St. Peter Gonzales

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St. Peter Gonzales, Confessor

From Bzovius ad an. 1246; the monuments collected by the Bollandists on the 14th of April, t. 2. p. 389. See F. Touron, Hommes Illustr. t. 1, p. 49.

A.D. 1246.

[Commonly called St. Telm, or Elm, patron of mariners.] THE BEST historians place the birth of St. Peter Gonzales, (in Latin, Gonsalvus,) in the year 1190, at Astorga, in the kingdom of Leon, in Spain, where he was descended of an illustrious family. His wonderful progress in his studies, showed him to be endowed with an extraordinary quickness of parts, and he embraced an ecclesiastical state, though at that time a stranger to the spirit of disengagement and humility which ought essentially to accompany it. His uncle, the bishop of Astorga, charmed with his capacity, preferred him to a canonry, and shortly after to the deanery of his chapter. The young dean, free indeed from vice, but full of the spirit of the world, took possession of his dignity with great pomp, but in the midst of his pride, happened, by a false step of his prancing horse, to fall into a sink. This was the moment in which God was pleased to strike his heart. This humiliation made the young gentleman enter into himself, and with remorse to condemn his own vanity, and fondness of applause, which deserved a much worse disgrace.—Opening his heart to these sentiments of grace, without taking advice from flesh and blood, he retired to Palencia, to learn the will of God in solitude, fasting, and prayer. To fight against pride and self-love, he laboured strenuously to put off the old man by mortification and humility, and became quickly a new man in Christ, recollected, penitent, meek, and humble. The better to secure his victory over the world and himself, he entered the austere Order of St. Dominick. The world pursued him into his retreat. Its wise men left no stone unturned to make him return to his dignity: but he was guided by better lights, and baffled all their suggestions. Having made his vows, and strengthened his soul in the spirit of humility and penance, by the exercises of holy retirement and obedience, he was ordered by his superiors to employ his talents in the ministry of the divine word, to which he consecrated the remainder of his life, to the great advantage of innumerable souls.  Continue reading

St. Lidwina

St. Lidwina, Called Lydwid, Virgin

SHE was born at Schiedham, or Squidam, in Holland, near the mouth of the Meuse, in 1380. From seven years of age, she conceived an extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Virgin; and, when she was sent abroad by her mother on an errand, would go to the church to salute the Mother of God, by a Hail Mary, before her image there. At twelve years of age she made a vow of virginity. At fifteen, amusing herself with skating with her companions, according to the custom of that country, she fell on rough broken pieces of ice, and broke a rib. From this hurt, accompanied with an inward bruise, and from a great imposthume, which was formed in the womb, she suffered extremely, taking very little nourishment, and struggling night and day under great pains. An ulcer also consumed her lungs, and she sometimes vomited up great quantities of purulent matter. She had also three exterior ulcers, besides a complication of other distempers from the inward bruises, which brought on a dropsy, under which she laboured nineteen years; for the last seven years, she was not able to stir herself in bed nor even to move any part of her body, except her head and left arm. When moved by others, she was bound with cloths to keep the parts of her body together, so much was it worn and emaciated. She lived a considerable time almost without either nourishment or sleep, and had many sores on her face, legs, and other parts, like scorbutic inflammations and ulcers. For the thirty last years of her life, she never quitted her bed. The three or four first years of her sickness she was obliged to use violence, and to make continual efforts to maintain her soul constantly in the perfect sentiments of patience and resignation. After this term, by the advice of her confessarius, the devout John Pot, she employed herself continually in meditating on our Saviour’s sacred passion, which she divided into seven parts, to correspond to the seven canonical hours of prayer; in which she occupied herself day and night. By this practice and meditation, she soon found all her bitterness and affliction converted into sweetness and consolation, and her soul so much changed, that she prayed God would rather increase her pains, together with her patience, than suffer them to abate. She was even ingenious, by private mortifications, to add to her sufferings, in which she found a hidden manna. She lay on a poor straw bed, like a true sister of the suffering Lazarus, yet would strive to make it more uneasy to her under her other pains. Whatever was given her in alms, above the little which served for her own support, she distributed among the poor, not suffering any of her family, though indigent, to partake of it. After the death of her pious parents, she gave to the poor all the goods they bequeathed to her. Before she had, by constantly meditating on our Lord’s passion, by assiduous prayer and self-denial, acquired a love and relish of the cross, patience was more difficult to her, and less perfect: but when filled with the Spirit of Christ, she found a comfort in her pains, and it appeared how God had, in his tender mercy, visited her only to purify her heart to himself, and to fill it with his graces. She spoke of God with such unction, that her words softened and converted hardened sinners. Her patience was recompensed a hundred fold in this world by the extraordinary spiritual consolations with which she was often favoured, and by the grace of the Holy Ghost, accompanied with a wonderful gift of miracles, and many divine revelations. She sometimes had trials of spiritual dryness, but these served only more perfectly to purify her soul, and prepare her for sweeter visits of her heavenly Comforter. The holy sacrament of the eucharist was, above all other means, her principal strength, comfort, and happiness on earth; it renewed in her breast the burning flame of divine love, and nourished in her a continual source of tears and compunction. Her humility made her desire nothing so much as obscurity, and to be unknown and contemned by all men. After a severe martyrdom of thirty-eight years, in painful sickness, she was called to a crown of glory on Easter-Tuesday, the 14th of April, 1433, being fifty-three years old. God honoured her by miracles, to some of which Thomas à Kempis was an eye-witness. The chapel in which her body lay, in a marble tomb, in the parish church of Schiedham, begun to bear her name in 1434; and her father’s house, in which she died, was, after her death, converted into a monastery of Grey Sisters, of the third order of St. Francis. The Calvinists demolished the above-mentioned chapel; but changed the monastery into an hospital for orphans. Her relics soon after were conveyed to Brussels, and enshrined in the collegiate church of St. Gudula. The infanta Isabella procured a partition of them to be made, and placed one moiety in the church of the Carmelite nuns, of which she was the foundress. She was never beatified; but a mass on the Blessed Trinity was sung in her chapel at Schiedham on her festival, with a panegyric on the holy virgin. See her life compiled by John Gerlac, her cousin, and John Walter, her confessor; and by John Brugman, provincial of the Franciscans, who were all personally acquainted with her. Also from her life abridged by Thomas à Kempis. See Papebroke the Bollandist, 14th April, t. 2, p. 287; Molanus, &c.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume IV: April.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866. April 14.

SS. Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus

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SS. Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus, Martyrs

See the acts of St. Cecily, and the remarks of Henschenius, ad 14 Aprilis, t. 2, pp. 203, 220.

A.D. 229.

THESE holy martyrs have always been held in singular veneration in the church, as appears from the ancient calendar of Fronto, the sacramentary of St. Gregory, St. Jerom’s Martyrology, that of Thomasius, &c. Valerian was espoused to St. Cecily, and converted by her to the faith; and with her he became the instrument of the conversion of his brother Tiburtius. Masimus, the officer appointed to attend their execution, was brought to the faith by the example of their piety, and received with them the crown of martyrdom, in the year 229. The theatre of their triumph seems to have been Rome, though some have imagined they suffered in Sicily. They were interred in the burying place of Prætextatus, which, from them, took the name of Tiburtius. It was contiguous to that of Calixtus. In that place Pope Gregory III. repaired their monument in 740; and Adrian I. built a church under their patronage. But Pope Paschal translated the remains of these martyrs, of St. Cecily, and the popes SS. Urban and Lucius, into the city, where the celebrated church of St. Cecily stands. These relics were found in it in 1599, and visited by the Order of Clement VIII., and approved genuine by the Cardinals Baronius and Sfondrate. The Greeks vie with the Latins in their devotion to these martyrs. 1
Most agreeable to the holy angels was this pious family, converted to God by the zeal and example of St. Cecily, who frequently assembled to sing together, with heavenly purity and fervour, the divine praises. We shall also draw upon ourselves the protection, constant favour, and tender attention of the heavenly spirits, if we faithfully imitate the same angelical exercise. Mortification, temperance, humility, meekness, purity of mind and body, continual sighs toward heaven, prayer, accompanied with tears and vehement heavenly desires, disengagement of the heart from the world, a pure and assiduous attention to God and to his holy will, and a perfect union by the most sincere fraternal charity, are virtues and exercises infinitely pleasing to them. The angels of peace are infinitely delighted to see the same perfect intelligence and union, which make an essential part of their bliss in heaven, reign among us on earth, and that we have all but one heart and one soul. Happy are those holy souls which have renounced the world, in order more perfectly to form in their hearts the spirit of these virtues, in which they cease not, day and night, to attend to the divine praises, and consecrate themselves to Jesus Christ, by employing their whole life in this divine exercise. Their profession is a prelude to, or rather a kind of anticipation of, the bliss of heaven. The state of the blessed, indeed, surpasses it in certain high privileges and advantages. First, They praise God with far greater love and esteem, because they see and know him much more clearly, and as he is in himself. Secondly, They praise him with more joy, because they possess him fully. Thirdly, Their praises have neither end nor interruption. Yet our present state has also its advantages. First, If our praises are mingled with tears, compunction, watchfulness, and conflicts, they merit a continual immense increase of grace, love, and bliss for eternity. Secondly, Our praises cost labour, difficulty, and pain: they are a purgatory of love; those of the blessed the reward and the sovereign bliss. Thirdly, We praise God in a place where he is little loved and little known: we celebrate his glory in an enemy’s country, amidst the contradiction of sinners. This obliges us to acquit ourselves of this duty with the utmost fidelity and fervour. A second motive to excite us to assiduity in this exercise is, that it associates us already to the angels and saints, and makes the earth a paradise: it is also, next to the sacraments, the most powerful means of our sanctification and salvation. With what delight do the holy angels attend and join us in it! With what awe and fervour, with what purity of heart, ardent love, and profound sentiments of humility, adoration, and all virtues, ought we in such holy invisible company to perform this most sacred action! We should go to it penetrated with fear and respect, as if we were admitted into the sanctuary of heaven itself, and mingled in its glorious choirs. We ought to behave at it as if we were in paradise, with the utmost modesty, in silence, annihilating ourselves in profound adoration with the seraphim, and pronouncing every word with interior sentiment and relish. From prayer we must come as if we were just descended from heaven, with an earnest desire of speedily returning thither, bearing God in our souls, all animated and inflamed by him, and preserving that spirit of devotion with which his presence filled us at prayer.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. April 14.