The Catholic Southern Front

Chapter 9/57 – Saint Michael the Archangel and the apparitions and prodigies of other Saints during wartime

“At that time Michael will stand up,

the great prince who mounts guard over your people”

Daniel 12

Daniel 12 and Revelation 12 highlight the heavenly struggle between Saint Michael (Hebrew ‘Mi-Cha-el’ or ‘Who Is Like Unto God?’) and the Dragon who affirms the maxim: ‘I Shall Not Serve (the Son of God made man).’ Michael the Archangel, bravely and courageously rose to do battle against the Cherubim Lucifer, opposed the Dragon’s rebellious and disobedient will, humbled himself before God to serve Him and serve God’s Son, who would in the future be both God and man. Saint Michael did not consider Lucifer at par with the Holy Trinity and by his statement indicated his servitude and allegiance to the future God-man for he knew that Jesus Christ was like unto God and God Himself. Jesus Christ, as described in Revelation, was the only one in Heaven who was found worthy to break the seven seals! In Daniel 12, the angelic apparition revealed details regarding the future apocalyptic times: “At that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who mounts guard over your people.” He is the protector of the living manna of Heaven, the Holy Eucharist.

Saint Michael the Archangel stood in the way against Balaam (Numbers 22:22) and routed the army of Sennacherib (IV Kings 19:35). Saint Michael also appeared three times to Emperor Constantine. The first apparition occurred previous to the Battle at the Milvian Bridge, while the other apparitions occurred during battles against Christian enemies. Emperor Constantine had churches erected in honor of this saint, who would re-appear countless times in the future.

Saint Michael interceded during the first invasions of the followers of Islam in Spain and Navarr. In the past, at the Spanish City of Valencia, the people nurtured great devotion to this angelic saint. On one occasion, a few children carried a small statue of Saint Michael to a mosque and there, following an apparition of the angel, the Muslim men converted to Christianity, literally on the spot. Following four centuries of Islamic rule, Michael appeared to King Alphonso promising victory at Saragossa. Following the pledged victory, the Church Saint Michael of Navarr was constructed. Michael specially protected King Clovis in France. During battle Clovis himself saw the Archangel fighting by his side. Together with Saint Remigius, the bishop of Reims, Clovis consecrated France to Michael. On inheriting the throne, all French monarchs repeated this act of consecration. Emperor Charles the Great was a particularly devotee of the Archangel Saint. Michael appeared to Saint Joan of Arc at age thirteen and Joan prayed for his assistance numerous times during her brief and courageous years. King Alfonso Enriquez of Portugal invoked Michael against the Moors. Subsequently, they were completely wiped out from Portugal in fascinating battles, were no Portuguese casualties resulted. Together with King Louis XI of France, King Alfonso Enriquez of Portugal founded two military orders dedicated to the Archangel Saint. The Duke of Krakowia also benefited from the intercessory help of Michael in a battle against the Lithuanians so did the Hungarian King Belisarius triumph in victory on invoking the Archangel Saint during his struggle against Mohammed II.

At Monte Gargano in Italy, the apparitions of Saint Michael occurred on May 8, 490, to the Bishop of Sipanto, Saint Lawrence. Michael revealed that the cave on the mountain was sacred to him and that people can have their sins forgiven in that chosen place. During an invasion by pagans, the bishop of Sipanto prayed and fasted for three days, Michael appeared and ordered the citizens to counter attack the pagans and victory followed on September 29. On September 29, 493, Michael and his angels supernaturally consecrated the cave, an event witnessed by at least seven bishops of the Church. The Archangel Saint appeared to Saint Agnello of Naples, urging him to battle the Moors, they were indeed defeated. Saint Michael is remembered as the intercessor for victory in war (May 8, 663) aiding the Lombards of Sipontum over the Greek Neapolitans.

When in ancient times King David devised a manner to census his people, the monarch was severely punished by God, for a plague devastated his land. David prayed to God for the angel to arrest His Divine wrath. The Lord showed mercy, ordering King David to erect an altar at the spot where the angel stood with unsheathed sword. Soon after, the angel sheathed his sword and the plague ceased. Seventy thousand men lost their lives in three days of pestilence. The spot where the altar was erected became a most magnificent temple built by Solomon (2 Samuel 24). Similar events occurred in 590 AD during the times when pestilence was ravaging Rome. Pope Gregory the Great carried in procession the Holy Icon of Our Lady of Santa Maria Maggiore (Salus Populi Romani) to arrest a ravaging Roman plague which had killed the previous Pope Pelagius II (579-590). Michael appeared upon Hadrian’s mausoleum and together with his angels sang the ‘Regina Coeli’ in honor of Our Lady Queen of Heaven and Earth. Pope Gregory replied to the angels singing, ‘Pray for us to God.’ For this very reason Hadrian’s mausoleum later became known as Castel Sant Angelo and surely enough, following this event, the Roman plague did not claim one further person.

