Discourse on the Immaculate Conception of Mary by St Alphonsus

From the book “Glories of Mary” by St Alphonsus

How befitting it was to all Three of the Divine Persons that Mary should be preserved from original sin.

THE ruin was great which accursed sin brought upon Adam and the whole human race; for when he unhappily lost grace, he at the same time lost the other blessings with which, in the beginning, he was enriclud, and drew upon himself, and upon all his descendants, both the displeasure of God, and all other evils. But God ordained that the blessed Virgin should be exempt from this common calamity, for he had destined her to be the mother of the second Adam, Jesus Christ, who was to repair the injury done by the first. Now, let us see how befitting it was that the Three Divine Persons should preserve this Virgin from original sin. We shall see that it was befitting the Father to preserve her from it as his daughter, the Son as his mother, the Holy Spirit as his spouse.

First Point. In the first place, it was fitting that the eternal Father should create Mary free from the original stain, because she was his daughter, and his first-born daughter, as she herself attests: “I came out of the mouth of the Most High, the first-born before all creatures;” for this passage is applied to Mary by the sacred interpreters, by the holy Fathers, and by the Church herself, on the solemn festival of her Conception. Whether she be the first-born on account of her predestination, together with her Son, in the divine decrees, before all creatures, as the school of the Scotists will have it; or the first-born of grace, as predestined to be the mother of the Redeemer, after the prevision of sin, according to the school of the Thomists, all agree in calling her the first-born of God; which being the case, it was not meet that Mary should be the slave of lucifer, but that she should only and always be possessed by her Creator, as she herself asserts: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways.” Hence Mary was rightly called by Dionyshis, Archbishop of Alexandria: One and sole daughter of life: Una et sola filia vitae; differing in this from others, who being born in sin, are daughters of death.

Moreover, it was meet that the eternal Father should create her in his grace, since he destined her for the restorer of the lost world, and mediatrix of peace between man and God; and thus the holy Fathers name her, and especially St. John Damascene, who thus addresses her. Oh blessed Virgin, thou art born to procure the salvation of the whole world ! St. Bernard says that Mary was already prefigured in the ark of Noe; for as by the ark men were saved from the deluge, so by Mary we are saved from the ship wreck of sin; but with this difference, that by means of the ark few only were saved, but by means of Mary the whole human race has been redeemed. Hence it is that Mary is called by St. Athanasius: The new Eve, the mother of life: Nova Eva, mater vitae. A new Eve, because the first was the mother of death, but the most holy Virgin is the mother of life. St. Theophanes, Bishop of Nice, exclaims: Hail to thee, who hast taken away the sorrow of Eve. St. Basil calls her: the peacemaker between God and men. St. Ephrem: The peacemaker of the whole world.

Now, certainly he who treats of peace should not be an enemy of the offended person, still less an accomplice of his crime. St. Gregory says, that to appease the judge his enemy certainly must not be chosen, for instead of appeasing him he would enrage him more. Therefore, Mary was to be the mediatrix of peace between God and man, there was every reason why she should not appear as a sinner and enemy of God, but as his friend, and pure from sin.

Besides, it was fitting that God should preserve her from original sin, since he destined her to bruise the head of the infernal serpent, who, by seducing our first parents, brought death upon all men, as our Lord predicted: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head.” Now, if Mary was to be the strong woman brought into the world to crush lucifer, surely it was not fitting that she should first be conquered by lucifer, and made his slave, but rather that she should be free from every stain, and from all subjection to the enemy. As lie had in his pride already corrupted the whole human race, he would also corrupt the pure soul of this Virgin. But may the divine goodness be ever praised, who prevented her with so much grace, to the end that remaining free from every stain of sin, she could overthrow and confound his pride, as St. Augustine says, or whoever may have been the author of that commentary upon Genesis: As the devil was the head from whence original sin proceeded, that head Mary crushed, because no sin ever entered the soul of the Virgin, and therefore she was free from all stain. St. Bonaventure still more clearly expresses the same: It was meet that the blessed Virgin Mary, by whom our shame was to be removed, should conquer the devil, and there she should not yield to him in the least degree.

But it was especially fitting that the eternal Father should preserve his daughter from the sins of Adam, because he destined her for the mother of his only begotten Son. Thou wast preordained in the mind of God, before every creature, to bring forth God himself made man. If for no other reason, then, at least for the honor of his Son, who was God, the Father would create her pure from every stain. The angelic Doctor St. Thomas says, that all things ordained by God must be holy, and pure from every defilement. If David, when he was planning the temple of Jerusalem with a magnificence worthy the Lord, said; “Not for man a house is prepared, but for God;”now, how much greater cause have we to believe that the great Creator, having destined Mary to be the mother of his own Son, would adorn her soul with every grace, that it might be a worthy habitation for a God. God, the creator of all things, affirms blessed Denis the Carthusian, about to construct a worthy habitation for his Son, adorned her with all pleasing gifts. And the holy Church herself assures us of this, when she affirms that God prepared the body and soul of the Virgin to be, on earth, a habitation worthy of his only begotten Son. “Omnipotent, eternal God!” thus the holy Church prays, “who, by the co operation of the Holy Ghost, didst prepare the body and soul of the glorious Virgin mother, that she might become a worthy habitation for thy Son,”

It is acknowledged to be the greatest glory of sons to be born of noble parents. The glory of children are their fathers: “Gloria filiorum, patres eorum.” So that in the world the imputation of small fortune and little science is more endurable than that of low birth; for the poor man may become rich by industry, the ignorant learned by study, but he who is of low birth can hardly become noble; and if ever this occurs, the old and original reproach is liable always to be revived. How can we then believe that God, when he was able to give his Son a noble mother, by preserving her from sin, would have consented that he should be born of a mother defiled with sin, and permit lucifer to reproach him with the opprobrium of being born of a mother who once was his slave and an enemy of God! No, the Lord has not permitted this, but he has well provided for the honor of his Son, by ordaining that his mother should always be immaculate, that she might be a fit mother for such a Son. The Greek Church con firms this: “By a singular providence, God ordained that the most holy Virgin should be perfectly pure from the very beginning of her life, as was becoming her who was to be a mother worthy of Christ.”

It is a common axiom among theologians, that no gift has ever been granted to any creature with which the blessed Virgin was not also enriched. St. Bernard thus expresses it: We certainly cannot suspect that what has been bestowed on the chosen among mortals should be withheld from the blessed Virgin. And St. Thomas of Villanova says: Nothing was ever given to any of the saints that did not shine more pre-eminently in Mary from the beginning of her life. And if it be true, according to the celebrated saying of St. John Damascene, that there is an infinite distance between the mother of God and the servants of God, it certainly must be supposed, as St. Thomas teaches, that God has conferred greater graces of every kind on the mother than on the servants. Now, asks St. Anselm, the great defender of the privileges of the immaculate Mary, this being granted, was the wisdom of God unable to prepare a pure abode for his Son, free from every human stain? Has it been in the power of God, continues St. Anselm, to preserve the angels of heaven unstained amidst the ruin of so many, and could he not preserve tue mother of his Son and the queen of angels from the common fall of man? Could God, I add, give the grace even to an Eve to come into the world immaculate, and afterwards be unable to bestow it on Mary?

