The Saint with the Lion, by Leonora Blanche Lang

The Saint with the LionHave you ever seen a picture of a thin old man sitting at a desk writing, with a great big lion crouching at his feet as composedly as if it were a dog or a cat? Well, that is Saint Jerome, and now you are going to hear his story, and how the lion came to be there.

Jerome was born at Stridon, near the town of Aquileia at the head of the Adriatic, in the year 346, but though his father and mother were Christians, they did not have him baptised till he was twenty years old. Eusebius and his wife had quite enough money to make them comfortable, though they were not considered very rich, and Jerome had plenty of slaves to do his bidding. He had besides, what was much more important to him, a play-fellow called Bonosus, with whom he was brought up, and who went with him to Rome, when the two boys were about seventeen. All through his life Jerome showed strong affections, and gained many friends, and it was a bitter grief to him when he lost any of them, especially as it was often his own fault. Unluckily he had a hot temper and a quick tongue, which led to his saying things he did not mean, and thus making enemies; but a word of regret from anyone who, he thought, had done him an injury softened his heart at once, and he never bore malice. And in spite of his being rather easily offended, he was so lively and amusing, so prompt to notice anything that was odd, and so clever in telling it, that his company was always welcome wherever he went.

Such he was as a boy, and such he was to a great extent as an old man.

From his earliest childhood Jerome was very fond of reading, though he liked to choose his own books, and frequently neglected the lessons set him by his tutors for talk with the slaves, or play with Bonosus. But per haps this did not do him as much harm as his teachers thought, for all kinds of learned men used to meet at the house of his father Eusebius, and Jerome picked up a great deal from them without knowing it; so that when he and Bonosus entered the Grammar School at Rome at the age of seventeen, Jerome was declared, much to the surprise of himself and Bonosus, to be quite as advanced as the rest.

For three years he stayed in Rome, living in the same house as his friend, but though he began well, very soon the reports of his conduct, sent home by the man who had charge of the foreign students and was bound to watch over their behaviour, were not so good as they had been at first. He went too much to theatres, said the inspector, and was too often seen at the chariot races. In fact he was carried away by the excitements and pleasures of a great city and of being, to a certain degree, his own master. But idle though he certainly was, continued the inspector, he was invariably to be seen at the law courts, listening to any celebrated case that was going on, following the pleaders eagerly with his eyes, and trying to make out for himself which were the weak points.

After a while matters improved, and the inspector’s letters became more cheerful. Jerome had seemingly grown accustomed to the amusements of Rome, and went less and less to the theatres. Besides, he was older now, and had discovered that the companions he had thought so clever in the beginning were really only silly and vulgar, and their jokes tired and annoyed him. He was in this frame of mind when chance threw him into the society of a very different set of young men, who considered the pleasures of this world to be snares of the Evil One; and his mother rejoiced, when he wrote home to Stridon, that most of his Sundays were spent in exploring with his newly -found companions the hidden passages and tombs cut out of the solid rock underneath Rome, where the Christian martyrs were buried.

After this he received baptism, while Liberius was pope.

By the Roman law, no foreigner was allowed to remain as a student in Rome after his twentieth birth day, and Jerome and Bonosus wended their way back to Aquileia, Jerome carrying with him the precious library he had already begun to collect, and from which he never parted. Of course the books were very different from ours, and did not take up so much room. They were copies in ink from other manuscripts, which took a long time to make, and were sometimes very costly to buy, and in those days, and for eleven hundred years after, men earned their living by copying, as they now do by printing.

But the two young men were too restless to settle down quietly in Stridon. At least Jerome was too rest less, and Bonosus seems usually to have followed his lead. Therefore together they set out for Gaul, where they became acquainted with Rufinus, the man whom Jerome loved with devotion and whose after-treatment caused him such deep sorrow. It was the influence of Rufinus that fixed his mind on the study of the Scriptures, which henceforward was the work of his life.

