Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Feast of the Decollation of St. John the Baptist

Salome with the head of St. John the Baptist by Caravaggio.

Today is the feast of the beheading -- or decollation -- of St. John the Baptist.  Back in June we celebrated his birth, and today we mark his unjust execution by order of Herod.

The Scriptures recount his demise in this way:
"Mark 6:17 Herod himself had sent and arrested John and put him in prison, in chains, for love of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married; 18 because John had told Herod, It is wrong for thee to take thy brother’s wife. 19 Herodias was always plotting against him, and would willingly have murdered him, but could not, 20 because Herod was afraid of John, recognizing him for an upright and holy man; so that he kept him carefully, and followed his advice in many things,[3] and was glad to listen to him. 21 And now came a fitting occasion, upon which Herod gave a birthday feast to his lords and officers, and to the chief men of Galilee. 22 Herodias’ own daughter came in and danced, and gave such pleasure to Herod and his guests that the king said to the girl, Ask me for whatever thou wilt, and thou shalt have it; 23 he even bound himself by an oath, I will grant whatever request thou makest, though it were a half of my kingdom. 24 Thereupon she went out and said to her mother, What shall I ask for? And she answered, The head of John the Baptist. 25 With that, she hastened into the king’s presence and made her request; My will is, she said, that thou shouldst give me the head of John the Baptist; give it me now, on a dish. 26 And the king was full of remorse, but out of respect to his oath and to those who sat with him at table, he would not disappoint her. 27 So he sent one of his guard with orders that the head should be brought on a dish. 28 This soldier cut off his head in the prison, and brought it on a dish, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When John’s disciples heard of it, they came and carried off his body, and laid it in a tomb."

St. John the Baptist is, as it were, the last character of the Old Testament, the final prophet, who, having "made straight the paths of the Lord" stepped aside in humility before his cousin, and Saviour.  From St. John we learn not only austerity and devotion to God, but humility and obedience.  His resolve in teaching the truth is, ultimately, a contributing factor to his execution by Herod.

For more on St. John the Baptist, be sure to check out:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. John the Baptist

Catholic Saints Info: St. John the Baptist

File:St johns head.jpg
Left, San Silvestro in Capite, Roma, Italia.  Right, the Relic.
[Left: "Chiesa di San Silvestro in Capite Roma" by LPLT - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons]

The site of his head -- though not without some dispute -- is the Roman Church of San Silvestro in Capite, which happens also to be the national Church of Great Britain in Rome.  You can view their official website here: San Silvestro in Capite, Roma

Live well!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo, Bishop & Doctor

Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

St. Augustine (+430): The Bishop of Hippo in North Africa for 36 years, St. Augustine is probably the most famous of the Latin Doctors.  Certainly his Confessions and City of God stand out of an almost incredible number of writings.  He was received into the Church by St. Ambrose, and had some rather amusing correspondence with St. Jerome!  For the Latin Church, he is most certainly the most influential of the early Doctors, and his contribution is hard to overestimate.

St. Augustine was born at Tagaste, in Africa, in 354AD, son of St. Monica and Patricius.  He is famous for his dissolute youth (including fathering a son), for his interest in philosophy, and his eventual conversion to the Faith, thanks to the guidance of St. Ambrose, the prayers of his mother, and his honest search for truth!

Tomb of St. Augustine at St. Peter in Ciel d'Oro, Pavia, Italy.
["Pavia San Pietro Arca Sant'Agostino" by Welleschik - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]

His remains are in the Italian city of Pavia, in the Church of St. Peter in Ciel d'Oro, having been evacuated from Africa during the time of the Vandal, Hunneric.  This link provides more information: Tomb of St. Augustine.  As an aside, that is the same Church in which St. Boethius, author of the Consolation of Philosophy, is buried!  For more: La tomba di sant'Agostino – Pavia

The interior of Sant'Agostino, Roma
[Cf., http://romanchurches.wikia.com/wiki/Sant'Agostino]

St. Augustine's mother, St. Monica, is buried, as it happens, in the Church of Sant'Agostino, in Rome!  This Roman basilica is not far from Piazza Navona, and is certainly worth the visit; a visit that rewards not only with a beautiful church and the tomb of St. Monica, but a striking work of Caravaggio.

For more on the life of St. Augustine, you might note:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Augustine

Catholic Saints Info: St. Augustine

Perhaps today is a good day to page through some of his writings, which you can find here: New Advent: The Fathers of the Church

View of the north gate of the old city of St. Augustine, Florida with Castillo de San Marcos in the distance (all photos of St. Augustine, FL by author)

Of course, St. Augustine is also the namesake of the oldest town in the United States of America: St. Augustine, Florida, founded in 1565 after the founder, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, spotted the Florida coast on this day.

Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine

For more on the Cathedral-Basilica of that city: Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine

Cross at the site of the first Mass in the USA

St. Augustine was the site of the first Mass in what is now the United States, at Mission Nombre de Dios: Mission Nombre de Dios

Of course, as a Spanish colonial frontier presidio, the city is notable for its forts, including:


Castillo de San Marcos, the main defensive fortification for the city: Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Fort Matanzas, the guardian of the southern approach to the city: Fort Matanzas National Monument

Fort Mose, an archaeological site that was once the site of a community for runaway slaves granted their freedom by the Spanish crown: Fort Mose State Historic Site

Live well!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Angelic Warfare Confraternity

A spiritual brotherhood certainly worthy of being better known is the Dominican-affiliated Angelic Warfare Confraternity.

The Confraternity is under the patronage of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274AD).  Indeed, it takes its name from the episode in the life of St. Thomas when, in defense of holy purity, he drove off a woman-of-ill repute that his brothers had sent to his room to tempt him away from chastity.  At that point he was gird with a cord by angels and shielded from further attacks against purity.

The Confraternity seeks to encourage holiness and purity in its members under the patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Blessed Virgin Mary.  To that end, the members pray for one another, and wear the cord and/or medal of St. Thomas.

The Angelic Warfare Confraternity was approved as a Confraternity of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) for the whole Church by Pope Benedict XII in 1727AD.

Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical letter, Studiorum Ducem, on St. Thomas Aquinas, 25, writes:
"Inasmuch, therefore, as We see the majority of young men, caught in the quicksands of passion, rapidly jettisoning holy purity and abandoning themselves to sensual pleasures, We instantly exhort you, Venerable Brethren, to propagate everywhere, and particularly among seminarians, the society of the Angelic Militia founded under the patronage of Thomas for the preservation and maintenance of holy chastity and We confirm the privileges of pontifical indulgences heaped upon it by Benedict XIII and others of Our Predecessors. And that the Faithful may be persuaded the more eagerly to enroll in this Militia, We grant members of it the privilege of wearing instead of a cord a medal round the neck impressed on the obverse with a picture of St. Thomas and the angels surrounding him with a girdle and on the reverse a picture of Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary." [N.b., Pius XI, Studiorum Ducem]

Members of this brotherhood include, "St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Blessed Columba Rieti and Blessed Stephana Quinzan (who actively promoted the Confraternity among women)."

The website of the Confraternity can be found here: Angelic Warfare Confraternity

This is the site where one can purchase the necessary items for membership: New Hope Publications

Certainly a Confraternity emphasizing the Angelic Doctor, whose sublime writings do so much to increase our understanding of the Faith, and Holy Purity, so ignored and ridiculed in our world, is of great contemporary relevance.