Regina coeli, laetare, alleluia;

Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia;

Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia.

(Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia;

For He Whom you did merit to bear, alleluia;

Has risen as He said, alleluia.)

To which St. Gregory replied:

Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

(Pray for us to God, alleluia.)

The Image of the Most Holy Savior or the ‘Acheropita’ (not painted by human hand) is found at the top the ‘Scala Sancta’ or the ‘Holy Stairs’ of Pontius Pilate’s Fort, transferred to Rome by Saint Helen in 329. The Acheropita Image was present in Rome as early as the fifth and sixth century and is believed of having been miraculously wrought by angelic intervention. During the pontificate of Pope Saint Stephen II (752-757), enemies threatened Rome. The Pontiff led a procession barefoot through the streets invoking protection against King Astulf and his Lombard hordes. The Acheropita Image was carried during the procession, shortly afterwards Pepin the Short; King of the Franks defeated Astulf twice in battle. Pope Innocent III (1198-1126) had the Image covered in silk and repainted, a practice, which was unfortunately performed on many miraculous icons in the past.

Saint Francis Xavier, a missionary at the Asian towns of Trauaneor and Comorinum, came to the knowledge of a plot connived by a tribe referred to as the Badagars, who amongst other enterprises, decided to wipe out the Christians from their territory. Francis confronted them. As the tribesmen were numerous and he was the only Christian, the locals decided to murder quietly the saint. But to their dismay, a large figure appeared, an angel by the side of Francis with lightening flashing from its eyes. Quite an unusual sight! The attackers fled in panic. At Lepanto, the Ottoman POWs described the Lord Jesus Christ, Saint Paul, Saint Peter and an army of angels fighting them back, blinding them with cannon smoke. Interestingly, the infidels knew exactly who the figures were. This angelic intervention was also reported during the First World War. Angels appeared at Mons in Belgium and at Bethune in France, a golden haired, fair skinned warrior wielding a sword commanded men dressed in white and riding white horses to charge against the Kaiser’s soldiers.

During the Jeunesse Rebellion in Congo, a rebel army attacked a school compound where Christian missionaries and two hundred children lived. The missionaries were praying hard, while a few soldiers defended the compound. The soldiers witnessed the rebel army attack and retreat and attack to retreat again, this occurred numerous times. When one or two of the rebels were wounded and captured, they recounted of having witnessed hundreds of soldiers dressed in white, defending the compound. On August 15, 1900, the Bishop of Peking in China, Mons. Favier, was blessed with the vision of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the Archangel Saint Michael who granted him their protection during the Chinese onslaught against the European Christians.

In Revelation 12, we witness the great galactic conflict: “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with twelve stars on her head for a crown. She was pregnant, and in labor, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth. Then a second sign appeared in the sky, a huge red dragon that had seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet. Its tail dragged a third of the stars from the sky…. The woman brought a male child into the world, the son who was to rule all the nations with an iron scepter… And now war broke out in heaven, when Michael with his angels attacked the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and driven out of heaven. The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who had deceived the entire world, was hurled down to the earth and his angels were hurled down with him…. As soon as the devil found himself thrown down to the earth, he sprang in pursuit of the woman, the mother of the male child, but she was given a huge pair of eagle’s wings to fly away from the serpent into the desert, to the place where she was to be looked after for a year and twice a year and half a year… Then the dragon was enraged with the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, that is, all who obey God’s commandments and bear witness for Jesus.” It is by no coincidence that the Marian title ‘Terror of Demons’ is one of the images applied to the Blessed Virgin, for the Blessed Mother, the Queen of mankind and angels alike, is brilliantly set in Heaven and on Earth, her Immaculate sinless glory terrifies the demonic forces. Therefore, rightly does the Roman Catholic Church attribute this title to the Blessed Virgin, who is terrible as an army set in full battle array.

