Thursday, September 22, 2016

Saint September 23 : St. Pio of Pietrelcina - #PadrePio

Padre Pio (Francesco Forgione) was born to Giuseppa and Grazio Forgione, in the small farming town of Pietrelcina, Italy on May 25, 1887. Although the Forgiones were poor in material goods, they were certainly rich in their faith life and in the love of God.
Even as a young boy, Francesco had already shown signs of extraordinary gifts of grace. At the age of five, he dedicated his life to God. From his early childhood, he showed a remarkable recollection of spirit and a love for the religious life. His mother described him as a quiet child who, from his earliest years, loved to go to church and to pray. As a young boy, he was able to see and communicate with, not only his guardian angel but also with Jesus and the Virgin Mary. In his simplicity, Francesco assumed everyone had the same experiences. Once a woman who noticed his spiritual demeanor asked him, “When did you consecrate your life to God? Was it at your first Holy Communion?” and he answered, “Always, daughter, always.”
When Francesco was fifteen years old, he was admitted to the novitiate of the Capuchin Order of the Friars Minor in Morcone, Italy. He was admired by his fellow-students as well as by his Superiors for his exemplary behavior and his deep piety. One of the novices stated, “There was something which distinguished him from the other students. Whenever I saw him, he was always humble, recollected, and silent. What struck me most about Brother Pio was his love of prayer.”
On August 10, 1910, at the age of twenty-three, Padre Pio was ordained to the priesthood. The celebration of the Holy Mass was for Padre Pio, the center of his spirituality.  Due to the long pauses of contemplative silence into which he entered at various parts of the Holy Sacrifice, his Mass could sometimes last several hours.  Everything about him spoke of how intensely he was living the Passion of Christ. The parish priest in Pietrelcina called Padre Pio’s Mass, “an incomprehensible mystery.” When asked to shorten his Mass, Padre Pio replied, “God knows that I want to say Mass just like any other priest, but I cannot do it.”
His parishioners were deeply impressed by his piety and one by one they began to come to him, seeking his counsel. For many, even a few moments in his presence, proved to be a life changing experience. As the years passed, pilgrims began to come to him by the thousands, from every corner of the world, drawn by the spiritual riches which flowed so freely from his extraordinary ministry. To his spiritual children he would say, “It seems to me as if Jesus has no other concern but the sanctification of your soul.”
Padre Pio is understood above all else as a man of prayer. Before he was thirty years old he had already reached the summit of the spiritual life known as the “unitive way” of transforming union with God. He prayed almost continuously. His prayers were usually very simple. He loved to pray the Rosary and recommended it to others. To someone who asked him what legacy he wished to leave to his spiritual children, his brief reply was, “My child, the Rosary.” He had a special mission to the souls in Purgatory and encouraged everyone to pray for them. He used to say, “We must empty Purgatory with our prayers.” Father Agostino Daniele, his confessor, director, and beloved friend said, “One admires in Padre Pio, his habitual union with God. When he speaks or is spoken to, we are aware that his heart and mind are not distracted from the thought and sentiment of God.”
Padre Pio suffered from poor health his entire life, once saying that his health had been declining from the time he was nine years old. After his ordination to the priesthood, he remained in his hometown of Pietrelcina and was separated from his religious community for more than five years due to his precarious health.  Although the cause of his prolonged and debilitating illnesses remained a mystery to his doctors, Padre Pio did not become discouraged. He offered all of his bodily sufferings to God as a sacrifice, for the conversion of souls. He experienced many spiritual sufferings as well. “I am fully convinced that my illness is due to a special permission of God,” he said.
