Saint Edward the Confessor

Edward was the seventh son of Æthelred the Unready, and the first by his second wife, Emma of Normandy. Edward was born between 1003 and 1005 in Islip, Oxfordshire, and is first recorded as a ‘witness’ to two charters in 1005.

The family spent several years in exile in Normandy after the Danish invasion of 1013. Æthelred was briefly reinstated as king but after his death in 1016, the Danes once again seized the crown.

England was ruled by Canute until his death in 1035 when Edward tried to capture the crown himself but failed.

Later, Edward vowed that he would make a pilgrimage to St Peter’s in Rome if he managed to return safely to his kingdom.

In 1042, his dream became reality when he succeeded Canute’s son on the throne. But Edward found it impossible to leave his subjects to make the pilgrimage to Rome.

The Pope released him from his vow on the condition he founded a monastery and dedicated it to St Peter. In accordance with the Pope’s wishes, Edward built a new cathedral in Norman style to replace the Saxon church at Westminster. The cathedral became known as Westminster Abbey.Read More »

Saint Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm was born in the city of Aosta in 1033 in what was then the Kingdom of Burgundy (modern-day northern Italy) to a noble and propertied family. His father, Gundulph, was by birth a Lombard and seems to have been harsh and violent; his mother, Ermenberga, was prudent and virtuous and gave Anselm careful religious instruction.

At the age of fifteen, the devout young Anselm tried to become a monk but could not obtain the consent of either his father or the abbot of the local monastery. In 1059, after his mother died and his father’s harshness became unbearable, he left home, crossed the Alps and wandered through Burgundy and France. After a short time at Avranches, he entered the Benedictine Abbey of Bec in Normandy, France as a novice in 1060, where he studied under the eminent theologian and dialectician Lanfranc (c. 1005 – 1089). Just three years later, he was elected Prior to the Abbey and then, in 1078, he succeeded Lanfranc as Abbot.

During these quiet years he wrote his first and most important works of philosophy (the “Monologion”, the “Proslogion”, the “Dialogues on Truth”, “Free Will” and the “Fall of the Devil”) and, under Anselm’s jurisdiction, Bec grew in wealth and reputation, becoming one of the first seats of learning in Europe.

In 1092, at the invitation of Hugh, Earl of Chester, Anselm crossed to England where, against his will, he was offered the prestigious position of Archbishop of Canterbury. However, his tenure was not an easy one, with King William II of England constantly trying to appropriate church lands, offices and incomes, and even to have Anselm deposed. In 1097, Anselm set out for Rome in an attempt to settle some of the English King’s ecclesiastical problems, but was refused entry back into England and remained in exile until King William died in 1100, during which time he continued to write.

William’s successor, Henry I, was no easier to deal with and in 1103 Anselm again set out for Rome and was again refused re-entry back into England. It was only after King Henry was threatened with excommunication by the Pope that some reconciliation took place, and Anselm was able to once again take up his position. However, only three years later, in 1109, he died. He was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1494, and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1720.Read More »

10 Things to know about St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

10 Things to know about St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ, patron of Jesuit lay brothers;

  1. He’s known as the Holy Porter. “I’m on my way, Lord,” is the phrase he repeated every time the doorbell rang at the Montesion College in the Spanish city of Palma, on the island of Majorca, where he lived for more than 40 years. He exercised the role of porter (or doorkeeper) with a prayerful passion.
  2. Vocation to service:This phrase describes well his humble, simple character, and his desire to be open to God’s will.
  3. He joined the Company of Jesus at the age of 39.He was a merchant who lost everything, and decided to start his life over after losing his wife and children. He was the second of 11 siblings.
  4. He knew St. Peter Faber, disciple of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Alphonsus’ father was a wealthy merchant, and his family had welcomed St. Peter when he arrived in Segovia to preach.
  5. He was a famous spiritual counselor. Alphonsus’ sensitivity towards others and to God’s will, which inspired him to carry out his task as porter with great joy, led many people to seek him as a spiritual guide. St. Peter Claver, apostle to African slaves, was one of those who turned to Alphonsus for counsel.
  6. He possessed the gifts of vision and healing.  Alphonsus knew by divine revelation that St. Peter Claver was destined to evangelize in South America, where Claver later baptized more than 300,000 slaves. St. Alphonsus also cured the superior of his community, who suffered from very painful rheumatism; after Alphonsus prayed for him all night, his superior woke up completely cured.
  7. Absolute obedience.His faithfulness to his vocation was such that, even when he was elderly and sick, he accepted an order from the father superior of his community in Montesion to go as a missionary to South America. The order was actually just a test of his loyalty, so the saint never went on the voyage.
  8. He had almost no formal education. When he requested to join the Jesuits, the provincial is said to have commented that while Alphonsus might not have had the education to become a priest or a brother, he was qualified to enter the Jesuits in order to become a saint.
  9. He was canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII. Although Alphonsus died in 1617, the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spain delayed his cause for beatification and canonization.
  10. Fellow Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote a sonnet about him.Hopkins, considered one of the greatest poets of the Victorian era, praised St. Alphonsus for his heroic sanctity in daily service.

