Bl. Gregory X

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B. Gregory X. Pope and Confessor

HE was of an illustrious family, born at Placentia, and at his baptism was called Theobald. In his youth he was distinguished for his extraordinary virtue, and his progress in his studies, especially of the canon law, which he began in Italy, and pursued at Paris, and lastly at Liege. He was archdeacon of this last church, when he received an order from the pope to preach the crusade for the recovery of the Holy Land. Incredible were the pains which he took in executing this commission, and in reconciling the Christian princes, who were at variance. The death of St. Lewis, in 1270, struck a damp upon the spirits of the Christians in the East, though the prince of Wales, soon after Edward I., king of England, sailed from Sicily, in March, 1271, to their assistance, took Jaffa and Nazareth, and plundered Antioch. A tender compassion for the distressed situation of the servants of Christ in those parts, moved the holy archdeacon of Liege to undertake a dangerous pilgrimage to Palestine, in order to comfort them, and at the same time to satisfy his devotion by visiting the holy places. The see of Rome had been vacant almost three years, from the death of Clement IV., in November, 1268, the cardinals who were assembled at Viterbo not coming to an agreement in the choice of a pope, till, by common consent, they referred his election to six amongst them, who, on the 1st of September, in 1271, nominated Theobald, the archdeacon of Liege. Upon the news of his election, he prepared himself to return to Italy. Nothing could be more tender and moving than his last farewell to the disconsolate Christians of Palestine, whom he promised, in a most solemn manner, never to forget. He arrived at Rome in March, and was first ordained priest, then consecrated bishop, and crowned on the 27th of the same month, in 1272. He took the name of Gregory X., and, to procure the most effectual succour to the Holy Land, called a general council to meet at Lyons, where Pope Innocent IV. had held the last in 1245, partly for the same purpose of the holy war, and partly to endeavour to reclaim the emperor Frederick II. The city of Lyons was most convenient for the meeting of those princes whose succours were principally expected for the holy war, and was most unexceptionable, because at that time it acknowledged no other sovereign than its archbishop. 1 Continue reading

Saint Onesimus

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Saint Onesimus

Bishop of Ephesus and Martyr
(† 95)

Onesimus was a Phrygian by birth and a slave to Philemon, a person of influence who had been converted to the faith by Saint Paul. Having offended his master and been obliged to flee, he sought out Saint Paul, then a prisoner for the faith at Rome. The Apostle baptized him and sent him back to his master, with the beautiful letter we know as the Epistle to Philemon, asking for the liberty of Onesimus, that he might become one of his own assistants.

Philemon pardoned him and set him at liberty, and Onesimus returned to his spiritual father, as Saint Paul had requested; thereafter he faithfully served the Apostle. We know that Saint Paul made him, with Tychicus, the bearer of his Epistle to the Colossians. (Col. 4:7-9)

Later, as Saint Jerome and other Fathers testify, he became an ardent preacher of the Gospel and a bishop. It is he who succeeded Saint Timothy as bishop of Ephesus. He was cruelly tortured in Rome, for eighteen days, by a governor of that city, infuriated by his preaching on the merit of celibacy. His legs and thighs were broken with bludgeons, and he was then stoned to death. His martyrdom occurred under Domitian in the year 95.

Reflection. With what excess of goodness does God communicate Himself to souls who open themselves to Him! With what caresses does He often visit them! With what a profusion of graces does He enrich and strengthen them! In our trials and temptations let us then offer our hearts to God, remembering, as Saint Paul says, To those who love God, all things work together unto good. (Rom. 8:28)

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. Sigefride

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St. Sigefride, or Sigfrid, Bishop, Apostle of Sweden

