Tag Archives: saints

Another Founding Father: Cardinal Robert Bellarmine

Saint Robert Bellarmine

Saint Robert Bellarmine

On this 4th of July we should thank the Lord for the gift of the great Counter-Reformation saint, Saint Robert Bellarmine, who influenced the development of our understanding of human rights.
This essay gives us an insight into the political foundations of self-government expressed by the Roman Catholic cardinal two centuries prior to the foundation of our nation. If you scroll down to the end of the essay the author poses this question, how influential was Cardinal Bellarmine on our founding fathers through his writings communicated through Robert Filmer, who was a critic of the Counter-Reformation understanding of self-government?


Sunday Afterwords: Saints and Dragons

Icon of John the Baptist. This Byzantine icon, which dates to about 1300 A.D., is currently at the Chrysler Museum of Art.

Icon of John the Baptist. This Byzantine icon, which dates to about 1300 A.D., is currently at the Chrysler Museum of Art.

When we walk into the icon exhibit at the Chrysler museum we are greeted with the words of Saint John of Damascus: “Visible things are images of invisible and intangible things, on which they throw a faint light.”

Who was Saint John of Damascus? This Doctor of the Church wrote treatises on the veneration of the icons against the iconoclastic Byzantine emperor. The Seventh Ecumenical Council, held in 787, upheld the teaching espoused by Saint John in these words, “Icons are to be kept in churches and honored with the same relative veneration as is shown to other material symbols, such as the precious and life-giving cross and the book of the Gospels”.

When we first walk into the exhibit we encounter art that is Christian art but in a form that is unfamiliar to many Western Christians. However, icons are a part of the fulness of the patrimony of the Christian faith whose art embraces both the Orthodox east and the Latin west. This video will give you some insight into what an icon is and how it functions in the liturgy. Icons have a part in revealing the truth of the Christian mystery, within the Liturgy of the eastern church.

On December 19 from 1 to 3 pm, in the Kaufman Theater in the Chrysler Museum, there will be an event: “Sound of the Saints: Celebrate St. Nicholas and the holiday season with an enlightening Saints and Dragons presentation and a special choral performance. The Rev. George Bessinas of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral presents an illustrated talk about Orthodox traditions involving icons. Following his presentation will be a musical performance, in English and in Greek, from the cathedral’s chanters, choir, and youth choir.”

As Christmas approaches, a visit to this exhibit would be a wonderful way to prepare spiritually for the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord.

Unterwegs mit Hildegard

On the way with Hildegard. Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was recently declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict. She had a broad knowledge of the Bible, theology, philosophy and natural history. Her rich knowledge of the church fathers and the desert fathers of Egypt were an inexhaustible source of inspiration and formed the basis of her work. God granted her visions which she set down in the book called the Scivias. So, inspired by this saint, I set about exploring her life in Bingen.

Just as Saint Hildegard held the people of her day spellbound so too I am held spellbound by her as I walk the streets of Bingen and reconstruct in my mind her life.





At age 14 she she was given over to Jutta of Sponheim to receive an education.

After a long and bitter dispute in Disibodenberg in 1150 she moved her abbey to Rupertsberg which is accross the river Nahe from Bingen. The Abbey was destroyed by the Swedes in the 30 years war. Here is a model.

Although little remains today of the abbey there are some excavations so you can stand under her monastery church.

When the abbey was destroyed by the Swedish Protestants the sisters escaped with her relics which are today housed in the church of Eibingen. The second monastery Saint Hildegard established in Eibingen across from the first monastery in Bingen. This was destroyed in the bombings but rebuilt (and houses her relics).

In 1165 she moved across the Rhine river and resettled the monastery of Eibingen. Today the parish church remains.

Monastery of Saint Hildegard built in 1904. It is a very active benedictine monastery. They are lovely and observe the office in Latin chant.

In 1803 the convent at Eibingen was disolved in the course of secularization. Bishop Blum was driven from his office by the Prussian State and given refuge by Prince Karl in Bohemia. His successor worked with the Prince to revive the old convent in Eibingen. And he built the new convent so in 1904 moved from Prague and in 1908 the abbey was vested with all the privileges of the former Abbey of Hildegard.

The interior is striking.

So thanks to the efforts of Prince Karl the monastic tradition of Saint Hildegard flourishes where it all begin. Spending these days walking through the streets in Bingen and Rudesheim and through the surrounding countryside was a moment where I felt the presence of this holy woman who had such a passionate love for God and the world he created.

Model of monastery at Rupertsberg


A relief (color) of Hildegard dying.

The sisters work their vineyards and sell their wine along with religious goods.

Recommended Reading, Lenten Meditations

Ash Wednesday will be here very soon, on March 5, and we will be in Lent. It is a good time to take stock of where we are spiritually, but a better time to go deeper spiritually. The Catholic Church provides many ways for us to do that: fasting, abstinence from meat, Mass on Ash Wednesday, and so on. You are very much encouraged to come to daily Mass. Schedules do not always allow for that, though, so perhaps a book of short meditations that you could pick up at the end of a busy day would be helpful. Here are some recommended books. The Aquinas can be read online free of charge. The others are available various formats including Kindle.

Meditations for Lent, by Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

Aquinas’ Lenten Meditations

Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches, by George Weigel

At the Foot of the Cross – Gerald Vann, an English Dominican
7 lessons of Mary for the Sorrowing Heart

The Seven Last Words of Jesus by Romanus Cessario, OP