Sunday, April 29, 2012



RADIO VATICANA REPORT: It was day to remember for 9 deacons who were ordained on this World Day of Prayer for Religious Vocations by Pope Benedict XVI in St Peter’s Basilica. Eight of the deacons were from the diocese of Rome, one a former pilot, another a chemistry graduate. Also ordained on Sunday was a deacon from Vietnam who had previously been a lawyer.

Speaking to the congregation on Sunday which included the family and friends of the new priests, the Holy Father said, the Priest like the Shepherd is called to lead the faithful entrusted to him to true life, “a life in abundance”

The new priests listened as the Pope told them that the value of their priestly life was not just about social works, it was also about living a life in the vital presence of God.

That presence, continued Pope Benedict was made all the more intense when the weight of the priest’s cross in life is heavier.

Referring to Sunday’s readings, Pope Benedict also noted, during his Homily, that Jesus had '' lived an experience of being rejected by the leaders of his people, yet helped by God he founded a new church.

The priest, said the Pope, is called to live the experience Jesus lived, to give himself fully to his work as preacher and healer.

Following Mass the Holy Father recited the Regina Caeli during which he prayed that more people would hear Christ’s call.

"Today’s Gospel highlights the figure of Christ the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his flock. Today we also pray for vocations to the priesthood: may more young men hear Christ’s call to follow him more closely, and offer their lives to serve their brothers and sisters. God’s peace be with you all!"

The Pope also added that the young priests he ordained on Sunday were not different from other young people, but they had been touched by a deep love of God.



April 26, 2012
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) congratulated the Connecticut bishops, the Connecticut Catholic Conference, Catholic Mobilizing Network, and all dedicated advocates against the death penalty for their work to bring about the repeal of the death penalty in Connecticut. Governor Dan Malloy enacted the legislation April 25, making Connecticut the 17th state to repeal the death penalty.
“As Catholics we are dedicated to promoting a consistent ethic of life, which values all human life as full of dignity and inherent worth – even those convicted of the worst crimes,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. “We welcome the courageous decision by the governor and the legislature to abolish the use of the death penalty in Connecticut. We stand in solidarity with all those who work for a just and safe society that protects its citizens and upholds the sanctity and dignity of all human life.”
Pope Benedict XVI, like his predecessor John Paul II, has called for the end of the use of the death penalty. In November 2011, Pope Benedict expressed support for efforts for“political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty.”


By Salisu Ibrahim, 29 April 2012
An early morning attack during catholic mass in the heart of Bayero University Kano has left at least 18 people dead.
Among the victims of the attack are Professors Jerome Ayodele of the Chemistry Department and Andrew Leo of Library Science department respectably of the Bayero University Kano.
The attacks carried out by unidentified gunmen, happened at about 8.30am in the morning hours of Sunday as Christians faithful were conducting their service at the Theater hall of the university.
Although the University spokesperson, Alhaji Mustapha Zahradeen told our correspondent that seven persons were killed, eyewitnesses said rescue operators removed at least 18 dead bodies.
But Mustapha Zahradeen explained that the gunmen who stormed the university premises on motorcycles took everybody unawares because it has never occurred to them that such an attack could happen.
He said that many students and other worshipers were critically injured and taken to Mallam Aminu Kano teaching hospital where there is heavy presence of security personnel guiding the entire place.
Spokesperson of the Joint Military Task Force, LT. Ikediha Iweha also confirmed the attack, explaining that at about 8.30 am in the morning of Sunday some gunmen stormed the BUK old site campus with heavy explosives and Machine Guns and launched attacks on innocent worshippers, adding that the attack was highly sophisticated.
He said before his men arrived the scene the gun men fled the area as the entire area that including Dorayi, Karshen Wire, and BUK road was cordoned off. Iweha said the measure was part of security measure to get on the suspects.


Recognising exceptional service to the Church Print

Thursday 26 April 2012
On Sunday 15 April, Archbishop Denis Hart awarded Mr Gustaw Bernard with the Benemerenti medal, a Papal medal that recognises long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church
By Fr Tony Slowik SJ
Gustaw is a man of peace and unity. His love, dedication and respect shown in very practical ways to all people, regardless of their nationality, financial means, creed or social status is truly exemplary.Benemerenti medal winner
After the blessing of the newly renovated chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa, at the Polish Marian Shrine in Essendon, Archbishop Denis Hart awarded Mr Gustaw Bernard with the Benemerenti medal. This Papal medal, which recognises persons for their long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church, gives fitting recognition to the service which Gustaw has dedicated to the Polish Catholic community in Melbourne and to the wider Church.
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For the past 13 years, Gustaw has been an extraordinary member of our Catholic community. He has used all his equipment, talents, time and expertise in helping church communities and generously attending to people's needs. Acknowledging this achievement is greatly appreciated by many Polish people of Melbourne who know and admire Gustaw' s dedication to the Church.
As a carpenter, Gustaw has donated his considerable artistic talents and professional skills to building projects for the church. For over two years he volunteered his labour in building the Polish Shrine of Divine Mercy in Keysborough, where he continues to help out. He directed the extensive and complex renovations at the Polish Jesuit Centre in Richmond for 18 months, again without accepting payment. Over the last few months, he has been entrusted with the major project of renovating Our Lady's Chapel in the Polish Marian Shrine, Essendon during which he organized the voluntary assistance of a number of Polish tradesmen.
Marian Shrine, EssendonThe award that Gustaw received was fittingly presented at the Marian Shrine in Essendon for the blessing of the chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which Gustaw donated so much of his time to restore. This shrine is of particular significance to the Polish Community and has deep spiritual and cultural connections with their homeland.
The heart of this Shrine is Our Lady's Chapel in which is displayed a copy of the icon of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, is a gift from the Polish Primate, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, blessed by Pope Paul VI and received by the Polish Community at St Patrick's Cathedral on 15 August 1971 in the presence of Archbishop James Knox.
The magnificent new altarpiece now framing the icon of the Black Madonna incorporates an ebony section of the original altarpiece in Czestochowa and houses several treasured relics of Blessed John Paul II who, as Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, blessed this Shrine in 1973. Pope John Paul II himself donated his rosary and zuchetto and a reliquary also contains droplets of his blood.
Gustaw has dedicated many years of service to the Polish community in Melbourne. He also identifies strongly with his German heritage. Gustaw was born on 26 January 1939 in the village Posniez/Poszucice in the region of Opole (then Germany, now Poland) into a Catholic family to his German parents, Gustaw Bernard and Maria nee Wolf. After 7 years of primary education, he started his apprenticeship in 1953 and became a qualified carpenter.
When he was 18, Gustaw moved with his mother and sister to West Germany and after further studies in carpentry and additional exams and qualifications, his application for migration to Australia was accepted. In 1960, Gustaw arrived at the Bonegilla migrant camp near Wodonga. After only a few days he was employed as a carpenter by the Peter Damby Company and was involved in building Monash University in Clayton.
Gustaw met his wife Wladyslawa Tatarczuk while attending evening English classes and they were married 1st September, 1962 at St. Ignatius Church, Richmond by Fr. Jozef Janus SJ, Polish chaplain. They were blessed with two children: Roger, born in 1963, a medical practitioner, married with two children, and Krystyna, born in 1971, a scientist and bank manager, married with two children.
Gustaw and Wladzia Barnard are exemplary members of the local Catholic parish of St. Christopher's in Syndal and also of the Polish Catholic Community in Richmond. Gustaw has been always very generous to people and various community groups asking for his assistance, and his dedication to the Church has been enormous.
In so many ways, the generosity that Gustaw has shown goes far beyond his contribution to the building and renovation projects. Always smiling and joyful, extremely polite and humble he touches the hearts and minds of people around him with his deep faith and extraordinary care. He often goes to law courts or hospitals to assist people; he spends day and night with people struggling with alcoholism; he uses all his equipment, talent, time and expertise in helping church communities.
As so often happens, such extreme dedication and time-consuming service has not been sufficiently recognized or gratefully acknowledged. The Benemerenti Medal recognises the love, dedication and respect that Gustaw has shown in very practical ways to all people, regardless of their nationality, financial means, creed or social status


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The memory of the Cambodian martyrs is a legacy and a precious heritage of faith that the faithful Cambodians are called to cherish: "Proud and honored to be disciples of Jesus Christ": So says His Exc. Mgr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler, MEP, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, inviting the faithful to celebrate the memory of the Cambodian martyrs in a solemn prayer vigil to be held on 5 May in Tangkok.
In a pastoral Letter, sent by the Bishop to Fides, Mgr. Schmitthaeusler, recalling the proclamation of the Resurrection, exhorts the faithful to "be witnesses of this hope that changed the face of the earth", and insists: "We must be proud and honored because we are sons and daughters of God, because God made a covenant with each of us, because God made Jesus come back from the dead, and gave us eternal life "
"Jesus taught us to serve, to occupy the last place and bear our cross," notes the Bishop, focusing on the condition of the Church in Cambodia, remembering the contribution of the martyrs: "The events of the genocide in Pol Pot showed how the seeds of faith sown by our ancestors were alive. The Church was decimated: the blood of our bishops, our priests, our brothers and sisters, hundreds of baptized persons was shed to fertilize our fields of rice. The Church lives thanks to those who gave their lives for love."
For this reason, notes Mgr. Schmitthaeusler, the faithful can be "proud and honored" to be members of the Church in Cambodia, "because the blood of our martyrs enlivens our communities." The Vicar invites the faithful to participate actively in the celebrations and activities of the parishes, giving "testimony of love and mercy of God for all men."
About two million Cambodians were killed between 1975 and 1979, under the reign of terror imposed by the Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot. Many Christian communities living in thriving villages, organized with churches, schools and dispensaries, were displaced and decimated. Among the Cambodian martyrs there is the Bishop Paul Tep Im Sotha, the first apostolic Prefect of Battambang, and Father Jean Badre, brutally murdered in 1975. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/4/2012)


London: Ursulines celebrate 150 years in East End | London: Ursulines, East End
The Ursuline Order marks its 150th anniversary of working in the East End fittingly just a few months before the area is set to be engulfed by the Olympics.

The Ursuline convent is literally a couple of miles from the Olympic Park, situated at the back of St Angela’s school in Grosvenor Road, Forest Gate.

The house will be one of the places where families of athletes from developing countries will come to stay.

“We will be working with people here, offering hospitality - including bed and board - to the families of athletes from the developing countries," said Sister Catherine Kelly, who is one of the four remaining nuns living at the Ursuline house.

The number of nuns has certainly come down over the past few years, going from 50 based at Forest Gate in 1962 to the four left today. But those that remain continue to do the work of the Ursulines in the community.

The Belgium based Ursuline order first came to London in 1851 but encountered such hostility that some returned home. Then 11 years later they were invited back by local priest Father James McQuoin to start a school. The sisters received much support at the time from Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman.

It was from here that St Angela’s school developed. Further schools followed in nearby Ilford, Brentwood and Wimbledon in south London.

St Angela’s was initially for borders, there were seven by 1863 when Cardinal Wiseman visited. In the 1870s, St Angela’s, a day school for girls grew up alongside the boarding section. The popularity of the school grew with 800 girls attending by 1934.

“There were fees, but the school was made accessible to local girls,” said Sister Una McCreesh, one of the remaining Ursuline nuns, who retired as head of St Angela’s in 1993 after 17 years in charge.

The early years of St Angela’s were marked by some visionary strong heads. The first, Sister Xavier Hynes, served from 1878 to 1921, then Sister Angela Boord who retired in 1934. Sister Angela Mary Reidy was the head to guide the school through the war years, becoming the first to implement the 1944 Education Act together with nearby boys school St Bonaventure’s.

There are no fees paid by the children at the school today, which seeks to serve Catholics in the area. There are now more than 946 pupils. In addition there is a joint 800 strong sixth form run with St Bonaventure’s across both sites.

“The VI form attracts people from across the cultural barriers, including Sikhs and Muslims,” said Sr McCreesh, who recalls it was the vision of the first sisters to bring education to the Catholic community of east London. “The Catholic ethos has not been watered down, whilst seeking to be open to the whole borough of Newham,” said Sister McCreesh, who attended the school herself before coming back to teach and eventually lead the school.

Sr Kathleen Colmer, who taught at the school for five years, as well as being head at nearby St Antony’s, stresses the importance of empowering women. “The school educated women so that they could take a stand in the work place and parishes,” said Sister Colmer. “The school retains the Ursuline tradition of high performance, following gospel values and the spirit of service. The training of women to become independent thinkers is also important.”

One of the prominent memories for the sisters was the fire at the school in 1982. Described as “the great fire,” it began at the end of the school day. It started as a result of some work that was being done involving a blow torch. High winds on the day ensured that the fire rapidly spread and eventually took off the roof and top part of the school before being put out. This was the accommodation area where the nuns lived in those days. “We had to get accommodation elsewhere for months,” recalled Sister Kelly. Some were put up in Grosvenor Road, whilst others went out to the other convents in Ilford, Greenwich and Wimbledon.

The last sisters left the school in the 1990s but have continued to work in the local community.

Sr McCreesh was involved in the founding of the community organising body The East London Communities Organisation (Telco) which later became part of London Citizens. She was chair of trustees, retiring a couple of years ago. All the sisters have taken part in London Citizens campaigning actions, such as the march down the Mile End road to Queen Mary College calling for a living wage for workers. “We’ve marched everywhere,” said Sr McCreesh, who is presently chair of the Brentwood Justice & Peace Commission.

There are also fundraising activities for projects in Ethiopia, which involves the Ursuline schools. “We are fund raising for Ethiopia at the moment. The Ursuline schools in England have raised over £17,000 for a girls washroom for an orphanage in Ethiopia,” said Sr McCreesh.

In addition to her work with More than Gold on the Olympics, Sr Kelly runs a foot care service in the local parish of St Anthony’s. The service runs out of the convent weekly but Sr Kelly also does home visits. “Its nails, corns and calluses,” says Sister Kelly.

Sr Colmer is responsible for Ursuline Links, a project for young people to give them opportunities to serve needy communities in the UK and further afield.

The 150th anniversary will be marked in May with four days of celebrations. On 4 May, there will be Mass in the morning then a day of celebrations at the school, which will include the banging of the gong 150 times. The following day will be for former students to come and celebrate. The next day will be for the local neighbourhood and parish to come to an open house. Then there is the big celebration on 8 May when Ursulines from all over the world will come to the convent and school, including the present Mother General of the Roman Union and the Mother General of the Thildonk Congregation. There will be Mass at St Anthony’s celebrated by Bishop Thomas McMahon, with the local priests invited. There will then be a reception on the convent lawn under the tulip tree that has stood in the same place since the original school was built back in the 1850s.

Sr Colmer summarised the work of the Ursulines as going out with Christian principles: “People always matter, we hope what we are trying to do now helps open people up to God in their lives."

As for the future, the sisters say that it is in God’s hands. “People are looking for God in different ways. We are working locally with young people and in the deanery with the religious,” said Sr McCreesh. No doubt the work of witness to gospel values, inspired by the foundress St Angela, will continue on in whatever way the spirit guides.

For more information see:


Acts 4: 8 - 12
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders,
9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed,
10 be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well.
11 This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner.
12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
Psalms 118: 1, 8 - 9, 21 - 23, 26, 28 - 29
1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever!
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.
21 I thank thee that thou hast answered me and hast become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner.
23 This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
26 Blessed be he who enters in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
28 Thou art my God, and I will give thanks to thee; thou art my God, I will extol thee.
29 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever!
1 John 3: 1 - 2
1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
2 Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
John 10: 11 - 18
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,
15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.
17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.
18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."
Sun Easter


