Saint Louis Mary de Montfort

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Saint Louis Mary de Montfort

Missionary in France and Founder
(1673-1716)

One of the great Saints whose mission appears verified and on the increase as the years pass and as we find ourselves amid the latter times, Saint Louis Mary de Montfort can now be recognized as a prophet and an oracle of God for the sanctification of the Church which must resist the foretold evils of this period. Author of a Prophetic Prayer Requesting the Apostles of the Latter Times, he is also the ardent apostle of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin and the Saint of love for the Cross of the Lord, as we see from his Letter to the Friends of the Cross and his entire life of missionary activity.

Born at Montfort-la-Cane near Saint-Malo in 1673, he was the oldest of eight children. He studied with the Jesuits and at the age of nineteen went to Paris to enter the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice. His poverty was aided by the charity of benefactors, and after five years, during which he edified the Seminary, he was ordained a priest in 1700.

Destined to be the target of a siege of crosses, he began to experience the first ones when he went to Nantes to aid a good priest of that diocese and found a serious infestation of Jansenism there. He returned to Paris afterwards to assist one of his sisters to enter religion there, then went to Poitiers, where he became chaplain of a hospital for the poor. His zeal transformed the sick of that hospital into a community of saints; and there he established the kernel of his future Congregation of the Daughters of Wisdom. He found many other channels also open to his fervor.

Saint Louis Mary at a given moment desired to go as a missionary to New France, but the Holy Father Clement XI committed to him the vast mission of preaching in his own homeland under the bishops of France. He was commissioned to teach Christian doctrine to the children and the people, and reawaken the spirit of Christianity through the renewal of their baptismal vows. At Dinan he joined a group of missionaries and taught catechism, for which mission he had a special attraction. He could not neglect the poor, and organized a group of virtuous ladies there to take care of them.

He continued preaching in the west of France, placing before the eyes of all listeners the very source of our Redemption through the erection of large crucifixes and Calvaries. He became the target of calumny for the angry Jansenists against whose erroneous notions he preached; certain young libertines also grew irritated against him. He was poisoned; though this did not kill him, his health was seriously undermined. His enemies succeeded in influencing the bishop of Nantes to cancel the benediction of a large Calvary which had been under construction by the people for a year. The bishop required the demolition of the man-made hill which they had labored to prepare for it, transporting stones and dirt in wheelbarrows. Saint Louis Mary’s enemies had told him it contained secret chambers for conspirators and evil-doers.

With patience Father de Montfort bore all his trials: Blessed be God; I have not sought my glory but only that of God; I hope to receive the same reward as I would had I succeeded. He was a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic and taught the Holy Rosary everywhere, converting many heretics. Before he died at the age of forty-three in April of 1716, he had organized his Company of Mary at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre, where he was buried and where his remains are still in profound veneration.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 15

Saint Vitalis of Ravenna

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Saint Vitalis of Ravenna

Martyr
(† 171)

Saint Vitalis was a first century Christian citizen of Milan and the father of the twin brothers and future martyrs, Saints Gervasius and Protasius. He is the principal patron of Ravenna, where he was martyred.

Divine providence had conducted him to that city, where he saw come before the tribunal there a Christian physician named Ursicinus, who had been tortured and who then was condemned to lose his head for his faith. Suddenly the captive grew terrified at the thought of death, and seemed ready to yield. Vitalis was extremely moved by this spectacle. He knew his double obligation to prefer the glory of God and the eternal salvation of his neighbor to his own corporal life; he therefore boldly and successfully encouraged Ursicinus to triumph over death, saying, Ursicinus, you who cured others would want to drive into your soul the dagger of eternal death? Do not lose the crown the Lord has prepared for you! Ursicinus was touched; he knelt down and asked the executioner to strike him. After his martyrdom Saint Vitalis carried away his body and respectfully interred it.

Saint Vitalis now resigned his post as judiciary assistant to Paulinus, who had been absent on the occasion of the sentence of Ursinius. Paulinus had his former assistant apprehended, and after having him tortured, commanded that if he refused to sacrifice to the gods, he be buried alive, which sentence was carried out. Afterwards, his wife Valeria, as she was on her way from Ravenna to Milan, was beaten by peasants because she refused to join them in an idolatrous festival and riot. She died two days later in Milan, and is also honored as a martyr and Saint. Gervasius and Protasius, their sons, sold their heritage and for ten years before their own martyrdom, lived a penitential life of prayer.

Reflection. We are not all called to the sacrifice of martyrdom; but we are all bound to make our lives a continuing sacrifice of ourselves to God, and to perform every action in this spirit of sacrifice. Thus we shall both live and die to God, perfectly resigned to His holy will in all He ordains or permits.

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. 5

Saint Paul of the Cross

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Saint Paul of the Cross

Founder
(1694-1775)

The eighty-one years of this Saint’s life were modeled on the Passion of Jesus Christ. In his childhood, when praying in church, a heavy bench fell on his foot, but the boy paid no attention to the bleeding wound, and spoke of it as a rose sent from God. As a young man, he wished to be a religious, but his confessor, who had determined to humiliate him, commanded him to go to a dance. As he stepped out onto the floor out of obedience, the strings of the musicians’ instruments broke, and the event ended.

About this time, the vision of a scourge with love written on its lashes made him understand that God wanted to scourge my soul, but out of love. His thirst for penance would indeed be satisfied. In the hope of dying for the Faith, he enlisted in a crusade against the Turks; but a voice from the Tabernacle told him to return home, because another war, a spiritual one, was awaiting him there. Continue reading

Our Lady of Montserrat

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Our Lady of Montserrat, Spain: 718

Blackened by candles that burned before the statue day and night this particular image dates back to at least the twelfth century. St. Ignatius of Loyola made an annual pilgrimage to Montserrat as have a million or more pilgrims every year in modern times.

The mountain named Montserrat rises 20 miles northwest of Barcelona, in the region of Catalonia, which takes it names from the Spanish, Catalan, for “sawn mountain” probably because its rock outgrowths seem to be the teeth of a saw from a distance. These most unusual lofty cone-shaped jags are almost perpendicular. The highest cone rises to a height of nearly 4,000 feet, while the circumference around the entire base of the mountain is measured at about 12 miles. The church which contains the miracle-working statue of the Madonna and Child sits about halfway up the mountain.

According to tradition, the miraculous image was first known as La Jerosolimitana (the native of Jerusalem), since it is thought to have been carved there in the early days of the Church. The statue was eventually given to St. Etereo, Bishop of Barcelona, who brought it to Spain.  Continue reading