiago de Compostella. Bishop Luke of Tuy, his great admirer and friend, attended him to his last breath and buried him honorably in his cathedral. In his last will, the bishop gave directions for his own body to be laid near Peter's remains, which were placed in a silver shrine and honored with many miracles (Benedictines, Delaney, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Gill, Husenbeth).

Born: 1190 at Astorga, Spain

Died: April 15,1246 at Saintiago de Compostela, Tuy; buried in the cathedral at Tuy

Beatified: 1254 by Pope Innocent IV

Canonized: December 13, 1741 by Pope Benedict XIV (cultus confirmed)
Representation: Dominican holding a blue candle or a candle with a blue flame; Dominican lying on his cloak which is spread over hot coals; Dominican holding fire in his bare hands; Dominican catching fish with his bare hands; Dominican beside the ocean, often holding or otherwise protecting a ship.

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

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

V. Pray for us, Blessed Peter.

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

 

Lauds:

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

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

 

Second Vespers:

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

V. Pray for us. Blessed Peter.

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

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who dost show the singular help of Blessed Peter to such as are in the danger of the sea, grant through his intercession, that in the storms of this life the light of Thy grace may ever shine upon us, that by it we may be able to gain the port  of eternal salvation. Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

Pascal Time

First Vespers:

Ant.  Come, O daughters of Jerusalem, and behold a Martyr with a crown wherewith the Lord crowned him on the day of solemnity and rejoicing, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

V. Pray for us, Blessed Peter alleluia

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

 

Lauds:

Ant. Perpetual light will shine upon Thy Saints, O lord, alleluia, and an eternity of ages, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

V. A crown of gold is on his head, alleluia.

R. Signed with the sign of sanctity, alleluia

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. In the city of the Lord the music of the Saints incessantly resounds: there the angels and archangels sing a canticle before the throne of God, alleluia.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Peter, alleluia

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

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God , who dost show the singular help of Blessed Peter to such as are in the danger of the sea, grant through his intercession, that in the storms of this life the light of Thy grace may ever shine upon us, that by it we may be able to gain the port of eternal salvation. Through Christ our Lord.  Amen

 
Prayers
 

Almighty God, you bestowed the singular help of Blessed Peter on those in peril from the sea. By the help of his prayers may the light of your grace shine forth in all the storms of this life and enable us to find the harbor of everlasting salvation. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. - General Calendar of the Order of Preachers

 

Blessed Clare Gambacorta, W.O.P.

(also known as Thora or Theodora of Pisa)

Memorial Day: April 17th

 

Profile

    Clare, baptized Victoria, was the only daughter of the pre-eminent family of Pisa, which was in political exile at the time of her birth. When Victoria was seven, the family returned triumphantly to Pisa, and her father, Peter Gambacorta, was installed as chief magistrate of the city, a position full of both glory and uncertainty.

    Victoria, a pretty and pious child, used to gather the children together to recite the Rosary. She was both devout and penitential; therefore, she did not relish the marriage her father had arranged for her. Nevertheless, as a dutiful daughter she married and became a dutiful, loving wife. When her young husband died of the plague just three years after their marriage, Victoria was grief-stricken. She did truly love him. But now that she was free, she determined that no one was going to urge her to marry again.

    In the first year of her marriage, when she was 13, Victoria had met the famous and saintly Catherine of Siena, who had come to Pisa to talk to Victoria's father about he league of cities. The saint had advised the lovely young bride to give her heart to God and her husband.

    Now that he was dead, Catherine wrote to the 15-year-old widow saying: "Strip yourself of self. Love God with a free and loyal love." Victoria knew that another marriage was being arranged for her, and before the contract could be concluded she fled to the Poor Clares and took the habit and the religious name Sister Clare.

    Her brothers forcibly took her home. They locked her up in a dark little room in her own home. For five months she could neither talk to her friends nor receive the sacraments, but she retained the name Clare, and she wore the Franciscan habit.

    The pretty, young prisoner was a daughter of her times, and she managed to get errands done by her friends. One by one, her jewels were sent out and sold, and the money was given to the poor. It was the only active charity she could manage from a prison cell. Finally, on Saint Dominic's day, when her father and brothers were away, her mother got her out and took her to Mass. It was the first time in months that she had been able to receive Communion.

    Shortly thereafter, a Spanish bishop came to visit the family, and Clare's father asked him to try to talk some sense into the girl. He apparently did not know that the Spaniard had been confessor to Saint Bridget of Sweden, and that he was highly in sympathy with women who wished to dedicate themselves to God. In the end, Clare's family relented and allowed her to make plans to enter a convent. Her contact with Saint Catherine had convinced her that she could be nothing but a Dominican, so she took refuge with the local community until she could build a convent of her own.

    Due to the ravages of plague and schism, many convents, including that of the Dominicans of Pisa, were weak in observance and did not live the common life. Clare wanted a strictly religious form of life, and, within four years, with the help of her stepmother, the new convent was built for her and Blessed Mary Mancini. It was first blessed in 1385, and a strict canonical cloister was imposed upon it, forbidding any man but the bishop and the master general from entering.

    Eight years later, this strict enclosure was to cost Sister Clare a terrible loss. Her father was betrayed by a man who had always been his friend, and the volatile public turn against him and killed him in the street outside her convent. One of her brothers also fell in the fight, and a second, wounded, begged to be let into the convent. Clare had to tell him, through the window, that she could not open the door to him. While she watched in horror, he was dragged away and killed.

    Some time after this, Sister Clare fell seriously ill and was thought to be dying. She made a curious request: some food from the table of the man who had betrayed and killed her father and brothers. The wife of the guilty man sent a basket of bread and fruit; Sister Clare ate the bread and was cured. Shortly afterwards the man who had seized the power unjustly was killed himself, and she offered sanctuary to his widow and daughters.

    Clare's brother, Peter, who had fled from the court to become a hermit about the time she went to the Poor Clares, converted a band of highwaymen and began a community of hermits. When his father and brothers were murdered, he wished to go back to secular life and seek revenge, and Clare talked him out of it.

    Clare Gamacorta died after a holy life. Many prodigies were reported at her tomb, and there is an interesting little legend to the effect that every time a sister in her house is about to die, the bones of Blessed Clare rattle in her coffin. This gives the sister warning (Attwater2, Benedictines, Dorcy, Encyclopedia).

Born: in Venice(?), Italy, in 1362;

Died: 1419

Beatified: by Pope Pius VIII in 1830.

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers

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

V. Pray for us Blessed Clara. (P.T., Alleluia.)

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. (P.T., Alleluia.)

 

Lauds

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

 

Second Vespers

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

V. Pray for us Blessed Clara (P.T., Alleluia.)

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. (P.T., Alleluia.)

 

Prayers

Let is Pray: Grant us, O merciful God, the spirit of prayer and penance that, following in the footsteps of Blessed Clara, we may be worthy to gain the crown which she has received in heaven. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

[Saint Agnes of Montepulciano]

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano, V.O.P.

