Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014 - Litany Lane Blog: Reverence, Daniel 3:52-56, Exodus 34:4-9, John 3:16-18, Pope Francis's Daily Catechesis, Saint Germaine Cousin, Decent of the Holy Spirit, Catholic Catechism Part Three: Life in Christ Section Two: The Ten Commandment Chapter Two: Sixth Commandment Article 6:4 Offenses Against the Dignity of Marriage

Sunday,  June 15, 2014 - Litany Lane Blog:

Reverence, Daniel 3:52-56, Exodus 34:4-9, John 3:16-18, Pope Francis's Daily Catechesis, Saint Germaine Cousin, Decent of the Holy Spirit, Catholic Catechism Part Three:  Life in Christ Section Two: The Ten Commandment Chapter Two: Sixth Commandment Article 6:4 Offenses Against the Dignity of Marriage

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift of knowledge, reason and free will, make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone to our eternal home in Heaven. The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, wonder and awe (fear of the Lord) , counsel, knowledge, fortitude, and piety (reverence) and shun the seven Deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony...Its your choice whether to embrace the Gifts of the Holy Spirit rising towards eternal light or succumb to the Seven deadly sins and lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to the Darkness, Purgatory or Heaven is our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...~ Zarya Parx 2013

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Prayers for Today:   Sunday in Easter

Rosary - Glorious Mysteries


 Papam Franciscus
(Pope Francis)

Pope Francis Daily Catechesis:

Friday June 13 2014 

Pope Francis: God prepares us to accomplish our mission

(2014-06-15 Vatican Radio) 
When the Lord wants to entrust a mission to us, “He prepares us” to do it well. And our response should be based on prayer and fidelity. That was the main thrust of Pope Francis’ homily at the Mass celebrated Friday morning at the Casa Santa Marta.

It can happen that one day we are courageous opponents of idolatry in the service of God, and afterwards we become depressed to the point where we want to die because someone, in the course of our mission, has frightened us. It is, and always will be, up to God to balance these two extremes of strength and human frailty, as long as we are faithful to Him. That is what we see in the story of the Prophet Elijah, described in the First Book of Kings. In his homily, Pope Francis took this story as a model of the experience of every person of faith. The day’s famous liturgical passage shows Elijah on Mount Horeb receiving the invitation to come out of the cave in order to see the presence of the Lord. When the Lord passed, there was a strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire, one after another – but the Lord was not present in any of them. Then there was a light breeze… and it was in the breeze, the Pope recalled, that Elijah recognized the passage of the Lord:
“But the Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake, the fire, but in that whisper of a light breeze, in the peace, or, as the original says, -- the true original, a beautiful expression – it says: ‘The Lord was in a thread of silent sound’ [un filo di silenzio sonoro]. It seems to be a contradiction: He was in that thread of silent sound. Elijah knew how to discern where the Lord was, and the Lord prepared him with the gift of discernment. And then He gave him the mission.”

The mission God entrusted to Elijah was to anoint the new king of Israel and the new prophet called to succeed Elijah himself. Pope Francis drew attention in particular to the delicacy and paternal sensitivity with which this task was entrusted to a man who, capable of strength and zeal in one moment, now seemed defeated. “The Lord,” the Pope said, “prepares the soul, prepares the heart, and He prepares it in the trial, He prepares it in obedience, He prepares it in perseverance.”:

“When the Lord wants to give us a mission, wants to give us a task, He prepares us. He prepares us to do it well, as he prepared Elijah. And the most important part of this is not that he has encountered the Lord: no, no, this is well enough. What is important is the whole journey by which we arrive at the mission the Lord entrusts to us. And this is the difference between the apostolic mission given us by the Lord, and a common task: ‘Ah, you have to complete this task, you have to do this or that…’ a human duty, honest, good… [But] when the Lord gives a mission, He always has us enter into a process, a process of purification, a process of discernment, a process of obedience, a process of prayer.”

And “the fidelity to this process,” Pope Francis continued, consists in “allowing ourselves to be led by the Lord.” In this case, with the help of God Elijah overcame the fear kindled in him by the queen Jezebel, who had threatened to kill him:

“This queen was a wicked queen, and she killed her enemies. And he was afraid. But the Lord is more powerful. But it makes him understand that they, the great and the good, also need the help of the Lord and the preparation for the mission. We see this: he walks, obeys, suffers, discerns, prays… he finds the Lord. May the Lord give us the grace to allow ourselves to prepare every day the way of our life, so that we can bear witness to the salvation of Jesus.”

Reference: Vatican News. From the Pope. © Copyright 2014 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed 06/15/2014


Liturgical Celebrations to be presided over by Pope:  2015

Vatican City, spring 2014 (VIS)

The following is the English text of the intentions – both universal and for evangelization – that, as is customary, the Pope entrusted to the Apostleship of Prayer for 2015. 

Universal: That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will work together for peace.
Evangelization: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.

Universal: That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.

Universal: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.

Universal: That people may learn to respect creation and care for it as a gift of God.
Evangelization: That persecuted Christians may feel the consoling presence of the Risen Lord and the solidarity of all the Church.

Universal: That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary’s intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.

Universal: That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.

Universal: That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.

Universal: That volunteers may give themselves generously to the service of the needy.
Evangelization: That setting aside our very selves we may learn to be neighbours to those who find themselves on the margins of human life and society.

Universal: That opportunities for education and employment may increase for all young people.
Evangelization: That catechists may give witness by living in a way consistent with the faith they proclaim.

Universal: That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.

Universal: That we may be open to personal encounter and dialogue with all, even those whose convictions differ from our own.
Evangelization: That pastors of the Church, with profound love for their flocks, may accompany them and enliven their hope.

Universal: That all may experience the mercy of God, who never tires of forgiving.
Evangelization: That families, especially those who suffer, may find in the birth of Jesus a sign of certain hope.

  • Vatican News. From the Pope. © Copyright 2014 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed 06/15/2014.


November 2, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World: "Dear children; Anew, in a motherly way, I am calling you to love; to continually pray for the gift of love; to love the Heavenly Father above everything. When you love Him you will love yourself and your neighbor. This cannot be separated. The Heavenly Father is in each person. He loves each person and calls each person by his name. Therefore, my children, through prayer hearken to the will of the Heavenly Father. Converse with Him. Have a personal relationship with the Father which will deepen even more your relationship as a community of my children – of my apostles. As a mother I desire that, through the love for the Heavenly Father, you may be raised above earthly vanities and may help others to gradually come to know and come closer to the Heavenly Father. My children, pray, pray, pray for the gift of love because 'love' is my Son. Pray for your shepherds that they may always have love for you as my Son had and showed by giving His life for your salvation. Thank you."

October 25, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World:  “Dear children! Today I call you to open yourselves to prayer. Prayer works miracles in you and through you. Therefore, little children, in the simplicity of heart seek of the Most High to give you the strength to be God’s children and for Satan not to shake you like the wind shakes the branches. Little children, decide for God anew and seek only His will – and then you will find joy and peace in Him. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

October 2, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World: "Dear children, I love you with a motherly love and with a motherly patience I wait for your love and unity. I pray that you may be a community of God’s children, of my children. I pray that as a community you may joyfully come back to life in the faith and in the love of my Son. My children, I am gathering you as my apostles and am teaching you how to bring others to come to know the love of my Son; how to bring to them the Good News, which is my Son. Give me your open, purified hearts and I will fill them with the love for my Son. His love will give meaning to your life and I will walk with you. I will be with you until the meeting with the Heavenly Father. My children, it is those who walk towards the Heavenly Father with love and faith who will be saved. Do not be afraid, I am with you. Put your trust in your shepherds as my Son trusted when he chose them, and pray that they may have the strength and the love to lead you. Thank you." - See more at:

Today's Word:  reverence  rev·er·ence  [rev-er-uh ns]  

Origin:  1250–1300; Middle English < Latin reverentia respect, fear, awe

1. a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration.
2. the outward manifestation of this feeling: to pay reverence.
3. a gesture indicative of deep respect; an obeisance, bow, or curtsy.
4. the state of being revered.
5. (initial capital letter) a title used in addressing or mentioning a member of the clergy (usually preceded by your or his).
verb (used with object), reverenced, reverencing.
6. to regard or treat with reverence; venerate: One should reverence God and His laws.


Today's Old Testament Reading -    Daniel 3:52-56

52 May you be blessed, Lord, God of our ancestors, be praised and extolled for ever. Blessed be your glorious and holy name, praised and extolled for ever.
53 May you be blessed in the Temple of your sacred glory, exalted and glorified above all for ever:
54 blessed on the throne of your kingdom, exalted above all, glorified for ever:
55 blessed are you who fathom the abyss, enthroned on the winged creatures, praised and exalted above all for ever:
56 blessed in the expanse of the heavens, exalted and glorified for ever.


Today's Epistle -   Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9

4 So he cut two tablets of stone like the first and, with the two tablets of stone in his hands, Moses went up Mount Sinai in the early morning as Yahweh had ordered.
5 And Yahweh descended in a cloud and stood with him there and pronounced the name Yahweh.
6 Then Yahweh passed before him and called out, 'Yahweh, Yahweh, God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in faithful love and constancy,
8 Moses immediately bowed to the ground in worship,
9 then he said, 'If indeed I do enjoy your favour, please, my Lord, come with us, although they are an obstinate people; and forgive our faults and sins, and adopt us as your heritage.'


Today's Gospel Reading -  John 3, 16-18

"God so loved the world!"
The Trinity is the best community
John 3, 16-18

1. Opening prayer

 Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.

Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

2. Reading

a) A key to guide the reading:

- These few verses are part of a reflection of John the evangelist (Jn 3: 16-21), where he explains to his community of the end of the first century, the meaning of the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus (Jn 3: 1-15). In this dialogue, Nicodemus finds it difficult to follow Jesus’ thinking. The same happened to the communities. Some of them, still under the influence of the criteria of the past, could not understand the newness that Jesus brought. Our text (Jn 3: 16-18) is an attempt to overcome this difficulty.

- The Church too has chosen these three verses for the feast of the Blessed Trinity. In fact, they are an important key that reveals the importance of the mystery of the Triune God in our lives. When reading, let us try to keep in mind and in our hearts that in this text God is the Father, the Son is Jesus and love is the Holy Spirit. So, let us not try to penetrate the mystery. Let us halt in silence and in wonder!

b) A division of the text to help with the reading:

Jn 3:16: Says that the love of God that saves manifests itself in the gift of the Son.
Jn 3:17: The will of God is to save not to condemn.
Jn 3:18: God demands of us that we have the courage to believe in this love.

c) The text:

For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17: For God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.
18: No one who believes in him will be judged; but whoever does not believe is judged already, because that person does not believe in the Name of God's only Son.

3. A moment of prayerful silence so that the Word of God may enter into us and enlighten our life. 

4. Some questions to help us in our personal reflection.

a) What pleased or touched you most?
b) After a careful examination of this brief text, which are the recurring key words?
c) What is the central experience of the community by the evangelist that reveals itself in the text?
d) What does the text tell us about the love of God?
e) What does the text tell us about Jesus?
f) What does the text tell us about the world?
g) What does the text reveal to me?


5. A key to the reading for those who wish to go deeper into the text. 

a) The context within which the words of Jesus appear in the Gospel of John:
* Nicodemus was a doctor who thought he knew the things of God. He watches Jesus with the book of the Law of Moses in his hand to see whether the new things announced by Jesus were in accordance with the book. In the conversation, Jesus points out to Nicodemus (and to all of us) that the only way one can understand the things of God is to be born again! The same thing happens today. Often, we are like Nicodemus: we accept only those things that agree with our ideas. We reject all else, thinking it contrary to tradition. But not all are like this. There are those who allow themselves to be surprised by events and who are not afraid of saying to themselves, "Be born again!"

* When recalling the words of Jesus, the evangelist has before his eyes the situation of the community towards the end of the first century, and it is for them that he writes. Nicodemus’ doubts were also those of the community. Thus Jesus’ reply was also a reply to the community. Quite probably, the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus was part of the baptismal catechesis, because the text says that people have to be reborn of water and the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:6). In the brief commentary that follows, we focus on the key words that appear in the text and that are central to the Gospel of John. They serve as key words for the reading of the whole Gospel.

b) Commentary on the text:
* John 3:16: To love is to give oneself for the sake of love. The word love, first of all, points to a deep experience in the relationship between persons. It includes feelings and values such as joy, sorrow, suffering, growth, giving up, giving oneself, realisation, gift, commitment, life, death, etc. In the OT these values and feelings are summarised in the word hesed, which, in our Bibles, is usually translated as charity, mercy, fidelity or love.
In the NT, Jesus revealed this love of God in his meetings with people. He revealed this through feelings of friendship, kindness, as, for example, in his relationship with Martha’s family in Bethany: "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus". He weeps at Lazarus’ tomb (Jn 11:5.33-36). Jesus faces his mission as a manifestation of love: "having loved his own….he loved them to the end" (Jn 13:1). In this love, Jesus reveals his deep identity with the Father: "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you!"{Jn 15:9). He also says to us: "Love one another as I have loved you!" (Jn 15:12). John defines love as: "This has taught us love – that he gave up his life for us; and we, too, ought to give up our lives for our brothers" (1Jn 3:16). There was no other commandment apart from this for the community, "living the same kind of life as Jesus" (1Jn 2:6). Those who live love and reveal it in their words and attitudes, become Beloved Disciples.
* John 3:17: He loved the world and gave his life to save the world. The word world is found 78 times in John’s Gospel, but with different meanings. First, "world" may mean the earth, the space inhabited by human beings (Jn 11:9; 21:25) or the created universe (17:5.24). In our text, "world" means those who inhabit this earth, the whole of humanity, loved by God, who gave his Son for its sake (cf. Jn 1:9; 4:42; 6:14; 8:12). It may also mean a large number of people, in the sense of "the whole world" (Jn 12:19; 14:27). But in John’s Gospel the word "world" means, above all, that part of humanity that is opposed to Jesus and so becomes his "adversary" or "opposition" (Jn 7:4.7; 8:23.26; 9:39;12:25). This "world", contrary to the liberating practice of Jesus, is dominated by the Adversary, Satan, also is called "prince of the world" (14:30; 16:11), who persecutes and kills the communities of the faithful (16:33), creating injustice, oppression, kept up by those in authority, by those who rule the empire and the synagogue. They practise injustice in the name of God (16:2). The hope that John’s Gospel offers to the communities is that Jesus will conquer the prince of this world (12:31). He is stronger than the "world". "In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world" (16:33).
* John 3:18: The Only Son of God who gives himself up for us: One of the most ancient and most beautiful titles that the first Christians chose to describe the mission of Jesus is that of Defender. In Hebrew it is Goêl. This term used to indicate the closest relative, the oldest brother, who had to redeem his brothers who might be threatened with the loss of their properties (cf. Lev 25:23-55). At the time of the Babylonian exile, every one, including the closest relative, lost everything. Then God became the Goêl of his people. He redeemed his people from slavery. In the NT, it is Jesus, the only son, the first-born, the closest relative, who became our Goêl. This term or title is translated diversely as saviour, redeemer, liberator, advocate, oldest brother, consoler, and so on (cf. Lk 2:11; Jn 4:42; Acts 5:31, etc.). Jesus takes on the defence and the redemption of his family, of his people. He gave himself entirely, completely, so that we, his brothers and sisters, may live again in fraternal love. This was the service he gave us. It was thus that the prophecy of Isaiah that announced the coming of the Servant Messiah was fulfilled. Jesus himself said, "For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom (goêl) for many!" (Mk 10:45). Paul expresses this discovery in the following phrase, "He loved me and sacrificed himself for me!" (Gal 2:20).

c) The mystery of the Trinity in the writings of John:
* Faith in the Most Blessed Trinity is the beginning and end of our belief. Whatever we say today with so much clarity about the Most Blessed Trinity, may be found in the New Testament. It is found there in seminal form and was developed over the centuries. Of the four evangelists, John is the one who helps us most to understand the mystery of the Triune God.
John emphasises the deep unity between the Father and the Son. The mission of the Son is to reveal the love of the Father (Jn 17:6-8). Jesus comes to proclaim, "The Father and I are one" (Jn 10:30). There is such unity between Jesus and the Father, that those who see the face of the one see also the face of the other. By revealing the Father, Jesus communicates a new spirit "the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father" (Jn 15:26). At the Son’s request (Jn 14:16), the Father sends to each one of us this new Spirit to stay with us. This Spirit, who comes from the Father (Jn 14:16) and from the Son (Jn 16:7-8), reveals the deep unity that exists between Father and Son (Jn 15:26-27. Christians looked to the unity in God in order to understand the unity that should have existed among them (Jn 13:34-35; 17:21).
Today we say, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Apocalypse says, He who is, who was, and who is to come, from the seven spirits in his presence before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the First-born from the dead, the Ruler of the kings of the earth (Ap 1:4-5). With these names, John tells us what the communities thought about and hoped for from the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit.