When after their journey through Gaul, which lasted several months, the two travellers returned to Stridon they found that many changes had taken place during their absence. In Aquileia a society had been formed especially to study the Scriptures, the members giving up all kinds of pleasures, and seeking only the good of their souls. Very soon their fame became noised abroad, and others arrived to join them, and among these were the noble Roman lady Melania, and, to the intense joy of Jerome, his friend Rufinus. As the members of the society cared about the same things and most of them had been carefully educated, their constant meetings were a great pleasure to them; and with the arrival of Evagrius from Antioch shortly after, and his lectures on the holy places in Palestine, a fresh interest was awakened. Unhappily something happened what we do not know to put an end to these pleasant gatherings, and the friends parted and went different ways. Bonosus sailed across the Adriatic to a little island, where he became a hermit; Melania, Rufinus, and some of the others went to the East; and Jerome determined to follow Evagrius to Antioch, travelling through Greece and Asia Minor. He left behind him his parents and a small brother and sister, but he carried with him his beloved books, from which he never parted. At Antioch he was ordained priest, though it seems doubtful whether he ever performed even a single service, and after resting for a few months in the groves on the banks of the Orontes, he went alone into the desert that stretches between the mountains of Lebanon and the river Euphrates. This was a very foolish step for him to take, for his health was always bad, and the fatigues of his journey from Italy had brought on a severe illness from which he had hardly recovered. However, he remained in the desert for nearly five years, seeing none that were not hermits like himself, for the country was dotted over with their cells, and scorpions and wild beasts were, as he says himself, his daily companions.

Still it was fortunately not in Jerome’s nature to sit idle and spend his time in trying to think about his religion, which often ends in really thinking of nothing at all. From morning till night he was working at something or other: either tending a little garden, where with great trouble he had managed to grow a few vegetables in the dry soil, or weaving baskets from the rushes that grew on the banks of a small stream some distance off, to sell to travelling merchants, or writing letters to his friends, or learning Hebrew from a converted Jew who came over from a monastery to teach him.

It was probably with the help of this man that he was able to get the manuscript of Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, which he first copied for himself, and then translated into Greek and into Latin, which was of course his own language.

Quarrels with the hermits about the doctrines and discipline of the Church drove Jerome from the desert, first to Antioch, next to Constantinople, and then to Rome. Here he found himself much sought after, for his fame for learning had gone before him, and some even expected him to be chosen pope on the death of Damasus. But ambition was not one of Jerome’s faults. The magnificence of Rome, which as a boy had proved so attractive to him, now filled him with disgust, and he longed to get away into solitude, and give him self up to his books.

In spite of all the business thrust on him by the pope, and the disputes in which he eagerly took part, he contrived to find some time for his own special work, and devoted himself to making a Latin version of the translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek, known as the Septuagint. This name, meaning Seventy, was derived from the fact that seventy men were engaged in it, and it had been done by some Jews about 500 years before, for the benefit of their fellow-countrymen who were living in Egypt, under the rule of the Greek kings. Jerome’s translation was thought so good that it was universally used in the churches for twelve hundred years.

Amongst the friends made by Jerome in Rome, at this time, were a number of noble ladies who, like him self, were interested in the study of the Bible, and listened eagerly to all he could tell them about it. Greek they had long ago been taught, and now they learned Hebrew, the better to understand the history of their religion. Jerome always thought highly of women, for the few he knew well were clever as well as good; and on one occasion, when he was reproached by his enemies with dedicating to ladies some of his books, he remarked in scorn, as if women were not better judges than most men.

Of all the little group of ladies who met in the house on the Aventine hill, perhaps the most remarkable was the widowed Paula, who sprang from the family of the Scipios, one of the noblest in Rome. She had three daughters and a large number of friends, all of whom had withdrawn themselves from the world, and who passed their time in study and in looking after the poor. Fired with the wish to see the places of which the Bible had told her so much, Paula took her second daughter with her and followed Jerome to Antioch when, in 385, he quitted Rome, leaving the youngest girl and a little boy behind her. It was winter when they arrived, and Paula at once began to make plans for her journey through Palestine. It was in vain that Jerome urged on her the. difficulties and dangers which would beset her, and entreated her to wait for the spring. Paula would listen to nothing, and all Jerome could do was to persuade her to take the easier road by the coast, instead of the one over the mountains of Lebanon.

By this time some of the other ladies had landed from Rome, and were ready to join the travellers. Most of them were carried in litters, but Paula preferred riding one of the beautiful tall donkeys of which we read so often in the Bible, and insisted on stopping at every place that had been the scene of some great event in the days of long ago every place, that is, which was Christian, for no heathen legends had any charms for her whatever they may have had for Jerome, with his thirst for knowledge of all sorts.

All along this route which had already been trodden by so many pilgrims, he was constantly at hand, to tell them everything that had happened there. At Mount Carmel, Zarepta, and Joppa, the caravan halted in turn; and at last arrived at the goal, Jerusalem itself, hardly to be recognised under its Roman name of ^Elia Capitolina. Here the governor or pro -consul received the noble Paula with a guard of honour, and wished her and the rest of the ladies to take up their abode in his palace. But it seemed to Paula unfitting to live in splendour in the city where her Lord had been scourged and crucified, and she begged the pro-consul to find a humble lodging for herself and her friends.

After visiting the holy places in Jerusalem itself, and those near it, whose story they knew so well Bethhoron, where Joshua fought his great battle and the sun stood still; Bethel, where Jacob slept and dreamed of the angels going up and down the ladder; Mamre, the burial-place of Abraham and Sarah; Bethany, the home of Lazarus; and above all, Bethlehem they set out for Egypt, happy to think that they were treading in the steps of the two Josephs who had gone that road in the space of seventeen hundred years. Crossing the Nile by the numerous branches into which the river spreads out towards its mouth, they paused for three days at Alexandria, where Jerome was able to see the famous library and to talk with some of the celebrated teachers and orators who lived in Alexander the Great’s city. From Alexandria they journeyed to the district known as Nitria, at that date filled with monasteries and also with scattered hermits. Now the ladies could indulge themselves in mortifying their bodies to their hearts content. They lay upon hard beds in a long room, and ate as seldom as possible the coarse food which was the monks fare. Indeed, so much did they admire this mode of living that they seriously thought of remaining in Nitria for ever.

It was during this visit to Nitria that the lady Melania had a very unpleasant adventure. Tired of being carried in a litter or of riding on a camel, she wandered away one evening from the encampment towards a small lake covered with the blossoms of the lotus. She was fond of flowers, and here was one quite new to her. Hastening down hill to the edge of the sunken lake, she was just about to stoop and pick the nearest bud, when a loud cry made her stop and look round. To her surprise she beheld a man climbing down a rock, waving his arms wildly. She hesitated, and instinctively drew back; then her eyes fell upon a great scaly creature with a soft yellow throat and long teeth, which had stolen towards her from its lair in the reeds. Fascinated with terror, she watched it approach, and it would certainly have seized her leg in its jaws and drawn her into the water had it not been for Macarius. Even his shouts did not make the crocodile give up its prey, but it continued to move over the ground with astonishing swiftness, till its advance was checked by a stunning blow from an iron bar held by the hermit, who by this time had reached the frightened woman.

But the desert of Nitria held other dangers besides the prospect of being eaten by crocodiles, or of being taken captive by a tribe of Bedouins. The ground was in many parts covered with sharp stones which pierced the hoofs of the horses and the sandals of the guides, while there was always the risk of sticking in the marshes of half -dried lakes or of falling a victim to low fever from the poisonous vapours. However, all these perils were braved successfully, and in the end the pilgrims bade farewell to their Egyptian friends and sailed from Alexandria to the old Philistine port of Gaza, for ever bound up with the memory of Samson.

For the company of pilgrims had at last made up their minds to settle at Bethlehem, and on their arrival lost no time in building a monastery there for the men and a convent for the women, Jerome being the head of one and Paula of the other. They erected besides, at Paula’s expense, a church which served for both men and women to worship in, and a house to lodge passing pilgrims who formed an incessant stream from all parts of the Roman world. The cost of all this fell almost entirely upon Paula, who gave away all she had, and when she no longer possessed anything more to bestow, Jerome sold the estates he had inherited from his father, and employed the money for the common good. At Bethlehem he spent the last thirty-four years of his life, writing letters upon various subjects that were agitating the Christian world, studying the Hebrew and Chaldee languages, making translations of various sacred writings, and publishing the great version of the Old Testament still in use in the Roman Catholic Church, known as the Vulgate.

