Mary, Our Queen, Our Mother

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Mary, Our Queen, Our Mother

Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae!

St. Alphonsus Di Liguori from The Glories of Mary
(1696 – 1787)

How great should be our Confidence in Mary, who is the Queen of Mercy. As the glorious Virgin Mary has been raised to the dignity of Mother of the King of kings, it is not without reason that the Church honors her, and wishes her to be honored by all, with the glorious title of Queen.

“If the Son is a king,” says St. Athanasius, “the Mother who begot him is rightly and truly considered a Queen and Sovereign” (“Si ipse Rex est, qui natus est de Virgine, Mater quae eum genuit, Regina et Domina proprie ac vere censetur.”–Serm. de Deip). “No sooner had Mary,” says St. Bernardine of Sienna, “consented to be Mother of the Eternal Word, than she merited by this consent to be made Queen of the world and of all creatures.” (“Haec autem Virgo, in illo consensus, meruit primatum orbis dominium mundi, sceptrum regni super omnes creaturas.”–Pro fest. V.M. s. 5 c. 3.) “Since the flesh of Mary,” remarks the Abbot Arnold of Chartres, “was not different from that of Jesus, how can the royal dignity of the Son be denied to the Mother?” (Nec a dominatione et potestate filii Mater potest esse sejuncta: una est Mariae et Christi caro.”–De Laud. B. Virg.) “Hence we must consider the glory of the Son, not only as being common to his Mother, but as one with her” (Filii gloriam cum Matre non tam communem judico, quam eamdem.”–Ibid.). Continue reading

Bolsena Eucharistic Miracle 

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Bolsena Eucharistic Miracle

Images of the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena-Orvieto, Italy
The first image is a fresco painted by Raphael in the Vatican Palace depicting the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena. The second image shows the Sacred Blood stained corporal being carried in procession at Orvieto. The third image shows the altar today where the miracle occurred. The fourth image shows the enshrined altar stone stained with the Precious Blood. The fifth image depicts Pope Urban IV meeting the stained Host and corporal in Orvieto.

In 1263 a German priest, Peter of Prague, stopped at Bolsena while on a pilgrimage to Rome. He is described as being a pious priest, but one who found it difficult to believe that Christ was actually present in the consecrated Host. While celebrating Holy Mass above the tomb of St. Christina (located in the church named for this martyr), he had barely spoken the words of Consecration when blood started to seep from the consecrated Host and trickle over his hands onto the altar and the corporal.

The priest was immediately confused. At first, he attempted to hide the blood, but then he interrupted the Mass and asked to be taken to the neighbouring city of Orvieto, the city where Pope Urban IV was then residing.

The pope listened to the priest’s account and absolved him. He then sent emissaries for an immediate investigation. When all the facts were ascertained, he ordered the bishop of the diocese to bring to Orvieto the Host and the linen cloth bearing the stains of blood. With archbishops, cardinals and other ecclesiastical dignitaries in attendance, the pope met the procession and, amid great pomp, had the relics placed in the cathedral. The linen corporal bearing the spots of blood is still reverently enshrined and exhibited in the cathedral of Orvieto.

It is said that Pope Urban IV was prompted by this miracle to commission St. Thomas Aquinas to compose the propers for a Mass and an Office honouring the Holy Eucharist as the Body of Christ. One year after the miracle, in August 1264, Pope Urban IV introduced the saint’s composition, and by means of a papal bull instituted the feast of Corpus Christi.

After visiting the Orvieto cathedral, many pilgrims and tourists journey to St. Christina’s Church in Bolsena to see for themselves the place where the miracle occurred. From the north aisle of the church, one can enter the Chapel of the Miracle, where the stains on the paved floor are said to have been made by the blood from the miraculous Host. The altar of the miracle, which is surmounted by a 9th-century canopy, is now situated in the grotto of St. Christina. A reclining statue of the saint is nearby.

