MARCH 1.-ST. DAVID, BISHOP.
ST. ALBINUS, BISHOP
MARCH 2.-ST. SIMPLICIUS, POPE
MARCH 3.-ST. CUNEGUNDES, EMPRESS.
MARCH 4.-ST. CASIMIR, KING.
MARCH 5.-SS. ADRIAN AND EUBULUS, MARTYRS.
MARCH 6.-ST. COLETTE, VIRGIN.
MARCH 7.-ST. THOMAS AQUINAS.
MARCH 8.-ST. JOHN OF GOD.
MARCH 9.-ST. FRANCES OF ROME.
MARCH 10.-THE FORTY MARTYRS OF SEBASTE.
MARCH 11.-ST. EULOGIUS, MARTYR.
MARCH 12.-ST. GREGORY THE GREAT.
MARCH 13.-ST. EUPHRASIA, VIRGIN.
MARCH 14.-ST. MAUD, QUEEN.
MARCH 15.-ST. ZACHARY, POPE.
MARCH 16.-SS. ABRAHAM AND MARY.
MARCH 17.-ST. PATRICK, BISHOP, APOSTLE OF IRELAND.
MARCH 18.-ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM.
MARCH 19.-ST. JOSEPH, SPOUSE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN.
MARCH 20.-ST. WULFRAN, ARCHBISHOP.
MARCH 21.-ST. BENEDICT, ABBOT.
MARCH 22.-ST. CATHARINE OF SWEDEN VIRGIN.
MARCH 23.-SS. VICTORIAN AND OTHERS, MARTYRS.
MARCH 24.-ST. SIMON, INFANT MARTYR.
MARCH 25.-THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE B.V.M.
MARCH 26.-ST. LUDGER, BISHOP.
MARCH 27.-ST. JOHN OF EGYPT.
MARCH 28.-ST. GONTRAN, KING.
MARCH 29.-SS. JONAS, BARACHISIUS, AND THEIR COMPANIONS, MARTYRS.
MARCH 30.-ST. JOHN CLIMACUS.
MARCH 31.-ST. BENJAMIN, DEACON, MARTYR.
St. David, son of Sant, prince of Cardigan and of Non, was born in that country in the fifth century, and from his earliest years gave himself wholly to the service of God. He began his religious life under St. Paulinus, a disciple of St. Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre, who had been sent to Britain by Pope St. Celestine to stop the ravages of the heresy of Pelagius, at that time abbot, as it is said, of Bangor. On the reappearance of that heresy, in the beginning of the sixth century, the bishops assembled at Brevi, and, unable io address the people that came to hear the word of truth, sent for St. David from his cell to preach to them. The Saint came, and it is related that, as he preached, the ground beneath his feet rose and became a hill, so that he was heard by an innumerable crowd. The heresy fell under the sword of the Spirit, and the Saint was elected Bishop of Caerleon on the resignation of St. Dubricius; but he removed the see to Menevia, a lone and desert spot, where he might with his monks serve God away from the noise of the world. He founded twelve monasteries, and governed his Church according to the canons sanctioned in Rome. At last, when about eighty years of age, he laid himself down, knowing that his hour was come. As his agony closed, Our Lord stood before him in a vision, and the Saint cried out, " Take me up with Thee," and so gave up his soul on Tuesday, March 1st, 561.
St. Albinus was of an ancient and noble family in Brittany, and from his childhood was fervent in every exercise of piety. He ardently sighed after the happiness which a devout soul finds in being perfectly disengaged from all earthly things. Having embraced the Monastic state at Tintillant, near Angers, he shone a perfect model of virtue, living as if in all things he had been without any will of his own and his soul seemed so perfectly governed by the Spirit of Christ as to live only for Him. At the age of thirty-five years he was chosen abbot, in 504, and twenty-five years after, bishop of Angers. He everywhere restored discipline, being inflamed with a holy zeal for the honor of God. His dignity seemed to make no alteration either in his mortifications or in the constant recollection of his soul. Honored by all the world, even by kings, he was never affected with vanity. Powerful in works and miracles, he looked upon himself as the most unworthy and most unprofitable among the servants of God, and had no other ambition than to appear such in the eyes of others as he was in those of his own humility. In the third council of Orleans, in 538, he procured the thirtieth canon of the council of Epaone to be revived, by which those are declared excommunicated who presume to contract incestuous marriages in the first or second degree of consanguinity or affinity. He died on the 1st of March, in 549.
Reflection.-With whatever virtues a man may be endowed, he will discover, if he considers himself attentively, a sufficient depth of misery to afford cause for deep humility; but Jesus Christ says, " He that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
St. Simplicius was the ornament of the Roman clergy under SS. Leo and Hilarius, and succeeded the latter in the pontificate in 497. He was raised by God to comfort and support His Church amidst the greatest storms. All the provinces of the Western Empire, out of Italy, were fallen into the hands of barbarians. The emperors for many years were rather shadows of power than sovereigns, and in the eighth year of the pontificate of Simplicius, Rome itself fell a prey to foreigners. Italy, by oppressions and the ravages of barbarians, was left almost a desert without inhabitants; and the imperial armies consisted chiefly of barbarians, hired under the name of auxiliaries. These soon saw their masters were in their power. The Heruli demanded one-third of the lands of Italy, and, upon refusal, chose for their leader Odoacer, one of the lowest extraction, but a resolute and intrepid man, who was proclaimed king at Rome in 476. He put to death Orestes, who was regent of the empire for his son Augustulus, whom the senate had advanced to the imperial throne. Odoacer spared the life of Augustulus, and appointed him a salary of six thousand pounds of gold, and permitted him to live at full liberty near Naples. Pope Simplicius was wholly taken up in comforting and relieving the afflicted, and in sowing the seeds of the Catholic faith among the barbarians. The East gave his zeal no less employment and concern. Peter Cnapheus, a violent Eutychian, was made by the heretics patriarch of Antioch; and Peter Mongus, one of the most profligate men, that of Alexandria. Acacius, the patriarch of Constantinople, received the sentence of St. Simplicius against Cnapheus, but supported Mongus against him and the Catholic Church, and was a notorious changeling, double-dealer, and artful hypocrite, who often made religion serve his own private ends. St. Sirnplicius at length discovered his artifices, and redoubled his zeal to maintain the holy faith, which he saw betrayed on every side, whilst the patriarchal sees of Alexandria and Antioch were occupied by furious wolyes, and there was not one Catholic king in the whole world. The emperor measured every thing by his passions and human views. St. Simplicius having sat fifteen years, eleven months, and six days, went to receive the reward of his labors, in 483. He was buried in St. Peter's on the 2d of March.
Reflection.-" He that trusteth in God, shall fare never the worse," saith the Wise Man in the Book of Ecclesiasticus.
St. Cunegundes was the daughter of Sigefride, the first Count of Luxemburg, and Hadeswige, his pious wife. They instilled into her from her cradle the most tender sentiments of piety, and married her to St. Henry, Duke of Bavaria, who, upon the death of the Emperor Otho III., was chosen king of the Romans, and crowned on the 6th of June, 1002. She was crowned at Paderborn on St. Laurence's day. In the year 1014 she went with her husband to Rome, and received the imperial crown with him from the hands of Pope Benedict VIII. She had, by St. Henry's consent before her marriage, made a vow of virginity. Calumniators afterward made vile accusations against her, and the holy empress, to remove the scandal of such a slander, trusting in God to prove her innocence, walked over red-hot ploughshares without being hurt. The emperor condemned his too scrupulous fears and credulity, and from that time they lived in the strictest union of hearts, conspiring to promote in every thing God's honor and the advancement of piety.
Going once to make a retreat in Hesse, she fell dangerously ill, and made a vow to found a monastery, if she recovered, at Kaffungen, near Cassel, in the diocese of Paderborn, which she executed in a stately manner, and gave it to nuns of the Order of St. Benedict. Before it was finished St. Henry died, in 1024. She earnestly recommended his soul to the prayers of others, especially to her dear nuns, and expressed her longing desire of joining them. She had already exhausted her treasures in founding bishoprics and monasteries, and in relieving the poor, and she had therefore little now left to give. But still thirsting to embrace perfect evangelical poverty, and to renounce all to serve God without obstacle, she assembled a great number of prelates to the dedication of her church of Kaffungen on the anniversary day of her husband's death, 1025, and after the Gospel was sung at Mass, she offered on the altar a piece of the True Cross, and then putting off her imperial robes, clothed herself with a poor habit: her hair was cut off, and the bishop put on her a veil, and a ring as a pledge of her fidelity to her heavenly spouse. After she was consecrated to God in religion, she seemed entirely to forget that she had been empress, and behaved as the last in the house, being persuaded that she was so before God. She prayed and read much, worked with her hands, and took a singular pleasure in visiting and comforting the sick. Thus she passed the fifteen last years of her life. Her mortifications at length reduced her to a very weak condition, and brought on her last sickness. Perceiving they were preparing a cloth fringed with gold to cover her corpse after her death, she changed color and ordered it to be taken away; nor could she be at rest till she was promised she should be buried as a poor religious in her habit. She died on the 3d of March, 104.0. Her body was carried to Bamberg, and buried near that of her husband. She was solemnly canonized by Innocent III. in 1200.
