St. Albert of Jerusalem

St AlbertPatriarch of Jerusalem, one of the conspicuous ecclesiastics in the troubles between the Holy See and Federick Barbarossa; date of birth uncertain; died 14 September, 1215.

He was in fact asked by both Pope and Emperor to act as umpire in their dispute and, as a reward, was made Prince of the Empire. He was born in the diocese of Parma, became a canon regular in the Monastery of Mortara in the Milanese, and after being Bishop of Bobbio, for a short time, was translated to the see of Vercelli. Subscription8 This was about 1184.  At that time the Latins occupied Jerusalem and, the Patriarchate falling vacant, Albert was implored by the Christians of Palestine to accept the see. As it implied persecution and a prospect of martyrdom, he accepted, and was appointed by Innocent III, who at the same time made him Papal Legate. His sanctity procured him the veneration of even the Muslims. It was while here that he undertook a work with which his name is particularly and peculiarly associated. In Palestine, at that time, the hermits of Mount Carmel lived in separate cells. One of their number gathered them into a community, and in 1209 their superior, Brocard, requested the Patriarch, though not a Carmelite, to draw up a rule for them. He assented, and legislated in the most rigorous fashion, prescribing perpetual abstinence from flesh, protracted fasts, long silence, and extreme seclusion. It was so severe that mitigations had to be introduced by Innocent IV in 1246.

St. Albert Presents the Rule to the Carmelites, Painting by Pietro Lorenzetti

St. Albert Presents the Rule to the Carmelites, Painting by Pietro Lorenzetti

The end of this great prelate was most tragic. Summoned by Innocent III to take part in the General Council of the Lateran, in 1215, he was assassinated before he left Palestine, while taking part in a procession, on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

(cfr. Catholic Encyclopedia)

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September 25 – St. Aunarius

September 24, 2018

St. Aunarius

Statue of St. Austremonius, Bishop of Auvergne. Church Saint Austremonius of Issoire, Auvergne, France.

Statue of St. Austremonius, Bishop of Auvergne. Church Saint Austremonius of Issoire, Auvergne, France.

(Or Aunacharius).

Bishop of Auxerre in France, born 573, died 603. Being of noble birth, he was brought up in the royal court, but evinced a desire to enter the clerical state, was ordained priest by St. Syagrius of Autum, and eventually was made Bishop of Auxerre. His administration is noted for certain important disciplinary measures that throw light on the religious and moral life of the Merovingian times. He caused solemn litanies to be said daily in the chief centres of population, by rotation, and on the first day of each month in the larger towns and monasteries.

Scenes from the life of St. Austremonius: the saint blessing.

Scenes from the life of St. Austremonius: the saint blessing.

He enforced a regular daily attendance at the Divine Office on the part both of regular and secular clergy. He held (681 or 585) an important synod of four bishops, seven abbots, thirty-five priests, and four deacons for the restoration of ecclesiastical discipline and the suppression of popular pagan superstitions, and caused the lives of his predecessors Amator and Germanus to be written. He was buried at Auxerre, where he has always been held in veneration. His remains were later enclosed in a golden chest, but were partially dispersed by the Huguenots in 1567. A portion, however, was placed in the hollow pillar of a crypt, and saved. His feast is celebrated 25 September.

Thomas J. Shahan (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Bl. Hermann Contractus

(Herimanus Augiensis, Hermann von Reichenau).

Chronicler, mathematician, and poet; born 18 February, 1013, at Altshausen (Swabia); died on the island of Reichenau, Lake Constance, 21 September, 1054.

Bl. Hermann of Reichenau

Bl. Hermann of Reichenau

He was the son of Count Wolverad II von Altshausen. Being a cripple from birth (hence the surname Contractus) he was powerless to move without assistance, and it was only by the greatest effort that he was able to read and write; but he was so highly gifted intellectually, that when he was but seven years of age his parents confided him to the learned Abbot Berno, on the island of Reichenau. Here he took the monastic vows in 1043, and probably spent his entire life. His iron will overcame all obstacles, and it was not long before his brilliant attainments made him a shining light in the most diversified branches of learning, including, besides theology, mathematics, astronomy, music, the Latin, Greek, and Arabic tongues. Students soon flocked to him from all parts, attracted not only by the fame of his scholarship, but also by his monastic virtue and his lovable personality. We are indebted to him chiefly for a chronicle of the most important events from the birth of Christ to his day. It is the earliest of the medieval universal chronicles now extant, and was compiled from numerous sources, being a monument to his great industry as well as to his extraordinary erudition and strict regard for accuracy. While it is not improbable that this work was based on a previous state chronicle of Swabia, since lost (called “Chronicum Universale Suevicum”, or “Epitome Sangallensis”), it has nevertheless a significance entirely its own. But the full measure of his genius appears from the objectivity and clearness with which he wrote the history of his own time, the materials of which were accessible to him only by means of verbal tradition.

An artistic rendering of "Herman the Lame" as he is sometimes called.

An artistic rendering of “Herman the Lame” as he is sometimes called.

He also wrote mathematico-astronomical works. Of his poems the most successful was the “De octo vitiis principalibus”, which he addressed to nuns, and in which he gave proof of uncommon skill in the handling of different kinds of metres, as well as in the charm with which he contrived to blend earnestness with a happy mirth. He composed religious hymns, and is not infrequently credited with the authorship of the “Alma Redemptoris Mater“, and the “Salve Regina“. Finally, it may be mentioned that Hermann constructed astronomical and musical instruments.

He was beatified in 1863.

PATRICIUS SCHLAGER (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Fr. Frederick William Faber

Fr Faber as a young man

Fr Faber as a young man

Oratorian and devotional writer, b. 28 June, 1814, at Calverley, Yorkshire, England; d. in London, 26 Sept., 1863. After five years at Harrow School he matriculated at Balliol in 1832, became a scholar at University College in 1834, and a fellow of that College in 1837. Of Huguenot descent Faber was divided in his university days between a tendency to Calvinism, in the form of individual pietism, and the Church theory then being advocated by Newman. Eventually the latter triumphed, and Faber threw himself unreservedly into the Tractarian movement and cooperated in the translation of the works of the Fathers then in progress. He received Anglican ordination in 1839, and took work as a tutor, till, in 1843, he was appointed Rector of Elton, Northamptonshire. During the years 1839-1843 Faber made two continental tours, and his letters give strikingly poetic descriptions of the scenes he visited; they glow with enthusiasm for Catholic rites and devotion. On his return to Elton in 1844, he established the practice of confessions, preached Catholic doctrine, and wrote the life of St. Wilfrid, openly advocating the claims and supremacy of Rome…

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Fr. Peter Skarga

Theologian and missionary, born at Grojec, 1536; died at Cracow, 27 Sept., 1612.

