Dominican saints & blesseds: April 2010 Archives

Saint Pius V

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The Church observes the liturgical memorial --though it's an optional one-- of the 16th century Dominican pope and saint, Pius V. This towering figure deserves some attention from us today given the various battles we face in the liturgical reform given by Pope Benedict or the persecution of Christians. Much of what we do today in liturgical obedience, church discipline and seminary formation is the result of the work of Pope Saint Pius V. The following text is taken from Dom Prosper Gueranger's The Liturgical Year. Gueranger's style and examination of Pius is romantic it is nonetheless attentive to some important details (the entire entry from the Liturgical Year is not presented here).

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We have already met with the names of several Pontiffs on the Paschal Calendar.  They form a brilliant constellation around our Risen Jesus, who, during the period (ed. on the old Tridentine calendar) between his Resurrection and Ascension, gave to Peter, their predecessor, the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  Anicetus, Soter, Caius, Cletus and Marcellinus, held in their hands the palm of martyrdom: Leo was the only one who did not shed his blood in the cause of his divine Master, Today there comes before us a holy Pope who governed the Church in these latter times; he is worthy to stand amidst the Easter group of Pontiffs.  Like Leo, Pius V was zealous in combating heresy; Like Leo, he saved his people from the barbarian yoke.

The whole life of Pius V was a combat. His pontificate fell during those troubled times when Protestantism was leading whole countries into apostasy. Italy was not a prey that could be taken by violence: artifice was therefore used, in order to undermine the Apostolic See and thus develop the whole Christian world into the darkness of heresy. Pius defended the Peninsula with untiring devotedness from the danger that threatened her.  Even before he was raised to the Papal Throne he frequently exposed his life by his zeal in opposing the preaching of false doctrines. Like Peter the Martyr, he braved every danger and was the dread of the emissaries of heresy. When seated on the Chair of Peter, he kept the innovators in check by fear, roused the sovereigns of Italy to energy and by measures of moderate severity drove back beyond the Alps the torrent that would have swept Christianity from Europe had not the Southern States thus opposed it. From that time forward, Protestantism has never made any further progress: it has been wearing itself out by doctrinal anarchy. We repeat it: this heresy would have laid all Europe waste, had it not been for the vigilance of the pastor who animated the defenders of truth to resist it where it already existed, and who set himself as a wall of brass against its invasion in the country where he himself was the master.

Another enemy, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the West by Protestantism, organized an expedition against Europe. Italy was to be its first prey.  The Ottoman fleet started from the Bosphorus. This again would have meant the ruin of Christendom but for the energy of the Roman Pontiff, our Saint.  He gave the alarm, and called the Christian Princes to arms.  Germany and France, torn by domestic factions that had been caused by heresy, turned a deaf ear to the call.  Spain alone, together with Venice and the little Papal fleet, answered the summons of the Pontiff. The Cross and Crescent were soon face to face in the Gulf of Lepanto. The prayers of Pius V decided the victory in favour of the Christians, whose forces were much inferior to those of the Turks.  We shall return to this important event when we come to the Feast of the Rosary in October.  But we cannot omit to mention today the prediction uttered by the holy Pope, on the evening of the great day of October 7, 1571.  The battle between the Christian and Turkish fleets lasted from six o'clock in the morning till late in the afternoon.  Towards evening, the Pontiff suddenly looked up towards heaven, and gazed upon it in silence for a few seconds.  Then turning to his attendants, he exclaimed: "Let us give thanks to God! The Christians have gained victory!" The news soon arrived at Rome; and thus, Europe once more owed her salvation to a Pope! The defeat at Lepanto was a blow from which the Ottoman Empire has never recovered: its fall dates from that glorious day.

The zeal of this holy Pope for the reformation of Christian morals, his establishment of the observance of the laws of discipline prescribed by the Council of Trent and his publication of the new Breviary and Missal have made his six years' pontificate to be one of the richest periods of the Church's history. Protestants themselves have frequently expressed their admiration of this vigorous opponent of the so-called Reformation. "I am surprised," said Bacon, "that the Church of Rome has not yet canonized this great man." Pius V did not receive this honour till about a hundred and thirty years after his death; so impartial is the Church, when she has to adjudicate this highest of earthly honours even to her most revered Pastors!

The heretics attempted more than once to destroy a life which baffled all their hopes of perverting the faith of Italy. By a base and sacrilegious stratagem, aided by treachery, they put a deadly poison on the feet of the crucifix which the Saint kept in his Oratory, and which he was frequently seen to kiss with great devotion. In the fervour of prayer, Pius was about to give his mark of love to the image of his crucified Master, when suddenly the feet of the crucifix detached themselves from the Cross and eluded the proffered kiss of the venerable old man. The Pontiff at once saw through the plot whereby his enemies would fain have turned the life-giving Tree into an instrument of death.

