Saturday, 17 November 2007
A Flood of Saints
Our Bathroom looks like a scene from 'The Poseidon Adventure' - I thought it was merely a blockage in the plastic drainage pipes - I was wrong ! - Yes , having no radiator in the bathroom had led us to have our first burst pipe of the winter - the skirting board has crumbled to nothing, nine tiles crashed into the bath and mopping up has become a twice-hourly endeavour day and night - hopefully my father wil be able to trace and fix the leak tomorrow otherwise the map of Corby will have to be re-drawn with two boating lakes ! Getting a plumber is way beyond our budget - well we've worked out we could afford 4 minutes 20 seconds of their time.
Anyway in the meantime I looked up a patron saint for protection in floods - I was surprised to discover there are EIGHT !!!!
John of Nepomucene
Our Lady of Zapopan
um....Who ? Well the first three yes but ?
Saint Florian (Latin: Florianus) (died ca. 304) is a Christian saint, and the patron saint of Poland, Linz, Austria, chimney sweeps and firefighters. His feast day is May 4. St. Florian is also the patron of Upper Austria, jointly with Saint Leopold.
Florian lived in the time of the Roman emperors Diocletian and Maximian, and was commander of the imperial army in eastern Bavaria, Germany. In addition to his military duties, he was also responsible for organizing firefighting brigades.  The Roman regime sought to eradicate Christianity, and sent Aquilinus to persecute Christians. When Aquilinus ordered Florian to offer sacrifice to the pagan Roman gods in accordance with Roman religion, he refused, and cheerfully accepted the beatings of the soldiers, who used clubs, spikes and fire to torture him. He was executed by drowning in the Enns River with a stone tied around his neck. Later a woman named Valeria had a vision in which she saw him; Florian, in this vision, declared his intent that he be buried in a more appropriate location.
The Austrian Floriani Principle is named after a (somewhat cynical) prayer to Saint Florian: "O heiliger St. Florian verschon mein Haus, zünd andre an", translating to "O holy Saint Florian, spare my house, kindle others".
St. Florian's body, according to tradition, is buried in Kraków, Poland.
The Austrian town of St. Florian is named after him. According to legend, his body was interred at the Monastery of Canons Regular in St. Florian.
The cross of St. Florian is widely used by fire services to form their emblem.
St Gregory Thaumaturgus
Born at Neocæsarea in Pontus (Asia Minor) about 213; died there 270-275. Among those who built up the Christian Church, extended its influence, and strengthened its institutions, the bishops of Asia Minor occupy a high position; among them Gregory of Neocaesarea holds a very prominent place. His pastoral work is but little known, and his theological writings have reached us in a very incomplete state. In this semi-obscurity the personality of this great man seems eclipsed and dwarfed; even his immemorial title Thaumaturgus (the wonder-worker) casts an air of legend about him. Nevertheless, the lives of few bishops of the third century are so well authenticated; the historical references to him permit us to reconstruct his work with considerable detail.
Originally he was known as Theodore (the gift of God), not an exclusively Christian name. Moreover, his family was pagan, and he was unacquainted with the Christian religion till after the death of his father, at which time he was fourteen years old. He had a brother Athenodorus, and, on the advice of one of their tutors, the young men were anxious to study law at the law-school of Beirut, then one of the four of five famous schools in the Hellenic world. At this time, also, their brother-in-law was appointed assessor to the Roman Governor of Palestine; the youths had therefore an occasion to act as an escort to their sister as far as Caesarea in Palestine. On arrival in that town they learned that the celebrated scholar Origen, head of the catechetical school of Alexandria, resided there. Curiosity led them to hear and converse with the master, and his irresistible charm did the rest. Soon both youths forgot all about Beirut and Roman law, and gave themselves up to the great Christian teacher, who gradually won them over to Christianity. In his panegyric on Origen, Gregory describes the method employed by that master to win the confidence and esteem of those he wished to convert; how he mingled a persuasive candour with outbursts of temper and theological argument put cleverly at once and unexpectedly. Persuasive skill rather than bare reasoning, and evident sincerity and an ardent conviction were the means Origen used to make converts. Gregory took up at first the study of philosophy; theology was afterwards added, but his mind remained always inclined to philosophical study, so much so indeed that in his youth he cherished strongly the hope of demonstrating that the Christian religion was the only true and good philosophy. For seven years he underwent the mental and moral discipline of Origen (231 to 238 or 239). There is no reason to believe that is studies were interrupted by the persecutions of maximinus of Thrace; his alleged journey to Alexandria, at this time, may therefore be considered at least doubtful, and probably never occurred.
