Tag Archives: Benedictine saints and blesseds

Saint Bede, the Venerable

We honor the memory of a venerable Benedictine monk and Churchman, Saint Bede. He is the only English Doctor of the Church and a fine example of monastic learning and holiness. Most people relate to him as the historian of the English Church because of his famous work, Historia Ecclesiastica. 

Christ was his King. No other lord
Did Bede aspire to serve.
No other love could claim the heart
He gave without reserve.

From boyhood onward his delight
Was in the scriptures found,
Or singing praise to him who hung
Upon the Rood, thorn-crowned.

Like Easter night, Bede’s quiet cell
Saw Christ arising there;
And when Ascension dawned at last
The Son shone bright and fair.

To Christ the King of glory sing,
And God the Father praise,
Whose Spirit dwells in peaceful hearts
And guides them in his ways.

The text is an ancient monastic hymn. It was translated by Dame Catherine of Holy Trinity Monastery, Herefordshire, UK.

Saint Benedict

Death of St BenedictSaint Benedict, [the Father of Western Monasticism (480-543)] blessed by grace as his prophetic name seemed to foretell, was born of a noble Italian family in Umbria, in the year 480. As a boy he showed great inclination for virtue, and maturity in his actions. He was sent to Rome at the age of seven, to be placed in the public schools. At the age of fourteen, alarmed by the licentiousness of the Roman youth, he fled to the desert mountains of Subiaco, forty miles from Rome, and was directed by the Holy Spirit into a deep, craggy, and almost inaccessible cave, since known as the Holy Grotto. He lived there for three years, unknown to anyone save a holy monk named Romanus, who clothed him with the monastic habit and brought him food.

He was eventually discovered, when, one Easter day, God advised a priest who lived about four miles from there, to take food to His servant, who was starving. The priest searched in the hills and finally found the solitary, and they took their meal together. Some shepherds also knew of his retreat, and soon the fame of this hermit’s sanctity began to spread. The demon persecuted him, but to no avail; when a temptation of the flesh assailed him, he rolled in a clump of thorns and nettles, and came out of it covered with blood but sound in spirit.

Disciples came to him, and under his direction, numerous monasteries were founded. The rigor of the rule he drew up, however, brought upon him the hatred of some of the monks, and one of them mixed poison with the Abbot’s drink. When the Saint made the sign of the cross on the poisoned bowl, it broke and fell in pieces to the ground.

Saint Benedict resurrected a boy whose father pleaded for that miracle, saying Give me back my son! He replied, Such miracles are not for us to work, but for the blessed apostles! Why will you lay upon me a burden which my weakness cannot bear? But finally, moved by compassion, he prostrated himself upon the body of the child, and prayed: Behold not, O Lord, my sins, but the faith of this man, and restore the soul which Thou hast taken away! And the child rose up, and walked to the waiting arms of his father. When a monk lost the iron head of his axe in a river, the Abbot told him to throw the handle in after it, and it rose from the river bed to resume its former place.

Six days before his death, Saint Benedict ordered his grave to be prepared, then fell ill of a fever. On the sixth day he asked to be carried to the chapel, and, having received the sacred Body and Blood of Christ, with hands uplifted and leaning on one of his disciples, he calmly expired in prayer, on the 21st of March, 543.

Reflection. The Saints never feared to undertake any work for God, however arduous, because distrusting self they relied for assistance and support wholly upon prayer.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 3

Martyrs of Viaceli

Father PioAngelo Cardinal Amato, SDB, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints presented to Pope Francis a degree regarding the martyrdom of the Servants of God Pio Heredia and 17 Companions, monks and nuns of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (Trappists) and of the Congregation of San Bernard. The designation of martyr means that a determination was made that they were killed in hatred of the faith during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

The beatification is Saturday, October 3, 2015 in the cathedral of Santander, Cantabria, Spain.

The Cistercians consider the martyrdom of their brothers as a testimony to the Sermon on the Mount where our Lord, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Their death is a great witness “To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.” And, they did so in silence.

The beatification cause of the Cistercian Mother María Micaela Baldoví Trull, 67 and Mother María Natividad Medes Ferris, 56, Monastery of Fons Salutis, in Algemesí

Father Pio and the monks were professed at the Monasterio de Santa María de Viaceli. Here is the list of the monks:

Father Pío Heredia Zubía, 61 years
Father Amadeo García Rodríguez, 31 years
Father  Valeriano Rodríguez García, 30 years
Father Juan Bautista Ferris Llopis, 31 years
Father Eugenio García Pampliega, 33 years
Father Vicente Pastor Garrido, 31 years
Brother Álvaro González López, 21 years
Brother Marcelino Martín Rubio, 23 years
Brother Antonio Delgado González, 21 years
Brother Eustaquio García Chicote, 45 years
Brother Ángel de la Vega González, 68 years
Brother Ezequiel Álvaro de la Fuente, 19 years
Brother Eulogio Álvarez López, 20 years
Brother Bienvenido Mata Ubierna, 28 years
Brother Leandro Gómez Gil, 21 years.

Saint Frances of Rome

Frances of RomeThe Church prays at Mass today: O God, who have given us in Saint Frances of Rome a singular model of both married and monastic life, grant us perseverance in your service, that in every circumstance of life we may see and follow you.

Here is a portion of Saint Frances’ biography from a life of the saint by Sister Mary Magdalene Anguillaria, superior of the Oblates of the Tor’ de Specchi:

God not only tested the patience of Frances with respect to her material wealth, but, as I have said before and will reiterate, he also tested her own body in a variety of ways, especially through long and serious illnesses which she had to undergo. And yet no one ever observed in her a tendency toward impatience. She never exhibited any displeasure when she complied with an order, no matter how foolish.

