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Archive for May, 2012

Feastday: May 27

Died: 605

Saint Augustine of Canterbury (6th century – 27 May 605) was a Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 597. He is considered the “Apostle to the English” and a founder of the English Church.

Pope St. Gregory the Great had decided it was time to send missionaries to Anglo-Saxon England. He chose Augustine and thirty monks to make the unexpected, and dangerous, trip to England. Augustine and his monks were to bring these Christians back into the fold and convince the warlike conquerors to become Christians themselves.

Gregory had heard encouraging news that England was far more ready for Christianity than the stories would indicate, including the marriage of King Ethelbert of Kent to a Christian princess, Bertha. He sent Augustine and the monks on their way fortified with his belief that now was the time for evangelization.

King Ethelbert himself wasn’t as sure, but he was a just king and curious. So he went to hear what the missionaries had to say about Christianity after they landed in England. He did not convert then but was impressed enough to let them continue to preaching as long as they didn’t force anyone to convert. They didn’t have to — the king was baptized in 597.

Augustine was consecrated bishop of the English and more missionaries arrived from Rome to help with the new task. Augustine had to be very careful because, although the English had embraced the new religion they still respected the old. Under the wise orders of Gregory the Great, Augustine aided the growth from the ancient traditions to the new life by consecrating pagan temples for Christian worship and turning pagan festivals into feast days of martyrs. Canterbury was built on the site of an ancient church.

Augustine was only in England for eight years before he died in 605. His feast day is celebrated on May 27. He is also known as Austin, a name that many locations have adopted.

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Feastday: May 26

Patron of Rome

Saint Philip Romolo Neri (21 July 1515 – 25 May 1595), also known as Apostle of Rome, was an Italian priest, noted for founding a society of secular priests called the “Congregation of the Oratory”.

Born in 1515 in Florence, he showed the impulsiveness and spontaneity of his character from the time he was a boy. His father was not successful financially and at eighteen Philip was sent to work with an older cousin who was a successful businessman. During this time, Philip found a favorite place to pray up in the fissure of a mountain that had been turned into a chapel.

After thanking his cousin, he went to Rome in 1533 where he was the live-in tutor of the sons of a fellow Florentine. He studied philosophy and theology until he thought his studies were interfering with his prayer life. He then stopped his studies, threw away his books, and lived as a kind of hermit.

In 1548 Philip formed a confraternity with other laymen to minister to pilgrims who came to Rome without food or shelter. The spiritual director of the confraternity convinced Philip that he could do even more work as a priest. After receiving instruction from this priest, Philip was ordained in 1551.

At his new home, the church of San Girolamo, he learned to love to hear confessions. Young men especially found in him the wisdom and direction they needed to grow spiritually. The numbers of the men who attended these meetings grew rapidly. In order to handle the growth, Philip and a fellow priest Buonsignore Cacciaguerra gave a more formal structure to the meetings and built a room called the Oratory to hold them in. They became officially known as the Congregation of the Oratory, made up of secular priests and clerics.

Philip was very serious about prayer, spending hours in prayer. He was so easily carried away that he refused to preach in public and could not celebrate Mass with others around. But he when asked how to pray his answer was, “Be humble and obedient and the Holy Spirit will teach you.”

Philip died in 1595 after a long illness at the age of eighty years.

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Feastday: May 20

Saint Bernardino of Siena, O.F.M., (8 September 1380 – 20 May 1444) was an Italian priest, Franciscan missionary, and is a Catholic saint. The son of a noble family, he had been orphaned at seven and raised by an aunt. After his aunt died, Bernardine started to think about where his life should be going.

In the year 1400, a plague was raging through the city of Siena so horrible that as many as twenty people died each day just in the hospital alone. It was a desperate situation — more and more people were falling ill and fewer and fewer people were there to help them.

At that time St Bernardino came to help and he brought young men like himself willing to tend the dying. For four months Bernardine and his companions worked day and night not only to comfort the patients but to organize and clean the hospital. Only at the end of the plague did Bernardine himself fall ill — of exhaustion.

Bernardine, who had come to Siena to study, threw himself into prayer and fasting to discover what God wanted him to do. In 1403 he joined the Franciscans and in 1404 he was ordained a priest.

The Franciscans were known as missionary preachers, but Bernardine did very little preaching with because of a voice that was weak and hoarse. For twelve years he remained in the background, his energies going to prayer or to his own spiritual conversion and preparation. At the end of that time, he went to Milan on a mission. When he got up to preach his voice was strong and commanding and his words so convincing that the crowd would not let him leave unless he promised to come back.

Thus began the missionary life of the one whom Pope Pius II called a second Paul. As usual, Bernardine through his whole self, body and soul, into his new career. He crisscrossed Italy on foot, preaching for hours at a time, several times a day. We are told he preached on punishment for sin as well as reward for virtue but focusing in the end on the mercy of Jesus and the love of Mary. His special devotion was to the Holy Name of Jesus.