In 238 or 239 the two brothers returned to their native Pontus. Before leaving Palestine Gregory delivered in presence of Origen a public farewell oration in which he returned thanks to the illustrious master he was leaving. This oration is valuable from many points of view. As a rhetorical exercise it exhibits the excellent training given by Origen, and his skill in developing literary taste; it exhibits also the amount of adulation then permissible towards a living person in an assembly composed mostly of Christians, and Christian in temper. It contains, moreover, much useful information concerning the youth of Gregory and his master's method of teaching. A letter of Origen refers to the departure of the two brothers, but it is not easy to determine whether it was written before or after the delivery of this oration. In it Origen exhorts (quite unnecessarily, it is true) his pupils to bring the intellectual treasures of the Greeks to the service of Christian philosophy, and thus imitate the Jews who employed the golden vessels of the Egyptians to adorn the Holy of Holies. It may be supposed that despite the original abandonment of Beirut and the study of Roman law, Gregory had not entirely given up the original purpose of his journey to the Orient; as a matter of fact, he returned to Pontus with the intention of practising law. His plan, however, was again laid aside, for he was soon consecrated bishop of his native Caesarea by Phoedimus, Bishop of Amasea and Metropolitan of Pontus. This fact illustrates in an interesting way the growth of the hierarchy in the primitive Church, for we know that the Christian community at Caesarea was very small, being only seventeen souls, and it was given a bishop. We know, moreover, from ancient canonical documents, that it was possible for a community of even ten Christians to have their own bishop. When Gregory was consecrated he was forty years old, and he ruled his diocese for thirty years. Although we know nothing definite as to his methods, we cannot doubt that he must have shown much zeal in increasing the little flock with which he began his episcopal administration. From an ancient source we learn a fact that is at once a curious coincidence, and throws light on his missionary zeal; whereas he began with only seventeen Christians, at his death there remained but seventeen pagans in the whole town of Caesarea. The many miracles which won for his the title of Thaumaturgus were doubtless eprformed during these years. The Oriental mind revels so naturally in the marvellous that a serious historian cannot accept unconditionally all its product; yet if ever the title of "wonder-worker" was deserved, Gregory had a right to it.
Date of birth unknown; d. 13 April, 585.
Leovigild, the Arian King of the Visigoths (569-86), had two sons, Hermengild and Reccared, by his first marriage with the Catholic Princess Theodosia. Hermengild married, in 576, Ingundis, a Frankish Catholic princess, the daughter of Sigebert and Brunhilde. Led by his own inclination, and influenced by his wife as well as by the instructions of St. Leander of Seville, he entered the Catholic fold. Leovigild's second wife, Goswintha, a fanatical Arian, hated her daughter-in-law and sought by ill-treatment to force her to abandon the Catholic Faith. Hermengild had accordingly withdrawn, with his father's sanction, to Andalusia, and had taken his wife with him. But when Leovigild learned of his son's conversion he summoned him back to Toledo, which command Hermengild did not obey. The fanatical Arianism of his step-mother, and his father's severe treatment of Catholics in Spain, stirred him to take up arms in protection of his oppressed co-religionists and in defence of his own rights. At the same time he formed an alliance with the Byzantines. Leovigold took the field against his son in 582, prevailed on the Byzantines to betray Hermengild for a sum of 30,000 gold solidi, besieged the latter in Seville in 583, and captured the city after a siege of nearly two years. Hermengild sought refuge in a church at Cordova, whence he was enticed by the false promises of Leovigild, who stripped him in camp of his royal raiment and banished him to Valencia (584). His wife, Ingundis, fled with her son to Africa, where she died, after which the boy was given, by order of Emperor Mauritius, into the hands of his grandmother Brunhilde. We are not fully informed as to Hermengild's subsequent fate.
