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Ordinary Time: June 17th
Saturday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time
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Old Calendar: St. Gregory Barbarigo, Bishop and Confessor; St. Hervé, abbot (RM)
According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Gregory Barbarigo, canonized by Pope John XXIII in 1960. He was the Bishop of Bergamo and of Padua. St. Gregory was noted as a distinguished churchman and leading citizen whose charities were on a princely scale. He worked for unity of the Latin and Orthodox Churches.
Today is also the feast of St. Herve (also known as Harvey, Herveus, Huva), who is one of the most popular saints in Brittany. He was born in a family of bards. Blind since his young age, guided by a wolf, according to legend, he led a life of pilgrim. One day, however, he settled at Plouvien, then at Lan-Houarneau (Herwan or Hervé in Breton) where he dedicated himself to God to sing praises in the monastery he founded there.
St. Gregory Barbarigo
St. Gregory was born on September 16, 1625, and he died in 1697. His family lived in Venice and were held in high repute by the people there. He was the fourth son. He excelled in his studies at an early age and became interested in diplomacy and statesmanship. He knew Contarine, the Venetian ambassador, and went with him on at least one ambassadorial mission.
After he was ordained a priest in 1655, he organized care for the plague-stricken people of Rome. In 1657, Pope Alexander VII made him the first Bishop of Bergamo. He was a leader in promoting the reforms of the Council of Trent. He visited parishes, organizing the teaching of Christian doctrine and also worked with seminarians and clergy to raise their standards. His work was so respected that in 1660, he was made the Cardinal of Padua.
St. Gregory was extremely interested in higher education and worked for the development of seminaries and libraries. He established a printing press that printed pamphlets for Christians under Moslem rule. He was active in laboring to bring about a reunion with the Greek Church. St. Gregory took part in five papal Conclaves (for the election of the Pope) and was a candidate in three of them. It is recorded that his congregation thought him to be a man filled with wisdom.
Excerpted from St. Gregory Barbarigo Parish WebsiteThings to Do:
- "In Italy it was above all the merit of St. Gregory Barbarigo, at the end of the 17th century to have labored indefatigably for the reorganization of the seminaries of Bergamo and Padua according to the norms laid down by the Council of Trent, keeping in mind all the time the spiritual and cultural needs of his time." Summi Dei Verbum Pope Paul VI Read this entire Apostolic Letter on the Occasion of the Fourth Centenary of the Establishment of Seminaries by the Council of Trent.
St. Hervé of Brittany
Saint Hervé is venerated throughout Brittany but we have few reliable particulars on him–his life was not written until the late medieval period. All we really know is that he was a hermit in Brittany, where he is still highly venerated and where Hervé is one of the most popular names for boys.
The story goes that a young British bard named Hyvarnion, a pupil of Saint Cadoc, lived at the court of Childebert, king of the Franks. After four years, desiring to return to his native land, he set off through Brittany, where one day, riding through a wood, he heard a young girl singing. The sweetness of her voice made him curious and, dismounting from his horse, he made his way through the trees to where in a sunny glade he found a maiden gathering herbs. He asked her what they were for. "This herb," she replied, "drives away sadness, that one banishes blindness, and I look for the herb of life that drives away death." Hyvarnion, forgetting his homeward journey, in that hour loved her, and later he married her.
After three years they had a son who was born blind, and in their sorrow they called him Hervé, which means bitterness. When he was two years old, his father died, and the mother, Rivanon, and child were left poor and friendless. In her grief she sang to him and he grew up to love poetry and music. When Hervé was seven, Rivanon gave him into the care of a holy man named Arthian and she became a hermit. The child wandered about the countryside singing and begging, led by a white dog which he held on a string. To this day the Bretons sing a ballad of the blind child, led by his dog, singing as he shivered in the wind and the rain, with no shoes on his bare feet, his teeth chattering with the cold.
At age 14, with his mother's approval, he sought out an uncle who was a hermit and kept a monastic school in the forest at Plouvien. His uncle welcomed him, and soon Hervé excelled in knowledge beyond all his other pupils. On his uncle's death, he became abbot. Every morning the children gathered to be taught by their blind master, and every evening they left "like a swarm of bees issuing from a hollow oak." He instructed them in music and poetry, and, above all, in the Christian way of life.
"When you wake up in bed," he said, "offer your hearts to the good God, make the sign of the Cross and say with faith and hope and love, 'I give You my heart, my body and my soul. Make me a good man.' When you see a crow fly, think of the devil, black and evil. When you see a dove fly, think of your angel, gentle and white. Think of God, as the sun makes the wild roses bloom on the mountains. In the evening, before going to bed, say your prayers that a white angel may come from heaven and watch you till the dawn. This is the true way to live as Christians. Practice my song, and you will lead holy lives."
In addition to teaching, Hervé worked the fields near the school. He was venerated for his holiness and his miracles. The most extravagant of which relates that one day a wolf ate the donkey with which he was plowing the fields. The young child who was Hervé's guide cried out in fear, but at Hervé's prayers, the wolf put himself into the donkey's harness and finished the work to be done.
Later he decided to move the community to León. There the bishop wanted to ordain him priest, but Hervé humbly declined. Thus, although he was never a priest, Hervé is said to have participated in the solemn anathematizing of the tyrannical ruler Conomor, c. 550. From León the holy group travelled west. Beside the road to Lesneven is the fountain of Saint Hervé, which he is said to have caused to flow to satisfy the thirst of his companions. Finally, they settled and Hervé built a monastery at Lanhouarneau in Finistère, which earned a great reputation.
From his monastery, where he lived for the rest of his life, Hervé would travel forth periodically to preach or act as exorcist. He was no longer led by a white dog, but by his little niece, Kristine, who lived near him in a cottage of thatch and wattle built for her by the monks, and who, gay as a fairy, sang to him as she gathered flowers for the altar. When he came to die, he said to her: "Tina, my dear, make my bed ready, but make it not as is wont. Make it on the heard earth, before the altar, at the feet of Jesus. Place a stone for my bolster, and strew my bed with ashes." Weeping, she carried out his wish, and said: "May I follow in due course, as the boat follows the ship."
As his monks watched at his deathbed, they were said to have heard the music of the heavenly choirs welcoming him to heaven. So died the blind Breton saint, who had taught in the school in the forest, and who all his life, despite his blindness, had given glory to God. Until the French Revolution, a chapel (now destroyed) near Cleder in Finistère possessed a most unusual relics: the cradle in which Saint Hervé had been rocked (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Gill, White).
In art, Saint Herveus is a blind abbot telling frogs to be quiet or being led by a wolf (Roeder) or his child guide. He is invoked against eye problems (Delaney). Breton mothers threatened their mischievous children with his wolf (White).
Excerpted from Saint of the DayPatron:
of Breton, poets and musicians