Archive for the ‘St. Catherine of Siena’ Tag

Feast of Blessed Jutta of Disibodenberg and Saint Hildegard of Bingen (September 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Hildegard of Bingen

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED JUTTA OF DISIBODENBERG (CIRCA 1084-DECEMBER 22, 1136)

Roman Catholic Abbess

Her feast transferred from December 22

mentor of

SAINT HILDEGARD OF BINGEN (1098-SEPTEMBER 17, 1179)

Roman Catholic Abbess, Mystic, Theologian, Poet, Playwright, and Composer

One of my goals in renovating this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, as I keep repeating, is to emphasize relationships and influences.  Therefore, I merge the feasts of St. Hildegard of Bingen (September 17) and her mentor, Blessed Jutta of Disibodenberg (December 22).

Blessed Jutta, born circa 1084 in Spanheim, was a German noblewoman.  Her brother was Meganhard, the Count of Spanheim.  She became a hermitess on November 1, 1106.  Blessed Jutta lived near the Abbey of Saint Disibod, Disibodenberg.  She taught children and became the center of a female community before beginning to serve as the first abbess of the new convent at Disibodenberg in 1116.  One member of that community then convent was St. Hildegard, born in Böckelheim, near Spanheim, in 1098, and also of German nobility.  She, raised and educated at Disibodenberg, succeeded Blessed Jutta as abbess in 1136.  St. Hildegard held that post until 1147.  That year she and eighteen nuns founded a new, independent convent near Bingen.  She served as the abbess there for the rest of her life.

St. Hildegard was a mystic; she had been one since childhood.  From 1141 to 1150 she published accounts of 26 of her visions in Scivas (Know the Ways).  Our saint’s visions were consistent with theological orthodoxy, according to the Archbishop of Mainz, a group of theologians, and Pope Eugenius III.  After 1150 St. Hildegard continued to report and write about her visions.

St. Hildegard was a remarkable person, especially by the standards of her time and place.  In 1152-1162 she made preaching tours in the Rhineland.  She corresponded with monarchs and popes, wrote at least one drama, composed religious texts and music, and wrote treatises on science and medicine.  She was, by the standards of her time and place, unusually scientifically astute.  St. Hildegard, as a theologian, belonged to the school of Creation Spirituality.  The Church has recognized her as a Doctor of the Church, a title it bestows on few saints.  The only other women so honored were St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), and St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897).

Despite St. Hildegard’s respected status in the Church during her lifetime, she ran afoul of ecclesiastical authorities toward the end of her life.  She permitted the burial of an excommunicated man in the convent’s cemetery.  Then our saint disobeyed an order to disinter the corpse; the deceased had reconciled with God before he died, she said in her defense.  St. Hildegard’s defiance led to the Archbishop of Mainz placing the convent under an interdict, a penalty she protested.  Eventually the archbishop lifted the interdict.

St. Hildegard died a few months later, on September 17, 1179.

Pope John XXII beatified St. Hildegard in 1326.  She was informally “St. Hildegard” for centuries until Pope Benedict XVI made it official in 2012.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 19, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 15:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIXTUS III, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF BLAISE PASCAL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCIENTIST, MATHEMATICIAN, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MAGNUS AND AGRICOLA OF AVIGNON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF AVIGNON

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HAMMOND, ENGLISH MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

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God of all times and seasons:

Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, a student of Jutta,

may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation,

and show forth your glory not only with our lips but in our lives;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 43:1-2, 6-7, 9-12, 27-28

Psalm 104:25-34

Colossians 3:14-17

John 3:16-21

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 589

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Feast of Blesseds Columba of Rieti and Osanna Andreasi (May 20)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Italian Renaissance

Image scanned from Rand McNally World Atlas (1968)

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BLESSED COLUMBA OF RIETI (FEBRUARY 2, 1467-MAY 20, 1501)

Also known as Angelella Guardagnoli

friend of

BLESSED OSANNA ANDREASI (JANUARY 17, 1449-1505)

Also known as Blessed Hosanna Andreasi, Blessed Hosanna of Mantua, and Blessed Osanna of Mantua

Her feast transferred from June 18

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DOMINICAN MYSTICS

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The lives of Blesseds Columba of Rieti and Osanna Andreasi overlapped as they encouraged each other in the religious life.

