Spiritual Bouquet: Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me that I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls. St. Matthew 11:29
SAINT ANDREW BOBOLA
Saint Andrew Bobola, born in Poland in 1592, was sent while still young to the Jesuit school at Sandomir; his family had always protected the Jesuits and shown itself very liberal towards them. God blessed both the family and the Jesuits in this future martyr, who would bring both of them great glory. He entered that Order in 1611.
As a student he showed great talent, and after studying philosophy for three years taught it in their institutes. In 1622 he was ordained a priest. Three years later he was employed in preaching at the church of Saint Casimir at Wilna; in 1630 he became Superior of the residence of Bobruisk. During a pestilence he spared himself no pains in caring for the sick, without contracting the malady.
Saint Andrew in 1636 resigned his post as Superior to preach for twenty-one years along all the roads of Lithuania, which he was evangelizing. Poland and Lithuania, its neighbor, were being ravaged in those days by the Cossacks, Russians and Tartars, and the Jesuits suffered much from these invaders, who did not like them and their religion. The people were enduring great misery; Father Andrew sustained their courage and helped to combat the invading religious errors.
At Pinsk the Jesuits were offered a refuge by a Catholic prince. When Saint Andrew went there, he was already certain that he was going to martyrdom, as this was a center for the enemies of the Latin Church. Everywhere he was hooted and harassed, and the organized bad treatment continued for several years. Even the children hounded him, instructed by their elders. The holy priest considered it a joy to resemble his Master, for is not that the happiness of every disciple?
One day his enemies decided to put an end to him. They waited for him after he had said Mass, pursued him and attached him to a tree, where they beat him, then led him to their leader with a cord around his neck. The barbaric soldiers, at their chief’s orders, tore out one of his eyes, nearly severed his hand with a blow from a saber, then burnt him with torches, telling him to renounce his faith. He was then strangled and the skin of his head and back hacked off. Like the great Canadian martyr John de Brebeuf, his nose and lips were cut off, and he was thrown on a heap of rubble; but two hours later it was still necessary to end the life of the victim for Christ with a blow from a saber. He was buried by the Catholics at the Jesuit College at Pinsk.
Forty-five years later, by a miracle, God revealed the whereabouts of his forgotten tomb to the Jesuit Fathers, who had seen the continuing evils of war ruin many of their works. His tombstone, then buried underground, was found after the Saint appeared twice in vision to the Rector of the College, saying he wished to protect his brethren and the students, and indicating to him the location of his grave. His mutilated body was incorrupt, and a fine fragrance came from the open tomb. Saint Andrew was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1853, and canonized in April of 1938 by Pope Pius XI.
Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 5.
Saint Hospitius shut himself up in the ruins of an old tower near Villafranca, one league from Nice in Provence. He girded himself with a heavy iron chain and lived only on bread and dates. During Lent he redoubled his austerities, and, in order to conform his life more closely to that of the anchorites of Egypt, ate nothing but root vegetables.
For his great virtues Heaven honored him with the gifts of prophecy and of miracles. He foretold the ravages which the Lombards would make in 575 in Gaul, and advised the religious of a nearby monastery to flee at once. They said they could not resign themselves to abandon him, but he replied that although the invaders would insult him, they would not kill him. The barbarians he had foretold came to the tower in which Hospitius lived, and seeing the chain with which he was bound, mistook him for a criminal who was imprisoned there. When they questioned him, he acknowledged that he was indeed a great sinner and unworthy to live, whereupon one of the soldiers lifted his sword to strike him. God, however, did not desert His faithful servant; the soldier’s arm stiffened and became numb. It was not until Hospitius made the sign of the cross over it that he recovered the use of it. This soldier embraced Christianity, renounced the world and spent the rest of his days in serving God.
When Saint Hospitius felt that his last hour was nearing, he asked the monks of the nearby monastery to send word to the bishop Austadius that he was going to die, so that he might see to his burial. He took off his chain and knelt in prayer for a long time. Then, stretching himself on a little bank of earth, he calmly gave up his soul to God on the 21st of May, 581.
Reflection. If we do not love penance for its own sake, let us love it on account of our sins; for we must “work out our salvation in fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12)
Source: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).