Shortly after his ordination, he wrote a letter to his spiritual director, Father Benedetto Nardella, in which he asked permission to offer his life as a victim for sinners. He wrote, “For a long time I have felt in myself a need to offer myself to the Lord as a victim for poor sinners and for the souls in Purgatory. This desire has been growing continually in my heart so that it has now become what I would call a strong passion. . .It seems to me that Jesus wants this.” The marks of the stigmata, the wounds of Christ, appeared on Padre Pio’s body, on Friday, September 20, 1918, while he was praying before a crucifix and making his thanksgiving after Mass. He was thirty-one years old and became the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Church. With resignation and serenity, he bore the painful wounds in his hands, feet, and side for fifty years.
In addition, God endowed Padre Pio with many extraordinary spiritual gifts and charisms including the gift of healing, bilocation, prophecy, miracles, discernment of spirits, the ability to abstain beyond man’s natural powers from both sleep and nourishment, the ability to read hearts, the gift of tongues (the ability to speak and understand languages that he had never studied), the gift of conversions, the grace to see angelic beings in form, and the fragrance which emanated from his wounds and which frequently announced his invisible presence. When a friend once questioned him about these charisms, Padre Pio said, “You know, they are a mystery to me, too.” Although he received more than his share of spiritual gifts, he never sought them, never felt worthy of them. He never put the gifts before the Giver. He always remained humble, constantly at the disposal of Almighty God.
His day began at 2:30 a.m. when he would rise to begin his prayers and to make his preparation for Mass. He was able to carry on a busy apostolate with only a few hours of sleep each night and an amount of food that was so small (300-400 calories a day) that his fellow priests stated that it was not enough food even to keep a small child alive. Between Mass and confessions, his workday lasted 19 hours. He very rarely left the monastery and never took even a day’s vacation from his grueling schedule in 51 years. He never read a newspaper or listened to the radio. He cautioned his spiritual children against watching television.
In his monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo, he lived the Franciscan spirit of poverty with detachment from self, from possessions, and from comforts. He always had a great love for the virtue of chastity, and his behavior was modest in all situations and with all people. In his lifetime, Padre Pio reconciled thousands of men and women back to their faith.
The prayer groups that Padre Pio established have now spread throughout the world. He gave a new spirit to hospitals by founding one which he called “The Home for the Relief of Suffering.” He saw the image of Christ in the poor, the suffering, and the sick and gave himself particularly to them. He once said, “Bring God to all those who are sick. This will help them more than any other remedy.”
Serene and well prepared, he surrendered to Sister Death on September 23, 1968 at the age of eighty-one. He died as he had lived, with his Rosary in his hands. His last words were GesĂș, Maria – Jesus, Mary – which he repeated over and over until he breathed his last. He had often declared, “After my death I will do more. My real mission will begin after my death.”
In 1971, Pope Paul VI, speaking to the superiors of the Capuchin order, said of Padre Pio, “What fame he had. How many followers from around the world. Why? Was it because he was a philosopher, a scholar, or because he had means at his disposal? No, it was because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from morning until night and was a marked representative of the stigmata of Our Lord. He was truly a man of prayer and suffering.”
In one of the largest liturgies in the Vatican’s history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio on June 16, 2002. During his homily, Pope John Paul recalled how, in 1947, as a young priest he journeyed from Poland to make his confession to Padre Pio. “Prayer and charity–this is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio’s teaching,” the Pope said.
Drawing approximately eight million pilgrims each year, San Giovanni Rotondo, where St. Pio lived and is now buried, is second only to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico in its number of annual visitors.
St. Pio’s whole life might be summed up in the words of St. Paul to the Colossians, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.”
St. Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for us.
Biography shared from

#PopeFrancis "Jesus’ death on the cross is the summit of God’s history of love.." FULL TEXT - Audience - Video

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
We heard the passage of Luke’s Gospel (6:36-38) from which the motto of this Extraordinary Holy Year is taken: Merciful as the Father. The complete expression is: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (v. 36). It is not a slogan for effect, but a commitment of life. To understand this expression well, we can compare it with the parallel one in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus says: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (5:48). In the so-called Sermon on the Mount, which opens with the Beatitudes, the Lord teaches that perfection consists in love, fulfillment of all the precepts of the Law. In this same perspective, Saint Luke specifies that perfection is merciful love: to be perfect means to be merciful. Is a person who is not merciful perfect? No! Goodness and perfection are rooted in mercy. God is certainly perfect. However, if we consider Him in that way, it becomes impossible for men to strive to that absolute perfection. Instead, having Him before our eyes as merciful enables us to understand better in what His perfection consists and it spurs us to be like Him, full of love, of understanding and of mercy.
But I wonder: are Jesus’ words realistic? Is it really possible to love as God loves and to be merciful as He is?
If we look at the history of salvation, we see that the whole of God’s revelation is an incessant and tireless love for men: God is like a father or a mother who loves with unfathomable love and pours it out abundantly on every creature. Jesus’ death on the cross is the summit of God’s history of love for man. A love that is so great that only God can realize it. It is evident that, compared to this love that has no measure, our love will always be defective. However, when Jesus asks us to be merciful as the Father, He does not think of the quantity! He asks His disciples to become sign, channels, and witnesses of His mercy.
And the Church cannot but be the sacrament of mercy of God in the world, at all times and towards the whole of humanity. Hence, every Christian is called to be a witness of mercy, and this happens on the path of holiness. We think of the many Saints that became merciful because they let their heart be filled by divine mercy. They gave flesh to the Lord’s love, pouring it out on the many needs of suffering humanity. In this flowering of so many forms of charity it is possible to perceive the reflections of the merciful face of Christ.
We ask ourselves: What does it mean for disciples to be merciful? Jesus explains it with two verbs: “forgive” (v. 37) and ‘give” (v. 38).
Mercy is expressed, first of all, in forgiveness: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (v.37). Jesus does not intend to subvert the course of human justice, however, He reminds the disciples that to have fraternal relations it is necessary to suspend judgments and condemnations. Forgiveness, in fact, is the pillar that governs the life of the Christian community, because in it is shown the gratuitousness of the love with which God loved us first. A Christian must forgive! — but why? Because he has been forgiven. All of us who are here, today, in the Square, have been forgiven. No one, in his life, has not been in need of God’s forgiveness. And because we have been forgiven, we must forgive. We recite it every day in the Our Father: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” that is, forgive the offenses, forgive many things, because we have been forgiven so many offenses, so many sins. And so it is easy to forgive: if God has forgiven me, why should I not forgive others? Am I greater than God? This pillar of forgiveness shows us the gratuitousness of the love of God, who loved us first. It is a mistake to judge and condemn a brother that sins, not because one does not want to recognize the sin, but because to condemn the sinner breaks the bond of fraternity with him and scorns God’s mercy, who, instead, does not want to give up on any of His children. We do not have the power to condemn our brother who errs; we are not above him: instead we have the duty to restore him to the dignity of a child of the Father and to accompany him on his journey of conversion.
To His Church, to us, Jesus indicates a second pillar: “give.” To forgive is the first pillar; to give is the second pillar. “Give, and it will be given to you […] For the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (v. 38). God gives well beyond our merits, but He will be even more generous with all those who on earth were generous. Jesus does not say what will happen to those that do not give, but the image of the “measure” constitutes an admonition: with the measure of love we give, it is we ourselves who decide how we will be judged, how we will be loved. If we look well there is a coherent logic: in the measure that one receives from God, one gives to a brother, and in the measure in which one gives to a brother, one receives from God!
Therefore, merciful love is the only way to go. How much need we all have of being more merciful, of not running down others, of not judging, of not “plucking” others with criticisms, envies and jealousies. We must forgive, be merciful, live our life in love. This love enables Jesus’ disciples to not lose the identity received from Him, and to recognize themselves as children of the same Father. Thus, in the love they practice in life, that Mercy is reverberated that will have no end (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:1-12). But do not forget this: mercy and gift; forgiveness and gift, thus the heart widens, it widens in love. Instead, egoism and anger render the heart small, which hardens like a stone. What do you prefer, a heart of stone or a heart full of love? If you prefer a heart full of love, be merciful!
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
In Italian
I give a warm welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I am happy to receive the faithful of the Dioceses of Asqui, Grosseto, Nola, Sessa Aurunca and Tortona, accompanied by their respective Bishops, and the Major Inter-Diocesan Seminary of Udine, Trieste and Gorizia, accompanied by the Archbishop, Monsignor Mazzocato: I hope that the Jubilee pilgrimage and the crossing of the Holy Door will nourish faith in you, give new impetus to hope and render charity fruitful with ever more earnest attention to the needs of needy brothers.
I greet the participants in the course promoted by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross; the Municipal Council of Taranto with the Archbishop, Monsignor Santoro; the directors of the Houses of Divine Providence of Italy and the Montfort Missionaries, observing the third centenary of the birth in Heaven of their founder, Saint Louis Marie de Montfort. May the visit to the Tombs of the Apostles foster in all the sense of belonging to the ecclesial family.
A special greeting goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today is the feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. May his conversion be an example to you, dear young people, to live life with the criteria of the faith; may his meekness sustain you, dear sick, when your suffering seems unbearable; and may his following of the Savior remind you, dear newlyweds, of the importance of prayer in the matrimonial itinerary you have undertaken.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
The Holy Father’s Appeal
Observed today is the 23rd World Alzheimer’s Day, whose theme is “Remember Me.” I invite all those present to “remember” with Mary’s solicitude and the merciful Jesus’ tenderness all those who are affected by this disease and their families, to have them feel our closeness. We also pray for persons who are at the side of the sick, able to take up their needs, including the most imperceptible, because they are seen with eyes full of love.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

