Friday, April 24, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Vatican City, Apr 21, 2009 / 10:36 am (CNA).- This coming Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square and give the Church five new saints.
At the 10 a.m. Mass, four Italians and one Portuguese religious brother will be canonized by the Holy Father.
The Italians are: Arcangelo Tadini (1846-1912), Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of Worker Sisters of the Holy House of Nazareth; Bernardo Tolomei (1272-1348), Italian founder of the Olivetan Benedictine Congregation; Gertrude Comensoli (1847-1903), Italian virgin and foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament; and Caterina Volpicelli (1839-1894), Italian virgin and foundress of the Institute of Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart.
The list of those to be canonized is rounded out by Nuno de Santa Maria Alvares Pereira (1360-1431), a Portuguese religious of the Order of Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.
Above pictures are of:
Padre José T. Rangel Montaño, Padre Andrés Solá Molist Two More Knights Beatified
and Portrait of the Mexican Martyrs at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven.
The 1920s brought a revolution to Mexico, along with the widespread persecution of Catholics.
Missionaries were expelled from the country, Catholic seminaries and schools were closed, and the Church was forbidden to own property. Priests and laymen were told to denounce Jesus and their faith in public; if they refused, they faced not just punishment but torture and death.
During this time of oppression and cruelty, the Knights of Columbus did not retreat in Mexico but grew dramatically, from 400 members in 1918 to 43 councils and 6,000 members just five years later. In the United States at the time, the Knights handed out five million pamphlets that described the brutality of the Mexican government toward Catholics. As a result, the Mexican government greatly feared and eventually outlawed the Order.
Thousands of men, many of whom were Knights, would not bow to these threats or renounce their faith, and they often paid with their lives. They took a stand when that was the most difficult thing they could do, and their courage and devotion have echoed down through the decades.
Here are some of the stories of the Knights of Columbus who joined the ranks of the Mexican Martyrs and were among the 25 victims of religious persecution canonized in 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
Father Miguel de la Mora de la Mora
Father Miguel de la Mora de la Mora of Colima belonged to Council 2140. Along with several other priests, he publicly signed a letter opposing the anti-religious laws imposed by the government. He was soon arrested and, with his brother Regino looking on, Father de la Mora was executed without a trial by a single shot from a military officer as he prayed his rosary. It was Aug. 7, 1927.
Father Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Lucero
Father Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Lucero was a member of Council 2419. Forced to study for the priesthood in El Paso, Texas, because of the political situation in Mexico, he returned home after his ordination in 1918 despite the risk. Captured on Ash Wednesday, 1937, while distributing ashes to the faithful, Father Maldonado Lucero was so savagely beaten that one eye was forced from its socket. He died the next day at a local hospital. His tombstone aptly described this martyr in four words: "You are a priest."
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Father Jose Maria Robles Hurtado
Father Jose Maria Robles Hurtado was a member of Council 1979. Ordained in 1913, he founded the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Guadalajara when he was only 25. On June 25, 1927, he was arrested while preparing to celebrate Mass. Early the next morning, he was hanged from an oak tree, but not before he had forgiven his murderers and offered a prayer for his parish. He went so far as to place the rope around his own neck, so that none of his captors would hold the title of murderer.
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Father Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán
Father Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán of Union de Tula in Jalisco was a member of Council 2330. After a warrant was issued for is arrest, he took refuge a the Colegio de San Ignacio in Ejutla, celebrating Mass and administering the sacraments. Rather than escape when soldiers arrived, Father Aguilar Alemán remained at the seminary to burn the list of seminary students, and thus protect them from being known. When the soldiers demanded his identity, he told them only that he was a priest. He was taken to the main square of Ejutla, where the seminary was located. He publicly forgave his killers, and then a soldier gave him the chance to save himself by giving the "right" answer to this question, "Who lives?"
Father Aguilar Alemán would be spared if he simply said, "Long live the supreme government."
But he replied, "Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe." The noose that had been secured to a mango tree was tightened, then relaxed twice. Each time it was relaxed, he was asked the same question and each time he gave the same response. The third time the noose was tightened, he died.
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Father Luis Batiz Sainz
Father Luis Batiz Sainz was born in 1870, and was a member of Council 2367. On Aug. 15, 1926, at Chalchihuites, Zacatecas, he and three layman -- David Roldan, who was only 19 at the time, Salvador Lara and Manuel Morales -- were put before a firing squad for refusing to submit to anti-religious laws. When Father Batiz Sainz asked the soldiers to free one of the captives, Manuel Morales, who had sons and daughters, Morales wouldn't hear of it.
"I am dying for God," he declared, "and God will care for my children." Smiling, Father Batiz Sainz gave his friend absolution and said: "See you in heaven."
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Father Mateo Correa Magallanes
Father Mateo Correa Magallanes, who was a member of Council 2140, was arrested and taken to Durango. While in prison, he was ordered by the commanding officer on Feb. 5, 1927, to hear the confessions of his fellow prisoners. Then the commander demanded to know what they had told him. Of course, Father Correa Magallanes wouldn't violate the seal of confession, and so, the next day, he was taken to a local cemetery and executed by the soldiers.
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Two More Knights Beatified
Padre José T. Rangel Montaño Padre Andrés Solá Molist
In 2005, two other Knights, also Mexican Martyrs, were beatified.
Father Jose Trinidad Rangel Montaño, a diocesan priest from Leon and member of Council 2484, and Claretian Father Andres Sola Molist, a Spaniard, and member of Council 1963. Both were executed for their faith in Rancho de San Joaquin, Mexico, in April 1927.
These men, and many thousands more, paid the ultimate sacrifice for their Catholic faith in Mexico during the 1920s and 1930s. But throughout that period, the Knights of Columbus in Mexico kept the faith and hundreds gave their lives to protect their beliefs, some as martyrs and others in the armed Cristero movement.
Always an advocate of peaceful struggle against the government, Pius XI singled out the Knights of Columbus for praise in his 1926 encyclical Iniquis Afflictisque, writing: “First of all we mention the Knights of Columbus, an organization which is found in all states of the [Mexican] Republic and fortunately is made up of active and industrious members who, because of their practical lives and open profession of the Faith, as well as by their zeal in assisting the Church, have brought great honor upon themselves.”
