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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Saint Vihn Son Ðo Yen (St. Vincent Yen)

Today we remember St. Vincent Yen, one of the Martyrs of Vietnam, individually. The following is from Witnesses of the Faith in the Orient, Dominican Martyrs of Japan, China, and Vietnam translated by Sister Maria Maez, O.P.

This holy martyr was born in Tra-lu in the province of Nam-dinh in 1764. He was trained under the supervision of Bishop Ignatius Delgado, who ordained him a priest at the age of 40. He was appointed to the care of souls. His Calvary began right away. He was secretly denounced to the Mandarins, taken prisoner and made to carry a heavy cangue [yoke]. He spent a month in this condition until he was rescued by friends.

Vincent asked to be admitted to the Dominican Order and received the habit on 22 July 1807. His purity and considerate treatment of others was such that he won everyone’s respect. “His eyes, his whole facial expression was an eloquent testimony of his holiness.” Even the enemies who captured him remarked that they had taken a prisoner who “was a man with a most beautiful countenance.” It was no wonder that he was able to win over all those entrusted to his care.

Vincent was once again imprisoned on 8 June 1838; on the 11th, the Mandarins came together to judge him. The leading Mandarin, a good man of means and influence, resisted imposing the death sentence. He proposed to Father Yen to say that he was a doctor, not a priest. Vincent rejecterd this outright, saying: “I am not a doctor, I am a priest. My office is to offer sacrifices to God and to preach the faith of Jesus Christ for whom I am ready to die. I do not accept the offer for the price of a lie.” Seeing the constancy of the priest, they took the message to the Emperor, who dictated the sentence himself. “Do Yen, native of this Kingdom, principal teacher of the Religion of Jesus Christ, has followed a false religion and does not wish to abandon it. He is truly a dangerous fool and is deserving of suffering any abomination, because he does not wish to follow what he knows and what he should do. Let his head be cut off.”

The venerable old man of 74 walked erectly, calmly and with joy to his execution on 30 June 1838. He was beheaded for being a priest of the Religion and for teaching it to the people.

The Process of Beatification says that Vincent had a most gentle disposition, a happy face and limitless mercy, — that he was prudent, peaceful, very virtuous and that his life had been an edification to all.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Saint Basil the Great

Today is the feast of the eminent Church Father and Doctor, St. Basil, according to the Extraordinary Calendar of the Latin/Western rite. He is only one of four saints given the designation of Great and the only one that was not a pope!

A great saint such as he has been well profiled and the sources about him are myriad. There is no need to "reinvent the wheel" here and give an underserving, poor summary of this great man of God. To learn more about him, start at the online
Catholic Encyclopedia or the Patron Saints Index.

Prayer of St. Basil After Communion

We give Thee thanks, O Lord our God, for the Communion of Thy holy, pure, deathless and heavenly Mysteries, which thou hast given for the good, the hallowing, and the healing of our souls and bodies. Do Thou, O Sovereign of the world, cause this Communion in the Holy Body and blood of Thy Christ to nourish us in unashamed faith, sincere charity, ripe wisdom, health of soul and body, separation from all ills, observance of Thy Law, and justification before His awful Judgment Seat. O Christ our God, the Mystery of Thy Providence has been accomplished according to our ability. We have been reminded of Thy Death and we have seen a figure of Thy Resurrection; we have been filled with Thine Infinite Life, and we have tasted Thine inexhaustible joy; and we pray Thee to make us worthy of these things in the life to come, through the grace of Thine Eternal Father and of Thy holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now and forever, eternally: amen.

Mass of St. Basil by Pierre Subleyras

O sinner, be not discouraged, but have recourse to Mary in all you necessities. Call her to your assistance, for such is the divine Will that she should help in every kind of necessity. --St. Basil the Great

Let us raise ourselves from our fall and not give up hope as long as we are free from sin. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. "Come, let us adore and prostrate ourselves and weep before him" (Psalm 95:6). The Word calls us to repentance, crying out: "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened and I will refresh you" (Matthew 11:28). There is, then, a way to salvation if we are willing to follow it. --from a letter of St. Basil's


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Blessed Stephen Bandelli

Stephen Bandelli was born into a noble family. Little is known of his early years except that he applied for admission to the Dominicans in his hometown and received the habit while still very young.

Stephen earned a degree in canon law and a master's degree in theology, and lectured at the University of Pavia. He was a man of superior intellect and a careful student. Tradition holds that he was "another Saint Paul," and that his sermons were effective in bringing many Christians to a more fervent life and many sinners back into the fold. Aside from this, one reads only the traditional assurances--that he was prayerful, penitential, had a spirit of poverty, was charitable, and was a model religious.

When Stephen died, he was buried in the Dominican church of Saluzzo. Many miracles were worked at his tomb, and the citizens of Saluzzo invoked him, in 1487, when the town was attacked by one of their neighbors. Their preservation was attributed to Stephen's intercession, as it was claimed that he had appeared in the sky above them while they were fighting. An annual feast was kept there in his honor for many years (Benedictines, Dorcy). source

O God who, to recall the erring faithful to the way of salvation, didst make Blessed Stephen, Thy Confessor, an illustrious preacher of the Gospel, grant through his merits and intercession, that being freed from all sin we may ever run in the path of Thy commandments. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Poem "To The Sacred Heart"

As June is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I'm posting this short poem from the old American Dominican journal Dominicana. It from vol. 1 issue no. 4, 1900.

