Tag Archives: Spain

St. Leander of Seville—He not only gave us the Nicene Creed but he also saved Catholicism from the Arian Heresy

…God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father

St. Leander of Seville                            en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Why do we have the Nicene Creed in the Mass and why are the words above so significant for us? Let’s face it, most of us do not know the Nicene Creed by heart. We should because it is about the faith we proclaim to be part of. The truth is, if we did not have the prayer cards or missalettes with the words to follow, we would be somewhat lost. Maybe it is time to find out a little bit more about some of the words we babble during Mass while having no idea what they signify.

First, we should meet St. Leander of Seville. Most of us have never heard of him but he was the man who probably saved Catholicism from the Arian heresy. Leander was born in Seville (Spain) in 534 A.D.  His family was of noble origin and well connected. Leander was the oldest of two brothers and one sister, all of whom became saints. St. Isidore became Bishop of Seville, St. Fulgentius, the Bishop of Cartagena, and his sister, St. Florentina, became an abbess with over 1000 sisters under her direction.

St. Leander began his faith journey by entering a Benedectine monastery as a monk. He proved to be a model of piety and applied himself diligently to learning. In the year 579, he was elevated to the episcopal see of Seville becoming the Bishop of Seville. Leander practiced penance and lived a life of austerity. He continued doing the same thing as Bishop.

During this time, the Visigoths controlled part of Spain. They were barbaric Arians and spread their errors wherever they could. They controlled the Iberian Peninsula and the entire area had been subjected to the Arian heresy for over 170 years. (Arianism dispensed with the teaching of the Holy Trinity basically saying that God is self-existent and He created His son who is NOT self-existent—see link). This had become widespread heretical teaching and Leander, as bishop,  immediately began to defend the true meaning of the Trinity).

Bishop Leander, devoting his efforts to God and the Holy Spirit, was relentless in his attacks against Arianism. He even managed to convert, Hermenegild, the king’s eldest son. King Leovigild, the Visigoth King, was furious at his son’s conversion. He had Leander exiled from Seville and condemned his own son to death. The king martyred his own son because of pride.

After some time, King Leovigild sought forgiveness and recalled Leander back to Spain. He  asked him if we would teach his son, Reccared,  the actual teachings of the Church. Reccared studied and became a Catholic, helping Bishop Leander to convert the rest of King Leovigild’s subjects.

Arianism was like a virus that had been spreading for over 170 years. The Visigoths were really not pagans as many think. Before invading Spain, the Arian heresy had been circulated among them by a man named Ulfilas. When the Visigoth tribes invaded Spain, they had already been infected with Arianism. All the invaders knew the teaching and it was easy to spread it among the unsuspecting people they had conquered.

When Reccared ascended to the throne, he made it a point to help Leander establish actual church teaching. Leander was a key figure in the Third Council of Toledo. This is the Council where King Reccared, accepted the Catholic faith and declared Arius and Arianism, anathema. The King’s conversion was the reason for many bishops and people to accept Catholicism which was established as the state religion. Arianism disappeared from Spain forever.

St. Leander was not only the primary force in bringing Spain back to the church; he also reformed the liturgy in Spain, adding the Nicene Creed. This was done to make it clear that the Catholic faith did NOT in any way embrace Arianism.  If you read the words at the beginning of this essay carefully, you will see why. “Consubstantial with the Father” the word “Consubstantial” means of one and the same substance, essence, or nature.

We say it aloud every Sunday and Holy Day at Mass. We shoud never forget what it means.

St. Leander of Seville, we thank you and ask for you to pray for us all.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

La Naval de Manila—Honoring the Great Lady of the Philippines; this devotion began in 1646

Our Lady of Naval de Manila                                       en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Catholics in the Philippines are profoundly devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In fact, honoring her is at the very essence of their faith.  Every year, on the second Sunday of October, a grand celebration is held to honor Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila. The first celebration of this feast occurred 373 years ago, on October 8, 1646.  So, how did this annual, time-honored celebration come about? Well, it started with a statue.

In 1593,  Don Luis Perez Dasmarinas was appointed the Spanish governor in the Philippines. Soon after his appointment, his father passed away, and he asked his trusted assistant, Captain Hernando Coronel, to have a sculpture made in his honor. Captain Coronel commissioned an immigrant Chinese artist to do the job. The man was also a convert to Christianity and had a sincere love for the Blessed Virgin.

The sculptor (name unknown) carved the statue out of hardwood. It was four feet and eight inches tall. He crafted the face and hands of the Blessed Virgin and the entire Child Jesus from solid ivory. The features of Our Lady’s face and the Child Jesus’s face are decidedly Asian due to the sculptor’s ethnicity. No matter, Governor Dasmarinas loved the statue and dedicated it to his late father. The statue was called Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. Not long after, it was given to the Dominicans, and it was placed in the Church at Santo Domingo.

Some years later, the Dutch Republic wanted to establish a quicker trade route to Asia. The most direct route would be through the Philippines. As is the way of things, they decided that they needed to conquer the country. This would require forming a formidable naval fleet which they did. The Dutch began their attacks in 1646.

The Philippine forces had two galleons to go against the enormous Dutch fleet. They prayed before the statue of the Blessed Virgin and requested she intercede for them in their impending battle. Having placed themselves under the protection of Our Lady of the Rosary they began to pray the rosary over and over. They promised that if they were victorious they would march barefoot towards her shrine in Santo Domingo Church in Manila.

