Tag Archives: Franciscan saints and blesseds

The Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi

stigmata-of-francisThe Franciscans mostly observe this event in the life of Saint Francis turned into a feast day of the Stigmata. It is recalled that Francis, in meditation on Mount Alvernia in the Apennines, in September 1224, received a vision of a six winged angel. Francis recalls that he was visited by angel and the Life-saving wounds of the crucified Lord. That is, he was left with wounds in his hands, feet, and side as though he had been crucified. The wound in his side often seeped blood.

Saint Francis and his conversion story, from the beginning, included a very great devotion and veneration for Jesus Christ crucified. He was constant in this aspect of the Paschal Mystery until he died.

Pope Benedict XI gave permission for the Friars to have an annual liturgical commemoration on this day the memory of this extraordinary event attested by reliable witnesses.

St Clare of Assisi

St Clare of Assisi relicFrom a letter from Saint Clare of Assisi, virgin, to Saint Agnes of Prague:

Happy indeed is she who is granted a place at the divine banquet, for she may cling with her inmost heart to him whose beauty eternally awes the blessed hosts of heaven; to him whose love inspires love, whose contemplation refreshes, whose generosity satisfies, whose gentleness delights, whose memory shines sweetly as the dawn; to him whose fragrance revives the dead, and whose glorious vision will bless all the citizens of that heavenly Jerusalem. For his is the splendor of eternal glory, the brightness of eternal light, and the mirror without cloud.

Queen and bride of Jesus Christ, look into that mirror daily and study well your reflection, that you may adorn yourself, mind and body, with an enveloping garment of every virtue, and thus find yourself attired in flowers and gowns befitting the daughter and most chaste bride of the king on high. In this mirror blessed poverty, holy humility and ineffable love are also reflected. With the grace of God the whole mirror will be your source of contemplation.

Behold, I say, the birth of this mirror. Behold his poverty even as he was laid in the manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. What wondrous humility, what marvelous poverty! The King of angels, the Lord of heaven and earth resting in a manger! Look more deeply into the mirror and meditate on his humility, or simply on his poverty. Behold the many labors and sufferings he endured to redeem the human race. Then, in the depths of this very mirror, ponder his unspeakable love which caused him to suffer on the wood of the cross and to endure the most shameful kind of death. The mirror himself, from his position on the cross, warned passersby to weigh carefully this act, as he said: All of you who pass by this way, behold and see if there is any sorrow like mine. Let us answer his cries and lamentations with one voice and one spirit: I will be mindful and remember, and my soul will be consumed within me. In this way, queen of the king of heaven, your love will burn with an ever brighter flame.

Consider also his indescribable delights, his unending riches and honors, and sigh for what is beyond your love and heart’s content as you cry out: Draw me on! We will run after you in the perfume of your ointment, heavenly spouse. Let me run and not faint until you lead me into your wine cellar; your left hand rests under my head, your right arm joyfully embraces me, and you kiss me with the sweet kiss of your lips. As you rest in this state of contemplation, remember your poor mother and know that I have indelibly written your happy memory into my heart, for you are dearer to me than all the others.

Pardon of Assisi or Portiuncula Indulgence

PortiunculaOn August 2, the Franciscan family celebrates the Dedication of the Chapel of St. Mary of the Angels. It is known as the Portiuncula or “Little Portion,” restored by Saint Francis and the place where he and the early Friars made their home. Likewise, the Chapel is the place where Francis received Clare into the “movement” on March 28, 1211 and where he died in 1226.

Long connected with the Mother of God, it is a good idea that today we pray with the Poor Man of Assisi in these words: “Hail, O Lady, holy Queen, Mary, holy Mother of God, you are the virgin made Church, and the one chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven…in whom there was and is all the fullness of grace and every good.”

Based on mystical vision St. Francis experienced of Jesus and Mary in the Portiuncula chapel on August 1, 1216. The Little Portion Chapel, thereafter, has been the site of a venerable tradition of being a place of forgiveness, indulgence, justice and mercy. One of the traditions of today’s feast day is for pilgrims to the Portiuncula for the Feast of Saint Mary of the Angels may pray for the “Pardon of Assisi” or Portiuncula Indulgence, granted to all those who come to this chapel seeking reconciliation and are repentant of sin. This plenary indulgence may ordinarily be gained between August 2 and 15. However, the Indulgence is granted today to anyone with the intention of honoring Our Lady of the Angels reciting the Creed, praying the Our Father, Hail Mary, praying for the pope’s intentions, along with fulfilling other conditions (of receiving forgiveness of sin).