Live well!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Feast of St. Louis IX of France

Today we celebrate the great Feast of King St. Louis IX of France.  He is a model of Kings, Fathers, and Christians.  If you have never read the account of the life of St. Louis by Jean de Joinville, perhaps today is a good day to pick it up!


King Louis of France by El Greco

His rule of France was characterized by a deep sense of responsibility towards his subjects -- never forgetting that to rule, for the Christian, is to serve.  Likewise, he was a model husband to Marguerite of Provence and father to his eleven children.

St. Louis assumed the throne at the tender age of eleven with the death of his father, Louis VIII, in 1226AD.  The first part of his reign came under the regency of his good mother, Blanche of Castile, which lasted from 1226-1234AD.  His mother famously urged the young king: "I would rather see you dead at my feet than guilty of a mortal sin."

King St. Louis IX also rubbed elbows with some other great saints -- he had to send archers at one time to protect the faculty at the University of Paris, a faculty that included St. Thomas Aquinas.  The famous banquet in which St. Thomas disrupted the proceeding with his exclamation of triumph over the Manichean heresy took place at a dinner hosted by the good king in 1269AD.

File:Sainte Chapelle - Upper level 1.jpg
St. Louis IX's Sainte-Chapelle.
["Sainte Chapelle - Upper level 1" by Didier B (Sam67fr) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons]

St. Louis was also a patron of the Arts, commissioning the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, a chapel built to house relics of the Passion, including the Crown of Thorns, and completed in 1248AD.  To this day, it is an artistic masterpiece and wonder of stained glass.  A virtual tour is certainly well worth your time: Sainte-Chapelle Virtual Tour

King Louis was also a Crusader, willing to spend blood and treasure on the defense of Christianity and the Holy Land.  Upon hearing of the fall of Jerusalem in 1244, Louis took the cross.  Louis finally departed in 1248 (Seventh Crusade, 1248-1254), and arrived in Cyprus, remaining there until 1249.  The king was persuaded to invade Egypt, again considering the economic and strategic importance of Egypt in hoping to hold onto the Holy Land.  On 6 June 1249, Louis captured Damietta from the Ayyubids.  The floods on the Nile kept the king at the city until November, at which point he advanced on Cairo.  The advance met disaster at Mansourah in February of 1250.  His brother, Duke Robert of Artois, was killed there.  The king was captured by the Ayyubids in April, with no other options available.  He negotiated his release, returned Damietta, and paid a large sum – then went to the Holy Land in May.  Until 1254, he acted as de facto King of Jerusalem, and shored up the Christian holdings there, until his money ran low and his kingdom needed him.  Before he left, in 1252, he signed a truce with the Mamluks.  The Ayyubid Sultan of Egypt, al-Muazzam Turanshah (Ruler of Egypt and Damascus in 1250), son of al-Salih Ayyub (Egypt 1240-1250, Damascus, 1245-1250) had been overthrown in 1250 by a Mamluk slave rising – thus founding a new, Mamluk, dynasty in Egypt.  Damascus and Syria would go to a distant Ayyubid cousin and great grandson of Saladin, Al Nasir Yusuf (Aleppo, 1236-1260 and Damascus, 1250-1260) – who would be the last Ayyubid ruler.  In 1258, the year the nobles of Tripoli revolted against Bohemond VI (Tripoli, 1252-1275; Antioch, 1252-1268), the Mongols sacked Baghdad, killing the last Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad, causing the institution to move to Cairo in Mamluk Egypt under a cousin in 1261.  In 1260, the Mongols overran Damacus and Syria, but met defeat at the hands of the Mamluks at Ayn Jalut – a major turning point in the war against the Mongols.  In 1268, the Mamluks, under Sultan Baybars (1260-1277), captured Antioch extinguishing the Principality.  The prompted St. Louis to pursue and 8th Crusade.  This was a short, abortive, crusade that took St. Louis IX to Tunisia, to establish a base to move against Egypt, where he died in August 1270, succeeded by his son, Philip III (1270-1285).

For more, here are two links, first to the Old Catholic Encyclopedia, and second to the Patron Saints Index:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: King St. Louis IX
Catholic Saints Info: King St. Louis IX

File:San Luigi dei Francesi - Facade.jpgFile:Sanluigideifrancesi4d.jpg
San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, Italy. Facade and Interior.
[Left: "San Luigi dei Francesi - Facade" by Maros M r a z (Maros) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons
Right: "Sanluigideifrancesi4d" by Ricardo AndrĂ© Frantz (User:Tetraktys) - taken by Ricardo AndrĂ© Frantz. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]

We might note the Church named for St. Louis in Rome: San Luigi dei Francesi. This French National Church in Rome is most famous for its paintings of the Call of St. Matthew by Caravaggio.

Finally, to his son, St. Louis IX wrote a letter of advice and counsel, which I present here in its entirety:
1. To his dear first-born son, Philip, greeting, and his father's love.

2. Dear son, since I desire with all my heart that you be well "instructed in all things, it is in my thought to give you some advice this writing. For I have heard you say, several times, that you remember my words better than those of any one else.

3. Therefore, dear son, the first thing I advise is that you fix your whole heart upon God, and love Him with all your strength, for without this no one can be saved or be of any worth.

4- You should, with all your strength, shun everything which you believe to be displeasing to Him. And you ought especially to be resolved not to commit mortal sin, no matter what may happen and should permit all your limbs to be hewn off, and suffer every manner of torment , rather than fall knowingly into mortal sin.

5. If our Lord send you any adversity, whether illness or other in good patience, and thank Him for it, thing, you should receive it in good patience and be thankful for it, for you ought to believe that He will cause everything to turn out for your good; and likewise you should think that you have well merited it, and more also, should He will it, because you have loved Him but little, and served Him but little, and have done many things contrary to His will.

6. If our Lord send you any prosperity, either health of body or other thing you ought to thank Him humbly for it, and you ought to be careful that you are not the worse for it, either through pride or anything else, for it is a very great sin to fight against our Lord with His gifts.

7. Dear son, I advise you that you accustom yourself to frequent confession, and that you choose always, as your confessors, men who are upright and sufficiently learned, and who can teach you what you should do and what you should avoid. You should so carry yourself that your confessors and other friends may dare confidently to reprove you and show you your faults.

8. Dear son, I advise you that you listen willingly and devoutly the services of Holy Church, and, when you are in church, avoid to frivolity and trifling, and do not look here and there; but pray to God with lips and heart alike, while entertaining sweet thoughts about Him, and especially at the mass, when the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are consecrated, and for a little time before.

9. Dear son, have a tender pitiful heart for the poor, and for all those whom you believe to be in misery of heart or body, and, according to your ability, comfort and aid them with some alms.

10. Maintain the good customs of your realm, and put down the bad ones. Do not oppress your people and do not burden them with tolls or tailles, except under very great necessity.

11. If you have any unrest of heart, of such a nature that it may be told, tell it to your confessor, or to some upright man who can keep your secret; you will be able to carry more easily the thought of your heart.

12. See to it that those of your household are upright and loyal, and remember the Scripture, which says: "Elige viros timentes Deum in quibus sit justicia et qui oderint avariciam"; that is to say, "Love those who serve God and who render strict justice and hate covetousness"; and you will profit, and will govern your kingdom well.

13. Dear son, see to it that all your associates are upright, whether clerics or laymen, and have frequent good converse with them; and flee the society of the bad. And listen willingly to the word of God, both in open and in secret; and purchase freely prayers and pardons.

14. Love all good, and hate all evil, in whomsoever it may be.

15. Let no one be so bold as to say, in your presence, words which attract and lead to sin, and do not permit words of detraction to be spoken of another behind his back.

