St.Mechtilde

Benedictine; born in 1240 or 1241 at the ancestral castle of Helfta, near Eisleben, Saxony ; died in the monastery of Helfta, 19 November, 1298. She belonged to one of the noblest and most powerful Thuringian families, while here sister was the saintly and illustrious Abbess Gertrude von Hackeborn. Some writers have considered that Mechtilde von Hackeborn and Mechtilde von Wippra were two distinct persons, but, as the Barons of Hackeborn were also Lords of Wippra, it was customary for members of that family to take their name indifferently from either, or both of these estates. So fragile was she at birth, that the attendants, fearing she might die unbaptized, hurried her off to the priest who was just then preparing to say Mass. He was a man of great sanctity, and after baptizing the child, uttered these prophetic words: “What do you fear ? This child most certainly will not die, but she will become a saintly religious in whom God will work many wonders, and she will end her days in a good old age.” When she was seven years old, having been taken by her mother on a visit to her elder sister Gertrude, then a nun in the monastery of Rodardsdorf, she became so enamoured of the cloister that her pious parents yielded to her entreaties and, acknowledging the workings of grace, allowed her to enter the alumnate. Here, being highly gifted in mind as well as in body, she made remarkable progress in virtue and learning.

Ten years later (1258) she followed her sister, who, now abbess, had transferred the monastery to an estate at Helfta given her by her brothers Louis and Albert. As a nun, Mechtilde was soon distinguished for her humility, her fervour, and that extreme amiability which had characterized her from childhood and which, like piety, seemed hereditary in her race. While still very young, she became a valuable helpmate to Abbess Gertrude, who entrusted to her direction the alumnate and the choir. Mechtilde was fully equipped for her task when, in 1261, God committed to her prudent care a child of five who was destined to shed lustre upon the monastery of Helfta. This was that Gertrude who in later generations became known as St. Gertrude the Great. Gifted with a beautiful voice, Mechtilde also possessed a special talent for rendering the solemn and sacred music over which she presided as domna cantrix. All her life she held this office and trained the choir with indefatigable zeal. Indeed, Divine praise was the keynote of her life as it is of her book; in this she never tired, despite her continual and severe physical sufferings, so that in His revelations Christ was wont to call her His “nightingale”. Richly endowed, naturally and supernaturally, ever gracious, beloved of all who came within the radius of her saintly and charming personality, there is little wonder that this cloistered virgin should strive to keep hidden her wondrous life. Souls thirsting for consolation or groping for light sought her advice; learned Dominicans consulted her on spiritual matters. At the beginning of her own mystic life it was from St. Mechtilde that St. Gertrude the Great learnt that the marvellous gifts lavished upon her were from God.

Only in her fiftieth year did St. Mechtilde learn that the two nuns in whom she had especially confided had noted down the favours granted her, and, moreover, that St. Gertrude had nearly finished a book on the subject. Much troubled at this, she, as usual, first had recourse to prayer. She had a vision of Christ holding in His hand the book of her revelations, and saying: “All this has been committed to writing by my will and inspiration; and, therefore you have no cause to be troubled about it.” He also told her that, as He had been so generous towards her, she must make Him a like return, and that the diffusion of the revelations would cause many to increase in His love ; moreover, He wished this book to be called “The Book of Special Grace “, because it would prove such to many. When the saint understood that the book would tend to God’s glory, she ceased to be troubled, and even corrected the manuscript herself. Immediately after her death it was made public, and copies were rapidly multiplied, owing chiefly to the widespread influence of the Friars Preachers. Boccaccio tells how, a few years after the death of Mechtilde, the book of her revelations was brought to Florence and popularized under the title of “La Laude di donna Matelda”. It is related that the Florentines were accustomed to repeat daily before their sacred images the praises learned from St. Mechtilde’s book. St. Gertrude, to whose devotedness we owe the “Liber Specialis Gratiae” exclaims: “Never has there arisen one like to her in our monastery ; nor, alas! I fear, will there ever arise another such!” — little dreaming that her own name would be inseparably linked with that of Mechtilde. With that of St. Gertrude, the body of St. Mechtilde most probably still reposes at Old Helfta though the exact spot is unknown. Her feast is kept 26 or 27 February in different congregations and monasteries of her order, by special permission of the Holy See.

