Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Vatican City, 7 November 2012 (VIS) - Benedict XVI, through the apostolic nunciature in Washington, U.S.A., has sent a message to Barack Obama, congratulating him on his re-election as president of the United States of America.
In his message the Holy Father expresses his best wishes to the president on his new mandate, and gives assurances of his prayers to God to help him carry out his serious responsibilities, both in his own country and within the international community. The Pope also speaks of his hope that the ideals of freedom and justice, which guided the founding fathers of the Unites States of America, may continue to shine out as the nation progresses.
Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. also made a brief comment on the re-election of President Obama. "As we all know", he said, "the U.S. president has an immense responsibility, not only in his own country but also towards the rest of the world, given the role the U.S.A. plays at an international level".
"For this reason we hope that President Obama will respond to his fellow citizens' expectations, serving law and justice for the good and development of all people, and respecting essential human and spiritual values while promoting a culture of life and religious freedom".

MAN IS A SEEKER OF THE ABSOLUTE Vatican City, 7 November 2012 (VIS) - In his general audience today Benedict XVI, continuing a series of catecheses on the subject of Catholic faith,Dear brothers and sisters,

The journey of reflection that we are making together this Year of Faith leads us to meditate today on a fascinating aspect of the Human and Christian experience: man carries within himself a mysterious desire for God. In a very significant way, the Catechism of the Catholic Church opens with the following consideration: “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for"(No. 27).

Such a statement, which even today in many cultural contexts seems quite acceptable, almost obvious, might instead appear as a provocation in the sphere of secularized Western culture. Many of our contemporaries could, in fact, argue that they do not feel such a desire for God at all. For large sectors of society He is no longer desired, expected, but rather a reality that leaves some indifferent and not even worth wasting one’s breath over. Actually, what we have defined as "desire for God” has not completely disappeared and still today, in many ways, appears in the heart of man. Human desire always tends towards certain tangible assets, which are often far from spiritual, and yet it is still faced with the question of what “the” good really is and as a result confront itself with something other than itself, something that man cannot create, but is called upon to recognize. What can really satisfy man’s desire?
In my first encyclical, Deus caritas est, I tried to analyze how such dynamism is experienced in human love, an experience which in our era is more easily perceived as a moment of ecstasy, of going beyond oneself, as a place where man senses that he is being filled with a desire that is beyond him. Through love, men and women experience in a new way, thanks to one another, the grandeur and beauty of life and of reality. If what I experience is not a mere illusion, if I really want the good of the other as a path towards my own good, then I must be willing to de-centralize myself, to put myself at the service of the other to the point of surrendering myself. The answer to the question about the meaning of the experience of love thus passes through the cleansing and healing of the will, which is required by the very good we want for the other. We have to practise, train and even correct ourselves so that that good may be truly wanted.

The initial ecstasy translates thus becomes a pilgrimage, «an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God» (Enc. Deus caritas est, 6). Through this journey man will gradually deepen his knowledge of that love which he initially experienced. And the mystery which it represents will increasingly come to the fore: not even the beloved, in fact, is able to satiate the desire that dwells in the human heart, indeed, the more authentic the love for each other is, the more the question of its origin, its destiny and its chances of lasting forever emerges. Therefore, the human experience of love has a dynamism that draws us beyond ourselves, it is an experience of a good that leads us beyond ourselves faces us with the mystery that surrounds all existence.

Similar considerations also could also be made about other human experiences, such as friendship, the experience of beauty, love of knowledge: all that is good and experienced by man is projected toward the mystery that surrounds man himself; every wish that arises in the human heart is echoed by a fundamental desire that is never fully satisfied. Certainly from that deep desire, which also hides something enigmatic, one cannot arrive straight to faith. Man, after all, knows what does not satisfy, but can't imagine or define that which would make him experience the happiness that hi heart longs for. One cannot know God, beginning simple with man’s desire. From this point of view the mystery remains: the man seeks the Absolute, in small and uncertain steps. And yet, the experience of desire, of the ' restless heart ' as St. Augustine termed it, is very significant. It proves that man is, deep down, a religious being (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 28), a "beggar of God». We can say with the words of Pascal: "man infinitely surpasses man” (Thoughts,. Chevalier 438; ed. Brunschvicg 434). The eyes recognize objects when they are illuminated by light. Hence the desire to know the light itself, which makes the things of the world shine and thus illuminate the sense of beauty.

We therefore must believe that even in our era, seemingly reluctant to the transcendent dimension, that it is possible to open a path toward an authentic religious meaning of life, showing how the gift of faith is not absurd, it is not irrational. It would be of great use, for that purpose, to promote a pedagogy of desire, both for the journey of those who still do not believe and for those who have already received the gift of faith. A pedagogy that includes at least two aspects. First, learning or relearning an authentic taste for the joys of life. Not every satisfactions produces the same effect in us: some leave a positive trace, are able to pacify the soul, make us more active and generous. Others, after an initial light, seem to disappoint the expectations that they had aroused and sometimes leave behind bitterness, dissatisfaction or a sense of emptiness. Educating from people from their childhood to savour the true joys, in all spheres of life – family, friendship, solidarity with those who suffer, renouncing of oneself to serve others, love for knowledge, for art, for the beauty of nature – this means exercising the inner taste and producing effective antibodies against today’s widespread trivialization and banalization. Adults also need to rediscover these joys, to desire authentic realities, purifying themselves of the mediocrity which may have become involved in. In this way it becomes then easier to leave aside or reject all that while seemingly attractive, turns out to be rather tasteless, a source of addiction, not freedom. And this fosters that desire of God that we're talking about.

A second aspect, which goes hand in hand with the former, is never settling for what has been achieved. The truest joys are able to free in us that healthy restlessness that leads us to be more demanding – to want a higher, deeper good – and also to perceive with increasing clarity that nothing finite can ever fill our hearts. In this way we will learn to reach out, unarmed, towards that good that we cannot build or provide ourselves with by our strengths; to not be discouraged by fatigue or by obstacles born of our sins.

In this regard, we must not forget that the dynamism of desire is always open to redemption. Even when it takes a wrong turn, chasing artificial paradises and seems to lose the ability to yearn for true good. Even in the abyss of sin that spark is still alive in human hearts that enables man to recognize the true good, to savour it, and set out again on the upward climb, on which God, with the gift of His grace, never fails to help. All of us need to tread a path of purification and healing of desire. We are pilgrims on the journey toward our Heavenly homeland, towards that full, eternal good, that nothing can every take from us. It is not a question of suffocating the desire that is in the human heart, but of freeing it, so that it can reach its true height. When desire is open to God, this is already a sign of the presence of faith in the soul, faith that is a grace of God.

In this pilgrimage, all are our brethren, our fellow travellers, even those who do not believe, those who are seeking, those who sincerely question the dynamism of their desire for truth and good. Let us pray, in this Year of faith, that God may shows His face to all who seek him with a sincere heart.

Vatican City, 7 November 2012 (VIS) - On the occasion of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, at 11 a.m. on Monday 12 November Benedict XVI will visit the Sant'Egidio Community's "Viva gli Anziani" home for the elderly in Rome.

Vatican City, 7 November 2012 (VIS) - Francesco De Pasquale, director of the Financial Information Authority (AIF) since June 2011, has been appointed to the board of the AIF. He is succeeded by Rene Bruelhart, former director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Liechtenstein.
Francesco De Pasquale, who has extensive experience at the "Ufficio Italiano Cambi" and the Bank of Italy and has been Director of the AIF since June 2011, has been named a member of the board of AIF, which in addition to the president, Cardinal Attilio Nicora, includes Prof. Condemi, Prof. Dalla Torre, Prof. Bianchi and Dr. Testa.
Cardinal Nicora has named Rene Bruelhart to succeed De Pasquale. Bruelhart, former director of the FIU of Liechtenstein and Vice-President of the Egmont Group, the international network of FIUs, has been an adviser to the Holy See and Vatican City since September in matters relating to action against money laundering and financing of terrorism.
With the promotion of De Pasquale to the Board of Directors and the nomination of Bruelhart to Director, AIF has strengthened its internal organisation. This represents one more step in the effort to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Vatican City, 7 November 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Vatican City, 7 November 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:
- Bishop Jorge Alves Bezerra S.S.S. of Jardim, Brazil, as bishop of Paracatu (area 54,387, population 332,000, Catholics 259,000, priests 44, permanent deacons 13, religious 13), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Leonardo de Miranda Pereira, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Msgr. Eraldo Bispo da Silva, vicar general of Barreiras, as bishop of Patos (area 10,874, population 402,000, Catholics 368,000, priests 49, permanent deacons 8, religious 42), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Monteiro, Brazil in 1966 and ordained a priest in 1993. He studied in Brazil and Colombia and has been active in pastoral care in several different parishes.
- As ordinary members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: Vanderlei Salvador Bagnato, professor of physics at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Joachim von Braun, professor of economics and technological innovation, and director of the Research Development Centre at the University of Bonn, Germany.


  Philippians 2:
12 - 18

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Even if I am to be poured as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Psalms 27: 1, 4, 13 - 14

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.
13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the LORD!
Luke 14: 25 - 33

25 Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them,
26 "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,
30 saying, `This man began to build, and was not able to finish.'
31 Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace.
33 So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.


In honor of the YEAR OF FAITH - JCE news will be showing some of the TOP Catholic movies of all time - view new episodes each day. Tune in for PART VII of St. Francis - tomorrow.



Sr Myree Wins 20 Year Battle for Boarding House Reform

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
7 Nov 2012

Sr Myree Harris RSJ a tireless advocate of the poor, mentally ill and homeless
Sister Myree Harris rsj is not given to hyperbole. But the normally low-key Josephite admits she is not just happy but "ecstatic" at the passage of a bill to protect the rights and security of the vulnerable, helpless and often mentally ill residents of boarding houses across NSW.
After battling for 20 years to reform standards, tighten regulations and introduce the monitoring of unlicensed boarding houses or Licensed Residential Centres (LRC) as they are officially known, Sr Myree and the Coalition of Appropriate Supported Accommodation (CASA), which she co-founded in 1993, have finally seen their efforts rewarded.
"This really is a happy ending," she says of the NSW Parliament's Boarding Houses Bill 2012 which will come into effect from 1 January 2013.
Under the new legislation, assisted boarding houses throughout NSW which provide accommodation for many of the State's poor, elderly, frail and disabled, will be face far tighter regulations and oversight and will be closely monitored by both local as well as state government officials.
Even more important, for the first time residents of privately-run for-profit hostels and assisted boarding houses that look after the State's low income mentally ill and disabled will be given the same legal rights and protections as those currently provided to tenants of rental properties, and will have access to the NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal.

Marrickville Boarding House was damp, Dickensian, squalid and unkempt
"Once the bill becomes law in just over two months' time, unscrupulous owners of these boarding houses will no longer be able to throw residents out at a moment's notice," says Sr Myree.
With no protections under the law, she recalls the many ill and desperate people she has found in Sydney's streets, standing stunned and uncomprehending amongst their meagre belongings after being tossed out of their boarding house.
Currently there are an estimated 7000 low income residents living in unlicensed boarding houses in NSW, with the majority of these living in boarding houses or LRC's in Sydney.
Without a voice and no security, most have not only been exploited by their landlords but have frequently been forced to live in appalling conditions.
"Residents of these places had no access to the NSW Tenancy Tribunal, no one overseeing or checking on how they were treated and in what conditions they were living. Instead they were completely vulnerable and having no occupancy rights, were at the mercy of any unscrupulous owner of one of these boarding houses," Sr Myree says.
She cites frequent instances where the owner of the boarding house commandeered a resident's bank book, Medicare card and pension card where the resident was terrified to speak out in case they were thrown out and on to the street.

Six deaths occurred at this Sydney boarding house in 2009 and 2010
"These people literally have had nowhere to go and nowhere to turn," Sr Myree points out.
The new bill will change this. But tragically it took the death of six mentally ill men and women at a Marrickville boarding house over a two year period from 2009 and 2010 for politicians and the NSW Government to be galvanised into action.
Despite the ongoing tireless efforts for tighter controls and protections for boarding house residents by Sr Myree and CASA, the coalition she helped found which includes representatives of 22 organisations including Catholic Social Services, Mary MacKillop Outreach, Exodus Foundation, Council for Intellectual Disability, Salvation Army, Mission Australia, Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW, People with Disability Australia and the mental Health Coordinating Council, it was only after wide publicity and a scathing report into the deaths by the State Coroner Mary Jarram that a bill was finally drafted.

Marie Ficarra NSW Parliamentary Secretary paid special tribute to Sr Myree for her advocacy on behalf of boarding house residents
The Coroner found that each of those who died had been "uncared for, poorly treated medically and neglected" and describing conditions at the Marrickville boarding house, a "Dickensian picture of neglect," called for an urgent overhaul of regulations governing LRCs.
Almost immediately the NSW Government drafted a bill. Put out for consultation, submissions on the issue, including those presented by Sr Myree and CASA, closed in August this year. Then last week, on Monday 29 October, the bill became law.
"It was wonderful how quickly the bill passed, receiving unanimous support from both sides of the House," says Sr Myree.
The NSW Government has appointed Sr Myree as a member of the newly-established Boarding House Expert Advisory Group which will be consulted and have input into the implementation of the new legislation over the next 12 months. Others on this group include the Rev Harry Herbert of Uniting Care as well as organisations such as People with Disability Australia, the Public Guardian and representatives from local government.
In a speech supporting the bill when it was read a second time in the NSW Parliament, Parliamentary Secretary Marie Ficarra made special mention of Sr Myree and her many years as a community advocate for people in boarding houses as well as her work with the Gethsemane community, which the Josephite sister founded to help the homeless, poor, disadvantaged and mentally ill.
"I commend and honour Sr Myree Harris, OAM a contemporary Josephite nun acting in the spirit of Mary MacKillop," Marie Ficcarra said.


by Br. Paul
In recent weeks government repression has increased, with arrests and detentions for "propaganda against the State". At least 2,500 people, even non-Catholics, take part in a special mass in the former Saigon "for peace and justice"; a united movement in defence of human dignity.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews)-Activists and members of civil society in Vietnam, including a large Catholic mission, have launched a campaign for human rights, freedom of thought and religion, against a Government that continues to repress internal dissent with arrests and prison. Recently the Church of Ho Chi Minh City celebrated a special mass, to pray for peace and justice in the country, which was attended by about 2500 people Catholics and non Catholics. The obsessive control of intellectuals, the repeated invasions of "security forces" in the private life of those who promote activities, initiatives or writing in favour of democracy, have increased the urgency for the birth of a movement aimed at curbing abuses committed "in the name of the law".
Hanoi's Communist Government continues to repress by force those who launch messages, slogans or blog on the web that advocate freedom and civil rights. Local provincial and urban authorities are abusing "the right" to arrest anyone and at any time, regardless of the veracity of the allegations and holding ordinary citizens in prison without trial.
Among the most recent cases is the story of Nguyễn Thị Phương Uyên, a student at the Faculty of food industry in Ho Chi Minh City. The girl is being held in prison in the province of Long An, and her parents are barred from visiting her. She has been charged with the usual and generic, "propaganda against the State". She is guilty of having composed a song in protest against Beijing's expansionism in the South China Sea. So far the appeals  of her university companions have proved useless.  They have also written a letter to Vietnamese President Trương Tấn Sang, asking for her release.
However, the arrests and convictions of dissidents and bloggers are relentless: 24 September three people were sentenced to 26 years in prison. On 30 October a court in the former Saigon mandated 10 years in prison for two musicians, Tran Vu Anh Binh and Viet Khang, also guilty of "propaganda against the State".
Catholics are responding to the government's wielding of the axe with masses and prayers, in the footsteps of the Redemptorists of Saigon, with a special mass celebrated on 28 October last "for peace and justice" in the country. The function was attended by about 2,500 people, including many non-Catholics to witness the value and the example provided by the Church in the struggle for rights and the full dignity of the human being. In his homily, Fr. Mathew pointed out that "the Vietnamese people want peace, justice and freedom" and that prayers and intentions are "for our brothers and sisters who were convicted or imprisoned". The priest wishes to see a peaceful struggle, fought under the banner of prayer "for our people, for freedom and democracy in the nation".