Edwin Anoelo Leman

I my heart have oft times given
..To the creature, but in vain;
Cold repulse has swiftly driven
..Back my thoughts to Thee again.
I discerned that Thou wert jealous,
..Even of such love as mine,
And wouldst have me to be zealous
..Only for Thy Heart Divine.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bl. Diana, Bl. Cecilia, Bl. Amata

Today is an optional memorial for Dominican nuns to remember Bl. Diana d’Andalò and Bl. Cecilia Caesarini. (That doesn’t mean we all can’t remember them!)

The marvelous cloistered nuns were the first branch of our Dominican family! Bl. Diana & Bl. Cecilia is among the earliest and both knew St. Dominic.

Both came from noble families of note: Bl. Diana's family were powerful nobles in Bologna (with her former title of Lady Diana) while Bl. Cecilia came from the ancient Caesarini noble family of Rome.

Bl. Diana was both beautiful and spoiled. Her life changed when she heard Blessed Reginald of Orleans preach. Becoming enamored with the Dominicans, she longed to start a life as a member of the new order but her family was firmly opposed. Meeting St. Dominic when he stopped in Bologna, she obtained his permission to start a community of sisters, with St. Dominic, himself, putting four of the brothers in that local community under obedience to assist the building of her convent. It wasn’t until after the death of St. Dominic that Bl. Diana was able to overcome the forceful resistance of her family not allowing her to enter religious life. Having a great correspondence with Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Monastery of St. Agnes was built and she entered in 1223 and was its first prioress.

Bl. Cecilia was the youngest nun in the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria in Tempulo when St. Dominic was founding the Monastery of St. Sixtus in 1220. The Monastery of St. Sixtus was founded by combining various female communities with Bl. Cecilia’s being among them. She received the Dominican habit from St. Dominic. About 1223, she and some others sisters were sent to Bl. Diana’s new Monastery of St. Agnes. Bl. Cecilia became the new prioress.

From both of these blessed we have a fantastic legacy. Through Bl. Diana’s letters are long lost, she kept all her letters from Bl. Jordan of Saxony, giving us great insights to the early days of the Dominican family as well as both BB Jordan and Diana. Bl. Cecilia left us the only physical description we have of St. Dominic! Both women remained at the Monastery of St. Agnes for the remainder of their earthly lives.

Not to be forgotten is Blessed Amata. She was a nun at St. Sixtus with Bl. Cecilia also receiving the habit from St. Dominic. She was beatified in 1891 with Diana and Cecilia but was not included on the calendar because so little is known of her.

The book, St. Dominic's Family by Sr. Mary Jean Dorcy, O.P writes this about her:

Of Sister Amata, we know practically nothing, but that she was a good friend of St. Dominic, which should, after all, be enough to know about anybody. He, according to legend, gave her the name Amata--which means 'beloved'--and very probably he either sent her to the convent in the first place or was the means of her staying there at the time of the drastic reforms, when the nuns left St. Mary's trans Tiber and went to S. Sixtus. There was a Sister Amata from whom St. Dominic is said to have cast out seven devils, but it could hardly have been this one. The facts that he personally named her, and that she is buried with the other two, will have to be her title to honor.

Bl. Cecilia, Bl Diana, Bl. Amata

Let us pray:

Merciful Lord, we welcome in joy the feast of Blessed Diana and Blessed Cecilia. With the help of their prayers may devotion to truth and love for our brothers and sisters fill our hearts and our lives. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Saint Peter the Martyr

St. Peter the Martyr, also called St. Peter of Verona, is one of too many saints that no longer receive the remembrance that is greatly deserved. He is the Dominican protomartyr and the fastest papally canonized saint of the Church.

The Dominican Ordo for 2010 designates today as his memorial. His feast on the Extraordinary Calendar is 29 April. St. Catherine of Siena died on 29 April but was given the 30th because St. Peter the Martyr already had the 29th. In the “reformed” 1969 calendar, St. Peter the Martyr was bumped off the calendar by St. Catherine as she was moved back by one day.

St. Peter was born 1205 or 1206. The fact that he was born to parents that were heretical Cathars is proof of his divine love for truth and Orthodoxy. In such an atmosphere where his own family ridiculed his orthodoxy, his life was destined to be sacrificed for the faith!

He received the Dominican habit from St. Dominic, himself. He was a mystic that was visited by saints and angels, a gift for which he had to do penance for. On one occasion having celestial visitors in his cell, a passing monk heard female voices coming from his room. This led to his being accused of admitting females within the enclosure, to the great scandal of the house. The Saint said not a word in his own justification, but humbly accepted the severe penance imposed on him.

He became a very active and noted preacher in Northern Italy. His sermons were often complemented by miraculous signs of all kinds including casting out devils and healing the sick. Every day at the elevation of the Mass St. Peter prayed, Grant, Lord, that I may die for Thee, who for me didst die.

Pope Innocent IV made him inquisitor of Lombardy in 1232. It is said that wherever he appeared there was universal renunciation of errors and heresies. So great was his success to bringing those in error back to the Church that it’s no wonder the wrath of heretics was so violent towards him. He was attacked by assassins on the road between Milan and Como in 1252. His martyrdom had been mystically revealed to him and he approached happily. One of his assassins was so affected by the saint’s holy martyrdom that he entered the Order of Preachers, himself, and remained for forty years.

Saint Peter was canonized by Pope Innocent IV in the piazza outside the Dominican Church at Perugia, less than a year after his martyrdom.


Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we may imitate with due devotion the faith of Blessed Peter, Thy Martyr, who, for the extension of that same faith, was made worthy to obtain the palm of martyrdom. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


death of st peter the martyr