Beautiful Mercy Meditation to get you through the Week to SHARE

A Mercy Meditation for the week:

We have a treasure of life and love which cannot deceive, and a message which cannot mislead or disappoint. It penetrates to the depths of our hearts, sustaining and ennobling us. It is a truth which is never out of date because it reaches that part of us which nothing else can reach. Our infinite sadness can only be cured by an infinite love. -- Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 265

The depths of us where nothing else can reach -- our soul. Jesus is there; infinite love reaches there. "Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God's universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary" (CCC 851). We can be moved to do things with great courage and great love when we learn to retreat often to that treasured place and be filled with the spirit of courage and mercy to be restored and reinvigorated for the mission. 

Truth is never out of date, and we can share this truth if we endeavor to enter into that deep, indwelling relationship with Truth. And, where we find Truth, we will also find the first bearer of the Truth, Mary, Our Mother. "'But while in the most Blessed Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle, the faithful still strive to conquer sin and increase in holiness. And so they turn their eyes to Mary': in her, the Church is already the all-holy (CCC 829).  Blessed Mother, be our sure guide to those depths in our soul where we will find your Son and gain the strength and wisdom to share the Truth with others with love and mercy. By : Kathy Vestermark, Professor at Catholic Distance University

#BreakingNews 25 Civilians Killed in Yemen by Saudi Coalition - Please PRAY

Yemen, Saudi coalition raid hits a market killing 25 civilians

Local witnesses speak of more than 50 injured. Riyadh’s bombs hit a crowded market. Earlier in the area, Houthi militia rebels had celebrated two years of the conquest of Sana'a. The UN says half of the 22 provinces of the country is at risk famine.
Sana'a (AsiaNews / Agencies) – More civilians have become casualties in Yemen, following a Saudi-led Arab coalition air raid that hit a popular district of the western port city of Hodeida. The attack took place yesterday evening and caused the deaths of 25 innocent people. The area has long been under the control of the Shiite Houthi rebels, the main target of the raid.

Local sources said that the bombings targeted the Souq al-Hounod district. The attack came a few hours after festivities organized in the city by rebel militias, to celebrate the second anniversary of the conquest of Sana'a, Yemen's capital.

According to eyewitnesses the Saudi jets hit a Hawak district market several times, which was crowded with people at the time of the raid. The bombs wounded at least 50 people.

Rescuers and volunteers today are still engaged in the recovery of victims and in the search for survivors, trapped under the rubble of buildings that collapsed because of the bombs.

In a message posted on Twitter Houthis spokesman, Ali al-Ahmad, confirmed he had escaped the Saudi raid, whose primary target was the presidential palace in Hodeida.

"The scene [of the attack] was terrible," said one resident, requesting anonymity for fear of retaliation. Yesterday's attacks are only the latest in a long series that have been hit non-military targets, but schools, hospitals, markets and private homes. Added to this is the famine alarm launched by the World Food Programme: according to the UN agency at least half of the 22 provinces that comprise Yemen could soon go hungry.

Since January 2015, Yemen has been the scene of a bloody civil war pitting the country’s Sunni leadership, backed by Saudi Arabia, against Shia Houthi rebels, close to Iran.
In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes against the rebels in an attempt to free the capital For Saudi Arabia, the Houthis, who are allied to forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, are militarily supported by Iran, a charge the latter angrily rejects.
There has been a high body count among the civilian population in the bombings, which have been condemned by the United Nations. About  10 thousand people, including children. At least 2.5 million people are displaced by conflict.
Groups linked to al Qaeda and jihadist militias linked to the Islamic State group are active in the country, which adds to the spiral of violence and terror.
Since the beginning of the month the Saudi led coalition - often "accused errors" in the military operations, which eventually also involve civilians - have stepped up air raids on rebel-held areas, following the suspension [failure] of peace talks. The bombings of recent days have attracted the condemnation of the international community; in response, the Saudis have announced the opening of an investigation.

#PopeFrancis " May the Lord free us from these three roots of all evil: greed, vanity, and pride." #Homily

 TRadio Vaticana report: he Gospel of the day describes King Herod (Antipas) as being perplexed or anxious because, having had John the Baptist killed, he now felt threatened by Jesus. He was worried just as his father, Herod the Great, was troubled after the visit of the Magi. There can be two different kinds of anxiety in the soul, Pope Francis said, a “good” anxiety, which “the Holy Spirit gives us” and which “makes the soul restless to do good things”; and a “bad” anxiety, “that which is born from a dirty conscience.” The two Herods tried to resolve their anxiety by killing, going forward over “the bodies of the people”:
These people who had done such evil, who does evil and has a dirty conscience and cannot live in peace, because they live with a continual itch, with a continual rash that does not leave them in peace… These people have done evil, but evil always has the same root, any evil: greed, vanity, and pride. And all three do not leave the conscience in peace; all three do not allow the healthy restlessness of the Holy Spirit to enter, but bring you to live like this: anxiously, with fear. Greed, vanity, and pride are the roots of all evils.
Vanity, the osteoporosis of the soul
The day’s first Reading, taken from Ecclesiastes, speaks about vanity:
The vanity that makes us swell up. The vanity that does not have long life, because it is like a soap bubble. The vanity that does not give us true gain. What profit comes to the person for all the effort he puts into worrying? He is anxious to appear, to pretend, to seem. This is vanity. If we want to speak simply: vanity is covering up real life. And this makes the soul sick. Because in the end, if they cover up their real life in order to appear or to seem a certain way, all the things they do to pretend… What is gained? Vanity is like an osteoporosis of the soul: the bones seem good on the outside, but within they are totally ruined. Vanity makes us a fraud.
A face like an image in a picture, but the truth is otherwise
It’s like con men who “mark the cards” in order to win, the Pope continued. But “this victory is a fiction, it’s not true. This is vanity: living to pretend, living to seem, living to appear. And this makes the soul restless.” Pope Francis recalled the strong words Saint Bernard had for the vain: “Think of what you will be: food for worms.” Following on the saint’s thought, the Pope said, “All this ‘putting make-up’ on life is a lie, because the worms will eat you and you will be nothing.” What power does vanity have? he asked. Driven by pride to wickedness, it does not allow you to see your mistakes, “it covers everything, everything is covered”:
How many people do we know that appear one way: ‘What a good person! He goes to Mass every Sunday. He makes great donations to the Church.’ This is how they appear, but the osteoporosis is the corruption they have within. There are people like this – but there are also holy people! – who do this. This is vanity: You try to appear with a face like a pretty picture, and yet your truth is otherwise. And where is our strength and security, our refuge? We read it in the psalm between the readings: ‘Lord, you have been our refuge from generation to generation.’ And before the Gospel we recalled the words of Jesus: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ This is the truth, not the cosmetics of vanity. May the Lord free us from these three roots of all evil: greed, vanity, and pride. But especially from vanity, that makes us so bad.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thurs. September 22, 2016 - #Eucharist

Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 452

Reading 1ECCL 1:2-11

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
What profit has man from all the labor
which he toils at under the sun?
One generation passes and another comes,
but the world forever stays.
The sun rises and the sun goes down;
then it presses on to the place where it rises.
Blowing now toward the south, then toward the north,
the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds.
All rivers go to the sea,
yet never does the sea become full.
To the place where they go,
the rivers keep on going.
All speech is labored;
there is nothing one can say.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing
nor is the ear satisfied with hearing.

What has been, that will be;
what has been done, that will be done.
Nothing is new under the sun.
Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!”
has already existed in the ages that preceded us.
There is no remembrance of the men of old;
nor of those to come will there be any remembrance
among those who come after them.

Responsorial PsalmPS 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 AND 17BC

R. (1) In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
Prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

AlleluiaJN 14:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 9:7-9

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening,
and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying,
“John has been raised from the dead”;
others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”;
still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
But Herod said, “John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
And he kept trying to see him.

Saint September 22 : St. Thomas of Villanova of #Valencia #Spain

St. Thomas of Villanova

Feast: September 22
Feast Day:
September 22
1488, Spain
1555, in Valencia, Spain
November 1, 1658 by Pope Alexander VII

Educator, philanthropist, born at Fuentellana, Spain, 1488; died at Valencia, 8 September, 1555. Son of Aloazo Tomas Garcia and Lucia Martinez Castellanos, the saint was brought up in the practices of religion and charity. Every Friday his father was wont to give in alms all the meal he earned at the mill, besides his usual daily dole of bread. On great feast-days he added wood, wine, and money; while to poor farmers he loaned money and seed. On the death of her husband, Lucia continued the usual alms, and supplied indigent maidens in the neighbourhood with clothing and money. When sixteen tears old, Thomas entered the University of Alcala, where, after proceeding master of arts and licentiate in theology, he filled the chair (1514) of arts, logic, and philosophy. Among his auditors were the famed scholars Ferdinand de Encina and Dominic Soto. With Alcala, however, ended his university associations, he having declined the chair of natural philosophy at Salamanca, where he joined the Augustinians in 1516, his vows following a year later, and his ordination to priesthood the year after; his first Mass was celebrated at Christmas, 1518. At Salamanca Convent Thomas was given the class of scholastic theology because of his attachment for books, chiefly the Lombard and St. Thomas, and his exemplary life. Preaching in the pulpits of Spain was soon added to his duties, among other places at Valencia, the field of his later trials, and Valladolid, seat of the imperial Court and residence of the Emperor Charles V when on his visits to the Low Countries. In this last-named city St. Thomas was named by the emperor his court preacher, and one of his councillors of state. Rarely, however, did the saint pay visits of ceremony to the then master of Europe, though his written correspondence with Charles, who held his opinions in high esteem, was voluminous. Towards the close of his life, while at Valencia, he had all the emperor's letters destroyed; his own letters to the emperor, however, are now stored at Simancas.