He was sitting so runs the story with some of his monks in the cell of Bethlehem, when a lion entered the open door. The brethren all jumped up in a fright, and tumbled as fast as they could through the window, while Jerome stayed quietly in his chair and waited. The lion looked at him doubtfully for a moment, then limped towards him, holding up a paw. This Jerome took, and examined carefully. At first he could see nothing, the soft pad was so badly swollen; but at length he detected a thorn, near one of the nails, and managed to pull it out with a pair of pinchers. He next boiled some water, in which he soaked some dried herbs, and bathed the sore place till the swelling began to go down, when he tied a linen rag round it, so that the dirt might not get in and inflame the wound afresh. As soon as he had finished, and the look of pain had dis appeared from the lion’s eyes, Jerome expected him to depart, but instead the huge beast stretched himself out comfortably on the floor. Jerome pointed to the door; the lion wagged his tail happily, and took no notice. This happened several times, till at last Jerome gave up the struggle and went to bed, the lion on the floor sleeping beside him. Next morning Jerome said to this visitor: You seem to intend to live for ever in my cell the lion wagged his tail again but learn that no one here spends his time in idleness. If you stay here, you must be ready to work the tail wagged a second time and you will therefore accompany my donkey daily to the forest to defend her from robbers and savage wolves, when she brings back the firewood needful for the monastery.

So for many months the lion and the donkey might have been seen setting off side by side every morning to the forest, and the lion lay down and watched while an old man heaped up the donkey’s panniers from the stack of wood which he had gathered in readiness. The work took some time, but when the panniers could hold no more the donkey gave itself a shake, and the lion jumped up, waiting till she began to move. The journey back to the monastery was much slower than the one to the forest, as the donkey had to be very careful not to make a false step. If she had stumbled and fallen, she would have found it very difficult, with her loaded panniers, to get on her feet again, and even the lion could not have helped her.

But one morning a terrible thing happened. The sun was very hot, and when the lion lay down as usual he fell sound asleep, and never heard two men creep up behind the old man and the donkey and tie a cloth over the mouths of both man and beast, so that they could not utter a sound. Then the robbers drove them away, wood and all, to the caravan which was waiting at a little distance.

At last the lion awoke, and gave a great yawn, and stretched himself. He lay still for a few minutes, till suddenly he noticed that the shafts of light that fell through the trees, struck the ground in a different way from usual.

It must be later than I thought, he said; they never look like that till the sun is going to set. Has the donkey been waiting for me all this time? Poor thing, how tired she must be! But why didn’t she wake me? and he rose to his feet and turned towards the old man’s hut, but no donkey was there.

She must have gone home, he said to himself again; but then where is the old man? and bending his head, he examined the soil carefully.

These are human footprints, I am sure they are, he exclaimed in his own language; more than one man has been here. And here are the donkey’s. She was stolen while I was asleep, and I, who was set to guard her, have been unfaithful to my trust! How shall I face the holy father who cured my wound?

However, there was no use waiting or trying to track the lost donkey; the thieves had got too long a start, and with bent head and heavy heart the lion followed the road home, and entered, as he had done once before, the cell of his master.

“Wherefore are you here, and where is the donkey?” asked Jerome sternly. In answer, the lion bowed him self to the earth, with his tail between his legs, awaiting his sentence.

I had faith in you, and you have put me to shame, continued Jerome, and as it is quite plain that you have eaten the donkey, you must take her place, and for the future the panniers will be put upon your back, and it is you who will fetch the wood from the forest.

And the lion, when he heard, wagged his tail in relief, for he had been very much afraid that his master would send him away altogether.

Now it was at the end of the summer that the donkey had been stolen, and as soon as the spring came round the caravan went past again, the camels laden with swords and silks from Damascus for the cities of Egypt. The lion was standing behind a group of trees, while another old man was piling up the panniers with wood, when the crackling of twigs caused him to turn round, and a little way off he beheld the long train of ugly, swaying creatures, with the donkey walking at their head. At the sight of his friend he gave a bound forward, which knocked over the old man, and sent the wood flying in all directions, and so frightened the camel-drivers that they ran away to hide themselves. As to the rest of the caravan he drove them before him into the monastery, keeping his eye carefully on the riders; and if anyone’s hand so much as moved towards his side where his short sword was buckled, the lion had only to growl and to show his teeth for the hand quickly to move away again.

In this manner they proceeded till the monastery was reached, and Jerome who was seated in his cell, unfolding the copy of a new book, beheld their arrival with astonishment. What were all these people doing here, and why was the lion with them? And surely that was yes, he was certain of it his old donkey, which he imagined was dead months ago. So he hastened out of his cell to the court-yard, where the merchants, who by this time had dismounted from their camels, fell on their knees before him. Holy father, if you are the lord of this lion, bid him spare our lives, and we will confess our sin, they cried. It was we who stole the donkey, while her guardian, the lion, was sleeping; and, behold, gladly will we restore her to you, if we may go our way.

