St. Avitus

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St. Avitus, or Avy, Abbot, near Orleans

HE was a native of Orleans, and retiring into Auvergne, took the monastic habit together with St. Calais in the abbey of Menat, at that time very small; though afterwards enriched by queen Brunehault, and by St. Boner, bishop of Clermont. The two saints soon after returned to Miscy, a famous abbey situated on the Loiret near the Loire, a league and a half below Orleans. It was founded towards the end of the reign of Clovis I., by St. Euspicius a holy priest, honoured on the 14th of June, and his nephew St. Maximin or Mesmin, whose name this monastery, which is now of the Cistercian Order, bears. Many call St. Maximin the first abbot, others St. Euspicius the first, St. Maximin the second, and St. Avitus the third. But our saint and St. Calais made not a long stay at Misci, though St. Maximin gave them a gracious reception. In quest of a closer retirement, St. Avitus, who had succeeded St. Maximin, soon after resigned the abbacy, as Lethuld, a learned monk of Misci, assures us, and with St. Calais lived a recluse in the territory now called Dunois, on the frontiers of la Perche. Others joining them St. Calais retired into a forest in Maine, and king Clotaire built a church and monastery for St. Avitus and his companions. This is at present a Benedictin nunnery called St. Avy of Chateau-dun, and is situated on the Loire at the foot of the hill on which the town of Chateau-dun is built, in the diocess of Chartres. Three famous monks, Leobin, afterwards bishop of Chartres, Euphronius, and Rusticus, attended our saint to his happy death, which happened about the year 530. His body was carried up the Loire to Orleans, and buried with great pomp in that city. A church was built over his tomb which still subsists, and his feast is kept at Orleans, Paris, and in other places. Some distinguish St. Avitus abbot of Misci from the abbot of Chateau-dun; but all circumstances show that it was the same holy man who retired from Misci into the territory of Chateau-dun. See the life of St. Avitus published by Henschenius in 1701; the New Paris Breviary the 17th of June; Le Cointe’s Annals, and chiefly the book entitled, Les Aménités de la Critique, t. 2, p. 8. 1

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VI: June. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. June 17.

 

Saint John Francis Regis

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Saint John Francis Regis

Jesuit missionary
(1597-1640)

Saint John Francis Regis was born at Fontcouverte in Languedoc, in January, 1597, of a noble Catholic family. From his tenderest years he showed evidence of uncommon sanctity by his innocence of life, modesty, and love of prayer; when he was five years old he fainted when he heard his mother speak of the terrible misfortune of being eternally damned. After being educated by the Jesuits, when he was nineteen years old he decided, with the approbation of his confessor, to enter the Society of Jesus at Toulouse. There he was viewed as a model of every virtue, and was called the Angel of the College. He was sent in 1628 to study theology in Toulouse, and ordained a priest in 1630. His first ministry in Toulouse was for the victims of the plague. His superiors feared to expose his youth to the contagion, but he pleaded successfully to be allowed to do so, and God spared His servant for future labors. He was sent to visit his family for a time, and began in Fontcouverte to occupy himself first of all with the poor. The numerous conversions effected there made his Superiors decide to assign their young Saint to the mission lands of France.

He began his apostolic work in Montpellier, and spent himself in preaching to the unlettered people of Languedoc and Auvergne; in these regions where heresy had made serious inroads, he made many converts among the Huguenots. He established an association of women to procure aid for prisoners, and founded numerous confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament. The winters he spent in the missions of the mountainous districts, where the people were seen to travel long miles on foot through the snows and across ice, to hear the servant of God and make their confessions. Many of them accompanied him on his journeys from one place to another, leaving all things to hear him. Some fragments of his torn cloak, which a charitable lady repaired for him one day, cured her two sick children. The reputation of the sanctity of the missionary spread everywhere in the mountains.

