By Jeremias Wells

Saint Ferdinand III of Castile – Part I

King Alfonso VIII of Castile, the great leader of Las Navas de Tolosa, left two daughters who became queen mothers of two young kings, both of whom developed into illustrious warriors, crusaders, and saints. Because Alfonso’s two sons died in their youth, one from illness in 1211 and the other from a tragic accident in 1217, their sister, Berenguela, rose to the throne of Castile.

King Alfonso VIII of Castile

However, realizing that it was improper for a woman to occupy the throne in this most chivalrous state, she renounced her kingdom to her first born son, Ferdinand III, then only eighteen.  Blanche, the second daughter, married King Louis VIII of France who, after an exhausting campaign against the remnant of the Albigensian rebellion, died in 1226. Since Louis, his oldest boy, was only twelve at the time, the Queen acted as regent while the young King slowly assumed the control of government during the next two decades. In a remarkable display of piety, both Kings saw the necessity of renouncing any earthly comfort to further the interests of Christendom and their own realms.

Youth of Ferdinand of Castile

Because the future King’s parents were related within the forbidden degree of consanguinity — they were second cousins — Pope Innocent III insisted they separate and, as a result, young Ferdinand was brought up at the court of his grandfather. The serenity of the boy’s life was shattered when a terrible malady overtook him at the age of ten. Consumed by a high fever and horrible restlessness, the devout lad could not eat, sleep, or take any rest. When the poor child developed large repulsive sores which caused unrelieved pain, death seemed imminent. Dona Berenguela took him to a chapel of Our Lady where she prostrated herself on the cold tile floor in front of the main altar and prayed throughout the night. When her servants returned the following morning, they found the boy sleeping soundly.  As a consequence of the miraculous cure, San Fernando from then on dedicated himself to the service of the Blessed Virgin.

Queen Berenguela, mother of Ferdinand III

In 1214, Alfonso VIII died, leaving the Kingdom of Castile to Berenguela’s adolescent brother Enrique (Henry) who, in turn, was entrusted to the regent Count Alvaro Nunez de Lara, a man noted for his ambition and avarice. More misery fell upon the family when Fernando’s father, King Alfonso IX, ordered his son — now fifteen — to be sent to his corrupt court in the Kingdom of Leon¹. Since the upright young man could find no alternative to his obligation of obeying his father’s command, he told his heartbroken mother, “Christ redeemed us not in the sweet arms of His Mother but on the hard arms of the Cross, and His knight will not serve Him in any other way,” and went off. For the first time in his life, he witnessed the degrading spectacle of immorality and found the things that he saw and heard deeply repulsive. What was more painful was that his father was one of the worst sinners.  He realized that he must fight like a hero or be dragged into the mud like so many others, losing in the process an unrecoverable treasure: his innocence. During this period Fernando practiced the handling of weapons for long hours and rode great distances in cold, rainy weather to accustom his body to hardship.

King St. Ferdinand III of Castile

Meanwhile, Count Alvaro was terrorizing Castile with cruelty and injustice. His ambitious plans were suddenly unraveled when young Enrique, while playing with some companions, was struck on the head by a roof tile and died a few days later. After cleverly escaping from his father’s clutches, the eighteen-year-old heir to the Castillian throne rode south to give support to his mother. However, she quickly yielded her rights to Fernando, who was proclaimed King of Castile. Once Alfonso realized he had been tricked, he, with encouragement from Alvaro, invaded Castile in order to drive his son from the throne. Fernando, now faced with a dilemma of either taking up the sword against his father, which greatly troubled his sensitive soul, or abandoning his responsibility to his subjects, brought an army into the field opposite his father’s.

Archbishop of Toledo, Don Rodrigo Ximénez de la Rada

That night he sent his wise counselor Archbishop Roderigo Ximenez de la Rada along with other bishops to plead with the Leonese King to act honorably and with justice.  Realizing that even his own followers sympathized with the young saint, Alfonso agreed not to attack providing Fernando pay a large sum of money. When the bishops returned to Fernando’s tent that night to report on the successful negotiations, they found the young King in his private chapel praying with his arms in the form of a cross and with the back of his white tunic stained with blood. He had applied the discipline for the sins of his father. Although the two were reconciled as Kings, they never entered into a father and son relationship. Alfonso finished out his days fighting against the Moors with a contingent of Castilian troops.  Shortly after the conclusion of peace, Berenguela arranged a marriage for Fernando   with Beatrice of Swabia, a close relative of the ruling Hohenstaufen family in Germany and Sicily.

Fernando Renews The Reconquest

In 1224, with his internal political affairs resolved, the youthful Crusader turned his attention to the Reconquest, a military campaign that with a few short intervals occupied him for the rest of his life. Quesada, the first town to fall, was typical of the many that followed. The Castilians placed cloth-muffled ladders against the walls just before daylight. Fernando raced up a ladder, jumped on the wall first, and struck down an approaching guard with a firm gashing blow to his head. The other knights were just seconds behind. Shouting, “Santiago and Castile,” the Crusaders threw themselves into the fight to protect the life of their valiant King, who always seemed to be ahead of them. Slashing and cutting, they gained control of the wall and towers and opened the gates, allowing their army to rush in and capture the streets and squares. The first rays of the sun saw the town in Christian hands. On the highest tower, Fernando, covered with Moslem blood from head to toe, planted the Cross and, gazing at it lovingly, prayed: “Knowest that I do not seek my glory but thine; not the greatest of perishable kingdoms, but the kingship of Christ on earth.”

Saint James the Moorslayer painted by José Casado del Alisal

Throughout the next six years, Fernando raided central Andalusia, capturing most of the small towns, ravaging the countryside, collecting much booty.  Only the three large, walled cities of Cordoba, Seville, and Jaen avoided capture because of their massive fortifications and large garrisons. King Alfonso of Leon died in 1230. As Fernando rode north to claim his father’s kingdom, he received shocking news.  Although the mercurial King had earlier chosen his son as his heir in a formal session before Parliament with the Pope’s approval, he changed his mind and left Leon to two daughters from a previous marriage which was also annulled. Alfonso had reached from beyond the grave to injure his son one more time. Both the mother of the princesses, Dona Teresa², who had retired to a convent many years before, and Dona Berenguela traveled to Leon to prevent a bloody dynastic war since several ambitious noblemen saw an opportunity for riches and political gain. In a series of calm, recollected discussions, those two magnificent ladies realized that the only just and appropriate solution was for the two royal daughters to abdicate. Although it required a great sacrifice on their part, they followed their mother’s wise advice and were rewarded with a generous pension from Fernando.  As the monarch rode back to the battlefield, he was now backed by the resources of the new, powerful Kingdom of Castile and Leon which, from that point on, remained unified.