It is well, go in peace, said Jerome, and the merchants needed no second bidding.

Joyful indeed was the donkey to be at home again; and the next day she got up early and trotted off to the forest by the side of the lion, throwing up her head and sniffing the air as she went, from very delight at being freed from captivity. And the heart of Jerome rejoiced likewise that, after all, his trust in the lion had not been in vain.

That is the story of the lion of Saint Jerome.

The last part of Jerome’s life in Bethlehem was full of trouble. From all parts of the Roman Empire news came of the invasion of the barbarians, and in 410 the Goths, under Alaric, sacked Rome itself. Like other countries, the north of Palestine was laid waste, and the monks had to share their scanty food with the crowd that poured into the monasteries for refuge. Then, too, some of the little band of friends who had followed Jerome from Rome fell ill and died, among them. Paula and Marcella. In spite of his sorrows, he still worked hard at his studies and translations on the various books of the Bible; but his eyesight was now failing fast, and he must have been thankful indeed for the companion ship of Paula the younger, grand-daughter of his friend Saint Augustine, and of the younger Melania who, with her husband, came to live with him.

These two ladies attended him in his last illness, and were present at his funeral, which took place in September, 420.

Travellers to Bethlehem are still led through a passage cut in the rock to the cell where Jerome wrote the commentaries and epistles and translations, which have given him the foremost place among students of the Bible. In this cell his paradise he called it he would talk over passages that puzzled him with the elder Paula and her daughter Eustochium, who knew Hebrew and Greek as well as he, and dictate to his young monks his letters to Augustine or Rufinus. Next to this cell, we shall find another, consecrated not to the living but to the dead, for here are two graves, in one of which Jerome was first buried, while the other is the tomb of Paula and her daughter.

– text and illustrations from The Book of Saints and Heroes, by Leonora Blanche Lang, 1912

Pictorial Lives of the Saints – Saints Tiburtius and Susanna, Martyrs

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Agrestius Chromatius was vicar to the prefect of Rome, and had condemned several martyrs in the reign of Carinus; and in the first years of Diocletian, Saint Tranquillinus, being brought before him, assured him that, having been afflicted with the gout, he had recovered a perfect state of health by being baptized. Chromatius was troubled with the same distemper, and being convinced by this miracle of the truth of the Gospel, sent for a priest, and, receiving the sacrament of baptism, was freed from that corporal infirmity. Chromatius’s son, Tiburtius, was ordained subdeacon, and was soon after betrayed to the persecutors, condemned to many torments, and at length beheaded on the Lavican Road, three miles from Rome, where a church was afterward built. His father, Chromatius, retiring into the country, lived there concealed, in the fervent practice of all Christian virtues.

Saint Susanna was nobly born in Rome, and is said to have been niece to Pope Caius. Having made a vow of virginity, she refused to marry, on which account she was impeached as a Christian, and suffered with heroic constancy a cruel martyrdom. Saint Susanna suffered towards the beginning of Diocletian’s reign, about the year 295.

Reflection – Sufferings were to the martyrs the most distinguishing mercy, extraordinary graces, and sources of the greatest crowns and glory. All afflictions which God sends are in like manner the greatest mercies and blessings; they are the most precious talents to be improved by us to the increasing of our love and affection to God, and the exercise of the most heroic virtues of self-denial, patience, humility, resignation, and penance.

MLA Citation

  • John Dawson Gilmary Shea. “Saints Tiburtius and Susanna, Martyrs”. Pictorial Lives of the Saints, 1922. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2018. Web. 13 December 2018. <>

