Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Saint April 24 : St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen : Patron of Travelers


St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
MARTYR

Feast Day:
April 24
Born:
1577 at Sigmaringen, Hohenzollern, Germany
Died:
24 April 1622 at Grusch, Grisons, Switzerland
Canonized:
29 June 1746 by Pope Benedict XIV
Major Shrine:
Capuchin Convent of Weltkirchen (Feldkirch), Austria
PRAYER: Father, you filled Saint Fidelis with the fire of your love and gave him the privilege of dying that the faith might live. Let his prayers keep us firmly grounded in your love, and help us to come to know the power of Christ’s resurrection. Through Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Biography
He was born in 1577, at Sigmarengen, a town in Germany, in the principality of Hoinvenzollen. The name of his father was John Rey. The saint was christened Mark, performed his studies in the university of Fribourg in Switzerland, and while he taught philosophy, commenced doctor of laws. He at that time never drank wine, and wore a hair-shirt. His modesty, meekness, chastity, and all other virtues, charmed all that had the happiness of his acquaintance. In 1604, he accompanied three young gentlemen of that country on their travels through the principal parts of Europe. During six years, which he continued in this employment, he never ceased to instil into them the most heroic and tender sentiments of piety. He received the holy sacrament very frequently, particularly on all the principal holidays: in every town where he came, he visited the hospitals and churches, passed several hours on his knees in the presence of the blessed sacrament, and gave to the poor sometimes the very clothes off his back. After this he practiced the law in quality of counsellor or advocate, at Colmar, in Alsace, with great reputation, but with greater virtue. Justice and religion directed all his actions. He scrupulously forbore all invectives, detractions, and whatever might affect the reputation of any adversary. His charity procured him the surname of counsellor and advocate for the poor: but the injustices of a colleague in protracting lawsuits for gain, and his finding fault with our saint for producing all his proofs for his clients in the beginning, in order to the quicker dispatch, gave him a disgust of a profession which was to many an occasion of sin, and determined him to enter among the Capuchin friars. He first received holy orders, and having said his first mass in their convent at Fribourg, on the feast of St. Francis, in 1612, he consecrated himself to God by taking the habit. The guardian gave him, in religion, the name of Fidelis, or Faithful, alluding to that text of the Apocalypse which promises a crown of life to him who shall continue faithful to the end. From that moment humiliations, macerations, and implicit obedience were his delight. He overcame temptations by discovering them to his director, and submitting to his advice with regard to his conduct under them. By his last will, he bequeathed his patrimony to the bishop's seminary, for the establishment of a fund for the support of poor students, to whom he also left his library; and gave the remainder of his substance to the poor.
In regard to dress and furniture, he always chose that for his own use which was the least valuable and convenient. He fasted Advent, Lent, and Vigils, on bread and water, with dried fruits, tasting nothing which had been dressed by fire. His life was a continued prayer and recollection, and at his devotions he seemed rather like an angel than a man. His earnest and perpetual petition to God was, that he would always preserve him from sin, and from falling into tepidity or sloth in his service. He sought the most abject and most painful employments even when superior; knowing that God exalts those highest who have here humbled themselves the lowest and the nearest to their own nothingness. He had no sooner finished his course of theology, than he was employed in preaching and in hearing confessions; and being sent superior to the convent of Weltkirchen, that town and many neighboring places were totally reformed by his zealous labors, and several Calvinists converted. The congregation de propaganda fide, sent to father Fidelis a commission to go and  preach among the Grisons; and he was the first missionary that was sent into those parts after that people had embraced Calvinism. Eight other fathers of his order were his assistants, and labored in this mission under his direction. The Calvinists of that territory, being incensed at his attempt, loudly threatened his life, and he prepared himself for martyrdom on entering upon this new harvest. Ralph de Salis, and another Calvinist gentleman, were converted by his first conferences. The missionary penetrated into Pretigout, a small district of the Grisons, in 1622, on the feast of the Epiphany, and gained every day new conquests to Christ; the conversion of which souls ought to be regarded as more the fruit of the ardent prayers in which he passed great part of the nights, than of his sermons and conferences in the day. These wonderful effects of his apostolic zeal, whereof the bishop of Coire sent a large and full account to the congregation de propaganda, so enraged the Calvinists in that province, who had lately rebelled against the emperor. their sovereign, that they were determined to bear with them no longer. 