St. Ursula

A number of Christian families had entrusted the education of their children to the care of the pious Ursula, and some persons of the world had in like manner placed themselves under her direction. England being then harassed by the Saxons, Ursula deemed that she ought, after the example of many of her compatriots, to seek an asylum in Gaul.

She met with an abiding-place on the borders of the Rhine, not far from Cologne, where she hoped to find undisturbed repose; but a horde of Huns having invaded the country, she was exposed, together with all those who were under her guardianship, to the most shameful outrages. Without wavering, they preferred one and all to meet death rather than incur shame. Ursula herself gave the example, and was, together with her companions, cruelly massacred in the year 453.

The name of St. Ursula has from remote ages been held in great honor throughout the Church; she has always been regarded as the patroness of young persons and the model of teachers.

Reflection. — In the estimation of the wise man, “the guarding of virtue” is the most important part of the education of youth.

Illustration and text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).

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The Life of the Holy Family

Jesus was the centre of Mary’s and Joseph’s love. Where the body is, there shall the eagles be. Where the treasure is, there is the heart. To possess Jesus was the sole joy of those happy parents. They held neither to Bethlehem, nor to Nazareth, nor to Egypt. To possess Jesus was their all. He was the home of their heart.

My house, my family, my centre, is the Eucharist, the tabernacle near which I dwell. Like Mary and Joseph, I ought to be happy only there.

Jesus was the end of Mary’s and Joseph’s life. They lived only for Him, they labored only for Him. O how gladly did good St. Joseph labor to gain for Him and His Divine Mother their daily bread! With what satisfaction he brought home the small returns of his work! And when it had cost him a little more fatigue, how sweet that fatigue was to Him, since it was all for Jesus!

And so should Jesus in the Eucharist be the object of my life, the joy of my life, the joy and happiness of my labor.

Jesus was the constant nourishment of Mary and Joseph’s life of union and love. They were so happy in looking at Him, in listening to Him, in seeing Him working, obeying, praying, for He did all things so well.

But, above all, were they happy in regarding His interior, in studying His intentions, in discovering His sentiments, the motives of His virtues. . . . They admired His fidelity in referring all to the glory of His Father, wishing as man to be the object of no praise, no glory, but giving all to the Divinity.

O how happy is the soul in contemplating the interior of the Holy Family, all that is said and done therein, the Gospel of the family of Jesus! The beautiful evenings spent in heavenly conversation and the prayers at Nazareth! Surely, Jesus explained to Mary and Joseph all that the Scriptures said of Him. He revealed to them Calvary and all the scenes of humiliation and suffering through which He was to pass. He showed them in His hands the place through which the nails were to pierce, and He did so, in order to plant in His Mother and His holy guardian the virtues of Calvary. He must have spoken to them of the Church, of the Apostles, of the Religious Orders which would consecrate themselves to His and their honor.

Nazareth had become a heaven of love, a paradise of the second Adam and of the new Eve, a heaven of the purest virtues, of the holiest love.

Text from Father Eymard’s Month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (New York: Sentinel Press, 1903).

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St. Gall

St. Gall was born in Ireland soon after the middle of the sixth century, of pious, noble, and rich parents. When St. Columban left Ireland, St. Gall accompanied him into England, and afterward into France, where they arrived in 585.

St. Columban founded the monastery of Anegray, in a wild forest in the diocese of Besancon, and two years afterward another in Luxeu. Being driven thence by King Theodoric, the Saints both withdrew into the territories of Theodebert. St. Columban, however, retired into Italy, but St. Gall was prevented from bearing him company by a grievous fit of illness.

St. Gall was a priest before he left Ireland, and having learned the language of the country where he settled, near the Lake of Constance, he converted to the faith a great number of idolaters. The cells which this Saint built there for those who desired to serve God with him, he gave to the monastery which bears his name. A synod of bishops, with the clergy and people, earnestly desired to place the Saint in the episcopal see of Constance; but his modesty refused the dignity.

He died in the year 646.

Illustration and text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).

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St. Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Congregation of Clerks Regular of the Cross, or Passionists, was one of the most ardent lovers of the passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of the sorrows of Mary. By his continued meditation on the sorrows of Jesus and Mary, and by his spirit of penance and mortification, he merited to attain to a high degree of sanctity. He was wont to say that anyone going to the Crucified Lord will also find our blessed Lady, for where the Son is, there is the Mother also. Indeed, one of the fruits of his great devotion to the passion of Jesus, which from his youth he had acquired at the foot of the cross, was a tender compassion for the sorrows of Mary, so that he could not reflect on the sufferings of Jesus without bewailing those of His Mother.

