First Published in 1868.
TAN Books and Publishers
Examples Relating to The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
1. St. Isidore was hired by a wealthy farmer to cultivate his farm. He would, however, never begin to work in the morning before he had heard Mass. He was accused by some of his fellow-laborers to his master of staying too long in the church and of being always too late at work. His master, to convince himself of the truth of the accusation, went out early in the morning to see whether Isidore came in due time to the farm-----but how great was his astonishment when he beheld two Angels dressed in white, ploughing with two yoke of oxen, and St. Isidore in their midst. From this time forward Isidore was held in great veneration by the wealthy farmer and by all who heard of the fact.
2. The following event was related to me by one of our Fathers, in whose native country it took place: In the year 1828 or 1829, a young man traveled through Switzerland. When he came to Zurich, he fell dangerously ill. Being a Catholic, he begged the hotel-keeper to send for a Catholic priest. "I will send for one," said he. Meanwhile, he agreed with two other guests of his to play the priest with two servers. Accordingly, he went to the young man and heard his confession, after which he received from him some money as a little present, with the request that he should say three Holy Masses. After this criminal action, he left the young man, went with the other companions into another room, saying to them: "Come, let us go and say the three Masses," meaning thereby that they would drink three bottles of wine.
They sat down at table, and having emptied one bottle, said: "Behold, one Mass already said." Having emptied the second bottle, they cried out with great laughter: "Now, two Masses are said." God did not long withhold His revenge. No sooner had they drunk the third bottle of wine than all three of them suddenly died-----turning as black as coal. This dreadful event became known amongst the people. The civil magistrate interfered; they locked up the room, leaving therein the three black corpses for the space of 26 days, in order to make a minute examination of the case. This is a well known fact in that city, and in the neighboring provinces.
3. St. Anthony, Archbishop of Florence, relates that two young men went hunting on a holy day of obligation. Only one of them took care to hear Mass previously. Not long after they had started, a frightful thunderstorm came on, and a flash of lightning instantly killed the one who had not heard Mass. The other young man was panic-stricken at this, especially as he had heard at the same time a voice saying, "Strike him too." A little after, he felt encouraged by another voice, which said, "I cannot strike him, because he heard Mass this morning." (Ant. II, p. Theologiae ix., C. 10).
4. We read of St. Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal, that she gave orders to her almoner never to refuse an alms to a poor person; besides, she herself would often give alms and employed several of her domestics to do the same. She especially chose for this charitable office one of her pages, because she had noticed in him a more than usual piety. He never omitted hearing Mass every day. Now it happened that another page, through envy, accused him to the King of too much familiarity with the Queen. The King became enraged; without further examination, he gave orders to a certain person who had the care of a furnace, to throw into it the first of his pages that would go to the place, and immediately make known to him the result. He then sent the page who had been accused to the place in which the furnace was. On his way, the page heard the bell for Mass and waited to assist at the Holy Sacrifice. Not hearing immediately what he expected from the person employed at the furnace, the King sent the other page to see what had happened. The miserable accuser, being the first who arrived, was cast into the furnace and burned alive. The innocent page afterwards appeared, and being reproved by the King for not having promptly obeyed his order, said that he had stopped on his way to hear Mass. The King began to suspect the accusation to be false, sought for better information, and discovered the innocence of the devout page. (Chron. S. Fr., P. 2, Lib. 8, C. 28).
5. Three merchants prepared to travel together from the city of Gubbio. One of them wished to hear Mass before his departure, but the others refused to wait for him, and set out by themselves. But when they arrived at the river Corfuone, which had swelled to a great height in consequence of the rain that fell during the night, the bridge gave way, and they were drowned. The third, who had waited to hear Mass, found the two companions dead on the bank of the river and thankfully acknowledged the grace which he had received on account of having assisted at Mass.
6. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, when, on account of his old age, he was no longer able to say Mass, had himself carried daily to the oratory in order to hear Mass. (Life by Ediner)
7. In the Chronicles of Spain, it is related of Paschalis Vivas, a celebrated general, that while he was hearing Mass in the Church of St. Martin, he was seen at the same time fighting in the battle against the King of Corduba and gaining a most splendid victory over the enemies, although he was not present in person when the engagement took place, his guardian Angel assuming his form and fighting in his place.
8. St. Basil would not finish Mass unless favored by a heavenly vision. Once this favor was denied him on account of a lascivious look of his assistant. The Saint then sent him away, whereupon the vision returned and he finished the Holy Sacrifice.
9. Paschasius relates that when St. Plegil said Mass, this holy priest would see Jesus Christ in the Consecrated Host under the form of a beautiful Child stretching out His arms as if to embrace him.
10. Once, at Easter, Pope Gregory I celebrated Mass in the Church of St. Maria Maggiore, and after he had said the words, Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum ["The peace of the Lord be with you always"], an Angel of the Lord answered in a loud voice, Et cum spiritu tuo ["And with your spirit"]. For this reason, when the Pope celebrates Mass on that day in the church and says, Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum, no answer is made. (Life by John the Deacon)
11. We read in the life of St. Oswald, Bishop, that an Angel would assist him at Mass and make all the necessary answers.
12. "My children," said the Cure of Ars one day, "you remember the story I told you of that holy priest who was praying for his friend. God had made known to him, it appears, that this friend was in Purgatory; it came into his mind that he could do nothing better than to offer the Holy Sacrifice of Mass for his Soul. When he came to the moment of Consecration, he took the Sacred Host in his hands and said: 'O, Holy and Eternal Father, let us make an exchange. Thou hast the Soul of my friend who is in Purgatory, and I have the Body of Thy Son Who is in my hands; well, do Thou deliver my friend, and I offer Thee Thy Son with all the merits of His death and passion.' In fact, at the moment of the Elevation, he saw the Soul of his friend rising to Heaven, all radiant with glory. Well, my children, when we want to obtain anything from the good God, let us do the same. After the Consecration, let us offer Him His well-beloved Son, with all the merits of His death and His passion. He will not be able to refuse us anything."
At the moment when the mother of St. Alexis recognized her own son in the lifeless body of the beggar who had lived 30 years under the staircase of her palace, she exclaimed, "O my son! Why have I known thee so late?" Thus the Soul, on quitting this life, will see Him Whom it possessed in the Holy Eucharist, and at the sight of the consolations, of the beauty, and of the riches that it failed to recognize, it will also exclaim: "O Jesus! O my God! Why have I known Thee so late!"
13. During the reign of the Emperor Galerius, 30 men and 17 women were arrested in the city of Aluta in Africa for having heard Mass, contrary to the orders of the Emperor. While on their way to Carthage, they never ceased singing hymns of praise in honor of God. When they arrived at Carthage, where they were to be tried before the Emperor, an officer of the guard said: "Behold, O Emperor, these impious Christians, whom we have arrested at Aluta for having heard Mass, contrary to the orders of your Majesty." The Emperor at once had one of them stripped of his clothes, placed on the rack and his flesh torn to pieces. Meanwhile, one of the Christians, Telica by name, cried out in a loud voice, "Why, O tyrant, do you put but one of us to the rack, while we are all Christians, and all of us heard Mass at the same time." At once the judge treated this one just as cruelly as the other, saying, "Who was the author of your meeting?" "Saturninus, the priest," replied the Christians, "and we all together; but you, O impious wretch, act most unjustly towards us. We are neither murderers nor robbers, nor have we done any harm." The judge said, "You should have obeyed your orders and remained away from your false worship." Telica replied, "I obey the orders of the true God, for which I am ready to die." Then, by the Emperor's orders, Telica was taken off the rack and thrown into prison.
