Today in the Latin Calendar we celebrate the Feast Day of S. Antoninus of Florence, Bishop. A story about this Feast Day can be found by Clicking Here.
Anthony Pierozzi, born on March 1, 1389, was soon nicknamed “Antoninus” (“Little Anthony”), either because of his small stature or his weak health. Thus began the life of the future Saint Antoninus born to noble parents in Florence, Italy.
The influence of the Dominicans on Antoninus’ early life led him to seek admittance to the Dominican Order at the age of 15. Antoninus approached the prior of the convent in Fiesole, Brother John Dominic, with his request to be admitted to the Order. Perhaps noticing the weak health of the aspirant and not wishing to give an outright refusal to Antoninus’ request, Brother John Dominic told him to come back once he had memorized the Decretum of Gratian, or the Code of Canon Law at the time. To the prior’s surprise, the youth returned within the year having accomplished the task required of him. He was thus admitted to the Order.
The love and zeal he had as a novice never left Antoninus. He became a great reformer more by example than by word. Elected prior at a young age, Antoninus served as superior for many years. He, like his brother in St. Dominic, St. Thomas Aquinas, was concerned with the formation of the friars of the Order of Preachers. Hence he prepared the Summa Moralis, a systematic and comprehensive presentation of Christian Moral Theology, which he wrote, as he said, during the summer and the winter of his life. Antoninus’ writings treated the practical aspects of living the faith.
Antoninus’ devotion to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and spiritual counsel earned him the title of Antoninus the Counselor. Such was his ability to instruct and to guide others.
Antoninus accepted into the Order Brother John of Fiesole, the future artist, Fra Angelico. Having an eye for recognizing the gifts of others, Antoninus instructed Fra Angelico to prepare his own Summa Moralis, not in words but through his painting. Hence when the new convent of San Marco was built, Prior Antoninus had Fra Angelico grace each of the friar’s cells with a painting based on a scene from the life of Christ.
After he was appointed Archbishop of Florence, Antoninus’ residence became known as the hostel for the poor, such was his generosity and service for victims of poverty. His sensitivity to the needs of others led him to found the “Men of St. Martin,” in order to offer quiet support to the wealthy who had become indigent. Hence, the Archbishop lived out the works of mercy.
St. Antoninus died May 2, 1459. His funeral Mass was celebrated by Pope Pius II. He was canonized on Trinity Sunday, May 31, 1523.
Eternal God, you blessed Saint Antoninus with a marvelous gift of counsel. By the help of his prayers, while we walk in the darkness of this life, may we learn from the light of Christ all that we ought to do. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Also today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate SS. Gordan and Epimachus, Martyrs. A story about these martyrs can be found by Clicking Here.
Martyrs, suffered under Julian the Apostate, 362, commemorated on 10 May. Gordianus was a judge but was so moved by the sanctity and sufferings of the saintly priest, Januarius, he embraced Christianity with many of his household. Being accused before his successor, or as some say before the prefect of the city, Apronianus, he was cruelly tortured and finally beheaded. His body was carried off by the Christians, and laid in a crypt on the Latin Way beside the body of St. Epimachus, who had been recently interred there. The two saints gave their name to the cemetery, and have ever since been joined together in the veneration of the Church.
St. Damien Joseph de Veuster of Molokai
When Joseph de Veuster was born in Tremelo, Belgium, in 1840, few people in Europe had any firsthand knowledge of leprosy (Hansen's disease). By the time he died at the age of 49, people all over the world knew about this disease because of him. They knew that human compassion could soften the ravages of this disease.
Forced to quit school at age 13 to work on the family farm, Joseph entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary six years later, taking the name of a fourth-century physician and martyr. When his brother Pamphile, a priest in the same congregation, fell ill and was unable to go to the Hawaiian Islands as assigned, Damien quickly volunteered in his place. In May 1864, two months after arriving in his new mission, Damien was ordained a priest in Honolulu and assigned to the island of Hawaii.
In 1873, he went to the Hawaiian government's leper colony on the island of Molokai, set up seven years earlier. Part of a team of four chaplains taking that assignment for three months each year, Damien soon volunteered to remain permanently, caring for the people's physical, medical and spiritual needs. In time, he became their most effective advocate to obtain promised government support.
Soon the settlement had new houses and a new church, school and orphanage. Morale improved considerably. A few years later he succeeded in getting the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, led by Mother Marianne Cope (January 23), to help staff this colony in Kalaupapa.
Damien contracted Hansen's disease and died of its complications. As requested, he was buried in Kalaupapa, but in 1936 the Belgian government succeeded in having his body moved to Belgium. Part of Damien's body was returned to his beloved Hawaiian brothers and sisters after his beatification in 1995.
Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009.
When Hawaii became a state in 1959, it selected Damien as one of its two representatives in the Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.
Some people thought Damien was a hero for going to Molokai and others thought he was crazy. When a Protestant clergyman wrote that Damien was guilty of immoral behavior, Robert Louis Stevenson vigorously defended him in an "Open Letter to Dr. Hyde."
During the canonization homily, Pope Benedict XVI said: "Let us remember before this noble figure that it is charity which makes unity, brings it forth and makes it desirable. Following in St. Paul's footsteps, St. Damien prompts us to choose the good warfare (1 Tm 1:18), not the kind that brings division but the kind that gathers people together. He invites us to open our eyes to the forms of leprosy that disfigure the humanity of our brethren and still today call for the charity of our presence as servants, beyond that of our generosity."
Dear God, help us have the courage, tenacity and love needed to show the world our faith, never in an obnoxious way, but never shrinking through reticence or fear either.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
(Holiness) means having real and continual contempt for ourselves and the things of the world, to the point of preferring poverty rather than wealth, humilitation rather than glory, suffering rather than pleasure.