Blessed John Rochester

Priest and martyr, born probably at Terling, Essex, England, about 1498; died at York, 11 May, 1537. He was the third son of John Rochester, of Terling, and Grisold, daughter of Walter Writtle, of Bobbingworth. He joined the Carthusians, was a choir monk of the Charterhouse in London, and strenuously opposed the new doctrine of the royal supremacy. He was arrested and sent a prisoner to the Carthusian convent at Hull. From there he was removed to York, where he was hung in chains. With him there suffered one James Walworth (?Wannert; Walwerke), Carthusian priest and martyr, concerning whom little or nothing is known. He may have been the “Jacobus Walwerke” who signed the Oath of Succession of 1534. John Rochester was beatified in 1888 by Leo XIII…

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St. Aldegundis

St. AldegundisVirgin and abbess (c. 639-684), variously written Adelgundis, Aldegonde, etc.

She was closely related to the Merovingian royal family. Her father and mother, afterwards honored as St. Walbert and St. Bertilia, lived in Flanders in the province of Hainault. Aldegundis was urged to marry, but she chose a life of virginity and, leaving her home, received the veil from Amandus, Bishop of Maastricht. Then she walked dry-shod over the Sambre, and built on its banks a small nunnery at a desert placed called Malbode. This foundation afterwards, under the name Maubeuge, became a famous abbey of Benedictine nuns, though at a later date these were replaced by canonesses. There are several early Lives, but none by contemporaries. Several of these, including the tenth-century biography by Hucbald, are printed by the Bollandists (Acta SS., Jan.. 11, 1034-35).

(Cfr. Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Founder of the Catholic missions of China, b. at Macerata in the Papal States, 6 Oct. 1552; d. at Peking, 11 May, 1610.

Ricci made his classical studies in his native town, studied law at Rome for two years, and on 15 Aug., 1571, entered the Society of Jesus at the Roman College, where he made his novitiate, and philosophical and theological studies. While there he also devoted his attention to mathematics, cosmology, and astronomy under the direction of the celebrated Father Christopher Clavius. In 1577 he asked to be sent on the missions in Farthest Asia, and his request being granted he embarked at Lisbon, 24 March, 1578. Arriving at Goa, the capital of the Portuguese Indies, on 13 Sept. of this year, he was employed there and at Cochin in teaching and the ministry until the end of Lent, 1582, when Father Alessandro Valignani (who had been his novice-master at Rome but who since August, 1573, was in charge of all the Jesuit missions in the East Indies) summoned him to Macao to prepare to enter China. Father Ricci arrived at Macao on 7 August, 1582.

Beginning of the Mission

In the sixteenth century nothing remained of the Christian communities founded in China by the Nestorian missionaries in the seventh century and by the Catholic monks in the thirteenth and fourteenth (see CHINA). Moreover it is doubtful whether the native Chinese population was ever seriously affected by this ancient evangelisation. For those desiring to resume the work everything therefore remained to be done, and the obstacles were greater than formerly. After the death of St. Francis Xavier (27 November, 1552) many fruitless attempts had been made. The first missionary to whom Chinese barriers were temporarily lowered was the Jesuit, Melchior Nuñez Barreto, who twice went as far as Canton, where he spent a month each time (1555). A Dominican, Father Gaspar da Cruz, was also admitted to Canton for a month, but he also had to refrain from “forming a Christian Christianity”. Still others, Jesuits, Augustinians, and Fransciscans in 1568, 1575, 1579, and 1582 touched on Chinese soil, only to be forced, sometimes with ill treatment, to withdraw. To Father Valignani is due the credit of having seen what prevented all these undertakings from having lasting results. The attempts had hitherto been made haphazard, with men insufficiently prepared and incapable of profiting by favourable circumstances had they encountered them.

Frontispiece depicting Clockwise from top left: St. Francis Xavier, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Fr. Matteo Ricci and Fr. Johann Adam Schall von Bell (bottom left) holding a map of China.

Father Valignani substituted the methodical attack with previous careful selection of missionaries who, the field once open, would implant Christianity there. To this end he first summoned to Macao Father Michele de Ruggieri, who had also come to India from Italy in 1578. Only twenty years had elapsed since the Portuguese had succeeded in establishing their colony at the portals of China, and the Chinese, attracted by opportunities for gain, were flocking thither. Ruggieri reached Macao in July, 1579, and, following the given orders applied himself wholly to the study of the Mandarin language, that is, Chinese, as it is spoken throughout the empire by the officials and the educated. His progress, though very slow, permitted him to labour with more fruit than his predecessors in two sojourns at Canton (1580-81) allowed him by an unwonted complacency of the mandarins. Finally, after many untoward events, he was authorized (10 Sept., 1583) to take up his residence with Father Ricci at Chao-k’ing, the administrative capital of Canton.

Method of the Missionaries

The exercise of great prudence alone enabled the missionaries to remain in the region which they had had such difficulty in entering. Omitting all mention at first of their intention to preach the Gospel, they declared to the mandarins who questioned them concerning their object “that they were religious who had left their country in the distant West because of the renown of the good government of China, where they desired to remain till their death, serving god, the Lord of Heaven”. Had they immediately declared their intention to preach a new religion, they would never have been received; this would have clashed with Chinese pride, which would not admit that China had anything to learn from foreigners, and it would have especially alarmed their politics, which beheld a national danger in every innovation.

Map of the Far East in 1602, by Jesuit missionary Fr. Matteo Ricci.

However, the missionaries never hid their Faith nor the fact that they were Christian priests. As soon as they were established at Chao-k’ing they placed in a conspicuous part of their house a picture of the Blessed Virgin with the Infant Jesus in her arms. Visitors seldom failed to inquire the meaning of this, to them, novel representation, and the missionaries profited thereby to give them a first idea of Christianity. The missionaries assumed the initiative in speaking of their religion as soon as they had sufficiently overcome Chinese antipathy and distrust to see their instructions desired, or at least to be certain of making them understood without shocking their listeners. They achieved this result by appealing to the curiosity of the Chinese, by making them feel, without saying so, that the foreigners had something new and interesting to teach; to this end they made use of the European things they had brought with them. Such were large and small clocks, mathematical and astronomical instruments, prisms revealing the various colours, musical instruments, oil paintings and prints, cosmographical, geographical, and architectural works with diagrams, maps, and views of towns and buildings, large volumes, magnificently printed and splendidly bound, etc.

The Chinese, who had hitherto fancied that outside of their country only barbarism existed, were astounded. Rumours of the wonders displayed by the religious from the West soon spread on all sides, and thenceforth their house was always filled, especially with mandarins and the educated. It followed, says Father Ricci, that “all came by degrees to have with regard to our countries, our people, and especially of our educated men, an idea vastly different from that which they had hitherto entertained”. This impression was intensified by the explanations of the missionaries concerning their little museum in reply to the numerous questions of their visitors.

A very detailed 1602 map Kunyu Wanguo Quantu by Matteo Ricci at the request of the Wanli Emperor.

One of the articles which most aroused their curiosity was a map of the world. The Chinese had already had maps, called by their geographers “descriptions of the world”, but almost the entire space was filled by the fifteen provinces of China, around which were painted a bit of sea and a few islands on which were inscribed the names of countries of which they had heard — all together was not as large as a small Chinese province. Naturally the learned men of Chao-k’ing immediately protested when Father Ricci pointed out the various parts of the world on the European map and when they saw how small a part China played. But after the missionaries had explained its construction and the care taken by the geographers of the West to assign to each country its actual position and boundaries, the wisest of them surrendered to the evidence, and beginning with the Governor of Chao-k’ing, all urged the missionary to make a copy of his map with the names and inscriptions in Chinese. Ricci drew a larger map of the world on which he wrote more detailed inscriptions, suited to the needs of the Chinese; when the work was completed the governor had it printed, giving all the copies as presents to his friends in the province and at a distance. Father Ricci does not hesitate to say: “This was the most useful work that could be done at that time to dispose China to give credence to the things of our holy Faith. . . . Their conception of the greatness of their country and of the insignificance of all other lands made them so proud that the w hole world seemed to them savage and barbarous compared with themselves; it was scarcely to be expected that they, while entertaining this idea, would heed foreign masters.” But now numbers were eager to learn of European affairs from the missionaries, who profited by these dispositions to introduce religion more frequently with their explanations. For example, their beautiful Bibles and the paintings and prints depicting religious subjects, monuments, churches, etc., gave them an opportunity of speaking of “the good customs in the countries of the Christians, of the falseness of idolatry, of the conformity of the law of God with natural reason and similar teachings found in the writings of the ancient sages of China”. This last instance shows that Father Ricci already knew how to draw from his Chinese studies testimony favourable to the religion which he was to preach.

