Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Saint Martin of Tours

Saint Martin of Tours (also known as Martin the Merciful; The Glory of Gaul) was born around 316 A.D. at Upper Pannonia (in modern Hungary) of pagan parents. His father was a Roman military officer and tribune. Saint Martin was raised in Pavia, Italy. He discovered Christianity, and became a catechumen in his early teens. He was baptized into the Church at age 18.

He joined the Roman imperial army at age 15, serving in a ceremonial unit that acted as the emperor's bodyguard, rarely exposed to combat. He became a cavalry officer, and was assigned to garrison duty in Gaul (modern France). Once, while on horseback in Amiens in Gaul , he encountered a beggar. Having nothing to give but the clothes on his back, he cut his officer's cloak in half, and gave it to the beggar. He later had a vision of Christ wearing the cloak. Just before a battle, Martin announced that he was Christian, and that his faith prohibited him from fighting. This resulted in his being charged with cowardice, he was jailed, and his superiors planned to put him in the front of the battle. The invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service at Worms.

After he was released he journeyed to Poitiers to labor under Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers. There he organized a community of monks, erected the monastery of Liguge, and in 371 became Bishop of Tours. He later founded the monastery of Marmoutier and resided there. He was an opponent of Arianism. After a last visit to Rome, Martin went to Candes, one of the religious centers created by him in his diocese, where he died in 397. By his request, he was buried in the Cemetery of the Poor on 11 November 397 and his relics rested in the basilica of Tours until 1562 when the catheral and relics were destroyed by militant Protestants. Some fragments of his tomb were found during construction excavation in 1860.

He was the first non-martyr to receive the cultus of a saint.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Saint Charles Borromeo

Saint Charles Borromeo (also known as Carlo Borromeo; Father of the Clergy; Apostle to the Council of Trent) was born in 1538 A.D. in at Aron, diocese of Novara, Italy. Born to a wealthy, noble family, the third of six children, Charles was the son of Count Giberto II Borromeo and Margherita de' Medici. He was a nephew of Pope Pius IV. He studied in Milan, and at the University of Pavia, studying at one point under the future Pope Gregory XIII. Charles was a civil and canon lawyer at age 21. He became a cleric at Milan, taking the habit in October 1547. Charles became abbot commendatario of San Felino e San Graziano abbey in Arona, in November 1547. Then he became abbot commendatario of San Silano di Romagnano abbey in May 1558. He was made prior commendatario of San Maria di Calvenzano abbey in December 1558.

He was summoned to Rome upon the election of Pius IV, the administration of all the Papal States was entrusted to him, and he was made cardinal-deacon and administrator of the archdiocese of Milan though only 22 years old. He was legate of Bologna, Romagna, and the March of Ancona, and Protector of the Kingdom of Portugal, Lower Germany, and the Catholic cantons of Switzerland. Under his protection were placed the orders of Saint Francis, the Carmelites, the Humiliati, and the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross of Christ in Portugal. Due to his enforcement of strict ecclesiastical discipline, some disgruntled monks in the Order of the Humiliati hired a lay brother to murder him on the evening of 26 October 1569. He was shot at, but he was not hit. He founded at Rome the Vatican Academy for literary work, and many of the contributions to the Academy are found in Saint Charles's "Noctes Vaticanre."

As papal secretary of state, he labored for the reassembling of the Council of Trent, which took place, 1562, and Charles was active in enforcing its reforms, and in composing the Roman Catechism, embodying the teachings of the Council. Charles participated in the conclave in 1572 that chose Pope Gregory XIII.

Saint Charles spent his life and fortune in the service of the people of his diocese at Milan. He directed and enforced the decrees of the Council of Trent, and he fought tirelessly for peace in the wake of the storm caused by Martin Luther. Charles founded schools for the poor, seminaries, hospitals, conducted synods, instituted children's Sunday school, and worked among the sick and dying, leading his people by example.

Saint Charles Borromeo died of a fever on November 3, 1584 at Milan, Italy. His relics are in the Cathedral of Milan.

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