Revelation 12 highlights the heavenly struggle, a war of wills between Saint Michael and the Dragon: “Who Is Like Unto God?” VS “I Shall Not Serve the Son of God made Man.” Michael the Archangel, who bravely and courageously rose to challenge the Cherubim Lucifer, opposed the Dragon’s rebellious and disobedient will, humbling himself before God to serve Him and His Son, who would be both God and Man. The Prophet Daniel revealed how the Archangel will rise at the end of time and of the world, to re-accomplish this stand against Antichrist. Daniel 12: “At that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who mounts guard over your people.” As Michael opposed Lucifer in the first rebellion, it would follow that the Archangel protects Christianity especially in those moments throughout history, when it is led astray by the Dragon to reenact, in a similar fashion, the rebellion against the Most High’s Anointed One: “I Shall Not Serve the Son of God made Man.” In the gospel of Matthew 26:52-54, the Lord Jesus Christ said: “Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

Monte Gargano in Italy and Mount Saint Michel in France are ideal places for pilgrims who desire to honor the Archangel Saint and pray for his intercession in their lives. Saint Michael’s sanctuaries in Europe form a geographical tangent starting at Saint Michael’s Mount in England through Mont Sant Michel in France, Sacra di San Michele, Monte Sant’Angelo on Mount Gargano outside Rome, Delphes and Delos and ending on Mount Carmel. Mount Carmel the Holy Mountain, where the Prophet Isaiah prophesied regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary. Saint Padre Pio and Saint Dun George Preca prayed to Saint Michael daily by reciting nine ‘Glory Be’s’ in honor of the Holy Trinity and the nine choirs of angels, the saints received Michael’s daily supernatural protection. The word ‘Michael’ stands for “Who Is Like Unto God?” and his Feast Day is held on September 29.

*****

In 433, the Germanic Goths occupied Gaul (France) encamping outside the City of Embrun. The city’s Archbishop, Saint Albin, immediately sought the intercessory aid of Saint Marcellinus against the warring Goths. The Gauls left the safe fortified walls of their city and engaged in battle with their enemy. However, the Goths were superior in strength and reaching the walls laid siege to Embrun. The supernatural apparition of Saint Marcellinus soon interrupted their efforts. Both Gauls and Goths witnessed Marcellinus accompanied by a legion of angels, the angels dropped the Goths off Embrun’s fortified walls, turning the enemy’s own weapons upon itself. Arrows aimed at the apparitions recoiled back. Most if not all of the Goths were wiped out. Saint Marcellinus was a Roman Pontiff elected in 296 and died a martyr’s death in 304; he was a contemporary of Saint George, Saint Sebastian, Emperor Constantine and Emperor Diocletian.

*****

Saint Paul evangelized many countries including Turkey, Syria, Greece and Albania. The Acts of the Apostles Chapters 27 & 28 narrate his shipwreck onto the Maltese Islands where both Saints Paul and Luke rested for three months before proceeding for Paul’s first trial in Rome. On this occasion Paul was protected by a Roman Commander, who prevented the soldiers from killing him for fear that he would escape. On the Islands, Paul preached: “Christ who was born of a woman in the fullness of time.” In a vision granted by the Blessed Virgin to an Italian woman the apostle, together with Saint Peter, protected the historical figure of King Roger the Norman in Sicily (1061 to 1144). Saint Paul also figures in a Maltese episode, the events of which took place in 1470. Hordes of Moors invaded the Mediterranean archipelago for three days and laid preparations to assault the fortified town of Mdina. The Moors were most exquisitely put to flight by an apparition of Saint Paul the Apostle of the gentiles, witnessed as riding a white steed, dressed in a blue starry garb, wielding a sword and attacking the Moorish camp. The arrows aimed against the apparition returned back upon the Moors, who were put to rout.