St.Rose Philippine Duchesne

Born to family with wealth and political connections; her father, Pierre Francois Duchesne, was a lawyer, businessman, and prominent civic leader in Grenoble, France, and her mother, Rose Perier, was a member of a leading family from the Dauphine region of France. From age eight Rose had a desire to evangelize in the Americas, sparked by hearing a Jesuit missionary speak of his work there. She received a basic education at home from tutors, and religious education from her mother. Educated from age 12 at the convent of the Visitation nuns in Grenoble, she joined them in 1788 at age 19 without the permission or knowledge of her family who were violently opposed to her choice, but finally gave in.

Religious communities were outlawed during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution, and Rose’s convent was closed in 1792. She spent the next ten years living as a lay woman again, but still managed to act like a good member of her Order. She established a school for poor children, provided care for the sick, and hid priests from Revolutionaries. When the Terror ended, she reclaimed her convent and tried to re-establish it with a group of sisters she had maintained in Grenoble. However, most of the sistes were long gone, and in 1804 the remainder was incorporated into the Society of the Sacred Heart under Saint Madeline Sophie Barat. They then re-opened the convent of Sainte-Marie-d’en-Haut as the second house of Sacred Heart nuns. Rose became a postulant in December 1804, and made her final vows in 1805.

In 1815 Mother Duschene was assigned to found a Sacred Heart convent in Paris, France. On 14 March 1818 at age 49 she and four sisters were sent as missionaries to the Louisiana Territory to establish the Society’s presence in America. Diseases contracted during the trip to America nearly killed her, and after she recovered in New Orleans, the trip up the Mississippi nearly killed her again. She established her first mission at Saint Charles, Missouri, a log cabin that was the first free school west of the Mississippi River. She eventually six other houses in America which included schools and orphanages. She ran into some opposition as her teaching methods were based on French models, and her English was terrible; her students, however, received a good education, and her intentions were obviously for their best.

She was ever concerned about the plight of Native Americans, and much of her work was devoted to educating them, caring for their sick, and working against alcohol abuse. Finally able to retire from her administrative duties at age 71, Mother Duchesne evangelized the Pottowatomies, and taught young girls of the tribe. This work, however, lasted but a year as she was unable to master the Pottowatomi language. She was known to the tribe as “Woman-Who-Prays-Always”.

She spent her last ten years in retirement in a tiny shack at the convent in Saint Charles where she lived austerely and in constant prayer.

St.Elizabeth of Hungary

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, also known as St. Elizabeth of Thuringia, was born in Hungary on July 7, 1207 to the Hungarian King Andrew II and Gertrude of Merania.

As soon as her life began, she had responsibilities from being a royal pressed upon her. While Elizabeth was very young, her father arranged for her to be married to Ludwig IV of Thuringia, a German nobleman. Because of this plan, Elizabeth was sent away at the age of four for education at the court of the Landgrave of Thuringia.

Elizabeth’s mother, Gertrude, was murdered in 1213, when Elizabeth was just six-years-old. According to history, the murder was carried out by Hungarian noblemen due to the conflict between Germans and the Hungarian nobles. From this point on, Elizabeth’s perspective on life and death dramatically changed and she sought peace with prayer.

Happiness was returned to her young life in 1221 when she was formally married to Ludwig, whom she deeply loved. Together the couple had three beautiful children, two of whom became members of nobility and the third entering the religious life, becoming abbess of a German convent.

Elizabeth continued to live a life full of prayer and a service to the poor. Ludwig, who was now one of the rulers of Thuringia, supported all of Elizabeth’s religious endeavors even though she was a part of the royal court. She began to lead an austerely simple life, practiced penance, and devoted herself to works of charity. She used her royal position to advance her mission for charity.

In 1223, Franciscan friars arrived in Thuringia and taught 16-year-old Elizabeth all about Francis of Assisi’s ideals. She then forth decided to live her life mirroring his.

She wore simple clothing and set aside time every day to take bread to hundreds of poor people in her land. Ludwig and Elizabeth were politically powerful and lived with a remarkable generosity toward the poor.