!6. Suffer it not that any ill be spoken of God or His saints in your presence, without taking prompt vengeance. But if the offender be a clerk or so great a person that you ought not to try him, report the matter to him who is entitled to judge it.

17. Dear son, give thanks to God often for all the good things He has done for you, so that you may be worthy to receive more, in such a manner that if it please the Lord that you come to the burden and honor of governing the kingdom, you may be worthy to receive the sacred unction wherewith the kings of France are consecrated.

18. Dear son, if you come to the throne, strive to have that which befits a king, that is to say, that in justice and rectitude you hold yourself steadfast and loyal toward your subjects and your vassals, without turning either to the right or to the left, but always straight, whatever may happen. And if a poor man have a quarrel with a rich man, sustain the poor rather than the rich, until the truth is made clear, and when you know the truth, do justice to them.

19. If any one have entered into a suit against you (for any injury or wrong which he may believe that you have done to him), be always for him and against yourself in the presence of your council, without showing that you think much of your case (until the truth be made known concerning it); for those of your council might be backward in speaking against you, and this you should not wish; and command your judges that you be not in any way upheld more than any others, for thus will your councillors judge more boldly according to right and truth.

20. If you have anything belonging to another, either of yourself or through your predecessors, if the matter is certain, give it up without delay, however great it may be, either in land or money or otherwise. If the matter is doubtful, have it inquired into by wise men, promptly and diligently. And if the affair is so obscure that you cannot know the truth, make such a settlement, by the counsel of s of upright men, that your soul, and the soul your predecessors, may be wholly freed from the affair. And even if you hear some one say that your predecessors made restitution, make diligent inquiry to learn if anything remains to be restored; and if you find that such is the case, cause it to be delivered over at once, for the liberation of your soul and the souls of your predecessors.

21. You should seek earnestly how your vassals and your subjects may live in peace and rectitude beneath your sway; likewise, the good towns and the good cities of your kingdom. And preserve them in the estate and the liberty in which your predecessors kept them, redress it, and if there be anything to amend, amend and preserve their favor and their love. For it is by the strength and the riches of your good cities and your good towns that the native and the foreigner, especially your peers and your barons, are deterred from doing ill to you. I will remember that Paris and the good towns of my kingdom aided me against the barons, when I was newly crowned.

22. Honor and love all the people of Holy Church, and be careful that no violence be done to them, and that their gifts and alms, which your predecessors have bestowed upon them, be not taken away or diminished. And I wish here to tell you what is related concerning King Philip, my ancestor, as one of his council, who said he heard it, told it to me. The king, one day, was with his privy council, and he was there who told me these words. And one of the king's councillors said to him how much wrong and loss he suffered from those of Holy Church, in that they took away his rights and lessened the jurisdiction of his court; and they marveled greatly how he endured it. And the good king answered: "I am quite certain that they do me much wrong, but when I consider the goodnesses and kindnesses which God has done me, I had rather that my rights should go, than have a contention or awaken a quarrel with Holy Church." And this I tell to you that you may not lightly believe anything against the people of Holy Church; so love them and honor them and watch over them that they may in peace do the service of our Lord.

23. Moreover, I advise you to love dearly the clergy, and, so far as you are able, do good to them in their necessities, and likewise love those by whom God is most honored and served, and by whom the Faith is preached and exalted.

24. Dear son, I advise that you love and reverence your father and your mother, willingly remember and keep their commandments, and be inclined to believe their good counsels.

25. Love your brothers, and always wish their well-being and their good advancement, and also be to them in the place of a father, to instruct them in all good. But be watchful lest, for the love which you bear to one, you turn aside from right doing, and do to the others that which is not meet.

26. Dear son, I advise you to bestow the benefices of Holy Church which you have to give, upon good persons, of good and clean life, and that you bestow them with the high counsel of upright men. And I am of the opinion that it is preferable to give them to those who hold nothing of Holy Church, rather than to others. For, if you inquire diligently, you will find enough of those who have nothing who will use wisely that entrusted to them.

27. Dear son, I advise you that you try with all your strength to avoid warring against any Christian man, unless he have done you too much ill. And if wrong be done you, try several ways to see if you can find how you can secure your rights, before you make war; and act thus in order to avoid the sins which are committed in warfare.

28. And if it fall out that it is needful that you should make war (either because some one of your vassals has failed to plead his case in your court, or because he has done wrong to some church or to some poor person, or to any other person whatsoever, and is unwilling to make amends out of regard for you, or for any other reasonable cause), whatever the reason for which it is necessary for you to make war, give diligent command that the poor folk who have done no wrong or crime be protected from damage to their vines, either through fire or otherwise, for it were more fitting that you should constrain the wrongdoer by taking his own property (either towns or castles, by force of siege), than that you should devastate the property of poor people. And be careful not to start the war before you have good counsel that the cause is most reasonable, and before you have summoned the offender to make amends, and have waited as long as you should. And if he ask mercy, you ought to pardon him, and accept his amende, so that God may be pleased with you.

29. Dear son, I advise you to appease wars and contentions, whether they be yours or those of your subjects, just as quickly as may be, for it is a thing most pleasing to our Lord. And Monsignore Martin gave us a very great example of this. For, one time, when our Lord made it known to him that he was about to die, he set out to make peace between certain clerks of his archbishopric, and he was of the opinion that in so doing he was giving a good end to life.

30. Seek diligently, most sweet son, to have good baillis and good prevots in your land, and inquire frequently concerning their doings, and how they conduct themselves, and if they administer justice well, and do no wrong to any one, nor anything which they ought not do. Inquire more often concerning those of your household if they be too covetous or too arrogant; for it is natural that the members should seek to imitate their chief; that is, when the master is wise and well-behaved, all those of his household follow his example and prefer it. For however much you ought to hate evil in others, you should have more hatred for the evil which comes from those who derive their power from you, than you bear to the evil of others; and the more ought you to be on your guard and prevent this from happening.

3!. Dear son, I advise you always to be devoted to the Church of Rome, and to the sovereign pontiff, our father, and to bear him the the reverence and honor which you owe to your spiritual father.

32. Dear son, freely give power to persons of good character, who know how to use it well, and strive to have wickednesses expelled from your land, that is to say, nasty oaths, and everything said or done against God or our Lady or the saints. In a wise and proper manner put a stop, in your land, to bodily sins, dicing, taverns, and other sins. Put down heresy so far as you can, and hold in especial abhorrence Jews, and all sorts of people who are hostile to the Faith, so that your land may be well purged of them, in such manner as, by the sage counsel of good people, may appear to you advisable.

33. Further the right with all your strength. Moreover I admonish you you that you strive most earnestly to show your gratitude for the benefits which our Lord has bestowed upon you, and that you may know how to give Him thanks therefore

34. Dear son, take care that the expenses of your household are reasonable and moderate, and that its moneys are justly obtained. And there is one opinion that I deeply wish you to entertain, that is to say, that you keep yourself free from foolish expenses and evil exactions, and that your money should be well expended and well acquired. And this opinion, together with other opinions which are suitable and profitable, I pray that our Lord may teach you.

35. Finally, most sweet son, I conjure and require you that, if it please our Lord that I should die before you, you have my soul succored with masses and orisons, and that you send through the congregations of the kingdom of France, and demand their prayers for my soul, and that you grant me a special and full part in all the good deeds which you perform.