Let us see:
i) In the name of the Father: Alpha and Omega, Is, Was, Will be, Almighty.
Alpha and Omega. We would say A to Z (cf. Is 44:6; Ap 1:17). God is the beginning and end of history. There is no room for another God! The Christians could not accept the pretence of the Roman Empire that divinised its emperors. Nothing that happens in life can be interpreted as simple coincidence outside the loving providence of this God of ours.
Is, Was, Will be (Ap 1:4.8; 4:8). Our God is not a distant God. He was with us in the past, is with us now, will be with us in the future. He guides history, is in history, walks with his people. The history of God is the history of his people.
Almighty. This was an imperial title of kings after Alexander the Great. For Christians, the true king is God. This title expresses the creative power with which he guides his people. The title strengthens the certainty of victory and urges us to sing, even now, the joy of the New Heaven and of the New Earth (Ap 21:2).

ii) The name of the Son: Faithful Witness, First-born among the dead, Prince of the kings of the earth.
Faithful Witness: Witness means the same as martyr. Jesus had the courage to witness to the Good News of God the Father. He was faithful until death, and God’s answer was the resurrection (Phil 2:9; Heb 5:7).
First-born among the dead: First-born is like saying oldest brother (Col 1:18). Jesus is the first-born who rises again. His victory over death will also be ours, his brothers and sisters!
Prince of the kings of the earth: This was a title given to Roman Emperors as official propaganda. The Christians gave this title to Jesus. To believe in Jesus was an act of rebellion against the empire and its ideology.
These three titles come from the messianic psalm 89, where the messiah is called Faithful Witness (Ps 89:38), First-born (Ps 89:28) The Most High above the kings of the earth (Ps 89:28). The first Christians took their inspiration from the Bible in order to formulate their doctrine.

iii) The name of the Holy Spirit: Seven lamps, Seven eyes, Seven spirits.
Seven Lamps: In the Apocalypse 4:5, it is said that the seven spirits are the seven lamps burning before the Throne of God. There are seven because they represent the fullness of the action of God in the world. There are seven burning lamps, because they symbolise the action of the Spirit who enlightens, refreshes and purifies (Acts 2:1). They stand before the Throne always ready to respond to any request from God.
Seven Eyes: In Apocalypse 5:6, it is said that the Lamb has seven eyes, symbol of the seven spirits of God sent throughout the earth. What a beautiful image! Suffice it to look at the Lamb to see the Spirit working there where the Lamb looks, for his eyes are the eyes of the Spirit. It is he who always looks at us!
Seven Spirits: The seven evoke the seven gifts of the Spirit mentioned in the prophet Isaiah and that will rest on the Messiah (Is 11:2-3). This prophecy comes true in Jesus. The seven Spirits are, at the same time, of God and of Jesus. The same identification of the Spirit with Jesus appears at the end of the seven letters. It is Jesus who speaks in the letters, and at the end of each letter we read, He who has ears let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches. Jesus speaks, the Spirit speaks. They are one.

6. Psalm 63, 1-9

O God, my soul thirsts for thee
O God, thou art my God, I seek thee,
my soul thirsts for thee; my flesh faints for thee,
as in a dry and weary land where no water is.
So I have looked upon thee in the sanctuary,
beholding thy power and glory.
Because thy steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise thee.
So I will bless thee as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on thy name.
My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat,
and my mouth praises thee with joyful lips,
when I think of thee upon my bed,
and meditate on thee in the watches of the night;
for thou hast been my help,
and in the shadow of thy wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to thee;
thy right hand upholds me.

7. Final Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:   Saint Germain Cousin

Feast Day : June 15

St. Germaine
Saint Germaine Cousin (Germana Cousin, Germaine of Pibrac, Germana) (1579–1601) is a French saint. She was born in 1579 of humble parents at Pibrac, a village about ten miles from Toulouse.

Today's society no longer recognizes the hand of God in the lives of individuals.  Circumstances and environment have become the great dictators that form the moral fiber of the soul.  Through these two masters, a person's fate is hopelessly predestined by a tract of inevitable events.  There is little hope for change because the purely natural view of life sees these souls driven by genetic or external forces, not by choice or grace.  At times it appears as if God Himself has abandoned them to mere physical influences; the alcoholic mother generates the alcoholic child, the abused child in turn becomes a child abuser, and the list goes on.  This concept is absolutely false.  The doctrine of "free will" has been all but totally disregarded and replaced by Freudianism.  Popular preference in society does not affect Truth which transcends time.  The Eternal eyes of God still rest solitarily on each new creation of humanity as He alone infuses into its physical and natural beginnings the immortality of a soul that raises it far above the instinctive life of an animal.  In this spiritual realm, admitted or not, each individual freely chooses his eternal destiny. He does not inherit it.  Responsibility is taken for our actions.  Our lives become a means to an end, not an end in themselves.  Alcoholism is once again categorized as a vice not a disease, homosexuality remains a "sin that cries to Heaven for vengeance," not a diversified lifestyle. People become either saints or sinners and go to Heaven or Hell judged on their own merits.  No one is predestined by his social condition. 

The Catholic Church has offered innumerable examples of saints immersed hopelessly in the despairing squalor of sin, who suddenly pull themselves out on a sunbeam of grace and soar to the heights of genuine holiness. Saint Germaine, the subject of our story, however, never chose sin, yet was surrounded by the perfect climate (according to today's standards) to excuse it.  She was unwanted, handicapped, abused, and neglected.  She had no self-esteem, was never sent to school; she was poor and she was hungry.  She died when she was twenty-two years old, all alone and in a barn.  Yet almost four hundred years after her death, books are still written about her and she is still prayed to.  There are churches named after her throughout the whole Christian world and people still make pilgrimages to her shrine in France. 

What is the secret of Saint Germaine? She was truly a "victim of circumstance".  But circumstances have two sides, just as when some people smell flowers and think of a funeral, others smell flowers and think of a spring garden.  Throughout life God strews our paths with sufficient graces for our eternal salvation.  It is up to each individual, however, to stoop down and pick them up.  They are the light spots between the clouds and they grow brighter as they are collected.  Saint Germaine is one of the many examples of saints who have surmounted the obstacles of life and soared to the heights of holiness. 

Off To a Bad Start

Saint Germaine was born in the year 1579, in a little village of France called Pibrac.  At her birth the entire countryside was enveloped in a "time of nocturnal terror", as one official document stated.  Internal wars, famine, and plagues reduced the general morale of the inhabitants of Pibrac to a sad and struggling existence.  In this little obscure village, ten miles southwest of Toulouse and a two hour train ride from Lourdes, lay the Cousin farm.  Once a prosperous and thriving establishment, the little holdings of Laurent Cousin were sorely reduced to the state of poverty by his mismanagement of affairs.  His father, who had been a tailor and mayor of the town, had purchased the farm years before, and handed it down to his son Laurent who did not have his father's ability for business. 