He began his education in his native town in 1552; he went to study in Cracow and afterwards in Warsaw. In 1557 he was in Vienna as tutor to the young Castellan, Teczynski; returning thence in 1564, he received Holy orders, and later was nominated canon of Lemberg Cathedral. Here he began to preach his famous sermons, and to convert Protestants…

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St. Vincent de Paul founded a special organization for the relief of the nobility of Lorraine who had sought refuge in Paris during the Thirty Years War. In that period of the war known as the French period Lorraine, Trois-Evechés, Franche-Comté, and Champagne underwent for nearly a quarter of a century all the horrors and scourges which then more than ever war drew in its train…

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Saint Elzéar of Sabran, Count of Arian, and Saint Delphina of Glandenes

St. Elzear (also spelled Eleazarus) was descended of the ancient and illustrious family of Sabran, in Provence; his father, Hermengaud of Sabran, was created count of Arian (Ariano), in the kingdom of Naples; his mother was Lauduna of Albes, a family no less distinguished for its nobility. The saint was born in 1295 at the Saint-Jean de Robians castle belonging to his father, in Provence (Ansois) in the diocese of Apt…

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Marguerite de Valois (1553-1615), also called Queen Margot, was wife of Henry IV of France and Queen of France and Navarre.

Queen Margot entered Namur on the 24th of July in a litter entirely made of glass, a present from D. John of Austria. The glass of the litter was engraved with forty verses in Spanish and Italian, all alluding to the sun and its effects, to which the poet gallantly compared the beautiful Queen. D. John rode on her right, and their persons were guarded by the forty archers who surrounded them; they were preceded by a company of arquebusiers on horseback and one hundred Germans forming two lines, and were followed by the Princess de la Roche sur Yonne and Mme. de Tournon in litters; ten maids of honour, as pretty, coquettish and flighty as their mistress, were riding amid a crowd of gentlemen, who waited on them and flirted with them; six coaches were in the rear with the rest of the ladies, and the female servants and an escort of lancers on horseback.

Louise Adélaïde de Bourbon, known as Mademoiselle de La Roche-sur-Yon.

Queen Margot stayed four days in Namur, entertained all the time magnificently by D. John; at eleven o’clock they dined in one of the delicious gardens of the place, and then danced till the hour of vespers, which they went devoutly to attend in some convent of friars. Then they went for a ride and supped at six o’clock, also out of doors in the gardens, when more dancing followed, or romantic walks by the river in the moonlight with delightful music. The Bishop of Liége, who had come there, was present at all these gatherings, also the Canons and a crowd of native and foreign gentlemen, among whom Margot made her treacherous propaganda, because this bad woman, (as she always was in many ways) was in connivance with the Prince of Orange, and was working secretly in favour of her brother the Duke of Alençon, whom Orange wished to appoint Governor of Flanders, D. John being a prisoner or dead.

Citadelle de Namur

Margot knew this, and she, being very much taken with him and not wishing any harm to befall him, gave him several very useful warnings; through her he knew that the conspirators of Brussels had plans for carrying out their evil designs there in Namur, and then it was that, in agreement with the loyal Count of Barlaimont and his sons, he resolved to retire to the castle of Namur and break with the States.

Rev. Fr. Luis Coloma, The Story of Don John of Austria, trans. Lady Moreton, (New York: John Lane Company, 1912), Book IV, Ch. XVI, pp. 378-379.

Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 644

 

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By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

This egalitarian mentality is worthy of hatred because it professes a love of evil for evil’s sake. It is a love of dirtiness for the sake of dirtiness. A love of crookedness for the sake of crookedness… Barabbas.

Barabbas must have had a horrendous face, a crazed look, a big disheveled mop of hair. He must have screamed, etc. Imagine a brute like this next to Our Lord Jesus Christ. Majestic, most handsome, and sublime even in misfortune. Anyone who were to look at the two and say, “Oh that pretty boy, Barabbas. He’s my pick” is depraved and displays a soul as filthy as the one who sees the devil and prefers him to God.

Now then, this sordidness of soul is found in egalitarianism. And to understand egalitarianism without delving into deeper theological considerations or rising to loftier theological considerations, let us say that egalitarianism is a bad thing as such and an anti-egalitarian soul has a position whereby it seeks the most sublime in all things not to possess it, but to know and accept it.

Cristo de Medina Coli: This statue is located high above the main altar in Madrid, Spain. He has real hair. This statue was in the possession of the Moors, since they stole Him. The Catholics wanted Him back, so the Moors put the statue on a scale & said the Catholics could buy Him back in the statue's weight in gold. The friars put 30 pieces of gold on the scale & the scale balanced out. The Moors were furious (they wanted alot of gold, since the statue is very heavy), so they started fighting, but the Catholics won the battle & recovered the statue.

For example, for an anti-egalitarian person, it would be normal, when hearing about the crystal wheels of the Queen of Denmark’s carriage, to think: “What a pity I am unable to see it.” Not to ride the carriage but to admire it. A person somewhat imbued with egalitarianism considers a sublime thing from a mechanical standpoint.

(Excerpt from a Saint of the Day, Tuesday, April 19, 1966 – Nobility.org translation)

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September 21 – Pope Conon

September 20, 2018

Pope Conon

Date of birth unknown; died, after a long illness, 21 September, 687.

Pope_CononThe son, seemingly, of an officer in the Thracesian troop, he was educated in Sicily and ordained priest at Rome. His age, venerable appearance, and simple character caused the clergy and soldiery of Rome, who were in disagreement, to put aside their respective candidates and to elect him as pope. He was consecrated (21 October, 686) after notice of his election had been sent to the Exarch of Ravenna, or after it had been confirmed by him. He received the Irish missionaries, St. Kilian and his companions, consecrated Kilian bishop, and commissioned him and the others to preach the Faith in Franconia. (Vita S. Kiliani, in Canisius, Lect. Antiquæ, III, 175-180.) He was in favour with the savage Emperor Justinian II who informed him that he had recovered the Acts of the Sixth General Council, by which, he wrote, it was his intention to abide. Justinian also remitted certain taxes and dues owing to the imperial exchequer from several papal patrimonies.

Acta SS., 8 July, II, 612 sq.; DUCHESNE ed., Liber Pontificalis, I, 368 sq.; MANN, Lives of the Popes, I, pt. II, 72 sq.

Horace K. Mann (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Gabriel Malagrida

A Jesuit missionary to Brazil, born 18 September or 6 December, 1689, at Menaggio, in Italy; died 21 September, 1761, at Lisbon. He entered the Jesuit order at Genoa in 1711. He set out from Lisbon in 1721 and arrived on the Island of Maranhào towards the end of the same year. Thence he proceeded to Brazil, where for twenty-eight years he underwent numerous hardships in the Christianization of the natives. In 1749 he was sent to Lisbon, where he was received with great honours by the aged King John V. In 1751 he returned to Brazil, but was recalled to Lisbon in 1753 upon the request of the queen dowager, Marianna of Austria, mother of Joseph, who had succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father, John V…

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September 22 – Saint Emmeram

September 20, 2018

Saint Emmeram

Martydom of Saint Emmeram (Salzburg) from the Cathedral Treasury and Diocese Museum Eichstätt.

Martydom of Saint Emmeram (Salzburg) from the Cathedral Treasury and Diocese Museum Eichstätt.

Bishop of Poitiers and missionary to Bavaria, born at Poitiers in the first half of the seventh century; martyred at Ascheim (Bavaria) towards the end of the same century. Of a noble family of Aquitaine, he received a good education and was ordained priest. According to some authors Emmeram occupied the See of Poitiers, but this cannot be verified, for his name does not appear among the Bishops of Poitiers. He probably held the see for a short time, from the death of Dido (date unknown) to the episcopate of Ansoaldus (674). Having heard that the inhabitants of Bavaria were still idolaters, he determined to carry the light of the Faith to them. Ascending the Loire, crossing the Black Forest, and going down the Danube, he reached Ratisbon in a region then governed by the Duke Theodo. For three years he labored in Bavaria, preaching and converting the people, acquiring also a renown for holiness.

He then turned his steps towards Rome, to visit the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul, but after a five days’ journey, at a place now called Kleinhelfendorf, south of Munich, he was set upon by envoys of the Duke of Bavaria who tortured him cruelly. He died shortly afterwards at Ascheim, about fifteen miles distant. The cause of this attack and the circumstances attending his death are not known. According to the legend related by Aribo, Bishop of Freising, the first to write a life of St. Emmeram, Ota, daughter of the Duke of Bavaria, who had been seduced by Sigipaldus, an important personage of her father’s court, fearing her father’s wrath, confessed her fault to the bishop. Moved with compassion, he advised her to name himself, whom every one respected, as her seducer, and it was in consequence of this accusation that Theodo ordered him to be followed and put to death. The improbability of the tale, the details of the saint’s martyrdom, which are certainly untrue, and the fantastic account of the prodigies attending his death show that the writer, infected by the pious mania of his time, simply added to the facts imaginary details supposed to redound to the glory of the martyr.

Saint EmmeramAll that is known as to the date of the saint’s death is that it took place on September 22, some time before St. Rupert’s arrival in Bavaria (696). At Kleinhelfendorf, where he was tortured, there stands today a chapel of St. Emmeram, and at Ascheim, where he died, is also a martyr’s chapel built in his honor. His remains were removed to Ratisbon and interred in the church of St. George, from which they were transferred about the middle of the eighth century by Bishop Gawibaldus to a church dedicated to the saint. This church having been destroyed by fire in 1642, the saint’s body was found under the altar in 1645 and was encased in a magnificent reliquary. The relics, which were canonically recognized by Bishop Ignaz de Senestrez in 1833, are exposed for the veneration of the faithful every year on September 22. It is impossible to prove that Emmeram occupied the See of Ratisbon, for the official episcopal list begins with the above-mentioned Gawibaldus, who was consecrated by St. Boniface in 739 and died in 764.

LEON CLUGNET (Catholic Encyclopdia)

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St. Thomas of Villanova

Saint Thomas of Villanova

Saint Thomas of Villanova

Educator, philanthropist, born at Fuentellana, Spain, 1488; died at Valencia, 8 September, 1555. Son of Aloazo Tomas Garcia and Lucia Martínez Castellanos, the saint was brought up in the practices of religion and charity. Every Friday his father was wont to give in alms all the meal he earned at the mill, besides his usual daily dole of bread. On great feast-days he added wood, wine, and money; while to poor farmers he loaned money and seed. On the death of her husband, Lucia continued the usual alms, and supplied indigent maidens in the neighbourhood with clothing and money. When sixteen tears old, Thomas entered the University of Alcalá, where, after proceeding master of arts and licentiate in theology, he filled the chair (1514) of arts, logic, and philosophy. Among his auditors were the famed scholars Ferdinand de Encina and Dominic Soto…

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St. Adamnan of Ireland, Abbot

St Adamnan

St Adamnan

He was the eighth in descent from the great Nial, king of Ireland, and from Conal the Great, ancestor of St. Columbkille. His parents were eminent for their rank and virtue. He was born in the year 626, at Rathboth, (1) now called Raphoe, in the county of Donegal, and embraced a monastic life with great humility and fervour, in the monastery which had been founded there by his kinsman St. Columb. Afterwards following the steps of his holy kinsman, he left Ireland, and retired to the celebrated monastery of Hij, of which he became fifth abbot.

In 701 he was employed by Longsech, king of Ireland, on an embassy to Alfred, king of the Northern Saxons, to demand of the latter a reparation of the injuries committed by his subjects on the province of Meath, and carrying off the effects of the inhabitants before the troops of the Irish could arrive to chastise those invaders…

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Fr. François Vaillant de Gueslis

Caughnawaga Indians in Snowy Landscape in Canada, painting by Cornelius Krieghoff.

Caughnawaga Indians in Snowy Landscape in Canada, painting by Cornelius Krieghoff.

Jesuit missionary, born at Orleans, 20 July, 1646; died at Moulins, 24 Sept., 1718. He entered the Society of Jesus, 10 Nov., 1665; came to Canada in 1670; and was ordained priest at Quebec, 1 Dec., 1675. He first evangelized the Mohawks (1679-84). In the beginning of 1688 he was chosen by the Canadian authorities as ambassador to Thomas Dongan, Governor of New York. He was also the first missionary to work among the Indians at Detroit; but he remained only a few months, not entering into the plans of Sieur de Lamothe Cadillac.

St. Lawrence River at Trois-Rivières, Canada

St. Lawrence River at Trois-Rivières, Canada

After the conclusion of peace between the French and the Iroquois he evangelized the Senecas (1702-07). There he contributed not a little to defeat the efforts of Colonel Schuyler at Onondaga who was trying to induce the Five Nations to drive out the French missionaries. The two principal scenes of his zeal in Canada were Quebec and Montreal. At Quebec (1685-91; 1697-1702), he filled the important posts of minister; procurator of the mission, and preacher, and at Montreal (1692-96; 1709-15), he was the first superior of the residence established by the Jesuits in 1692. He founded the Men’s Congregation of Villemarie which exists to the present day. He returned to France in 1715.

Subscription7

Arthur Melanxon (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Pope Innocent II

(Gregorio Papereschi)

Elected 14 Feb., 1130; died 24 Sept., 1143. He was a native of Rome and belonged to the ancient family of the Guidoni. His father’s name is given as John.

Pope Innocent IIThe youthful Gregory became canon of the Lateran and later Abbot of Sts. Nicholas and Primitivus. He was made Cardinal-Deacon of the Title of S. Angelo by Paschal II, and as such shared the exile of Gelasius II in France, together with his later rival, the Cardinal-Deacon Pierleone. Under Callistus II Gregory was sent to Germany (1119) with the legate Lambert, Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia. Both were engaged in drawing up the Concordat of Worms in 1122. In the following year he was sent to France…

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Phillippe-Charles-Jean-Baptiste-Tronson Du Coudray

Soldier, born at Reims, France, 8 September, 1738; died at Philadelphia, U.S.A., 11 September, 1777. He was educated for the army and showed great merit as an engineer. He was adjutant­ general of artillery and considered one of the best military experts in France when, in 1776, he volunteered to go to America to assist the colonists in their revolt against England. Silas Deane and Benjamin Franklin, the American agents, promised him a commission as major-general with command of the artillery. This stipulation gave great offence to the officers already attached to the army when he arrived from France, in May, 1777, with twenty-nine other officers and twelve sergeants of artillery. Several of the more prominent threatened to resign. As a compromise he was made inspector-general 11 August, 1777, with the rank of major-general, and assigned to command the works along the Delaware. On 11 Sept., 1777, he was drowned while crossing the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia, the horse on which he was seated becoming frightened and dragging him overboard…

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Another voice, the most august of all, was now to break silence. The arguments of Kings, Cardinals, Ambassadors, and of her own family had failed to shake the purpose or convince the mind of the young Princess. Moved by a desire to benefit the Catholics of England, and as much perhaps by the solicitations of the Courts of England and France as by the prompting of his own conviction, Clement X writes a brief to Mary Beatrice, the only instance, we believe, of a Sovereign Pontiff directly addressing a Princess of fifteen years of age. It is, of course, in Latin, but that, as we know, presented no difficulty to her…

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Blessed Mary de Cervellione

(or De Cervello)

Popularly styled “de Socos” (of Help) Saint, born about 1230 at Barcelona; died there 19 September, 1290. She was a daughter of a Spanish nobleman named William de Cervellon. One day she heard a sermon preached by Blessed Bernard de Corbarie, the superior of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Ransom at Barcelona, and was so deeply affected by his pleading for the Christian slaves and captives in the hands of the Turks that she resolved to do all in her power for their alleviation. In 1265 she joined a little community of pious women who lived near the monastery of the Mercedarians and spent their lives in prayer and good works under the direction of Blessed Bernard de Corbarie…

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September 19 – St. Januarius

September 17, 2018

St. Januarius

Martyr, Bishop of Beneventum.

St. Januarius is believed to have suffered in the persecution of Diocletian, c. 305. With regard to the history of his life and martyrdom, we know next to nothing. The various collections of “Acts”, though numerous (cf. Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina, n. 4115-4140), are all extremely late and untrustworthy. Bede (c. 733) in his “Martyrologium” has epitomized the so-called “Acta Bononiensia” (see Quentin, “Les Martyrologes historiques”, 76). To this source we may trace the following entry in the present Roman Martyrology, though the reference to the miracle of the liquefaction is an addition of much later date. “At Pozzuoli in Campania [the memory] of the holy martyrs Januarius, Bishop of Beneventum, Festus his deacon, and Desiderius lector, together with Socius deacon of the church of Misenas, Proculus deacon of Pozzuoli, Eutyches and Acutius, who after chains and imprisonment were beheaded under the Emperor Diocletian. The body of St. Januarius was brought to Naples, and there honourably interred in the church, where his holy blood is kept unto this day in a phial of glass, which being set near his head becomes liquid and bubbles up as though it were fresh.”

In the Breviary a longer account is given. There we are told that “Timotheus, President of Campania,” was the official who condemned the martyrs, that Januarius was thrown into a fiery furnace, but that the flames would not touch him, and that the saint and his companions were afterwards exposed in the amphitheatre to wild beasts without any effect. Timotheus declaring that this was due to magic, and ordering the martyrs to be beheaded, the persecutor was smitten with blindness, but Januarius cured him, and five thousand persons were converted to Christ before the martyrs were decapitated. Then, as the Breviary lesson continues, “the cities of these coasts strove to obtain their bodies for honourable burial, so as to make sure of having them advocates with God. By God’s will, the relics of Januarius were taken to Naples at last, after having been carried from Pozzuoli to Beneventum and from Beneventum to Monte Vergine. When they were brought thence to Naples they were laid in the chief church there and have been there famous on account of many miracles. Among these is remarkable the stopping of eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, whereby both that neighbourhood and places afar off have been like to be destroyed. It is also well known and is the plain fact, seen even unto this day, that when the blood of St. Januarius, kept dried up in a small glass phial, is put in sight of the head of the same martyr, it is wont to melt and bubble in a very strange way, as though it had but freshly been shed.”

