St. Chrodegang

Image may contain: indoor

St. Chrodegang, Bishop of Metz, Confessor

A.D. 766.

THIS saint, nobly born in Brabant, then called Hasbain, was educated in the abbey of St. Tron, and for his great learning and virtue was made referendary, chancellor of France, and prime minister, by Charles Martel, mayor of the French palace, in 737. He was always meanly clad from his youth; he macerated his body by fasting, watching, and hair-cloths, and allowed his senses no superfluous gratifications of any kind. His charity to all in distress seemed to know no bounds; he supported an incredible number of poor, and was the protector and father of orphans and widows. Soon after the death of Charles Martel, he was chosen bishop of Metz, in 742. Prince Pepin, the son and successor of Charles, uncle to our saint by his mother, Landrada, would not consent to his being ordained, but on the condition that he should still continue at the helm of the state. Chrodegang always retained the same sweetness, humility, recollection, and simplicity in his behaviour and dress. He constantly wore a rough hair-shirt under his clothes, spent great part of the night in watching, and usually at his devotions watered his cheeks with tears. Pope Stephen III. being oppressed by the Lombards, took refuge in France. Chrodegang went to conduct him over the Alps, and King Pepin was no sooner informed that he had passed these mountains in his way to France, but he sent Charles his eldest son, to accompany him to Pont-yon, in Champagne, where the king was to receive him. The pope being three miles distant from that city, the king came to meet him, and having joined him alighted from his horse, and prostrated himself, as did the queen, his children, and the lords of his court; and the king walked some time by the side of his horse to do him honour. The pope retired to the monastery of St. Denys; and King Pepin, in the year 754, sent St. Chrodegang on an embassy to Astulph, king of the Lombards, praying him out of respect to the holy apostles not to commit any hostilities against Rome, nor to oblige the Romans to superstitions contrary to their laws, and to restore the towns which he had taken from the holy see; but this embassy was without effect. The saint, in 755, converted the chapter of secular canons of his cathedral into a regular community, in which he was imitated by many other churches. He composed for his regular canons a rule, consisting of thirty-four articles. In the first he lays down humility for the foundation of all the rest. 1 He obliged the canons to confess at least twice a year to the bishop, before the beginning of Advent and Lent. 2 But these churches, even that of Metz, have again secularized themselves. The saint built and endowed the monasteries of St. Peter, that of Gorze, and a third in the diocess of Worms, called Lorsh or Laurisham. He died on the 6th of March, in 766, and was buried at Gorze, to which by his will, which is still extant, he demised several estates. He is named in the French, German, and Belgic Martyrologies. 1
The zeal of St. Chrodegang in restoring the primitive and apostolic spirit in the clergy, particularly their fervour and devotion in the ministry of the altar, is the best proof of his ardour to advance the divine honour. To pay to Almighty God the public homage of praise and love, in the name of the whole church, is a function truly angelical. Those, who by the divine appointment are honoured with this sublime charge resemble those glorious heavenly spirits who always assist before the throne of God. What ought to be the sanctity of their lives! how pure their affections, how perfectly disengaged from all inordinate attachments to creatures, particularly how free from the least filth of avarice, and every other vice! All Christians have a part in this heavenly function. 2

Note 1. Ch. 14.
Note 2. See the other regulations abridged in Fleury, &c. the entire rule published genuine in Le Cointe’s Annals, t. 5. and in the later editions of the councils.

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

SS. Perpetua and Felicitas

Image may contain: 1 person

SS. Perpetua and Felicitas, with Their Companions, Martyrs

A.D. 203.

A VIOLENT persecution being set on foot by the emperor Severus, in 202, it reached Africa the following year; when, by order of Minutius Timinianus, (or Firminianus) five catechumens were apprehended at Carthage for the faith: namely Revocatus and his fellow-slave Felicitas, Saturninus, Secundulus, and Viba Perpetua. Felicitas was seven months gone with child; and Perpetua had an infant at her breast, was of a good family, twenty-two years of age, and married to a person of quality in the city. She had a father, a mother, and two brothers; the third, Dinocrates, died about seven years old. These five martyrs were joined by Saturus, probably brother to Saturninus, and who seems to have been their instructor: he underwent a voluntary imprisonment, because he would not abandon them. The father of St. Perpetua, who was a pagan, and advanced in years, loved her more than all his other children. Her mother was probably a Christian, as was one of her brothers, the other a catechumen. The martyrs were for some days before their commitment kept under a strong guard in a private house: and the account Perpetua gives of their sufferings to the eve of their death, is as follows: “We were in the hands of our persecutors, when my father, out of the affection he bore me, made new efforts to shake my resolution. I said to him: ‘Can that vessel, which you see, change its name?’ He said: ‘No.’ I replied: ‘Nor can I call myself any other than I am, that is to say a Christian.’ At that word my father in a rage fell upon me, as if he would have pulled my eyes out, and beat me: but went away in confusion, seeing me invincible: after this we enjoyed a little repose, and in that interval received baptism. The Holy Ghost, on our coming out of the water, inspired me to pray for nothing but patience under corporal pains. A few days after this we were put into prison: I was shocked at the horror and darkness of the place 1 for till then I knew not what such sort of places were. 1 Continue reading

Saint Colette

Image may contain: 1 person

Saint Colette

Virgin, Reformer of the Poor Clares

After a holy childhood, Colette joined a society of devout women called the Beguines. Not finding their state sufficiently austere, she entered the Third Order of Saint Francis, and lived in a hut near her parish church of Corbie in Picardy. Here she had passed four years in extraordinary penance when Saint Francis, in a vision, bade her undertake the reform of her Order, then much relaxed. She doubted for a time and was struck with muteness for three days and blindness for another three. Finally, fortified by ecclesiastical authority, she established the reform throughout a large part of Europe, and, in spite of the most violent opposition, founded seventeen convents of the strict observance.

By the same wonderful prudence she helped to heal the great schism which then afflicted the Church. The Fathers in council at Constance were in doubt as to how to deal with the three claimants to the tiara — John XXIII, Benedict XIII, and Gregory XII. At this crisis Colette, together with Saint Vincent Ferrer, wrote to the Fathers to depose Benedict XIII, who alone refused his consent to a new election. This was done, and Martin V was elected, to the great good of the Church.

Colette also assisted the Council of Basle by her advice and prayers, and when God revealed to her the spirit of revolt which was rising there, she warned the bishops and legates to retire from the council.

Saint Colette never ceased to pray for the Church, while the devils, for their part, never ceased to assault her. They swarmed round her in the form of hideous insects, buzzing and stinging her tender skin. They brought into her cell the decaying corpses of public criminals, and assuming monstrous forms themselves, struck her savage blows. Or they would appear in the most seductive guise, and tempt her by many deceits to sin. Saint Colette once complained to Our Lord that the demons prevented her from praying. Cease, then, said the devil to her, your prayers to the great Master of the Church, and we will cease to torment you; for you torment us more by your prayers than we do you. Yet the virgin of Christ triumphed alike over their threats and their allurements, and said she would count the day during which she suffered nothing for her God, the unhappiest of her life. She died March 6, 1447, in a transport of intercession for sinners and the Church.

Reflection. One of the greatest tests of being a good Catholic is zeal for the Church and devotion to Christ’s Vicar.

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); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 3