Earliest records of Saint Germaine fail to relate her formative years, which to this day remain veiled in mystery.  Was she the unwanted child of a single parent, left at the Cousin doorstep? Or was she just another hungry mouth of an impoverished couple who abandoned her in hopes she would somehow flourish in another's care? Was she, as most suggest, the child of Laurent Cousin's first wife, who perhaps died in the plague, still raging through the villages? Whatever the case, it was far from a normal start. These mysterious unrecorded years, of her early life, were less disastrous in circumstance than what was soon to follow.  Endowed with all the naturally lovable qualities of an innocent babe, Germaine was very ordinary in every way.  Left alone she probably would have melted into the common scenery of peasant life, neither hot nor cold, plodding along in an unchallenged way.  But God tests His gold by fire and sent the unremitting trial of Armande de Rajols, a mean and selfish stepmother, into the tender childhood of Saint Germaine. 

When Armande arrived at the Cousin farm to more or less "take over" the household, Germaine had lost the cuddly appearance of a baby and was now a child of four or five and beginning to manifest signs of deformity and disease.  To the selfish Armande, Germaine became a source of resentment.  Frustrated by the untimely deaths of her own natural children who died shortly after birth, the chafing presence of this unsightly dependent enraged her with hate.  Saint Germaine, who was born with a crippled right arm, had her physical misfortune compounded by a purulent disease commonly known in those days as "scrofula".  This visible effect manifested itself on her neck and cheek, also affecting her bones and joints, often causing swelling and open, running abscesses.  Armande could not bear even the sight of her and banished her from the family hearth and table. 

Unwanted and Unloved

Saint Germaine was given the barn as her living quarters, and she was never again allowed into the house lest she contaminate the other members of the family.  There she lived alone, but not unnoticed, for the tenant farmers and their families witnessed much of the abusive treatment that she received.  Clothed in the meanest of rags and with her feet always bare, Germaine was treated with less affection than the family dog.  Every morning she would appear loyally at the door awaiting her assignment for the day. Begrudgingly her malicious stepmother would toss her the morning's ration of unwanted scraps from the family table, usually a chunk of stale bread. Germaine's job from the first moment of her stepmother's reign was shepherding the family flock of sheep.  This greatly benefited Madame Cousin who could be assured that the embarrassing presence of this unwanted child would be gone for a good part of the day–every day, all year! Sometimes she would send her to the field by the notorious, wolf-infested Bouconne Forest, hoping at last to make an end of this burden.  Not all her attempts to rid herself of the girl were as subtle.  Several attempts were witnessed by the neighbors who later testified at Saint Germaine's canonization.  Once, in a fit of rage, her stepmother scalded her with boiling water.  No cruelty, however atrocious, was beyond her ability.  The little girl was frequently covered with bruises and welts from a woman drunk not with alcohol, but with hate.  Besides minding the sheep Germaine was required to spin a certain amount of wool every day.  It is difficult to see how, with her crippled arm and hand, she could do this work since it called for considerable skill and dexterity, but it was required of her even when the weather was so cold that her fingers were stiff and hard to move.  Severe beatings were in store for any failings in her work.  Nothing Germaine did, however hard she tried, would please her stepmother who found one excuse after another to vent her inhuman rage upon Germaine. 

A Source of Consolation

Even though the outrageous behavior of Armande Cousin dominated the scene, Laurent failed only through weakness.  Perhaps because of him, every week Germaine was allowed to leave the little farm and attend Mass across the river in the dilapidated village church of Saint Mary Magdalen.  It was a rich source of consolation to her lonely and otherwise intolerable life.  She eagerly drank in every word of the sermon and the catechetical instructions given after Mass for the village children.  It was here that the seed of Faith was planted in her heart and she watered it by her good works.  Life began to make sense to her and to have meaning beneath the gaze of our crucified Lord.  Suffering became meritorious and reparative. She saw that life was only a trial for an eternity with Christ, if she but merited it.  Slowly, as her pure mind matured, she saw herself and her life as a mission of love, to sacrifice and merit for others, even for the conversion of her dreadful stepmother.  Although she never went to school, she was a diligent pupil in the school of Divine Love.  The catechism that was taught by verbal instruction both from the pulpit and in the little Sunday school class, she learned by heart, storing it in her memory, pondering it diligently throughout the week.  Her Eucharistic Saviour became her strength and beloved Companion during her lonely life.  Often she would stay in church long after everyone else had left, kneeling for hours on the hard flagstone floor.  As years went on, Sunday Mass attendance was not enough to satisfy her need for adoration and an irresistible yearning to attend Mass daily inspired her to leave her sheep.  It was then that the first manifestation of divine pleasure showed itself by miraculous intervention. 

From the meadow where Germaine was herding sheep she could see the parish church, whose lofty tower resounded every morning with the silvery voice of the bell, calling the faithful to Mass.  On hearing the signal, the shepherdess's heart would fly to the temple, and there attend in spirit the tremendous Sacrifice of the Mass.  This still did not satisfy her fervor. One day feeling so ardent a desire to attend the Holy Sacrifice, she called her sheep together and planted her spindle in the ground next to them. Then, making the sign of the cross, she ran to church.  Germaine was overjoyed when she re-turned to discover her sheep were quietly resting about the distaff and under the shade of an oak tree.  She began to repeat this same practice.  From then on, though abandoned them for this purpose, and though the place was infested with wolves which committed ravages on other flocks, she never lost a sheep or lamb.  Rain, snow, or storm never prevented her from following this holy practice.  Many times neighbors would be mystified finding Germaine's flock huddled obediently around her distaff. 

A Good Reputation

The village children with the eyes of innocence soon began to see beyond the physical repulsiveness of her illness and began to appreciated Germaine for what they saw in her soul.  They were greatly attracted to her and eagerly sought her companionship.  They would run through the fields after school searching for her.  Often they would take her by surprise, having found her kneeling before a little shrine she made in the field.  Two crude pieces of wood, hewed and made to resemble a cross, reminded her of our loving Saviour whom she sought so ardently to please.  In her raw chapped hands they would see her only book, the Rosary.  A constant companion, it was her perfect prayer and meditation as she ran the rough beads through her fingers–beads made from knotted twine from an old haybale.  Often too, she would be seen sitting on a rock spinning wool, with her friends gathered on the grass around her. 

The moments they treasured the most were those when Germaine would talk to them –not of herself, for she never talked about herself or complained about her own life.  She spoke to them from her overflowing heart of the deep knowledge and love of her Holy Faith which was developed in her by long hours of silence, prayer, and suffering.  Contemplating the beauties of nature and grace also awakened in her heart a burning love for God. She told of her ardent desire to help others love Him more.  When her loyal companions pitied her for her ragged clothes and deficient food or inquired about her bruises and welts, Saint Germaine would help them to see that she turned these sufferings into opportunities to resemble Our Lord who was once whipped and beaten for our sins. 

The parents of these children would patiently listen to their praises of Saint Germaine and in mild derision they mockingly called her "the devout one".  It is to her credit that their mockery was more of her spiritual life than her physical deformity.  She was a rebuke to them by her humility and patience.  But much of the village derision was instigated by the malicious tongue of the stepmother. 

A Divine Favor

Germaine's life ran its course, day after day, month after month, year after year, with only the changes of the seasons to alter it.  The freezing cold of winter, the torrid heat of summer, brought with them their own crosses – but one day God saw fit to manifest His approval of His chosen creature.  It was early spring and the snows were melting, bringing the torrents and floods to all the rivers and streams throughout the countryside. Germaine, hearing the church bells, knew there would not be enough time to walk to the bridge and still be on time for Mass.  So she decided to cross the Courbet, which at other times of the year was just a stream, small enough to pass through on foot.  Now, however, it was a rushing river. Two of her friends on the opposite side, watching her dilemma, shouted to warn her that the river was too deep and strong to cross, and told her not to risk it.  The young shepherdess, anxious to be on time for Mass, made the sign of the cross and to the astonishment of the onlookers, the waters parted, leaving a dry path for her to cross, just like the parting of the Red Sea in the Old Testament. 

