Gothic War: Byzantine Count Belisarius Retakes Rome

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Gothic War: Byzantine Count Belisarius Retakes Rome

On December 9, 536 AD, Byzantine Count Belisarius entered Rome through the Asinarian Gate at the head of 5,000 troops. At the same time, 4,000 Ostrogoths left the city through the Flaminian Gate and headed north to Ravenna, the capital of their Italian kingdom. For the first time since 476, when the Germanic king, Odoacer, had deposed the last Western Roman emperor and crowned himself ‘King of the Romans,’ the city of Rome was once more part of the Roman empire–albeit an empire whose capital had shifted east to Constantinople.

Belisarius had taken the city back as part of Emperor Justinian’s grand plan to recover the western provinces from their barbarian rulers. The plan was ambitious, but it was meant to be carried out with an almost ridiculously small expeditionary force. The 5,000 soldiers that General Belisarius led included Hunnish and Moorish auxiliaries, and they were expected to defend circuit walls 12 miles in diameter against an enemy who would soon be back–and who would outnumber them at least 10-to-1. Continue reading

Jacques Marquette, S.J.

Jacques Marquette, S.J.

Jesuit missionary and discoverer of the Mississippi River, b. in 1636, at Laon, a town in north central France; d. near Ludington, Michigan, 19 May, 1675. He came of an ancient family distinguished for its civic and military services. At the age of seventeen he entered the Society of Jesus, and after twelve years of study and teaching in the Jesuit colleges of France was sent by his superiors (1666) to labour upon the Indian missions in Canada. Arriving at Quebec he was at once signed to Three Rivers on the Saint Lawrence, where he assisted Druillettes and, as preliminary to further work, devoted himself to the study of the Huron language. Such was his talent as a linguist that he learned to converse fluently in six different dialects. Recalled to Quebec in the spring of 1668 he repaired at once to Montreal, where he awaited the flotilla which was to bear him to his first mission in the west. After labouring for eighteen months with Father Dablon at Sault Ste. Marie (the Soo) he was given the more difficult task of instructing the tribes at the mission of the Holy Ghost at La Pointe, on the south-western shore of Lake Superior, near the present city of Ashland. Here we meet for the first time the account of the work of Marquette as told by himself and his first reference to the great river with which his name will be forever associated (Jesuit Relations, LII., 206).  Continue reading

St. Leocadia

St. Leocadia, Virgin and Martyr

A.D. 304.

THE NAME of St. Leocadia is highly reverenced in Spain. This holy virgin was a native of Toledo, and was apprehended by an order of Dacian, the cruel governor under Dioclesian, in 304. Her constancy was tried by torments, and she died in prison. For, hearing of the martyrdom of St. Eulalia, she prayed that God would not prolong her exile, but unite herspeedily with her holy friend in his glory; in which prayer she happily expired in prison. Three famous churches in Toledo bear her name, and she is honoured as principal patroness of that city. In one of those churches most of the councils of Toledo were held; in the fourth of these she is honourably mentioned. Her relics were kept in that church with great respect, till, in the incursions of the Moors, they were conveyed to Oviedo, and some years afterwards to the abbey of St. Guislain, near Mons in Haynault. By the procurement of King Philip II. they were translated back to Toledo with great pomp, that king, his son Prince Philip, his daughter Elizabeth, and the empress Mary his sister, being present at their solemn reception in the great church there on the 26th of April, 1589. 1
St. Leocadia, being called to the trial, exerted all heroic Christian virtues, because she had made her whole life an apprenticeship of them, and their practice had been familiar to her. Some people say it was easy for Christians to be totally disengaged from the world, and to give themselves up to prayer and penance when they daily and hourly expected to be called upon to lay down their lives for Christ. But were we not blinded by the world, and if the enchantment of its follies, the near prospect of eternity, the uncertainty of the hour of our death, and the repeated precepts of Christ were equally the subjects of our meditation, these motives would produce in us the same fervent dispositions which they did in the primitive Christians. How much soever men now-a-days are strangers to these gospel truths, for want of giving themselves leisure to consider them, Christians are bound to be totally disentangled from worldly affections in order to unite their hearts closely to God, that they may receive the abundant graces and favours which He communicates to souls which open themselves to him. They are bound to renounce sensuality, and the disorders and vanities of the world, and to be animated with a spirit of meekness, peace, patience, charity, and affectionate good-will towards all men, zeal, piety, and devotion. They are bound to be prepared in the disposition of their hearts to leave all things, and to suffer all things for his love.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume XII: December.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

Saint Peter Fourier

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Saint Peter Fourier

Parish Priest of Mattaincourt,
Reformer of the Canons of Saint Augustine,
Founder of the Canonesses of Notre Dame

This priest of God was consecrated to Him before and at his birth by his pious parents, who destined their eldest son for the altars. His aptitude for study, his high stature and beauty added the gifts of nature to those of grace. The young man was noted in particular for his devotion to the Mother of God and his great modesty. It was a surprise to all when he chose to consecrate himself to God in a religious Order which at that time had degenerated from its original fervor, that of the Canons of Saint Augustine. He made application for entrance into the Abbey of Chaumouzey, founded in 1094, situated a short distance from his native village of Mirecourt in Lorraine. There he made the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in 1587, and was ordained a priest in February of 1589.

Before saying his first Mass he passed several months of retreat in the exercises of prayer, penance and tears. He was then sent to complete his theological studies at the university of Pont-au-Mousson, also in Lorraine. There Father Jean Fourier, a relative who was Rector of that University, directed him admirably. His progress in virtue and the sacred sciences placed him high in the opinion of the Cardinal of Lorraine and Bishop of Metz, who desired to have him in his diocese; he offered him a parish where his talents would bring him advancement. But the young priest, wishing to flee all honors, declined, to return to his Abbey. Continue reading