How pleasing were these sentiments of compassion to our blessed Lady, is manifest from the many occasions on which she deigned to appear to him and from the many revelations she made to her faithful servant with regard to the sufferings which she endured with her Son Jesus. It can scarcely be said how St. Paul was confirmed in fervor by these revelations; what great light he received in meditating on the work of our redemption; and what ardor he infused into his Religious and into all with whom he came in contact, for their advancement along the true path of sanctity.

When St. Paul of the Cross was on the point of death, Our Lady deigned to appear to him, in company with the Heavenly Court, inviting him into paradise. He was overcome with joy at the invitation and peacefully breathed forth his saintly soul in the year 1775. And thus the words of the Psalmist were verified in him: “They that sow in tears shall reap with joy.” [Ps 126:5]

Text from Alexis M. Lepicier, The Fairest Flower of Paradise (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1922).

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St. Luke

St. Luke, a physician at Antioch, and a painter, became a convert of St. Paul, and afterwards his fellow-laborer. He is best known to us as the historian of the New Testament. Though not an eye-witness of our Lord’s life, the Evangelist diligently gathered information from the lips of the Apostles, and wrote, as he tells us, all things in order. The Acts of the Apostles were written by this Evangelist as a sequel to his Gospel, bringing the history of the Church down to the first imprisonment of St. Paul at Rome.

The humble historian never names himself, but by his occasional use of “we” for “they” we are able to detect his presence in the scenes which he describes. We thus find that he sailed with St. Paul and Silas from Troas to Macedonia; stayed behind apparently for seven years at Philippi, and, lastly, shared the shipwreck and perils of the memorable voyage to Rome. Here his own narrative ends, but from St. Paul’s Epistles we learn that St. Luke was his faithful companion to the end. He died a martyr’s death some time afterwards in Achaia.

Illustration and text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).

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St. Ignatius of Antioch

St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, was the disciple of St. John. When Domitian persecuted the Church, St. Ignatius obtained peace for his own flock by fasting and prayer. But for his part he desired to suffer with Christ, and to prove himself a perfect disciple.

In the year 107, Trajan came to Antioch, and forced the Christians to choose between apostasy and death. “Who art thou, poor devil,” the emperor said, when Ignatius was brought before him, “who settest our commands at naught?” “Call not him ‘poor devil,'” Ignatius answered, “who bears God within him.” And when the emperor questioned him about his meaning, Ignatius explained that he bore in his heart Christ crucified for his sake. Thereupon the emperor condemned him to be torn to pieces by wild beasts at Rome. St. Ignatius thanked God, who had so honored him, “binding him in the chains of Paul, His apostle.”

He journeyed to Rome, guarded by soldiers, and with no fear, except of losing the martyr’s crown. He was devoured by lions in the Roman amphitheatre. The wild beasts left nothing of his body, except a few bones, which were reverently treasured at Antioch, until their removal to the Church of St. Clement, at Rome, in 637. After the martyr’s death, several Christians saw him in vision standing before Christ, and interceding for them.

Reflection. — Ask St. Ignatius to obtain for you the grace of profiting by all you have to suffer, and rejoicing in it as a means of likeness to your crucified Redeemer.

Text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).

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St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was born of pious and honest parents in Verosvres, a small village of Burgundy in France, on the twenty-second of July, in the year 1647.

From her earliest years she was visited by God with extraordinary favors, from which it was apparent that she was destined to perform some great work for the Church. When she had barely come to the age of reason, she manifested a great horror of sin, and at the same time an ardent desire of solitude, to which was united a special love of holy purity. So great was her fear of offending God even by venial sin, that if she suspected this danger in any of her actions, she desisted from performing the same.

As Margaret Mary advanced in piety, she felt herself drawn in a very special way to honor the most holy Mother of God. In fact, she narrates this of herself: “I had recourse to Mary in my every want, and through her I was delivered from the greatest dangers. Not daring to address myself directly to her Divine Son, I had recourse to her and used to recite the Rosary in her honor, on bare knees, genuflecting at each Hail Mary and frequently kissing the ground.”

When Margaret Mary entered the monastery of Paray-le-Monial, she strove to become more united to her Divine Spouse, by the purity of her life and the endeavor to please Him in all things. Therefore Our Lord appeared to her several times, revealing to her how it was His will that devotion to His most Sacred Heart, should be spread throughout all the world, as a beneficent river to enliven the human race, withered with the leprosy of sin, and how she herself was chosen by Him for this great work. St. Margaret faithfully corresponded to the invitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and in a short time the monastery of the Visitation, where she lived, became the center of this Devotion, now so widespread and so dear to the hearts of all Christian people. St. Margaret Mary died on the seventeenth of October, 1690, and was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.

Text from Alexis M. Lepicier, The Fairest Flower of Paradise (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1922).

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