In 1226, when disease and floods struck Thuringia, Elizabeth took to caring for the victims. It is said she even gave away the royal’s clothing and goods to the afflicted people. Elizabeth had a hospital built and provided for almost a thousand poor people daily.

Elizabeth’s life was full of love and faith. However, tragedy struck when Ludwig passed away from illness in 1227. It is said upon hearing the news, she said, “He is dead. He is dead. It is to me as if the whole world died today.” His remains were entombed at the Abbey of Reinhardsbrunn.

Elizabeth vowed to never remarry and to live a life similar to a nun, despite pressure from relatives.

Her vows included celibacy and an agreement of complete obedience to her confessor and spiritual director, Master Conrad of Marburg. His treatment of Elizabeth was very strict and often harsh. He held her to a standard that many saw as impossible to meet. He provided physical beatings and sent away her children. However, she continued to keep her vow, even offering to cut off her own nose, so she woud be too ugly for any man to want.

In 1228, Elizabeth joined the Third Order of St. Francis. Elizabeth, having received her dowry, founded a hospital in honor of St. Francis, where she personally attended to the ill. She ministered to the sick and provided support to the poor.

Elizabeth’s life was consumed deeply by her devotion to God and her charitable labor. She passed away at the age of 24, on November 17, 1231 in Marburg, Hesse.

One of her greatest known miracles occurred when she was still alive, the miracle of roses. It is said that during one of her many trips delivering bread to the poor in secret, Ludwig met with her and asked her questions to erase everyone’s suspicions that she was stealing treasures from the castle. He asked her to reveal the contents under her cloak, and as she did a vision of white and red roses was seen. To Ludwig, this meant God’s protection was evident. In other versions, it was her brother-in-law who found her. Elizabeth’s story is one of the first of many that associates Christian saints with roses.

Another living miracle involved a leper lying the bed she shared with her husband. Her mother-in-law discovered Elizabeth had placed a leper in the bed, and feeling enraged, she informed Ludwig. Annoyed with the situation, Ludwig removed the bedclothes and instantly the “Almighty God opened the eyes of his soul, and instead of a leper he saw the figure of Christ crucified stretched upon the bed.”

After her death, miraculous healings began to occur at her graveside near her hospital. Examinations were held for those who had been healed from 1232 to 1235. The investigations, along with testimony from Elizabeth’s handmaidens and companions and the immense popularity surrounding her, provided enough reason for her canonization.

Pope Gregory IX canonized her on May 27, 1235.

St. Elizabeth’s feast day is celebrated on November 17 and she is the patron saint of bakers; beggars; brides; charities; death of children; homeless people; hospitals; Sisters of Mercy; widows.

Elizabeth’s body was laid in a gold shrine in the Elisabeth Church in Marburg. Although the shrine can still be seen today, her body is no longer there. One of her own descendents scattered her remains at the time of the Reformation.

St. Elizabeth is often depicted with a basket of bread to show her devotion for the poor and hungry. She is also painted in honor of the “Miracle of Roses” and “Crucifix in the Bed.”

St. Elizabeth has been praised by Pope Benedict XVI as a “model for those in authority.”

Source:catholiconline.org

St.Gertrude the Great

St. Gertrude the Great, or St. Gertrude of Helfta, was born on January 6, 1256 in Germany. She eventually chose to follow the Lord by pursuing a vocation as a Benedictine Nun. Her deep relationship with the Lord in prayer led to her being hailed as a mystic. She was also regarded as a great theologian.

Although little is known about Gertrude’s childhood, it is widely accepted that at just four-years-old, she was enrolled in the Cistercian monastery school of Helfta in Saxony, under the governance of Abbess Gertrude of Hackerborn.

The Cistercian movement was an effort to bring the Benedictine religious community back to a stricter and more faithful adherence to the original “Rule” or way of life encouraged by St Benedict. Some sources speculate that Gertrude’s parents offered their child as an oblate, a lay person especially dedicated to God or to God’s service, while others believe she may have entered the monastery school as an orphan.

St. Mechtilde, the younger sister of the Abbess Gertrude, took care of young Gertrude. Gertrude and Mechtilde had a strong bond that only grew deeper with time, allowing Mechtilde to have a great influence over Gertrude.

Gertrude, known for being charming and able to win people over, entered the Benedictine Order at Helfta and became a nun. She devoted herself to her studies, and received an education in many different subjects. Gertrude was both fluent in Latin and very familiar with scripture and works from the Fathers of the Church, including Augustine.

In 1281, 25-year-old Gertrude experienced her first series of visions that would continue until the day she passed away. Her visions altered her life and she saw this moment as her new birth. Her priorities turned away from secular teachings and focuses more on studying Scripture and theology. Her life became full with this awakening and she was an enthusiastic student, writing for the spiritual benefit of others.

Gertrude once had a vision on the feast of John the Evangelist, described in Gertrude’s writings. As she rested her head near Jesus’ wound on his side, she could hear the beating of his heart. She asked St. John if he, too, felt the beating of Jesus’ Divine Heart on the night of the Last Supper. He told her he was saving this revelation for a time when the world needed it to rekindle its love.

She went on to become one of the great mystics of the 13th century. Along with St. Mechtilde, she practiced what is known as “nuptial mysticism,” seeing herself as the bride of Christ. She embraced charity for both rich and poor, she was a simple woman with a deep solidarity with those not yet ready for the beatific vision, who are still being purified in the state of repose known as purgatory.

Gertrude assisted at the deathbeds and mourned for the loss of both Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn in 1291 and her dearly loved St. Mechtilde in 1298. Gertrude’s health began to deteriorate, but she continued to only show her love for the Lord.

“Until the age of 25, I was a blind and insane woman… but you, Jesus, deigned to grant me the priceless familiarity of your friendship by opening to me in every way that most noble casket of your divinity, which is your divine Heart, and offering me in great abundance all your treasures contained in it”.

On November 17, 1301, Gertrude passed away a virgin and joined her Bridegroom forever.

Throughout her life, Gertrude produced numerous writings, although only a few still exists today. One of her longest surviving works is Legatus Memorialis Abundantiae Divinae Pietatis (The Herald of Divine Love). Her other standing works include, her collection of Spiritual Exercises and Preces Gertrudianae (Gertrudian Prayers).

The Herald of Divine Love is composed of five different books. Book two is the core of the work, and was written solely by Gertrude. It is a notable piece of writing, because it includes detailed descriptions of Gertrude’s visions and a veneration of Christ’s heart. The other four books are believed to have been composed by other nuns.

Although Gertrude was never formally canonized, Rome approved a liturgical office of prayer and readings in her honor. To separate her from Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn, Pope Benedict XIV gave her the title, “the Great,” making her the only woman saint to be called, “the Great.”

St. Gertrude the Great is the Patroness of the West Indies and she is often invoked for souls in purgatory. Her feast day is celebrated on November 16.

May my soul bless you, O Lord God my Creator, may my soul bless you. From the very core of my being may all your merciful gifts sing your praise. Your generous care for your daughter has been rich in mercy; indeed it has been immeasurable, and as far as I am able I give you thanks. I praise and glorify your great patience which bore with me even though, from my infancy and childhood, adolescence and early womanhood, until I was nearly 26, I was always so blindly irresponsible. Looking back I see that but for your protecting hand I would haven been quite without conscience in thought, word or deed. But you came to my aid by giving me a natural dislike of evil and a natural delight in what is good, and provided me with necessary correction from those among whom I lived. To make amends for the way I previously lived, I offer you, most loving Father, all the sufferings of your beloved Son, from that first infant cry as he lay on the hay in the manger, until that final movement when, bowing his head, with a mighty voice, Christ gave up his spirit. I think, as I make this offering, of all that he underwent, his needs as a baby, his dependence as a young child, the hardships of youth and the trials of early manhood. To atone for all my neglect I offer, most loving Father, all that your only-begotten Son did during his life, whether in thought, word or deed. And now, as an act of thanksgiving, I praise and worship you, Father, in deepest humility for you most loving kindness and mercy. Though I was hurrying to my eternal loss, your thoughts of me were thoughts of peace and not of affliction, and you lifted me up with so many great favors. Finally, you drew me to yourself by your faithful promises of the good things you would give me from the hour of my death. So great are these promises that for their sake alone, even if you had given me nothing besides, my heart would sigh for you always and be filled with a lively hope. – from the Revelations by Saint Gertrude

