Saint William of York
Feast Day: June 8
Saint William of
William Fitz Herbert--son of Count Herbert, treasurer to Henry I, and Emma,
half sister of King Stephen--had impressed many as canon and treasurer of York
Minster. In 1140, after the death of Archbishop Thurstand, he was elected
archbishop in turn by a majority of the cathedral chapter. At this point the
smooth running of William's life ended. Archdeacon Walter of York and the
diocese's Cistercian monks claimed that he had paid to be elevated to the
archbishopric and that he was sexually incontinent. Others, including the
Augustinian priors, said that his friendship with his uncle, King Stephen,
gave him an improper influence in securing election to the see.
archbishop of Canterbury was reluctant to consecrate William under such a
cloud of accusation. For a time even Pope Innocent III hesitated, before
finally agreeing to support William. Henry of Blois, who was both bishop of
Winchester and King Stephen's brother accordingly consecrated William and he
took up his duties as archbishop in 1143.
dispute did not end; matters soon became difficult again. William failed to
receive the official 'pallium,' symbol of the pope's authority, before the
pope who sent it had died. The papal legate took the pallium back to Rome.
pope, Eugenius III, was a Cistercian and sided with the archbishop's
opponents, including Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. William visited Rome to
persuade the pope of his credentials. But the pope suspended him. To make
things worse, a group of his followers now violently attacked some of the
monks of Fountains Abbey, itself a Cistercian foundation, and set fire to the
monastery farms. The abbot of Fountains, Henry Murdac, had been William's
rival for the see of York in the first place.
held at Rheims in 1147 now deposed William. He went to stay with Henry of
Blois, and spent six chastened years living as a monk at Winchester. Only when
both the pope and the abbot of Fountains were dead was he able to make a
successful appeal to Pope Anastasius IV and return in triumph to York.
Enormous crowds gathered on a bridge over the River Ouse as William arrived.
The bridge collapsed. Fortunately no one was injured, and this was taken as a
sign of good things to come. William, however, had reached the end of his
mild and conciliatory towards his enemies, but within a few months he was
dead, perhaps, it was rumored, from poison at the hands of Osbert, the new
archdeacon of York. He was well liked by the people, and the rumored murder
doubtless contributed to a popular demand for his canonization (Attwater,
Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Born: late eleventh
Died: June 1154; buried in
the cathedral of York, England
Canonization: March 18,
1226 by Pope Honorius III; the investigation was led by the Cistercians,
including the abbot of Fountains who supported the canonization
Saint William is depicted in the episcopal insignia on many windows in York,
England. He might be shown (1) on a shield with eight lozenges near him; (2)
crossing the Ouse Bridge; (3) on horseback, received by the Mayor at Mickelgate
Bar; (4) kneeling to kiss the cross at the entrance to York Minster; or (5) as a
tonsured monk praying in the wilderness with a holy dove nearby (Roeder).
St. William, you were chosen by
God to be Archbishop of York, but were unjustly accused of simony. You were
election was opposed by many in favor of another. Even through all this, you
never took your eyes off of Christ and his will for you. You devoted yourself
to a life of prayer and mortification. After many years, you were finally
restored to the See that was rightfully yours. Instead of reserving spite, you
showed the utmost amount of forgiveness and love for those who had before been
in opposition to your election. Please help us to follow your example of
perseverance and forgiveness so that we may forgive our transgressors and always
persevere in the Lordís will. Amen.
Stephen McKenna, Community of
(Also known as Sitha as Citha)
body of St. Zita in the basilica of San Frediano; Lucca, Italy
Feast Day: April 27
heavenly patroness of domestic servants, born early in the thirteenth
century of a
poor family at Montsegradi, a little village near Lucca, in Tuscany;
died at Lucca, 27 April, 1271. A naturally happy disposition and the teaching of
virtuous mother, aided by Divine grace, developed in the child's soul
that sweetness and modesty of
character and continual and conscientious application to work which
constituted her especial
virtues. At the age of twelve she entered the service of the
Fatinelli family of
Lucca. Her piety and the exactitude with which she discharged her
domestic duties, in which she regarded herself as serving God rather than
man, even supplying the deficiencies of her fellow servants, far from
gaining for her their love and esteem and that of her employers rather brought
upon her every manner of ill-treatment of both the former and, through their
accusations, of the latter. The incessant ill-usage, however, was powerless to
deprive her of her inward peace, her love of those who wronged her, and her
respect for her employers. By this meek and humble self-restraint she at last
succeeded in overcoming the malice of her fellow-servants and her employers, so
much so that she was placed in charge of all the affairs of the house.
