Pope St. Nicholas I

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Pope St. Nicholas I

Born at Rome, date unknown; died 13 November, 867.

One of the great popes of the Middle Ages, who exerted decisive influence upon the historical development of the papacy and its position among the Christian nations of Western Europe.

He was of a distinguished family, being the son of the Defensor Theodore, and received an excellent training. Already distinguished for his piety, benevolence, ability, knowledge, and eloquence, he entered, at an early age, the service of the Church, was made subdeacon by Pope Sergius II (844-47), and deacon by Leo IV (847-55). After Benedict’s death (7 April, 858) the Emperor Louis II, who was in the neighbourhood of Rome, came into the city to exert his influence upon the election. On 24 April Nicholas was elected pope, and on the same day was consecrated and enthroned in St. Peter’s in the presence of the emperor. Three days after, he gave a farewell banquet to the emperor, and afterward, accompanied by the Roman nobility, visited him in his camp before the city, on which occasion the emperor came to meet the pope and led his horse for some distance. Continue reading

St. Didacus

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St. Didacus, Confessor
from the Liturgical Year, 1901

A Humble lay-brother, Didacus of St. Nicholas, is welcomed today by his father St. Francis into the company of Bernardine of Siena and John Capistran, who preceded him by a few years to heaven. The two latter left Italy and the whole of Europe still echoing with their voices, the one making peace between cities in the name of the Lord Jesus, the other urging on the Christian hosts to battle with the victorious Crescent. The age which they contributed so powerfully to save from the results of the great schism and to restore to its Christian destinies, knew little of Didacus but his unbounded charity. It was the year of the great Jubilee, 1450. Rome having become once more, practically as well as theoretically, the holy city in the eyes of the nations, not even the most terrible scourges could keep her children at a distance. From every quarter of the globe, crowds, urged by the evils of the time, flocked to the sources of salvation ; and Satan’s work of ruin was retarded by seventy years. Continue reading

St. Stanislaus Kostka

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St. Stanislaus Kostka, Confessor

St. Stanislaus Kostka, who, when still very young, was raised by the Almighty to great holiness, was a native of Poland, and the son of illustrious parents. Before he was born, his mother saw the holy name of Jesus upon her breast, which she regarded as a sign of the future sanctity of her unborn child. Stanislaus lived in the house of his parents until his fourteenth year, and was so innocent and pious, that all who knew him called him “Angel.” This name he deserved particularly on account of his angelic purity. All that was in the least against this virtue caused him such disgust and horror, that he sank fainting to the floor, if any one, at his father’s table, uttered an unchaste word. This happened not only once or twice, but so often, that his father would say, whenever any one made an offensive remark: “Let us change the conversation, or Stanislaus will presently kiss the floor.” He never manifested any pleasure in luxurious garments, in society, or in pastimes and amusements; his only enjoyment was prayer and study.  Continue reading