TORIT, November 06, 2012 (CISA) -The Catholic diocese of Torit is seeking to allay concerns among her faithful that the reconstruction of the Sts. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral will solely be done by Muslim youths.
“The Diocese is very attentive and sensitive to the concerns being expressed by the Christians. It, therefore, wants to assure the public, and especially it’s faithful, that nothing still has been concretely implemented. Consultations are still being done to ensure that every aspect of this delicate issue is meticulously addressed, clarified and understood by all,” said a press statement signed by Fr Mark Opere Omol, the Diocesan Representative Italy and European Union.
According to the statement there has been mixed reactions since it was reported that Muslim youths wanted to help reconstruct the Cathedral that has several times been bombed and destroyed during conflicts.
The statement stated that “Bishop Akio Johnson did not go to seek for any financial contribution from these Muslim students. It was their own initiative in appreciation to the advocacy in favor of Darfur by Lopez Lomong and effort to nurture a spirit of reconciliation and harmony between Christians and Muslims.”
According to the diocese, a year ago a group of Muslim students (Sudan Sun Rise) from Darfur met Bishop of Torit, Rt Rev Akio Johnson Mutek, declaring their intention to help reconstruct the Chapel of Kimotong Parish and the Cathedral of Torit.
The students stated their intention to reconstruct the Churches as a sign of appreciation and an effort to promote reconciliation and harmony among Christians and Muslims in Eastern Equatoria State (EES). The students also stated that they would finance the project through solicitation of contribution from people of goodwill in USA and Europe.
What they promised is a “financial contribution” only. They requested that the Diocese of Torit should provide workers and cover part of the financial expenses.
Bishop Akio hailed the students’ intention and assured them that he would make wide consultations before reaching any conclusion. To this effect, the Bishop shared it with the priests of Torit, some members of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) and the Apostolic Nuncio to Sudan, His Grace Archbishop Leo Boccardi.
“Given the complex nature of this issue, the Diocese wants to unequivocally inform the public that no any concrete steps have been taken to implement the project. The initiative of reconstructing Sts. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral is still at stage of dialogue and consultation between the Diocese and those students,” said the statement.
As part of commitment to the spirit of Ecumenism, the Diocese will continue to engage these students in dialogue and try together to explore other ways of promoting reconciliation and harmony among different creeds in our State. This is regardless to whether they contribute to the reconstruction or not.
“The Cathedral has always stood as a unique symbol of a long time history of deep religious faith and tradition of our local Church. By God’s will and providence, our Cathedral will one day rise up to its initial splendor to the glory of God and pride of the faithful. This is a legacy that will be perpetually preserved by the clergy and faithful of this Diocese,” concluded the statement.


Promises bishops will continue to work to defend life, marriage, religious freedom
Urges President to work for most vulnerable, including unborn, poor, immigrants
Asks for restoration of civility to the public order
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, congratulated President Barack Obama, November 7, the day after his re-election as President of the United States.
Cardinal Dolan promised the prayers of the bishops saying that "The Catholic Bishops of the United States offer our prayers that God will give you strength and wisdom to meet the difficult challenges that face America."
He added that "In particular, we pray that you will exercise your office to pursue the common good, especially in care of the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn, the poor, and the immigrant. We will continue to stand in defense of life, marriage, and our first, most cherished liberty, religious freedom. We pray, too, that you will help restore a sense of civility to the public order, so our public conversations may be imbued with respect and charity toward everyone."
His letter follows.

