Saint Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church; Saint Gregory VII, Pope; Saint Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin
Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi by Sr. Helena
OUR PASCHAL CALENDAR gives us three illustrious Virgins of the beautiful Italy. We have already kept the feast of the valiant Catharine of sienna; in a few days, we shall be honoring the memory of Angela de Merici, surrounded by her school-children; today, it is the fair lily of Florence, Magdalene de Pazzi, who embalms the whole Church with the fragrance of her name and intercession. She was the loving imitatrix of our Crucified Jesus; was it not just that she should have some share in the joy of his Resurrection?
Magdalene de Pazzi was one of the brightest ornaments of the Order of Carmel, by her angelic purity, and by the ardor of her love for God. Like St. Philip Neri, she was one of the grandest manifestations of the Divine Charity that is found in the true Church. Magdalene in her peaceful Cloister, and Philip in his active labors for the salvation of souls—both made it their ambition to satisfy that desire expressed by our Jesus, when he said: I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I, but that it be kindled?
The life of this Spouse of Christ was one continued miracle. Her ecstasies and raptures were almost of every day’s occurrence. The lights given to her regarding the Mysteries were extraordinary; and in order to prepare her for those sublime communications, God would have her go through the severest trials of the spiritual life. She triumphed over them all; and her love having found its nourishment in them, she could not be happy without suffering; for nothing else seemed to satisfy the longings of the love that burned within her. At the same time, her heart was filled to overflowing with charity for her neighbor: she would have saved all mankind, and her charity to all, even for their temporal well-being, was something heroic. God blessed Florence on her account; and as to the City itself, she so endeared herself to its people by he admirable virtues, that devotion to her, even to this day, which is more than two hundred years since her death, is as fervent as ever it was.
One of the most striking proofs of the divine origin and holiness of the Church is to be found in such privileged souls as Magdalene de Pazzi, on whom we see the Mysteries of our salvation acting with such direct influence. God so loved the world, as to give it his Only Begotten Son; and this son of God deigns to love some of his creatures with such special affection, and to lavish upon them such extraordinary favors that all men may have some idea of the love wherewith his Sacred Heart is inflamed for this world, which he redeemed at the price of his Blood. Happy those Christians that appreciate and relish these instances of Jesus’ special love! Happy they that can give him thanks for bestowing such gifts on some of our fellow creatures! They have the true light; whereas they that have an unpleasant feeling at hearing of such things, and are angry at the thought that there can be an intimacy between God and any soul of which they are not worthy—this class of people prove that there is a great deal of darkness mixed up with their faith.
We regret extremely that we have space for a fuller development of the character and life of our Saint. We therefore proceed at once to the Lessons given in her Office. Even they are too short, and give us but an imperfect idea of this admirable Spouse of Christ.
|Maria Magdalena, illustriori Pazziorum genere Florentiæ nata, fere ab incunabulis iter perfectionis arripuit. Decennis perpetuam virginitatem vovit, susceptoque habitu in monasterio Sanctæ Mariæ Angelorum ordinis Carmelitarum, se omnium virtutum exemplar exhibuit. Adeo casta fuit, ut quidquid puritatem lædere potest, penitus ignoraverit. Quinquennium, Deo jubente, solo pane et aqua transegit, exceptis diebus Dominicis, quibus cibis Quadragesimalibus vescebatur. Corpus suum cilicio, flagellis, frigore, inedia, vigiliis, nuditate, atque omni pœnarum genere cruciabat.||Mary Magdalene was born at Florence, and was of the illustrious family of the Pazzi. It might be said of her that she entered the way of perfection when a babe. When ten years of age, she took a vow of perpetual virginity; and having taken the habit in the Carmelite Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels, she became a model of every virtue. Such was her purity, that she utterly ignored everything that is opposed to that virtue. She received a command from God, which she fulfilled, of fasting on bread and water for five years, Sundays alone excepted, on which she might partake of Lenten diet. She mortified her body by a hairshirt, discipline, cold, abstinence, watching, want, and every kind of suffering.|
|Tanto igne divini amoris æstuabat, ut ei ferendo impar, ingesta aqua pectus refrigerare cogeretur. Extra sensus frequenter rapta, diuturnas et admirabiles exstases passa est, in quibus et arcana cœlestia penetravit, et eximiis a Deo gratiis illustrata fuit. His autem munita longum certamen a principibus tenebrarum sustinuit, arida, desolata, ab omnibus derelicta, variisque tentationibus vexata; Deo sic permittente, ut invictæ patientiæ, ac profundissimæ humilitatis exemplar præberet.||Such was the ardor of divine love that burned within her, that not being able to bear the heat, she was obliged to temper it by applying cold water to her breast. She was frequently in a state of rapture, and the wonderful ecstasies she had were almost daily. In these states, she was permitted to penetrate into heavenly mysteries, and was favored by God with extraordinary graces. Thus strengthened, she had to endure a long combat with the princes of darkness, as also aridity, abandonment by all creatures, and divers temptations: God so willed it, that she might become a model of invincible patience and profound humility.|
|Charitate erga proximum singulariter enituit; nam sæpe noctes ducebat insomnes, vel obeundis Sororum ministeriis, vel inserviendo infirmis occupata, quarum aliquando ulcera lambens sanavit. Infidelium et peccatorum perditionem amare deflens, se ad quælibet pro illorum salute tormenta paratam offerebat. Multis ante obitum annis, universis cœli deliciis, quibus copiose affluebat, heroica virtute renuntians, illus frequenter in ore habebat: Pati, non mori. Tandem longa et gravissima infirmitate exhausta, transivit ad Sponsum die vigesima quinta Maii anno millesimo sexcentesimo septimo primo ætatis suæ. Eam multis in vita et post mortem miraculis claram Clemens Nonus sanctarum Virginum numero adscripsit: cujus corpus in præsentem diem incorruptum conservatur.||She was remarkable for her charity toward others. She would frequently sit up the whole night, either in doing the work of the Sisters, or in waiting upon the sick, whose sores she sometimes healed by sucking the wounds. She wept bitterly over the perdition of infidels and sinners, and offered to suffer every sort of torment, so that they might be saved. Several years before her death, she heroically besought our Lord to take from her the heavenly delights wherewith he favored her; and was frequently heard saying these words: “To suffer; not to die.” At length, worn out by a long and most painful illness, she passed hence to her Spouse, on the twenty-fifth of May, in the year 1607, having completed the forty-first year of her age. Many miracles having been wrought by her merits, both before and after death, she was canonized by Pope Clement the Ninth. Her body is, even to this day, preserved from corruption.|
Thy life here below, O Magdalene, resembled that of an Angel, who was sent by God to assume our weak and fallen nature, and be subject to its laws. Thy soul was ceaselessly aspiring to a life which was all heavenly, and thy Jesus was ever giving thee that thirst of Love which can only be quenched at the waters of life everlasting. A heavenly light revealed to thee such admirable mysteries, such treasures of truth and beauty, that thy heart—unequal to the sweetness thus given to it by the Holy Ghost—sought relief in sacrifice and suffering. It seemed to thee, as though there was but one way of making God a return to his favors—the annihilation of self.
Seraphic lover of our God!—how are we to imitate thee? what is our love, when we compare it to thine? And yet, we can imitate thee. The year of the Church’s Liturgy was thy very life. Each of its Seasons did its work in thee, and brought thee new light and love. The divine Babe of Bethlehem, the bleeding Victim on the Cross, the glorious Conqueror of Death, the Holy Ghost radiant with his seven gifts—each of these great Realities enraptured thee; and thy soul, renewed by the annual succession of the Mysteries was transformed into Him who, that he might win our hearts, gives these sublime celebrations to his Church. Thy love of souls was great during thy sojourn here; it is more ardent now that thou art in possession of the Sovereign Good;—obtain for us, O Magdalene, light to see the riches which enraptured thee, and love to love the treasures which enamored thee. O riches! O treasures! is it possible that they are ours too?
Saint Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi, virgin
from a prayer card
Our prayer must be humble, fervent, resigned, persevering, and deeply reverent, for we must reflect that we are in the presence of a God and speaking with a Lord before Whom the Angels tremble out of respect and fear.
St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi
Saint Mary Magdalen de’Pazzi was born in Florence and joined the Carmelites when she was nineteen. She practiced great mortification for the salvation of sinners; her constant exclamation was, “To suffer, not to die!” With apostolic zeal, she urged the renewal of the entire ecclesiastical community.
