Saint Bonaventure, biographer of Saint Francis of Assisi, wrote that two years before his holy death he had been praying on Mount Alverno in a solitary retreat, where he had gone to fast for forty days in honor of the Archangel Michael. No one ever meditated more than Francis on the Passion of his Lord. During his retreat he beheld in vision a six-winged Seraph attached to a cross, and received at the same time a painful wound of the heart, which seemed to transpierce it. When the vision ended his own hands and feet bore the marks of the angelic crucifixion which he had seen in the vision. He understood by his vision that the soul must come to resemble Christ by the ardors of its interior fire, rather than by any physical, exterior means. We reproduce here a meditation of the saintly 19th century Abbot, Dom Guéranger of Solemnes in France:
Commemorative of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
It is particularly recommended as a proper devotion for every day in Lent, and on all Fridays throughout the year. Ever glorious and blessed Virgin, Queen of virgins, Mother of mercy, hope and comfort of dejected souls, through that sword of sorrow which pierced thy tender heart, whilst thine only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, suffered death and ignominy on the cross; through that filial tenderness and pure love He had for thee, grieving in thy grief, whilst from His cross He recommended thee to the care and protection of His beloved disciple, St. John; take pity, we beseech thee, on our poverty and necessities; have compassion on our anxieties; assist and comfort us in all our infirmities and miseries. Thou art the Mother of mercies, the sweet consolatrix and refuge of the desolate and afflicted: look, therefore, with pity on us, miserable children of Eve, and hear our prayer: for since, in just punishment of our sins, we are encompassed by evils, whither can we fly for more secure shelter than to thy maternal protection? Attend, therefore, with an ear of pity, we beseech thee, to our humble and earnest request.
THASCIUS CYPRIAN was a native of Carthage, his father being one of the principal senators of that city. He made great improvements in philosophy and all the liberal arts, applied himself to the study of oratory and eloquence with great success, and was made public professor of rhetoric at Carthage. This employment was anciently most honourable, and all this time he lived suitably to the rank of his birth, in great pomp and plenty; in honour and power, wearing a splendid attire, and never stirring abroad without a pompous retinue, and a crowd of clients and followers waiting upon him. He tells us in his book to Donatus, that he had lived a long time amidst the fasces, which were the Roman emblem of the supreme magistracy; but he deplores that he was then a slave to vice and evil habits. The far greater part of his life he passed in the errors of paganism, and he was upon the borders of old age when he was rescued from the darkness of idolatry, and the servitude of vice and errors.
THE HOLY pope Fabian having been crowned with martyrdom on the 20th of January, in the year 250, the see of Rome remained vacant above sixteen months, the clergy and people not being able all that while, through the violence of the persecution, to assemble for the election of a bishop. St. Cyprian says, that such was the rage of the persecutor Decius, that he would more easily have suffered a competitor in his empire than a bishop in Rome. At length, however, when that emperor was taken up in opposing the revolt of Julius Valens, or in his wars against the Goths, at a distance from Rome, Cornelius was chosen to fill the apostolic chair in 251. St. Cyprian testifies that he was a person of an unblemished character and virginal purity, remarkable for his humility; meek, modest, peaceable, and adorned with all other virtues; that he was not advanced to the episcopal dignity on a sudden, but had gone through all the orders of the clergy, as the previous steps, and served the Lord in the functions of each distinct order, as the canons require. At the time of St. Fabian’s death he was a priest in the Roman church, and had the chief share in the direction of affairs during the vacancy of the holy see. Far from aiming at, or desiring the supreme dignity in the church to which he was raised, he suffered violence, says the same St. Cyprian, and was promoted to it by force and compulsion. In this we see the character of the Spirit of God, which teaches holy men in humility and distrust sincerely to fear and decline such posts, which presumption, vanity and ambition make others seek and invade, who by this mark alone, are sufficiently proved to be most unworthy. And Cornelius, by gradually proceeding through all the functions of the ministry, according to the spirit of the church, had attained all the graces and virtues by which he was qualified for that high station. The election of Cornelius was made by a due assembly of almost all the clergy of Rome; a great number also of the laity, who were present, consented to and demanded his ordination. The concurring suffrages of sixteen ancient and worthy bishops, (two of whom were Africans,) who happened then to be in Rome, confirmed the same, and the elect was compelled to receive the episcopal consecration. St. Cyprian and other bishops, according to custom, despatched to him letters of communion and congratulation. Matters were thus settled when the devil found in Novatian an instrument to disturb the peace of the church. 1