'The holy father having notice of it, thought of nothing but preparing himself for his conflict, passing whole nights in fervent prayer before the blessed sacrament, or before his crucifix, and often prostrate on the ground. On the 24th of April, 1622, he made his confession to his companion with great compunction, said mass, and then preached at Gruch, a considerable borough. At the end of his sermon, which he delivered with more than ordinary fire, he stood silent on a sudden, with his eyes fixed on heaven, in an ecstasy, during some time. He foretold his death to several persons in the clearest terms, and subscribed his last letters in this manner: "Brother Fidelis, who will be shortly the food of worms." From Gruch he went to preach at Sevis, where, with great energy, he exhorted the Catholics to constancy in the faith. A Calvinist having discharged his musket at him in the church, the Catholics entreated him to leave the place. He answered, that death was his gain and his joy, and that he was ready to lay down his life in God's cause. On his road back to Gruch, he met twenty Calvinist soldiers with a minister at their head. They called him false prophet, and urged him to embrace their sect. He answered: "I am sent to you to confute, not to embrace your heresy. The Catholic religion is the faith of all ages, I fear not death." One of them beat him down to the ground by a stroke on the head with his backsword. The martyr rose again on his knees, and stretching out his arms in the form of a cross, said with a feeble voice "Pardon my enemies, O Lord: blinded by passion they know not what they do. Lord Jesus, have pity on me. Mary, mother of Jesus, assist me." Another stroke clove his skull, and he fell to the ground and lay wetering in his blood. The soldiers, not content with this, added many stabs in his body, and hacked his left leg, as they said, to punish him for his many journeys into those parts to preach to them. A Catholic woman lay concealed near the place during this butchery; and after the soldiers were gone, coming out to see the effects of it, found the martyr's eyes open, and fixed on the heavens. He died in 1622, the forty-fifth year of his age, and the tenth of his religious profession. He was buried by the Catholics the next day. The rebels were soon after defeated by the imperialists, an event which the martyr had foretold them. The minister was converted by this circumstance, and made a public abjuration of his heresy. After six months, the martyr's body was found incorrupt, but the head and left arm separate from the trunk. These being put into two cases, were translated from thence to the cathedral of Coire, at the earnest suit of the bishop, and laid under the high altar with great pomp; the remainder of the corpse was deposited in the Capuchin's church at Weltkirchen. Three miracles performed by his relics and intercession, out of three hundred and five produced, are inserted in the decree of his beatification, published by pope Benedict XIII., in 1729. Other miracles were proved, and the decree of his canonization was published by Benedict XIV., in 1746. The 24th of April is appointed the day of his festival, and his name is inserted in the Roman Martyrology. See the acts of his canonization: also his life, written by Dom. Placid, abbot of Weissenau, or Augia Brigantina, published by Dom. Bernard Pez, librarian in the famous abbey of Melch, in Austria, in his Bibliotheca Ascetica, t. 10, p. 403.
To contribute to the conversion of a soul from sin is something far more excellent than to raise a dead body to life. This must soon fall again a prey to death; and only recovers by such a miracle the enjoyment of the frail and empty goods of this world. But the soul which, from the death of sin, is raised to the life of grace, is immortal, and, from a slave of the devil and a firebrand of hell, passes to the inestimable dignity and privileges of a child of' God; by which divine adoption she is rescued out of the abyss of infinite misery, and exalted to the most sublime state of glory and happiness, in which all the treasures of grace and of heaven are her portion forever. Hunger, thirst, watchings, labors, and a thousand martyrdoms, ought to seem nothing to one employed in the sacred ministry, with the hopes of gaining but  one sinner to Christ. Moreover, God himself will be his recompense, who is witness, and keeps a faithful account of all his fatigues and least sufferings.
Biography source: Lives of the Saints by Alban Butler 