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In order to encourage the faithful to follow the sacred Liturgy, we will select another interesting example from the life of the great Saint. When lying on his bed of death, and just before breathing his last, he took a parting look at the Church on earth, which he was leaving for that of heaven, he wished to make a final prayer for the flock which he knew was surrounded by danger; he therefore recited, but with a voice that was scarcely audible, the following stanza of the Paschal hymn: "We beseech thee, O Creator of all things that in these days of Paschal joy, thou defend thy people from every assault of death!"

Pontiff of the living God, thou wast, whilst on earth, the pillar of iron and wall of brass, spoken of by the prophet (Jer I,18). Thine unflinching firmness preserved the flock entrusted to thee from the violence and snares of its many enemies. Far from desponding at the sight of the dangers thou didst redouble thy courage just as men raise the embankments higher when they see the torrent swell. By thee was the spread of heresy checked; by thee was the Mussulman (i.e., a Muslim) invasion repelled, and the haughty Crescent humbled.  God honoured thee by choosing thee as the avenger of his glory and the deliverer of Christian people: receive our thanks and the homage of our humble praise! By thee were repaired the injuries done to the Church during a period of unusual trial. The true reform - the reform that is wrought by authority - was vigorously applied by thy strong and holy hand. To thee is due the restoration of the Divine Service by the publication of the books of holy Liturgy. And all these glorious deeds were done in the six short years of thy laborious pontificate!

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The love of God has been poured into our hearts, alleluia, by His spirit living in us, alleluia.

God of wisdom, You made Saint Catherine burn with divine love in contemplating the Lord's passion and in serving Your Church. With the help of her prayers may Your people, united in the mystery of Christ, rejoice forever in the revelation of His glory.

Ordination season is upon us. That is, you'll may be hearing of or attending episcopal, priestly and diaconal ordination ceremonies. If you get the opportunity please attend an ordination ceremony. In reading Saint Catherine of Siena's Dialogues, I thought her dialogue "The Qualities of Good Ministers in the Church" (119) as an appropriate reflection for all engaged in seminary formation at one level or another and for those already in service to the Church. Saint Catherine said:

I told you that [my ministers] have taken on the qualities of the sun. Indeed, they are suns, for there is in them no darkness of sin or ignorance, because they follow the teaching of my Truth. Nor are they lukewarm, because they are set ablaze in the furnace of my charity. They have no use for the world's honors and ranks and pleasures. Therefore, they are not afraid to correct. Those who do not hanker after power or ecclesiastical rank have no fear of losing it. They reprove [sin] courageously, for those whose conscience does not accuse them of sin have nothing to fear.

So this pearl [of justice] was not clouded over in these anointed ones, these christs of mine, of whom I have told you. [St Catherine here is referring to holy people of the past who showed themselves to be good ministers, and whose qualities are always needed in the Churcch]. No, it was luminous. They embraced voluntary poverty and sought after lowliness with deep humility. This is why they are not annoyed by people's derision or abuse or slander, or by the insult or shame or pain or torture. They were cursed, and they blessed. They endured with true patience, likely angels and more than angels -not by nature, but because of the sacramental grace given them from above to be the stewards of the body and blood to my only begotten Son.

How humbly they governed and communicated with their subjects! With what hope and lively faith! They had no fear or worry that either they or their subjects would be lacking in temporal goods, so they generously gave out the Church's possessions to the poor. Thus they fulfilled to the utmost their obligation to divide their temporal goods to meet their own needs and those of the poor and the Church. they set nothing aside, and after their death there was no great estate to settle; in fact, some of them left the Church in debt for the sake of the poor--all because of their generous charity and their trust in my providence. They were strangers to slavish fear, so they were confident they would lack nothing, either spiritually or temporally.

Because I had appointed them to such dignity for the salvation of souls, they never rested, good shepherds that they were, from gathering the little sheep into the sheepfold of holy Church. In their love and hunger for souls they even laid down their lives to rescue them from the devils' hands (cf. Jn 10). They made themselves weak along with those who were weak. That is, to keep the weak from being confounded with despair and to give them more room to expose their weakness, they would slow their own weakness, saying, "I am weak along with you." They wept with those who wept and rejoiced with those who rejoiced (cf. 1 Cor. 9:22; Rom 12:15). Thus they knew how to give everyone the right food ever so tenderly. They encouraged the good by rejoicing in their goodness, for they were not gnawed up with envy but broad in generosity of their neighbors and subjects. Those who were sinful they drew out of their sin by showing that they themselves were also sinful and weak. Their compassion was true and holy, and while correcting others and imposing penances for the sins they had committed, they themselves in their charity did penance along with them. Because of their love, they who were imposing the penance suffered more than those who received it. And sometimes some of them actually did the same penance themselves, especially when they saw that it seemed very difficult for the penitent. And by that act the difficulty became sweet for them.