Five major naval battles ensued, and the tiny Philippine naval force, a combination of Spanish and Philippino sailors,  turned the Dutch forces back each time. Only fifteen members of the Spanish navy were lost. When the Dutch finally surrendered, the remaining Philippine and Spanish sailors, fulfilling the vow they had made, walked barefoot in gratitude to the Shrine of Our Lady in Manila. The Blessed Mother was given the name of La Naval and from then on was known as Or Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval of Manila.

On October 6, 1646, the first celebration to honor the great victory was held in Manila. On April 9, 1662,  the Bishop in the Archdiocese of Manila declared the naval victory a miracle that was owed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Included in the declaration was the directive to celebrate, preach about, and hold festivities in remembrance of the miracles brought by “Our Most Blessed Virgin Mary and Her Holy Rosary.”

Five Popes have honored the statue and the miracles it brought forth:

  • Pope Leo XIII in 1903
  • Pope St. Pius X, bestowed a canonical crown on the statue in 1906.
  • Pope Pius XIIalso sent an Apostolic Letter on the occasion of the tricentenary of the Battle of La Naval de Manila on 31 July 1946.
  • Pope St. Paul VI declared her Patroness of Quezon City in 1973
  • Pope St. John Paul II dedicated the entire Asian continent to her in 1981.

Today the Santo Domingo Church is known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila. Prior to the statue’s Canonical Coronation more than 310, 000 people donated jewels, gems, gold, and silver to adorn the statue.It is considered the oldest ivory carving in the Philippines. The church is the largest in Manila and one of the largest in all of Asia.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

 

 

 

Virgen de los Desparamados ( Virgin of the Abandoned) St.Teresa de Jesus Jornet

Virgin of the Abandoned Elderly                                            en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Teresa Jornet Ibars was born into a family of farmers on January 9, 1843. Her dad’s name was Francisco Jornet, and her mom was Antonieta Ibars.  Teresa had two older sisters, Maria and Josefa, and an older brother, Juan who was married and had three daughters. The farm was in Lleida, located in Catalonia in the Kingdom of Spain.  She was baptized the day after her birth and received her Confirmation in 1849.  (In the 19th century a child could not receive First Communion until the minimum age of 12).

As a child, Teresa displayed a deep concern for the conditions of the poor, and she often would bring someone to the home of her Aunt Rosa for something to eat,  medical aid, and other necessities they might need. Aunt Rosa always did her best to help those Teresa brought to her home, and her example reinforced Teresa’s natural desire to help the poverty-stricken. After some time, Teresa moved to a different area of Llieida to live with another aunt, and while there she began studying to be a teacher.

When Teresa was nineteen, she began teaching in Barcelona. She also felt a strong calling to the monastic life. In 1868, she sought admission to the Poor Clares but anti-clerical laws of the day prevented that from happening. In 1870, she did become a Secular Carmelite to help develop her spirituality.

Toward the end of 1870, her father died, and she came down with tuberculosis. That kept her homebound for about six months. Fortunately, she did have a spiritual advisor. He was Father Saturnino Lopez, who greatly aided her recovery by encouraging her to begin caring for the many elderly people in the area. Most of these people were living alone and suffering from severe poverty. Her eyes opened wide at this concept, and she immediately accepted the challenge.

In 1872, Teresa Jornet Ibars opened her fist house in Barbastro, located in north-central Spain. Along with some followers and her sister Maria, the group took the habit and became a religious congregation. Teresa, who was already a  Lay Carmelite, took the name of one of the great Carmelites, St. Teresa of Avila. Her name became Teresa of Jesus Jornet. The official founding of the new order was January 27, 1873. The name the order was given was The Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly  (Not the Little Sisters of the Poor founded by St Jeanne Jugan in 1839)

Teresa of Jesus Jornet was unanimously elected the first Mother Superior of the new community. Their new ministry was totally dedicated to the care and well being of the aged. Mother Teresa of Jesus taught her Sisters to sacrifice whatever they had to help the men and women that were in their care. She explained that these people were God’s gifts to them and that they were serving Him as they cared for them.

Amazingly, even though Mother Teresa of Jesus had suffered from a debilitating illness, she was noted for the powerful sense of peace she always exuded. This inner peace drew many young women to join with her.

The mother house opened in Valencia on May 8,1873. Mother Teresa was confirmed as the superior in 1875. On December 8, 1877, Mother made her perpetual profession and was named Superior General for the entire order. Pope Pius IX issued the papal decree of praise for her order on June 14, 1876. This was followed by Pope Leo XIII giving the formal papal approval on August 24, 1887. When the General Chapter of the Order opened in Valencia on April 23, 1896, Mother Superior begged her Sisters to not re-elect her. But they did. They could not imagine anyone else as their leader.

In 1897 an outbreak of cholera hit Spain. Mother Teresa of Jesus joined her Sisters to help care for the victims of this dread disease. By the time it was over, 24 Sisters and seventy patients had died from the disease. Mother Teresa was exhausted and ill and was taken to the order’s house in Liria. She stayed here and met her spiritual guide, Father Saturnino, for the last time. The date was July 15, 1897.

Mother Teresa of Jesus Jornet died on August 26, 1897. She was 56 years old. When she died her congregation had 50 houses. She had gone from being ill and rejected to leaving a legacy that will live forever. Today there are over 2600 religious serving the elderly in 210 facilities in different parts of the world, including such places as Puerto Rico in the Caribbean and Mozambique in Africa.

She was canonized by Pope Paul VI on January 27, 1974

St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019