Paul of the Cross was sprung of a noble family of the Danes, at Castellazzo, hard by Alessandria, in the Province of Acqui, in the territory of the then Republic of Genoa, but was born at Ovadia, in the same province. The holiness with which he was afterwards to shine was foreshown by a strange light which filled his mother’s chamber while she was in labor, and by the remarkable help which was bestowed upon him by the great Queen of Heaven, who delivered him unhurt from certain destruction when he was fallen into a river as a lad. From the first use of reason he burnt with love for Jesus crucified, and began to spend long times in contemplating Him. He chastised his innocent flesh with watching, scourging, fasting, and all severe hardships, and on Friday he drank vinegar mingled with gall. He was seized with a desire for martyrdom, and enlisted in the army which was being raised at Venice to fight against the Turks but in consequence of the Will of God, made known to him while he was in prayer, he left the army in order to serve in a more exalted regiment whose duty it should be to defend the Church and to toil for the eternal salvation of men. When he returned home he refused a very honorable marriage, and also the inheritance which was bequeathed to him by his father’s brother, straits and would fain enter upon a way of the cross and be clad by his own Bishop with a rough tunic. By command of the Bishop, on account of his eminent holiness of life and knowledge of the things of God, he began, even before he became a clerk, to toil in the Lord’s field with great profit of souls by preaching the Word.
He betook himself to Rome, and when he had there studied a regular course of theology he was ordained Priest in obedience to the command of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict 13., who also gave him permission to gather comrades around him. He withdrew to the solitude of Mount Argentaro, whither he had been already called by the Blessed Virgin, at which same time she also showed him in vision a black habit marked with the emblems of the sufferings of her Son. At Mount the bank, and he laid the foundations of his new Congregation, which under the blessing of God grew quickly, through the labors of Paul, and attracted to it eminent men. It received more than once the confirmation of the Apostolic See, with the rules which Paul himself had received from God in prayer and the addition of a fourth vow, that, namely, to promote the blessed remembrance of the sufferings of the Lord. He founded a congregation of holy virgins also, who should dwell constantly upon the overflowing love of the Divine Bridegroom. Amid all these works his untiring love for souls caused him never to weary in the preaching of the Gospel, and he led into the path of salvation men almost countless, among whom were some of the most lost, or those who had fallen into heresy. The greatest and most wonderful power of his preaching was how he told of the sufferings of Christ, so that he himself and his hearers would alike burst into tears, and hardened hearts were cloven by repentance.
The fire of the love of God burnt so in his heart that the part of his under-garment which was next thereto often presented the appearance of having been scorched, and two of his ribs seemed to be raised. He could not withhold his tears, more especially when he was saying Mass, and when he was in a state of trance, as oftentimes befell, his body was sometimes seen to be raised into the air, and his face to shine as with light from Heaven. Sometimes when he was preaching a heavenly voice was heard prompting him, or his words became audible at the distance of several miles. He was eminent for the gifts of prophecy, of speaking with tongues, of reading the heart, and of power over evil spirits, over diseases, and over the inanimate elements of nature. The Supreme Pontiffs themselves regarded him as dear and venerable, but he held himself to be but an unprofitable servant, and a sinful wretch upon whom devils might well trample. He held to the bitter hardships of his life, even unto a great age, and passed to heaven from Rome, (upon the 18th day of October,) being the day which he had himself foretold, in the year 1775, after he had addressed noble exhortations to his disciples which are as the heritage of his spirit, and had been comforted by the sacraments of the Church, and by an heavenly vision. The Supreme Pontiff Pius IX. numbered his name among those of the blessed, and then, after renewed signs and wonders, among those of the Saints. – Roman Breviary – Matins: Lessons 4-6
SAINT VITALIS, MARTYR
There are few Martyrs of the West, whose names are more celebrated than those of Saints Gervasius and Protasius. The veneration in which they are held by the Roman Church, has led her to honor the memory of their father, who also won the palm under the persecution of Nero. She has chosen for his feast the glad Season of Easter. The account, given by the Liturgy, upon St. Vitalis, is short; but we can gather, from the few circumstances related, what fine characters these primitive Christians were, who received the crown of martyrdom under the first of all the Persecutions, — the one that numbers, among its choicest victims, the two Apostles Saints Peter and Paul.
Vitalis was a soldier, and the father of Saints Gervasius and Protasius. Coming one day into Ravenna, in company with the judge Paulinus, there was being led to execution, for his having confessed the Christian faith, a certain Ursicinus, a physician. Vitalis observing that his courage was somewhat staggered by the tortures, cried out to him: Ursicinus thou that art a physician, and curest other men, take heed lest thou wound thyself with the dart of eternal death!”
