Blessed Antonio Lucci, Bishop

jul27.1Blessed Antonio studied with and was a friend of Saint Francesco Antonio Fasani, who after Antonio Lucci’s death, testified at the diocesan hearings regarding the holiness of Lucci.

Born in Agnone in southern Italy, a city famous for manufacturing bells and copper crafts, he was given the name Angelo at baptism. He attended the local school run by the Conventual Franciscans and joined them at the age of 16. Antonio completed his studies for the priesthood in Assisi, where he was ordained in 1705. Further studies led to a doctorate in theology and appointments as a teacher in Agnone, Ravello, and Naples. He also served as guardian in Naples.

Elected minister provincial in 1718, the following year he was appointed professor at St. Bonaventure College in Rome, a position he held until Pope Benedict XIII chose Antonio as bishop of Bovino in 1729. The pope explained, “I have chosen as bishop of Bovino an eminent theologian and a great saint.”

His 23 years as bishop were marked by visits to local parishes and a renewal of gospel living among the people of his diocese. He dedicated his episcopal income to works of education and charity. At the urging of the Conventual minister general, Bishop Lucci wrote a major book about the saints and blesseds in the first 200 years of the Conventual Franciscans.

Antonio Lucci was beatified in 1989, three years after his friend Francesco Antonio Fasani was canonized. His Liturgical Feast Day is July 25.

REFLECTION

As Pope Paul VI wrote in 1975, people today “are more impressed by witnesses than by teachers, and if they listen to these it is because they also bear witness” (Evangelization in the Modern World, #41).

PRAYER

Almighty ever-living God, who chose blessed Antonio Lucci to preside as Bishop over your holy people, we pray that, by his merits, you may bestow on us the grace of your loving kindness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

From: https://www.franciscanmedia.org

 

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Saint Henry, King

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Saint Henry, pray for us!

Saint Henry, surnamed the Pious, Duke of Bavaria, became successively King of Germany and Emperor of the Romans; but not satisfied with a mere temporal principality, he strove to gain an immortal crown, by paying zealous service to the eternal King. As emperor, he devoted himself earnestly to spreading religion, and rebuilt with great magnificence the churches which had been destroyed by the infidels, endowing them generously both with money and lands. He built monasteries and other pious establishments, and increased the income of others; the bishopric of Bamberg, which he had founded out of his family possessions, he made tributary to St. Peter and the Roman Pontiff. When Benedict VIII, who had crowned him emperor, was obliged to seek safety in flight, Henry received him and restored him to his see.

Once when he was suffering from a severe illness in the monastery of Monte Cassino, St. Benedict cured him by a wonderful miracle. He endowed the Roman Church with a most copious grant, undertook in her defense a war against the Greeks, and gained possession of Apulia, which they had held for some time. It was his custom to undertake nothing without prayer, and at times he saw the angel of the Lord, or the holy martyrs, his patrons, fighting for him at the head of his army. Aided thus by the divine protection, he overcame barbarous nations more by prayer than by arms. Hungary was still pagan; but Henry having given his sister in marriage to its King Stephen, the latter was baptized, and thus the whole nation was brought to the faith of Christ. He set the rare example of preserving virginity in the married state, and at his death restored his wife, St. Cunigund, a virgin to her family.

He arranged everything relating to the glory or advantage of his empire with the greatest prudence, and left scattered throughout Gaul, Italy, and Germany, traces of his munificence towards religion. The sweet odor of his heroic virtue spread far and wide, till he was more celebrated for his holiness than for his imperial dignity. At length his life’s work was accomplished, and he was called by our Lord to the rewards of the heavenly kingdom, in the year of salvation 1024. His body was buried in the church of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul at Bamberg. God wished to glorify His servant, and many miracles were worked at his tomb. These being afterwards proved and certified, Eugenius III inscribed his name upon the catalogue of the saints.

REFLECTION

All in all, this saint was a man of his times. From our standpoint, he may have been too quick to do battle and too ready to use power to accomplish reforms. But granted such limitations, he shows that holiness is possible in a busy secular life. It is in doing our job that we become saints.

PRAYER

O God, whose abundant grace prepared Saint Henry to be raised by you in a wonderful way from the cares of earthly rule to heavenly realms, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that amid the uncertainties of this world we may hasten towards you with minds made pure. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz, Martyr

SOD-0707-BlessedEmmanuelRuizandCompanions-790x480Not much is known of the early life of Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz, but details of his heroic death in defense of the faith have come down to us.

Born of humble parents in Santander, Spain, he became a Franciscan priest and served as a missionary in Damascus. This was at a time when anti-Christian riots shook Syria and thousands lost their lives in just a short time.

