Catholic News World
Sunday, June 14, 2015
Feast: June 15
|Born in 1579 of humble parents at Pibrac, a village about ten miles from Toulouse; died in her native place in 1601. From her birth she seemed marked out for suffering; she came into the world with a deformed hand and the disease ofscrofula, and, while yet an infant, lost her mother. Her father soon married again, but his second wife treated Germaine with much cruelty. Under pretence of saving the other children from the contagion of scrofula she persuaded the father to keep Germaine away from the homestead, and thus the child was employed almost from infancy as a shepherdess. When she returned at night, her bed was in the stable or on a litter of vine branches in a garret. In this hard school Germaine learned early to practise humility and patience. She was gifted with a marvellous sense of the presence of God and of spiritual things, so that her lonely life became to her a source of light and blessing. To poverty, bodily infirmity, the rigours of the seasons, the lack of affection from those in her own home, she added voluntary mortifications and austerities, making bread and water her daily food. Her love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and for His Virgin Mother presaged the saint. She assisted daily at the Holy Sacrifice; when the bell rang, she fixed her sheep-hook or distaff in the ground, and left her flocks to the care of Providence while she heard Mass. Although the pasture was on the border of a forest infested with wolves, no harm ever came to her flocks.|
She is said to have practised many austerities as a reparation for the sacrileges perpetrated by heretics in the neighbouring churches. She frequented the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, and it was observed that her piety increased on the approach of every feast of Our Lady. The Rosary was her only book, and her devotion to the Angelus was so great that she used to fall on her knees at the first sound of the bell, even though she heard it when crossing a stream. Whenever she could do so, she assembled the children of the village around her and sought to instil into their minds the love of Jesus and Mary. The villagers were inclined at first to treat her piety with mild derision, until certain signs of God's signal favour made her an object of reverence and awe. In repairing to the village church she had to cross a stream. The ford in winter, after heavy rains or the melting of snow, was at times impassable. On several occasions the swollen waters were seen to open and afford her a passage without wetting her garments.Notwithstanding her poverty she found means to help the poor by sharing with them her allowance of bread. Her father at last came to a sense of his duty, forbade her stepmother henceforth to treat her harshly, and wished to give her a place in the home with the other children, but she begged to be allowed to remain in thehumbler position. At this point, when men were beginning to realize the beauty of her life, God called her to Himself. One morning in the early summer of 1601, her father finding that she had not risen at the usual hour went to call her; he found her dead on her pallet of vine-twigs. She was then twenty-two years of age.
Her remains were buried in the parish church of Pibrac in front of the pulpit. In 1644, when the grave was opened to receive one of her relatives, the body of Germaine was discovered fresh and perfectly preserved, and miraculously raised almost to the level of the floor of the church. It was exposed for public view near the pulpit, until a noble lady, the wife of François de Beauregard, presented as a thanks-offering a casket of lead to hold the remains. She had been cured of a malignant and incurable ulcer in the breast, and her infant son whose life was despaired of was restored to health on her seeking the intercession of Germaine. This was the first of a long series of wonderful cures wrought at her relics. The leaden casket was placed in the sacristy, and in 1661 and 1700 the remains were viewed and found fresh and intact by the vicars-general of Toulouse, who have left testamentary depositions of the fact. Expert medical evidence deposed that the body had not been embalmed, and experimental tests showed that the preservation was not due to any property inherent in the soil. In 1700 a movement was begun to procure the beatification of Germaine, but it fell through owing to accidental causes. In 1793 the casket was desecrated by a revolutionary tinsmith, named Toulza, who with three accomplices took out the remains and buried them in the sacristy, throwing quick-lime and water on them. After the Revolution, her body was found to be still intact save where the quick-lime had done its work.
The private veneration of Germaine had continued from the original finding of the body in 1644, supported and encouraged by numerous cures and miracles. The cause of beatification was resumed in 1850. The documents attested more than 400 miracles or extraordinary graces, and thirty postulatory letters from archbishops and bishops in France besought the beatification from the Holy See. The miracles attested were cures of every kind (of blindness, congenital and resulting from disease, of hip and spinal disease), besides the multiplication of food for the distressed community of the Good Shepherd at Bourges in 1845. On 7 May, 1854, Pius IX proclaimed her beatification, and on 29 June, 1867, placed her on the canon of virgin saints. Her feast is kept in the Diocese of Toulouse on 15 June. She is represented in art with a shepherd's crook or with a distaff; with a watchdog, or a sheep; or with flowers in her apron.