Mexican Knights, and the entire Church in Mexico, were consistently supported by the Knights in the United States who, in addition to distributing literature that informed the American people of the plight of the Church in Mexico, also lobbied President Calvin Coolidge to bring pressure to end the persecution.
In 1926, Coolidge met with a delegation of Knights including Supreme Knight James Flaherty, future Supreme Knight Luke Hart and Supreme Director William Prout. Coolidge affirmed his administration’s commitment to bringing about a resolution to the problems in Mexico.
Though the Knights had been outlawed in Mexico – even the Order’s Columbia magazine was temporarily banned – the Knights of Columbus survived. In 2005, at the centennial convention in Mexico City, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson declared that Mexican Knights are “second to none” in their commitment to “our founding ideals and their devotion to the Catholic faith.”
Let None Dare Call it Liberty:
The Catholic Church in Colonial America
Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.
Relatively little attention has been paid to the relentless hostility toward the Catholics of our 13 English colonies in the period that preceded the American Revolution. Instead, historians have tended to concentrate only on the story of the expansion of the tiny Catholic community of 1785, which possessed no Bishop and hardly 25 priests, into the mighty organization we see today that spreads its branches from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
To show this progress of Catholicism is good and legitimate. But to avoid presenting the persecution the Church suffered in the pre-Revolution colonial period is to offer an incomplete or partial history. It ignores the early story of our Catholic ancestors. It would be like describing the History of the Church only after the Edict of Milan, when the Church emerged from the Catacombs, pretending there had never been a glorious but terrible period of martyrdom.
An optimistic view that conflicts with reality
It should not be surprising that this cloud of general omission concerning Catholicism in the colonial period (1600-1775) should have settled over the Catholic milieu given the optimistic accounts written by such notable Catholic historians as John Gilmary Shea, Thomas Maynard, Theodore Roemer, and Thomas McAvoy. (1) These historians, whose works provided the foundation for Catholic school history books up until recently (when a different kind of revisionist history is replacing them), only briefly acknowledge and downplay a period of repression and persecution of Catholics.
What they have stressed is what might be called the "positive" stage of Catholic colonial history that begins in the period of the American Revolution. This period has been glossed with an unrealistic interpretation that freedom of religion was unequivocally established and the bitter, deeply-entrenched anti-Catholicism miraculously dissolved in the new atmosphere of tolerance and liberty for all. This in fact did not happen.
Roots of a bad Ecumenism
Here I propose to dispel this myth that America was from its very beginning a country that championed freedom of religion. In fact, in the colonial period, a virulent anti-Catholicism reigned and the general hounding and harrying of Catholics was supported by legislation limiting their rights and freedom.
Cardinal James Gibbons was warned by Pope Leo XIII about Americanism
I think it is important for Catholics to know this in order to understand how this persecution affected the mentality of Catholics in America in its early history and generated a liberal way of behavior characterized by two different phases of accommodation to Protestantism:
First, both before and especially after the American Revolution, a general spirit of tolerance to a Protestant culture and way of life was made by some Catholics in order to be accepted in society. Such accommodation, I would contend, has continued into our days.
Second, to enter the realm of politics and avoid suspicions of being monarchists or “papists,” colonial American Catholics were prepared to accept the revolutionary idea of the separation of Church and State as a great good not only for this country, but for Catholic Europe as well. Both civil and religious authorities in America openly proclaimed the need to abandon supposedly archaic and “medieval positions” in face of new conditions and democratic politics.
For these reasons, some hundred years after the American Revolution, Pope Leo XIII addressed his famous letter Testem benevolentiae (January 22, 1889) to Cardinal Gibbons, accusing and condemning the general complacence with Protestantism and the adoption of naturalist premises by Catholics in the United States. He titled this censurable attitude Americanism. Americanism, therefore, is essentially a precursory religious experience of bad Ecumenism made in our country, while at the same time Modernism was growing in Europe with analogous tendencies and ideas.
The partial presentation of colonial American history by so many authors helps to sustain that erroneous ecumenical spirit. I hope that showing the historic hatred that Protestantism had for Catholicism can serve to help snuff out this Americanist – that is, liberal or modernist – behavior among Catholics of our country.
A long history of anti-Catholicism
Although Catholicism was an influential factor in the French settlements of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys and later in the Spanish regions of Florida, the Southwest and California, Catholics were a decided minority in the original 13 English colonies. As we see in the first general report on the state of Catholicism by John Carroll in 1785, Catholics were a mere handful. He conservatively estimated the Catholic population in those colonies to be 25,000. Of this figure, 15,800 resided in Maryland, about 7,000 in Pennsylvania, and another 1,500 in New York. Considering that the population in the first federal census of 1790 totaled 3,939,000, the Catholic presence was less than one percent, certainly not a significant force in the original 13 British colonies. (2)
Catholics were not welcome in the original 13 colonies
After several pages dedicated to Lord Baltimore's Catholic colony in Maryland, Catholic history books have tended to begin Catholic history in the United States with that critical year for both the nation and Catholicism - 1789. For 1789 marked both the formation of the new government under the Constitution and the establishment of an organizational structure for the American Catholic Church. The former event came with the inauguration of George Washington in April, the latter with the papal appointment of His Excellency John Carroll as the first Bishop of Baltimore in November.
The history of the Catholic Church in America, however, has much deeper and less triumphant roots. Most American Catholics are aware that the spirit of New England's North American settlements was hostile to Catholicism. But few are aware of the vigor and persistence with which that spirit was cultivated throughout the entire colonial period. Few Catholics realize that in all but three of the 13 original colonies, Catholics were the subject of penal measures of one kind or another during the colonial period. In most cases, the Catholic Church had been proscribed at an early date, as in Virginia where the act of 1642 proscribing Catholics and their priests set the tone for the remainder of the colonial period.
Even in the supposedly tolerant Maryland, the tables had turned against Catholics by the 1700s. By this time the penal code against Catholics included test oaths administered to keep Catholics out of office, legislation that barred Catholics from entering certain professions (such as Law), and measures had been enacted to make them incapable of inheriting or purchasing land. By 1718 the ballot had been denied to Catholics in Maryland, following the example of the other colonies, and parents could even be fined for sending children abroad to be educated as Catholics.
In the decade before the American Revolution, most inhabitants of the English colonies would have agreed with Samuel Adams when he said (in 1768): "I did verily believe, as I do still, that much more is to be dreaded from the growth of popery in America, than from the Stamp Act, or any other acts destructive of civil rights." (3)
English hatred for the Roman Church
The civilization and culture which laid the foundations of the American colonies was English and Protestant. England's continuing 16th and 17th-century religious revolution is therefore central to an understanding of religious aspects of American colonization. Early explorers were sent out toward the end of the 15th century by a Catholic king, Henry VII, but actual settlement was delayed, and only in 1607, under James I, were permanent roots put down at Jamestown, Virginia. By then, the separation of the so-called Anglican church from Rome was an accomplished fact.
The supposed Catholic conspirators plotting to blow up the English Houses of Parliaments were publicly executed. Later, Jesuits were rounded up and killed also.
Rapid anti-Catholicism in England had been flamed by works like John Foxe's Book of Martyrs illustrating some of the nearly 300 Protestants who were burned between 1555 and 1558 under Queen Mary I. The tradition was intensified by tales of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, when a group of Catholics would have supposedly planned to blow up King James but for the scheme’s opportune discovery and failure.
International politics were involved too. France and Spain were England's enemies, and they were Catholic. In 1570 Pope St. Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth I and declared her subjects released from their allegiance, which fanned English propaganda that Catholic subjects harbored sentiments of treason. (4)
In the 16th century, the English began their long, violent and cruel attempt to subdue the Catholics of Ireland. (5) The English were able “to resolve” any problem of conscience by convincing themselves that the Gaelic Irish Catholic Papists were an unreasonable and boorish people. Maintaining their false belief they were dealing with a culturally inferior people, the English Protestants imagined themselves absolved from all normal ethical restraints. This attitude persisted with their settlers in the American colonies. (6)
To these factors should be added the role of the Puritan sect. Its relationship with Catholics in colonial America represented the apotheosis of Protestant prejudice against Catholicism. Even though the so-called Anglican church had replaced the Church of Rome, for many Puritans that Elizabethan church still remained too tainted with Romish practices and beliefs. For various reasons, those Puritans left their homeland to found new colonies in North America. A major Puritan exodus to New England began in 1630, and within a decade close to 20,000 men and women had migrated to settlements in Massachusetts and Connecticut. (7) They were principal contributors to a virulent hatred of Catholicism in the American colonies.
The penal age: 1645-1763
Evidence of this anti-Catholic attitude can be found in laws passed by colonial legislatures, sermons preached by colonial ministers, and various books and pamphlets published in the colonies or imported from England. (8)
By his dress, manner and spirit, the Puritan was an antithesis of the Catholic gentleman of the age
For example, even though no Catholic was known to have lived in Massachusetts Bay in the first 20 years or more of the colony's life, this did not deter the Puritan government from enacting an anti-priest law in May of 1647, which threatened with death "all and every Jesuit, seminary priest, missionary or other spiritual or ecclesiastical person made or ordained by any authority, power or jurisdiction, derived, challenged or pretended, from the Pope or See of Rome." (9)
When Georgia, the thirteenth colony, was brought into being in 1732 by a charter granted by King George II, its guarantee of religious freedom followed the fixed pattern: full religious freedom was promised to all future settlers of the colony “except papists,” that is Catholics. (10)
Even Rhode Island, famous for its supposed policy of religious toleration, inserted an anti-Catholic statute imposing civil restrictions on Catholics in the colony's first published code of laws in 1719. Not until 1783 was the act revoked. (11)
To have an idea of how this prejudice against Roman Catholics was impressed even among the young, consider these “John Rogers Verses” from the New England Primer: “Abhor that arrant whore of Rome and all her blasphemies; Drink not of her cursed cup; Obey not her decrees." This age of penal restriction against Catholics in the colonies lasted until after the American Revolution.
Someone recalling a lesson from his Catholic history classes might pose the objection: But what about the exceptions to this rule, that is, the three colonial states of Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania, where tolerance for Catholics existed in the colonial period? Once again, this impression comes from a very optimistic and liberal writing of History rather than the concrete reality.
Catholicism in Maryland
The "Maryland Experiment" began when Charles I issued a generous charter to a prominent Catholic convert from Anglicanism, Lord Cecil Calvert, for the American colony of Maryland. In the new colony, religious tolerance for all so-called Christians was preserved by Calvert until 1654. In that year, Puritans from Virginia succeeded in overthrowing Calvert's rule, although Calvert regained control four years later. The last major political uprising took place in 1689, when the ‘Glorious Revolution” of William and Mary ignited a new anti-Catholic revolt in Maryland, and the rule of the next Lord Baltimore, Charles Calvert, was overthrown.
After the government of Lord Charles Calvert was overthrown in 1689, strong anti-Catholic politics were installed
Therefore, in 1692 Maryland's famous Religious Toleration Act officially ended, and the Maryland Assembly established the so-called Church of England as the official State religion supported by tax levies. Restrictions were imposed on Catholics for public worship, and priests could be prosecuted for saying Mass. Although Catholics generally maintained their social status, they were denied the right to vote or otherwise participate in the government of the colony their ancestors had founded. (12) This barebones history is the real story of the famous religious liberty of colonial Maryland.
The Religious Toleration Law of 1649 establishing toleration for all religions in early Maryland has generally been interpreted as resulting from the fact that Cecil Calvert was a Roman Catholic. Catholic American histories commonly presented the foundation of Maryland as motivated by Calvert's burning desire to establish a haven for persecuted English Catholics. On the other side are Protestant interpretations that present Calvert as a bold opportunist driven by the basest pecuniary motives. (13)
More recent works have provided a much more coherent analysis of the psychology behind the religious toleration that Calvert granted. That is, Calvert was only following a long-standing trend of English Catholics, who tended to ask only for freedom to worship privately as they pleased and to be as inoffensive to Protestants as possible.
A directive of the first Lord Proprietor in 1633 stipulated, for example, that Catholics should “suffer no scandal nor offence” to be given any of the Protestants, that they practice all acts of the Roman Catholic Religion as privately as possible, and that they remain silent during public discourses about Religion. (15) In fact, in the early years of the Maryland colony the only prosecutions for religious offenses involved Catholics who had interfered with Protestants concerning their religion.
