St. Leander

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St. Leander, Bishop of Seville, Confessor

A.D. 596.

ST. LEANDER was of an illustrious family, and born at Carthagena in Spain. He had two brothers, St. Fulgentius, bishop of Ecija and Carthagena, and St. Isidore, our saint’s successor in the see of Seville. He had also one sister, Florentia by name, who had consecrated herself to God in the state of virginity. He set them an example of that piety which they faithfully imitated. He entered into a monastery very young, where he lived many years, and attained to an eminent degree of virtue and sacred learning. These qualities occasioned his being promoted to the see of Seville: but his change of condition made little or no alteration in his method of life, though it brought on him a great increase of care and solicitude for the salvation of those whom God had put under his care, as well as for the necessities of the whole church, that of Spain in particular. This kingdom was then possessed by the Visigoths, or Western-Goths; who, while Theodoric settled the Ostrogoths, or Eastern-Goths, in Italy, had passed the Alps, and founded their kingdom, first in Languedoc, and soon after, about the year 470, in Spain. These Goths, being for the generality all infected with Arianism, established this heresy wherever they came; so that when St. Leander was made bishop, it had reigned in Spain a hundred years. This was his great affliction: however, by his tears and prayers to God, and by his most zealous and unwearied endeavours both at home and abroad, he became the happy instrument of the conversion of that nation to the Catholic faith. But he suffered much from king Leovigild on this account, and was at length forced into banishment; the saint having converted, among others, Hermenegild, the king’s eldest son and heir apparent. 1 Continue reading

St. Porphyrius

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St. Porphyrius, Bishop of Gaza, Confessor

A.D. 420.

PORPHYRIUS, a native of Thessalonica in Macedonia, was of a noble and wealthy family. The desire of renouncing the world made him leave his friends and country at twenty-five years of age, in 378, to pass into Egypt, where he consecrated himself to God in a famous monastery in the desert of Sceté. After five years spent there in the penitential exercises of a monastic life, he went into Palestine to visit the holy places of Jerusalem. After this he took up his abode in a cave near the Jordan, where he passed other five years in great austerity, till he fell sick, when a complication of disorders obliged him to leave that place and return to Jerusalem. There he never failed daily to visit devoutly all the holy places, leaning on a staff, for he was too weak to stand upright. It happened about the same time that Mark, an Asiatic, and the author of his life, came to Jerusalem with the same intent, where he made some stay. He was much edified at the devotion with which Porphyrius continually visited the place of our Lord’s resurrection, and the other oratories. And seeing him one day labour with great pain in getting up the stairs in the chapel built by Constantine, he ran to him to offer him his assistance, which Porphyrius refused, saying: “It is not just that I who am come hither to beg pardon for my sins, should be eased by any one: rather let me undergo some labour and inconvenience, that God, beholding it, may have compassion on me.” He in this condition never omitted his usual visits of piety to the holy places, and daily partook of the mystical table, that is, of the holy sacrament. And as to his distemper, so much did he contemn it, that he seemed to be sick in another’s body and not in his own. His confidence in God always supported him. The only thing which afflicted him was, that his fortune had not been sold before this for the use of the poor. This he commissioned Mark to do for him, who accordingly set out for Thessalonica, and in three months’ time returned to Jerusalem with money and effects to the value of four thousand five hundred pieces of gold.  Continue reading

Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

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Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

Passionist
(1838-1862)

Saint Gabriel was born at Assisi in 1838. He was guided by Our Lady into the Passionist Order founded by Saint Paul of the Cross, and became a veritable Apostle of Her Sorrows. He was a very great and truly contemplative soul, whose only preoccupation was to unite himself to God at all times. He allowed no distractions to enter his spirit, and even though Italy, his country, was in a state of ferment when he entered religion, he wanted to know nothing of it.

The way to attain union with our Saviour and our God was, for Saint Gabriel, as for Saint Louis de Montfort, his Heavenly Mother. He wrote home to his father, from the first month of his noviciate, Believe your son, whose heart is speaking by his lips; no, I would not exchange one single quarter of an hour spent near the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, our consolatrix, our protectress and our hope, for a year or several years spent in the diversions and spectacles of the earth. Among his resolutions was that of visiting Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament each day, and praying for the gift of a tender and efficacious devotion to His Most Holy Mother. He wrote a beautiful Credo, worthy to be printed in letters of gold, expressing all that he believed of the Mother of God.

At twenty-four years of age Saint Gabriel died of tuberculosis, having already attained heroic sanctity by a life of self-denial and great devotion to our Lord’s Passion and the Compassion of His Mother.

Although his life was without any miraculous event, after his death in 1862 many miracles occurred at his tomb in Isola di Gran Sasso, Italy. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920, and his feast was extended to the entire church by Pope Pius XI in 1932. He is the patron of youth, and especially of young religious.

*On leap years, the feast day of this Saint is celebrated on February 28.

Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year, edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O. Cist., Ph.D. (Catholic Book Publishing Co.: New York, 1951-1955)

Saint Tarasius

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Saint Tarasius

Patriarch of Constantinople
(750-806)

Tarasius was born at Constantinople in the middle of the eighth century, of a noble family. His mother, Eucratia, brought him up in the practice of the most eminent virtues. By his talents and virtue he gained the esteem of all, and was raised to the greatest honors of the empire, made first a Consul and afterwards first Secretary of State to the Emperor Constantine IV and the Empress Irene, his mother. In the midst of the court and in its highest honors, he led a life like that of a religious.