Wow Pope Francis Donates 6000 Rosaries to Youth on his Name Day the Feast of St. George


On feast of St George, Pope gives Rosaries to young people
On his Name Day, Pope Francis donated — through the Office of Papal Charities — six thousand Rosaries from World Youth Day to young people from the Archdiocese of Milan. The youth were taking part in a Mass celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica on Tuesday by Milan’s Archbishop, Mario Delpini.
Report By Vatican News

Pope Francis, baptized Jorge (George) Mario Bergoglio, celebrates his Name Day on April 23, the feast of St George the Martyr. It is traditional in some parts of the world for people to celebrate in a special way the feasts of the saints for whom they are named.

The Rosaries donated to the young pilgrims were made with olive wood from the Holy Land specifically for the most recent World Youth Day, which took place in Panama in January; and for Youth Day at the Diocesan level on Palm Sunday. Caritas Jerusalem organized the production of the Rosaries, which gave work to the poor, to refugees, and to families of prisoners.

On Wednesday morning, the young people from Milan — who are participating in the Archdiocesan pastoral year dedicated to the theme, “They go from strength to strength” (“Cresce lungo il cammino il suo vigore”, Ps 84:8) — will be present for the General Audience with Pope Francis.

In a note, the Director ad interim of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti said that, “accompanying [the Pope’s] gesture, the Holy Father asked the young people to remember him in a special way in their prayer, particularly by entrusting him to the Virgin Mary just a few days before the month of May” which is dedicated to the Mother of God.
FULL TEXT Release from Vatican News va

#BreakingNews Death Toll at 321 Killed in Sri Lanka as ISIS claims Responsibility in Retaliation for New Zealand - Please Pray



The bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday 2019 have claimed 321 lives. A report has indicated that the terrorist group ISIS has claimed responsibility in retaliation for the attack against a mosque in New Zealand.
The country of Sri Lanka held a national day of mourning with the first set of burials taking place.
 A moment of silence and memorial services took place on Tuesday, April 23, 2019.
The Islamic State (ISIS) used it's Amaq news agency to report its claim.
The Sri Lankan prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said all those arrested (40 people) so far are Sri Lankan nationals.
The death toll climbed to 321 people with 500 injured– including 38 foreigners.
An relative of the Bangladeshi prime minister is among the 45 children that died in the attack.

“The total now is 45 children who died,” UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac said in Geneva, Boulierac also said that others “are wounded and are now fighting for their lives.”

All over the world flags were flown at half mast in honour of Sri Lanka victims.
The lights of the Eiffel Tower, in France, were dimmed as a mark of respect to victims.

Another Fire Intentionally Set in Confessional of Notre-Dame de Grâce Church in France on Easter Sunday


On Easter Sunday afternoon another fire was intentionally set in a beautiful historic Catholic church in France. Police confirmed that the fire in Notre-Dame de Grâce Church appears to have been intentionally set.
The fire was started in a large, wooden confessional in the town of Eyguières, in southern France.

“Flames several meters high were coming out of the church,” according to mayor Henri Pons.
(You can listen the witness of the Mayor below in French)

There is much damage including an area of some 20 square meters in the church which was destroyed.
However, Joel Jouve, who lives near the church  “used fire extinguishers from the village movie theater and courageously entered the church while waiting for firefighters to arrive.”  He was also able to find two holy water fonts, that he emptied onto the fire.

“If this brave citizen, a former top sportsman, had not intervened, the church would probably have burned to the ground,” the mayor explained. “It was Easter Sunday and there was almost nobody in the village.”

