Saint Peter Gonzales

Saint Peter Gonzales

Dominican Priest

Saint Peter Gonzales was born in Spain in 1190, of parents both rich and noble. He was brought up by his maternal uncle, a bishop in the region of Astorga, and while still young was named a canon of his cathedral. Soon he was chosen to be head of the cathedral chapter; but when he came to take possession of that office, mounted on a finely arrayed horse, the animal by a false step threw him into the mud. And then he was surrounded not by honors, but by laughter and mocking words. This for the young man was a special grace which enlightened him on the value of the world’s dignities, and he decided to enter the Dominican Order at Palencia.

Saint Peter worked toward his perfection with fervor, and while still a novice manifested great generosity, ready to offer his services whenever an occasion presented itself. He later studied theology to serve his neighbor in the spirit of his Order, and became so competent that he was sent to preach and hear confessions. In so doing he won many souls for Christ. Everywhere he exhorted to penance, exalting the state of grace and painting in fearful terms that of mortal sin, with such efficacy that he overcame the most hardened hearts.

King Ferdinand III, desiring to put the Moors out of his kingdom, called the famous preacher to his court to benefit from his counsels and prayers. Saint Peter, fortified by the confidence of the prince, was able to revitalize the faith of the court and the army. But jealous ones set a trap for him; a courtesan was sent to him, apparently to make her confession, but in reality to try to seduce him. When he recognized her design, he went to an adjoining room and wrapping himself in his cloak, stood unharmed amid a great fire which he had lit there; then he called her to come. She and his false friends were converted at the sight of this prodigy, and thereafter all showed themselves filled with veneration for the priest.

When the King won many military victories and took Cordova from the Moors in 1236, Saint Peter moderated the ill-directed energies of the conquerors and saw to the transformation of its great mosque into a cathedral. He left the court when it seemed his presence was less necessary, and continued his preaching elsewhere. God honored him with the gift of healing and miracles, and above all gave him the grace to make the truths of salvation understood by the poor and simple folk. He fell ill during Holy Week and died on the day of our Lord’s Resurrection in 1248.

Saint Peter saw to the building of a bridge over a river, at a place where many had perished. He is often depicted walking on the waters with a torch in hand. He has appeared to mariners in danger, and is invoked in particular by those in peril on the seas, always with happy results.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 4

SS. Tiburtius, Valerian and Maximus

May be an image of 2 people and monument
SS. Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus, Martyrs

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. 2