Ordinary Time: July 17th
Thursday of the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Old Calendar: St. Alexis, confessor; The Blessed Martyrs of Compiegne (Hist)
St. Alexius was an Eastern saint whose veneration was transplanted from the Byzantine empire to Rome, whence it spread rapidly throughout western Christendom. Together with the name and veneration of the Saint, his legend was made known to Rome and the West by means of Latin versions based on the form current in the Byzantine Orient. He was famous for his extraordinary self-denial. Before the reform of the General Roman Calendar today was his feast.Historically today is the feast of the Blessed Martyrs of Compiegne, sixteen Carmelites who are the first martyrs of the French Revolution that have been recognized. They were guillotined on 17 July 1794 at the Place du Trône Renversé (modern Place de la Nation) in Paris, France.
To what extent the life and Acts of this saint are historical, whether this "man of God," as he was and is called in the Orient, lived in the East or at Rome — these are questions we here must pass over. The story of St. Alexius, one of the most edifying in Christian hagiography, presents a glorious illustration of that Christian ideal of perfection which for Christ's sake embraces poverty and humiliations. Is it possible to be more heroic than to live for seventeen years under the steps in one's own house, to endure the wanton affronts of one's father's slaves, to remain as an unknown beggar to father, mother, and a bride still longing for her spouse? And for Alexius all this was motivated by an insurmountable love of Christ! Even supposing the legend to lack an historical kernel, it still would be marvelous to find a religion that could create such an ideal.
- Today would be a good time to reflect on poverty of spirit. We have brought nothing into the world, neither can we take anything out. Having food and clothing, let us be content. Those who wish to become rich will fall into temptation and into the snares of the devil because the love of money is the root of all evil. How powerful these words sound coming from the lips of St. Alexius, for he actually lived them in all their bitter implications. He left all and followed the Lord. Examine yourself on how detached you are from material things. Offer your rosary or a prayer that you will have the grace to be poor in spirit.
- Learn more about St. Alexis here.
The Blessed Martyrs of Compiegne
On July 17, 1794, sixteen Carmelites caught up in the French Revolution were guillotined at the Place du Trône Renversé (now called Place de la Nation), in Paris.
- You can learn more about the Carmelite Martyrs in Gertrud von le Fort's historical novel, "Song at the Scaffold", William Bush's "To Quell the Terror", or go here and read Terrye Newkirk's excellent essay.
- Visit this website for more information.
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