Blessed Columba of Rieti, born Angelella (“little angel”) Guardagnoli at Rieti, Umbria, on February 2, 1467, learned holiness at a young age.  At her baptism a dove flew down to a font, hence her nickname, Columba, or “dove.”  Our saint grew up in an impoverished and pious family in which the parents gave sacrificially to help those worse off than they were.  Young Angelella and her mother spun cloth and sewed.  They repaired the local Dominican nuns’ clothing.

Angelella, educated by those nuns, became one.  She joined the order at the age of 19 years.  She did this after reporting a vision of Christ surrounded by saints, which prompted her to take a vow of chastity, devote much time to prayer, and reject an arranged marriage.  The nun earned her reputation for holiness and wisdom; many sought her out as a spiritual counselor and a miracle worker.  Our saint, answering God’s call, left Rieti with no destination in mind.  Her Abrahamic journey ended in Perugia, Umbria, where she founded a Dominican tertiary community on January 1, 1490.  Blessed Columba was a spiritual counselor there, of course.  During an epidemic she also went beyond praying for the victims; she risked becoming one by working among the afflicted.  She became ill yet recovered, reportedly via the intercession of St. Catherine of Siena, to whom she had a devotion.  Although Blessed Columba had many admirers, the notorious Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519) was not one of them.  Borgia persecuted our saint for allegedly practicing magic.

One of Blessed Columba’s friends was Blessed Osanna Andreasi, born in Mantua on January 17, 1449.  Blessed Osanna, unlike her friend, came from Italian nobility.  When just five years old she reportedly received a vision of the Holy Trinity, paradise, and angels.  Her course set, Blessed Osanna pursued the religious life.  She rejected an arranged marriage and became a Dominican tertiary at the age of 17 years.  She completed her vows 37 years later, after caring for her siblings after parents Nicolaus and Agnes died.  Our saint, who used her family’s fortune to care for poor people, served as a spiritual counselor to many people.  She also received the stigmata, but without pain, and reported receiving a vision of Christ bearing his cross.  Furthermore, Blessed Osanna condemned the decadence and immorality of elites in her society.

Blessed Osanna was present at the death (by natural causes) of Blessed Columba of Rieti at Perugia on May 20, 1501.  Blessed Osanna reported seeing the soul of her 34-year-old friend rise to Heaven.

Blessed Osanna died of natural causes in 1505.  She was about 51 years old.

Pope Urban VIII canonized Blessed Columba in 1625.

Blessed Osanna, beatified by Pope Innocent XII in 1694, became the patron saint of school girls.

Blesseds Columba and Osanna reflected the light of God to others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 8, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN CASPAR MATTES, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF JOHANN VON STAUPITZ, MARTIN LUTHER’S SPIRITUAL MENTOR

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion

of your servants Blessed Columba of Rieti and Osanna Andreasi,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 722

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This is post #1400 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of St. Catherine of Siena (April 29)   4 comments

Above:  St. Catherine of Siena

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA (MARCH 25, 1347-APRIL 29, 1380)

Roman Catholic Mystic and Religious

Born Catalina Benincasa

Former feast day = April 30

St. Catherine of Siena, some who knew her claimed, was a lunatic.  She did report having received many visions, after all.  And why had she cut off most of her beautiful hair and claimed to be a bride of Christ, unless she was crazy?  Others who knew her regarded her as a living saint, however.  Catalina Benincara, they insisted, was not out of her gourd; no, she was touched by God.  Both camps agreed that she was out of the ordinary.

If one ponders prophetic figures from the Hebrew Bible, one should be able to recall stories of God commanding prophets to behave in bizarre ways–from eating scrolls to walking around naked.  The biography of St. Catherine of Siena contains nothing so extreme, but does include not leaving her bedroom for three years, starting at the age of 16.

St. Catherine, born in Siena, Tuscany, on March 25, 1347, was one of the youngest of 25 children of a wealthy dyer.  At the age of 16 years she joined the Third Order of Saint Dominic.  For the next three years our saint lived as a contemplative and reported receiving many visions, both demonic and godly.  Sometimes Satan visited, St. Catherine said, but Jesus and St. Mary Magdalene also dropped by.  Regardless of the veracity of our saint’s visions, the godly voices she reported hearing instructed her to re-enter the world after years of isolation.  So St. Catherine worked as a nurse to the poor and the sick, including cancer patients and lepers.  She also began to attract a following, due to her holiness.