Apart from these burdens Thomas held many offices of trust in his order, e.g. as convent prior in various cities, among others at Valladolid in 1544, the very year he was called to the See of Valencia. Moreover, he was twice provincial-prior, first of Andalusia and Castile in 1527, then six years later of Castile alone, whence the first mission band of his brethren was sent across the Atlantic in 1533 to establish houses of their order in Mexico. On 5 Aug., 1544, he received his nomination to the Archbishopric of Valencia, a post that for well-nigh a hundred years had witnessed no bishop in residence, an appointment that was confirmed by Paul III. Previously St. Thomas had declined the See of Granada, offered him by the emperor, while that of Valencia he accepted only through obedience to his superiors. He was consecrated in the church of his order at Valladolid by Juan, Cardinal Tavera de Pardo, Archbishop of Toledo. On his entrance to his see on 1 Jan., 1545, of which he was thirty-second bishop and eighth archbishop, St. Thomas opened his career as legislator and philanthropist, which won for him the titles of "Almsgiver", "Father of the Poor", and "Model of Bishops", given him at his beatification in 1618 by Paul V. During his eleven years of episcopal rule his most noteworthy deeds were as follows: a visitation of his diocese, opened a few weeks after entrance into his see. Among other amendments he inhibited his visitators from accepting any gifts whatever. He then held a synod, the first at Valencia for many years, whereby he sought to do away with a number of abuses, as bloodshed, divorce, concubinage, and many excessive privileges or unreasonable exemptions; he abolished the underground prisons; rebuilt the general hospital at Valencia which had just been destroyed by fire; founded two colleges, one for young ecclesiastics, the other for poor students; laboured for the conversion of the , whose profession of Christianity was largely mere outward show; established a creche near his palace for foundlings and the offspring of indigent parents; had Mass said at early hours for the working-classes; and in brief, by statutes, by preaching, and by example, strove to reform the morals of churchman and layman.
Towards the poor especially his heart was ever alive with pity; to them his palace gate was always open; daily he had a repast for every poor person that applied for help, as many even as four to five hundred thus getting their meals at his hands. In every district of the city he had almoners appointed with orders especially to search out the respectable persons who shrank from asking alms; these he had supplied with money, food, clothing, while as to indigent workmen, poor farmers, and mechanics, he replenished their stock and brought them tools, thus putting them in the way of making a living. His whole life as replete with acts of practical kindness. He spent his spare time chiefly in prayer and study; his table was one of simple fare, with no luxuries. His dress was inexpensive; he mended with his own hands whatever needed repairs. Numberless are the instances of St. Thomas' supernatural gifts, of his power of healing the sick, of multiplication of food, of redressing grievances, of his ecstasies, of his conversions of sinners. He was taken ill in August, 1555, of angina pectoris, of which he died at the age of 67, at the termination of Mass in his bedroom. His last words were the versicles: "In manus tuas, Domine", etc.; his remains were entombed at the convent Church of Our Lady of Help of his order outside the city walls, whence later they were brought to the cathedral. The saint was of well-knit frame, of medium height, with dark complexion, brilliant eyes, ruddy cheeks, and Roman nose. He was beatified by Paul V (7 Oct., 1618), who set his feast-day for 18 Sept., and canonized by Alexander VII on 1 Nov., 1658.
Various reasons are given to account for St. Thomas' non-appearance at the Council of Trent, among them that he was ill, unable to stand the fatigue of travel; that his people would not brook his absence; and that the emperor was unable to do without his aid at home. The writings of St. Thomas, mainly sermons, are replete with practical norms of mystic theology. Some twenty editions have been published, the best and most complete being probably that of Manila, 1882-1884, in 5 tomes.SHARED FROM the Catholic Encyclopedia