Franciscan Saints


 

 

 

5th September

 

 

Blessed Thomas of Tolentino and Companions

 

Martyrs, First Order

 

Feast day 9 April

Born in the March of Ancona about 1260, Thomas became a Friar Minor in early youth and soon distinguished himself by his strict observance of the Franciscan rule, especially its precepts concerning the practice of poverty, and by his zeal for the salvation of souls. In 1289 he went with several other friars as a missionary to Lesser Armenia; and two years later King Haython ll of that country sent him as his envoy to the supreme pontiff and the kings of France and England to obtain their assistance against the Saracens.

With the exception of a few years during which he made a second journey back to Europe, Father Thomas then continued his missionary work in Armenia and Persia. Thus he conducted a disputation with schismatic Armenians at Sis in 1305. He was in Persia when two letters, written in 1305 and 1306 by Father John of Montecorvino, the pioneer missionary in the capital of China, arrived, and since Father John asked his confreres to communicate the contents of his letters to the Holy See, Father Thomas once more traveled back to Europe, arriving in Rome some time in 1307.

Before a public consistory of the pope and cardinals he made an eloquent address, recounting the marvelous success of Father John’s work in China and pleading for effective measures which would develop the promising mission in the Far East. As a result Father John was appointed archbishop of Khanbaliq (Peking); and seven Franciscan bishops, with many other friars, were sent to his aid, although only three bishops and some of the friars survived the long journey of two years to China.

Father Thomas seems to have resumed his missionary work in Persia and remained there until 1320, when he too, together with three other friars, set out for the missions in China. But they got only as far as Thana, near Bombay, in India. There they won the martyr's crown at the hands of the Mohammedans. Father Thomas of Tolentino and James of Padua and also Brother   Demetrius of Tiflis were beheaded on April 8, 1321; and Father   Peter of Sienna was put to death on April 11. Brother Demetrius was a Georgian or Armenian; and, being well versed in Oriental Languages, he had served as interpreter for his confreres. Some two year later Blessed Odoric of Pordenone passed   through India and after he had gathered all known facts about the martyrs he took along their remains to the Zaitun mission in southeastern China. But the skull of Father Thomas he carried   to Khanbaliq and when he returned to Europe in 1328-1330, he brought this precious relic to the Franciscan church in the city of Tolentino, Italy. Later it was transferred to the Cathedral.

In popular devotion the title of Blessed has been bestowed on ·all four martyrs ever since the fourteenth century; but only the cult of Blessed Thomas of Tolentino has been definitely approved  by the Holy See, first in 1809 and again in 1894. The feast of the latter is observed by the Franciscans on September fifth and by the Conventuals and Capuchins on April ninth. Since 1914 is also celebrated in the archdiocese of Goa, India. (Cf. Forum, 1945, pp. 291-297; In Journeyings Often, pp. 109-121)

 

Prayer of the Church

(Ninth Sunday after Pentecost)

 

Let Thy Merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of Thy

suppliants and in order that Thou mayest surely grant what

they ask to those who seek, make them ask only for those things

 which are well pleasing to thee.

Through the same Christ Our Lord Who liveth  and reigneth
with
Thee and the Holy Spirit,  One God, now and forever.  Amen

Next

6th September

 

Blessed Liberatus of Lauro

 

Confessor, First Order

Liberatus of Lauro was a count belonging to the noble family of the counts of Brunforte in the March of Ancona. The glory of the world held no attraction for him, and so he left the castle of his forebears and repaired to the solitary little convent of Soffiano where he was invested with the Franciscan habit and consecrated himself entirely to the service of God.

With the consent of his superiors, he led a wholly contemplative life after he was ordained a priest. He was very strict with his body, but his soul was so intimately united with God in heavenly sweetness during prayer and meditation that he often spent whole days and nights in contemplation without even thinking of food and drink or experiencing sleepiness. He became a living model to his brethren, and they were greatly edified by his conduct.

Blessed Liberatus of Lauro rarely spoke; but when he was obliged to answer questions put to him, it seemed as though an angel spoke and not a man. God favored this contemplative soul with very special graces; during his mediations he was sometimes rapt in ecstasy and streams of light radiated from his countenance while his heart experienced a foretaste of the joys of heaven.

Worn out by the ardor of his love and by the austerities he practiced rather than by age, he saw his end approaching. In his last moments he spoke to the brethren, who had assembled around his deathbed, on the joys of heaven which he hoped he would shortly possess. He died about the year 1260.

The place where his body rests was named San Liberato in his honor, and it has been the scene of many miracles. Pope Pius IX approved his veneration in 1868.

 

 

Prayer of the Church

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst inspire Blessed Liberatus to

 withdraw from the vanities of the world and to take up

his cross and follow Thee, mercifully grant that imitating

his example we may despise the perishable things of life

 and serve Thee with pure hearts.

Through the same Christ Our Lord Who liveth and reigneth
with
Thee and the Holy Spirit,  One God, now and forever.  Amen

Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed., The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois

 

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