Ah, no, God could do it and has done it, since it was altogether fitting, as the above-named St. Anselm says, that this Virgin, to whom God was to give his only Son, should be adorned with such purity, that it not only should surpass the purity of all men and of all angels, but should be second in greatness only to that of God. And still more plainly does St. John Damascene declare, that he preserved the soul as well as the body of this Virgin, as beseemed her who was about to receive God into her womb, for he being holy, dwells only with the holy. Thus the eternal Father could say to this beloved daughter: “As the lily among the thorns, so is my love among the daughters.”! Daughter among all my other daughters, thou art like a lily among thorns; for they are all stained by sin, but thou wert ever immaculate, and ever my friend.

Second Point. In the second place, it was befitting the Son that Mary, as his mother, should be preserved from sin. It is not permitted to other children to select a mother according to their good pleasure; but if this were ever granted to any one, who would choose a slave for his mother when he might have a queen? who a peasant, when he might have a noble? who an enemy of God, when he might have a friend of God? If, then, the Son of God alone could select a mother according to his pleasure, it must be considered as certain that he would choose one befitting a God. Thus St. Bernard expresses it: The Creator of men to be born of man must choose such a mother for himself as he knew to be most fit. And as it was, indeed, fitting that a most pure God should have a mother pure from all sin, such was she created, as St. Bemardine of Sienna says, in these words: The third kind of sanctification is that which is called maternal, and this removes every stain of original sin. This was in the blessed Virgin. God, indeed, created her, by the nobility of her nature as well as by the perfection of grace, such as it was befitting that his mother should be.f And here the words of the apostle may be applied: “For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners,” Here a learned author remarks, that according to St. Paul, it was meet that our Redeemer should not only be separated from sin, but also from sinners, as St. Thomas explains it: It was meet that he who came to take away sins, should be separate from sinners as far as concerns the sin of which Adam was guilty. But how could it be said of Jesus Christ that he was separate from sinners if his mother was a sinner?

St. Ambrose says: Not from earth, but from heaven, Christ selected this vessel through which he should descend, and consecrated the temple of modesty. The saint alludes to the words of St. Paul: “The first man was of the earth, earthy: the second man from heaven, heavenly.”! St. Ambrose calls the divine mother; A celestial vessel: not that Mary was other than earthly in her nature, as heretics have sometimes fancied, but celestial through grace, for she was superior to the angels of heaven in sanctity and purity, as it was meet she should be, when a King of glory was to dwell in her womb; as John the Baptist revealed to St. Bridget: “It was befitting the King of glory to remain in no vessel but one purer and more select than all angels and men;” to which we may add what the eternal Father himself said to the same saint: “Mary was a clean and an unclean vessel. Clean because she was wholly fair, but unclean because she was born of sinners; although she was conceived without sin, that my Son should be born without sin.” And these last words are worthy of note, that Mary was conceived without sin, so that the divine Son might be conceived without sin. Not that Jesus Christ could be capable of contracting sin, but that he might not suffer the opprobrium of having a mother infected with sin, and a slave of the devil.

The Holy Spirit says, that the honor of the Father is the glory of the Son, and the dishonor of the Father is the shame of the Son. And St. Augustine says, that Jesus preserved the body of Mary from being corrupted after death, since it would have dishonored him if corruption had destroyed that virginal flesh from which he had clothed himself. Corruption is the reproach of the human condition, from which the nature of Mary was exempted, in order that Jesus might be exempt from it, for the flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary. Now, if it were a dishonor for Jesus Christ to be born of a mother whose body was subject to the corruption of the flesh, how much greater would be the shame had he been born of a mother whose soul was corrupted by sin! Moreover, as it is true that the flesh of Jesus is the same as that of Mary, in such a manner (as the saint himself here adds) that the flesh of the Saviour after his resurrection was the very same which he received from his mother; therefore St. Arnold of Carnotensis says: The flesh of Mary and of Christ is one, and hence I esteem the glory of the Son to be not so much common to both as the same. Now, this being true, if the blessed Virgin had been conceived in sin, although the Son had not contracted the stain of sin, yet there would always have been a certain stain from the union of himself with flesh once infected by guilt, a vessel of uncleaaness and a slave of lucifer.

Mary was not only the mother, but a worthy mother of the Saviour. Thus all the holy Fathers name her. St. Bernard says: Thou alone hast been found worthy, that in thy virginal hall the King of kings should choose his first mansion. And St. Thomas of Villanova: Before she had conceived she was fitted to be the mother of God. The holy Church herself attests that the Virgin merited to be the mother of Jesus Christ. Explaining which passage, St. Thomas of Aquinas remarks, that Mary could not merit the incarnation of the Word, but with divine grace she merited such perfection as would render her worthy to become the mother of a God; as St. Peter Damian also writes: Her singular sanctity merited (out of pure grace) that she should alone be judged worthy to receive a God.

Now, this being granted, that Mary was a mother worthy of God, what excellency and what perfection, says St. Thomas of Villanova were befitting her! The same angelic Doctor declares, that when God elects any one to a certain dignity, he also fits him for it; hence, he says, that God having chosen Mary for his mother, certainly rendered her worthy of it by his grace, according to what the angels said to her: “Thou hast found grace with God, behold thou shalt conceive, etc.” And from this the saint infers that the Virgin never committed any actual sin, not even a venial sin, otherwise, he says, she would not have been a worthy mother of Jesus Christ, since the ignominy of the mother would also be that of the Son, if his mother had been a sinner. Now, if Mary, by committing only one venial offence, which does not deprive the soul of divine grace, might be said not to have been a worthy mother of God, how much more if she had been stained with original sin, which would have rendered her an enemy of God, and a slave of the devil! Therefore St. Augustine says in a celebrated passage of his writings, that speaking of Mary, he would make no mention of sins, for the honor of that Lord whom she merited for her Son, and through whom she had the grace to conquer sin in every way.

We should therefore hold it for certain, that the incarnate Word selected for himself a befitting mother, and one of whom he need not be ashamed, as St. Peter Damian expresses it. And also St. Proculus: He inhabited those bowels which he had created, so as to be free from any mark of infamy. Jesus felt it no reproach to hear himself called by the Jews the son of a poor woman: “Is not his mother called Mary?” for he came on earth to give an example of humility and patience. But on the other hand, it would doubtless have been a reproach to him if it could have been said by the demons: Was he not born from a mother who was a sinner, and once our slave? It would be considered most unfit that Jesus Christ should have been born of a woman deformed and maimed in body, or possessed by evil spirits; but how much more unseemly that he should be born of a woman once deformed in soul, and possessed by lucifer.

