St. John Baptist De La Salle, Confessor – May 15
St. John Baptist De La Salle belonged to a great family at Reims. He became a priest and canon of the diocese of Paris, but renounced his canonry to devote himself to educating poor children. He founded a new religious congregation, the Brothers of the Christian Schools, which soon spread throughout the world. The Brothers have inherited his spirit and carry on his work, consecrating themselves to the Christian education of children and youths. St. John Baptist De La Salle died on Good Friday, April 7, 1719.
St. Ubaldus, Bishop and Confessor – May 16
Ubaldus, born at Gubbio in Umbria, received episcopal consecration and was obliged by Pope Honorius II to take the government of that church. After having, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, by his charity and apostolic zeal, put to full advantage the talents which God had entrusted to him, he piously fell asleep and “entered into the joy of his Lord” on Whitsunday evening. He died in 1160 and his body remained intact up to our time. Let us ask of this Saint, to whom God gave special power against Satan, to preserve us from all the malice of the devil. St. Ubaldus had been favored with the miraculous gift of curing diseases in his lifetime, which he performed by the sign of the cross and prayer. St. Ubaldus was canonized by pope Celestine III., in 1192.
St. Paschal Baylon, Confessor – May 17
St. Paschal was born in the kingdom of Aragon in Spain, and as a boy he worked as a shepherd. When twenty-four, he joined the Friars Minor of the Observance, and became a model austerity, perfect obedience and Franciscan poverty. His profound contemplation caused him ecstatic raptures of love, and gave him such knowledge of the things of God that he could discourse of the most obscure mysteries of the Faith. He had a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and passed hours in prayer before the tabernacle. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him patron of Eucharist congresses and confraternities. He died at the time he had foretold on Whitsunday, May 17, 1592, his birthday.
St. Venantius, Martyr – May 18
St. Venantius was a Dalmatian bishop, martyred under the Emperor Decius, in 250. His body was taken to Rome by John IV, and he is patron of Camerino in the Roman Marches. The Mass is the Mass for martyrs in Paschaltide, glorifying Christ’s triumph in His saints.
St. Peter Celestine, Pope and Confessor – May 19
St. Peter Celestine was a son of St. Benedict, whose doctrine of humility, “the foundation of all holiness,” he practiced in a high degree; many disciples were attracted by his virtue to share his solitude, and he originated the branch of the Benedictine Order since known as Celestines. He was already nearly seventy years old when he was taken from his monastic solitude and compelled to accept the heavy burden of the government of the Church. The Holy See had been vacant for more than two years and he could not refuse; but he soon found himself unable to bear the burden of the Supreme Pontificate, and, preferring humility to honors, he voluntarily resigned after a few months. He ended his days as a contemplative, his real vocation, and died in 1296. As a pope he wore the name of Celestine V.
St. Pudentiana, Virgin – May 19
The daughters of Pudens, a Roman senator, she and her sister, Praxedes, consecrated their virginity to Jesus. At the death of her father, she distributed all her riches to the poor in agreement with her sister and she was barely 16 years old when she died, in the reign of Emperor Antoninus. Her remains rest in her house which she had converted into a church. Her father had received St. Peter there and she had placed it at the disposal of Pope Pius I who celebrated the Holy Mysteries there during the persecution. This is the “titlechurch” of Pudentiana where the Station is held on the Tuesday in the 3rd week of Lent.
St. Bernardine of Siena, Confessor – May 20
Bernardine belonged to a noble family at Siena, but renounced all his fortune. His exceptional good looks exposed him to danger, but he preserved perfect chastity, and the Church applies to him the words of Scripture: “he could have transgressed, and hath not transgressed.” He left all things to follow Christ, and entered the Order of Friars Minor, becoming one of its great glories. He went from village to village preaching the name of Jesus and working many miracles. St. Peter Celestine appeared to him to tell him when his death was near; he died on Ascension Eve, 1444.
