Friday, August 31, 2012

St. Raymond Nonnatus, Water, Candles, and Padlocks

Today is the feast of St. Raymond Nonnatus, an early member of the Order of Mercy known for his work ransoming Christian captives in Algiers.  Here is what the Catholic Encyclopedia has to say in part:

Born 1200 or 1204 at Portello in the Diocese of Urgel in Catalonia; died at Cardona, 31 August, 1240. His feast is celebrated on 31 August. He is pictured in the habit of his order surrounded by ransomed slaves, with a padlock on his lips. He was taken from the womb of his mother after her death, hence his name. Of noble but poor family, he showed early traits of piety and great talent. His father ordered him to tend a farm, but later gave him permission to take the habit with the Mercedarians at Barcelona, at the hands of the founder, St. Peter Nolasco. Raymond made such progress in the religious life that he was soon considered worthy to succeed his master in the office of ransomer. He was sent to Algiers and liberated many captives. When money failed he gave himself as a hostage. He was zealous in teaching the Christian religion and made many converts, which embittered the Mohammedan authorities. Raymond was subjected to all kinds of indignities and cruelty, was made to run the gauntlet, and was at last sentenced to impalement. The hope of a greater sum of money as ransom caused the governor to commute the sentence into imprisonment. To prevent him from preaching for Christ, his lips were pierced with a red-hot iron and closed with a padlock. … In the next year he was called to Rome by the pope, but came only as far as Cardona, about six miles from Barcelona, where he died. His body was brought to the chapel of St. Nicholas near his old farm. In 1657 his name was placed in the Roman martyrology by Alexander VII. He is invoked by women in labour and by persons falsely accused. The appendix to the Roman ritual gives a formula for the blessing of water, in his honour, to be used by the sick, and another of candles.
Water blessed in honor of St. Raymond was something of a cure-all, while the candles were lit during childbirth for a safe delivery.  In some places, it is also a custom to place padlocks on his altar to stop lying, rumors, and gossip or to aid in keeping confidences.  

Padlocks at the Altar of  St. Raymond in the Cathedral of Mexico City. (Source.)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Santa Sabina and Ss. Felix and Adauctus

 Santa Sabina

Yesterday was the Beheading of John the Baptist, but it was also the feast of St. Sabina, a Second Century Roman matron and senator's wife. The Fifth Century basilica built on the site of her house on the Aventine Hill is one of Rome's most pristine examples of early Christian architecture and is a particular favorite of mine. It is also the stational church for Ash Wednesday.

When I was there a few summers ago, I had the good luck of having the church almost entirely to myself--there was one other person praying at a side altar. These more out-of-the-way churches are always my favorites, whether they are on the back streets of a city or the back roads in the country. Unlike the crowded jostling of a St. Peter's or a Notre Dame, here there is time and leisure to take in the place, to remember that this building stands as a witness to a particular event rather than as a cleverly arranged museum display, and even to have a pious thought or two.

More photos here>>>

Ss. Felix and Adauctus

In the old calendar, today is the commemoration of Ss. Felix and Adauctus, early 4th century martyrs, whose story, like so many from that era, is a bit confusing.  Here is what the Catholic Encyclopedia has to say:
Martyrs at Rome, 303, under Diocletian and Maximian. The Acts, first published in Ado's Martyrology, relate as follows: Felix, a Roman priest, and brother of another priest, also named Felix, being ordered to offer sacrifice to the gods, was brought by the prefect Dracus to the temples of Serapis, Mercury, and Diana. But at the prayer of the saint the idols fell shattered to the ground. He was then led to execution. On the way an unknown person joined him, professed himself a Christian, and also received the crown of martyrdom. The Christians gave him the name Adauctus (added). These Acts are considered a legendary embellishment of a misunderstood inscription by Pope Damasus. A Dracus cannot be found among the prefects of Rome; the other Felix of the legend is St. Felix of Nola; and Felix of Monte Pincio is the same Felix honoured on the Garden Hill. The brother is imaginary (Anal. Boll., XVI, 19-29). Their veneration, however, is very old; they are commemorated in the Sacramentary of Gregory the Great and in the ancient martyrologies. Their church in Rome, built over their graves, in the cemetery of Commodilla, on the Via Ostiensis, near the basilica of St. Paul, and restored by Leo III, was discovered about three hundred years ago and again unearthed in 1905 (Civiltà Catt., 1905, II, 608). Leo IV, about 850, is said to have given their relics to Irmengard, wife of Lothair I; she placed them in the abbey of canonesses at Eschau in Alsace. They were brought to the church of St. Stephen in Vienna in 1361. The heads are claimed by Anjou and Cologne. According to the "Chronicle of Andechs" (Donauwörth, 1877, p. 69), Henry, the last count, received the relics from Honorius III and brought them to the Abbey of Andechs. Their feast is kept on 30 August.
Many of you know that I particularly like these stories of the barely or misremembered, whose cultus never the less rocked along through the centuries, like old family photos of relatives no one could any longer identify.  They are part of our history, even if that history is not clear and, as with those photos, we could never bring ourselves to throw them out of the shoebox of unsorted photos, even if we could not quite say how they fit into the story.  Well, at least we couldn't before the Sacramentary of 1970

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Beheading of St. John the Baptist

Detail from the Pantheon's Madonna of the Rail.

Behold, the price of courtly dance,
The fruit of the forbidden glance,
The head of Christ's great harbinger!
The voice, which did repentance call,
From sylvans rude to palace hall ;
Hush'd is that voice and tongue, and ne'er again shall stir.

Nay, is that tongue for ever still'd?
Nay, it anew his ears hath fill'd
That they can nothing hear no more;
Abroad the Baptist's shadow stalks,
In secret to his spirit talks
Of that incestuous crime more sternly than before.

But holy John ! - he was a cloud
Pregnant with light, which earth-ward bow'd,
Big with the rays of dawning day,
Disclosing the eternal Sun;
As its effulgence now begun,
Then hasted he himself in air to melt away.

For Thine alone, whose footsteps dwell
In seas of light inscrutable,
The glory and the praise is Thine;
Thee the Father everlasting,
And Thee the Incarnate Son we sing,
And Thee who bindest all, the Paraclete Divine.

Ecce, saltantis pretium puellre
Hymn of Mattins for The Beheading of St. John the Baptist
Hymns Translated from the Parisian Breviary, 1834

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

St. Augustine of Hippo, Doctor of the Church

St. Ambrose receives St. Augustine.
Today is the feast of St. Augustine of Hippo, whom one of today's responsories calls the "light of Doctors and bulwark of the Church."  This famous passage from The Confessions reminds us why:

TOO late have I loved Thee, Beauty so ancient, and so new ! Too late have I loved Thee! And behold, Thou wert within, and I without, and without I sought Thee; and I, deformed, ran after those forms of beauty which Thou hast made. Thou wast with me, and I was not with Thee. Those things held me back from Thee, which could have no being but in Thee. Thou calledst, Thou criedst, and Thou breakest through my deafness. Thou flashedst, thou shinedst, and Thou chasedst away my blindness. Thou didst become fragrant, and I drew in my breath, and panted after Thee. I tasted, and I hunger and thirst. Thou touchedst me, and I burned for Thy embrace.

WHEN I shall cleave to Thee with my whole being, I shall have no more sorrow and labour; and my life shall be a living life, all full of Thee. But now, seeing that all whom Thou fillest, Thou liftest up; I being not full of Thee, am a burden to myself. Sorrowful joys contend with joyous sorrows; and which will conquer, I know not. Ah me! Lord, have mercy upon me! My evil sorrows contend with my good joys ; and which will conquer, I know not. Ah me! Lord, have mercy upon me! Alas ! Look, I do not hide my wounds; Thou art the Physician, I the sick man; Thou art merciful, I am miserable.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday ISM Net Round Up

This week was fairly quiet on the Independent Sacramental news front.

Finding Grace in Ordinary time follows up last week's Facebook piece with a new entry titled Walls and Doors (Social media and religious life, Part 2), looking at how monastic principles might help you set your Facebook filters.

Also touching on religious life, the Vagrant Vicar looks at how religious orders might function as aids to both unity and community in Two Men and a Sewing Machine Do Not A Religious OrderMake...

Finally, Fr. Joseph Augustine shared his Assumption sermon on Putting Mary in Your Living Room.