Some who were jealous denounced him to the pope by saying he preached superstition. Silenced for a short while, Bernardine was soon cleared and back to preaching.

Bernardine refused several cities that wanted him as bishop but he was unable to avoid being named vicar general of his order. All his energy during that period went to renewing the original spirit of the order.

Soon, however, Bernardine heard the call to go back to preaching which consumed his last days. As a matter of fact, even when it was clear he was dying, he preached fifty consecutive days. He died in 1444 when he was almost 64 years old.

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Feastday: May 19

Pope Saint Celestine V (1215 – 19 May 1296), born Pietro Angelerio, also known as Pietro da Morrone (Peter), was elected Pope in the year 1294 in the last non-conclave papal election in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

When the father of this Italian saint died, his good mother brought up her twelve children well, even though they were very poor. Once when she asked her children, “which one of you is going to become a saint?” little Peter (who was to become Pope Celestine) answered with all his heart, “Me, mama! I’ll become a saint!” And he did.

He became a Benedictine monk at Faifoli in the Diocese of Benevento when he was 17. When he was twenty, Peter became a hermit and spent his days praying and reading the Holy Bible. Because other hermits kept coming to him and begging him to guide them, he started a new Order.

Peter was an old monk, eighty-four years of age when he was made Pope. It came about in a very unusual way. For two years, there had been no Pope, because the Cardinals could not decide whom to choose. After being forced to chose a pope, St Celestine was chosen. He wept when he heard the news, but he sorrowfully accepted and took the name Celestine V.

He was Pope only about five months. Because he was so humble and simple, everyone took advantage of him. He could not say “no” to anyone, and soon matters were in great confusion. At last, the Saint decided that he had better give up his position as Pope. He did so and then threw himself at the feet of the Cardinals for not having been capable of governing the Church.

St. Celestine hoped to live in one of his monasteries in peace. But the new Pope thought it would be safer to keep him where wicked people could not take advantage of him. The saint was put in a cell and died there. His feast day is May 19th.

Pope Clement V canonized Celestine in 1313 at the urging of King Philip IV of France. St Celestine is notable for having abdicated the papacy. Despite his brief papacy, Celestine V is recognized by the Church as a saint. No subsequent pope has taken the name Celestine.

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Feastday: May 13

452 – 558

John the Silent (January 8, 452 – May 13, 558) was the Bishop of Colonia in Palestine, a hermit and a Christian saint. He was born in Nicopolis, Armenia (Koyulhisar, Turkey) and after the death of his parents in 471 founded a monastery at the age of eighteen.

In 482 he was appointed Bishop of Taxara, Armenia at the age of twenty-eight. He spent nine years in his office before retiring to Jerusalem to embrace the eremitical life. Through a vision, he found his way to the monastery of St. Sabas, asking to be walled up and living for seventy-five years as a silent recluse

St. John’s feast day is May 13 in the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, and March 30 in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches

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Feastday: May 12

Patron: Teenager

There is limited information about Saint Pancras, the martyr. He was born at the end of the third century and brought up by an uncle in Rome after the death of his parents. Both he and his uncle became Christians. Pancras was beheaded in 304 during Diocletian’s persecution. He was only 14 years old.

Pancras is especially venerated in England because Augustine of Canterbury dedicated his first church to Pancras and his relics were presented as a gift to the king of Northumberland. A district in London is named St. Pancras after him.

Prayer:
St. Pancras, pray for all teenagers that their faith may be as strong as yours, strong enough to lead them through all the trials of their life.

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Feastday: May 6

Died: May 6, 1590

Blessed Edward Jones (died 6 May 1590) was born in the diocese of St Asaph and baptised an Anglican. He was received into the Catholic Church in Reims in 1587 and ordained priest in 1588. He returned to England and was arrested in Fleet Street in 1590. Tortured in the Tower he made a skilful defence, for which the court complimented him. This, however, did not stop him being convicted of high treason. He was hanged, drawn and quartered on 6 May 1590, opposite the grocer’s shop where he had been captured.

Edward Jones was from Wales and Anthony Middleton was from Yorkshire. Both were educated at the Douai College in Rheims. They became priests and were sent to the English mission in the time of Elizabeth I.

Middleton was the first to arrive in England, in 1586, and pursued the ministry for some time without being discovered, helped considerably by his youthful appearance and slight stature. Jones followed, in 1588, and quickly became known by the English Catholics as a devout and eloquent preacher. The two men of God were hunted down and captured with the aid of spies posing as Catholics, and they were hanged before the very doors of the houses in Fleet Street and Clerkenwell where they were arrested.

Their trial is regarded as full of irregularities; the reason for the summary justice dispensed to them was spelled out in large letters: “For treason and foreign invasion.” After offering their death for the forgiveness of their sins, the spread of the true Faith, and the conversion of heretics, they died on May 6, 1590. Their feast day is May 6th.

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