Father Christophe Nowak. “They are in shock and messages of support have been arriving.”

Over 800 churches were attacked across France over the last year. Please pray for the people in France.

Edited from France Bleu - Breitbart 


How Long is Easter? A Great 50 Days! - Q and A about #Easter and Pentecost to Share!


The Easter Vigil is the "Mother of All Vigils."Easter Sunday, then, is the greatest of all Sundays, and Easter Time is the most important of all liturgical times.Easter is the celebration of the Lord's resurrection from the dead, culminating in his Ascension to the Father and sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Church.There are 50 days of Easter from the first Sunday to Pentecost.It is characterized, above all, by the joy of glorified life and the victory over death, expressed most fully in the great resounding cry of the Christian:Alleluia! (IMAGE SHARE GOOGLE)
All faith flows from faith in the resurrection:"If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, is your faith." (1 Cor 15:14)

"What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind;…So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one. So, too, it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living being," the last Adam a life-giving spirit. But the spiritual was not first; rather the natural and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven. As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one (1 Cor 15:36-37, 42-49)..
Easter culminates in Pentecost, wherein the gift of the Spirit brings Christ's victory to the members of his Body, the Church.With the gift of the Spirit, we begin, already now, to share in Christ's rising from the dead.It is this faith which brings peace and hope to troubled hearts in a troubled world.The faith of Easter does not mean there will no longer be evils in this world, but rather that the evils of this world are no longer the final word.Suffering has not been removed, but filled with the presence of the Lord, who inspires hope, endurance and above all, love.
The octave of Easter comprises the eight days which stretch from the first to the second Sunday.It is a way of prolonging the joy of the initial day.In a sense, every day of the Octave is like a little Sunday.
The word "Easter" comes from Old English, meaning simply the "East."The sun which rises in the East, bringing light, warmth and hope, is a symbol for the Christian of the rising Christ, who is the true Light of the world.The Paschal Candle is a central symbol of this divine light, which is Christ.It is kept near the ambo throughout Easter Time, and lit for all liturgical celebrations.

Liturgical Notes for Easter

From Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar:
22. The fifty days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated in joy and exultation as one feast day, indeed as one "great Sunday." These are the days above all others in which the Alleluia is sung.
23. The Sundays of this time of year are considered to be Sundays of Easter and are called, after Easter Sunday itself, the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Sundays of Easter. This sacred period of fifty days concludes with Pentecost Sunday.
24. The first eight days of Easter Time constitute the Octave of Easter and are celebrated as Solemnities of the Lord.
25. On the fortieth day after Easter the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated, except where, not being observed as a Holyday of Obligation, it has been assigned to the Seventh Sunday of Easter (cf. no. 7).
26. The weekdays from the Ascension up to and including the Saturday before Pentecost prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
The liturgical color for Easter is white.  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal(no. 346) also states: "On more solemn days, festive, that is, more precious, sacred vestments may be used even if not of the color of the day. The colors gold or silver may be worn on more solemn occasions in the Dioceses of the United States of America."
Especially during Easter Time, instead of the customary Penitential Act, the blessing and sprinkling of water may take place as a reminder of Baptism.
There are six metropolitan sees and their suffragan Dioceses which maintain the Solemnity of the Ascension on Thursday:Boston, Hartford, Newark, New York, Omaha, and Philadelphia.Every other region of the United States has opted to transfer the Solemnity to the following Sunday (the Seventh Sunday of Easter). Text Source USCCB

BREAKING St. Anthony's Catholic Church Vandalized in Maui - Priest says he Forgives the Perpetrator


St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Maui was vandalized after Easter.

On Easter Monday women arriving at the Chapel of Saint Damien for morning mass discovered the damage.


“When I entered the chapel, it was devastated,” he said. “We have a big picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe torn down. The relic of St. Anthony was covered, and the candles... everything was trashed.” He also explained that, "....the little infant Jesus, they cut off the fingers and the hand."