The news of this miracle soon made the rounds of the entire village and brought in its wake various reactions.  Madame Cousin was angered because many people began to show regard for the young girl whom she hated so much. The fact that the miracle happened more than once did not change her heart for she was a hardened and bitter woman. 

It is certain that Germaine prayed for her stepmother all the more as the years passed but her stepmother's bitterness increased.  Still, Germaine never showed the unfortunate woman anything but respect and love.  She knew how much this burning hatred offended God and that unless her stepmother changed it would be difficult to save her soul.  It wasn't until the very death of Saint Germaine herself that this almost insurmountable task of conversion was fully accomplished.  But God began to pave the way by manifesting His Divine predilection for this forgotten girl. 

Changing of a Heart

Germaine had found another outlet for her charity in the numerous beggars who had discovered her kindness and compassion for their trials.  It is difficult to imagine one more destitute than Germaine herself and yet the beggars came to her almost every day for sympathy and to have her share with them her scraps of bread. 

Madame Cousin heard of this and would often beat Germaine while screaming that she was not going to feed every tramp that passed by.  Wasn't it bad enough that she had to provide for this worthless wretch? One very cold winter day Germaine had gone into the kitchen to pick up some scraps for her hungry friends when she was caught by her stepmother, who noticed Germaine was carrying something in her apron.  The angry woman imagined it to be a supply of bread.  Picking up a stick she began chasing Germaine to the village green hoping to prove to all that Germaine was a thief and to put her in disgrace.  With the stick waving above the head of Germaine, Madame Cousin demanded that she open her apron in view of the large crowd that had gathered.  The trembling girl did as she was told and a cascade of flowers, unknown in the region, tumbled to the ground. 

This time there were too many witnesses for Madame Cousin to discredit Germaine with her vicious tongue.  The sympathy and admiration of the villagers for Saint Germaine only increased.  Soon other signs were seen that proved that God showered His blessings on the girl.  It was reported that the barn where she slept was flooded with light at night and heavenly singing was heard by those passing by.  Before long "the devout one," was a name no longer used in sarcasm. 

At last after almost twenty years of neglect and abuse, the weak Laurent Cousin put his foot down and demanded that Germaine's living conditions be altered.  He heartily apologized for his neglect and asked her to take her place inside the house and live among the family.  Germaine explained, however, that she was perfectly content in her environment.  In fact she had added voluntary austerities to her life in order to solicit divine blessings on those for whom she prayed.  Throughout her short life she had a totally spiritual outlook and was unaffected by external circumstances. In suffering and solitude she found Christ and would not now abandon Him for the comforts of man. 

Despite her insistence on remaining where she was, things did begin to change.  Her years of prayers and sacrifices began to visibly affect the nasty old stepmother.  Armande, however, was soon given much time to make up to Germaine for all her years of abuse.  Having accomplished much in a short time, Saint Germaine's life was coming to an end.  Her physical maladies had taken their toll, undermining what little strength she had left.  But above all, God was so pleased with His little shepherdess, who had cooperated with all the graces sent her way, that He could no longer resist her spiritual beauty and soon called her home to Heaven.  Saint Germaine had succeeded in overcoming all the adverse circumstances of her life and had made them work to her advantage.  Never once did she succumb to the temptation to become a victim of them.  Christ promised us all that we would never be tempted above our strength.  Germaine amply proved this by making her sufferings become her glory. 

Death of a Saint

Tradition tells us that, in the spring of 1601, a priest from the town of Gascony was traveling to the city of Toulouse.  It was night when reached the village of Pibrac, and he could scarcely make out his way in the darkness. Suddenly a celestial brightness penetrated the night and he saw in a vision a beautiful procession of holy virgins, refulgent with light, coming down from Heaven descending into a section of the village.  At the same time, but traveling from another direction, two religious, also overwhelmed by the blackness of the night and having lost their way, sought shelter in the ruins of an ancient castle of Pibrac.  They also saw the virgins, surrounded by a brilliant light.  Awestruck, neither group of travelers knew the meaning of the sight. 

At the break of day, Laurent, disturbed by the unusual bleating of the sheep, realized that Germaine had not taken them out as she had the past twenty years.  Loudly he called her name and became anxious when she did not answer.  He went into the barn and found her dead on her bed of straw, her rosary entwined in her fingers and her face shining like an angel.  She died as she had lived, deprived of all human consolation. 

Meanwhile, that same morning the traveling priest and the other two religious hastened to tell the villagers of Pibrac that they had seen a vision of a virgin ascending into the heavens.  She was crowned with a brilliant diadem, they agreed, and was accompanied by numerous angels, more radiant than the stars.  The villagers up to that point were not aware of anything having happened in their town, but from the description the travelers gave, they at once concluded that "the holy shepherdess", Germaine, had died.  Running to the Cousin farm, they found Germaine lifeless.  Her angelic countenance struck them, not with fear and dread, as is usually the case, but with piety and devotion.  This beautiful saint was scarcely twenty-two years of age. 

News of Germaine's death spread quickly throughout the village and soon the Cousin farm was besieged with mourners.  Her faithful friends, the children, had gathered wild carnations and stalks of rye to make a wreath for her head.  The converted Madame Cousin dressed the poorly clad and undernourished body in a beautiful dress, the like of which Germaine had never worn in her life, and placed a candle in her hands. 

Germaine's body was interred in the village church where she loved to pray–it being the only place on earth where she had ever truly felt at home. 

Discovery of Her Body–First Miracles

The memory of the shepherdess of Pibrac would surely have been lost in oblivion had not the God she so generously served miraculously manifested His love and approval by the following events.  In 1644, forty-three years after Germaine's death, an older woman of the same parish died, having requested in her will that she be buried in the church near the pulpit. Two workmen began removing the flagstones and were stupefied to see just below the surface the body of a young girl.  Their pickax had struck the nose of the corpse which began to bleed.  Like madmen they ran through the village stammering out their discovery, and bringing back with them a crowd of curious onlookers, two of whom were contemporaries of the Cousin family. These two identified the body as Germaine Cousin, shepherdess of Pibrac. 

The body was then removed and encased in a glass casket and placed in the vestibule of the church for all to see.  But not everyone was happy seeing such a visible reminder of her poor life.  One wealthy parishioner and his young wife complained to the pastor, who then removed the body to the sacristy.  That night the young wife was stricken with a mysterious disease which in turn affected her nursing baby.  Within days the two were on the point of death.  The husband begged the shepherdess of Pibrac, whom the village revered as a saint, for help.  He asked her forgiveness for having offended her by their disrespect and begged her to cure his wife and child.  During the novena Germaine appeared to the dying woman and laid her hand on the afflicted area.  Both mother and child were found in perfect health the next morning.  In thanksgiving for this cure, the family had a more fitting repository made for the body of their heavenly benefactress. 

An Attempt to Destroy Her Remains

Devotion to Germaine grew and the influence of her life spread to such an extent that, in 1789, almost 200 years after her death, the strength of the Faith in that region of France became an obstacle to the revolutionists. Those wicked men who were attempting to "overthrow the altar and the throne" – to destroy Catholicism – had to destroy the devotion of the people for this simple uneducated orphan.  Three soldiers entered the village church and forcibly removed the incorrupt and pliant body of Germaine.  They then threw the saint's body out-side into an open pit dug for this purpose and covered it with quicklime to speed the process of decomposition. 

Those who had performed this sacrilegious deed were suddenly struck with various disfiguring diseases: the neck of one was deformed so that it turned till his face looked backwards; the youngest of the three was afflicted with an obstinate disease, so that he could scarcely walk without the aid of crutches.  This last carried with him to the grave the punishment of his wicked act but the other two, repenting of their sin, obtained their complete cure through the intercession of Germaine. 

In spite of opposition and the rage of the revolutionaries the faithful continued to venerate the servant of God in her degrading sepulcher, till the time when they had the consolation of seeing her disinterred anew. Her body was found as fresh as ever, notwithstanding the corruptive effects natural to quicklime.  Our Lord never ceased to glorify His humble servant; and she who in life received only contempt and ill-treatment, after death was honored by kings and their subjects, young and old, learned and ignorant. 