It was soon evident to the missionaries that their remarks regarding religion were no less interesting to many of their visitors than their Western curiosities and learning, and, to satisfy those who wished to learn more, they distributed leaflets containing a Chinese translation of the Ten Commandments, an abbreviation of the moral code much appreciated by the Chinese, composed a small catechism in which the chief points of Christian doctrine were explained in a dialogue between a pagan and a European priest. This work, printed about 1584, was also well received, the highest mandarins of the province considering themselves honoured to receive it as a present. The missionaries distributed hundreds and thousands of copies and thus “the good odour of our Faith began to be spread throughout China”. Having begun their direct apostolate in this manner, they furthered it not a little by their edifying regular life, their disinterestedness, their charity, and their patience under persecutions which often destroyed the fruits of their labours.

Development of the Missions

Father Ricci played the chief part in these early attempts to make Christianity known to the Chinese. In 1607 Father Ruggieri died in Europe, where he had been sent in 1588 by Father Valignani to interest the Holy See more particularly in the missions. Left alone with a young priest, a pupil rather than an assistant, Ricci was expelled from Chao-k’ing in 1589 by a viceroy of Canton who had found the house of the missionaries suited to his own needs; but the mission had taken root too deeply to be exterminated by the ruin of its first home. Thenceforth in whatever town Ricci sought a new field of apostolate he was preceded by his reputation and he found powerful friends to protect him. He first went to Shao-chow, also in the province of Canton, where he dispensed with the services of interpreters and adopted the costume of the educated Chinese.

Chinese seminarians in a Jesuit mission in China Che-Ly Southeast, 1900.

In 1595 he made an attempt on Nan-king, the famous capital in the south of China, and, though unsuccessful, it furnished him with an opportunity of forming a Christian Church at Nan-ch’ang, capital of Kiang-si, which was so famous for the number and learning of its educated men. In 1598 he made a bold but equally fruitless attempt to establish himself at Peking. Forced to return to Nan-king on 6 Feb., 1599, he found Providential compensation there; the situation had changed completely since the preceding year, and the highest mandarins were desirous of seeing the holy doctor from the West take up his abode in their city. Although his zeal was rewarded with much success in this wider field, he constantly longed to repair his repulse at Peking. He felt that the mission was not secure in the provinces until it was established and authorized in the capital. On 18 May, 1600, Ricci again set out for Peking and, when all human hope of success was lost, he entered on 24 January, 1601, summoned by Emperor Wan-li.

Last Labours

Ricci’s last nine years were spent at Peking, strengthening his work with the same wisdom and tenacity of purpose which had conducted it so far. The imperial goodwill was gained by gifts of European curiosities, especially the map of the world, from which the Asiatic ruler learned for the first time the true situation of his empire and the existence of so many other different kingdoms and peoples; he required Father Ricci to make a copy of it for him in his palace. At Peking, as at Nan-king and elsewhere, the interest of the most intelligent Chinese was aroused chiefly by the revelations which the European teacher made to them in the domain of the sciences, even those in which they considered themselves most proficient. Mathematics and astronomy, for example, had from time immemorial formed a part of the institutions of the Chinese Government, but, when they listened to Father Ricci, even the men who knew most had to acknowledge how small and how mingled with errors was their knowledge. But this recognition of their ignorance and their esteem for European learning, of which they had just got a glimpse, impelled very few Chinese to make serious efforts to acquire this knowledge, their attachment to tradition or the routine of national teaching being too deep-rooted. However, the Chinese governors, who even at the present day have made no attempt at reform in this matter, did not wish to deprive the country of all the advantages of European discoveries. To procure them recourse had to be had to the missionaries, and thus the Chinese mission from Ricci’s time until the end of the eighteenth century found its chief protection in the services performed with the assistance of European learning. Father Ricci made use of profane science only to prepare the ground and open the way to the apostolate properly so called. With this object in view he employed other means, which made a deep impression on the majority of the educated class, and especially on those who held public offices. He composed under various forms adapted to the Chinese taste little moral treatises, e.g., that called by the Chinese “The Twenty-five Words”, because in twenty-five short chapters it treated “of the mortification of the passions and the nobility of virtue”. Still greater admiration was aroused by the “Paradoxes”, a collection of practical sentences, useful to a moral life, familiar to Christians but new to the Chinese, which Ricci developed with accounts of examples, comparisons, and extracts from the Scriptures and from Christian philosophers and doctors. Not unreasonably proud of their rich moral literature, the Chinese were greatly surprised to see a stranger succeed so well; they could not refrain from praising his exalted doctrine, and the respect which they soon acquired for the Christian writings did much to dissipate their distrust of strangers and to render them kindly disposed towards the Christian religion.

Preaching Catholicism in Japan. Photo by そらみみ.

But the book through which Ricci exercised the widest and most fortunate influence was his “T’ien-chu-she-i” (The True Doctrine of God). This was the little catechism of Chao-k’ing which had been delivered from day to day, corrected and improved as occasion offered, until it finally contained all the matter suggested by long years of experience in the apostolate. The truths which must be admitted as the necessary preliminary to faith — the existence and unity of God, the creation, the immortality of the soul, reward or punishment in a future life — are here demonstrated by the best arguments from reason, while the errors most widespread in China, especially the worship of idols and the belief in the transmigration of souls, are successfully refuted. To the testimony furnished by Christian philosophy and theology Ricci added numerous proofs from the ancient Chinese books which did much to win credit for his work. A masterpiece of apologetics and controversy, the “T’ien-chu-she-i”, rightfully became the manual of the missionaries and did most effacacious missionary work. Before its author’s death it had been reprinted at least four times, and twice by the pagans. It led countless numbers to Christianity, and aroused esteem for our religion in those readers whom it did not convert. The perusal of it induced Emperor K’ang-hi to issue his edict of 1692 granting liberty to preach the Gospel. The Emperor Kien-long, although he persecuted the Christians, ordered the “T’ien-chu-she-i” to be placed in his library with his collection of the most notable productions of the Chinese language. Even to the present time missionaries have experienced its beneficent influence, which was not confined to China, being felt also in Japan, Tong-king, and other countries tributary to Chinese literature.

Besides the works intended especially for the infidels and the catechumens whose initiation was in progress, Father Ricci wrote others for the new Christians. As founder of the mission he had to invent formulae capable of expressing clearly and unequivocally our dogmas and rites in a language which had hitherto never been put to such use (except for the Nestorian use, with which Ricci was not acquainted). It was a delicate and difficult task, but it formed only a part of the heavy burden which the direction of the mission was for Father Ricci, particularly during his last years. While advancing gradually on the capital Ricci did not abandon the territory already conquered; he trained in his methods the fellow-workers who joined him and commissioned them to continue his work in the cities he left. Thus in 1601, the mission included, besides Peking, the three residences of Nan-king, Nan-ch’ang, Shao-chow, to which was added in 1608 that of Shang-hai. In each of these there were two or three missionaries with “brothers”, Chinese Christians from Macao who had been received into the Society of Jesus, and who served the mission as catechists. Although as yet the number of Christians was not very great (2000 baptized in 1608), Father Ricci in his “Memoirs” has said well that considering the obstacles to the entrance of Christianity into China the result was “a very great miracle of Divine Omnipotence”. To preserve and increase the success already obtained, it was necessary that the means which had already proved efficacious should continue to be employed; everywhere and always the missionaries, without neglecting the essential duties of the Christian apostolate, had to adapt their methods to the special conditions of the country, and avoid unnecessary attacks on traditional customs and habits. The application of this undeniably sound policy was often difficult. In answer to the doubts of his fellow-workers Father Ricci outlined rules, which received the approval of Father Valignano; these insured the unity and fruitful efficacy of the apostolic work throughout the mission.

Question of the Divine Names and the Chinese Rites

The most difficult problem in the evangelization of China had to do with the rites or ceremonies, in use from time immemorial, to do honour to ancestors or deceased relatives and the particular tokens of respect which the educated felt bound to pay to their master, Confucius. Ricci’s solution of this problem caused a long and heated controversy in which the Holy See finally decided against him. The discussion also dealt with the use of the Chinese terms T’ien (heaven) and Shang-ti (Sovereign Lord) to designate God; here also the custom established by Father Ricci had to be corrected. The following is a short history of this famous controversy which was singularly complicated and embittered by passion. With regard to the designations for God, Ricci always preferred, and employed from the first, the term T’ien chu (Lord of Heaven) for the God of Christians; as had been seen, he used it in the title of his catechism. But in studying the most ancient Chinese books he considered it established that they said of T’ien (Heaven) and Shang-ti (Sovereign Lord) what we say of the true God, that is, they described under these two names a sovereign lord of spirits and men who knows all that takes place in the world, the source of all power and all lawful authority, the supreme regulator and defender of the moral law, rewarding those who observe and punishing those who violate it. Hence he concluded that, in the most revered monuments of China, T’ien and Shang’ti designate nothing else than the true God whom he himself preached. Ricci maintained this opinion in several passages of his T’ien-chu-she-i; it will be readily understood of what assistance it was to destroy Chinese prejudices against the Christian religion. It is true that, in drawing this conclusion, Ricci had to contradict the common interpretation of modern scholars who follow Chu-Hi in referring T’ien and Shang-ti to apply to the material heaven; but he showed that this material interpretation does not do justice to the texts and it is at least reasonable to see in them something better. In fact he informs us that the educated Confucianists, who did not adore idols, were grateful to him for interpreting the words of their master with such goodwill. Indeed, Ricci’s opinion has been adopted and confirmed by illustrious modern Sinologists, amongst whom it suffices to mention James Legge (“The Notions of the Chinese concerning God and Spirits”, 1852; “A Letter to Prof. Max Muller chiefly on the Translation of the Chinese terms Ti and Chang-ti”, 1880).

Fr. Dominique Parrenin

Therefore it was not without serious grounds that the founder of the Chinese mission and his successors believed themselves justified in employing the terms T’ien and Shang-ti as well as T’ien-chu to designate the true God. However, there were objections to this practice even among the Jesuits, the earliest rising shortly after the death of Father Ricci and being formulated by the Japanese Jesuits. In the ensuing discussion carried on in various writings for and against, which did not circulate beyond the circle of the missionaries only one of those working in China declared himself against the use of the name Shang-ti. This was Father Nicholas Longobardi, Ricci’s successor as superior general of the mission, who, however, did not depart in anything from the lines laid down by its founder. After allowing the question to be discussed for some years, the superior ordered the missionaries to abide simply by the custom of Father Ricci; later this custom together with the rites was submitted to the judgment of the Holy See. In 1704 and 1715 Clement XI, without pronouncing as to the meaning of T’ien and Shang-ti in the ancient Chinese books, forbade, as being open to misconstruction, the use of these names to indicate the true God, and permitted only the T’ien-chu. Regarding the rites and ceremonies in honour of ancestors and Confucius, Father Ricci was also of the opinion that a broad toleration was permissible without injury to the purity of the Christian religion. Moreover, the question was of the utmost importance for the progress of the apostolate. To honour their ancestors and deceased parents by traditional prostrations and sacrifices was in the eyes of the Chinese the gravest duty of filial piety, and one who neglected it was treated by all his relatives as an unworthy member of his family and nation. Similar ceremonies in honour of Confucius were an indispensable obligation for scholars, so that they could not receive any literary degree nor claim any public office without having fulfilled it. This law still remains inviolable; Kiang-hi, the emperor who showed most goodwill towards the Christians, always refused to set it aside in their favour. In modern times the Chinese Government showed no more favour to the ministers of France, who, in the name of the treaties guaranteeing the liberty of Catholicism in China, claimed for the Christians who had passed the examinations, the titles and advantages of the corresponding degrees without the necessity of going through the ceremonies; the Court of Peking invariably replied that this was a question of national tradition on which it was impossible to compromise.

Chinese Jesuit, Fr. Michael Alphonsius Shen Fu-Tsung, The Chinese Convert.

After having carefully studied what the Chinese classical books said regarding these rites, and after having observed for a long time the practice of them and questioned numerous scholars of every rank with whom he was associated during this eighteen years of apostolate, Ricci was convinced that these rites had no religious significance, either in their institution or in their practice by the enlightened classes. The Chinese, he said, recognized no divinity in Confucius any more than in their deceased ancestors; they prayed to neither; the made no requests nor expected any extraordinary intervention from them. In fact they only did for them what they did for the living to whom they wished to show great respect. “The honour they pay to their parents consists in serving them dead as they did living. They do not for this reason think that the dead come to eat their offerings [the flesh, fruit, etc.] or need them. They declare that they act in this manner because they know no other way of showing their love and gratitude to their ancestors. . . . Likewise what they do [especially the educated], they do to thank Confucius for the excellent doctrine which he left them in his books, and through which they obtained their degrees and mandarinships. Thus in all this there is nothing suggestive of idolatry, and perhaps it may even be said that there is no superstition.” The “perhaps” added to the last part of this conclusion shows the conscientiousness with which the founder acted in this matter. That the vulgar and indeed even most of the Chinese pagans mingled superstition with their national rites Ricci never denied; neither did he overlook the fact that the Chinese, like infidels in general, mixed superstition with their most legitimate actions. In such cases superstition is only an accident which does not corrupt the substance of the just action itself, and Ricci thought this applied also to the rites. Consequently he allowed the new Christians to continue the practice of them avoiding everything suggestive of superstition, and he gave them rules to assist them to discriminate. He believed, however, that this tolerance, though licit, should be limited by the necessity of the case; whenever the Chinese Christian community should enjoy sufficient liberty, its customs, notably its manner of honouring the dead, must be brought into conformity with the customs of the rest of the Christian world. These principles of Father Ricci, controlled by his fellow-workers during his lifetime, and after his death, served for fifty years as the guide of all the missionaries.

Fr. Nicolò Longobardo was the Superior General of the Jesuit China mission in 1610 until 1622. He remained preaching in China until he was 90 years old.

In 1631 the first mission of the Dominicans was founded at Fu-kien by two Spanish religious; in 1633 two Franciscans, also Spanish, came to establish a mission of their order. The new missionaries were soon alarmed by the attacks on the purity of religion which they thought they discerned in the communities founded by their predecessors. Without taking sufficient time perhaps to become acquainted with Chinese matters and to learn exactly what was done in the Jesuit missions they sent a denunciation to the bishops of the Philippines. The bishops referred it to Pope Urban VIII (1635), and soon the public was informed. As early as 1638 a controversy began in the Philippines between the Jesuits in defence of their brethren on the one side and the Dominicans and Franciscans on the other. In 1643 one of the chief accusers, the Dominican, Jean-Baptiste Moralez, went to Rome to submit to the Holy See a series of “questions” or “doubts” which he said were controverted between the Jesuit missionaries and their rivals. Ten of these questions concerned the participation of Christians in the rites in honour of Confucius and the dead. Moralez’s petition tended to show that the cases on which he requested the decision of the Holy See represented the practice authorized by the Society of Jesus; as soon as the Jesuits learned of this they declared that these cases were imaginary and that they had never allowed the Christians to take part in the rites as set forth by Moralez. In declaring the ceremonies illicit in its Decree of 12 Sept., 1645 (approved by Innocent X), the congregation of the Propaganda gave the only possible reply to the questions referred to it.

Father Nicolas Trigault, Jesuit missionary to China.

In 1651 Father Martin Martini (author of the “Novus Atlas Sienensis”) was sent from China to Rome by his brethren to give a true account of the Jesuits practices and permissions with regard to the Chinese rites. This delegate reached the Eternal City in 1654, and in 1655 submitted four questions to the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. This supreme tribunal, in its Decree of 23 March, 1656, approved by Pope Alexander VII, sanctioned the practice of Ricci and his associates as set forth by Father Martini, declaring that the ceremonies in honour of Confucius and ancestors appeared to constitute “a purely civil and political cult”. Did this decree annul that of 1645? Concerning this question, laid before the Holy Office by the Dominican, Father John de Polanco, the reply was (20 Nov., 1669) that both decrees should remain “in their full force” and should be observed “according to the questions, circumstances, and everything contained in the proposed doubts”.

Meanwhile an understanding was reached by the hitherto divided missionaries. This reconciliation was hastened by the persecution of 1665 which assembled for nearly five years in the same house at Canton nineteen Jesuits, three Dominicans, and one Franciscan (then the sole member of his order in China). Profiting by their enforced leisure to agree on a uniform Apostolic method, the missionaries discussed all the points on which the discipline of the Church should be adapted to the exigencies of the Chinese situation. After forty days of conferences, which terminated on 26 Jan., 1668, all (with the possible exception of the Franciscan Antonio de Santa Maria, who was very zealous but extremely uncompromising) subscribed to forty-two articles, the result of the deliberations, of which the forty-first was as follows: “As to the ceremonies by which the Chinese honour their master Confucius and the dead, the replies of the Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition approved by our Holy Father Alexander VII, in 1656, must be followed absolutely because they are based on a very probable opinion, to which it is impossible to offset any evidence to the contrary, and, this probability assumed, the door of salvation must not be closed to the innumerable Chinese who would stray from the Christian religion if they were forbidden to what they may do licitly and in good faith and which they cannot forego without serious injury.” After the subscription, however, a new courteous discussion of this article in writing took place between Father Domingo Fernandez Navarrete, superior of the Dominicans, and the most learned of the Jesuits at Canton. Navarrette finally appeared satisfied and on 29 Sept., 1669, submitted his written acceptance of the article to the superior of the Jesuits. However, on 19 Dec. of this year he secretly left Canton for Macao whence he went to Europe. There, and especially at Rome where he was in 1673, he sought from now on only to overthrow what had been attempted in the conferences of Canton. He published the “Tratados historicos, politicos, ethicos, y religiosos de la monarchia de China” (I, Madrid, 1673; of vol. II, printed in 1679 and incomplete, only two copies are known). This work is filled with impassioned accusations against the Jesuit missionaries regarding their methods of apostolate and especially their toleration of the rites. Nevertheless, Naverrette did not succeed in inducing the Holy See to resume the question, this being reserved for Charles Maigrot, a member of the new Société des Missions Étrangères. Maigrot went to China in 1683. He was Vicar Apostolic of Fu-kien, before being as yet a bishop, when, on 26 March, 1693, he addressed to the missionaries of his vicariate a mandate proscribing the names T’ien and Shang-ti; forbidding that Christians be allowed to participate in or assist at “sacrifices or solemn oblations” in honour of Confucius or the dead; prescribing modifications of the inscriptions on the ancestral tablets; censuring and forbidding certain, according to him, too favourable references to the ancient Chinese philosophers; and, last but not least, declaring that the exposition made by Father Martini was not true and that consequently the approval which the latter had received from Rome was not to be relied on.

Bl. Odoric of Pordenone, O.F.M. preaching in China. Drawing on silk.

By order of Innocent XII, the Holy Office resumed in 1697 the study of the question on the documents furnished by the procurators of Mgr Maigrot and on those showing the opposite side brought by the representatives of the Jesuit missionaries. It is worthy of note that at this period a number of the missionaries outside the Society of Jesus, especially all the Augustinians, nearly all the Franciscans, and some Dominicans, were converted to the practice of Ricci and the Jesuit missionaries. The difficulty of grasping the truth amid such different representations of facts and contradictory interpretations of texts prevented the Congregation from reaching a decision until towards the end of 1704 under the pontificate of Clement XI. Long before then the pope had chosen and sent to the Far East a legate to secure the execution of the Apostolic decrees and to regulate all other questions on the welfare of the missions. The prelate chosen was Charles-Thomas-Maillard de Tournon (b. at Turin) whom Clement XI had consecrated with his own hands on 27 Dec., 1701, and on whom he conferred the title of Patriarch of Antioch. Leaving Europe on 9 Feb., 1703, Mgr de Tournon stayed for a time in India (see MALABAR RITES) reaching Macao on 2 April, 1705, and Peking on 4 December of the same year. Emperor K’ang-hi accorded him a warm welcome and treated him with much honour until he learned, perhaps through the imprudence of the legate himself, that one of the objects of his embassy, if not the chief, was to abolish the rites amongst the Christians. Mgr de Tournon was already aware that the decision against the rites had been given since 20 Nov., 1704, but not yet published in Europe, as the pope wished that it should be published first in China. Forced to leave Peking, the legate had returned to Nan-king when he learned that the emperor had ordered all missionaries, under penalty of expulsion, to come to him for a piao or diploma granting permission to preach the Gospel. This diploma was to be granted only to those who promised not to oppose the national rites. On the receipt of this news the legate felt that he could no longer postpone the announcement of the Roman decisions. By a mandate of 15 January, 1707, he required all missionaries under pain of excommunication to reply to Chinese authority, if it questioned them, that “several things” in Chinese doctrine and customs did not agree with Divine law and that these were chiefly “the sacrifices to Confucius and ancestors” and “the use of ancestral tablets”, moreover that Shang-ti and “T’ien” were not “the true God of the Christians”. When the emperor learned of this Decree he ordered Mgr de Tournon to be brought to Macao and forbade him to leave there before the return of the envoys whom he himself sent to the pope to explain his objections to the interdiction of the rites. While still subject to this restraint, the legate died in 1710.

The Nestorian Stone, with the inscription: “Monument commemorating the introduction and propagation of the noble law of Ta T’sin in the Middle Kingdom.”

Meanwhile Mgr Maigrot and several other missionaries having refused to ask for the piao had been expelled from China. But the majority (i.e. all the Jesuits, most of the Franciscans, and other missionary religious, having at their head the Bishop of Peking, a Franciscan, and the Bishop of Ascalon, Vicar Apostolic of Kiang-si, an Augustinian) considered that, to prevent the total ruin of the mission, they might postpone obedience to the legate until the pope should have signified his will. Clement XI replied by publishing (March, 1709) the answers of the Holy Office, which he had already approved on 20 November, 1704, and then by causing the same Congregation to issue (25 Sept., 1710) a new Decree which approved the acts of the legate and ordered the observance of the mandate of Nan-king, but interpreted in the sense of the Roman replies of 1704, omitting all the questions and most of the preambles, and concluded with a form of oath which the pope enjoined on all the missionaries and which obliged them under the severest penalties to observe and have observed fully and without reserve the decisions inserted in the pontifical act. This Constitution, which reached China in 1716, found no rebels among the missionaries, but even those who sought most zealously failed to induce the majority of their flock to observe its provisions. At the same time the hate of the pagans was reawakened, enkindled by the old charge that Christianity was the enemy of the national rites, and the neophytes began to be the objects of persecutions to which K’ang-hi, hitherto so well-disposed, now gave almost entire liberty. Clement XI sought to remedy this critical situation by sending to China a second legate, John-Ambrose Mezzabarba, whom he named Patriarch of Alexandria. This prelate sailed from Lisbon on 25 March, 1720, reaching Macao on 26 September, and Canton on 12 October. Admitted, not without difficulty, to Peking and to an audience with the emperor, the legate could only prevent his immediate dismissal and the expulsion of all the missionaries by making known some alleviations of the Constitution “Ex illâ die”, which he was authorized to offer, and allowing K’ang-hi to hope that the pope would grant still others. Then he hastened to return to Macao, whence he addressed (4 November, 1721) a pastoral letter to the missionaries of China, communicating to them the authentic text of his eight “permissions” relating to the rites. He declared that he would permit nothing forbidden by the Constitution; in practice, however, his concessions relaxed the rigour of the pontifical interdictions, although they did not produce harmony or unity of action among the apostolic workers. To bring about this highly desirable result the pope ordered a new investigation, the chief object of which was the legitimacy and opportuneness of Mezzabarba’s “permissions”; begun by the Holy Office under Clement XII a conclusion was reached only under Benedict XIV. On 11 July, 1742, this pope, by the Bull “Ex quo singulari”, confirmed and reimposed in a most emphatic manner the Constitution “Ex illâ die”, and condemned and annulled the “permissions” of Mezzabarba as authorizing the superstitions which that Constitution sought to destroy. This action terminated the controversy among Catholics.

Servant of God, Fr. Matteo Ricci, in traditional Chinese robes.

The Holy See did not touch on the purely theoretical questions, as for instance what the Chinese rites were and signified according to their institution and in ancient times. In this Father Ricci may have been right; but he was mistaken in thinking that as practised in modern times they are not superstitious or can be made free from all superstition. The popes declared, after scrupulous investigations, that the ceremonies in honour of Confucius or ancestors and deceased relatives are tainted with superstition to such a degree that they cannot be purified. But the error of Ricci, as of his fellow-workers and successors, was but an error in judgment. The Holy See expressly forbade it to be said that they approved of idolatry; it would indeed be an odious calumny to accuse such a man as Ricci, and so many other holy and zealous missionaries, of having approved and permitted their neophytes practices which they knew to be superstitions and contrary to the purity of religion. Despite this error, Matto Ricci remains a splendid type of missionary and founder, unsurpassed for his zealous intrepidity, the intelligence of the methods applied to each situation, and the unwearying tenacity with which he pursued the projects he undertook. To him belongs the glory not only of opening up a vast empire to the Gospel, but of simultaneously making the first breach in that distrust of strangers which excluded China from the general progress of the world. The establishment of the Catholic mission in the heart of this country also had its economic consequences: it laid the foundation of a better understanding between the Far East and the West, which grew with the progress of the mission. It is superfluous to detail the results from the standpoint of the material interests of the whole world. Lastly, science owes to Father Ricci the first exact scientific knowledge received in Europe concerning China, its true geographical situation, its ancient civilization, its vast and curious literature, its social organization so different from what existed elsewhere. The method instituted by Ricci necessitated a fundamental study of this new world, and if the missionaries who have since followed him have rendered scarcely less service to science than to religion, a great part of the credit is due to Ricci.