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, fountain of eternal life, Your Heart is a glowing furnace of Love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary. O my adorable and loving Savior, consume my heart with the burning fire with which Yours is aflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Your love. Let my heart be united with Yours. Let my will be conformed to Yours in all things. May Your Will be the rule of all my desires and actions. Amen. – Saint Gertrude

St Raphael Kalinowski

Son of Andrew Kalinowski, prominent mathmatics professor at the College of Nobility, and Josepha Poionska Kalinowski. Studied at his father’s school. Though he felt a call to the priesthood, Joseph decided on college first. He studied zoology, chemistry, agriculture, and apiculture at the Institute of Agronomy in Hory Horki, Russia, and at the Academy of Military Engineering at Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Lieutenant in the Russian Military Engineering Corps in 1857. Planned and supervised the construction of the railway between Kursk and Odessa. Promoted to captain in 1862, he was stationed in Brest-Litovsk. There he started, taught, and bore all the costs of a Sunday school, accepting anyone interested.

In 1863 he supported the Polish insurrection. He resigned from the Russian army and became the rebellion’s minister of war for the Vilna region; he took the commission with the understanding that he would never hand out a death sentence or execute a prisoner. Arrested by Russian authorities on 25 March 1864. In June 1864 he was condemned to death for his part in the revolt, but the authorities feared they would be creating a political martyr, and commuted his sentence to ten years forced labour in the Siberian salt mines; part of his sentence was spent in Irkutsk where his relics recently sanctified a new cathedral.

Released in 1873, he was exiled from his home region in Lithuania. Moved to Paris, France, and worked as a tutor for three years. In 1877 he finally answered the long-heard call to the religious life, and joined the Carmelite Order at Graz, Austria, taking the name Raphael. Studied theology in Hungary, then joined the Carmelite house at Czama, Poland. Ordained on 15 January 1882.

Worked to restore the Discalced Carmelites to Poland, and for church unity. Founded a convent at Wadowice, Poland, c.1889. Worked with Blessed Alphonsus Mary Marurek. Noted spiritural director of both Catholics and Orthodox. Enthusiastic parish priest, he spent countless hours with his parishioners in the confessional.

Blessed Lucy of Narnia

Blessed Lucy of Narnia ~ Feast Day November 15

Born in the late fifteenth century, Blessed Lucia (“Lucy” in English) Brocadelli was from the ancient Umbrian town of Narni (“Narnia” in Latin). A pious child, she is said to have received visions from an early age. Following her father’s death in her early teens, she was married off by her uncle to Pietro, Count of Milan, though they lived as brother and sister.

As Countess, she was famed for her life of prayer and care for the poor, baking bread for them herself (ably assisted, it is said, by a number of Saints from Heaven). The lure of religious life proved irresistible. And the couple separated, she to become a Dominican tertiary, and he ultimately to join the Franciscans.

Among much else, Lucy of Narnia received the stigmata and became prioress of a convent, before ultimately spending her final four decades locked up by her successor. She died in 1544. In 1710, her body incorrupt, she was beatified by Pope Clement XI.

Blessed Lucy of Narnia, pray for us.

Blessed Maria Teresa of Jesus

Blessed Maria Teresa of Jesus~Feast Day November 14

An unknown illness kept the young Maria bedridden for two years; she was cured following a vision of Saint Fiorenzo, and soon after she felt a call to the religious life. On 28 May 1846 she entered the monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Florence, Italy, and though she loved the cloistered life, she realized it was not her calling, and left after two months. She became a Carmelite tertiary, taking the name Maria Teresa of Jesus. Back home she began teaching secular and religious topics to local girls, and effectively started a small school for them. While looking for a place to start a formal school, she was asked by a town council to take over a local school; she did and it formed the base for a religious institute. On 15 October 1854 she founded as the Sisters of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but on 30 November 1859, during a period of anti-clerical sentiment in Italy, her institute was ordered to be dissolved and the school secularized. It took years of work and waiting, but on 18 March 1878 Mother Maria was able to resurrect her community, this time in Florence, Italy where they ran a school, boarding house, and Marian association, and lived a vocation of teaching, parish work, and visiting the sick. Today the Institute has about 250 sisters spread through Italy, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Israel, Poland, Canada, the Philippines, the United States, and the Czech Republic, teaching, catechising, caring for the sick and aged.

