Tag Archives: Benedictine saints and blesseds

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Saint BernardThe great Saint Bernard of Clairvaux has his feast day today. The Cistercian abbot and priest, preacher and counselor has left a permanent mark on the Church. His teachings reveal the depth of his love for God, particularly the second person of the Trinity. Moreover, he spoke often of God’s gaze upon us, His mercy for creation. We know from experience that God alone can satisfy our human desire; nothing can replace our desire for God and if we try to replace God with something, it will always eave us frustrated and empty.

From the writings of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux we read: “I am myself a Cistercian; do I therefore condemn the Cluniacs? God forbid! On the contrary, I love them, praise them, extol them. . . .If you ask why . . . I did not choose Cluny from the first, I reply that, as the apostle says…: ‘All things are lawful for me, but all things are not profitable for me.’ It is not that Cluny is not holy and just. It is rather that I am an unspiritual man, sold as a slave to sin. I knew that my soul was so weak that a stronger remedy was necessary. Different diseases call for different remedies; the more serious the illness, the more drastic the remedy.”

Servant of God Brother Bernardo Vaz Lobo Teixeira de Vasconcelos

Bernardo de VasconcelosBernardo Vaz Lobo Teixeira de Vasconcelos was a Benedictine monk, mystic, poet, and authored Cântico de Amor. Studied at the University of Coimbra and there was part of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society which did works of evangelization and charity especially with the poor. Likewise, he was devoted to regular eucharistic adoration. Professionally, he was an editor of the journal which studied democracy.

Bernardo was born in São Romão Corgo (Celorico de Basto), Portugal, on July 7, 1902.  He discerned a call to the monastic life and entered the Monastery of Singeverga on 16 August 1924 and professing vows in September 29, 1925. His name in religion was Brother Bernardo da Anunciada. The superior sent him to the Abbey of Mont-César in Beligium to study theology. He was back home in a year’s time due a diagnosis of TB.

Bernardo illness weakened his body and yet he was peaceful and trusting in Divine Providence. The hundredfold was very present in Brother Bernardo’s life. In a letter to a fellow patient Bernardo wrote:

“don’t get delivered to sadness that only serves to disable our best energies … it expands your heart and let him the life-giving Sun of joy. Joy, but with so many ordeals? I’m telling you: who did you see still no cross? The cross follows us wherever we go and we have to take; and, if we don’t want to raise our arms and generously to hugs, I mean: with all the ardor of our hearts-what do we have to take a challenge behind us, the drags.”

Brother Bernardo died in the early hours of July 4, 1932, after a long suffering caused by TB. He is buried in the parish church of São Romão do Corgo

Brother Bernardo Vaz Lobo Teixeira de Vasconcelos is now honored with the title of Servant of God.

In all things may God be glorified.

Saint Romuald

St Romuald of RavennaThe Church liturgically remembers the great 11th century Benedictine monk and abbot, Saint Romuald, who founded the Camaldolese remewal of Benedictine monasticism. This particular charism has a certain maturity new synthesis of the Rule of Benedict. In this country, the major hermitage of the the Camaldoese monks is in Big Sur, CA.

“The Camaldolese identity, now more than ever, is clearly a dynamic balance among various spiritual and structural elements united in fruitful tension; it is the awareness of the value of our own experience, linked with the cordial acceptance of others’ experience; it is a search for an inner disposition and an outward style that joins together men and women in an exceptional charism uniting solitude and communion, rootedness and universality, historical memory and openness to the present and the future, an essential spirit with a rich embodiment.” (Dom Emanuele Bargellini ,OSB Cam, former Prior General of the Camaldolese Congregation)

Itala Mela: Benedictine Oblate sainthood cause advances

Itala MelaToday, in Rome, the Congregation for Saints proposed to the Holy Father that after study and prayer, the Servant of God Itala Mela, laywoman and Benedictine Oblate of the Abbey of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls (Rome), did indeed, live a life of heroic virtue. Now her cause will study possible miracles attributed to her intercession before the Throne of Grace.

Itala Mela is known as the Mystic of the Holy Trinity. Mela was born to Pasquino and Luigia Bianchini on 24 August 1904 and died 29 April 1957.

Mela was well acquainted with the likes of Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, Blessed Idelfonse Cardinal Schuster, OSB, and Fathers Agostino Gemelli and Divo Barsotti. Schuster was the abbot of St Paul’s before his nomination as the archbishop of Milan.

On 4 January 1933, Itala Mela professed the promises of a Benedictine Oblate of Saint Paul Outside the Walls and on 9 June she made a fourth vow of consecration to the Holy Trinity which she considered as the center of her life and mission in the Church. How providential that this recognition of Mela happens on the weekend in 2014 that we liturgically recall the dogma of the Holy Trinity!

Itala Mela’s cause for sainthood was opened on 21 November 1976 and it has taken until now to advance –in God’s time– as she referred to as the Venerable Servant of God Itala Mela.

Much of Mela’s life is known in Italian, but you may want to look at this website nonetheless.

Saint Augustine of Canterbury

Augustine of CanterburyIn places like England the Christian origins of the country are keenly recalled and lived when the Church celebrates a feast day like that of Saint Augustine of Canterbury who is known as the apostle to England. Augustine, a Benedictine monk was sent by Pope Gregory the Great to re-evangelize south-eastern England, which had reverted to paganism in the fifth and sixth centuries. Like Paul and Silas in today’s reading at Mass, we can see the grace of conversion in the unexpected: I am sure Augustine had no idea what he was going to find in England –but we know the outcome: many came to know Jesus Christ as Savior. Perhaps today we can be surprised by the Lord working in our life and how he uses us to bring others to Him.

The Roman Missal for use in England has this prayer for Mass:

Almighty God, who by the mission of the Bishop Saint Augustine of Canterbury called the English people into the wondrous light of the Gospel, grant through his intercession, we pray, that faithful to that same Gospel proclaimed we may strive to make known your truth and build up your Church on the foundations he laid.

In the USA the two Benedictine communities that come to mind who have dedicated their oratories to the memory of Saint Augustine of Canterbury are the monks of Marmion Abbey (Aurora, IL) where they abbey church to Augustine and the monks of St Louis Abbey where the Latin Mass chapel is dedicated to both Sts Gregory AND Augustine. Blessings to both monastic communities.

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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