Source: https://aleteia.org/2017/10/18/10-things-to-know-about-st-alphonsus-rodriguez-sj-patron-of-jesuit-lay-brothers/

 

Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez

Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. At the age of 26 he married María Suarez, a woman of his own station, with whom he had three children. At the age of 31 he found himself a widower with one surviving child, the other two having died. From that time on he began a life of prayer and mortification, separated from the world around him. On the death of his third child he stepped back and reassessed his life.  His thoughts turned to a life in some religious order.

Previous associations had brought him into contact with the first Jesuits who had come to Spain, Saint Peter Faber among others, but it was apparently impossible to carry out his purpose of entering the Society as he was without education, having only an incomplete year at a new college begun at Alcalá by Francis Villanueva.

Finally at 40 years old, Alphonsus  sought to join the Jesuits. The provincial is supposed to have said that if Alphonsus was not qualified to become a brother or a priest, he could enter to become a saint. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted.

For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. His Jesuit superiors, seeing the good work he was doing among the townspeople, were eager to have his influence spread far among his own religious community, so on feast days they often sent him into the pulpit in the dining room to hear him give a sermon. On more than one occasion the community sat quietly past dinner time to hear Alphonsus finish his sermon.Read More »

Saint Anthony Mary Claret

Anthony Maria Claret i Clarà was born in Sallent, in the county of Bages in the Province of Barcelona, on December 23, 1807, the fifth of the eleven children of Juan and Josefa Claret. His father was a woollen manufacturer. As a child he enjoyed pilgrimages to the nearby Shrine of Our Lady of Fussimanya.

Claret received an elementary education in his native village, and at the age of twelve became a weaver. At the age of eighteen, he went to Barcelona to specialize in his trade as a Jacquard loom programmer, and remained there until he was 20 years old.

In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, Anthony learned Latin, French and printing: The future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers.

Anthony spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was said that his rosary was never out of his hand. At age 42, he founded a religious institute of missionaries beginning with five young priests, known today as the Claretians.

Anthony was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba. He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for opposing concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves. A hired assassin—whose release from prison Anthony had obtained—slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term. His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market. This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop—sugar. Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: Reflections on Agriculture and Country Delights.Read More »

Saint Hilarion of Gaza

Hilarion was born in Thabatha, south of Gaza in Syria Palaestina of pagan parents. He successfully studied rhetoric with a grammarian in Alexandria, where he became a Christian. He also came under the influence of the renowned desert ascetic Anthony of Egypt and followed his discipline for two months at the age of fifteen. At the same time, miracles were attributed to him.

As Anthony’s hermitage was busy with visitors seeking cures for diseases or demonic affliction, Hilarion returned home along with some monks. Back at Thabatha, his parents having died in the meantime, he gave his inheritance to his brothers and the poor and left for the wilderness.

Hilarion then began a series of journeys to find a place where he could live away from the world. He went to the area southwest of Majoma, the port of Gaza, that was limited by the sea at one side and marshland on the other. Because the district was notorious for brigandage, and his relatives and friends warned him of the danger he was incurring, it was his practice never to abide long in the same place. With him he took only a shirt of coarse linen, a cloak of skins given to him by St. Anthony, and a coarse blanket. He led a nomadic life, and he fasted rigorously, not partaking of his frugal meal until after sunset. He supported himself by observing the strict ascetical regimen of fasting and chanting the Old Testament psalm prayers, and even weaving baskets like Egyptian hermits.Read More »

Saint Callistus I

Callistus was originally a slave in the imperial Roman household. Put in charge of the bank by his master, he lost the money deposited, fled, and was caught. After serving time for a while, he was released to make some attempt to recover the money. Apparently he carried his zeal too far, being arrested for brawling in a Jewish synagogue. This time he was condemned to work in the mines of Sardinia. Through the influence of the emperor’s mistress he was released and went to live at Anzio.

After winning his freedom, Callistus was made superintendent of the public Christian burial ground in Rome—still called the cemetery of Saint Callistus—probably the first land owned by the Church. The pope ordained him a deacon and made him his friend and adviser.

Callistus was elected pope by a majority vote of the clergy and laity of Rome, and thereafter was bitterly attacked by the losing candidate, Saint Hippolytus, who let himself be set up as the first antipope in the history of the Church. The schism lasted about 18 years.

After the death of Zephyrinus (217), Callistus was elected pope but was opposed by his theological adversary Hippolytus, who attempted to supplant him and who accused him of favouring modalist, or Patripassian, doctrines, both before and after his election. (Callistus, however, condemned and excommunicated Sabellius [fl. c. 215–c. 220], the most prominent champion of modalistic monarchianism, called Sabellianism, a heretical doctrine that denied personal distinctions within the Godhead.) Hippolytus also accused him of certain relaxations of discipline: it appears that Callistus reduced the penitential severities against fornication and adultery, which the church had previously regarded as irremissible except by God.Read More »