St. Rita of Cascia, Nun – May 22
An Augustinian nun, St. Rita of Cascia is known as the “saint of the impossible and the advocate of desperate cases.” She was born in 1381 in the Italian village of Roccaporena, in the Apennines, and died on May 22, 1457, in the convent at Cascia.
According to legend, Rita wanted to become an Augustinian nun from the time she was a child, but in obedience to her parents, she married. After the couple had been married 18 years, Rita’s husband was killed. Rita then applied to the Augustinians, but was turned down because she had been married. Finally, however, the rules were relaxed to admit her. Her life in the convent was one of complete obedience, severe personal discipline, and goodness to others. She cared for nuns who were sick, and prayed for and talked to negligent Christians. She continued this life of holiness until her death.
SS. Castus and Aemilius, Martyrs – May 22
They had first fallen in the persecution; but being touched with remorse rose again with greater fervor, and triumphed over the flames. St. Austin, in a sermon which he preached on their festival, says, they fell like St. Peter, by presuming on their own strength. They suffered in Africa probably under Decius, in 250. See St. Cyprian de lapsis; St. Austin, Serm. 285, and the old African Martyrology of the fifth century.
St. Julia, Virgin and Martyr – May 22
She was a noble virgin at Carthage, who, when that city was taken by Genseric, in 439, was sold for a slave to a pagan merchant of Syria. Under the most mortifying employment of her station, by cheerfulness and patience, she found, besides her sanctification, a present happiness and comfort, which the world could not have afforded. All the time she was not employed in her master’s business was devoted to prayer and reading books of piety. She fasted very rigorously every day but Sunday; nor could all the entreaties of her master, who was charmed with her fidelity and other virtues, nor the hardships of her situation, prevail with her to be more tender of herself. The merchant thought proper to carry her with him in one of his voyages to Gaul, where he imported the most valuable commodities of the Levant. Having reached the northern part of Corsica, or that point now called Capo-Corso, he cast anchor and went on shore to join the pagans of the place in an idolatrous festival kept there at that time, with the sacrifice of a bull. Julia was left at some distance, because she would not be defiled by the superstitious ceremonies, which she openly reviled. Felix, the governor of the island, who was a bigoted pagan, asked the merchant who this woman was who dared to insult the gods. He informed him that she was a Christian, and that all his authority over her was too weak to prevail with her to renounce her religion; but that he found her so diligent and faithful he could not part with her. The governor offered him four of his best female slaves in exchange for her. But the merchant, whose name was Eusebius replied, “No; all you are worth will not purchase her; for I would freely lose the most valuable thing I have in the world, rather than be deprived of her.” However, the governor, while Eusebius was drunk and asleep, took upon him to compel her to sacrifice to his gods. He proffered to procure her liberty if she would comply. The saint made answer that she was as free as she desired to be, as long as she was allowed to serve Jesus Christ; and whatever should happen, she would never purchase her liberty by so abominable a crime. Felix thinking himself derided by her undaunted and resolute air, in a transport of rage, caused her to be struck on the face, and the hair of her head to be torn off, and lastly, ordered her to be hanged on a cross till she expired. Certain monks of the isle of Gorgon (which is now called La Gorgona, and lies between Corsica and Leghorn) carried off her body; but in 763, Desiderius, king of Lombardy, removed her relics to Brescia, where her memory is celebrated with great devotion.
St. Julia, whether free or a slave, whether in prosperity or in adversity, was equally fervent and devout. She adored all the sweet designs of providence; and, far from complaining, she never ceased to praise and thank God under all his holy appointments, making them always the means of her virtue and sanctification. God, by an admirable chain of events, raised her by her fidelity to the honor of the saints, and to the dignity of a virgin and martyr.
Our Lady Help of Christians – May 24
The feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, was instituted by Pius VII. By order of Napoleon! Pius VII was arrested, July 5, 1808, and detained a prisoner for three years at Savona, and then at Fontainebleau.
In January, 1814, after the battle of Leipzig, he was brought back to Savona and set free, March 17, on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, the Patroness of Savona. The journey to Rome was a veritable triumphal march. The pontiff, attributing the victory of the Church after so much agony and distress to the Blessed Virgin, visited many of her sanctuaries on the way and crowned her images (e.g. the “Madonna del Monte” at Cesena, “della Misericordia” at Treja, “della Colonne” and “della Tempestà” at Tolentino). The people crowded the streets to catch a glimpse of the venerable pontiff who had so bravely withstood the threats of Napoleon. He entered Rome, May 24, 1814, and was enthusiastically welcomed (McCaffrey, “History of the Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Cent.”, 1909, I, 52). To commemorate his own sufferings and those of the Church during his exile he extended the feast of the Seven Dolors of Mary (third Sunday in September) to the universal Church, September 18, 1814. When Napoleon left Elba and returned to Paris, Murat was about to march through the Papal States from Naples; Pius VII fled to Savona (March 22, 1815), where he crowned the image of our Lady of Mercy, May 10, 1815. After the Congress of Vienna and the battle of Waterloo he returned to Rome, July 7, 1815. To give thanks to God and Our Lady he (September 15, 1815) instituted for the Papal States the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, to be celebrated, May 24, the anniversary of his first return.
St. Gregory VII, Pope and Confessor – May 25
In the 11th century the Church was in subjection to lay princes, and was ravaged by simony and grave abuses in the lives of the clergy. Hildebrand, a monk of Cluny, later abbot of St. Paul’s in Rome, left the quiet of the cloister to become, under six successive popes, the guiding force and chief artisan of what has come to be known as the Gregorian reform. When, under the name of Gregory VII he finally became pope himself, he made open war on the practice of lay investiture, the source of the evils afflicting the Church. His strong attitude provoked the violent opposition of the Emperor Henry IV, and he was forced to leave Rome for exile at Salerno. There he died in 1085, the fearless champion of the Church’s liberty. Before dying he summed up his life in the words: “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.”
St. Urban I, Pope and Martyr – May 25
This holy pope is believed to have been the same Urban who baptized Valerian , husband of St. Cecilia, Tiburtius, brother of Valerian, and Maximus, their gaoler, whom we honor on April 14th.St. Urban was martyred in 230.
St. Philip Neri, Confessor – May 26
St. Philip was born at Florence in 1515, but lived at Rome, where he founded the Congregation of the Oratory. He was a wonderful educator of youth. The texts of the Mass emphasize especially the ardor of his love of God, which made his heart beat so violently as to be extremely painful. He died in 1595.
St. Eleutherius, Pope and Martyr – May 26
St. Eleutherius governed the Church during the period that followed the persecution of the Emperor Commodus. Faith at the time made great progress in the whole world. After a pontificate lasting 15 years, he died in 185 and buried on the Vatican Hill near the body of St. Peter.
St. John I, Pope and Martyr – May 27
Pope St. John I (525-526) governed the Church at the time when the Arian King Theodoric ravaged Italy. This king, having artfully enticed him to Ravenna caused him to be thrown into a dark dungeon where he died. His body is buried at Rome in the Basilica of St. Peter.
St. Bede, the Venerable, Confessor and Doctor – May 27
St. Bede was born at Jarrow in Northumberland and was at an early age confided to St. Benet Biscop, the Benedictine abbot of Wearmouth and Jarrow. There he himself became “the happiest and most observant of monks.” He wrote many commentaries on Holy Scripture, and even during his lifetime many passages from them were read in the Divine Office. As it was not allowed to call him Saint, he was styled “The Venerable,” a title which remained attached to his name after his death. A scholar after the manner of Cassiodorus and St. Isidore of Seville, he was one of the most learned churchman of his century. He died May 25, 735.