St. Catherine  served as a peacemaker during turbulent times.  She started on a small scale, by reconciling feuding families in Siena.  Then, in 1370, she began to correspond with potentates.  In 1376 our saint traveled to Avignon, France, the site of the residence of the Bishop of Rome during the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy.  St. Catherine helped to persuade Pope Gregory XI to return the Papacy to Rome.  He did so in 1377.  After Gregory XI died the following year, the College of Cardinals, responding to public pressure, elected an Italian Pope.  Unfortunately, Urban VI was unstable.  The combination of his instability and the politics germane to his election led to the election of a rival pontiff, Clement (VII), headquartered at Avignon.  The Great Schism of the Papacy (1378-1417) had begun.  Clement was more of a politician than a spiritual leader.  Urban was unfit for the Papacy, but he was the duly consecrated Bishop of Rome at Rome.  As European potentates and cardinals decided which Pope to support, St. Catherine wrote many of them and encouraged them to support Urban VI, even though she had no illusions regarding his character.  There was a higher principle–ecclesiastical unity–at work.

St. Catherine, distressed by the scandal of the Great Schism of the Papacy, reported one final vision in 1380.  She saw herself with the Church, like a great ship, upon her back.  Our saint collapsed, paralyzed.  Several weeks later she died, aged 33 years.

St. Catherine, who received the stigmata in 1375, wrote nearly 400 letters, many prayers, the Dialogue (with Jesus), and a Treatise on Divine Providence, a masterpiece of mysticism in the Italian language.  The Church canonized her in 1461 and declared her a Doctor of the Church in 1970.

The proof is in the pudding, an old saying goes.  The evidence regarding St. Catherine of Siena indicates that she was a holy woman, not a lunatic.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS A KEMPIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC, MONK, PRIEST, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN BOSTE, GEORGE SWALLOWELL, AND JOHN INGRAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF JOHN NEWTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Everlasting God, you so kindled the flame of holy love in the heart of blessed Catherine of Siena,

as she meditated on the passion of your Son our Savior,

that she devoted her life to the poor and the sick, and to the peace and unity of the Church:

Grant that we also may share in the mystery of Christ’s death,

and rejoice in the revelation of his glory; who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Lamentations 3:31-33

Psalm 119:73-80

1 John 1:5-2:2

Luke 12:22-24, 29-31

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 351

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Feast of Sts. Martin de Porres, Juan Macias, Rose of Lima, and Turibius of Mogrovejo (August 23)   Leave a comment

Saints

Above:  Five Saints:  Francis Solano, Turibius of Mogrovejo, Juan Macius, Rose of Lima, and Martin de Porres

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MARTIN DE PORRES (DECEMBER 9, 1579-NOVEMBER 3, 1639)

Humanitarian and Dominican Lay Brother

His feast transferred from November 3

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SAINT JUAN MACIAS (MARCH 2, 1585-SEPTEMBER 18, 1645)

Humanitarian and Dominican Lay Brother

His feast transferred from September 18

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SAINT ROSE OF LIMA (APRIL 20, 1586-AUGUST 25, 1617)

Humanitarian and Dominican Sister

Alternative feast day = August 30

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SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGROVEJO (NOVEMBER 16, 1538-MARCH 23, 1606)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Lima

His feast transferred from March 23

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INTRODUCTION

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The Episcopal Church commemorates the lives of St. Martin de Porres, St. Rose of Lima, and St. Turibius of Mogrovejo on August 23.  This makes sense, for St. Turibius, as Archbishop of Lima, confirmed the first two saints, who were both friends and Dominicans in Lima, Peru.  He also had jurisdiction over St. Francis Solano (1549-1610), the “Apostle of America.”  To this post I add St. Juan Macias, also a Dominican and a friend of St. Martin.  St. Turibius confirmed St. Juan also.