Feast Day: April 20th

 

Profile

    Agnes was not a child martyr like her Roman patroness but she exhibited the same simplicity, and some of her best-known legends concern her childhood. Her birth into the wealthy de Segni family was announced by great lights surrounding the house where she was born. From her infancy she was especially marked for dedication to God: she would spend hours reciting Pater Nosters and Ave Marias on her knees in the corner of some room.

    By the time Agnes was six, she was already urging her parents to let her enter the convent. When they assured her that she was much too young, she begged them to move to nearby Montepulciano, so she could make frequent visits to the convent. Because of the local political instability, her father was unwilling to move from his safe haven but did allow his little girl to visit with the sisters occasionally.

    On one of these visits an event occurred that all the chroniclers record as being prophetic. Little Agnes was traveling in Montepulciano with her mother and the women of the household, and, as they passed a hill on which stood a bordello, a flock of crows swooped down and attacked the girl. Screaming and plunging, they managed to scratch and frighten her badly before the women drove them away. Upset by the incident, but devoutly sure of themselves, the women said that the birds must have been devils, and that they resented the purity and goodness of little Agnes, who would one day drive them from that hilltop. Agnes did, in fact, build a convent there in later years.

    When she was nine, Agnes insisted that the time had come to enter the convent del Sacco. She was allowed to go to a group of Franciscans in Montepulciano, whose dress was the ultimate in primitive simplicity: they were known, from the cut of the garment, as the Sacchine or 'sisters of the sack.' The high-born daughter of the Segni was not at all appalled at the crude simplicity with which they followed their Father Francis; she rejoiced in it. Her religious formation was entrusted to an experienced older sister named Margaret, and Agnes soon edified the whole house by her exceptional progress. For five years she enjoyed the only complete peace she would ever have; she was appointed bursar at the age of 14, and she never again was without some responsibility to others.

    During this time Agnes reached a high degree of contemplative prayer and was favored with many visions. One of the loveliest is the one for which her legend is best known: the occasion of a visit from the Blessed Virgin. Our Lady came with the Holy Infant in her arms, and allowed Agnes to hold Him and caress Him. Unwilling to let Him go, Agnes hung on when Our Lady reached to take Him back. When she awakened from the ecstasy, Our Lady and her Holy Child were gone, but Agnes was still clutching tightly the little gold cross He had worn on a chain about His neck. She kept it as a precious treasure.

    Another time, Our Lady gave her three small stones and told her that she should use them to build a convent some day. Agnes was not at the moment even thinking about going elsewhere, and said so, but Our Lady told her to keep the stones--three, in honor of the Blessed Trinity--and one day she would need them.

    Some time after this, a new Franciscan convent opened in Procena, near Orvieto, and the sisters there asked the ones of Montepulciano to send them a mother superior. Sister Margaret was selected, but stipulated that Agnes must be allowed to come to help her in the foundation of the new community. There Agnes served as housekeeper--a highly responsible position for a 14-year-old! Soon many other girls joined the convent at Procena simply became they knew that Agnes was there.

    To the distress of young Agnes, she was elected abbess. Since she was only 15, a special dispensation was needed--and provided by Pope Nicholas IV--to allow her to take the office. On the day when she was consecrated abbess, great showers of tiny white crosses fluttered down on the chapel and the people in it. It seemed to show the favor of heaven on this somewhat extraordinary situation.

    For 20 years, Agnes lived in Procena, happy in her retreat and privileged to penetrate the secrets of God in her prayer. She was a careful superior, as well as a mystic; several times she worked miracles to increase the house food supply when it was low. The nun's self-discipline was legendary. She lived on bread and water for fifteen years. She slept on the floor with a stone for a pillow. It is said that in her visions angels gave her Holy Communion.

    Once her visions of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and angels had become known, the citizens of Montepulciano called her back for a short stay. She went willingly enough, though she hated leaving the peace of her cloister for the confusion of traveling. She had just settled down, on her return, with the hope that she had made her last move and could now stay where she was, when obedience again called her back to Montepulciano--this time to build a new convent. A revelation had told her that she was to leave the Franciscans, among whom she had been very happy, and that she and her future sisters should become Dominicans.

    In 1306, Agnes returned to Montepulciano to put the Lord's request into action: she was to build a convent on the former site of the brothels. All she had for the building of the convent were the three little stones given her by the Blessed Virgin, and Agnes--who had been bursar and knew something about money--realized that she was going to have to rely heavily on the support of heaven in her building project.

    After a long quarrel with the inhabitants of the hilltop she wanted for her foundation, the land was finally secured, and the Servite prior laid the first stone, leaving her to worry about from where the rest of the stones would come. Agnes saw the project to its completion. The church and convent of Santa Maria Novella were ready for dedication in record time, and a growing collection of aspirants pleaded for admittance to the new convent.

    Agnes had become convinced that the community must be anchored in an established Rule in order to attain permanence. She explained that the rule was to be Dominican, not Franciscan. All the necessary arrangements were made, she was established as prioress, the Dominicans agreed to provide chaplains and direction, and the new community settled down. They had barely established the regular life when one of the walls of the new building collapsed. It was discovered that the builders had cheated, and that the whole convent was in danger of falling on top of them. Agnes met the new problem with poise. She had many friends in Montepulciano by this time, and they rallied to rebuild the house.

    When the convent was once again completed, and had become, as hoped, a dynamo of prayer and penance, Agnes decided to go to Rome on pilgrimage. It is interesting to note that Second Order convents of the 14th century were so flexible in the matter of enclosure. She made the trip to Rome and visited the shrines of the martyrs. The pope was at Avignon, so she did not have the happiness of talking to him. But she returned to Montepulciano full of happiness for having seen the holy places of Rome.

    At the age of 49, Agnes's health began to fail rapidly. She was taken for treatment to the baths at Chianciano--accompanied, as it says in the rule, by 'two or three sisters'--but the baths did her no good. She did perform a miracle while there, restoring to life a child who had fallen into the baths and drowned.

    Agnes returned to Montepulciano to die in the night. When she knew she was dying after a long and painful illness, Agnes told her grieving nuns that they should rejoice, for, she said, "You will discover that I have not abandoned you. You will possess me for ever." The children of the city wakened and cried out, "Holy Sister Agnes is dead!" She was buried in Montepulciano, where her tomb soon became a place of pilgrimage.

    One of the most famous pilgrims to visit her tomb was Saint Catherine of Siena, who went to venerate the saint and also, probably, to visit her niece, Eugenia, who was a nun in the convent there. As she bent over the body of Saint Agnes to kiss the foot, she was amazed to see Agnes raise her foot so that Catherine did not have to stoop so far!

    In 1435, her incorrupt body was translated to the Dominican church at Orvieto, where it remains today. Clement VIII approved her office for the use of the order of St. Dominic, and inserted her name in the Roman Martyrology (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth, Walsh).

Many stories grew up around Agnes.

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Her birth was announced by flying lights surrounding her family's house.

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As a child, while walking through a field, she was attacked by a large murder of crows; she announced that they were devils, trying to keep her away from the land; years later, it was the site of her convent.

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She was known to levitate up to two feet in the air while praying.

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She received Communion from an angel, and had visions of the Virgin Mary.

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She held the infant Jesus in one of these visions; when she woke from her trance she found she was holding the small gold crucifix the Christ child had worn.

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On the day she was chosen abbess as a teenager, small white crosses showered softly onto her and the congregation.

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She could feed the convent with a handful of bread, once she'd prayed over it.

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Where she knelt to pray, violets, lilies and roses would suddenly bloom.

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While being treated for her terminal illness, she brought a drowned child back from the dead.

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At the site of her treatment, a spring welled up that did not help her health, but healed many other people.

 

Born:1268 at Gracchiano-Vecchio, Tuscany, Italy

Died: at Montepulciano, Tuscany, on April 20, 1317. Legend says that at the moment of her death, all the babies in the region, no matter how young, began to speak of Agnes, her piety, and her passing; miracles reported at her tomb; body incorrupt; relics translated to the Dominican church at Orvieto in 1435

Beatified: 1534

Canonized:1726 by Pope Benedict XIII

Representation: In art, Saint Agnes is a Dominican abbess (white habit, black mantle) with a lamb, lily, and book. She might also be portrayed (1) gazing at the Cross, a lily at her feet, (2) with the Virgin and Child appearing to her; (3) with the sick healed at her tomb (Roeder); (4) with Saint Catherine of Siena; or (5) as patroness of Montepulciano, of which she holds a model in her hand. Tiepolo presents Agnes as one of the saints surrounding the Blessed Virgin in the Jesuit church at Venice, Italy (Farmer). She is venerated at Montepulciano (Roeder).

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers

Agnes is called today to the nuptials of the Lamb (P.T., Alleluia.): and is seated in delight with her spouse (P.T., Alleluia.)

V. Pray for us Blessed Agnes (P.T., Alleluia.)

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. (P.T., Alleluia.)

 

Lauds:

Ant. Agnes is admitted to the celestial court, the Church gives a new Saint to heaven. To Him seated on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor and benediction. (P.T., Alleluia.)

V. Virgins shall be led to the King after her. (P.T., Alleluia.)

R. Her companions shall be presented to Thee. (P.T., Alleluia.)

 

Second Vespers

Ant. Hail, most excellent Virgin, singular glory of the Order: hail illustrious Virgin, wondrous star of the firmament, assist with thy virtues.  (P.T., Alleluia.)

V. Pray for us Blessed Agnes (P.T., Alleluia.)

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. (P.T., Alleluia.)

 

Prayers

Let us Pray: O God, who was pleased often to shed a heavenly dew over Thy Virgin, Blessed Agnes, and to deck the places of her prayer with divers fresh-blown flowers, mercifully grant that we, through her prayers, may be sprinkled with the unfailing dew of Thy blessing and made fit to receive the fruits of heavenly immortality. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

Blessed Bartholomew Cerveri, M.O.P.

Memorial Day: April 22nd

 

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    Carrying on the glorious tradition of death in the cause of truth. Blessed Bartholomew of Cerveri was the fourth Dominican inquisitor to win his crown in Piedmont, in the stronghold of thee Catharists, who had taken the lives of Peter of Verona, Peter of Ruffia, and Anthony of Pavonio.

   

    Bartholomew was born at Savigliano, in 1420 , and, even in his early years, displayed precocious solemnity and piety. He entered the Order in the convent of his native town, and progressed rapidly in his studies. on May 8th , 1452, he distinguished he himself by obtaining the licentiate, the doctorate and master's degree from the capital university of Turin; the only time in the history of the university that anyone had acquired three degrees in one day.

   

    Bartholomew taught for a year at the university, and then he was made prior of the convent at Savigilano. In his short apostolate of 12 years, he converted many heretics and worked steadfastly to eradicate heresy. He was appointed inquisitor in Piedmont, which made it clear to him that a martyr's death was marked out for him. Being a Dominican in Lombardy was a dangerous business, at best; too be appointed inquisitor meant the heretics were given a target for their hatred.

  

     In many ways the murder of Bartholomew and his companions repeats the martyrdom of Peter of Verona. Bartholomew knew beforehand that he was to die, and he made a general confession before starting out on his last trip. He remarked to his confessor, "They will call me , Bartholomew of Cerverio, though I have never set foot there. Today I go there as a inquisitor and there I must die." On the road entering Cerverio, he and his party were attacked by five heretics. His companions were wounded, but escaped. Bartholomew died, riddled with dagger wounds, before they could get help.

 

    Some people of Savigliano saw a bright light in the sky over Cerverio and surmised what had happened. They went out and brought home the relics, marveling back, despite all the wounds, the martyr had not bled. Laying him down in the church of the Dominicans, they saw his wounds bleed, and the hastily rescued the blood for relics. He was buried n a Dominican Church of Savigliano, and , later, when the church was ruined by revolution, the relics were moved to the parish church.

   

    A chapel was built at the sight of the martyrdom and richly decorated with narrative frescoes. Processions were made there several times a year by the people of Savigliano and Cerverio, invoking Bartholomew against thunder and hail especially. At The same place a fig tree was honored for many years for its connection with Capital Blessed Bartholomew; it was supposed to have sprung up at the time of the martyrdom, at the very place the martyr fell.

 

Born: 1420

Died: Martyred in 1466

Beatified: Pope Pius IX beatified Bartholomew of Cerverio in 1853

   

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers

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

V. Pray for us Blessed Bartholomew

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

 

Lauds:

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

V. A Crown of gold is on his head,.

R. Signed with the sign of sanctity.

 

Second Vespers

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

V. Pray for us, Blessed Bartholomew.

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

 

Prayer

Let us Pray: O God, who didst make Blessed Bartholomew a glorious defender of the faith, and didst raise him to the crown of martyrdom, grant, through his merits and intercession that we may ever bear the cross and deserve to be partakers with him in Thy glory,. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Pascal Times

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant.  Come, O daughters of Jerusalem, and behold a Martyr with a crown wherewith the Lord crowned him on the day of solemnity and rejoicing, alleluia, alleluia

V. Pray for us, Blessed Bartholomew alleluia

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

 

Lauds:

Ant. Perpetual light will shine upon Thy Saints, O lord, alleluia, and an eternity of ages, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

V. A crown of gold is on his head, alleluia.

R. Signed with the sign of sanctity, alleluia

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. In the city of the Lord the music of the Saints incessantly resounds: there the angels and archangels sing a canticle before the throne of God, alleluia.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Bartholomew, alleluia

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

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst make Blessed Bartholomew a glorious defender of the faith, and didst raise him to the crown of martyrdom, grant, through his merits and intercession, that we may ever bear the cross and deserve to be partakers with him in Thy glory. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Gregory & Blessed Dominic, CC.O.P

Memorial Day: April 26th

 

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    Very little is known about these two Dominican preachers. Their legend tells us that they evangelized the mountainous Somontano region of Moorish Spain near Barbastro, Aragon. One day they were caught in a storm as they traveled from one village to another. The storm loosed the rocks of the cave in which they had sought shelter and they were buried in a landslide. The bells of Perar˙a rang out of their own accord, indicating that something remarkable was afoot, and villagers, who ventured out after the storm, found the cave surrounded by lights and angelic music. Digging into the rubble, they found the two Dominicans crushed to death. Miracles surrounded their burials and their tombs at Besians in the diocese of Barbastro, where pilgrims came to pray, especially against the danger from storms. Formerly on Rogation days, and in times of drought, their relics were carried in procession (Benedictines, Dorcy).