As a pragmatic realist, Calvert understood that he had to be tolerant about religion in order for his colony, which was never Catholic in its majority, to be successful. It was this conciliatory and compromising attitude the Calverts transplanted to colonial Maryland in the New World. Further, the Calverts put into practice that separation of Church and State about which other English Catholics had only theorized.
Catholicism in New York
Neither the Dutch nor English were pleased when the Duke of York converted to Roman Catholicism in 1672. His appointment of Irish-born Catholic Colonel Thomas Dongan as governor of the colony of New York was followed by the passage of a charter of liberties and privileges for Catholics. But the two-edged sword of Dutch/ English prejudice against the "Romanists" would soon re-emerge from the scabbard in which it had briefly rested.
Jacob Leisler fanned anti-Rome fears to take power in New York and then issued arrests for all "papists"
After the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688, the virulently anti-Catholic Jacob Leisler spread rumors of “papist” plots and false stories of an impending French and Indian attack upon the English colonies, in which the New York colonial Catholics were said to be aligned with their French co-religionists. Leisler assumed the title of commander-in-chief, and by the end of the year he had overthrown Dongan and taken over the post of lieutenant governor of the colony as well. His government issued orders for the arrest of all reputed “papists,” abolished the franchise for Catholics, and suspended all Catholic office-holders. (16) The government after 1688 was so hostile to Catholics, noted Catholic historian John Ellis, "that it is doubtful if any remained in New York." (17)
That very fact made all the more incongruous the severity of measures that continued to be taken against Catholics, which included the draconian law of 1700 prescribing perpetual imprisonment of Jesuits and “popish” messengers. This strong anti-Catholic prejudice persisted even into the federal period. When New York framed its constitution in 1777, it allowed toleration for all religions, but Catholics were denied full citizenship. This law was not repealed until 1806. (18)
The myth of religious toleration of Catholics in New York relies concretely, therefore, on that brief 16-year period from 1672 to 1688 when a Catholic was governor of the colony.
Catholicism in Pennsylvania
Due to the broad tolerance that informed William Penn's Quaker settlements, the story of Catholics in Pennsylvania is the most positive of any of the original 13 colonies. William Penn's stance on religious toleration provided a measured freedom to Catholics in Pennsylvania. The 1701 framework of government, under which Pennsylvania would be governed until the Revolution, included a declaration of liberty of conscience to all who believed in God. Yet a contradiction between Penn's advocacy of liberty of conscience and his growing concern about the growth of one religion – Roman Catholicism – eventually bore sad fruit.
Penn imposed restrictions on the rights of Catholics
To replace the liberal statutes that provided almost unrestricted liberty of conscience and toleration for those who believed in Christ, officials were required to fulfill the religious qualifications stated in the 1689 Toleration Act, which allowed Dissenters their own places of worship, teachers and preachers, subject to acceptance of certain oaths of allegiance. The act did not apply to Catholics, who were considered potentially dangerous since they were loyal to the Pope, a foreign power. Catholics were thereby effectively barred from public office. (19)
Despite the more restrictive government imposed by Penn after 1700, Catholics were attracted to Pennsylvania, especially after the penal age began in neighboring Maryland. Nonetheless, the Catholic immigrants to Pennsylvania were relatively few in number compared to the Protestants emigrating from the German Palatinate and Northern Ireland. A census taken in 1757 placed the total number of Catholics in Pennsylvania at 1,365. In a colony estimated to have between 200,000 and 300,000 inhabitants, the opposition against the few Catholics living among the Pennsylvania colonists is testimony to an historic prejudice, to say the least. (20)
Even in face of incessant rumors and several crises (e.g. the so-called “popish plot” of 1756), no extreme measures were taken and no laws were enacted against Catholics. A good measure of the prosperity of the Church in 1763 could be attributed to the Jesuit farms located at St. Paul's Mission in Goshehoppen (500 acres) and Saint Francis Regis Mission at Conewago (120 acres), which contributed substantially to the support of the missionary undertakings of the Church. (21) The history of the Jesuits has been called that of the nascent Catholic Church in the colonies, since no other organized body of Catholic clergy, secular or regular, appeared on the ground till more than a decade after the Revolution. (22)
1. Theodore Maynard, The Story of American Catholicism, 2 vol. (NY: 1941); Theodore Roemer, The Catholic Church in the United States, (St. Louis, London: 1950); John Gilmary Shea, The History of the Catholic Church in the United States, 4 vol. (New York, 1886-1892).
2. Thomas T. McAvoy, A History of the Catholic Church in the United States, (Notre Dame, London, 1969), 50-1.
3. Ibid., 387.
4. James Hennesey, S.J., American Catholics: A History of the Roman Catholic Community in the United States, (New York, Oxford: 1981), 36-7.
5. Peter Mancall, Envisoning America: English Plans for the Colonization of North America 1580-1640, (Boston/New York: 1995), 8-11.
6. "The Ideology of English Colonization: From Ireland to America" in Colonial America, Essays in Politics and Social Development, eds. Stanley N. Katz and John M. Murrin, (New York: 1983), 47-68.
7. Jay P. Dolan, The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times to the Present, (New York: 1985), 70-1.
8. A useful collection of quotations and sources was gathered by Sister Mary Augustina Ray in her 1936 work, American Opinion of Roman Catholicism in the Eighteenth Century (New York: 1936).
9. Ibid., 27.
10. Francis Curran, S.J., Catholics in Colonial Law, (Chicago: 1963), 54.
11. Patrick Conley and Matthew J. Smith, Catholicism in Rhode Island, the Formative Era, (Providence: 1976), 7-9.
12. Ellis, Catholics in Colonial America, 315-359.
13. Alfred Pearce Dennis, "Lord Baltimore's Struggle with the Jesuits, 1634-1649" in Annual Report of the American Historical Association, 1900, 2 vols., (Washington: 1901), I, 112; C. E. Smith, Religion Under the Barons Baltimore, (Baltimore: 1899).
14, Kenneth Campbell, The Intellectual Struggle of the English Papists in the Seventeenth Century: The Catholic Dilemma, (Lewiston, Queenston, 1986).