King Ferdinand III of Castile receiving the tribute of Mahomad de Baeza.

During the 1230’s, the Christian rulers of Spain maintained continual pressure against the Mohammedans by pushing south along a broad front. West of the Gaudiana, the military orders of Calatrava and Santiago helped Portugal extend their southern boundaries. Just to the east of the river, Fernando’s brother, Alfonso de Molina, led a marauding army past Cordoba and Seville to Jerez where he won a stunning victory over superior numbers. Santiago (Saint James) was seen, even by the Moslems, on a white horse and with his sword drawn, leading a legion of knights. On the eastern front, another successful crusading King of the first rank, Jaime ( James) I of  Aragon, who had previously captured the island of Majorca, forced the capitulation of Valencia, which in essence completed the Aragonese Reconquest.

To Be Continued

Taken from Crusade July/August 2001, Pgs. 31-33

Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 622

Notes:

  1. Ferdinand’s maternal grandfather, Alfonso VIII of Castile, and his father, Alphonso IX of Leon, were actually of the same generation. They were both grandchildren of Alphonso VI
  2. She is also canonized (feast, June 17) because of the holiness of her life after her separation from Alphonso IX.
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Pope Urban II preaching at the Council of Clermont

Before it gave up its attention to the holy war, the council [of Clermont] at first considered the reform of the clergy and ecclesiastical discipline; and it then occupied itself in placing a restraint upon the license of wars among individuals. In these barbarous times even simple knights never thought of redressing their injuries by any other means than arms. It was not an uncommon thing to see families, for the slightest causes, commence a war against each other, that would last during several generations; Europe was distracted with troubles occasioned by these hostilities. In the impotence of the laws and the governments, the Church often exerted its salutary influence to restore tranquility; several councils had placed their interdict upon private wars during four days of the week, and their decrees had invoked the vengeance of Heaven against disturbers of the public peace.

The protection of Church property

The council of Clermont renewed the truce of God, and threatened all who refused “to accept peace and justice” with the thunders of the Church. One of its decrees placed widows, orphans, merchants, and laborers under the safeguard of religion. They declared, as they had already done in other councils, that the churches should be so many inviolable sanctuaries, and that crosses, even, placed upon the high roads should become points of refuge against violence.

Joseph François Michaud, The History of the Crusades of the Crusades, trans. W. Robson (New York, Redfield, 1853), vol. I, 46-7.

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Blessed Fr. James Bell

Stone marking the site of the Tyburn tree on the traffic island at the junction of Edgware Road, Marble Arch and Oxford Street

Stone marking the site of the Tyburn tree on the traffic island at the junction of Edgware Road, Marble Arch and Oxford Street

Priest and martyr, born at Warrington in Lancashire, England, probably about 1520; died 20 April, 1584. For the little known of him we depend on the account published four years after his death by Bridgewater in his “Concertatio” (1588), and derived from a manuscript which was kept at Douay when Challoner wrote his “Missionary Priests” in 1741, and is now in the Westminster Diocesan Archives. A few further details were collected by Challoner, and others are supplied by the State Papers. Having studied at Oxford he was ordained priest in Mary’s reign, but unfortunately conformed to the established Church under Elizabeth, and according to the Douay MS…

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Bl. Richard Sergeant

This is an illustration, said to be from about 1680, of the permanent gallows at Tyburn, which once stood where Marble Arch now stands. There was a three-mile cart ride in public from Newgate prison to the gallows, with large spectator stands lined along the way, so many people could see the hangings (for a fee). Huge crowds collected on the way and followed the accused to Tyburn.

This is an illustration, said to be from about 1680, of the permanent gallows at Tyburn, which once stood where Marble Arch now stands. There was a three-mile cart ride in public from Newgate prison to the gallows, with large spectator stands lined along the way, so many people could see the hangings (for a fee). Huge crowds collected on the way and followed the accused to Tyburn.

English martyr, executed at Tyburn, 20 April, 1586. He was probably a younger son of Thomas Sergeant of Stone, Gloucestershire, by Katherine, daughter of John Tyre of Hardwick. He took his degree at Oxford (20 Feb., 1570-1), and arrived at the English College, Reims, on 25 July, 1581. He was ordained subdeacon at Reims (4 April, 1582), deacon at Soissons (9 June, 1582), and priest at Laon (7 April, 1583). He said his first Mass on 21 April, and left for England on 10 September. He was indicted at the Old Bailey (17 April, 1586) as Richard lea alias Longe. With him was condemned and suffered Venerable William Thomson, a native of Blackburn, Lancashire, who arrived at the English College, Reims, on 28 May, 1583, and was ordained priest in the Reims cathedral (31 March, 1583-4). Thomson was arrested in the house of Roger Line, husband of the martyr Anne Line (q. v.) in Bishopsgate St. Without, while saying Mass. Both were executed merely for being priests and coming into the realm.

He was beatified in 1987.

CHALLONER, Missionary priests, I (London, 1878), nos. 32, 33; KNOX, Douay Diaries (London, 1878); FOSTER, Alumni Oxonienses, (Oxford, 1892); Harleian Soc. Publ. xxi (London, 1885), 258; POLLEN, English Martyrs 1584-1603 in Cath. Rec. Soc. (London, 1908), 129; Cath. Rec. Soc. II (London, 1906), 249, 255, 271.

John B. Wainewright (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Bl. John Finch

A stained glass window in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chorley, England. Permission to use by Roberta Estes.

A stained glass window in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chorley, England. Permission to use by Roberta Estes.

A martyr, born about 1548; died 20 April, 1584.

He was a yeoman of Eccleston, Lancashire, and a member of a well-known old Catholic family, but he appears to have been brought up in schism. When he was twenty years old he went to London where he spent nearly a year with some cousins at Inner Temple. While there he was forcibly struck by the contrast between Protestantism and Catholicism in practice and determined to lead a Catholic life. Failing to find advancement in London he returned to Lancashire where he was reconciled to Catholic Church. He then married and settled down, his house becoming a centre of missionary work, he himself harbouring priests and aiding them in every way, besides acting as catechist. His zeal drew on him the hostility of the authorities, and at Christmas, 1581, he was entrapped into bringing a priest, George Ostliffe, to a place where both were apprehended. It was given out that Finch, having betrayed the priest and other Catholics, had taken refuge with the Earl of Derby, but in fact, he was kept in the earl’s house as a prisoner, sometimes tortured and sometimes bribed in order to pervert him and induce him to give information. This failing, he was removed to the Fleet prison at Manchester and afterwards to the House of Correction. When he refused to go to the Protestant church he was dragged there by the feet, his head beating on the stones. For many months he lay in a damp dungeon, ill-fed and ill-treated, desiring always that he might be brought to trial and martyrdom. After three years’ imprisonment, he was sent to be tried at Lancaster. There he was brought to trial with three priests on 18 April, 1584. He was found guilty and, 20 April, having spent the night in converting some condemned felons, he suffered with Ven. James Bell at Lancaster. The cause of his beatification with those of the other English Martyrs was introduced by decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, 4 Dec., 1886.

He was beatified in 1929.

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EDWIN BURTON (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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St. Anselm

Archbishop of Canterbury, Doctor of the Church; born at Aosta a Burgundian town on the confines of Lombardy, died 21 April, 1109.

His father, Gundulf, was a Lombard who had become a citizen of Aosta, and his mother, Ermenberga, came of an old Burgundian family. Like many other saints, Anselm learnt the first lessons of piety from his mother, and at a very early age he was fired with the love of learning. In after life he still cherished the memories of childhood, and his biographer, Eadmer, has preserved some incidents which he had learnt from the saint’s own lips. The child had heard his mother speak of God, Who dwelt on high ruling all things. Living in the mountains, he thought that Heaven must be on their lofty summits…

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St. Leonidas

(Or LEONIDES.)

The Roman Martyrology records several feast days of martyrs of this name in different countries. Under date of 28 January there is a martyr called Leonides, a native of the Thebaid, whose death with several companions is supposed to have occurred during the Diocletian persecution (Acta SS., January, II, 832). Another Leonides appears on 2 September, in a long list of martyrs headed by a St. Diomedes. Together with a St. Eleutherius, a Leonides is honoured on 8 August. From other sources we know of a St. Leonidas, Bishop of Athens, who lived about the sixth century, and whose feast is celebrated on 15 April (“Acta SS.”, April, II, 378; “Bibliotheca hagiographica graeca”, 2nd ed., 137). Still another martyr of the name is honoured on 16 April, with Callistus, Charysius, and other companions (Acta SS., April, II, 402).

Origen Adamantius, the son of St. Leonides of Alexandria.

Origen Adamantius, the son of St. Leonides of Alexandria.

The best known of them all, however, is St. Leonides of Alexandria, father of the great Origen. From Eusebius (Hist. Eccles., VI, 1, 2) we learn that he died a martyr during the persecution under Septimius Severus in 202. He was condemned to death by the prefect of Egypt, Lactus, and beheaded. His property was confiscated. Leonides carefully cultivated the brilliant intellect of his son Origen from the latter’s childhood, and imparted to him the knowledge of Holy Scripture. The feast of St. Leonidas of Alexandria is celebrated on 22 April.

J.P. KIRSCH (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Pedralvarez Cabral

(Pedro Alvarez.)

A celebrated Portugese navigator, generally called the discoverer of Brazil, born probably around 1460; date of death uncertain. Very little is known concerning the life of Cabral. He was the third son of Fernao Cabral, Governor of Beira and Belmonte, and Isabel de Gouvea, and married Isabel de Castro, the daughter of the distinguished Fernando de Noronha. He must have had an exellent training ini navigation and large experience as a seaman, for King Emmanuel of Portugal considered him competent to continue the work of Vasco da Gama, and in the year 1500 placed him in command of a fleet which was to set sail for India. His commision was to establish permanent commercial relations and to introduce Christianity wherever he went, using force of arms when necessary to gain his point. The nature of the undertaking led rich Florentine merchants to contribute to the equipment of the ships, and priests to join the expedition. Among the captains of the fleet, which consisted of thirteen ships with 1,200 men, were Bartolomeu Diaz, Pero Vaz de Caminha, and Nicolao Coelho, the latter the companion of da Gama. Da Gama himself gave the directions necessary for the course of the voyage…

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St. George

Martyr, patron of England, suffered at or near Lydda, also known as Diospolis, in Palestine, probably before the time of Constantine. According to the very careful investigation of the whole question recently instituted by Father Delehaye, the Bollandist, in the light of modern sources of information, the above statement sums up all that can safely be affirmed about St. George, despite his early cultus and preeminent renown both in East and West…

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St. Adalbert of Bohemia

Born 939 of a noble Bohemian family; died 997.

He assumed the name of the Archbishop Adalbert (his name had been Wojtech), under whom he studied at Magdeburg. He became Bishop of Prague, whence he was obliged to flee on account of the enmity he had aroused by his efforts to reform the clergy of his diocese. He betook himself to Rome, and when released by Pope John XV from his episcopal obligations, withdrew to a monastery and occupied himself in the most humble duties of the house. Recalled by his people, who received him with great demonstrations of joy, he was nevertheless expelled a second time and returned to Rome…

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St. Stephen Harding

Confessor, the third Abbot of Cîteaux, was born at Sherborne in Dorsetshire, England, about the middle of the eleventh century; died 28 March, 1134. He received his early education in the monastery of Sherborne and afterwards studied in Paris and Rome. On returning from the latter city he stopped at the monastery of Molesme and, being much impressed by the holiness of St. Robert, the abbot, joined that community. Here he practised great austerities, became one of St. Robert’s chief supporters and was one of the band of twenty-one monks who, by authority of Hugh, Archbishop of Lyons, retired to Cîteaux to institute a reform in the new foundation there…

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St. Robert

Founder of the Abbey of Chaise-Dieu in Auvergne, born at Aurilac, Auvergne, about 1000; died in Auvergne, 1067.

