Thought for the Day – 25 September – The Memorial of St Vincent Strambi C.P. (1745-1824)
When receiving Vincent into the Congregation, St. Paul is said to have remarked that God intended him to reach great heights of sanctity. Acting upon this knowledge of the future, he brought him to live with him, trained him himself for the work of the mission and in many ways showed that he regarded him as a jewel that would one day shed
lustre on the Passionist Congregation. With a wisdom that was his ordinary gift he allowed him to see for himself the harvest of souls that was ready for the skillful reaper, and then withdrew him into solitude, where, by prayer and study, he could perfect himself for the great work he had to do.
It was Vincent‟s great privilege to assist St. Paul of the Cross during his last hours on earth and to be present at his deathbed. So great was the impression made upon him of the sanctity of his friend and spiritual father that he thereupon decided to write his life, and in spite of the haste in which it was written, produced what has always been
considered a masterpiece of religious biography. The English translation of this work is perhaps unique in this that it is the life of a saint written by a saint and introduced by one who is likely to be declared a saint, namely, Blessed Dominic Barberi, C.P., Apostle of England.
The Passion was the secret of his success, as it was the secret of St. Paul’s success and that of every Passionist missioner today. As he stood on the mission platform, clothed in the black habit of mourning, with the sign of the Passion on his breast and sandals on his feet, who could resist the appeal of his voice as he pointed to the crucifix and told that
story of the immense love of Christ for mankind?
In the bulky volumes that have been written on the profane history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we find little or no mention of this hero of sanctity. The scales of value of historians failed to register one who was neither a soldier, nor a savant, nor a scientist. Yet, if the standards of the soul are higher than those of the body; St. Vincent
Strambi accomplished something that weighed down heavily the scales of Divine value—something that merits an eternal remembrance—he lived a life of virtue and self-denial for God’s sake and he saved innumerable souls. (SAINT VINCENT STRAMBI, C.P. 1745-1824 – OSMUND THORPE, C. P.)
And this is our ‘job’ – this is what we are called to do for God’s sake, we are missioners, going out to save souls!
As they were looking on, so we too gaze on His wounds as He hangs. We see His blood as he dies. We see the price offered by the Redeemer, touch the scars of His Resurrection. He bows His head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were, in love to you. His arms are extended that He may embrace you. His whole body is displayed for your redemption. Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind: as He was once fixed to the Cross in every part of His body for you, so He may now be fixed in every part of your soul.
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor
There is no evil to be faced, that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy, that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear, that Christ has not already borne for us and does not now bear with us. And on the far side of every cross we find the newness of life in the Holy Spirit, that new life, which will reach its fulfillment, in the Resurrection. This is our faith. This is our witness before the world.
One Minute Reflection – 25 September – The Memorial of St Vincent Strambi C.P. (1745-1824)
May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith……Ephesians 3:17
REFLECTION – “Look upon the face of the Crucified, who invites you to follow Him. He will be a Father, Mother–everything to you.”….St Paul of the Cross
PRAYER – Jesus, our Lord and our God, only You are the best Shepherd of Your Church.
Support with grace those who are responsible for the fate of Your fold,
so that following the example of St. Vincent Maria Strambi, they devote all their powers and talents to service to the Church.
In God, our Father we pray through You who live in union with Him and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ages and ages. Amen
Our Morning Offering – 25 September – The Memorial of St Vincent Strambi C.P. (1745-1824)
Prayer Before The Crucifix
Jesus, by this saving sign,
bless this listless soul of mine.
Jesus, by Your feet nailed fast,
mend the missteps of my past.
Jesus, with Your riven hands,
bend my will to love’s demands.
Jesus, in Your Heart laid bare,
warm my inner coldness there.
Jesus, by Your thorn-crowned head,
still my pride till it is dead.
Jesus, by Your muted tongue,
stay my words that hurt someone.
Jesus, by Your tired eyes,
open mine to faith’s surprise.
Jesus, by Your fading breath,
keep me faithful until death.
Yes, Lord, by this saving sign,
save this wayward soul of mine.
Saint of the Day – 25 September – St Vincent Strambi C.P. (1745-1824) Passionist Religious Priest and Bishop, Apostle of Charity, Preacher, Teacher – Patronage – Diocese of Macerata-Tolentino. Attributes – Passionist habit, Episcopal attire, Crucifix. Beatified on 26 April 1925 at Saint Peter’s Basilica, Kingdom of Italy by Pope Pius XI and Canonised on 11 June 1950 at Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City by Pope Pius XII.