15. Solange Hertz, The Star-Spangled Heresy: Americanism. How the Catholic Church in America Became the American Catholic Church, (Santa Monica, 1992), p. 33
16. John Tracy Ellis, Catholics in Colonial America, (Baltimore, Dublin: 1965), 344-46; 367-8;
17. Ibid., p. 363.
18. Ibid., 360-370.
19. Sally Schwartz, "A Mixed Multitude": The Struggle for Toleration in Colonial Pennsylvania, (New York, London: 1987), 17-19, 31-34; Joseph J. Kelley, Jr., Pennsylvania: The Colonial Years 1681-1776, (Garden City, New York: 1980), 15-16.
20. Ellis, Catholics in Colonial America, 370-80.
21. Joseph L. J. Kirlin, Catholicity in Philadelphia, (Philadelphia, 1909), 18.
22. Thomas Hughes, The History of the Society of Jesus in North America: Colonial and Federal, Vol. 1, (London, New York, Bombay, and Calcutta: 1907, 2nd ed. 1970).
Monday, April 20, 2009
More than 300 Jesuits died during the 20th century for love of God and their fellow human bings. Some of them were murdered; others died as a result of maltreatment; others were simply made to "disappear" by terrorist regimes who regularly hide their victims. All of them form part of our martyrology for the twentieth century.
The Second Vatican Council declared that the excellence of martyrdom was rooted in the degree of identificaton with Jesus Christ which motiviated a person to give his life for others.
At the end of the millennium Pope John Paul II commissioned a Martyrology for the 20th century, so that we might not forget the witness of love of God and neighbor which so many men and women of our time have given with their lives and with their deaths.
+++ +++ +++
Victims of racial and xenophobic hatred
Murdered during the Boxers' Revolution in China
Victims of anti-religious persecutions
Victims of Nazism and their allies
Died in Concentration camps
Victims of post-World War II Communist regimes
Victims of dictatorial regimes or social movements
Sunday, April 19, 2009
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER
MASS IN ST PETER'S SQUARE FOR THE CANONIZATION
OF SR MARY FAUSTINA KOWALSKA
Sunday, 30 April 2000
1. "Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus, quoniam in saeculum misericordia eius"; "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever" (Ps 118: 1). So the Church sings on the Octave of Easter, as if receiving from Christ's lips these words of the Psalm; from the lips of the risen Christ, who bears the great message of divine mercy and entrusts its ministry to the Apostles in the Upper Room: "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.... Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20: 21-23).
Before speaking these words, Jesus shows his hands and his side. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in his heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity. From that heart Sr Faustina Kowalska, the blessed whom from now on we will call a saint, will see two rays of light shining from that heart and illuminating the world: "The two rays", Jesus himself explained to her one day, "represent blood and water" (Diary, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, p. 132).
2. Blood and water! We immediately think of the testimony given by the Evangelist John, who, when a solider on Calvary pierced Christ's side with his spear, sees blood and water flowing from it (cf. Jn 19: 34). Moreover, if the blood recalls the sacrifice of the Cross and the gift of the Eucharist, the water, in Johannine symbolism, represents not only Baptism but also the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 3: 5; 4: 14; 7: 37-39).
Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the heart of Christ crucified: "My daughter, say that I am love and mercy personified", Jesus will ask Sr Faustina (Diary, p. 374). Christ pours out this mercy on humanity though the sending of the Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person-Love. And is not mercy love's "second name" (cf. Dives in misericordia, n. 7), understood in its deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the burden of any need and, especially, in its immense capacity for forgiveness?
Today my joy is truly great in presenting the life and witness of Sr Faustina Kowalska to the whole Church as a gift of God for our time. By divine Providence, the life of this humble daughter of Poland was completely linked with the history of the 20th century, the century we have just left behind. In fact, it was between the First and Second World Wars that Christ entrusted his message of mercy to her. Those who remember, who were witnesses and participants in the events of those years and the horrible sufferings they caused for millions of people, know well how necessary was the message of mercy.
Jesus told Sr Faustina: "Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy" (Diary, p. 132). Through the work of the Polish religious, this message has become linked for ever to the 20th century, the last of the second millennium and the bridge to the third. It is not a new message but can be considered a gift of special enlightenment that helps us to relive the Gospel of Easter more intensely, to offer it as a ray of light to the men and women of our time.
3. What will the years ahead bring us? What will man's future on earth be like? We are not given to know. However, it is certain that in addition to new progress there will unfortunately be no lack of painful experiences. But the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through Sr Faustina's charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third millennium.
However, as the Apostles once did, today too humanity must welcome into the upper room of history the risen Christ, who shows the wounds of his Crucifixion and repeats: Peace be with you! Humanity must let itself be touched and pervaded by the Spirit given to it by the risen Christ. It is the Spirit who heals the wounds of the heart, pulls down the barriers that separate us from God and divide us from one another, and at the same time, restores the joy of the Father's love and of fraternal unity.
4. It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called "Divine Mercy Sunday". In the various readings, the liturgy seems to indicate the path of mercy which, while re-establishing the relationship of each person with God, also creates new relations of fraternal solidarity among human beings. Christ has taught us that "man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but is also called "to practise mercy' towards others: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy' (Mt 5: 7)" (Dives et misericordia, n. 14). He also showed us the many paths of mercy, which not only forgives sins but reaches out to all human needs. Jesus bent over every kind of human poverty, material and spiritual.
His message of mercy continues to reach us through his hands held out to suffering man. This is how Sr Faustina saw him and proclaimed him to people on all the continents when, hidden in her convent at £agiewniki in Kraków, she made her life a hymn to mercy: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo.
5. Sr Faustina's canonization has a particular eloquence: by this act I intend today to pass this message on to the new millennium. I pass it on to all people, so that they will learn to know ever better the true face of God and the true face of their brethren.
In fact, love of God and love of one's brothers and sisters are inseparable, as the First Letter of John has reminded us: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments" (5: 2). Here the Apostle reminds us of the truth of love, showing us its measure and criterion in the observance of the commandments.
It is not easy to love with a deep love, which lies in the authentic gift of self. This love can only be learned by penetrating the mystery of God's love. Looking at him, being one with his fatherly heart, we are able to look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters, with an attitude of unselfishness and solidarity, of generosity and forgiveness. All this is mercy!
To the extent that humanity penetrates the mystery of this merciful gaze, it will seem possible to fulfil the ideal we heard in today's first reading: "The community of believers were of one heart and one mind. None of them ever claimed anything as his own; rather everything was held in common" (Acts 4: 32). Here mercy gave form to human relations and community life; it constituted the basis for the sharing of goods. This led to the spiritual and corporal "works of mercy". Here mercy became a concrete way of being "neighbour" to one's neediest brothers and sisters.