Reflection.-Detachment of the mind, at least, is needful to those who cannot venture on an effectual renunciation. " So likewise every one of you," saith Jesus Christ, " that doth not renounce all that he possesseth, cannot be My disciple."
Casimir, the second son of Casimir III., King of Poland, was born a.d. 1458. From the custody of a most virtuous mother, Elizabeth of Austria, he passed to the guardianship of a devoted master, the learned and pious John Dugloss. Thus animated from his earliest years by precept and example, his innocence and piety soon ripened into the practice of heroic virtue. At the age of twenty-five, sick of a lingering illness, he foretold the hour of his death, and chose to die a virgin rather than take the life and health which the doctors held out to him in the married state. In an atmosphere of luxury and magnificence the young prince had fasted, worn a hair shirt, slept upon the bare earth, prayed by night, and watched for the opening of the church doors at dawn. He had become so tenderly devoted to the Passion of Our Lord, that at Mass he seemed quite rapt out of himself, and his charity to the poor and afflicted knew no bounds. His love for our Blessed Lady he expressed in a long and beautiful hymn, familiar to us in our own tongue. The miracles wrought by his body after death fill a volume. The blind saw, the lame walked, the sick were healed, a dead girl was raised to life. And once the Saint in glory led his countrymen to battle, and delivered them by a glorious victory from the schismatic Russian hosts. One hundred and twenty-two years after his death the Saint's tomb in the cathedral of Vienna was opened, that the holy body might be transferred to the rich marble chapel where it now lies. The place was damp, and the very' vault crumbled away in the hands of the workmen ; yet the Saint's body, wrapt in robes of silk, was found whole and incorrupt, and emitted a sweet fragrance, which filled the church and refreshed all who were present. Under his head was found his hymn to Our Lady, which he had had buried with him. The following night three young men saw a brilliant light issuing from the open tomb and streaming through the windows of the chapel.
Reflection.-Let the study of St. Casimir's life make us increase in devotion to the most pure Mother of God, a sure means of preserving holy purity.
In the seventh year of Diocletian's persecution, continued by Galerius Maximianus, when Firmilian, the most bloody governor of Palestine, had stained Csesarea with the blood of many illustrious martyrs, Adrian and Eubulus came out of the country called Magantia, to Caesarea, in order to visit the holy confessors there. At the gates of the city they were asked, as others were, whither they were going, and upon what errand? They ingenuously confessed the truth, and' were brought before the president, who ordered them to be tortured, and their sides to be torn with iron hooks, and then condemned them to be exposed to wild beasts. Two days after, when the pagans at Caesarea celebrated the festival of the public Genius, Adrian was exposed to a lion, and not being despatched by that beast, but only mangled, was at length killed by the sword. Eubulus was treated in the same manner two days later. The judge offered him his liberty if he would sacrifice to idols; but the Saint preferred a glorious death, and was the last that suffered in this persecution at Caesarea, which had now continued twelve years under three successive governors, Flavian, Urban, and Firmilian. Divine vengeance pursuing the cruel Firmilian, he was that same year beheaded for his crimes, by the emperor's order, as his predecessor Urban had been two years before.
Reflection.-It is in vain that we take the name of Christians, or pretend to follow Christ, unless we carry our crosses after Him. It is in vain that we hope to share in His glory, and in His kingdom, if we accept not the condition. We cannot arrive at heaven by any other road but that which Christ held, who bequeathed His cross to all His elect as their portion and inheritance in this world.
After a Holy childhood, Colette joined a society of devout women called the Beguines; but not finding- their state sufficiently austere, she entered the Third Order of St. Francis, and lived in a hut near her parish church of Corbie in Picardy. Here she had passed four years of extraordinary penance, when St. Francis, in a vision, bade her undertake the reform of her Order, then much relaxed. Armed with due authority, she established her reform throughout a large part of Europe, and, in spite of the most violent opposition, founded seventeen convents of the strict observance. By the same wonderful prudence she assisted in healing the great schism which then afflicted the Church. The fathers in council at Constance were in doubt how to deal with the three claimants to the tiara-John XXIII., Benedict XIII., and Gregory XII. At this crisis Colette, together with St. Vincent Ferrer, wrote to the fathers to depose Benedict XIII.. who alone refused his consent to a new election. This was done, and Martin V. was elected, to the great good of the Church. Colette equally assisted the Council of Basle by her advice and prayers ; and when, later, God revealed to her the spirit of revolt that was rising, she warned the bishops and legates to retire from the Council. St. Colette never ceased to pray for the Church, while the devils, in turn, never ceased to assault her. They swarmed round her as hideous insects, buzzing and stinging her tender skin. They brought into her cell the decaying corpses of public criminals, and assuming, themselves monstrous forms struck her savage blows; or they would appear in the most seductive guise, and tempt her by many deceits to sin. St. Colette once complained to Our Lord that the demons prevented her from praying. " Cease, then," said the devil to her, " your prayers to the great Master of the Church, and we will cease to torment you; for you torment us more by your prayers than we do you." Yet the virgin of Christ triumphed alike over their threats and allurements, and said she would count that day the unhappiest of her life in which she suffered nothing for her God. She died March 6th, 1447, in a transport of intercession for sinners and the Church.
Reflection.-One of the greatest tests of being a good Catholic is zeal for the Church and devotion to Christ's Vicar.
St. Thomas was born of noble parents at Aquino, in Italy, a.d. 1226. At the age of nineteen he received the Dominican habit at Naples, where he was studying. Seized by his brothers on his way to Paris, he suffered a two years' captivity in their castle of Rocca-Secca; but neither the caresses of his mother and sisters, nor the threats and stratagems of his brothers, could shake him in his vocation. While St. Thomas was in confinement at Rocca-Secca, his brothers endeavored to entrap him into sin, but the attempt only ended in the triumph of his purity. Snatching from the hearth a burning brand, the Saint drove from his chamber the wretched creature whom they had there concealed. Then marking a cross upon the wall, he knelt down to pray, and forthwith, being rapt in ecstasy, an angel girded him with a cord, in token of the gift of perpetual chastity which God had given him. The pain caused by the girdle was so sharp that St. Thomas uttered a piercing cry, which brought his guards into the room. But he never told this grace to any one save only to Father Raynald, his confessor, a little while before his death. Hence originated the Confraternity of the "Angelic Warfare," for the preservation of the virtue of chastity. Having at length escaped, St. Thomas went to Cologne to study under Blessed Albert the Great, and after that to Paris, where for many years he taught philosophy and theology. The Church has ever venerated his numerous writings as a treasure-house of sacred doctrine; while in naming him the Angelic Doctor, she has indicated that his science is more divine than human. The rarest gifts of intellect were combined in him with the tenderest piety. Prayer, he said, had taught him more than study. His singular devotion to the Blessed Sacrament shines forth in the Office and hymns for Corpus Christi, which he composed. To the words miraculously uttered by a crucifix at Naples, " Well hast thou written concerning Me, Thomas; what shall I give thee as a reward? " he replied, " Naught save Thyself, O Lord." He died at Fossa-Nuova, a.d. 1274, on his way to the General Council of Lyons, to which Pope Gregory X. had summoned him.
Reflection.-The knowledge of God is for all, but hidden treasures are reserved for those who have ever followed the Lamb.
