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Old Calendar: Bl. Charles the Good, martyr (Hist); St. Simplicius, pope (Hist)
Historically today is the feast of Blessed Charles the Good, the Danish prince, son of the holy king Canuto IV, gained the crown of the Count of Flanders from his maternal lineage. After an initial brief interval, his reign was marked by peace and justice. Dedicated to the defense and aid of the poor and weak, he was killed by soldiers that he had tried to pacify. Leo III officially beatified him in 1882 and the new Roman Martyrology still remembers the anniversary of his martyrdom.
It is also the feast of St. Simplicius, pope during the fall of the western Roman Empire to the barbarians. Stational Church
Blessed Charles the Good
Count Charles of Flanders, was called "the good" by the people of his kingdom. They named him for what they found him to truly be. He was the son of St. Canute, king of Denmark. Charles was just five years old when his father was murdered in 1086. When Charles grew up, he married a good young woman named Margaret. Charles was a mild and fair ruler. The people trusted him and his laws. He tried to be an example of what he expected the people to be.
Some nobles accused Charles of unjustly favoring the poor over the rich. He answered kindly, "It is because I am so aware of the needs of the poor and the pride of the rich." The poor of his realm were fed daily at his castles.
Charles ordered the abundant planting of crops so that the people would have plenty to eat at reasonable prices. Some wealthy men tried to hoard grain to sell at very high prices. Charles the Good found out and forced them to sell immediately and at fair prices. An influential father and his sons had been reprimanded by Charles for their violent tactics. They joined the little group of enemies who now wanted to kill him.
The count walked every morning barefoot to Mass and arrived early at the Church of St. Donatian. He did this in a spirit of penance. He longed to deepen his own spiritual life with God. His enemies knew that he walked to church and also that he prayed often alone before Mass. Many people who loved Charles feared for his life. They warned him that his walks to St. Donatian could lead to his death. He replied, "We are always in the middle of dangers, but we belong to God." One morning, as he prayed alone before the statue of Mary, his attackers killed him. Charles was martyred in 1127.
—Excerpted from Holy Spirit Interactive
Saint Simplicius was the ornament of the Roman clergy under Sts. Leo and Hilarius, and succeeded the latter in the pontificate in 468. He was raised by God to corn fort and support his Church amidst the greatest storms. All the provinces of the Western Empire, out of Italy, were fallen into the hands of barbarians.
The emperors for many years were rather shadows of power than sovereigns, and, in the eighth year of the pontificate of Simplicius, Rome itself fell a prey to foreigners. Italy, by oppressions and the ravages of barbarians, was left almost a desert without inhabitants; and the imperial armies consisted chiefly of barbarians, hired under the name of auxiliaries. These soon saw that their masters were in their power. The Heruli demanded one third of the lands of Italy, and upon refusal chose for their leader Odoacer, one of the lowest extraction, but a resolute and intrepid man, who was proclaimed king of Rome in 476. He put to death Orestes, who was regent of the empire for his son Augustulus, whom the senate had advanced to the imperial throne. Odoacer spared the life of Augustulus, appointed him a salary of six thousand pounds of gold, and permitted him to live at full liberty near Naples.
Pope Simplicius was wholly taken up in comforting and relieving the afflicted, and in sowing the seeds of the Catholic faith among the barbarians.
The East gave his zeal no less employment and concern. Peter Cnapheus, a violent Eutychian, was made by the heretics Patriarch of Antioch; and Peter Mengus, one of the most profligate men, that of Alexandria. Acacius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, received the sentence of St. Simplicius against Cnapheus, but supported Mongus against him and the Catholic Church, and was a notorious changeling, double-dealer, and artful hypocrite, who often made religion serve his own private ends. St. Simplicius at length discovered his artifices, and redoubled his zeal to maintain the holy faith, which he saw betrayed on every side, whilst the patriarchal sees of Alexandria and Antioch were occupied by furious wolves, and there was not one Catholic king in the whole world. The emperor measured everything by his passions and human views.
St. Simplicius, having sat fifteen years, eleven months, and six days, went to receive the reward of his labors in 483. He was buried in St. Peter's on the 2d of March.
Excerpted from Lives of the Saints
, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed.