James was born in the 14th century of a noble
Polish family of Strepar and was educated in a Christian manner by his pious
parents. To escape the dangers of the world, he entered the poor order of St.
Francis when he was a young man. Very soon he became distinguished among his
brethren for eminent virtue, rare attainments, and zeal for the salvation of
The neighboring realm of Russia presented at that
time a wide field for the exercise of his zeal. Partly it was still inhabited
by heathens; and where the Catholic Church had flourished for centuries, Greek
schismatics had long been endeavoring to win the people from the Mother Church
at Rome. With the consent of his superiors James went to Russia to preach the
Gospel and to save the faithful from going astray. About 1360, he had a share
in the organization of a special group of Franciscan missionaries called
Societas Peregrinantium or Travelers for Christ, who did excellent work in
Russia. Wallachia, and Podolia, and in 1401 extended their activities also to
the Tatars near the Caspian Sea and other parts of Asia.
Father James' missionary efforts were so
successful, and his apostolic virtues were so pronounced, that on the death of
the archbishop of Halicz, the pope named him his successor at the request of
the king of Poland in 1392. Only because he was compelled, did James accept
the dignity. But even as a bishop he wore the Franciscan habit and as far as
possible continued his missionary labors.
To preserve the Catholics of the old and the newly
acquired districts in Christian truth, he built many new churches and
convents. His large income was used only for this purpose and for the support
of the poor.
To secure God's blessing on the territory entrusted
to his spiritual care, he considered nothing more helpful than veneration of
the Mother of God. Next to God he placed his confidence in her. Instead of the
family coat-of-arms, he had the image of Mary engraved on his seal; everything
he prescribed for his diocese was to have the seal of Mary. He had her image
also on his pastoral ring. Every evening devotions were held in her honor in
the cathedral or wherever he chanced to be; and he always attended the
services. He urged the people to attend these devotions, as well as special
devotions of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, for which he issued special
regulations and granted indulgences.
James was also mindful of the temporal welfare of
his flock. In order to check the frequent inroads of the Tatars, who were
laying the country waste, he proposed such excellent measures to the Polish
parliament that he was quite generally called the protector of the
After a laborious and blessed episcopate of 19
years, God called him to receive his heavenly reward in the year 1410. Clothed
in the habit of the order and wearing the marks of his episcopal dignity, he
was entombed in the Franciscan church at Lwow, to which the archbishopric had
been transferred from Halicz. When his grave was opened after 200 years his
body and clothing were found entirely incorrupt. Later the remains were
removed to the cathedral.
The continued veneration paid to him was formally
approved by Pope Pius VI.
ON THE VENERATION OF MARY
1. The months of May
and October are especially set aside by the Church for the veneration of the
Blessed Virgin Mary. We should not, however, limit our veneration to these two
months. Like Blessed James, we should venerate her throughout the year and all
our life. She was the mother of the primitive Christian Church; the apostles
and the first Christians at Jerusalem were gathered about her when the Holy
Spirit descended. She was the bond which encircled the first Christian
community with motherly love, when "the multitude of believers had but one
heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32). Blessed James expected veneration of Mary to
bring harmony to his diocese as well as the fruits of the Holy Spirit. May
those fruits also enter our hearts, our homes, our congregations, and the
whole Catholic Church. -- Is Mary truly honored in your home?
how God Himself honored Mary. He sent one of the most eminent heavenly
spirits, the archangel Gabriel, to her who at God's behest said to her: "Hail,
full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women... Thy Holy
Spirit shall come upon you, and the Holy One who shall be born of you shall be
called the Son of God" (Luke 1:28-35).The Holy Trinity thus entered into a
most intimate union with her, since God the Father was with her, the Holy
Spirit overshadowed her, and the Son of God was to be born of her. Could he
who would not honor her still be called a child of God? Filled with the Holy
Spirit, she herself proclaims: "From henceforth all generations shall call me
blessed" (Luke 1:48). Great favors will surely be granted to him who venerates
her whom the Blessed Trinity has honored. O Mary, Daughter of the heavenly
Father, Mother of the Divine Son, and Spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for
3. Consider that Blessed James rightly expected the veneration of Mary
to bring special blessings particularly to his sacred ministry. With Mary's
blessing the apostles set out to preach the Gospel, and she continually raised
her hands to heaven both for those who preached the Faith and for those who
accepted the Faith from them. Catholic life flourishes the more abundantly the
more she is honored. Her maternal protection and powerful intercession will
obtain blessings for the shepherd so that he may guide his sheep in a truly
apostolic spirit, and for the flock so that it may lead a Christian life and
arrive at the blessed goal.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who didst
wonderfully renew the apostolic spirit in Thy blessed bishop and confessor
James, we beseech Thee, grant us his intercession that we may ever adhere to
Thee in faith and in true service. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Franciscan Book
of Saints, ed. by
Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald
Oct 20 - Blessed
Contardo Ferrini 1859-1902
city of Milan was abounded in men of learning and virtue. Our present age has
revealed a new star there, which is destined to show an amazed modern
generation that profound learning and humble faith can well go hand in
Contardo Ferrini was born of a distinguished family
on April 4, 1859. When he was still a student in high school and college he
encouraged his companions to lead good lives and exercised a kind of lay
apostolate among them. After winning his doctorate in law, he obtained a
government scholarship to study abroad. He went to Berlin, where he studied
Roman-Byzantine law, a field in which he achieved international fame. In the
capital of the German empire prejudices against Catholics did not keep
Professor Ferrini from publicly professing his faith. On returning to Italy,
he taught in various higher institutions of learning and eventually at the
University of Paris.
