LETTERS OF CREDENCE OF NEW GERMAN AMBASSADOR
VATICAN CITY, 7 NOV 2011 (VIS REPORT) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Reinhard Schweppe, the new German ambassador to the Holy See. In his remarks to the diplomat he recalled his own recent visit to the country of his birth which, he said, provided an opportunity "to reflect upon the service the Catholic Church and the Holy See can make in a pluralistic society".
"Many of our contemporaries see the influence of Christianity, and of other religions as a way of imposing a specific culture and lifestyle upon society", the Pope observed. "This view is not incorrect, but it is not a complete understanding of the Catholic Church, ... which has not only formed different kinds of cultural community in different countries, but has herself been moulded by the traditions of individual nations".
"The Church is aware - thanks to her faith - that she knows the truth about man, and thus that she is obliged to protect those values which are valid for mankind as such, over and above individual cultures", the Holy Father went on. "Fortunately, a fundamental part of shared human values became law in the German Constitution of 1949 and in the Declaration of Human Rights after World War II. ... Today, however, certain basic values of human life are again been put into question, values which defend the dignity man possesses simply by virtue of being a man. It is here that the Church sees she has a duty, over and above her faith, to defend truths and values that are under threat".
Pope Benedict went on: "We are not qualified to judge - to speak of one particularly important topic - whether an individual is 'already a person' or 'still a person'; even less so do we have the right to manipulate and, so to say, 'to create' man. Only a society which unconditionally respects and defends the dignity of each human being, from conception to natural end, can call itself a human society. ... If the Holy See enters into the field of lawmaking on fundamental questions that involve man's dignity - such as those that arise today concerning the prenatal existence of man - she does so not as a way of indirectly imposing her faith upon others, but of defending values which are evident to everyone because they concern the truth about human beings".
Benedict XVI then went on refer to gender discrimination against women, describing it as "a critical problem which, due to materialistic and hedonistic tendencies, seems to be on the increase, above all in the Western world". The Pope highlighted how "a relationship which fails to take account of the fact that man and woman have equal dignity represents a grave affront to humankind. The time has come to take an energetic stance against prostitution and the widespread availability of erotic and pornographic material, also on the Internet. The Holy See will ensure that the Catholic Church inGermany takes clear and decisive initiatives against this form of abuse".
In conclusion, the Pope thanked the German federal government and the governments of the Lander for supporting the Catholic Church "which enjoys excellent openings in Germany", both to announce the Gospel and to help people in need through her social and charitable institutions "the work of which, in the final analysis, is of benefit to all citizens".
VATICAN CITY, 7 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:
- Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States of America.
- Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, apostolic nuncio to the Czech Republic.
- Archbishop Richard William Smith of Edmonton, Canada, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Metropolitan Archbishop-elect Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau (currently bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall), vice president, and Msgr. Patrick Powers, secretary general.
- Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv of the Latins, Ukraine.
On Saturday 5 November he received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
- Six prelates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on their "ad limina" visit:
- Archbishop Henry Joseph Mansell of Hartford, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Peter Anthony Rosazza.
- Bishop Willìam Edward Lori of Bridgeport.
- Bishop Michael Richard Cote of Norwich.
- Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans.
VATICAN CITY, 7 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Darwin Rudy Andino Ramirez C.R.S., auxiliary of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, as bishop of Santa Rosa de Copan (area 17,360, population 1,289,000, Catholics 1,160,000, priests 60, religious 63), Honduras. He succeeds Bishop Luis Alfonso Santos Villeda S.D.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
VATICAN CITY, 6 NOV 2011 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with pilgrims and faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI made some brief comments on the readings from today's liturgy which, he said, "invite us to continue the reflections on eternal life we began with the commemoration of All Souls Day. On this question there is a clear difference between those who believe and those who do not believe or, we could say, between those who hope and those who do not".
"St. Paul reminded the Christians of Ephesus that, before they accepted the Good News, they had had 'no hope' and had been 'without God in the world'. The religion of the Greeks, the pagan cults and myths were unable to throw light on the mystery of death. Indeed, one ancient inscription read: 'How quickly we fall back from nothing to nothing'. If we eliminate God, if we eliminate Christ, the world falls into emptiness and darkness. This also emerges in contemporary forms of nihilism by which, alas, young people are so often unknowingly affected".
