St. Laurence of Brindisi


St. Laurence was born July 22, 1559, and from an early age showed an inclination for a monastic life. To encourage this his pious parents placed him in the Franciscan convent at Brindisi. Being left an orphan when quite young, he went to Venice, where his uncle, a man of great learning and much interested in our Saint, was Superior of the College of St. Mark. When not quite sixteen Laurence was attracted to the Capuchins, then in their first fervor, and on February 18, 1575, he joined that Order. Applying himself diligently to study, he became a finished Hebrew scholar. At the close of his scholastic career he was ordained a priest.

He visited nearly all the important cities of Italy, everywhere winning souls to God, and continued this missionary journey until he was recalled to fill the Chair of Theology. Subsequently he was placed in charge of the Convent of the Holy Redeemer at Venice, and afterwards made Superior of the house at Bassano. In both these positions he showed such great administrative ability, that in 1596, when barely thirty years of age, he was chosen Provincial of Tuscany.

In 1596 Laurence was named Definitor General, and was about to make a visitation of the Capuchin houses throughout Sicily, when Pope Clement VIII., at the request of the Emperor Rudolph II., ordered him to Germany, there to found houses of his Order, . . . and within a year had founded houses in Vienna, Prague, and in Gratz.

When the election for General took place he found to his great dismay that, although not fifty-three years of age, he had been elected General of the Capuchins, the highest office in his Order.

Some idea of the love felt for our Saint may be formed from what took place on his last visit to Milan. He was obliged at frequent intervals to mount the pulpit and give his blessing to the vast crowds that came from far and near to hear and see him, and as he left the city the people gathered round him, weeping and clamoring for one more blessing, until at last he was obliged to turn back. . . . “Bless the shepherd as well as his flock,” cried the Archbishop, Cardinal Borromeo, brother of St. Charles; and kneeling humbly with the people, he, too, received our Saint’s blessing.

On July 22, 1619, his busy life was brought to a close.

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. Apollinaris


St. Apollinaris was the first Bishop of Ravenna; he sat twenty years, and was crowned with martyrdom in the reign of Vespasian. He was a disciple of St. Peter, and made by him Bishop of Ravenna.

St. Peter Chrysologus, the most illustrious among his successors, has left us a sermon in honor of our Saint, in which he often styles him a martyr; but adds, that though he frequently suffered for the faith, and ardently desired to lay down his life for Christ, yet God preserved him a long time to His Church, and did not allow the persecutors to take away his life. So he seems to have been a martyr only by the torments he endured for Christ.

His body lay first at Classis, four miles from Ravenna. . . . St. Fortunatus exhorted his friends to make pilgrimages to the tomb, and St. Gregory the Great ordered parties in doubtful suits at law to be sworn before it. Pope Honorius built a church under the name of Apollinaris in Rome, about the year 630. It occurs in all martyrologies, and the high veneration which the Church paid early to his memory is a sufficient testimony of his eminent sanctity and apostolic spirit.

Reflection. — The virtue of the Saints was true and heroic, because humble and proof against all trials. Persevere in your good resolutions; it is not enough to begin well, you must so continue to the end.

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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Praying Reverently

Prayer ought to be humble, fervent, resigned, persevering, and accompanied with great reverence. One should consider that she stands in the presence of a God, and speaks with a Lord before whom the angels tremble from awe and fear. -St. Mary Magdalen di Pazzi

St. Francis de Sales, even when he was alone, remained before God, through the whole time of prayer, humble, abased, composed, motionless, and with singular reverence, like a loving son.

St. John Berchmans remained always on his knees, with his eyes closed, his hands clasped on his bosom, without support, motionless as a rock, with a countenance full of joy and such ardor that others placed themselves near him, that they might gain fervor by looking at him.

St. Rose of Lima kept herself recollected, and so great was her attention and devotion, that any object that presented itself before her, distracted her no more than if she were insensible. When she went to church, she placed herself in a corner, with her eyes fixed upon the tabernacle. She would remain thus for many hours immovable, while the sight of persons passing near her, and the general buzz and murmur of the crowd, did not disturb her at all.

When St. Bernard was entering a church to pray, he would say to his thoughts: “Remain here outside, useless thoughts and disorderly affections, and thou, my soul, enter into the presence of thy Lord!”

At the close of their prayers, many Saints showed exterior marks of their fervor. St. Gervasius, the Bishop, was often seen with rays around his head; the face of the venerable Father John Leonardi was so changed and glowing, that he seemed transformed into a Seraph; and the Abbot Silvanus was transported to such a degree that all the things of the earth seemed to him vile and abject, and he covered his eyes with his hands that he might not see them, saying: “Close, my eyes, and seek not to look at the things of the world; for there is nothing in it worthy to be gazed upon.”

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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The Priority of Prayer

The substance of mental prayer, in my opinion, consists in nothing but conversing with God as with a friend. And so, to speak of this thing or of that to Him, who, we know, loves us, is mental prayer. -St. Teresa

When we have to speak to others on spiritual matters, we ought first to speak of them to God in prayer, and empty ourselves of our own spirit, that we may be filled with the Holy Spirit, which alone illuminates the mind and inflames the will. -St. Vincent de Paul

When this Saint was about to deliberate on some business, or take some resolution, or give some advice, he was accustomed before speaking and even before thinking of the matter, to raise his mind to God to ask light and help. On such occasions, he usually raised his eyes to heaven, then dropped them, and kept them partly closed, as if consulting with God in his own heart before replying. When matters of importance were under consideration, he desired that time should be taken, to recommend them to God. And as he trusted wholly to the Divine wisdom, and not at all to bis own, he received from heaven great lights and graces, by means of which he often discovered things which could not have been penetrated by the human intellect alone.

In grave matters, St. Ignatius never resolved upon anything without first recommending them to God in prayer.

When the Abbot Pambo was asked for advice, he used to reply, “Give me time to think.” Then he made it a subject of prayer; and if he received any light from God, he communicated it; otherwise, he did not answer at all.

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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The Value of Prayer

Prayer well made gives much pleasure to the angels, and therefore it is much assisted by them; it gives great displeasure to the devils, and therefore is much persecuted and disturbed by them. -St. John Chrysostom

The same Saint says that the angels have a high esteem for him who renders himself intimate with God by prayer; that while he is making it, they stand beside him in perfect silence; and when he has finished, they praise and applaud him.

Souls that have no habit of prayer, are like a lame and paralytic body, which, though it has hands and feet, cannot use them. -St. Teresa

St. Teresa proved this by her own experience; for, having abandoned prayer for some time, she began to fall into certain faults and defects, from which, though they were slight, she could not free herself, — rather, she went daily from bad to worse. She was herself obliged to say that she was on the road to perdition, to which the Lord told her she would have come, if she had not resumed prayer.

There is certainly nothing more useful than prayer. Therefore, we ought to entertain great esteem and love for it, and employ every effort to make it well. -St. Vincent de Paul

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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St. Simon Stock


Simon was born in the county of Kent, England, and left his home when he was but twelve years of age, to live as a hermit in the hollow trunk of a tree, whence he was known as Simon of the Stock. Here he passed twenty years in penance and prayer, and learned from Our Lady that he was to join an Order not then known in England. He waited in patience till the White Friars came, and then entered the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. His great holiness moved his brethren in the general chapter held at Aylesford, near Rochester, in 1245, to choose him prior-general of the Order.

In the many persecutions raised against the new religious, Simon went with filial confidence to the Blessed Mother of God. As he knelt in prayer in the White Friars’ convent at Cambridge, on July 16th, 1251, she appeared before him and presented him with the scapular, in assurance of her protection. The devotion to the blessed habit spread quickly throughout the Christian world. Pope after Pope enriched it with indulgences, and miracles innumerable put their seal upon its efficacy. The first of them was worked at Winchester on a man dying in despair, who at once asked for the Sacraments, when the scapular was laid upon him by St. Simon Stock.

St. Simon Stock died at Bordeaux, A.D. 1265.

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. Bonaventure


Sanctity and learning raised Bonaventure to the Church’s highest honors, and from a child he was the companion of Saints. Yet at heart he was ever the poor Franciscan friar.

St. Francis gave him his name; for, having miraculously cured him of a mortal sickness, he prophetically exclaimed of the child, “O bona ventura!” — good luck. He is known also as the “Seraphic Doctor,” from the fervor of divine love which breathes in his writings. He was the friend of St. Thomas Aquinas, who asked him one day whence he drew his great learning. He replied by pointing to his crucifix.

At the age of thirty-five, he was made general of his Order; and only escaped another dignity, the Archbishopric of York, by dint of tears and entreaties. Gregory X. appointed him Cardinal Bishop of Albano. When the Saint heard of the Pope’s resolve to create him a Cardinal, he quietly made his escape from Italy. But Gregory sent him a summons to return to Rome. On his way he stopped to rest himself at a convent of his Order near Florence; and there two Papal messengers, sent to meet him with the Cardinal’s hat, found him washing the dishes. The Saint desired them to hang the hat on a bush that was near, and take a walk in the garden until he had finished what he was about. Then taking up the hat with unfeigned sorrow, he joined the messengers and paid them the respect due to their character.

He sat at the Pontiff’s right hand, and spoke first at the Council of Lyons. His piety and eloquence won over the Greeks to Catholic union, and then his strength failed. He died while the Council was sitting, and was buried by the assembled bishops, A.D. 1274.

Reflection. — “The fear of God,” says St. Bonaventure, “forbids a man to give his heart to transitory things, which are the true seeds of sin.”

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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