Source: Daily Roman Missal, Edited by Rev. James Socías, Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, Illinois ©2003
O God, lover of virginity,
who adorned with heavenly gifts
the Virgin Saint Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi,
setting her on fire with your love,
grant, we pray, that we, who honor her today,
may imitate her example of purity and love.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.
First Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:25-35
Now concerning the unmarried, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that in view of the present distress it is well for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a girl marries she does not sin. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
Gospel Reading: Mark 3:31-35
Jesus’ mother and His brethren came; and standing outside they sent to Him and called Him. And a crowd was sitting about Him; and they said to Him, “Your mother and Your brethren are outside, asking for You.” And He replied, “Who are My mother and My brethren?” And looking around on those who sat about Him, He said, “Here are My mother and My brethren! Whoever does the will of God is My brother, and sister, and mother.”
LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF FLORENCE ON THE OCCASION OF THE FOURTH CENTENARY OF THE DEATH OF ST. MARY MAGDALENE DE’ PAZZI
To His Eminence
Cardinal Ennio Antonelli
Archbishop of Florence
On the occasion of the Fourth Centenary of the death of St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, I am pleased to unite myself to the beloved Florentine Church who wishes to remember her illustrious daughter, particularly dear as a symbolic figure of a living love that recalls the essential mystical dimension of every Christian life.
While with affection I greet you, Your Eminence, and the entire diocesan community, I give thanks to God for the gift of this Saint, which every generation rediscovers as uniquely close by knowing how to communicate an ardent love for Christ and the Church.
Born in Florence on 2 April 1566 and baptized at the “beautiful St John” font with the name Caterina, St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi showed a particular sensitivity to the supernatural from childhood and was attracted by intimate colloquy with God.
As was the custom for children of noble families, her education was entrusted to the Dames of Malta, in whose monastery she received her First Holy Communion on 25 March 1576, and just some days later she consigned herself to the Lord for ever with a promise of virginity.
Returning to her family, she deepened her prayer life with the help of the Jesuit Fathers, who used to come to the palace. She cleverly did not allow herself to be conditioned by the worldly demands of an environment that, although Christian, was not sufficient to satisfy her desire to become more similar to her crucified Spouse.
In this context she reached the decision to leave the world and enter the Carmel of St Mary of the Angels at Borgo San Frediano, where on 30 January 1583 she received the Carmelite habit and the name of Sr Mary Magdalene.
In March of 1584, she fell gravely ill and asked to be able to make her profession prior to the time, and on 27 May, Feast of the Trinity, she was carried into the choir on her pallet, where she pronounced before the Lord her vows of chastity, poverty and obedience for ever.
From this moment an intense mystical season began which was also the source of the Saint’s great ecstatic fame. The Carmelites of St Mary of the Angels have five manuscripts in which are recorded the extraordinary experiences of their young Sister.
“The Forty Days” of the summer of 1584 are followed by “The Colloquies” of the first half of the following year. The apex of the mystical knowledge that God granted of himself to Sr Mary Magdalene is found in “Revelations and Intelligences”, eight days of splendid ecstacies from the vigil of Pentecost to the Feastday of the Trinity in 1585. This was an intense experience that made her able at only 19 years of age to span the whole mystery of salvation, from the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of Mary to the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
Five long years of interior purification followed – Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi speaks of it in the book of “The Probation” – in which her Spouse, the Word, takes away the sentiment of grace and leaves her like Daniel in the lions’ den, amid many trials and great temptations.
This is the context in which her ardent commitment to renew the Church takes place, after which, in the summer of 1586, splendours of light from on high came to show her the true state of the post-Tridentine era.
Like Catherine of Siena, she felt “forced” to write some letters of entreaty to the Pope, Curial Cardinals, her Archbishop and other ecclesial personages, for a decisive commitment to “The Renovation of the Church”, as the title of the manuscript that contains them says. It consists of 12 letters dictated in ecstasy, perhaps never sent, but which remain as a testimony of her passion for the Sponsa Verbi.
