St. Urban

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St. Urban, Pope and Martyr

HE succeeded St. Calixtus in the year 223, the third of the emperor Alexander, and sat seven years. Though the church enjoyed peace under that mild reign, this was frequently disturbed by local persecutions raised by the people or governors. In the acts of St. Cecily this zealous pope is said to have encouraged the martyrs, and converted many idolaters. He is styled a martyr in the sacramentary of St. Gregory, in the Martyrology of St. Jerom published by Florentinius, and in the Greek liturgy. It appears from Fortunatus and several ancient missals, that the festival of St. Urban was celebrated in France with particular devotion in the sixth age. A very old church stood on the Appian road dedicated to God in honour of this saint, near the place where he was first interred, in the cemetery of Prætextatus. His body was there found together with those of SS. Cecily, Tiburtius, and Valerian in 821, and translated by Pope Paschal into the church of St. Cecily. Papebroke shows that it is the body of another martyr of the same name, famous in ancient records, which Nicholas I. sent in 862 to the monks of St. Germanus of Auxerre, and which now adorns the monastery of Saint Urban in the diocess of Challons on the Marne, near Joinville. It is exposed in a silver shrine. See Tillemont, t. 3. p. 258. 1

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

St. Gregory VII

St. Gregory VII., Pope and Confessor

BEFORE his exaltation to the popedom, he was called Hildebrand. He was born, in Tuscany, and educated at Rome under his uncle the abbot of our Lady’s, upon the Aventin hill. He went afterwards into France, and embraced the monastic state at Cluni. Being called back to Rome he signalized himself by his zeal, sanctity, and learning, and preached with great reputation and fruit in the court of the pious emperor Henry III. surnamed the Black. The holy Pope St. Leo IX. had the highest esteem for him, often followed his counsels, ordained him subdeacon, and made him abbot of St. Paul’s, which church then belonged to a very small community of monks, and lay at that time almost in ruins, the greater part of its revenues being usurped by powerful laymen. Hildebrand recovered its lands and restored the monastery to its ancient splendour. In 1054 he was sent by Pope Victor II. legate into France in order to abolish the practice of simony in the collation of ecclesiastical benefices. He held for this purpose a council at Lyons, in which a certain bishop who was accused of simony, denied the crime with which he was charged. The legate bade him recite the Glory be to the Father, which the bishop readily endeavoured to do. But he was never able to pronounce the name of the Holy Ghost. At this miraculous conviction he was struck with remorse and confusion, and casting himself at the legate’s feet, humbly confessed his crime. This is related by Pope Calixtus II., St. Hugh of Cluni, William of Malmesbury, and St. Peter Damian, 1 and the last mentioned author assures us that he had the account from Hildebrand’s own mouth. The legate presided also in the council of Tours, in which Berengarius retracted and condemned the heresy which he had broached relating to the holy eucharist. 2 Pope Stephen IX. sent him on an embassy to the empress, and dying, ordered his return to be waited for, and his advice to be followed in the election of a new pope. By his direction Nicholas II., and after his death in 1061, Alexander II. were placed in St. Peter’s chair.  Continue reading


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But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind whatsoever I shall have said to you.–JOHN xiv. 26.


On this day, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, so called because it is the fiftieth day after the Resurrection or Paschal Feast. The Feast reminds us of the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Ghost, to whom our thoughts and our devotions should be in a special manner directed. He is the Paraclete; that is, the Advocate or Comforter whom the Father sent and who came to teach us all truth and to sanctify us. He was promised not only to the Apostles but to their successors, and when He came it was that He might “abide with us forever.”

The remarkable event which we today commemorate is narrated in chapter ii. of the Acts of the Apostles as follows: “When the days of Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak” (Acts ii. 1-4).  Continue reading