Gregory the Great relates that Leovigild sent an Arian bishop to him in his prison, on Easter Eve of 585, with a promise that he would forgive him all, provided he consented to receive Holy Communion from the hands of this bishop. But Hermengild firmly refused thus to abjure his Catholic belief, and was in consequence beheaded on Easter Day. He was later venerated as a martyr, and Sixtus V (1585), acting on the suggestion of King Philip II, extended the celebration of his feast (13 April) throughout the whole of Spain.
St John Nepomucene
John of Nepomuk or John Nepomucene (Czech: Jan Nepomucký) (1340 – March 20, 1393) is a national saint of Bohemia. In his fully developed legend he was the confessor of the Queen of Bohemia and refused to divulge the secrets of the confessional. On the basis of this story, John of Nepumuk was made a saint, the first martyr of the Seal of the Confessional, a patron against calumnies and, because of the manner of his death, a protector from floods. Eventually, in 1961 the Vatican declared this traditional account as unfounded.
The historical starting-point of the Nepomuk legend is the person of John of Pomuk (Jan z Pomuk), a small market town of Bohemia later renamed Nepomuk, which belonged to the nearby Cistercian abbey. He was born around 1340, and he first studied at the new University of Prague, then followed a course in Canon law at the University of Padua. In 1393 he was made the vicar-general of John of Jenštejn (1348-1400), Archbishop of Prague from 1378 to 1396. Among his contemporaries, the new vicar-general enjoyed no special reputation; he was rich, possessed houses, and lent money to noblemen and priests. In the same year, March 20 he was thrown into the river Vltava from Charles Bridge in Prague at the behest of Wenceslaus, King of the Romans and King of Bohemia.
The issue was an old one, and its peremptory solution was traditional (compare the Defenestrations of Prague). At issue was the appointment of a new abbot for the rich and powerful Benedictine Abbey of Kladruby; its abbot was a territorial magnate whose resources would be crucial to Wenceslaus in his struggles with nobles. Wenceslaus at the same time was backing the Avignon papacy, whereas the Archbishop of Prague followed its rival, the pope at Rome. As the Hussite reform movement, denounced as "heresy", divided Bohemia, Archbishop John of Jenštejn ably represented the conservative or even reactionary faction of ecclesiastical universalism, which was not favourably inclined to any radical social changes. Contrary to the wishes of Wenceslaus, John confirmed the Archbishop's candidate for Abbot of Kladrau, and was thrown off the Charles Bridge at Prague on the Emperor's orders, March 20, 1393.
Monument on Cathedral Island in Wrocław, PolandJohn of Nepomuk is seen by Catholics as a martyr to the cause of clerical immunity, by Romantic nationalists as a Czech martyr to Imperial interference, and by historians as a victim of a late version of the inveterate investiture controversy between secular rulers and the Catholic hierarchy. He is portrayed with a halo of five stars, commemorating the stars that hovered over the Vltava River on the night of his murder. His tomb, a Baroque monument cast in silver and silver-gilt that was designed by Fischer von Erlach, stands in St Vitus Cathedral, Prague.
The connection of John of Nepomuk with the inviolability of the confessional is part of the development and transformation of the legend, which can be traced through successive stages. The archbishop, who hastened to Rome soon after the crime, in his charge against Wenceslaus, called the victim a martyr; in the vita written a few years later miracles are already recorded, by which the drowned man was discovered. The uncritical Bohemian annalists from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century fostered the fable. About the middle of the fifteenth century the statement appears for the first time that the refusal to violate the seal of confession was the cause of John's death. Two decades later (1471), the dean of Prague, Paul Zidek, makes Johanek the queen's confessor. The unscrupulous chronicler Wenceslaus Hayek, the "Bohemian Livy," speaks in 1541 (probably owing to carelessness in the use of his sources) of two Johns of Nepomuk being drowned; the first as confessor, the second for his confirmation of the abbot.