The Pope also referred to the reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew, "the famous parable of the ten bridesmaids invited to a wedding banquet, symbol of the kingdom of heaven, of eternal life", he said. "Of the ten, five entered the banquet because, when the bridegroom arrived, they had oil to light their lamps, while the other five could not enter because they had foolishly failed to bring oil with them. What does this 'oil' represent?" the Holy Father asked. "St. Augustine and other ancient writers saw it as a symbol of love: a love which we cannot buy but receive as a gift, which we keep in our hearts and practise in good works. True wisdom is to take advantage of mortal life to do works of mercy, because this will not be possible after death. When we reawaken for the final judgement, we will be assessed on the basis of the love we have shown during our earthly lives. This love is a gift of Christ, poured upon us by the Holy Spirit. Those who believe in God-Love carry an invincible hope, like a lamp with which to cross the night after death and to reach the great feast of life".
In conclusion, the Pope invited the faithful to learn from the Virgin Mary "to live and die in the hope that does not disappoint".
VATICAN CITY, 6 NOV 2011 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus this morning, the Pope expressed his concern at recent tragic events in Nigeria. He gave assurances of his prayers for the victims, at the same time launching an appeal "to end all violence, which does not resolve problems but accentuates them by sowing hatred and discord, also among believers".
Speaking then in Spanish and referring to this morning's liturgy he said: "The meeting with God cannot be improvised, it is something that must last our whole lives long. God is found by those who seek Him. I would also like to recall here that a year ago tomorrow, I had the joy of consecrating the basilica of the 'Sagrada Familia' in Barcelona, admirable compendium of technology, beauty and faith designed by that architectural genius, Servant of God Antonio Gaudi".
"My thoughts today cannot but go to the city of Genoa, Italy, which has been seriously affected by floods. I give assurances of my prayers for the victims, their families and for everyone who has suffered serious damage. May the Madonna della Guardia support the dear people of Genoa as together they seek to overcome this trial".
VATICAN CITY, 5 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father presided at Vespers for the opening of the academic year in pontifical universities. His homily focused on priestly ministry, in the light of the current seventieth anniversary of the founding of the Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations by Venerable Pius XII. The reading from the First Letter of Peter likewise "invites us to meditate upon the mission of pastors in the Christian community", the Pope said.
"Ever since the beginning of the Church, it was clear that the guides of those early communities were given particular importance, instituted by the Apostles to announce the Word of God through preaching and celebrating Christ's sacrifice. ... Peter also emphasises reciprocal solidarity among pastors, highlighting his own and their membership of the single apostolic order. ... Tending Christ's flock is the vocation and task they share; it binds them to one another because they are united by a special bond to Christ. ... The apostolic vocation lives thanks to the personal relationship with Christ, it is nourished by assiduous prayer and animated by the passionate desire to communicate the message received from the same experience of faith as the Apostles".
The Pope then went on to identify three preconditions for a priest's life to ensure its conformity to Christ: "the aspiration to collaborate with Jesus in spreading theKingdom of God, the gratuitousness of pastoral commitment, and an attitude of service".
"God the Father sent the eternal Son into the world to accomplish His plan of salvation", the Holy Father explained. "Christ Jesus founded the Church so that the beneficial effects of redemption would be extended over time. The vocation of priests has its roots in this action of the Father, which was accomplished by Christ through the Holy Spirit. The minister of the Gospel, then, is a person who allows himself to be seized by Christ, who knows how 'to abide' in Him, who enters into harmony and intimate friendship with Him, so that everything occurs 'as God would have it', according to His will of love, with great inner freedom and profound joy of heart".
Turning then to reflect on the gratuitousness of pastoral commitment, Benedict XVI noted that "we must never forget that we enter the priesthood through the Sacrament of Ordination. This means opening ourselves to the action of God by daily choosing to give ourselves for Him and for our fellow man. ... The Lord's call to the ministry is not the fruit of any particular merit, it is a gift we must accept and to which we must respond by generously and disinterestedly dedicating ourselves, not to our own project but to that of God, that He may dispose of us according to His will, even though this may not correspond to our own desire for self-fulfilment. ... As priests, we must never forget that the only legitimate ascension towards the ministry of pastor is not that of success but that of the Cross.
