Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Memorial of Bl Louis Morbioli

"The oldest biography of Blessed Louis is a poem composed between 1485 and 1489 (Saggi dates it in the autumn of 1486) by Bl. Baptist of Mantua, who lived in Bologna for many years. Louis belonged to a family of the lower middle class; his father was called Francis of Anthony, his mother Agnes, and these were blessed with six children, five boys and one girl. Louis was born in Bologna in 1433; his youth was happy and carefree, nor did his life change after his marriage with Lucy, daughter of John Tura.

In 1462 he moved to Venice, where he was struck by a serious illness, taken into the hospice of the Canons Regular of St. Savior, he underwent a profound spiritual crisis that resulted in a radical change in his life. He probably returned to Bologna in 1470, and aroused admiration and amazement for his austere and penitent conduct. He separated from his wife, put on a plain grey habit, much like that of the Carmelites (hence the erroneous affirmation that he was a Carmelite tertiary), which he afterwards changed for a white one with a cross on his breast and which he wore both summer and winter. He went through the streets of Bologna preaching penance and mortification, and accompanied those condemned to the scaffold. He visited other cities of Emilia (Modena, Ferrara) on donkey back. He traveled the streets holding a cross in his hand and preaching penance. When he became sick, he refused every relief. He died at Bologna on Nov. 9, 1485, as he himself had foretold.

He was buried in the cathedral of St. Peter. Although a popular cult to him began immediately after his death, his bones were not found in the restoration of the cathedral, which occurred under Gabriel Card. Paleotti (1566-97). Already in 1582, Louis was inscribed in the catalogue of saints of Bologna, and Card. Paleotti included him in the Archiepiscopalis Bononiensis /Of the Archdiocese of Bologna/ in 1594. Under Jerome Card. Boncompagni a regular process of canonization was begun (1654), but the work was never brought to a conclusion. In 1843 his cult was permitted for the diocese of Bologna and for the Carmelite Order, which erroneously claimed him as one of its tertiaries. The liturgical celebration at Bologna is fixed for Nov. 17, as an optional memorial."

-- Biography by John Dominic Gordini

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Memorial of Bl Lucas of St Joseph and companions

"Fr. Lucas of St. Joseph (José Tristany Pujol) was born on December 14, 1872. He was only six months old when his father died. It became such a hardship that his mother, Rosa, had to ask her older sons and daughter to live on their own. She took with her the two younger boys to live near a hermitage on the estate called Saint Justin. They later moved to the town of Cardona where Rosa died shortly after.

Jose, as a child, was taken in by a neighboring farm family that hoped to eventually train him to be a sheepherder. This only lasted for a short time until his Uncle Antonio and Aunt Margarita brought José to their home in Tarragona after his older brother, Meliton, who became known as Ludovico of the Sacred Hearts, entered the Discalced Carmelite Order. It was here that Jose spent his adolescent years and where he became interested in carpentry. He was frequently found helping at the local carpenter’s shop on Florencio Vives Street. As the boy grew older, his relatives thought he would marry. However the young man felt in his heart the vocation to be a priest. At fifteen years of age, he began his studies in Humanities at the seminary. At age eighteen, Jose, along with his relatives, made a visit to the Carmelite Desert Monastery of Las Palmas—the same monastery where his brother had lived. He began his novitiate there in 1890 and made his first profession of vows the following year. He made his solemn vows in 1894 at the hands of his brother, Fr. Ludovico.

After his ordination to the priesthood on May 27, 1899, Fr. Lucas was made superior and professor of Philosophy. He became well known for his preaching and spiritual writings. His great intellectual capacity was coupled with a warm, generous heart that he placed at the service of God, the Order, and souls. His conviction as a Carmelite friar inspired him to write these prophetic words in an article: “As long as God preserves my vocation, I will not lower my head in shame for anybody because I am a religious ... If we die for the truth, we will have triumphed.”

Fr. Lucas was sent to Mexico in 1902 where his apostolic work began in Mazatlan and Durango. His personality attracted many people and helped in the building up of the good name of the Carmelites. As a result, the bishop of Mazatlan requested more friars for ministry and handed over to them a parish in the city with Fr. Lucas being appointed its first pastor. However the situation was not as smooth in Durango, and both Frs. Pedro of St. Elijah and Lucas had difficulties making a Carmelite establishment in that city. The issues that impeded them from establishing in the diocese were lifted upon the installation of a new bishop in Durango who granted them all the permissions necessary to minister to the people there and establish a monastery. It was soon after these negotiations that Fr. Lucas contracted typhoid that almost cost him his life were it not for the diligent care of a religious sister who was a nurse.