(Sr. Mary O'Driscoll, OP, Catherine of Siena: Passion for the Truth, Compassion for Humanity, Hyde Park: New City Press, 1993).

Blessed Osanna of Kotor

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Thumbnail image for Bl Osanna of Kotor.jpgGod of compassion, enkindle anew in our hearts the love of your cross. By the life and prayers of Blessed Osanna, who suffered for the unity of the Church, may we become sharers in both your passion and your glory.

Blessed Osanna (baptized Catherine Kosic) comes from the country of Montenegro, born in the 15th century of Orthodox parents. Her great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were priests, her brother was a monk and later a bishop. Traveling to the coast she encountered a Catholic family and through their witness and others, she converted to Catholicism. As a shepherdess and wishing to follow Christ more closely she found grace in the solitary life; Osanna took the habit of the Third Order Dominican laity and a new name. She was well known for her wisdom, mystical visions and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Her body is incorrupt. Pius XI beatified Osanna in 1934. The Church remembers Blessed Osanna for her desire for unity among Christians and peace among peoples. Therefore asks her to intercede for the Church for these intentions of unity and peace in families.
St Agnes Montepulciano.jpgLet hearts rejoice who search for the Lord. Seek the Lord and you will be strengthened, seek always the face of the Lord.

Merciful God, you adorned Agnes, your bride, with a marvelous fervor in prayer. By imitating her example, may we always hold fast to you in spirit and so come to enjoy the abundant fruits of holiness.

Saint Agnes was born in the Italian city of Gracciano in 1268 and entered a monastery at Montepulciano at the age of 9. Who says the young don't have vocation awareness early in life! By 15 the Holy See allowed Agnes to be a superior of nuns at Viterbo. The laity made strong pleas for Agnes' return to Montepulciano to be the superior of an Augustinian monastery of nuns; in time Agnes adopted the Constitution written by Saint Dominic thus changing the monastic life from an exclusive Augustinian orientation to a Dominican one. Her work among the laity was to work for civil peace; she was a model of charity. Saint Catherine of Siena called Agnes her "glorious mother." We pray for the Dominican monastic life and for peace in our cities with Saint Agnes' help before God.

Blessed Clara Gambacorta

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Merciful God, grant us a spirit of prayer and penance. By following in the footsteps of Blessed Clara may we be worthy to win the crown she has received in heaven.

Blessed Clara, a 14th century who married at 12 and was widowed at 15, and despite objections from her family became a Dominican nun, living a life of sacrifice teaching that it is possible to serve the Lord in a multiple of ways always focusing on the Cross. She was known for her prudential judgment, study and charity, particularly when it came to forgiving her father and brother's killer.

Blessed Peter Gonsalez

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Almighty God, you bestowed the singular help of Blessed Peter on those in peril from the sea. By the help of his prayers may the light of your grace shine forth in all the storms of this life and enable us to find the harbor of everlasting salvation.

Dominican friar and priest Blessed Peter was Spanish being born at the end of the 12th century. Ordained as a secular priest, Peter asked for the habit of the Friars Preachers and was known for his humility, prayer and service to his neighbor. Sailors call upon Blessed Peter as "Saint Elmo" and is invoked by travelers on difficult seas, especially missionaries traveling by such.
Bl Margaret Castello.jpgCompassionate God, you gave your divine light to Blessed Margaret who was blind from birth, that with the eye of her heart she might contemplate you alone. Be the light of our eyes that we may turn from what is evil and reach the home of never-ending light.

One of the great draws to Blessed Margaret is that holiness is not only found in those perceived to be "perfect" people. Quite the opposite. In Margaret, a lay Dominican sister, we a woman who gave her life to the Lord through the Dominican charism being particularly devoted to prayer and charitable work despite the fact that she was not like other people. God had blessed her in other ways. Blessed Margaret was born blind, lame, deformed and was a hunchback midget. She was abandoned by her parents after not getting their way with God. Blessed Margaret is incorrupt.

Among the things Blessed Margaret is vigilant against is poverty, destitution, and forms of injustice shown toward those living with physical handicaps. She is supportive of those people rejected by religious orders because of physical handicaps and works in favor of Pro-Life issues.

Saint Vincent Ferrrer

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How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the those who bring glad tidings of peace, joy and salvation.

Almighty and ever-living God, you taught us through the preaching of Saint Vincent to run the path to our heavenly home in expectation of the Savior. With the help of his prayers may we be fervent in labor and in love and seek no lasting city here below, but an eternal dwelling place to come.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Dominican saints & blesseds category from April 2010.

Dominican saints & blesseds: February 2010 is the previous archive.

Dominican saints & blesseds: May 2010 is the next archive.

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