Little is known about St. Januarius. He was Bishop of Benevento in Campania. He died near Naples, about the year 305, martyred under the persecution of Emperor Diocletian. Around the year 400 the relics of St. Januarius were moved to Naples, which honors Januarius as a patron saint. He supposedly protected Naples from a threatened eruption of the volcano Mt. Vesuvius. The “miracle of Januarius” has world-wide fame. At least three times a year—on his feast day, December 16 and the first Sunday of May—the sealed vial with congealed blood of the saint liquifies, froths and bubbles up. This miraculous event has occurred every year, with rare exceptions. Popular tradition holds that the liquefaction is a sign that the year will be preserved from disasters. (In 1939, the beginning of World War II, the blood did not bubble up.)
This Day in the Church
This Day in the Church.
St. Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663) was born at Cupertino, Italy, and died in Osimo. He was of lowly origin and had little formal education. In his youth he was employed as an apprentice to a shoemaker. He joined the Conventual Franciscans as a lay brother but was later ordained a priest. He was noted for his great austerities, his angelic purity, his great devotion to Our Lady and especially for his ardent love of God. According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is his feast.
St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) was born in Montepulciano, Italy, and died in Rome. The son of noble parents, he entered the Society of Jesus, finishing his theological studies at Louvain, Belgium. His services to the Church were outstanding and many. He occupied the chair of controversial theology in Rome. He defended the Holy See against anti-clericals. He wrote books against the prevailing heresies of the day. His catechism, translated into many languages, spread the knowledge of Christian doctrine to all parts of the world. He was the Counsellor of Popes and spiritual director of St. Aloysius Gonzaga. He helped St. Francis de Sales obtain approval of the Visitation Order. As a religious he was a model of purity, humility and obedience; as a bishop and Cardinal, an example of great love for his flock.
Today the Church commemorates two friends in the service of Christ and his Church. Cornelius, a Roman, was the twenty-first Pope during the reign of the Emperor Gallus and Volusian. He had to oppose Novatian, the first anti-pope, who believed that apostates who repented could not be forgiven. Helped by St. Cyprian, Cornelius confirmed his papal authority. He was beheaded in exile at Civitavecchia, Italy in 253. Saints Cyprian and Cornelius are mentioned in the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) of the Mass.
Devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady has its roots in Sacred Scripture and in Christian piety, which always associates the Blessed Mother with her suffering Son. Today’s feast was introduced by the Servites in order to intensify devotion to Our Lady’s Sorrows. In 1817 Pius VII — suffering grievously in exile but finally liberated by Mary’s intercession — extended the feast to the universal Church.
This feast was observed in Rome before the end of the seventh century. It commemorates the recovery of the Holy Cross, which had been placed on Mt. Calvary by St. Helena and preserved in Jerusalem, but then had fallen into the hands of Chosroas, King of the Persians. The precious relic was recovered and returned to Jerusalem by Emperor Heralius in 629.
According to tradition Sts. Protus and Hyacinth were Romans by birth, brothers and servants in the house of St. Basilla. They were burned alive around 257, during the persecution of Valerian and Gallian. St. Hyacinth is unique among Roman martyrs in that his epitaph and grave in the cemetery of Basilla on the Old Salarian Way were found intact in modern time (1845); in it were the charred bones of the martyr, who had been put to death by fire. Part of the empty tomb of St. Protus was also found. According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is their feast.
St. Nicholas of Tolentino, a native of Sant’ Angelo, in the diocese of Fermo, was born about the year 1245. As a young man, but already endowed with a canon’s stall, he was one day greatly affected by a sermon preached by a Hermit of St. Augustine and decided to enter this newly-founded Order. At first he lived at the hermitage of Pesaro and then at Tolentino where he died in 1305. His whole life was remarkable for its great austerity which was inspired by his great love of the cross. According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is his feast.
Peter Claver was born of a distinguished family in Catalonia, Spain. He became a Jesuit in 1604, and left for Colombia in 1610, dedicating himself to the service of black slaves. For thirty-three years he ministered to slaves, caring for the sick and dying, and instructing the slaves through catechists. Through his efforts three hundred thousand souls entered the Church. He is the Patron of the Negro Missions.
Mary was born to be the mother of the Savior of the world, the spiritual mother of all men, and the holiest of God’s creatures. Because of her Son’s infinite merits, she was conceived and born immaculate and full of grace. Through her, Queen of heaven and of earth, all grace is given to men. Through her, by the will of the Trinity, the unbelieving receive the gift of faith; the afflicted are tendered the works of mercy; and the members of Christ grow in likeness of their Head. In Mary all human nature is exalted. We rejoice in her birthday, as the Church has done from the earliest times. This is one of the three birthdays in the Church Calendar — the Birth of Jesus (December 25), the Birth of John the Baptist (June 24) and the Birthday of Mary. All three were born without original sin, although Mary and Jesus were conceived without sin, and St. John was cleansed of original sin while in the womb at the Visitation of Mary.