Pictorial Lives of the Saints – Saint Laurence, Martyr

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Saint Laurence was the chief among the seven deacons of the Roman Church. In the year 258, Pope Sixtus was led out to die, and Saint Laurence stood by, weeping that he could not share his fate. “I was your minister,” he said, “when you consecrated the blood of Our Lord; why do you leave me behind now that you are about to shed your own?” The holy Pope comforted him with the words, “Do not weep, my son; in three days you will follow me.” This prophecy came true. The prefect of the city knew the rich offerings which the Christians put into the hands of the clergy, and he demanded the treasures of the Roman Church from Laurence, their guardian. The Saint promised, at the end of three days, to show him riches exceeding all the wealth of the empire, and set about collecting the poor, the infirm, and the religious who lived by the alms of the faithful. He then bade the prefect “see the treasures of the Church.” Christ, whom Laurence had served in his poor, gave him strength in the conflict which ensued. Roasted over a slow fire, he made sport of his pains. “I am done enough,” he said; “eat, if you will.” At length Christ, the Father of the poor, received him into eternal habitations. God showed by the glory which shone around Saint Laurence the value He set upon his love for the poor. Prayers innumerable were granted at his tomb; and he continued from his throne in heaven his charity to those in need, granting them, as Saint Augustine says, “the smaller graces which they sought, and leading them to the desire of better gifts.”

Reflection – Our Lord appears before us in the persons of the poor. Charity to them is a great sign of predestination. It is almost impossible, the holy Fathers assure us, for any one who is charitable to the poor for Christ’s sake to perish.

MLA Citation

  • John Dawson Gilmary Shea. “Saint Laurence, Martyr”. Pictorial Lives of the Saints, 1922. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2018. Web. 13 December 2018. <>

Pictorial Lives of the Saints – Saint Romanus, Martyr

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Saint Romanus was a soldier in Rome at the time of the martyrdom of Saint Laurence. Seeing the joy and constancy with which that holy martyr suffered his torments, he was moved to embrace the faith, and, addressing himself to Saint Laurence, was instructed and baptized by him in prison. Confessing aloud what he had done, he was arraigned, condemned, and beheaded the day before the martyrdom of Saint Laurence. Thus he arrived at his crown before his guide and master. The body of Saint Romanus was first buried on the road to Tibur, but his remains were translated to Lucca, where they are kept under the high altar of a beautiful church which bears his name.

Reflection – We are bound to glorify God by our lives, and Christ commands that our good works shine before men. It was the usual saying of the apostle Saint Matthias, “The faithful sins if his neighbor sins.” Such ought to be the zeal of every one to instruct and edify his neighbor by word and example.

MLA Citation

  • John Dawson Gilmary Shea. “Saint Romanus, Martyr”. Pictorial Lives of the Saints, 1922. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2018. Web. 13 December 2018. <>

Pictorial Lives of the Saints – Blessed Peter Favre

Saint Peter FaberArticle

Born A.D. 1506, of poor Savoyard shepherds, Peter, at his earnest request, was sent to school, and in after years to the University of Paris. His college friends were Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier. Ignatius found the young man’s heart ready for his thoughts of apostolic zeal; Peter became his first companion, and in the year of England’s revolt was ordained the first priest of the new Society of Jesus, From that day to the close of his life, he was ever in the van of the Church’s struggles with falsehood and sin. Boldly facing heresy in Germany, he labored not less diligently to rouse up the dormant faith and chanty of Catholic courts and Catholic lands. The odor of Blessed Peter’s virtues drew after him into religion the Duke of Gandia, Francis Borgia, and a young student of Nimeguen, Peter Canisius, both to become Saints like their master. The Pope, Paul III, had chosen Blessed Favre to be his theologian at the Council of Trent, and King John III, of Portugal, wished to send him as patriarch and apostle into Abyssinia. Sick and worn with labor, but obedient unto death, the father hastened back to Rome, where his last illness came upon him. He died, in his fortieth year, as one would wish to die, in the very arms of his best friend and spiritual father, Saint Ignatius.

Reflection – As the body sinks under fatigue unless supported by food, so external works, however holy, wear out the soul which is not regularly nourished by prayer. In the most crowded day we can make time briefly and secretly to lift our soul to God and draw new strength from Him.

MLA Citation

  • John Dawson Gilmary Shea. “Blessed Peter Favre”. Pictorial Lives of the Saints, 1922. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2018. Web. 13 December 2018. <>

Pictorial Lives of the Saints – Saint Cyriacus and His Companions, Martyrs

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Saint Cyriacus was a holy deacon at Rome, under the Popes Marcellinus and Marcellus. In the persecution of Diocletian, in 303, he was crowned with a glorious martyrdom in that city. With him suffered also Largus and Smaragdus and twenty others. Their bodies were first buried near the place of their execution, on the Salarian Way, but were soon after removed to a farm of the devout Lady Lucina, on the Ostian Road, on the eighth day of August.