Through the premature deaths of her sons whom she loved dearly, Frances proved her constancy. With peace of soul she always reconciled herself to the will of God and gave him thanks for all that happened. With the same constancy she endured the slander of those who abused and reviled her and her way of life. She did not show the least hint of aversion toward them, even though she knew that they judged her rashly and spoke falsely of her way of life. Rather, returning good for evil, she habitually prayed to God for them.

God had not chosen her to be holy merely for her own advantage. Rather, the gifts he conferred upon her were to be for the spiritual and physical advantage of her neighbor. For this reason he made her so lovable that anyone with whom she spoke would immediately feel captivated by love for her and ready to help her in everything she wanted. Divine power was present and working in her words, so that in a few sentences she could bring consolation to the afflicted and the anxious, calm the restless, pacify the angry, reconcile enemies and extinguish long-standing hatreds and animosities. Again and again she would prevent a planned revenge from being carried out. She seemed able to subdue the passions of every type of person with a single word and lead them to do whatever she asked.

For this reason people flocked to Frances from all directions, as to a safe refuge. No one left her without being consoled, although she openly rebuked them for their sins and fearlessly reproved them for what was evil and displeasing to God.

Many different diseases were rampant in Rome. Fatal diseases and plagues were everywhere, but the saint ignored the risk of contagion and displayed the deepest kindness toward the poor and the needy. Here empathy would first bring them to atone for their sins. Then she would help them by her eager care, and urge them lovingly to accept their trials, however difficult, from the hand of God. She would encourage them to endure their sufferings for love of Christ, since he had previously endured so much for them.

Frances was not satisfied with caring for the sick she could bring into her home. She would seek them out in their cottages and in public hospitals, and would refresh their thirst, smooth their beds, and bind their sores. The more disgusting and sickening the stench, the greater was the love and care with which she treated them.

She used to go to the Campo Santo with food and rich delicacies to be distributed to the needy. On her return home she would bring pieces of worn-out clothes and unclean rags which she would wash lovingly and mend carefully, as if they were to be used for God himself. Then she would fold them carefully and perfume them.

For thirty years Frances continued this service to the sick and the stranger. While she was in her husband’s house, she made frequent visits to Saint Mary’s and Saint Cecilia’s hospitals in Trastevere, and to the hospital of the Holy Spirit in Sassia and to a fourth hospital in the Campo Santo. During epidemics like this it was not only difficult to find doctors to care for the body but even priests to provide remedies for the soul. She herself would seek them out and bring them to those who were disposed to receive the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist. In order to have a priest more readily available to assist her in her apostolate, she supported, at her own expense, a priest who would go to the hospitals and visit the sick whom she had designated.

 Saint Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church

St Peter DamianToday is the feast of a great Benedictine monk, bishop and cardinal of the Church. The Mass prayer quotes the Rule of Benedict when it says “putting nothing before Christ” connecting the ministry of Peter with his “ardent in the service of your Church, we may be led to the joys of eternal light.” Peter was a  great reformer of the monastic life and the Church. Given the state of the Church today in some places, we need another Peter Damian.

Here is a portion of a letter by Saint Peter Damian:

“Let us rejoice in the joy that follows sadness”

You asked me to write you some words of consolation, my brother. Embittered by so many tribulations, you are seeking some comfort for your soul. You asked me to offer you some soothing suggestions.

But there is no need for me to write. Consolation is already within your reach, if your good sense has not been dulled. My son, come to the service of God. Stand in justice and fear. Prepare your soul; it is about to be tested. These words of Scripture show that you are a son of God and, as such, should take possession of your inheritance. What could be clearer than this exhortation?

Where there is justice as well as fear, adversity will surely test the spirit. But it is not the torment of a slave. Rather it is the discipline of a child by its parent.

Even in the midst of his many sufferings, the holy man Job could say: Whip me, crush me, cut me in slices! And he would always add: This at least would bring me relief, yet my persecutor does not spare me.

But for God’s chosen ones there is great comfort; the torment lasts but a short time. Then God bends down, cradles the fallen figure, whispers words of consolation. With hope in his heart, man picks himself up and walks again toward the glory of happiness in heaven.

Craftsmen exemplify this same practice. By hammering gold, the smith beats out the dross. The sculptor files metal to reveal a shining vein underneath. The potter’s furnace puts vessels to the test. And the fire of suffering tests the mettle of just men. The apostle James echoes this thought: Think it a great joy, dear brothers and sisters, when you stumble onto the many kinds of trials and tribulations.

When men suffer pain for the evil they have perpetrated in life, they should take some reassurance. They also know that for their good deeds undying rewards await them in the life to come.

Therefore, my brother, scorned as you are by men, lashed as it were by God, do not despair. Do not be depressed. Do not let your weakness make you impatient, Instead, let the serenity of your spirit shine through your face. Let the joy of your mind burst forth. Let words of thanks break from your lips.

The way that God deals with men can only be praised. He lashes them in this life to shield them from the eternal lash in the next. He pins people down now; at a later time he will raise them up. He cuts them before healing; he throws them down to raise them anew.

The Scriptures reassure us: let your understanding strengthen your patience. In serenity look forward to the joy that follows sadness. Hope leads you to that joy and love enkindles your zeal. The well-prepared mind forgets the suffering inflicted from without and glides eagerly to what it has contemplated within itself.

Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that we may so follow the teaching and example
of the

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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