In her position of command
over all the servants she treated all with kindness, not exacting from them any
reckoning for the wrongs she had for so many years suffered from them. She was
always circumspect, and only severe when there was a question of checking the
vice among the servants. On the other hand, if any of them had been
guilty of shortcomings, she took upon herself to excuse or defend them to their
employers. Using the ample authority given her by her employers, she was
generous in almsgiving, but careful to assist only those really in need. St.
Zita died peacefully in the Fatinelli house on April 27, 1272. It is said that a
star appeared above the attic where she slept at the moment of her death. She
was 60 years old, and had served and edified the family for 48 years. By her
death, she was practically venerated by the family. After one hundred and fifty
miracles wrought in the behalf of such as had recourse to her intercession were
juridically proven, she was canonized in 1696. So that she came to be venerated
as a saint in the neighborhood of
Lucca, and the poets Fazio degli Uberti (Dittamonde, III, 6) and
Dante (Inferno, XI, 38) both designate the city of
Lucca simply as "Santa
Zita". The office in her honor was approved by Leo X.
In 1580 her tomb was
discovered in the Church of S. Frediano; thus was suggested the
solemn approbation of her cult, which was granted by Innocent XII
in 1696. The earliest biography of the saint is preserved in an anonymous
manuscript belonging to the Fatinelli family which was published at Ferrara in
Monsignor Fatinelli, "Vita beatf Zitf virginis Lucensis ex
vetustissimo codice manuscripto fideliter transumpta". For his fuller "Vita e
miracoli di S. Zita vergine lucchese" (Lucca, 1752) Bartolomeo Fiorito has used
this and other notices, especially those taken from the process drawn up to
prove the immemorial cult.
Born: 1218 at Monsagrati near Lucca, Italy
Died: April 27, 1272 at Lucca, Italy
Canonized: September 5, 1696 by Pope Leo X and Pope Innocent XII (cultus
Patronage: against losing keys, butlers, domestic servants, homemakers,
housemaids, lost keys, maids, manservants, people ridiculed for their piety,
rape victims, servants, single laywoman, waiters, wait persons, waitresses.
Representation: bag; keys; loaves; rosary; serving maid with a bag and keys
Prayer in honor of Saint
THE BALLAD OF SANTA ZITA
O Light of lights, Redeemer of mankind,
Whose glory most in
mercy shines displayed,
Concede Thy favor to my
Increase my feeble
memory with Thine aid,
My heart to-day some
fitting words would find,
To tell of Zita,
Lucca's holy maid:
That Christians all may
read her life, and how
She sleeps in old San
listen kindly, friends, and I will tell,
The story of our saint,
now raised so high:
And first I pray you to
Her birthplace . . . To
our city it lies nigh.
She who doth in the
eternal glory dwell,
With other virgin
saints above the sky,
Was born, long since,
in Lucca's happy state,
At Monsagrato, so old
in the year twelve hundred and eighteen
This noble flower
blossomed first on earth:
And in a poor man's
household was she seen,
A household poor in
gold, but rich in worth.
Her elder sister led a
Within a convent, ere
Saint Zita's birth.
Giovan Lombardo was the
A worthy parent of a
mother was so good, that every day
She loved her better,
seeing how she grew
In fear of God, and
walking in His way
childhood, with devotion true.
Prayer was her great
delight, she loved to stay
In church alone, and
dream of all she knew
Of how God lived on
earth, and how He died;
Until her heart could
hold no dream beside.
passed, the girl grew older, well content
To do God's work,
whate'er that work might be.
Her brightest hours on
her knees were spent,
And little thought of
worldly things had she.
One day to saddening
care her mind was lent:
'I eat my father's
bread, he works for me!'