The crucifix of the chapel was desecrated.

“We had mass in the morning, but we didn’t have a 5 p.m. mass, and we usually close it after. So somehow we forgot to close the chapel,” said Bunda.
Three weeks ago, a person also broke into the rectory at the church and vandalized other areas.

Maui Police opened a burglary investigation.

Father Bunda said he forgives the perpetrator and thinks it is still important to keep the chapel open to everyone.

Archbishop Fisher's Powerful Easter Message "Sometimes it’s hard to be a Catholic, to hear Jesus’ words to us today..." FULL Text


The high points of my day are my Mass, Divine Office and Rosary, when I spend time with Our Lord, opening my heart and mind to Him, listening, asking, thanking, adoring. This relationship with God is, I hope, the foundation of my every word and deed.

Yet I won’t pretend prayer is always easy. Or the rest of the Christian life. Sometimes it’s hard to be a Catholic, to hear Jesus’ words to us today, to walk with Him on His road to Gethsemane, to join Him as He is tested by suffering and humbled in the fire of humiliation.

Easter is confronting. The Cross tells the story of suffering humanity. The Tomb the story of all we have loved and lost.

Still, we hope. From cross and tomb we dream of heaven. After a long Lent we cry out for Easter. After interminable darkness we crave the light.

And light there is! Every day, millions of Australians encounter Christ and the Church in the worship and pastoral care of our parishes; in the teaching and learning in Catholic schools and universities; in the care delivered in Catholic hospitals, aged-care homes and hospices; in our campaigns on behalf of indigenous, refugees, and the victims of modern slavery; in the work of CatholicCare and St Vincent de Paul helping the needy; in our support for the homeless in communities such as David’s Place…

All these are works of Easter, of raising people up out of their tomb and gloom. All are professions of faith, in the human person made for greatness, and in the God who saves them. All are professions of hope, that ours can be a community of reverence and care. All are declarations of love, especially for the weak and powerless.

Easter is for them all, and for each of us, as Christ raises us from our graves with Himself.

By these works of mercy, more than our words, will people judge whether we are serious, whether we really believe in the resurrection, whether Easter is for us and for them.

God bless you at Easter.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher, OP
FULL TEXT Easter Message of Archbishop of Sydney, Australia - Source: sydneycatholic.org

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - #Eucharist in the Octave of Easter


Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
Lectionary: 262

Reading 1ACTS 2:36-41

On the day of Pentecost, Peter said to the Jewish people,
“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
that God has made him both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other Apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter said to them,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is made to you and to your children
and to all those far off,
whomever the Lord our God will call.”
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them,
“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand persons were added that day.

Responsorial PsalmPS 33:4-5, 18-19, 20 AND 22

R.(5b) The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaPS 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”
which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,
for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.’”
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.

Saint April 23 : St. George - Patron of Soldiers, Skin Diseases, Shepherds, and #Equestrians



Patron of:
agricultural workers; Amersfoort, Netherlands; Aragon; archers; armourers; Beirut, Lebanon; Bulgaria; butchers; Cappadocia; Catalonia; cavalry; chivalry; Constantinople; Corinthians; Crusaders; England; equestrians; Ethiopia; farmers; Ferrara; field workers; Genoa; Georgia; Gozo; Greece; Haldern, Germany; Heide; herpes; horsemen; horses; husbandmen; knights; lepers and leprosy; Lithuania; Lod; Malta; Modica, Sicily; Moscow; Order of the Garter; Palestine; Palestinian Christians; Piran; plague; Portugal; Portuguese Army; Portuguese Navy; Ptuj, Slovenia; Reggio Calabria; riders; saddle makers; Scouts; sheep; shepherds; skin diseases; soldiers; syphilis; Teutonic Knights

Born:
between ca. AD 275 and 281, Nicomedia, Bithynia, modern-day northwestern Turkey
Died:
April 23, 303, Lydda, Palestine
A Prayer to St George, for Intercession
 Almighty and eternal God! With lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of Saint George and following his example imitate, like him, the life of Thy divine Son. Moreover, I beseech Thee to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful Helper, the petition which through him I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saving, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul. Amen.