On his father’s side he belonged to the family of the Counts of Aurilac, who had given birth to St. Géraud. He studied at Brioude near the basilica of St-Julien, in a school open to the nobility of Auvergne by the canons of that city. Having entered their community, and being ordained priest, Robert distinguished himself by his piety, charity, apostolic zeal, eloquent discourses, and the gift of miracles…

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Maximilian I

Duke of Bavaria, 1598-1622, Elector of Bavaria and Lord High Steward of the Holy Roman Empire, 1623-1651; born at Munich, 17 April, 1573; died at Ingolstadt, 27 September, 1651.

The lasting services he rendered his country and the Catholic Church justly entitle him to the surname of “Great”. He was the son of zealous Catholic parents, William V, the Pious, of Bavaria, and Renate of Lorraine…

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Thomas of Jesus

(THOMAS DE ANDRADA).

The tower of the University of Coimbra, Portugal. At left, the manueline door to the Chapel of Saint Michael. Photo by Alvesgaspar.

Reformer and preacher, born at Lisbon, 1529; died at Sagena, Morocco, 17 April, 1582. He was educated by the Augustinian Hermits from age of ten, entered the order at Lisbon in 1534, completed his studies at Coimbra, and was appointed novice-master. In his zeal for primitive observance he attempted a thorough reform of the order, but the opposition was such that he was obliged to desist. However, the eventual establishment of the Discalced or Reformed Augustinians is attributed to the initiative of Thomas de Andrada (see Hermits of St. Augustine). High in favour at Court, Thomas assisted, in 1578, at the death of John III, of which he has left an interesting narrative in a letter still extant.

King Dom Sebastião I of Portugal

John’s successor, Sebastian, immediately set out on his ill-starred expedition to Africa (see PORTUGAL), and he insisted that Thomas should accompany the forces. The holy Hermit laboured among the soldiery with his accustomed zeal until wounded and taken captive at Alcacer, 1578. A Mohammedan monk became his master and, first by kindness then by torture, strove to secure his perversion. Into the dungeon where he was confined a faint gleam penetrated for a short period at midday, and by that light, day after day, Thomas composed for the comfort of his fellow-prisoners his great work, Os trabalhos de Jesus, contemplations on the sufferings of Jesus, which have since proved the nourishment and edification of countless souls. The Portuguese ambassador, learning of his pitiable plight, rescued Thomas and placed him under the care of a Christian merchant. But he begged to be sent on at once to Sagena, where some two thousand of the poorest captives were detained. There he commenced an apostolate which was soon blessed with marvellous fruit; the jail seemed transformed into a monastery, numbers were saved from apostasy or reconciled, and several of his penitents suffered a glorious martyrdom. Meanwhile vigorous efforts were being made to procure his complete liberation, but Thomas declared that, captive or free, he would remain to the end in the service of the Christian slaves of the Moors. His enfeebled frame at last succumbed to the combined effects of his sufferings, toils, and austerities. He spent his dying breath in reassuring some poor Christians on the point of apostasy that their ransom would arrive by a certain date if they persevered, as indeed it did.

Since early in the eighteenth century there have been several English editions of Thomas’s famous work on the Passion, but the last complete version has long been out of print.

For biography see Introduction to Sufferings of Jesus (tr., London, 1863). For interesting and complete account of various English versions of Os trabalhos de Jesus see PRESTAGE in Boletim da segunda classe: Academia das Sciencias de Lisboa, IV, No. 1 (Lisbon, 1911).

Vincent Scully (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Adele Amalie Gallitzin

(Or GOLYZIN).

Princess; b. at Berlin, 28 Aug., 1748; d. at Angelmodde, near Münster, Westphalia, 17 April, 1806. She was the daughter of the Prussian General Count von Schmettau, and educated in the Catholic faith, though she soon became estranged from her religion. In 1768, she married the Russian Prince Dimitry Alexejewitsch Gallitzin, who was under Catherine II ambassador at Paris, Turin and The Hague. In each of these capitals, the princess, thanks to her beauty and her eminent qualities of mind and heart, played a brilliant role. At the age of twenty-four she forsook society suddenly and devoted herself to the education of her children. She applied herself assiduously to the study of mathematics, classical philology, and philosophy under the noted philosopher Franz Hemsterhuis, who kindled her enthusiasm for Socratic-Platonic idealism, and later under the name of “Diokles” dedicated to her the “Diotima”, his famous “Lettres sur l’atheisme”.

Princess of Gallitzin in the circle of her friends in 1800, who welcomed the recently converted Friedrich Leopold Graf von Stolberg with his wife.

The educational reform introduced by Franz v. Furstenberg, Vicar-General of Münster, induced her to take up her residence in the Westphalian capital. Here she soon became the centre of a set of intellectual men led by Furstenberg. This circle also included the gymnasial teachers, (whom she incited to the deeper study of Plato), Overberg, the reformer of popular school education, Clemens Augustus von Droste-Vischering, Count Leopold von Stolberg, the profound philosopher Hamann, who was interred in her garden. The poet Claudius of the “Wandsbecker Bote” was also a familiar visitor, and Goethe numbered the hours passed by him in this circle among his most pleasant recollections. The reading of Sacred Scripture, necessitated by the religious education of her children, and her constant intercourse with noble Catholic souls, led to her return to positive religious convictions.

Princess Adelheid Amalie Gallitzin

On 28 Aug., 1786, at the instance of Overberg, she approached the tribunal of penance for the first time in many years. Soon after she made this zealous priest her chaplain. Under his influence, she underwent a complete change which affected all her surroundings. Her religious life took on a larger growth, and produced the most admirable fruit. She became the centre of Catholic activity in Münster. In those revolutionary and godless times, she provided for the spread of religious writings, proved a support for the religious faith of many of her friends, and induced others, among them Count Stolberg, to make their peace with the Church.

