Friday, November 03, 2017

The Feast of All Saints 2017: the Virgin Mary, Model of the Saints

From the Roman Breviary of 1529, the continuation of the sermon for the feast of All Saints.

We must certainly believe that the blessed Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary, the temple of God, the shrine of the Holy Spirit, Virgin before, during and after the birth (of Her son), has a part in the present solemnity, along with the (other) virgins. By her actions she admonished the people of God to disdain the luxuries of the world that passeth away, to turn aside from the allurements of our mortal nature, to preserve within the heart the purity of the body with the honor of virginity; and by her examples she affirms that she is the queen of all virtues, the delight of perpetual salvation, and the companion of the Angels. And thus an innumerable multitude of both sexes has followed in Her footsteps, and abandoning the union of matrimony and the begetting of children, have chosen to be joined to the eternal Spouse in Heaven in mind and action, habit and deed, devoting themselves to prayers, keeping fasts, loving the sacred vigils, offering alms, refreshing the poor, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, rejoicing in tribulation, suffering from words of calumny and insult, humble in the increase of their (religious) profession, giving thanks to God in the loss of temporal things. For the desire of the kingdom of Heaven, and because of the hope of eternal reward, with most fervent love they pursue these and like things, unfailingly and willingly. And thus, persevering in the love of God and of their neighbors, they rejoice to end their life for God alone.

Virgo inter Virgines, by Gerard David, ca. 1509; Musée des Beaux Arts de Rouen. From left to right: St Dorothy with a basket of roses and the painter behind her; St Catherine of Alexandria, with her wheel worked into her crown as a decoration; St Agnes, with a lamb, and her foster-sister St Emerentiana behind her; St Fausta with a saw, (the instrument of her martyrdom); St Apollonia with the tongs used to pull out her teeth; St Godelina with the scarf her husband used to have her strangled; St Cecilia beside an organ; St Barbara, with her tower worked into her hat as a decoration; Cornelia Cnoop, the painters wife; St Lucy holding her eyes. (A high resolution image with close-up is available here on the museum’s website.)

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