The religious persecution in Mexico brought the Discalced Carmelites to the Diocese of Tucson in the United States in 1912. The Catalonian Carmelites vigorously served twenty-two mission churches in the surrounding mining towns and camps. Bishop Henry Granjon, as a sign of his appreciation for the work done by the friars, assigned the newly-built Holy Family Church in the city of Tucson to the Carmelites and appointed Fr. Lucas as its first pastor in 1915. He left the United States and returned to Barcelona when he was elected provincial of the Catalonian Province in 1924. A year later, Fr. Lucas was transferred to Rome to serve as general definitor. After completing his tenure there in 1933, he returned to Barcelona and served as prior. In 1936, he assumed the office of provincial and was stationed at the Carmelite monastery in Barcelona."

-- From the website of the Discalced Carmelite Friars of the California-Arizona Province

"The political ambiance was gradually simmering on an anticlerical attitude since the assassination of General Miguel Primo de Rivera who had established a military dictatorship. The republican government, headed by President Manuel Azaña, had passed laws and restrictions including the confiscation of church property and the prohibition of clergy from teaching in public schools. When the monarchy had been overthrown by the exile of King Alfonso XIII and with the republican government established for a second time in 1931, churches in Madrid and in Andalucia were burned.Fearful that the government would lose popular support, police authorities were unwilling to stop the destruction. In the new republican government, the Catholic Political Party (CEDA) demanded representation. However in 1934, leftist groups responded with a rebellion by killing thirty-four priests, brothers, and seminarians in the mining area of Asturias.

By election time in February 1936, the Popular Front Party, comprised of liberals, socialists, and communists with anarchist support, had taken power over the government. In July, the military rose up against the Popular Front government, which in turn called the working-class organizations to bear arms in response.

The uprising turned into a civil war and thereby began what one historian called “the greatest clerical bloodletting in the entire history of the Christian Church.”Carmelites in Barcelona at the onset of civil warThe friars at the Carmelite monastery in Barcelona, located at the corner of LIuria Street and Diagonal Avenue, were still asleep at 4:30 Sunday morning when suddenly they were awakened by shouts and banging at the door.

On that morning of July 19, 1936, the quiet streets of Barcelona had turned into a battlefield when nationalist troops were sent to secure the cross streets between Paseo de Gracia and Diagonal.The troops were ambushed between Callis and Llüria Street by republican assault guards and city militia. The civil war had come to Barcelona. The sounds of horrible gun fire and the militia shouting “Viva Ia Republica” and “Viva el Ejercito” grew louder and louder. The banging at the door was increasingly frantic— shouting through the door that the wounded needed care. The monastery door was opened and infantry men from the Santiago cavalry barged in bringing with them several armed soldiers.

The community had rapidly set up an infirmary in the largest room in the monastery close to the entrance. They had laid the wounded on mattresses that the friars had taken from all their cells. Food was scarce for so many inside, but the friars made sure that the wounded and fatigued were well nourished, even if it meant abstaining from food themselves. Soldiers from the infantry continued to storm into the monastery bringing weapons and ammunition and placing themselves in strategic areas throughout the compound and turning the Carmelite monastery into a military fort.

An American reporter, Magan Laird, was vacationing with her family at an apartment across from the monastery when she heard what sounded like firecrackers and rockets. But when she looked out of her apartment and found no one coming out, she knew something was wrong: “The first sign of life is a private car coming rapidly up Calle Lluria ... It stops in the next block in front of the church and monastery of the Carmelites. Two assault guards get out hurriedly, grasp the rifles in firing position, and station themselves behind a tree. At the same moment, I see other assault guards running, rifles in their hands, down the diagonal, another block away ... There is a crackle and a puff of smoke from the tower of the Carmelite church. In the street below, an assault guard, sheltered behind a tree knoll, raises his rifle and fires ... this is no fiesta. This is war.”

The cavalry had set a perimeter with soldiers on the bell tower, on windows inside the cells, and church areas. Laird recounts, “From time to time the air is torn with their sharp pum-pum-pum ... Suddenly the drone of an airplane motor is heard directly above our heads. In a minute the plane itself dips into our line of vision, flying high and circling above the Carmelite church. There is the sharp rattle of machine guns from the plane. They are firing at random on the streets and houses below.”