Nothing in John's early life foreshadowed his future sanctity. He ran away as a boy from his home in Portugal, tended sheep and cattle in Spain, and served as a soldier against the French, and afterwards against the Turks. When about forty years of age, feeling remorse for his wild life, he resolved to devote himself to the ransom of the Christian slaves in Africa, and went thither with the family of an exiled noble, which he maintained by his labor. On his return to Spain he sought to do good by selling holy pictures and books at low prices. At length the hour of grace struck. At Granada, a sermon, by the celebrated John of Avila, shook his soul to its depths, and his expressions of self-abhorrence were so extraordinary that he was taken to the asylum as one mad. There he employed himself in ministering to the sick. On leaving he began to collect homeless poor, and to support them by his work and by begging. One night, St. John found in the streets a poor man who seemed near death, and, as was his wont, he carried him to the hospital, laid him on a bed, and went to fetch water to wash his feet. When he had washed them, he knelt to kiss them, and started with awe; the feet were pierced, and the print of the nails bright with an unearthly radiance. He raised his eyes to look, and heard the words, " John, to Me thou doest all that thou doest to the poor in My name; I reach forth My hand for the alms thou givest; Me dost thou clothe, Mine are the feet thou dost wash." And then the gracious vision disappeared, leaving St. John filled at once with confusion and consolation. The bishop became the Saint's patron, and gave him the name of John of God. When his hospital was on fire, John was seen rushing about uninjured amidst the flames until he had rescued all his poor. After ten years spent in the service of the suffering, the Saint's life was fitly closed. He plunged into the river Xenil to save a drowning boy, and died a.d. 1550 of an illness brought on by the attempt, at the age of fifty-five.
Reflection.-God often rewards men for works that are pleasing in His sight by giving them grace and opportunity to do other works higher still. St. John of God used to attribute his conversion, and the graces which enabled him to do such great works, to his self-denying chanty in Africa.
Frances was born at Rome in 1384. Her parents were of high rank. They overruled her desire to become a nun, and at twelve years of age married her to Lorenzo Ponziano, a Roman noble. During the forty years of their married life they never had a disagreement. While spending her days in retirement and prayer, she attended promptly to every household duty, saying, "A married woman must leave God at the altar to find Him in her domestic cares;" and she once found the verse of a psalm in which she had been four times thus interrupted completed for her in letters of gold. Her ordinary food was dry bread. Secretly she would exchange with beggars good food for their hard crusts; her drink was water, and her cup a human skull. During the invasion of Rome, in 141 3, Ponziano was banished, his estates confiscated, his house destroyed, and his eldest son taken as a hostage. Frances saw in these losses only the finger of God, and blessed His holy name. When peace was restored Ponziano recovered his estates, and Frances founded the Oblates. After her husband's death, barefoot, and with a cord about her neck, she begged admission to the community, and was soon elected Superioress. She lived always in the presence of God, and amongst many visions was given constant sight of her angel guardian, who shed such a brightness around him that the Saint could read her midnight Office by this light alone. He shielded her in the hour of temptation, and directed her in every good act. But when she was betrayed into some defect, he faded from her sight; and when some light words were spoken before her, he covered his face in shame. She died on the day she had foretold, March 9th, 1440.
Reflection.-God has appointed an angel to guard each one of us, to whose warnings we are bound to attend. Let us listen to his voice here, and we shall see him hereafter, when he leads us before the throne of God.
The Forty Martyrs were soldiers quartered at Sebaste, in Armenia, about the year 320. When their legion was ordered to offer sacrifice they separated themselves from the rest, and formed a company of martyrs. After they had been torn by scourges and iron hooks they were chained together and led to a lingering death. It was a cruel winter, and they were condemned to lie naked on the icy surface of a pond in the open air till they were frozen to death. But they ran undismayed to the place of their combat, joyfully stripped off their garments, and with one voice besought God to keep their ranks unbroken. " Forty," they cried, " we have come to combat ; grant that forty may be crowned." There were warm baths hard by, ready for any one amongst them who would deny Christ. The soldier who watched saw angels descending with thirty-nine crowns, and while he wondered at the deficiency in the number, one of the confessors lost heart, renounced his faith, and, crawlMarch ing to the fire, died body and soul at the spot where he expected relief. But the soldier was inspired to confess Christ and take his place, and again the number of forty was c'omplete. They remained steadfast while their limbs grew stiff and frozen, and died one by one. Among the Forty there was a young soldier who held out longest against the cold, and when the'ofncers came to cart away the dead bodies they found him still breathing. They were moved with pity, and wanted to leave him alive, in the hope that he would still change his mind. But his mother stood by, and this valiant woman could not bear to see her son separated from the band of martyrs. She exhorted him to persevere, and lifted his frozen body into the cart. He was just able to make a sign of recognition, and was borne away, to be thrown into the flames with the dead bodies of his brethren.
Reflection.-All who live the life of grace are one in Christ. But besides this there are many special ties of religion, of community life, or at least of aspirations in prayer, and pious works. Thank God if He has bound you to others by these spiritual ties; remember the character you have to support, and pray that the bond which unites you here may last for eternity.
St. Eulogius was of a senatorian family of Cordova, at that time the capital of the Moors in Spain. Our Saint was educated among the clergy of the church of St. Zoilus, a martyr who suffered with nineteen others under Dioclesian. Here he distinguished himself by his virtue and learning; and being made priest, was placed at the head of the chief ecclesiastical school at Cordova. He joined assiduous watching, fasting, and prayer to his studies, and his humility, mildness, and charity gained him the affection and respect of every one. During the persecution raised against the Christians in the year 850, St. Eulogius was thrown into prison and there wrote his Exhortation to Martyrdom, addressed to the virgins Flora and Mary, who were beheaded the 24th of November, 851. Six days after their death Eulo March gius was set at liberty. In the year 852, several others suffered the like martyrdom. St. Eulogius encouraged all these martyrs to their triumphs, and was the support of that distressed flock. The Archbishop of Toledo dying in 858, St. Eulogius was elected to succeed him; but there was some obstacle that hindered him from being consecrated, though he did not outlive his election two months. A virgin, by name Leocritia, of a noble family among the Moors, had been instructed from her infancy in the Christian religion by one of her relations, and privately baptized. Her father and mother used her very ill, and scourged her day and night to compel her to renounce the faith. Having made her condition known to St. Eulogius and his sister Anulona, intimating that she desired to go where she might freely exercise her religion, they secretly procured her the means of getting away, and concealed her for some time among faithful friends. But the matter was at length discovered, and they were all brought before the cadi, who threatened to have Eulogius scourged to death. The Saint told him that his torments would be of no avail, for he would never change his religion. Whereupon the cadi gave orders that he should be carried to the palace, and presented before the king's council. Eulogius began boldly to propose the truths of the gospel to them. But to prevent their hearing him, the council condemned him immediately to lose his head. As they were leading him to execution, one of the guards gave him a blow on the face for having spoken against Mahomet; he turned the other cheek, and patiently received a second. He received the stroke of death with great cheerfulness on the nth of March, 859. St. Leocritia was beheaded four days after him, and her body thrown into the river Guadalquivir, but taken out by the Christians.
Reflection.-Beg of God, through the intercession of these holy martyrs, the gift of perseverance. Their example will supply you with an admirable rule for obtaining this crowning gift. Remember that you have renounced the world and the devil once for all at your baptism. Do not hesitate; do not look back, do not listen to suggestions against faith or virtue. But advance, day by day, along- the road which you have chosen, to God, who is your portion forever.
Gregory was a Roman of noble birth, and while still young was Governor of Rome. On his father's death he gave his great wealth to the poor, turned his house on the Coelian Hill into a monastery, which now bears his name, and for some years lived as a perfect monk. The Pope drew him from his seclusion to make him one of the seven deacons of Rome ; and he did great service to the Church for many years as what we now call Nuncio to the imperial court at Constantinople. While still a monk the Saint was struck with some boys who were exposed for sale in Rome, and heard with sorrow that they were Pagans. " And of what race are they? " he asked. " They are Angles." " Worthy indeed to be Angels of God," said he; " and of what province? " " Of Deira," was the reply. " Truly must we rescue them from the wrath of God. And what is the name of their king?" " He is called Ella." "It is well," said Gregory;" Alleluia must be sung in their land to God." He at once got leave from the Pope, and had set out to convert the English, when the murmurs of the people led the Pope to recall him. Still the Angles were not forgotten, and one of the Saint's first care as Pope was to send from his own monastery St. Augustine and other monks to England. On the death of Pope Pelagius II., Gregory was compelled to take government of the Church, and for fourteen years his pontificate was a perfect model of ecclesiastical rule. He healed schisms, revived discipline; saved Italy by converting the wild Arian Lombards who were laying it waste, aided in the conversion of the Spanish and French Goths, who were also Arians, and kindled anew in Britain the light of the Faith which the English had put out in blood. He set in order the Church's prayers and chant, guided and consoled her pastors with innumerable letters, and preached incessantly, most effectually by his own example. He died a.d. 604, worn out by austerities and toils ; and the Church reckons him one of her four great doctors, and reveres him as St. Gregory the Great.