"From this point of view, to be a priest means to serve, also by leading an exemplary life", the Pope added. "Priests dispense the means of salvation, the Sacraments, especially those of the Eucharist and Penance. They cannot dispose of them as they please, but humbly dispense them for the good of the People of God. Their lives are profoundly marked by this service - from tending the flock to faithfully celebrating the liturgy - and by readiness to serve all their brothers and sisters, especially the poorest and those most in need. By implementing this 'pastoral charity', on the model of Christ and with Christ, wherever the Lord may call, each priest fulfils both himself and his vocation".
In closing the Pope invited the students of pontifical universities to make good use of their education, "a precious gift God gives us", and to experience it in intimate communion with Him.
VATICAN CITY, 5 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Holy Father in which he appoints Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, Germany, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the eighth centenary of the birth of St. Agnes of Bohemia, due to take place in the cathedral of Prague, Czech Republic, on 12 November.
In the Letter, written in Latin and dated 20 October, the Pope mentions the outstanding character of St. Agnes, who was a disciple of St. Clare of Assisi. He also expresses his satisfaction at the persistence of the faith among the Czech people, despite the difficulties the Catholic Church faced there over many years.
The names of the members of the mission accompanying Cardinal Meisner have also been made public, they are: Fr. Stanislav Pribyl C.Ss.R., former provincial of the Redemptorist Fathers in theCzech Republic, and Fr. Jan Houkal, pastor of Brandys nad Labem-Stara Boleslav.
USCCB REPORT: WASHINGTON—The 2011 Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will be broadcast via satellite, November 14-15, to Catholic television outlets and all broadcasters wishing to air it. The satellite feed will run from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. both days, covering both the proceedings of the meeting and news conferences.
The meeting will also be live streamed at www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/meetings/ along with posted news updates, addresses and other materials.
For those wishing to follow the proceedings on Twitter, the meeting will be Live Tweeted at http://twitter.com/USCCBLive, with the hashtag #bishops. Updates will also be posted to www.facebook.com/usccb.
The meeting will include the presidential address of Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, the election of the USCCB secretary-elect and the chairmen-elect of several committees, a vote on whether to add the memorial of Blessed John Paul II and Blessed Marianne Cope, a presentation on the Project Rachel post-abortion healing ministry and other items.
For satellite coordinates, media outlets interested in airing the meeting should contactEllen McCloskey at 202-541-3236.
CATH NEWS REPORT: Fr Bill Crahan in the historic Yass presbytery, image from the report on the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn News website.
The second last of a contingent of Irish missionary priests who came to the Archdiocese after World War II has died, said a report on the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn News website.
Jesuit Fr John Eddy also died this week at Clare Holland House after a protracted battle with cancer. Fr Eddy, who had lived at the Jesuits' Yarralumla residence for more than 40 years, was held in high regard across Australia and internationally for his priestly ministry and his lecturing in Australian history at ANU.Fr Bill Crahan passed away peacefully at Calvary Haydon Village this week. He was 84.
Fr Crahan was ordained in St John Lateran Basilica, Rome, in February, 1953. His first position in Australia was as curate at Temora in 1954. He went on to serve in parishes around the southern highands of NSW before settling finally at Yass, where he was parish priest for 14 years until he retired.
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
3 Nov 2011
An exhibition of valuable rarely-seen artworks depicting St Mary of the Cross MacKillop opens tomorrow, Friday 4 November at North Sydney's Mary MacKillop Place Museum.
Entitled "Portraits of a Saint: A Selection of works from the Sisters of St Joseph Collection," the exhibition marks the first time in more than 16 years that the majority of these artworks have been put on public display.
The last time most of them were seen was back in 1995, when they comprised part of a tribute exhibition mounted by the Powerhouse Museum to celebrate Mary MacKillop's beatification by Pope John Paul II.
"It is a thrill to have them back on display and to be able to show these artworks not only to those who might of seen the previous exhibition, but to those who missed the opportunity the first time around," says Edwina Huntley, curator at Mary MacKillop Place Museum.
"It is it is also very exciting to be able to show this collection of large, impressive and moving artworks to a whole new generation," she says.
Edwina who curated the exhibition began planning and researching the different artworks held in the Congregation and Museum collections in February this year.
Among the artworks chosen are two by the late internationally-acclaimed Indigenous artists, Queenie McKenzie and Hector Chundaloo Jandanay. Both were prominent artists from the Warmun community, one of the main centres in East Kimberly for Aboriginal art, and their artworks are well-represented in overseas galleries and private collections.