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SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGROVEJO

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St. Turibius of Mogrovejo, born at Mayorga, Spain, on November 16, 1538, came from a noble family.  Turibius Alfonso Mogrovejo bore his first name because his parents had named him for St. Turibius of Astorga (died in 460), archdeacon of Tui, Bishop of Astorga, and defender of Christianity against Priscillianism, a Gnostic-Manichean heresy.  Our saint became a law professor at the University of Salamanca.  His renown, based on his virtue and his erudition, spread widely.  King Philip II appointed him the Grand Inquisitor at Granada.  In 1578 St. Turibius became a priest.  In May of the following year his appointment as Archbishop of Lima cleared the Vatican.  The consecration occurred in August 1580, and he arrived in Peru the following year.

St. Turibius was a hard-working archbishop.  During the 25 years of his tenure he traveled his vast diocese repeatedly, making himself vulnerable to bad weather and dangerous men alike.  He also confirmed about a million people, ordered the translation of the catechism into the major two Incan languages, mastered those tongues, and required that his priests likewise be fluent in them.  St. Turibius also defended the poor as well as indigenous people against abuses by Spanish authorities.  Furthermore, he founded the first Roman Catholic seminary in the Americas (in 1591) and was responsible for the construction of roads, school buildings, chapels, hospitals, and convents.

St. Turibius liked to say,

Time is not our own, and we must give a strict account of it.

He used much of the time available to him well.  That time ended near Lima on March 3, 1606, after he had come down with a fever.  He as 67 years old.  Pope Innocent XI beatified our saint in 1697.  Pope Benedict XIII canonized St. Turibuis in 1726.  Our saint’s feast day in the Roman Catholic Church, formerly April 27, has moved to March 23.

St. Turibius is the patron saint of Peru, Latin American bishops, and the rights of indigenous people.

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SAINT MARTIN DE PORRES

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St. Martin de Porres had to contend with two great challenges throughout his life.  Martin de Porres Velazquez, born at at Lima, on December 9, 1579, was the son of Don Juan de Porres (a Spanish gentleman) and Ana (a former Panamanian slave of African descent).  Our saint was allegedly illegitimate, a label I reject, for nobody is an illegitimate person.  (Besides, to blame someone for the circumstances of his or her birth, over which he or she has no control, is wrong.)  St. Martin’s father initially refused to recognize our saint as his son or to support the family, so St. Martin, his mother, and (in time) his younger sister Agnes lived in poverty for years.  When our saint was seven years old, however, Don Juan recognized him, gave him his surname, and began to support the family financially.

St. Martin had little formal education.  When he was young his mother apprenticed him to a barber-surgeon, so he learned those skills well.

St. Martin’s destiny was in a priory, however.  The law forbade him, as a person of African (as well as mixed-race) ancestry, to enter a religious order.  At age 15 he became a volunteer at Holy Rosary Priory, Lima, living there, wearing a habit, and, in time, distributing money to the poor.  In 1603, at age 24, he became a Dominican lay brother anyway.  Perhaps his father made some arrangements.  The prior definitely ignored the law.  Although the prior favored St. Martin, many of the other Dominicans at the priory did not, acting out of racism and mocking him for his alleged illegitimacy.  Our saint handled these difficulties graciously.

St. Martin’s medical training became useful when, in 1613, he became the lay brother in charge of the infirmary.  He, who retained that duty for the rest of his life, cared for the poor and the rich alike.

St. Martin earned a reputation for holiness, patience, and humility.  He lived simply, did not eat meat, fasted frequently, maintained a devotion to the Holy Eucharist, established a shelter for stray cats and dogs, founded an orphanage, and raised dowries for young women.  As if his believable good works were not enough, he also allegedly flew, passed through closed doors, had miraculous knowledge, teleported groups of monks, and had the ability to be in two places simultaneously.

St. Martin died of natural causes at Lima on November 3, 1639.  He was 59 years old.  The royal viceroy, a judge of the royal court, and two bishops served as his pallbearers.  Pope Gregory XVI beatified him in 1837.  Pope John XXIII canonized him in 1962, making him the first saint of African descent in the Americas.

St. Martin is the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, and public health workers, among others.

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SAINT ROSE OF LIMA

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Among the friends of St. Martin de Porres was St. Rose of Lima.  Our saint, born Isabel Flores de Olivia, came from a wealthy colonial family in Lima.  St. Turibius confirmed her in 1597.  On that occasion she took the name Rose, which had been her nickname since early childhood.  The family’s Incan maid had said that our saint was as lovely as a rose.