Feast: June 15
|According to the legend, martyrs under Diocletian; feast, 15 June. The earliest testimony for their veneration is offered by the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" (ed. De Rossi-Duchesne, 78: "In Sicilia, Viti, Modesti et Crescentiae"). The fact that the note is in the three most important manuscripts proves that it was also in the common exemplar of these, which appeared in the fifth century. The same Martyrologium has under the same day another Vitus at the head of a list of nine martyrs, with the statement of the place, "In Lucania", that is, in the Roman province of that name in Southern Italy between the Tuscan Sea and the Gulf of Taranto. It is easily possible that the same martyr Vitus in both cases, because only the name of a territory is given, not of a city, as the place where the martyr was venerated. This testimony to the public veneration of the three saints in the fifth century proves positively that they are historical martyrs. There are, nevertheless, no historical accounts of them, nor of the time or the details of their martyrdom. During the sixth and seventh centuries a purely legendary narrative of their martyrdom appeared which was based upon other legends, especially on the legend of Poitus, and ornamented with accounts of fantastic miracles. It still exists in various versions, but has no historical value.|
According to this legend Vitus was a boy seven years of age (other versions make him twelve years old), the son of a pagan senator of Lucania. During the era of the Emperors Diocletian and Maximilian, his father sought in every way, including various forms of torture, to make him apostatize. But he remained steadfast, and God aided him in a wonderful manner. He fled with his tutor Modestus in a boat to Lucania. From Lucania he was taken to Rome to drive out a demon which had taken possession of a son of the Emperor Diocletian. This he did, and yet, because he remained steadfast in the Christian Faith, he was tortured together with his tutor Modestus and his nurse Crescentia. By a miracle an angel brought back the martyrs to Lucania, where they died from the tortures they had endured. Three days later Vitus appeared to a distinguished matron namedFlorentia, who then found the bodies and buried them in the spot where they were. It is evident that the author of the legend has connected in his invention three saints who apparently suffered death in Lucania, and were first venerated there. The veneration of the martyrs spread rapidly in Southern Italy and Sicily, as is shown by the note in the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum". Pope Gregory the Great mentions a monastery dedicated to Vitus in Sicily ("Epist.", I, xlviii, P.L., LXXXVII, 511). The veneration of Vitus, the chief saint of the group, also appeared very early at Rome. Pope Gelasius (492-496) mentions a shrine dedicated to him (Jaffé, "Reg. Rom. Pont.", 2nd ed., I, 6 79), and at Rome in the seventh century the chapel of a deaconry was dedicated to him ("Liber Pont.", ed. Duchesne, I, 470 sq.). In the eighth century it is said that relics of St. Vitus were brought to the monastery of St-Denis by Abbot Fulrad. They were later presented to Abbot Warin of Corvey in Germany, who solemnly transferred them to this abbey in 836. From Corvey the veneration of St. Vitus spread throughout Westphalia and in the districts of eastern and northern Germany. St. Vitus is appealed to, above all, against epilepsy, which is called St. Vitus's Dance, and he is one of the Fourteen Martyrs who give aid in times of trouble. He is represented near a kettle of boiling oil, because according to the legend he was thrown into such a kettle, but escaped miraculously. The feast of the three saints was adopted in the historical Martyrologies of the early Middle Ages and is also recorded in the present Roman Martyrology on 15 June.
