Sunday, February 4, 2018

Saint Andrew Corsini, Bishop and Confessor

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The saintly bishop whose feast we keep today pressingly invites us, by his austere life and his burning zeal for the salvation of souls, to procure at all costs our own reconciliation with the divine justice. We are indebted for this feast to a member of the illustrious family of the Corsini, Pope Clement XII, who, however, was but the instrument used by divine Providence. The holy bishop of the little town of Fiesole ever sought to be unknown during his life, and God, who willed that he should be glorified by the whole Church, inspired the sovereign Pontiff to inscribe his name among the saints of the universal calendar. Andrew the saint was once a sinner; his example will encourage us in the work of our conversion.

Let us read the account of his virtues as given us by the Church.

Andream Florentiæ ex nobili Corsinorum familia natum parentes precibus a Deo impetrarunt, et beatæ Virgini spoponderunt. Qualis autem futurus esset, divino præsagio, antequam nasceretur, ostensum est: nam mater gravida sibi visa est per quietem lupum edidisse, qui, ad Carmelitarum ædem pergens, in ipso templi vestibulo statim in agnum conversus est. Adolescens pie et ingenue educatus, cum sensim ad vitia declinaret, sæpe a matre increpatus fuit. Ubi autem cognovit, se parentum voto Deiparæ Virgini dicatum fuisse, Dei amore succensus, deque visu matris admonitus, Carmelitarum institutum amplexus est, in quo variis tentationibus a dæmone vaxatus, numquam tamen potuit a religionis proposito dimoveri. Mox Lutetiam missus, emenso studiorum curriculo, et laurea donatus in patriam revocatur, suique Ordinis regimini in Etruria præficitur.

Andrew was born at Florence, of the noble Corsini family. He was the fruit of his parents’ prayers, and was consecrated by them to the blessed Virgin. His future was thus shown by God to the mother. She dreamt that she had given birth to a wolf, which went to the church of the Carmelites, and, as it crossed the threshold, was suddenly changed into a lamb. Though his early education was calculated to form him to piety, and to everything that suited his high birth, he, by degrees, fell into a vicious manner of life, notwithstanding the frequent reproaches made him by his mother. But as soon as he was told that he had been consecrated by his parents to the Virgin Mother of God, and heard of his mother’s vision, he entered the Order of Carmelites. The devil ceased not to molest him, even then, with manifold temptations; but nothing could make him change his resolution of entering the religious life. Shortly after his profession, he was sent to Paris for a course of study; having completed it, and taken his degrees, he returned to Italy, and was made superior of his Order in the province of Tuscany.

Interea Fesulana Ecclesia suo viduata pastore eum sibi episcopum elegit: quo munere se indignum æstimans, diu latuit ignotus, donec pueri voce mirabiliter loquentis proditus, et extra urbem inventus, ne divinæ contradiceret voluntati episcopatum suscepit. Ea dignitate auctus, humilitate, quam seniper colucrat, impensius incubuit et pastorali solicitudini, misericordiam in pauperes, liberalitatem, orationis assiduitatem, vigilias, aliasque virtutes adjunxit, et spiritu etiam prophetico clarus fuit, adeo et ejus sanctitas ab omnibus celebraretur.

It happened about that time, that the Church of Fiesole lost its bishop, and Andrew was chosen as his successor. But looking on himself as unworthy of such a dignity, he hid himself so that no one knew where he was. But a child, who had not yet received the use of speech, miraculously revealed the place, outside the town, where he was: upon which the saint, fearing the further refusal would be a resistance to the divine will, was consecrated bishop. Thus exalted to so great a dignity, he applied himself more than ever to the practice of humility, which had always been his favorite virtue. To the zeal of a good pastor, he united tender compassion for the poor, abundant almsgiving, a life of prayer, long watchings, and other virtues; all which, together with the gift of prophecy he had received, gained for him a great reputation for sanctity.

His permotos Urbanus quinqud ad sedandas Bononiæ turbas Andream legatum misit: quo in munere multa perpessus, civium odia, quæ ad internecionem exarserant, summa prudentia restinxit; tum restituta tranquillitate ad propria reversus est. Nec multo post assiduis laboribus, et voluntaria carnis maceratione confectus, obitus die a beata Virgine sibi prædicto, ad cœlestia regna migravit, anno Domini millesimo trecentesimo septuagesimo tertio, ætatis suæ septuagesimo primo. Quem Urbanus octavus multis magnisque miraculis clarum, sanctorum numero adscripsit. Ejus corpus Florentiæ in ecclesia sui Ordinis quiescit, et maxima civium veneratione colitur: quibus non semel in præsenti discrimine præsidio fuit.

Pope Urban V, hearing of his great merits, sent him as his legate to Bologna, that he might quell a sedition that had arisen in that city. The fulfilment of this charge cost him much suffering; but such was his prudence, that he succeeded in restoring peace among the citizens, and so preventing further bloodshed; he then returned to Fiesole. Not long after this, being worn out be ceaseless labors and bodily mortifications, and having been told by the blessed Virgin of the precise day of his death, he passed from this life to the kingdom of heaven, in the year of our Lord thirteen hundred and seventy three, and in the seventy-first year of his age. Great was the reputation of his name on account of the many and wonderful miracles wrought through his intercession, and at length he was canonized by Urban VIII. His body reposes in the church of his Order at Florence, where it is held in great veneration, the citizens having often experienced his protection in times of public calamity.

Hear, O holy pontiff, our prayer: we are sinners, and would learn from thee how we are to return to the God we have offended. His mercy was poured out upon thee; obtain the same for us. Have pity on Christians throughout the world, for the grace of repentance is now being offered to all; pray for us, that we may be filled with the spirit of compunction. We have sinned; we sue for pardon; intercession like thine can win it for us. From wolves, change us into lambs. Strengthen us against our enemies; obtain for us an increase of the virtue of humility, which thou hadst in such perfection; and intercede for us with our Lord, that He crown our efforts with perseverance, as He did thine; that thus we may be enabled to unite with thee in singing forever the praises of our Redeemer.

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