"Mary MacKillop was well-known for her work with Indigenous people, but for the people of Warmun in WA the connection is even more recent and dates back to 1978 when the Sisters of Joseph arrived in the community to establish the Ngalangangpum school," Edwina explains.
"The painting by Queenie Mckenzie, who died in 1998, is a significant work and celebrates the cultural identity of the Gija people and Mary MacKillop's community spirit of service to the vulnerable and those in need," she says.
The painting by Hector Chundaloo Jandanay, who died five years ago, is equally powerful.
In addition to these two impressive and valuable artworks, is an outstanding triptych by Sally Robinson, the award-winning Sydney painter, printmaker and portraitist.
"Created in three large panels, the work is a very interesting piece with its direct artistic and historical links to early medieval religious paintings and iconography," Edwina says.
There are also historical references in the collage of photographic images from the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph Archives which form part of the centre panel using mixed media on paper.
Although created as a tribute to Mary MacKillop and well before the beatification, the triptych portrays Australia's first saint with a halo as a symbol of her holiness.
Two other works of great interest at the exhibition were created by Vaike Liibus Lakeman, the late great portrait painter who arrived in Australia as a child in 1929, after her family were forced to flee the newly-independent Estonia in wake of the Russian revolution. A frequent entrant in the annual Archibald Prize, she was also acclaimed for her entries in the Blake Prize for Religious Art and in 1969 won the covetted Portia Geach Prize for Portraiture, consolidating her reputation.
"Both her paintings in the exhibition use oils on canvas and are wonderful examples of her work. One is titled: Sister Mary MacKillop and the other, The Cross," says Edwina.
Prolific Australian artist, Bob Marchant is also represented with an oil on linen painting that depicts Australia's first saint among a sea of followers, showing her as both guide and inspiration.
"It has been very exciting to put the exhibition together and to choose paintings that depict the different facets of her character while highlighting the essence of her holiness and goodness," Edwina says. "Now just over 12 months since the canonisation seems a good time to display these rarely seen and significant works."
The artworks will remain on display until 29 February next year but with the heightened interest in St Mary of the Cross MacKillop from people of all ages, both Catholic and non Catholic, Edwina admits that already the Sisters of St Joseph are talking about extending the exhibition.
The exhibition of these significant and rarely seen artworks can be seen between 10 am and 4 pm daily at the Mary MacKillop Place Museum, North Sydney. For more details and information log on towww.marymackillopplace.org.au
"We think that the intervention of Pope Benedict XVI is to urge the Nigerian authorities to urgently do something to stop this worrying situation", says Archbishop Kaigama. "It is not just to send more police to hot spots, there is need for more intelligence information and sharing of this information. There are people who kill other people and this happens all the time. But there is no intelligence service that will tell us who these people are, how they are organized and where they come from, Nigeria or from outside. There must be a system that controls this situation and only the government can accomplish it".
When asked if there is a plan to divide Nigeria, the Archbishop replied: "Yes, there are people who think that dividing Nigeria in Muslim in the north and Christian in the south there will be peace. But a similar project will only multiply the problems, because there are both Muslims and Christians in the north and south. The solution therefore is not to divide the country, but find ways to live together in peace and go to the root of problems: economic, social and youth unemployment, which is forcing many young in the arms of fanatic political leaders. If we can solve these problems, we could live in harmony alongside each other".
About the possibility that there may be foreign elements infiltrated among the violent, Archbishop Kaigama told Fides: "I have collected the testimony of a priest from Damataru, where several churches have been destroyed, which states that those who carried out the attacks using high explosives, were not locals, they were probably foreigners. So it is likely that there are foreign connections. Surely there are internal responsibilities, but foreign conspiracies also begin to appear. This is why I repeat that the authorities have to say who these groups are, how they get the bombs and explosives, how they can be so organized as to cause maximum damage to people without our security forces intervening".
Even the flow of arms and explosives from the Libyan arsenals, looted during the civil war, may pose a threat to Nigeria. "As religious leaders, we appeal to the Nigerian authorities for tighter controls along the borders, at ports and airports of the Country, so that no weapons come from outside", concludes the Archbishop of Jos. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 07/11/2011)
The episcopal vicar of Jakarta archdiocese has called on about 200 young Catholics attending a conference to take part in various Church activities in order to show the face of Jesus.