Saint Vincenzo Strambi (1 January 1745 – 1 January 1824) – in religious Vincenzo Maria di San Paolo – was an Italian Roman Catholic prelate who was a professed member from the Passionists and served as the Bishop of Macerata-Tolentino from 1801 until his resignation in 1823. Strambi became a Passionist despite its founder Saint Paul of the Cross refusing him several times due to Strambi’s frail constitution. But he practiced Passionist austerities which continued after his appointment as a bishop that saw him favour his religious habit rather than the usual episcopal garb. He was known for his charitable projects that included the care of the poor and the reduction of diocesan expenditures in order to provide for them; he took special interests in the education and ongoing formation of priests.
Strambi was exiled from his diocese 1808 after he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the First French Empire under Napoleon who had annexed Macerata as part of his empire. He spent that time in Novara and Milan before he managed to return to his see in a triumphant return in 1814. He served as bishop for the remainder of the pontificate of Pope Pius VII before his successor Pope Leo XII accepted Strambi’s resignation and summoned him to Rome as his advisor. But the sudden illness of the pope – which seemed to prove fatal – prompted Strambi to offer his own life to God so that the pope could live. Leo XII rallied to great surprise but Strambi died of a stroke within the week.
Education and priesthood
Vincenzo Strambi was born in 1745 in Civitavecchia as the last of four children to Giuseppe Strambi and Eleonora Gori; his three elder siblings all died in childhood. His father served as a pharmacist known for his charitable works and his mother was noted for her piousness and holiness.
He was often a troublesome child who excelled in athletics and became more devout in his adolescence. The Friars Minor oversaw his education and he taught his fellow students the catechism. His desire to become a priest was met with encouragement from his parents and he commenced his ecclesial studies in November 1762. It was at this time that he became quite attracted to the notion of the religious life though his frail health saw him refused admission into the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and the Vincentians. Strambi was noted for his oratorical gifts and so was sent to Rome for studies in Sacred Eloquence and thereafter continued his theological studies with the Dominicans at Viterbo. While still a student he was appointed prefect of the seminarians and thereafter acting-rector of seminarians at Bagnorea.
Before his ordination to the priesthood he made a retreat at the convent in Vetralla which belonged to the Passionists; it was here that he met the founder Saint Paul of the Cross. Strambi became impressed and enthralled with what he had seen and admired their ardent devotion. This made him ask the founder to be admitted into the order. But he was refused since Paul of the Cross believed that Strambi did not have the stamina for the Passionist life. Strambi left the convent on 18 December 1767 to be ordained.
He was received into the diaconate in Bagnoregio on 14 March 1767. Strambi was ordained to the priesthood on 19 December 1767 and then returned to Rome to further his theological studies. Here he was noted for his studies of the life and works of Saint Thomas Aquinas. He still felt called to the Passionists and made several trips to see Paul of the Cross to beg to be admitted into the order. In September 1768 the founder relented and Strambi commenced his novitiate assuming the name Vincenzo Maria di San Paolo. His parents were not too pleased with this and his father objected to the decision citing his son’s frail health as a sign that Strambi would die due to the rigid penances. He made his profession on 24 September 1769 and continued with a particular emphasis on the Church Fathers and on Sacred Scripture.
Strambi preached missions – a focal point of the Passionist charism – and drew large crowds due to the effectiveness of his preaching. There were even several occasions where he preached before bishops and cardinals. In 1773 he was made a professor of theological studies at the order’s house in Rome – at Santi Giovanni e Paolo – and it was here that he was present at the death of St Paul of the Cross. The founder said to Strambi on his deathbed: “You will do great things! You will do great good!”
It was after this that he occupied several high offices in the order such as the rector of the Roman house and the provincial for the Roman province. In 1784 he was relieved of these duties in order to write a biographical account of Paul of the Cross which was later published in London (the Blessed Dominic Barberi wrote the preface). The Napoleonic invasion in the Papal States and the anti-religious decrees forced Strambi to flee Rome in 1798 though was in vain when French forces – in May 1799 – took him as their prisoner though he managed to return to Rome not long after this.