Reflection.-The champions of faith prove the truth of their teaching no less by the holiness of their lives than by the force of their arguments. Never forget that to convert others you must first see to your own soul.
Euphrasia was the daughter of pious and noble parents. After the death of her father, his widow withdrew privately with her little daughter into Egypt, where she was possessed of a very large estate. In that country she fixed her abode near a holy monastery of one hundred and thirty nuns. The young Euphrasia, at seven years of age, begged that she might be permitted to serve God in this monastery. The pious mother on hearing this wept for joy, and not long after presented her child to the abbess, who, taking up an image of Christ, gave it to Euphrasia. The tender virgin kissed it, saying, " By vow I consecrate myself to Christ." Then the mother led her before an image of our Redeemer, and lifting up her hands to heaven said, " Lord Jesus Christ, receive this child under your special protection. You alone doth she love and seek: to you doth she recommend herself. Then leaving her in the hands of the abbess, she went out of the monastery weeping. Some time after this the good mother fell sick, and soon slept in peace. Upon the news of her death, the Emperor Theodosius sent for the noble virgin to court, having promised her in marriage to a favorite young senator. But the virgin wrote him refusing the alliance, repeating her vow of virginity, and requesting that her estates should be sold and divided among the poor, and all her slaves set at liberty. The Emperor punctually executed all she desired, a little before his death in 395. St. Euphrasia was a perfect pattern of humility, meekness, and charity. If she found herself assaulted by any temptation, she immediately sought the advice of the abbess, who often enjoined her on such occasions some humbling and painful penitential labor ; as sometimes to carry great stones from one place to another; which employment she once, under an obstinate assault, continued thirty days together with wonderful simplicity, till the devil, being vanquished by her humble obedience and chastisement of her body, left her in peace. She was favored with miracles both before and after her death, which happened in the year 410, and the thirtieth of her age.
This princess was daughter of Theodoric, a powerful Saxon count. Her parents placed her very young in the monastery of Erford, of which her grandmother Maud was then abbess. Our Saint remained in that house, an accomplished model of all virtues, till her parents married her to Henry, son of Otho, Duke of Saxony, in 913, who was afterwards chosen king of Germany. He was a pious and victorious prince, and very tender of his subjects. Whilst by his arms he checked the insolence of the Hungarians and Danes, and enlarged his dominions by adding to them Bavaria, Maud gained domestic victories over her spiritual enemies more worthy of a Christian, and far greater in the eyes of heaven. She nourished the precious seeds of devotion and humility in her heart by assiduous prayer nad meditation. It was her delight to visit, comfort, and exhort the sick and the afflicted ; to serve and instruct the poor, and to afford her charitable succors to prisoners. Her husband, edified by her example, concurred with her in every pious undertaking which she projected. After twenty-three years' marriage, God was pleased to call the king to himself, 936. Maud, during his sickness, went to the church to pour forth her soul in prayer for him at the foot of the altar. As soon as she understood, by the tears and cries of the people, that he had expired, she called for a priest that was fasting to offer the holy sacrifice for his soul. She had three sons: Otho, afterward emperor; Henry, Duke of Bavaria, and St. Brunn, Archbishop of Cologne. Otho was crowned king ol Germany in 937, and emperor at Rome in 962, after~liis victories over the Bohemians and Lombards. The two oldest sons conspired to strip Maud of her dowry, on the unjust pretence that she had squandered the revenues of the state on the poor. The unnatural princes at length repented of their injustice, and restored to her all that had been taken from her. She then became more liberal in her alms than ever, and founded many churches, with five monasteries. In her last sickness she made her confession to her grandson William, the Archbishop of Mentz, who yet died twelve days before her, on his road home. She again made a public confession before the priests and monks of the place, received a second time the last sacraments, and lying on a sackcloth, with ashes on her head, died on the 14th of March in 968.
Reflection.-The beginning of true virtue is most ardently to desire it, and to ask it of God with the utmost assiduity and earnestness. Fervent prayer, holy meditation., and reading pious books are the principal means by which this virtue is to be constantly improved, and the interior life of the soul to be strengthened.
St. Zachary succeeded Gregory III. in 741, and was a man of singular meekness and goodness. He loved the clergy and people of Rome to that degree that he hazarded his life for them on occasion of the troubles which Italy fell into by the rebellion of the Dukes of Spoletto and Benevento against King Luitprand. Out of respect to his sanctity and dignity, that king restored to the Church of Rome all the places which belonged to it, and sent back the captives without ransom. The Lombards were moved to tears at the devotion with which they heard him perform the divine service. The zeal and prudence of this holy Pope appeared in many wholesome regulations, which he had made to reform or settle the discipline and peace of several churches. St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, wrote to him against a certain priest, named Virgilius; that he labored to sow the seeds of discord between him and Odilo, Duke of Bavaria, and taught, besides, many errors. Zachary ordered that Virgilius should be sent to Rome, that his doctrine might be examined. It seems that he cleared himself; for we find this same Virgilius soon after made Bishop of Salzburgh. Certain Venetian merchants having bought at Rome many slaves to sell to the Moors in Africa, St. Zachary forbade such an iniquitous traffic, and paying the merchants their price, gave the slaves their liberty. He adorned Rome with sacred buildings, and with great foundations in favor of the poor and pilgrims, and gave every year a considerable sum to furnish oil for the lamps in St. Peter's Church. He died in 752, in the month of March.
Abraham was a rich nobleman of Edessa. At his parents' desire he married, but escaped to a cell near the city as soon as the feast was over. He walled up the cell-door, leaving only a small window through which he received his food. There for fifty years he sang God's praises and implored mercy for himself and for all men. The wealth which fell to him on his parents' death he gave to the poor. As many sought him for advice and consolation, the Bishop of Edessa, in spite of his humility, ordained him priest. St. Abraham was sent, soon after his ordination, to an idolatrous city which had hitherto been deaf to every messenger. He was insulted, beaten, and three times banished, but he returned each time with fresh zeal. For three years he pleaded with God for those souls, and in the end prevailed. Every citizen came to him for baptism. After providing for their spiritual needs, he went back to his cell more than ever convinced of the power of prayer. His brother died, leaving an only daughter, Mary, to the Saint's care. He placed her in a cell near his own, and devoted himself to training her in perfection. After twenty years of innocence she fell, and fled in despair to a distant city, where she drowned the voice of conscience in sin. The Saint and his friend St. Ephrem prayed earnestly for her during two years. Then he went disguised to seek the lost sheep, and had the joy of bringing her back to the desert a true penitent. She received the gift of miracles, and her countenance after death shone as the sun. St. Abraham died five years before her, about A.D. 360. All Edessa came for his last blessing, and to secure his relics.
Reflection.-Oh! that we realized the omnipotence of prayer. Every soul was created to glorify God eternally ; and it is in the power of every one to add by the salvation of his neighbor to the glory of God. Let us make good use of this talent of prayer, lest our brother's blood be required of us at the last.
If the virtue of children reflects an honor on their parents, much more justly is the name of St. Patrick rendered illustrious by the innumerable lights of sanctity with which the Church of Ireland shone during many ages, and by the colonies of Saints with which it peopled many foreign countries ; for, under God, its inhabitants derived from their glorious apostle the streams of that eminent sanctity by which they were long conspicuous to the whole world. St. Patrick was born towards the close of the fourth century, in a village called Bonaven Taberniae, which seems to be the town of Kilpatrick, on the mouth of the river Clyde, in Scotland, between Dumbarton and Glasgow. He calls himself both a Briton and a Roman, or of a mixed extraction, and says his father was of a good family named Calphurnius, and a denizen of a neighboring city of the Romans, who not long after abandoned Britain, in 409. Some writers call his mother Conchessa, and say she was niece to St. Martin of Tours.
In his sixteenth year he was carried into captivity by certain barbarians who took him into Ireland, where he was obliged to keep cattle on the mountains and in the forests, in hunger and nakedness, amidst snows, rain, and ice. Whilst he lived in this suffering condition, God had pity on his soul, and quickened him to a sense of his duty by the impulse of a strong interior grace. The young man had recourse to Him with his whole heart in fervent prayer and fasting ; and from that time faith and the love of God acquired continually new strength in his tender soul. After six months spent in slavery under the same master, St. Patrick was admonished by God in a dream to return to his own country, and informed that a ship was then ready to sail thither. He went at once to the sea-coast, though at a great distance, and found the vessel; but could not obtain his passage, probably for want of money. The Saint returned towards his hut, praying as he went, but the sailors, though pagans, called him back, and took him on board. After three days' sail they made land, but wandered twenty-seven days through deserts, and were a long while distressed for want of provisions, finding nothing to eat. Patrick had often spoken to the company on the infinite power of God, they therefore asked him why he did not pray for relief. Animated by a strong faith, he assured them that if they would address themselves with their whole hearts to the true God, He would hear and succor them. They did so, and on the same day met with a herd of swine. From that time provisions never failed them, till on the twenty-seventh day they came into a country that was cultivated and inhabited.