[MATTEO RICCI], “Dell’ entrata della Campagnia di Giesu e christianita nella Cina” (MS. Of Father Ricci, extant in the archives of the Society of Jesus; cited in the foregoing article as the “Memmoirs of Father Ricci”, a somewhat free tr. Of his work is given in TRIGAULT, “De christiana expeditione apud Sinas suscepta ab Societate Jesu”. “Ex P. Matthaei Ricci commentariis libri”, V (Augsbrg, 1615); DE URSIS, “P. Matheus Ricci, S.J. Relacao escripta pelo seu companhiero” (Rome, 1910); BARTOLI, “Dell’ Historia della Compagnia di Gesu. La Cina”, I-II (Rome, 1663). Bartoli is the most accurate biographer of Ricci; d’ORLEANS, “La vie du Pere Matthieu Ricci” (Paris, 1693); NATALI, “Il secondo Confucio” (Rome, 1900); VENTURI, “L’apostolato del P. M. Ricci d. C. d. G. in Cina secondo I suoi scritti inediti” (Rome, 1910); BRUCKER, “Le Pere Matthieu Ricci” in “Etudes”, CXXIV (Paris, 1910), 5-27; 185-208; 751-79; DE BACKER-SOMMERVOGEL, “Bibl. Des ecrivains de la C. de J”, VI, 1792-95). Chinese Rites.-BRUCKER in VACANT, “Dict. De Theol. cath., s.v. “Chinois (Rites”” and works indicated; CORDIER, “Bibl. Sinica”, II, 2nd. Ed., 869-925; IDEM, “Hist. Des relations de la Chine avec les puissances occidentales”, III (Paris, 1902) xxv.

Joseph Brucker (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Blessed Joanna of Portugal

Born at Lisbon, 16 February, 1452; died at Aveiro, 12 May, 1490; the daughter of Alfonso V, King of Portugal, and his wife Elizabeth.

She was chiefly remarkable for the courage and persistence with which she opposed all attempts on the part of her father and brother to make her marry.  She had resolved from childhood to be the spouse of Christ and, when possible to enter the religious state; but being the next heir to the throne in default of male issue, her wish was particularly obnoxious to her family and to the country.

Joanna was very beautiful and her hand was sought by several princes.  Once, in her father’s absence, she had to act as regent of the kingdom, and in that office is said to have shown great capacity…

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Blessed Imelda Lambertini (1322 – May 13, 1333) is the patroness of First Holy Communicants.

Imelda was born in 1322 in Bologna, the only child of Count Egano Lambertini and Castora Galuzzi. Her parents were devout Catholics and were known for their charity and generosity to the underprivileged of Bologna. As a very young girl, Imelda had a burning desire to receive Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. On her fifth birthday, she requested this privilege.

However, Church custom at the time was that a person did not receive his or her First Holy Communion until age 12. Imelda was sorely disappointed but knew the time would come soon enough. She would sometimes exclaim: “Tell me, can anyone receive Jesus into his heart and not die?”…

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St. Peter de Regalado

(REGALATUS)

A Friar Minor and reformer, born at Valladolid, 1390; died at Aguilera, 30 March, 1456. His parents were of noble birth and conspicuous for their wealth and virtue. Having lost his father in his early youth, he was piously educated by his mother. At the age of ten years Peter begged to be admitted into the Seraphic Order, which favour was granted him three years afterwards in the convent of his native town. In 1404 he became one of the first disciples of Peter de Villacreces, who in 1397 had introduced into Spain the reform of the Observance of which he became one of the most zealous propagators. In the newly-founded convent at Aguilera Peter found the life of solitude, prayer, and eminent poverty, which had always been the greatest object of his desire. In 1415 he became superior of the convent at Aguilera and, on the death of Peter de Villacreces (1422), also of that at Tribulos or del Abroyo. He observed nine Lents, fasting on bread and water, and was endowed with the gift of miracles and prophecy and of every virtue. When his body was exhumed thirty-six years after his death, at the instance of Isabella the Catholic, it was found incorrupt and placed in a more precious tomb. He was beatified by Innocent XI, 11 March, 1684, and canonized by Benedict XIV, 29 June, 1746. His feast is celebrated 13 May, the day of the translation of his body. In art he is represented with flames bursting from his heart…

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St. John the Silent

(Hesychastes, Silentiarius).

St. John the SilentBishop of Colonia, in Armenia, b. at Nicopolis, Armenia, 8 Jan., 452; d. 558. His parents, Encratius and Euphemia, wealthy and honoured, belonged to families that had done great service in the State and had given to it renowned generals and governors, but they were also good Christians, and gave their son a holy education. After their death in 471, John distributed his inheritance among his relatives, retaining only a small share, with which he built a church and a monastery. Here, with ten congenial companions, he began a life of mortification and self-denial, wonderful traits of which are recorded by his biographer. The Bishop of Sebaste drew him out of his solitude and made him Bishop of Colonia (Taxara) in 481, against which promotion John vainly struggled.  In his new dignity he preserved the monastic spirit entire, and the austerities and exercises as far as was compatible with duty. His brother-in-law Pasinius oppressed the Church to such an extent that John had to call upon the Emperor Zeno for assistance. As soon as matters had been properly arranged, John left his see, went to the Laura, near Jerusalem, and placed himself under the obedience of St. Sabas, without revealing his identity. In course of time Sabas, who had subjected John to all kinds of trials and had found him ready to perform even the most common and menial labours, thought him worthy of receiving priesthood, and for this purpose sent him to Elias, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. John now revealed all, and Elias informed Sabas that John had confided to him things which forbade his ordination. Sabas at first felt very sad, but was comforted by a vision in which the true state of affairs was made known to him. John with the permission of his superior entered a hut built against the face of a rock in the desert, and here passed the remainder of his days in seclusion and perpetual silence, whence his surname. A contemporary, Cyril of Scythopolis, wrote his life. His feast is on 13 May.

Butler, Lives of the Saints; Acta SS., May, III, 230; Streber in Kirchenlex, s.v. Johannes Hesychastes.

FRANCIS MERSHMAN (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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Prince Antonio, Prince Luiz of Orleans-Braganza’s younger brother, gave us another example of wise pedagogy. He recalls that at Christ the King High School, of the Pallottine Fathers in Jacarezinho (state of Paraná), there was a German priest who was extremely severe and inflexible in matters of discipline. He would immediately punish any misbehavior or insubordination by a student.

Once, Prince Antonio, still in elementary school, committed a small disciplinary fault in the playground and realized that the prefect of discipline had seen it. He waited for the deserved punishment, but none came, much to his astonishment. The priest pretended he had seen nothing.

Recess ended, and classes resumed, and still, there was no punishment. However, as the day ended, the priest called Prince Antonio to the headmaster’s office. In private, he told the little prince: “I saw that you misbehaved but pretended not to notice. Do you know why? Because you’re a prince, and whoever is a prince should set an example to others. I didn’t want to punish you in front of others so they would not have the bad example of seeing a misbehaved prince being punished publicly. Precisely because you’re a prince, your duty to be well behaved is greater, and so is the gravity of your fault.”

He concluded: “You were not punished in front of the others, but will be punished now. And because you’re a prince, your punishment will be doubled.”

And he gave Prince Antonio one of those wholesome, old-school punishments, which are so lacking in today’s schools.

“I never forgot that priest’s lesson,” says Prince Antonio. “It marked me for life.”

 

Extracted from Armando Alexandre dos Santos, “Sacrifice and Responsibility in the Formation of Princes,” Jornal de Piracicaba, May 16, 2020.

Armando Alexandre dos Santos, Ph.D., is a member of the Monarchist Circle of Piracicaba, Brazil.

Nobility.org translation.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 776

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3. The Church Is a Fundamentally Counter-Revolutionary Force

Landscape with a Church, painted by Domenico Quaglio the Younger.

Considering the term Revolution in the sense employed herein, the words of this heading are the obvious conclusion to what we have said above. To state the contrary would be to say that the Church is failing in her mission.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), Part II, Chapter XII, pg. 116.

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Pope St. Benedict II

Pope St. Benedict IIDate of birth unknown; died 8 May, 685; was a Roman, and the son of John. Sent when young to the schola cantorum, he distinguished himself by his knowledge of the Scriptures and by his singing, and as a priest was remarkable for his humility, love of the poor, and generosity. He became pope 26 June, 684, after an interval of over eleven months.

To abridge the vacancies of the Holy See which followed the deaths of the popes, he obtained from the Emperor Constantine Pogonatus a decree which either abolished imperial confirmations altogether or made them obtainable from the exarch in Italy [cf. “Liber Diurnus RR. PP., ed. Sickel (Vienna, 1889), and Duchesne’s criticism, “Le Liber Diurnus” (Paris, 1891)]…

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Bl. Agnellus of Pisa

Friar Minor and founder of the English Franciscan Province, born at Pisa c. 1195, of the noble family of the Agnelli; died at Oxford, 7 May, 1236. In early youth he was received into the Seraphic Order by St. Francis himself, during the latter’s sojourn in Pisa, and soon became an accomplished model of religious perfection. Sent by St. Francis to Paris he erected a convent there and became custos. Having returned to Italy, he was present at the so-called Chapter of Mats, and was sent thence by St. Francis to found the Order in England. Agnellus, then in deacon’s orders, landed at Dover with nine other friars, 12 September, 1224, having been charitably conveyed from France by the monks of Fecamp. A few weeks afterwards they obtained a house at Oxford and there laid the foundations of the English Province, which became the exemplar for all the provinces of the order…

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St. John of Beverley

Bishop of Hexham and afterwards of York; b. at Harpham, in the East Riding of Yorkshire; d. at Beverley, 7 May, 721. In early life he was under the care of Archbishop Theodore, at Canterbury, who supervised his education, and is reputed to have given him the name of John. He became a member of the Benedictine Order, and for a time was an inmate of St. Hilda’s monastery at Streaneshaleh (Whitby). Afterwards he won renown as a preacher, displayed marked erudition in expounding Scripture, and taught amongst other subjects. On 25 August, 687 was consecrated Bishop of Hexham, a district with which he was not unfamiliar, as he had for a period led a life of retreat at Erneshowe (Herneshou), on the opposite bank of the Tyne. Here, too, he was afterwards wont to resort for seclusion, especially during Lent, when the cares of his episcopal ministration permitted of his so doing. John was present at the synod on the Nidd in 705, convened by Osred, King Of Northumbria, to decide on Wilfrid’s case. In the same year (703), on the death of Bosa, John was translated to York after eighteen years of labour in the See of Hexham, where he was succeeded by Wilfrid. Of his new activity little is known beyond that he was diligent in visitation, considerate towards the poor, and exceedingly attentive to the training of students whom he maintained under his personal charge…

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Well known is the apparition of St. Michael the Archangel (a. 494 or 530-40), as related in the Roman Breviary, 8 May, at his renowned sanctuary on Monte Gargano, where his original glory as patron in war was restored to him.

To his intercession the Lombards of Sipontum (Manfredonia) attributed their victory over the Greek Neapolitans, 8 May, 663…

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Saint Itta

(or Itta of Metz) (also Ida, Itte or Iduberga) (592–652) was the wife of Pepin of Landen, mayor of the palace of Austrasia. Her brother was Saint Modoald, bishop of Trier. Her sister was abbess Saint Severa. There is no direct record of their parents, but it has been suggested that she was daughter of Arnoald, Bishop of Metz, son of Ansbertus.

On the advice of the missionary bishop Saint Amand, bishop of Maastricht, after Pepin’s death, she founded the Benedictine nunnery at Nivelles, with a monastery under the abbess. She herself entered it and installed as abbess her daughter Gertrude, perhaps after resigning the post herself…

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Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier

Chemist, philosopher, economist; born in Paris, 26 August, 1743; guillotined 8 May, 1794. He was the son of Jean-Antoine Lavoisier, a lawyer of distinction, and Emilie Punctis, who belonged to a rich and influential family, and who died when Antoine-Laurent was five years old. His early years were most carefully guarded by his aunt, Mlle Constance Punctis, to whom he was devotedly attached; and through her assistance he was secured the advantage of a good education. He attended the College Mazarin, which was noted for its faculty of science, and here he studied mathematics and astronomy under Abbé de la Caille, who had built an observatory at the college after having won renown by measuring an arc of the meridian at the Cape of Good Hope, by determining the length of the second’s pendulum, and by his catalogue of the stars…

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Blessed Thomas Pickering

Lay brother and martyr, a member of an old Westmoreland family, born circa 1621; executed at Tyburn, 9 May, 1679.

Blessed Thomas PickeringHe was sent to the Benedictine monastery of St. Gregory at Douai, where he took vows as a lay brother in 1660. In 1665 he was sent to London, where, as steward or procurator to the little community of Benedictines who served the queen’s chapel royal, he became known personally to the queen and Charles II; and when in 1675, urged by the parliament, Charles issued a proclamation ordering the Benedictines to leave England within a fixed time, Pickering was allowed to remain, probably on the ground that he was not a priest. In 1678 came the pretended revelations of Titus Oates, and Pickering was accused of conspiring to murder the king. No evidence except Oates’s word was produced and Pickering’s innocence was so obvious that the queen publicly announced her belief in him, but the jury found him guilty, and with two others he was condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. The king was divided between the wish to save the innocent men and fear of the popular clamour, which loudly demanded the death of Oates’s victims, and twice within a month the three prisoners were ordered for execution and then reprieved. At length Charles remitted the execution of the other two, hoping that this would satisfy the people and save Pickering from his fate. The contrary took place, however, and 26 April, 1679, the House of Commons petitioned for Pickering’s execution. Charles yielded and the long-deferred sentence was carried out on the ninth of May. A small piece of cloth stained with his blood is preserved among the relics at Downside Abbey.

The Tryals of William Ireland, Thomas Pickering and John Grove for conspiring to murder the king … (London, 1678); An exact abridgment of all the Trials … relating to the popish and pretended protestant plots in the reigns of Charles II and James II (London, 1690), 464; DODD, Church History of England, III (Brussels, 1742), 318; CHALLONER, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, II (London, 1742), 376; OLIVER, Collections illustrating the History of the Catholic Religion in Cornwall, Devon, etc. (London, 1847), 500; CORKER, Remonstrance of piety and innocence (London, 1683), 178; WELDON, Chronological Notes on the English Congregation of the Order of St. Benedict, ed. DOLAN (Worcester, 1881), 219; Downside Review, II (London, 1883), 52-60.

G. ROGER HUDLESTON (Catholic Encyclopedia)

He was beatified in 1929.

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St. Nicholas AlbergatiCardinal and Bishop of Bologna, born at Bologna in 1357; died at Sienna, 9 May, 1443. He entered the Carthusian Order in 1394, served as prior in various monasteries, and was made Bishop of Bologna, against his will, in 1417. In this office he still followed the Rule of his Order, was zealous for the reform of regular and secular clergy, and was a great patron of learned men, among whom was Aeneas Sylvius, afterwards Pius II. Martin V and his successor, Eugenius IV, employed him on several important missions, thrice to France (1422, 1431, 1435), and thrice to Lombardy (1426, 1427, 1430). He was made a Cardinal in 1426, attended the Council of Basil in 1432, and again in 1434 and 1436, as legate of Eugenius IV, a position which he also filled in January 1438, at Ferrara, whither Eugenius had transferred the Synod. He took part in the conferences with the Greeks in preparation for the union effected at Florence. The Pope appointed him Grand Penitentiary shortly before his death. Though never formally canonized, he has long been popularly venerated as Blessed (Acta SS., II May, 469 sqq., and Analecta Boll., VIII, 381 sqq.). He is the author of various theological and other treatises, including: “Recollecta multae electionis”; “Apologia pro Eugenio IV”; sermons, prayers, epistles (P.L., CCIV). His life has been written by many different authors, contemporary and since his time.

Eggs, Purp,doctae, III, 14; Ruggeri, Testimonis de Nic. Alb. (Rome 1744); Stanonik in Kirchenlex., I, 408; Pastor, History of the Popes (London, 1892), I, passim.

FRANCIS W. GREY (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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From the Prophet himself (i, 1; ii, 1) we learn that he was the son of Amos. Owing to the similarity between Latin and Greek forms of this name and that of the Shepherd-Prophet of Thecue, some Fathers mistook the Prophet Amos for the father of Isaias. St. Jerome in the preface to his “Commentary on Amos” (P.L., XXV, 989) points out this error. Of Isaias’s ancestry we know nothing; but several passages of his prophecies (iii, 1-17, 24; iv, 1; viii, 2; xxxi, 16) lead us to believe that he belonged to one of the best families of Jerusalem. A Jewish tradition recorded in the Talmud (Tr. Megilla, 10b.) held him to be a nephew of King Amasias. As to the exact time of the Prophet’s birth we lack definite data; yet he is believed to have been about twenty years of age when he began his public ministry. He was a citizen, perhaps a native, of Jerusalem. His writings give unmistakable signs of high culture. From his prophecies (vii and viii) we learn that he married a woman whom he styles “the prophetess” and that he had two sons, She`ar­Yashub and Maher­shalal­hash­baz. Nothing whatever indicates that he was twice married as some fancy on the gratuitous and indefensible supposition that the `almah of vii, 14, was his wife…

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Born Joseph de Veuster in Tremelo, Belgium, he took the religious name of Damien when he joined the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

There are few places on Earth more beautiful than Hawaii. While this idyllic paradise may be the destination spot for tourists and honeymooners, Joseph de Veuster was eager to go there for a completely different reason. It was Joseph’s missionary zeal that attracted him to Hawaii where he volunteered to care for those stricken with leprosy. He eventually contracted the disease and died a painful death. The world would come to know him simply as Father Damien the Leper priest. On October 11, 2009, he was canonized a saint by the Catholic Church and will be remembered throughout history as a heroic example of Christian compassion…

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Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, Count de Rochambeau

Marshal, born at Vendôme, France, 1 July, 1725; died at Thoré, 10 May, 1807.

At the age of sixteen he entered the army and in 1745 became an aid to Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans, subsequently commanding a regiment. He served with distinction in several important battles, notably those of Minorca, Crevelt, and Minden, and was wounded at the battle of Lafeldt. When the French monarch resolved to despatch a military force to aid the American colonies in the Revolutionary War, Rochambeau was created a lieutenant-general and placed in command of a body of troops which numbered some 6000 men…

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May 10 – His apostolate paved the way for some of the greatest saints of Spain

May 6, 2021

Bl. John of Avila Apostolic preacher of Andalusia and author, b. at Almodóvar del Campo, a small town in the diocese of Toledo, Spain, 6 January, 1500; d. at Montilla, 10 May, 1569. At the age of fourteen he was sent to the University of Salamanca to study law. Conceiving a distaste for jurisprudence he […]

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May 4 – They believed in the religious exemption, but only at first

May 3, 2021

The Carthusian Martyrs were the monks of the London Charterhouse, the monastery of the Carthusian Order in central London, who were put to death by the English state in a period lasting from the 19 June 1535 till the 20 September 1537. The method of execution was hanging, disembowelling while still alive and then quartering. […]

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May 4 – St. Godard

May 3, 2021

St. Godard (Also spelled GOTHARD, GODEHARD). Bishop of Hildesheim in Lower Saxony; born about the year 960, in a village of Upper Bavaria, near the Abbey of Altaich, in the Diocese of Passau; Nassau; died on 4 May, 1038 canonized by Innocent II in 1131. After a lengthy course of studies he received the Benedictine […]

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May 5 – St. Hilary of Arles

May 3, 2021

Archbishop, born about 401; died 5 May, 449. The exact place of his birth is not known. All that may be said is that he belonged to a notable family of Northern Gaul, of which in all probability also came St. Honoratus, his predecessor in the See of Arles. Learned and rich, Hilary had everything […]

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May 6 – Prince, priest, pioneer

May 3, 2021

Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin Prince, priest, and missionary, born at The Hague, Holland, 22 December, 1770; died at Loretto, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., 6 May, 1840. He was a scion of one of the oldest, wealthiest, and most illustrious families of Russia. His father, Prince Demetrius Gallitzin (d. 16 March, 1803), Russian ambassador to Holland at the time […]

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May 6 – Saint Francis de Montmorency Laval

May 3, 2021

St. Francis de Montmorency Laval First bishop of Canada, born at Montigny-sur-Avre, 30 April, 1623, of Hughes de Laval and Michelle de Péricard; died at Quebec on 6 May, 1708. He was a scion of an illustrious family, whose ancestor was baptized with Clovis at Reims, and whose motto reads: “Dieu ayde au primer baron […]

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No Dowry? It Is Enough That She Is the Daughter of a Martyr

April 29, 2021

In the kingdom of Fingo, the persecution, after having abated, took a fresh impulse. We have spoken of three charitable noblemen who were present at the death of Simon Taquenda. Their names were Joachim Girozaiemon, Michael Faciemon, and John Tingoro, and they directed together a confraternity of mercy that did a great deal of good. […]

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The Church Has the Greatest Interest In Crushing the Revolution

April 29, 2021

[previous] 2. The Church Has the Greatest Interest In Crushing the Revolution If the Revolution does exist, if it is what it is, then the crushing of the Revolution is within the mission of the Church, it is in the interest of the salvation of souls, and it is of special importance for the greater […]

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April 30 – “Thank God for the victory”

April 29, 2021

Pope Saint Pius V Born at Bosco, near Alexandria, Lombardy, 17 Jan., 1504 elected 7 Jan., 1566; died 1 May, 1572. Being of a poor though noble family his lot would have been to follow a trade, but he was taken in by the Dominicans of Voghera, where he received a good education and was […]

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May 1 – St. Sigismund, King of Burgundy

April 29, 2021

This saint was son of Gondebald, the Arian king of the Burgundians; but embraced the Catholic faith through the instructions of St. Alcimus Avitus, bishop of Vienne. (1) He succeeded to the kingdom of his father in 516, and in the midst of barbarism lived humble, mortified, penitent, devout, and charitable, even on the throne; […]

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May 2 – Two sisters of this medieval princess were also saints

April 29, 2021

St. Mafalda of Portugal In the year 1215, at the age of eleven, Princess Mafalda (i.e. Matilda), daughter of King Sancho I of Portugal, was married to her kinsman King Henry I of Castile, who was like herself a minor. The marriage was annulled the following year on the ground of the consanguinity of the […]

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May 2 – Economist

April 29, 2021

St. Antoninus Archbishop of Florence, b. at Florence, 1 March, 1389; d. 2 May, 1459; known also by his baptismal name Antoninus (Anthony), which is found in his autographs, in some manuscripts, in printed editions of his works, and in the Bull of canonization, but which has been finally rejected for the diminutive form given […]

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May 2 – St. Athanasius

April 29, 2021

St. Athanasius Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373. Athanasius was the greatest champion of Catholic belief on the subject of the Incarnation that the Church has ever known and in his lifetime earned the characteristic title of “Father of Orthodoxy”, by which he has been […]

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May 3 – Finding of the Holy Cross

April 29, 2021

In the year 326 the mother of Constantine, Helena, then about 80 years old, having journeyed to Jerusalem, undertook to rid the Holy Sepulchre of the mound of earth heaped upon and around it, and to destroy the pagan buildings that profaned its site. Some revelations which she had received gave her confidence that she […]

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May 3 – Élisabeth Leseur

April 29, 2021

Élisabeth Leseur Servant of God Born     16 October 1866 Paris, France Died     3 May 1914 (aged 47) Paris, France Élisabeth Arrighi Leseur (October 16, 1866–May 3, 1914), born Pauline Élisabeth Arrighi, was a French mystic best known for her spiritual diary and the conversion of her husband, Félix Leseur (1861–1950), a medical doctor […]

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May 3 – Sword-bearer to the Emperor

April 29, 2021

St. Ansfried of Utrecht Ansfried (aka Ansfridus or Aufridus) was born ca. 940, and died May 3, 1010 near Leusden.) He was a nobleman in the Holy Roman Empire and sword-bearer for Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor. Till 995 he was Count of Huy, then he became bishop of Utrecht. He is also the founder […]

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April 27 – First circumnavigator of the world

April 26, 2021

Ferdinand Magellan (Portuguese Fernão Magalhaes). The first circumnavigator of the real world; born about 1480 at Saborosa in Villa Real, Province of Traz os Montes, Portugal; died during his voyage of discovery on the Island of Mactan in the Philippines, 27 April 1521… Read more here.

