FEASTS OF APRIL
Solemnity of Saint Joseph
Saint Francis of Paula
Francis of Paula, born in Calabria, even as a young man burned with love of God and withdrew to a hermitage where, for six years, he lived a life hard in its austerity but sweetened by meditating on heavenly things. When the fame of his virtues spread abroad, many came to him to be trained in the love of God; and, emerging from his solitude for the sake of charity, he built a church near Paula, and there laid the first foundations of his Order. He preserved his virginity all his life; and so cultivated humility that he called himself the least of all men and wished his followers to be named Minims. Clad in poor garments, he went about barefoot and slept on the ground. He cherished charity so greatly that he made it the motto of his Order. God witnessed to the holiness of His servant by many miracles, one of which is particularly famous: when he was refused passage on a ship by the sailors, he spread out his cloak on the waves and so crossed the straits of Sicily with his companion. He also predicted many things in the spirit of prophecy. At Tours he went to the Lord, in the year of salvation 1507, in the ninety-first year of his age.
Our Lady of Hope
From the common of the Blessed Virgin Mary (948), except lessons from the First Nocturn of the of Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen (1832)
Saint Isidore, Bishop and Doctor
(Vol II, Page 1731)
Isidore of Spain was born at Cartagena, his father, Severianus, being governor of the province. His brothers, Leander of Seville and Fulgentius of Cartagena, both holy bishops, educated him in the love of God and in the liberal arts, and he became outstanding in all forms of knowledge and Christian virtue. When Leander died, Isidore was raised to the bishopric of Seville and made vicar apostolic for the whole of Spain. In his episcopal ministry he gave an example of all good works, and was especially concerned with the restoration of ecclesiastical discipline. When a Council was convoked at Seville, he broke up and stamped out the heresy of the Acephali, then threatening Spain, by the force and eloquence of his arguments. The fame of his holiness and teaching became so widespread that, hardly sixteen years after his death, he was called the illustrious Doctor. He wrote many useful books filled with learning and presided over the fourth Council of Toledo, the most celebrated of those held in Spain. Finally, after he had ruled his church for about forty years, he died at Seville in the year 636.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, Confessor
(Vol II, Page 1733)
Born of a good family at Valencia in Spain, Vincent was clothed in the habit of the Friars Preachers at the age of eighteen. He applied himself zealously to sacred studies, and received the degree of Doctor of Theology summa cum laude. Soon he began to preach the word of God with such force and effectiveness that he brought a vast number of unbelievers to the faith of Christ and called back many Christians from sin to repentance. He sang Mass every day and daily gave a sermon to the people, never ate meat, calmed quarrels and dissentions, and when the seamless garment of the Church was rent by harmful schism, labored unceasingly to unite it and to preserve its unity. At length, worn out by old age and illness, famous for his miracles, he died a most holy death at Vannes in Brittany, and Pope Callistus III numbered him among the saints.
St. Marcellinus, Martyr
From the common of martyrs (710 or 778)
From Butler's Lives; v.2, p.40
Several of the works of St. Augustine, including his great book On the City of God, are dedicated to his friend Marcellinus, secretary of state to the Emperor Honorius. In the year 409, the emperor granted liberty to the Donatists, an ultra-puritan party in the Church who refused to readmit to communion penitents who, after baptism, had fallen into mortal sin, and especially those who had failed during time of persecution. The Donatists in North Africa took advantage of this permission to mistreat the orthodox, who appealed to the emperor. Marcellinus was sent to Carthage to preside over a conference of Catholic and Donatist bishops, and to act as judge. After three days' discussion, he decided against the Donatists, whose privileges were revoked, and who were ordered to return to communion with their Catholic brethren. Marcellinus and his brother, Apringius, were required to enforce the decision, which they did with a severity justified by Roman law, but strong enough to draw the criticism of St. Augustine. To gain revenge, the Donatists accused them of being implicated in the rebellion of Heraclian. The general Marinus cast them into prison, where Augustine visited them and tried in vain to save them. Without trial they were taken from prison and executed. The emperor later severely censured Marinus and vindicated Marcellinus as "a man of glorious memory." His name was added to the Roman Martyrology by Cardinal Baronius.
Saint Aybert, Hermit
From Butler's Lives
Aybert was born in 1060 at Espain in Tournai. From his earliest days he was devoted to God, becoming a hermit in the company of the monk John, a solitary of the abbey of Crespin. Together they lived a most austere and penitential life. After making a trip to Rome with the abbot, Aybert was moved to enter the monastery, where he served for twenty-five years as procurator and cellerer. However, for his last twenty-two years he returned to the eremetical life, detached from the monastery. His great holiness made him known to many seeking spiritual direction. Bishop Burchard of Cambrai promoted him to the priesthood, and Pope Innocent II granted him faculties to absolve reserved cases, which he did only in exceptional circumstances. God crowned Aybert's long penance with a happy death in the eightieth year of his age.
Dionysius of Corinth, Bishop April 8th
From Butler's Lives; v.2, p.52
St. Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, flourished in the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and was one of the foremost leaders of the Church during the second century. Besides instructing and guiding his own flock, he wrote letters to the churches of Athens, Lacedæmon, Nicomedia, Knossus, and Rome, as well as to the Christians of Gortyna and Amastris, and to a lady called Chrysophora. A few of his writings are preserved for us in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History. In a letter thanking the church of Rome for continuing to send alms as it had in the past, Dionysius wrote: "From the earliest times you have made it your practice to bestow alms everywhere and to provide for the necessities of many churches. Following the example set by your fathers you send relief to the needy, especially to those who labor in the mines. Your blessed Bishop Soter is so far from lagging behind his predecessors in this respect that he actually outstrips them -- to say nothing of the consolation and advice which, with fatherly affection he tenders to all who come to him." In other words, they read aloud these letters of instruction in church after the lessons from the Holy Scriptures and the celebration of the Divine Mysteries. The heresies of the first three centuries arose mainly from the erroneous principles of pagan philosophy, and St. Dionysius was at pains to point out the source of these errors, showing from what particular school of philosophy each heresy took its rise. "It is not surprising that the texts of Holy Scripture should have been corrupted by forgers," he says, alluding to the Marcionites," when they have not spared the works of a far less exalted authority. Although Dionysius appears to have died in peace, the Greeks venerate him as a martyr because he suffered much for the faith.
Saint Mary of Cleophas, Holy Woman
From Butler's Lives
Mary of Cleophas is mentioned in the Roman Martyrology on this day, and is venerated by the Passionists and by the Latin church in Palestine. She may have been the wife of the Cleophas who journeyed with our Lord to Emmaus, and would seem to be one of the women who stood at the foot of the Cross with our Blessed Mother. Legend has her travelling with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha to Provence in a oar-less boat.
Saint Michael de Sanctis, Confessor
From Butler's Lives
Michael de Sanctis was born at Vich at Catalonia around 1590, and when he was six decided he would become a monk. His mother told him about St. Francis of Assisi, but of course restrained his youthful enthusiasm. After the death of his parents, while in the employ of his uncle, Michael attended the Divine Office whenever he was able, and recited daily the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin. He entered the Trinitarian Order, taking his vows at the monastery of St. Lambert at Saragossa in 1607. After moving to the discalced Trinitarians he studied at Seville and Salamanca, was ordained priest, and twice served as superior at Valladolid. Several times he was rapt in ecstasy while offering Holy Mass, and was God's instrument in the working of a number miracles during life and after his death, which took place on April 10, 1625, when only thirty-six years old. canonized in 1862, he is described in the Roman Martyrology as "remarkable for innocence of life, wonderful penitence, and love for God."
One of the victims of the persecution of King Sapor II of Persia was the holy abbot Bademus, a citizen of Bethlapat who had founded a monastery near the city, and ruled it with a great repute for sanctity. He was apprehended with seven of his monks, and was condemned to be beaten daily, loaded with chains, and imprisoned in a dungeon. At about the same time, a Christian at the Persian court, Nersan was arrested for refusing to worship the sun. Under torture, he promised to conform to paganism. To test his sincerity, Sapor suggest that if he would kill Bademus he would be restored to favor. A sword was placed in his hand as he was led to Bademus, who calmly announced that he was prepared for martyrdom, but reproached Nersan for his betrayal of Christ and for his willingness to murder the servants of Christ. Nersan hardened his heart to the evil at hand, but shook so violently that it took him numerous blows to dispatch the holy Bademus.