6. Sr Faustina Kowalska wrote in her Diary: "I feel tremendous pain when I see the sufferings of my neighbours. All my neighbours' sufferings reverberate in my own heart; I carry their anguish in my heart in such a way that it even physically destroys me. I would like all their sorrows to fall upon me, in order to relieve my neighbour" (Diary, p. 365). This is the degree of compassion to which love leads, when it takes the love of God as its measure!
It is this love which must inspire humanity today, if it is to face the crisis of the meaning of life, the challenges of the most diverse needs and, especially, the duty to defend the dignity of every human person. Thus the message of divine mercy is also implicitly a message about the value of every human being. Each person is precious in God's eyes; Christ gave his life for each one; to everyone the Father gives his Spirit and offers intimacy.
7. This consoling message is addressed above all to those who, afflicted by a particularly harsh trial or crushed by the weight of the sins they committed, have lost all confidence in life and are tempted to give in to despair. To them the gentle face of Christ is offered; those rays from his heart touch them and shine upon them, warm them, show them the way and fill them with hope. How many souls have been consoled by the prayer "Jesus, I trust in you", which Providence intimated through Sr Faustina! This simple act of abandonment to Jesus dispels the thickest clouds and lets a ray of light penetrate every life. Jezu, ufam tobie.
8. Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo (Ps 88 : 2). Let us too, the pilgrim Church, join our voice to the voice of Mary most holy, "Mother of Mercy", to the voice of this new saint who sings of mercy with all God's friends in the heavenly Jerusalem.
And you, Faustina, a gift of God to our time, a gift from the land of Poland to the whole Church, obtain for us an awareness of the depth of divine mercy; help us to have a living experience of it and to bear witness to it among our brothers and sisters. May your message of light and hope spread throughout the world, spurring sinners to conversion, calming rivalries and hatred and opening individuals and nations to the practice of brotherhood. Today, fixing our gaze with you on the face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope: Christ Jesus, I trust in you! Jezu, ufam tobie!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Christ is Risen indeed ! Glorious Easter to all ! And may we all be blessed to live every day with the thanksgiving we have this day.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Saint Mark tells us in his Gospel that as the disciples came down from the Mount of the Transfiguration, they were discussing among themselves what “rising from the dead” could mean (cf. Mk 9:10). A little earlier, the Lord had foretold his passion and his resurrection after three days. Peter had protested against this prediction of death. But now, they were wondering what could be meant by the word “resurrection”. Could it be that we find ourselves in a similar situation? Christmas, the birth of the divine Infant, we can somehow immediately comprehend. We can love the child, we can imagine that night in Bethlehem, Mary’s joy, the joy of Saint Joseph and the shepherds, the exultation of the angels. But what is resurrection? It does not form part of our experience, and so the message often remains to some degree beyond our understanding, a thing of the past. The Church tries to help us understand it, by expressing this mysterious event in the language of symbols in which we can somehow contemplate this astonishing event. During the Easter Vigil, the Church points out the significance of this day principally through three symbols: light, water, and the new song - the Alleluia.
First of all, there is light. God’s creation - which has just been proclaimed to us in the Biblical narrative - begins with the command: “Let there be light!” (Gen 1:3). Where there is light, life is born, chaos can be transformed into cosmos. In the Biblical message, light is the most immediate image of God: He is total Radiance, Life, Truth, Light. During the Easter Vigil, the Church reads the account of creation as a prophecy. In the resurrection, we see the most sublime fulfilment of what this text describes as the beginning of all things. God says once again: “Let there be light!” The resurrection of Jesus is an eruption of light. Death is conquered, the tomb is thrown open. The Risen One himself is Light, the Light of the world. With the resurrection, the Lord’s day enters the nights of history. Beginning with the resurrection, God’s light spreads throughout the world and throughout history. Day dawns. This Light alone - Jesus Christ - is the true light, something more than the physical phenomenon of light. He is pure Light: God himself, who causes a new creation to be born in the midst of the old, transforming chaos into cosmos.
Let us try to understand this a little better. Why is Christ Light? In the Old Testament, the Torah was considered to be like the light coming from God for the world and for humanity. The Torah separates light from darkness within creation, that is to say, good from evil. It points out to humanity the right path to true life. It points out the good, it demonstrates the truth and it leads us towards love, which is the deepest meaning contained in the Torah. It is a “lamp” for our steps and a “light” for our path (cf. Ps 119:105). Christians, then, knew that in Christ, the Torah is present, the Word of God is present in him as Person. The Word of God is the true light that humanity needs. This Word is present in him, in the Son. Psalm 19 had compared the Torah to the sun which manifests God’s glory as it rises, for all the world to see. Christians understand: yes indeed, in the resurrection, the Son of God has emerged as the Light of the world. Christ is the great Light from which all life originates. He enables us to recognize the glory of God from one end of the earth to the other. He points out our path. He is the Lord’s day which, as it grows, is gradually spreading throughout the earth. Now, living with him and for him, we can live in the light.
At the Easter Vigil, the Church represents the mystery of the light of Christ in the sign of the Paschal candle, whose flame is both light and heat. The symbolism of light is connected with that of fire: radiance and heat, radiance and the transforming energy contained in the fire - truth and love go together. The Paschal candle burns, and is thereby consumed: Cross and resurrection are inseparable. From the Cross, from the Son’s self-giving, light is born, true radiance comes into the world. From the Paschal candle we all light our own candles, especially the newly baptized, for whom the light of Christ enters deeply into their hearts in this Sacrament.