Tomb of Princess Amalie of Gallitzin in Angelmodde. Photo by Suedwester93.

Her gentle charity assuaged the distress of many, and she readily and generously assisted poor and destitute priests. For extensive circles hers was a model of religious life, and her social activity was for many a providential blessing. Portions of her correspondence and diaries were published by Scheuter (Münster, 1874-76) in three parts. This admirable lady was the mother of the well-known American missionary Prince Demetrius Gallitzin.

PATRICIUS SCHLAGER (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Pope Benedict III

Date of birth unknown; d. 17 April, 858. The election of the learned and ascetic Roman, Benedict, the son of Peter, was a troubled one. On the death of Leo IV (17 July, 855) Benedict was chosen to succeed him, and envoys were despatched to secure the ratification of the decree of election by the Emperors Lothaire and Louis II. But the legates betrayed their trust and allowed themselves to be influenced in favour of the ambitious and excommunicated Cardinal Anastasius. The imperial missi, gained over in turn by them, endeavoured to force Anastasius on the Roman Church. Benedict was insulted and imprisoned. Most of the clergy and people, however, remained true to him, and the missi had to yield. Benedict was accordingly consecrated on the 29th of September, or 6th of October, 855, and though his rival was condemned by a synod, he admitted him to lay communion. Owing to dissensions and attacks from without, the kingdom of the Franks was in disorder, and the Church within its borders was oppressed. Benedict wrote to the Frankish bishops, attributing much of the misery in the empire to their silence (cf. “Capitularia regum Francorum”, ed. Boretius, II, 424); and to lessen its internal evils endeavoured to curb the powerful subdeacon Hubert (Ep. Bened., in Mon. Germ. Epp., V, 612), who was the brother-in-law of Lothaire II, King of Lorraine, and defied the laws of God and man till he was slain, in 864. In an appeal made to Benedict from the East, he held the balance fair between St. Ignatius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Gregory, Bishop of Syracuse. He was visited by the Ango-Saxon King Ethelwulf with his famous son Alfred, and completed the restoration of the Schola Anglorum, destroyed by fire in 847. He continued the work of repairing the damage done to the churches in Rome by the Saracen raid of 846. He was buried near the principal gate of St. Peter’s. One of his coins proves there was no Pope Joan between Leo IV and himself [Garampi, “De nummo argenteo Bened. III” (Rome, 1749)].

The most important source for the history of the first nine popes who bore the name of Benedict is the biographies in the Liber Pontificalis, of which the most useful edition is that of Duchesne, Le Liber Pontificalis (Paris, 1886-92), and the latest that of Mommsen, Gesta Pontif. Roman. (to the end of the reign of Constantine only, Berlin, 1898). Jaffé, Regesta Pont. Rom. (2d ed., Leipzig, 1885), gives a summary of the letters of each pope and tells where they may be read at length. Modern accounts of these popes will be found in any large Church history, or history of the City of Rome. The fullest account in English of most of them is to be read in Mann, Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages (London, 1902, passim).

Horace K. Mann (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Ven. Henry Heath

English Franciscan and martyr, son of John Heath; christened at St. John’s, Peterborough, 16 December, 1599; executed at Tyburn, 17 April, 1643. He went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 1617, proceeded B.A. in 1621, and was made college librarian. In 1622 he was received into the Church by George Muscott, and, after a short stay at the English College at Douai, entered St. Bonaventure’s convent there in 1625, taking the name of Paul of St. Magdalen. Early in 1643, he with much trouble obtained leave to go on the English mission and crossed from Dunkirk to Dover disguised as a sailor. A German gentleman paid for his passage and offered him further money for his journey, but, in the spirit of St. Francis, Heath refused it and preferred to walk from Dover to London, begging his way. On the very night of his arrival, as he was resting on a door step, the master of the house gave him into custody as a shoplifter. Some papers found in his cap betrayed his religion and he was taken to the Compter Prison. The next day he was brought before the Lord Mayor, and, on confessing he was a priest, was sent to Newgate. Shortly afterwards he was examined by a Parliamentary committee, and again confessed his priesthood. He was eventually indicted under 27 Eliz. c. 2, for being a priest and into the realm. At Tyburn he reconciled in the very cart one of the criminals that were executed with him. He was allowed to hang until he was dead.

CHALLONER, Missionary Priests, II, 175; COOPER, in Dict. Nat. Biog., s.v.; GlLLOW,, Bibl. Dict. Cath, III, 239.

J. B. Wainewright (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Bl. Marie de l’Incarnation

Known also as Madame Acarie, foundress of the French Carmel, born in Paris, 1 February, 1566; died at Pontoise, April, 1618. By her family Barbara Avrillot belonged to the higher bourgeois society in Paris. Her father, Nicholas Avrillot was accountant general in the Chamber of Paris, and chancellor of Marguerite of Navarre, first wife of Henri IV; while her mother, Marie Lhuillier was a descendant of Etienne Marcel, the famous prévôt des marchands (chief municipal magistrate). She was placed with the Poor Clares of Longchamp for her education, and acquired there a vocation for the cloister, which subsequent life in the world did not alter. In 1684, through obedience she married Pierre Acarie, a wealthy young man of high standing, who was a fervent Christian, to whom she bore six children. She was an exemplary wife and mother…

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April 18 – St. Willigis

April 16, 2018

St. Willigis

St. WilligisArchbishop of Mainz, d. 23 Feb., 1011. Feast, 23 February or 18 April. Though of humble birth he received a good education, and through the influence of Bishop Volkold of Meissen entered the service of Otto I, and after 971 figured as chancellor of Germany. Otto II in 975 made him Archbishop of Mainz and Archchancellor of the Empire, in which capacity he did valuable service to the State. Hauch (Kirchengesch. Deutschlands, III, Leipzig, 1906, 414) calls him an ideal bishop of the tenth century. Well educated himself, he demanded solid learning in his clergy. He was known as a good and fluent speaker. In March, 975, he received the pallium from Benedict VII and was named Primate of Germany. As such, on Christmas, 983, he crowned Otto III at Aachen, and in June, 1002, performed the coronation of Henry II at Mainz; he presided at the Synod of Frankfort, 1007, at which thirty-five bishops signed the Bull of John XVIII for the erection of the Diocese of Bamberg. He always stood in friendly relations with Rome (“Katholik”, 1911, 142). In 996 he was in the retinue of Otto III on his journey to Italy, assisted at the consecration of Gregory V and at the synod convened a few days later. In this synod Willigis strongly urged the return of St. Adalbert to Prague, which diocese was a suffragan of Mainz. Willigis had probably consecrated the first bishop, Thietmar (January, 976), at Brumath in Alsace (Hauch, III, 193), and had consecrated St. Adalbert. The latter, unable to bear the opposition to his labours, left his diocese and was, after much correspondence between the Holy See and Willigis, forced to return.

Saint Willigis and Provost Hartmann, 12th century depiction, Russian State Library

Saint Willigis and Provost Hartmann, 12th century depiction, Russian State Library

In 997 Gregory V sent the decrees of a synod of Pavia to Willigis, “his vicar”, for publication. These friendly relations were somewhat disturbed by the dispute of Willigis with the Bishop of Hildesheim about jurisdiction in the convent at Gundersheim. The convent was originally situated at Brunshausen in the Diocese of Hildesheim, but was transferred to Gundersheim, within the limits of Mainz. Both bishops claimed jurisdiction. After much correspondence and several synods Pope Silvester declared in favour of Hildesheim. When this sentence was about to be published at a synod of Pohlde (22 June, 1001), Willigis, who was there, left in great excitement in spite of the remonstrances of the delegate, who then placed the sentence of suspension on the archbishop. Formal opposition to Rome was not intended, but if Willigis committed any fault in the matter he publicly rectified all by a declaration at Gundersheim on 5 Jan., 1007, when he resigned all claims to the Bishop of Hildesheim (Katholik, loc. cit., p. 145). In his diocese he laboured by building bridges, constructing roads, and fostering art. In Mainz he built a cathedral and consecrated it on 29 Aug., 1009, in honour of St. Martin, but on the same day it was destroyed by fire; he greatly helped the restoration of the old Church of St. Victor and built that of St. Stephen. He also built a church at Brunnen, in Nassau. He showed great solicitude for the religious, and substantially aided the monasteries of Bleidenstadt, St. Disibod, and Jechaburg in Thuringia. After death he was buried in the Church of St. Stephen.

MANN, Lives of the Popes, IV (St. Louis, 1910), 372, 391, 399.

FRANCIS MERSHMAN (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Pope St. Leo IX

Pope St. Leo IXPope St. Leo IX earnestly spread the Cluny reform

Born at Egisheim, near Colmar, on the borders of Alsace, 21 June, 1002, Pope St. Leo IX died on 19 April, 1054. He belonged to a noble family which had given or was to give saints to the Church and rulers to the Empire. He was named Bruno. His father Hugh was first cousin to Emperor Conrad, and both Hugh and his wife Heilewide were remarkable for their piety and learning.

When five years of age, he was committed to the care of the energetic Berthold, Bishop of Toul, who had a school for the sons of the nobility. Intelligent, graceful in body, and gracious in disposition, Bruno was a favorite with his schoolfellows. Whilst still a youth and at home for his holidays, he was attacked when asleep by some animal, and so much injured that for some time he lay between life and death. In that condition he saw, as he used afterwards to tell his friends, a vision of St. Benedict, who cured him by touching his wounds with a cross. This we are told by Leo’s principal biographer, Wibert, who was his intimate friend when the saint was Bishop of Toul…

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April 19 – Captured by pirates

April 16, 2018

St. Alphege (or Elphege), Saint, born 954; died 1012; also called Godwine, martyred Archbishop of Canterbury, left his widowed mother and patrimony for the monastery of Deerhurst (Gloucestershire). After some years as an anchorite at Bath, he there became abbot, and (19 Oct., 984) was made Bishop of Winchester. In 994 Elphege administered confirmation to […]

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April 19 – Blessed Conrad of Ascoli

April 16, 2018

Friar Minor and missionary, born at Ascoli in the March of Ancona in 1234; died there, 19 April, 1289. He belonged to the noble family of Milliano and from his earliest years made penance the predominating element of his life. He entered the Order of Friars Minor at Ascoli together with his townsman and lifelong […]

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Prince Albert and his family watched Good Friday procession

April 12, 2018

According to Monaco Wealth Management Ltd.: On the occasion of Good Friday, on March 30, 2018, Prince Albert, Princess Charlene and their children Crown Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriela watched the traditional procession of the Dead Christ at the balcony of Monaco Principality Palace. Good Friday is a religious day and the first Friday before […]

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Death of Father Jacques Marquette

April 12, 2018

A few days after Easter [1765, Father Marquette] left the [Illinois] village [of Kaskaskia], escorted by a crowd of Indians, who followed him as far as Lake Michigan. Here he embarked with his two companions. Their destination was Michilimackinac, and their course lay along the eastern borders of the lake. As, in the freshness of […]

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God Rewarded Christendom For the Reconquista and the First Crusade with Wisdom and Civilization

April 12, 2018

Before this period, the science of legislation, which is the first and most important of all, had made but very little progress. Some cities of Italy and the provinces near the Pyrenees, where the Goths had encouraged the Roman laws, alone exhibited glimmerings of civilization. Among the rules and ordinances that Gaston de Béarn laid […]

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April 13 – Born blind, lame, deformed, hunchbacked and dwarfed

April 12, 2018

Blessed Margaret of Castello (1287–1320) is the patroness of the poor, crippled, and the unwanted. She was born blind, lame, deformed, hunchbacked and a dwarf, into a family of nobles in the castle of Metola, in southeast of Florence. As a child, her parents Parisio and Emilia imprisoned her for 14 years so no one […]

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April 13 – This Prince Defied His Family

April 12, 2018

St. Hermengild Date of birth unknown; died 13 April, 585. Leovigild, the Arian King of the Visigoths (569-86), had two sons, Hermengild and Reccared, by his first marriage with the Catholic Princess Theodosia. Hermengild married, in 576, Ingundis, a Frankish Catholic princess, the daughter of Sigebert and Brunhilde. Led by his own inclination, and influenced […]

