Post by Elizabeth on Nov 14, 2019 15:39:15 GMT
Archbishop and Martyr
Archbishop and Martyr
Born in 1584 in Vladimir, a city of ancient Poland, Saint Josaphat was the son of Gabriel Kuncewicz. His was a family of honorable Christians of the Greco-Slavic rite, in use among the Russians. His mother took care to raise him in the fear of God, and in his tender heart formed the first longings for virtue. He was never in any way lightheaded, but separated willingly from the games of his companions to pray. He made excellent progress in his studies, always preferring the sacred branches to the profane, and for thirty years he recited each day, without ever failing even once to do so, a large section of the Divine Office which he learned by heart.
At twenty years of age Josaphat deplored the situation of religion in Poland. In 1596, the Ruthenian Church was divided into two contending parties — the Unionates and those who persevered in schism. He saw divisions growing in the Church, and that few were remaining faithful to the Holy See, to safeguard the true orthodoxy and their eastern rites. He studied philosophy and theology under two famous Jesuits, and decided to enter religious life. When his employer, who was childless and wished to keep him, offered him his commerce as his adopted son, he declined that offer without hesitating, and entered the Convent of the Trinity at Vilna, where Basilian religious submissive to the Holy See were residing. He received the religious habit and was professed in 1604.
Saint Josaphat was ordained a priest and began to preach in various churches of the city, bringing back many dissidents to the Union. He was invited also to preach and govern in various regions of the land; he accepted to become head of a monastery at Bytene. He restored there celebrated sanctuaries, built a convent, and converted, among others, one of the most zealous of the dissidents. In 1614 Josaphat's friend Joseph Routski became Archbishop of the city of Vilna, and recalled his holy former companion to that city, confiding the monastery of the Trinity to him. Saint Josaphat never made harsh reproaches, but corrections warmed by a wholly paternal affection. The conversion of the separated brethren continued through the preaching of the one called by the Uniates The Scourge of the Schismatics, whereas the latter called him The Ravisher of Souls.
He became the Archbishop of Polotsk in 1617 at the age of thirty-eight, on the very day when, six years later, he would earn the consecration of blood, November 12th. He restored five major cathedrals and several lesser ones; he aided the poor, stripping himself often of the most necessary objects or funds. He maintained total frugality in his residence; he recovered certain properties retained unjustly by powerful lords of the region, through his mildness of language in the lawcourts, to which he had recourse for that purpose. But he was soon to acquire, in a certain Melece Smotritski, a formidable enemy, who had himself consecrated, in Russia, Archbishop of the same city as Josaphat, with other aspirants to like authority. Despite the opposition of King Sigismond of Poland, who forbade all his subjects to have any communication with the usurper, the latter won adherents. The people of the city of Vitebsk, a little like those of Jerusalem, who in one week's time changed their hosanna's into tolle's, turned toward the newcomers in large numbers, and in an uprising succeeded in giving eighteen wounds to the head of the Archdeacon of the church, and leaving for dead another official, bathed in his blood.
When their Archbishop went there to calm the tumult in 1623, knowing well that his hour had come, in effect he was most cruelly assassinated and his body profaned; he was in his forty-fourth year. His mortal remains were recovered after five days from the waters of a river, and exposed for nine days, constantly emitting a fragrance of roses and lilies. A councillor of Polotsk, where the body was returned, abandoned the schism merely at the sight of the archbishop's beautiful countenance. Many of the parricides struck their breasts, and did likewise. The Archbishop had gone gladly to his death, offering his life that the schism might end; he had said as much beforehand. Four years after his death the author of the troubles, Smotritski, the false archbishop, after many combats made a decisive step and consecrated his life to penance, prayer and the defense of the Union. Such changes of heart are indeed the greatest of miracles, won by the sanctity of the true servants of God.