St. Augustine of Canterbury, Archbishop and Confessor – May 28
St. Augustine was a monk of St. Andrew’s Abbey on the Coelian Hill at Rome, and in 596 was sent by St. Gregory with forty of his brethren to convert the Anglo-Saxons. Augustine built a monastery at Canterbury, where eventually he established his Episcopal see. The king of Kent, St. Ethelbert, was converted, and one Christmas Day Augustine baptized more than ten thousand English. He died in 604.
St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, Virgin – May 29
St. Mary Magdalen was a Florentine of the noble family of Pazzi, and became a Carmelite nun at the age of sixteen. She practiced great mortifications for the salvation of infidels and sinners, taking as her motto: “to suffer not to die.” She died in 1607, and her body, which she had so greatly mortified, still remains incorrupt.
St. Felix I, Pope and Martyr – May 30
The pontificate of St. Felix I (269-274) was troubled by schism at Antioch and Aurelian*s persecution. St. Felix himself courageously bore witness to Christ, and was buried in the catacomb of St. Callistus.
Queenship of Mary – May 31
From the earliest centuries of the Catholic Church, Christians have addressed suppliant prayers and hymns of praise to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the hope they have placed in the Mother of the Savior has never been disappointed. They have looked upon her as Queen of Angels, Queen of Patriarchs, Queen of Prophets, Queen of Apostles, Queen of Martyrs, and Queen of Virgins. Because of her eminence, she is indeed entitled to the highest honors that can be bestowed upon any creature. St. Gregory Nazianzen called her Mother of the King of the entire universe, and the Virgin Mother who brought forth the King of the entire world.
St. Angela Merici, Virgin – May 31
St. Angela Merici was born at Desanzano on Lake Guarda in Northern Italy and died at Brescia in 1540. From her youth she vowed virginity and consecrated herself wholly to Christ. She was fond of saying that disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family, and that there were few good Christian mothers because the education of girls was neglected. To remedy this she founded the Ursuline Congregation to undertake the Christian education of girls.
St. Petronilla, Virgin – May 31
Aurelia Petronilla was the spiritual daughter of the Prince of the Apostles in the 1st century. God delivered her by sudden death from the snares laid to imperil her virginity. Her body rests in the Basilica dedicated to St. Peter who had taught her the faith.
Ascension Thursday – June 2
The Second feast kept during Paschaltide is the Ascension, which crowns the whole of our Lord’s life. For the risen Christ must cease to tread the soil of our poor earth and return to His Father in whose bosom, as God, He must be for all eternity, and where, in St. Cyprian’s words, “His humanity is now welcomed with a joy no tongue can express.” Christ is now to take possession of the Kingdom of Heaven which He has won by His sufferings, and to open to us His Father’s House, “setting our frail nature at the right hand of God’s glory,” that there, as God’s children, we may fill the place from which the angels fell. So, as Conqueror of sin and Satan, Jesus enters heaven; while the angels hail and greet their King and the souls of the just, freed from Limbo, form for Him an escort of glory. “I go to prepare a place for you,” He told His apostles and St. Paul asserts that God has made us “sit together” with Christ, “in the heavenly places,” since already “we are saved by hope.” “There, where the Head has entered,” says St. Leo, “the body also is called to penetrate.” It is on Ascension Day that Christ begins His heavenly Priesthood, showing His glorious wounds to God. “He is… always living to make intercession for us,” and has obtained for us the Holy Ghost, with all His gifts.
St. Francis Caracciolo, Confessor – June 4
A letter delivered to him by mistake informed St. Francis Caracciolo of the founding of the new religious institute of Minor Clerks Regular, and he decided to join it. Filled with an ardent love of God, he gave himself up with extraordinary fervor to prayer and penance. He died at Rome in 1608, on the vigil of Corpus Christi, aged 44.
