Saint Simplicius

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Saint Simplicius, Pope and Confessor.

HE was the ornament of the Roman clergy under SS. Leo and Hilarius, and succeeded the latter in the pontificate in 497. He was raised by God to comfort and support his church amidst the greatest storms. All the provinces of the western empire, out of Italy, were fallen into the hands of barbarians, infected for the greater part with idolatry or Arianism. The ten last emperors, during twenty years, were rather shadows of power than sovereigns, and in the eighth year of the pontificate of Simplicius, Rome itself fell a prey to foreigners. Salvian, a learned priest of Marseilles in 440, wrote an elegant book on Divine Providence, in which he shows that these calamities were a just chastisement of the sins of the Christians; saying, that if the Goths were perfidious, and the Saxons cruel, they were, however, both remarkable for their chastity; as the Franks were for humanity, though addicted to lying: and that though these barbarians were impious, they had not so perfect a knowledge of sin, nor consequently were so criminal as those whom God chastised by them. The disorders of the Roman state paved the way for this revolution. Excessive taxes were levied in the most arbitrary ways. The governors oppressed the people at discretion, and many were obliged to take shelter among the barbarians: for the Bagaudes, Franks, Huns, Vandals, and Goths raised no taxes upon their subjects: on which account nations once conquered by them were afraid of falling again under the Roman yoke, preferring what was called slavery, to the empty name of liberty. Italy, by oppressions, and the ravages of barbarians, was left almost a desert without inhabitants; and the imperial armies consisted chiefly of barbarians, hired under the name of auxiliaries, as the Suevi, Alans, Heruli, Goths, and others. These soon saw their masters were in their power. The Heruli demanded one third of the lands of Italy, and, upon refusal, chose for their leader Odoacer, one of the lowest extraction, but a tall, resolute, and intrepid man, then an officer in the guards, and an Arian heretic, who was proclaimed king at Rome in 476. He put to death Orestes, who was regent of the empire, for his son Augustulus, whom the senate had advanced to the imperial throne. The young prince had only reigned eight months, and his great beauty is the only thing mentioned of him. Odoacer spared his life, and appointed him a salary of six thousand pounds of gold, and permitted him to live at full liberty near Naples. Pope Simplicius was wholly taken up in comforting and relieving the afflicted, and in sowing the seeds of the Catholic faith among the barbarians.

March 2. Rev. Alban Butler. 1866. Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints.


St. Charles the Good

St. Charles the Good, Earl of Flanders, Martyr

HE was son of St. Canutus king of Denmark, and of Alice of Flanders, who, after the death of his father, carried him, then an infant, into Flanders, in 1086. His cousin-german Baldwin the Seventh, earl of Flanders, dying without issue in 1119, left him his heir by will, on account of his extraordinary valour and merit. The young earl was a perfect model of all virtues, especially devotion, charity, and humility. Among his friends and courtiers, he loved those best who admonished him of his faults the most freely. He frequently exhausted his treasury on the poor, and often gave the clothes off his back to be sold for their relief. He served them with his own hands, and distributed clothes and bread to them in all places where he came. It was observed that in Ipres he gave away, in one day, no less than seven thousand eight hundred loaves. He took care for their sake to keep the price of corn and provisions always low, and he made wholesome laws to protect them from the oppressions of the great. This exasperated Bertulf, who had tyrannically usurped the provostship of St. Donatian’s in Bruges, to which dignity was annexed the chancellorship of Flanders, and his wicked relations the great oppressors of their country. In this horrible conspiracy they were joined by Erembald, castellan or chief magistrate of the territory of Bruges, with his five sons, provoked against their sovereign because he had repressed their unjust violences against the noble family De Straten. The holy earl went every morning barefoot to perform his devotions early before the altar of the Blessed Virgin in St. Donatian’s church. Going thither one day, he was informed of a conspiracy; but answered: “We are always surrounded by dangers, but we belong to God. If it be his will, can we die in a better cause than that of justice and truth?” Whilst he was reciting the penitential psalms before the altar, the conspirators rushing in, his head was cloven by Fromold Borchard, nephew to Bertulf, in 1124. He was buried in St. Christopher’s church at Bruges not in that of St. Donatian, as Pantoppidan proves. Borchard was broken alive on the wheel, and Bertulf was hung on a rack at Ipres, and exposed on it to be torn by furious dogs, and at length was stoned to death by beggars whilst he remained on that engine. St. Charles’s shrine was placed by an order of Charles Philip Rodoan, fourth bishop of Bruges, in 1606, in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin, and ever since the year 1610 an high mass in honour of the Trinity is sung on his festival. See the life of this good earl by Walter, archdeacon of Terouenne, and more fully by Gualbert, syndic of Bruges, and by Ælnoth, a monk of Canterbury and Danish missionary at that time. See also Molanus and Miræus in their martyrologies; Henschenius, p. 158. Robertus de Monte in Append. ad Chronicon Sigeberti ad an. 1127. Jac. Maierus, Annal. Flandriæ, l. 4, p. 45, 46. Likewise Ericus Pantoppidanus in his Gesta Danorum extra Daniam. Hafniæ, 1740, t. 2. sec. 1. c. 5. sec. 32. p. 398.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume III: March.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866. March 2.


Month of Saint Joseph

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Month of Saint Joseph

Since the 16th century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions. Due to the solemnity of Saint Joseph on March 19, this month is devoted to this great saint, the foster father of Christ. “It greatly behooves Christians, while honoring the Virgin Mother of God, constantly to invoke with deep piety and confidence her most chaste spouse, Saint Joseph. We have a well grounded conviction that such is the special desire of the Blessed Virgin herself.” –Pope Leo XIII


FOR OUR WORK Glorious Saint Joseph, pattern of all who are devoted to toil, obtain for me the grace to toil in the spirit of penance, in order thereby to atone for my many sins; to toil conscientiously, putting devotion to duty before my own inclinations; to labor with thankfulness and joy, deeming it an honor to employ and to develop, by my labor, the gifts I have received from Almighty God; to work with order, peace, moderation, and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties; to work above all with a pure intention and with detachment from self, having always before my eyes the hour of death and the accounting which I must then render of time ill-spent, of talents unemployed, of good undone, and of my empty pride in success, which is so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all in imitation of thee, 0 Patriarch Joseph! This shall be my motto in life and in death. Amen.

OFFERING TO SAINT JOSEPH O great Saint Joseph, thou generous depositary and dispenser of immortal riches, behold us prostrate at thy feet, imploring thee to receive us as thy servants and as thy children. Next to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, of which thou art the faithful copy, we acknowledge that there is no heart more tender, more compassionate than thine.

What, then, have we to fear, or, rather, for what should we not hope, if thou dost deign to be our benefactor, our master, our model, our father and our mediator? Refuse not, then, this favor, O powerful protector! We ask it of thee by the love thou hast for Jesus and Mary. Into thy hands we commit our souls and bodies, but above all the last moments of our lives.

May we, after having honored, imitated, and served thee on earth, eternally sing with thee the mercies of Jesus and Mary. Amen.

FOR THE INTERCESSION OF SAINT JOSEPH O Joseph, virgin-father of Jesus, most pure spouse of the Virgin Mary, pray every day for us to the same Jesus, the Son of God, that we, being defended by the power of His grace and striving dutifully in life, may be crowned by Him at the hour of death.

Prayer Source: Prayer Book, The by Reverend John P. O’Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954

Saint David

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Saint David, Archbishop, Patron of Wales.

About the Year 544.

ST. DAVID, in Welch Dewid, was son of Xantus, prince of Ceretica, now Cardiganshire. He was brought up in the service of God, and being ordained priest, retired into the Isle of Wight, and embraced an ascetic life, under the direction of Paulinus, a learned and holy man, who had been a disciple of St. Germanus of Auxerre. He is said by the sign of the cross to have restored sight to his master, which he had lost by old age, and excessive weeping in prayer. He studied a long time to prepare himself for the functions of the holy ministry. At length, coming out of his solitude, like the Baptist out of the desert, he preached the word of eternal life to the Britons. He built a chapel at Glastenbury, a place which had been consecrated to the divine worship by the first apostles of this island. He founded twelve monasteries, the principal of which was in the vale of Ross, 1 near Menevia, where he formed many great pastors and eminent servants of God. By his rule he obliged all his monks to assiduous manual labour in the spirit of penance: he allowed them the use of no cattle to ease them at their work in tilling the ground. They were never suffered to speak but on occasions of absolute necessity, and they never ceased to pray, at least mentally, during their labour. They returned late in the day to the monastery, to read, write, and pray. Their food was only bread and vegetables, with a little salt, and they never drank anything better than a little milk mingled with water. After their repast they spent three hours in prayer and adoration; then took a little rest, rose at cock-crowing, and continued in prayer till they went out to work. Their habit was of the skins of beasts. When any one petitioned to be admitted, he waited ten days at the door, during which time he was tried by harsh words, repeated refusals, and painful labours, that he might learn to die to himself. When he was admitted, he left all his worldly substance behind him, for the monastery never received anything on the score of admission. All the monks discovered their most secret thoughts and temptations to their abbot. 1 Continue reading

St. Oswald

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St. Oswald, Bishop of Worcester and Archbishop of York

A.D. 992.

ST. OSWALD was nephew of St. Odo, archbishop of Canterbury, and to Oskitell, bishop first of Dorcester, afterwards of York. He was educated by St. Odo, and made dean of Winchester; but passing into France, took the monastic habit at Fleury. Being recalled to serve the church, he succeeded St. Dunstan in the see of Worcester about the year 959. He shone as a bright star in this dignity, and established a monastery of monks at Westberry, a village in his diocess. He was employed by duke Aylwin in superintending his foundation of the great monastery of Ramsey, in an island formed by marshes and the River Ouse in Huntingdonshire, in 972. St. Oswald was made archbishop of York in 974, and he dedicated the church of Ramsey under the names of the Blessed Virgin, St. Benedict, and all holy virgins. Nothing of this rich mitered abbey remains standing except an old gate-house, and a neglected statue of the founder, Aylwin, with keys and a ragged staff in his hand to denote his office; for he was cousin to the glorious king Edgar, the valiant general of his armies, and the chief judge and magistrate of the kingdom, with the title of alderman of England, and half king, as the historian of Ramsey usually styles him. 1 St. Oswald was almost always occupied in visiting his diocess, preaching without intermission, and reforming abuses. He was a great encourager of learning and learned men. St. Dunstan obliged him to retain the see of Worcester with that of York. Whatever intermission his function allowed him he spent at St. Mary’s, a church and monastery of Benedictins, which he had built at Worcester, where he joined with the monks in their monastic exercises. This church from that time became the cathedral. The saint, to nourish in his heart the sentiments of humility and charity, had everywhere twelve poor persons at his table, whom he served, and also washed and kissed their feet. After having sat thirty-three years he fell sick at St. Mary’s in Worcester, and having received the Extreme-unction and Viaticum, continued in prayer, repeating often, “Glory be to the Father,” &c., with which words he expired amidst his monks, on the 29th of February, 992. His body was taken up ten years after and enshrined by Adulph his successor, and was illustrated by miracles. It was afterwards translated to York on the 15th of October, which day was appointed his principal festival. 1 Continue reading