Giacomo Bosio, the chronicler of the Order of Saint John the Baptist, narrates a curious story occurring during an Ottoman invasion of the year 1551, whereby Saint Agatha expelled the Ottoman Navy. In July 1551, the citizens of Mdina (Malta) were alarmed that the Ottoman navy appeared on the horizon and was in the process of invading the island. When the people of nearby villages found refuge, the city gates were raised and the guards from the cathedral belfry sounded the alarm. A nun belonging to the convent of Saint Scholastica, sent word through a certain Don Giuseppe Manduca, that she received a vision reassuring her that all will be well with the City of Mdina, on one condition that the marble statue of Saint Agatha is led in procession through the streets of Mdina and mounted on the fortified walls. The nun’s terms were adhered to and the statue, accompanied by the entire population of Mdina, was taken reverently into procession round the wall ramparts. The devotion to Saint Agatha spared the Maltese for on the July 21, 1551, the enemy departed from Malta. However, the enemy proceeded to the sister Island of Gozo enslaving the entire population consisting of 5,000 Christians. The ex-voto painting of Saint Agatha donated by Don Manduca, commemorates the event. The painting served as an altarpiece at Saint Agatha’s Church and now can be viewed at the Mdina Cathedral’s Museum, Malta. An old votive procession still takes place on February 5, the Feast Day of Saint Agatha. The Cathedral Chapter of Mdina and the Secular and regular clergy of both Mdina and Rabat, lead the procession. On another occasion during the usual events of piracy of the day, the Barbary corsairs had landed in Gozo, the sister Island of Malta, and as was normal practice they abducted people to be sold as slaves in their Moorish markets. A son of Gozo was thus captured and his mother named ‘Zgugina’ immediately prayed before Saint Dimitri’s Icon in a nearby chapel for her son’s safe deliverance from the Berbers. Zgugina witnessed the ancient military martyr leave the painting upon his steed, galloping across the sea, following the Barbary corsair vessel. Zgugina’s son was rescued and brought back in safety to his mother. The ‘Zgugina’ story is classified as a legend for their were no witnesses to the event.

*****

In 878, Vikings besieged King Alfred’s England, claiming most of it for themselves. However, when Alfred retreated to Athelny, the situation began to improve. The King received a vision from a deceased priest and holy hermit named Neot assuring him victory. A pilgrim had sought some food and out of his generosity, Alfred offered him half of his own. Before the King’s eyes the pilgrim vanished, the mysterious guest was Saint Cuthbert who appeared in vision assuring the King and pledging victory with the famous words: “All Albion is given to you and your sons.” Following the apparitions, the Vikings were progressively routed.

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Saint Spyridon was born in Cyprus in the year 270, was a shepherd, married and had a daughter. When his wife died he entered a monastery and his daughter joined a convent. He became the Bishop of Trimythous and opposed Aryanism. The saint explained the Mystery of the Holy Trinity, by way of using a potsherd for an example. The sherd was composed of fire, water and clay. Immediately water oozed out of the sherd and upon it, a small flame ignited. The well-known miracle of the potsherd converted an Arian to Christianity. Spyridon attended the Council of Nicea of 325, and was martyred during the persecutions of Emperor Maximinus. Previous to the Arab invasions, his incorrupt body was removed from Cyprus and taken to Constantinople. His remains were once again removed in 1453, due to the Ottoman invasions, taken to Corfu, where it still lies today. Saint Spyridon is referred to as the Greek Cypriot ‘Thaumaturgist’ or miracle worker. In 1716, during the second great siege of Corfu, he approached the Ottoman forces of Sultan Achmet III, with a flaming torch in one hand and a cross in the other. The Commander of the defenders, the Austrian Count Schulenburg greatly welcomed the apparition. The siege lasted for twenty-two days; 8,000 Christians repelled an army of 33,000 Ottoman warriors. Following the Corfiot victory, Venice recognized both the courage of the islanders and their leader and the intercession of the Saint, in whose honor a litany was legislated and the day of August 11 kept for such remembrance in Venice. Saint Spyridon’s Feast Day is held on December 12 in the East and December 14 in the West.

O most blessed hierarch Spyridon, thou great Saint of Christ and glorious wonder-worker! Standing in heaven before the throne of God with choirs of Angels, look down with a compassionate eye upon the people gathered here and asking thy powerful help. Entreat the merciful kindness of God Who loveth mankind, that He judge us not according to our iniquities, but rather act towards us according to His mercy.

*****

In 451-452, following the apparitions of Saint Peter and Paul before Attila the Hun, the invader moved away from Rome and proceeded to Gaul with a large number of recruited German allies. Attila was aware of the fate which befell Alaric the Visigoth, who had died a few weeks following the sack of Rome. This must have been the second factor making Rome less attractive. In France, at Troyes, Attila was convinced by Saint Lupus not to attack the city. At the City of Saint Denis, in Paris a particularly audacious nun, Saint Genevieve (419-512), single handedly rallied the terror-stricken inhabitants. She promised them that if they were to do proper penance by fasting and prayer, the city would be spared. She said: “Let the men flee if they want to, if they are incapable of fighting. We women will pray so hard that God will surely hear our prayers!” The Huns would not attack Paris. Notwithstanding this arrest in the enemy’s advance, a major battle was fought against Aetius and his army at Orleans. The Huns retreated behind the River Rhine in Germany; they had enough of apparitions, Christian armies and supernatural challenges.