Tarasius was chosen, by the unanimous consent of the court, clergy and people to succeed to the Patriarch of Constantinople. Saint Tarasius declared that he could not in conscience accept the government of a see which had been cut off from the Catholic communion — which had occurred through the fault of his predecessor, who afterwards recognized his error in approving a group of dissidents — except on condition that a general Council be convoked to settle the dispute concerning holy images, which was dividing the Church at that time. This being agreed to, he was solemnly declared Patriarch, and consecrated soon afterwards, on Christmas Day.

The Council was opened on the 1st of August, 786, in the Church of the Apostles at Constantinople; but, being disturbed by the violences of the Iconoclasts, it adjourned, to meet again the following year in the Church of Saint Sophia at Nicea. The Council declared the positive thought of the Church in relation to the matter under debate, which was whether or not holy pictures and images should be allowed a relative honor. Afterwards synodal letters were sent to all the churches, and in particular to the Pope, who approved the council.

The life of the holy Patriarch Tarasius was a model of perfection for his clergy and people. His table contained barely the necessaries of life; he allowed himself very little time for sleep, rising the first and retiring last in his spiritual family. Reading and prayer filled all his leisure hours.

After the Emperor repudiated his legitimate wife and, with the collaboration of a servile priest, married a servant whom he had crowned as Empress in her place, he used all his efforts to gain the Patriarch of Constantinople over to his desires. Saint Tarasius resolutely refused to countenance the iniquity, even when imprisoned by the irritated monarch. Soon afterwards, the emperor lost his empire and his life, having spurned the reproaches of Saint Tarasius. The holy man gave up his soul to God in peace after governing his church for twenty-two years in great purity of life, on the 25th of February, 806.

Reflection. The highest praise which Scripture pronounces on the holy man Job consists in these words, He was simple and upright.

*On leap years, the feast day of this Saint is celebrated on February 26.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 3; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894)

Saint Margaret of Cortona

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Saint Margaret of Cortona

Franciscan tertiary, penitent
(1247-1297)

It is not strange that the world feels drawn to the Augustines and Magdalenes of every age. The world knows its guilt and is ashamed. With the lives of such saints placed warmly and tactfully before us, it is impossible to abandon hope. From the tumbleweed of sin many saints have grown.

Margaret was born at Laviano, in Tuscany, Italy, about 1247, of poor farm people. Her mother died when she was only seven years old, and two years later her father married again. His new wife was a strong, masterful woman, who had little sympathy for her pleasure-loving stepdaughter. Margaret had always yearned for love and it was always denied her at home. It is not hard to understand, then, how the pretty young girl fell prey to the prospect of love and luxury offered her by a rich young cavalier (whose name she never divulged) from a neighboring village. She went away with him one night and lived with him as his mistress for the next nine years, during which time she gave birth to a son. During all those years Margaret remained faithful to her lover, even though she was an object of scorn to the townspeople, who regarded her as a depraved woman.

The sudden and brutal murder of her lover brought Margaret to the realization of God’s grace. Ashamed and horrified by her own behavior, she went immediately to her father’s house to beg forgiveness. Although he was willing to accept her, her stepmother for a second time turned Margaret away from the love she needed so badly.

She had heard of the Friars Minor (Franciscans) and of their reputation for gentleness and patience with sinners. By this time, utterly depressed, she traveled to Cortona, where she begged admittance into the Third Order as a penitent. For the first three years of her conversion she was guided in the spiritual life by Fra Giunta Bevegnati, her confessor. It is to him we are indebted for the story of her life.

Margaret began to earn her living by nursing the ladies of the city, but soon gave it up in order to devote herself to caring for the sick poor, depending on alms for her existence. She persuaded the leading citizen of Cortona to aid her in starting the hospital of Our Lady of Mercy, staffed by Franciscans tertiaries whom Margaret formed into a congregation called Poverelle. She also founded the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy, which was pledged to support the hospital and to search out and assist the poor. Her son was sent to school at Arezzo, and he later became a Franciscan friar.

As Margaret continued to advance in holiness, Christ became the dominating feature in her life. She was favored with visions in which Christ spoke to her and addressed her as the third light granted to the Order of my beloved Francis, that is, exceeded in glory only by Saint Francis and Saint Clare. Margaret was also favored with visions of her guardian angel.

The people of Cortona had observed the holiness of Margaret’s life, and they sought her payers in 1279, when Charles of Anjou, king of Sicily, threatened to invade Tuscany. After fervent prayer it was revealed to her that an armistice had been arranged and peace would follow.

Toward the latter part of her life our Lord said to her: Show now that thou art converted; cry out and call others to repentance. Margaret was obedient to the call and saw that she must lead a more active life. She carried on this new mission successfully, drawing many lapsed Catholics back to the Church, and she was called on many times to perform miraculous cures.

The day and hour of her death were revealed to her, and she died at the age of fifty in 1297. Her fame is mostly confined to Tuscany, where the people of Cortona refer to their patron as the lily of the valley.

The Catholic Press, The Lives of the Saints for every day of the year