Biography: Martyr, patron of England, suffered at or near Lydda, also known as Diospolis, in Palestine, probably before the time of Constantine. According to the very careful investigation of the whole question recently instituted by Father Delehaye, the Bollandist, in the light of modern sources of information, the above statement sums up all that can safely be affirmed about St. George, despite his early cultus and pre-eminent renown both in East and West (see Delehaye, "Saints Militaires", 1909, pp. 45-76). Earlier studies of the subject have generally been based upon an attempt to determine which of the various sets of legendary "Acts" was most likely to preserve traces of a primitive and authentic record. Delehaye rightly points out that the earliest narrative known to us, even though fragments of it may be read in a palimpsest of the fifth century, is full beyond belief of extravagances and of quite incredible marvels. Three times is George put to death—chopped into small pieces, buried deep in the earth and consumed by fire—but each time he is resuscitated by the power of God. Besides this we have dead men brought to life to be baptized, wholesale conversions, including that of "the Empress Alexandra", armies and idols destroyed instantaneously, beams of timber suddenly bursting into leaf, and finally milk flowing instead of blood from the martyr's severed head. There is, it is true, a mitigated form of the story, which the older Bollandists have in a measure taken under their protection (see Act. SS., 23 Ap., no. 159). But even this abounds both in marvels and in historical contradictions, while modern critics, like Amelineau and Delehaye, though approaching the question from very different standpoints, are agreed in thinking that this mitigated version has been derived from the more extravagant by a process of elimination and rationalization, not vice versa. Remembering the unscrupulous freedom with which any wild story, even when pagan in origin, was appropriated by the early hagiographers to the honour of a popular saint (see, for example, the case of St. Procopius as detailed in Delehaye, "Legends", ch. v) we are fairly safe in assuming that the Acts of St. George, though ancient in date and preserved to us (with endless variations) in many different languages, afford absolutely no indication at all for arriving at the saint's authentic history. This, however, by no means implies that the martyr St. George never existed. An ancient cultus, going back to a very early epoch and connected with a definite locality, in itself constitutes a strong historical argument. Such we have in the case of St. George. The narratives of the early pilgrims, Theodosius, Antoninus, and Arculphus, from the sixth to the eighth century, all speak of Lydda or Diospolis as the seat of the veneration of St. George, and as the resting-place of his remains (Geyer, "Itinera Hierosol.", 139, 176, 288). The early date of the dedications to the saint is attested by existing inscriptions of ruined churches in Syria, Mesopotamia, and Egypt, and the church of St. George at Thessalonica is also considered by some authorities to belong to the fourth century. Further the famous decree "De Libris recipiendis", attributed to Pope Gelasius in 495, attests that certain apocryphal Acts of St. George were already in existence, but includes him among those saints "whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose actions are only known to God".
There seems, therefore, no ground for doubting the historical existence of St. George, even though he is not commemorated in the Syrian, or in the primitive Hieronymian Martyrologium, but no faith can be placed in the attempts that have been made to fill up any of the details of his history. For example, it is now generally admitted that St. George cannot safely be identified by the nameless martyr spoken of by Eusebius (Church History VIII.5), who tore down Diocletian's edict of persecution at Nicomedia. The version of the legend in which Diocletian appears as persecutor is not primitive. Diocletian is only a rationalized form of the name Dadianus. Moreover, the connection of the saint's name with Nicomedia is inconsistent with the early cultus at Diospolis.
Still less is St. George to be considered, as suggested by Gibbon, Vetter, and others, a legendary double of the disreputable bishop, George of Cappadocia, the Arian opponent of St. Athanasius. "This odious stranger", says Gibbon, in a famous passage, "disguising every circumstance of time and place, assumed the mask of a martyr, a saint, and a Christian hero, and the infamous George of Cappadocia has been transformed into the renowned St. George of England, the patron of arms, of chivalry, and of the Garter." "But this theory, says Professor Bury, Gibbon's latest editor, "has nothing to be said for it." The cultus of St. George is too ancient to allow of such an identification, though it is not improbable that the apocryphal Acts have borrowed some incidents from the story of the Arian bishop. Again, as Bury points out, "the connection of St. George with a dragon-slaying legend does not relegate him to the region of the myth, for over against the fabulous Christian dragon-slayer Theodore of the Bithynian Heraclaea, we can set Agapetus of Synnada and Arsacius, who though celebrated as dragon-slayers, were historical persons". This episode of the dragon is in fact a very late development, which cannot be traced further back than the twelfth or thirteenth century. It is found in the Golden Legend (Historia Lombardic of James de Voragine and to this circumstance it probably owes its wide diffusion. It may have been derived from an allegorization of the tyrant Diocletian or Dadianus, who is sometimes called a dragon (ho bythios drakon) in the older text, but despite the researches of