Tag Archives: Benedictine saints and blesseds

Saint Gregory the Great

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When I think of Saint Gregory I think that without him we’d know little of the person of Saint Benedict, Saint Augustine of Canterbury (& others) and without Gregory we’d know little of what the worship of God was like and how faith was developed. Others will latch on to the fact that Gregory increased the ministry of the papal office but his lasting legacy for us is his efforts in showing us the reality of holiness, the desire in understanding the other person and how Christ sees him or her. This is fact true, the papacy under his guidance was expansive for the sake of the Gospel: the salvation of souls was most important to Gregory, as it ought to be for us.

His skill in preaching, teaching, governing and listening was stunning; his plan for missionary work stellar, his trust in Providence  beyond compare. Gregory worked hard to lead the Church to Christ in the unity of the Church especially with  Christians in the East, and those who needed to know Christ in Britain. He was true to himself: servus sevorum Dei.

We hold in prayer today Pope Benedict, abbots and abbesses, bishops and pastors of souls, musicians, the people of Britain, diplomats, and those engaged in the work of evangelization.
Servant of the Lord’s own servants,
Faith-filled shepherd of the sheep,
Gregory, as bishop, nurtured
All the Church, Christ’s ways to keep.
Writing, preaching, leading, loving,
Saint Peter’s steps he trod,
Raising singers up and training
Them to praise and worship God.
In his writings still he shows us
How to love and serve the Lord,
Counting not the cost and leaving
Al, so God might be adored.
To the Father, Son, and Spirit,
God the holy Three-in-One,
With Saint Gregory in glory
Let our work of praise be done!
J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2009, WLP
87 87 Stuttgart, Merton or
87 87 D Hyfrydol, Abbot’s Leigh

You received divine grace from heaven, O blessed Gregory, and strength from His divine power. You sought to follow the way of the Gospel, and your journey’s end brought you Christ’s reward. O blessed saint, beg Him to save us! (Troparion)

You became very much like shepherds of Christ. You led the flocks of monks into the heavenly sheepfold. There you taught your flock the law of Christ, O blessed father and now you sing in the heavenly abode, and you rejoice, happy in their company. (Kontakion)

The September Martyrs: Blessed John du Lau & companions

September Martyrs.jpgThe Benedictines and Carmelites in some places in the USA, and of course in England and France, liturgically remember the September Martyrs, also called the Paris Martyrs; you will also see the memorial listed as “Blessed John du Lau and companions” after the Archbishop of Arles, the highest ranking prelate among the 191 martyrs. The Benedictine nuns of Stanbrook Abbey are connected with the Carmelite nuns and retain some of the relics. Historians tells us that about 1500 clergy and religious were killed in 1792. And this act of martyrdom inspired the writing of Georeges Bernanos’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites” and the famous opera of Francis Poulenc, by the same name.

The French “virtue” of liberty was not applied to the Church. In fact, quite the opposite. Just a few years after the French Revolution there was a purge of high and low clergy, religious and laity. The killing of the clerics happened because the republican government seized control of the Church, a matter that was (and, remains so today) unacceptable to Catholic ecclesiology. As the state has its duty and responsibility for civic order and leadership, the Church’s mandate is found in sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium and not in positive law; in short all things pertaining to the salvation of souls. Matters of state are not the same for the Church and vice versa unless these matters concern the moral law. This, however, was not the reigning ideology. The Republicans passed legislation that rejected the authority of the Church and it wanted the bishops and priests to uphold the new laws giving the state control over the Church. Something similar had with the Oath of Supremacy in England. Clergyman and religious weren’t the only one to offer their lives as a gift to the Lord. the laity lost their lives too, aristocrats and peasant alike. Refusing to take the oath got you the label: “non-jurors.”
Some of the 191 were killed in cold blood, others were asked a question and depending on how they answered determined if they lived or died. No mental reservation was kept when it came to following the wisdom of the Church or the wisdom of man.
One observer noted that common among those put to death was that all faced death in a happy manner as one who would’ve gone to a wedding. Indeed, the wedding feast the martyrs were going to was the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (see the Book of Revelation).
The names beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1926 are listed here.

Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster

Bl Idelfonso Schuster.jpgAlmighty God, through Your grace, Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso, by his exemplary virtue built up the flock entrusted to him. Grant that we, under the guidance of the Gospel, may follow his teaching and walk in sureness of life, until we come to see You face to face in Your eternal kingdom.


Alfredo Ludovico Luigi Schuster was born in Rome of Bavarian immigrants on January 18, 1880. At 11 years old he entered the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Paul outside the Walls taking the name Ildefonso in 1896; he professed solemn vows in 1902. Philosophy studies was done at Sant’Anselmo and theology was studied at Saint Paul’s where he was ordained a priest on March 19, 1904.

Service to the monastic way of life, besides the daily opus Dei (the praying of the Divine Office), included scholarship, novice master for 8 years, prior of the for 2 years, procurator of the Cassinese Congregation of the Benedictine monks for 12 years and abbot-ordinary of Saint Paul outside the Walls from 1918 until 1929. He was President of the Pontifical Oriental Institute from 1919 to 1922.

On June 26, 1929, Pope Pius XI nominated him the Archbishop of Milan and a few weeks later created him a cardinal on July 15. In 1933, the Order of Malta honored Schuster with the Grand Cross for his service to the Church.

Cardinal Schuster died of natural causes on August 30, 1954. In 1957, Cardinal Giovanni Montini –later Pope Paul VI– introduced Schuster’s cause for canonization. It is said that upon opening Schuster tomb on January 28, 1985, his was incorrrupt; he beatied on May 12, 1996 by Pope John Paul II.

Days before Blessed Ildefonso died he said: “You want something to remember be by. All I can leave you is an invitation to holiness….”

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

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‘What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me?’ (Ps. 116:12). Reason and natural justice alike move me to give up myself wholly to loving Him to whom I owe all that I have and am. But faith shows me that I should love Him far more than I love myself, as I come to realize that He hath given me not my own life only, but even Himself. Yet, before the time of full revelation had come, before the Word was made flesh, died on the Cross, came forth from the grave, and returned to His Father; before God had shown us how much He loved us by all this plenitude of grace, the commandment had been uttered, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy might’ (Deut. 6:5), that is, with all thy being, all thy knowledge, all thy powers. And it was not unjust for God to claim this from His own work and gifts. Why should not the creature love his Creator, who gave him the power to love? Why should he not love Him with all his being, since it is by His gift alone that he can do anything that is good? It was God’s creative grace that out of nothingness raised us to the dignity of manhood; and from this appears our duty to love Him, and the justice of His claim to that love. But how infinitely is the benefit increased when we bethink ourselves of His fulfillment of the promise, ‘thou, Lord, shalt save both man and beast: how excellent is Thy mercy, O Lord!’ (Ps. 36:6f). For we, who ‘turned our glory into the similitude of a calf that eateth hay’ (Ps. 106:20), by our evil deeds debased ourselves so that we might be compared unto the beasts that perish. I owe all that I am to Him who made me: but how can I pay my debt to Him who redeemed me, and in such wondrous wise? Creation was not so vast a work as redemption; for it is written of man and of all things that were made, ‘He spake the word, and they were made’ (Ps. 148:5). But to redeem that creation which sprang into being at His word, how much He spake, what wonders He wrought, what hardships He endured, what shames He suffered! Therefore what reward shall I give unto the Lord for all the benefits which He hath done unto me? In the first creation He gave me myself; but in His new creation He gave me Himself, and by that gift restored to me the self that I had lost. Created first and then restored, I owe Him myself twice over in return for myself. But what have I to offer Him for the gift of Himself? Could I multiply myself a thousand-fold and then give Him all, what would that be in comparison with God?

Saint Augustine of Canterbury

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Father, by the preaching of Saint Augustine of Canterbury, You led the people of England to the gospel. May the fruits of his work continue in Your Church.

One of the benefits of being in Rome these days is to be where things began. In this case, seeing where we believe Pope Saint Gregory the Great sent Augustine from to Canterbury, England as a monk, bishop and missionary. Augustine died in 604.

It was also fitting that the Mass I attended today was celebrated by the English monk and professor of Liturgy at Sant’Anselmo, Father Paul Gunter. The Mass prayers came alive with the English accent!

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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