After this, the brother of St. Victoria came forth accusing Datiorus for having taken his sister, Victoria, to Mass. But the Saint replied, "Not by the permission of man, but of my accord I went to hear Mass. I am a Christian, and as such I am bound to obey the laws of Christ." Her brother replied, "You are crazy and talk like a crazy woman." She said, "I am not crazy, but I am a Christian." The Emperor asked her, "Do you wish to return home with your brother?" She answered, "No, I will not; I take those for my brothers and sisters who are Christians like me and suffer for Jesus Christ." The Emperor said, "Save your life and follow your brother." She answered, "I will not leave my brothers and sisters, for I confess to you that I heard Mass with them and received Holy Communion." The judge then tried every means to make her apostatize, for she was very beautiful and the daughter of one of the noblest families of the city. When her parents wanted to force her to marry, she jumped out of the window and had her hair cut off. Then the judge addressed the priest Saturninus, saying, "Did you, contrary to our orders, call these Christians to a meeting?" The priest replied, "I called them in obedience to the law of God to meet for His service." The Emperor then asked, "Why did you do this?" Saturninus replied, "Because we are forbidden to stay away from Mass." "Are you, then, the author of this meeting?" asked the Emperor. "I am," said the priest, "and I myself said the Mass." Upon this, the priest was taken and put to the rack, and his flesh torn by sharp iron points, so much so that his entrails could be seen; finally, he was thrown into prison.
After this St. Emericus was tried. "Who are you?" he was asked. "I am the author of this meeting," he replied, "for the Mass was celebrated in my house." "Why did you," said the Emperor, "permit them, contrary to our orders, to enter your house?" "Because they are my brothers," said Emericus, "and we cannot do without Mass." Then his flesh was also mangled, after which he was led to prison to the other Martyrs.
The judge then said to the other Christians: "You have seen how your companions have been treated; I hope you will have pity on yourselves and save your lives." "We are all Christians," they cried out with one voice, "and we will keep the law of Christ, being ready to shed our blood for it." Then the iniquitous judge said to one of them, named Felix, "I do not ask you whether you are a Christian, but whether you were present at this meeting and heard Mass?" "What foolish question is this," replied Felix; "just as if Christians could do without Mass. Incarnate devil, I tell you that we were very devout at the meeting and prayed most fervently during the Holy Sacrifice." At these words, the tyrant felt so much enraged that he knocked the holy Martyr down and beat him till he expired. The remainder of the Christians were also thrown into prison, where they died from starvation. (Baronius).
14. It is related in the life of St. John a Facundo, O.S.A., that he was unusually long in saying his Mass. For this reason no one liked to serve it. His Prior told him that he must not be longer in saying his Mass than were the other priests. He tried to obey, but finding obedience in this point so extremely difficult, he begged his Prior to permit him to say his Mass in the same manner as formerly. After hearing his reasons, the Prior most willingly granted this permission. With John's leave, he told these reasons to the brothers of the convent. They were the following: "Believe me, " he said, "that Father John's Mass lasts so long because God bestows on him the privilege of seeing the mysteries of the Holy Sacrifice, which are so sublime that no human mind can understand them. Of these mysteries he told me things so sublime that I was overwhelmed with holy awe and was almost beside myself. Believe me, Jesus Christ shows Himself to this Father in a most wonderful manner, converses with him most sweetly and sends forth upon him from His wounds a heavenly light and splendor so refreshing for both body and soul that he might live without any other nourishment. Father John also sees the Body of Jesus Christ in its heavenly glory and beauty shining like a most brilliant sun. Now, considering how great and how unspeakably sublime the graces and favors are which men derive from saying Mass, or from hearing it, I have firmly resolved never to omit saying or hearing Mass, and will exhort others to do the same. " (Mensehen in Act. Sanct., Ad. xii., Diem Juni.)