Among these were Blessed Emmanuel, superior of the Franciscan convent, seven other friars, and three laymen. When a menacing crowd came looking for the men, they refused to renounce their faith and become Muslims. The men were subjected to horrible tortures before their martyrdom.

Blessed Emmanuel, his brother Franciscans and the three Maronite laymen were beatified in 1926 by Pope Pius XI.

Reflection

The Church in Syria has known persecution throughout its history. Yet it has produced saints whose blood was shed for the faith. Let us pray for the Church in Syria.

Prayer

Almighty God,
by whose grace and power your holy martyr Emmauel Ruiz triumphed over suffering and was faithful unto death: strengthen us with your grace, that we may endure reproach and persecution and faithfully bear witness to the name of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

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Saint Romuald, Abbot

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Saint Romuald, pray for us!

St. Romuald, the founder of the Camaldolese Order, could not decide for a considerable time whether to serve God in a religious life or to remain in the world. After his father killed a relative in a duel at which Romuald was forced to be present, he went to the monastery of St. Apollinaris, near Ravenna, and did penance for forty days. Later, he entered this same monastery as a monk. Then he became a follower of the hermit Marinus in Venice. In the course of time he founded an order of hermits which received its name after the most famous of his foundations, Camalduli in Tuscany.

Romuald’s was one of the strictest orders for men in the West (a branch of the Benedictine Order). Members live isolated in small huts, observing strict silence and perpetual fasting, constantly praying or engaged in manual labor. Our saint enjoyed the grace of bringing sinners, particularly those of rank and power, back to God. When he died, he was a little over seventy years; he had never used a bed, had always sought out ways of practicing severe penances. 15 years later his pupil, the holy doctor of the Church, St. Peter Damian, wrote his biography.

“His greatness lies in the rigorous and austere character of his interpretation of monastic life-an approach that was quite singular and unique. In the deepest recesses of his being, Romuald was an ascetic, a monk; not perhaps, a monk of that serene peace and self-possession exemplified by St. Benedict in his life and described by him in his Rule. Nor was Romuald an organizer who through prudent legislation enabled his spirit to flourish and affect great numbers. He reminds us of the stolid figures inhabiting the Eastern deserts, men who by most rigorous mortification and severest self-inflicted penances gave a wanton world a living example of recollection and contemplation. Their very lives constituted the most powerful sermon. It is in company with men like these that St. Romuald continues to live.”

Romuald was not at all a fluent reader. Whenever he made another of his many mistakes, Marinus, his teacher, beat him on his left cheek. Finally it became too much for Romuald. “But, dear master,” he said modestly, “hit me on the right cheek in the future. My left ear is almost deaf.” The master was surprised at such patience and thereafter acted more considerately.

The saint loved to say, “Better to pray one psalm with devotion and compunction than a hundred with distraction.”

When the holy man felt his end was near, he retired to the monastery at Val di Castro. After so many journeys he was eager to begin his final pilgrimage to an eternal resting place. Before the reform of the Calendar in 1969 his feast was celebrated on February 7, the anniversary of the translation of his relics in 1481. His feast is now June 19, the day he died in 1027. In the Calendar reform the Church has tried to move the feasts of the saints to their “birthday” — referring to the day on which the saint died and celebrated his/her birth into heaven.

Reflection

Christ is a gentle leader, but he calls us to total holiness. Now and then, men and women are raised up to challenge us by the absoluteness of their dedication, the vigor of their spirit, the depth of their conversion. The fact that we cannot duplicate their lives does not change the call to us to be totally open to God in our own particular circumstances.

Prayer

O God, who through Saint Romuald renewed the manner of life of hermits in your Church, grant that, denying ourselves and following Christ, we may merit to reach the heavenly realms on high. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

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Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, Virgin and Foundress

95291DC7-BA4F-4703-AFFE-4D76E3171161The legacy of Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat can be found in the more than 100 schools operated by her Society of the Sacred Heart, institutions known for the quality of the education made available to the young.

Sophie herself received an extensive education, thanks to her brother Louis, 11 years older and her godfather at baptism. Himself a seminarian, Louis decided that his younger sister would likewise learn Latin, Greek, history, physics and mathematics—always without interruption and with a minimum of companionship. By age 15, she had received a thorough exposure to the Bible, the teachings of the Fathers of the Church and theology. Despite the oppressive regime Louis imposed, young Sophie thrived and developed a genuine love of learning.

Meanwhile, this was the time of the French Revolution and of the suppression of Christian schools. The education of the young, particularly young girls, was in a troubled state. Sophie, who had discerned a call to the religious life, was persuaded to become a teacher. She founded the Society of the Sacred Heart, which focused on schools for the poor as well as boarding schools for young women of means. Today, co-ed Sacred Heart schools also can be found, along with schools exclusively for boys.