About five years after Saint Josaphat's martyrdom his body was found intact, though the clothing had rotted away. Again in 1637 it was still white and supple. A beautiful silver reliquary was made for it, with a life-size image of the reclining Saint surmounting it. The body was again exposed intact in 1767. It was eventually taken to the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. Pope Leo XIII canonized Saint Josaphat in 1867.
Saint Laurence O’Toole
Archbishop of Dublin, Martyr
Saint Laurence was the son of the king of Leinster in Ireland, born about the year 1125. His birth caused such great joy to his father, that in thanksgiving, to honor Christ, he pardoned a vassal who was an enemy and even chose him for sponsor of the child. They were stopped on the way to church by a man who was regarded as a prophet, and who told them in verse that the child would be magnificent on earth and glorious in heaven, and that his name must be Laurence. Though the king had decided otherwise, the infant was indeed given that name of predilection.
When only ten years old, his father delivered him up as a hostage to a rival prince who required this gage of his sincerity when there was a question of a treaty of peace, but who treated the child with great inhumanity, leaving him to suffer hunger and cold and other incommodities until his health was nearly ruined. His father, hearing of this, by menaces obliged the tyrant to put him temporarily in the hands of the Bishop of Glendenoch in the county of Wicklow. The holy youth was soon cured and, by his fidelity in corresponding with the divine grace, he grew to be a model of virtues. When his father came for him, he declared he desired to enter into the service of the Church and remain with the good bishop. To this his father willingly agreed.
On the death of the bishop, who was also Abbot of a monastery of the same city, Saint Laurence was chosen Abbot in 1150, though only twenty years old, and doubting his competence. Nonetheless he governed with a paternal spirit, employing all his revenues during a famine in the province, to procure food for the needy, remedies for the sick, and aid of all kinds for the unfortunate. Never did he use his revenues, even when prosperity returned, for anything but care of the poor, repairs for ruined or decrepit churches or the construction of new ones, and the foundation of hospitals. When the see of Glendenoch became vacant once more in 1161, it was Saint Laurence who was chosen to fill it; and although he could not resolve to accept that new dignity, he was obliged soon afterwards to become Archbishop of Dublin, and he was told that to refuse would be to resist the Will of God.
He established a regular life for the Canons of his cathedral, according to the example of Saint Augustine, and he himself followed all the rules with exactitude, sharing their table, their prayer and their silence. Each year he made a retreat of forty days in a cavern a few miles from the city, fasting on bread, water and vegetables. When he came forth afterwards he preached with so much zeal against the disorders of the province, that even hardened hearts could not resist the force of his words.
About the year 1171 Saint Laurence was obliged, for the affairs of his diocese, to go to England to see the king, Henry II, who was then at Canterbury. He was received by the Benedictine monks of Christ Church with the greatest honor and respect. On the following day, as the holy Archbishop was advancing to the altar to officiate, a maniac, who had heard much of his sanctity and who thought it would be a gift to the Church to make of him another martyr in the likeness of Saint Thomas Becket, struck him a violent blow on the head. All present concluded that he was mortally wounded; but the Saint recovered his senses and asked for some water, which he blessed. He then requested that the wound be washed with it, and the blood was immediately stanched; and the archbishop celebrated Mass. He obtained the offender's pardon from the king. His prayers brought about many miracles, including the return to their senses for those who had become alienated, a miracle rare in the history of religion. After he attended a General Council in Rome in 1179, the Pope made him his legate for all of Ireland, and he visited all its provinces to re-establish ecclesiastical discipline everywhere.
In 1175 Henry II of England became offended with Roderick, the monarch of Ireland, and Saint Laurence undertook another journey to England to negotiate a reconciliation between them. Henry was so moved by his piety, charity and prudence that he granted him everything he asked, and left the whole negotiation to his discretion. Saint Laurence died while still in France, in the city of Eu on the border of Normandy and Picardy. He was unable to make a testament, as this perfect Archbishop had given all he had, and literally had nothing to leave to others. He ended his journey here below on the 14th of November, 1180, and was buried in the church of the abbey at Eu.