Some years afterward he was again led captive, but recovered his liberty after two months. When he was at home with his parents, God manifested to him, by divers visions, that He destined him to the great work of the conversion of Ireland. The writers of his life say that after his second captivity he travelled into Gaul and Italy, and saw St. Martin, St. Germanus of Auxerre, and Pope Celestine, and that he received his mission and the apostolical benediction from this Pope, who died in 432. It is certain that he spent many years in preparing himself for his sacred calling. Great opposition was made against his episcopal consecration and mission, both by his own relations and by the clergy. These made him great offers in order to detain him among them, and endeavored to affright him by exaggerating the dangers to which he exposed himself amidst the enemies of the Romans and Britons, who did not know God. All these temptations threw the Saint into great perplexities, but the Lord, whose will he consulted by earnest prayer, supported him, and he persevered in his resolution. He forsook his family, sold his birthright and dignity, to serve strangers, and consecrated his soul to God, to carry His name to the ends of the earth. In this disposition he passed into Ireland, to preach the Gospel, where the worship of idols still generally reigned. He devoted himself entirely to the salvation of these barbarians. He travelled over the whole island, penetrating into the remotest corners, and such was the fruit of his preachings and sufferings that he baptized an infinite number of people. He ordained everywhere clergymen, induced women to live in holy widowhood and continence, consecrated virgins to Christ, and instituted monks. He took nothing from the many thousands whom he baptized, and often gave back the little presents which some laid on the altar, choosing rather to mortify the fervent than to scandalize the weak or the infidels. He gave freely of his own, however, both to Pagans and Christians, distributed large alms to the poor in the provinces where he passed, made presents to the kings, judging that necessary for the progress of the Gospel, and maintained and educated many children, whom he trained up to serve at the altar. The happy success of his labors cost him many persecutions. A certain prince named Corotick, a Christian in name only, disturbed the peace of his flock. This tyrant, having made a descent into Ireland, plundered the country where St. Patrick had been just conferring confirmation on a great number of neophytes, who were yet in their white garments after baptism. Corotick massacred many, and carried away others, whom he sold to the infidel Picts or Scots. The next day the Saint sent the barbarian a letter entreating him to restore the Christian captives, and at least part of the booty he had taken, that the poor people might not perish for want ; but was only answered by railleries. The Saint, therefore, wrote with his own hand a letter. In it he styles himself a sinner and an ignorant man; he declares, nevertheless, that he is established bishop of Ireland, and pronounces Corotick and the other parricides and accomplices separated from him and from Jesus Christ, whose place he holds, forbidding any to eat with them, or to receive their alms, till they should have satisfied God by the tears of sincere penance, and restored the servants of Jesus Christ to their liberty. This letter expresses his most tender love for his flock, and his grief for those who had been slain, yet mingled with joy, because they reign with the prophets, apostles, and martyrs. Jocelin assures us that Corotick was overtaken by the divine vengeance.
St. Patrick held several councils to settle the discipline of the Church which he had planted. St. Bernard and the tradition of the country testify that St. Patrick fixed his metropolitan see at Armagh. He established some other bishops, as appears by his Council and other monuments. He not only converted the whole country by his preaching and wonderful miracles, but also cultivated this vineyard with so fruitful a benediction and increase from heaven, as to render Ireland a most flourishing garden in the Church of God, and a country of Saints.
Many particulars are related of the labors of St. Patrick, which we pass over. In the first year of his mission he attempted to preach Christ in the general assembly of the kings and states of all Ireland, held yearly at Tara, the residence of the chief king, styled the monarch of the whole island, and the principal seat of the Druids or priests, and their paganish rites. The son of Neill, the chief monarch, declared himself against the preacher ; however, Patrick converted several, and, on his road to that place, the father of St. Benignus, his immediate successor in the see of Armagh. He afterward converted and baptized the kings of Dublin and Munster, and the seven sons of the king of Connaught, with the greatest part of their subjects, and before his death almost the whole island. He founded a monastery at Armagh; another called Domnach-Padraig, or Patrick's Church; also a third, named Sabhal-Padraig, and filled the country with churches and schools of piety and learning, the reputation of which, for the three succeeding centuries, drew many foreigners into Ireland. He died and was buried at Down, in Ulster. His body was found there in a church of his name in 1185, and translated to another part of the same church.
Ireland is the nursery whence St. Patrick sent forth his missionaries and teachers. Glastonbury and Lindisfarne, Ripon and Malmesbury, bear testimony to the labors of Irish priests and bishops for the conversion of England. Iona is to this day the most venerated spot in Scotland. Columban, Fiacre, Gall, and many others evangelized the "rough places" of France and Switzerland. America and Australia, in modern times, owe their Christianity to the faith and zeal of the sons and daughters of St. Patrick.
Reflection.-By the instrumentality of St. Patrick the faith is now as fresh in Ireland, even in this cold nineteenth century, as when it was first planted. Ask him to obtain for you the special grace of his children, to prefer the loss of every earthly good to the least compromise in matters of faith.
Cyril was born at or near the city of Jerusalem, about the year 315. He was ordained priest by St. Maximus, who gave him the important charge of instructing and preparing the candidates for baptism. This charge he held for several years, and we still have one series of his instructions, given in the year 347 or 348. They are of singular interest as being the earliest record of the systematic teaching of the Church on the Creed and Sacraments, and as having been given in the church built by Constantine on Mount Calvary. They are solid, simple, profound; saturated with Holy Scripture; exact, precise, and terse; and, as a witness and exposition of the Catholic Faith, invaluable. On the death of St. Maximus Cyril was chosen Bishop of Jerusalem. At the beginning of his episcopate a cross was seen in the air reaching from Mount Calvary to Mount Olivet, and so bright that it shone at noonday. St. Cyril gave an account of it to the emperor; and the faithful regarded it as a presage of victory over the Arian heretics. While Cyril was bishop, the apostate Julian resolved to falsify the words of Our Lord by rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem. He employed the power and resources of a Roman emperor; the Jews thronged enthusiastically to him and gave munificently. But Cyril was unmoved. " The word of God abides," he said; " one stone shall not be laid on another." When the attempt was made, a heathen writer tells us that horrible flames came forth from the earth, rendering the place inaccessible to the scorched and scared workmen. The attempt was made again and again, and then abandoned in despair. Soon after, the emperor perished miserably in a war against the Persians, and the Church had rest. Like the other great bishops of his time, he was persecuted, and driven once and again from his see; but on the death of the Arian Emperor Valens he returned to Jerusalem. He was present at the second General Council at Constantinople, and died in peace a.d. 386, after a troubled episcopate of thirty-five years.
Reflection.-"As a stout staff," says St. John Chrysostom, " supports the trembling limbs of a feeble old man, so does faith sustain our vacillating mind, lest it be tossed about by sinful hesitation and perplexity."
AND PATRON OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH.