The blood of Saint Januarius.

It is especially this miracle of the liquefaction which has given celebrity to the name of Januarius, and to this we turn our attention. Let it at once be said that the supposition of any trick or deliberate imposture is out of the question, as candid opponents are now willing to admit. For more than four hundred years this liquefaction has taken place at frequent intervals. If it were a trick it would be necessary to admit that all the archbishops of Naples, and that countless ecclesiastics eminent for their learning and often for their great sanctity, were accomplices in the fraud, as also a number of secular officials; for the relic is so guarded that its exposition requires the concurrence of both civil and ecclesiastical authority. Further, in all these four hundred years, no one of the many who, upon the supposition of such a trick, must necessarily have been in the secret, has made any revelation or disclosed how the apparent miracle is worked. Strong indirect testimony to this truth is borne by the fact that even at the present time the rationalistic opponents of a supernatural explanation are entirely disagreed as to how the phenomenon is to be accounted for.

The Catacombs where St. Januarius was buried. Photo by Dominik Matus.

What actually takes place may be thus briefly described: in a silver reliquary, which in form and size somewhat suggests a small carriage lamp, two phials are enclosed. The lesser of these contains only traces of blood and need not concern us here. The larger, which is a little flagon-shaped flask four inches in height and about two and a quarter inches in diameter, is normally rather more than half full of a dark and solid mass, absolutely opaque when held up to the light, and showing no displacment when the reliquary is turned upside down. Both flasks seem to be so fixed in the lantern cavity of the reliquary by means of some hard gummy substance that they are hermetically sealed. Moreover, owing to the fact that the dark mass in the flask is protected by two thicknesses of glass it is presumably but little affected by the temperature of the surrounding air. Eighteen times in each year, i.e. (1) on the Saturday before the first Sunday in May and the eight following days, (2) on the feast of St. Januarius (19 Sept.) and during the octave, and (3) on 16 December, a silver bust believed to contain the head of St. Januarius is exposed upon the altar, and the reliquary just described is brought out and held by the officiant in view of the assembly. Prayers are said by the people, begging that the miracle may take place, while a group of poor women, known as the “zie di San Gennaro” (aunts of St. Januarius), make themselves specially conspicuous by the fervour, and sometimes, when the miracle is delayed, by the extravagance, of their supplications.

The officiant usually holds the reliquary by its extremities, without touching the glass, and from time to time turns it upside down to note whether any movement is perceptible in the dark mass enclosed in the phial. After an interval of varying duration, usually not less than two minutes or more than an hour, the mass is gradually seen to detach itself from the sides of the phial, to become liquid and of a more or less ruby tint, and in some instances to froth and bubble up, increasing in volume. The officiant then announces, “Il miracolo é fatto”, a Te Deum is sung, and the reliquary containing the liquefied blood is brought to the altar rail that the faithful may venerate it by kissing the containing vessel. Rarely has the liquefaction failed to take place in the expositions of May or September, but in that of 16 December the mass remains solid more frequently than not.

Procession of the Relic of St. Januarius in Naples during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, 1822.

It is of course natural that those who are reluctant to admit the supernatural character of the phenomenon should regard the liquefaction as simply due to the effects of heat. There are, they urge, certain substances (e.g. a mixture of spermaceti and ether) which have a very low boiling point. The heat produced by the hands of the officiant, the pressing throng of spectators, the lights on the altar, and in particular the candle formerly held close to the reliquary to enable the people to see that the mass is opaque, combine to raise the temperature of the air sufficiently to melt the substance in the phial—a substance which is assumed to be blood, but which no one has ever analysed. Further, ever since the early years of the eighteenth century, sceptical scientists, by using certain chemical preparations, have reconstructed the miracle with more or less of success; that is to say, they have been able to exhibit some red substance which, though at first apparently solid, melted after an interval without any direct application of heat. None the less, it may be said with absolute confidence that the theory of heat affords no adequate explanation of the phenomena observed.

Saint Januarius bust in the Cappella di San Gennaro

For more than a century careful observations of the temperature of the air in the neighbourhood of the relic have been made on these occasions and the records have been kept. It is certain from the scientific memoirs of Professors Fergola, Punzo, and Sperindeo that there is no direct relation between the temperature, and the time and manner of the liquefaction. Often when the thermometer has stood at 77° Fahrenheit or even higher, liquefaction has been delayed for as much as twenty or even forty minutes, while on the other hand the contents of the phial have sometimes liquefied in considerably less time than this when the thermometer remained as low as 60 or 65 degrees. Moreover, the heat theory by no means accounts for another more remarkable fact observed for quite two hundred years past. The mass in melting commonly increased in volume, but when it solidifies again it does not necessarily return to its original bulk. Sometimes the whole phial is seen to be occupied, at other times hardly more than half. This has led a Neapolitan scientist of modern times, Professor Albini, to suggest a new physical theory derived from observing the behaviour of a viscous fluid such as partly congealed honey. He conjectures that the unknown substance in the phial consists of some highly divided solid matter which is partly held in suspension by a disproportionately small quantity of liquid. When at rest, the liquid sinks to the bottom of the phial, while the solid particles form a sort of crust not easily displaced when the vessel is turned upside down. This cohesion is however overcome by repeated movements, such as those that the reliquary experiences when the moment of liquefaction is impatiently waited for. Further, such a viscous fluid easily cakes upon the walls of the containing vessel, and admits large air bubbles which cause the deceptive appearance of a change of volume.

The Martyrdom of Saint Januarius in the Amphitheatre at Pozzuoli. The wild beasts refused to devour the Saint and his companions.

Professor Albini claims to have reproduced all the phenomena with a compound made of powdered chocolate and the serum of milk. On the other hand, those who have studied closely the process of liquefaction of the contents of the phial declare that such an explanation is absolutely impossible. Moreover, there seem to be well-attested instances of liquefaction taking place both in the case of this and other similar relics of blood, when the reliquary has been standing by itself without any movement whatsoever.