36. In conclusion, dear son, I give you all the blessings which a good and tender father can give to a son, and I pray our Lord Jesus Christ, by His mercy, by the prayers and merits of His blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, and of angels and archangels and of all the saints, to guard and protect you from doing anything contrary to His will, and to give you grace to do it always, so that He may be honored and served by you. And this may He do to me as to you, by His great bounty, so that after this mortal life we may be able to be together with Him in the eternal life, and see Him, love Him, and praise Him without end. Amen. And glory, honor, and praise be to Him who is one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit; without beginning and without end. Amen.

From Saint Louis' Advice to His Son, in Medieval Civilization, trans. and eds. Dana Munro and George Clarke Sellery (New York: The Century Company, 1910), pp. 366 -75.
[cf., Medieval Sourcebook: Letter of St. Louis to his son]

Live well!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

St. Bartholomew's Day

Today, 24 August, is the great feast of the Apostle St. Bartholomew.

St. Bartholomew was one of the twelve Apostles, also known as Nathaniel, who makes his most memorable mark on the Gospels in this passage from that of St. John, in the first chapter: "1:44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip finds Nathanael and said to him: We have found him of whom Moses, in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth. 46 And Nathanael said to him: Can anything of good come from Nazareth? Philip said to him: Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him and he says of him: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile. 48 Nathanael said to him: Whence do you know me? Jesus answered and said to him: Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. 49 Nathanael answered him and said: Rabbi: You are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said to him: Because I said unto you, I saw you under the fig tree, you believe: greater things than these shall you see. 51 And he said to him: Amen, amen, I say to you, you shall see the heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."

File:Jusepe de Ribera, The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew, 1634.jpg
The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew by Jusepe de Ribera (+1652AD)

Tradition has the Apostle evangelizing in India before his ultimate martyrdom in Armenia, where St. Bartholomew was flayed alive for his Faith in Jesus Christ.  The images of St. Bartholomew are certainly memorable, as he is usually portrayed holding his own skin!  You can read a bit more about the saint here: Catholic Saint Info: St. Bartholomew

Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Bartholomew

San Bartolomeo all'isola September 2015-1.jpg
The Basilica of San Bartolomeo all'Isola in Rome, Italy.
[By Alvesgaspar - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44145520]

Eventually, his relics made their way to Rome, where he is buried in the Basilica of San Bartolomeo all'Isola on Tiber Island.  This was, by the way, the titular Church is Rome of Cardinal George of Chicago, Illinois, and is now the title of the current Cardinal-Archbishop of the Windy City, Blase Cupich.  Here is the official website of that Roman Church: Chiesa di San Bartolomeo, Roma

The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre by the Huguenot, Dubois.

Also associated with this day is the tragic massacre of Huguenots in Paris, in 1572AD: the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.  This came during the tumultuous and bitter French Wars of Religion, which involved the Valois French crown, Catholic League, and Calvinist Huguenots all vying for political power in France.  Following the Peace of St. Germain in 1570, giving the Huguenots several cities, including La Rochelle, Catherine de Medici, mother of King Charles IX of France, sought to marry her daughter, Marguerite, to a leader of the Huguenots, Henry of Navarre [son of Antoine Bourbon & Jeanne of Navarre].  Henry of Navarre succeeded his own mother in June 1572, becoming king of Navarre, and on 18 August, he married Marguerite of Valois in Paris.  On 22 August, an attempt was made on the life of Admiral Coligny, another significant leader of the Huguenot party in Paris for the wedding, but it failed.  That caused the previously celebrating crowds in Paris to militarize.

Catherine de Medici, the king, and the royal council decided to strike first, fearing a Huguenot reprisal for the attempt.  On 24 August, the Feast of St. Bartholomew, men led by Henry, Duke of Guise (+1588AD), avenging the death of his father, Francis of Guise, assassinated Admiral Coligny in the street.  The king wanted to execute 30 Huguenot leaders, but the “it is the king’s command” explanation given to passers-by at the site of the Admiral's assassination gave the populace of the city the wrong idea that all Huguenots were to be attacked.  Folks went Huguenot hunting – and some 2,000 were massacred.  Henry of Navarre only survived by “converting” to Catholicism.  This violence rippled around France and sparked the Fourth War of Religion.  It would not be the last, either.  Of course, the lasting conversion of Henry of Navarre to Catholicism -- "Paris is worth a Mass" -- would ultimately secure peace in France.

For another account of the massacre, you can follow this link: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre

Live well!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Blessed Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland

portrait of Blessed Thomas Percy, date and artist unknown; swiped from Santi e Beati; click for source image
Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland by Steven van der Meulen, 1566AD

On 22 August 1572, at York, England, Blessed Thomas Percy, the 7th Earl of Northumberland was beheaded for his involvement in the 1569 "Rising in the North" and his adherence to the Roman Catholic Faith during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603).

Percy was, of course, descended from an old and renowned English family (he was a direct descendant of the famous Henry "Hotspur" Percy of the days of King Henry IV), but his loyalty remained with the Catholic Church when, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, England turned in a definitively Protestant direction.  Notably, his father, Sir Thomas Percy, had been a participant in the "Pilgrimage of Grace" during the reign of Henry VIII, and had been executed, as well, back in 1537.  Blessed Thomas, then, was not the first in his line to suffer for his adherence to Catholicism.  The family titles and estates lost under Henry VIII, were regained under Queen Mary.  That was not to last, however.

In November 1569 a rebellion rose in Durham in resistance to the Protestant program of Queen Elizabeth, and in favor of Mary, Queen of Scots under the Catholic leadership of Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmoreland and Blessed Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland – this was known as the “Rising in the North.”

They commanded about 4,500 men, and even had Mass said publicly!  Their success was to be rather short-lived.  The rising was dispersed by superior English numbers and a force under the Earl of Sussex.  In the aftermath, some 600-800 were executed, with Westmoreland going into exile in Flanders and Northumberland captured in Scotland, by James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, only to be returned to England and executed at York in 1572.

It is worth noting that it was that year of 1570 that Pope St. Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth I with the bull Regnans in Excelsis.  The saintly pontiff certainly hoped to give force and support to the efforts of men like Blessed Thomas Percy, but this bull came too late to help the Rising in the North, and, arguably, only worsened the situation of Catholics in England.  You can read the full text of the bull here: Pope St. Pius V: Regnans in Excelsis

Blessed Thomas Percy was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1895.  His feast is kept as a local traditional feast in these dioceses of northern England on 26 August, and he is mentioned on the revised martyrology on 22 August, the anniversary of his death.

May we pray with the traditional collect of his feast:
"O Lord, we beseech Thee, pour down upon us the spirit of constancy and fortitude wherewith Thou strengthened Thy blessed martyr Thomas in the defense of the Catholic Faith: so that, filled therewith, we, who rejoice on earth for his triumphant martyrdom, may deserve to be partakers of his glory in Heaven."

For more on Blessed Thomas Percy, you might consult:
Catholic Saints Info: Blessed Thomas Percy

Alnwick Castle 02.jpg
The Home of Blessed Thomas Percy, Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, England
["Alnwick Castle 02" by Phil Thomas - originally posted to Flickr as the castle. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons]

For information on the ancestoral home of the Percy family, Alnwick Castle (made famous now by Downton Abbey, it seems, as "Brancaster Castle"), you might visit this site: Alnwick Castle: History

Live well!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Octave of the Assumption

Today is the Octave Day of the great Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, Mother of God.  Always a great celebration in and of itself, it is also traditionally the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and, more recently, of the Queenship or Coronation of Our Lady.