Our Lord laid the foundations of His Church during His public life, and after His resurrection He gave it the powers necessary for its mission. It was by the Holy Ghost that the apostles were to be trained and endowed with strength from on high. “And it will send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay you in the city, till you are endued with power from on high.” At Pentecost we celebrate the first manifestation of the Holy Ghost among our Lord’s disciples and the foundation of the Church itself. Hence the choice of the basilica dedicated to St. Peter for today’s station. Taught by the “light of the Holy Ghost,” and filled by the gifts of the same Spirit poured out upon them, the apostles became new men to go forth and renewed the whole world. The gift of the Holy Ghost to the Church means, effectively, for each one of us the fullness of the life of grace, beginning with baptism and coming in due course to full development. It meant the same for the apostles, and, additionally, the passing on of this same life from a spring that will never run dry. Forgiveness of sins, justification, redemption, our adoption as sons, as the children of God, Christian charity, the communion of saints – all these which make up the riches and very life of the Church, have been, and still are, bestowed upon us in the Holy Ghost by the apostles and the successors of the apostles within the Church of God. Pentecost is not merely the anniversary of a past event; it is an ever living reality in the Church and in us. “Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love:” that is the fervent prayer of the Church at the Alleluia of the Mass every day of the Octave; we should make it our own and the Holy Ghost will come down upon us.
St. Anthony of Padua, Confessor and Doctor – June 13
St. Anthony was born at Lisbon, in Portugal. He became first a canon regular, then a Franciscan, and preached the Gospel everywhere in Portugal and Italy. Both as a theologian and as a popular preacher he fought vigorously against heresy. His preaching was inspired by the love of God and of souls and had an extraordinary power of conviction; it was filled with the penetrating power of the Bible, so that Gregory IX, who heard him preach, called him during his lifetime the “Arca Testamenti,” meaning: “the living repository of the Holy Scriptures;” and Pius XII, when he proclaimed St. Anthony a Doctor of the Church, declared that he based all that he said on the texts of the Gospels, and could justly be called the Evangelical Doctor. He lived for a time in France, but chiefly in Italy, and died at Padua in 1231 aged 35, with the reputation of great sanctity. From the day of his death innumerable miracles caused the faithful to invoke him as a wonderworker of untiring benevolence.
St. Basil the Great, Bishop Confessor and Doctor – June 14
St. Basil was born at Caesarea in Cappadocia, studied at Constantinople and Athens with his close friend St. Gregory Nazianzen, and embraced the monastic life in Pontus. He wrote the famous monastic rule which bears his name and won St. Benedict’s praise; it is still observed by Eastern monks. Becoming bishop of Caesarea, Basil spared no pains to nourish his people’s faith with sound doctrine, so protecting them from heresy. He refused the Arians who denied Christ’s Divinity; and in opposition to Macedonius he solidly established also the Catholic doctrine of the Godhead of the Holy Ghost. He is one of the four great Doctors of the Church. He died in 379.
SS. Vitus, Modestus and Crescentia, Martyrs – June 15
According to his legend, St. Vitus, also called St. Guy, was a Sicilian nobleman’s son, who was baptized against his father’s wish and martyred in 303 with Modestus and Crescentia, Christian members of his household. St. Vitus is one of the “Fourteen Holy Helpers,” and is invoked to cure epilepsy or “St. Vitus’s dance.”
