ST. HENRY II
St. Henry II was born in 972. He became the duke of Bavaria in 995.
One night he had an unusual vision. St. Wolfgang, who had been his
beloved teacher when he was a boy, appeared to him. Wolfgang pointed
to the words, "after six" written on the wall. What could
that mean? Perhaps Henry was to die in six days? With that thought,
he prayed with great fervor for six days. At the end of the six
days, however, he was in perfect health. Perhaps it meant six months?
The duke devoted himself to doing good more than ever. At the end
of six months, he was healthier than before. So he decided he had
six years to get ready for death. But instead of dying after that
time had passed, he was elected emperor of Germany. Then he understood
what the vision had meant.
Henry worked hard to keep his people
happy and at peace. To defend justice he had to fight many wars.
He was honest in battle and insisted that his armies be honorable
too. Henry married a very gentle and loving woman named Cunegundes
(or Kunigunda) around 998. She, too, has been proclaimed a saint.
Henry and Cunegundes went to Rome in 1014. They were crowned emperor
and empress of the Holy Roman Empire. It was a great honor because
Pope Benedict VIII himself crowned them.
Emperor Henry was one of the best
rulers of the Holy Roman Empire. He promoted Church reform. He encouraged
the growth of new monasteries and built beautiful churches. He showed
his own love for Jesus and the Church with sincerity and love. He
was a man of prayer and was greatly attracted to religious life.
But he accepted his role as husband and ruler and fulfilled his
responsibilities generously. Henry was just fifty-two when he died
in 1024. He was proclaimed a saint by Blessed Eugene III in 1146.
Pope St. Pius X named Emperor Henry the patron of Benedictine Oblates.
BLESSED KATERI TEKAKWITHA
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born in Auriesville, New York, in
1656. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin. Her father was a non-Christian
Mohawk chief. Kateri's parents died of smallpox when the girl was
fourteen. A Mohawk uncle raised her. This is how Kateri met the
missionaries. On one occasion, her uncle had three Jesuit missionaries
as his guests. Kateri began to receive instructions in the faith.
She was baptized on Easter Sunday, 1676. That is when she took the
The village in which she lived was
not Christian. In fact, in her lodge there was not one other Christian.
The Indians did not appreciate her choice to remain unmarried. They
insulted her and some resented that she did not work on Sunday.
But Kateri held her ground. She prayed her Rosary every day, even
when others made fun of her. She practiced patience and suffered
quietly. Kateri's life grew harder. Some people were so harsh that
their treatment was a persecution. She fled to a Christian village
near Montreal. There on Christmas Day, 1677, she received her First
Communion. It was a wonderful day. Father Pierre Cholonec, a Jesuit,
guided her spiritual life for the next three years. She and an older
Iroquois woman named Anastasia lived as joyful, generous Christians.
Kateri made a private vow of virginity on March 25, 1679. She was
just twenty-four when she died on April 17, 1680. Exactly three
hundred years later, on June 22, 1980, Kateri Tekakwitha was declared
"blessed" by Pope John Paul II.
St. was born in 1221 in Tuscany, Italy, and was baptized John. Bonaventure
joined the Franciscan order, which was still new. As a young Franciscan,
Bonaventure left his own country to study at the University of Paris
in France. He became a wonderful writer about the things of God.
He loved God so much that people began to call him the "Seraphic
Doctor." Seraphic means angelic.
One of Bonaventure's famous friends
was St. Thomas Aquinas.Thomas asked Bonaventure where he got all
the beautiful things he wrote. St. Bonaventure took his friend and
led him to his desk. He pointed to the large crucifix which always
stood on his desk. "It is he who tells me everything. He is
my only Teacher." Another time when Bonaventure was writing
the life of St. Francis of Assisi, he was so full of fervor that
St. Thomas exclaimed: "Let us leave a saint to write about
a saint." St. Bonaventure always kept himself humble even though
his books made him famous.
In 1265, Pope Clement IV wanted him to become an archbishop. Bonaventure
begged the pope to accept his refusal. The pope respected his decision.
However, Bonaventure did agree to be master general of his order.
This difficult task was his for seventeen years. In 1273, Blessed
Pope Gregory X made Bonaventure a cardinal. The two papal messengers
found Bonaventure at the large wash tubs. He was taking his turn
scrubbing the pots and pans. The papal messengers waited patiently
until Bonaventure finished the last pot. He rinsed and dried his
hands. Then they solemnly presented him the large red hat which
symbolized his new honor.
Cardinal Bonaventure was a great
help to this pope who had called the Council of Lyons in 1274. Thomas
Aquinas died on his way to the Council, but Bonaventure made it.
He was very influential at the assembly. Yet he, too, died rather
suddenly on July 14, 1274, at the age of fifty-three. The pope was
at his bedside when he died. Bonaventure was proclaimed a saint
in 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV. In 1588, Pope Sixtus V declared him a
Doctor of the Church.
FEAST OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL
feast was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under
the title "Commemoratio B. Marif Virg. duplex" to celebrate
the victory of their order over its enemies on obtaining the approbation
of its name and constitution from Honorius III on 30 Jan., 1226.
The feast was assigned to 16 July, because on that date in 1251,
according to Carmelite traditions, the scapular was given by the
Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock; it was first approved by Sixtus
V in 1587. After Cardinal Bellarmine had examined the Carmelite
traditions in 1609, it was declared the patronal feast of the order,
and is now celebrated in the Carmelite calendar as a major double
of the first class with a vigil and a privileged octave (like the
octave of Epiphany, admitting only a double of the first class)
under the title "Commemoratio solemnis B.V.M. de Monte Carmelo".
By a privilege given by Clement X in 1672, some Carmelite monasteries
keep the feast on the Sunday after 16 July, or on some other Sunday
in July. In the seventeenth century the feast was adopted by several
dioceses in the south of Italy, although its celebration, outside
of Carmelite churches, was prohibited in 1628 by a decree contra
abusus. On 21 Nov., 1674, however, it was first granted by Clement
X to Spain and its colonies, in 1675 to Austria, in 1679 to Portugal
and its colonies, and in 1725 to the Papal States of the Church,
on 24 Sept., 1726, it was extended to the entire Latin Church by
Benedict XIII. The lessons contain the legend of the scapular; the
promise of the Sabbatine privilege was inserted into the lessons
by Paul V about 1614. The Greeks of southern Italy and the Catholic
Chaldeans have adopted this feast of the "Vestment of the Blessed
Virgin Mary". The object of the feast is the special predilection
of Mary for those who profess themselves her servants by wearing
her scapular (see CARMELITES).
ST. LEO IV
St. Leo IV lived in the ninth century. He was a Roman by birth and
spent his life in that city. Leo was educated in the Benedictine
monastery near St. Peter's Basilica. He was ordained a priest and
performed his ministry at St. John Lateran's, a large, famous basilica.
Leo was well-known and loved by two popes, Gregory IV who died in
844, and Sergius II who died in 847. The death of Pope Sergius II
was to have an immediate effect on Leo. Rumors of a barbarian invasion
of Saracens had Romans terrified. They did not want to be left without
a pope. Neither did the cardinals. They quickly elected the successor
to Sergius II. He is known to history as Leo IV.
As pope, Leo had the
city walls repaired. The walls had been damaged the previous year
by a Saracen attack. He beautified churches and brought many relics
to Rome. He started a renewal program for the clergy. In fact, in
853 he called a synod for all Roman priests. He passed forty-two
rules which helped priests live more fervent, prayerful and joy-filled
few bishops caused Leo great suffering because of their lives. They
confronted the pope openly and would not change their ways. No matter
how much Pope Leo was insulted, he remained just, patient and humble.
He never let his troubles get the best of him. Leo kept giving his
time and energy for Jesus and his Church. He loved the beautiful
prayers of the liturgy and encouraged liturgical chant and music.
People loved St. Leo. Even during his lifetime, he was considered
a miracle worker. It is said that he was responsible for stopping
the terrible fire in the English quarter of Rome. Pope Leo IV continued
serving the Church with cheerfulness right up to the end of his
life. He died on July 17, 855.
St. Frederick lived in ninth-century Utrecht, in the central part
of the Netherlands. When he was ordained a priest, Bishop Ricfried
put him in charge of instructing converts. Around 825, he was chosen
to succeed Ricfried as bishop of Utrecht. Bishop Frederick became
acquainted with the people of his diocese. He really cared about
them. He gave high priority to missionary work too. In fact, he
sent St. Odulf and other brave priests to areas where the people
were still pagan. He wanted them to hear the Good News.
Because of his position
as bishop, Frederick made a few enemies. The emperor's sons were
very outspoken about their stepmother's immoral living. They asked
Bishop Frederick to speak to Empress Judith. The bishop approached
her gently but honestly. The empress did not take the advice well.
She grew angry and was insulted.
Another challenge was the people who lived in the northern part
of Frederick's diocese called Walcheren. St. Frederick sent priests
to bring the people there the love of Jesus. Frederick knew the
area was dangerous and unfriendly. He kept close to the priests
whom he sent. He encouraged them and tried to help the people receive
Christianity. But they were not ready to listen in any way. They
resented the bishop's concern for them.
St. Frederick continued
his care of the diocese with love and diligence. Then on July 18,
838, a tragedy happened. The bishop had just celebrated Mass. He
was quietly making his thanksgiving when two men lunged at him with
knives. A sentence from Psalm 116 came to mind. Slowly, the dying
bishop prayed: "I walk before the Lord in the land of the living."
A few minutes later he died. Some say Empress Judith sent the hired
killers because of her hatred for the bishop. Others think the guilty
party was the people from Walcheren. The murderers were never caught
and convicted. But Bishop Frederick is honored as a martyr and a
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