Post by Elizabeth on May 28, 2019 23:26:15 GMT
Saint Augustine of Canterbury
Apostle of England
Apostle of England
Saint Augustine was prior of the monastery of Saint Andrew on Mount Coelius in Rome, when he was appointed by Saint Gregory the Great as Superior of the forty missionaries he was sending to England. The Christian faith of England, more than that of any other nation of Europe, was the fruit of the labors and spiritual conquests of the ministry of monks. Its deepest Christian roots are more ancient than Saint Augustine and his companions, and date from the era of the Apostles. England, in the first century, furnished its contingent of martyrs during the persecution of Diocletian. England sent its bishops to the first Councils held after the religion of Christ became that of the Empire in 313. But in the time of Saint Augustine, the Anglo-Saxon conquest had cut down almost all the branches of the tree.
When Saint Augustine arrived, ruined churches, scarcely a Christian to be found to narrate a tradition, attested to the sacrilegious and incendiary hand of paganism, despite the labors of Saint Palladius and Saint Germain d'Auxerre in the fifth century. The last Christian Britons had taken refuge in the mountains of Wales. And England, the land of the Angles, had become a land of infamous slave-traders for the continent, including Rome; its merchants did not spare their own people when profit was at stake. In this way did Saint Gregory the Great come to purchase the English boys he saw marketed at the Roman Forum, and raise them in his house, which he had transformed into a monastery. Thus the definitive conversion of England began, in his compassionate heart, when in the sixth year of his pontificate he chose the prior of his own monastery for the mission to England.
Saint Augustine and his companions during their journey heard many reports of the barbarism and ferocity of the pagan English. They were alarmed and wished to turn back. But Saint Gregory sent word to them saying, Go on, in God's name! The greater your hardships, the greater your crown. May the grace of Almighty God protect you, and permit me to see the fruit of your labor in the heavenly country! If I cannot share your toil, I shall yet share the harvest, for God knows that it is not good-will which is wanting. The band of missionaries went on in obedience, after halting briefly to deliver letters of Saint Gregory at the Abbey of Lerins, and to the bishops of Aix, Tours, Marseille, Vienna, Autun, and Arles, as well as to obtain translators for the mission of the monks.
Landing at Ebbsfleet, they sent ahead of them their translator-emissaries, to say to the king of those lands that they had come from Rome, to announce to him not merely good news, but the Good News of all ages, with its promises of heavenly joy and an eternal reign in the company of the living and true God. They met with the Saxon King Ethelbert who had been reigning for thirty-six years, and with his barons under a great oak tree at Minster in the present county of Kent, and announced to him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was predisposed to listen to the missionaries; his Christian wife, Bertha, was a great-granddaughter of Saint Clothilda and Clovis. He wished to deliberate for a few days nonetheless, and when they returned in procession, chanting and preceded by the Cross, he promised only to give them liberty to practice their faith unmolested. He gave them a residence in Canterbury and provided for their needs. Their good example brought many to them for instruction and then Baptism, and at Pentecost 597, the Anglo-Saxon king, too, entered into the unity of the Church of Christ. His example was followed by the greater number of his nobles and people.
By degrees the Faith spread far and wide, and Augustine, as papal legate, set out on a visitation of Britain. He failed in his attempt to enlist the Christian Britons of the west in the work of his apostolate, but his success was otherwise triumphant from south to north. He died after eight years of evangelical labors, but his monks continued them and perpetuated them. The Anglo-Saxon Church which Saint Augustine founded is still famous for its learning, zeal, and devotion to the Holy See, while its calendar commemorates no fewer than 300 Saints, half of whom were of royal birth.
Bishop of Paris
Bishop of Paris
Saint Germanus, the glory of the Church of France in the sixth century, was born in the territory of Autun, a city in south central France, about the year 496. In his youth he was conspicuous for his fervor. After being ordained priest, he was made abbot of Saint Symphorian's monastery, built near the walls of the city; he was favored at that time with the gifts of miracles and prophecy. It was his custom to pray for the greater part of the night in the church, while his monks slept. He bestowed on the poor of the region all that he could of the monastery's resources in provisions, and provoked at times the indignation of the religious, who at one time had him arrested and imprisoned by means of their defamation. He had scarcely been placed in a cell, when the doors opened of themselves, and the bishop, being informed of it, recognized his sanctity and treated him with great respect.
One night, in a dream, he thought a venerable old man presented him with the keys of the city of Paris, and said to him that God committed to his care the inhabitants of that city, that he might save them from perishing. Four years after this divine admonition, in 554, happening to be at Paris when that see became vacant by the death of the bishop Eusebius, he was raised to the episcopal chair, though he endeavored by many tears to decline the charge.
His promotion made no alteration in his mode of life. The same simplicity and frugality appeared in his dress, table, and furniture. His house was perpetually crowded with the poor and the afflicted, and he always had many beggars at his own table. He had edifying books read during the meals, that their souls and his own might be nourished. God gave to his sermons a wonderful influence over the minds of all ranks of people; so that the face of the whole city was in a very short time entirely changed.
King Childebert of the Francs, who until then had been an ambitious, worldly prince, was converted by the sweetness and the powerful discourses of the Saint. He founded many religious institutions and sent large sums of money to the good bishop, to be distributed among the indigent. When Saint Germanus learned that some poor folk, inhabitants of a village he was passing through one day, had been imprisoned by their lord for non-payment of debts, he went to pray and shed tears, face to the ground, at the gate of the subterranean jail where the unfortunate victims were lamenting. The overlord refused to open its doors, but an Angel came down and did so, and the entire crowd, scarcely believing in their good fortune, came as one person, to kneel in gratitude before their benefactor. At that point the overlord gave them full amnesty and canceled their debts. Demons fled from the bishop's presence, as they had before Our Lord, his Master, asking to be allowed to remain in the forest on the mountains.
In his old age Saint Germanus lost nothing of the zeal and activity with which he had filled the great duties of his station in the vigor of his age. Nor did the weakness to which his corporal austerities had reduced him make him alter anything in the mortifications of his penitential life, which redoubled in celestial ardor as he approached more closely the end of his course. By his zeal, the remains of idolatry were extirpated in France. The Saint continued his labors for the conversion of sinners, the deliverance of prisoners, and the relief of the poor, until he was called to receive his reward at the age of eighty, on the 28th of May, 576.