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Saint Columban | Father Boniface Hicks, OSB

St Columban (Columbán, Columbanus) (540-615). Franciscan celebration for Irish monk from Leinster who in his fortieth year received permission to travel from Bangor monastery to Scotland with twelve companions and lead a mission to the Continent. They landed in Brittany in 585, and there is a granite cross in Saint-Malo bearing Columban’s name to which people once came to pray for rain in times of drought. Columban and his companions settled in remote hermitage cells at Annegray, one hundred kilometres from present the German and Swiss borders and around 590 founded Luxeuil Abbey (Abbaye Saint-Colomban), dedicated to St Peter ten kilometres to the west in the abandoned Luxovium Pagan Roman fortress. This became a popular pilgrimage site, attracting so many monastic vocations that two new monasteries were needed and Columban sought greater solitude. For this, he spent periods at the hermitage, communicating with the monks through an intermediary. Columban taught to the Irish monastic rule and penitential practices for those repenting of sins, which emphasised private confession to a priest, followed by penances levied by the priest in reparation for the sins. His monks used the Irish eighty-four-year cycle to calculate Easter, whereas the local Franks had adopted the Roman nineteen-year cycle. The bishops objected to the newcomers’ continued observance of their own dating causing the end of Lent to differ. Columban was taken prisoner but escaped his captors and returned to his monastery and founded a number of others in the Frankish and Lombard kingdoms, most notably the 614 Lombard Bobbio Abbey one hundred kilometres south of Milan in present-day Italy, where he refuted the teachings of Arianism in what would be for centuries the stronghold of orthodoxy in northern Italy. During the last year of his life, Columban retired to a mountainside cave near Coli ten kilometres  to the south, where he had dedicated an oratory to Our Lady. Columban died at Bobbio on 21 November 615 and is remembered as one of the earliest identifiable and controversial Hiberno-Latin writers. Venerated in Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic Churches. Feast Days are 21 and 23 November. Patron of motorcyclists. Image: fatherboniface.org.

Prayer Oh Blessed Columban, who in your zeal to follow Christ left your homeland as a wanderer and spent your life in suffering and exile, help and protect, we humbly ask you, and give wisdom to the missionaries of today who have devoted their lives to preaching the Gospel throughout the world. Amen

Saint John Berchmans Medal with Necklace

Sint-Jan Berchmans (St John Berchmans SJ) (1599-1621). Society of Jesus Feast Day for Flemish Catholic Jesuit scholastic, born in the Seventeen Provinces (Low Countries) and influenced by the example of the English Jesuit martyrs. He studied at a gymnasium (grammar school) and at 16, when the Jesuits opened a college at Mechelen (Malines) between Brussels and Antwerp, he was one of the first to enrol in the 1563 Sodality of the Blessed Virgin (Congregationes seu sodalitates B. Mariæ Virginis) there. His father disagreed with this and sent him to a Franciscan convent but Berchmans entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1616 to become a chaplain in the army, hoping to be martyred on the battlefield. In 1618, he made his first vows and went to Antwerp but was sent to Rome to continue his philosophy studies and so set out on foot for the Roman College. In 1621, he participated in a discussion of philosophy at the Greek College administered by the Dominicans. He died from dysentery and fever on 13 August 1621 and a large crowd gathered for several days to view his remains and to invoke his intercession. His heart was returned to his Belgian homeland, where it is kept in a silver reliquary on a side altar in the church at Leuven (Louvain). His other remains were translated to the 1650 Chiesa di Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola in Rome, which is dedicated to Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. The miracle that led to Berchmans’ canonisation occurred in Louisiana during the Civil War, when he appeared to a seriously-ill novice, Mary Wilson, whom he healed at what is now the only shrine at the exact location of a confirmed miracle in the USA. A Various Places Mass (Missa pro aliquibus locis) was to be celebrated in different places on either 13 August, his dies natalis (heavenly birthday), when he is venerated in the Catholic Church, or 26 November. Patron of Ateneo de Manila, Naga, Davao, Zamboanga Universities, Sacred Heart School, Ateneo de Cebu and Xavier University, Ateneo de Cagayan, altar servers. Image: catholicfaithstore.com.

San Silvestro Guzzolini

San Silvestro Guzzolini (St Sylvester Guzzolini OSB Silv) (1177-1267). Feast Day commemorating the death of the noble Italian Catholic who was sent in 1197 to learn jurisprudence in the colleges at Bologna and Padua but who felt called to follow theological and scriptural studies until 1208. He accepted a position as a canon at his native Osimo after being ordained in 1217 and devoted himself to pastoral work with such zeal as to arouse hostilities from his bishop whom he had respectfully rebuked for the scandals that the prelate’s irregular life had caused. Sylvester retired to a distant hermitage in 1227, living in strict poverty until offered a better site at Grotta Fucile thirty-five miles west of Ancona, to which disciples then flocked. It became vital for him to choose a Rule and, after a 1231 vision of St Benedict of Nursia, he chose the Rule of Saint Benedict (Regula Sancti Benedicti). He built his first convent at Montefano near Fabriano, ten miles from Grotta Fucile, after first removing the remains of a Pagan temple. His Silvestrini (Sylvestrine) Congregation was based on the Order of Saint Benedict, with monks who were members of the Benedictine Confederation. This was similar to others of eremitical origin in that the houses were not raised to the status of abbey, although the Congregation was led by an abbot general, the only abbot, who supervised all the houses. After Papal canonical approval in 1248, the Congregation founded eleven monasteries across Italy before the death due to a severe fever and embalming of Sylvester at Fabriano on 26 November 1267. His remains were later disinterred and placed in a shrine still present at the church at Montefano. Venerated in Catholic Church. Major shrine Chiesa di San Donato, Montefano. Accounts of his miracles led to the growth of his cultus (longstanding veneration) but in 1970 that celebration was removed and relegated to the local calendar since it was not a feast of universal importance. Patron of the Silvestrini. Image: santodelgiorno.it.