Tag Archives: Benedictine saints and blesseds

Blessed Guerric of Igny

Blessed Guerric of Igny (1070-80 – 1160) is a stellar example of someone who followed in the example of St Bernard of Clairvaux’s ministry of preaching. Abbot Guerric is remembered for his preaching (see the collections of sermons published by Cistercians Publications). He was skilled at the coalescing sacred Scripture and philosophy, taking biblical types and making the application to Christ and Christian discipleship. It is said that Guerric was the medieval preacher of “God’s grace in biblical imagery.”

The intellectual and spiritual formation of Guerric happened first in a cathedral setting as the master of the school, and then in the Clarivaux Abbey. He was in a short time elected the second abbot of the Cistercian community at Igny.

Brethren, it is the command of our gentle and peace-making Master that we should be at peace with one another. Yet before that he says: Have salt in yourselvesHe knows well that peaceful gentleness nourishes vices unless the severity of zeal has first sprinkled them with the sharp taste of salt, just as mild weather causes meat to grow wormy unless the heat of salt has dried it out. Therefore be at peace with one another, but let it be a peace that is seasoned with the salt of wisdom; try to acquire gen­tleness, but let it be a gentleness filled with the warmth of faith. (Blessed Guerric of Igny, Sermo IV in festo S. Benedicti: PL 185,111-112).

The value of knowing Guerric of Igny is first as a Cistercian monastic father, but also as an eloquent preacher of Grace calling us into deeper communio with the Most Blessed Trinity.

St Bernard Tolomei

“God is love… and in the strength of that blessed love
All goods are obtained and everything is shaped by it,
And the man in his midst becomes God.”
~Bernardo Tolomei

On the Benedictine liturgical calendar, the commemoration today is for St. Bernard Tolomei (1272-1348), the Siena born monk who founded what is today is known as the Olivetan Benedictine Congregation. This monastic foundation follows the Holy Rule of St. Benedict and is under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Angels, hence their wearing of a white habit. One tradition of the Olivetans is to fast on Monday to honor the Archangel Michael (the secondary patron of the Congregation). Bernard is recalled as the “hero of penance and martyr of charity.”

St. Bernard Tolomei, teach us the meaning of true penance and charity.

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)

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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