Reflection – To honor the martyrs and duly celebrate their festivals, we must learn their spirit and study to imitate them according to the circumstances of our state. We must, like them, resist evil, must subdue our passions, suffer afflictions with patience, and bear with others without murmuring or complaining. The cross is the ladder by which we must ascend to heaven.

MLA Citation

  • John Dawson Gilmary Shea. “Saint Cyriacus and His Companions, Martyrs”. Pictorial Lives of the Saints, 1922. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2018. Web. 13 December 2018. <>

Pictorial Lives of the Saints – Saint Cajetan

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Cajetan was born at Vicenza, in 1480, of pious and noble parents, who dedicated him to our Blessed Lady. From childhood he was known as the Saint, and in later years as “the hunter of souls.” A distinguished student, he left his native town to seek obscurity in Rome, but was there forced to accept office at the court of Julius II. On the death of that Pontiff, he returned to Vicenza, and disgusted his relatives by joining the Confraternity of Saint Jerome, whose members were drawn from the lowest classes; while he spent his fortune in building hospitals, and devoted himself to nursing the plague-stricken. To renew the lives of the clergy, he instituted the first community of Regular Clerks, known as Theatines. They devoted themselves to preaching, the administration of the Sacraments, and the careful performance of the Church’s rites and ceremonies. Saint Cajetan was the first to introduce the Forty Hours’ Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as an antidote to the heresy of Calvin. He had a most tender love for our Blessed Lady, and his piety was rewarded; for one Christmas eve she placed the Infant Jesus in his arms. When the Germans, under the Constable Bourbon, sacked Rome, Saint Cajetan was barbarously scourged, to extort from him riches which he had long before securely stored in heaven. When Saint Cajetan was on his death-bed, resigned to the will of God, eager for pain to satisfy his love, and for death to attain to life, he beheld the Mother of God, radiant with splendor and surrounded by ministering seraphim. In profound veneration, he said, “Lady, bless me!” Mary replied, “Cajetan, receive the blessing of my Son, and know that I am here as a reward for the sincerity of your love, and to lead you to Paradise.” She then exhorted him to patience in fighting an evil who troubled him, and gave orders to the choirs of angels to escort his soul in triumph to heaven. Then, turning her countenance full of majesty and sweetness upon him, she said, “Cajetan, my Son calls thee. Let us go in peace.” Worn out with toil and sickness, he went to his reward in 1547.

Reflection – Imitate Saint Cajetan’s devotion to our Blessed Lady, by invoking her aid before every work.

MLA Citation

  • John Dawson Gilmary Shea. “Saint Cajetan”. Pictorial Lives of the Saints, 1922. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2018. Web. 13 December 2018. <>

Pictorial Lives of the Saints – The Dedication of Saint Mary ad Nives

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There are in Rome three patriarchal churches, in which the Pope officiates on different festivals. These are the Basilics of Saint John Lateran, Saint Peter’s on the Vatican Hill, and Saint Mary Major. This last is so called because it is, both in antiquity and dignity, the first church in Rome among those that are dedicated to God in honor of the Virgin Mary. The name of the Liberian Basilic was given it because it was founded in the time of Pope Liberius, in the fourth century; it was consecrated, under the title of the Virgin Mary, by Sixtus III, about the year 435. It is also called Saint Mary ad Nives, or at the snows, from a popular tradition that the Mother of God chose this place for a church under her invoAugust cation by a miraculous snow that fell upon this spot in summer, and by a vision in which she appeared to a patrician named John, who munificently founded and endowed this church in the pontificate of Liberius. The same Basilic has sometimes been known by the name of Saint Mary ad Prcesepe, from the holy crib or manger of Bethlehem, in which Christ was laid at His birth. It resembles an ordinary manger, is kept in a case of massive silver, and in it lies an image of a little child, also of silver. On Christmas Day the holy manger is taken out of the case and exposed. It is kept in a sumptuous subterraneous chapel in this church.

Reflection – To render our supplications the more efficacious, we ought to unite them in spirit to those of all ferent penitents and devout souls, in invoking this advocate for sinners.