15. Bollandus relates of St. Coleta that one day, when she was hearing the Mass of her confessor, she suddenly exclaimed at the Elevation: "My God! O Jesus! O ye Angels and Saints! O ye men and sinners, behold the great marvels!" After the Mass her confessor asked her why she had wept so bitterly and uttered such pitiable cries. "Had Your Reverence," she said, "heard and seen the things which I heard and saw, perhaps you would have wept and exclaimed more than I have done." "What was it that you saw?" asked her confessor further. "Although that which I heard and saw," she replied, "is so sublime and so Divine that no man can ever find words to express it in a becoming manner, yet I will endeavor to describe it to Your Reverence as well as my feeble language will permit.
"When Your Reverence was raising the Sacred Host, I saw Our Lord Jesus Christ as if hanging on the Cross, shedding His Blood, and praying to His heavenly Father in most lamentable accents: 'Behold, O My Father, in what condition I was once hanging on the Cross and suffering for the redemption of the world. Behold My wounds, My sufferings, My death; I have suffered all this in order that poor sinners might not be lost. But now Thou wilt send them to Hell for their sins. What good, then, will result from my sufferings and cruel death? Those damned souls, when in Hell, instead of thanking Me for My passion, will only curse Me for it; but should they be saved, they would bless Me for all eternity. I beseech Thee, My Father, to spare poor sinners and to forgive them for My sake; and for the sake of My passion, preserve them from being damned forever."
16. A most remarkable miracle happened at Walduren in the year 1330: A priest named Otto, during the celebration of his Mass, accidentally upset the chalice after the Consecration, and the Sacred Blood was spilt upon the corporal. All at once there appeared upon the corporal the figure of Jesus Christ hanging on the Cross, and around it twelve figures of the sacred head crowned with thorns and disfigured with Blood. The priest was frightened almost to death and endeavored to conceal the accident by hiding the corporal in the altar. When the priest was lying on his deathbed, his agony was unusually great and horrifying. Thinking that his great sufferings were caused on account of his having so concealed the corporal, he called for a priest, to whom he made his confession, asking him to look for the corporal, and giving him permission to reveal the miraculous fact. The corporal was found and forwarded to Pope Urban V, who confirmed the miracle as being authentic. This event is well known throughout Germany.
17. A similar miracle occurred during the time of Pope Urban IV, in the year 1263, at Vulsia, a town not far from Rome. A certain priest, having pronounced the words of Consecration over the bread at Mass, had a temptation against faith, the devil suggesting to him the doubt how Jesus Christ could be present in the Host when he could see nothing of Him. He consented to the temptation, but nevertheless continued saying the Mass. Now, at the Elevation of the Sacred Host, behold, he and all the people who were present saw Blood flowing abundantly from the Host down upon the altar. Some cried out: "O Sacred Blood! What does this mean? O Divine Blood! Who is the cause of Thy being shed?" Others prayed: "O Sacred Blood! Come down upon our souls and purify them from the stains of sin!" Others beat their breasts and shed tears of sorrow for their sins.
When Mass was over, the people all rushed to the sacristy in order to learn from the priest what had happened during his Mass. He showed them the corporal all stained with the Sacred Blood, and when they beheld it, they fell upon their knees imploring the Divine mercy. The miracle became known all over the country, and many persons hastened to Vulsia to see the miraculous corporal. Pope Urban IV called the priest thither, who came, confessed his sin, and showed the corporal. On beholding it, the Pope, Cardinals and all the clergy knelt down, adored the Blood and kissed the corporal. The Pope ordered a church to be built at Vulsia in honor of the Sacred Blood and ordered the corporal to be carried in solemn procession on the anniversary of the day on which the miracle occurred. (Platinas' Life of Urban IV)
18. St. Dominic was once saying Mass in London, England, in the presence of the King and Queen and 300 other persons. As he was making the Memento for the living, he suddenly became enraptured, remaining motionless for the space of a whole hour. All present were greatly astonished, and did not know what to think or to make of it. The King ordered the server to pull the priest's robe, that he might go on with his Mass. But on attempting to do so, the server became so terribly frightened that he was unable to comply with the King's order.