St. Catherine of Siena
Feast: April 29

Feast Day: April 29
Born: 25 March 1347 at Siena, Tuscany, Italy
Died: 29 April 1380
Canonized: July 1461 by Pope Pius II
Patron of: against fire, bodily ills, Europe, firefighters, illness, Italy, miscarriages, nurses, people ridiculed for their piety, sexual temptation, sick people, sickness, television
St. Catherine was born at Sienna, in 1347. Her father, James Benincasa, by trade a dyer, was a virtuous man; and though blessed with temporal prosperity, always chiefly solicitous to leave to his children a solid inheritance of virtue, by his example, and by deeply instilling into them lessons of piety. Her mother, Lapa, had a particular affection for this daughter above her other children; and the accomplishments of mind and body with which she was adorned made her the darling and delight of all that knew her, and procured her the name of Euphrosyna. She was favored by God with extraordinary graces as soon as she was capable of knowing him. She withdrew very young to a solitude a little out of the town, to imitate the lives of the fathers of the desert. Returning after some time to her father's house, she continued to be guided by the same spirit. In her childhood she consecrated her virginity to God by a private vow. Her love of mortification and prayer, and her sentiments of virtue, were such as are not usually found in so tender an age. But God was pleased to put her resolution to a great trial. At twelve years of age, her parents thought of engaging her in a married state. Catherine found them deaf to her entreaties that she might live single; and therefore redoubled her prayers, watching, and austerities, knowing her protection must be from God alone. Her parents, regarding her inclination to solitude as unsuitable to the life for which they designed her, endeavored to divert her from it, and began to thwart her devotions, depriving her in this view of the little chamber or cell they had till then allowed her. They loaded her with the most distracting employments, and laid on her all the drudgery of the house, as if she had been a person hired into the family for that purpose. The hardest labor, humiliations, contempt, and the insults of her sisters, were to the saint a subject of joy; and such was her ardent love of crosses, that she embraced them in all shapes with a holy eagerness, and received all railleries with an admirable sweetness and heroic patience. If any thing grieved her, it was the loss of her dear solitude. But the Holy Ghost, that interior faithful master, to whom she listened, taught her to make herself another solitude in her heart; where, amidst all her occupations, she considered herself always as alone with God; to whose presence she kept herself no less attentive than if she had no exterior employment to distract her. In that admirable Treatise of God's Providence, which she wrote, she saith, "that our Lord had taught her to build in her soul a private closet, strongly vaulted with the divine providence, and to keep herself always close and retired there; he assured her that by this means she should find peace and perpetual repose in her soul, which no storm or tribulation could disturb or interrupt." Her sisters and other friends persuaded her to join with them in the diversions of the world, alleging, that virtue is not an enemy to neatness in dress, or to cheerfulness; under which soft names they endeavored to recommend the dangerous liberties of worldly pastimes and vanities. Catherine was accordingly prevailed upon by her sister to dress in a manner something more genteel; but she soon repented of her compliance, and wept for it during the remainder of her life, as the greatest infidelity she had ever been guilty of to her heavenly spouse. The death of her eldest sister, Bonaventura, soon after confirmed her in those sentiments. Her father, edified at her patience and virtue, at length approved and seconded her devotion, and all her pious desires. She liberally assisted the poor, served the sick, and comforted the afflicted and prisoners. Her chief subsistence was on boiled herbs, without either sauce or bread, which last she seldom tasted. She wore a very rough hair-cloth, and a large iron girdle armed with sharp points, lay on the ground, and watched much. Humility, obedience, and a denial of her own will, even in her penitential austerities, gave them their true value. She began this course of life when under fifteen years of age. She was moreover visited with many painful distempers, which she underwent with incredible patience; she had also suffered much from the use of hot baths prescribed her by physicians. Amidst her pains, it was her constant prayer that they might serve for the expiation of her offences, and the purifying her heart. She long desired, and in 1365, the eighteenth year of her age, (but two years later, according to some writers,) she received the habit of the third order of St. Dominic, in a nunnery contiguous to the Dominicans' convent. From that time her cell became her paradise, prayer her element, and her mortifications had no longer any restraint. For three years she never spoke to any one but to God and her confessor. Her days and nights were employed in the delightful exercises of contemplation: the fruits whereof were supernatural lights, a most ardent love of God, and zeal for the conversion of sinners. The old serpent, seeing her angelical life, set all his engines at work to assault her virtue. He first filled her imagination with the most filthy representations, and assailed her heart with the basest and most humbling temptations. Afterwards, he spread in her soul such a cloud and darkness that it was the severest trial imaginable. She saw herself a hundred times on the brink of the precipice, but was always supported by an invisible hand. Her arms were