Vetter (Reinbot von Durne, pp.lxxv-cix) the origin of the dragon story remains very obscure. In any case the late occurrence of this development refutes the attempts made to derive it from pagan sources. Hence it is certainly not true, as stated by Hartland, that in George's person "the Church has converted and baptized the pagan hero Perseus" (The Legend of Perseus, iii, 38). In the East, St. George (ho megalomartyr), has from the beginning been classed among the greatest of the martyrs. In the West also his cultus is very early. Apart from the ancient origin of St. George in Velabro at Rome, Clovis (c. 512) built a monastery at Baralle in his honour (Kurth, Clovis, II, 177). Arculphus and Adamnan probably made him well known in Britain early in the eighth century. His Acts were translated into Anglo-Saxon, and English churches were dedicated to him before the Norman Conquest, for example one at Doncaster, in 1061. The crusades no doubt added to his popularity. William of Malmesbury tells us that Saints George and Demetrius, "the martyr knights", were seen assisting the Franks at the battle of Antioch, 1098 (Gesta Regum, II, 420). It is conjectured, but not proved, that the "arms of St. George" (argent, a cross, gules) were introduced about the time of Richard Coeur de Lion. What is certain is that in 1284 in the official seal of Lyme Regis a ship is represented with a plain flag bearing a cross. The large red St. George's cross on a white ground remains still the "white ensign" of the British Navy and it is also one of the elements which go to make up the Union Jack. Anyway, in the fourteenth century, "St. George's arms" became a sort of uniform for English soldiers and sailors. We find, for example, in the wardrobe accounts of 1345-49, at the time of the battle of Crecy, that a charge is made for 86 penoncells of the arms of St. George intended for the king's ship, and for 800 others for the men-at-arms (Archaeologia, XXXI, 119). A little later, in the Ordinances of Richard II to the English army invading Scotland, every man is ordered to wear "a signe of the arms of St. George" both before and behind, while the pain of death is threatened against any of the enemy's soldiers "who do bear the same crosse or token of Saint George, even if they be prisoners". Somewhat earlier than this Edward III had founded (c. 1347) the Order of the Garter, an order of knighthood of which St. George was the principal patron. The chapel dedicated to St. George in Windsor Caste was built to be the official sanctuary of the order, and a badge or jewel of St. George slaying the dragon was adopted as part of the insignia. In this way the cross of St. George has in a manner become identified with the idea of knighthood, and even in Elizabeth's days, Spenser, at the beginning of his Faerie Queene, tells us of his hero, the Red Cross Knight:
But on his breast a bloody Cross he bore,
The dear remembrance of his dying Lord, For whose sweet sake that glorious badge we wore And dead (as living) ever he adored.
We are told also that the hero thought continually of wreaking vengeance:
Upon his foe, a dragon horrible and stern.
Ecclesiastically speaking, St. George's day, 23 April, was ordered to be kept as a lesser holiday as early as 1222, in the national synod of Oxford. In 1415, the Constitution of Archbishop Chichele raised St. George's day to the rank of one of the greatest feasts and ordered it to be observed like Christmas day. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries St. George's day remained a holiday of obligation for English Catholics. Since 1778, it has been kept, like many of these older holidays, as a simple feast of devotion, though it ranks liturgically as a double of the first class with an octave.
Saint George and the dragon
The best known form of the legend of St. George and the Dragon is that made popular by the "Legenda Aurea", and translated into English by Caxton. According to this, a terrible dragon had ravaged all the country round a city of Libya, called Selena, making its lair in a marshy swamp. Its breath caused pestilence whenever it approached the town, so the people gave the monster two sheep every day to satisfy its hunger, but, when the sheep failed, a human victim was necessary and lots were drawn to determine the victim. On one occasion the lot fell to the king's little daughter. The king offered all his wealth to purchase a substitute, but the people had pledged themselves that no substitutes should be allowed, and so the maiden, dressed as a bride, was led to the marsh. There St. George chanced to ride by, and asked the maiden what she did, but she bade him leave her lest he also might perish. The good knight stayed, however, and, when the dragon appeared, St. George, making the sign of the cross, bravely attacked it and transfixed it with his lance. Then asking the maiden for her girdle (an incident in the story which may possibly have something to do with St. George's selection as patron of the Order of the Garter), he bound it round the neck of the monster, and thereupon the princess was able to lead it like a lamb. They then returned to the city, where St. George bade the people have no fear but only be baptized, after which he cut off the dragon's head and the townsfolk were all converted. The king would have given George half his kingdom, but the saint replied that he must ride on, bidding the king meanwhile take good care of God's churches, honour the clergy, and have pity on the poor. The earliest reference to any such episode in art is probably to be found in an old Roman tombstone at Conisborough in Yorkshire, considered to belong to the first half of the twelfth century. Here the princess is depicted as already in the dragon's clutches, while an abbot stands by and blesses the rescuer. (The Catholic Encyclopedia)