St. Gregory Lewis Barbadigo, Confessor and Cardinal Bishop of Padua – June 17
He was born in 1625, of an ancient and noble Venetian family. From his tender years he cultivated his mind with all polite and solid studies, and still with much greater ardor adorned his soul with the perfect spirit of all Christian virtues, in which he made every day greater and greater progress. He was sent by the republic of Venice, with its ambassador Aloysius Contarini, one of the mediators at the famous congress of Munster, where the celebrated treaty, commonly called of Westphalia, Osnaburg, or Munster, was signed by the plenipotentiaries of Germany, France, and Sweden, on the 24th of October, 1648. There Fabius Chigi, apostolic nuncio, became acquainted with him, and was exceedingly charmed with his virtue and other great qualities, and being chosen pope under the name of Alexander VII. in 1655, was always his strenuous protector. Gregory was consecrated bishop of Bergamo in 1657, created cardinal by Alexander VII. in 1660, and translated to the bishopric of Padua in 1664. In every state of life Barbadigo was a model of regularity, zeal, watchfulness, and piety. So edifying was his conduct, and so indefatigable was he in the visitation of his diocese, and in all the functions of his charge, that he was looked upon as a second St. Charles Borromeo. His charities were excessive, and it was known that he had given in alms eight hundred thousand crowns. He munificently founded a great and most convenient college in the country for the education of youth in piety and learning. Also a stately and admirable seminary in he city of Padua, which is to this day the glory not only of the Venetian territories, but also of Italy and Christendom. He took care to have it furnished with able professors of sacred sciences, and of the learned and sacred languages. He founded in it a noble library furnished with the best chosen books for studies, especially for critical learning, the holy scriptures and the fathers of the church. For the use of this noble establishment he founded also a printing-office. All virtues he possessed in an heroic degree and everything in him was excellent. And so perfectly was he master of himself, and dead to himself and the world, that his soul was never elated by prosperity, nor sunk by trials or adversity. His death was no less edifying, happy, and glorious than the whole tenor of his life had been. It happened on the 15th of June, 1697. A sudden and entire cure of a formed gangrene and other distempers which the symptoms had declared mortal, and other miracles performed through his intercession, were duly proved, and this illustrious servant of God was beatified by pope Clement XIII.
St. Ephrem, Deacon, Confessor, Doctor – June 18
St Ephrem, called “the Harp of the Holy Ghost,” is the great classic Doctor of the Syrian church. As deacon at Edessa, he vigorously combated the heresies of his time, and to do so more effectively wrote poems and hymns about the mysteries of Christ, the Blessed Virgin and the saints. He had a great devotion to our Lady. He was a commentator on Scripture and a preacher as well as a poet, and has left a considerable number of works, which were translated into Greek and Latin. He died in 373. Benedict XV proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church in 1920.
SS. Mark and Marcellianus, Martyrs – June 18
Marcus and Marcellianus were twin brothers of an illustrious family in Rome, had been converted to the faith in their youth, and were honorably married. Dioclesian ascended the imperial throne in 284; soon after which the heathens raised tumultuary persecutions, though this emperor had not yet published any new edicts against the church. These martyrs were thrown into prison, and condemned by Chromatius, lieutenant of the prefect of Rome, to be beheaded. Their friends obtained a respite of the execution for thirty days, that they might prevail with them to comply with the judge, and they were removed into the house of Nicostratus the public register. Tranquillinus and Martia, their afflicted heathen parents, in company with their sons own wives and their little babes at their breasts, endeavored to move them by the most tender entreaties and tears. St. Sebastian, an officer of the emperors household, coming to Rome soon after their commitment daily visited and encouraged them. The issue of the conferences was the happy conversion of the father, mother, and wives, also of Nicostratus, and soon after of Chromatius, who set the saints at liberty, and abdicating the magistracy retired into the country. Marcus and Marcellianus were hid by Castulus, a Christian officer of the household, in his apartments in the palace; but they were betrayed by an apostate named Torquatus, and retaken. Fabian, who had succeeded Chromatius, condemned them to be bound to two pillars with their feet nailed to the same. In this posture they remained a day and a night, and on the following day were stabbed with lances, and buried in the Arenarium, since called their cemetery, two miles out of Rome, between the Appian and Ardeatine roads. All the ancient Martyrologies mark their festival on the 18th of June. Virtue is often false, and in it the true metal is not to be distinguished from dross until persecution has applied the touchstone, and proved the temper. We know not what we are till we have been tried. It costs nothing to say we love God above all things, and to show the courage of martyrs at a distance from the danger, but that love is sincere which has stood the proof. “Persecution shows who is a hireling, and who a true pastor,” says St. Bernard.