Dear President Obama,
In my capacity as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write to express my congratulations on your re-election as President of the United States.The people of our country have again entrusted you with a great responsibility.The Catholic Bishops of the United States offer our prayers that God will give you strength and wisdom to meet the difficult challenges that face America.
In particular, we pray that you will exercise your office to pursue the common good, especially in care of the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn, the poor, and the immigrant.We will continue to stand in defense of life, marriage, and our first, most cherished liberty, religious freedom.We pray, too, that you will help restore a sense of civility to the public order, so our public conversations may be imbued with respect and charity toward everyone.
May God bless you and Vice President Biden as you prepare for your second term in service to our country and its citizens.
Sincerely yours,
Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


St. Willibrord

Feast: November 7
Feast Day:
November 7
658, Northumbria
November 7, 739
Major Shrine:
Patron of:
convulsions; epilepsy; epileptics; Luxembourg; Netherlands

St Willibrord was born in the kingdom of Northumberland towards the year 658, and placed by his virtuous parents, before he was seven years old, in the monastery of Ripon, which was at that time governed by St. Wilfrid, its founder. Wilgris, our saint's father, retired also into a monastery, afterwards became a hermit, and in his old age founded and governed a small monastery between the ocean and the Humber. He is honoured among the saints in the monastery of Epternac and in the English calendars. Alcuin has left us an account of his life. Willibrord, by carrying the yoke of our Lord with fervour from his infancy, found it always easy and sweet, and the better to preserve the first fruits which he had gathered, made his monastic profession when he was very young. He had made great progress in virtue and sacred learning when, out of a desire for further improvement, in the twentieth year of his age he went over into Ireland, with the consent of his abbot and brethren, where he joined St. Egbert or Ecgbright, and the blessed Wigbert, who were gone thither before upon the same errand. In their company our saint spent twelve years in the study of the sacred sciences and in the most fervent exercise of all virtues. Though his constitution was weak, in fervour and exactness he outdid the most advanced: he was humble, modest, and of an easy obliging temper; and his whole conduct was regular and uniform. St. Egbert had long entertained an ardent desire of going to preach the gospel to the inhabitants of those unhappy countries in which barbarism and idolatry still reigned without control, and he had chiefly Friesland or Lower Germany in his eye. But he was diverted from that apostolical design by persons of piety and authority, who engaged him to employ his zealous labours in the islands between Ireland and Scotland, in all which he settled the true manner of celebrating Easter, especially at Hij, where he died a little before Bede wrote his history. St. Egbert is honoured in the English Calendar on the 24th of April. Bede gives a most edifying account of his austere penance, devotion, zeal, and charity. His companion, the holy priest Wigbert, went in the meantime to Friesland; but after staying there two years came back without having met with any prospect of success. This disappointment did not discourage Egbert and other zealous promoters of this mission, but excited them the more earnestly to solicit the divine mercy with prayers and tears in favour of so many souls who were perishing eternally. Willibrord, who was then about thirty-one years of age and had been ordained priest a year before, expressed a great desire to be allowed by his superiors to undertake this laborious and dangerous charge. St. Egbert, by the known zeal and great talents of our saint and by his cheerfulness, doubted not but God had reserved to him the conversion of that nation, and encouraged him in this zealous design. St. Willibrord was joined by St. Swidbert and ten other English monks in this mission.
The authors of Batavia Sacra doubt not but our twelve missionaries landed at Catwic upon the sea, which was at the mouth of the Rhine before it was blocked up with sands, and thither the English were accustomed to export corn, even from the north, coasting part of their island. The British tower, as it was called, was built by the Romans at Catwic to defend this harbour. Pepin of Herstal, or the Big, who was at that time Duke of the French, received courteously St. Willibrord and his companions. But Willibrord set out for Rome and cast himself at the feet of Pope Sergius, begging his apostolic blessing and authority to preach the gospel to idolatrous nations. The pope, charmed with his zeal and sanctity, granted him the most ample licences for that purpose, and gave him a great quantity of relics for the consecration of churches. With this treasure the saint returned with all possible expedition to his province, considering the pressing necessities and dangers of so many souls which called for his compassion and relief. St. Swidbert was taken from him and ordained Bishop of the Borroctuarians, who seem to have inhabited the territory of Berg and the neighbouring country towards Cologne.