Blessed John Licci

Blessed John Licci ~ Feast Day November 14

Born to a poor farmer, John’s mother died in childbirth. His life from then on, all 111 years, was a tale of miracles.

John’s father, who fed the baby on crushed pomegranates, had to work the fields, and was forced to leave the infant alone. The baby began crying, and a neighbor woman took him to her home to feed him. She laid the infant on the bed next to her paralyzed husband – and the man was instantly cured. The woman told John’s father of the miracle, but he was more concerned that she was meddling, and had taken his son without his permission. He took the child home to feed him more pomegranate pulp. As soon as the child was removed from the house, the neighbor’s paralysis returned; when John was brought back in, the man was healed. Even John’s father took this as a sign, and allowed the neighbors to care for John.

A precocious and emotional child, John began reciting the Daily Offices before age 10. While on a trip to Palermo, Italy at age 15, John went to Confession in the church of Saint Zita of Lucca where his confession was heard by Blessed Peter Geremia who suggested John consider a religious life. John considered himself unworthy, but Peter pressed the matter, John joined the Dominicans in 1415, and wore the habit for 96 years, the longest period known for anyone.

Priest. Founded the convent of Saint Zita in Caccamo, Italy. Lacking money for the construction, John prayed for guidance. During his prayer he had a vision of an angel who told him to “build on the foundations that were already built.” The next day in the nearby woods he found the foundation for a church called Saint Mary of the Angels, a church that had been started many years before, but had never been finished. John assumed this was the place indicated, and took over the site.

During the construction, workmen ran out of materials; the next day at dawn a large ox-drawn wagon arrived at the site. The driver unloaded a large quantity of stone, lime and sand – then promptly disappeared, leaving the oxen and wagon behind for the use of the convent. At another point a well got in the way of construction; John blessed it, and it immediately dried up; when construction was finished, he blessed it again, and the water began to flow. When roof beams were cut too short, John would pray over them, and they would stretch. There were days when John had to miraculously multiply bread and wine to feed the workers. Once a young boy came to the construction site to watch his uncle set stones; the boy fell from a wall, and was killed; John prayed over him, and restored him to life and health.

John and two brother Dominicans who were working on the convent were on the road near Caccamo when they were set upon by bandits. One of the thieves tried to stab John with a dagger; the man’s hand withered and became paralyzed. The gang let the brothers go, then decided to ask for their forgiveness. John made the Sign of the Cross at them, and the thief’s hand was made whole.

One Christmas a nearby farmer offered to pasture the oxen that had come with the disappearing wagon-driver. John declined, saying the oxen had come far to be there, and there they should stay. Thinking he was doing good, the layman took them anyway. When he put them in the field with his own oxen, they promptly disappeared; he later found them at the construction site, contentedly munching dry grass near Father John.

While he did plenty of preaching in his 90+ years in the habit, usually on Christ’s Passion, John was not known as a great homilist. He was known, however, for his miracles and good works. His blessing caused the breadbox of a nearby widow to stay miraculously full, feeding her and her six children. His blessing prevented disease from coming to the cattle of his parishioners. Noted healer, curing at least three people whose heads had been crushed in accidents. Dominican Provincial of Sicily. Prior of the abbey on several occasions.

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Loving God, you made Blessed John illustrious by a complete self-denial and the utmost zeal for charity that he might reveal the mystery of your love to the poor. By following his example may we seek to please you and aid our brothers and sisters in Christ. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. – General Calendar of the Order of Preachers

St.Martin of Tours~Patron of Soldiers

Saint Martin of Tours was born in in Savaria, Pannonia in either the year 316 or 336 AD. That region is what is today the nation of Hungary. His father was a tribune, which is a high-ranking officer in the Imperial Horse Guard. Martin and his family went with his father when he was assigned to a post at Ticinum, in Northern Italy. It is here that Martin would grow up.