St. Joseph was by birth of the royal family of David, but was living in humble obscurity as a carpenter, when God raised him to the highest sanctity, and fitted him to be the spouse of His Virgin Mother, and foster-father and guardian of the Incarnate Word. Joseph, says the Holy Scripture, was a just man; he was innocent and pure, as became the husband of Mary; he was gentle and tender, as one worthy to be named the father of Jesus; he was prudent and a lover of silence, as became the master of the holy house; above all, he was faithful and obedient to Divine calls, His conversation was with angels rather than with men. When he learnt that Mary bore within her womb the Lord of Heaven, he feared to take her as his wife; but an angel bade him fear not, and all doubts vanished. When Herod sought the life of the Divine Infant, an angel told Joseph in a dream to fly with the Child and His Mother into Egypt. Joseph at once arose and obeyed. This sudden and unexpected flight must have exposed Joseph to many inconveniences and sufferings in so long a journey with a little babe and a tender virgin, the greater part of the way being through deserts, and among strangers ; yet he alleges no excuses, nor inquires at what time they were to return. St. Chrysostom observes that God treats thus all his servants, sending them frequent trials to clear their hearts from the rust of self-love, but intermixing seasons of consolation. " Joseph," says he, " is anxious on seeing the Virgin with child; an angel removes that fear; he rejoices at the Child's birth, but a great fear succeeds; the furious king seeks to destroy the Child, and the whole city is in an uproar to take away His life. This is followed by another joy, the adoration of the Magi; a new sorrow then arises; he is ordered to fly into a foreign unknown country, without help or acquaintance." It is the opinion of the fathers that upon their entering Egypt, at the presence of the child Jesus, all the oracles of that superstitious country were struck dumb, and the statues of their gods trembled, and in many places fell to the ground. The fathers also attribute to this holy visit the spiritual benediction poured on that country, which made it for many ages most fruitful in Saints. After the death of King Herod, of which St. Joseph was informed in another vision, God ordered him to return with the Child and His Mother into the land of Israel, which our Saint readily obeyed. But when he arrived in Judea, hearing that Archelaus succeeded Herod in that part of the country, apprehensive he might be infected with his father's vices, he feared on that account to settle there, as he would otherwise probably have done for the education of the Child. And therefore, being directed by God in another vision, he retired into the dominions of Herod Antipas, in Galilee, to his former habitation in Nazareth. St. Joseph being a strict observer of the Mosaic law, in conformity to its direction annually repaired to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Our Saviour, now in the twelfth year of his age, accompanied his parents thither; having performed the usual ceremonies of the feast, they were returning with many of their neighbors and acquaint162 ance towards Galilee; and never doubting but that Jesus was with some of the company, they travelled on for a whole day's journey before they discovered that He was not with them. But when night came on, and they could hear no tidings of Him among their kindred and acquaintance, they, in the deepest affliction, returned with the utmost speed to Jerusalem. After an anxious search of three days they found Him in the temple, discoursing with the learned doctors of the law, and asking them such questions as raised the admiration of all that heard Him, and made them astonished at the ripeness of His understanding; nor were His parents less surprised on this occasion. When His mother told Him with what grief and earnestness they had sought Him, and asked, " Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? Behold, Thy father and I sought Thee in great affliction of mind ; " she received for answer, " How is it that you sought me? did you not know that I must be about my Father's business? "
But, though thus staying in the temple unknown to His parents, in all other things He was obedient to them, returning with them to Nazareth, and there living in all dutiful subjection to them. As no further mention is made of St. Joseph, he must have died before the marriage of Cana and the beginning of our Divine Saviour's ministry. We cannot doubt that he had the happiness of Jesus and Mary attending at his death, praying by him, assisting and comforting him in his last moments. Whence he is particularly invoked for the great grace of a happy death, and the spiritual presence of Jesus in that hour.
Reflection.-St. Joseph, the shadow of the Eternal Father upon earth, the protector of Jesus in his home at Nazareth, and a lover of all children for the sake of the Holy Child, should be the chosen guardian and pattern of every true Christian family.
His father was an officer in the armies of King Dagobert, and the Saint spent some years in the court of King Clotaire III., and of his mother St. Bathildes, but occupied his heart only on God, despising worldly greatness as empty and dangerous, and daily advancing in virtue. His estate of Maurilly he bestowed on the Abbey of Fontenelle, or St. Vandrille, in Normandy. He was chosen and consecrated Archbishop of Sens in 682, which diocese he governed two years and a half with great zeal and sanctity. A tender compassion for the blindness of the idolaters of Friesland, and the example of the English zealous preachers in those parts, moved him to resign his bishopric, with proper advice, and after a retreat at Fontenelle to enter Friesland in quality of a poor missionary priest. He baptized great multitudes, among them a son of King Radbod, and drew the people from the barbarous custom of sacrificing men to idols. On a certain occasion, one Ovon, having been selected as a vic tim of a sacrifice to the heathen gods, St. Wulfran earnestly begged his life of King Radbod; but the people ran tumultuously to the palace, and would not suffer what they called a sacrilege. After many words they consented, but on condition that Wulfran's God should save Ovon's life. The Saint betook himself to prayer; the man, after hanging on the gibbet two hours, and being left for dead, fell to the ground by the breaking of the cord; being found alive he was given to the Saint, and became a monk and priest at Fontenelle. Wulfran also miraculously rescued two children from being drowned in honor of the idols. Radbod, who had been an eye-witness to this last miracle, promised to become a Christian; but as he was going to step into the baptismal font he asked where the great number of his ancestors and nobles were in the next world. The Saint replied that hell is the portion of all who die guilty of idolatry. At which the prince refused to be baptized, saying he would go with the greater number. This tyrant sent afterward to St. Willebrord to treat with him about his conversion; but before the arrival of the Saint was found dead. St.. Wulfran retired to- Fontenelle that he might prepare himself for death, and expired there on the 20th of April, 729.
Reflection.-In every age the Catholic Church is a missionary Church. She has received the world for her inheritance, and in our own days many missioners have watered with their blood the lands in which they labored. Help the propagation of the Faith by alms, and above all by prayers. You will quicken your own faith, and gain a part in the merits of the glorious apostolate.
St. Benedict, blessed by grace and in name, was born of a noble Italian family about 480. When a boy he was sent to Rome, and there placed in the public schools. Scared by the licentiousness of the Roman youth, he fled to the desert mountains of Subiaco, and was directed by the Holy Spirit into a cave, deep, craggy, and almost inaccessible. He lived there for three years, unknown to any one save the holy monk Romanus, who clothed him with the monastic habit and brought him food. But the fame of his sanctity soon gathered disciples round him. The rigor of his rule, however, drew on him the hatred of some of the monks, and one of them mixed poison with the abbot's drink. But when the Saint made the sign of the cross on the poisoned bowl, it broke and fell in pieces to the ground. After he had built twelve monasteries at Subiaco, he removed to Monte Cassino, where he founded an abbey in which he wrote his rule, and lived until death. By prayer he did all things: wrought miracles, saw visions, and prophesied. A peasant, whose boy had just died, ran in anguish to St. Benedict, crying out, "Give me back my son!" The monks joined the poor man in his entreaties; but the Saint replied, " Such miracles are not for us to work, but for the blessed Apostles. Why will you lay upon me a burden which my weakness cannot bear? " Moved at length by compassion he knelt down, and prostrating himself upon the body of the child prayed earnestly. Then rising, he cried out, " Behold not, O Lord, my sins, but the faith of this man,- who desireth the life of his son, and restore to the body that soul which Thou hast taken away." Hardly had he spoken when the child's body began to tremble, and taking it by the hand he restored it alive to its father. Six days before his death he ordered his grave to be opened, and fell ill of a fever. On the sixth day he requested to be borne into the chapel, and, having received the Body and Blood of Christ, with hands uplifted, and leaning on one of his disciples, he calmly expired in prayer on the 21st of March, 543.
Reflection.-The Saints never feared to undertake any work, however arduous, for God, because distrusting self they relied for assistance and support wholly upon prayer.
St. Catharine was daughter of Ulpho, prince of Nericia, in Sweden, and of St. Bridget. The love of God seemed almost to prevent in her the use of her reason. At seven years of age she was placed in the nunnery of Risburgh, and educated in piety under the care of the holy abbess of that house. Being very beautiful, she was, by her father, contracted in marriage to Egard, a young nobleman of great virtue; but the virgin persuaded him to join with her in making a mutual vow of perpetual chastity. By her discourses he became desirous only of heavenly graces, and, to draw them down upon his soul more abundantly, he readily acquiesced in the proposal. The happy couple, having but one heart and one desire, by a holy emulation excited each other to prayer, mortification, and works of charity. After the death of her father, St. Catharine, out of devotion to the passion of Christ, and to the relics of the martyrs, accompanied her mother in her pilgrimages and practices of devotion and penance. After her death at Rome, in 1373, Catharine returned to Sweden, and died abbess of Vadzstena, or Vatzen, on the 24th of March, in 1381. For the last twentyMarch five years of her life she every day purified her soul by a sacramental confession of her sins.
Reflection.-Whoever has to dwell in the world stands in need of great prudence; the Holy Scripture itself assures us that" the knowledge of the Holy is prudence."
