Tag Archives: Dominican saints and blesseds

Saint Antoninus of Florence

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The fear of the
Lord is holy, abiding for ever. The decrees of the Lord are truth and all of
them just. 

Eternal God, you blessed Saint Antoninus with a marvelous gift of
counsel. By the help of his prayers while we walk in the darkness of this life,
may we learn from a light of Christ all that we ought to do.

Saint Antoninus (1389-1459) was a Dominican friar was known for his evangelical zeal, holiness, the desire to live the Dominican life with integrity, the desire to attend to the poor, the reconciliation of sinners, and harmonious workings of society, both political and economic. He is the author of several books, including his own Summa theologica. His liturgical memorial is observed today even though on the Roman Maryrology the observance is noted for May 2.

From the Vita

required of himself the most unflinching observance of the Rule of his Order,
and never ate meat unless he were grievously ill. He slept upon the ground or
upon bare boards. He always wore haircloth, and sometimes an iron girdle which
bit into his naked skin. His virginity he kept ever undimmed by the last breath
or shadow. He was so skillful in giving advice that he gained the common
nickname of Antoninus the Counselor. At the same time so beautifully brilliant
was his lowliness, that even when he was at the head of houses and provinces of
his Order, he most cheerfully underook all the meanest services of the house
where he was. Eugenius IV appointed him Archbishop of Florence, and he took it
so ill, that it was only when awed by the threats of the Apostolic See that he
obeyed, and accepted the dignity.

Saint Pius V

The Church observes the liturgical memorial –though it’s an optional one– of the 16th century Dominican pope and saint, Pius V. This towering figure deserves some attention from us today given the various battles we face in the liturgical reform given by Pope Benedict or the persecution of Christians. Much of what we do today in liturgical obedience, church discipline and seminary formation is the result of the work of Pope Saint Pius V. The following text is taken from Dom Prosper
Gueranger’s The Liturgical Year. Gueranger’s style and examination of Pius is romantic it is nonetheless attentive to some important details (the entire entry from the
Liturgical Year is not presented here).

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We have already met with the names of several
Pontiffs on the Paschal Calendar.  They form a brilliant constellation
around our Risen Jesus, who, during the period (ed. on the old Tridentine
calendar) between his Resurrection and Ascension, gave to Peter, their
predecessor, the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  Anicetus, Soter, Caius,
Cletus and Marcellinus, held in their hands the palm of martyrdom: Leo was the
only one who did not shed his blood in the cause of his divine Master, Today
there comes before us a holy Pope who governed the Church in these latter
times; he is worthy to stand amidst the Easter group of Pontiffs.  Like
Leo, Pius V was zealous in combating heresy; Like Leo, he saved his people from
the barbarian yoke.

The whole life of Pius V was a combat. His pontificate
fell during those troubled times when Protestantism was leading whole countries
into apostasy. Italy was not a prey that could be taken by violence: artifice
was therefore used, in order to undermine the Apostolic See and thus develop
the whole Christian world into the darkness of heresy. Pius defended the
Peninsula with untiring devotedness from the danger that threatened her. 
Even before he was raised to the Papal Throne he frequently exposed his life by
his zeal in opposing the preaching of false doctrines. Like Peter the Martyr,
he braved every danger and was the dread of the emissaries of heresy. When
seated on the Chair of Peter, he kept the innovators in check by fear, roused
the sovereigns of Italy to energy and by measures of moderate severity drove
back beyond the Alps the torrent that would have swept Christianity from Europe
had not the Southern States thus opposed it. From that time forward,
Protestantism has never made any further progress: it has been wearing itself
out by doctrinal anarchy. We repeat it: this heresy would have laid all
Europe waste, had it not been for the vigilance of the pastor who animated the
defenders of truth to resist it where it already existed, and who set himself
as a wall of brass against its invasion in the country where he himself was the

Another enemy, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the West by
Protestantism, organized an expedition against Europe. Italy was to be its
first prey.  The Ottoman fleet started from the Bosphorus. This again
would have meant the ruin of Christendom but for the energy of the Roman
Pontiff, our Saint.  He gave the alarm, and called the Christian Princes
to arms.  Germany and France, torn by domestic factions that had been
caused by heresy, turned a deaf ear to the call.  Spain alone, together
with Venice and the little Papal fleet, answered the summons of the
Pontiff. The Cross and Crescent were soon face to face in the Gulf of
Lepanto. The prayers of Pius V decided the victory in favour of the Christians,
whose forces were much inferior to those of the Turks.  We shall return to
this important event when we come to the Feast of the Rosary in October. 
But we cannot omit to mention today the prediction uttered by the holy Pope, on
the evening of the great day of October 7, 1571.  The battle between the
Christian and Turkish fleets lasted from six o’clock in the morning till late
in the afternoon.  Towards evening, the Pontiff suddenly looked up towards
heaven, and gazed upon it in silence for a few seconds.  Then turning to
his attendants, he exclaimed: “Let us give thanks to God! The Christians
have gained victory!” The news soon arrived at Rome; and thus, Europe once
more owed her salvation to a Pope! The defeat at Lepanto was a blow from
which the Ottoman Empire has never recovered: its fall dates from that glorious

The zeal of this holy Pope for the reformation of Christian morals, his
establishment of the observance of the laws of discipline prescribed by the
Council of Trent and his publication of the new Breviary and Missal have made
his six years’ pontificate to be one of the richest periods of the Church’s
history. Protestants themselves have frequently expressed their admiration
of this vigorous opponent of the so-called Reformation. “I am surprised,” said
Bacon, “that the Church of Rome has not yet canonized this great man.” Pius
V did not receive this honour till about a hundred and thirty years after his
death; so impartial is the Church, when she has to adjudicate this highest of
earthly honours even to her most revered Pastors!

The heretics attempted more than once to destroy a life which
baffled all their hopes of perverting the faith of Italy. By a base and
sacrilegious stratagem, aided by treachery, they put a deadly poison on the
feet of the crucifix which the Saint kept in his Oratory, and which he was
frequently seen to kiss with great devotion. In the fervour of prayer,
Pius was about to give his mark of love to the image of his crucified Master,
when suddenly the feet of the crucifix detached themselves from the Cross and
eluded the proffered kiss of the venerable old man. The Pontiff at once
saw through the plot whereby his enemies would fain have turned the life-giving
Tree into an instrument of death.

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In order to encourage the faithful to follow
the sacred Liturgy, we will select another interesting example from the life of
the great Saint. When lying on his bed of death, and just before breathing
his last, he took a parting look at the Church on earth, which he was leaving
for that of heaven, he wished to make a final prayer for the flock which he
knew was surrounded by danger; he therefore recited, but with a voice that was
scarcely audible, the following stanza of the Paschal hymn: “We beseech
thee, O Creator of all things that in these days of Paschal joy, thou defend
thy people from every assault of death!”

Pontiff of the living God, thou wast,
whilst on earth, the pillar of iron and wall of brass, spoken of by the prophet
(Jer I,18). Thine unflinching firmness preserved the flock entrusted to thee
from the violence and snares of its many enemies. Far from desponding at
the sight of the dangers thou didst redouble thy courage just as men raise the
embankments higher when they see the torrent swell. By thee was the spread of
heresy checked; by thee was the Mussulman (i.e., a Muslim) invasion repelled,
and the haughty Crescent humbled.  God honoured thee by choosing thee as
the avenger of his glory and the deliverer of Christian people: receive our thanks
and the homage of our humble praise! By thee were repaired the injuries done to
the Church during a period of unusual trial. The true reform – the reform
that is wrought by authority – was vigorously applied by thy strong and holy
hand. To thee is due the restoration of the Divine Service by the
publication of the books of holy Liturgy. And all these glorious deeds
were done in the six short years of thy laborious pontificate!

Saint Catherine of Siena, virgin and Doctor of the Church

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The love of God has been poured into our hearts, alleluia, by His spirit living in us, alleluia.

God of wisdom, You made Saint Catherine burn with divine love in contemplating the Lord’s passion and in serving Your Church. With the help of her prayers may Your people, united in the mystery of Christ, rejoice forever in the revelation of His glory.

Ordination season is upon us. That is, you’ll may be hearing of or attending episcopal, priestly and diaconal ordination ceremonies. If you get the opportunity please attend an ordination ceremony. In reading Saint Catherine of Siena’s Dialogues, I thought her dialogue “The Qualities of Good Ministers in the Church” (119) as an appropriate reflection for all engaged in seminary formation at one level or another and for those already in service to the Church. Saint Catherine said:

I told you
that [my ministers] have taken on the qualities of the sun. Indeed, they are
suns, for there is in them no darkness of sin or ignorance, because they follow
the teaching of my Truth. Nor are they lukewarm, because they are set ablaze in
the furnace of my charity. They have no use for the world’s honors and ranks
and pleasures. Therefore, they are not afraid to correct. Those who do not
hanker after power or ecclesiastical rank have no fear of losing it. They
reprove [sin] courageously, for those whose conscience does not accuse them of
sin have nothing to fear.

So this pearl [of justice] was not clouded over in
these anointed ones, these christs of mine, of whom I have told you. [St
Catherine here is referring to holy people of the past who showed themselves to
be good ministers, and whose qualities are always needed in the Churcch]. No,
it was luminous. They embraced voluntary poverty and sought after lowliness
with deep humility. This is why they are not annoyed by people’s derision or
abuse or slander, or by the insult or shame or pain or torture. They were
cursed, and they blessed. They endured with true patience, likely angels and
more than angels -not by nature, but because of the sacramental grace given
them from above to be the stewards of the body and blood to my only begotten

How humbly they governed and communicated with their subjects! With what
hope and lively faith! They had no fear or worry that either they or their
subjects would be lacking in temporal goods, so they generously gave out the
Church’s possessions to the poor. Thus they fulfilled to the utmost their
obligation to divide their temporal goods to meet their own needs and those of
the poor and the Church. they set nothing aside, and after their death there
was no great estate to settle; in fact, some of them left the Church in debt
for the sake of the poor–all because of their generous charity and their trust
in my providence. They were strangers to slavish fear, so they were confident
they would lack nothing, either spiritually or temporally.

Because I had
appointed them to such dignity for the salvation of souls, they never rested,
good shepherds that they were, from gathering the little sheep into the
sheepfold of holy Church. In their love and hunger for souls they even laid
down their lives to rescue them from the devils’ hands (cf. Jn 10). They made
themselves weak along with those who were weak. That is, to keep the weak from
being confounded with despair and to give them more room to expose their
weakness, they would slow their own weakness, saying, “I am weak along with
you.” They wept with those who wept and rejoiced with those who rejoiced (cf. 1
Cor. 9:22; Rom 12:15). Thus they knew how to give everyone the right food ever
so tenderly. They encouraged the good by rejoicing in their goodness, for they
were not gnawed up with envy but broad in generosity of their neighbors and
subjects. Those who were sinful they drew out of their sin by showing that they
themselves were also sinful and weak. Their compassion was true and holy, and
while correcting others and imposing penances for the sins they had committed,
they themselves in their charity did penance along with them. Because of their
love, they who were imposing the penance suffered more than those who received
it. And sometimes some of them actually did the same penance themselves,
especially when they saw that it seemed very difficult for the penitent. And by
that act the difficulty became sweet for them.

(Sr. Mary O’Driscoll, OP, Catherine of Siena: Passion for the Truth, Compassion for Humanity, Hyde Park: New City Press, 1993).

Blessed Osanna of Kotor

Thumbnail image for Bl Osanna of Kotor.jpgGod of compassion, enkindle anew in our hearts the
love of your cross. By the life and prayers of Blessed Osanna, who suffered for
the unity of the Church, may we become sharers in both your passion and your

Blessed Osanna (baptized Catherine Kosic) comes from the country of Montenegro, born in the 15th century of Orthodox parents. Her great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were priests, her brother was a monk and later a bishop. Traveling to the coast she encountered a Catholic family and through their witness and others, she converted to Catholicism. As a shepherdess and wishing to follow Christ more closely she found grace in the solitary life; Osanna took the habit of the Third Order Dominican laity and a new name. She was well known for her wisdom, mystical visions and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Her body is incorrupt. Pius XI beatified Osanna in 1934. The Church remembers Blessed Osanna for her desire for unity among Christians and peace among peoples. Therefore asks her to intercede for the Church for these intentions of unity and peace in families.

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano

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Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord. Seek the Lord and you will be strengthened, seek always the face of the Lord.

With the Church, let us pray:

Merciful God, you adorned Agnes, your bride, with a marvelous fervor in prayer. By imitating her example, may we always hold fast to you in spirit and so come to enjoy the abundant fruits of holiness.

Saint Agnes was born in the Italian city of Gracciano in 1268 and entered a monastery at Montepulciano at the age of 9. Who says the young don’t have vocation awareness early in life. By 15 the Holy See allowed Agnes to be a superior of nuns at Viterbo. The laity made strong pleas for Agnes’ return to Montepulciano to be the superior of an Augustinian monastery of nuns; in time Agnes adopted the Constitution written by Saint Dominic thus changing the monastic life from an exclusive Augustinian orientation to a Dominican one. Her work among the laity was to work for civil peace; she was a model of charity. Saint Catherine of Siena called Agnes her “glorious mother.” We pray for the Dominican monastic life and for peace in our cities with Saint Agnes’ help before God.

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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