Saint John Gualbert

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Saint John Gualbert

Founder
(999-1073)

Saint John Gualbert was born in Florence in the year 999. He was raised with care in piety and the study of the humanities, but no sooner had he entered adult life than he acquired a taste for pleasures. God, desiring to save and sanctify him, found a means to open his eyes. He was following the profession of arms at that troubled period, when on Good Friday, as he was riding into Florence accompanied by armed men, he encountered his brother’s murderer in a place where neither could avoid the other. John would have slain him, according to the customary vengeance of those times; but his adversary, who was totally unprepared to fight, fell upon his knees with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross, and implored him, for the sake of Our Lord’s holy Passion, to spare his life. Saint John said to his enemy, I cannot refuse what you ask in Christ’s name. I grant you not only your life, but my friendship. Pray that God may forgive me my sin! They embraced and parted; grace had triumphed.

A humble and changed man, he went to a nearby abbatial church, and while he prayed with fervor for forgiveness, the figure of our crucified Lord, before which he was kneeling, bowed its head toward him, as if to confirm His pardon and manifest His gratitude for the generous pardon John himself had granted. Abandoning the world then, Saint John devoted himself to prayer and penance in the Benedictine Order. His virtue and austerity were so great that when his abbot died, he was unanimously chosen to replace him; but he could not be prevailed upon to accept that honor. He retired to Vallombrosa, which became the cradle of a new Order which followed the Rule of Saint Benedict in all its austerity. It was from this shady valley, a few miles from Florence, that the Order spread over Italy.

Once during a time of famine, he went to the nearly empty storeroom, and at his prayer the provisions multiplied to the point that he could distribute grain to all his houses and to all the poor who presented themselves. On an occasion when he found one of the monasteries too rich, he prayed a stream flowing past it to take on the violence of a torrent and overturn the building. This was done without delay. Another time, the enemies of the Saint came to his convent of Saint Salvi, plundered it and set fire to it and, after treating the monks with ignominy, beat them and injured them. Saint John rejoiced. Now, he said, you are true monks. Oh, how I envy your lot!

Saint John Gualbert fought vigorously against simony, and in many ways promoted the interests of the Faith in Italy. After a life of great austerity, he died while Angels were singing near his bed, on July 12, 1073.

Reflection: The heroic act which merited for Saint John Gualbert his conversion was the forgiveness of his enemy. Let us imitate him in this virtue, resolving never to revenge ourselves in thought, in word, or in deed.

Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950); 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)

The Universality of the Precious Blood 

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Meditation on the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

The Universality of the Precious Blood

It is of faith, that Christ died, not only for the elect, but for all. There was no single individual member of the whole race of men who did not enjoy the privilege of being redeemed by Christ, not the most degraded of the heathen, not the most ignorant or the most hardened in sin. The Precious Blood was sprinkled on all, and if they did not avail themselves of its benefits it was their own fault. None will incur the eternal misery of Hell who has not deliberately rejected the forgiveness that the Precious Blood won for us.

What about the innocent child who dies without Baptism? For it, too the Precious Blood was shed: and if it does not attain to eternal happiness in Heaven, this is owing to the wilful sin of man, and not to any lack of efficacy in the Blood of Jesus. Such a child will at least enjoy great natural happiness for all eternity (in Limbo). He, Who shed His Precious Blood for all, is not unmindful of those who, through no fault of their own, fail of attaining the joy of the Beatific Vision.

Does the Precious Blood do anything for sinners who have rejected it? Yes, for though their rejection of it excludes them from all right to share in the blessings it won for man, and has deserved for them eternal punishment, yet their punishment, terrible as it will be, will nevertheless be in some way short of what they deserved, and this through the merits of the Precious Blood. Thank God for His infinite mercy, and pray that you may never forfeit any of the graces won for you.

Saint Pius I

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Saint Pius I

Pope and Martyr
(† 157)

Saint Pius I, born in the State of Venice, succeeded Saint Hygin in the year 142 as the ninth successor to Saint Peter, during the reign of the emperor Antoninus the Pious. Throughout his pontificate he took great care to make the religion of Christ flourish, and published many beautiful ordinances for the utility of the universal Church. In his decrees he was severe towards blasphemers and with the clergy who showed negligence for the divine Mysteries of the altar. Saint Pius ordained that Easter be celebrated on a Sunday; in this way the custom which the Apostles had already observed became an inviolable law of the Church.

His pontificate was marked by the efforts of various heretics in Rome, among them the gnostics Valentinian, Cerdon, and Marcion, to sow their errors in the Church’s center. The last-named, when excluded from communion by Saint Pius, founded the heretical group which bears his name. Saint Justin and other Catholic teachers assisted the Pontiff in defending Christian doctrine and preserving it from corruption. After having governed the Church for fifteen years Saint Pius I obtained the crown of martyrdom by the sword, in the year of Our Lord 150.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 8