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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Refuge of Sinners

The worst evil that can befall us is unquestionably sin. This is of a truth our soul’s enemy, which by sullying its purity, renders it an object of abhorrence in the sight of God, who is essential Holiness. Furthermore, sin deprives our soul of all share in the spiritual life, and subjects it, in a certain degree, to the dominion of the spirit of darkness.

At the beginning, Adam, by his transgression, infected the human race with sin. In consequence of this original sin, we are all born children of wrath, and though we are regenerated by holy Baptism, alas! we oftentimes leave the path of justice and truth, and follow our unruly passions or give ear to the promptings of self-love. How often do we rebel against God, our Heavenly Father!

God’s infinite mercy has not only prepared for us a potent remedy against sin in the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour, but it has also given us, poor sinners, a secure refuge in the assistance of the Blessed Virgin.

We read that there were, in the Old Law, cities of refuge, to which the guilty, whose crimes had rendered them worthy of death, could flee for safety. In the New Law, the mantle of the Mother of God is like a citadel, wherein sinful souls may find refuge.

Mary, by taking us under her protection, is not merely a pledge of our safety, but moreover, by her unrivaled sanctity, she is an earnest of pardon to all sinners who have recourse to her intercession. Not only does the Immaculate Virgin, by the fervor of her supplications, disarm God’s just anger roused by our sins, but also she obtains for her true clients sincere and heartfelt conversion.

To be cleansed from sin and to be admitted once again into friendship with God is a grace beyond compare: but to be kept free from fresh falls is even more important, as our salvation depends entirely upon final perseverance. Mary, by her intercession, obtains for us not only to detest past faults, but also to escape renewed lapses, and herein again her assistance is of the utmost value.

It was the privilege of the Mother of God to be exempt from all sin, original as well as actual; and so the principal grace she accords to her faithful servants is to preserve them from sin. like a most tender and loving mother, she protects her clients against the fierce onslaughts of the enemy, supporting and guiding them through the thorny pathways of life, and keeping them away from all stumbling-blocks. And since, through God’s permission, we are tempted in all sorts of ways, Mary’s watchful assistance helps us to put Satan to flight, while she suggests to us., through our angel guardian, all manner of chaste thoughts and holy aspirations.

But it is more especially at the hour of death, that the Holy Mother shelters her faithful servants, driving the Tempter far from them, and encouraging them to fight valiantly to the last gasp.

Happy he who frequently has recourse to Mary with faith and devotion! Despite his weakness, despite his many failures, he may surely hope for salvation, for Mary “is a tree of life to them that lay hold on her, and he that shall retain her is blessed.” [Prov 3:18]

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

When a child of seven years, Teresa ran away from her home at Avila in Spain, in the hope of being martyred by the Moors. Being brought back and asked the reason of her flight, she replied, “I want to see God, and I must die before I can see Him.” She then began with her brother to build a hermitage in the garden, and was often heard repeating “Forever, forever.” Some years later she became a Carmelite nun.

Frivolous conversations checked her progress towards perfection, but at last, in her thirty-first year, she gave herself wholly to God. A vision showed her the very place in hell to which her own light faults would have led her; and she lived ever after in the deepest distrust of self. She was called to reform her Order, favored with distinct commands from Our Lord, and her heart was pierced with divine love; but she dreaded nothing so much as delusion, and to the last acted only under obedience to her confessors, which both made her strong and kept her safe. She died on October 4th, 1582.

“After all I die a child of the Church.” These were the Saint’s last words.

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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