“Young Catholics should involve themselves in activities organized by different communities in their neighborhoods and parishes so that an effective ministry or ‘New Evangelization’ can take place,” Jesuit Father Alexius Andang Listya Binawan said yesterday.
He was speaking at the 2011 True Love Celebration conference at the Mega Glodok Kemayoran conference center in Jakarta.
The event, organized by the Domus Cordis Catholic group, included praise and worship, mass and talks on different topics delivered by representatives of ten archdiocese communities.
Father Binawan said the activities are varied and fun and include many pastimes such as camping and sports.
“These kinds of activities can foster evangelization among young people. This is the right way to show the face of Jesus,” he continued.
“The Church wants to involve young Catholics in what we call ‘New Evangelization’ because the Church wants young people to recognize the love of Jesus,” he maintained.
One participant, Karina, said by trying to tailor activities around young peoples’ interests was a step in the right direction because they won’t be boring.
“In his message for the 45th World Communications Day [June11], Pope Benedict XVI called for young people to use digital media such as social networking sites to proclaim the Gospel, because it is an easy and useful tool evangelization and to share love and joy with others,” the 25-year-old woman said.
In his homily during the Mass, Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo said today’s youths will be the ones giving future direction for the Church.
“The future of the Church is in young people’s hands. Every activity which can develop the Church and strengthen faith should be pursued,” he concluded.
Feast: November 7
November 7, 739
convulsions; epilepsy; epileptics; Luxembourg; Netherlands
St Willibrord was born in the kingdom of Northumberland towards the year 658, and placed by his virtuous parents, before he was seven years old, in the monastery of Ripon, which was at that time governed by St. Wilfrid, its founder. Wilgris, our saint's father, retired also into a monastery, afterwards became a hermit, and in his old age founded and governed a small monastery between the ocean and the Humber. He is honoured among the saints in the monastery of Epternac and in the English calendars. Alcuin has left us an account of his life. Willibrord, by carrying the yoke of our Lord with fervour from his infancy, found it always easy and sweet, and the better to preserve the first fruits which he had gathered, made his monastic profession when he was very young. He had made great progress in virtue and sacred learning when, out of a desire for further improvement, in the twentieth year of his age he went over into Ireland, with the consent of his abbot and brethren, where he joined St. Egbert or Ecgbright, and the blessed Wigbert, who were gone thither before upon the same errand. In their company our saint spent twelve years in the study of the sacred sciences and in the most fervent exercise of all virtues. Though his constitution was weak, in fervour and exactness he outdid the most advanced: he was humble, modest, and of an easy obliging temper; and his whole conduct was regular and uniform. St. Egbert had long entertained an ardent desire of going to preach the gospel to the inhabitants of those unhappy countries in which barbarism and idolatry still reigned without control, and he had chiefly Friesland or Lower Germany in his eye. But he was diverted from that apostolical design by persons of piety and authority, who engaged him to employ his zealous labours in the islands between Ireland and Scotland, in all which he settled the true manner of celebrating Easter, especially at Hij, where he died a little before Bede wrote his history. St. Egbert is honoured in the English Calendar on the 24th of April. Bede gives a most edifying account of his austere penance, devotion, zeal, and charity. His companion, the holy priest Wigbert, went in the meantime to Friesland; but after staying there two years came back without having met with any prospect of success. This disappointment did not discourage Egbert and other zealous promoters of this mission, but excited them the more earnestly to solicit the divine mercy with prayers and tears in favour of so many souls who were perishing eternally. Willibrord, who was then about thirty-one years of age and had been ordained priest a year before, expressed a great desire to be allowed by his superiors to undertake this laborious and dangerous charge. St. Egbert, by the known zeal and great talents of our saint and by his cheerfulness, doubted not but God had reserved to him the conversion of that nation, and encouraged him in this zealous design. St. Willibrord was joined by St. Swidbert and ten other English monks in this mission.