Saint Julius I, Pope
Pope Saint Julius labored for the Catholic Faith against the Arians. He was the son of the Roman citizen Rusticus, and succeeded Pope Saint Mark in 337. In the following year, a vindicated Saint Athanasius returned to Alexandria after an exile enforced by the Arians. However, upon his return he found his see occupied by an Arian introduced by the heresiarch Eusebius of Nicomedia. Eusebius requested that Julius convoke a council to discuss the matter, but it was precisely Eusebius and his followers who failed to attend. In their absence the matter was carefully considered, and Julius dispatched a letter clearly setting forth the Catholic doctrine and restoring Athanasius. Another council, convened in 342 at Sardica (Sofia) by the emperors of the East and West endorsed Julius' statement and again confirmed Athanasius in office. Nevertheless, Athanasius was not able to resume his see until 346, and spent some of that time in a cordial visit to Julius at Rome. Saint Julius built several churches in Rome, notably the Basilica Julia, now the church of the Twelve Apostles and the Basilica of Saint Valentine on the Flaminian Way. He died on April 12, 352, an was buried first in the cemetery of Calepodius, and then in the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Saint Padarn, Bishop
From Butler's Lives
Saint Padarn's father, Petran, left his wife, Gwen, and son in Brittany to become a hermit in Ireland. Upon reaching manhood, Padarn did likewise, settling with several companions in Wales at a place called Cardiganshire or Llanbadrn Fawr. He ruled as abbot and first bishop of the region for twenty-one years. He went about the country as a missionary, preaching the Gospel to all sorts and conditions of men, without pay or reward, and was famous for his charity and mortifications. The dates of his life and death are all uncertain.
Saint Bernadette, Virgin
In some places on February 18th.
Lessons as on February 18th.
Saint Anicetus, Pope & Martyr
Breviary ex Guéranger
Anicetus, a Syrian by birth, governed the Church during the reign of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. He passed a decree which forbade clerics to nourish their hair. The ordinations which he held in five Decembers gave seventeen priests, four deacons, and nine bishops for divers places. His pontificate lasted eight years, eight months, and twenty-four days. He was crowned with martyrdom for the Christian Faith, and was buried on the fifteenth of the Kalends of May (April 17), in the cemetery later named for Callixtus on the Apian Way.
Saint Loserian, Bishop
From Butler's Lives
Loserian is said to have spent several years at Iona before proceeding to Rome where he was ordained by Pope Saint Gregory the Great. He then resided at Leighlin on the banks of the Barrow in a monastery presided over by its founder, Saint Goban. He attended a synod at White Fields concerning the proper date for the celebration of Easter. The synod, unable to reach agreement, dispatched Loserian to Rome to take the matter to the Pope. On this second visit to Rome, he was consecrated bishop by Pope Honorius, and was appointed papal legate to Ireland. In this capacity he settled the Easter controversy, at least in the south of Ireland. About two years after the synod, Saint Goban resigned the government of the monastery to Saint Loserian, who governed it until his death around 639.
Saint Alphege, Bishop, Martyr?
From Butler's Lives
As a young man, Alphege entered the monastery of Deerhurst in Gloucestershire. Afterwards he withdrew to a deserted place near Bath as a solitary, and eventually became abbot of the monastery at Bath which had been refounded by Saint Dunstan. He demanded strict observance of the monastic rule, saying that it was better for a man to remain in the world than to become an imperfect monk. Upon the death of Saint Ethelwold in 984, Saint Dunstan obliged Alphege to accept the bishopric of Winchester, although he was only thirty years of age. He ruled Winchester for twenty-two years, displaying great liberality with the poor, until being transferred to Canterbury in succession to Archbishop Ælfric. He visited Rome and was invested with the Pallium by Pope John XVIII. In 1011 Canterbury was besieged by the Danes, who put many to the sword and placed Alphege in a dungeon. Several months later he was released from prison because a mysterious epidemic had broken out among the Danes; but although he cured many of the sick by prayer and by giving them blessed bread, the barbarians demanded three thousand gold crowns for his ransom. The archbishop declared that such a ransom would be ruinous and declared that it would not be paid. He was taken to Greenwich and put barbarously to death. His body was recovered and buried at Saint Paul's in London, but was translated to Canterbury with great honor by the Danish King Canute in 1023.
Saint Agnes of Montepulciano, Virgin
From Butler's Lives
In the little village of Gracchiano-Vecchio, some three miles from Montepulciano, there was born about the year 1268 to a well-to-do couple a little girl who was destined to become one of the great women saints of the Order of Preachers. When she was nine years old, she induced her parents to place her in a convent at Montepulciano, occupied by a community of austere nuns who were popularly nicknamed Sacchine, from the coarse material of their habits. She was wise beyond her years and was made housekeeper when only fourteen. She accompanied the novice-mistress to a new foundation at Procena, found herself elected abbess at the tender age of fifteen, and was granted the required dispensation by Pope Nicholas IV. She redoubled her austerities, and despite illness became famous for her administration, holiness, and extraordinary graces. In the meantime, the inhabitants of Montepulciano, aware of her sanctity, determined to induce her return. They constructed a convent, and, to ensure stability, obtained affiliation with the Dominican Order. Agnes was installed as prioress and served in this position until the end of her life. She died with great patience of a long term and painful illness at the age of forty-nine. Agnes was canonized in 1726.
Consecration of Our Lady of Good Hope
All from the Dedication of a Church (921)
Saint George, Martyr
Breviary ex Guéranger
George, who among the martyrs of the East has received the name of the Great Martyr, suffered a glorious death for the sake of Christ in the persecution of Diocletian. When shortly afterwards peace was given to the Church under Constantine, the memory of St. George began to be celebrated. Churches were erected to his honor in Palestine and at Constantinople, and devotion to him spread throughout the East and into the West. From early times Christian armies have invoked the patronage of Saint George, together with Saints Maurice and Sebastian, when going into battle. Special devotion was shown to Saint George in England for many centuries, and Pope Benedict XIV declared him the special protector of that kingdom.
Our Lady of Good Counsel
Lesson ii (of our Lady)
From The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XI, P. 361
Records dating from the reign of Paul II (1464-71) relate that the picture of our Lady, at first called "La Madonna del Paradiso," and now known as "La Madonna del Buon Consiglio," appeared at Genazzano, a town about twenty-six miles southeast of Rome, on St. Mark's Day, 25 April, 1467, in the old church of Santa Maria, which had been under the care of the Augustinians since 1356. The venerated icon itself, which is drawn on a thin scale of wall plaster little thicker than a visiting card was observed to hang suspended in the air without any apparent means of support; thus early tradition, which further tells that it was possible to pass a pass a thread around the image without touching it. At once, devotion to Our Lady in Santa Maria sprang up; pilgrim bands began to resort thither; while miracles in ever increasing numbers were and continue to be recorded in a register established for that purpose. Pope Paul commanded an investigation of the miraculous events and several popes made pilgrimages to pray at the shrine. In 1727 Benedict XIII granted the town a proper office and Mass, to be celebrated there on April 25th and elsewhere on the 26th so as not to conflict with that of St. Mark. In 1753, Benedict XIII approved the constitutions of the Pious Union of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Leo XIII prescribed a new Office and Mass, added Our Lady of Good Counsel to the Litany of Loreto, and authorized a white scapular in her honor.
On the Feast of Saint Mark, April 25 1467, in Genazzano, Italy, a cloud descended upon an ancient church dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel. When the cloud disappeared, an image of Our Lady and the Child Jesus, on a paper-thin sheet, was revealed which had not been there before. After the image's appearance many miracles were attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Pope Paul II ordered an investigation and the results have been preserved.
It was later discovered that the very same image had been seen in a church dedicated to the Annunciation in Scutari, Albania, having arrived there in a miraculous manner. Now, the image had been transported from Albania miraculously to avoid sacrilege from Moslem invasion. A commission of enquiry determined that a portrait from the church was indeed missing. An empty space the same size as the portrait was displayed for all to see.
Many miracles continue to be attributed to Our Lady of Good Counsel. Pope Saint Pius V, for example, credited victory in the Battle of Lepanto to Her intercession. Several Popes have approved the miraculous image. On July 2 1753 Pope Benedict XIV approved the Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and was the first to wear it. In 1884 a special Mass and Office of the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel was approved by Pope Leo XIII.
Lesson iii (of the Martyrs, Page 1753)
Cletus, a Roman, ruled the Church when Vespasian and Titus were emperors. According to the precept of the Prince of the Apostles, he ordained twenty-five priests for the City. He was the first one to use in his letters the phrase, "Health and apostolic benediction." When he had set the Church in good order, he was crowned with martyrdom in the second persecution after Nero, and was buried in the Vatican near the body of St. Peter.
Marcellinus, also a Roman, headed the Church during the savage persecution by Diocletian. He suffered much anguish from the imprudent severity of persons accusing him of too great indulgence toward those who had fallen into idolatry, and for this reason the calumny was spread about that he himself had offered incense to the idols. But this blessed Pope was beheaded for his confession of the faith, together with three other Christians, Claudius, Cyrinus, and Antoninus.
Saint Paul of the Cross, Confessor
Lesson ii (of St. Paul, Page 1757)
Paul of the Cross was born at Uvada in Liguria and, as soon as he came to the use of reason, burned with love for Jesus Christ crucified. Fired with the desire for martyrdom, he joined the army which was being assembled in Venice to fight against the Turks. But when the will of God was made known to him, and he had refused a very honorable marriage and an inheritance left to him by his uncle, he received a coarse tunic as a habit from his bishop and, although not yet a cleric, cultivated the field of the Lord by preaching the word of God. In Rome, out of obedience to Pope Benedict XIII, he was raised to the priesthood. Then he retired into the solitude of Monte Argentaro, where the Blessed Virgin had already invited him to go, at the same time showing him a black habit adorned with the insignia of her Son's Passion. There he laid the foundations of a new congregation, whose members bind themselves by vow to promote the memory of our Lord's Passion, and he also established one for nuns to meditate continually on this mystery. Renowned for his preaching, virtues, and divine charisms, he fell asleep in the Lord at Rome, in the year 1775. Pope Pius IX enrolled him among the Blessed and among the Saints.
Lesson iii (of St. Louis)
St. Louis was born of good parents on January 13, 1673 in the Brittany town of Montfort-la-Canne. After studies at St. Sulpice he was ordained to the priesthood at 27. Denied permission to enter the Canadian missions he gave retreats throughout France. Upon being forbidden to preach in the diocese of Poitiers he journeyed to Rome where he was appointed Missionary Apostolic by Pope Clement XI, who nonetheless enjoined strict obedience to diocesan authorities. His preaching of confidence in the Blessed Virgin often placed him in conflict with Jansenist rigorism. He founded two orders, the Daughters of Wisdom in 1703, and the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (Montfort Fathers) in 1715. He left several works of Marian spirituality, dying exhausted by his apostolic labors on April 28th, 1716. Pope Pius XII raised him to the honors of the altar in 1947.
Catherine of Sienna
Virgin, Doctor of the Church
Catherine, a virgin of Sienna, was born of pious parents. She asked for and obtained the Dominican habit worn by the Sisters of Penance. Her abstinence was extraordinary, and her manner of living most mortified. She was once known to have fasted without receiving anything from Ash Wednesday to Ascension Day. She had very frequent contests with the wicked spirits, who attacked her in divers ways. She suffered much from fever and other bodily ailments. Her reputation for sanctity was so great that there were brought to her, from all parts, persons who were sick or tormented by the devil. She healed in the name of Christ such as were afflicted with malady or fever, and drove the devils from the bodies of them that were possessed.
Being once at Pisa, on a Sunday, and having received the Bread of heaven, she was rapt in ecstasy. She saw our crucified Lord approaching her. He was encircled with a great light, and from His five wounds there came rays, which fell upon the five corresponding parts of Catherine's body. Being aware of the favor being bestowed upon her, she besought our Lord that the stigmata might not be visible. The rays immediately changed from the color of blood into that of gold, and passed, under the form of a bright light, to the hands, feet, and heart of the saint. So violent was the pain left by the wounds, that she must soon have died had God not diminished it. Thus our most loving Lord added favor to favor, by permitting her to feel the smart of the wounds, and yet removing their appearance. The servant of God related what had happened to her to Raymond, her confessor. Hence, when the devotion of the faithful gave a representation of this miracle, they painted on the pictures of St. Catherine, bright rays coming from the five stigmata she received.
Her learning was not acquired, but infused. Theologians proposed to her the most difficult questions of divinity, and received satisfactory answers. No one ever approached her, who did not go away a better man. She reconciled many that were at deadly enmity with one another. She visited Pope Gregory XI, who was then at Avignon, in order to bring about the reconciliation of the Florentines, who were under an interdict on account of having formed a league against the Holy See. She told the Pontiff that there had been revealed to her the vow which he, Gregory, had made of going to Rome ... a vow which was known to God alone. It was through her entreaty that the Pope began to plan measures for taking possession of his See of Rome, which he did soon after. Such was the esteem in which she was held by Gregory, and by Urban VI, his successor, that she was sent by them on several embassies. At length, after a life spent in the exercise of the most sublime virtues, and after gaining great reputation on account of her prophecies and many miracles, she passed hence to her divine Spouse, when she was about the age of thirty three. She was canonized by Pius II, who composed two hymns in her honor for the Dominican Breviary.