Tag Archives: Benedictine saints and blesseds

Saint Anselm: beauty as as order

St Anselm detail.jpgSaint Anselm is a towering figure in monastic, theological and philosophical circles whose works take diligence in getting your mind around. Even centuries later he speaks with precision. Saint Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109) an Italian by birth, Anselm held various academic and ecclesial titles; he was the archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 until his death in 1109. The Church tells us he is the father of scholasticism and famous for the ontological argument for God’s existence. Though never formally canonized –the process was not developed then– Anselm was acknowledged a saint by Clement XI and named a Doctor of the Church (1 of 33). One point I noticed recently about Saint Anselm and the promotion of truth is this…

…when each single creature keeps, either by nature or by reason, its proper place [in the order of things] –it is said to obey God and to honor him. … When a rational nature wills what it ought to, it honors God –not because it confers anything on Him but because it willingly submits itself to His will and governance. And, as best it can, it stays in its proper place in the universe and preserves the beauty of the universe. 
Cur Deus Homo, 1:15
So what Saint Anselm is saying, the premise from which order and beauty is deduced is Saint Benedict’s intention that the monk [and today, all Christians] seek the glory of God in all things. For Anselm and therefore us, beauty in keeping the proper order of things is obediential in front of God; that is, it is about keeping a fitting sense of friendship with the Trinitarian God. On this feast of Saint Anselm, let us prefer nothing to Christ seeking God’s glory above all.
You may be interested in reading Pope Saint Pius X’s encyclical for the 800th anniversary of Saint Anselm’s birth, Communium rerum (1909).

Cistercian Martyrs of England

We beseech Thee, almighty God, grant that we who celebrate the heavenly birth of the blessed English Cistercian Martyrs, may be strengthened by their intercession in the love of Thy Name.

English Cistercians.jpgUnder King Henry VIIIs order, many Cistercian monks were cruelly
put to death for Catholic faith, the some may argue about pretexts. In the
months of March and May 1537, died for the Catholic faith

Dom John Harrison,
Abbot of Kirkstead, with Dom Richard Wade, Dom William Small and Dom Henry

Dom John Paslew, Abbot of Whalley, with Dom William Haydock and Dom
Richard Eastgate.

The Abbot of Fountains
and a monk of Louth Park.

In 1538, these Cistercians were martyred:

Dom Robert
Hobbes, Abbot of Woburn,
with Dom Rudolph Barnes and Dom Laurence Blunham.

The Church also acknowledges
as authentic confessors of the faith: Dom Thomas Mudd, monk of Jervaulx,
who died on September 7, 1583;

Dom John Almond, who died on April 18, 1585;

Gilbert Browne, the last Abbot of Sweetheart, who died on March 14, 1612.

Saint Aelred of Rievaulx

Aelred Cap.png2010 marks the ninth centenary of the birth of Saint
Aelred of Rievaulx
, an extraordinary English monk of the twelfth-century. At Ampleforth Abbey, a noted English Benedictine abbey, today marks the saint’s birthday; and since I like Aelred and have a friend at Ampleforth, I am mentioning the saint again this year to mark his anniversary. (As an aside, his year of birth is variously noted as 1109 or 1110.) In Saint Aelred’s time and location priestly was not universal, even if some scholars try to
posit such a thought. Aelred’s father and grandfather were both proprietary
priests of Hexham in Northumberland. Aelred joined the newly founded abbey of
Rievaulx, and because of his many gifts and influential friends (St Bernard of
Clairvaulx and King David of Scotland and England whose mother was St Margaret, starters), he became the
abbey’s third abbot in 1147 after serving as abbot of Revesby Abbey. He was abbot for twenty years. Rievaulx became the mother
house of other Cistercian monastic houses which fostered the Benedictine reform
in England and Scotland. As abbot, Aelred was responsible for vast holdings of
property and an abbey with 600 lay brothers and choir monks. In the Cistercian system
of governance, abbots are required to be the Father-Immediate (an official
visitor) to other communities in order to maintain the monastic way of life as established in the Charter of Charity (their constitution). The amazing
part of Aelred’s life became even more amazing when you consider that he was an
author many works, most notably Christian Friendship (also called On Spiritual Friendship, which some say is a Christianized version of Cicero’s De Amicita) and The Mirror of Charity
written at the command of St Bernard and in-print today. Father David Knowles, OSB, called Aelred the “St Bernard of the North.” Rievaulx Abbey no
longer exists except in magnificent ruins located not far from Ampleforth

Saint Aelred died on January 12, 1167. His feast day is January 12.

Saint Walburga

St Walburga3.jpg

Prayer to Saint Walburga
Saint Walburga, by your blessed life of love, God blessed you with the power to heal, to make whole the soul as well as the body. Beg for us what we cannot obtain for ourselves, and heal our world of sickness and sorrow. May God hear you, who lived so graciously for His glory, and send us the healing grace we need through your powerful intercession. Amen.
More on Saint Wlaburga, read this blog post.

Saint Scholastica

Thumbnail image for St Scholastica with crosier.jpg

The Church uses biblical imagery to center our worship of the Blessed Trinity. On this feast of Saint Scholastica, virgin, the Church prays the Office and Mass of Virgins and a recurring theme is taken from Psalm 44, a nuptial hymn. There we meet Christ as the bridegroom and the Church, with Saint Scholastica as the model of bride. Baptized and adopted sons and daughters of God, we walk as brides to the altar of our salvation in the proclamation of the Word and Eucharist. As Scholastica is the virgin bride of Christ, we too enter into the mystery of our salvation as Christ’s brides according to the grace given to us and are addressed as such by the sacred Liturgy of the Church.

Today the Church observes Saint Scholastica’s liturgical memorial, the twin sister of the Patriarch of Western Monasticism, Saint Benedict. Not often can we say that in the canon of saints that one’s twin is also enrolled. Tradition has her being born in Norcia c. 480 and dying in 543. The bodies of Saint Scholastica and Saint Benedict share a common tomb at Monte Cassino, a fitting place of rest for twins. Monte Cassino is a beautiful place of pilgrimage if you get a chance: I’ve done it twice.

Saint Scholastica is the patron saint against rain, storms, convulsive children, and nuns. And so, we ask Saint Scholastica to look after these things today. Of course, we in NY are engaged in a snow storm which I hope counts in the general idea of being against storms. Pray for us!
The 2009 post is noted here with the liturgical prayer for Saint Scholastica and a link to the Saint Gregory’s Dialogues.

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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