St. Methodius I of Constantinople
PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE
Feast: June 14
|Patriarch of Constantinople (842-846), defender of images during the second Iconoclast persecutiaon, b. at Syracuse, towards the end of the eighth century; d. at Constantinople, 14 June, 846. The son of a rich family, he came, as a young man, to Constantinople intending to obtain a place at Court. But a monk persuaded him to change his mind and he entered a monastery. Under the Emperor Leo V (the Armenian, 813-820) the Iconoclast persecution broke out for the second time. The monks were nearly all staunch defenders of the images; Methodius stood by his order and distinguished himself by his opposition to the Government. In 815 the Patriarch Nicephorus I (806-815) was deposed and banished for his resistance to the Iconoclast laws; in his place Theodotus I (815-821) was intruded. In the same year Methodius went to Rome, apparently sent by the deposed patriarch, to report the matter to the pope (Paschal I, 817-824). He stayed in Rome till Leo V was murdered in 820 and succeeded by Michael II (820-829). Hoping for better things from the new emperor, Methodius then went back to Constantinople bearing a letter in which the pope tried to persuade Michael to change the policy of the Government and restore the Patriarch Nicephorus. But Michael only increased the fierceness of the persecution. As soon as Methodius had delivered his letter and exhorted the emperor to act according to it, he was severely scourged (with 70 stripes), taken to the island Antigoni in the Propontis, and there imprisoned in a disused tomb. The tomb must be conceived as a building of a certain size; Methodius lived seven years in it. In 828 Michael II, not long before his death, mitigated the persecution and proclaimed a general amnesty. Profiting by this, Methodius came out of his prison and returned to Constantinople almost worn out by his privations. His spirit was unbroken and he took up the defence of the holy images as zealously as before.|
Michael II was succeeded by his son Theophilus (829-842), who caused the last and fiercest persecution of image-worshippers. Methodius again withstood the emperor to his face, was again scourged and imprisoned under the palace. But the same night he escaped, helped by his friends in the city, who hid him in their house and bound up his wounds. For this theGovernment confiscated their property. But seeing that Methodius was not to be overcome by punishment, the emperor tried to convince him by argument. The result of their discussion was that Methodius to some extent persuaded the emperor. At any rate towards the end of the reign the persecution was mitigated. Theophilus died in 842 and at once the whole situation was changed. His wife, Theodora, became regent for her son Michael III (the Drunkard, 842-867). She had always been an image-worshipper in secret; now that she had the power she at once began to restore images, set free the confessors in prison and bring back everything to the conditions of the Second Nicene Council (787). The Patriarch of Constantinople, John VII (832-842), was an Iconoclast set up by the Government. As he persisted in his heresy he was deposed and Methodius was made patriarch in his place (842-846). Methodius then helped the empress-regent in her restoration. He summoned a synod at Constantinople (842) that approved of John VII's deposition and his own succession. It had no new laws to make about images. The decrees of Nicæa II that had received the assent of the pope and the whole Church as those of an Œcumenical Council were put in force again. On 19 Feb., 842, the images were brought in solemn procession back to the churches. This was the first "Feast of Orthodoxy", kept again in memory of that event on the first Sunday of Lent every year throughout the Byzantine Church. Methodius then proceeded to depose Iconoclast bishops throughout his patriarchate, replacing them by image-worshippers. In doing so he seems to have acted severely. An opposition formed itself against him that nearly became an organized schism. The patriarch was accused of rape; but the woman in question admitted on examination that she had been bought by his enemies.
On 13 March, 842, Methodius brought the relics of his predecessor Nlicephorus (who had died in exile) with great honour to Constantinople. They were exposed for a time in the church of the Holy Wisdom, then buried in that of the Apostles. Methodius was succeeded by Ignatius, under whom the great schism of Photius broke out. Methodius is a saint to Catholics and Orthodox. He is named in the Roman Martyrology (14 June), on which day the Byzantine Church keeps his feast together with that of the Prophet Eliseus. He is acclaimed with the other patriarchs, defenders of images, in the service of the feast of Orthodoxy: "To Germanus, Tarasius, Nicephorus and Methodius, true high priests of God and defenders and teachers of Orthodoxy, R. Eternal memory (thrice)." The Uniate Syrians have his feast on the same day. The Orthodox have a curious legend, that his prayers and those of Theodora saved Theophilus out of hell. It is told in the Synaxarion for the feast of Orthodoxy.
St. Methodius is reputed to have written many works. Of these only a few sermons and letters are extant (in Migne, P.G., C, 1272-1325). An account of the martyrdom of Denis the Areopagite by him is in Migne, P.G., IV, 669-682, two sermons on St. Nicholas in N. C. Falconius, "S. Nicolai acta primigenia" (Naples, 1751), 39-74.