Christ is the son of Mary: come, let us adore him.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: White.
Standing high in a side chapel of a Brussels church is one of Scotland’s treasures, a statue of Our Lady and Child which was saved from destruction in Aberdeen during the Reformation. For sixty-five years it was hidden until it was shipped to safety in the Low Countries. The statue remained in the Augustinian church in Brussels until 1796, when it was again removed for protection, this time to escape the ravages of the French Revolution.
Safely restored to the Augustinians in 1805, it remained in their care as an object of devotion until 1814, when it was removed to the neighbouring Church of Our Lady of Finisterre. It is still venerated there as Our Lady of Good Success.
In Scotland, devotion to Our Lady focusing on copies of this ancient statue has spread, and 9th July is now reserved as the feast of Our Lady of Aberdeen.
|In other years: St Augustine Zhao Rong and his Companions, Martyrs|
Augustine Zhao Rong was one of the Chinese soldiers who escorted Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse to his execution. Moved by his patience, he asked to be baptized, and in due course was sent to the seminary and ordained a priest. He was arrested and savagely tortured. He died in 1815.
With him are celebrated 119 of his companions in martyrdom in China between 1648 and 1930 (including Bishop Dufresse).
Official persecution of Christians by the Emperors ceased in 1842, but violent anti-religious sentiments persisted, and in the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, Christians were particularly attacked and many thousands were killed.
|Other saints: The Martyrs of Gorcum (-1572)|
On 1 April 1572 a group called the Watergeuzen or Gueux de mer (water-/sea-beggars, i.e. rebels) rebelled against the Spanish Habsburg crown which ruled the Low Countries, and conquered Brielle and later Vlissingen and other places. The town of Gorcum (also Gorkum or Gorinchem) fell into their hands in June, and they captured nine Franciscan friars and two lay brothers, as well as the parish priest, his assistant, and two others. These fifteen endured much abuse and suffering in prison and were then transported to Brielle, being exhibited for money to curious crowds on the way. At Brielle they were joined by four others. At the command of William de la Marck, Lord of Lumey, commander of the Gueux de mer, they were each interrogated and ordered to renounce their belief in the Blessed Sacrament and in papal supremacy. They all remained firm in their faith – even those who had been less than perfect Christians before their arrest. The prince of Orange, William the Silent, ordered those in authority to leave priests and religious unmolested, but Lumey ignored this command and had them all hanged, in a turf-shed on the night of 9 July.
|Other saints: Saint Paulina of the Heart of the Dying Jesus (1865-1942)|
Amabile Lucia Visintainer was born on 16 December 1865 in the town of Vigolo Vattaro (then in the Austro-Hungarian province of the Tyrol and now in Italy). When she was ten her family emigrated to Brazil, where she dedicated herself to good works, teaching children their catechism and visiting the sick.
In 1890 she and a friend formally dedicated themselves to a life of religious life and service. A third friend joined them a year later, and as more young women joined them, they established a religious congregation called the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, which was approved by the local bishop. They took their vows as members of the new order in December 1890, and Amabile took the name by which she is now known.
In 1903 Paulina was elected Superior General of the order and moved to Ipiranga, near São Paulo, where she opened a convent of the congregation in order to take care of orphans, the children of former slaves. Following internal disputes within the congregation she was dismissed as Superior General by the Archbishop of São Paulo. She was sent to work for the sick and the elderly. She was brought back in 1918 to live at the mother house at Ipiranga. In 1933 the Congregation of the Little Sisters was formally approved by Pope Pius XI and Paulina was acknowledged as the ‘Venerable Mother Foundress’ of the order.
From 1938 onwards Mother Paulina suffered severely from diabetes, and her health declined until her death on 9 July 1942.
She was beatified in 1991 by Pope John Paul II on a visit to Brazil and canonized by him in Rome on 19 May 2002.
|Other saints: Bl Jane Scopelli (1428-1491)|
9 Jul (where celebrated)
Giovanna (Jane) Scopelli was born in 1439, in Reggio Emilia, Italy. She lived with her parents and cared for them into their old age, while leading a simple life of prayer. During this time she became a Carmelite “mantellata” (member of a Carmelite lay confraternity, wearing the white cloak or mantella). After the death of her parents in 1480, she joined a group of like-minded women to form a community of prayer. Five years later, she acquired for the community the house and church of St Bernard of the Humiliati, which she transformed into a monastery that became commonly known as the “White Nuns”. Two years later, in 1487, the community was affiliated to the Carmelite Mantuan Congregation. In that time, the community had grown to 20 members and Jane served as prioress. She is remembered as living out an intense Marian piety and spirit of penitence throughout her life as she cared for her aging parents and in her work establishing a Carmelite monastery. Jane died on 9 July 1491 in the same town she had been born. In 1797, the Carmelite Church and monastery Jane had founded was suppressed, and her relics were transferred to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, Reggio Emilia.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: St Sophronius of Jerusalem (c.560 - 638)|
Sophronius was born in Damascus around 560. He became an ascetic in Egypt about 580 and subsequently entered the monastery of St Theodosius near Bethlehem. He was active in the battle against the heretics who rejected the nature of Christ as both God and man. He became Patriarch of Jerusalem in 634. At that time the Saracen armies under the caliph Umar I were advancing into Palestine, and Jerusalem itself fell in 637, Sophronius negotiating with Umar the terms of a surrender which gave religious freedom to Christians and preserved the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as a Christian church.
Sophronius’ writings show little sign of these grand historical events. He wrote a series of poems in classical style on Christian subjects, and a number of sermons and doctrinal works.
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)||Zephaniah 3:14,15 ©|
Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Zechariah 9:9 ©|
Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout with gladness, daughter of Jerusalem! See now, your king comes to you; he is victorious, he is triumphant.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Judith 13:18-19 ©|
May you be blessed, my daughter, by God Most High,
beyond all women on earth;
and may the Lord God be blessed,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
by whose guidance you cut off the head
of the leader of our enemies.
The trust you have shown
shall not pass from the memories of men,
but shall ever remind them
of the power of God.