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April 27- Abused by her noble patrons, she remained a model of harmony

April 26, 2021

St. Zita Model and heavenly patroness of domestic servants, born early in the thirteenth century of a poor family at Montsegradi, a little village near Lucca, in Tuscany; died at Lucca, 27 April, 1271. A naturally happy disposition and the teaching of a virtuous mother, aided by Divine grace, developed in the child’s soul that […]

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April 27 – Noble Model of Confidence

April 26, 2021

St. Peter Armengol was born in Guárdia dels Prats, a small village in the archdiocese of Tarragon, Spain in 1238. He belonged to the house of the barons of Rocafort, descendants of the counts of Urgel, whose ancestors were directly linked to the counts of Barcelona and the monarchs of Aragon and Castile… Read more […]

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April 28 – Saint Egbert

April 26, 2021

Saint Egbert Northumbrian monk, born of noble parentage c. 639; d. 729. In his youth he went for the sake of study to Ireland, to a monastery, says the Venerable Bede, “called Rathmelsigi”, identified by some with Mellifont in what is now County Louth. There, when in danger of death from pestilence, he prayed for […]

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April 29 – The Templars, Knights of Calatrava, of St. Lazarus, of Alcantara, of Avis, of St. Maurice, all trace their existence to this austere monk

April 26, 2021

St. Robert of Molesme Born about the year 1029, at Champagne, France, of noble parents who bore the names of Thierry and Ermengarde; died at Molesme, 17 April, 1111. When fifteen years of age, he commenced his novitiate in the Abbey of Montier-la-Celle, or St. Pierre-la-Celle, situated near Troyes, of which he became later prior. […]

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April 29 – In 11th century Christendom, no king or bishop dare oppose him

April 26, 2021

Saint Hugh the Great Abbot of Cluny, born at Semur (Brionnais in the Diocese of Autun), 1024; died at Cluny, 28 April, 1109. His early life The eldest son of Count Dalmatius of Semur and Aremberge (Aremburgis) of Vergy, Hugh was descended from the noblest families in Burgundy. Dalmatius, devoted to war and the chase, […]

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Almsgiving of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette

April 22, 2021

Louis XVI visits a poor family During Lent we recall the duties of every Christian to apply themselves more fervently to almsgiving. In pre-revolutionary France it was for the King and the Queen to give an example to everyone else in this regard. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette took this duty seriously and throughout their reign […]

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The Church Is Much Higher and Far Broader Than the Revolution and the Counter-Revolution

April 22, 2021

[previous] 1. The Church Is Much Higher and Far Broader Than the Revolution and the Counter-Revolution The Revolution and the Counter-Revolution are extremely important episodes in the history of the Church, for they constitute the very drama of the apostasy and the conversion of the Christian West. Even so, they are mere episodes. The mission […]

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April 23 – The Original Knight in Shining Armor

April 22, 2021

St. George Martyr, patron of England, suffered at or near Lydda, also known as Diospolis, in Palestine, probably before the time of Constantine. According to the very careful investigation of the whole question recently instituted by Father Delehaye, the Bollandist, in the light of modern sources of information, the above statement sums up all that […]

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April 23 – Archbishop author of war-song

April 22, 2021

St. Adalbert of Bohemia Born 939 of a noble Bohemian family; died 997. He assumed the name of the Archbishop Adalbert (his name had been Wojtech), under whom he studied at Magdeburg. He became Bishop of Prague, whence he was obliged to flee on account of the enmity he had aroused by his efforts to […]

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April 24 – “I came to extirpate heresy, not to embrace it”

April 22, 2021

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen Born in 1577, at Sigmaringen, Prussia, of which town his father Johannes Rey was burgomaster; died at Sevis, 24 April, 1622. On the paternal side he was of Flemish ancestry. He pursued his studies at the University of Freiburg in the Breisgau, and in 1604 became tutor to Wilhelm von Stotzingen, […]

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April 24 – Mother Mary Euphrasia Pelletier

April 22, 2021

Mother Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, foundress of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd and canonized May 2, 1940 by Pope Pius XII. The aim of this institute is to provide a shelter for girls and women of dissolute habits, who wish to do penance for their iniquities and to lead a […]

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April 25 – Builder

April 22, 2021

Blessed Meinwerk Tenth Bishop of Paderborn, d. 1036: Meinwerk (Meginwerk) was born of the noble family of the Immedinger and related to the royal house of Saxony. His father was Imad (Immeth), Count of Teisterbant and Radichen, and his mother’s name was Adela (Adala, Athela). In early youth he was dedicated by his parents to […]

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April 26 – She inspired the Albanians to resist the Turks

April 22, 2021

Our Lady of Good Counsel January of 1467 saw the death of the last great Albanian leader, George Castriota, better known as Scanderbeg. Raised by an Albanian chief, he placed himself at the head of his own people. Subsequently, Scanderbeg inflicted stunning defeats on the Turkish army and occupied fortresses all over Albania. With Scanderbeg’s […]

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April 26 – His ears were nailed to the pillory

April 22, 2021

Venerable Edward Morgan Welsh priest, martyr, b. at Bettisfield, Hanmer, Flintshire, executed at Tyburn, London, 26 April, 1642. His father’s Christian name was William. Of his mother we know nothing except that one of her kindred was Lieutenant of the Tower of London. From the fact that the martyr was known at St. Omer as […]

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April 26 – Pope St. Cletus

April 22, 2021

Pope St. Cletus This name is only another form for Anacletus, the second successor of St. Peter. It is true that the Liberian Catalogue, a fourth-century list of popes, so called because it ends with Pope Liberius (d. 366), contains both names, as if they were different persons. But this is an error, owing evidently […]

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April 26 – Nephew of the Duke of Maqueda

April 22, 2021

St. Rafael Arnáiz Barón (9 April 1911, Burgos, Spain – 26 April 1938, Dueñas, Palencia, Spain) Rafael Arnáiz, known in the monastery as Brother María Rafael, was born on 9 April 1911 in the city of Burgos, in north-central Spain. He was the first of four sons born to a well-to-do, deeply Christian and Catholic […]

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April 20 – “I beg your Lordship…that my lips and…fingers may be cut off…”

April 19, 2021

Blessed Fr. James Bell Priest and martyr, born at Warrington in Lancashire, England, probably about 1520; died 20 April, 1584. For the little known of him we depend on the account published four years after his death by Bridgewater in his “Concertatio” (1588), and derived from a manuscript which was kept at Douay when Challoner […]

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April 20 – Blessed Richard Sergeant

April 19, 2021

Bl. Richard Sergeant English martyr, executed at Tyburn, 20 April, 1586. He was probably a younger son of Thomas Sergeant of Stone, Gloucestershire, by Katherine, daughter of John Tyre of Hardwick. He took his degree at Oxford (20 Feb., 1570-1), and arrived at the English College, Reims, on 25 July, 1581. He was ordained subdeacon […]

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April 20 – Blessed John Finch

April 19, 2021

Bl. John Finch A martyr, born about 1548; died 20 April, 1584. He was a yeoman of Eccleston, Lancashire, and a member of a well-known old Catholic family, but he appears to have been brought up in schism. When he was twenty years old he went to London where he spent nearly a year with […]

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April 21 – Adventurous in youth and adulthood

April 19, 2021

St. Anselm Archbishop of Canterbury, Doctor of the Church; born at Aosta a Burgundian town on the confines of Lombardy, died 21 April, 1109. His father, Gundulf, was a Lombard who had become a citizen of Aosta, and his mother, Ermenberga, came of an old Burgundian family. Like many other saints, Anselm learnt the first […]

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April 22 – Father of Origen

April 19, 2021

St. Leonidas (Or LEONIDES.) The Roman Martyrology records several feast days of martyrs of this name in different countries. Under date of 28 January there is a martyr called Leonides, a native of the Thebaid, whose death with several companions is supposed to have occurred during the Diocletian persecution (Acta SS., January, II, 832). Another […]

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April 22 – Cabral and the Discovery of Brazil

April 19, 2021

Pedralvarez Cabral (Pedro Alvarez.) A celebrated Portugese navigator, generally called the discoverer of Brazil, born probably around 1460; date of death uncertain. Very little is known concerning the life of Cabral. He was the third son of Fernao Cabral, Governor of Beira and Belmonte, and Isabel de Gouvea, and married Isabel de Castro, the daughter […]

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“I Will Not Abjure the Faith to Marry a Princess—Not Even for the Whole World”

April 15, 2021

During the persecution of which we have just spoken, a youth, who was a Christian, named James Sacoiama, and only fourteen years old, had gone with his mother to live in the kingdom of Saxuma. As he was of fine appearance and possessed much intelligence, the king grew very fond of him, and even thought […]

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