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Sunday, 10 February 2013
'Dies Gloriae'*, VII: From The Blessed Alojzije Stepinac To Saint Pamphilus
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There have been, and, no doubt, there still are, sainted men and women who have given, and give, everything they were, and are, for the sake of humanity. In previous posts in this series1, and in some of my other posts here2, I have introduced a number of them. These remarkable people really did give everything for our sakes -- often they fought their own natures and their own fears, they fought evil in all its guises, they fought the tyrannical, they fought the vicious and devil inspired Mohammedans, they fought the charlatans and the naysayers of their eras and they fought the indifference of their societies. They have walked, always, in the van of our herd for they have been, always, the leading spirits of their generations and they have inspired us and reminded us that we must do better.

Naturally, I am choosing, in putting together this Kalendar, saints who demonstrate for me some quality that chimes in my soul. I make no apologies about my selection for it is purely personal, but I think that, even so, the saints and the saintly whom I have chosen also demonstrate the very qualities that we at NER admire and would emulate. Those I have chosen obviously point up my beliefs and probably the beliefs of the others her at NER, as well. They are representative of the struggle we are engaged in to preserve and enhance our societies and our cultures, and they also represent the courage it takes to do so and, sometimes, the terrible outcomes that that courage can lead to. There are also saints here that have had other influences on us. They are the literary, artistic and scientific saints, the quiet saints one could say: their lives didn't necessarily end in martyrdom but still they exert, through their works, profound influences on us and on our cultures and on our societies.

This weeks selection of the profoundly good men and women whom I want to draw to your attention is no different from any other week's list -- it's just the details that change. So, let's start by looking at the first day and its sainted ones -- let's lift the West's great hammer of history and culture and see how it falls.

I have picked two sainted people to commemorate on this tenth of February, My first is the Blessed Alojzije Viktor Stepinac who was born on the eighth of May in 1898 at Brezaric near Krasic in Croatia. He grew up in a large Catholic family and served as an Austrian soldier in World War I. After being educated at the Pontifical Gregorian University at Rome he was ordained on the twenty-sixth of October in 1930.

In 1936, the rise of Nazism prompted Stepinac to support a committee helping people to flee from the so-called Third Reich and he instituted the 'Action for Assistance to Jewish Refugees' in 1938. He became a staunch defender of human rights regardless of a person's race, religion, nationality, ethnic group or social class, and that was a position that he took and maintained for the rest of his life. During the war, Stepinac helped hide countless people, mainly Jews, in monasteries and other Church property; some remained there throughout the war.

He was named Co-adjutor Archbishop of Zagreb on the twenty-ninth of May in 1934 and succeeded Archbishop Bauer on the seventh of December in 1937.

The end of the Second World War saw Yugoslavia replacing the oppression of the Nazis with the oppression of the Communists. Stepinac, wrote a biographer, "treated the new authorities…in accordance with the Gospel", but he fought for the rights of the Church and the interests of all Croatians. After publishing a letter denouncing the execution of priests by communist militants, Stepinac was arrested for the first time.

Following the Archbishop‘s release, Yugoslavia‘s new leader, Josip Broz Tito, tried to persuade him to have the Catholic Church in Croatia break from Rome. The Bishops of Yugoslavia issued a pastoral letter on the twenty-second of September in 1945 in which they referred to the promises made – and broken – by the Belgrade government: promises to respect freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and private ownership of property amongst many others. The Bishops demanded freedom for the Catholic press, Catholic schools, religious instruction, Catholic associations, and "full freedom for the human person and his inviolable rights, full respect for Christian marriage and the restitution of all confiscated properties and institutions". The state-run media then launched an attack on the Church in general, and the Archbishop in particular.

Stepinac was tried in September of 1946 on a variety of specious and trumped-up charges. The Pope, and many other people, objected to this show trial, and members of the Jewish community in the United States protested that "…this great man has been accused of being a collaborator of the Nazis. We Jews deny this…. Alojzije Stepinac was one of the few men in Europe who raised his voice against the Nazi tyranny, precisely at the time when it was most dangerous to do so." On the eleventh of October in 1946, he was sentenced to sixteen years of hard labour and the loss of his civil rights.

On the fifth of December in 1951, ill health forced the authorities to move Stepinac from prison to house arrest in Krasic. There he performed his priestly functions, received visitors and wrote more than five thousand letters, none of which show the slightest resentment for those who persecuted him.

He was created a Cardinal on the twelfth of January in 1953 by Pope Pius XII who called him "an example of apostolic zeal and Christian strength. [This is] to reward his extraordinary merits…and especially to honour and comfort our sons and daughters who resolutely confess their Catholic faith despite these difficult times." This, seemingly, was too much for the Yugoslav regime who promptly broke off diplomatic relations with the Holy See. Stepinac, however, retained his position and maintained his stance against the bullying government until his death, which many people suspect was a murder that was designed to eliminate an annoyance to that government.

That is the first hammer blow of the week -- a saint who should inspire us by his refusal to give up on our great Western concept of human rights no matter what the opposition or the cost.

As I wrote earlier I have selected another saint for today, as well. My second defier of tyranny and a sainted person for the tenth of February is the Blessed Alexander of Lugo, who is also known as Alexander Baldrati and sometimes as Alexander Baldrati a Lugo, who was born in 1595 in Lugo in Italy.

He joined the Dominicans in Lugo in Italy in 1612, then studied in Faenza near Naples, and at the convent of Our Lady of the Arch. As a priest he was assigned to Bologna in Italy soon after his ordination. He worked himself so hard, in the pulpit and with the needy, that he ruined his health and had to be re-assigned to Venice in Italy in order to recover.

As part of his recovery he was sent by sea to the east. The ship stopped on the Greek island of Chios, and Alexander took the opportunity to preach to the locals. An apostate Christian there took the opportunity to stir up sentiment against Alexander by going to the occupying Mohammedan invaders and swearing that Alexander had converted to Mohammedanism. Alexander was dragged into a shariah court, interrogated, and offered many rewards if he would bring other Dominicans to Mohammedanism. Although he denied, naturally, that he had ever converted to Mohammedanism, the court convicted him of being an apostate Mohammedan, and also charged the local Christians with the harbouring of an apostate. As we know, that was just typical vile Mohammedan behaviour and no Christian would ever expect any better of them for they are driven to such stupidities and violence by their demonaic faith.

The local Archbishop and Dominicans swore that Alexander had always been a Christian. When questioned again, Alexander denounced Mohammedanism, its devilish so-called prophet and the koran. In 1645, after an brief imprisonment, he was martyred by the barbarous Mohammedans by being burned at the stake; his body was then hacked to pieces by a blood-frenzied Mohammedan mob.

That's the second hammer blow of the week -- a sainted person who never gave in to, never sacrificed his civikised Western values to, the horrendous and sickening Mohammedans and their nauseating perversion of law and legal concepts -- a people whose bloodlust can never be slaked.

For the eleventh of February I have chosen to memorialise Saint Caedmon. Not a martyr but nonetheless a highly significant and very important figure for all those of us who speak, read and write our magnificent language -- English.

St. Caedmon died somewhen around AD680. He is thought to have been a Celt and he was already old at the time he came to be employed at the double monastery of Whitby to tend the animals. By all accounts he was too shy to join in the communal singing after meals so he would usually slip out to attend to his animals.

The legend runs, according to The Venerable Bede, that one night in the year AD657 Cædmon fell asleep and had a vision in which he learned a hymn. When he awoke, he knew the song and could recite it perfectly. The vision also gave him, so it is claimed, the power to versify. As he was illiterate, the brothers would read the Bible in Latin to Caedmon, and he would repeat it back to them as poetry in the vernacular English of that age, and that way he made Scripture more accessible to the laity.

With the encouragement of Saint Hilda, Whitby's abbess at the time, he became a Columban lay brother and he continued to create poetry until he died. His verse form was probably the traditional, oral form of the Anglo-Saxons and it's a pity that his only surviving poem is the 'Hymn of Creation,' often simply called 'Cædmon's Hymn', the poem he is said to have learned in his vision3.