At age seven, Saint Geneviev or Saint Genovefa, met Saint Germanus of Auxerre on his way to England. He prophesied her future sanctity, Genevieve took the veil at age 15, and she had the supernatural gifts of reading consciences and calming the possessed. She caused the Church of Saint Denis to be erected over his tomb. Before the conversion of Clovis, the King besieged Paris, the ancient Lutetia of the Romans. Geneviev was now seventy years old and still remembered by the Parisians for having delivered them from the Huns forty years earlier. The saint would not open the gates to a pagan King and Clovis’ only option was to starve the city. Geneviev took twelve ships up the River Seine and stocked them with supplies and returned to her beloved Parisians. Thankfully, many were saved through her audacious bravery and the many miracles she wrought on her way. Before such a supernaturally endowed nun, King Clovis gave up the siege. Following Clovis’ baptism, Geneviev opened the gates and welcomed the royal couple into their Capital City, Paris. Saint Geneviev became a counselor for Clotilda, the King’s wife. Saint Geneviev was acclaimed as one of the Patrons of Paris and was buried in the Church of Saint Peter and Paul. Her Feast Day is kept on January 3. Apart from a relic surviving at Verneuil, Oise, Saint Genevieve’s relics were destroyed by the ungodly rage of the mobs of the French Revolution.

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‘St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims,’ by Mr. Frank M. Rega (TAN, USA, 2007) is an excellent book dealing with certain controversial aspects well suited for our contemporary age. St. Francis is described as the ‘Seraphic Father’ due to the tremendous love he bore for the Holy Trinity and for sinful mankind. Accordingy, St. Francis received the apparition of an Angel who left St Francis with the stigmata. The Angel was described as being the crucified Lord, St. Francis bore an incredible love for the Lord, he desired to suffer Christ’s passion and feel the same love for sinful mankind as the Lord had done while crucified. The Old Testament describes the Lord as an Angel, and at times the Angel is referred to as the Lord, however maybe this is best explained through the figure of Melchizedeck who appeared to Abraham and represents the Order of Priesthood whom Jesus Christ is the Head. Anyway, St. Francis’ charism was not the reading of holy books (he insisted against this amongst his friars) but simple living, mortification and prayer. Appropriately, at birth he was first named John, similarly to John the Baptist he was imbued with the Holy Spirit and preached with the power of the Holy Trinity. Not everyone has the same charisma, just as St. Paul perfectly explains, gifts are givien to the different parts of the body of Christianity for the benefit of all and no part can say that it is better than the other. St. Francis never said that his Order was superior to the Church theologians.

Just like many of us, in his youth St. Francis was a sinful member of mankind. A reveler and son of an earthly wealthy fabric merchant, a certain Peter Bernardone. However, he was kind hearted and was inspired by the heroic, chivalrous image of knighthood. In the year 1205, he set out to join the Papal Army of Pope Innocent III, commanded by Walter of Brienne in the vicinity of Naples. The Lord had other plans for Francis, He appeared to him and told him, “…why are you choosing a begger instead of God, who is infinitely rich?” Evidently this could seem ironic for St. Francis led the life of a ‘Poverello’ of a beggar. However, not so, he was no begger, Scripture explains that our best deeds are filthy rags before the Lord. Francis became a men of the cloth, a rich merchant of the Lord’s spiritual fabric, the fabric of his new found Father. He exchanged the filthy rags of our human best deeds and was clothed from on high, just like St. John the Baptist before him. In a dream he saw his father’s house transformed into a palace, its inner walls decorated with armour marked with the sign of the Cross.

St. Francis received another vision, before an ancient Byzantine cross in the ruins of the Church of San Damiano he was approached by the Lord who instructed him to repair His Church. He literally repaired three churches and through his work/sacrifice and the work/sacrifice of his soldiers, he sustained the Church as a whole upon his shoulders, the vision of Pope Innocent III testifies to this, a giant St. Francis was seen supporting St. John Lateran Basilica from collapsing due to the spiritual decay and laxity of the religious.

St. Francis established three Orders:

1)      the Order of Friars Minor, Capuchins and Conventuals

2)      the Poor Clares,

3)      the Third Order Regular and in Community.