Saint April 23 : St. Adalbert of Prague - Patron of Poland and Bohemia


BISHOP AND MARTYR
Feast Day:
April 23
Born:
939, Libice nad Cidlinou, Bohemia
Died:
997, Truso (Elbląg) or Kaliningrad Oblast
Patron of:
Bohemia; Poland; Prussia
Born 939 of a noble Bohemian family; died 997. He assumed the name of the Archbishop Adalbert (his name had been Wojtech), under whom he studied at Magdeburg. He became Bishop of Prague, whence he was obliged to flee on account of the enmity he had aroused by his efforts to reform the clergy of his diocese. He betook himself to Rome, and when released by Pope John XV from his episcopal obligations, withdrew to a monastery and occupied himself in the most humble duties of the house. Recalled by his people, who received him with great demonstrations of joy, he was nevertheless expelled a second time and returned to Rome. The people of Hungary were just then turning towards Christianity. Adalbert went among them as a missionary, and probably baptized King Geysa and his family, and King Stephen. He afterwards evangelized the Poles, and was made Archbishop of Gnesen. But he again relinquished his see, and set out to preach to the idolatrous inhabitants of what is now the Kingdom of Prussia. Success attended his efforts at first, but his imperious manner in commanding them to abandon paganism irritated them, and at the instigation of one of the pagan priests he was killed. This was in the year 997. His feast is celebrated 23 April, and he is called the Apostle of Prussia. Boleslas I, Prince of Poland, is said to have ransomed his body for an equivalent weight of gold. He is thought to be the author of the war-song, "Boga-Rodzica", which the Poles used to sing when going to battle. (The Catholic Encyclopedia