What marks out Saint Cædmon for us is that he really was the first known poet of the vernacular English. I know that when we look at his surviving verse we have huge difficulties in reading it -- the English he composed in is comprehensible only to a few of us because our language has changed so much since his time. However, he versified in English, albeit in Old English, and he was the very first to do so.

Thats the third hammer blow of this week. It's a hammer blow that irretrievably drove the love of, and the need for, poetry deep into English culture, and therrefore, by extension, deep into the free, Western, Anglophone world as well.

For the twelfth of February I have chosen Saint Ethelwald of Lindisfarne (sometimes spelled Aethelweald or Aedilauld) who was a bishop eighth century England.

He was born in Northumbria and died circa AD740 He was prior and then abbot of Old Melrose in Scotland. On the death of Saint Edfrith, Ethelwald succeeded to the see of Lindisfarne in AD721. His continued the work of Saint Edfrith and ordered the completion of the work we know as 'The Lindisfarne Gospels'. He also made, or had made by Saint Billfrith, a splendid leather cover, which was set with gold and precious stones, for 'The Gospels'. Regrettably, that cover is now lost although the book is now bound in a wonderful cover made in 1852. You can view the 'The Lindisfarne Book of Gospels' in its entirety by clicking on this link.

However, Ethelwald is also famous for a compilation by him called 'Ymnarius Edilwald' -- 'The Hymnal of Ethelwald' -- that is probably the source of the 'Book of Cerne' (text with scholarly interpolations can be found here and a choice of downloads can can be worked from here) which is in Cambridge University Library and it came from the Royal Library in 1715. It is a book of private prayers and devotions, including Gospel Passion extracts, hymns and prayers (Roman and Celtic), an abridged Psalter and an apocryphal Harrowing of Hades4 that is a truly marvellous story.

The hammer has now fallen for the fourth time this week. This time it has beaten into England the glories of the written word, first in manuscripts then in books. It's a blow that even today reverberates throughout the English speaking world Westernised world.

I have a soft spot for the Dominicans, as you may have noticed, and that is because they were so staunch in defending Christianity against the Mohammedan horde whenever they encountered it, so it will come as very little of a surprise that my selected saint for the thirteenth of February is the Blessed Jordan of Saxony, sometimes known as Jordanus de Alamaia. He was of noble birth and he was born at Padberg Castle in Westphalia in Germany somewhen around AD1190 and he died in a shipwreck off the coast of Syria on the thirteenth of February in 1237. He was buried in the Dominican Church of St. John in Akko, in present-day Israel.

He was the second head of the Dominican order (the first being, naturally, Saint Dominic de Guzman) and he was a close personal friend of the Blessed Diana d'Andalo who, under his auspices, established the order of Dominican nuns. However, the Blessed Jordan is chiefly remembered for his writings and especially for his letters to the Blessed Diana which demonstrate the pure affection that existed between those two Saints. Just for an example here is one that Jordan wrote to her at a Christmas:

Paris 1229

Dear Diana,

I cannot find the time to write you the long letter your love would wish for and I would so gladly send. Nonetheless I do write, I send you a very little word, the Word made little in the crib, the Word who was made flesh for us, the Word of salvation and grace, of sweetness and glory, the Word who is good and gentle, Jesus Christ and him crucified, Christ raised up on the cross, raised in praise to the Father's right hand: to whom and in whom do you raise up your soul and find there your rest unending for ever and ever.

Read over that Word in your heart, turn it over in your mind, let it be sweet as honey on your lips; ponder it, dwell on it, that it may dwell with you and in you for ever.

There is another word that I send you, small and brief; my love, which will speak for me to your love in your heart and will content it. May this word too be yours, and likewise dwell with you for ever.

Farewell, and pray for me,

Jordan.

In what was a very busy lifetime he found time to write several books. Among them was the 'Libellus de principiis Ordinis Praedicatorum' ('Booklet on the beginnings of the Order of Preachers'), which you can find here in an English translation, that is a Latin text which is both the earliest biography of Saint Dominic and the first narrative history of the foundation of the Dominican Order.