Image result

The Coronation of the Virgin by Diego Velazquez (+1660AD)

The Octave, or the eight days, inclusive, used to be a much more commonly observed liturgical feature of major feast days -- in modern times only Easter, Christmas, and Pentecost have retained their full Octave, though even Pentecost has had it trimmed in the reforms.  Though each day since the Assumption is no longer celebrated as part of its proper liturgical Octave -- at least this eighth day, 22 August, allows us some connection to the great feast.  The Old Catholic Encyclopedia has an interesting entry on the history of the liturgical Octave: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Octaves

The devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary goes back some centuries, but the observance as a formal feast is a really rather new development.  It seems the first formal observance of the feast came in the Diocese of Palermo, Sicily with the permission of Pope Pius VI in 1799.  This article gives a summary of the history up to the start of the 20th century, and before its institution as a feast on the universal calendar: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Immaculate Heart of Mary  The feast was added to the universal calendar of the Latin rite by Pope Pius XII in 1944AD.  Of course, it is a commemoration of both the love and Immaculate purity of the Blessed Mother, the Immaculate Conception.  The Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is, worthy of note, the patronal feast day of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia -- home of this blogger!

From its establishment by Pope Pius XII in 1954, until its transfer by Pope Paul VI with reform of the calendar, the Feast of the Queenship of Our Lady fell on 31 May.  The new date, today on the Octave day, links the feast more closely with the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  There is a bit more about the feast here: Catholic Saints Info: Queenship of Mary

Fisheaters has some excellent posts on both of the occasions of this day:
Fisheaters: Immaculate Heart of Mary
Fisheaters: Queenship of Mary

Now, too, seems an opportune time to review the Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius XII that first established the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, so here it is in its entirety:




To the Venerable Brethren, the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Holy See.
Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Blessing.

From the earliest ages of the Catholic Church a Christian people, whether in time of triumph or more especially in time of crisis, has addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven. And never has that hope wavered which they placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ; nor has that faith ever failed by which we are taught that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with a mother's solicitude over the entire world, just as she is crowned in heavenly blessedness with the glory of a Queen.

2. Following upon the frightful calamities which before Our very eyes have reduced flourishing cities, towns, and villages to ruins, We see to Our sorrow that many great moral evils are being spread abroad in what may be described as a violent flood. Occasionally We behold justice giving way; and, on the one hand and the other, the victory of the powers of corruption. The threat of this fearful crisis fills Us with a great anguish, and so with confidence We have recourse to Mary Our Queen, making known to her those sentiments of filial reverence which are not Ours alone, but which belong to all those who glory in the name of Christian.

3. It is gratifying to recall that We ourselves, on the first day of November of the Holy Year 1950, before a huge multitude of Cardinals, Bishops, priests, and of the faithful who had assembled from every part of the world, defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven[1] where she is present in soul and body reigning, together with her only Son, amid the heavenly choirs of angels and Saints. Moreover, since almost a century has passed since Our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, proclaimed and defined the dogma that the great Mother of God had been conceived without any stain of original sin, We instituted the current Marian Year[2] And now it is a great consolation to Us to see great multitudes here in Rome -- and especially in the Liberian Basilica -- giving testimony in a striking way to their faith and ardent love for their heavenly Mother. In all parts of the world We learn that devotion to the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing more and more, and that the principal shrines of Mary have been visited and are still being visited by many throngs of Catholic pilgrims gathered in prayer.

4. It is well known that we have taken advantage of every opportunity -- through personal audiences and radio broadcasts -- to exhort Our children in Christ to a strong and tender love, as becomes children, for Our most gracious and exalted Mother. On this point it is particularly fitting to call to mind the radio message which We addressed to the people of Portugal, when the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary which is venerated at Fatima was being crowned with a golden diadem.[3] We Ourselves called this the heralding of the "sovereignty" of Mary.[4]

5. And now, that We may bring the Year of Mary to a happy and beneficial conclusion, and in response to petitions which have come to Us from all over the world, We have decided to institute the liturgical feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen. This will afford a climax, as it were, to the manifold demonstrations of Our devotion to Mary, which the Christian people have supported with such enthusiasm.

6. In this matter We do not wish to propose a new truth to be believed by Christians, since the title and the arguments on which Mary's queenly dignity is based have already been clearly set forth, and are to be found in ancient documents of the Church and in the books of the sacred liturgy.

7. It is Our pleasure to recall these things in the present encyclical letter, that We may renew the praises of Our heavenly Mother, and enkindle a more fervent devotion towards her, to the spiritual benefit of all mankind.

8. From early times Christians have believed, and not without reason, that she of whom was born the Son of the Most High received privileges of grace above all other beings created by God. He "will reign in the house of Jacob forever,"[5] "the Prince of Peace,"[6] the "King of Kings and Lord of Lords."[7] And when Christians reflected upon the intimate connection that obtains between a mother and a son, they readily acknowledged the supreme royal dignity of the Mother of God.

9. Hence it is not surprising that the early writers of the Church called Mary "the Mother of the King" and "the Mother of the Lord," basing their stand on the words of St. Gabriel the archangel, who foretold that the Son of Mary would reign forever,[8] and on the words of Elizabeth who greeted her with reverence and called her "the Mother of my Lord."[9] Thereby they clearly signified that she derived a certain eminence and exalted station from the royal dignity of her Son.

10. So it is that St. Ephrem, burning with poetic inspiration, represents her as speaking in this way: "Let Heaven sustain me in its embrace, because I am honored above it. For heaven was not Thy mother, but Thou hast made it Thy throne. How much more honorable and venerable than the throne of a king is her mother."[10] And in another place he thus prays to her: ". . . Majestic and Heavenly Maid, Lady, Queen, protect and keep me under your wing lest Satan the sower of destruction glory over me, lest my wicked foe be victorious against me."[11]

11. St. Gregory Nazianzen calls Mary "the Mother of the King of the universe," and the "Virgin Mother who brought forth the King of the whole world,"[12] while Prudentius asserts that the Mother marvels "that she has brought forth God as man, and even as Supreme King."[13]

12. And this royal dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is quite clearly indicated through direct assertion by those who call her "Lady," "Ruler" and "Queen."

13. In one of the homilies attributed to Origen, Elizabeth calls Mary "the Mother of my Lord." and even addresses her as "Thou, my Lady."[14]

14. The same thing is found in the writings of St. Jerome where he makes the following statement amidst various interpretations of Mary's name: "We should realize that Mary means Lady in the Syrian Language."[15] After him St. Chrysologus says the same thing more explicitly in these words: "The Hebrew word 'Mary' means 'Domina.' The Angel therefore addresses her as 'Lady' to preclude all servile fear in the Lord's Mother, who was born and was called 'Lady' by the authority and command of her own Son."[16]

15. Moreover Epiphanius, the bishop of Constantinople, writing to the Sovereign Pontiff Hormisdas, says that we should pray that the unity of the Church may be preserved "by the grace of the holy and consubstantial Trinity and by the prayers of Mary, Our Lady, the holy and glorious Virgin and Mother of God."[17]

16. The Blessed Virgin, sitting at the right hand of God to pray for us is hailed by another writer of that same era in these words, "the Queen of mortal man, the most holy Mother of God."[18]

17. St. Andrew of Crete frequently attributes the dignity of a Queen to the Virgin Mary. For example, he writes, "Today He transports from her earthly dwelling, as Queen of the human race, His ever-Virgin Mother, from whose womb He, the living God, took on human form."[19]

18. And in another place he speaks of "the Queen of the entire human race faithful to the exact meaning of her name, who is exalted above all things save only God himself."[20]

19. Likewise St. Germanus speaks to the humble Virgin in these words: "Be enthroned, Lady, for it is fitting that you should sit in an exalted place since you are a Queen and glorious above all kings."[21] He likewise calls her the "Queen of all of those who dwell on earth."[22]

20. She is called by St. John Damascene: "Queen, ruler, and lady,"[23] and also "the Queen of every creature."[24] Another ancient writer of the Eastern Church calls her "favored Queen," "the perpetual Queen beside the King, her son," whose "snow-white brow is crowned with a golden diadem."[25]

21. And finally St. Ildephonsus of Toledo gathers together almost all of her titles of honor in this salutation: "O my Lady, my Sovereign, You who rule over me, Mother of my Lord . . . Lady among handmaids, Queen among sisters."[26]

22. The theologians of the Church, deriving their teaching from these and almost innumerable other testimonies handed down long ago, have called the most Blessed Virgin the Queen of all creatures, the Queen of the world, and the Ruler of all.

