Category Archives: Benedictine saints & blesseds

St Benedict

Friends, a blessed Feast of St. Benedict!

“Help me, great St. Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to run in the sweetness of His loving will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.”

Saint John Paul II expressed his sincere hope: “May every Benedictine community present itself with a well-defined identity, like a “city on a hill”, distinct from the surrounding world, but open and welcoming to the poor, to pilgrims and to all who are searching for a life of greater fidelity to the Gospel!”

Blessed John Henry Newman tells us: “We are told to be like little children; and where shall we find a more striking instance than is here afforded us of that union of simplicity and reverence, that clear perception of the unseen, yet recognition of the mysterious, which is the characteristic of the first years of human existence? To the monk heaven was next door; he formed no plans, he had no cares; the ravens of his father Benedict were ever at his side. He “went forth” in his youth “to his work and to his labour” until the evening of life; if he lived a day longer, he did a day’s work more; whether he lived many days or few, he laboured on to the end of them. He had no wish to see further in advance of his journey than where he was to make his next stage. He ploughed and sowed, he prayed, he meditated, he studied, he wrote, he taught, and then he died and went to heaven. He made his way into the labyrinthine forest, and he cleared just so much of space as his dwelling required, suffering the high solemn trees and the deep pathless thicket to close him in.
(‘The Mission of St Benedict’, The Atlantis, 1858)

Itala Mela beatified

On Saturday, June 10th, Itala Mela (1904-57) was beatified in La Spezia, Italy, her home town. Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, offered Mass and declared Mela a Blessed of the Church in the presence of 3000 people.

The liturgical memorial of Blessed Itala Mela will be April 28, the day prior to her anniversary of death so not to conflict the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, one of the patron saints of Italy.

In previous posts on Mela, I noted she was an Italian laywoman who eventually found her vocation not as a Benedictine nun but as a Benedictine Oblate.

Itala Mela was a well-known mystic of the Church, her popularity certainly grew following her death. She was the author of several theological writings that focused on the Blessed Trinity.

In his June 11th, Trinity Sunday Angelus Address, Pope Francis said that Blessed Itala Mela was not raised in the Catholic Faith, and in fact she identified herself as an atheist following her brother Enrico’s death at the age of nine in 1920. The tragic loss sent her in a tail-spin.

She later converted to Christ, however, following an intense spiritual experience on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (1922) at the age of 18. This sudden reawakening of her faith prompted her to say with conviction: “Lord, I shall follow You unto the darkness, unto death.” Her mission was to assist Catholic university students in developing their God-given, human desires through an emphasis on the spiritual life.

Mela’s own spiritual path was not straight but she eventually recognized that consecrated life was not her vocation; then she became a Benedictine Oblate in 1933 of the Abbey of Saint Paul outside the Walls in Rome and undertook a mystical journey focused on the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity taking the name Maria of the Blessed Trinity. Among her guides were Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, OSB (1880-1954), a Benedictine monk (of St Paul’s in Rome) who later became the Cardinal-Archbishop of Milan and Blessed Paul VI, also of Milan and later the Roman Pontiff.

Typically, Oblates promise the three Benedictine vows of Conversatio, Obedience and Stability, yet she also made a fourth vow of consecration to the Holy Trinity which she considered as her mission in the Church and world.

It was very fitting that Mela was beatified on the solemnity of the Holy Trinity. The Pope also said that “The testimony of the new Blessed encourages us, during our journeys, to often direct the thoughts to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who dwells in the cell of our heart.”

Blessed Itala Mela now becomes a sign of holiness not only for the entire Church, but in particular for the laity. In fact, Cardinal Amato said in his homily, “Society needs secular holiness, education, economics, family, politics. The world needs lay saints.”

Blessed Itala, pray for us.

St Benedict, the transitus

 

 

By your ascetic labors, God-bearing Benedict, / you were proven to be true to your name. / For you were the son of benediction, / and became a rule and model for all who emulate your life and cry: / “Glory to Him who gave you strength! / Glory to Him who granted you a crown! / Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!” (Byzantine Troparion)

St Scholastica

Scholastica and Benedict“she was more powerful, because they had the greater love ”

O God, to show us where innocence leads, You made the soul of your virgin St. Scholastica soar to heaven. Like a dove in flight. Grant through her merits and her prayers. That we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting. This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen. (Troparion)

St Meinrad

St Meinrad

 

 

 

“Beloved Martyr Meinrad, hear the voices of your loving sons, who praise your glory on this day, which saw your victory in Christ.”

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]yahoo.com.
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