Huneric, the Arian king of the Vandals in Africa, succeeded his father Genseric in 477. He behaved himself at first with moderation towards the Catholics, but in 480 he began a grievous persecution of the clergy and holy virgins, which, in 484, became general, and vast numbers of Catholics were put to death. Victorian, one of the principal lords of the kingdom, had been made governor of Carthage, with the Roman title of proconsul. He was the wealthiest subject of the king, who placed great confidence in him, and he had ever behaved with an inviolable fidelity. The king, after he had published his cruel edicts, sent a message to the proconsul, promising, if he would conform to his religion, to heap on him the greatest wealth and the highest honors which it was in the power of a prince to bestow. The proconsul, who amidst the glittering pomps of the world perfectly understood its emptiness, made this generous answer: " Tell the king that I trust in Christ. His majesty may condemn me to any torments: but I shall never consent to renounce the Catholic Church in which I have been baptized. Even if there were no life after this, I would never be ungrateful and perfidious to God, who has granted me the happiness of knowing Him, and bestowed on me His most precious graces." The tyrant became furious at this answer: nor can the tortures be imagined which he caused the Saint to endure. Victorian suffered them with joy, and amidst them finished his glorious martyrdom. The Roman Martyrology joins with him on this day four others who were crowned in the same persecution. Two brothers, who were apprehended for the faith, had promised each other, if possible, to die together; and they begged of God, as a favor, that they might both suffer the same torments. The perse cutors hung them in the air with great weights at their feet. One of them, under the excess of pain, begged to be taken down for a little ease. His brother, fearing that this might move him to deny his faith, cried out from the rack, " God forbid, dear brother, that you should ask such a thing. Is this what we promised to Jesus Christ? " The other was so wonderfully encouraged that he cried out, " No, no; I ask not to be released; increase my tortures, exert all your cruelties till they are exhausted upon me." They were then burnt with red-hot plates of iron, and tormented so long that the executioners at last left them, saying, " Every body follows their example, no one now embraces our religion." This they said, chiefly, because, notwithstanding they had been so long and so grievously tormented, there were no scars or bruises to be seen upon them. Two merchants of Carthage, who both bore the name of Frumentius, suffered martyrdom about the same time. Among many glorious confessors at that time, one Liberatus, af* eminent physician, was sent into banishment with his wife. He only grieved to see his infant children torn from him. His wife checked his tears by these words: " Think no more of them, Jesus Christ Himself will have care of them, and protect their souls." Whilst in prison she was told that her husband had conformed: accordingly, when she met him at the bar before the judge, she upbraided him in open court for having basely abandoned God; but discovered by his answer that a cheat had been put upon her to deceive her into her ruin. Twelve young children, when dragged away by the persecutors, held their companions by the knees till they were torn away by violence. They were most cruelly beaten and scourged every day for a long time; yet by God's grace every one of them persevered to the end of the persecution firm in the faith.
" Hail, flowers of the martyrs! " the Church sings in her Office of the Holy Innocents, who were the first to die for Christ ; and in every age mere children and infants have gloriously confessed His name. In 1472, the Jews in the city of Trent determined to vent their ,hate against the crucified by slaying a Christian child at the coming Passover, and Tobias, one of their number, was deputed to entrap a victim. He found a bright, smiling boy named Simon playing outside his home, with no one guarding him. Tobias patted the little fellow's cheek, and coaxed him to take his hand. The boy, who was not two years old, did so ; but he began to call and cry for his mother when he found himself being led from home. Then Tobias gave him a bright coin to look at, and with many kind caresses silenced his grief, and conducted him securely to his house. At midnight on Holy Thursday, the work of butchery began. Having gagged his mouth, they held his arms in the form of a cross, while they pierced his tender body with awls and bodkins in blasphemous mockery of the sufferings of Jesus Christ. After an hour's torture, the little martyr lifted his eyes to heaven, and gave up his innocent soul. The Jews cast his body into the river; but their crime was discovered and punished, while the holy relics were enshrined in St. Peter's Church at Trent, where they have worked many miracles. William of Norwich is another of these children martyrs. His parents were simple country folk, but his mother was taught by a vision to expect a Saint in her son. As a boy he fasted thrice a week and prayed constantly, and he was only an apprentice twelve years of age, at a tanner's in Norwich, when he won his crown. A little before Easter, a.d. 1 137, he was enticed into a Jew's house, and was there gagged, bound, and crucified in hatred of Christ. Five years passed before the body was found, when it was buried as a saintly relic in the cathedral churchyard. A rose-tree planted hard by flowered miraculously in midwinter, and all manner of sick persons were healed of their diseases at St. William's shrine.
Reflection.-Learn from the infant martyrs that, however weak you may be, you still can suffer for Christ's sake, and, by suffering, win your crown.
This great festival takes its name from the happy tidings brought by the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin, concerning the Incarnation of the Son of God. It commemorates the most important embassy that was ever known: an embassy sent by the King of kings, performed by one of the chief princes of His heavenly court ; directed, not to the great ones of this earth, but to a poor, unknown virgin, who, being endowed with the most angelic purity of soul and body, being withal perfectly humble and devoted to God, was greater in His eyes than the mightiest monarch in the world.
When the Son of God became man, He could have taken upon Him our nature without the co-operation of any creature; but He was pleased to be born of a woman. In the choice of her whom He raised to this most sublime of all dignities, He pitched upon the one who, by the riches of His grace and virtues, was of all others the most holy and the most perfect. The design of this embassy of the archangel is to give a Saviour to the world, a victim of propitiation to the sinner, a model to the just, a son to this Virgin, remaining still a virgin, and a new nature to the Son of God, the nature of man, capable of suffering pain and anguish in order to satisfy God's justice for our transgressions. When the angel appeared to Mary and addressed her, the Blessed Virgin was troubled ; not at the angel's appearance, says St. Ambrose, for heavenly visions and a commerce with the blessed spirits had been familiar to her. But what alarmed her, he says, was the angel's appearing in human form, in the shape of a young man. What might add to her fright on the occasion, was his addressing her in words of praise. Mary, guarded by her modesty, is in confusion at expressions of this sort, and dreads the least appearance of deluding flattery. Such high commendations make her cautious how she answers, till in silence she has more fully considered of the matter: " She revolved in her mind," says St. Luke, " what manner of salutation this should be." Ah! what numbers of innocent souls have been corrupted for want of using the like precautions! The angel, to calm her, says: " Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor before God." He then informs her that she is to conceive and bring forth a son whose name shall be Jesus, who shall be great, and the Son of the Most High, and possessed of the throne of David, her illustrious ancestor. Mary, out of a just concern to know how she may comply with the will of God without prejudice to her vow of virginity, inquires, '* How shall this be? " Nor does she give her consent till the heavenly messenger acquaints her that it is to be a work of the Holy Ghost, who in making her fruitful, will not intrench in the least upon her virginal purity. In submission, therefore, to God's will, without any further inquiries, she expresses her assent in these humble but powerful words : " Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to Thy word." What faith and confidence does her answer express! What profound humility and perfect obedience!
Reflection.-From the example of the Blessed Virgin in this mystery, how ardent a love ought we to conceive of purity and humility! The Holy Ghost is invited by purity to dwell in souls, but is chased away by the filth of the contrary vice. Humility is the foundation of a spiritual life. By it Mary was prepared for the extraordinary graces, and all virtues with which she was enriched, and for the eminent dignity of Mother of God.
St. Ludger was born in Friesland about the year 743. His father, a nobleman of the first rank, at the child's own request, committed him very young to the care of St. Gregory, the disciple of St. Boniface, and his successor in the government of the see of Utrecht. Gregory educated him in his monastery, and gave him the clerical tonsure. Ludger, desirous of further improvement, passed over into England, and spent four years and a half under Alcuin, who was rector of a famous school at York. In 773 he returned home, and St. Gregory dying in Jj6, his successor, Alberic, compelled our Saint to receive the holy order of priesthood, and employed him for several years in preaching the word of God in Friesland, where he converted great numbers, founded several monasteries, and built many churches. The pagan Saxons ravaging the country, Ludger travelled to Rome to consult Pope Adrian II. what course to take, and what he thought God required of him. He then retired for three years and a half to Mount Cassino, where he wore the habit of the order, and conformed to the practice of the rule during his stay, but made no religious vows. In 787, Charlemagne overcame the Saxons, and conquered Friesland and the coast of the Germanic Ocean as far as Denmark. Ludger hearing this, returned into East Friesland, where he converted the Saxons to the faith ; as he also did the province of Westphalia. He founded the monastery of Werden, twentynine miles from Cologne. In 802, Hildebald, archbishop of Cologne, not regarding his strenuous resistance, ordained him bishop of Minister. He joined in his diocese five cantons of Friesland which he had converted, and also founded the monastery of Helmstad, in the duchy of Brunswick. Being accused to the Emperor Charlemagne of wasting his income, and neglecting the embellishment of churches, this prince ordered him to appear at court. The morning after his arrival, the emperor's chamberlain brought him word that his attendance was required. The Saint, being then at his prayers, told the officer that he would follow him as soon as he had finished them. He was sent for three several times before he was ready, which the courtiers represented as a contempt of his majesty, and the emperor, with some emotion, asked him why he had made him wait so long, though he had sent for him so often. The Bishop answered that though he had the most profound respect for his majesty, yet God was infinitely above him : that whilst we are occupied with Him, it is our duty to forget everything else. This answer made such an impression on the emperor, that he dismissed him with honor, and disgraced his accusers. St. Ludger was favored with the gift of miracles and prophecy. His last sickness, though violent, did not hinder him from continuing his functions to the very last day of his life, which was Passion-Sunday, on which day he preached very early in the morning, said mass towards nine, and preached again before' night, foretelling to those that were about him, that he should die the following night, and fixing upon a place in his monastery of Werden where he chose to be interred. He died accordingly on the 26th of March, at midnight.