The death of Pope Pius VI saw his friend Cardinal Leonardo Antonelli nominate him for the papal see and he even received five votes in the conclave. The new Pope Pius VII – in mid-1801 – appointed Strambi as the Bishop of Macerata-Tolentino and he became the first bishop to come from the Passionists. This news – before it was made public – surprised and frightened him and he rushed to Rome in an effort to get the appointment cancelled before it was publicised. Even his good friend Cardinal Antonelli counselled him to accept the nomination for the welfare of the Church. Strambi even took his case to the pope who listened and told Strambi the decision to name him a bishop was “a divine inspiration” he was firm on. Cardinal Antonelli presided over his episcopal consecration at Santi Giovanni e Paolo. But he continued to wear his Passionist habit in private despite his higher office. His episcopate was marked with a concern for the poor and he even begged on their behalf on occasion. He took great care in the education of diocesan priests and paid close attention to the teaching standards in the diocesan seminaries. His charitable works included the establishment of orphanages and homes for the aged. He still practiced the frugalities the Passionists advocated and this applied to his living and eating habits: he never did permit more than two dishes for his meals.
Napoleon – in 1809 – issued a decree that annexed Macerata as part of the French Empire. The French ordered that this decree be read in all churches but Strambi refused to do so. He also refused to provide the French with a list of all the men in his diocese who would be suitable for service in the armed forces. The French arrested him in September 1808 for refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the French invaders and was then exiled and cut off from his diocese. He was first sent to Novara but was sent in October 1809 to Milan where he spent the remainder of his exile as a guest of the Barnabites. He returned to his see in 1814 with vast crowds lining the route of his return. Pius VII had returned from his own exile and remarked:
“This holy man overwhelms me”.
The invaders had left much damage in their wake – not just destruction to infrastructure – but a lax sense of morals and values which Strambi worked hard to rebuild. He instituted strict reforms that ended corruption to the point where he received some death threats. Strambi was also the spiritual director of Blessed Anna Maria Taigi – a friend – as well as Saint Gaspare del Bufalo and Saint Vincenzo Pallotti (Vincent Pallotti)
But the French returned to Macerata in 1817, to set up their headquarters aiming to use that location to attack the Austrian forces. The people turned to Bishop Strambi for fear of what the French would do. His response was to gather priests and seminarians in his private chapel to beg for God’s intercession and after one and a half hours he rose and declared that Macerata would be saved through the intercession of the Mother of God. The French were indeed defeated though the local people feared what would happen during their retreat. Strambi met with the leader of the French forces and begged him not to enter the town to which General Murat agreed. Strambi then secured the assurances of the Austrian generals that the French soldiers would not be slaughtered.
He was a close friend of Carlo Odescalchi and was pleased to learn that the pope named him as a cardinal on 10 March 1823. Strambi tried several times to secure his resignation from Pius VII but on one occasion the pope reprimanded him for using ill health as a vain excuse and dismissed him. Strambi tried once again in 1823 in a letter to Cardinal Ercole Consalvi to the pope but the letter arrived in Rome when the pontiff broke his thigh in a fall and died soon after.
Declining health and death
In 1823 his health started to decline and Pope Leo XII gave him his permission to retire. He was then appointed the as Leo XII’s personal advisor and took up residence at the Quirinal Palace in Rome. It was during his time in this office that Napoleon’s sister Pauline returned to the faith with Strambi’s guidance. When the pope fell ill he asked God that his life should be taken rather than that of the pope. The pope recovered on 24 December 1823 and Strambi died in 1824 within the week due to a stroke he had suffered on the previous 27 December. His remains were placed at the Quirinal Palace for mourners to see and was then buried in the Santi Giovanni e Paolo church. Mourners who viewed his mortal remains included Cardinal Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari – future pope – who took Strambi’s right hand in his own and formed it with the greatest of ease into the sign of the cross. His remains were later transferred on 12 November 1957 to the Chiesa di San Filippo in Macerata.
The cause for Strambi’s canonisation opened on a diocesan level for the collection of testimonies and documents in relation to his life and his episcopal works. The formal introduction did not come until 25 June 1845 when he was named as a Servant of God. The recognition of his life of heroic virtue led Pope Leo XIII to name him as Venerable on 1 April 1894. Pope Pius XI presided over the beatification rites on 26 April 1925 and signed a decree on 25 November that allowed the cause to continue. Pope Pius XII canonised Strambi in Saint Peter’s Basilica on 11 June 1950.