The authors of Batavia Sacra doubt not but our twelve missionaries landed at Catwic upon the sea, which was at the mouth of the Rhine before it was blocked up with sands, and thither the English were accustomed to export corn, even from the north, coasting part of their island. The British tower, as it was called, was built by the Romans at Catwic to defend this harbour. Pepin of Herstal, or the Big, who was at that time Duke of the French, received courteously St. Willibrord and his companions. But Willibrord set out for Rome and cast himself at the feet of Pope Sergius, begging his apostolic blessing and authority to preach the gospel to idolatrous nations. The pope, charmed with his zeal and sanctity, granted him the most ample licences for that purpose, and gave him a great quantity of relics for the consecration of churches. With this treasure the saint returned with all possible expedition to his province, considering the pressing necessities and dangers of so many souls which called for his compassion and relief. St. Swidbert was taken from him and ordained Bishop of the Borroctuarians, who seem to have inhabited the territory of Berg and the neighbouring country towards Cologne.
St. Willibrord, with his ten other companions, under the protection of Pepin, preached the gospel with wonderful success in that part of Friesland that had been conquered by the French; so that after six years Pepin, by the advice of his bishops, sent the saint to Rome with strong letters of recommendation that he might be ordained bishop. His humility made him endeavour that some other should be pitched upon for that dignity, but he was not heard. Pope Sergius, who still sat in St. Peter's chair, received him with great marks of honour, changed his name into that of Clement, with great solemnity ordained him Archbishop of the Frisons in St. Peter's church and gave him the pallium, with authority to fix his see in what part of the country he should think most convenient. The holy man stayed only fourteen days in Rome, being impatient to return to his flock, and regretting an hour's absence from them more than was necessary to procure them greater advantages. He came back to Utrecht the same year, 696, and chose that city for his residence, Pepin having bestowed on him the royal castle of Viltaburg which, as Bede assures us, was at Utrecht. St. Willibrord built at Utrecht the Church of our Saviour, in which he fixed his metropolitical see, says St. Boniface, and that of St. Martin, though this latter he only restored, for it had been a church, but destroyed by the pagans. The archbishop's indefatigable application to the conversion of souls seemed to prove that, with the new obligation he had received at his consecration of labouring to enlarge the kingdom of his Divine Master, he had acquired fresh strength and a considerable augmentation of his zeal. In the second year after his episcopal consecration, assisted by the liberality of Pepin and the abbess Irmina, who is said to have been daughter of Dagobert II, he founded, in 698, the abbey of Epternac in the diocese of Triers, and now in the duchy of Luxemburg, which he governed to his death. Alcuin relates that the nunnery of Horrea, of which Irmina was abbess, had been delivered from a pestilence by water blessed by St. Willibrord, and by his saying mass in the church. Pepin of Herstal before his death put away his concubine Alpais, by whom he had Charles Martel, and was reconciled to his wife Plectrudis, and in his last will, which is signed by Plectrudis, he recommended to St. Willibrord his nephews (without any mention of his natural son Charles), and bestowed on our saint the village of Swestram, now Susteren, in the duchy of Juliers, near the Meuse, with which the holy man endowed a nunnery which he built there.
Pepin of Herstal died in December 714. A little before his death, Charles Martel's son, Pepin the Short, afterwards King of France, was born, and baptized by St. Willibrord, who on that occasion is related by Alcuin to have prophesied that the child would surpass in glory all his ancestors. Charles Martel in a short time became mayor of the palace, and approved himself equally the first general and statesman of his age. In 723 he settled upon the monastery which St. Willibrord had erected at Utrecht to serve his cathedral all the royal revenues belonging to his castle there. Of this monastery St. Gregory was afterwards abbot; in succeeding times it was secularized. Several other donations of estates made by Charles Martel to several churches founded by our saint may be seen in Miraeus and others. By a charter that prince conferred on him the royalties of the city of Utrecht with its dependencies and appurtenances. By such establishments our saint sought to perpetuate the work of God. Not content to have planted the faith in the country which the French had conquered, he extended his labours into West-Friesland, which obeyed Radbod, Prince or King of the Frisons, who continued an obstinate idolater; yet hindered not the saint's preaching to his subjects, and himself sometimes listened to him. The new apostle penetrated also into Denmark; but Ongend (perhaps Biorn), who then reigned there, a monster of cruelty rather than a man, was hardened in his malice, and his example had a great influence over his subjects. The man of God, however, for the first fruits of this country, purchased thirty young Danish boys, whom he instructed, baptized, and brought back with him. In his return he was driven by stress of weather upon the famous pagan island called Fositeland, now Amelandt, on the coast of Friesland, six leagues from Leuwarden, to the north, a place then esteemed by the Danes and Frisons as most sacred in honour of the idol Fosite. It was looked upon as an unpardonable sacrilege for anyone to kill any living creature in that island, to eat of anything that grew in it, or to draw water out of a spring there without observing the strictest silence. St. Willibrord, to undeceive the inhabitants, killed some of the beasts for his companions to eat, and baptized three persons in the fountain, pronouncing the words aloud. The idolaters expected to see them run mad or drop down dead; and seeing no such judgment befall them, could not determine whether this was to be attributed to the patience of their god or to his want of power. They informed Radbod who, transported with rage, ordered lots to be cast three times a day for three days together, and the fate of the delinquents to be determined by them. God so directed it that the lot never fell upon Willibrord; but one of his company was sacrificed to the superstition of the people, and died a martyr for Jesus Christ.