St. Juliana Falconieri, Virgin – June 19
St. Juliana was the foundress of the Servite nuns, called “Mantellate” on account of their dress (a short mantle). She practiced to a rare degree the special Servite devotion to the Seven Sorrows of our Lady. She had also a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and received Holy Communion miraculously on the day of her death: since she could not eat or communicate, she asked that the sacred Host be held near her heart; whereupon it entered into her body to nourish her with the Body of Christ. – She died at Florence in 1341.
SS. Gervase and Protase, Martyrs – June 19
These two were brothers, sons of S. Vitalis of Ravenna, who were martyred at Milan in the second century; St. Ambrose discovered their bodies in 386. They rest now, with that of St. Ambrose himself, on the altar of the crypt of St. Ambrose’s church at Milan. They are invoked in the Litany of Saints.
St. Silverius, Pope and Martyr – June 20
St. Silverius was pope for a very short time in 536-537. But his brief pontificate made him a martyr of the truth, which he defended at the cost of his life. He died in exile in the isle of Ponza, for refusing the Empress Theodora’s demand to reinstate the heresiarch Anthimos in the see of Constantinople. His body was brought back to Rome and laid in the Vatican basilica.
St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Confessor – June 21
St. Aloysius Gonzaga’s outstanding quality was his radiant purity, and the Church praises his perfect innocence with the words, “Thou hast made him little less than the angels.” He was baptized in the womb because his life was in danger. He received his first Communion from the hands of St. Charles Borromeo. At the age of nine he vowed virginity, and in spite of the temptations of the princely courts to which his father sent him he kept his first innocence unstained. At sixteen he entered the Society of Jesus at Rome, and distinguished himself by his mortification and love of God. He died in 1591, aged 23, as a result of his devoted nursing of the plague-stricken. – Pope Benedict XIII proclaimed him patron and model of youth.
St. Paulinus, Bishop and Confessor – June 22
St. Paulinus was born of a patrician Roman family at Bordeaux. He was successively prefect, senator and consul. His wife wishing to consecrate herself to God gave up rank and riches; he followed her example and went to live an austere hermit’s life at Nola in Italy. There he became a priest and then bishop of the city, and gave his people not only an example of virtue but also wise guidance during the ravages and calamities of the Gothic invasion. He died in 431, aged 78, and was buried at Nola near the tomb of St. Felix.
The Nativity of St. John the Baptist – June 24
As “prophet of the Most High,” St. John was prefigured by Isaias and Jeremias; still more perfectly than they, he was consecrated from before his birth to be the herald who should prepare men’s souls for the Savior’s coming. The Gospel describes the wonders which accompanied his birth recounting how Zachary gave him the name which God Himself had bestowed through His angel, how he recovered speech, was filled with the Holy Ghost and foretold the greatness of his son: that he would go before the Lord to prepare His way for Him, and make known their salvation to His people. The Angel Gabriel had told Zachary that many would rejoice in the birth of his son; indeed it was the dawn of salvation and is still celebrated as such by the Church. St. John the Baptist’s birthday is like a summer Christmas, a prelude to the Savior’s birth, inseparably connected with it. In the Precursor’s coming we greet the coming of the Savior Himself, and our joy in it springs from the thought the “the Lord God of Israel… hath visited and wrought the redemption of His people.” The prophecy read as the Epistle at Mass also refers more to our Lord’s than to His Precursor’s mission, again emphasizing the point that today as at Christmas the Church is celebrating the coming of salvation. St. Augustine saw a symbol in the dates of the two feasts: after St. John’s birthday the days become shorter, at Christmas they begin to lengthen, and the Precursor, humbly effacing himself before Him whom he had announced, was to say, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” It was natural therefore, that St. John’s birthday should hold an important place in the Liturgy. It was once a holy day of obligation and three Masses were celebrated as at Christmas; bonfires were lighted on hilltops as a symbol of the light appearing in the darkness. St. John is named in the Canon of the Mass. Popular devotion to St. John was very great, and many churches were dedicated to him, many children named after him. – Let us ask St. John the Baptist to continue his mission as Precursor in us by guiding our souls into the way of eternal salvation.