St. Rose’s destiny was monastic life, despite her parents’ desire to marry her off.  She chose to live in a grotto on the family property.  Eventually her family approved of her vocation.  When the family’s finances collapsed, she supported her relatives by embroidering, gardening, and selling flowers.  And, with her parents’ approval, she transformed a room in their house into a clinic.  St. Rose, who devoted her life to reverence, prayer, and asceticism (including the mortification of the flesh), entered the Third Order of St. Dominic at age 20.  She took St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) as her model with regard to the spiritual life.  Our saint worked among the poorest of the poor, laboring as a Dominican sister until she died at Lima on August 25, 1617, aged 31 years.  Pope Clement IX beatified St. Rose of Lima in 1667.  Pope Clement X canonized her four years later, making her the first saint in the New World.

St. Rose is the patron saint of Peru, Latin America, embroiderers, gardeners, florists, people with family problems, and people who suffer ridicule for their faith, among other causes.

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SAINT JUAN MACIAS

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Another friend of St. Martin of Porres and helper of the poor of Lima was St. Juan Macias.  Our saint, born Juan de Arcas y Sanchez, at Ribero del Fresno, Extremadura, Spain, on March 2, 1585, came from a noble family.  His parents were Pedro de Arcas and Juana Sanchez, and his sister was Agnes.  Pedro and Juana died when our saint was two years old.  An uncle surnamed Macias, raised the children and trained St. Juan to become a shepherd.  As a shepherd our saint began to pray to rosary.

St. Juan was a natural contemplative who preferred solitude.  However, solitude was rare for him.  He had begun to consider becoming a Dominican after meeting a Dominican friar at age 16.  In 1610, at age 25, our saint went to work for a wealthy businessman, who sent him to the New World.  Eventually St. Juan made his way to Lima, where he remained for the rest of his life.  In January 1622 he entered the Dominican Priory of St. Mary Magdalene as a lay brother.  A year later he made his final vows.  Our saint spent most of the rest of his life working as the assistant porter, living in the gatehouse, counseling the rich and poor alike, preferring the poor, feeding 200 people daily, raising funds to care for the impoverished, teaching the catechism to the poor, and praying.

St. Juan died of natural causes at Lima on September 18, 1645.  He was 60 years old.  Pope Gregory XVI beatified him in 1837.  Pope Paul VI canonized him in 1975.

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CONCLUSION

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How blessed are you who are poor:

the kingdom of God is yours.

Blessed are you who are hungry now:

you shall have your fill.

Blessed are you who are weeping now:

you shall laugh.

–Luke 6:20b-21, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

These four saints worked as agents of grace toward those four goals.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 8, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT II, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF DAME JULIAN OF NORWICH, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAGDALENA OF CANOSSA, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY AND THE SONS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER OF TARENTAISE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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Merciful God, you sent your Gospel to the people of Peru

through Martin de Porres, who brought his comfort even to slaves;

through Rose of Lima and Juan Macias, who worked among the poorest of the poor;

and through Turibius of Mogrovejo, who founded the first seminary in the Americas and baptized many:

Help us to follow their example in bringing fearlessly the comfort of your grace

to all downtrodden and outcast people, that your Church may be renewed

with songs of salvation and praise; through Jesus Christ, who with you

and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 7:32-36

Psalm 9:9-14

James 2:1-8, 14-17

Mark 10:23-27

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 537

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Feast of Sts. Bridget and Catherine of Sweden (July 23)   Leave a comment

Vadstena Abbey Church

Above:  Vadstena Parish Church

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT BRIDGET OF SWEDEN (CIRCA 1303-JULY 23, 1373)

Founder of the Order of the Most Holy Savior

Also known as Brigitta Birgensdotter, Saint Birgitta of Sweden, and Saint Birgit of Sweden

mother of

SAINT CATHERINE OF SWEDEN (1331-MARCH 24, 1381)

Superior of the Order of the Most Holy Savior

Also known as Catherine Vastanesis and Saint Catherine of Vadstena

Her feast transferred from March 22

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St. Bridget of Sweden has at least two feast days.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) observe her feast on July 23.  The Roman Catholic Church, however, celebrates her legacy on October 8.  I have added St. Catherine of Sweden to this commemoration as a practical matter.  Furthermore, this is my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, so this is my decision.