The saint, upon leaving Amelandt, directed his course to Warckeren, one of the chief islands belonging to Zealand. His charity and patience made considerable conquests to the Christian religion there, and he established several churches. After the death of Radbod, which happened in 719, Willibrord was at full liberty to preach in every part of the country. He was joined in his apostolical labours, in 720, by St. Boniface, who spent three years in Friesland, then went into Germany. Bede says, when he wrote his history in 731: "Willibrord, surnamed Clement, is still living, venerable for his old age, having been bishop thirty-six years, and sighing after the rewards of the heavenly life, after many conflicts in the heavenly warfare." "He was," says Alcuin, "of a becoming stature, venerable in his aspect, comely in his person, graceful, and always cheerful in his speech and countenance, wise in his counsel, unwearied in preaching and all apostolic functions, amidst which he was careful to nourish the interior life of his soul by assiduous prayer, singing of psalms, watching, and fasting." Alcuin, who wrote about fifty years after his death, assures us that this apostle was endowed with the gift of miracles, and relates that whilst he preached in the isle of Warckeren, where the towns of Flessingue and Middleburg are since built, going from village to village, he found in one of them a famous idol to which the people were offering their vows and sacrifices, and, full of holy zeal, threw it down and broke it in pieces. In the meantime an idolater, who was the priest and guardian of the idol, gave him a blow on the head with his backsword, with which, nevertheless, the saint was not hurt; and he would not suffer the assassin to be touched or prosecuted. But the unhappy man was soon after possessed with a devil and lost his senses. By the tears, prayers, and zealous labours of this apostle and his colleagues, the faith was planted in most parts of Holland, Zealand, and all the remaining part of the Netherlands, whither St. Amand and St. Lebwin had never penetrated; and the Frisons, till then a rough and most barbarous people, were civilized, and became eminent for virtue and the culture of arts and sciences. St. Wulfran, Archbishop of Sens, and others, excited by the success of our saint's missions, were ambitious to share in so great a work under his direction. St. Willibrord was exceeding cautious in admitting persons to holy orders, fearing lest one unworthy or slothful minister should defeat by scandal all the good which the divine mercy had begun for the salvation of many souls. It is also mentioned of him that he was very strict and diligent in examining and preparing thoroughly those whom he admitted to baptism, dreading the condemnation which those incur who, by sloth or facility, open a door to the profanation of our most tremendous mysteries. The schools which St. Willibrord left at Utrecht were very famous. Being at length quite broken with old age, he resigned the administration of his diocese to a coadjutor whom he ordained bishop, and in retirement prepared himself for eternity. He died, according to Pagi, in 739; according to Mabillon, in 740 or 741, and according to Mr. Smith, in 745; some adhering to Alcuin, others to Bede, &c. St. Boniface says that St. Willibrord spent fifty years in preaching the gospel, which Mr. Smith dates from his episcopal consecration, Mabillon from his coming into Friesland, but others think these fifty years mean only thereabouts. Alcuin and Rabanus Maurus place his death on the 6th of November; but the Chronicle of Epternac, Usuard, Ado, and the Roman and Benedictin Martyrologies commemorate him on the 7th. He was buried, as he had desired, at his monastery of Epternac, and his relics are there enshrined at this day. The portative altar which he made use of for the celebration of the divine mysteries, in travelling through Friesland, Zealand, and Holland, is kept in the Benedictin abbey of our Lady ad Martyres, at Triers.
1And he said to his disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!2It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.3Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him;4and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, `I repent,' you must forgive him."5The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"6And the Lord said, "If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, `Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.