In 1826, her Society of the Sacred Heart received formal papal approval. By then she had served as superior at a number of convents. In 1865, she was stricken with paralysis; she died that year on the feast of the Ascension.

Madeleine Sophie Barat was canonized in 1925.

Reflection

Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat lived in turbulent times. She was only 10 when the Reign of Terror began. In the wake of the French Revolution, rich and poor both suffered before some semblance of normality returned to France. Born to some degree of privilege, Sophie received a good education. It grieved her that the same opportunity was being denied to other young girls, and she devoted herself to educating them, whether poor or well-to-do. We who live in an affluent country can follow her example by helping to ensure to others the blessings we have enjoyed

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Saint Mark, Evangelist

 

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Saint Mark, pray for us!

Saint Mark lived at the time of Jesus. Although he was not one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, he was a cousin of St. Barnabas, an apostle. Mark is called an evangelist because he wrote one of the four Gospels. Mark’s Gospel is short, but it gives many little details that are not in the other Gospels.

 

While still young, Mark went with the two great saints, Paul and Barnabas, as missionaries to bring the teachings of Jesus to Cyprus and other new lands. Before the journey was over, though, Mark had an argument with St. Paul and immediately returned to Jerusalem. Paul and Mark later made peace with each other. In fact, Paul wrote from prison in Rome that Mark came to cheer and help him.

Mark also became a beloved disciple and was like a son to St. Peter, the first pope. St. Mark was made a bishop and sent to Alexandria, Egypt. There many people who heard him preach became Christians. He worked hard to spread love for Jesus and his Church and founded the first famous Christian school in Alexandria.

He went through long and painful sufferings before he died a martyr for his faith. St. Mark’s relics were brought to Venice, Italy. He is the patron saint of that famous city. People go to the beautiful basilica of St. Mark to honor him and to pray to him.

Reflection: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)

O God, who raised up Saint Mark, your Evangelist, and endowed him with the grace to preach the Gospel, grant, we pray, that we may so profit from his teaching as to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Saint George

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Saint George, pray for us!

It is uncertain when Saint George was born and historians continue to debate to this day. However, his death date is estimated to be April 23 303 A.D.

The first piece of evidence of George’s existance appeared within the works of the Bollandists Daniel Papebroch, Jean Bolland, and Godfrey Henschen’s Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca. George was one of several names listed in the historical text, and Pope Gelasius claimed George was one of the saints “whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose actions are known only to God.”

George was born to a Gerontios and Polychronia, a Roman officer and a Greek native of Lydda. Both were Christians from noble families of the Anici and George, Georgios in the original Greek, was raised to follow their faith.

When George was old enough, he was welcomed into Diocletian’s army. by his late 20’s, George became a Tribunus and served as an imperial guard for the Emperor at Nicomedia.

On February 24, 303 A.D., Diocletian, who hated Christians, announced that every Christian the army passed would be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice to the Roman gods.

George refused to abide by the order and told Diocletian, who was angry but greatly valued his friendship with George’s father.

When George announced his beliefs before his peers, Diocletian was unable to keep the news to himself.

In an effort to save George, Diocletian attempted to convert him to believe in the Roman gods, offered him land, money and slaves in exchange for offering a sacrifice to the Roman gods, and made several other offers that George refused.

Finally, after exhausting all other options, Diocletian ordered George’s execution. In preparation for his death, George gave his money to the poor and was sent for several torture sessions. He was lacerated on a wheel of swords and required resuscitation three times, but still George did not turn from God.

On April 23, 303 A.D., George was decapitated before Nicomedia’s outer wall. His body was sent to Lydda for burial, and other Christians went to honor George as a martyr.

Saint George and the Dragon

There are several stories about George fighting dragons, but in the Western version, a dragon or crocodile made its nest at a spring that provided water to Silene, believed to be modern-day Lcyrene in Libya.

The people were unable to collect water and so attempted to remove the dragon from its nest on several ocassions. It would temporarily leave its nest when they offered it a sheep each day, until the sheep disappeared and the people were distraught.

This was when they decided that a maiden would be just as effective as sending a sheep. The townspeople chose the victim by drawing straws. This continued until one day the princess’ straw was drawn.

The monarch begged for her to be spared but the people would not have it. She was offered to the dragon, but before she could be devoured, George appeared. He faced the dragon, protected himself with the sign of the Cross, and slayed the dragon.

After saving the town, the citizens abandoned their paganism and were all converted to Christianity.

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