Thursday, December 19, 2019

Saint December 20 : St. Dominic of Silos whom the Founder of the Dominicans was named after and Patron of against rabies; captives; pregnant women; prisoners; shepherds

1000, Cañas (modern Rioja), Spain
December 10, 1073, Silos
Patron of:
against rabies; against rabid dogs; against insects; captives; pregnant women; prisoners; shepherds
St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers, was named after this Benedictine abbot, who lived a century before him. According to Dominican tradition, St. Dominic of Silos appeared to Blessed Joan of Aza (the mother of the later St. Dominic), who made a pilgrimage to his shrine before the birth of her son, and named him after the abbot of Silos.
Our saint today, Dominic of Silos, was born in Spain around the year 1000 into a peasant family. As a young boy he spent time in the fields, where he welcomed the solitude. He became a Benedictine priest and served in numerous leadership positions. Following a dispute with the king over property, Dominic and two other monks were exiled. They established a new monastery in what at first seemed an unpromising location. Under Dominic’s leadership, however, it became one of the most famous houses in Spain. Many healings were reported there. About 100 years after Dominic’s death, a young woman made a pilgrimage to his tomb. There Dominic of Silos appeared to her and assured her that she would bear another son. The woman was Joan of Aza, and the son she bore grew up to be the “other” Dominic—the one who founded the Dominicans. For many years thereafter, the staff used by Saint Dominic of Silos was brought to the royal palace whenever a queen of Spain was in labor. That practice ended in 1931. Reflection Saint Dominic of Silos’ connection with the Saint Dominic who founded the Dominican Order brings to mind the film Six Degrees of Separation: we are all connected it seems. God’s providential care can bring people together in mysterious ways, but it all points to his love for each of us. Text from Franciscan media

At Mass, Pope Francis says “In these days before Christmas, we praise the Lord for the gratuitousness of salvation..for everything He gives us for free." Homily

Pope at Mass: The Lord’s gratuitousness makes the desert bloom
Celebrating Mass at the Casa Santa Marta chapel in the Vatican, Thursday morning, Pope Francis reflected on God’s gratuitousness, saying the desert will bloom like the barren mothers of Samson and John the Baptist.
By Robin Gomes

Evoking the prophecy of Isaiah, the Pope dwelt on the blooming of the desert, reminding Christians that God is capable of changing everything, gratuitously.  God saves us for free, but we sin when we desire to save ourselves.

With God nothing is impossible
With Christmas less than a week away, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s readings, which "puts us in front of two deserts", or two barren women, namely Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist in the Gospel and the mother of Samson in the Old Testament.

Speaking about Elizabeth, the Pope said, reminds us of the story of Abraham and Sarah.  "Sterility is a desert", he explained, because "a sterile woman ends up there, without descendants".  Both Sarah and Elizabeth are "women of faith" and trust in the Lord.  Both conceive and give birth.

The Pope pointed out that both conceive because God is capable of changing everything, even the laws of nature. He is capable of making way for His Word.

God’s gratuitousness
“God's gifts are gratuitous,” the Pope said, adding, the lives of the two women are the expression of God's gratuitousness.

According to Pope Francis, John the Baptist and Samson are "God's gratuitousness", rather, they are the symbols, so to speak, “of the gratuitousness of our salvation",  because "no one can save himself".   It is only the Lord who is capable of saving us from our miseries and brutality.  And if one does not entrust himself to the gratuitousness of the Lord's salvation, he will not be saved.  For this, one must have faith, which is also a gift from God.

We are all sterile
Pope Francis stressed the meaning of grace, urging all, in the words of St. Augustine, to open their hearts to God’s gratuitousness.

If one says he is a Catholic, goes to Sunday Mass, is a member of an association and so on, nothing can save him unless he “believes in the gratuitousness of God’s gift”. Because everything is grace, all are called to adore the Lord and thank Him for it.