The early Church described Baptism as fotismos, as the Sacrament of illumination, as a communication of light, and linked it inseparably with the resurrection of Christ. In Baptism, God says to the candidate: “Let there be light!” The candidate is brought into the light of Christ. Christ now divides the light from the darkness. In him we recognize what is true and what is false, what is radiance and what is darkness. With him, there wells up within us the light of truth, and we begin to understand. On one occasion when Christ looked upon the people who had come to listen to him, seeking some guidance from him, he felt compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mk 6:34). Amid the contradictory messages of that time, they did not know which way to turn. What great compassion he must feel in our own time too - on account of all the endless talk that people hide behind, while in reality they are totally confused. Where must we go? What are the values by which we can order our lives? The values by which we can educate our young, without giving them norms they may be unable to resist, or demanding of them things that perhaps should not be imposed upon them? He is the Light. The baptismal candle is the symbol of enlightenment that is given to us in Baptism. Thus at this hour, Saint Paul speaks to us with great immediacy. In the Letter to the Philippians, he says that, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, Christians should shine as lights in the world (cf. Phil 2:15). Let us pray to the Lord that the fragile flame of the candle he has lit in us, the delicate light of his word and his love amid the confusions of this age, will not be extinguished in us, but will become ever stronger and brighter, so that we, with him, can be people of the day, bright stars lighting up our time.
The second symbol of the Easter Vigil - the night of Baptism - is water. It appears in Sacred Scripture, and hence also in the inner structure of the Sacrament of Baptism, with two opposed meanings. On the one hand there is the sea, which appears as a force antagonistic to life on earth, continually threatening it; yet God has placed a limit upon it. Hence the book of Revelation says that in God’s new world, the sea will be no more (cf. 21:1). It is the element of death. And so it becomes the symbolic representation of Jesus’ death on the Cross: Christ descended into the sea, into the waters of death, as Israel did into the Red Sea. Having risen from death, he gives us life. This means that Baptism is not only a cleansing, but a new birth: with Christ we, as it were, descend into the sea of death, so as to rise up again as new creatures.
The other way in which we encounter water is in the form of the fresh spring that gives life, or the great river from which life comes forth. According to the earliest practice of the Church, Baptism had to be administered with water from a fresh spring. Without water there is no life. It is striking how much importance is attached to wells in Sacred Scripture. They are places from which life rises forth. Beside Jacob’s well, Christ spoke to the Samaritan woman of the new well, the water of true life. He reveals himself to her as the new, definitive Jacob, who opens up for humanity the well that is awaited: the inexhaustible source of life-giving water (cf. Jn 4:5-15). Saint John tells us that a soldier with a lance struck the side of Jesus, and from his open side - from his pierced heart - there came out blood and water (cf. Jn 19:34). The early Church saw in this a symbol of Baptism and Eucharist flowing from the pierced heart of Jesus. In his death, Jesus himself became the spring. The prophet Ezekiel saw a vision of the new Temple from which a spring issues forth that becomes a great life-giving river (cf. Ezek 47:1-12). In a land which constantly suffered from drought and water shortage, this was a great vision of hope. Nascent Christianity understood: in Christ, this vision was fulfilled. He is the true, living Temple of God. He is the spring of living water. From him, the great river pours forth, which in Baptism renews the world and makes it fruitful; the great river of living water, his Gospel which makes the earth fertile. In a discourse during the Feast of Tabernacles, though, Jesus prophesied something still greater: “Whoever believes in me … out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water” (Jn 7:38). In Baptism, the Lord makes us not only persons of light, but also sources from which living water bursts forth. We all know people like that, who leave us somehow refreshed and renewed; people who are like a fountain of fresh spring water. We do not necessarily have to think of great saints like Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and so on, people through whom rivers of living water truly entered into human history. Thanks be to God, we find them constantly even in our daily lives: people who are like a spring. Certainly, we also know the opposite: people who spread around themselves an atmosphere like a stagnant pool of stale, or even poisoned water. Let us ask the Lord, who has given us the grace of Baptism, for the gift always to be sources of pure, fresh water, bubbling up from the fountain of his truth and his love!
The third great symbol of the Easter Vigil is something rather different; it has to do with man himself. It is the singing of the new song - the alleluia. When a person experiences great joy, he cannot keep it to himself. He has to express it, to pass it on. But what happens when a person is touched by the light of the resurrection, and thus comes into contact with Life itself, with Truth and Love? He cannot merely speak about it. Speech is no longer adequate. He has to sing. The first reference to singing in the Bible comes after the crossing of the Red Sea. Israel has risen out of slavery. It has climbed up from the threatening depths of the sea. It is as it were reborn. It lives and it is free. The Bible describes the people’s reaction to this great event of salvation with the verse: “The people … believed in the Lord and in Moses his servant” (Ex 14:31). Then comes the second reaction which, with a kind of inner necessity, follows from the first one: “Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord …” At the Easter Vigil, year after year, we Christians intone this song after the third reading, we sing it as our song, because we too, through God’s power, have been drawn forth from the water and liberated for true life.
There is a surprising parallel to the story of Moses’ song after Israel’s liberation from Egypt upon emerging from the Red Sea, namely in the Book of Revelation of Saint John. Before the beginning of the seven last plagues imposed upon the earth, the seer has a vision of something “like a sea of glass mingled with fire; and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb …” (Rev 15:2f.). This image describes the situation of the disciples of Jesus Christ in every age, the situation of the Church in the history of this world. Humanly speaking, it is self-contradictory. On the one hand, the community is located at the Exodus, in the midst of the Red Sea, in a sea which is paradoxically ice and fire at the same time. And must not the Church, so to speak, always walk on the sea, through the fire and the cold? Humanly speaking, she ought to sink. But while she is still walking in the midst of this Red Sea, she sings - she intones the song of praise of the just: the song of Moses and of the Lamb, in which the Old and New Covenants blend into harmony. While, strictly speaking, she ought to be sinking, the Church sings the song of thanksgiving of the saved. She is standing on history’s waters of death and yet she has already risen. Singing, she grasps at the Lord’s hand, which holds her above the waters. And she knows that she is thereby raised outside the force of gravity of death and evil - a force from which otherwise there would be no way of escape - raised and drawn into the new gravitational force of God, of truth and of love. At present she is still between the two gravitational fields. But once Christ is risen, the gravitational pull of love is stronger than that of hatred; the force of gravity of life is stronger than that of death. Perhaps this is actually the situation of the Church in every age? It always seems as if she ought to be sinking, and yet she is always already saved. Saint Paul illustrated this situation with the words: “We are as dying, and behold we live” (2 Cor 6:9). The Lord’s saving hand holds us up, and thus we can already sing the song of the saved, the new song of the risen ones: alleluia! Amen.
2002 Missale Romanum
Exult now O ye angelic throngs of the heavens:
Exult O ye divine mysteries:
and let the saving trumpet resound for the victory of so great a King.