It must be stressed here that Ferrini's life was
practically an unbroken elevation of his soul to God. His keen intellectual
ways penetrated to the Last Principle of all things. "Our life," he said,
"must reach out towards the Infinite, and from that source we must draw
whatever we can expect of merit and dignity."
Every day he approached the Holy Table. He made a
short meditation daily, and also read from Thomas a Kempis. His favorite books
were those of the Bible. The better to savor the spirit of their contents, he
read them in the original languages, of which he had a perfect command. Like
another Joseph of Egypt, he preserved his purity unsullied amid the dangers of
big city life. He practiced many and varied mortifications to arm himself
In 1886 he joined the Third Order of St. Francis,
and for the rest of his life he faithfully observed its rule. He also enrolled
himself in the St, Vincent de Paul Society. In his speeches and writings as
well as in his conduct, he made it a point to show that faith and science are
not only opposed to each other, but that faith is rather a shield to protect
us from error and guide us to true heights.
In 1900 Contardo Ferrini was afflicted with a heart
lesion in consequence of excessive labor. In the autumn of 1902, feeling the
need of rest, he repaired to his country house at Suna. There, however, he was
stricken with typhus. Due to his weakened condition, he was unable to resist
the malignant fever, and died on October 17, 1902, at the age of
The high esteem in which the deceased was held, now
became evident. Letters of condolence from the professors of the university
praised him as a saint. The people of Suna promptly expressed a desire to see
him numbered among the saints. The demand for his beatification grew more
insistent with time, and there was universal rejoicing when in 1909 Pope St.
Pius X appointed Cardinal Ferrari to begin the process. Pope Pius XI conferred
on him the title Venerable in 1931; and Pope Pius XII beatified him in
ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES 1. Holy Writ is not the only
source of faith. It is incomplete for one thing, for St. John says: "There are
also many other things which Jesus did" (John 21:25). Then, too, the
prophecies about the kingdom of heaven which Christ gave His apostles before
His ascension, are not recorded. And from the Epistles of St. Paul (1 Cor 5:9
& Col 4:16) we learn that part of the Scriptures have even been lost.
Although Contardo Ferrini entertained great love for the Scriptures, he did
not regard them as the only authority in matters of faith, but paid equal
respect to the teachings of Holy Church. -- Scripture and the appointment to
teach go hand in hand.
2. Holy Writ most not be our only source of faith.
Christ did not say, "Distribute Bibles!" But He did say, "Teach all nations!"
(Matt 28:19). Holy Writ itself ought to assure us that it is the only source
of our faith if that were the case; but nowhere can we find a statement to
that effect. Neither is the meaning of Holy Writ plain to all who read it.
Nowhere do we find it stated just what belongs to holy Writ; our separated
brethren have learned that from the teachers of the Catholic Church. -- Let
nothing and nobody keep you from heeding the teachings of the Catholic
3. At no time was Holy Scripture used as the only source of faith.
Certainly not in the beginning of Christianity; for then the Gospels and
Epistles had not yet been written and distributed. Nor at any later time; for
even Protestantism has not held the Bible to be the only rule, since the
observance of Sunday, the baptism of infants, and may other practices are not
mentioned in the Bible. Should non-Catholics reproach you for neglecting the
Bible, let your answer be: Holy Scriptures tells us nowhere that we should
read the word of God, but it does tell us to hear the word of God. From Sunday
to Sunday, the Catholic Church gives us the explanation of the Scriptures.
Intelligent and leading Protestants themselves complain of the mischief done
by the so-called free interpretation of the Bible. As far as reading the Bible
is concerned, good Catholic read and pray it often in the prayers of the
liturgy, especially the missal and the divine office. And the Church has
granted an indulgence to the faithful who spend at least a quarter of an hour
in reading Holy Scripture with the great reverence due to the word of God and
after the manner of spiritual reading.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
May the faithful, O Lord,
be strengthened by Thy graces, that having received them, they may yearn for
still more and through this yearning receive them anew in greater measure.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Franciscan Book
of Saints, ed. by
Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald