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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Aug. 7th, Saint Donatus, Bishop and Martyr

Aug. 7th, Saint Donatus, Bishop and Martyr

This Donatus hath been revered from most ancient times, for he became celebrated as the Bishop of Arezzo in Tuscany in the fourth century, and the holy Doctor Gregory considered him one of the great Fathers of the church. He was born at Nicomedia of parents who had both been slain for Chris’s sake. With the holy monk Hilarinus he fled to Arezzo in Tuscany, of which city he afterwards became Bishop. There the Prefect Quadratian, during the persecution under Julian, about 362, commanded both Hilarinus and Donatus to worship idols, and when they both refused, they were slain. Hilarinus was beaten to death with clubs. Donatus was in divers ways savagely tortured, and then put to the sword. The Christians buried their bodies honorably hard by the city.


O God, who art the glory of thy priests, we humbly pray thee, that we, who keep the feast of thy blessed martyr and Bishop Donatus, may feel the effectual succour of his advocacy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Aug 5th, Saint Oswald, King and Martyr

Saint Oswald, King and Martyr

Oswald was the son of Ethelfrid the Ravager, King of the Northumbrians. After his father had been slain in battle by Redwald, King of the East Angles, he was carried into exile in Scotland, where he was taught the Faith of Christ and baptized. When he returned to his own country he found Cadwalla, King of the Britons, pitifully wasting everything. This Cadwalla had already slain three kings of the English, and was seeking to destroy all of that nation. Oswald gathered together a small army and, placing his trust in God, bravely attacked the countless hosts of the enemy. Before he joined battle he set up he standard of the Cross of the Lord with his own hands, knelt down, and prayed God to help a righteous war for the saving of the fatherland. He exhorted all his soldiers to do likewise, and so they did ; and all promised that if God granted them the victory they would believe in him who had been crucified. Thereupon they obtained an easy victory, and crushed the tyrant with all his legions. And the place where the Sign of the Cross was set up was afterwards called in the English language Heaven's Field ; and pieces of wood of this cross which Oswald erected were believed to have been the occasion of many miracles in later times.

Oswald being thus placed in possession of his kingdom was fain that all nations should receive the grace of Christian belief. Hence he sent forthwith into Scotland, praying them to send him a bishop, by whose teaching and ministry the English people might receive the Faith and Sacraments of Christ. Whereupon there was sent unto him blessed Aidan, unto whom the King granted at his own prayer the Island of Lindisfarne to be the See of his Bishoprick. After Aidan came many other Gospel-preachers, especially from the Island of Iona. By their preaching and the support given to them from the godliness and zeal of the King, Christ's own kingdom was wonderfully spread abroad in all the country between the Humber and the Forth ; churches were built in divers places, schools set up for the teaching of children, and monasteries founded by the King's bounty, so that the English might learn not only the greater studies but also the institutes of regular discipline. The King himself listened to the preaching of Aidan, and humbly and cheerfully granted all his wishes, and by his own illustrious example did much to set forward the cause of the Church throughout all his dominions. Now Aidan could not speak English well, and when he was preaching the Gospel there could often be seen the lovely spectacle of the King himself interpreting the heavenly Word to his own officers and servants.

Thus did this most devout King Oswald shew himself a loyal and ready subject of the eternal King of kings, and by this he was glorified as regards his temporal dominion more than all that had been before him, so that nearly all the provinces of all Britain came under his sway ; and nevertheless he was never tainted with pride, but was always lowly, kindly, and open-handed to Christ's poor and to strangers. When he had happily reigned for eight years he was encompassed in battle by heathen rebels ; and when he saw that he was bound to perish, he called for the divine mercy for himself and for the souls of them that were about to slay him ; namely, in the year of Christ 642, and of his own age the thirty-eighth, upon the 5th day of August, upon the which day mention is made of his memory in the Martyrology. How precious was his death in the sight of the Lord became afterwards manifest by countless miracles obtained through his intercession.



Almighty and everlasting God, who hast hallowed this day to be a day of gladness and rejoicing by the Martyrdom of thy blessed Saint King Oswald : we pray thee, pour into our hearts such an increase of thy charity, that like as we do honour his glorious battle for thy Faith, so we may imitate him in constancy even unto death. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Aug 5th, Our Lady of the Snows

Our Lady of the Snows

This feast is in commemoration of the first church to be dedicated in Rome under the invocation of our Lady, and the third of those Christian temples in the City known as Patriarchal Basilicas. The origin of this building, according to an old story, popular in ancient times, was as followeth. In the middle of the fourth century, during the pontificate of Pope Liberius, there lived at Rome a certain nobleman named John, and a noble lady his wife, who had no children to whom to leave their substance, and who vowed that they would make the holy Virgin Mother of God their heiress. And earnestly they besought her in some way to make known to them upon what godly work she would have their money spent. And thereupon (so saith the story) the blessed Virgin graciously listened to the heart-felt earnestness of their prayers, and by a wondrous sign assured them of her will.

On the fifth day of August, which is the time when the heat of summer waxeth greatest in Rome, a part of the Esquiline Hill was covered at night with snow. And some scholars think that such a strange and unseasonable fall of snow did take place, and so gave rise to the old tale, which goeth on to say on this same night the Mother of God appeared in a dream to John and his wife separately, and told them that on that spot, which in the morning they could see clad in snow, they should build a church, to be dedicated under the name of the Virgin Mary, for that this was the way in which she chose that they should make her their heiress. Then John went and told it to Pope Liberius, who declared that he also had been visited by a like dream.

Therefore Pope Liberius went in a solemn procession of clergy and people to the snow-clad hill, and traced upon that spot the plan of the church, which same was afterwards built with the money of John and his wife. And later it was rebuilt by Saint Pope Sixtus III. At the beginning it was called by divers names, sometimes the Liberian Basilica, sometimes the Church of Saint Mary-at-the-Manger (because of the presence there of a relick revered as the Manger in which our infant Lord lay), and so on. Howbeit, since there are in Rome many churches called after the holy Virgin Mary, and this church, both in age and dignity, doth excel them all, it is commonly called St. Mary Major. And the memory of the dedication there of is kept every year by this feast-day that taketh name from the strange fall of snow which is said to have taken place on this day.

Lord God Almighty, we beseech thee to keep us thy servants both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls : that by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, we may be defended from our present heaviness and attain in the end to everlasting gladness. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 2nd, Saint Stephen, Pope and Martyr

August 2nd, Saint Stephen, Pope and Martyr
This Stephen was a Roman, who became Pope in 254, and fulfilled his office during the reign of the Emperors Valerian and Gallienus. His short Popedom was made notable by the controversy over the re-baptism of those christened by hereticks. Such re-baptism he forbade, and wrote to Saint Cyprian in these words : Let us have no innovations, but only what hath been handed down unto us. No sure or certain records of his martyrdom exist. But tradition saith that as persecution was waxing dreader and more dread, Stephen gathered together the clergy, and exhorted them to be brave in lifting up their testimony, and himself celebrated Masses and Councils in the Catacombs ; and that finally, whilst he was one day finishing the Mass, the soldiers of the Emperor brake in upon the Christians and cut off Stephen’s head as he sat in his chair; and that the relicks of the Martyr along with the chair stained with his blood, were buried by the clergy in the cemetery of Saint Callistus, upon the second day of August in the year 257. According to the Pontifical Book, he lived as Pope three years, three months and twenty-two days, and held two December ordinations, and in them ordained six priests, five deacons and three bishops.


Be merciful to the people of thy flock, O Lord, eternal Shepherd and Bishop of the souls of men : and keep us in thy continual protection ; at the intercession of thy blessed Martyr, the Holy Father Stephen, whom thou didst raise up in thy Church to be thine under-shepherd, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God world without end. Amen.