Let the earthly realm also be joyful, made radiant by such flashings like lightning:
and, made bright with the splendor of the eternal King,
let it perceive that it has dismissed the entire world’s gloom.
Let Mother Church rejoice as well,
adorned with the blazes of so great a light:
and let this royal hall ring with the great voices of the peoples.
Wherefore, most beloved brothers and sisters,
you here present to such a wondrous brightness of this holy light,
I beseech you, together with me
invoke the mercy of Almighty God.
Let Him who deigned to gather me in among the number of the Levites,
by no merits of mine,
while pouring forth the glory of His own light
enable me to bring to fullness the praise of this waxen candle.
Deacon: The Lord be with you!
Response: And with your spirit!
D: Raise your hearts on high!
R: We now have them present to the Lord!
D: Let us then give thanks to the Lord our God!
R: This is worthy and just!
Truly it is worthy and just
to resound forth with the whole of the heart, disposition of mind,
and by the ministry of the voice,
the invisible God the Father Almighty,
and His Only-begotten Son
our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who, on our behalf, resolved Adam’s debt to the Eternal Father
and cleansed with dutiful bloodshed the bond of the ancient crime.
For these are the Paschal holy days,
in which that true Lamb is slain,
by Whose Blood the doorposts of the faithful are consecrated.
This is the night
in which first of all You caused our forefathers,
the children of Israel brought forth from Egypt,
to pass dry shod through the Red Sea.
This is the night
which purged the darkness of sins by the illumination of the pillar.
This is the night
which today restores to grace and unites in sanctity throughout the world Christ’s believers,
separated from the vices of the world and the darkness of sins.
This is the night
in which, once the chains of death were undone,
Christ the victor arose from the nether realm.
For it would have profited us nothing to have been born,
unless it had been fitting for us to be redeemed.
O wondrous condescension of Your dutiful concern for us!
O inestimable affection of sacrificial love:
You delivered up Your Son that You might redeem the slave!
O truly needful sin of Adam,
that was blotted out by the death of Christ!
O happy fault,
that merited to have such and so great a Redeemer!
O truly blessed night,
that alone deserved to know the time and hour
in which Christ rose again from the nether world!
This is the night about which it was written:
And night shall be made as bright as day:
and night is as my brightness for me.
Therefore the sanctification of this night puts to flight all wickedness, cleanses sins,
and restores innocence to the fallen and gladness to the sorrowful.
It drives away hatreds, procures concord, and makes dominions bend.
Therefore, in this night of grace,
accept, O Holy Father, the evening sacrifice of this praise,
which Holy Church renders to You
in the solemn offering of this waxen candle
by the hands of Your ministers from the work of bees.
We are knowing now the proclamations of this column,
which glowing fire kindles in honor of God.
Which fire, although it is divided into parts,
is knowing no loss from its light being lent out.
For it is nourished by the melting streams of wax,
which the mother bee produced for the substance of this precious torch.
O truly blessed night,
in which heavenly things are joined to those of earth,
the divine to the human!
Therefore, we beseech You, O Lord,
that this waxen candle, consecrated in honor of Your name,
may continue unfailing to dispel the darkness of this night.
And once it is accepted as a placating sacrifice,
may it be mingled with the heavenly lights.
Let the morning star meet with its flame:
that very star, I say, which knows no setting:
Who, having returned from the nether realm,
broke serene like the dawn upon the human race,
and now lives and reigns forever and ever.
(special thanks to Fr. Z for this)
Friday, April 10, 2009
(Prayer in Aramaic, Jesus' Language)
St. George (d. c. 303). Although he is the patron of England, Portugal, Germany, Aragon, Genoa, and Venice and is venerated in the East as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, all that is known of him with any certainty is that he suffered martyrdom at Lydda, Palestine, sometime before the reign of Emperor Constantine and that he may have been a soldier in the imperial army.A great church was erected over his tomb and the dedication of this church is celebrated on November 3rd. The devotion to this saint has spread throughout the East and West; the faithful of all rites and nations count him as one of their own. The Cathedrals of Beirut and Sarba are dedicated to him as are a great number of other sanctuaries throughout Lebanon. He is the patron of England, the army, young people and scouts.
All else is myth and legend that began to appear in the sixth century. The story of his slaying of the dragon does not appear until the twelfth century and became popular after its appearance in the Golden Legend in the thirteenth century. According to it he was Christian knight who came to Sylene in Libya, where a dragon was terrorizing the city. The people were supplying the dragon with a victim at his demand; the latest victim was a princess. George sallied forth, attacked, and subdued the dragon; the princess led it back into the city, and George slew it after the inhabitants agreed to be baptized.
A later accretion had him marry the princess. He was known in England as early as the eighth century and had tremendous appeal in the Middle Ages as the patron of knighthood and soldiers, particularly among the Crusaders. "St. George's arms," a red cross on a white background, become the basis of the uniforms of British soldiers and sailors; the red cross appears in the Union Jack; and the Order of the Garter, founded about 1347, is under his patronage. April 23.
That St. George was a martyr in Palestine about the year 303 is fact; the dragon-slaying is a legend. But the legend has captured the imagination of Christians everywhere. He is a favorite patron of England, and of many other countries, provinces and cities.St. Peter Damian, an eleventh century Doctor of the Church and great preacher, managed a sermon about St. George without facts and with legend. In part he said:
- "St. George was a man who abandoned one army for another: he gave up the rank of tribune to enlist as a soldier of Christ. Eager to encounter the enemy, he first stripped away his worldly wealth by giving all he had to the poor. Then, free and unemcumbered, bearing the shield of faith, he plunged into the thick of battle, an argent soldier for Christ.
"Clearly what he did serves to teach us a valuable lesson: if we are afraid to strip ourselves of our worldly possessions, then we are unfit to make a strong defense of the faith.
"As for St. George, he was consumed with the fire of the Holy Spirit. Armed with the invincible standard of the cross, he did battle with an evil king and acquitted himself so well that, in vanquishing the king, he overcame the prince of all wicked spirits, and encouraged other soldiers of Christ to perform brave deeds in his cause... "Dear brothers, let us not only admire the courage of this fighter in heaven's army, but follow his example." (2nd Reading, Liturgy of the Hours).
May his prayers be with us and defend us. Amen.