Reflection.-Prayer is an action so sublime and supernatural, that the Church in her canonical hours teaches us to begin it by a fervent petition of grace to perform it well. What an insolence and mockery is it to join with this petition an open disrespect and a neglect of all necessary precautions against distractions! We ought never to appear before God, to tender Him our homages or supplications, without trembling, and without being deaf to all creatures, and shutting all our senses to every object that can distract our minds from God.
MARCH 27.-ST. JOHN OF EGYPT. Till he was twenty-five, John worked as a carpenter with his father. Then feeling a call from God, he left the world, and committed himself to a holy solitary in the desert. His master tried his spirit by many unreasonable commands, bidding him roll the hard rocks, tend dead trees, and the like. John obeyed in all things with the simplicity of a child. After a careful training of sixteen years, he withdrew to the top of a steep cliff to think only of God and his soul. The more he knew of himself, the more he distrusted himself. For the last fifty years, therefore, he never saw women, and seldom men. The result of this vigilance and purity was threefold : a holy joy and cheerfulness which consoled all who conversed with him; perfect obedience to superiors; and in return for this, authority over creatures, whom he had forsaken for the Creator. St. Augustine tells us of his appearing in a vision to a holy woman whose sight he had restored, to avoid seeing her face to face. Devils assailed him continually, but John never ceased his prayer. From his long communings with God, he turned to men with gifts of healing and prophecy. Twice each week he spoke through a window with those who came to him, blessing oil for their sick, and predicting things to come. A deacon came to him in disguise, and he reverently kissed his hand. To the Emperor Theodosius he foretold his future victories and the time of his death. The three last days of his life John gave wholly to God: on the third he was found on his knees as if in prayer, but his soul was with the blessed. He died a.d. 394. Reflection.-The Saints examine themselves by the perfections of God, and do penance. We judge our conduct by the standard of other men, and rest satsified with it. Yet it is by the divine holiness alone that we shall be judged when we die.
St. Gontran was son of King Clotaire, and grandson of Clovis I. and St. Clotildis. Being the second son, whilst his brothers Charibert reigned at Paris, and Sigebert in Austrasia, residing at Metz, he was crowned king of Orleans and Burgundy in 561, making Chalons his capital. When compelled to take up arms against his ambitious brothers and the Lombards, he made no other use of his victories, under the conduct of a brave general called Mommol, than to give peace to his dominions. The crimes in which the barbarous manners of his nation involved him he effaced by tears of repentance. The prosperity of his reign, both in peace and war, condemns those who think that human policy cannot be modelled by the maxims of the Gospel, whereas nothing can render a government more flourishing. He always treated the pastors of the Church with respect and veneration. He was the protector of the oppressed, and the tender parent of his subjects. He gave the greatest attention to the care of the sick. He fasted, prayed, wept, and offered himself to God night and day as a victim ready to be sacrificed on the altar of His justice, to avert His indignation which he believed he himself had provoked and drawn down upon his innocent people. He was a severe punisher of crimes in his officers and others, and, by many wholesome regulations, restrained the barbarous licentiousness of his troops ; but no man was more ready to forgive offences against his own person. With loyal magnificence he built and endowed many churches and monasteries. This good king died; on the 28th of March, in 593, in the sixty-eighth year of his age) having reigned thirty-one years and some months.
Reflection.-There is no means of salvation more reliable than the practice of mercy, since Our Lord has said it: " Blessed are the merciful, for they shall find mercy."
King Sapor, of Persia, in the eighteenth year of his reign, raised a bloody persecution against the Christians, and laid waste their churches and monasteries. Jonas and Barachisius, two brothers of the city Beth-Asa, hearing that several Christians lay under sentence of death at Hubaham, went thither to encourage and serve them. Nine of that number received the crown of martyrdom. After their execution, Jonas and Barachisius were apprehended for having exhorted them to die. The president entreated the two brothers to obey the King of Persia, and to worship the sun, moon, fire, and water. Their answer was, that it was more reasonable to obey the immortal King of heaven and earth than a mortal prince. Jonas was beaten with knotty clubs and with rods, and next set in a frozen pond, with a cord tied to his foot. Barachisius had two red-hot iron plates and two red-hot hammers applied under each arm, and melted lead dropped into his nostrils and eyes ; after which, he was carried to prison, and there hung up by one foot. Despite these cruel tortures, the two brothers remained steadfast in the faith. New and more horrible torments were then devised, under which, at last, they yielded up their lives, while their pure souls winged their flight to heaven, there to gain the martyr's crown which they had so faithfully won.
Reflection.-Those powerful motives which supported the martyrs under the sharpest torments ought to inspire us with patience, resignation, and holy joy under sickness and all crosses or trials. Nothing is more heroic in the practice of Christian virtue, nothing more precious in the sight of God, than the sacrifice of patience, submission, constant fidelity, and charity in a state of suffering.
John made, while still young, such progress in learning that he was called the Scholastic. At the age of sixteen he turned from the brilliant future which lay before him, and retired to Mt. Sinai, where he put himself under the direction of a holy monk. Never was novice more fervent, more unrelaxing in his efforts for self-mastery. After four years, he took the vows, and an aged abbot foretold that he would some day be one of the greatest lights of the Church. Nineteen years later, on the death of his director, he withdrew into a deeper solitude, where he studied the lives and writings of the Saints, and was raised to an unusual height of contemplation. The fame of his holiness and practical wisdom drew crowds around him for advice and consolation. For his greater profit he visited the solitudes of Egypt. At the age of seventy-five he was chosen abbot of Mt. Sinai, and there " he dwelt in the mount of God, and drew from the rich treasure of his heart priceless riches of doctrine, which he poured forth with wondrous abundance and benediction." He was induced by a brother abbot to write the rules by which he had guided his life ; and his book, called the Climax, or Ladder of Perfection, has been prized in all ages for its wisdom, its clearness, and its unction. At the end of four years, he would no longer endure the honors and distractions of his office, and retired to his solitude, where he died a.d. 605.
Reflection.-" Cast not from thee, my brother," says the Imitation of Christ, " the sure hope of attaining to the spiritual life; still hast thou the time and the means."
Isdegerdes, son of Sapor III., put a stop to the cruel persecutions against the Christians in Persia, which had been begun by Sapor II., and the Church had enjoyed twelve years' peace in that kingdom, when, in 420, it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of Abdas, a Christian bishop who burned down the Pyraeum, or Temple of Fire, the great divinity of the Persians. King Isdegerdes thereupon demolished all the Christian churches in Persia, put to death Abdas, and raised a general persecution against the Church, which continued forty years with great fury. Isdegerdes died the year following, in 421. But his son and successor, Varares, carried on the persecution with greater inhumanity. The very recital of the cruelties he exercised on the Christians strikes us with horror. Amongst the glorious champions of Christ was St. Benjamin, a deacon. The tyrant caused him to be beaten and imprisoned. He had lain a year in the dungeon, when an ambassador from the emperor obtained his release on condition he should never speak to any of the courtiers about religion. The ambassador passed his word in his behalf that he would not; but Benjamin, who was a minister of the Gospel, declared that he should miss no opportunity of announcing Christ. The king, being informed that he still preached the faith in his kingdom, ordered him to be apprehended, caused reeds to be run in between the nails and the flesh, both of his hands and feet, and to be thrust into other most tender parts, and drawn out again, and this to be frequently repeated with violence. Lastly, a knotty stake was thrust into his bowels, to rend and tear them, in which torment he expired in the year 424.
Reflection.-We entreat you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered most cruel torments for God our Saviour and His love, on which account you are now most intimately and familiarly united to Him, that you pray to the Lord for us miserable sinners, covered with filth, that He infuse into us the grace of Christ, that it may enlighten our souls that we may love Him.