After an hour's time, St. Dominic was able to continue the Mass, when, behold! At the Elevation of the Sacred Host, the King and all who were present saw, instead of the Host in the hands of the priest, the Holy Infant Jesus, at the sight of which all experienced great interior joy. At the same time they beheld the Mother of God in great brilliancy and splendor and surrounded by twelve bright stars. She took the hand of her Divine Infant to bless with it all those who were present at the Mass. At this blessing many experienced an ineffable joy and shed tears of tenderness. At the Elevation of the chalice, everyone saw a Cross uprising from it, with Jesus Christ hanging upon it in a most pitiable condition and shedding all His Blood. The Blessed Virgin was also seen sprinkling, as it were, the Sacred Blood over the people, upon which everyone received a clear knowledge of his sins and a deep sorrow for the same, so much so that everyone who saw them could not help weeping with them.
Mass being ended, St. Dominic ascended the pulpit and addressed the people as follows: " 'Sing ye to the Lord a new Canticle, because he hath done wonderful things.' (Ps. 97) You all have seen with your own eyes and experienced in your own hearts the wonderful things which Jesus Christ has done in the Most Blessed Sacrament. You have seen with your eyes, and it has been given to you to understand how Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world and the Son of Mary, has been pleased to be born anew and to be again crucified for you. In this Divine and tremendous mystery of holy Mass you have witnessed only things most holy, most sublime, most consoling and most touching. It is not only one or a few of you who have seen these wonderful things, but the entire 300 here assembled have witnessed them. Now if there be but one little spark of Divine love in your hearts, sentiments of gratitude and hymns of praise in honor of the Divine goodness and Majesty ought to flow incessantly from your lips." (Ex. lib. inter: B. Alanus rediv., Par. 3, Chap. 22.)
19. It is related of Drahomira, the mother of St. Wenceslaus-----a very impious Duchess of Bohemia-----how she one day went in her carriage to Saes, in order to take a solemn oath on her father's grave to extirpate all the Christians in her dominions. Passing a chapel in which Mass was being said, the driver, hearing the bell ringing for the Elevation, alighted from his horse and knelt down reverently to adore Our Lord Jesus Christ on the altar. At this the impious Duchess flew into a violent passion, cursing the driver and the Blessed Sacrament. In punishment for her horrible blasphemies, the earth opened and swallowed her and her whole escort. They cried for help, but in vain. In a moment they were gone forever. The driver rejoiced indeed for having alighted from his horse to adore the Blessed Sacrament, his faith and devotion saving him from destruction. (Hagec. in Chronic. Bohemie, ad. ann. 930.)
20. The Albigenses, certain heretics [among other unbeliefs, they denied the power of the Sacraments-----the Web Master] who arose in the beginning of the twelfth century, forbade any priest, under great penalty, to say what they called a private Mass. Having learned that a certain priest had said Mass contrary to their orders, they arrested him, saying, "We have been told that you have said a private Mass, notwithstanding our strict orders to the contrary. Is this true?" Without fear the priest replied as did the Apostles when before the Jewish Council: "We must be more obedient to God than to men; for this reason I have said Mass in honor of God and the Blessed Virgin, notwithstanding your unjust orders." Enraged by this answer, they beat the pious priest and pulled out his tongue.
The servant of God suffered this most cruel pain very patiently. He went to the church and there he knelt before the altar of the Blessed Virgin, praying with his heart to the Mother of God to restore his tongue. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him with his tongue in her hand, saying, "On account of the honor which you have rendered to God and to me by saying Mass, I herewith restore your tongue, requesting you at the same time to continue to say Mass." He thanked the Mother of God for this blessing, and returning to the people, he showed them his tongue and confounded the enemies of Mass. (Cesarius of Heisterbach, who protests in his book that he has written nothing which he did not see himself, or hear from such witnesses as would be willing rather to die than tell a lie).