Sin is desire to redeem oneself
Among the famous men born of the two barren women of today’s readings, Pope Francis drew attention to Samson, a strong man and fighter, who saved the people from the Philistines, but who perhaps did not care for the gratuitousness of the gift received from God.   He made a mistake and fell into the hands of a woman who sold him to the Philistines.  However, he recovered. The Pope recalled Samson to remind Christians that we are all sinners and that sin is not safeguarding this gratuitousness of God.

The Pope said, we too can slip down like Samson and believe ourselves to be redeemers of ourselves.  This, he stressed, is sin, which is the desire to redeem ourselves.

“In these days before Christmas,” the Pope concluded, “we praise the Lord for the gratuitousness of salvation, for the gratuitousness of life, for everything He gives us for  free. Everything is grace”.
FULL TEXT Source: - 

Christmas Novena : Day 3 : Official version with Plenary Indulgence - Powerful Prayers to Prepare for Christmas!


Opening Prayer:
V. O God, come to my assistance.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to
the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now
and ever shall be, world without
Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Day 3 Prayers

The Expectation of Birth.
O most sweet infant Jesus, who waited for nine months
enclosed in the womb, and inflamed the heart of the
Virgin Mary and St. Joseph with the most powerful love
and expectation, all for the salvation of the world. 
Have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us, 0 Lord. Have mercy on us.
Hail Mary...
NOVENA PREPARATORY TO CHRISTMAS In order to the devout preparation of ourselves for the glorious Birthday of our most loving Saviour, Jesus Christ, which the holy Church recalls to our memory every year on the 25th of December, and at the same time to render Him thanks for this great benefit, Pope Pius VII., by a Rescript of the Segretaria of the Memorials, dated August 12th, 1815 (which said Rescript is preserved in the Segretaria of the Vicariate), granted to all faithful Christians who, being contrite in heart, should prepare themselves for that great solemnity by a novena, consisting of pious exercises, prayers, acts of virtue, &c. -
i. An indulgence of 300 days each day of the said novena, and -
ii. A plenary indulgence to be gained on Christmas day, or on some day in its octave, by those who, after Confession and Communion, shall have made the said novena every day, and who shall pray according to the intentions of the Sovereigns Pontiff: and note that the Confession and Communion may be made on  any one of the days of the said novena, provided the novena is correctly kept. This was declared by Pope Pius VIII., of holy memory, by means of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, July 9, 1830. These indulgences were extended by the above-named Pius VII. to one other time in the year, besides the the specified, when any one should make the aforesaid novena in honour of the Child Jesus.

Pope Francis meets with 33 recently arrived Refugees and Unveils Cross saying "...every person, whose life and dignity are precious in the eyes of God." Full Text

Pope Francis meets 33 refugees who recently arrived from the Greek island of Lesbos and unveils a cross in the Vatican’s Belvedere Courtyard to remember all migrants and refugees. THE POPE MEETS THE REFUGEES RECENTLY RECEIVED FROM LESBOS WITH THE HUMANITARIAN CORRIDORS


Thursday, December 19, 2019

This is the second life jacket I receive as a gift. The first one was given to me a few years ago by a group of rescuers. It belonged to a little girl who drowned in the Mediterranean. I then donated it to the two Undersecretaries of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Department for the Integral Human Development Service. I told them: "Here is your mission!" With this I wanted to signify the indispensable commitment of the Church to save the lives of migrants, to then be able to welcome, protect, promote and integrate them.

This second jacket, delivered by another group of rescuers only a few days ago, belonged to a migrant who died at sea last July. No one knows who he was or where he came from. It is only known that his jacket was recovered adrift in the Central Mediterranean, on 3 July 2019, at certain geographical coordinates. We are facing another death caused by injustice. Yes, because it is injustice that forces many migrants to leave their lands. It is the injustice that forces them to cross deserts and suffer abuse and torture in detention camps. It is the injustice that rejects them and makes them die at sea.

The jacket "dresses" a cross in colored resin, which wants to express the spiritual experience that I was able to grasp from the words of the rescuers. In Jesus Christ the cross is a source of salvation, "foolishness for those who are lost - says St. Paul - but for those who are saved, that is for us, it is the power of God" (1 Cor 1:18). In the Christian tradition the cross is a symbol of suffering and sacrifice and, at the same time, of redemption and salvation.

This cross is transparent: it presents itself as a challenge to look more carefully and to always seek the truth. The cross is luminescent: it wants to encourage our faith in the Resurrection, the triumph of Christ over death. Even the unknown migrant, who died with hope in a new life, participates in this victory. Rescuers told me how they are learning humanity from the people they can save. They revealed to me how in every mission they rediscover the beauty of being one big human family, united in universal fraternity.

I decided to expose here this life jacket, "crucified" on this cross, to remind us that we must keep our eyes open, keep our hearts open, to remind everyone of the absolute commitment to save every human life, a moral duty that unites believers and non-believers.

How can we not listen to the desperate cry of so many brothers and sisters who prefer to face a stormy sea rather than die slowly in Libyan detention camps, places of torture and despicable slavery? How can we remain indifferent to the abuses and violence of which they are innocent victims, leaving them at the mercy of unscrupulous traffickers? How can we "go beyond", like the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan (see Lk 10: 31-32), making us so responsible for their death? Our sloth is a sin!

I thank the Lord for all those who have decided not to remain indifferent and do their utmost to help the victim, without asking too many questions about how or why the poor half-dead ended up on their way. It is not blocking their boats that the problem is solved. Serious efforts must be made to empty the detention camps in Libya, evaluating and implementing all possible solutions. It is necessary to denounce and prosecute traffickers who exploit and mistreat migrants, without fear of revealing connivance and complicity with the institutions. Economic interests must be set aside so that at the center there is the person, every person, whose life and dignity are precious in the eyes of God. We must help and save, because we are all responsible for the life of our neighbor, and the Lord there is will ask for an account at the time of judgment. Thanks.

Now, looking at this jacket and looking at the cross, everyone silently pray.

The Lord bless you all.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: - Unofficial Translation

Wow Powerful Christmas Commercial shows why we Need to visit Parents during the Holidays to Share! #ViralVideo

The most powerful commercial of the year, if not ever. This was created by a German supermarket chain Edeka (English subs). It has had almost 20 million views in three days. It is about a Grandfather, (Opa) whose family is always too busy to see him. This will make you call your parents/grandparents/relatives/distant cousins right away. And it may cause a few tears. Watch it and SHARE it might just touch someone's heart...

Pope Francis tells Ambassadors ".. as Christians...prepare to celebrate the birth of ...the Prince of Peace. In fact, peace is the aspiration of the entire human family."

Clementine Hall
Thursday, 19 December 2019

Your Excellencies,
I am pleased to receive you for the presentation of the Letters by which you are accredited as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of your countries to the Holy See: Seychelles, Mali, Andorra, Kenya, Latvia and Niger. I would ask you kindly to convey my sentiments of esteem to your respective Heads of State, together with the assurance of my prayers for them and for your fellow citizens.
Our meeting today takes place as Christians throughout the world prepare to celebrate the birth of the one whom we address as the Prince of Peace. In fact, peace is the aspiration of the entire human family. It is a journey of hope, encompassing dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion (cf. Message for the 2020 World Day of Peace). In a world sadly marked by civil, regional and international conflicts, social divisions and inequalities, it is essential to undertake a constructive and creative dialogue based on honesty and truth, with the aim of fostering greater fraternal solidarity among individuals and within the global community. For her part, the Catholic Church is committed to cooperating with every responsible partner in promoting the good of each person and of all peoples. It is my prayerful hope that your mission will contribute not only to the consolidation of the good relations existing between your nations and the Holy See, but also to the building of a more just and peaceful world in which human life, dignity and rights are respected and enhanced.
The path to peace begins with openness to reconciliation, “which entails renouncing our desire to dominate others and learning to see one another as persons, sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters” (ibid., 3). Only when we set aside indifference and fear can a genuine climate of mutual respect grow and flourish. This, in turn, leads to the development of a culture of inclusion, a more just economic system and various opportunities for the participation of all in social and political life. Your presence here is a sign of the resolution of the nations you represent and of the international community as a whole to address the situations of injustice, discrimination, poverty and inequality that afflict our world and threaten the hopes and aspirations of coming generations.
Increasingly, we see that the path to peace is blocked also by a lack of respect for our common home and particularly by the abusive exploitation of natural resources viewed only as a source of immediate profit, without consideration of the cost to local communities or to nature itself. Our world is facing a series of complex challenges to the sustainability of the environment, not only for the present but also for the immediate future. The recent Synod on the Pan-Amazon Region called for a renewed appreciation of the relationship between communities and the land, between present and past, and between experience and hope. A commitment to responsible stewardship of the earth and its resources is urgently demanded at every level, from family education, to social and civic life, and to political and economic decision-making. The common good and that of the home in which we dwell demand cooperative efforts to advance the flourishing of life and the integral development of every member of our human family.
Dear Ambassadors, as you now begin your mission to the Holy See, I offer you my prayerful best wishes and I assure you of the constant readiness of the various offices of the Roman Curia to assist you in the fulfillment of your responsibilities. Upon you and your families, your co-workers and all your fellow citizens, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.

