Nov 5 | Blessed Mariano De La Mata, Priest
Mariano was born into a simple Christian family from Barrio de la Puebla de Valdavia (Palencia), Spain, in 1905. Three of his brothers preceded him into the Order of Saint Augustine. He himself studied in Valladolid and La Vid and was ordained in 1930. After two years ministering in Spain, he left for Brazil where he carried out an extensive apostolate in the field of education and especially in the daily care of the poor, the infirm and children. Fr. Mariano may be called ‘a saint of the ordinary.’ He possessed a strong character, but was at the same time a generous and sensitive individual, friendly and approachable with all. He was devoted to the Blessed Virgin, thoroughly committed to his priestly vocation and fervent in his love for the Eucharist. Mariano was diagnosed with cancer in early 1983. He underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumor, but the cancer continued to spread. He died April 5, 1983, and was beatified on November 5, 2006 in the Cathedral of Sao Paulo, Brazil by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, who said of the new blessed, “Fr. Mariano was poor with the poor, humble among children and compassionate towards the infirm and the elderly. He was conscientious with his students, the faithful and the association of Workshops of Saint Rita (he founded over 200 such workshops which employ people to make affordable clothing for the poor). He was merciful toward his penitents, pure of heart, and a lover of peace in his Augustinian community and in his family, overcoming difficulties through prayer and sacrifice, constantly having recourse to the Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Consolation up until the moment he departed this life.” His body rests beside the altar of his beloved Virgin of Consolation in the Church of Saint Augustine in Sao Paulo.
As a “saint of the ordinary,” Father Mariano reminds us that the path to holiness is essentially simple: it consists in living the Gospel message in a spirit of faith, freedom and generosity, loving God and neighbour as Jesus instructed us. Mariano is a modern saint, a saint who lived surrounded by the challenges of our contemporary world, but with the timeless truth and wisdom of the two great commandments.
Nov 7 | Blessed Gratia of Kotor, Religious
Gratia was born in 1438 in the small town of Mula on the coast of Dalmatia near Cattaro (Kotor), not far from present-day Albania. He followed in the footsteps of his father who was a sailor and visited many port cities, being particularly drawn by the beauty of Venice. One day, after hearing a sermon of Simon of Camerino in the Augustinian church of Saint Stephen in that city, he entered the Order as a brother and took the name Gratia out of gratitude to God for the many gifts he had received. Simon of Camerino had founded a community near Padua where the friars lived in absolute poverty while ministering at a shrine dedicated to our Lady. Here Gratia lived a life of prayer and penance and devoted his energies toward the construction of the monastery and the cultivation of its garden. Later, when Simon established the friary of Saint Christopher in Venice, Gratia was transferred there, where he was greatly loved by the people and sought after by them for his prayer and counsel. Here he died on November 8, 1508. Within the church of Saint Christopher a marble monument was erected to his memory by a senator of the city, while Gratia’s remains were eventually taken back to Mula. Pope Leo XIII confirmed his cult in 1889.
Gratia might have been considered a belated vocation in his day, earning a living by the hard labor of an itinerant sailor. Following his entrance into religious life he continued to use his natural gifts in the service of God and his community, and by his simple but genuine demeanor drew others to also recognize the grace of God at work in their lives.
Nov 8 | Blessed Avelino Rodríguez, Priest, Companions & Martyrs
This group of 98 Augustinian martyrs represents friars from several communities of the Order in Spain who were the victims of religious persecution during the Spanish Civil War which lasted from 1936 to 1939. These 98 brothers of ours, together with 400 other martyrs of the war, were beatified in Saint Peter's Square by the Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, on October 28, 2007. The Augustinians declared blessed include 65 friars from the monastery of El Escorial together with the provincial, Avelino Rodríguez, and the Assistant General, Mariano Revilla, another 10 from the college-seminary of Uclés, 3 from Gijón, 6 from the school of Santander, 10 from the convent of Caudete, 4 from the community of Málaga. Among them were students in formation, pastors, lay brothers, professors, elderly and young religious.
These 98 friars are among the first of the approximately 200 friars from the four Spanish provinces who died during the years of the civil war. Most were assassinated. Prior General Miguel Angel Orcasitas wrote in his letter on the occasion of the beatification of one of the martyrs, “It is still too soon to give a definitive historical judgement regarding the Spanish civil war, which created a stifling climate of struggle, reprisal and irreconcilable hatred. But there is no doubt about the existence of an authentic religious persecution, which fell upon the Church with unusual violence...the contrasting historical views cannot tarnish the validity of the personal testimony given by these brothers, who suffered persecution for Christ and accepted the consequences, even death itself. Their constancy is an undeniable spiritual inheritance.”(Blessed Anselmo Polanco, Letter....29 March 1995)
Nov 13 | All Saints of the Order
November 13, 354, is the birthdate of Saint Augustine, chosen by the Order as the occasion on which to commemorate, in addition to all the saints and blesseds of the three Augustinian Families recognized by the Church, all our members, of every language, race and nation whose names are inscribed in the Book of Life. In recent years this day has also been observed as a day of prayer for vocations to the Order.
"Among the religious Orders, the holy Order of the Hermits of Saint Augustine, within the Church, has been and continues to be abundantly fruitful with seeds of virtue, flowering of observance, blossoms of wisdom and fruits of sanctity in its religious, through the grace of God... There are many who perform no miracles, but they are in no way inferior to others who do so..."(Jordan of Saxony).
Nov 29 | Blessed Frederick of Regensburg, Religious
Frederick was born in Regensburg (Ratisbon), Germany, and joined the Order there in the Monastery of Saint Nicholas. His life as an Augustinian was marked by humility and generosity, dedication to prayer and great devotion to the Eucharist. His talents served the community principally as carpenter and woodcutter, activities in which he demonstrated his concern for his fellow religious and the needs of the monastery. Frederick died on November 29, 1329 in Regensburg where devotion to him continued without interruption, and the testimony of miracles attributed to his intercession, were gathered. Frederick is buried at St. Cecelia Church in the city of Regensburg. Pius X beatified him on May 12, 1909.
History has not left us a great deal of factual information about Blessed Frederick. Perhaps this is an indication of the ‘ordinariness’ of this servant of God, who spent his religious life in fidelity to the daily cycle of prayer and work which characterize so many religious of his day and ours. Frederick reminds us that loyal devotion to one’s state in life, lived in faith, charity, and generosity, is the material of which holiness consists.