Accordingly, the suggestion has also been made (see Di Pace, “Ipotesi scientifica sulla Liquefazione”, etc., Naples, 1905) that the phenomenon is due to some form of psychic force. The concentration of thought and will of the expectant crowd and specially of the “aunts of St. Januarius” are held to be capable of producing a physical effect. Against this, however, must be set the fact that the liquefaction has sometimes taken place quite unexpectedly and in the presence of very few spectators.

The beheading of St. Januarius.

Probably the most serious difficulty against the miraculous character of the phenomenon is derived from the circumstance that the same liquefaction takes place in the case of other relics, nearly all preserved in the neighbourhood of Naples, or of Neapolitan origin. These include relics which are affirmed to be the blood of St. John the Baptist, of St. Stephen the first martyr, of St. Pantaleone, of St. Patricia, of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, and others. In the case of the alleged liquefaction of the so-called “Milk of Our Lady” (see Putignani, S.J., “De Redivivi Sanguine S. Januarii”, Naples, 1723, I, 90) or of the fat of St. Thomas Aquinas (see Magnoni Valenti, “Discorso istorico” 1772, 47) we have probably a pure fiction, but the phials traditionally associated with the names of St. John the Baptist, St. Stephen, and St. Pantaleone undoubtedly still exhibit on the respective feast days of these saints phenomena exactly analogous to those shown in the case of the more famous relic of St. Januarius. Further, it is asserted by eyewitnesses of scientific credit and high respectability that a block of basalt at Pozzuoli, reputed to bear traces of the blood of St. Januarius, grows vividly red for a short time in May and September at the hour when the miracle of the liquefaction takes place in Naples (se Cavène, “Célèbre Miracle de S. Janvier”, 1909, 277-300).

Three other points attested by recent investigators seem worthy of special note.

  • It now appears that the first certain record of the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius dates from 1389 (see de Blasiis, “Chronicon Siculum incerti auctoris”, Naples, 1887, 85), and not from 1456, as formerly supposed.
  • In 1902 Professor Sperindeo was allowed to pass a ray of light through the upper part of the phial during liquefaction and examine this beam spectroscopically. The experiment yielded the distinctive lines of the spectrum of blood. This, however, only proves that there are at any rate traces of blood in the contents of the phial (see Cavène, “Le Célèbre Miracle”, 262-275).
  • Most remarkable of all, the apparent variation in the volume of the relic led in 1902 and 1904 to a series of experiments in the course of which the whole reliquary was weighed in a very accurate balance. It was found that the weight was not constant any more than the volume, and that the weight of the reliquary when the blood filled the whole cavity of the phial exceeded, by 26 grammes, the weight when the phial seemed but half full. This very large difference renders it impossible to believe that such a substantial variation in weight can be merely due to an error of observation.

Painting of The Spire of San Gennaro in Naples. This obelisk, which still stands today, was erected in 1636 in gratitude for escaping the danger during the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 1631. On top is the statue of St. Januarius.

We are forced to accept the fact that, contrary to all known laws, a change goes on in the contents of this hermetically sealed vessel which makes them heavier and lighter in a ratio roughly, but not exactly, proportional to their apparent bulk (Cavène, 333-39). The reality of the miracle of St. Januarius has repeatedly been made the subject of controversy. It has had much to do with many conversions to Catholicism, notably with that of the elder Herder. Unfortunately, however, allegations have often been made as to the favourable verdict expressed by scientific men of note, which are not always verifiable. The supposed testimony of the great chemist, Sir Humphry Davy, who is declared to have expressed his belief in the genuineness of the miracle, seems to be a case in point.

Though in many respects uncritical, the best account of the miracle of St. Januarius is that given by CAVENE, Le Célèbre Miracle de S. Janvier (Paris, 1909). From the historical side fuller details may be found in TAGLIALATELA, Memorie Storicocritiche del Culto e del Sangue di S. Gennaro (Naples, 1896). Among recent works may be mentioned: JANUARIO, Il Sangue di S. Gennaro (Naples, 1902); two articles by SILVA and SPERINDEO in the Ommagio della Rivista di Scienze e Lettere, published for the centenary of 1905; also SPERINDEO, Il Miracolo di S. Gennaro (3rd ed., Naples, 1908); THURSTON in the Tablet, 22 and 29 May, 1909, followed by a correspondence in the same journal.

Of earlier date are PUNZO, La Teca di S. Gennaro (Naples, 1880); IDEM, Indagini ed osservazioni sulla Teca (Naples, 1890); ALBINI in Rendiconti dell’ Accademia delle Scienze fisiche e matematiche (Società Reale di Napoli), series II, vol. IV (1890), 24-27; Acta SS., 19 Sept. There is also an excellent article by LECANU in MIGNE, Dictionnaire des Prophéties et des Miracles (1852), 1010-1016. The older books, such as those of PUTIGNANI, TUTINI, FALCONE, etc., are too numerous to mention, and they are for the most part very uncritical. The various “Acts” of St. Januarius have been edited by SCHERILLO in Atti Accad. Archeol. Napoli, VIII (1876), pt. I, 147-330. For further bibliography, see CHEVALIER, Bio-Bibl.