With Pentecost of 1590 her difficult trial ended. She promised to dedicate herself with all her energy to the service of the community and in particular to the formation of novices. Sr Mary Magdalene had the gift to live communion with God in an ever more interior form, so as to become a reference point for the whole community who still today continue to consider her “mother”.
The purified love that pulsated in her heart opened her to desire full conformity with Christ, her Spouse, even to sharing with him the “naked suffering” of the Cross. Her last three years of life were a true Calvary of suffering for her. Consumption began to clearly manifest itself: Sr Mary Magdalene was obliged to withdraw little by little from community life to immerse herself ever more in “naked suffering for love of God”.
She was oppressed by atrocious physical and spiritual pain which lasted until her death on Friday, 25 May 1607. She passed away at 3 p.m., while an unusual joy pervaded the entire monastery.
Within 20 years of her death the Florentine Pontiff Urban VIII had already proclaimed her Blessed. Pope Clement IX inscribed her in the Roll of Saints on 28 April 1669.
Her body has remained incorrupt and is the destination of constant pilgrimages. The monastery where the Saint lived is today the seat of the Archiepiscopal Seminary of Florence, which venerates her as their Patron, and the cell where she died has become a chapel in whose silence one can still feel her presence.
St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi continues to be an inspiring spiritual figure for the Carmelites Nuns of the Ancient Observance. They see in her the “Sister” who has travelled the entire way of transforming union with God and who finds in Mary the “star” of the way to perfection.
This great Saint has for everyone the gift of being a spiritual teacher, particularly for priests, to whom she always nourished a true passion.
I truly hope that the present jubilee celebrations commemorating her death will contribute to making this luminous figure ever better known, who manifests to all the dignity and beauty of the Christian vocation. As, while she was alive, grasping the bells she urged her Sisters with the cry: “Come and love Love!”, may the great Mystic, from Florence, from her Seminary, from the Carmelite monasteries that draw their inspiration from her, still make her voice heard in all the Church, spreading to every human creature the proclamation to love God.
With this wish, I entrust you, Venerable Brother, and the Florentine Church to the heavenly protection of St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi and heartily impart to all a special Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 29 April 2007
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Information: St. Bede
Feast Day: May 25
Born: 672 at Wearmouth, England
Died: 25 May 735
Canonized: 1899 by Pope Leo XIII
Major Shrine: Durham Cathedral
Patron of: lectors ; English writers and historians; Jarrow
Posted by catholic_saints
Also known as
- Venerable Bede
- Father of English History
Born around the time England was finally completely Christianized. Raised from age seven in the abbey of Saints Peter and Paul at Wearmouth-Jarrow, and lived there the rest of his life. Benedictine monk. Spiritual student of the founder, Saint Benedict Biscop. Ordained in 702 by Saint John of Beverley. Teacher and author, he wrote about history, rhetoric, mathematics, music, astronomy, poetry, grammar, philosophy, hagiography, homiletics, and Bible commentary.
He was known as the most learned man of his day, and his writings started the idea of dating this era from the incarnation of Christ. The central theme of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica is of the Church using the power of its spiritual, doctrinal, and cultural unity to stamp out violence and barbarism. Our knowledge of England before the 8th century is mainly the result of Bede’s writing. He was declared a Doctor of the Church on 13 November 1899 by Pope Leo XIII.
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He alone loves the Creator perfectly who manifests a pure love for his neighbour. – Saint Bede the Venerable
On Tuesday before the feast of the Ascension, Bede’s breathing became labored and a slight swelling appeared in his legs. Nevertheless, he gave us instruction all day long and dictated cheerfully the whole time. It seemed to us, however, that he knew very well that his end was near, and so he spent the whole night giving thanks to God. At daybreak on Wednesday he told us to finish the writing we had begun. We worked until nine o’clock, when we went in procession with the relics as the custom of the day required. But one of our community, a boy named Wilbert, stayed with him and said to him, “Dear master, there is still one more chapter to finish in that book you were dictating. Do you think it would be too hard for you to answer any more questions?” Bede replied: “Not at all; it will be easy. Take up your pen and ink, and write quickly,” and he did so. At three o’clock, Bede said to me, “I have a few treasures in my private chest, some pepper, napkins, and a little incense. Run quickly and bring the priest of our monastery, and I will distribute among them these little presents that god has given me.” When the priests arrived he spoke to them and asked each one to offer Masses and prayers for him regularly. They gladly promised to do so. The priests were sad, however, and they all wept, especially because Bede had said that he thought they would not see his face much longer in this world. Yet they rejoiced when he said, “If it so please my Maker, it is time for me to return to him who created me and formed me out of nothing when I did not exist. I have lived a long time, and the righteous Judge has taken good care of me during my whole life. The time has come for my departure, and I long to die and be with Christ. My soul yearns to see Christ, my King, in all his glory.” He said many other things which profited us greatly, and so he passed the day joyfully till evening. When evening came, young Wilbert said to Bede, “Dear master, there is still one sentence that we have not written down.” Bede said, “Quick, write it down.” In a little while, Wilbert said, “There; now it is written down.” Bede said, “Good. You have spoken the truth; it is finished. Hold my head in your hands, for I really enjoy sitting opposite the holy place where I used to pray; I can call upon my Father as I sit there.” And so Bede, as he lay upon the floor of his cell, sang, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.” And when he had named the Holy Spirit, he breathed his last breath. – from a letter on the death of Saint Bede written by the monk Cuthbert
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, any my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” With these words Mary first acknowledges the special gifts she has been given. Above all other saints, she alone could truly rejoice in Jesus, her savior, for she knew that he who was the source of eternal salvation would be born in time in her body, in one person both her own son and her Lord. “For the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Mary attributes nothing to her own merits. She refers all her greatness to the gift of one whose essence is power and whose nature is greatness, for he fill with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in him. She did well to add: “and holy is his name,” to warn those who heard, and indeed all who would receive his words, that they must believe and call upon his name. For they too could share in everlasting holiness and true salvation according to the words of the prophet: “and it will come to pass, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” This is the name she spoke of earlier when she said “and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” – from a homily by Saint Bede
Information: St. Madeline Sophie Barat
Feast Day: May 25
Born: 12 December 1779, Joigny, France
Died: 25 May 1865, Paris, France
Canonized: 24 May 1925 by Pope Pius XI
Information: St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi
Feast Day: May 25
Born: April 2, 1566, Florence, Italy
Died: May 25, 1607, Florence, Italy
Canonized: April 28, 1669, Rome by Pope Clement X
Patron of: Naples (co-patron)
St. Gregory VII
Feast Day: May 25
Born: (around) 1023 :: Died: 1085
Hildebrand was born at Soana, in Italy. His uncle was a monk in Rome so Hildebrand studied in the monastery. When he grew up, Hildebrand became a Benedictine monk in France. Soon, however, he was called back to Rome. There he was given very important positions under five popes until he himself was made pope.
For twenty-five years, he refused to become pope. But when Pope Alexander II died, the cardinals made up their minds to elect Hildebrand pope. With one voice they cried out: “Hildebrand is the elect of St. Peter!”
The saint wrote afterwards, “They carried me to the throne, and my protests did no good. Fear filled my heart and darkness was all around me.” Hildebrand chose the name Gregory VII.
These were truly difficult times for the Catholic Church. Kings and emperors were meddling in Church matters. They named the men they wanted to be bishops, cardinals and even popes. Many of those chosen were bad examples to the people.
The first thing Pope St. Gregory did was to spend many days in prayer. He also asked others to pray for him. He knew that without prayer nothing can be done well for God.
Afterward, he began to act to make the clergy better. He removed all the bad and dishonest men in important positions who were destroying the faith of the Church. He also did what he could to keep the rulers out of the affairs of the Church. This was very difficult because the rulers were all against the change.
One ruler, Emperor Henry IV of Germany, caused Pope Gregory great sufferings. This young man was sinful and greedy for gold. He would not stop trying to run the affairs of the Church. He even sent his men to capture the pope. But the people of Rome rescued the saint from prison.
Then Henry IV chose his own pope. Of course, the man he chose was not the real pope. But Henry tried to make people think he was. Then, once again, the emperor sent his armies to capture Pope Gregory and the pope was forced to leave Rome.
He was taken safely to Salerno where he died in 1085. His last words were, “I have loved justice and hated evil. That is why I am dying in exile. Pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand) is known for his fantastic courage. He stood up for the cause of Jesus and his Church.