The Festival of Corpus Christi

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The Festival of Corpus Christi

The same reason which caused the Festival of the Holy Trinity, induced the Catholic Church to institute the festival of Corpus Christi, which we celebrate today. She requires that we shall confess and renew today the faith which we have in the Blessed Eucharist, and that we bestow all possible honors upon the Most Holy Sacrament and give due thanks to our Saviour for its institution. In order that this just requirement of the Church may be more fully complied with, we shall here give some explanation of the above reasons. In regard to the first reason, the following are the facts, which the church especially desires to call to our memory by this joyous festival. Our dear Saviour, on the same evening when His bitter suffering for the redemption of man began, instituted the Blessed Eucharist, out of His immeasurable love for us. In it He is truly and substantially present with body and soul, with flesh and blood, as God and Man, under the form of bread and wine. Under the form of bread, not only His holy body, but also His holy blood is present; because a living body cannot exist without blood. Hence he receives it, who partakes of holy communion only in the form of bread, not less than he who receives it in two forms, as the priests, when they say holy Mass. The latter partake of holy communion under two forms, in order that the passion and death of our Saviour, during which His blood flowed from His wounds, might be more vividly represented.  Continue reading

St. Ferdinand III

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St. Ferdinand III., King of Castile and Leon, Confessor

HE was eldest son to Alphonsus, king of Leon, and of Berangera of Castile, elder sister 1 of Blanche, mother of St. Lewis of France, and was born about the end of the year 1198 or some time in 1199. Beranga had been obliged by Pope Innocent III. to a separation from Alphonsus of Leon after having borne to him two sons, Ferdinand and Alphonsus, and two daughters, because, though in the third degree of consanguinity, they had been married without a dispensation, which was at that time very difficult to be obtained. But because this marriage had been contracted bona fide by the decrees of the pope, and the states of the two kingdoms, their children were declared their lawful heirs. Berangera returned to her father Alphonsus IX. of Castile, one of the most valiant and virtuous kings that ever reigned in Spain, and who was to her the most tender and best of fathers. He dying in 1214, his son Henry, eleven years of age, succeeded him under the tutorship and regency of his mother, Eleonor of England. But she followed her husband to the grave within twenty-five days; grief for having lost him being the cause of her death. Berangera was charged with the guardianship of her brother and the regency of the kingdom; but out of love of retirement suffered herself to be persuaded to resign both to a nobleman called Don Alvarez, who proved a perfidious, turbulent man, and for several years embroiled all Castile and the neighbouring kingdoms. Berangera was a princess of accomplished prudence and piety, and exercises of devotion were her chief delight. King Henry, by the contrivance of Alvarez, at twelve years of age was married to Mafalda, sister to Alphonsus, king of Portugal, but upon an impediment of consanguinity which was proved before commissaries, Pope Innocent III. declared the marriage null, and Mafalda returning to Portugal, founded a Cistercian nunnery at Arouca, took herself the veil, and lived in such great sanctity as to be honoured among the saints on the 1st of May. The young King Henry died of a wound he received by a tile falling upon his head at Palencia on the 6th of June, 1217, and Berangera put in her claim to the crown; but transferring her right upon her son Ferdinand, surnamed the Saint, caused him, who was in the eighteenth year of his age, to be proclaimed king at Palencia, Valladolid, and Burgos, having first lodged in the archives of the church of this last city, the solemn act of her own resignation. Don Alvarez and other factious spirits filled the kingdom with disturbances and civil wars for several years; but these the young king by his clemency, prudence, and valour, assisted by his mother’s counsels, stifled and overcame. Alvarez was taken and pardoned; and perfidiously renewed his treasonable cabals and broils, both at home and abroad. Though Ferdinand was so great a king, no child ever obeyed a mother with a more ready and perfect submission than he did Berangera to the time of her death, as his ancient historian assures us. 2 By her advice he took to wife, in 1219, Beatrix, daughter of Philip of Suabia, emperor of Germany, a most virtuous and accomplished princess. The happy union of their hearts was never disturbed by the least cloud during the fifteen years of their cohabitation; and their marriage was blessed with a numerous family of seven sons and three daughters. St. Ferdinand was severe in the administration and the execution of the laws, but readily pardoned all personal injuries; and no sooner were rebellions crushed, but he granted general amnesties. His prudence and his constant attention to the care of his people appeared most conspicuous in the happy choice he always made of governors, magistrates, and generals. Rodriguez, archbishop of Toledo and chancellor of Castile, was during thirty years at the head of all his councils, and so perfectly united with Berangera and St. Ferdinand in all their deliberations as to seem to have but one soul with them. To set a curb to inferior tribunals he established the court, since called the Royal Council of Castile, which consists of ten auditors, and to which there lies an appeal from all other courts. A code of laws which he caused to be compiled by the most able lawyers 3 is still used in that kingdom. 1 Continue reading