Herbert Thurston (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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September 20 – Starved to death for the faith

September 17, 2018

Bl. Thomas Johnson Carthusian martyr, died in Newgate gaol, London, 20 September, 1537. On 18 May, 1537, the twenty choir monks and eighteen brothers remaining in the London Charterhouse were required to take the Oath of Supremacy. Of these choir monks Thomas Johnson, Richard Bere, Thomas Green (priests), and John Davy (deacon) refused; and of […]

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September 20 – “Threats do not terrify me”

September 17, 2018

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September 20 – Court preacher to Charles V

September 17, 2018

Saint Alonso de Orozco Mena Alphonsus de Orozco was born in Oropesa, Province of Toledo, Spain, on the 17th of October 1500, where his father was governor of the local castle. He began his studies in the nearby Talavera de la Reina and for three years he was a choir boy in the Cathedral of […]

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September 20 – Bl. Margaret Colona

September 17, 2018

Bl. Margaret Colona Poor Clare, born in Rome, date uncertain; died there, 20 September, 1284. Her parents died in Rome when she was still a young girl, and she was left to the care of her two brothers, the youngest of whom was raised to the cardinalate by Nicholas III in 1278. Having resolutely refused […]

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A Eucharistic Procession In Vienna

September 13, 2018

The Emperor’s example deeply touches the faithful: At 84 Franz Joseph’s devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is very much alive. Vienna. Sunday, September 15, 1912. It had been agreed: The great Sunday procession would be canceled if the weather was inclement. Then, only Mass would be offered by the Papal Legate in the Cathedral of […]

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Communism

September 13, 2018

Some sects arising from Protestantism transposed their religious tendencies directly to the political field, thus preparing the way for the republican spirit. In the seventeenth century, Saint Francis de Sales warned the Duke of Savoy against these republican tendencies.¹ Other sects went even further, adopting principles that, if not communist in the full sense of […]

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September 14 – Formerly a sign of abject disgrace, it now adorns crowns

September 13, 2018

The vision of the Cross appeared to Constantine in the sky on the eve of a battle, with the words, “In this sign thou shalt conquer,” a prophecy that was to prove true the next day when Constantine was victorious at Pons Milvius. However, the Emperor Constantine attributed his victory in the Quintian fields, near […]

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September 14 – His gallant defeat saved Canada from the French Revolution

September 13, 2018

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September 15 – Grandmother of Good King Wenceslaus

September 13, 2018

St. Ludmilla Wife of Boriwoi, the first Christian Duke of Bohemia, born at Mielnik, circa 860; died at Tetin, near Beraun, 15 September, 921. She and her husband were baptized, probably by St. Methodius, in 871. Pagan fanatics drove them from their country, but they were soon recalled, and after reigning seven more years they […]

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September 15 – This Saint Felt the Pains of Purgatory

September 13, 2018

St. Catherine of Genoa (also known as Caterina Fieschi Adorno.) Born at Genoa in 1447, died at the same place 15 September, 1510. The life of St. Catherine of Genoa may be more properly described as a state than as a life in the ordinary sense. When about twenty-six years old she became the subject […]

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September 16 – The pope who exacted tribute from the Mohammedan ruler of Tunis

September 13, 2018

Pope Blessed Victor III Born in 1026 or 1027 of a non-regnant branch of the Lombard dukes of Benevento; died in Rome, 16 Sept., 1087. Being an only son his desire to embrace the monastic state was strenuously opposed by both his parents. After his father’s death in battle with the Normans, 1047, he fled […]

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September 16 – St. Cyprian of Carthage

September 13, 2018

St. Cyprian of Carthage (Thaschus Cæcilius Cyprianus). Bishop and martyr. Of the date of the saint’s birth and of his early life nothing is known. At the time of his conversion to Christianity he had, perhaps, passed middle life. He was famous as an orator and pleader, had considerable wealth, and held, no doubt, a […]

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September 17 – Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi

September 13, 2018

Early in August, 1224, Francis retired with three companions to “that rugged rock ‘twixt Tiber and Arno”, as Dante called La Verna, there to keep a forty days fast in preparation for Michaelmas. During this retreat the sufferings of Christ became more than ever the burden of his meditations; into few souls, perhaps, had the […]

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September 17 – St. Peter of Arbues

September 13, 2018

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September 17 – Noble calm in all controversy, even when correcting the pope

September 13, 2018

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September 17 – Greatly venerated even during her life

September 13, 2018

St. Hildegard Born at Böckelheim on the Nahe, 1098; died on the Rupertsberg near Bingen, 1179; feast 17 September. The family name is unknown of this great seeress and prophetess, called the Sibyl of the Rhine. The early biographers give the first names of her parents as Hildebert and Mechtildis (or Mathilda), speak of their […]

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September 11 – Prince Eugen of Savoy crushes the Turks at Zenta

September 10, 2018

Although his men had already done a forced march of over ten hours that day, Eugen gave the order to advance and then galloped ahead to see the scene at first hand. He spotted how, just above the bridge on the near side of the river, the water was shallow with a sandbank leading up […]

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September 11 – His fame will last forever as that of a gallant soldier and a true Christian

September 10, 2018

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The Great Siege of Malta, May 18–September 11, 1565, was won because of one man: Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette

September 10, 2018

On the morning of August 18th the excessively heavy bombardment of Senglea warned them that an attack was imminent. It was not slow to develop. The moment that the rumble of the guns died down, the Iayalars and Janissaries were seen streaming forward across the no-man’s-land to the south. The attack developed in the same […]

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September 11 – Burned slowly to death at Nagasaki

September 10, 2018

Blessed Charles Spinola Born in Genoa in 1564, he was the son of the Count of Tassarolo, and the nephew of Cardinal Philip Spinola. He was educated in Spain and in the Jesuit school in Nola, Italy. He entered the noviatiate in 1584, and was ordained in 1594. In 1596, he received a letter appointing […]

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September 11 – Italian army invades the Papal State without a declaration of war

September 10, 2018

The King of Italy sends an ultimatum to Blessed Pope Pius IX As the French military situation deteriorated [in the Franco-Prussian War], the government in Florence grew bolder. Near the end of August [1870], the Italian cabinet issued a circular letter to all the governments of Europe, in which it declared that the time had […]

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September 12 – The Holy Name of the Virgin Mary; in thanksgiving for the victory over the Turks at Vienna

September 10, 2018

The Festival of the Holy Name of the Virgin Mary Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to the universal Church as a solemn thanksgiving for the relief of Vienna, when it was besieged by the Turks in 1683. The Turks had formerly laid siege to Vienna, under Solyman the Magnificent, in 1529, in the reign […]

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Video – Redefeating the Turks: the Battle of Vienna, September 12, 1683

September 10, 2018

Before he set out, Sobieski had sent a letter to Innocent XI, in which he wrote: “When the good of the Church and Christianity is concerned I shed my blood to the last drop, together with the whole kingdom. Since my kingdom and I are two bulwarks of Christianity”. To commemorate Sobieski’s victory Pope Innocent […]

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September 12 – Simon de Montfort Crushes the Albigensians at Muret

September 10, 2018

At the Battle of Muret on 12 September 1213 the Crusading army of Simon IV de Montfort defeated the Catharist, Aragonese and Catalan forces of Peter II of Aragon, at Muret near Toulouse. Simon IV de Montfort was the leader of the Albigensian Crusade to destroy the Cathar heresy and incidentally to join the Languedoc […]

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September 13 – He had a mouth of gold

September 10, 2018

St. John Chrysostom (Chrysostomos, “golden-mouthed” so called on account of his eloquence). Doctor of the Church, born at Antioch, c. 347; died at Commana in Pontus, 14 September, 407. John — whose surname “Chrysostom” occurs for the first time in the “Constitution” of Pope Vigilius (cf. P.L., LX, 217) in the year 553 — is […]

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The Forest With Its Aristocratic Convent in the Heart of Old Paris

September 6, 2018

The convent [of the Ursuline nuns* in the rue Saint-Jacques] was a very aristocratic one, and the terms were high for those times—five or six hundred francs a year. The convent of the Ursulines had been founded by Françoise de Bermont at the beginning of the seventeenth century and had been richly endowed by Madame […]

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The Anti-Christian Character of the Egalitarian Revolution

September 6, 2018

By Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira The periods in which the egalitarian Revolution* progresses the most are not periods of war and revolutions, but of small transformations. Wars and revolutions give it a tumble, but this provokes reactions and crystallizations, which sometimes bring difficulties. What we should show is that the egalitarian Revolution does not […]

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September 7 – The Corbie brothers

September 6, 2018

Corbie, Ambrose, (Corby or Corbington), b. near Durham, 7 Dec., 1604; d. at Rome, 11 April, 1649. He was the fourth son of Gerald Corbie and his wife Isabella Richardson, exiles for the Faith. Of their children, Ambrose, Ralph, and Robert, having become Jesuits (Richard died as a student at St-Omers, and the two surviving […]

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September 7 – The Outrage of Anagni

September 6, 2018

It had been the practice to speak of the spiritual and temporal powers in terms of pope and emperor, and it was long before it was realized, at least on the papal side, that the civil power, defeated as emperor, had returned to the attack with more aggressive vigour as the Monarchy and the State. […]

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September 7: Richard the Lionheart defeats Saladin at Arsuf – Video

September 6, 2018

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September 7 – Grandson of Queen St. Clotilda

September 6, 2018

St. Cloud, Confessor A.D. 560. St. Cloud, called in Latin Chlodoardus, is the first and most illustrious saint among the princes of the royal family of the first race in France. He was son of Chlodomir, king of Orleans, the eldest son of St. Clotilda, and was born in 522. He was scarcely three years […]

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September 7 – Milkos Zrinyi

September 6, 2018

Milkos Zrinyi Count, a Hungarian soldier, born in 1518, killed at Sziget, near the Brave, Sept. 7, 1566. When only 12 years old, Charles V. gave him a gold chain for his conduct during the siege of Vienna. He afterward became ban of Croatia, and at the siege of Sziget with 8,000 men he resisted […]

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September 8 – The Davidic ancestry of Mary

September 6, 2018

As we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us recall her Davidic ancestry St. Luke (2:4) says that St. Joseph went from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be enrolled, “because he was of the house and family of David”. As if to exclude all doubt concerning the Davidic descent of Mary, the Evangelist […]

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September 8 – He added the Agnus Dei to the Mass

September 6, 2018

Pope St. Sergius I (Reigned 687-701), date of birth unknown; consecrated probably on 15 Dec., 687; died 8 Sept., 701. While Pope Conon lay dying, the archdeacon Pascal offered the exarch a large sum to bring about his election as his successor. Through the exarch’s influence the archdeacon was accordingly elected by a number of […]

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September 9 – Wife of a dissolute husband

September 6, 2018

Blessed Seraphina Sforza Born at Urbino about 1434; died at Pesaro, 8 September, 1478. Her parents were Guido Antonio of Montefeltro, Count of Urbino, and Cattarina Colonna. She was brought up at Rome by her maternal uncle, Martin V. In 1448 Seraphina married Alexander Sforza, Lord of Pesaro. Ten years afterwards her husband gave himself […]

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September 9 – St. Omer

September 6, 2018

St. Omer Born of a distinguished family towards the close of the sixth or the beginning of the seventh century, at Guldendal, Switzerland; died c. 670. After the death of his mother, he, with his father, entered the monastery of Luxeuil in the Diocese of Besançon probably about 615. Under the direction of Saint Eustachius, […]

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September 10 – Model of chastity

September 6, 2018

St. Nicholas of Tolentino Born at Sant’ Angelo, near Fermo, in the March of Ancona, about 1246; d. 10 September, 1306. He is depicted in the black habit of the Hermits of St. Augustine — a star above him or on his breast, a lily, or a crucifix garlanded with lilies, in his hand. Sometimes, […]

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September 10 – They always carried a copy of his Bible in battle

September 6, 2018

St. Finnian of Moville Born about 495; died 589. Though not so celebrated as his namesake of Clonard, he was the founder of a famous school about the year 540. He studied under St. Colman of Dromore and St. Mochae of Noendrum (Mahee Island), and subsequently at Candida Casa (Whithern), whence he proceeded to Rome, […]

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September 10 – Arrested while preaching

September 6, 2018

St. Edward Ambrose Barlow (Alias RADCLIFFE and BRERETON.) Priest and martyr, born at Barlow Hall, 1585; died 10 September, 1641. He was the fourth son of Sir Alexander Barlow, Knight of Barlow Hall, near Manchester, by Mary, daughter of Sir Uryan Brereton, Knight of Handforth Hall, Co. Chester, and was baptized at Didsbury Church 30 […]

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September 10 – St. Pulcheria, Empress, and her husband Marcian

September 6, 2018

St. Pulcheria Empress of the Eastern Roman Empire, eldest daughter of the Emperor Arcadius, born 19 Jan., 399; died in 453. After the death of Arcadius (408), her younger brother, Theodosius II, then only seven, became emperor under the guardianship of Anthimus. Pulcheria had matured early and had great administrative ability; she soon exerted salutary […]

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