St. Bridget of Sweden (circa 1303-1373), a mystic, came from a prominent family.  According to one tradition, her date of birth was June 14, 1303.  Her father was Birger Persson, governor of Uppland.  At the age of 10 years ours saint reported receiving a vision of Christ crucified.  For the rest of her life St. Bridget made the Passion of Jesus the center of her spiritual devotion.  In 1316, when our saint was 13 years old, she married Ulf Gudmarsson, governor of Nericia.  The couple had eight children, one of which was St. Catherine of Sweden (1331-1381).  In 1342 the couple made the pilgrimage to Santo Domingo de Compostella.  Gudmarsson died at the Cistercian monastery at Alvastra in 1344.

Later that year the widow, already renowned for her saintliness and charitable works, became a Franciscan nun.  The frequency of St. Bridget’s visions increased during this period of time.  She dictated her Revelations (published in 1492) to the prior, Peter Olafsson, who translated them into Latin.  Among these visions was a command to found a new religious order.  This was the prompt for the creation of the Order of the Most Holy Savior (the Brigittines), at Vadstena, Sweden, in 1346.  The order (still extant) spread across Europe, from Scandinavia to Italy and Portugal and Spain to Russia.  The Brigittines used to have double monasteries, with nuns living one side, monks residing on the other, and both groups sharing the chapel.  The Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution reduced the number of Brigittine institutions.

In 1349 Sts. Bridget and Catherine made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  St. Catherine, educated at a convent, had, at age 12 or 13, married Egard van Kyren, a German nobleman.  They had a white, or chaste, marriage.  Egard died while his wife was away on pilgrimage in 1349.  She spent most of the rest of her life refusing the advances of suitors.

In 1350, during the time do the Black Death, which killed at least two-fifths of the population of Europe in less than five years, St. Catherine, an ascetic like her mother, traveled to Rome with Birger (her brother), St. Bridget, and a small party.  They sought Papal approval of their order.  That approval was forthcoming 20 years later.  The building of the mother house at Vadstena started the following year.  St. Bridget lived in Rome for the rest of her life, her faithful daughter by her side.  The two women made pilgrimages to the Holy Land (one together in 1372) and collaborated in providing shelter to homeless people.

Papal Palace, Avignon, France

Above:  The Papal Palace at Avignon, France, 1890

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-05243

St. Bridget also opposed ecclesiastical corruption.  Amid the scandal of the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy (1309-1377), with the Papal headquarters transferred to Avignon, under the influence of the French monarchy, St. Bridget favored the return of the Papacy to Rome.  She had lauded the election of Pope Innocent VI (reigned 1352-1362), but turned against him after he ordered the imprisonment of some Spiritual Franciscans and the burning at the stake of others.  St. Bridget accused the Supreme Pontiff of being a persecutor of faithful Christians.  She also predicted the early death of Pope Urban V (1362-1370) and cautioned him not to return to Avignon.  The Pope had returned to Rome while leaving a bureaucracy in Avignon.  He returned to Avignon on September 27, 1370.  An illness claimed his life on December 19.

St. Bridget died at Rome on July 23, 1373, with St. Catherine by her side.  The daughter succeeded her mother as superior of the order and returned to Sweden, taking St. Bridget’s corpse with her.

Pope Boniface IX (reigned 1389-1404) canonized St. Bridget in 1391.  She has become one of the patron saints of Europe.

St. Catherine of Sweden, who wrote Consolation of the Soul, a devotional work, eventually returned to Rome, where she lived for a few years.  Among her close friends was St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), who also advocated for the return of the Papacy to Rome.  St. Bridget’s daughter died at Vadstena on March 24, 1381.

The canonization of St. Catherine of Sweden was informal, with Pope Innocent VIII (reigned 1484-1492) supporting her veneration in 1484.  Formal canonization proved to be impossible, for that process required the documentation of miracles.  The Protestant Reformation prevented that from proceeding.

Today many people invoke St. Catherine of Sweden against abortion and miscarriage.

As I have written in various weblog posts, faith should be something families nurture.  The family of Sts. Bridget and Catherine of Sweden modeled that principle well.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, SCIENTIST, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants Saints Bridget and Catherine of Sweden,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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