St. Felix I

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St. Felix I., Pope and Martyr

A.D. 274.

HE was a Roman by birth, and succeeded St. Dionysius in the government of the church in 269. Paul of Samosata, the proud bishop of Antioch, to the guilt of many enormous crimes, added that of heresy, teaching that Christ was no more than a mere man, in whom the Divine Word dwelt by its operation, and as in its temple, with many other gross errors concerning the capital mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation. Two councils were held at Antioch to examine his cause; but by various arts and subterfuges he escaped condemnation. However, in a third, assembled at the same place in 269, being clearly convicted of heresy, pride, and many scandalous crimes, he was excommunicated and deposed, and Domnus was substituted in his room. Paul still maintained himself in the possession of the episcopal house. The bishop, therefore, had recourse to the Emperor Aurelian, who, though a pagan, gave an order that the house should belong to him to whom the bishops of Rome and Italy adjudged it, as Eusebius writes. 1 St. Felix had before declared himself against that heresiarch; for the council had sent the synodal letter to St. Dionysius, who being dead, it had been delivered to St. Felix. It must have been on that occasion that our holy pope wrote to Maximus, bishop of Alexandria, a learned epistle, quoted by the council of Ephesus, St. Cyril of Alexandria, and St. Vincent of Lerins; in which he clearly explained the Catholic doctrine of the whole mystery of the Incarnation. St. Cyril has preserved us a fragment of it. 2 The persecution of Aurelian breaking out, St. Felix, fearless of dangers, strengthened the weak, encouraged all, baptised the catechumens, and continued to exert himself in converting infidels to the faith. He himself obtained the glory of martyrdom; which title is given him by the council of Ephesus, 3 by St. Cyril, 4 and by St. Vincent of Lerins. 5 He governed the church five years, and passed to a glorious eternity in 274. The western Martyrologies name him on the 30th of May. 1
The example of Christ, and of all his saints, ought to encourage us under all trials to suffer with patience, and even with joy. We shall soon begin to feel that it is sweet to tread in the steps of a God-man, and shall find that if we courageously take up our crosses, he will make them light by bearing them with us. The soul will find it sweet to be abandoned by creatures, that she may more perfectly feel their emptiness, and learn that men are false and treacherous. Then will she place her whole confidence in God alone, and cleave to him with her whole heart. Forsaken and forgotten by creatures, she finds no relish but in God who enters her more powerfully, and fills her with his consolations the more sweetly, as she is the more weaned and separated from all earthly things, and more purely adheres to him who never forsakes those who sincerely seek Him. O happy exchange! cries out St. Francis of Sales; the soul thus abandoned in the eyes of men, now possesses God instead of creatures. 2

Note 1. L. 7, c. 80, p. 282.
Note 2. Apologet. p. 852.
Note 3. Act. 1, Conc. t. 1, p. 512.
Note 4. Apol. t. 3, Conc. p. 852.
Note 5. P. 375.

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