The place on the bridge parapet where John of Nepomuk was thrown into the Vltava.The legend is especially indebted for its growth to the Jesuit historiographer Boleslaus Balbinus the "Bohemian Pliny,", whose Vita beatae Joannis Nepomuceni martyris was published in Prague, 1670. He was, however, as credulous as he was patriotic, and even became a forger to honor his saint. Although the Prague metropolitan chapter did not accept the biography dedicated to it, "as being frequently destitute of historical foundation and erroneous, a bungling work of mythological rhetoric," Balbinus stuck to it. In 1683 the Charles Bridge was adorned with a statue of the saint, which has had numerous successors; in 1708 the first church was dedicated to him at Hradec Králové; a more famous Pilgrimage Church of Saint John of Nepomuk was founded in 1719.
Meanwhile, in spite of the objection of the Jesuits, the process was inaugurated which ended with his canonization. On May 31, 1721, he was beatified, and on March 19, 1729, he was canonized under Pope Benedict XIII. The acts of the process, comprising 500 pages, which cost more than 180,000 crowns, distinguish two Johns of Nepomuk and sanction the cultus of the one who was drowned in 1393 as a martyr of the sacrament of penance.
Our Lady Of Zapopan
October 12th means Columbus Day to Americans, but to the good citizens of Mexico, October 12th is also the day the "Traveling Lady of Zapopan" comes "home" to spend the Autumn and Winter months in her stately basilica.
South of the border, this crisp Autumn day is actually "The Dia de la Raza", an important national holiday, since it marks for these people the new flood of human blood which rose in New Spain as one of the major effects of Columbus' voyage. As a result of the conquest, Mexico became predominately populated by "mestizos", or Spanish-Indians. To foretell the physical characteristics of the mestizo came the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531, when the portrait of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a Spanish-Indian woman appeared on the tilma of Juan Diego.
Guadalajara, capital and jewel of the state of Jalisco, celebrates "The Day of the Mestizo" by rendering ecstatic homage to "The Little Virgin" as Our Lady of Zapopan. She is Spanish in origin, but completely Mexican in the tradition of more than four hundred years that surround her cult. Brought to Zapopan by Father Antonio de Segovia in 1541, the "Little Virgin", less than fourteen inches high, found herself in the heart of a territory, then called New Galicia, still under the conquest of Nuñe de Guzman. The precious statue, which the warm heart of the Mexican personifies, was the instrument by which Heaven vouchsafed to turn the fears and animosities of the natives into a confidence and love which enabled the zealous Franciscan to gather them into the fold of the Good Shepherd. The story is told that, as he preached, the little statue of Our Lady that he always carried with him, emitted rays of light. The miraculous radiance seemed to penetrate the souls of the Indians and convert them into vessels ready for the waters of grace.
"The Little Virgin" was at once installed in a place of honor at the Zapopan Church of the Franciscans which was replaced by the present stately basilica. If the "Day of the Mestizo" is one of jubilation in Guadalajara, it is more than that in Zapopan, for on that day their cherished Lady comes home! For four months she has been in Jalisco, where she has traveled from parish to parish, amid memorable scenes of piety and rejoicing. Zapopan's history notes the fact that when its beloved Queen started on her first trip to the neighboring city in 1734, the townsfolk witnessed her departure with consternation, fearing that the proud "Sultana of the West", as the Jaliscan capital has been called, would hold her captive.
But the Franciscans who had a Friary at Zapopan since the sixteenth century, have kept faith with their parishioners, and each year the Great Lady has been brought home in triumph, an instrument of special graces for her faithful Mestizos.
Dearest Lady of Zapopan, we entrust to Thy Immaculate Heart, all of our needs and petitions, as well as those of our Bishop and the Church, that they may be granted as they are in accord with God's Holy Will. 0 Immaculate Queen of Guadalajara, we fervently entreat Thee to hear our prayer for the conversion of our loved ones, our benefactors, and our enemies; and especially for the conversion of the people of Jalisco and of all Mexico. Grant that these humble souls who have longed revered Thee as Their Queen and Mother, may see through the deceits of the heretical sects of Vatican II, Lefebvre, and Thuc, and return to the ancient True Catholic Faith brought to them by the valiant efforts of the heroic propagators of the Faith, such as Christopher Columbus (whose memory we commemorate this day). Finally, dear Lady of Zapopan, grant us the precious gift of final perseverance and make us to grow more zealous each day in the practice of our Holy Catholic Faith. Amen.