In the midst of this chaos, the whole Carmelite community was able to celebrate Sunday Mass and pray the Divine Office.As evening drew near, the wounded were transferred to the library where they would be safer and make more space for the incoming troops from the street. “Cars are passing more frequently in the streets—beautiful cars, luxurious limousines, and open sport models, polished and shining—the cars of the wealthy, filled now with men and soldiers in shirt sleeves, firing constantly as they careen wildly through the streets. All of them have painted letters on the sides — FAI and CNT ...“ The streets finally fell quiet late Sunday night.Inside the monastery, as it was forbidden to light any lamps, many soldiers rested in the pews, refectory, sacristy, and basement.

The Carmelites did not go back to their cells but attended to the needs of the soldiers and prisoners who had been captured by the military. “The night air is very cold ... here and there, among darkened buildings of the city, rises a column of white, heavy smoke. They are burning the churches. Off to the right, and elevated on a little hill, one church stands up like liquid gold against the night.”Early Monday morning, the friars celebrated Mass in the middle of gunfire, which was heavier than Sunday.

Throughout the morning, many officers and troops inside came to the Carmelites to be enrolled in the Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. With no reinforcements to relieve the soldiers, it was a matter of time before they could no longer hold down the monastery. Seeing that surrender was inevitable, the Carmelite community gathered in the church and knelt before theBlessed Sacrament. Fr. Lucas, the provincial, proceeded to distribute all the consecrated hosts to be consumed. Shortly after this, everyone was alerted that there was an agreement to surrender, with the condition that the lives of the officers, the troops, the wounded, and the religious be spared.For safety, the Carmelites were told not to wear their habits outside, One friar recalls: “We took off our Carmelite habits and clothed ourselves in civilian attire ... all of us were ready to die after having received the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.”

Laird continues: “Presently, in the top of the bell tower, the white flag is run up. Instantly the streets are filled with cheering mobs. The police are powerless to hold them back; they surge against the church, shaking their fists, dancing with rage. Many carry lighted torches.” The mob had infiltrated the monastery by breaking doors and windows. The civil guard was able to give some of the friars a safe passage outside, but the mob became so uncontrollable that there was no longer any guarantee for their safety.

Some friars tried to escape by blending with the crowd, but for some it was no use. Fr. Jorge of St. Joseph and Bro. Juan Jose of Jesus were killed as soon as they were discovered to be friars.Martyrdom of Fr. LucasWitnesses testify to seeing Fr. Lucas as he came out of the monastery through the smaller door adjacent to the tower bell with his face covered with blood, his head bandaged with a colored handkerchief, and accompanied by two civil guards. The mob wanted to lynch Father, but the soldiers forced them back telling them they wanted to take him to the authorities.

As they approached Diagonal Avenue, one of the civil guards with him said, “I gave you my word that I will save your life.” From a distance, however, a patrol shot the guard in the head killing him. The other soldiers fell back as the mob grew restlessly violent.Fr. Lucas crossed Diagonal Avenue alone under fire and took refuge before a large portal. A patrol, armed with two rifles, pushed him ruthlessly onto the Avenue. The patrol approached him again striking him on the head with rifle butts.

Fr. Lucas was ordered to walk down the Avenue and “with an uncertain gait, he staggers slowly down the Diagonal, his palms joined before his breast praying.” After walking a few yards, he was shot from behind and fell to the ground. Wounded, Fr. Lucas was able to crawl some distance before he died near a small oak tree in front of a doctor’s clinic on Diagonal Avenue. Fr. Lucas was lying on the ground with his face turned to the Carmelite monastery until 8 o’clock that night when a Red Cross ambulance from Lluria Street came to take away the body."

-- Account of martyrdom from Tucson priests blog.

Memorial of St Nuño of St Mary (Alvares Pereira)

"Nuno was born at Sernache do Bomjardim (Portugal) on June 24, son of the noble, Don Alvaro Gonçalves Pereira, grand prior of the priory of Crato, of the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Nuno grew up in the company of the knights dependent on his father and was given to the reading of the knightly and military deeds of the Round Table. At the age of thirteen he was admitted to the court of King Ferdinand, in view of a military career. He soon gave such proofs of bravery that while still thirteen years old he was chosen as an equerry of the queen and created a knight. In imitation of Galahad, the pure knight of the Holy Grail, he would have wished to remain celibate; but, so as not to oppose his father, on Aug. 15, 1376, he consented to take Lady Eleonora de Alvim as his wife. He had three children, two of whom died young; the third, Beatrice, in 1401 married Don Alphonse, a son of King John I. Don Alphonse was also Count of Barcelos and the first Duke of Braganza, the founder of several princely and royal dynasties of Europe.