St. William, Abbot – June 25
St. William was a Piedmontese hermit of the late eleventh century. He built a monastery on the summit of Monte Vergine near Naples, and established a community of hermits, to whom he gave a rule inspired in great measure by that of St. Benedict. He died in 1142.
SS. John and Paul, Martyrs – June 26
The venerable church of Sts. John and Paul on the Coelian Hill at Rome was built in 400 on the site of an ancient titular church, in which were the relics among others of the two great Roman martyrs, whose feast it is today. They were greatly venerated at Rome, and are mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. A fifth century account makes them brothers who supported one another in their sufferings for their faith. Their true fraternity in fidelity to Christ is emphasized in the texts of their Mass.
St. Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr – June 28
Towards the end of the second century, when Gnostic sects, perverting all Christian thought, threatened to undermine the basis of Christianity, St. Irenaeus was vigorous in denunciation of heresy and defence of union in the truth. He established the basic principle of the Church’s doctrinal tradition, that throughout the world she professes the faith received from the Apostles, and that the preservation of this apostolic tradition is guaranteed in the Church of Rome, founded on the great Apostles Peter and Paul. St. Irenaeus was not only an ardent apologist, he was also a great theologian, the first to make a reasoned synthesis of the Christian faith. His name means peacemaker; even the Secret and Postcommunion are borrowed from the votive Mass for peace. – He was a native of Asia Minor, but came to Lyons in Gaul, where he succeeded St. Ponthinus as bishop of Septimus Severus: in any case, St. Jerome gives him the title of Martyr.
SS. Peter and Paul, Apostles and Martyrs – June 29
The whole Church rejoices in this festival day, which is consecrated by the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Formerly the holy Sacrifice was twice offered solemnly at Rome, in the two great basilicas built above the tombs of these “two princes, who by the cross and sword attained their place in the eternal senate.” Later the celebration was divided on account of the distance between the two churches, and St. Peter is more particularly honored on June 29th, St. Paul on June 30th.Today’s Mass dwells especially upon St. Peter’s prerogatives, God’s special protection of him, and the Church’s trust in the intercession of the two great Apostles. – As they sing Tu es Petrus, Christians recall that the prerogatives of the Prince of the Apostles have passed to the popes, his successors in the see of Rome, and they have the assurance that they may rely upon God’s special Providence for Christ’s vicar, now charged with the responsibility for Holy Church.
Commemoration of St. Paul, Apostle and Martyr – June 30
The Church never separates the memory of the two Princes of the Apostles; yesterday St. Peter’s prerogatives were recalled, today we are reminded of St. Paul’s special mission as Apostle of the Gentiles. To St. Paul we owe, not only the Church’s early extension throughout the Roman world, but the wonderful expositions of doctrine from which the most part of the Epistles in our Masses are taken.
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – July 2
When Mary had learned from the Angel Gabriel that God would soon give Elizabeth a son, she at once set out for the town where her cousin lived. This is the mystery of the Visitation, which is celebrated on the day following the octave of St. John the Baptist’s nativity. Today Jesus, Mary and the Precursor are together in our thoughts as they were during Advent, when indeed the Visitation was already recalled on Ember Friday. It is a mystery of sanctification and peace; Mary comes to Elizabeth, Jesus comes to John and sanctifies him. The Precursor leaps for joy in his mother’s womb, and she herself is inspired by the Holy Ghost to greet her cousin with the words: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” Then the Virgin Mother of God, bearing in her womb Him who creates and upholds the universe, utters her sublime canticle, the Magnificat. This feast was instituted by Urban VI in 1389, to obtain the end of the western schism, and raised to the second class by Pius IX in 1849.
SS. Processus and Martinian, Martyrs – July 2
Peter and Paul, cast into the Mamertine prison, converted their two warders, Processus and Martiniand baptized them. Brought before the statue of Jupiter, these new Christians refused to adore it and were put to death.