He physically repaired the Churches of San Damiano, the Portiuncula of Our Lady and San Pietro della Spina. San Damiano was the spot where the Poor Clares resided as cloister nuns. The Portiuncula was built in the 4th century by pilgrims from Palestine and within were placed relics from Our Lady’s Sepulcher. St. Francis was noted in saying that Our Lady loved this Church very much.

In his youth St. Francis carried arms but now he purposely placed the notion in the rule of his order that the carrying of weapons was prohibited. He associated the need for weapons with the protection of money. He was once assaulted by robbers after he joyfully expressed that he was the herald of a great King. Therefore, he now carred not regarding his protection, for he was in the hands of the Almighty who protects His own. Mr Rega expands in detail the reasons St. Francis had for the evangelisation of the Muslim territories. He essentially desired the conversion and the salvation of all. After two failed attempts at reaching North Africa he left for Egypt together with the Crusaders during the 5th Crusade, they were led by Walter of Brienne’s brother, John of Brienne. Francis knew that God willed the Crusade and according to Mr Rega the Franciscan Rules support the carrying of arms for the defence of Country and Religion. St. Francis was in favour and supported the Crusade. However he ardently desired the conversion of the Muslims and sought to convert the Sheik Miramolino Mohammed al-Nasir, the powerful King of Egypt and Syria. Unfortunately, the 5th Crusade failed as similarly to the events transpiring during the 2nd Crusade (St. Bernard of Clairveaux, see Chapters 20 and 21) the sinful Christians were not sensitive to the Holy Spirit who spoke through the Poverello. The successes of the 1st Crusade were not repeated, for in those days the Crusaders had performed many acts of humiliation and repartion of their sins. Apparently St. Francis, after being severly tested by Miramolino, managed to plant a seed within the Muslim King, who upon his deathbed was converted to Christianity by two Franciscan friars, this for the salvation of his soul and the greater glory of the Holy Trinity. John of Brienne later became the ruler of Constantinople and died in his religious robes as a Franciscan Friar. Classically, St Francis had not joined Walter of Brienne’s Papal Army, but the Brienne dynasty joined the Franciscan files and ranks becoming part of his Father’s Palace of spiritual weaponry. Other national heroes and saints who belonged to one of St. Francis’ Orders mentioned in this work include; Ferdinand III King of Castile Spain, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin the Mexican visionary of Our Lady of Guadalupe (many Franciscan friars accompanied Christopher Columbus to the New World), Father Mark D’Aviano, Father John Capistrano, Irish King Roe Hugh O’Donnell, Fr. Maximillian Kolbe Patron Saint of the 20th century, Pope Nicholas IV who was the first Franciscan Pope (1288-1292) who formed an army with the Genoese against Saracen invaders, Saint Anthony descendent of the First King of Jerusalem Godfrey of Bouilon a descendent of Emperor Charles the Great, and last but definitely not least, Saint Padre Pio. Today his followers refer to him as the ‘Seraphic Father’ and quote St. Bonaventure as interpreting St. John the Revelator as alluding to St. Francis; “And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the sign of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying: Hurt not the earth nor the sea nor the trees, till we sign the servants of our God in their foreheads” (Rev 7:2-3). St. Francis, or the Franciscans (including Saint Padre Pio) as explained, might indeed represent this ‘angel,’ after all the stigmata given to Francis were dispensed by the Lord Jesus Christ who appeared in the form of a crucified Seraphim. The Lord explained that this took place due to Francis’ ‘seraphic love’ and therefore the High Priest in the Order of Melchizedek, the Lord Jesus Christ, indicated by His apparition that this Francis, this Padre Pio, are the classical indicators of the angel in Revelation. We do already know that the ‘end of times’ were initiated at the first coming of Our Lord, therefore this understanding places humanity in the proper perspective of time.

St. Francis followed Scripture to the letter, in John 3:5 he read, “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” This was his main drive for the evangelization of Muslims, the Sheik was moved by the fact that St. Francis desired the salvation of his soul. St. Francis was clear in his spiritual journey, he rejoiced in acts of Faith and not the knowledge of other people’s acts of Faith, he was a friar of action and contemplation, above all else, a friar of prayer. He approached the Muslim question with steady evangelization, lovingly not in condemnation of Mohammed, aware of possible martyrdom which he would have received joyfully. It is only the grace of God which can remove our cowardice, personally speaking I would be crushed with humiliation and fear, but not St. Francis. He explained to Miramolino that as Scripture clearly says if our right hand causes us to sin it should be struck off from our body and in light of this teaching, wielding a sword against Christ’s enemies is a duty and turning the other cheek is not the way to tackle the ones who refuse God’s Mercy and persistently lead others into perdition.

 Interestingly, the descendent of Charles the Great and relative of King Godfrey of Bouillon, St. Anthony had originally left for Morocco to join certain Franciscan martyrs, he desired to join them in their martyrdom. However, a storm prevented him from reaching Africa and instead Anthony headed for Assisi where he joined the Franciscan Order. Following St. Francis’ death, St Clare and her Order of Poor Clares were to pass through perilous times. In 1240 Emperor Frederick’s mercenaries of Islamic Tartars ravaged central Italy. They arrived upon Assisi and charged over into the confines of Clare’s cloister convent. They approached the convent’s doorway fast. Clare was sick and bedridden, she was carried to the doorway and lay down on the ground before an ivory box keeping the Blessed Sacrament. She prayed to the Lord for their deliverance. She heard her Spouse say that Assisi would be spared and at that moment the advancing Islamists retreated in fear and confusion. Was it a vision they witnessed? St Francis? the Lord Himself? the reason for their withdrawal was not known. St. Francis’ living message was to “preach the Gospel to every creature.”

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Saint Padre Pio, is the very much loved Italian Saint who lived during the twentieth century and was adorned with incredible supernatural gifts, the stigmata and the wound in his side, referred to as ‘transverberation.’ As a young priest he was called for military service. In August 1917, he was assigned to the 4th Platoon of the 100th Company of the Italian Medical Corps. That same year, as Padre Pio served in the military the apparitions at Fatima were ongoing. He was not happy about the situation and was sick most of the time, hospitalized in October (during the October Revolution in Russia) and discharged in March 1918. He returned to San Giovanni Rotondo and worked at Santa Maria degli Angeli in Pietrelcina. His military service lasted 182 days. His miracles became apparent and was transferred to the Friary of San Giovanni Rotondo. There he received several visitations by the Lord, Our Lady, his guardian angel and the saints; he was also beaten severely by demons.

On return to Pietrelcina in March 1918, Padre Pio must have been apprehensive on the manner how he could help the War cause. When Pope Benedict XV termed the World War as ‘suicide for Europe’ and appealed to all Christians to pray for an end to the World War in June 1918, Padre Pio decided to offer himself as a victim for the end of the First World War. On July 27, 1918, Padre Pio accomplished this offering. What a great Saint! The Lord was soon to reply to Padre Pio’s self-sacrificial offering. Between August 5 and August 7 the Lord appeared to him with a wound in his side. The monk received the gift of transverberation, following the apparition he himself was wounded like Christ in his side. The experience must have been quite harrowing. A fellow monk described Padre Pio in the following way: “…his entire appearance looked altered as if he had died. He was constantly weeping and sighing, saying that God had forsaken him.” Padre Pio himself described the experience in a letter dated August 21, 1918: “While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th [August] I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person who presented himself to my mind’s eye. He had in his hand a sort of weapon like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade, which seemed to emit fire. At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boy to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, and nothing was spared. From that day on I have been mortally wounded. I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony.” Saint John of the Cross, describes transverberation as follows: “The soul being inflamed with the love of God which is interiorly attacked by a Seraph, who pierces it through with a fiery dart. This leaves the soul wounded, which causes it to suffer from the overflowing of divine love.” Before Padre Pio, Saint Francis was presented the stigmata by a crucified Seraph, and August 5 is the solemnity of Our Lady of the Snows.

Padre Pio could read consciences and is accredited for the conversion of many. Murderers, adulterers, Freemasons and Protestants were amongst the converts at Pietralcina. According to Father Carmelo, the Superior of the Convent of St. Giovanni Rotondo, the monk had the spirit of prophecy: “During the last World War, we spoke of the war every day and of the uproarious military victories of Germany on all the fronts of battle. I remember one morning I was in the little parlor of the convent, and I read in a newspaper the news that the German troops were moving by now in the direction of Moscow. For me, it was important news; in fact, I saw in that news that the war would end with the final victory of Germany. Going out in the corridor, I met Padre Pio, and gladly I told him shouting: “Father, the war is ended! Germany has won!” – “Who has told you it?” asked Padre Pio. – “Father, the newspaper,” I answered. – And Padre Pio said: “Germany has won the war? Keep in your mind that Germany, this time, will lose the war, worse than the last time! Remember it! “. I told him: “Father, the Germans are already near Moscow.” He added: “Remember what I have told you!” – I said: “But, if Germany loses the war, Italy will lose the war as well!“ – And, he emphatically answered me: “We will see if together they will end the war.” – I didn’t understand those words, taking into account the alliance of Italy and Germany, but the words became clear the following year after the armistice with the English and Americans of September 8, 1943, and the Italian declaration of war against Germany.”(1)

During the Second World War a woman’s son was an officer in the Royal British Navy. She arrived at Pietralcina on pilgrimage; there she got to know through the newspapers that her son’s warship sank. She rushed to Padre Pio for consolation, he said: “Who has told you that your son is dead?” In fact, Padre Pio was able to explain to her exactly the name and the address of the hotel where the young officer was staying after he escaped from the shipwreck in the Atlantic. He was there waiting for a new assignment. Immediately, the woman sent him a letter, and after a couple of weeks she received a reply in writing from her son. The bread reserves were low in those war torn years, and many guests and poor begged the friars for food. Padre Pio would leave to pray in the church and return with a pile of bread, his Superior asked where from he had obtained such bread, and Padre Pio replied: “From a pilgrim at the door.”

During the Second World War, certain American pilots avowed of having seen a flying monk beside their planes. They identified the ‘flying monk’ with Padre Pio. The American writer Mr. Frank Rega translated form the original Italian the following passage;

“Didn’t they know well these stigmata, those pilots from the Second World War who were unsuccessful in bombing San Giovanni Rotondo, because they were “stopped in the heavens” by a Friar with wounded hands? They were English, American, Palestinian, and Polish. And they were not all Catholics: among them were Jews, Orthodox, Protestants, Moslems, and hard-core atheists. Naturally, when they returned to base they kept their mouths shut. And who would have believed them anyway? It would have been explained away as stress, bombing syndrome, or even drunkenness on duty. But at war’s end, they read about Padre Pio in the newspapers, and began visiting the monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo. Yes, it was in fact him, the same bearded Friar with the bleeding wounds that they had seen in the clouds of the sky with his arms spread apart…… One American pilot found out that his mother had been praying for him before a picture of Padre Pio. This pilot and his co-pilot had crashed their plane after seeing the Friar in the sky. They both came out of the wreck unhurt.”(2) Other sources explain the manner how the returning pilots communicated all they saw to their commander who himself decided to verify the visions. On approaching San Giovanni Rotondo his aircraft mysteriously unloaded its attached bombs into a forest before reaching the monastery. After the war this commander visited San Giovanni Rotonda and was approached by Padre Pio who placed his hand upon his shoulder and said, “Ah you are the one who wanted to do away with us all.” The troubled commander knealt on his knees before the saint and eventually converted to Catholicism for he was an Anglican.

 

Padre Pio’s struggle to free the souls of the possessed, was testified by the devil himself, in the words of Father Tarcisio of Cervinara: “More than once, before leaving the body of a possessed, the Devil has shouted, “Padre Pio, you give us more trouble than St. Michael,” also, “Father Pio don’t steal the bodies from us and we won’t bother you.” Padre Pio’s health deteriorated in the 1960’s, on his 50th anniversary of his receiving the stigmata, the monk succumbed to fatigue. Saint Pio died on September 23, 1968, with the Holy Rosary in his hands repeating till the end “Jesus, Mary.” At 2:30 am, he said, “I see two mothers” (his mother and the Blessed Mother). He died at 2:30 am in his cell at St Giovanni Rotondo with his last breath he whispered, “Mary!” September 24 is the Feast Day dedicated to ‘Our Lady of Mercy.’ He was buried on September 26 at the Church of Our Lady of Grace. Before his death the saint was known of having said: “After my death I will do more. My real mission will begin after my death.” Following his death, the outward signs of the stigmata and the transverberation disappeared immediately. He was canonized on June 16, 2002 by Pope John Paul II. He had once prophesied to a young Fr. Wojtyla that one day he would occupy the highest office of the Roman Catholic Church. He had also revealed that the stigmata which caused him most pain was his shoulder wound, upon which he bore the cross of Christ patiently for the whole world.

Shortened Saint Michael Exorcism Prayer

Saint Michael the Archangel,

Defend us in battle.

Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;

And do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,

By the Divine Power of God,

Cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,

Who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen.

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