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Lent: February 27th
Saturday of the First Week of Lent; Optional Memorial St. Gregory of Narek, abbot & doctor of the Church
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Previous Calendar: St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, confessor; St. Leander of Seville, bishop (RM)
On February 2, 2021, Pope Francis decreed that St. Gregory of Narek be added to the General Roman Calendar. St Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church, Armenian monk, poet, mystical philosopher, theologian, writer and saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Catholic Church was born into a family of writers. Based in the monastery of Narek (Narekavank), he was “Armenia’s first great poet” and as “the watchful angel in human form”.
According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows who was born in Assisi on March 1, 1838, the eleventh child of Sante Possenti and Agnes Frisciotti. His father Sante was a distinguished Italian lawyer. The boy was given the name of the city's illustrious patron, St. Francis, at baptism.
According to the Roman Martyrology, today is the feast of St. Leander, bishop of Seville in Spain, brother of St. Isidore and St. Florentina, who converted the Visigoths from the Arian heresy to the Catholic faith.Stational Church
St. Gregory Narek
St. Gregory was born in the city of Narek about 950 A.D. He was a monk, poet, mystical philosopher, and theologian, born into a family of writers. St. Gregory received his education under the guidance of his father, Bishop Khosrov, author of the earliest commentary on the Divine Liturgy, and from Anania Vartabed, Abbot of Nareg Monastery. He and his two brothers entered monastic life at an early age.
He became a priest at the age of 25 and dedicated himself to God completely, always searching for the truth. Most of his life he lived in the monasteries of Narek where he taught at the monastic school. He launched his writings with a commentary on the “Song of Songs,” which was commissioned by an Armenian prince. Despite his reservations that he was too young for the task, he wrote the commentary, which is famous for its clarity of thought and language, and its excellence of theological presentation.
He also wrote a number of famous letters, sharagans, treasures, odes, melodies, and church writings. However, his masterpiece is considered to be his Book of Lamentations, commonly called “Narek,” in which his genius is displayed. (This work, published in 1673 in Marseille, has been translated into at least 30 languages.) Also known as The Prayer Book, it is described by St. Gregory as his last testament: “Its letters like my body, its message like my soul.” He called his book an “encyclopedia of prayer for all nations.” It was his hope that it would serve as a guide to prayer by people of all stations around the world.
St. Gregory of Narek is considered the greatest poet of the Armenian nation and its first and greatest mystic. His writing style and command of the Armenian language are unparalleled, and his saintly person has been an inspiration to the Armenian faithful for centuries. St. Gregory’s poetry is deeply biblical and is filled with images and themes of sacred history, while also distinguished with an intimate and personal character. Numerous miracles and traditions have been attributed to him and he is referred to as “the watchful angel in human form.” St. Gregory died in 1003 A.D.Things to Do:
- Watch this video about the life of St. Gregory Narek here
- Read the Decree inscribing this feast in the General Roman Calendar at the Vatican website
- Read St. Gregory of Narek: Was the New Doctor of the Church a Catholic? at Catholic World Report
- A copy of The Armenian Prayer Book of St. Gregory of Narek may be purchased at Amazon
- Read more about St. Gregory at Simply Catholic
St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows
On Ascension Day, 1920, Pope Benedict XV bestowed the honors of sainthood on a youth who is rightly called the Aloysius of the 19th century. He was Francis Possenti, known in religion as Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother.
Born in Assisi, March 1, 1838, he was given the name of the city's illustrious patron, St. Francis, at baptism. As a student in neighboring Spoleto, he led a good though rather worldly kind of life until God drew him closer to Himself through an illness. The decisive step was taken while seeing the highly honored miraculous picture of our Lady in Spoleto borne about in solemn procession. As his eyes followed our Blessed Mother, Francis felt the fire of divine love rising in his heart and almost at once made the resolve to join the Passionists, a religious congregation dedicated to the veneration of and meditation on the passion of Jesus Christ (1856).
After overcoming many difficulties, he carried out his resolution and received the religious name, Gabriel of the Mother of Sorrows. Even as a novice, he was regarded as a model of perfect holiness both within and beyond the cloister.
Saint Gabriel did not stand out from his community in any extraordinary way — his heroism lay in his obedient attitude. He conformed himself to his community in complete humility. Little is known of his life - only that he was blessed with an excellent memory and other gifts that made him an outstanding student. He also had a great devotion to the Passion of Christ and the Sorrows of Mary. Pius X and Leo XIII especially desired that he be the patron saint of young people and novices in religious orders, as their model in the interior life. He died in the year 1862.
Saint Gabriel Possenti wrote: "Love Mary!... She is loveable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her. She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you. She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity."Patron:
Abruzzi region of Italy; Catholic Action; clerics; students; young people in general.Things to Do:
St. Leander of Seville
St. Leander was born of an illustrious family at Carthagena in Spain. He was the eldest of five brothers, several of whom are numbered among the Saints. He entered into a monastery very young, where he lived many years and attained to an eminent degree of virtue and sacred learning.
These qualities occasioned his being promoted to the see of Seville; but his change of condition made little or no alteration in his method of life, though it brought on him a great increase of care and solicitude.
Spain at that time was in possession of the Visigoths. These Goths, being infected with Arianism, established this heresy wherever they came; so that when St. Leander was made bishop it had reigned in Spain a hundred years. This was his great affliction; however, by his prayers to God, and by his most zealous and unwearied endeavors, he became the happy instrument of the conversion of that nation to the Catholic faith. Having converted, among others, Hermenegild, the king's eldest son and heir apparent, Leander was banished by King Leovigild. This pious prince was put to death by his unnatural father, the year following, for refusing to receive Communion from the hands of an Arian bishop. But, touched with remorse not long after, the king recalled our Saint; and falling sick and finding himself past hopes of recovery, he sent for St. Leander, and recommended to him his son Recared. This son, by listening to St. Leander, soon became a Catholic, and finally converted the whole nation of the Visigoths. He was no less successful with respect to the Suevi, a people of Spain, whom his father Leovigild had perverted.
St. Leander was no less zealous in the reformation of manners than in restoring the purity of faith; and he planted the seeds of that zeal and fervor which afterwards produced so many martyrs and Saints.
This holy doctor of Spain died about the year 596, on the 27th of February, as Mabillon proves from his epitaph.
The Church of Seville has been a metropolitan see ever since the third century. The cathedral is the most magnificent, both as to structure and ornament, of any in all Spain.
Excerpted from Lives of the Saints
, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 
Saturday of the First Week of Lent, Station with San Pietro in Vaticano (St. Peter's in the Vatican): The Station is in the basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, where the people would assemble towards evening, that they might be present at the ordination of the priests and sacred ministers. This day was called Twelve-Lesson-Saturday, because, formerly, twelve passages from the holy Scriptures were read, as upon Holy Saturday. The original basilica was built by Constantine in 323 over the place where St. Peter was buried.