Interestingly, there are a few pages Friar Gerald de Frachet's book 'The Lives of the Brothers' ('Vitae fratrum'), the English translation is here, whereon he describes Jordan's character and his virtues. Jordan was blessed with great kindness and personal charm and he had the rare ability of being able to console the troubled and to inspire the downhearted with hope.

So, why have I recommended the Blessed Jordan to you for commemoration? Firstly, because he was highly literate and the head of my favourite order. Secondly, because he was a nobleman from a wealthy and titled family and he stands for, for me, the sense of noblesse oblige that infuses so many in Europe's nobility, that excellent quality of leading by right of birth coupled with a full knowledge of the obligations of rank and power. That's a quality that Christianity imbued into European nobility uniquely.

That is the fifth hammer blow -- European aristocracy that came to appreciate that ruling was about service, a singularly Western concept. That did not, and cannot, happen in the me-me-me-and-me-again world of the Mohammedans.

The fourteenth of February is, of course, Saint Valentine's day. You can find my article explaining Saint Valentine's day and its age-old customs behind this link.

However, my saint for the day is Saint Cyril (sometimes called the Apostle of the Slavs, or the Apostle of the Southern Slavs, or Constantin(e), or Constantine the Philospher, or Cyril the Philosopher, or Equal of the Apostles). He was born in AD827 at Thessalonica in Greece and died on this day in 869 at Rome. He was born into the Greek nobility and his family was connected with the senate of Thessalonica. He was, also, Saint Methodius' brother who also evangelised the Slavs.

Saints Cyril's chief claim to fame is that he invented the Cyrillic alphabet, which some people attempt to call the 'Glagolitic' alphabet, and it is thought that the name 'glagolitsa' developed in Croatia around the fourteenth century and was derived from the word 'glagolity that was applied to adherents of the Church's liturgy in Slavonic, and thus 'glagolitic' arose and that means that modern scholars don't actually have to name a Christian saint -- convenient, eh?

That's the sixth hammer strike -- the conversion of the Slavs that halted Mohammedanism spread into Eastern and North-eastern Europe coupled with the invention of Cyrillic that founded a great Western literary culture that to this day contributes much to our societies.

For the fifteenth of February I have chosen to memorialise Saint Claude La Colombiere who was born in 1641 at Saint-Symphorien-d'Ozon near Lyon in France to wealthy and noble parents. He was the confessor of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque who had been sent mystical revelations on The Sacred Heart of Jesus. Saint Claude, who was a highly gifted priest, was also a Christian ascetic5 and mystic and helped her to interpret the meanings of her revelations and between them they founded the devotion to The Sacred Heart that we know today. He died on this day in 1682 at Paray-le-Monial in France.

In 1676, he was sent to England as preacher to Mary of Modena (Maria Beatrice Anna Margherita Isabella d'Este) who was to become the Queen Consort of King James II and VII of England, Scotland and Ireland. He became a victim of one of the rapscallion Titus Oates' imaginary plots and was exiled back to France after spending three weeks in an English gaol.

However, Saint Claude's chief claim to fame for many Christians is his sense of the sacred, his spirituality if you will, that joins with his sense of the Christian mystery and his ascetic example.This makes him a profound teacher for many people who encounter Christian mysticism and need to have it interpreted and set into context within the faith.

He wrote copiously on his subjects and his best known works today are 'Pious Reflections', 'Meditations on the Passion' and 'Retreat and Spiritual Letters', which were published under the title, 'Oeuvres du R. P. Claude de la Colombière' (Avignon, 1832; Paris, 1864), and you can find that book in several different formats at this site.

So, the seventh blow of the Western hammer is our spirituality, our sense of the numinous, the profound, the sense of nearness of G-d that Christians have, and the quiet mysticism of Christianity and its teachings that has led us to respect all living things and led us to attempt to order our societies in alignment with that. Mohammedanism has nothing at all that even comes close to Christianity in this respect.

The sixteenth of February brings me to one of my favourite saints: Saint Pamphilus. We don't know exactly when he was born (sometime in the late third century); we only know that he came from a privileged and wealthy background, probably in what we now call Beirut in the Lebanon, and that he studied at Alexandria. He was murdered in the Diocletian persecution in AD309.

He's one of my favourites because he was an avid book collector. He was ordained priest at Caesarea Maritima and founded, or expanded, the Catechetical School there. Caesarea Maritima is an interesting town in its own right. It's on the coast North-west of Jerusalem and it started life as Caesarea Palaestina built by Herod the Great between 25–13 BC, and was the capital of Iudaea province (6–132) and later Palaestina Prima. It was there that Peter baptized the centurion Cornelius (see The Acts of the Apostles in your Bible for the story), who is considered to have been the first gentile convert. The Nicene Creed probably originated in Caesarea and the Caesarean text-type is recognized by many textual scholars as one of the earliest of the New Testament types. The Apostle Paul sought refuge there, staying once at the house of Philip the Evangelist, and later being imprisoned at Caesarea (which was the capital of the Roman province) for two years before being sent to Rome.

So, it was in Caesarea that Saint Pamphilus had his library. He was a scholar and his wealth put him in a position whereby he could afford all the books that he wanted and his library became very famous and widely consulted by scholars. He himself was very generous with even the poorest scholar, providing free writing marerials and free copies of the books, amongst other practical things, to anyone in need. He was especially known to be very generous to, and supportive of, women who wanted to study. His library was, of course, chiefly a Christian library and after his death it survived and kept going as a centre for study. Saint. Gregory the Wonder-Worker, Saint Basil the Great and Saint Jerome all visited and studied at the library.

Interestingly, David Hume adopted the evocative pseudonym 'Pamphilus' for his 'Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion' (text is here and here). Hume (1711 to 1776) was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and scepticism. He is one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy.

Saint Pamphilus was a good and kind man and a notable scholar-priest. He was martyred for the faith but his library lived on -- right up until the Mohammedans got their hands on it when they captured, looted and occupied Caesarea in AD638. The same type of tales are told about the destruction of this Library as are told about the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria and both sets of stories are quite probably true.

That's my eigth hammer blow. The Mohammedans have taught us that they will always destroy books and manuscripts. Libraries to them are worthless. Even today they burn books6 and issue fatwas against writers rather than discuss the contents of the books and the ideas of the authors. We don't. For us the hammer of Western civilisations has driven the nail of respect into the plank of learning.

More saints next week.

 

Footnotes:

* The Latin words, Dies Gloriae, in this title mean 'Days of Glory' and come from Saint Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae: Volume 30, The Gospel of Grace: q. 114 a. 8 co. 109-114: "[...] Prov. IV[:VIII], ["]iustorum semita quasi lux splendens procedit, et crescit usque ad perfectum diem["], [St. Jerome's Vulgate Latin Bible] qui est dies gloriae." ("...Proverbs 4:18: "But the path of the just, as a shining light, goeth forwards, and increaseth even to perfect day". [Douay-Rheims Bible] which is the days of glory.")

1) For the other posts in this series click on the following links: (i) 'Dies Gloriae'*: From The Feast Of The Circumcision To The Epiphany (Dies Gloriae I), (ii) 'Dies Gloriae'* II: From Saint Raymond To Saint Benedict Biscop, (iii) 'Dies Gloriae'* III: From Saint Gumesindus To Saint Macarius The Great, (iv) 'Dies Gloriae'* IV: From Saint Euthymius The Great To The Blessed Michaël Kozal, (v) 'Dies Gloriae'*, V: From Saint Angela Merici To Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac -- And Candlemas, (vi) 'Dies Gloriae'*, VI: From The Blessed Odoric Of Pordenone To The Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerick,