During the war between Portugal and Castile Nuno had many occasions to show his valor, which, however, was fully revealed only in the political crisis that followed the death of King Ferdinand (Oct. 22, 1383). Among the supporters of the right of Beatrice to the throne of Portugal—she was the daughter of the deceased King Ferdinand and the wife of the King of Castile—were not a few Portuguese, among them Nuno's own brothers. Nuno, however, tenaciously opposed the incorporation of Portugal into the kingdom of Castile and, in order to safeguard national independence, defended the candidacy of John, Master of Aviz, a brother of King Ferdinand; at the same time Nuno endeavored to overcome the hesitations and opposition of his compatriots. On April 6, 1384, he overcame the followers of the King of Castile in the battle of Atoleiros. A year later the Master of Aviz was proclaimed king of Portugal, and he chose Nuno as his Constable. Thus, at only twenty-five years of age, Nuno became the supreme commander of the army. On Aug. 14, 1385, he engaged in the battle of Aljubarrota and the definitive defeat of the Castilians, despite the fact that the Portuguese were greatly outnumbered. Nuno then passed to the offensive and gained another glorious victory in Castilian territory at Valverde (Oct. 1385). Atoleiros, Aljubarrota and Valverde were but the more salient points on a chain of guerilla encounters drawn out for several years.

To his military valor Nuno joined a profound Christian piety. He nourished special devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Virgin Mary; he assisted at two Masses every day, and three on Saturdays and Sundays. He went often to confession, and to Communion on Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and the feast of the Assumption. In honor of Our Lady he fasted on every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, as well as on the vigils of her feasts, even when they were days of battle. On his banner were depicted the sacred images of the Crucifixion, Our Lady, and the two patrons Of knighthood, St. James and St. George. Before battle he prepared his soldiers spiritually, exhorting them to trust in God and having them receive the sacraments. He attributed his stupendous victories to the help of God through the intercession of Our Lady. At Valverde, in the thick of the battle, when victory seemed unattainable, Nuno was found on his knees between two rocks, with hands raised up in the act of prayer.

He manifested his gratitude to Our Lady by making frequent pilgrimages to Marian sanctuaries and building churches in her honor. Thus, at Nuno's expense, the churches of Vila Viçosa, Souzel, Portel, Monsaraz, Mou-rao, fivora, Camarate were erected. All of them were dedicated to the Virgin Mary, as was the magnificent temple of Carmel in Lisbon, later destroyed by the earthquake of 1755. He also built a chapel to the Virgin Mary and to St. George exactly where his banner had stood during the battle of Aljubarrota. At Estremoz he completed the construction of a temple of Our Lady of the Martyrs, begun by King Ferdinand. Finally, bound up with the name of Nuno are the monastery and church of St. Mary of Victory, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture in Portugal and better know by the name of Batalha, ordered built by Don John I to commemorate the victory of Aljubarrota and to fulfill a vow made on the field of battle. After the death of his wife in 1387, Nuno constantly refused to enter into a second marriage. Military engagements had made him live far from home ever since 1383; yet, according to the testimony of Portuguese historians, he always gave the example of an unsullied life and never tolerated any licentiousness among his soldiers. He was always very generous in assisting the needy of every kind. When definite peace had been reestablished with Castile, Nuno distributed a great part of his immense possessions to his comrades in arms. In 1415 he took part in the Portuguese expedition to Ceuta; and then on Aug. 15, 1423, to the wonder and surprise of the whole country, Nuno abandoned all his remaining possessions and was clothed in the Carmelite habit in the convent of Lisbon, which had also been established and endowed by him. He chose the status of the so-called Oblates and dedicated himself to the most humble tasks of the convent.

He took the name Brother Nuno of St. Mary. Only the intervention of the prince, Don Edward, son of King John I, was able to prevent him from actualizing his desire to betake himself to another convent far from Portugal, so that he could avoid the frequent visits of illustrious citizens. He also expressed the desire of begging publicly for his daily food, but his superiors and the same prince Edward did not allow him this. He died in 1431 /the same year as St. Joan of Arc/, probably on April 1, after eight years of a life completely dedicated to prayer and penance. His funeral was a most solemn celebration, with the participation of the entire royal court. He was buried in the Carmelite church of Lisbon."

-- Biography by Elias Cardoso, OCarm