Our Lady of San Nicolás, Argentina: An ordinary housewife, a mother and grandmother who had no formal education and no knowledge of the Bible or theology claimed that she was visited by the Blessed Mother daily for a period of over 6 years. She reportedly additionally received 68 messages from Jesus Christ. Numerous healings, including the cure of a boy with a brain tumour, have been documented.
St Anacharius of Auxerre
St Aurelia of Macerata
St Caian of Tregaian
St Egelred of Crowland
St Ermenfridus of Luxeuil
St Firminus of Amiens
St Herculanus the Soldier
Bl Herman the Cripple
Bl Marco Criado
St Neomisia of Mecerata
St Paphnutius of Alexandria
St Principius of Soissons
St Sergius of Moscow
St Solemnis of Chartres
St Vincent Strambi
Holy Bishops of Milan: Commemorates all the holy men who have served as the bishop of the ancient diocese, and sometimes city-state, of Milan, Italy. They include –
• Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster
• Blessed Andrea Carlo Ferrari
• Pope Pius XI
• Saint Ambrose of Milan
• Saint Ampelius of Milan
• Saint Anathalon of Milan
• Saint Antoninus of Milan
• Saint Auxanus of Milan
• Saint Benedict Crispus of Milan
• Saint Benignus of Milan
• Saint Calimerius of Milan
• Saint Castritian of Milan
• Saint Charles Borromeo
• Saint Datius of Milan
• Saint Dionysius of Milan
• Saint Eugene of Milan
• Saint Eusebius of Milan
• Saint Eustorgius II of Milan
• Saint Eustorgius of Milan
• Saint Gaius of Milan
• Saint Galdinus of Milan
• Saint Geruntius of Milan
• Saint Glycerius of Milan
• Saint Honoratus of Milan
• Saint John Camillus the Good
• Saint Lazarus of Milan
• Saint Magnus of Milan
• Saint Mansuetus of Milan
• Saint Marolus of Milan
• Saint Martinian of Milan
• Saint Mirocles of Milan
• Saint Mona of Milan
• Saint Natalis of Milan
• Saint Protasius of Milan
• Saint Senator of Milan
• Saint Simplician of Milan
• Saint Venerius of Milan
Martyrs of Damascus: A Christian family of six who were tortured to death in a persecution by Roman authorities. They were: Eugenia, Maximus, Paul, Rufus, Sabinian and Tatta. They were tortured to death in Damascus, Syria, date unknown.
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
• Blessed Jose María Bengoa Aranguren
• Blessed Josep Maria Vidal Segú
• Blessed Juan Agustín Codera Marqués
• Blessed Julio Esteve Flors
• Blessed Pedro Leoz Portillo
• Blessed Rafael Pardo Molina
• Blessed Tomás Gil de La Cal
Thought for the Day – 24 September – The Memorial of Bl Anton Martin Slomsek (1800-1862)
“Teacher and educator, writer and poet, biographer and critic, lover of his mother tongue and fighter for national equality, patriot, speaker and preacher, ecumenical worker and theological teacher of the Slovene people, priest and bishop. Slomsek’s personality is like a mosaic, each stone has its own colour, its own function and size but all together provide the image of a saint, that is a person who is open to the breath of the Holy Spirit, who prophetically understands the signs of the time and responds to them, who understands how to use all natural and supernatural means to realise the kingdom of God on earth.” …… Dr Franc Kramberger, Bishop of Maribor, Slovenia, 1999
“The new blessed also paid great attention to culture. Living in the middle of the last century, he was perfectly aware of the importance for the nation’s future of the intellectual formation of its inhabitants, especially the young. For this reason, he combined pastoral action with commitment to the promotion of culture, which represents a nation’s wealth and is the patrimony of all Culture is the soil from which a people can draw the necessary elements for their growth and development.
Convinced of this, Slomsek worked to open various schools for young people and saw to the publication of books useful for human and spiritual formation. He warned that if young people were corrupted, the fault could often be traced to the lack of adequate formation. Families, schools and the Church, he taught, must join forces in a serious educational programme, each preserving its own area of autonomy, but all taking account of the values they share.
Only with a sound formation can men and women be prepared to build a world that is open to the perennial values of truth and love.”…St John Paul at the Beatification of Bl Anton (Sunday, 19 September 1999)