fervent prayer, humility, resignation, and confidence in God. By these she persevered victorious, and was at last delivered from those trials which had only served to purify her heart. Our Saviour visiting her after this bitter conflict, she said to him: "Where west thou, my divine Spouse, while I lay in such an abandoned, frightful condition." "I was with thee," he seemed to reply. "What!" said she, "amidst the filthy abominations with which my soul was infested!" He answered: "They were displeasing and most painful to thee. This conflict therefore was thy merit, and the victory over them was owing to my presence." Her ghostly enemy also solicited her to pride, omitting neither violence nor stratagem to seduce her into this vice; but invincible humility was a buckler to cover her from all his fiery darts. God recompensed her charity to the poor by many miracles, often multiplying provisions in her hands, and enabling her to carry loads of corn, oil, and other necessaries to the poor, which her natural strength could not otherwise have borne. The greatest miracle seemed her patience in bearing the murmurs, and even the reproaches, of these ungrateful and importunate people. Catherine dressed, and served an old woman named Tocca. infected to that degree with a leprosy, that the magistrates had ordered her to be removed out of the city, and separated from all others. This poor wretch nevertheless made no other return to the tender charity of the saint, but continual bitter complaints and reproaches; which, instead of wearying out her constancy, only moved the saint to show her still greater marks of sweetness and humility. Another, whose infectious cancer the saint for a long time sucked and dressed, published against her the most infamous calumnies; in which she was seconded by a sister of the convent. Catherine bore in silence the violent persecution they brought upon her, and continued her affectionate services till, by her patience and prayers, she had obtained of God the conversion of both these enemies, which was followed by a retraction of their slanders.
The ardent charity of this holy virgin made her indefatigable in laboring for the conversion of sinners, offering for that end continual tears, prayers, fasts, and other austerities, and thinking nothing difficult or above her strength. All her discourses, actions, and her very silence, powerfully induced men to the love of virtue, so that no one, according to pope Pius II., ever approached her who went not away better. Nannes, a powerful turbulent citizen, being brought to our saint to be reclaimed, all she could say to him to bring him to a right sense of his duty was of no effect; upon which she made a sudden pause in her discourse, to offer up her prayers for him: they were heard that very instant, and an entire change was wrought in the man, to which his tears and other tokens bore evidence. He accordingly reconciled himself to all his enemies, and embraced a most penitential life. When he afterwards fell into many temporal calamities, the saint rejoiced at his spiritual advantage under them, saying, God purged his heart from the poison with which it was infected by its inveterate attachment to creatures. Nannes gave to the saint a stately house which he possessed within two miles of the city. This, by the pope's authority, she converted into a nunnery. We omit the miraculous conversion of James Tholomei and his sisters, of Nicholas Tuldo, and many others; particularly of two famous assassins going to die with blasphemies in their mouths, and in transports of rage and despair, who were suddenly converted in their last moments, on the saint's praying for them, confessed their crimes to a priest with great signs of repentance, and appeared thoroughly resigned to the punishment about to be inflicted on them. A pestilence laying waste the country in 1374, Catherine devoted herself to serve the infected, and obtained of God the cure of several; amongst others, of two holy Dominicans, Raymund of Capua, and Bartholomew of Sienna. The most hardened sinners could not withstand the force of her exhortations to a change of life. Thousands flocked from places at a distance in the country to hear or only to see her, and were brought over by her words or example to the true dispositions of sincere repentance. She undertook a journey to Monte Pulciano to consecrate to God two of her nieces, who there took the religious veil of Saint Dominic: and another journey to Pisa, by order of her superiors, at the earnest suit of the citizens. She there restored health to many in body, but to a far greater number in soul. Raymund of Capua and two other Dominicans were commissioned by pope Gregory XI., then residing at Avignon, to hear the confessions at Sienna, of those who were induced by the saint to enter upon a change of life; these priests were occupied, day and night, in hearing the confessions of many who had never confessed before; besides those of others who had acquitted themselves but superficially of that duty. While she was at Pisa, in 1375, the people of Florence and Perugia, with a great part of Tuscany, and even of the Ecclesiastical State, entered into a league against the holy see. The news of this disturbance was delivered to Catherine by Raymund of Capua, and her heart was pierced with the most bitter sorrow on account of those evils, which she had foretold three years before they came to their height. The two furious factions of the Guelphs and Ghibellines, who had so disturbed and divided the state of Florence, then a powerful commonwealth, united at last against the pope, to strip the holy see of the lands it possessed in Italy. The disturbance was begun in June, 1373, and a numerous army was set on foot: the word Libertas, written on the banner of the league, was the signal. Perugia, Bologna, Viterbo, Ancona, and other strongholds, soon declared for them. The inhabitants of Arezzo, Lucca. Sienna, and other places, were kept within the bounds of duty by the prayers, letters, and exhortations of St. Catherine, and generously contemned the threats of the Florentines. Pope Gregory XI., residing at Avignon, wrote to the city of Florence, but without success. He therefore sent the cardinal Robert of Geneva, his legate, with an army, and laid the diocese of Florence under an interdict. Internal divisions, murders, and all other domestic miseries amongst the Florentines, joined with the conspiracy of the neighboring states, concurred to open their eyes, and made them sue for pardon. The magistrates sent to Sienna to beg St. Catherine would become their mediatrix. She could not resist their pressing entreaties. Before she arrived at Florence, she was met by the priors or chiefs of the magistrates; and the city left the management of the whole affair to her discretion, with a promise that she should be followed to Avignon by their ambassadors, who should sign and ratify the conditions of reconciliation between the parties at variance, and confirm every thing she had done. The saint arrived at Avignon on the 18th of June, 1376, and was received by the pope and cardinals with great marks of distinction His holiness, after a conference with her, in admiration of her prudence and sanctity, said to her: "I desire nothing but peace. I put the affair entirely into your hands; only I recommend to you the honor of the church." But the Florentines sought not peace sincerely, and they continued to carry on secret intrigues to draw all Italy from its obedience to the holy see. Their ambassadors arrived very late at Avignon, and spoke with so great insolence, that they showed peace was far from being the subject of their errand. God suffered the conclusion of this work to be deferred in punishment of the sins of the Florentines. by which means St. Catherine sanctified herself still more by suffering longer amidst a seditious people.
The saint had another point no less at heart in her journey to Avignon. Pope John XXII., a Frenchman, born at Cahors, bishop, first of Frejus, then of Avignon, lastly of Porto, being made pope in 1314, fixed his residence at Avignon, where John's successors, Benedict XII., Clement VI.. Innocent VI., and Urban V., also resided. The then pope Gregory XI., elected in 1370, continued also there. The Romans complained that their bishops had for seventy-four years past forsaken their church, and threatened a schism. Gregory XI. had made a secret vow to return to Rome; but not finding this design agreeable to his court, he consulted the holy virgin on this subject, who answered: "Fulfil what you have promised to God." The pope, surprised she should know by revelation what he had never discovered to any person on earth, was immediately determined to carry his good design into execution. The saint soon after left Avignon. We have several letters written by her to him, to press him to hasten his return; and he shortly after followed her, leaving Avignon on the 13th of September, in 1376. He overtook the saint at Genoa, where she made a short stay. At Sienna, she continued her former way of life, serving and often curing the sick, converting the most obstinate sinners, and reconciling the most inveterate enemies, more still by her prayers than by her words. Such was her knowledge of heavenly things, that certain Italian doctors, out of envy, and with the intent to expose her ignorance, being come to hold a conference with her, departed in confusion and admiration at her interior lights. The same had happened at Avignon, some time before, where three prelates, envying her credit with the pope, put to her the most intricate questions on an interior life, and many other subjects; but admiring her answers to all their difficulties, confessed to the pope they had never seen a soul so enlightened, and so profoundly humble as Catherine. She had many disciples: among others, Stephen, son of Conrad, a senator of Sienna. This nobleman was reduced by enemies to the last extremity. Seeing himself on the brink of ruin, he addressed himself to the saint, who, having first made a thorough convert of him from the world and its vanities, by her prayers miraculously, on a sudden, pacified all his persecutors, and calmed their fury. Stephen, from that time, looked upon as dust all that he had formerly most passionately loved and pursued; and he testified of himself, that by her presence, and much more by her zealous discourses, he always found the divine love vehemently kindled in his breast, and his contempt of all earthly things increased. He became the most fervent among her disciples, made a collection of all her words as oracles, would be her secretary to write her letters, and her companion in her journeys to Avignon, Florence, and Rome; and at length, by her advice, professed himself a Carthusian monk. He assisted at her death, and wrote her life at the request of several princes; having been witness of her great miracles and virtues, and having experienced often in himself her spirit of prophecy, her knowledge of the consciences of others, and her extraordinary light in spiritual things.