Ah, that God who is wisdom itself well knew how to prepare upon the earth a fit dwelling for him to inhabit: “Wisdom hath built herself a house,” “The Most High hath sanctified his own tabernacle.” “God will help it in the morning early.” The Lord, says David, sanctified this his habitation in the morning early; that is, from the beginning of her life, to render her worthy of himself; for it was not befitting a God who is holy to select a house that was not holy: Holiness becometh thy house: ” Domum tuum decet sanctitudo.” And if he himself declares that he will never enter into a malicious soul, and into a body subject to sins,” how can we think that the Son of God would have chosen to inhabit the soul and body of Mary without first sanctifying her and preserving her from every stain of sin? for, as St. Thomas teaches us, the eternal Word inhabited not only the soul, but the body of Mary. The Church also sings: Oh Lord, thou didst not shrink from the Virgin s womb: “Non horruisti Virginia uterum.” Indeed, a God would have shrunk from incarnating himself in the womb of an Agnes, of a Gertrude, of a Theresa, since those virgins, although holy, were for a time, stained with original sin; but he did not shrink from be coming man in the womb of Mary, because this chosen Virgin was always pure from every guilt, and never possessed by the infernal serpent. Hence St. Augustine wrote: The Son of God has built himself no house more worthy than Mary, who was never taken by the enemy, nor robbed of her ornaments.

On the other hand, St. Cyril of Alexandria says: Who has ever heard of an architect building a house for his own use and then giving the first possession of it to his greatest enemy?

Certainly our Lord, who, as St. Methodius declares, gave us the command to honor our parents, would not fail, when he became man, like our selves, to observe it himself, by bestowing on his mother every grace and honor. Hence St. Augustine says, that we must certainly believe that Jesus Christ preserved from corruption the body of Mary after death, as it has been said above; for if he had not done so, he would not have observed the law, which, as it commands respect to the mother, so it condemns disrespect. How much less mindful would Jesus have been of the honor of his mother, if he had not preserved her from the sin of Adam! That Son would, indeed, commit a sin, says Father Thomas d’Argentina, an Augustinian, who, being able to preserve his mother from original sin, should not do so; now that which would be sinful in us, says the same author, cannot be esteemed befitting the Son of God, namely, if he should not have created his mother immaculate when he was able to do so. Ah, no, exclaims Gerson, since thou, the supreme Prince, dost wish to have a mother, honor will certainly be due to her from thee: but this law would not appear well fulfilled if thou shouldst permit her, who was to be the dwelling of all purity, to fall into th abomination of original sin.

Moreover, the divine Son, as we know, came into the world to redeem Mary before all others, as we read in St. Bernardine of Sienna. And as there are two modes of redeeming, as St. Augustine teaches, one by raising the fallen; the other, by preventing from failing doubtless, the latter is the most noble. More nobly, says St. Antoninus, is he redeemed who is prevented from falling, than he who is raised after failing ; because in this way is avoided the injury or stain that the soul always contracts by a fall. Therefore we ought to believe that Mary was redeemed in the nobler manner, as became the mother of a God, as St. Bonaventure expresses it; for Frassen proves the sermon on the assumption to have been written by that holy doctor. We must believe that by a new mode of sanctification the Holy Spirit redeemed her at the first moment of her conception, and preserved her by a special grace from original sin, which was not in her, but would have been in her. On this subject Cardinal Cusano has elegantly written: Others have had a deliverer, but the holy Virgin had a predeliverer; others have had a Redeemer to deliver them from sin already contracted, but the holy Virgin had a Redeemer who, because he was her Son, prevented her from contracting sin.

In a word, to conclude this point, Hugo of St. Victor says, the tree is known by its fruit. If the Lamb was always immaculate, always immaculate must the mother also have been. Hence this same doctor saluted Mary by calling her: The worthy mother of a worthy Son: “O digna digni.” By which he meant to say, that none but Mary was the worthy mother of such a Son, and that none but Jesus was the worthy Son of such a mother. Therefore let us say with St. Ildephonsus: Give suck, then, oh Mary, give suck to thy Creator; give suck to him who created thee, and hath made thee so pure and perfect that thou hast merited that he should receive from thee the human nature.

Third Point. If, then, it became the Father to preserve Mary as his daughter from sin, and the Son because she was his mother, it also became the Holy Spirit to preserve her as his spouse. Mary, says St. Augustine, was the only one who merited to be called the mother and spouse of God. For, as St. Anselm affirms, the Holy Spirit came bodily upon Mary and rested in her, enriching her with grace beyond all creatures, dwelt in her, and made his spouse queen of heaven and of earth. As the saint expresses it: He was with her really, as to the effect, since he came to form from her immaculate body the immaculate body of Jesus Christ, as the archangel predicted: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee. For this reason, says St. Thomas, Mary is called the temple of the Lord, the sanctuary of the Hoiy Spirit, because, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, she was made mother of the incarnate Word.

Now, if an excellent painter were allowed to choose a bride as beautiful or as deformed as he himself might paint her, how great would be his solicitude to make her as beautiful as possible! Who, then, will say that the Holy Spirit has not dealt thus with Mary, and that, having it in his power to make this his spouse as beautiful as it became her to be, he has not done so? Yes, thus it was fitting he should do, and thus he did, as the Lord himself attested when praising Mary; he said to her: “Thou art all fair, oh my love; and there is not a spot in thee;” which words, as we learn from a Lapide, St. Ildephonsus, and St. Thomas, explain as properly to be understood of Mary. St. Bernardine of Sienna, and St. Lawrence Justiriian, also declare that the passage above quoted is precisely to be understood of her immaculate conception; hence the Idiot says: Thou art all fair, oh most glorious Virgin, not in part, but wholly; and the stain of sin, whether mortal, or venial, or original, is not upon thee.

The Holy Spirit signifies the same thing, when he called this his spouse: “A garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up. Mary, says St. Jerome, was properly this enclosed garden and sealed fountain; for the enemies never entered to harm her, but she was always uninjured, remaining holy in soul and body. And in like manner St. Bernard said, addressing the blessed Virgin: Thou art an enclosed garden, where the sinner’s hand never entered to rob it of its flowers.

We know that this divine spouse loved Mary more than all the other saints and angels united, as Father Suarez, St. Lawrence Justinian, and others affirm. He loved her from the beginning, and exalted her in sanctity above all creatures, as David expresses it: “The foundations thereof are in the holy mountains; the Lord loveth the gates of Sion above all the tabernacles of Jacob. . . . This man is born in her, and the Highest himself hath founded her.” All which words signify that Mary was holy from her conception. The same thing is signified by what the Holy Spirit himself says in another place: Many daughters have gathered together riches; tbou hast surpassed them all.” If Mary has surpassed all in the riches of grace, she then possessed original justice, as Adam and the angels had it. “There are young maidens without number: one is my dove, my perfect one (the Hebrew reads, my uncorrupted, my immaculate) ; she is the only one of her mother.” All just souls are children of divine grace; but among these, Mary was the Dove without the bitter gall of sin, the Perfect One without the stain of original sin, the one conceived in grace.

The angel, therefore, before she was the mother of God, already found her full of grace, and thus saluted her: Hail, full of grace: “Ave gratia plena.” Commenting upon which words, Sophronius writes, that to the other saints grace is given in part, but to the Virgin it was given in fulness. So that, as St. Thomas says, grace not only made the soul, but also the flesh of Mary holy, that with it the Virgin might clothe the eternal Word. Now by all this we are to understand, as Peter of Celles remark, that Mary, from the moment of her conception, was enriched by the Holy Spirit, and filled with divine grace. Hence, as St. Peter Damian says: She being elected and pre-elected by God, was borne off by the Holy Spirit for himself. Borne off, as the saint expresses it, to explain the swiftness of the Divine Spirit, in making her his spouse, before lucifer should take possession of her.

I will at length close tbis discourse, in which I have been more diffused than in the others, because our little congregation has for its principal protectress the most holy Virgin Mary, precisely under this title of her immaculate conception. I will close, I say, by declaring in a few words what are the reasons which make me certain, and which, as I think, should make every one certain of this pious sentiment, so glorious to the divine mother that she was free from original sin.

There are many doctors who maintain that Mary was even exempt from contracting the debt of sin; such as Cardinal Galatino, Cardinal Cusano, De Ponte Salasar, Catherinus Novarino, Viva, De Lugo, Kgidius, Richelius, and others. Now this opinion is very probable; for if it is true that in the will of Adam, as head of the human race, were included the wills of all, as Gonet, Habert, and others hold it to be probable, on the testimony of these words of St. Paul: “In whom (Adam) all have sinned.” If this, then, is probable, it is also probable that Mary did not contract the debt of sin; for God having greatly distinguished her in the order of grace from the rest of mankind, it should be piously believed, that in the will of Adam, the will of Mary was not included.

This opinion is only probable, but I adhere to it, as being rnore glorious for my Lady. But, then, I hold it for certain thai Mary has not contracted the sin of Adam, as Cardinal Everard, Duval, Raynauld, Lossada, Viva, and many others hold it for certain, and even proximately definable as an article of faith, as they express it. I omit, however, the revelations that confirm this opinion; especially those made to St. Bridget, approved by Cardinal Torrecremata, and by four supreme Pontiffs, and which we read in the sixth book of the above-mentioned revelations, in various places. But I can by no means omit to mention here the opinions of the holy Fathers on this point, in order to prove how uniform they have been in conceding this privilege to the divine mother. St. Ambrose says : Receive me not from Sarah, but from Mary, as an uncorrupted Virgin, a Virgin through grace preserved pure from every stain of sin. Ongen, speaking of Mary, says: Neither was she infected by the breath of the venomous serpent. And St. Ephrem: She is immaculate, and remote from every taint of sin. St. Augustine, meditating on the words of the angel, “Hail, full of grace,” says: By these words he shows her to be entirely note, entirely, excluded from the wrath of the first sentence, and restored to the full grace of benediction. St. Jerome: That cloud was never in darkness, but always in the light. St. Cyprian, on Psalm Ixxvii., or whoever may be the author of that treatise, says: Neither did justice suffer that vessel of election to be open to common injuries, for, being far exalted above others, she was a partaker of their nature, but not of their sin. St. Amphilochius also says: He who created the first virgin without reproach, also created the second without stain or crime. Sophronius: Therefore she is called the immaculate Virgin, because she was in no manner corrupted. St. Ildephonsus: It is certain that she was exempt from original sin. St. John of Damascus: To this paradise the serpent had no entrance. St. Peter Damian: The flesh of the Virgin, received from Adam, was free from Adam’s taint of sin. St. Bruno: This is that uncorrupted earth which the Lord has blessed, and hence she is pure from all contagion of sin. St. Bonaventure, also: Our Lady was full of preventing grace in her sanctification, namely, of grace preservative against the defilement of original sin. St. Bernardine of Sienna: For it is not to be believed that the Son of God himself would choose to be born of a Virgin, and assume her flesh, if she were defiled in any way with original sin. St. Lawrence Justinian: From her conception she was prevented with blessing. So the Idiot, upon those words, Thou hast found grace, ” Invenisti gratiam,” says: Thou hast found peculiar grace, oh most sweet Virgin, for thou wast preserved from original stain, And many other Doctors express the same.

But there are two arguments which conclusively prove the truth of this opinion. The first is the universal consent of the faithful on this point. Father Egidius, of the Presentation, asserts that all the religious orders follow the same opinion: and although in the order of St. Dominic, says a modern author, there are ninety-two writers who are of the contrary opinion, yet one hundred and thirty-six are of ours .But what should especially persuade us that our pious opinion is conformable to the common opinion of Catholics, is the declaration of Pope Alexander VII., in the celebrated bull, “Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum,” issued in the year 1661, namely: “This devotion and worship to the mother of God again increased and was propagated, … .so that the universities having embraced this opinion (that is, the pious one), almost all Catholics embrace it.” And, in fact, this opinion is defended by the universities of the Sorbonne, of Alcala, of Salamanca, of Coimbra, of Cologne, of Mayence, and of Naples, and by many others, in which every one who graduates binds himself by an oath to the defence of the immaculate Mary. The learned Petavius rests his proof of the immaculate conception mainly upon this argument of the common consent of the faithful. Which argument, writes the most learned Bishop Julius Torni, cannot fail to convince; for, in fact, if nothing else, the common consent of the faithful renders us certain of the sanctification of Mary in the womb, and of the glorious assumption of her soul and body in heaven ; why, then, should not this same common sentiment render us certain of her immaculate conception?

By another reason, still stronger than the first, we are assured of the truth of the fact, that the Virgin is exempt from the original stain, namely, the festival instituted by the universal Church in honor of her immaculate Conception. And with regard to this I see, on the one hand, that the Church celebrates the first moment when her soul was created and infused into the body, as Alexander VII. declares in the bull above quoted, in which it is expressed that the Church prescribes the same veneration for the conception of Mary, as the pious opinion concedes to her, which holds her to be conceived without original sin. On the other hand I know it to be certain that the Church cannot honor any thing unholy, according to the decrees of the sovereign pontiffs St. Leof and St. Eusebius : “In the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved pure from stain.” And all the theologians, including St. Augustine, St. Bernard, and St. Thomas, teach the same thing. The latter makes use of the argument of the festival of her birth, instituted by the Church, to prove that Mary was sanctified before birth; and therefore says: The Church celebrates the nativity of the blessed Virgin; but no feast is celebrated in the Church except in honor of some saint; therefore the blessed Virgin was sanctified in the womb. Now if it is certain, as the angelic Doctor declares, that Mary was sanctified in the womb, because for this reason the holy Church celebrates her birth ; why should we not then hold it for certain that Mary was preserved from original sin from the first moment of her conception, now that we know that in this sense the Church herself celebrates the festival of it ? In confirmation, too, of this great privilege of Mary, it is well known what numerous and remarkable graces our Lord has been pleased to dispense daily in the kingdom of Naples, by means of the little pictures of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception. I could relate many that took place under the eyes of the fathers of our own congregation ; but I will relate only two, which are truly wonderful.