23. The Supreme Shepherds of the Church have considered it their duty to promote by eulogy and exhortation the devotion of the Christian people to the heavenly Mother and Queen. Simply passing over the documents of more recent Pontiffs, it is helpful to recall that as early as the seventh century Our predecessor St. Martin I called Mary "our glorious Lady, ever Virgin."[27] St. Agatho, in the synodal letter sent to the fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council called her "Our Lady, truly and in a proper sense the Mother of God."[28] And in the eighth century Gregory II in the letter sent to St. Germanus, the patriarch, and read in the Seventh Ecumenical Council with all the Fathers concurring, called the Mother of God: "The Queen of all, the true Mother of God," and also "the Queen of all Christians."[29]

24. We wish also to recall that Our predecessor of immortal memory, Sixtus IV, touched favorably upon the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, beginning the Apostolic Letter Cum praeexcelsa[30] with words in which Mary is called "Queen," "Who is always vigilant to intercede with the king whom she bore." Benedict XIV declared the same thing in his Apostolic Letter Gloriosae Dominae, in which Mary is called "Queen of heaven and earth," and it is stated that the sovereign King has in some way communicated to her his ruling power.[31]

25. For all these reasons St. Alphonsus Ligouri, in collecting the testimony of past ages, writes these words with evident devotion: "Because the virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the King of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honored her with the title of 'Queen'."[32]

26. Furthermore, the sacred liturgy, which acts as a faithful reflection of traditional doctrine believed by the Christian people through the course of all the ages both in the East and in the West, has sung the praises of the heavenly Queen and continues to sing them.

27. Ardent voices from the East sing out: "O Mother of God, today thou art carried into heaven on the chariots of the cherubim, the seraphim wait upon thee and the ranks of the heavenly army bow before thee."[33]

28. Further: "O just, O most blessed Joseph), since thou art sprung from a royal line, thou hast been chosen from among all mankind to be spouse of the pure Queen who, in a way which defies description, will give birth to Jesus the king."[34] In addition: "I shall sing a hymn to the mother, the Queen, whom I joyously approach in praise, gladly celebrating her wonders in song. . . Our tongue cannot worthily praise thee, O Lady; for thou who hast borne Christ the king art exalted above the seraphim. . . Hail, O Queen of the world; hail, O Mary, Queen of us all."[35]

29. We read, moreover, in the Ethiopic Missal: "O Mary, center of the whole world, . . . thou art greater than the many-eyed cherubim and the six-winged seraphim . . . Heaven and earth are filled with the sanctity of thy glory."[36]

30. Furthermore, the Latin Church sings that sweet and ancient prayer called the "Hail, Holy Queen" and the lovely antiphons "Hail, Queen of the Heavens," "O Queen of Heaven, Rejoice," and those others which we are accustomed to recite on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary: "The Queen stood at Thy right hand in golden  vesture surrounded with beauty"[37]; "Heaven and earth praise thee as a powerful Queen"[38]; "Today the Virgin Mary ascends into heaven: rejoice because she reigns with Christ forever."[39]

31. To these and others should be added the Litany of Loreto which daily invites Christian folk to call upon Mary as Queen. Likewise, for many centuries past Christians have been accustomed to meditate upon the ruling power of Mary which embraces heaven and earth, when they consider the fifth glorious mystery of the rosary which can be called the mystical crown of the heavenly Queen.

32. Finally, art which is based upon Christian principles and is animated by their spirit as something faithfully interpreting the sincere and freely expressed devotion of the faithful, has since the Council of Ephesus portrayed Mary as Queen and Empress seated upon a royal throne adorned with royal insignia, crowned with the royal diadem and surrounded by the host of angels and saints in heaven, and ruling not only over nature and its powers but also over the machinations of Satan. Iconography, in representing the royal dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has ever been enriched with works of highest artistic value and greatest beauty; it has even taken the form of representing colorfully the divine Redeemer crowning His mother with a resplendent diadem.

33. The Roman Pontiffs, favoring such types of popular devotion, have often crowned, either in their own persons, or through representatives, images of the Virgin Mother of God which were already outstanding by reason of public veneration.

34. As We have already mentioned, Venerable Brothers, according to ancient tradition and the sacred liturgy the main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is without doubt her Divine Motherhood. In Holy Writ, concerning the Son whom Mary will conceive, We read this sentence: "He shall be called the Son of the most High, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end,"[40] and in addition Mary is called "Mother of the Lord";[41] from this it is easily concluded that she is a Queen, since she bore a son who, at the very moment of His conception, because of the hypostatic union of the human nature with the Word, was also as man King and Lord of all things. So with complete justice St. John Damascene could write: "When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature."[42] Likewise, it can be said that the heavenly voice of the Archangel Gabriel was the first to proclaim Mary's royal office.

35. But the Blessed Virgin Mary should be called Queen, not only because of her Divine Motherhood, but also because God has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of our eternal salvation. "What more joyful, what sweeter thought can we have" -- as Our Predecessor of happy memory, Pius XI wrote -- "than that Christ is our King not only by natural right, but also by an acquired right: that which He won by the redemption? Would that all men, now forgetful of how much we cost Our Savior, might recall to mind the words, 'You were redeemed, not with gold or silver which perishes, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb spotless and undefiled.[43] We belong not to ourselves now, since Christ has bought us 'at a great price'."[44]/[45]

36. Now, in the accomplishing of this work of redemption, the Blessed Virgin Mary was most closely associated with Christ; and so it is fitting to sing in the sacred liturgy: "Near the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ there stood, sorrowful, the Blessed Mary, Queen of Heaven and Queen of the World."[46] Hence, as the devout disciple of St. Anselm (Eadmer, ed.) wrote in the Middle Ages: "just as . . . God, by making all through His power, is Father and Lord of all, so the blessed Mary, by repairing all through her merits, is Mother and Queen of all; for God is the Lord of all things, because by His command He establishes each of them in its own nature, and Mary is the Queen of all things, because she restores each to its original dignity through the grace which she merited.[47]

37. For "just as Christ, because He redeemed us, is our Lord and king by a special title, so the Blessed Virgin also (is our queen), on account of the unique manner in which she assisted in our redemption, by giving of her own substance, by freely offering Him for us, by her singular desire and petition for, and active interest in, our salvation."[48]

38. From these considerations, the proof develops on these lines: if Mary, in taking an active part in the work of salvation, was, by God's design, associated with Jesus Christ, the source of salvation itself, in a manner comparable to that in which Eve was associated with Adam, the source of death, so that it may be stated that the work of our salvation was accomplished by a kind of "recapitulation,"[49] in which a virgin was instrumental in the salvation of the human race, just as a virgin had been closely associated with its death; if, moreover, it can likewise be stated that this glorious Lady had been chosen Mother of Christ "in order that she might become a partner in the redemption of the human race";[50] and if, in truth, "it was she who, free of the stain of actual and original sin, and ever most closely bound to her Son, on Golgotha offered that Son to the Eternal Father together with the complete sacrifice of her maternal rights and maternal love, like a new Eve, for all the sons of Adam, stained as they were by his lamentable fall,"[51] then it may be legitimately concluded that as Christ, the new Adam, must be called a King not merely because He is Son of God, but also because He is our Redeemer, so, analogously, the Most Blessed Virgin is queen not only because she is Mother of God, but also because, as the new Eve, she was associated with the new Adam.