In view of the numerous and great signs wrought through her intercession, she was raised to the honor of our altars by Blessed Pope Pius IX in May, of 1853.  In June, 1867, on the eighteenth centenary of the death of Saint Peter, she was inscribed by Blessed Pius IX in the catalogue of the saints, and fifteenth of June, appointed as her feast day. 

Though of short duration, Saint Germaine's life is truly a timeless example to all.  She persevered without the artificial and shallow rhetoric of modern psychology.  She had no support group, no counseling; she did not use Prozac or any other chemical crutch.  She was not forced to turn to crime and sin as an outlet or consequence.  She turned to Christ and found Him sufficient.  Did He not say, Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened; and I will refresh you.  Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, because I am meek, and humble of heart; and you shall find rest to your souls.  For My yoke is sweet and My burden light.  (Matt. 11:28-30) St. Germaine, pray for us.

Relics and veneration

Her remains were buried in the parish church of Pibrac in front of the pulpit. In 1644, when the grave was opened to receive one of her relatives, the body of Germaine was discovered fresh and perfectly preserved, and miraculously raised almost to the level of the floor of the church. It was exposed for public view near the pulpit, until a noble lady, the wife of François de Beauregard, presented as a thanks-offering a casket of lead to hold the remains. She had been cured of a malignant and incurable ulcer in the breast, and her infant son whose life was despaired of was restored to health on her seeking the intercession of Germaine. This was the first of a long series of wonderful cures wrought at her relics. The leaden casket was placed in the sacristy, and in 1661 and 1700 the remains were viewed and found fresh and intact by the vicars-general of Toulouse, who have left testamentary depositions of the fact.

Expert medical evidence deposed that the body had not been embalmed, and experimental tests showed that the preservation was not due to any property inherent in the soil. In 1700 a movement was begun to procure the beatification of Germaine, but it fell through owing to accidental causes. In 1793 the casket was desecrated by a revolutionary tinsmith, named Toulza, who with three accomplices took out the remains and buried them in the sacristy, throwing quick-lime and water on them. After the Revolution, her body was found to be still intact save where the quick-lime had done its work.

The private veneration of Germaine had continued from the original finding of the body in 1644, supported and encouraged by numerous cures and miracles. The cause of beatification was resumed in 1850. The documents attested more than 400 miracles or extraordinary graces, and thirty postulatory letters from archbishops and bishops in France besought the beatification from the Holy See. The miracles attested were cures of every kind (of blindness, congenital and resulting from disease, of hip and spinal disease), besides the multiplication of food for the distressed community of the Good Shepherd at Bourges in 1845.

On 7 May 1854, Pius IX proclaimed her beatification, and on 29 June 1867, placed her on the canon of virgin saints. Her feast is kept in the Diocese of Toulouse on 15 June. She is represented in art with a shepherd's crook or with a distaff; with a watchdog, or a sheep; or with flowers in her apron.


  • Our Lady of the Rosary Library, Lives of Saints, Biography of Saint Germain Cousin.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 


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Today's Snippet I: Basilica of St Sernin

The Basilica of St. Sernin (Occitan: Basilica de Sant Sarnin) is a church in Toulouse, France, the former abbey church of the Abbey of St. Sernin or St. Saturnin. Apart from the church, none of the abbey buildings remain. The current church is located on the site of a previous basilica of the 4th century which contained the body of Saint Saturnin or Sernin, the first bishop of Toulouse in c. 250. Most of the current building was constructed in the Romanesque style between about 1080 and 1120, with construction continuing thereafter. Saint-Sernin is particularly noted for the quality and quantity of its Romanesque sculpture. In 1998 the basilica was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites under the description: World Heritage Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France.


The abbey of St. Sernin was an ancient foundation. St. Sylvius, bishop of Toulouse, began construction of the basilica towards the end of the 4th century.[1]

Its importance increased enormously after Charlemagne (r. 768-800) donated a quantity of relics to it, as a result of which it became an important stop for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela, and a pilgrimage location in its own right. The size of the current building and the existence of an ambulatory may reflect the need to accommodate increasing numbers of pilgrims.

The difficulty of determining an accurate chronology for the construction of Saint-Sernin and the completion of its sculpture has given rise to numerous problems. At least as early as the 1010s, Bishop Pierre Roger had set aside a portion of the offerings to St. Sernin for an eventual rebuilding of the Carolingian church.[2] During the decade of the 1070s and by 1080 at the latest, the canons of Saint-Sernin had accepted the rule of St. Augustine and had placed themselves under the direct control of the Holy See.[3] Nevertheless, there are only two firm dates that bear directly on the church itself and even these involve certain difficulties. On May 24, 1096, Pope Urban II dedicated the altar of the still largely incomplete building.[4] Although there have been numerous attempts to determine the point that construction had reached at this time, the most that can be said with certainty is that 1096 is a firm terminus ante quem. That is, construction must have begun at least several years before that date.

The second firm date is July 3, 1118, the death of St. Raymond Gayrard, canon and provost of the chapter. A 15th-century life of the saint states that he took charge of the building after part of the church had been completed and that by the time of his death he had "brought the walls all the way around up to the completion of the windows..."[5] Unfortunately, the life was written much later, some three hundred years after the events it describes, and since at least three different Raymonds were involved in the building of the church, the biographer may have confused elements from the lives of all three.

At any rate, whenever started, it appears that construction of the church did not progress continuously through to completion, for there is physical evidence of several interruptions in construction. The literary evidence cited above indicates that construction proceeded from east to west and, indeed, it appears that the earliest part of the exterior walls is the southern, lower part of the ambulatory and its corresponding radiating chapels. The walls in this section are built of brick and stone, with a higher proportion of stone than elsewhere in the building. As construction proceeded, it was clearly marked by an increasing proportion of brick, the characteristic building material of Toulouse. While there is basic agreement on the starting point, interpretation of the subsequent archeological evidence is subject to varying opinions. The earliest systematic examinations, after the restoration of Viollet-le-Duc, concluded that there had been three major building campaigns.[6]

More recent observations have concluded that there were four major building campaigns.[7] The earliest section begins with the apse and includes the chevet and all of the transept below the level of the gallery, including the Porte des Comtes in the south face of the transept. The second stage is marked by the walls of the transept being completed with alternating courses of brick and stone. This change is also paralleled by a change in the style of the interior decorated capitals. This break is most evident in the transept buttresses, which change from solid stone at the bottom to bands of brick and stone at the top, a change which occurs at various levels around the transept but generally about the level of the gallery floor. There then follows another break between the eastern portion of the church - including the transept and the first few bays of the nave itself - and the rest of the nave. The alternating courses of brick and stone give way to a predominantly brick technique with stone quoins and stone window frames. This third campaign includes the wall enclosing the entire nave, including the western entrance and ends just below the gallery windows. During the fourth phase, the remainder of the nave was completed in brick with almost no stone.

The plan of the abbey church here was also used in the construction of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, "begun in 1082, too direct a copy to have been done by any but St. Sernin's own architect or his favourite pupil", but finished much earlier.[8]

The stone that killed Simon de Montfort in 1218, while he was besieging Toulouse, was thrown from the roof of Saint-Sernin.

In 1860, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc restored the church,[9] but his changes are currently being removed to restore the original appearance.


Despite being called a basilica, St. Sernin's deviates from the basilica plan of early Christian architecture in a few ways. It is much larger compared to earlier churches. It is also constructed mostly of brick. The building is in the form of a crucifix. The ceilings are vaulted, unlike many of the earlier churches.

St. Sernin's contains radiating chapels which were used to display important relics. Another deviation from the earlier Christian churches is the addition of an ambulatory, a walkway that goes around the nave and side aisles to allow for viewing of the radiating chapels (which could be done while mass was being held without interrupting the ceremony). For these and other reasons, St. Sernin's is often said to follow the "pilgrimage plan" instead of the traditional basilica plan.


