Pope Adrian VI

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Pope Adrian VI

The last pontefice barbaro (Guicciardini, XIV, v), and the only pope of modern times, except Marcellus II, who retained his baptismal name; succeeded Pope Leo X, from 9 January, 1522, to 14 September, 1523. He was born of humble parentage in Utrecht, 2 March, 1459. He lost his pious father, Florentius Dedel, at an early age, and was kept at school by the fortitude of his widowed mother, first at home, later at Zwolle with the Brothers of the Common Life, finally at the University of Louvain. After a thorough course in philosophy, theology, and jurisprudence he was created Doctor of Divinity in 1491. Margaret of Burgundy defrayed the expenses of the poor student. His popularity as professor of theology in Louvain is shown to have been deserved by his two chief works, Quaestiones quodlibeticae (1521), and his Commentarius in Lib. IV Sententiarum Petri Lombardi (1512), which was published without his knowledge from notes of students, and saw many editions. As dean of the collegiate church of St. Peter in Louvain, and vice-chancellor of the university, he laboured to advance the arts and sciences, sacred and profane, and gave universal edification by a life of singular piety and severe asceticism. In 1506, he was, happily for the Church, selected by the Emperor Maximilian as tutor to his grandson, the future Charles V, then in his sixth year. Whatever accomplishments Charles possessed, beyond the art of war, he owed to the efforts of Adrian; most precious of all, his unalterable attachment to the Faith of his fathers.  Continue reading

St. Julian and St. Basilissa

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St. Julian and St. Basilissa, Martyrs

ACCORDING to their acts, and the ancient Martyrologies, though engaged in a married state, they by mutual consent lived in perpetual chastity, sanctified themselves by the most perfect exercises of an ascetic life, and employed their revenues in relieving the poor and the sick; for this purpose they converted their house into a kind of hospital, in which, if we may credit their acts, they sometimes entertained a thousand indigent persons: Basilissa attend those of her sex, in separate lodgings from the men, of whom Julian took care, who from his charity is surnamed the Hospitalarian. Egypt, where they lived, had then begun to abound with examples of persons, who, either in cities or in deserts, devoted themselves to the most perfect exercises of charity, penance, and contemplation. Basilissa, after having stood severe persecutions, died in peace; Julian survived her many years, and received the crown of a glorious martyrdom, together with Celsus a youth, Antony a priest, Anastatius, and Marcianilla the mother of Celsus. They seem to have suffered in the reign of Maximin II. in 313, on the 6th of January; for, in the most ancient lectionary used in the church of Paris, under the first race of the French kings, quoted by Chatelain, 1 and several ancient calendars, their festival is marked on that day, or on the eve. On account of the concurrence of the Epiphany, it was deferred in different churches to the 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 27, 28, or 29th, of January; 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, 24, or 27th of February; 20, 21, or 22nd of June; or 31st of August.  Continue reading

Pope Innocent III

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Pope Innocent III

(Lotario de’ Conti)

One of the greatest popes of the Middle Ages, son of Count Trasimund of Segni and nephew of Clement III, born 1160 or 1161 at Anagni, and died 16 June, 1216, at Perugia.

He received his early education at Rome, studied theology at Paris, jurisprudence at Bologna, and became a learned theologian and one of the greatest jurists of his time. Shortly after the death of Alexander III (30 Aug., 1181) Lotario returned to Rome and held various ecclesiastical offices during the short reigns of Lucius III, Urban III, Gregory VIII, and Clement III. Pope Gregory VIII ordained him subdeacon, and Clement III created him Cardinal-Deacon of St. George in Velabro and Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, in 1190. Later he became Cardinal-Priest of St. Pudentiana. During the pontificate of Celestine III (1191-1198), a member of the House of the Orsini, enemies of the counts of Segni, he lived in retirement, probably at Anagni, devoting himself chiefly to meditation and literary pursuits. Celestine III died 8 January, 1198. Previous to his death he had urged the College of Cardinals to elect Giovanni di Colonna as his successor; but Lotario de’ Conti was elected pope, at Rome, on the very day on which Celestine III died. He accepted the tiara with reluctance and took the name of Innocent III. At the time of his accession to the papacy he was only thirty-seven years of age. The imperial throne had become vacant by the death of Henry VI in 1197, and no successor had as yet been elected. The tactful and energetic pope made good use of the opportunity offered him by this vacancy for the restoration of the papal power in Rome and in the States of the Church. The Prefect of Rome, who reigned over the city as the emperor’s representative, and the senator who stood for the communal rights and privileges of Rome, swore allegiance to Innocent. When he had thus re-established the papal authority in Rome, he availed himself of every opportunity to put in practice his grand concept of the papacy. Italy was tired of being ruled by a host of German adventurers, and the pope experienced little difficulty in extending his political power over the peninsula. First he sent two cardinal legates to Markwuld to demand the restoration of the Romagna and the March of Ancona to the Church. Upon his evasive answer he was excommunicated by the legates and driven away by the papal troops. In like manner the Duchy of Spoleto and the Districts of Assisi and Sora were wrested from the German knight, Conrad von Uerslingen. The league which had been formed among the cities of Tuscany was ratified by the pope after it acknowledged him as suzerain. Continue reading

St. Gudula

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St. Gudula, Virgin, Patroness of Brussels

[Called in Brabant Goule, or Ergoule, in Flemish Sinte-R-Goelen] ST. AMALBERGE, mother of this saint, was niece to Pepin mayor of the palace. Gudula was educated at Nivelle, under the care of St. Gertrude, her cousin and god-mother; after whose death, in 664, she returned to the house of count Witger, her father, and having by vow consecrated her virginity to God, led there a most austere holy life, in watching, fasting, and prayer. By her profuse alms, in which she bestowed her whole revenue on the poor, she was truly the mother of all the distressed; though her father’s castle was two miles from the church of our Saviour at Morzelle, she went thither early every morning, with a maid to carry a lantern before her; and the wax taper being once put out, is said to have miraculously lighted again at her prayers, whence she is usually represented in pictures with a lantern. She died on the 8th of January, not in 670, as Miræus says, but in 712, and was buried at Ham, near Villevord. In the reign of Charlemagne, her body was removed to the church of our Saviour at Morzelle, and placed behind the high altar; this emperor, out of veneration for her memory, often resorted thither to pray, and founded there a nunnery, which soon after changed its name of St. Saviour for that of St. Goule: this house was destroyed in the irruptions of the Normans. The relics of St. Gudula, by the care of Charles, duke of Lorrain, (in which Brabant was then comprised,) were translated to Brussels, in 978, where they were first deposited in the church of St. Gery, but in 1047, removed into the great collegiate church of St. Michael, since called from her St. Gudula’s. See her life wrote by Hubert of Brabant, in the eleventh century, soon after this translation of her relics to St. Michael’s, who assures us, that he took the whole relation from an ancient life of this saint, having only changed the order and style. 1

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