During the summer he preached in Le Puy, which soon changed its aspect by his catechisms. Up to five thousand listeners crowded in to hear him at the church of the Benedictines of Saint-Pierre-le-Moustiers. He visited hospitals and prisons, preached and instructed, and assisted all who in any way stood in need of his services.

In November of 1637 the Saint set out for his second mission at Marthes in the mountains. His road lay across valleys filled with snow and over frozen and precipitous peaks. In climbing one of the highest, a bush to which he was clinging gave way, and he broke his leg in the fall; nonetheless, with the help of his companion and a staff, he managed to continue his journey for the remaining six miles. Then, instead of seeing a surgeon, he insisted on being taken straight to the confessional. After several hours, the parish priest found him still seated, and when his leg was finally examined the fracture was found to be miraculously healed.

Saint John Francis was so inflamed with the love of God that he seemed to breathe, think, and speak of Him alone. He offered up the Holy Sacrifice with such attention and fervor that those who attended it could not but experience with him something of the fire consuming him. After twelve years of unceasing labor, having taken a wrong turn on a strange road, and having remained for the night in a cabin open to the wind, he contracted a severe pleurisy and rendered his pure and innocent soul to his Creator at the age of forty-four. He was mourned, invoked for assistance and then venerated as a miracle-working Saint; his place of sepulcher at Louvesc in the mountains is still the site of fervent pilgrimages. He was canonized by Pope Clement XII in 1737.

The Curé of Ars obtained a famous miracle with a medal of our Saint. The orphanage of Ars had no more grain for bread, and the harvest had been so scanty the people could not be asked for any more aid. The Curé of Ars put a medal of Saint John Francis behind the door of the empty storeroom, and the next day they could scarcely open that door, so full had the room become overnight.

Reflection. When Saint John Francis was struck in the face by a sinner he was reproving, he replied, If you only knew me, you would give me much more than that. His gentleness converted the man. How much might we do if we would forget our own wants to remember those of others, and put our trust in God!

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Heavenly Friends: a Saint for each Day, by Rosalie Marie Levy (Saint Paul Editions: Boston, 1958)

INSTRUCTION FOR THE FEAST OF THE HOLY TRINITY

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INSTRUCTION FOR THE FEAST OF THE HOLY TRINITY

The Church’s Year
By Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine

This festival is celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost, because as soon as the apostles were instructed and consoled by the Holy Ghost, they began to preach openly that which Christ had taught them.

Why do we celebrate this festival?

That we may openly profess our faith in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which is the first of Christian truths, the foundation of the Christian religion, and the most sublime of all mysteries; and that we may render thanks, to the Father for having created us, to the Son for having redeemed us, and to the Holy Ghost for having sanctified us.

In praise and honor of the most Holy Trinity, the Church sings at the Introit of this day’s Mass:

INTROIT Blessed be the holy Trinity and undivided Unity: we will give glory to him, because he hath shown his mercy to us: (Tob. XII.) O Lord, our Lord, how wonderful is thy name in all the earth! (Ps. VIII. 1.) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT Almighty, everlasting God, who hast granted to Thy servants, in the confession of the true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of Thy, majesty, to adore the Unity: grant that, by steadfastness in the same faith, we may ever be defended from all adversities. Thro’.

EPISTLE (ROM XI. 33-36.) O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and recompense shall be made him? For of him, and by him, and in him, are all things: to him be glory forever. Amen. Continue reading

SS. Vitus, Crescentia, and Modestus

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SS. Vitus or Guy, Crescentia, and Modestus, Martyrs

In the Beginning of the Fourth Century.