On the exterior, the bell tower, standing directly over the transept crossing, is the most visible feature. It is divided into five tiers, of which the lower three, with Romanesque arches, date from the 12th century and the upper two from the 14th century. The spire was added in the 15th century. The bell tower is slightly inclined towards the west direction, which is why from certain standpoints the bell tower roof, whose axis is perpendicular to the ground, appears to be inclined to the tower itself.

The chevet is the oldest part of the building, constructed in the 11th century, and consists of nine chapels, five opening from the apse and four in the transepts.

The exterior is additionally known for two doorways, the Porte des Comtes and the Porte des Miégeville. Above the Porte des Comtes is a depiction of Lazarus and Dives. Dives in hell can be seen above the central column. The doorway gets its name from a nearby alcove in which the remains of four Counts of Toulouse are kept. The Porte des Miégeville is known for its elaborate sculpture above the entrance.


The interior of the basilica measures 115 x 64 x 21 meters, making it vast for a Romanesque church. The central nave is barrel vaulted; the four aisles have rib vaults and are supported by buttresses. Directly under the tower and the transept is a marble altar, consecrated by Pope Urban II in 1096 and designed by Bernard Gelduin.

As well as Saint Saturnin, Saint Honoratus is also buried here. The crypt contains the relics of many other saints.

The basilica also contains a large three-manual Cavaillé-Coll organ built in 1888. Together with the Cavaillé-Coll instruments at Saint-Sulpice in Paris and the Church of St. Ouen, Rouen, it is considered to be one of the most important organs in France.


  •   O'Reilly, E. B., 1921: How France Built her Cathedrals. London and New York: Harper and Brothers



Today's Snippet II:  Decent of the Holy Ghost


How the divine Right Hand showered upon the Queen of Heaven highest
Gifts, In order that She might labor in the holy Church; the Coming
Of the Holy Ghost; the copious Fruit of the Redemption and the
Preaching of the Apostles; the first Persecution of the Church,
The Conversion of saint Paul and the arrival of saint James
In Spain; the Apparition of the Mother of God in Sara-
gossa, and the Founding of the Pilgrimage of our
Lady of the Pillar.



In the company of the great Queen of heaven, and encouraged by Her, the twelve Apostles and the rest of the disciples and faithful joyfully waited for the fulfillment of the promise of the Savior, that He would send them the Holy Ghost, the Consoler, who should instruct them and administer unto them all that they heard in the teaching of their Lord (John 14, 26). They were so unanimous and united in charity, that during all these days none of them had any thought, affection or inclination contrary to those of the rest. They were of one heart and soul in thought and action. Although the election of saint Mathias had occurred, the least movement or sign of discord arose among those first-born children of the Church; yet this was a transaction, which is otherwise apt to arouse differences of opinion in the most excellently disposed; since each is apt to follow his own insight and does not easily yield to the opinion of others. But into this holy congregation no discord found entrance, because they were united in prayer, in fasting and in the expectation of the Holy Ghost, who does not seek repose in discordant and unyielding hearts. In order that it may be inferred, how powerful was this union in charity, not only for disposing them toward the reception of the Holy Ghost, but for overcoming and dispersing the evil spirits, I will say; that the demons, who since the death of the Savior had lain prostrate in hell, felt in themselves a new kind of oppression and terror, resulting from the virtues of those assembled in the Cenacle. Although they could not explain it to themselves, they perceived a new terrifying force, emanating from that place, and when they perceived the effects of the doctrine and example of Christ in the behavior of the disciples, they feared the ruin of their dominion.

The Queen of the angels, most holy Mary, in the plenitude of her wisdom and grace, knew the time and predestined hour for the sending of the Holy Ghost upon the apostolic college. When the days of Pentecost were about to be fulfilled (Act 2, 1), (which happened fifty days after the Resurrection of the Lord our Redeemer), the most blessed Mother saw, how in heaven the humanity (John 14, 26) of the Word conferred with the eternal Father concerning the promised sending of the divine Paraclete to the Apostles, and that the time predetermined by his infinite wisdom for planting the faith and all his gifts in his holy Church, was at hand. The Lord also referred to the merits acquired by Him in the flesh through his most holy Life, Passion and Death, to the mysteries wrought by Him for the salvation of the human race and to the fact, that He was the Mediator, Advocate and Intercessor between the eternal Father and men, and that among them lived his sweetest Mother, in whom the divine Persons were so well pleased. He besought his Father also, that, besides bringing grace and the invisible gifts the Holy Ghost appear in the world in visible form, that so the evangelical law might be honored before all the world; that the Apostles and faithful, who were to spread the divine truth, might be encouraged, and that the enemies of the Lord, who had in this life persecuted despised and Him unto the death of the Cross, might be filled with terror.

This petition of our Redeemer in heaven was supported on earth by most holy Mary in a manner befitting the merciful Mother of the faithful. Prostrated upon the earth in the form of a cross and in profoundest humility, She saw, how in that consistory of the blessed Trinity, the request of the Savior was favorably accepted, and how, to fulfill and execute it, the persons of the Father and the Son, as the Principle from which the Holy Ghost proceeded, decreed the active mission of the Holy Spirit; for to these Two is attributed the sending of the third Person, because He proceeds from Both; and the third Person passively took upon Himself this mission and consented to come into the world.

On Pentecost morning the blessed Virgin Mary exhorted the Apostles, the disciples and the pious women, numbering about one hundred and twenty, to pray more fervently and renew their hopes, since the hour was at hand in which they were to be visited by the divine Spirit from on high. At the third hour (nine o'clock), when all of them were gathered around their heavenly Mistress and engaged in fervent prayer, the air resounded with a tremendous thunder and the blowing of a violent wind mixed with the brightness of fire or lightning, all centering upon the house of the Cenacle. The house was enveloped in light and the divine fire was poured out over all of that holy gathering (Acts 2, 2). Over the head of each of the hundred and twenty persons appeared a tongue of that same fire, in which the Holy Ghost had come, filling each one with divine influences and heavenly gifts and causing at one and the same time the most diverse and contrary effects in the Cenacle and in the whole of Jerusalem, according to the diversity of the persons affected.

In the most holy Mary these effects were altogether divine, and most wonderful in the sight of all the heavenly courtiers; for as regard us men, we are incapable of understanding and explaining them. The purest Lady was transformed and exalted in God; for She saw intuitively and clearly the Holy Ghost, and for a short time enjoyed the beatific vision of he Divinity. Of his gifts and divine influences She by Herself received more than all the rest of the saints. Her glory for that space of time, exceeded that of the angels and of the blessed. She alone gave to the Lord more glory, praise and thanksgiving than all the universe for the benefit of the descent of his Holy Spirit upon his Church and for his having pledged Himself so many times to send Him and through Him to govern it to the end of the world. The blessed Trinity was so pleased with the conduct of Mary on this occasion, that It considered Itself fully repaid and compensated for having created the world; and not only compensated, but God acted as if He were under a certain obligation for possessing such a peerless Creature, whom the Father could look upon as his Daughter, the Son as his Mother, and the Holy Ghost as his Spouse; and whom (according to our way of thinking) He was now obliged to visit and enrich after having conferred upon Her such high dignity. In this exalted and blessed Spouse were renewed all the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, creating new effects and operations altogether beyond our capacity to understand.

The Apostles, as saint Luke says (Acts 2, 11), were also replenished and filled with the holy Ghost; for they received a wonderful increase of justifying grace of a most exalted degree. The twelve Apostles were confirmed in this sanctifying grace and were never to lose it. In all of them, according to each one's condition were infused the habits of the seven gifts: Wisdom, Understanding, Science, Piety, Counsel, Fortitude and Fear. In this magnificent blessing, as new as it was admirable in the world, the twelve Apostles were created fit ministers of the new Testament and founders of the evangelical Church for the whole world: for this new grace and blessing communicated to them a divine strength most efficacious and sweet, which inclined them to practice the most heroic virtue and the highest sanctity. Thus strengthened they prayed, they labored willingly and accomplished the most difficult and arduous tasks, engaging in their labors not with sorrow or from necessity, but with the greatest joy and alacrity.

