Saint John Baptist de LaSalle

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Saint John Baptist de LaSalle

Founder
(1651-1719)

Complete dedication to what he saw as God’s will for him, dominates the life of John Baptist de LaSalle. Founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, or Christian Brothers, he was canonized in 1900. In 1950 Pope Pius XII named him patron of schoolteachers.

Saint John Baptist was born of the nobility of Rheims in 1651, and after a very pious youth was ordained a priest at the age of 27, becoming at once a Canon of the Cathedral there. It was said that to see him at the altar was sufficient to give an unbeliever faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord. The people would wait for him to come from the church to consult him. His life was marked by a rule he set for himself, to maintain perfect regularity in all his duties.

He became interested in the creation of gratuitous schools for poor and abandoned children. He himself was invited to help in their education; and after directing the teachers for four years, decided to join them. In this he was opposed by most of the city, for whom such a life was very humiliating for a Canon of the Cathedral. His spiritual director, a virtuous Franciscan Minim priest, encouraged him, saying that for teachers, whose vocation is to aid the poor to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, the only suitable inheritance is the poverty of the Saviour.

Saint John Baptist divested himself of the patrimonial wealth he still controlled, then took religious vows with his co-workers. His tender and paternal charity soon sanctified the house and the labors; peace reigned, and the members of the new society loved one another sincerely. The Institute developed and spread amid a thousand difficulties and persecutions; these, by humiliating its members, brought down graces on them and made the Providence of the Lord more evident.

The blessed Founder died in 1719; a religious superior said of him that his humility was universal; he never acted without taking counsel, and the opinion of others always seemed better to him than his own. He listened to others in conversation, and was never heard to say any word tending to his own advantage… Indeed it is God who elevates those who take the last place for themselves, to place them among the first.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 15; Saint of the Day, edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M. (Saint Anthony Messenger Press: Cincinnati, 1974), Vol. I

Pope Gregory XIII

Pope Gregory XIII

(UGO BUONCOMPAGNI).

Born at Bologna, 7 Jan., 1502; died at Rome, 10 April, 1585. He studied jurisprudence at the University of Bologna, from which he was graduated at an early age as doctor of canon and of civil law. Later, he taught jurisprudence at the same university, and had among his pupils the famous future cardinals, Alessandro Farnese, Cristoforo Madruzzi, Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, Reginald Pole, Carlo Borromeo, and Stanislaus Hosius. In 1539 he came to Rome at the request of Cardinal Parizzio, and Paul III appointed him judge of the Capitol, papal abbreviator, and referendary of both signatures. In 1545 the same pope sent him to the Council of Trent as one of his jurists. On his return to Rome he held various offices in the Roman Curia under Julius III (1550-1555), who also appointed him prolegate of the Campagna in 1555. Under Paul IV (1555-1559) he accompanied Cardinal Alfonso Caraffa on a papal mission to Philip II in Flanders, and upon his return was appointed Bishop of Viesti in 1558. Up to this time he had not been ordained a priest. In 1559 the newly-elected pope, Pius IV, sent him as his confidential deputy to the Council of Trent, where he remained till its conclusion in 1563. Shortly after his return to Rome, the same pope created him Cardinal Priest of San Sisto in 1564, and sent him as legate to Spain to investigate the case of Archbishop Bartolomé Carranza of Toledo, who had been suspected of heresy and imprisoned by the Inquisition. While in Spain he was appointed secretary of papal Briefs, and after the election of Pius V, 7 Jan., 1566, he returned to Rome to enter upon his new office. After the death of Pius V on 1 May, 1572, Ugo Buoncompagni was elected pope on 13 May, 1572, chiefly through the influence of Cardinal Antoine* Granvella, and took the name of Gregory XIII. At his election to the papal throne he had already completed his seventieth year, but was still strong and full of energy. Continue reading

St. Boniface

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St. Boniface, Martyr

About the Year 307.

THERE lived at Rome, about the beginning of the fourth century, a certain lady called Aglaë, young, beautiful, and well born, and so rich and fond of making a figure in the world, that she had entertained the city three several times with public shows at her own charge. Her chief steward was one Boniface, with whom she entertained a criminal commerce. This man, though addicted to wine and all kinds of debauchery, was however remarkable for three good qualities, hospitality, liberality, and compassion. Whensoever he saw a stranger or traveller, he would assist him very cordially; and he used to go about the streets and into the public places, in the night time, and relieved the poor according to their necessities.—After several years’ commerce in the vicious way already mentioned, Aglaë, touched with a motion of divine grace, and feeling some compunction within herself, called Boniface to her, and thus opened her mind to him: “You are sensible how deep we are plunged in vice, without reflecting that we must appear before God to give an account of all our actions. I have heard some say, that they who honour those who suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ, shall have a share in their glory. In the East the servants of Jesus Christ every day suffer torments, and lay down their lives for his sake. Go thither then, and bring me the relics of some of those conquerors, that we may honour their memories, and be saved by their assistance.” Boniface came into the proposal; and having raised a considerable sum of money to purchase the bodies of the martyrs from their executioners, and to distribute among the poor, said to Aglaë on his departure, “I will not fail to bring back with me the relics of martyrs, if I find any; but what if my own body should be brought to you for that of a martyr?” She reproved him for jesting in a matter so serious. The steward set out, but was now entirely a new man. Continue reading