There came a woman to one of the houses of our little congregation, in this kingdom, to tell one of the fathers that her husband had not been to confession for many years, and that she did not know how to bring him back to his duties, for whenever she spoke to him of confession he beat her. The father told her to give him a little picture of Mary immaculate. Evening came, and the woman again begged her husband to go to confession; but the man being as deaf as before, she gave him the picture. He had no sooner received it than he said: “When will you take me to confession, for I am ready ? ” The wife, at that sudden change, wept for joy. In the morning he came to our church, and when the father asked him how long it was since he had been to confession, he answered: “Twentyeight years.” “And what has brought you to confession this morning?” said the father. “Father,” he said, “I was obstinate, but yesterday my wife gave me a picture of the Madonna, and immediately I felt my heart changed, so that last night appeared to me a thousand years long, and I thought the day would never come when I might go to confession.” He made his confession with great compunction, changed his life, and continued for a long time to go often to confession to the same father.

In another place, in the diocese of Salerno, during one of our missions, there was a certain man who had a great enmity against one who had offended him. One of our fathers spoke to him, and exhorted him to pardon the ” Father, have you ever seen me at the sermon? No, you have not, and for this reason I stay away: I see that I am damned, but I do not wish it otherwise, I must have revenge.” The father made every effort to convert him, but finding that he was wasting his words, ” Take, he said to him, this little picture of the Madonna.” ” Of what use,” said he, ” is this picture?” But he took it, and as if he had never refused to pardon his enemy, he said to the missionary, ” Father, do you wish anything more than reconciliation? for that I am ready.” The next morning was appointed for the reconciliation; but when the morning came, his mind was changed, and he would do nothing. The father offered him another picture. He did not wish for it, and took it unwillingly; but behold, no sooner had he taken it, than he immediately said, “Let us be reconciled: where is Mastrodatti? ” He then forgave his enemy, and afterwards made his confession.


All, my immaculate Lady, I rejoice with thee, seeing thee endowed with so great purity. I give thanks, and make the resolution always to give thanks to our common Creator, for having preserved thee from every stain of sin, as I certainly believe; and to defend this great and peculiar privilege of thy immaculate conception I am ready, and swear to give even my life if it is necessary. I wish that all the world might know thee, and acknowledge thee for that beatiful aurora, which was always resplendent with the divine light; that chosen ark of salvation, safe from the common shipwreck of sin; for that perfect and immaculate dove, as thy divine spouse declared thee; that inclosed garden, which was the delight of God; that fountain sealed up, which the enemy never entered to trouble; finally, that spotless lily, which thou art, springing up among the thorns of the children of Adam; for whereas all are born defiled with original sin, and enemies of God, thou wast born pure, all spotless, and in all things a friend of thy Creator.

Let me, then, also praise thee as thy God himself hath praised thee when he said: Thou art all fair, and there is not a spot in thee: “Tota pulchra es et macula non est in te.” Oh most pure dove, all white, all beautiful, and always the friend of God: “O quam pulchra es, arnica mea, quam pulchra es.” Oh most sweet, most amiable, immaculate Mary, thou who art so beautiful in the eyes of our Lord, do not disdain to look with thy pitying eye upon the loathsome wounds of my soul. Behold me, pity me, and heal rne. Oh powerful magnet of hearts, draw also my miserable heart to thee. Thou who even from the first moment of thy life wast pure and beautiful in the sight of God, have pity on me, for I was not only born in sin, but after baptism, I again have defiled my soul with sin Will God, who hath chosen thee for his child, his mother, and his spouse, and therefore hath preserved thee from every stain, refuse any grace to thee? Virgin immaculate, you must save me; I will say to thee with St. Philip Neri, make me always to remember thee and do not forget me. It seems to me a thousand years before I shall go to behold thy beauty in paradise, to praise and love thee more, my mother, my queen, my beloved, most lovely, most sweet, most pure, immaculate Mary. Amen


Feast of the Immaculate Conception


Deus, qui per immaculátam Vírginis Conceptiónem dignum Fílio tuo habitáculum præparásti: quǽsumus; ut, qui ex morte eiúsdem Filii tui prævísa eam ab omni labe præservásti, nos quoque mundos eius intercessióne ad te perveníre concédas.

O God, Who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, prepared a worthy dwelling for Your Son, and Who, by Your Son’s death, foreseen by You, preserved her from all taint, grant, we beseech You, through her intercession, that we too may come to You unstained by sin.

December 8.


ON this day, so dear to every Catholic heart, we celebrate, in the first place, the moment in which Almighty God showed Mary, through the distance of ages, to our first parents as the Virgin Mother of the divine Redeemer, the woman destined to crush the head of the serpent. And as by eternal decree she was miraculously exempt from all stain of original sin, and endowed with

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the richest treasures of grace and sanctity, it is meet that we should honor her glorious prerogatives by this special feast of the Immaculate Conception. We should join in spirit with the blessed in heaven, and rejoice with our dear Mother, not only for her own sake, but for ours, her children, who are partakers of her glory and happiness. Secondly, we are called upon to celebrate that ever-memorable day, the 8th of December, 1854, which raised the Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Lady from a pious belief to the dignity of a dogma of the Infallible Church, causing universal joy among the faithful.

Reflection.—Let us repeat frequently these words applied by the Church to the Blessed Virgin: “Thou art all fair, O Mary? and there is not a spot in thee” (Cant. iv. 7).


Salutárem hóstiam, quam in sollemnitáte immaculátæ Conceptiónis beátæ Vírginis Maríæ tibi, Dómine, offérimus, súscipe et præsta: ut, sicut illam tua grátia præveniénte ab omni labe immúnem profitémur; ita eius intercessióne a culpis ómnibus liberémur.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.

Accept, O Lord, the sacrifice of salvation which we offer You on the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the blessed Virgin Mary; and grant that as we profess that she was kept from all taint of evil, by Your anticipating grace, so, through her intercession, may we be freed from all sin.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.

Post Communion

Sacraménta quæ súmpsimus, Dómine, Deus noster: illíus in nobis culpæ vúlnera réparent; a qua immaculátam beátæ Maríæ Conceptiónem singuláriter præservásti.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.

May the sacrament we have received, O Lord our God, heal in us the wounds of that sin from which by a singular privilege, You kept immaculate the conception of blessed Mary.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.




Eccli 45:30.
Státuit ei Dóminus testaméntum pacis, et príncipem fecit eum: ut sit illi sacerdótii dignitas in ætérnum
Ps 131:1
Meménto, Dómine, David: et omnis mansuetúdinis eius.

The Lord made a covenant of friendship with him, and made him a prince; that he should possess the dignity of priesthood forever.
Ps 131:1
Remember, O Lord, David and all his meekness.


ST. NICHOLAS, the patron Saint of Russia, was born toward the end of the third century. His uncle, the Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, ordained him priest, and appointed him abbot of a monastery; and on the death of the archbishop he was elected to the vacant see. Throughout his life he retained the bright and guileless manners of his early years, and showed himself the special protector of the innocent and the wronged. Nicholas once heard that a person who had fallen into poverty intended to abandon his three daughters to a life of sin. Determined, if possible, to save their innocence, the Saint went out by night, and, taking with him a bag of gold, flung it into the window of the sleeping father and hurried off. He, on awaking, deemed the gift a godsend, and with it dowered his eldest child. The Saint, overjoyed at his success, made like venture for the second daughter; but the third time as he stole away, the father, who was watching, overtook him and kissed his feet, saying: “Nicholas, why dost thou conceal thyself from me? Thou art my helper, and he who has delivered my soul and my daughters’ from hell.” St. Nicholas is usually represented by the side of a vessel, wherein a certain man had concealed the bodies of his three children whom he had killed, but who were restored to life by the Saint. He died in 342. His relics were translated in 1807, to Bari, Italy, and there, after fifteen centuries, “the manna of St. Nicholas” still flows from his bones and heals all kinds of sick.

Reflection.—Those who would enter heaven must be as little children, whose greatest glory is their innocence. Now, two things are ours to do: first, to preserve it in ourselves, or regain it by penance; secondly, to love and shield it in others.


Deus, qui beátum Nicoláum Pontíficem innúmeris decorásti miráculis: tríbue, quǽsumus; ut eius méritis et précibus O God, You who made the holy Bishop Nicholas renowned for countless miracles, grant, we beseech You, that by his merits and prayers we may be saved from the fires of hell.a gehénnæ incéndiis liberémur.


Sanctífica, quǽsumus, Dómine Deus, hæc múnera, quæ in sollemnitáte sancti Antístitis tui Nicolái offérimus: ut per ea vita nostra inter advérsa et próspera úbique dirigátur.

Sanctify, we beseech You, O Lord God, the gifts we offer on the feast of Your holy Bishop, Nicholas, that through them our life, whether in fortune or misfortune, may be directed aright.

Post Communion

Sacrifícia, quæ súmpsimus, Dómine, pro sollemnitáte sancti Pontíficis tui Nicolái, sempitérna nos protectióne consérvent.

May the sacrifice in which we have shared on the feast of Your holy Bishop Nicholas guard us with its lasting protection.


December 4—ST. BARBARA, Virgin, Martyr


December 4.—ST. BARBARA, Virgin, Martyr.

ST. BARBARA was brought up a heathen. A tyrannical father, Dioscorus, had kept her jealously secluded in a lonely tower which he had built for the purpose. Here in her forced solitude, she gave herself to prayer and study, and contrived to receive instruction and Baptism by stealth from a Christian priest. Dioscorus, on discovering his daughter’s conversion, was beside himself with rage. He himself denounced her before the civil tribunal. Barbara was horribly tortured, and at last was beheaded, her own father, merciless to the last, acting as her executioner. God, however, speedily punished her persecutors. While her soul was being borne by angels to Paradise, a flash of lightning struck Dioscorus, and he was hurried before the judgment-seat of God.

Reflection.—Pray often against a sudden and unprovided death; and, above all, that you may be strengthened by the Holy Viaticum against the dangers of your last hour.


December 4 — St. Peter Chrysologus


Eccli 15:5.
In médio Ecclésiæ apéruit os eius: et implévit eum Dóminus spíritu sapiéntiæ et intelléctus: stolam glóriæ índuit eum
Ps 91:2. Bonum
est confitéri Dómino: et psállere nómini tuo, Altíssime.

In the midst of the assembly he opened his mouth; and the Lord filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding; He clothed him with a robe of glory.
Ps 91:2
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praise to Your name, Most High


St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Feast-July 30) Born at Imola, Italy in 406, St. Peter was baptized, educated, and ordained a deacon by Cornelius, Bishop of Imola. St. Peter merited being called “Chrysologus” (golden-worded) from his exceptional oratorical eloquence. In 433, Pope Sixtus III consecrated him bishop of Ravenna. He practiced many corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and ruled his flock with utmost diligence and care. He extirpated the last vestiges of paganism and other abuses that had sprouted among his people, cautioning them especially against indecent dancing. “Anyone who wishes to frolic with the devil,” he remarked, “cannot rejoice with Christ.” He also counseled the heretic Eutyches (who had asked for his support) to avoid causing division but to learn from the other heretics who were crushed when they hurled themselves against the Rock of Peter. He died at Imola, Italy in 450 and in 1729 was made a Doctor of the Church, largely as a result of his simple, practical, and clear sermons which have come down to us, nearly all dealing with Gospel subjects.


Deus, qui beátum Petrum Chrysólogum Doctorem egrégium, divínitus præmonstrátum, ad regéndam et instruéndam Ecclésiam tuam éligi voluísti: præsta, quǽsumus; ut, quem Doctórem vitæ habúimus in terris, intercessórem habére mereámur in coelis.

O God, Who willed to foreshow divinely that blessed Peter Chrysologus would be a great Doctor to rule and teach Your Church, grant, we beseech You, that we may be worthy to have him as our intercessor in heaven who on earth was a teacher of life.


Sancti Petri Chrysólogi Pontíficis tui atque Doctóris nobis, Dómine, pia non desit orátio: quæ et múnera nostra concíliet; et tuam nobis indulgéntiam semper obtíneat.

May the loving prayer of blessed Peter, Your Confessor and Doctor, fail us never, O Lord; may it commend our offerings and ever secure for us Your forgiveness

Post Communion

Ut nobis, Dómine, tua sacrifícia dent salútem: beátus Petrus Chrysólogus Póntifex tuus et Doctor egrégius, quǽsumus, precátor accédat.

So that your sacrificial rites may grant us salvation, we pray you, O Lord, that blessed Peter, Your Bishop and illustrious Doctor, may draw nigh as our intercessor.

December 2—ST. BIBIANA, Virgin, Martyr


Ps 118:95-96
Me exspectavérunt peccatóres, ut pérderent me: testimónia tua, Dómine, intelléxi: omnis consummatiónis vidi finem: latum mandátum tuum nimis.
Ps 118:1
Beáti immaculáti in via: qui ámbulant in lege Dómini.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculórum. Amen

Sinners wait to destroy me, but I pay heed to Your decrees, O Lord. I see that all fulfillment has its limits; broad indeed is Your command.
Ps 118:1
Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

December 2—ST. BIBIANA, Virgin, Martyr.

ST. BIBIANA was a native of Rome. Flavian, her father, was apprehended, burned in the face with a hot iron, and banished to Aequapendente, where he died of his wounds a few days after; and her mother, Dafrosa, was some time after beheaded. Bibiana and her sister Demetria, after the death of their parents, were stripped of all they had in the world and suffered much from poverty. Apronianus, Governor of Rome, summoned them to appear before him. Demetria, having made confession of her faith, fell down and expired at the foot of the tribunal, in the presence of the judge. Apronianus gave orders that

Bibiana should be put into the hands of a wicked woman named Rufina, who was to bring her to another way of thinking; but Bibiana, making prayer her shield, remained invincible. Apronianus, enraged at the courage and perseverance of a tender virgin, ordered her to be tied to a pillar and whipped with scourges loaded with leaden plummets till she expired. The Saint underwent this punishment cheerfully, and died in the hands of the executioners.

Reflection.–Pray for a fidelity and patience like Bibiana’s under all trials, that neither convenience nor any worldly advantage may ever prevail upon you to transgress your duty.


Deus, ómnium largítor bonórum, qui in fámula tua Bibiána cum virginitátis flore martýrii palmam coniunxísti: mentes nostras eius intercessióne tibi caritáte coniúnge; ut, amótis perículis, praemia consequámur ætérna.

O God, giver of all good gifts, You Who in Your servant, Bibiana, joined the flower of virginity with the palm of martyrdom, by her intercession unite our hearts to You in charity so that, saved from all dangers we may obtain the rewards of eternal life.


Hóstias tibi, Dómine, beátæ Bibiánæ Vírginis et Martyris tuæ dicátas méritis, benígnus assúme: et ad perpétuum nobis tríbue proveníre subsídium.

Graciously accept the sacrificial gifts offered You, O Lord, through the merits of blessed Bibiana, Your Virgin and Martyr, and grant they may prove an unfailing aid for us.

Post Communion

Divíni múneris largitáte satiáti, quǽsumus, Dómine, Deus noster: ut, intercedénte beáta Bibiána Vírgine et Mártyre tua, in eius semper participatióne vivámus.

We who have been refreshed by the richness of Your divine sacrament beseech You, O Lord our God, that through the intercession of blessed Bibiana, Your Virgin and Martyr, we may forevermore abide in its participation.

December 1 —ST. ELIGIUS


Ier 29:11; 29:12; 29:14
Dicit Dóminus: Ego cógito cogitatiónes pacis, et non afflictiónis: invocábitis me, et ego exáudiam vos: et redúcam captivitátem vestram de cunctis locis.

The Lord says: “I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction. You shall call upon Me, and I will hear you; and I will bring back your captivity from all places.”

December 1.—ST. ELIGIUS.

ELIGIUS, a goldsmith at Paris, was commissioned by King Clotaire to make a throne. With the gold and precious stones given him he made two. Struck by his rare honesty, the king gave him an appointment at court, and demanded an oath of fidelity sworn upon holy relics; but Eligius prayed with tears to be excused, for fear of failing in reverence to the relics of the Saints. On entering the court he fortified himself against its seductions by many austerities and continual ejaculatory prayers. He had a marvellous zeal for the redemption of captives, and for their deliverance would sell his jewels, his food, his clothes, and his very shoes, once by his prayers breaking their chains and opening their prisons. His great delight was in making rich shrines for relics. His striking virtue caused him, a layman and a goldsmith, to be made Bishop of Noyon, and his sanctity in this holy office was remarkable. He possessed the gifts of miracles and prophecy, and died in 665.

Reflection.—When God called His Saints to Himself, He might, had He so pleased, have taken their bodies also; but He willed to leave them in our charge, for our help and consolation. Be careful to imitate St. Eligius in making a good use of so great a treasure.


Excita, quǽsumus, Dómine, tuórum fidélium voluntátes: ut, divíni óperis fructum propénsius exsequéntes; pietátis tuæ remédia maióra percípiant.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.

O Lord, we beseech You, arouse the wills of Your faithful people that, by a more earnest search for the fruit of Your divine work, they may receive more abundantly of the healing effects of Your goodness.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.

November 30—St. Andrew, Apostle

Ps 138:17
Mihi autem nimis honoráti sunt amíci tui, Deus: nimis confortátus est principatus eórum.

Ps 138:1-2
Dómine, probásti me et cognovísti me: tu cognovísti sessiónem meam et resurrectiónem meam.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculórum. Amen
Mihi autem nimis honoráti sunt amíci tui, Deus: nimis confortátus est principatus eórum.

To me, Your friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened.
Ps 138:1-2
O Lord, You have probed me and You know me; You know when I sit and when I stand.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
To me, Your friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened.

November 30.—ST. ANDREW, Apostle

ST. ANDREW was one of the fishermen of Bethsaida, and brother, perhaps elder brother, of St. Peter, and became a disciple of St. John Baptist. He seemed always eager to bring others into notice; when called himself by Christ on the banks of the Jordan, his first thought was to go in search of his brother, and he said, “We have found the Messias,” and he brought him to Jesus. It was he again who, when Christ wished to feed the five thousand in the desert, pointed out the little lad with the five loaves and fishes. St. Andrew went forth upon his mission to plant the Faith in Scythia and Greece, and at the end of years of toil to win a martyr’s crown. After suffering a cruel scourging at Patræ in Achaia, he was left, bound by cords, to die upon a cross. When St. Andrew first caught sight of the gibbet on which he was to die, he greeted the precious wood with joy. “O good cross! ” he cried, “made beautiful by the limbs of Christ, so long desired, now so happily found! Receive me into thy arms and present me to my Master, that He Who redeemed me through thee may now accept me from thee.” Two whole days the martyr remained hanging on this cross alive, preaching, with outstretched arms from this chair of truth, to all who came near, and entreating them not to hinder his passion.

Reflection.—If we would do good to others, we must, like St. Andrew, keep close to the cross.


Maiestátem tuam, Dómine, supplíciter exorámus: ut, sicut Ecclésiæ tuæ beátus Andréas Apóstolus éxstitit prædicátor et rector; ita apud te sit pro nobis perpétuus intercéssor.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.

We humbly pray Your majesty, O Lord, that, as blessed Andrew was a preacher and ruler in Your Church, so he may always intercede for us with You.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.


Matt 4:18-22
In illo témpore: Ambulans Iesus iuxta mare Galilaeæ, vidit duos fratres, Simónem, qui vocátur Petrus, et Andréam fratrem eius, mitténtes rete in mare – erant enim piscatóres – et ait illis: Veníte post me, et fáciam vos fíeri piscatóres hóminum. At illi contínuo, relíctis rétibus, secúti sunt eum. Et procédens inde, vidit álios duos fratres, Iacóbum Zebedaei et Ioánnem, fratrem eius, in navi cum Zebedaeo patre eórum reficiéntes rétia sua: et vocávit eos. Illi autem statim, relíctis rétibus et patre, secúti sunt eum.


At that time, as Jesus was walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen -. And He said to them, Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And at once they left the nets, and followed Him. And going farther on, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. And immediately they left their nets and their father, and followed him


Missions & Martyrs in these united States before Jamestown, 1607

Did you Know?