She raised her heart in
prayer: 'O Lord', she said,
'To Lucca let me go,
and earn my bread'.
He who hears in secret, heard that prayer:
For both her parents
came, the selfsame day,
And asked her,
'Daughter, would'st thou now prepare
As servant in a noble
house to stay?
For since to serve the
Lord is all thy care,
In Lucca hath He marked
thee out thy way.
There may'st thou live,
there labor and there die'.
'Thank God! So be it!'
Zita made reply.
reached the house for Zita's home designed,
And Casa Fantinelli was
A family of noble life
Dwelt in it, when the
saintly maiden came.
Just to their servants,
- to the needy, kind.
With them her life
could pass, almost the same
As with her parents.
She, rejoiced indeed,
Gave thanks to God who
did such grace concede.
twelve years old she did to
And ever after in that
house she stayed,
With love unwearied,
which no change could know:
Her master's word she
A humble mind her very
looks might show,
So poor was all the
dress of this poor maid!
The meanest garment
pleased her best to wear,
And all the whole year
round her feet were bare.
er master and her mistress orders gave,
That Zita should in all
things have her way;
Left all in Zita's hand
to spend or save,
And told her, 'Do for
us as best you may!'
And she, with care, and
with attention grave,
Gave heed that nought
were lost or thrown away;
But many things which
wasted were before,
She gathered up, and
gave them to the poor.
he noble family with whom she dwelt,
Did many garments give
for Zita's wear:
For all within the
house great kindness felt
For her who served them
with such loving care.
She thanked them
humbly, yet her heart would melt,
For longing with the
poor such gifts to share.
And as she could, in
secret, day by day,
For love of God she
gave the best away.
often through the country far she sought,
If any sick in lonely
She helped them in
their need, and to them brought
Of her own food, the
best her hand could find:
And clothed them with
her garments, caring nought
For cold or hunger, but
with willing mind
Gave all, and did her
chiefest pleasure take,
In toil and hardship
for the dear Lord's sake.
So would she visit in her loving care,
The hospital, and all
who in it lay;
Or those in prison
would her kindness share;
Or to some church, it
might be far away,
At times with thankful
heart she would repair,
Where, all unseen,
unnoticed, she could pray.
For more she loved to
be with God alone,
Than have by others her
every morning, when but first awake,
To San Frediano
straight her way she made,
For early matins, ere
the day could break
('Twas near the house
where she as servant stayed)
Her place there in a
corner she would take,
And listen till the
Service all was said.
In holy contemplation
'Twas time her morning
duties to fulfill.
chanced one day, - and only one, 'tis said, -
That Zita lingered,
being lost in prayer,
And quite forgot she
had not made the bread,
Which on that morning
should have been her care.
Till, service over, as
she homeward sped,
She recollected and
would now repair
Her error, so ran
quickly all the way,
To make the
bread , which must be baked that day.
But on the
table what did she behold?
loaves all there, a cloth above them laid.
At sight of which was Zita much consoled,
Not doubting but her mistress had them
But no, the house was silent; young and
Had slept, while Zita in the church
She could but thank her Lord, with heart
Who by His angels had this favor sent.
fest, 'twas the day when Christ was born,
When most in church all
Christians love to meet;
An ice-cold wind, that
freezing winter morn,
Made all men go with
heads down, in the street.
When Zita, with her
garment poor and worn,
But heart all glowing
with devotion sweet,
Set out for matins ere
the break of day,
Her master called her
back, and bade her stay.
sad she was to lose the morning prayer,
On Christmas day of all
days, and did so
Entreat her master,
though the snow-filled air
Was piercing cold. At
length he let her go.
But taking off the
cloak himself did wear,
He did it kindly on her
'Wear this', he said,
'what time thou wilt remain
In church, but bring it
safe to me again'.
he thanked her master, and with heart content,
Set off for church amid
the driving storm;
With soul uplifted,
praying as she went;
And in these words her
prayer at length took form.
'O Lord, behold the
cloak my master lent;
Too fine it is for me,
too soft and warm;
Forgive me if I wear it
on the night
When Thou didst leave
Thy glory and Thy light.
night when Thou was born on earth so poor,
To give us peace; but,
Lord, 'tis not my will,
Thou knowest I would
More than this cold,
Thy pleasure to fulfill!
So help me, keep me in
Thy love secure!'
Just then the church
she entered, praying still,
And by the door a
beggar, weak and old,
In scanty garments
stood, half dead with cold.
looked awhile, her heart with pity led,
Then called him,
saying, 'Brother, come to me'
Come, take this cloak,
and wear it in my stead;
It is not mine, or I
would give it thee.
Then kneel beside me
till the prayers be said;
Pray with me, and God's
love shall with us be.
Then matins over, I
would much desire
To lead thee home and
warm thee by our fire'.
said no more; her gown was old and thin,
Her feet were bare, but
little did she heed:
And, praying fervently,
did soon begin
To feel her heart and
spirit warm indeed
For thinking how, when
we were lost in sin,
The Lord Himself had
pity on our need,
And how for us, on just
so cold a day,
Himself on earth, a
new-born infant lay.
matins over and the Mass as well,
As home from church the
people turned once more,
She sought the beggar,
but it now befell
The sacristan made
haste to shut the door.
She waited, but he came
not, strange to tell!
She sought him, as she
never sought before;
For she would lead him
to her fire, and then
Would give her master
back his cloak again.
church was closed, she had not seen him pass,
She searched the street
in trouble and dismay:
'No doubt while I was
waiting at the Mass,
Some one who saw me'
(thus did Zita say)
'Went home and told my
master, and, alas!
He sent in haste and
took the cloak away.
The beggar must have
suffered much, and now
Has gone home cold and
frightened, who knows how.
said she (while new terror filled her breast),
'O Lord, I pray Thee do
not me forsake!
Perhaps 'tis lost, and
all must be confessed,
And I shall have but
poor excuse to make.
Oh, help me! I can have
nor peace nor rest
Until I find, and to my
The cloak which,
wrongly, I the beggar lent!'
heavy-hearted, home she went.
just as Zita, trembling, passed the door,
Her master met her, and
with searching eye
He looked to see if
still the cloak she wore:
'Twas gone! at which
his anger rose so high,
With bitter words he
did his rage outpour,
And sharp reproof,
while she made no reply.
But while in loud and
angry voice he spoke,
Behold appear the
beggar with the cloak!
thanking Zita kindly, as he might,
Gave back the cloak
like one in haste to go-
His face all changed,
and shone with heavenly light,
And lighted hers, with
its reflected glow.
They tried to speak,
but he had passed from sight.
No beggar he, of those
that walk below!
Great comfort he left
their hearts within,
An angel of the Lord
had with them been.
continues with a further episode where Zita draws water from the well for a
pilgrim - and it is wine. Finally, after a long life in service, for which she
came to be greatly honored, she lies dying, first receiving the Last
very hour in which her spirit fled,
Young children through
the town began to say
(Before they heard),
'The blessed Zita's dead!'
And crowd about the
house wherein she lay.
A star appeared, and
did much radiance shed,
O'er Casa Fantinelli at
Which was to all a
clear and certain sign
Her soul had joined the
hardly could they bear her to her grave,
The crowd of mourning
people was so great;
Some thronged her
chamber, one more look to crave,
While others did in San
To kiss her hand, or
some memorial save,
Their sorrow to console
Her very garments in
the press were torn
That each might have
some fragment she had worn.
now to end my tale, I must relate,
'Twas April on the
And in the year twelve
That she from earth to
heaven was borne away.
Which day returning,
still we celebrate;
And let each faithful
soul due honor pay
To her whose life has
made the way so plain,
The blessed country of
our hope to gain.
Indeed, come to Lucca on April 27. For on that day the humble servant girl,
grown old, is laid in state in her church of San Frediano (and he was an Irish
pilgrim who converted Lucca to Christianity), in a crystal coffin. One brings
bunches of sweet-smelling, blessed narcissi, laying them against the glass, then
walks about the ancient Romanesque town filled with glorious churches, flower
stalls everywhere and the perfume of the narcissi about one. Everywhere are
paintings, medieval ones, Renaissance ones, eighteenth-century ones, with scenes
of other miracles of St Zita's life, such as the one where she beats the devil
with her broom to rescue from his clutches some terrified child. Lucca has
three patron saints, St Martin, the soldier, who is shown on the Cathedral
cutting his cloak in half for the beggar with his sword, San Frediano, the
priest, from Ireland, and this local servant girl, - and she is the greatest of
the three. Lucca is always fascinating, but on that day it is glorious and one
walks in a dream, time being no more.
Fourteen Holy Helpers
A group of
saints invoked with special confidence because they have proven
themselves efficacious helpers in adversity and difficulties, are known
and venerated under the name Fourteen Holy Helpers. Devotion to these
fourteen as a group spread in response to the Black Plague which
devastated Europe from 1346 to 1349. Among its symptoms were the tongue
turning black, a parched throat, violent headache, fever, and boils on
the abdomen. It attacked without warning, robbed its victims of reason,
and killed within a few hours; many died without the last Sacraments.
Brigands roamed the roads, people suspected of contagion were attacked,
animals died, people starved, whole villages vanished into the grave,
social order and family ties broke down, and the disease appeared
incurable. The pious turned to Heaven, begging the intervention of the
saints, praying to be spared or cured. This group devotion began in
Germany--the Diocese of Wurzburg having been renowned for its
observance. Pope Nicholas V attached indulgences to devotion of the
Fourteen Holy Helpers in the 16th century.
Saint Christopher and Saint Giles were invoked
against the plague itself. Saint Denis was prayed to for relief from
headache, Saint Blaise for ills of the throat, Saint Elmo, for abdominal
maladies, Saint Barbara for fever, and Saint Vitus against epilepsy.
Saint Pantaleon was the patron of physicians, Saint Cyriacus invoked
against temptation on the deathbed, and Saints Christopher, Barbara, and
Catherine for protection against a sudden and unprovided-for death.
Saint Giles was prayed to for a good confession, and Saint Eustace as
healer of family troubles. Domestic animals were also attacked by the
plague, and so Saints George, Elmo, Pantaleon, and Vitus were invoked
for their protection. Saint Margaret of Antioch is the patron of safe
The legends of the Fourteen Holy Helpers are
replete with the most glorious examples of heroic firmness and
invincible courage in the profession of the Faith, which ought to incite
us to imitate their fidelity in the performance of the Christian and
social duties. If they, with the aid of God's grace, achieved such
victories, why should not we, by the same aid, be able to accomplish the
little desired of us? God rewarded His victorious champions with eternal
bliss; the same crown is prepared for us, if we but render ourselves
worthy of it. God placed the seal of miracles on the intrepid confession
of His servants; and a mind imbued with the spirit of faith sees nothing
extraordinary therein, because our divine Saviour Himself said, "Amen,
amen I say to you, he that believeth in Me, the works that I do, he also
shall do, and greater than these shall he do" (John xiv. 12). In all the
miraculous events wrought in and by the saints, there appears only the
victorious omnipotent power of Jesus Christ, and the living faith in
which His servants operated in virtue of this power.
The histories of the saints are called Legends.
This word is derived from the Latin, and signifies something that is to
be read, a passage the reading of which is prescribed. The legends of
the saints are the lives of the holy martyrs and confessors of the
Faith. Some of them occur in the Roman Breviary which the Catholic
clergy is obliged to read every day.
Litany of the Fourteen Holy
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, queen of martyrs, pray for us*
St. Joseph, helper in all needs,*
Fourteen Holy Helpers,*
St. George, valiant martyr of Christ,*
St. Blase, zealous bishop and benefactor of the poor,*
St. Erasmus, mighty protector of the oppressed,*
St. Pantaleon, miraculous exemplar of charity,*
St. Vitus, special protector of chastity,*
St. Christophorus, mighty intercessor in dangers,*
St. Dionysius, shining mirror of faith and confidence,*
St. Cyriacus, terror of hell,*
St. Achatius, helpful advocate in death,*
St. Eustachius, exemplar of patience in adversity,*
St. Giles, despiser of the world,*
St. Margaret, valiant champion of the Faith,*
St. Catherine, victorious defender of the Faith and of purity,*
St. Barbara, mighty patroness of the dying,*
All ye Holy Helpers,*
All ye saints of God,*
In temptations against faith,*
In adversity and trials,*
In anxiety and want,*
In every combat,*
In every temptation,*
In all needs,*
In fear and terror,*
In dangers of salvation,*
In dangers of honor,*
In dangers of reputation,*
In dangers of property,*
In dangers by fire and water,*
Be merciful, spare us, O Lord!
Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Lord!
From all sin, Deliver us, O Lord.**
From Thy wrath,**
From the scourge of earthquake,**
From plague, famine, and war,**
From lightning and storms,**
From a sudden and unprovided death,**
From eternal damnation,**
Through the mystery of Thy holy incarnation,**
Through Thy birth and Thy life,**
Through Thy cross and passion,**
Through Thy death and burial,**
Through the merits of Thy blessed Mother Mary,**
Through the merits of the Fourteen Holy Helpers,**
On the Day of Judgment, deliver us, O Lord!**
We sinners, beseech Thee, hear us.**
That Thou spare us, We beseech Thee, hear us.***
That Thou pardon us,***
That Thou convert us to true penance,***
That Thou give and preserve the fruits of the earth,***
That Thou protect and propagate Thy holy Church,***
That Thou preserve peace and concord among the nations, ***
That Thou give eternal rest to the souls of the departed,***
That Thou come to our aid through the intercession of the Holy Helpers,
That through the intercession of St. George Thou preserve us in the Faith,
That through the intercession of St. Blase Thou confirm us in hope, ***
That through the intercession of St. Erasmus Thou enkindle in us Thy holy
That through the intercession of St. Pantaleon Thou give us charity for
That through the intercession of St. Vitus Thou teach us the value of our
That through the intercession of St. Christophorus Thou preserve us from
That through the intercession of St. Dionysius Thou give us tranquillity
of conscience, ***
That through the intercession of St. Cyriacus Thou grant us resignation to
Thy holy will,***
That through the intercession of St. Eustachius Thou give us patience in
That through the intercession of St. Achatius Thou grant us a happy death,
That through the intercession of St. Giles Thou grant us a merciful
That through the intercession of St. Margaret Thou preserve us from hell,
That through the intercession of St. Catherine Thou shorten our purgatory,
That through the intercession of St. Barbara Thou receive us in heaven,
That through the intercession of all the Holy Helpers Thou wilt grant our
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us, O Lord.
V. Pray for us, ye Fourteen Holy Helpers.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promise of Christ.
Let us Pray
Almighty and eternal
God, who hast bestowed extraordinary graces and gifts on Thy saints
George, Blase, Erasmus, Pantaleon, Vitus, Christophorus, Dionysius,
Cyriacus, Eustachius, Achatius, Giles, Margaret, Catherine, and Barbara,
and hast illustrated them by miracles; we beseech Thee to graciously
hear the petitions of all who invoke their intercession. Through Christ
our Lord. Amen.
O God, who didst
miraculously fortify the Fourteen Holy Helpers in the confession of the
Faith; grant us, we beseech Thee, to imitate their fortitude in
overcoming all temptations against it, and protect us through their
intercession in all dangers of soul and body, so that we may serve Thee
in purity of heart and chastity of body. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Fourteen Holy Helpers,
who served God in humility and confidence on earth and are now in the
enjoyment of His beatific vision in heaven; because you persevered till
death you gained the crown of eternal life. Remember the dangers that
surround us in this vale of tears, and intercede for us in all our needs
and adversities. Amen.
Fourteen Holy Helpers,
select friends of God, I honor you as mighty intercessors, and come with
filial confidence to you in my needs, for the relief of which I have
undertaken to make this novena. Help me by your intercession to placate
God's wrath, which I have provoked by my sins, and aid me in amending my
life and doing penance. Obtain for me the grace to serve God with a
willing heart, to be resigned to His holy will, to be patient in
adversity and to persevere unto the end, so that, having finished my
earthly course, I may join you in heaven, there to praise for ever God,
who is wonderful in His saints. Amen.