39. Certainly, in the full and strict meaning of the term, only Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is King; but Mary, too, as Mother of the divine Christ, as His associate in the redemption, in his struggle with His enemies and His final victory over them, has a share, though in a limited and analogous way, in His royal dignity. For from her union with Christ she attains a radiant eminence transcending that of any other creature; from her union with Christ she receives the royal right to dispose of the treasures of the Divine Redeemer's Kingdom; from her union with Christ finally is derived the inexhaustible efficacy of her maternal intercession before the Son and His Father.

40. Hence it cannot be doubted that Mary most Holy is far above all other creatures in dignity, and after her Son possesses primacy over all. "You have surpassed every creature," sings St. Sophronius. "What can be more sublime than your joy, O Virgin Mother? What more noble than this grace, which you alone have received from God"?[52] To this St. Germanus adds: "Your honor and dignity surpass the whole of creation; your greatness places you above the angels."[53] And St. John Damascene goes so far as to say: "Limitless is the difference between God's servants and His Mother."[54]

41. In order to understand better this sublime dignity of the Mother of God over all creatures let us recall that the holy Mother of God was, at the very moment of her Immaculate Conception, so filled with grace as to surpass the grace of all the Saints. Wherefore, as Our Predecessor of happy memory, Pius IX wrote, God "showered her with heavenly gifts and graces from the treasury of His divinity so far beyond what He gave to all the angels and saints that she was ever free from the least stain of sin; she is so beautiful and perfect, and possesses such fullness of innocence and holiness, that under God a greater could not be dreamed, and only God can comprehend the marvel."[55]

42. Besides, the Blessed Virgin possessed, after Christ, not only the highest degree of excellence and perfection, but also a share in that influence by which He, her Son and our Redeemer, is rightly said to reign over the minds and wills of men. For if through His Humanity the divine Word performs miracles and gives graces, if He uses His Sacraments and Saints as instruments for the salvation of men, why should He not make use of the role and work of His most holy Mother in imparting to us the fruits of redemption? "With a heart that is truly a mother's," to quote again Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, "does she approach the problem of our salvation, and is solicitous for the whole human race; made Queen of heaven and earth by the Lord, exalted above all choirs of angels and saints, and standing at the right hand of her only a Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she intercedes powerfully for us with a mother's prayers, obtains what she seeks, and cannot be refused."[56] On this point another of Our Predecessors of happy memory, Leo XIII, has said that an "almost immeasurable" power has been given Mary in the distribution of graces;[57] St. Pius X adds that she fills this office "as by the right of a mother."[58]

43. Let all Christians, therefore, glory in being subjects of the Virgin Mother of God, who, while wielding royal power, is on fire with a mother's love.

44. Theologians and preachers, however, when treating these and like questions concerning the Blessed Virgin, must avoid straying from the correct course, with a twofold error to guard against: that is to say, they must beware of unfounded opinions and exaggerated expressions which go beyond the truth, on the other hand, they must watch out for excessive narrowness of mind in weighing that exceptional, sublime, indeed all but divine dignity of the Mother of God, which the Angelic Doctor teaches must be attributed to her "because of the infinite goodness that is God."[59]

45. For the rest, in this as in other points of Christian doctrine, "the proximate and universal norm of truth" is for all the living Magisterium of the Church, which Christ established "also to illustrate and explain those matters which are contained only in an obscure way, and implicitly in the deposit of faith."[60]

46. From the ancient Christian documents, from prayers of the liturgy, from the innate piety of the Christian people, from works of art, from every side We have gathered witnesses to the regal dignity of the Virgin Mother of God; We have likewise shown that the arguments deduced by Sacred Theology from the treasure store of the faith fully confirm this truth. Such a wealth of witnesses makes up a resounding chorus which changes the sublimity of the royal dignity of the Mother of God and of men, to whom every creature is subject, who is "exalted to the heavenly throne, above the choirs of angels."[61]

47. Since we are convinced, after long and serious reflection, that great good will accrue to the Church if this solidly established truth shines forth more clearly to all, like a luminous lamp raised aloft, by Our Apostolic authority We decree and establish the feast of Mary's Queenship, which is to be celebrated every year in the whole world on the 31st of May. We likewise ordain that on the same day the consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary be renewed, cherishing the hope that through such consecration a new era may begin, joyous in Christian peace and in the triumph of religion.

48. Let all, therefore, try to approach with greater trust the throne of grace and mercy of our Queen and Mother, and beg for strength in adversity, light in darkness, consolation in sorrow; above all let them strive to free themselves from the slavery of sin and offer an unceasing homage, filled with filial loyalty, to their Queenly Mother. Let her churches be thronged by the faithful, her feast-days honored; may the beads of the Rosary be in the hands of all; may Christians gather, in small numbers and large, to sing her praises in churches, in homes, in hospitals, in prisons. May Mary's name be held in highest reverence, a name sweeter than honey and more precious than jewels; may none utter blasphemous words, the sign of a defiled soul, against that name graced with such dignity and revered for its motherly goodness; let no one be so bold as to speak a syllable which lacks the respect due to her name.

49. All, according to their state, should strive to bring alive the wondrous virtues of our heavenly Queen and most loving Mother through constant effort of mind and manner. Thus will it come about that all Christians, in honoring and imitating their sublime Queen and Mother, will realize they are truly brothers, and with all envy and avarice thrust aside, will promote love among classes, respect the rights of the weak, cherish peace. No one should think himself a son of Mary, worthy of being received under her powerful protection, unless, like her, he is just, gentle and pure, and shows a sincere desire for true brotherhood, not harming or injuring but rather helping and comforting others.

50. In some countries of the world there are people who are unjustly persecuted for professing their Christian faith and who are deprived of their divine and human rights to freedom; up till now reasonable demands and repeated protests have availed nothing to remove these evils. May the powerful Queen of creation, whose radiant glance banishes storms and tempests and brings back cloudless skies, look upon these her innocent and tormented children with eyes of mercy; may the Virgin, who is able to subdue violence beneath her foot, grant to them that they may soon enjoy the rightful freedom to practice their religion openly, so that, while serving the cause of the Gospel, they may also contribute to the strength and progress of nations by their harmonious cooperation, by the practice of extraordinary virtues which are a glowing example in the midst of bitter trials.

51. By this Encyclical Letter We are instituting a feast so that all may recognize more clearly and venerate more devoutly the merciful and maternal sway of the Mother of God. We are convinced that this feast will help to preserve, strengthen and prolong that peace among nations which daily is almost destroyed by recurring crises. Is she not a rainbow in the clouds reaching towards God, the pledge of a covenant of peace?[62] "Look upon the rainbow, and bless Him that made it; surely it is beautiful in its brightness. It encompasses the heaven about with the circle of its glory, the hands of the Most High have displayed it."[63] Whoever, therefore, reverences the Queen of heaven and earth -- and let no one consider himself exempt from this tribute of a grateful and loving soul -- let him invoke the most effective of Queens, the Mediatrix of peace; let him respect and preserve peace, which is not wickedness unpunished nor freedom without restraint, but a well-ordered harmony under the rule of the will of God; to its safeguarding and growth the gentle urgings and commands of the Virgin Mary impel us.

52. Earnestly desiring that the Queen and Mother of Christendom may hear these Our prayers, and by her peace make happy a world shaken by hate, and may, after this exile show unto us all Jesus, Who will be our eternal peace and joy, to you, Venerable Brothers, and to your flocks, as a promise of God's divine help and a pledge of Our love, from Our heart We impart the Apostolic Benediction.

53. Given at Rome, from St. Peter's, on the feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the eleventh day of October, 1954, in the sixteenth year of our Pontificate.


  • 1. Cf. constitutio apostolica Munificentissirnus Deus: AAS XXXXII 1950, p. 753 sq.
  • 2. Cf. Iitt. enc. Fulgens corona: AAS XXXXV, 1953, p. 577 sq.
  • 3. Cf. AAS XXXVIII, 1946, p. 264 sq.
  • 4. Cf. L'Osservatore Romano, d. 19 Maii, a. 1946.
  • 5. Luc. 1, 32.
  • 6. Isai. IX, 6.
  • 7. Apoc. XIX, 16.
  • 8. Cf. Luc. 1, 32, 33.
  • 9. Luc. 1, 43.
  • 10. S. Ephraem, Hymni de B Mana, ed. Th. J. Lamy, t. II, Mechliniae, 1886, hymn. XIX, p. 624.
  • 11. Idem, Oratio ad Ssmam Dei Matrem; Opera omnia, Ed. Assemani, t. III (graece), Romae, 1747, pag. 546.
  • 12. S. Gregorius Naz., Poemata dogmatica, XVIII, v. 58; PG XXXVII, 485.
  • 13. Prudentius, Dittochaeum, XXVII: PL LX, 102 A.
  • 14. Hom. in S. Lucam, hom. Vll; ed. Rauer, Origenes' Werke, T. IX, p. 48 (ex catena Marcarii Chrysocephali). Cf. PG XIII, 1902 D.
  • 15. S. Hieronymus, Liber de nominibus hebraeis: PL XXIII, 886.
  • 16. S. Petrus Chrysologus, Sermo 142, De Annuntiatione B.M.V.: PL Lll, 579 C; cf. etiam 582 B; 584 A: "Regina totius exstitit castitatis."
  • 17. Relatio Epiphanii Ep. Constantin.: PL LXII, 498 D.
  • 18. Encomium in Dormitionem Ssmae Deiparae (inter opera S. Modesti): PG LXXXVI, 3306 B.
  • 19. S. Andreas Cretensis, Homilia II in Dormitionem Ssmae Deiparae: PG XCVII, 1079 B.
  • 20. Id., Homilia III in Dormitionem Ssmae Deiparae: PG XCVII, 1099 A.
  • 21. S. Germanus, In Praesentationem Ssmae Deiparae, 1: PG XCVIII, 303 A.
  • 22. Id., In Praesentationem Ssmae Deiparae, n PG XCVIII, 315 C.
  • 23. S. Ioannes Damascenus, Homilia I in Dormitionem B.M.V.: P.G. XCVI, 719 A.
  • 24. Id., De fide orthodoxa, I, IV, c. 14: PG XLIV, 1158 B.
  • 25. De laudibus Mariae (inter opera Venantii Fortunati): PL LXXXVIII, 282 B et 283 A.
  • 26. Ildefonsus Toletanus, De virginitate perpetua B.M.V.: PL XCVI, 58 A D.
  • 27. S. Martinus 1, Epist. XIV: PL LXXXVII, 199-200 A.
  • 28. S. Agatho: PL LXXXVII, 1221 A.
  • 29. Hardouin, Acta Conciliorum, IV, 234; 238: PL LXXXIX, 508 B.
  • 30. Xystus IV, bulla Cum praeexcelsa. d. d. 28 Febr. a. 1476.
  • 31. Benedictus XIV, bulla Gloriosae Dominae, d. d. 27 Sept. a. 1748.
  • 32. S. Alfonso, Le glone de Maria, p. I, c. I, 1.
  • 33. Ex liturgia Armenorum: in festo Assumptionis, hymnus ad Matutinum.
  • 34. Ex Menaeo (byzantino): Dominica post Natalem, in Canone, ad Matutinum.
  • 35. Officium hymni Axathistos (in ritu byzantino).
  • 36. Missale Aethiopicum, Anaphora Dominae nostrae Mariae, Matris Dei.
  • 37. Brev. Rom., Versiculus sexti Respons.
  • 38. Festum Assumptionis; hymnus Laudum.
  • 39. Ibidem, ad Magnificat 11 Vesp.
  • 40. Luc. 1, 32, 33.
  • 41. Ibid. 1, 43.
  • 42. S. Ioannes Damascenus, De fide orthodoxa, 1. IV, c. 14; PL XCIV, 1158 s. B.
  • 43. I Petr. 1, 18, 19.
  • 44. I Cor. Vl, 20.
  • 45. Pius Xl, litt. enc. Quas primas: AAS XVII, 1925, p. 599.
  • 46. Festum septem dolorum B. Mariae Virg., Tractus.
  • 47. Eadmerus, De excellentia Virginis Mariae, c. 11: PL CLIX, 508 A B.
  • 48. F. Suarez, De mysteriis vitae Christi, disp. XXII, sect. 11 (ed Vives, XIX, 327).
  • 49. S. Irenaeus, Adv. haer., V, 19, 1: PG VII, 1175 B.
  • 50. Pius Xl, epist. Auspicatus profecto: AAS XXV, 1933, p. 80.
  • 51. Pius XII, litt. enc. Mystici Corporis: AAS XXXV, 1943, p. 247.
  • 52. S. Sophronius, In annuntianone Beatae Mariae Virginis: PG LXXXVII, 3238 D; 3242 A.
  • 53. S. Germanus, Hom. II in dormitione Beatae Mariae Virginis: PG XCVIII, 354 B.
  • 54. S. Ioannes Damascenus, Hom. I in Dormitionem Beatae Mariae Virginis: PG XCVI, 715 A.
  • 55. Pius IX, bulla Ineffabilis Deus: Acta Pii IX, I, p. 597-598.
  • 56. Ibid. p. 618.
  • 57. Leo Xlll, litt. enc. Adiumcem populi: ASS, XXVIIl, 1895-1896,p.130.
  • 58. Pius X, litt enc. Ad diem illum: ASS XXXVI, 1903-1904, p.455.
  • 59. S. Thomas, Summa Theol., I, q. 25, a. 6, ad 4.
  • 60. Pius Xll, litt. enc. Humani generis: AAS XLII, 1950, p. 569.
  • 61. Ex Brev. Rom.: Festum Assumptionis Beatae Mariae Virginis.
  • 62. Cf. Gen. IX, 13.
  • 63. Eccl. XLIII, 12-13.
  • --------------------
    [cf., Vatican.va: Ad caeli reginam]

    Live well!