St. William of Monte-Vergine

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St. William of Monte-Vergine

[Founder of the religious congregation of that name.] HAVING lost his father and mother in his infancy, he was brought up by his friends in great sentiments of piety; and at fifteen years of age, out of an earnest desire of leading a penitential life, he left Piedmont, his native country, made an austere pilgrimage to St. James’s in Galicia, and afterwards retired into the kingdom of Naples, where he chose for his abode a desert mountain, and lived in perpetual contemplation, and the exercises of most rigorous penitential austerities. Finding himself discovered, and his contemplation interrupted, he changed his habitation and settled in a place called Monte Vergine, situate between Nola and Benevento, in the same kingdom; but his reputation followed him, and he was obliged by two neighbouring priests to permit certain fervent persons to live with him, and imitate his ascetic practices. Thus, in 1119, was laid the foundation of the religious congregation called de Monte Vergine. The saint died on the 25th of June, 1142, and is mentioned in the Roman Martyrology. His congregation, to which he left no written rule, was put under that of St. Benedict by Alexander III. See his life by Felix Renda: Helyot, Hist. des Ord. Relig., and Papebroke, t. 5, Jun. p. 112. 1

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

St. Prosper of Aquitain

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St. Prosper of Aquitain, Confessor

A.D. 463.

ST. PROSPER is surnamed of Aquitain, to distinguish him from a bishop of Orleans, and others of the same name. His birth is usually placed in the year 403. His works show that in his youth he had happily applied himself to the studies of grammar, and all the branches both of polite and sacred learning. On account of the purity and sanctity of his manners, he is called by those of his age, a holy and venerable man. 1 Having left Aquitain, his native country, he was settled in Provence, and probably at Marseilles, when St. Austin’s book on Correction and Grace was brought thither. Certain priests and others of that country had been offended at that father’s writings against the Pelagians, pretending that the necessity of divine grace, which he established with the Catholic church, destroyed free-will. They granted it to be clear from faith and holy scriptures, that no good action conducive to eternal life can be done without a co-operating supernatural succour of grace; but they thought it a necessary condition to free-will in man, that the beginning or first desire of faith, or any other supernatural virtues and actions, (which being grounded upon faith, lead to eternal life,) should be the work of free-will, without the aid of grace; using the comparison of a sick man, who first desires a cure himself, by which desire he is moved to call in a physician. This error was called Semipelagianism, and in reality gave the glory of virtue to the creature in its first motion or desire, contrary to the doctrine of the Apostle and of Christ himself. St. Austin’s book on Correction and Grace, served only to make them louder in their complaints. Hilary, a holy, zealous, and learned layman, an acquaintance of St. Austin, undertook the defence of his works, and of the faith of the church, and engaged St. Prosper in the same cause. Our saint does not appear to have been any more than a layman; but his virtue, extraordinary talents, and learning, rendered him a proper person to oppose the progress of heresy. By the advice of Hilary he wrote to St. Austin, informing him of the errors of these priests of Marseilles; and that holy doctor compiled two books to confute and instruct them; the first, On the Predestination of the Saints; the second, On the Gift of Perseverance. Hilary had also written to him on the same subject. This happened in 428 and 429. 1 Continue reading