Just before Martin was born, Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire and the bloody persecution of Christians soon came to an end. It was not the official religion of the State, but it could be practiced and proclaimed openly. The Gospel message soon flourished in ancient Rome, transforming the empire. Martin’s parents were pagans, but at the age of 10, Martin chose to respond to the call of the Gospel and become a Christian.

At the age of fifteen, Martin was required to follow his father into the cavalry corps of the Roman military. By the time he was 18, Martin is believed to have served in Gaul, and also eventually Milan and Treves. Scholars think he served as part of the emperor’s guard.

As a young soldier, Martin encountered a beggar in Amiens. The beggar was unclothed and it was very cold. Martin removed his cloak and with his sword, he cut it in half. He gave this half to the beggar and dressed himself in the remnant. That night, Martin had a vision in which Christ appeared to him. The vision spoke to him, “Martin, a mere catechumen has clothed me.” A catechumen is one who is being instructed in the Christian faith. In the early centuries of Christianity, that was a long process of instruction – and Martin was deeply dedicated to it.

About the age of 20, Martin made clear to his superiors that he would no longer fight, following his formed Christian conscience. He refused his pay prior to a battle and announced he would not join in the combat. He became the first recognized conscientious objector in recorded history. His proclamation occurred before a battle near the modern German city of Worms. His superiors accused him of cowardice and ordered that he be imprisoned. Martin offered to demonstrate his sincerity by going into battle unarmed. This was seen as an acceptable alternative to jailing him, but before the battle could occur, the opposing army agreed to a truce and no conflict took place. Martin was subsequently released from military service.

Now out of the military service, Martin could fully dedicate himself to service of Jesus Christ and the Church. He traveled to Tours where he began studying under Hilary of Poitiers, who is now recognized as a doctor of the Church. Martin’s studies lasted until Hilary was forced into temporary exile, likely because of his refusal to participate in a political dispute.

Martin then traveled to Italy. According to one account, Martin was confronted by a highwayman and led him to faith in Jesus Christ. Another account tells of Martin confronting the Devil. While on this journey, Martin had a vision which compelled him to return to his mother in Pannonia. He did so and led his own mother to faith in Jesus Christ. Martin attempted to persuade his father to embrace faith in Jesus Christ, but as far as we know, his father refused.

After bringing his mother to the Church, Martin then turned to confronting a growing heresy which was afflicting the faithful and sowing confusion. He became involved in countering the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. The reaction against him was so violent from the Arian leaders that he was compelled to flee. Martin took up residence on an island in the Adriatic where he lived as a hermit for a time.

Martin’s teacher Hilary returned to Tours from temporary exile in 361 so Martin traveled there to work and study. Hilary gave Martin a small grant of land where he and his disciples lived.

Martin established a monastery which would be inhabited by the Benedictines. Established in 361, the Liguge Abbey was destroyed during the French Revolution, then reestablished in 1853. The abbey remains to this day. From the site of his abbey, Martin worked to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ and Baptism into His Church in the surrounding areas. He was an extraordinary evangelist.

In 371, the city of Tours needed a new bishop and the people decided to call Martin to the office. Martin did not want the job so the people decided to trick him into the office. The people insisted he was needed to administer to someone sick, so he came out as quickly as he could. He did not even bother to improve his appearance. When he learned it was a trick to make him a bishop, Martin actually tried to hide. He was quickly discovered and the people called him forward to be ordained to the office of Bishop. Even though he did not really want the office, he was ordained – and he became a holy and hardworking Bishop.

As a Bishop Martin established a system of parishes to manage his diocese. He made a point to visit each parish at least once per year. In addition to his appointed rounds, Martin combated paganism, particularly the Druid religion which was still prevalent at the time. He passionately and faithfully proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ and won many to the Christian faith.

Yet, he longed for more prayer and wanted to pursue a monastic life. In the year 372 Martin established an abbey at Marmoutier so he could retreat there and live as a monk with the many disciples he had attracted.