St. Willibrord, with his ten other companions, under the protection of Pepin, preached the gospel with wonderful success in that part of Friesland that had been conquered by the French; so that after six years Pepin, by the advice of his bishops, sent the saint to Rome with strong letters of recommendation that he might be ordained bishop. His humility made him endeavour that some other should be pitched upon for that dignity, but he was not heard. Pope Sergius, who still sat in St. Peter's chair, received him with great marks of honour, changed his name into that of Clement, with great solemnity ordained him Archbishop of the Frisons in St. Peter's church and gave him the pallium, with authority to fix his see in what part of the country he should think most convenient. The holy man stayed only fourteen days in Rome, being impatient to return to his flock, and regretting an hour's absence from them more than was necessary to procure them greater advantages. He came back to Utrecht the same year, 696, and chose that city for his residence, Pepin having bestowed on him the royal castle of Viltaburg which, as Bede assures us, was at Utrecht. St. Willibrord built at Utrecht the Church of our Saviour, in which he fixed his metropolitical see, says St. Boniface, and that of St. Martin, though this latter he only restored, for it had been a church, but destroyed by the pagans. The archbishop's indefatigable application to the conversion of souls seemed to prove that, with the new obligation he had received at his consecration of labouring to enlarge the kingdom of his Divine Master, he had acquired fresh strength and a considerable augmentation of his zeal. In the second year after his episcopal consecration, assisted by the liberality of Pepin and the abbess Irmina, who is said to have been daughter of Dagobert II, he founded, in 698, the abbey of Epternac in the diocese of Triers, and now in the duchy of Luxemburg, which he governed to his death. Alcuin relates that the nunnery of Horrea, of which Irmina was abbess, had been delivered from a pestilence by water blessed by St. Willibrord, and by his saying mass in the church. Pepin of Herstal before his death put away his concubine Alpais, by whom he had Charles Martel, and was reconciled to his wife Plectrudis, and in his last will, which is signed by Plectrudis, he recommended to St. Willibrord his nephews (without any mention of his natural son Charles), and bestowed on our saint the village of Swestram, now Susteren, in the duchy of Juliers, near the Meuse, with which the holy man endowed a nunnery which he built there.
Pepin of Herstal died in December 714. A little before his death, Charles Martel's son, Pepin the Short, afterwards King of France, was born, and baptized by St. Willibrord, who on that occasion is related by Alcuin to have prophesied that the child would surpass in glory all his ancestors. Charles Martel in a short time became mayor of the palace, and approved himself equally the first general and statesman of his age. In 723 he settled upon the monastery which St. Willibrord had erected at Utrecht to serve his cathedral all the royal revenues belonging to his castle there. Of this monastery St. Gregory was afterwards abbot; in succeeding times it was secularized. Several other donations of estates made by Charles Martel to several churches founded by our saint may be seen in Miraeus and others. By a charter that prince conferred on him the royalties of the city of Utrecht with its dependencies and appurtenances. By such establishments our saint sought to perpetuate the work of God. Not content to have planted the faith in the country which the French had conquered, he extended his labours into West-Friesland, which obeyed Radbod, Prince or King of the Frisons, who continued an obstinate idolater; yet hindered not the saint's preaching to his subjects, and himself sometimes listened to him. The new apostle penetrated also into Denmark; but Ongend (perhaps Biorn), who then reigned there, a monster of cruelty rather than a man, was hardened in his malice, and his example had a great influence over his subjects. The man of God, however, for the first fruits of this country, purchased thirty young Danish boys, whom he instructed, baptized, and brought back with him. In his return he was driven by stress of weather upon the famous pagan island called Fositeland, now Amelandt, on the coast of Friesland, six leagues from Leuwarden, to the north, a place then esteemed by the Danes and Frisons as most sacred in honour of the idol Fosite. It was looked upon as an unpardonable sacrilege for anyone to kill any living creature in that island, to eat of anything that grew in it, or to draw water out of a spring there without observing the strictest silence. St. Willibrord, to undeceive the inhabitants, killed some of the beasts for his companions to eat, and baptized three persons in the fountain, pronouncing the words aloud. The idolaters expected to see them run mad or drop down dead; and seeing no such judgment befall them, could not determine whether this was to be attributed to the patience of their god or to his want of power. They informed Radbod who, transported with rage, ordered lots to be cast three times a day for three days together, and the fate of the delinquents to be determined by them. God so directed it that the lot never fell upon Willibrord; but one of his company was sacrificed to the superstition of the people, and died a martyr for Jesus Christ.
The saint, upon leaving Amelandt, directed his course to Warckeren, one of the chief islands belonging to Zealand. His charity and patience made considerable conquests to the Christian religion there, and he established several churches. After the death of Radbod, which happened in 719, Willibrord was at full liberty to preach in every part of the country. He was joined in his apostolical labours, in 720, by St. Boniface, who spent three years in Friesland, then went into Germany. Bede says, when he wrote his history in 731: "Willibrord, surnamed Clement, is still living, venerable for his old age, having been bishop thirty-six years, and sighing after the rewards of the heavenly life, after many conflicts in the heavenly warfare." "He was," says Alcuin, "of a becoming stature, venerable in his aspect, comely in his person, graceful, and always cheerful in his speech and countenance, wise in his counsel, unwearied in preaching and all apostolic functions, amidst which he was careful to nourish the interior life of his soul by assiduous prayer, singing of psalms, watching, and fasting." Alcuin, who wrote about fifty years after his death, assures us that this apostle was endowed with the gift of miracles, and relates that whilst he preached in the isle of Warckeren, where the towns of Flessingue and Middleburg are since built, going from village to village, he found in one of them a famous idol to which the people were offering their vows and sacrifices, and, full of holy zeal, threw it down and broke it in pieces. In the meantime an idolater, who was the priest and guardian of the idol, gave him a blow on the head with his backsword, with which, nevertheless, the saint was not hurt; and he would not suffer the assassin to be touched or prosecuted. But the unhappy man was soon after possessed with a devil and lost his senses. By the tears, prayers, and zealous labours of this apostle and his colleagues, the faith was planted in most parts of Holland, Zealand, and all the remaining part of the Netherlands, whither St. Amand and St. Lebwin had never penetrated; and the Frisons, till then a rough and most barbarous people, were civilized, and became eminent for virtue and the culture of arts and sciences. St. Wulfran, Archbishop of Sens, and others, excited by the success of our saint's missions, were ambitious to share in so great a work under his direction. St. Willibrord was exceeding cautious in admitting persons to holy orders, fearing lest one unworthy or slothful minister should defeat by scandal all the good which the divine mercy had begun for the salvation of many souls. It is also mentioned of him that he was very strict and diligent in examining and preparing thoroughly those whom he admitted to baptism, dreading the condemnation which those incur who, by sloth or facility, open a door to the profanation of our most tremendous mysteries. The schools which St. Willibrord left at Utrecht were very famous. Being at length quite broken with old age, he resigned the administration of his diocese to a coadjutor whom he ordained bishop, and in retirement prepared himself for eternity. He died, according to Pagi, in 739; according to Mabillon, in 740 or 741, and according to Mr. Smith, in 745; some adhering to Alcuin, others to Bede, &c. St. Boniface says that St. Willibrord spent fifty years in preaching the gospel, which Mr. Smith dates from his episcopal consecration, Mabillon from his coming into Friesland, but others think these fifty years mean only thereabouts. Alcuin and Rabanus Maurus place his death on the 6th of November; but the Chronicle of Epternac, Usuard, Ado, and the Roman and Benedictin Martyrologies commemorate him on the 7th. He was buried, as he had desired, at his monastery of Epternac, and his relics are there enshrined at this day. The portative altar which he made use of for the celebration of the divine mysteries, in travelling through Friesland, Zealand, and Holland, is kept in the Benedictin abbey of our Lady ad Martyres, at Triers.