In all the rest of the disciples and the faithful, who received the Holy Ghost in the Cenacle, the Most High wrought proportionally and respectively the same effects, except that they were not confirmed in grace like the Apostles. According to the disposition of each the gifts of grace were communicated in greater or less abundance in view of the ministry they were to hold in the holy Church. The same proportion was maintained in regard to the Apostles; yet saint Peter and saint John were more singularly favored on account of the high offices assigned to them: the one to govern the Church as its head, and the other to attend upon and serve the Queen and Mistress of heaven and of earth, most holy Mary. The sacred text of saint Luke says, that the Holy Ghost filled the whole house in which this happy congregation was gathered (Acts 2, 7), not only because all of them were filled with the Holy Ghost and his admirable gifts, but because the house itself was filled with wonderful light and splendor. This plenitude of wonders and prodigies overflowed and communicated itself also to others outside of the Cenacle; for it caused diverse and various effects of the Holy Spirit among the inhabitants of Jerusalem and its vicinity. All those, who with some piety had compassioned our Savior Jesus in his Passion and Death, deprecating his most bitter torments and reverencing his sacred Person, were interiorly visited with new light and grace, which disposed them afterwards to accept the doctrine of the Apostles. Those that were converted by the first sermon of saint Peter, were to a great extent of the number of those who, by their compassion and sorrow at the death of the Lord, had merited for themselves such a great blessing. Others of the just who were in Jerusalem outside of the Cenacle, also felt great interior consolations, by which they were moved and predisposed by new effects of grace wrought in each one proportionately by the Holy Ghost.

Not less wonderful, although more hidden, were some contrary effects produced on that day by the Holy Ghost in Jerusalem. By the dreadful thunders and violent commotion of the atmosphere and the lightnings accompanying his advent, He disturbed and terrified the enemies of the Lord in that city, each one according to his own malice and perfidy. This chastisement was particularly evident in those who had actively concurred in procuring the death of Christ, and who had signalized themselves in their rabid fury against Him. All these fell to the ground on their faces and remained thus for three hours. Those that had scourged the Lord were suddenly choked in their own blood, which shot forth from their veins in punishment for shedding that of the Master. The audacious servant, who had buffeted the Lord, not only suddenly died, but was hurled into hell body and soul. Others of the Jews, although they did not die, were chastised with intense pains and abominable sicknesses. These disorders, consequent upon shedding the blood of Christ, descended to their posterity and even to this day continue to afflict their children with most horrible impurities. This chastisement became notorious in Jerusalem, although the priests and pharisees diligently sought to cover it up, just as they had tried to conceal the Resurrection of the Savior. As these events, however, were not so important, neither the Apostles nor the Evangelists wrote about them, and in the confusion of the city the multitude soon forgot them. 


My daughter, in small esteem and thankfulness do the children of the Church hold this blessing of the Most High, by which, in addition to sending of his Son their Master and Redeemer, He sent also the Holy Ghost into his Church. So great was the love, by which He sought to draw them to Himself, that, in order to make them sharers of his divine perfections, He sent them first the Son, who is wisdom (John 3, 16) and afterwards the holy Ghost, who is love, so that all might be enriched in the manner in which they were capable. The divine Spirit, in coming for the first time upon the Apostles and the others gathered with them, intended it as a pledge and testimony, that He would confer the same favor on the rest of the children of the Church, of light and of the Gospel, and that He was ready to communicate his gifts to all, if all will dispose themselves toward receiving them. In witness to this truth the Holy Ghost came upon many of the faithful in visible form and with visible effects (Act 8, 17; 10, 44; 11, 15), because they were truly faithful servants, humble and sincere, pure and ready of heart to receive Him. Also in our times He comes to many just souls, although not with such open manifestation because it is neither necessary nor proper. The interior effects and gifts are all of the same nature, acting according to the disposition and state of the one who receives them.

Blessed is the soul which sighs and aspires after this blessing and seeks to participate in this divine fire which enkindles, enlightens and consumes all that is terrestrial and carnal, which purifies and raises it up to new existence, union and participation with God himself



Catholic Catechism 

Part Three:  Life in Christ 

Section Two:  The Ten Commandments

Chapter Two:  Sixth Commandment 

 Article 6:4 Offenses Against the Dignity of Marriage



Jesus said to his disciples: "Love one another as I have loved you."1 Jn 13:34
2196 In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' the second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."2 Mk 12:29-31; cf. Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18; Mt 22:34-40; Lk 10:25-28
The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: "He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."3 Rom 13:8-10

Article 6
You shall not commit adultery.EX 20:14; Deut 5:18.
You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery."
But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.Mt 5:27-28

IV. Offenses Against the Dignity of Marriage
2380 Adultery refers to marital infidelity. When two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party, have sexual relations - even transient ones - they commit adultery. Christ condemns even adultery of mere desire.170 The sixth commandment and the New Testament forbid adultery absolutely.171 The prophets denounce the gravity of adultery; they see it as an image of the sin of idolatry.172
2381 Adultery is an injustice. He who commits adultery fails in his commitment. He does injury to the sign of the covenant which the marriage bond is, transgresses the rights of the other spouse, and undermines the institution of marriage by breaking the contract on which it is based. He compromises the good of human generation and the welfare of children who need their parents' stable union.

2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble.173 He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law.174  Between the baptized, "a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death."175

2383 The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law.176 If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.

2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:
If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another's husband to herself.177

2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.178

Other offenses against the dignity of marriage
2387 The predicament of a man who, desiring to convert to the Gospel, is obliged to repudiate one or more wives with whom he has shared years of conjugal life, is understandable. However polygamy is not in accord with the moral law." [Conjugal] communion is radically contradicted by polygamy; this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive."179 The Christian who has previously lived in polygamy has a grave duty in justice to honor the obligations contracted in regard to his former wives and his children.

2388 Incest designates intimate relations between relatives or in-laws within a degree that prohibits marriage between them.180 St. Paul stigmatizes this especially grave offense: "It is actually reported that there is immorality among you . . . for a man is living with his father's wife.... In the name of the Lord Jesus ... you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh...."181 Incest corrupts family relationships and marks a regression toward animality.

2389 Connected to incest is any sexual abuse perpetrated by adults on children or adolescents entrusted to their care. the offense is compounded by the scandalous harm done to the physical and moral integrity of the young, who will remain scarred by it all their lives; and the violation of responsibility for their upbringing.

2390 In a so-called free union, a man and a woman refuse to give juridical and public form to a liaison involving sexual intimacy.

The expression "free union" is fallacious: what can "union" mean when the partners make no commitment to one another, each exhibiting a lack of trust in the other, in himself, or in the future?

The expression covers a number of different situations: concubinage, rejection of marriage as such, or inability to make long-term commitments.182 All these situations offend against the dignity of marriage; they destroy the very idea of the family; they weaken the sense of fidelity. They are contrary to the moral law. the sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one from sacramental communion.

2391 Some today claim a "right to a trial marriage" where there is an intention of getting married later. However firm the purpose of those who engage in premature sexual relations may be, "the fact is that such liaisons can scarcely ensure mutual sincerity and fidelity in a relationship between a man and a woman, nor, especially, can they protect it from inconstancy of desires or whim."183 Carnal union is morally legitimate only when a definitive community of life between a man and woman has been established. Human love does not tolerate "trial marriages." It demands a total and definitive gift of persons to one another.184

170 Cf. Mt 5:27-28.
171 Cf. Mt 5:32; 19:6; Mk 10:11; 1 Cor 6:9-10.
172 Cf. Hos 2:7; Jer 5:7; 13:27.
173 Cf. Mt 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mk 10 9; Lk 16:18; 1 Cor 7:10-ll.
174 Cf. Mt 19:7-9.
175 CIC, can. 1141.
176 Cf. CIC, cann. 1151-1155.
177 St. Basil, Moralia 73, 1: PG 31, 849-852.
178 Cf. FC 84.
179 FC 19; cf. GS 47 # 2.
180 Cf. Lev 18:7-20.
181 1 Cor 5:1, 4-5.
182 Cf. FC 81.
183 CDF, Persona humana 7.
184 Cf. FC 80.