In the following years, a heresy broke out in the church. An aesthetic sect called the Priscillianists after their leader, Priscillian, had developed in Spain and Gaul. The First Council of Saragossa condemned the heresy, but the Priscillians did not change their practices. This prompted one bishop, Ithacius of Ossonoba to petition the Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus to put him to death. Martin was opposed to the sentence of death, and was joined by Bishop Ambrose of Milan in his opposition. Martin traveled to Trier where the Emperor held court. Martin was able to persuade the Emperor to refrain from putting Priscillian and his followers to death. However, after Martin left, Ithacius persuaded the Emperor to change his mind again and Priscillian and his followers were executed in 385.

Martin was so upset by Ithacius, he refused to communicate with his fellow bishop until the Emperor pressured him to resume communicating with his colleague.

Martin died in Candes-Saint-Martin, Gaul in 397.

The Hagiographer Sulpicius Severus, knew Martin personally and wrote about his life. Many miracles and the casting out of demons were attributed to Martin during his lifetime. According to one account, Martin, while trying to win Druids to follow Jesus Christ and renounce their pagan beliefs, was dared to stand in the path of a sacred tree that was being felled. Martin agreed and was missed by the falling pine, although standing right in its path. This was widely seen as miraculous and a symbol that the message he proclaimed about Jesus Christ was true. Many were converted to the Christian faith.

Veneration of St. Martin became popular in the Middle Ages, and was popular with the Frankish kings.

Saint Martin is the patron of the poor, soldiers, conscientious objectors, tailors, and winemakers. Many locations across Europe have also been placed under his patronage. His feast is on November 11. He commonly appears on horseback and is shown cutting his cloak in half with a sword.

Lord, if your people still have need of my services, I will not avoid the toil. Your will be done. I have fought the good fight long enough. Yet if you bid me continue to hold the battle line in defense of your camp, I will never beg to be excused from failing strength. I will do the work you entrust to me. While you command, I will fight beneath your banner.” (St. Martin of Tours, Bishop and Confessor, Patron Saint of Soldiers)

Pope St.Leo the Great

St. Leo the Great was born in Tuscany. As deacon, he was dispatched to Gaul as a mediator by Emperor Valentinian III. He reigned as Pope between 440 and 461. He persuaded Emperor Valentinian to recognize the primacy of the Bishop of Rome in an edict in 445. The doctrine of the Incarnation was formed by him in a letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople, who had already condemned Eutyches. At the Council of Chacedon this same letter was confirmed as the expression of Catholic Faith concerning the Person of Christ.

All secular historical treatises eulogize his efforts during the upheaval of the fifth century barbarian invasion. His encounter with Attila the Hun, at the very gates of Rome persuading him to turn back, remains a historical memorial to his great eloquence. When the Vandals under Genseric occupied the city of Rome, he persuaded the invaders to desist from pillaging the city and harming its inhabitants. He died in 461, leaving many letters and writings of great historical value. His feast day is November 10th.

Peter has spoken by the mouth of Leo. – Council of Chalcedon

Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife. – Pope Saint Leo the Great

Although the universal Church of God is constituted of distinct orders of members, still, in spite of the many parts of its holy body, the Church subsists as an integral whole, just as the Apostle says: “We are all one in Christ,” nor is anyone separated from the office of another in such a way that a lower group has no connection with the head. In the unity of faith and baptism, our community is then undivided. There is a common dignity as the apostle Peter says in these words: “And you are built up as living stones into spiritual houses, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” And again: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of election.” For all, regenerated in Christ, as made kings by the sign of the cross. They are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers in the office of the priesthood. For what is more king-like than to find yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to God? And what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one’s heart? – from a sermon by Pope Saint Leo the Great

God decreed that all nations should be saved in Christ. Dear friends, now that we have received instruction in this revelation of God’s grace, let us celebrate with spiritual joy the day of our first harvesting, of the first calling of the Gentiles. Let us give thanks to the merciful God, “who has made us worthy,” in the words of the Apostle, “to share the position of the saints in light; who has rescued us from the power of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of this beloved Son.” This came to be fulfilled, as we know, from the time when the star beckoned the three wise men out of their distant country and led them to recognize and adore the King of heaven and earth. The obedience of the star calls us to imitate its humble service: to be servants, as best we can, of the grace that invites all men to find Christ. – from a sermon by Pope Saint Leo the Great