 

Born: 11th Century

Died: Martyred about 1300

Beatified: Pius IX approved their cult in 1854

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant.  Come, O daughters of Jerusalem, and behold a Martyr with a crown wherewith the Lord crowned him on the day of solemnity and rejoicing, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

V. Pray for us, Blessed Dominic and Gregory alleluia

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

 

Lauds:

Ant. Perpetual light will shine upon Thy Saints, O lord, alleluia, and an eternity of ages, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

V. A crown of gold is on his head, alleluia.

R. Signed with the sign of sanctity, alleluia

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. In the city of the Lord the music of the Saints incessantly resounds: there the angels and archangels sing a canticle before the throne of God, alleluia.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Dominic and Gregory, alleluia

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

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, whose mercies are without number, we humbly beseech Thee, that through the intercession of Blesseds Dominic and Gregory, Thy Confessors, we may be relieved of the burden of our sins and attain the glory with they now enjoy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Hosanna of Catharo, V.O.P.

Memorial Day: April 27th

 

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    Catherine Kosic (Cosie) was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church. As a young girl, when tending her family's sheep; thus, left alone for long periods of time, she developed a habit of contemplative prayer. One day while watching the flocks, she saw a pretty child lying asleep on the grass. Attracted by its beauty, she went to pick up the baby, but it disappeared, leaving Catherine with a feeling of great loneliness.

    She told her mother about the incident but received little understanding; her mother told her that God didn't appear to such poor people, and that the Christ Child was simply a figment of her imagination. After several more apparitions of which she wisely said nothing, Catherine developed a desire to visit Cattaro because there were several churches there in which she felt that she could pray better. Her mother thought this urge was unreasonable, but she finally arranged for Catherine to go to Cattaro as a servant of a wealthy woman. Her mother gave little thought to the fact that the woman was a pious Catholic, but the girl rejoiced in her good luck. At the age of 12, Catherine settled down as a servant to the kindly woman who made no objection to the fact that Catherine's errands invariably led her past the church, where she would stop for a visit.

    After a few years of the pleasant life, Catherine consulted her spiritual director about becoming a recluse. He thought her too young, but she continued to insist. After much prayer and discussion, they decided that she should follow the life of a hermit. In the Middle Ages, it was common for every church or place of pilgrimage to have one or more cells in which solitaries dwelt in prayer and penance. Such a cell was built near the Saint Bartholomew's in Cattaro. It had a window through which the anchorite could hear Mass and another tiny window to which people would come occasionally to ask for prayers or to give food. Catherine was conducted to her cell in solemn ceremony, and, after making promises of stability, the door was sealed.

    In response to a vision, she was later transferred to a cell at the Church of St. Paul, where she followed the rule of the tertiaries of Saint Dominic for 52 years. Upon becoming a Dominican, she chose the name Osanna, in honor of Blessed Osanna of Mantua, a Dominican tertiary who had died in 1505. The life of an anchorite is barren of comforts and replete with penances. Even without the spiritual punishments that she endured, it was a rugged life. Osanna wore the coarsest of clothes, ate almost nothing, and endured the heat and cold and misery of enclosure in a small space for half a century. Her tiny cell, however, was often bright with heavenly visitors. Our Lord appeared to her many times, usually in the form of the beautiful baby she had seen while tending her flocks. Our Lady visited, too, with several of the saints, as well as demons who attempted to distract her from prayer. Once the devil appeared to her in the form of the Blessed Virgin and told her to modify her penances. By obedience to her confessor, she managed to penetrate this clever disguise and vanquish her enemy.

    Although she lived alone, there was nothing selfish about Osanna's spirituality. A group of her Dominican sisters, who considered her their leader, consulted her frequently and sought her prayers. A convent of sisters founded at Cattaro regarded her as their foundress, because of her prayers, although she never saw the place. When the city was attacked by the Turks, the people ran to her for help, and they credited their deliverance to her prayers. Another time, her prayers saved them from the plague (Benedictines, Dorcy).

Born: 1493 at Kumano, Montenegro as Catherine Cosie

Died: 1565 of natural causes

Beatified: 1928 (cultus confirmed); 1934 (beautified)

 

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. This is a wise Virgin whom the Lord found watching, who took her lamp and oil, and when the Lord came she entered with Him into the marriage feast.

V. Pray for us Blessed Hosanna.

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

 

Lauds:

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

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

R. Her companions shall be presented to Thee.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. She has girded her loins with courage and hath strengthened her arm; therefore shall her lamp not be put out forever.

V. Pray for us Blessed Hosanna.

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

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: Renew in our hearts, O Lord, the love of Thy Cross: that by the intercession and example of Blessed Hosanna, Thy penitential Virgin, we may become partakers in the Passion of Christ and His glory. Through our Lord. Amen.

Saint Lewis Mary Grignon De Montfort, C.O.P.

Feast Day: April 28th

 

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    Louis' parents were poor, hard-working people who raised eight children, the oldest of whom was Louis. In the normal course of events, Louis would have learned a trade and helped to educate his siblings, but early in his life his mother recognized that he was destined for the priesthood. At the pleading of her and his teacher, he was allowed to begin his studies. Some charitable people provided the funds for his education.

    As a very young child, Louis had organized Rosary societies, preached sermons, told stories of the saints, and led the Rosary with groups of neighborhood children. He was particularly devoted to Our Lady, and he took her name in confirmation. As a student with the Jesuits at Rennes, he continued his devotions; he joined the sodality, and became an exemplary member. When he had completed his studies, he left for Paris in 1693 to begin his studies for the priesthood. He walked the 130 miles in the rain, sleeping in haystacks and under bridges, and, on arriving in Paris, he entered a poverty-stricken seminary in which the students had scarcely enough to eat, which caused him serious illness. On the verge of ordination, his funds were withdrawn by his benefactor, and it looked as though Louis would have to return home. He was taken in by a kindly priest, however.

    Louis was ordained in 1700, and, after saying his first Mass in the Lady Chapel of Saint Sulpice, he was sent as chaplain to a hospital in Poitiers where mismanagement and quarreling were a tradition. He endeared himself to the patients, and he angered the managers of the hospital when he reorganized the staff. Consequently, he was sent away, but not before he had laid the foundation of what was later to be a religious congregation of women known as the Institute of the Daughters of Divine Wisdom at Poitiers, to nurse the sick poor and conduct free schools.

    This rebuff was not the first Louis had to suffer; in the seminary, his superiors had exhausted themselves in trying his patience-- making him seem to be a fool. All his life he was to meet the same stubborn opposition to everything he tried to do. Many of the clergy, even some of the bishops, were infected with Jansenism, and they fought him secretly and openly. In his work giving missions, his moving from one place to another was occasioned as often by the persecution of his enemies as it was by the need of his apostolate. Going to Rome, he begged Pope Clement XI to be sent on the foreign missions, but he was refused and sent back to Brittany, France, as missionary apostolic. He returned in his usual spirit of buoyant obedience, even though he knew that several bishops had already forbidden him to set foot in their dioceses.

    For the rest of his life, Louis gave flamboyant missions in country parishes, some of which had been without the care of a priest for generations. Ruined churches were repaired, marriages rectified, children baptized and instructed, and Catholicity rebuilt. He joined the third order of Dominicans, and everywhere he went, he established the Rosary devotion. People who came to his missions out of curiosity, remained, and his preaching did much to renew religion in France.

    His enemies were as busy as he was, however. They gave false reports to the bishops, drove him from place to place, and, in one case, succeeded in poisoning him. The poison was not fatal, and it had an unforeseen result. While he recuperated from its evil effects, he wrote True devotion to the Blessed Virgin, which he himself prophesied would be hidden away by the malice of men and the devil. After nearly 200 years, the manuscript was rescued from its hiding place, and, only a few years ago, it was given the publicity that it deserved.

    In 1715, Louis founded a second religious congregation to train helpers in his forceful methods of preaching called the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Dorcy, Encyclopedia).

Born: January 13, 1673 at Montfort-La-Cane, Brittany, France

Died: 1716 at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sovre, France

Canonized:  1947 by Pope Pius XII

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant.  Come, O daughters of Jerusalem, and behold a Martyr with a crown wherewith the Lord crowned him on the day of solemnity and rejoicing, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

V. Pray for us, Blessed Louis Mary alleluia

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

 

Lauds:

Ant. Perpetual light will shine upon Thy Saints, O lord, alleluia, and an eternity of ages, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

V. A crown of gold is on his head, alleluia.

R. Signed with the sign of sanctity, alleluia

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. In the city of the Lord the music of the Saints incessantly resounds: there the angels and archangels sing a canticle before the throne of God, alleluia.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Louis Mary, alleluia

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

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst make Blessed Louis Mary, Thy confessor, an illustrious preacher of the mystery of the cross and of the Most Holy Rosary, and dist through him enrich the Church with a new family, grant through his merits and intercession that by the life, death and resurrection of Thine only-begotten Son, we may obtain the rewards of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Murder of St. Peter the Martyr by Domenichino.

Saint Peter of Verona, M.O.P

Feast Day: April 29th

 

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    Saint Peter's parents belonged to the heretical sect of the Cathari, theological descendants of the Manichees. Miraculously, he became Catholic, regardless of his heresy believing parents. Because of his Catholic convictions, he was ridiculed for his faith throughout his youth, it was preserved in purity and he became a Dominican. His father sent him to a Catholic school for a good early education, thinking that the heretical environment at home would keep Peter from being "deceived" by the teachings of the Catholic Church.

    Nevertheless, one of the first things Peter learned there was the Apostle's Creed, which the Cathari abhorred. Making conversation on day, his uncle asked him his lesson. The boy recited the creed and explained it in the Catholic sense, especially in those words: Creator of heaven and earth. In vain his uncle tried to persuade him it was false. He said that it was not God, but the evil principle that made all things that are visible; the Cathari viewed the physical world as ugly and bad, which is inconsistent with the concept of an infinitely perfect being. The boy's resolute steadiness concerned his uncle, but his father laughed at his brother's fears believing that the world would influence  his son into his beliefs.

    When he was 15, Peter was sent to the University of Bologna, a hotbed of licentiousness. There he met Saint Dominic, and instantly threw himself at the saint's feet to beg admission to the Order of Friar Preachers. Peter was present at the death of the founder soon after, and shared in the primitive zeal and courage of the sons of a saint.

    While still a student, Peter experienced a severe trial. He was publicly reprimanded and punished because a brother, passing Peter's cell late at night, thought he had heard women's voices in his room. The voices were those of angels, who frequently visited the saint: but in his humility, he thought it better to accept the punishment and say nothing about the favors God had granted him. He was sent to the remote little Dominican convent of Jesi, in the marquisate of Ancona, to do penance, and his ordination was delayed.

    Peter found great strength in prayer. Nevertheless, he was human and felt the sting of the disgrace. One day he complained to the Lord: "Lord, You know that I am innocent of this: Why do you allow them to believe it?" A sorrowful voice replied from the crucifix: "And I, Peter, what have I done that they should do this to Me?" Peter complained no more. The truth was eventually discovered, and Peter resumed his studies and was ordained to the priesthood.

    Peter soon became a celebrated preacher throughout northern and central Italy, and, in 1232, an inquisitor to fight against the heresy that had infected his family and others in Lombardy. Many miracles (filling 22 pages in folio in the Acta Sanctorum) were worked through his prayers, to the rage of the heretics. Crowds nearly pressed him to death many times: some to ask his blessing, others to offer the sick to him to be cured, others to receive his holy instructions.

    In one city, a prominent man had been won to heresy, because the devil, taking the form of the Blessed Virgin, appeared at the heretics' meetings and encouraged him to join them. Peter, determined to win the man back to the truth, went to the meeting and, when the devil appeared in his disguise, held up a small pox in which he had placed a consecrated Host. "If you are the Mother of God," cried Peter, "adore your Son!" The devil fled in dismay and many were converted.

    Among other miracles, he predicted that he would be murdered by heretics, who indeed waylaid him on the road between Como and Milan. Peter went to his death singing the Easter Sequence, and fell unprotesting beneath the blows of his assassins. Carino cut his head with an ax, and then his companion Dominic stabbed him. As Peter rose to his knees and commended himself to God, Carino killed him with a blow of his axe to Peter's side. One of his murderers, "Blessed" Carino, was touched by grace at the sight of a saint, was converted, and eventually became a Dominican at Forli. To him as to us, Peter had pointed out the way to heaven when he traced on the dust of the road, in his own blood, the creed that had lighted his path: "Credo in unum Deum."

    Peter's body was ceremoniously buried in the Dominicans' church dedicated to St. Eustorgius, in Milan, where he still rests. His head is kept separately in a crystal and gold case. So many miracles were worked at his shrine that many of the Cathari asked to be admitted to the Catholic Church (Benedictines, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).

Born: Verona, Italy, 1206

Died: Martyred April 6, 1252

Canonized: canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1253--a single year after his death.

Patronage: Peter is the patron of midwives and inquisitors and venerated in Verona (Roeder).

Representation: In art, Saint Peter is a Dominican with a gash or knife in his head. Occasionally, the knife is in his shoulder. Sometimes he is portrayed (1) with his finger on his lips; (2) writing credo in unum deum in the dust as he dies; (3) stabbed in the forest with his companion; or (4) with the Virgin and four female saints appearing to him (Roeder).

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The fire miracle of Saint Peter Martyr by Antonio Vivarini.

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. O Peter, illustrious Martyr and glory of the Preachers, graced  with virginity and endowed with eloquence, miraculous powers and grace, according us the favor of thy loving clemency, after our passage through the world bring us to eternal delights, alleluia.

V. Pray for us , Blessed Peter, alleluia.

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

 

Lauds:

Ant. Endowed with perfect purity, brilliant with the grace of knowledge, illustrious for the victory of martyrdom , Peter shines with the glory of a triple crown, alleluia.

V. A crown of gold is on his head, alleluia.

R. Signed with the sign of sanctity, alleluia.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. O illustrious Martyr, teacher of truth, vessel of purity, model of sanctity, bestow upon us through thy intercession pardon of sins and life in glory with the blessed, alleluia.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Peter, alleluia.

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

 

Prayers:

Let us Pray: Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we may imitate with befitting devotion the faith of blessed peter, Thy Martyr, who for the spreading of that faith was made worthy to obtain the palm of martyrdom. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Readings

 

Here silent is Christ's Herald;
Here quenched, the People's Light;
Here lies the martyred Champion
Who fought Faith's holy fight.

The Voice the sheep heard gladly,
The light they loved to see
He fell beneath the weapons
Of graceless Cathari.

The Savior crowns His Soldier;
His praise the people psalm.
The Faith he kept adorns him
With martyr's fadeless palm.

His praise new marvels utter,
New light he spreads abroad
And now the whole wide city
Knows well the path to God.

-Saint Thomas of Aquinas in eulogy of Saint Peter

 

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Saint Catherine of Siena, V.O.P.

Feast Day: April 30th

 

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    She was the youngest but one of a very large family. Her father, Giacomo di Benincasa, was a dyer; her mother, Lapa, the daughter of a local poet. They belonged to the lower middle-class faction of tradesmen and petty notaries, known as "the Party of the Twelve", which between one revolution and another ruled the Republic of Siena from 1355 to 1368. From her earliest childhood Catherine began to see visions and to practice extreme austerities. At the age of seven she consecrated her virginity to Christ; in her sixteenth year she took the habit of the Dominican Tertiaries, and renewed the life of the anchorites of the desert in a little room in her father's house. After three years of celestial visitations and familiar conversation with Christ, she underwent the mystical experience known as the "spiritual espousals", probably during the carnival of 1366. She now rejoined her family, began to tend the sick, especially those afflicted with the most repulsive diseases, to serve the poor, and to labor for the conversion of sinners. Though always suffering terrible physical pain, living for long intervals on practically no food save the Blessed Sacrament, she was ever radiantly happy and full of practical wisdom no less than the highest spiritual insight. All her contemporaries bear witness to her extraordinary personal charm, which prevailed over the continual persecution to which she was subjected even by the friars of her own order and by her sisters in religion. She began to gather disciples round her, both men and women, who formed a wonderful spiritual fellowship, united to her by the bonds of mystical love. During the summer of 1370 she received a series of special manifestations of Divine mysteries, which culminated in a prolonged trance, a kind of mystical death, in which she had a vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, and heard a Divine command to leave her cell and enter the public life of the world. She began to dispatch letters to men and women in every condition of life, entered into correspondence with the princes and republics of Italy, was consulted by the papal legates about the affairs of the Church, and set herself to heal the wounds of her native land by staying the fury of civil war and the ravages of faction. She implored the pope, Gregory XI, to leave Avignon, to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States, and ardently threw herself into his design for a crusade, in the hopes of uniting the powers of Christendom against the infidels, and restoring peace to Italy by delivering her from the wandering companies of mercenary soldiers. While at Pisa, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, 1375, she received the Stigmata, although, at her special prayer, the marks did not appear outwardly in her body while she lived.

    Mainly through the misgovernment of the papal officials, war broke out between Florence and the Holy See, and almost the whole of the Papal States rose in insurrection. Catherine had already been sent on a mission from the pope to secure the neutrality of Pisa and Lucca. In June, 1376, she went to Avignon as ambassador of the Florentines, to make their peace; but, either through the bad faith of the republic or through a misunderstanding caused by the frequent changes in its government, she was unsuccessful. Nevertheless she made such a profound impression upon the mind of the pope, that, in spite of the opposition of the French king and almost the whole of the Sacred College, he returned to Rome (17 January, 1377). Catherine spent the greater part of 1377 in effecting a wonderful spiritual revival in the country districts subject to the Republic of Siena, and it was at this time that she miraculously learned to write, though she still seems to have chiefly relied upon her secretaries for her correspondence. Early in 1378 she was sent by Pope Gregory to Florence, to make a fresh effort for peace. Unfortunately, through the factious conduct of her Florentine associates, she became involved in the internal politics of the city, and during a popular tumult (22 June) an attempt was made upon her life. She was bitterly disappointed at her escape, declaring that her sins had deprived her of the red rose of martyrdom. Nevertheless, during the disastrous revolution known as "the tumult of the Ciompi", she still remained at Florence or in its territory until, at the beginning of August, news reached the city that peace had been signed between the republic and the new pope. Catherine then instantly returned to Siena, where she passed a few months of comparative quiet, dictating her "Dialogue", the book of her meditations and revelations.

    In the meanwhile the Great Schism had broken out in the Church. From the outset Catherine enthusiastically adhered to the Roman claimant, Urban VI, who in November, 1378, summoned her to Rome. In the Eternal City she spent what remained of her life, working strenuously for the reformation of the Church, serving the destitute and afflicted, and dispatching eloquent letters in behalf of Urban to high and low in all directions. Her strength was rapidly being consumed; she besought her Divine Bridegroom to let her bear the punishment for all the sins of the world, and to receive the sacrifice of her body for the unity and renovation of the Church; at last it seemed to her that the Bark of Peter was laid upon her shoulders, and that it was crushing her to death with its weight. After a prolonged and mysterious agony of three months, endured by her with supreme exultation and delight, from Sexagesima Sunday until the Sunday before the Ascension, she died. Her last political work, accomplished practically from her death-bed, was the reconciliation of Pope Urban VI with the Roman Republic (1380).

    Among Catherine's principal followers were Fra Raimondo delle Vigne, of Capua (d. 1399), her confessor and biographer, afterwards General of the Dominicans, and Stefano di Corrado Maconi (d. 1424), who had been one of her secretaries, and became Prior General of the Carthusians. Raimondo's book, the "Legend", was finished in 1395. A second life of her, the "Supplement", was written a few years later by another of her associates, Fra Tomaso Caffarini (d. 1434), who also composed the "Minor Legend", which was translated into Italian by Stefano Maconi. Between 1411 and 1413 the depositions of the surviving witnesses of her life and work were collected at Venice, to form the famous "Process". Catherine was canonized by Pius II in 1461. The emblems by which she is known in Christian art are the lily and book, the crown of thorns, or sometimes a heart--referring to the legend of her having changed hearts with Christ. Her principal feast is on the 30th of April, but it is popularly celebrated in Siena on the Sunday following. The feast of her Espousals is kept on the Thursday of the carnival.

    The works of St. Catherine of Siena rank among the classics of the Italian language, written in the beautiful Tuscan vernacular of the fourteenth century. Notwithstanding the existence of many excellent manuscripts, the printed editions present the text in a frequently mutilated and most unsatisfactory condition. Her writings consist of

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the "Dialogue", or "Treatise on Divine Providence";

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a collection of nearly four hundred letters; and

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a series of "Prayers".

    The "Dialogue" especially, which treats of the whole spiritual life of man in the form of a series of colloquies between the Eternal Father and the human soul (represented by Catherine herself), is the mystical counterpart in prose of Dante's "Divina Commedia".

    A smaller work in the dialogue form, the "Treatise on Consummate Perfection", is also ascribed to her, but is probably spurious. It is impossible in a few words to give an adequate conception of the manifold character and contents of the "Letters", which are the most complete expression of Catherine's many-sided personality. While those addressed to popes and sovereigns, rulers of republics and leaders of armies, are documents of priceless value to students of history, many of those written to private citizens, men and women in the cloister or in the world, are as fresh and illuminating, as wise and practical in their advice and guidance for the devout Catholic today as they were for those who sought her counsel while she lived. Others, again, lead the reader to mystical heights of contemplation, a rarefied atmosphere of sanctity in which only the few privileged spirits can hope to dwell. The key-note to Catherine's teaching is that man, whether in the cloister or in the world, must ever abide in the cell of self-knowledge, which is the stable in which the traveler through time to eternity must be born again.

Born: March 25, 1347 at Siena, Tuscany, Italy

Died: April 29, 1380 of a mysterious and painful illness that came on without notice, and was never properly diagnosed

Canonized: July 1461 by Pope Pius II

Representation: cross; crown of thorns; heart; lily; ring; stigmata

Patronage: against fire, bodily ills, diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA, Europe, fire prevention, firefighters, illness, Italy, miscarriages, nurses, nursing services, people ridiculed for their piety, sexual temptation, sick people, sickness, Siena Italy, temptations

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. This day is sacred to the honor of the Virgin Catherine, that the excellence of such great sanctity may never fade from the memory of men, but may be ever held by all in highest esteem, alleluia.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Catherine, alleluia.

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

 

Lauds:

Ant. Of the highest excellence is Catherine, the Virgin of Siena, who was able to restore health to the infirm and life to the dead, alleluia.

V. Virgins shall be led tot he King after her, alleluia.

R. Her companions shall be presented to Thee alleluia.

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. O most glorious Virgin, whose festival the whole world celebrates this day, whom the angels praise and the others heavenly citizens admire , obtain from God that our minds may be always submissive to the divine commands, and that we may advance in virtue and in all goodness, alleluia.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Catherine, alleluia.

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

 

Prayers:

Let us Pray: O God, who didst enable Blessed Catherine, graced with a special privilege of virginity and patience to overcome the assaults of evil spirits, and to stand unshaken in the love of Thy holy name, grant, we beseech Thee, that after her example treading under foot the wickedness of the world and overcoming the wiles of all enemies, we may safely pass onward to Thy glory. Through Christ our lord. Amen.

Octave of Saint Catherine of Siena

Lauds:

Ant. may Catherine, the Virgin blessed, give us the enjoyment of the true light of Christ and unite us to the heavenly choirs, alleluia.

V. Virgins shall be led to the King after her, alleluia.

R. Her companions shall be presented to Thee, alleluia.

 

Or, on feasts of other Virgins:

 

V. God will aid her by His countenance, alleluia.

R. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved, alleluia.

 

Vespers:

Ant. May the Virgin Catherine, cherishing us by her merits, lead us to the throne of the heavenly kingdom, alleluia.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Catherine, alleluia.

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

 

Novena Prayer to Saint Catherine of Siena

O marvelous wonder of the Church, seraphic virgin, Saint Catharine, because of your extraordinary virtue and the immense good which you accomplished for the Church and society, you are acclaimed and blessed by all people. Oh, turn your benign countenance to me who, confident of your powerful patronage, calls upon you with all the ardor of affection and begs you to obtain, by your prayer, the favors I so ardently desire.

You, who were a victim of charity, who in order to benefits your neighbor obtained from God the most stupendous miracles and became the joy and the hope of all, you cannot help but hear the prayers of those who fly into your heart - that heart which you received from the Divine Redeemer in a celestial ecstasy.

Yes, O seraphic virgin, demonstrate once again proof of you power and of your flaming charity, so that your name will be ever more blessed and exalted; grant that we, having experienced your most efficacious intercession here on earth, may come one day to thank you in heaven and enjoy eternal happiness with you. Amen.

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Pope Saint Pius V, C.P.

(also known as Michael Ghislieri)

Feast Day: May 5th

 

    People who know nothing else about Pius V are quite apt to remember him as the Pope of the Rosary, recalling his remarkable connection with the Battle of Lepanto.

    Antonio Michael was born into the distinguished but impoverished Ghisleri. His parents could not afford to educate their alert little boy, who seemed far too talented to be a shepherd. One day, as he was minding his father's small flock, two Dominicans came along the road and fell into conversation with him. Recognizing immediately that he was both virtuous and intelligent, they obtained permission from his parents to take the child with them and educate him. He left home at age 12 and did not return until his ordination many years later.

    After a preliminary course of studies, he received the Dominican habit at the priory of Voghera at age 14 and, as a novice, was sent to Lombardy. Here, for the first time, he met the well-organized forces of heresy which he was to combat so successfully in later years.

    After his ordination in 1528, he went home to say his first Mass, and he found that Bosco had been razed by the French. There was nothing left to tell him if his parents were alive or dead. He finally found them, however, in a nearby town. After he said Mass, he returned to a career that would keep him far from home for the rest of his life. He began as a lector in theology and philosophy for 16 years.

    Then he served as novice-master, than as prior of several convents, Michael proved to be a wise and charitable administrator. He was made inquisitor at Como, Italy, where many of his religious brethren had died as martyrs to the heretics. By the time of Michael's appointment there, the heretics' chief weapon was the printed word; they smuggled books in from Switzerland, causing untold harm by spreading them in northern Italy. The new inquisitor set himself to fight this wicked traffic, and it was not the fault of the heretics that he did not follow his brethren to martyrdom. They ambushed him several times and laid a number of complicated plots to kill him, but only succeeded in making him determined to explain the situation more fully to the pope in Rome.

    He arrived in Rome on Christmas Eve, tired, cold, and hungry, and here it was not the heretics that caused him pain, but his own brothers in Christ. The prior of Santa Sabina saw fit to be sarcastic and inhospitable to the unimportant looking friar, who said he was from Lombardy. The pope knew very well who he was, however, and immediately gave him the commission of working with the heretics in the Roman prisons.

    He was a true father to these unfortunates, and he brought many of them back to the faith. One of his most appealing converts was a young Franciscan, a converted Jew of a wealthy family, who had lapsed into heresy through pride in his writing. Michael proceeded to straighten out his thinking, to give him the Dominican habit, and to assure him of his personal patronage, thus securing for the Church a splendid Scripture scholar and writer.

    In 1556, Michael was chosen bishop of Nepi and Sutri. The next year he was named inquisitor general against the Protestants in Italy and Spain and was appointed cardinal, in order, as he said, that irons should be riveted to his feet to prevent him from creeping back into the peace of the cloister. In 1559, Pope Pius IV made him bishop of the war-depleted Piedmont see of Mondovi, to which he soon brought order. Insofar as possible, Michael continued to adhere to the Dominican Rule.

    He constantly opposed nepotism. Michael opposed Pius IV's attempt to make 13-year-old Ferdinand de'Medici a cardinal, and defeated the attempt of Emperor Maximilian II of Germany to abolish clerical celibacy.

    January 7, 1565, when the papal chair was vacant following the death of Pius IV, the cardinals, chiefly through the influence of Saint Charles Borromeo, elected Cardinal Ghislieri pope. With great grief, he accepted the office and chose the name Pius V. Charles Borromeo had backed Michael during the election, trusting that he would act as a much-needed reformer.

    His judgment proved true: on Pius's coronation, the money usually distributed to the crowds was given to the hospitals and the poor, and money for a banquet for the cardinals and other dignitaries was given to poor convents. When someone criticized this, he observed that God would judge us more on our charity to the poor than on our good manners to the rich. Such an attitude was bound to make enemies in high places, but it endeared him to the poor, and it gave right-thinking men the hope that here was a man of integrity, and one who could help to reform the clergy and make a firm stand against the Lutheran heresy.

    There were massive problems of immediate urgency during the brief reign of Pius V. From within, the peace of the Church was disturbed by the several heresies of Luther, Calvin, and the Lombards, and by the need for clerical reform. In addition, England was tottering on the brink of a break with Rome. The Netherlands were trying to break away from Spain and had embraced Protestantism. The missions across the sea needed attention. And all through the Mediterranean countries, the Turkish were ravaging Christian cities, creeping closer to world conquest. In the six years of his reign, Pope Pius V had to deal with all these questions--any one of which was enough to occupy his entire time.

    One of Pius's first actions was to demand that bishops should live in their dioceses and parish priests in their parishes. His efforts at regulating his see embraced issues ranging from the abolition of bullfighting, bear-baiting and prostitution, to cleaning out the Roman curia and eliminating nepotism, to cutting down the activities of bandits. He insisted that Sunday must be hallowed. Once a month he held a special court for anyone who felt they had been treated unjustly. He also brought in shipments of corn during a famine at his own expense.

    In his personal life he continued to be a devout mendicant friar; as pope he set himself to enforce the decrees of the Council of Trent with energy and effect. The catechism ordered by the Council of Trent was completed during his rule (1566), and he ordered translations made. The breviary reformed (1568) and missal (1570). He also commissioned the best edition to date of the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas; it was he who made Thomas a Doctor of the Church in 1567.

    His was a rigorous character; he made full use of the Inquisition and his methods of combating Protestantism were ruthless. Pius had hoped to convert Queen Elizabeth of England. The unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots enjoyed his sympathy and encouragement. He sent reassuring letters to her, and once, at a time when no priest was allowed to go near her, he granted her special permission to receive Holy Communion by sending her a tiny pyx that contained consecrated Hosts. It was he who finally had to pronounce excommunication on Elizabeth of England in 1570, after he had given her every possible chance of repentance.

  Pope Pius V had a high estimate of papal power in secular matters. When he excommunicated Elizabeth I, he absolved her subjects of the allegiance to her as queen. Some would say that this served only to endanger the Catholics in her realm, but essentially the attempt to save the souls of his flock was the prominent concern, however, many were accused of treason and martyred. That he also came into conflict with Philip II of Spain shows with what consistency he applied his principles.

    He encouraged the new society founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola and established the Jesuits in the Gregorian University. He consecrated three Jesuit bishops for India, gave Saint Francis Borgia his greatest cooperation, and helped to finance missionaries to China and Japan. He built the church of Our Lady of the Angels for the Franciscans and helped Saint Philip Neri in his establishment of the Oratory. Probably the act for which he will be longest remembered in his leadership at the time of the Battle of Lepanto.

    In 1565, the Knights of Saint John defended Malta against a tremendous attack by the Turkish fleet and lost nearly every fighting man in the fortress. It was the pope who sent encouragement and money with which to rebuild their battered city. The pope called for a crusade among the Christian nations and appointed a leader who would be acceptable to all. He ordered the Forty Hours Devotion to be held in Rome, and he encouraged all to say the Rosary.

    When the Christian fleet sailed out to meet the enemy, every man on board had received the sacraments, and all were saying the Rosary. The fleet was small, and numerically it was no match for the Turkish fleet, which so far had never met defeat. They met in the Bay of Lepanto on Sunday morning, October 7, 1565. After a day of bitter fighting, and, on the part of the Christians, miraculous help, the Turkish fleet--what was left of it--fled in disgrace, broken and defeated, its power crushed forever.

    Before the victorious fleet returned to Rome, the pope had knowledge of the victory through miraculous means. He proclaimed a period of thanksgiving; he placed the invocation, "Mary, Help of Christians" in the Litany of Loreto and established the feast in commemoration of the victory. It was almost the last act of his momentous career for he fell victim to a painful illness that killed him in less than a year. He was attempting to form an alliance of the Italian cities, France, Poland, and other Christian nations of Europe to march against the Turks when he died. He is enshrined at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

    Although he was criticized for 'wanting to turn Rome into a monastery,' Saint Pius had the respect of the Roman people, who knew his personal goodness and concern for everybody's welfare. He gave large sums to the poor, lived a life of austerity and piety, and personally visited the sick in hospitals. Pius V is remembered as one of the most important popes of the Counter-Reformation (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Dorcy, White).

 

     Born: in Bosco (near Alessandria), Italy, on January 17, 1504

     Died: May 1, 1572

     Papal Ascension: elected January 7, 1566; crowned January 17, 1566

     Beatified: May 1, 1672 by Pope Clement X

     Canonized: On May 22, 1712, Pope Clement XI enrolled him in the catalogue of the Saints

     Representation: In art, he is shown reciting a rosary; or with a fleet in the distance; or with the feet of a crucifix   withdrawn as he tried to kiss them (White).

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant.  By pious deeds he merited the name of Pius, and from henceforth, all generations shall call him blessed, alleluia.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Pius, alleluia.

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

 

Lauds:

Ant. Pius, admirable pastor, mindful of thy flock intercede for the interest of the faithful before the Supreme Judge, alleluia.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily, alleluia.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord, alleluia

 

Second Vespers:

Ant. He that exalteth the humble, hath exalted Pius and placed him in the apostolic see, alleluia.

V. Pray for us blessed Pius, alleluia.

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

 

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God who, to crush the enemies of Thy Church and to restore divine worship, didst deign to elect Blessed Pius to the office of Supreme Pontiff, grant that we may be defended by his watchful guardianship, and be so attentive to Thy service that , overcoming, the wiles of all enemies, we may enjoy eternal peace. through Christ our Lord. Amen.