Encouraged by these words, Ursicinus bravely suffered martyrdom. Whereupon, Paulinus was exceedingly angry, and ordered Vitalis to be seized, tortured on the rack, and then thrown into a deep pit, where he was to be buried alive by stones being thrown upon him. This done, one of the priests of Apollo, who had excited Paulinus against Vitalis, was possessed by a devil, and began shouting these words: O Vitalis, Martyr of Christ, thou burnest me beyond endurance! Mad with the inward burning, he threw himself into a river. Sin is the enemy of the soul; it throws her back again into that death, whence Jesus had drawn her by his Resurrection. To preserve one of thy brethren from this misery, thou, O Vitalis, bravely raisedst a cry of zealous warning to him in the midst of his torments, and thy words awakened him to self-possession and courage. Show this same fraternal charity to us. We are living with the Life of our Risen Jesus; but the enemy is bent on robbing us of this manner of snares wherewith to deceive us; he will give us battle, and this untiringly. Pray then for us, O holy Martyr, that we may be on our guard, and that the mystery of the Pasch may be fully accomplished within us, now and forever! – The Liturgical Year – Dom Prosper Gueranger
ST PAUL OF THE CROSS With a Commemoration of St. Vitalis – Tuesday in the Third Week After the Octave of Easter / Within the Octave of St. Joseph
Double / White Vestments – Missa – ‘Christo confixus’
INTROIT – Galatians 2: 19, 20
Christo confixus sum cruci: vivo autem, jam non ego: vivit vero in me Christus: in fide vivo Fílii Dei, qui diléxit me, et trádidit semetípsum pro me, allelúia, allelúia. Ps. 40: 2. Beátus qui intélligit super egénum et páuperem: in die mala liberábit eum Dóminus. Gloria Patri.
With Christ I am nailed to the cross: but I live, now not I but Christ liveth in me. I live in the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and delivered Himself for me. Alleluia, alleluia. Ps. Blessed is he that understandeth concerning the needy and the poor: the Lord will deliver him in the evil day. Glory be to the Father.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst endow St. Paul with exceeding charity to preach the mystery of the Cross, and didst will that through him a new family should spring up in Thy Church, grant us, by his intercession, that, constantly venerating Thy passion on earth, we may be worthy to partake of its fruits in heaven. Who livest and reignest.
Collect – Commemoration of St. Vitalis Martyr
Grant we beseech the almighty God, that we who celebrate the martyrdom of blessed Vitalis, through his intercession be strengthened in your love Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
EPISTLE – I Corinthians 1: 17-25
Brethren, Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, lest the Cross of Christ should be made void. For the word of the Cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness: but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the prudence of the prudent I will reject. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of our preaching to save them that believe. For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness; but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
PASCAL ALLELUIA – II Corinthians 5: 15
Alleluia, alleluia. V. Christ died for all; that they also who live may not now live to themselves, but to Him who died for them, and rose again. Alleluia.
ALLELUIA – Romans 8:17
Alleluia. And if sons, heirs also: heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ; yet so if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him. Alleluia.
GOSPEL – Luke 10: 1-9
At that time, The Lord appointed also other seventy-two; and He sent them two and two before His face into every city and place whither He Himself was to come. And He said to them: The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He send laborers into His harvest. Go, behold I send you as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and salute no man by the way. Into whatsoever house you enter, first say, Peace be to this house: and if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him: but if not, it shall return to you. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they have: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Remove not from house to house. And into what city soever you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you; and heal the sick that are therein; and say to them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
OFFERTORY – Ephesians 5: 2
Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God, for an odor of sweetness. Alleluia.
May these mysteries of Thy passion and death, O Lord, obtain for us that heavenly fervour by which St. Paul, when he offered the same, presented his own body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing unto Thee. Who livest and reignest
SECRET – Commemoration of St. Vitalis
As thou hast received our gifts and prayers, O Lord, cleanse us, we ask by thy heavenly mysteries, and graciously hear us.
PREFACE OF EASTER
It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation that at all times, but more especially at this season, we should extol Thy glory, O Lord, when Christ our Pasch was sacrificed. For He is the true Lamb that hath taken away the sins of the world: Who by dying hath overcome our death, and by rising again hath restored our life. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly hosts, we sing a hymn to Thy glory, saying without ceasing:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dóminus Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt cæli et terra glória tua. Hosánna in excélsis. Benedíctus qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosánna in excélsis.
COMMUNION – I Peter 4:13
If you partake of the sufferings of Christ, rejoice, that when His glory shall be revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. Alleluia.
We have received, O Lord, Thy divine sacrament, the perpetual memorial of Thine infinite love; grant, we beseech Thee, that, by the merits of St. Paul and by imitating him, we may draw from Thy fountains the water that gusheth out unto life eternal, and may by our life and actions bear Thy sacred passion deep graven upon our hearts. Who livest and reignest…
POSTCOMMUNION Commemoration of St. Vitalis
Grant, we pray, O Lord our God, that we who in time render joyful service in memory of thy saints, may be gladdened by their company in eternity. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee…