St. Leonard of Port Maurice

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St. Leonard of Port Maurice

Preacher and ascetic writer, b. 20 Dec., 1676, at Porto Maurizio on the Riviera di Ponente; d. at the monastery of S. Bonaventura, Rome, 26 Nov., 1751. The son of Domenico Casanova and Anna Maria Benza, he joined after a brilliant course of study with the Jesuits in Rome (Collegio Romano), the so- called Riformella, an offshoot of the Reformati branch of the Franciscan Order [see FRIARS MINOR, II, B, (2)]. On 2 October, 1697, he received the habit, and after making his novitiate at Ponticelli in the Sabine mountains, he completed his studies at the principal house of the Riformella, S. Bonaventura on the Palatine at Rome. After his ordination he remained there as lector (professor), and expected to be sent on the Chinese missions. But he was soon afterwards seized with severe gastric haemorrhage, and became so ill that he was sent to his native climate of Porto Maurizio, where there was a monastery of the Franciscan Observants (1704). After four years he was restored to health, and began to preach in Porto Maurizio and the vicinity. When Cosimo III de’ Medici handed over the monastery del Monte (that on San Miniato near Florence, also called Monte alle Croci) to the members of the Riformella, St. Leonard was sent hither under the auspices and by desire of Cosimo III, and began shortly to give missions to the people in Tuscany, which were marked by many extraordinary conversions and great results. His colleagues and he always practised the greatest austerities and most severe penances during these missions. In 1710 he founded the monastery of Icontro, on a peak in the mountains about four and a quarter miles from Florence, whither he and his assistants could retire from time to time after missions, and devote themselves to spiritual renewal and fresh austerities. Continue reading

Saint Peter of Alexandria

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Saint Peter of Alexandria

Patriarch and Martyr
(† 310)

The Church of Alexandria, founded by the Evangelist Saint Mark in the name of the Apostle Saint Peter, was the head of the churches of Egypt and of several other provinces; it had lost its Metropolitan when Saint Thomas of Alexandria died at the end of the third century. Saint Peter, a priest of that city, replaced him, and soon was governing the church amid the terrors of the persecution by Diocletian and Maximian. Two bishops and more than six hundred Christians were in irons and on the verge of torture; he sent to them pastoral letters to animate them to fervor and perseverance, and rejoiced to learn that a number of them had won the grace of martyrdom.

Many, however, had preferred apostasy to a cruel death. Saint Peter was obliged to instigate penances in order for them to return to the communion of the faithful. When he deposed a bishop who had incensed an idol during the persecution, his act of justice acquired for him the hostility of a certain Arius, the bishop’s favorite, who became thereafter the author of a schism and an instrument of the cruel emperor Maximian who persecuted the Christians. He in fact animated this tyrant against Saint Peter. The sentence of excommunication which Saint Peter was the first to pronounce against the two schismatics, Arius and Melitius, and which he strenuously upheld despite the united efforts of powerful members of their parties, is proof that he possessed firmness as well as sagacity and zeal.

The Patriarch was soon seized and thrown into prison. There he encouraged the confessors imprisoned with him to sing the praises of God and pray to their Saviour in their hearts, without ceasing. Saint Peter never ceased repeating to the faithful that, in order not to fear death, it is necessary to begin by dying to oneself, renouncing our self-will and detaching ourselves from all things. He was soon to give proof of his own perfect detachment in his glorious martyrdom.

While in prison he was advised in an apparition as to his successors in the Alexandrian church, and he recognized that the day of his eternal liberation was at hand. He informed these two faithful sons that his martyrdom was imminent. In effect, the emperor passed sentence of death on him, despite the fact that a crowd of persons had come to the prison with the intention of preventing by force the martyrdom of their patriarch; they remained all night for fear he might be executed in secret. But Saint Peter delivered himself up to his executioners, and died by the sword on November 26, 310. His appearance on the scaffold was so majestic that none of them dared to touch him; it was necessary to pay one of them in gold to strike the fatal blow.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 13; 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).

St. Sylvester Gozzolini

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St. Sylvester Gozzolini, Abbot of Osimo

[Institutor of the Sylvestrin Monks.] THIS saint was born of a noble family at Osimo or Osmo, about fourteen miles from Loretto in 1177. He studied the laws and theology at Bologna and Padua, and being instituted to a canonry at Osimo made prayer, pious reading, and the instruction of others his whole employment. His zeal in reproving vice raised him enemies, and his bishop, whom he admonished of certain neglects to the discharge of his office, declared himself his persecutor. These trials served to purify the heart of the servant of God, and prepared him for the grace of the pure love of God. The sight of the carcass of a man who had been admired in his life-time for his beauty and great accomplishments, completed his abhorrence and contempt of this treacherous world, so that, deploring its scandals and blindness, he left the city privately, and retired into a desert thirty miles from Osimo, being then forty years old. To satisfy the importunity of others, in 1231, he built a monastery upon Monte Fano, two miles from Fabriano, in the marquisate of Ancona. In this house he settled the rule of St. Bennet without any mitigation: and, in 1248, obtained of Innocent IV., who was then at Lyons, the confirmation of his institute. He lived to found twenty-five monasteries in Italy, and leaving his disciples heirs of his double spirit of penance and prayer, departed to the Lord on the 26th of November in 1267, being ninety years old. God was pleased to work several miracles at his tomb, and his name is inserted in the Roman Martyrology. See his life by Fabrini, fourth general of his Order, in Breve Chron. della Congreg. de Monachi Sylvestrini; and Helyot, Hist. des Ordres Relig. t. 6, p. 170. 1

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume XI: November.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866. November 26.