On Thursday (August 4th), Pope Francis will make a private pilgrimage to the Little Portion Chapel to mark the Jubilee Year of Mercy. In 2015, Pope Francis said on the feast of Our Lady of the Angels of Porziuncola that the Assisi Pardon “is a powerful reminder to bring ourselves closer to the Lord in the Sacrament of Mercy and to receive Communion.”

2016 is the 800th anniversary of the granting of this Indulgence.

St. John Paul II once said the message of the Portiuncula Indulgence is one of “pardon and reconciliation, that is, of grace, which divine goodness pours out on us if we are well disposed because God is truly rich in mercy.”

St Bonaventure

St BonaventureWe are honoring the memory of St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (ca. 1221-1274) today. One of the great scholastic theologians and pastors of the Church. I hope the Thomists won’t get mad!

There are many who make the claim that the best general introduction to the thought of Bonaventure is Sister Ilia Delio’s, Simply Bonaventure (New City Press, 2nd ed.) And I agree. But if you need another resource, consider this encyclopedia entry (2005/2013).

Bonaventure, having joined the new movement of Friars in Paris, his priestly and academic career was centered at the Franciscan School of Theology at the University of Paris from 1248-1257. By this time he garnered the attention of his brothers and churchmen at large. He was elected General Minister of the Order governed his brothers for 17 years. It may be said that after the early days of Francis and the early leadership of the Franciscan movement Bonaventure makes his Order credible and and reliable. Thereafter, Bonaventure was elected to serve the Roman Pontiff as Cardinal-Bishop of Albano and expert at the Second Council of Lyons; At Lyons, he died during the Council.

The scholarship on Saint Bonaventure reveals to us that he emphasized all learning must serve the ultimate goal of human life: communion with God. His work is greatly trinitarian and Chriwstocentric. For him, and for us, Christ is the one and true Master! This is a critical point for knowing today’s saint: learning is not meant for self-aggrandizement but to help a person realize that he or she is on a journey toward union with a loving God –a communio theology. You could say with seriousness that to do otherwise is to reduce theology and learning to absurd levels and miss the point of knowing, loving and serving the Blessed Trinity.

Consider this passage from his treatise, “The Tree of Life”:

“You soul devoted to God,
whoever you are, run
with living desire
to this Fountain of life and light
and with the innermost power of your heart
cry out to him:

‘O inaccessible beauty of the most high God
and the pure brightness of the eternal light,
life vivifying all life,
light illumining every light,
and keeping in perpetual splendor
a thousand times a thousand lights
brilliantly shining
before the throne of your divinity
since the primeval dawn!

O eternal and inaccessible,
clear and sweet stream from the fountain
hidden from the eyes of all mortals,
whose depth is without bottom,
whose height is without limit,
whose breadth cannot be bounded,
whose purity cannot be disturbed.

From this Fountain
flows the stream of the oil of gladness,
which gladdens the city of God,
and the powerful fiery torrent,
the torrent, I say, of the pleasure of God,
from which the guest at the heavenly banquet
drink to joyful inebriation
and sing without ceasing
hymns of jubilation.

Anoint us
with this sacred oil and refresh
with the longed-for waters of this torrent
the thirsting throat of our parched hearts
so that amid shouts of joy and thanksgiving
we may sing to you
a canticle of praise,
proving by experience that
with you is the fountain of life,
and in your light we will see
light (see Ps 36:10).”

This image of Saint Bonaventure, is depicted by the Veronese painter, Paolo Morando Cavazzola (1486-1522). Few medieval depictions of Bonaventure exist; Bonaventure was not canonized until 1482.

St Anthony of Padua

St Anthony of Padua detailSt Anthony of Padua (1195–1231), a Doctor of the Church, carries the nickname of “the ark of the covenant” for his deep knowledge of sacred Scripture and the ability to do great things for God’s Kingdom: drawing large crowds –including animal life– to hear his preaching, inspiring countless souls to amend their ways, and gave true Catholic teaching by the strong argument of miracle as well as of doctrine. As the Ark of the Covenant, St Anthony challenged the false teaching about God and human beings and called his hearers to right teaching, right living, right relationship with God, the Lover of Humanity.

In Abbot Prosper Granger’s monumental work, The Liturgical Year, conveys this prayer: O thou who dost daily fly to the aid of thy devoted clients in their private necessities, thou whose power is the same in heaven as heretofore upon earth, succor the Church, aid God’s people, have pity upon society, now more universally and deeply menaced than ever. O thou ark of the covenant, bring back our generation, so terribly devoid of love and faith, to the serious study of sacred letters, wherein is so energizing a power. O thou hammer of heretics, strike once more such blows as will make hell tremble and the heavenly powers thrill with joy.

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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