St. Catherine wrote to pope Gregory XI., at Rome, strongly exhorting him to contribute by all means possible to the general peace of Italy. His holiness commissioned her to go to Florence, still divided and obstinate in its disobedience. She lived some time in that factious place, amidst daily murders and confiscations, in frequent dangers of her own life many ways; in which she always showed herself most undaunted, even when swords were drawn against her. At length she overcame that obstinate people, and brought them to submission, obedience, and peace, though not under Gregory XI., as Baillet mistakes, but his successor, Urban VI., as her contemporary historian informs us. This memorable reconciliation was effected in 1378; after which Catherine hastened to her solitary abode at Sienna, where her occupation, and, we may say, her very nourishment, was holy prayer: in which intercourse with the Almighty, he discovered to her very wonderful mysteries, and bestowed on her a spirit which delivered the truths of salvation in a manner that astonished her hearers. Some of her discourses were collected, and compose the treatise On Providence, under her name. Her whole life seemed one continual miracle; but what the servants of God admired most in her, was the perpetual strict union of her soul with God. For, though obliged often to converse with different persons on so many different affairs, and transact business of the greatest moment, she was always occupied on God, and absorbed in him. For many years she had accustomed herself to so rigorous an abstinence, that the blessed eucharist might be said to be almost the only nourishment which supported her. Once she fasted from Ash Wednesday till Ascension-day, receiving only the blessed eucharist during that whole time. Many treated her as a hypocrite, and invented all manner of calumnies against her; but she rejoiced at humiliations, and gloried in the cross of Christ as much as she dreaded and abhorred praise and applause. In a vision, our Saviour is said one day to have presented her with two crowns, one of gold and the other of thorns, bidding her choose which of the two she pleased. She answered: "I desire, O Lord, to live here always conformed to your passion, and to find pain and suffering my repose and delight." Then eagerly taking up the crown of thorns, she forcibly pressed it upon her bead. The earnest desire and love of humiliations and crosses was nourished in her soul by assiduous meditation on the sufferings of our divine Redeemer. What, above all things, pierced her heart was scandal, chiefly that of the unhappy great schism which followed the death of Gregory XI. in 1378, when Urban VI. was chosen at Rome, and acknowledged there by all the cardinals, though his election was in the beginning overawed by the Roman people, who demanded an Italian pope. Urban's harsh and austere temper alienated from him the affections of the cardinals, several of whom withdrew; and having declared the late election null, chose Clement VII., with whom they retired out of Italy, and resided at Avignon. Our saint, not content to spend herself in floods of tears, weeping before God for these evils of his church, wrote the strongest and most pathetic letters to those cardinals who had first acknowledged Urban, and afterwards elected another; pressing them to return to their lawful pastor, and acknowledge Urban's title. She wrote also to several countries and princes in his favor, and to Urban himself, exhorting him to bear up cheerfully under the troubles he found himself involved in, and to abate somewhat of a temper that had made him so many enemies, and mollify that rigidness of disposition which had driven the world from him, and still kept a very considerable part of Christendom from acknowledging him. The pope listened to her, sent for her to Rome, followed her directions, and designed to send her, with St. Catherine of Sweden, to Joan, queen of Sicily, who had sided with Clement. Our saint grieved to see this occasion of martyrdom snatched from her, when the journey was laid aside on account of the dangers that were foreseen to attend It. She wrote however to queen Joan: likewise two letters full of holy fire to the king of France, also to the king of Hungary, and others, to exhort them to renounce the schism.
We pass over the ecstasies and other wonderful favors this virgin received from heaven, and the innumerable miracles God wrought by her means. She has loft us, besides the example of her life, six Treatises in form of a dialogue, a Discourse on the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, and three hundred and sixty-four Letters, which show that she had a superior genius, and wrote perfectly well. While she was laboring to extend the obedience of the true pope, Urban VI., her infirmities and pains increasing, she died at Rome on the 29th of April, in 1380, being thirty-three years old. She was buried in the church of the Minerva, where her body is still kept under an altar. Her skull is in the Dominicans' church at Sienna, in which city are shown her house, her instruments of penance, and other relics. She was canonized by pope Pius II. in 1461. Urban VIII. transferred her festival to the 30th of this month.
When we read the lives of the saints, and consider the wonderful graces with which God enriched them, we admire their happiness in being so highly favored by him, and say to ourselves that their labors and sufferings bore no proportion to the sweetness of heavenly peace and love with which their souls were replenished, and the spiritual joy and consolations which were a present superabundant recompense and support. But it was in the victory over their passions, in the fervor of their charity, and in the perfection of their humility, patience, and meekness, that their virtue and their happiness chiefly consisted. Nor are we to imagine that God raised them to these sublime graces without their assiduous application to the practice both of exterior and interior mortification, especially of the latter. Self-denial prepared them for this state of perfect virtue, and supported them in it. What pity is it to hear persons talk of sublime virtue, and to see them pretend to aspire after it, without having studied in earnest to die to themselves. Without this condition, all their fine discourses are mere speculation, and their endeavors fruitless.


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