FULL TEXT + Image Source: - Unofficial Translation

In Christmas Message of Bishop Georges Khazen, Apostolic Vicar in Syria he wishes Christmas "...also becomes an opportunity for inner conversion..."

Bishop of Aleppo: communities weakened by the selfishness of individuals.
 At Christmas may the light of Christ give us unity
Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) -
Baby Jesus came into the world in a historical moment torn by violence, deprivation and suffering, similar to those that today afflict Syrians and other peoples of the Middle East. The light of his hope has lit up in the darkness, and can illuminate even today the real lives of the people who live among the troubles of these difficult times. Instead, many Christians in Syria also allow themselves to be guided by selfishness and also use the ecclesial community as a kind of welfare network to be exploited, an agency at the service of their private interests.
And this selfish individualism represents a sneaky trap that weakens and extinguishes the life of Middle Eastern Christian communities in the present time. Thus writes Bishop Georges Abou Khazen ofm, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo for Catholics of the Latin rite, in a Christmas letter full of considerations about the current condition of Christians in the Middle East.
Two thousand years ago - the Franciscan Bishop told Agenzia Fides, illustrating the key passages of his Christmas letter - Jesus came to a world marked by phenomena and conditions not very different from those in which we live today: crises, conflicts, wars. Misery and famine.
Even at that time there were migratory flows in Egypt, towards Rome, or towards Mesopotamia: Therefore, with what courage could the angels accept the birth of Jesus by singing the glory to God in heaven and peace on earth to men? It was possible precisely because the birth of God made man was not a fairy tale, and it was not fake news. It was a real event, which surprised and changed the hearts of the shepherds who came to see Baby Jesus, and urged them to tell others what they had seen".
The novelty entered into the world with the incarnation of Christ - adds the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo – it is a promise of salvation that goes towards its fulfillment through difficulties, resistances, skepticisms and indifferences of which the human history of men is full. And along the way, the miracle that can surprise the world is always that of hope lit in hearts touched and freed by the grace of Christ, even when the historical conditions are marked by suffering and misery. In this regard, Bishop Georges introduces precious references to the current condition of local Christian communities. Considerations that move away from the prevailing stereotypes in the global media mainstream.
At the time of the birth of Jesus - the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo points out - the angels did not announce that event admirable to a single individual, but to a community of shepherds. Throughout history, the wonder of the Christian event brings people together and transforms them into communities. Looking to the present, the Franciscan Bishop recalls that so many reasons and problems, also linked to the Syrian conflict, have contributed to weakening the local Christian communities in recent years. But then he indicates, as the determining factor of this weakening, the attitude of many to consider the community as a kind of organization at the service of his personal interests. "With great sorrow" writes Bishop Georges, "I register the loss of the sense of community belonging in a certain number of adults, who unfortunately transfer this mentality to their children. We belong to the Church.
If the Church remains united, the gates of hell will not prevail. And in the Christian community, each person is attentive to the good of others, before his own interest". Instead, out of this experience, each individual becomes more fragile and vulnerable, also at the mercy of social communication tools (the Bishop explicitly gives the example of smartphones) that do not serve to bring people together, but end up isolating each individual in his individualistic solitude.
Looking painfully at these processes of disintegration, Bishop Abou Khazen wishes everyone that it is precisely Christmas that also becomes an opportunity for inner conversion, "to remove all the selfish and individualistic ideas that have been instilled in us". The unity of Christian communities - remarks the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo - is a surprising testimony for all those who, looking at Christians in communion with one another, can exclaim: "look how they love each other!" "It is a miracle", adds Bishop Georges, "the miracle of love. We cannot reach it alone, but by the grace of God". "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you", says Jesus. We must ask for this blessing, seek it through small initiatives and simple gestures. In the spirit of the community, we feel safe". Even when Jesus came into the world, "people walked in the dark, absent-minded, and the divine light, the light of faith, attracted them together and brought them together. I hope that we too can see this light and unite together under the banner of Christ, the Savior of the world". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 19/12/2019

RIP Archbishop Emeritus André Gaumond of the Archdiocese of Sherbrooke, Québec - Death at the age of 82

CCCB Release: Death of The Most Reverend André Gaumond Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Sherbrooke
Ottawa – The Most Reverend André Gaumond, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Sherbrooke, died on 14 December 2019.

Archbishop Gaumond was born on 3 June 1936 in Saint-Thomas de Montmagny, Québec, and ordained a priest for the Diocese of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière on 27 May 1961 following the completion of his theological formation at Saint Paul Seminary, Ottawa. After pursuing further studies in philosophy at the Institut catholique de Paris in France, he taught apologetics and philosophy at the Collège Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière (1961-1969). Later he taught philosophy and then served in the office of adult education (Service de l'éducation aux adultes) at the Cégep de La Pocatière (1969-1980). Before being named Bishop, he served as the seasonal pastor at Lac-Trois-Saumons (1975-1981) and as pastor for the communities of Saint-Pamphile and Saint-Omer (1981-1985). On 31 May 1985, he was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière and was ordained Bishop on 15 August 1985. On 16 February 1995, he was named Coadjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Sherbrooke, and succeeded as Archbishop of Sherbrooke on 1 July 1996, where he served for 15 years until Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation 26 July 2011 upon his reaching the age of 75, as required by the Code of Canon Law.

As a member of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Archbishop Gaumond served as a member of the former Commission for Ministries and the Apostolate (1987-1991), the former Commission for Relations with Associations of Priests, Religious and Laity (1989-1993), the then Commission for Theology (1991-1995), the former Programs and Priorities Committee (1997-1999), the former Commission Associations of the Clergy, Consecrated Life and Laity (2001-2005), and the Committee for Canon Law (2008-2011). He also served one term as Chairman of the former Commission for the Evangelization of the Peoples, 1997-1999. He likewise served on the Permanent Council as a regional representative (1991-1995), and was then elected CCCB Co-Treasurer (1999-2003), Vice President (2003-2005) and President (2005-2007). For a number of years, beginning in 2009, Archbishop Gaumond represented the CCCB as its liaison with French-language seminaries and formation centres for priests. During his episcopacy, he also served in various capacities with the Quebec Assembly of Catholic Bishops (Assemblée des évêques catholiques du Québec), including as Vice President (1993-1995) and as President (1996-1997).

Archbishop Gaumond will lie in state at Saint-Michel Cathedral-Basilica, 130 Cathédrale Street in Sherbrooke, Thursday, 19 December, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., with a Liturgy of the Word at 8:00 p.m. The funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday, 20 December at 11:00 a.m. in the Cathedral-Basilica which will be open to the public beginning at 9:00 a.m.
Full Text Source:

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thursday, December 19, 2019 - #Eucharist in Advent

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
Lectionary: 195

Reading 1JGS 13:2-7, 24-25A
There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites,
whose name was Manoah.
His wife was barren and had borne no children.
An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her,
“Though you are barren and have had no children,
yet you will conceive and bear a son.
Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink
and to eat nothing unclean.
As for the son you will conceive and bear,
no razor shall touch his head,
for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb.
It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel
from the power of the Philistines.”

The woman went and told her husband,
“A man of God came to me;
he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed.
I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.
But he said to me,
‘You will be with child and will bear a son.
So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean.
For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb,
until the day of his death.’”

The woman bore a son and named him Samson.
The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him;
the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.

Responsorial PsalmPS 71:3-4A, 5-6AB, 16-17

R. (see 8)  My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
For you are my hope, O LORD;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother's womb you are my strength.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
I will treat of the mighty works of the LORD;
O God, I will tell of your singular justice.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!


R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Root of Jesse's stem,
sign of God's love for all his people;
come to save us without delay!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 1:5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years.

Once when he was serving as priest
in his division's turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.

But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn the hearts of fathers toward children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord."

Then Zechariah said to the angel,
"How shall I know this?
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years."
And the angel said to him in reply,
"I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time."

Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah
and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary.
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary.
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
"So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others."

Saint December 19 : Blessed Urban V : Pope who Died in 1370 in Avignon, France

Bl. Urban V
1310 Grizac, Languedoc, France
December 19, 1370 Avignon, France
Guillaume de Grimoard, born at Grisac in Languedoc, 1310; died at Avignon, 19 December, 1370. Born of a knightly family, he was educated at Montpellier and Toulouse, and became a Benedictine monk at the little priory of Chirac near his home. A Bull of 1363 informs us that he was professed at the great Abbey of St. Victor at Marseilles, where he imbibed his characteristic love for the Order of St. Benedict; even as pope he wore its habit. He was ordained at Chirac, and after a further course of theology and canon law at the universities of Toulouse, Montpellier, Paris, and Avignon, he received the doctorate in 1342. He was one of the greatest canonists of his day; was professor of canon law at Montpellier, and also taught at Toulouse, Paris, and Avignon; he acted successively as vicar-general of the Dioceses of Clermont and Uzès, was at an unknown date (before 1342) affiliated to Cluny, became prior of Notre-Dame du Pré (a priory dependent on St. Germain d'Auxerre), and in 1352 was named abbot of that famous house by Clement VI. With this date begins his diplomatic career. His first mission was to Giovanni Visconti, Archbishop and despot of Milan, and this he carried out successfully; in 1354 and 1360 he was employed on the affairs of the Holy See in Italy; in 1361 he was appointed by Innocent VI to the Abbacy of St. Victor at Marseilles, but in 1362 was once more dispatched to Italy, this time on an embassy to Joanna of Naples. It was while engaged on this business that the abbot heard of his election to the papacy. Innocent VI had died on 12 Sept. The choice of one who was not a cardinal was due to jealousies within the Sacred College, which made the election of any one of its members almost impossible. Guillaume de Grimoard was chosen for his virtue and learning, and for his skill in practical affairs of government and diplomacy. He arrived at Marseilles on 28 Oct., entered Avignon three days later, and was consecrated on 6 November, taking the name of Urban because, as he said, "all the popes who had borne the name had been saints". The general satisfaction which this election aroused was voiced by Petrarch, who wrote to the pope, "It is God alone who has chosen you".
On 20 November King John of France visited Avignon; his main purpose was to obtain the hand of Joanna of Naples, ward of the Holy See, for his son Philip, Duke of Touraine. In a letter of 7 November Urban had already approved her project of marriage with King James of Majorca, a king without a kingdom; by so doing the pope safeguarded his own independence at Avignon, which would have been gravely imperilled had the marriage of Joanna, who was also Countess of Provence, united to the Crown of France the country surrounding the little papal principality. The letter written by Urban to Joanna on 29 Nov., urging the marriage with Philip, was probably meant rather to appease the French king than to persuade the recipient. The betrothal of the Queen of Naples to James of Majorca was signed on 14 Dec. The enormous ransom of 3,000,000 gold crowns, due to Edward III of England from John of France by the treaty of Bretigny, was still in great part unpaid, and John now sought permission to levy a tithe on the revenues of the French clergy. Urban refused this request as well as another for the nomination of four cardinals chosen by the king. John also desired to intervene between the pope and Barnabò Visconti, tyrant of Milan. He was again refused, and when Barnabò failed to appear within the three months allowed by his citation, the pope excommunicated him (3 March, 1363). In April of the same year Visconti was defeated before Bologna. Peace was concluded in March, 1364; Barnabò restored the castles seized by him, while Urban withdrew the excommunication and undertook to pay half a million gold florins.
The Benedictine pope was a lover of peace, and much of his diplomacy was directed to the pacification of Italy and France. Both countries were overrun by mercenary bands known as the "Free Companies", and the pope made many efforts to secure their dispersal or departure. His excommunication was disregarded and the companies refused to join the distant King of Hungary in his battles with the Turks although the Emperor Charles IV, who came to Avignon in May, 1365, guaranteed the expenses of their journey and offered them the revenues of his kingdom of Bohemia for three years. War now broke out between Pedro the Cruel of Navarre and his brother Henry of Trastamare. Pedro was excommunicated for his  cruelties and persecutions of the clergy, and Bertrand Duguesclin, the victor of Cocherel, led the companies into Navarre; yet they visited Avignon on their way and wrung blackmail from the pope. The Spanish war was quickly ended, and Urban returned to his fomer plan of employing the companies against the Turk. The Count of Savoy was to have led them to the assistance of the King of Cyprus and the Eastern Empire, but this scheme too was a failure. Urban's efforts were equally fruitless in Italy, where the whole land was overrun with bands led by such famous condottieri as the German Count of Landau and the Englishman Sir John Hawkwood. In 1365, after the failure of a scheme to unite Florence, Pisa, and the Italian communes against them, the pope commissioned Albornoz to persuade these companies to join the King of Hungary. In 1366 he solemnly excommunicated them, forbade their employment, and called on the emperor and all the powers of Christendom to unite for their extirpation. All was in vain, for though a league of Italian cities was formed in September of that year, it was disolved about fifteen months later owing to Florentine jealousy of the emperor.
Rome had suffered terribly through the absence of her pontiffs, and it became apparent to Urban that if he remained at Avignon the work of the warlike Cardinal Albornoz in restoring to the papacy the States of the Church would be undone. On 14 September, 1366, he informed the emperor of his determination to return to Rome. All men rejoiced at the announcement except the French; the king understood that the departure from Avignon would mean a diminution of French influence at the Curia. The French cardinals were in despair at the prospect of leaving France, and even threatened to desert the pope. On 30 April, 1367, Urban left Avignon; on 19 May he sailed from Marseilles, and after a long coasting voyage he reached Corneto, where he was met by Albornoz. On 4 June the Romans brought the keys of Sant' Angelo in sign of welcome, and the Gesuati carrying their branches in their hands and headed by their founder, Blessed John Colombini, preceded the pope. Five days later he entered Viterbo, where he dwelt in the citadel. The disturbed state of Italy made it impossible for Urban to set out to Rome until he had gathered a considerable army, so it was not till 16 Oct. that he entered the city at the head of an imposing cavalcade, under the escort of the Count of Savoy, the Marquess of Ferrara, and other princes.
The return of the pope to Rome appeared to the contemporary world both as a great event and as a religious action. The pope now set to work to improve the material and moral condition of his capital. The basilicas and papal palaces were restored and decorated, and the Papal treasure, which had been preserved at Assisi since the days of Boniface VIII, was distributed to the city churches. The unemployed were put to work in the neglected gardens of the Vatican, and corn was distributed in seasons of scarcity; at the same time the discipline of the clergy was restored, and the frequentation of the sacraments encouraged. One of Urban's first acts was to change the Roman constitution, but it may be questioned whether "the sacrifice offered to the Pontiff as the reward of his return was the liberty of the people" (Gregorovius).