OUR zealous ancestors having received the light of faith, propagated the same throughout all the northern provinces of Europe. St. Anscarius had planted the faith in Sweden, in 830; but it relapsed soon after into idolatry. King Olas Scobcong entreated King Edred, who died in 951, to send him missionaries to preach the gospel in this country. Sigefride, an eminent priest of York, undertook that mission, and on the 21st of June, in 950, arrived at Wexiow, in Gothland, in the territory of Smaland. He first erected a cross, then built a church of wood, celebrated the divine mysteries, and preached to the people. Twelve principal men of the province were converted by him, and one who died, was buried after the Christian manner, and a cross placed upon his grave. So great numbers were in a short time brought to the faith, that the cross of Christ was triumphantly planted in all the twelve tribes into which the inhabitants of South-Gothland were divided. The fountain near the mountain of Ostrabo, since called Wexiow, in which St. Sigefride baptised the catechumens, long retained the names of the twelve first converts, engraved on a monument. King Olas was much pleased with the accounts he heard of the man of God, and many flocked from remote parts, out of mere curiosity to hear his doctrine, and to see him minister at the altar, admiring the rich ornaments of linen, and over them of silk, which he wore in celebrating the divine mysteries, with a mitre on his head, and a crosier, or pastoral staff in his hands. Also the gold and silver vessels which he had brought with him for the use of the altar, and the dignity and majesty of the ceremonies of the Christian worship, attracted their attention. But the sublime truths of our religion, and the mortification, disinterestedness, zeal, and sanctity of the apostolic missionaries, engaged them to give them a favourable reception, and to open their eyes to the evidence of the divine revelation. St. Sigefride ordained two bishops, the one of East, the other of West Gothland, or Lingkoping, and Scara. The see of Wexiow he continued himself to govern so long as he lived. His three nephews, Unaman a priest, and Sunaman and Wiaman, the one a deacon, the other a subdeacon, were his chief assistants in his apostolic labours. Having intrusted the administration of his see of Wexiow to Unaman, and left his two brothers to assist and comfort him, the saint himself set out to carry the light of the gospel into the midland and northern provinces. King Olas received him with great respect, and was baptized by him, with his whole court and his army. St. Sigefride founded many churches, and consecrated a bishop of Upsal, and another of Strengues. The former of these sees had been founded by St. Anscharius in 830, and the bishop was declared by Pope Alexander III. in 1160, metropolitan and primate of the whole kingdom. During the absence of our saint, a troop of idolatrous rebels, partly out of hatred of the Christian religion, and partly for booty, plundered the church of Wexiow, and barbarously murdered the holy pastor Unaman and his two brothers. Their bodies they buried in the midst of a forest, where they had always remained hid. But the murderers put the heads of the martyrs into a box, which, with a great stone they had fastened to it, they threw into a great pond. But they were afterwards taken out, and kept richly enshrined in the church of Wexiow till their relics were removed by the Lutherans. These three holy martyrs were honoured in Sweden. Upon the news of this massacre St. Sigefride hastened to Wexiow to repair the ruins of his church. The king resolved to put the murderers to death; but Sigefride, by his earnest entreaties, prevailed on him to spare their lives. However, he condemned them to pay a heavy fine, which he would have bestowed on the saint, but he refused to accept a single farthing of it notwithstanding his extreme poverty, and the difficulties which he had to struggle with, in laying the foundation of that new church. He had inherited the spirit of the apostles in an heroic degree. Our saint died about the year 1002, and was buried in his cathedral at Wexiow, where his tomb became famous for miracles. He was canonized about the year 1158, by Pope Adrian IV., 1 an Englishman, who had himself laboured zealously, and with great success, in the conversion of Norway, and other northern countries, about a hundred and forty years after St. Sigefride, who was honoured by the Swedes as their apostle, till the change of religion among them. 2

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume II: February. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. February 15.

THE LITTLE FLOWER’S THOUGHTS AND WORDS ON THE LOVE OF GOD

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THE LITTLE FLOWER’S THOUGHTS AND WORDS ON THE LOVE OF GOD

There is one ONLY THING to do here below: to love Jesus, to win souls for Him so that He may be loved. Let us seize with jealous care every least opportunity of self sacrifice. Let us refuse Him nothing – He does so want our love!

VI letter to her sister Celine

Love!…that is what I ask…I know but one thing now – to love Thee, O Jesus! Glorious deeds are not for me, I cannot preach the Gospel, shed my blood…what does it matter? My brothers toil instead of me, and I, the little child, I keep quite close to the royal throne, I love for those who fight.

Story of A Soul, Chapter XI

How shall I show my love is proved by deeds? Well – the little child will strew flowers…she will embalm the Divine Throne with their fragrance, will sing with silvery voice the canticle of love.

Yes, my Beloved, it is thus that my life’s brief day shall be spent before Thee. No other means have I of proving my love than to strew flowers; that is, to let no little sacrifice escape me, not a look, not a word, to avail of the very least actions and do them for Love. I wish to suffer for Love’s sake and for Love’s sake even to rejoice; thus shall I strew flowers. Not one shall I find without shedding its petals for Thee…and then I will sing, I will always sing, even if I must gather my roses in the very midst of thorns – and the longer and sharper the thorns the sweeter shall be my song. Continue reading

SS. Faustinus and Jovita

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SS. Faustinus and Jovita, Martyrs

A.D. 121.

FAUSTINUS and JOVITA were brothers, nobly born, and zealous professors of the Christian religion, which they preached without fear in their city of Brescia, whilst the bishop of that place lay concealed during the persecution. The acts of their martyrdom seeming of doubtful authority, all we can affirm with certainty of them is, that their remarkable zeal excited the fury of the heathens against them, and procured them a glorious death for their faith at Brescia in Lombardy, under the emperor Adrian. Julian, a heathen lord, apprehended them; and the emperor himself passing through Brescia, when neither threats nor torments could shake their constancy, commanded them to be beheaded. They seem to have suffered about the year 121. 1 The city of Brescia honours them as its chief patrons, and possesses their relics. A very ancient church in that city bears their name, and all martyrologies mention them. 1
The spirit of Christ is a spirit of martyrdom, at least of mortification and penance. It is always the spirit of the cross. The remains of the old man, of sin and of death, must be extinguished, before one can be made heavenly by putting on affections which are divine. What mortifies the senses and the flesh gives life to the spirit, and what weakens and subdues the body strengthens the soul. Hence the divine love infuses a spirit of mortification, patience, obedience, humility, and meekness, with a love of sufferings and contempt, in which consists the sweetness of the cross. The more we share in the suffering life of Christ, the greater share we inherit in his spirit, and in the fruit of his death. To souls mortified to their senses and disengaged from earthly things, God gives frequent foretastes of the sweetness of eternal life, and the most ardent desires of possessing him in his glory. This is the spirit of martyrdom, which entitles a Christian to a happy resurrection and to the bliss of the life to come. 2

Note 1. See Tillemont, t. 2. p. 249. Pagi, &c.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume II: February. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. February 15.