2) All my posts, for example, at NER are behind this link. Also, you can find individual posts at NER about some of the various other ways in which we use the splendour of the days at: (i) On the Hours and the fightback against Mohammedan incursions in the workplace , (ii) on Advent , (iii) on Ash Wednesday , (iv) on Shrovetide , (v) on St. Valentine and his day , (vi) on the Golden Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary , (vii) on Candlemas , (viii) on one aspect of the Epiphany , (ix) on St. Priscilla - 16th. January , (x) on Twefth Night and the Epiphany , (xi) on St. Thomas Beckett and the Sts. Trophimus - 29th. December , (xii) on St. Gelasius - 21st. November , (xiii) on St. Gregory of Palamas and hesychasm (meditation) 14th. November , (xiv) on the Venerable Bede and music (especially Christmas Carols) , (xv) on St. Justus - 10th. November , (xvi) on St. Efflam - 7th. November , (xvi) on St.Leonard of Noblac - 6th. November , (xvii) on bonfires and saints , (xviii) here on Christmas Carols , (xix) and here , (xx) and here , (xxi) and here , (xxii) and here , (xxiii) and here , (xxiv) and here , (xxv) and here , (xxvi) and here , (xxvii) and here , (xxviii) and here , (xxix) on Bright Week (Holy Week) , (xxx) on St. Nicholas Owen - 22nd. March , (xxxi) on resolutions and Twelfth Night , (xxxii) on the Archbishop of Glasgow's Great Curse , (xxxiii) on Martinmas (Martlemas) , (xxxiv) on lighting the Guy Fawkes bonfire from the Sanctuary flame , (xxxv) on a Bonfire Night and a Martlemas scurrilous rhyme , (xxxvi) here on windows in churches and letting the light of God out , (xxxvii) and here , (xxxviii) on God being an Englishman , (xxxix) on Christianophobia; and added to those posts are those of my short stories at NER that indirectly address the same thing and they can be found at: (a) An Advent Tale, Or, Christmas Miracles Do Happen , (b) Holy Water, Or, There Is An Eastertide In The Affairs Of Men , (c) If Quires Of Angels Did Rejoice , (d) I Call The Living - I Mourn The Dead - I Break The Lightning.

3) The earliest surviving copy of 'Cædmon's Hymn' is found in 'The Moore Bede' (circa AD737) which is held by the Cambridge University Library (Kk. 5. 16, often referred to as 'M').

Cædmon's Hymn, firstly as he composed it in Old English:

        "nu scylun hergan   hefaenricaes uard
        metudæs maecti   end his modgidanc
        uerc uuldurfadur   swe he uundra gihwaes
        eci dryctin   or astelidæ
        he aerist scop   aelda barnum
        heben til hrofe   haleg scepen.
        tha middungeard   moncynnæs uard
        eci dryctin   æfter tiadæ
        firum foldu
        frea allmectig"
 
Then as The Venerable Bede records it in Latin:

        "Nunc laudare debemus auctorem regni caelestis,
        potentiam creatoris, et consilium illius
        facta Patris gloriae: quomodo ille,
        cum sit aeternus Deus, omnium miraculorum auctor exstitit;
        qui primo filiis hominum
        caelum pro culmine tecti
        dehinc terram custos humani generis creavit.
        Omnipotens".
 
Lastly in a contemporary English translation:

        "Now [we] must honour the guardian of heaven,
        the might of the architect, and his purpose,
        the work of the Father of glory
        as He, the eternal Lord, established the beginning of wonders;
        He first created for the children of men
        heaven as a roof, the Holy Creator
        then the guardian of mankind,
        the eternal Lord, afterwards appointed the middle earth.
        the lands for men,
        The Lord almighty".

4) See the final footnote (6) to my NER story here.

5) Christian asceticism must not be confused with the practices of other religions that are sometimes called, erroneously, asceticism. See this article for a more detailed explanation.

6) Consider what happened in early December of 2011 in Cairo:

"Rioters in Cairo have fire-bombed one of the city’s most important libraries, the 200-year-old Egyptian Scientific Institute. It is believed many of its ancient artefacts have been destroyed.

The building is the oldest scientific institute in the country, having been established by Napoleon as L’Institute d’Egypte in August 1798 during the French invasion.

It contained some 200,000 books before the fire broke out, including the original Description de l’Egypte begun in the same year. That work is believed to have been destroyed." (from The Sunday Times.)

That's just the latest in a long, long line of library destructions and book burnings that the uneducated and barbarous Mohammedans have been indulging in for over one and a half millennia.

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Posted on 02/10/2013 7:13 PM by John M. Joyce
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