By the time the Pilgrims landed in 1620, Spanish Catholic missionaries had converted & baptized more than 50,000 American Indians.  (This is counting those only in present US boundaries).  There were more than 80 Catholic mission-settlements in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, the southwest, & upper New England

Martyrs before Jamestown was Established

  • 1542, Fr Juan Padilla, OFM (Kansas)
  • 1542, Fr Luis Escalona, OFM (New Mexico)
  • 1542, Fr Juan de la Cruz (New Mexico)
  • 1549, Fr Luis Cancer, OP (Florida)
  • 1549, Fr Diego Tolosa, OP (Florida)
  • 1549, Fr Hermano Fuentes, OP (Florida)
  • 1553, Fr Diego de la Crus (Texas)
  • 1553, Fr Juan Mena, OP (Texas)
  • 1553, Fr Juan Ferrer, OP (Texas)
  • 1553, Fr Hernando Mendez, OP (Texas)
  • 1566, Fr Pedro Martinez, SJ (Florida)
  • 1570, Fr Juan B Mendez, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Fr Luis Quiros, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Fr Juan B Segura, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Br Gabriel Solis, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Br Pedro Linares, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Br Cristo Redondo, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Br Sanchez Ceballos, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1570, Br Gabriel Gomez, SJ (Virginia)
  • 1581, Fr Francisco Lopez, OFM (New Mexico)
  • 1581, Fr Agustin Rodriguez, OFM (New Mexico)
  • 1581, Fr Juan de Maria, OFM (New Mexico)
  • 1597, Fr Pedro de Corpa, OFM (Georgia)
  • 1597, Fr Migual Anon, OFM (Georgia)


Missions before Jamestown was Established


  • Mission of Guatari – 1566 (South Carolina)
  • Mission of Santa Elena – 1568 (South Carolina)
  • Mission of Escamacu – 1570 (South Carolina)
  • Mission of Joada – 1574 (North Carolina)


  • Mission of Guale -1568
  • Mission in 1570
  • Mission of San Pedro – 1585
  • Mission of Santa Catalina – 1585
  • Mission of San Buenaventura – 1587
  • Mission of Santo Domingo – 1587
  • Mission of Guadalupe – 1595
  • Mission of Santa Clara – 1595
  • Four missions in 1597
  • Mission of Santa Maria de Sena – 1602
  • Mission of San Antonio – 1602
  • Mission of Santiago Ocone – 1602
  • Mission of San Jose Zapala – 1602

(Facts taken from the book “Discovering a Lost Heritage: the Catholic Origins of America” by Adam Miller)

The Real First Thanksgiving

The event of the first Thanksgiving in this land is not that which was celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621, as the vast majority of Americans have been taught. The first Thanksgiving to the one true God was celebrated eighty years before the Pilgrims’ feast. It occurred during the expedition of the Catholic conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coronado.

Beginning in 1539, Francisco Coronado organized a large expedition from Mexico, which included five Franciscan missionaries. He brought with him 336 soldiers and settlers, 100 native Mexican Christians, 552 horses, 600 mules, 5000 sheep, and 500 cows, pigs, and goats. (This marked the introduction of these animals into the southwestern United States.) The expedition arrived in what is now Arizona and found Indian pueblos. After establishing a base in Arizona, Coronado headed east to establish a base-mission near present-day Albuquerque, New Mexico. When they crossed the river which is now called the Rio Grande, they named it Rio de Nuestra Señora (the River of Our Lady). This is its original name as it appeared on the first maps of the region.

Though no “cities of gold” were found, Coronado continued to send out expeditions — and missionaries with them. That there were missionaries on every expedition should tell us that the search for supposed “golden cities” was not the primary reason for Coronado’s ventures. (The gold was needed to fund expeditions and was not sought for personal gain.) Spreading the one true Faith among the pagan native Indians was of primary importance.

In April of 1541, Coronado, with a group of soldiers and some missionaries, left Albuquerque, New Mexico, headed northeast, and crossed a section of what is now northwest Texas (the Panhandle). In encountering some of the local Indians, the missionaries found that the natives were immediately open to receiving the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After a few weeks of instruction, members of the Jumano Indian tribe converted and received Baptism. The expedition then arrived in Palo Duro Canyon where, on May 29, Father Juan Padilla, O.F.M., offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (Father Padilla would eventually become the very first martyr of the Faith in America when he was killed in 1542, in what is now Kansas.) A Thanksgiving feast followed the Mass. It consisted of game that had earlier been caught. The feast was celebrated in thanksgiving to God for His many blessings and for the recent converts. This event is the first actual Thanksgiving Day celebrated in the future United States.

Father Juan Padilla (New Mexican Preservation League)

Father Juan Padilla and the First Thanksgiving (New Mexican Preservation League)

There was another Thanksgiving celebration which occurred years before the Pilgrims landed. In 1598, Catholic explorer Juan de Oñate led an expedition from Mexico City into New Mexico. The expedition included over 200 soldiers and colonists, the soldiers being headed by Captain Gaspar Perez de Villagra. Many had their families with them. A number of Christian Indian converts with their families from Mexico were also in the party. With the group were several thousand head of livestock, including cows, horses, mules, sheep, goats, and pigs. Eighty-three wagons carried provisions, ammunition, tools, plants, and seeds for wheat, oats, rye, onions, chili, peas, beans, and different nuts.

On the expedition were eight Franciscan friars: two priests and six brothers. The party experienced many hardships. Soon after entering New Mexico, just across the Rio de Nuestra Señora, they were attacked by hostile Indians near present-day El Paso, Texas. A number of wagons and numerous head of livestock were lost, but no members of the expedition were killed. The same was not true for the attacking Indians, a number of whom died.

Moving a little farther up along the river, Juan de Oñate and the Franciscans erected a large cross, and Oñate took possession of the land. He declared: “I want to take possession of this land today, April 30, 1598, in honor of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on this day of the Ascension of Our Lord.”

Immediately afterward a High Mass was offered in thanksgiving. Then the entire group gathered for a banquet of thanksgiving to God for protecting them and for allowing them to arrive at the place after so many hardships along the way. The festive meal consisted of fish, game, fruits, and vegetables. After this Thanksgiving banquet, the expedition headed further up along the river and by June had established the mission-town of San Juan (still populated to this day).

Though there was a Thanksgiving Feast celebrated in 1541, as we earlier saw, it was never commemorated afterward. In contrast, for some years after the Thanksgiving Feast of 1598, a feast was celebrated by the Spanish and the Christian Indians of New Mexico in thanks to the true God for bringing them through many hardships and for His blessings. Today this Thanksgiving Feast is commemorated in San Juan on the thirtieth day of April every year. (You can read more on this here)

It is only now that we can turn to the story of the Pilgrims and their Thanksgiving. After a long and harsh winter, the Pilgrims received help from the Wampanoag Indians in planting crops during the spring of 1621. They worked hard and in autumn had a very good harvest. In November of 1621 they invited the local Indians, who were still pagan and worshipped false gods, to feast with them and give thanks to God for the blessings of a successful harvest. The Catholic student of history should recognize that it is impossible to give thanks to the same God, let alone the true God, when those involved believe in different gods. But this apparently didn’t bother anyone. The event was not celebrated yearly by the Pilgrims, as many think, nor by anyone in the original thirteen colonies for years. Though George Washington called for a day of Thanksgiving while he was President, it was not celebrated as a yearly holiday feast until Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving Day as a holiday in November.

So now we know that the Pilgrims did not celebrate the first Thanksgiving in America. The first Thanksgiving feast was celebrated back in 1598, in New Mexico, by Spanish-Catholic colonists and Indian converts to the Faith. They thanked the true God for bringing them safely through many troubles and dangers and for the fact that the seed of the Gospel of Christ was beginning to take root. Because of the often anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic prejudice of English-speaking Protestants, generations of Americans have never learned this fact of our history.

(Taken from the Discovering a Lost Heritage: The Catholic Origins of America by Adam Miller, Marian Publications, Inc.)