The Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
In other years: Dedication of the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist
The celebration of the Dedication of the Cathedral has taken place in July and October at different times in the history of the diocese. In order not to conflict with other celebrations, it is now celebrated on 19 May, the anniversary of the founding of the Diocese in 1882. The actual anniversary day of the dedication of the Cathedral is 1 July.
Other saints: Saint Milburga (-c.715)
St Milburga, virgin and elder sister of St Mildred, founded the nunnery of Wenlock in Shropshire (now known as Much Wenlock), assisted by endowments from her uncle, Wulfhere, the King of Mercia, and by her father, Merewald.
Installed as abbess by St Theodore, the saint’s monastery is said to have flourished like a paradise under her rule, partly because of the virtues she cultivated and the spiritual gifts with which she was blessed. The saint, who was educated in France, was noted for her humility, and was endowed with the gift of healing and restored sight to the blind, according to popular stories. Through the strength of her exhortations she was also reputed to bring sinners to repentance. She organised the evangelisation and pastoral care of south Shropshire.
Fantastic stories surround the saint. One tells of how she overslept and woke to find the sun shining on her. Her veil slipped but instead of falling to the ground was suspended on a sunbeam until she collected it. Another story relates how she was surrounded by “fire from heaven” as she knelt in prayer beside the body of a dead child and when the flames abated she returned the child back alive to its mother.
St Milburga was credited with having power over birds and after her death was invoked for the protection of crops against their ravages.
In her final years, St Milburga was afflicted by a painful and lingering disease which she bore with serenity. Her last words were: “Blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peacemakers.”
Her tomb was long venerated until her abbey was destroyed by invading Danes. After the Norman conquest Cluniac monks built a monastery on the site – the ruins at Much Wenlock are those of the later house – and during the excavations St Milburga’s bones were discovered.
Butler’s Lives of the Saints notes that “while many native saints of more historical importance are little noticed in our English calendars, Milburga’s name appears in quite a number of them, beginning with the Bosworth Psalter”, written in about 950. Her extensive cult owed much to the testimony of St Boniface and of a Medieval papal legate who witnessed miraculous cures at her tomb.
St Milburga was a grand-daughter of the pagan King Penda of Mercia, who slew St Oswald at Oswestry, Shropshire. A third sister of the family was also recognised as a saint but all that is known of St Mildgytha was that she was a nun and that “miraculous powers were often exhibited” at her tomb in Northumbria.
Other saints: St Ivo or Yves (1253 - 1303)
Ivo was born at the manor of Kermartin in the parish of Minihy-Tréguier in Brittany, to a noble family. In 1267 he was sent to the University of Paris, where he studied civil law. His contemporaries at the university included the scholars St John Duns Scotus and Roger Bacon. In 1277 he moved to Orléans to study canon law, and having completed his studies he returned to Brittany and he was appointed an “official” (an ecclesiastical judge) of the archdeanery of Rennes. He protected orphans and widows, defended the poor, and rendered fair and impartial verdicts. Although it was common at the time to give judges “gifts,” Ivo refused such bribes. He often helped disputing parties settle out of court so they could save money. He also represented the helpless in other courts, paid their expenses, and visited them in prison.
Meanwhile Ivo contiued his religious studies and in 1284 he was ordained to the priesthood. Ivo was soon invited by the Bishop of Tréguier to become his official, and accepted the offer in 1284. He displayed great zeal and rectitude in the discharge of his duty and did not hesitate to resist taxation by the king, which he considered an encroachment on the rights of the Church. In addition to this post he was appointed parish priest of Tredrez in Brittany in 1285 and of Louannec eight years later. He died in Louannec of natural causes after a life of hard work and repeated fasting.
On the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the birth of St Ivo, Pope John Paul II said, “The values proposed by St Ivo retain an astonishing timeliness. His concern to promote impartial justice and to defend the rights of the poorest persons invites the builders of Europe today to make every effort to ensure that the rights of all, especially the weakest, are recognized and defended.”
Saint Ivo is the patron of lawyers.
Other saints: Blessed Raphael Louis Rafiringa (1856 - 1919)
Firinga was born in Antananativo, Madagascar, on 1 May 1856. His father Rainiantoandro was a member of the noble tribe of Hova and an important functionary at the court of Queen Ranavalona I of Imerina (now called Madagascar). He was in charge of the royal slaves. Firinga received his early education from the Queen’s sorcerers. In 1866, he met some missionaries from the Christian Brothers and saw that they were greater than his teachers. He chose baptism at the age of 14, in 1869. He took the baptismal name Raphael and added the prefix “Ra” to his name (meaning “Mr” or “Sir”), becoming Rafiringa.
He taught at the de la Salle Brotherhood’s school from the age of 17, and later joined the order, becoming the first native of Madagascar to do so.
The Christian missionaries were expelled from Madagascar in 1883, and Brother Raphael was put in charge of the nascent Christian community on the island, a responsibility he shared with Victoria Rasoamanarivo, the daughter of the prime minister and a convert to Christianity against her family’s wishes.
A treaty between Madagascar and France allowed the missionaries to return in 1886, and thanks to the labours of Raphael and Victoria they found a strong and numerous Christian community.
Raphael took his final vows in November 1889 and devoted himself to intense literary work, defending the rights of the Catholic Church in his country. He also wrote general textbooks for the schools and various religious works. He was named a member of the Madagascar Academy and received the Medal of Civil Merit for his role in facilitating peace between Madagascar and France.
In late 1915 he was arrested on suspicion of belonging to a secret nationalist sect. At his trial in February 1916 he was acquitted, but his time spent in prison damaged his health to the point that his superiors sent him to their house at Fianarantsoa to recover, and he died there on 19 May 1919.
Raphael Rafaringa was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on 7 June 2009.
Other saints: St. Francis Coll Guitart OP (1812 - 1875)
19 May (where celebrated)
Dominican Friar and Priest
Saint Francis Coll was born at Gombreny in the Catalan Pyrenees in 1812 and, after studying at the diocesan seminary at Vich, entered the Dominican Order at the priory of Gerona in 1830. In 1835 the anticlerical government closed the house of studies at Gerona and dispersed the Dominican students. From that day until his death he maintained a heroic fidelity to his Dominican vocation without the support offered by Dominican community life. Eventually he was ordained at the diocesan seminary at Vich in 1836. After several years of parish ministry he pursued itinerant preaching along with his friend Saint Anthony Claret. He founded the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation to teach the children of the poor in the villages where he preached. In December, 1869, Blessed Francis suffered a stroke which left him completely blind. He died at Vich on April 2, 1875.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Maximus of Turin (- 420?)
Maximus was born in the late 4th century in northern Italy. He is considered to have been the first Archbishop of Turin, and historians put his death around 420, although a wide range of dates have been proposed.
A large number of homilies, sermons and treatises by Maximus survive, covering the seasons of the Church’s year and also the feasts of particular saints. Their ornate late-Imperial style is not always to modern taste, but they are often short and to the point and they provide valuable evidence of Christian practice and belief at that time.
Liturgical colour: white
White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||(1 Corinthians 15:3-5) ©|
Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures; he was buried; and he was raised to life on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures. He appeared first to Cephas and secondly to the Twelve.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Ephesians 2:4-6 ©|
God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ – it is through grace that you have been saved – and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Romans 6:4 ©|
When we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.