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April 13 – Pope St. Martin I

April 12, 2018

Pope St. Martin I Martyr, born at Todi on the Tiber, son of Fabricius; elected Pope at Rome, 21 July, 649, to succeed Theodore I; d at Cherson in the present peninsulas of Krym, 16 Sept., 655, after a reign of 6 years, one month and twenty six days, having ordained eleven priests, five deacons […]

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April 14 – She suffered for the moral corruption and decay of her time

April 12, 2018

Saint Lydwine In 1380, Saint Lydwine was born in the small town of Schiedam in Holland. Her father was a wealthy noble named Peter, and her mother was from a poor family who worked their own farm. Her father’s family lost their fortune, and the whole family was reduced to poverty. At that time, all […]

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April 14 – St. Peter Gonzalez (aka St. Elmo)

April 12, 2018

St. Peter Gonzalez Popularly known as St. Elmo, b. in 1190 at Astorga, Spain; d. 15 April, 1246, at Tuy. He was educated by his uncle, Bishop of Astorga, who gave him when very young a canonry. Later he entered the Dominican Order and became a renowned preacher; crowds gathered to hear him and numberless […]

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April 15 – The Notkers of St. Gall

April 12, 2018

Notker.—Among the various monks of St. Gall who bore this name, the following are the most important: (1) Notker Balbulus (Stammerer), Blessed, monk and author, b. about 840, at Jonswil, canton of St. Gall (Switzerland); d. 912. Of a distinguished family, he received his education with Tuotilo, originator of tropes, at St. Gall’s, from Iso […]

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April 16 – Martyred in the name of Equality

April 12, 2018

Just a few of the many martyrs during the French Revolution († 1792-1799) 16 April 1794 in Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire (France) Pierre Delépine layperson of the diocese of Angers born: 24 May 1732 in Marigné, Maine-et-Loire (France) Jean Ménard layperson of the diocese of Angers; married born: 16 November 1736 in Andigné, Maine-et-Loire (France) Renée Bourgeais […]

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April 10 – Friend of Cluny

April 9, 2018

St. Fulbert of Chartres Bishop, born between 952 and 962; died 10 April, 1028 or 1029. Mabillon and others think that he was born in Italy, probably at Rome; but Pfister, his latest biographer, designates as his birthplace the Diocese of Laudun in the present department of Gard in France. He was of humble parentage […]

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April 10 – Pope Gregory XIII

April 9, 2018

Pope Gregory XIII (UGO BUONCOMPAGNI). Born at Bologna, 7 Jan., 1502; died at Rome, 10 April, 1585. He studied jurisprudence at the University of Bologna, from which he was graduated at an early age as doctor of canon and of civil law. Later, he taught jurisprudence at the same university, and had among his pupils […]

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April 11 – He excommunicated the king, who murdered him as he celebrated Mass

April 9, 2018

Saint Stanislaus of Cracow In pictures he is given the episcopal insignia and the sword. Larger paintings represent him in a court or kneeling before the altar and receiving the fatal blow. His parents, Belislaus and Bogna, pious and noble Catholics, gave him a religious education. After the death of his parents he distributed his […]

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April 11 – American Hero of the Seal of Confession

April 9, 2018

Antony Kohlmann Educator and missionary, b. 13 July, 1771, at Kaiserberg, Alsace; d. at Rome, 11 April, 1836. He is to be ranked among the lights of the restored Society of Jesus, and among its most distinguished members in America, where he spent nearly a quarter of a century of his laborious life. At an […]

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April 11 – “The sorest and dangerousest papist”

April 9, 2018

Sampson Erdeswicke Antiquarian, date of birth unknown; d. 1603. He was born at Sandon in Staffordshire, his father, Hugh Erdeswicke, being descended from Richard de Vernon, Baron of Shipbrook, in the reign of William the Conqueror. The family resided originally at Erdeswicke Hall, in Cheshire, afterwards at Leighton and finally in the reign of Edward […]

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April 11 – American Catholic Founding Father

April 9, 2018

Stephen Moylan An American patriot and merchant, born in Ireland in 1734; died at Philadelphia, 11 April, 1811. He received his education in Ireland, but resided for some time in England, and seems to have travelled considerably on the Continent before emigrating to the American Colonies where he settled in the city of Philadelphia. He […]

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April 11 – Antonio Ruiz de Montoya

April 9, 2018

Antonio Ruiz de Montoya One of the most distinguished pioneers of the original Jesuit mission in Paraguay, and a remarkable linguist; b. at Lima Peru, on 13 June, 1585, d. there 11 April, 1652. After a youth full of wild and daring pranks and adventures he entered the Society of Jesus on 1 November, 1606. […]

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April 11 – Convicted for being a priest

April 9, 2018

George Gervase (Jervise.) Priest and martyr, born at Boscham, Suffolk, England, 1571; died at Tyburn, 11 April, 1608. His mother’s name was Shelly, and both his father’s and mother’s families had been long established in the County of Suffolk. Losing both parents in boyhood, he was kidnapped by pirates and carried off beyond seas, remaining […]

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April 11 – His donations helped build the first California missions

April 9, 2018

Juan Caballero y Ocio Born at Querétaro, Mexico, 4 May, 1644; died there 11 April, 1707. A priest remarkable for lavish gifts to the Church and for charity. While still a layman he was a mayor of his native city. After taking Holy Orders he held several high offices. He gave large sums of money […]

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April 11 – James Burns, of Burns and Oates

April 9, 2018

James Burns Publisher and author, b. near Montrose, Forfarshire, Scotland, 1808; d. in London, 11 April, 1871. During the last half of the nineteenth century his work in the cause of Catholic literature and Catholic church music contributed much to the rapid advancement of the Church in Great Britain and to the many conversions that […]

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April 11 – St. Guthlac

April 9, 2018

St. Guthlac Hermit; born about 673; died at Croyland, England, 11 April, 714. Our authority for the life of St. Guthlac is the monk Felix (of what monastery is not known), who in his dedication of the “Life” to King Æthelbald, Guthlac’s friend, assures him that whatever he has written, he had derived immediately from […]

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April 12 – St. Teresa of the Andes

April 9, 2018

Saint Teresa of the Andes, O.C.D. (July 13, 1900 – April 12, 1920), also known as Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes (Spanish: Teresa de Jesús de los Andes), was a Chilean nun of the Discalced Carmelite order. She was born Juana Enriqueta Josefina de los Sagrados Corazones Fernández y Solar in Santiago, Chile […]

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April 12 – Crusader in every sense of the word

April 9, 2018

Bl. Angelo Carletti di Chivasso Moral theologian of the order of Friars Minor; born at Chivasso in Piedmont, in 1411; and died at Coni, in Piedmont, in 1495. From his tenderest years the Blessed Angelo was remarkable for the holiness and purity of his life. He attended the University of Bologna, where he received the […]

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April 12 – Pope St. Julius I

April 9, 2018

(337-352) The immediate successor of Pope Silvester, Arcus, ruled the Roman Church for only a very short period – from 18 January to 7 October, 336 – and after his death the papal chair remained vacant for four months. What occasioned this comparatively long vacancy is unknown. On 6 February, 337, Julius, son of Rustics […]

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Marquette finds the Mississippi and names it the River of the Immaculate Conception

April 5, 2018

Marquette was born in 1637, of an old and honorable family at Laon, in the north of France, and was now thirty-five years of age. When about seventeen, he had joined the Jesuits…and in 1666 he was sent to the missions of Canada…. The traits of his character are unmistakable. He was of the brotherhood […]

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Do Symbols, Pomp and Riches Have a Function in Human Life?

April 5, 2018

 By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira   Catolicismo Nº 82 – October 1957 It is time for Catolicismo to say something about the criticisms that Lord Altrincham and part of the British press have made against Queen Elizabeth. The very nature of this subject requires that our comments be made in the Ambiances, Customs and Civilizations […]

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April 6 – With his head split open, he wrote on the ground with his own blood: “Credo”

April 5, 2018

St. Peter of Verona Born at Verona, 1206; died near Milan, 6 April, 1252. His parents were adherents of the Manichæan heresy, which still survived in northern Italy in the thirteenth century. Sent to a Catholic school, and later to the University of Bologna, he there met St. Dominic, and entered the Order of the […]

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April 6 – He wrote the genealogy of the Danish kings to disprove the alleged impediment of consanguinity

April 5, 2018

St. William of Ebelholt (Also called William of Paris, or William of Eskilsöe) Died on Easter Sunday, 1203, and was buried at Ebelholt. He was educated by his uncle Hugh, forty-second Abbot of St-Germain-des-Pres at Paris; and having been ordained subdeacon received a canonry in the Church of Ste-Geneviève-du-Mont. His exemplary life did not commend […]

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April 7 – Father of Modern Pedagogy

April 5, 2018

St. John Baptist de la Salle Founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, educational reformer, and father of modern pedagogy, was born at Reims, 30 April, 1651, and died at Saint-Yon, Rouen, on Good Friday, 7 April, 1719. The family of de la Salle traces its origin to Johan Salla, who, […]

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April 8 – Together with a noble who escaped the Terror, she founded the Sisters of Notre Dame

April 5, 2018

St. Julie Billiart (Also Julia). Foundress, and first superior-general of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur, born 12 July, 1751, at Cuvilly, a village of Picardy, in the Diocese of Beauvais and the Department of Oise, France; died 8 April, 1816, at the motherhouse of her institute, Namur, Belgium. She was […]

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April 9 – She persuaded her husband the Count to become a monk

April 5, 2018

St. Waudru She was daughter to the princess St. Bertille, elder sister to St. Aldegondes, and wife to Madelgaire, count of Hainault, and one of the principal lords of King Dagobert’s court. After bearing him two sons and two daughters, she induced him to embrace the monastic state at Haumont, near Maubeuge, taking the name […]

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April 9 – Mary of Cleophas

April 5, 2018

Mary of Cleophas This title occurs only in John, xix, 25. A comparison of the lists of those who stood at the foot of the cross would seem to identify her with Mary, the mother of James the Less and Joseph ( Mark, xv, 40; cf. Matt., xxvii, 56). Some have indeed tried to identify […]

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The Annunciation – “Of His Kingdom, there shall be no end.”

April 5, 2018

The Annunciation, by Father Thomas de Saint-Laurent Out of love for us, the Eternal Word was made flesh in the chaste womb of Mary. His plan was marvelously arranged. From all eternity, He chose a man after His heart who would be the virginal spouse of His divine Mother, His adopted father on earth, and […]

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The Annunciation: He is King by right, and also by conquest

April 5, 2018

by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira We will comment on this passage taken from Saint Luke: “And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was […]

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April 3 – Pope Honorius IV

April 2, 2018

Pope Honorius IV (Giacomo Savelli) Born at Rome about 1210; died at Rome, 3 April, 1287. He belonged to the rich and influential family of the Savelli and was a grandnephew of Honorius III. Very little is known of his life before he ascended the papal throne. He studied at the University of Paris, during […]

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April 3 – The man they trusted to collect the Crusader tax

April 2, 2018

St. Richard of Wyche Bishop and confessor, born about 1197 at Droitwich, Worcestershire, from which his surname is derived; died 3 April, 1253, at Dover. He was the second son of Richard and Alice de Wyche. His father died while he was still young and the family property fell into a state of great delapidation. […]

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April 3 – English Catholic exile

April 2, 2018

John Martiall (or MARSHALL) Born in Worcestershire 1534, died at Lille, 3 April, 1597. He was one of the six companions associated with Dr. Allen in the foundation of the English College at Douai in 1568. He received his education at Winchester (1545-49) and New College, Oxford (1549-56), at which latter place, after a residence […]

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April 3 – How the Holy Cross converted a prostitute

April 2, 2018

St. Mary of Egypt Born probably about 344; died about 421. At the early age of twelve Mary left her home and came to Alexandria, where for upwards of seventeen years she led a life of public prostitution. At the end of that time, on the occasion of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast […]

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