THESE saints are mentioned with distinction in the ancient Martyrologies. According to their acts they were natives of Sicily. Vitus or Guy was a child nobly born, who had the happiness to be instructed in the faith, and inspired with the most perfect sentiments of his religion by his Christian nurse, named Crescentia, and her faithful husband Modestus. His father Hylas was extremely incensed when he discovered the child’s invincible aversion to idolatry; and finding him not to be overcome by stripes and such like chastisements, he delivered him up to Valerian, the governor, who in vain tried all his arts to work him into compliance with his father’s will and the emperor’s edicts. He escaped out of their hands, and, together with Crescentia and Modestus, fled into Italy. They there met with the crown of martyrdom in Lucania, in the persecution of Dioclesian. The heroic spirit of martyrdom which we admire in St. Vitus, was owing to the early impressions of piety which he received from the lessons and example of a virtuous nurse: of such infinite importance is the choice of virtuous preceptors, nurses, and servants about children. 1
This reflection unfolds the reason why certain courts and ages were so fruitful in saints. The pagan Romans were solicitous that no slave should ever have access to their children who did not speak with perfect elegance and purity of language; and shall not a Christian be as careful as to manners and virtue? It is a fatal mistake to imagine that infants are ever too young to be infected with the contagion of vice. No age receives deeper impressions, or observes more narrowly every thing that passes in others; nor is any thing so easily or so insensibly imbibed as a spirit of vanity, pride, revenge, obstinacy, or sloth; or harder to be ever corrected. What a happiness for an infant to be formed from the mother’s breast as it were naturally to all virtue, and for the spirit of simplicity, meekness, goodness, and piety to be moulded in its tender frame? Such a foundation being well laid, further graces are abundantly communicated, and a soul improves daily these seeds, and rises to the height of Christian virtue often without experiencing severe conflicts of the passions.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VI: June. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. June 15.

Saint Germaine Cousin

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Saint Germaine Cousin

Virgin (1579-1601)

Saint Germaine Cousin was born in 1579 in Pibrac, a small village not far from Toulouse, France. From her earliest years she was a frail, sickly child, and throughout her life was afflicted with scrofula, a tubercular condition affecting particularly the glands of the neck. In addition, her right arm and hand were deformed and partially paralyzed. In spite of her many afflictions, the emaciated child possessed a charming, sweet disposition. Germaine endured not only bodily sufferings, but harsh, cruel treatment from her stepmother, who had a deep aversion for the little girl. The child was almost starved to death and obliged to sleep in the barn on a pile of leaves and twigs under the stairway. At break of day, summer and winter, she would drive the sheep into the fields to graze, then watch them until evening. She had to spin during this time, and if the allotted wool was not spun, she was severely punished.

The village children, not sharing the hostility of the adults toward this forlorn child, loved to listen to her speak about the goodness and love of God while she guarded her flock. The only instruction Germaine ever received was the catechism taught after Sunday Mass in the village church, which she attended with joy. During the long hours of solitude she spent in the fields and in the stable at night, she remained in sweet communion with God, and never complained of her hard life.

Every morning she was at Mass, and afterwards went to kneel before Our Lady’s shrine. To reach the church she had to cross what was ordinarily a small stream; but after a heavy rain it would become a raging torrent. Several times at those moments, the villagers were amazed to see the rushing waters separate when Germaine approached, and then to watch her cross on dry land. When she left her sheep to go to church, she would place her staff upright in the ground, and the sheep never went far from it. One day the stepmother was seen pursuing Germaine as she drove the sheep down the road. She was accusing the girl of having stolen some bread and concealing it in her apron. When Germaine unfolded her apron, fragrant flowers, foreign to that region, fell to the ground.

Germaine died one night in the year 1601, at the age of twenty-one, and was buried as was the custom in those days, in the village church. Forty-three years later, when a relative was to be buried near her and the stones were removed, the grave-digger found to his amazement, the body of a beautiful young girl in a state of perfect preservation. His pick had struck her nose, and the wound was bleeding. Some of the older residents identified the girl as Germaine Cousin. Miracle after miracle occurred, and in 1867 the neglected little waif of Pibrac was inscribed in the list of Saints by Pope Pius IX. Annually thousands of pilgrims visit the church of Pibrac, where the relics of Saint Germaine are enshrined.

Heavenly Friends: a Saint for each Day, by Rosalie Marie Levy, (Saint Paul Editions: Boston, 1958).