MLA Citation

  • John Dawson Gilmary Shea. “The Dedication of Saint Mary ad Nives”. Pictorial Lives of the Saints, 1922. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2018. Web. 13 December 2018. <>

Pictorial Lives of the Saints – Saint Dominic

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Saint Dominic was born in Spain, A.D. 1170. As a student, he sold his books to feed the poor in a famine, and offered himself in ransom for a slave. At the age of twenty-five, he became superior of the Canons Regular of Osma, and accompanied his Bishop to France. There his heart was well-nigh broken by the ravages of the Albigensian heresy, and his life was henceforth devoted to the conversion of heretics and the defense of the faith. For this end, he established his threefold religions Order. The convent for nuns was founded first, to rescue young girls from heresy and crime. Then a company of apostolic men gathered around him, and became the Order of Friar Preachers. Lastly came the Tertiaries, persons of both sexes living in the world. God blessed the new Order, and France, Italy, Spain, and England welcomed the Preaching Friars. Our Lady took them under her special protection, and whispered to Saint Dominic as he preached. It was in 1208, while Saint Dominic knelt in the little chapel of Notre Dame de la Prouille, and implored the great Mother of God to save the Church, that Our Lady appeared to him, gave him the Rosary, and bade him go forth and preach. Beads in hand, he revived the courage of the Catholic troops, led them to victory against overwhelming numbers, and finally crushed the heresy. His nights were spent in prayer; and, though pure as a virgin, thrice before morning broke, he scourged himself to blood. His words rescued countless souls, and three times raised the dead to life. At length, on August 6th, 1221, at the age of fifty-one, he gave up his soul to God.

Reflection – “God has never,” said Saint Dominic, “refused me what I have asked;” and he has left us the Rosary, that we may learn, with Mary’s help, to pray easily and simply in the same holy trust.

MLA Citation

  • John Dawson Gilmary Shea. “Saint Dominic”. Pictorial Lives of the Saints, 1922. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2018. Web. 13 December 2018. <>

Pictorial Lives of the Saints – The Finding of Saint Stephen’s Relics

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This second festival, in honor of the holy protomartyr Saint Stephen, was instituted by the Church on the occasion of the discovery of his precious remains. His body lay long concealed, under the ruins of an old tomb, in a place twenty miles from Jerusalem, called Caphargamala, where stood a church which was served by a venerable priest named Lucian. In the year 415, on Friday, the 3d of December, about nine o’clock at night, Lucian was sleeping in his bed in the baptistery, where he commonly lay in order to guard the sacred vessels of the church. Being half awake, he saw a tall, comely old man of a venerable aspect, who approached Lucian, and, calling him thrice by his name, bid him go to Jerusalem and tell Bishop John to come and open the tombs in which his remains and those of certain other servants of Christ lay, that through their means God might open to many the gates of His clemency. This vision was repeated twice. After the second time, Lucian went to Jerusalem and laid the whole affair before Bishop John, who bade him go and search for the relics, which, the Bishop concluded, would be found under a heap of small stones which lay in a field near his church. In digging up the earth here, three coffins or chests were found. Lucian sent immediately to acquaint Bishop John with this. He was then at the Council of Diospolis, and, taking along with him Sutonius, Bishop of Sebaste, and Eleutherius, Bishop of Jericho, came to the place. Upon the opening of Saint Stephen’s coffin, the earth shook, and there came out of the coffin such an agreeable odor that no one remembered to have ever smelled any thing like it. There was a vast multitude of people assembled in that place, among whom were many persons afflicted with divers distempers, of whom seventy-three recovered their health upon the spot. They kissed the holy relics, and then shut them up. The Bishop consented to leave a small portion of them at Caphargamala; the rest were carried in the coffin, with singing of psalms and hymns, to the Church of Sion at Jerusalem. The translation was performed on the 26th of December, on which day the Church hath ever since honored the memory of Saint Stephen, commemorating the discovery of his relics on the 3d of August probably on account of the dedication of some church in his honor.

Reflection – Saint Austin, speaking of the miracles of Saint Stephen, addresses himself to his flock as follows: “Let us so desire to obtain temporal blessings by his intercession that we may merit, in imitating him, those which are eternal.”

MLA Citation

  • John Dawson Gilmary Shea. “The Finding of Saint Stephen’s Relics”. Pictorial Lives of the Saints, 1922. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2018. Web. 13 December 2018. <>