On 17 October, 1368, the emperor joined the pope at Viterbo. Before leaving Germany he had confirmed all the rights of the Church, and Urban hoped for his help against the Visconti, but Charles allowed himself to be bribed. On 21 Oct. the pope and emperor entered Rome together, the latter humbly leading the pontiff's mule. On 1 Nov. Charles acted as deacon at the Mass at which Urban crowned the empress. For more than a century pope and emperor had not appeared thus in amity. A year later the Emperor of the East, John V Palaeologus, came to Rome seeking assistance against the infidel; he abjured the schism and was received by Urban on the steps of St. Peter's. These emperors both of West and East were but shadows of their great predecessors, and their visits, triumphs as they might appear, were but little gain to Urban V. He felt that his position in Italy was insecure. The death of Albornoz (24 Aug., 1367), who had made his return to Italy possible, had been a great loss. The restlessness of the towns was exemplified by the revolt of Perugia, which had to be crushed by force; any chance storm might undo the work of the great legate. At heart, too, the pope had all a Frenchman's love for his country, and his French entourage urged his return to Avignon. In vain were the remonstrances of the envoys of Rome, which had gained "greater quiet and order, an influx of wealth, a revival of importance" from his sojourn; in vain were the admonitions of St. Bridget, who came from Rome to Montefiascone to warn him that if he returned to Avignon he would shortly die. War had broken out again between France and England, and the desire to bring about peace strengthened the pope's determination. On 5 Sept., 1370, "sad, suffering and deeply moved", Urban embarked at Corneto. In a Bull of 26 June he had told the Romans that his departure was motived by his desire to be useful to the Universal Church and to the country to which he was going. It may be, too, that the pope saw that the next conclave would be free at Avignon but not in Italy. Charles V joyfully sent a fleet of richly adorned galleys to Corneto; the pope did not long survive his return (24 Sept.) to Avignon. His body was buried in Notre-Dame des Doms at Avignon but was removed two years later, in accordance with his own wish, to the Abbey Church of St. Victor at Marseilles. Miracles multiplied around his tomb. His canonization was demanded by King Waldemar of Denmark and promised by Gregory XI as early as 1375, but did not take place owing to the disorders of the time. His cultus was approved by Pius IX in 1870.
Urban V was a man whose motives cannot be called in question: his policy aimed at Eurpoean peace; shortly before his death he had given orders that preparations should be made to enable him personally to visit and reconcile Edward III and Charles V. He had shown great zeal for the Crusade. On 29 March, 1363, Pierre de Lusignan, King of Cyprus and titular King of Jerusalem, appeared at Avignon to appeal for assistance against the Turks, and on 31 March (Good Friday) Urban preached the Crusade and gave the cross to the Kings of France, Denmark, and Cyprus; the chivalrous King John, who was to have been chief commander, died a quasi-prisoner at London in 1364, and though the King of Cyprus captured Alexandria (11 Oct., 1365), he was unable to hold the city. The crusading spirit  was dead in Europe. In an age of corruption and simony Urban stood for purity and disinterestedness in church life: he did much for ecclesiastical discipline and caused many provincial councils to be held; he refused to bestow place or money on his relatives, and even caused his own father to refund a pension bestowed on him by the French king. His brother, whom he prompted to the cardinalate, was acknowledged by all to be a man most worthy of the dignity. The pope's private life was that of a monk, and he was always accessible to those who sought his aid.
But Urban was a patriotic Frenchman, a defect in the universal father of Christendom. He estranged the English king by the help given to his rival, and aroused hostility in Italy by the favour shown to men of his own race whom he made his representatives in the States of the Church. He was a great patron of learning, founded universities at Cracow (by a Bull of 1364) and at Vienna (by a Bull of 1365), and caused the emperor to create the University of Orange; he revised the statutes of the University of Orléans; and gave great assistance to the universities of Avignon and Toulouse. At Bologna he supported the great college founded by Albornoz and paid the expenses of many poor students whom he sent thither. He also founded a studium at Trets (later removed to Manosque), but his greatest foundations were at Montpellier. His buildings and restorations were considerable, especially at Avignon, Rome, and Montpellier. He approved the orders of Brigittines and Gesuati, and canonized his godfather, St. Elzéar of Sabran.
source Catholic Encyclopedia