St. Juliana Falconieri

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St. Juliana Falconieri, Virgin

THE ILLUSTRIOUS family of Falconieri in Italy received great honour from the sanctity of this holy virgin. Her father, Charissimus Falconieri, and his pious lady, Reguardata, were both advanced in years, and seemed to have lost all hopes of issue, when in 1270 they were wonderfully blessed with the birth of our saint. Devoting themselves afterwards solely to the exercises of religion, they built and founded at their own expense the stately church of the Annunciation of our Lady in Florence, which for riches and the elegance of the structure, may at this day be ranked among the wonders of the world. B. Alexius Falconieri, the only brother of Charissimus, and uncle of our saint, was with St. Philip Beniti, one of the seven first propagators and pillars of the Order of Servites, or persons devoted to the service of God under the special patronage of the Virgin Mary. Juliana in her infancy seemed almost to anticipate the ordinary course of nature in the use of reason, by her early piety; and the first words she learned to pronounce were the sacred names, Jesu, Maria. Fervent prayer and mortification chiefly took up her attention at an age which seems usually scarcely capable of any thing serious. Such was her angelical modesty, that she never durst lift up her eyes to look any man in the face; and so great was her horror of sin that the very name of it made her almost fall into a swoon. 1 Continue reading

SS. Gervasius and Protasius

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SS. Gervasius and Protasius, Martyrs

ST. AMBROSE calls these saints the protomartyrs of Milan. They seem to have suffered in the first persecution under Nero, or at latest under Domitian, and are said to have been the sons of SS. Vitalis and Valeria, 1 both martyrs, the first at Ravenna, the second at Milan. This latter city was the place which SS. Gervasius and Protasius rendered illustrious bytheir glorious martyrdom and miracles. St. Ambrose assures us, that the divine grace prepared them a long time for their crown by the good example which they gave, and by the constancy with which they withstood the corruption of the world. He adds they were beheaded for the faith. 2 They are said to have been twin brothers. 1
The faithful at Milan, in the fourth age, had lost the remembrance of these saints. Yet the martyrs had not ceased to assist that church in its necessities; and the discovery of their relics rescued it from the utmost danger. The Empress Justina, widow of Valentinian I. and mother of Valentinian the Younger, who then reigned, and resided at Milan, was a violent abettor of Arianism, and used her utmost endeavours to expel St. Ambrose. The Arians did not hesitate to have recourse to the most horrible villanies and forgeries to compass that point. In so critical a conjuncture, our martyrs declared themselves the visible protectors of that distressed church. St. Austin, both in his twenty-second book Of the City of God, 3 and in his Confessions, 4 says, that God revealed to St. Ambrose by a vision in a dream, the place where their relics lay. Paulinus, in his life of St. Ambrose, says, this was done by an apparition of the martyrs themselves. The bishop was going to dedicate a new church, the same which was afterwards called the Ambrosian basilic, and now St. Ambrose the Great. The people desired him to do it with the same solemnity as he had already consecrated another church in the quarter near the gate that led to Rome, in honour of the holy apostles, in which he had laid a portion of their relics. He was at a loss to find relics for this second church. The bodies of Saints Gervasius and Protasius lay then unknown before the rails which enclosed the tomb of SS. Nabor and Felix. St. Ambrose caused this place to be dug up, and there found the bodies of two very big men, with their bones entire, and in their natural position, but the heads separated from their bodies, with a large quantity of blood, and all the marks which could be desired to ascertain the relics. 5 2
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