Ordinary Time: September 10th
Wednesday of the Twenty-Third Week of Ordinary Time
Other Commemorations: St. Nicholas of Tolentino, Confessor (RM); St. Pulcheria (RM)
St. Nicholas of Tolentino, a native of Sant' Angelo, in the diocese of Fermo, was born about the year 1245. As a young man, but already endowed with a canon's stall, he was one day greatly affected by a sermon preached by a Hermit of St. Augustine and decided to enter this newly-founded Order. At first he lived at the hermitage of Pesaro and then at Tolentino where he died in 1305. His whole life was remarkable for its great austerity which was inspired by his great love of the cross. According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is his feast.
St. Nicholas of Tolentino
This Nicholas was born in answer to his mother's prayers. Childless and in middle age, she had made a pilgrimage with her husband to the shrine of St. Nicholas of Bari to ask for a son whom she promised to dedicate to God's service. When her wish was granted, she named the boy Nicholas and he soon gave unusual signs of saintliness. Already at seven he would hide away in a nearby cave and pray there like the hermits whom he had observed in the mountains.
- A single phrase from a sermon effected St. Nicholas' conversion and made him a saint. An excellent example of the power of God's word! Christ once said, "Not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." In other terms: Bread nourishes one's physical life, the word of God nourishes one's supernatural life. Recall the parable of the sower about the seed that fell on good ground and produced abundant returns-a parable explained by Jesus Himself. The seed is the word of God. This point is particularly important. The word of God is seed containing limitless vitality. It does not yet live, but requires the good earth to burst into life, to become a living, growing plant. Spend some time today meditating on the words of the Gospel and praying that God will bring similar fruit from your life and make you a saint.
- Read another account of St. Nicholas' life from The Catholic Encyclopedia.
- For further reading, see:
- St. Nicholas had a great love for the Holy Souls. He would offer Mass, pray and do penance for them so they could more quickly enter Heaven. Why not offer up a Mass or pray the Rosary today.
- St. Nicholas blessed bread and distributed it to the poor and sick after he prayed for Mary's healing intercession. A tradition remains with St. Nicholas' Bread, a roll of dough with a cross in the center. See Blessing of Bread and Icon and JSTOR.
- See about St. Nicholas' statue in the St. Peter's Basilica Colonnade.
- The Convento di San Nicola located in the center of the beautiful town of Tolentino is a very popular place of pilgrimage. It has one of the most important fresco cycles of the 1300s, painted by the Master of Tolentino. There are also many excellent paintings in the elegant baroque basilica, a memorable cloister, the cell where St. Nicholas of Tolentino lived, and an interesting museum containing some fine ceramics. St. Nicholas is buried in the crypt.
Empress of the Eastern Roman Empire, eldest daughter of the Emperor Arcadius, born 19 January 399; died in 453. After the death of Arcadius (408), her younger brother, Theodosius II, then only seven, became emperor under the guardianship of Anthimus. Pulcheria had matured early and had great administrative ability; she soon exerted salutary influence over the young and not very capable emperor. On 4 July 414, she was proclaimed Augusta (empress) by the Senate, and made regent for her brother. She made a vow of virginity and persuaded her sisters to do the same, the imperial palace thus becoming almost a monastery. At the same time she fulfilled all her duties as a ruler for about ten years jointly with her brother. After the marriage, brought about by Pulcheria, of Theodosius II with Eudoxia, the new empress sought to weaken Pulcheria’s influence over the emperor, and, with the aid of some courtiers, succeeded for a time. Nevertheless, Pulcheria had always a powerful position at Court, which she used in behalf of ecclesiastical orthodoxy, as shown by her opposition to the doctrines of Nestorius and Eutyches. Eudoxia supported Nestorius. Saint Cyril of Alexandria sent Pulcheria his work, “De fide ad Pulcheriam”, and wrote her on behalf of the true Church doctrine, to which she held unwaveringly (letter of Cyril in Mansi). He also wrote to Eudoxia. Theodosius allowed himself to be influenced by Nestorius to the prejudice of Cyril, whom he blamed for appealing to the two empresses. Pulcheria, however, was not deterred from her determination to work against Nestorius and to persuade the emperor to espouse Cyril’s party which favoured the definition of the Council of Ephesus. In the further course of the negotiations over the Council of Ephesus, the Patriarch of Alexandria sought to gain Pulcheria’s zeal and influence for the union and sent her presents as he did to other influential persons at the Court. There is no doubt that the final acknowledgement by the emperor of the condemnation of Nestorius was largely due to Pulcheria. The Nestorians, consequently, spread gross calumnies about her (Suidas, s.v. Pulcheria). Court intrigues obliged her (446) to leave the imperial palace and retire to a suburb of Constantinople, where she led a monastic life. When the Empress Eudoxia went to Jerusalem, Pulcheria returned (about 449) to Court. At the emperor’s death (28 July 450) she was proclaimed empress, and then married the able general, Marcian, but with the condition that her vow of virginity should be respected. At her order Marcian was proclaimed Augustus.