Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

The Feast of St. Benedict of Nursia

Today is the feast of one of the most important men who ever lived: Saint Benedict of Nursia (San Benedetto da Norcia to Italians). The religious order he founded, known as "the Benedictines," is responsible in large part for the Christianization of Europe -- so much so, that St. Benedict is the patron saint of the entire European continent.

Benedict and his twin sister, whom we know as St. Scholastica, were born around A.D. 480 in Norcia (Nursia in Latin and English), a beautiful little village located in Perugia, Umbria, Italy -- about a hundred miles northeast of Rome. His parents were Roman nobles, wealthy enough to have him educated in "the Eternal City." But what he saw there in Rome -- the dissolute lives of so many of the learned -- turned him off, and he got it in his mind to go away to the country so he could focus on God. Taking his old nurse with him, he ended up at a church dedicated to St. Peter where other men of virtue lived, in the town of Affile (then known as Enfide), about 50 miles east of Rome. It was there he performed his first miracle -- not a big one, like raising someone from the dead or being allowed by God to effect a cure, but a miracle nonetheless, and one that brought him followers: his nurse had borrowed an earthenware sieve so she could clean some wheat. It fell of the table and broke, and the nurse saw it and burst into tears. St. Gregory the Great tells us what happened:

The devout and religious youth Bennet, seeing his nurse so lamenting, moved with compassion, took away with him both the pieces of the sieve, and with tears fell to his prayers; and after he had done, rising up he found it so whole, that the place could not be seen where before it was broken; and coming straight to his nurse, and comforting her with good words, he delivered her the sieve safe and sound: which miracle was known to all the inhabitants thereabout, and so much admired, that the townsmen, for a perpetual memory, did hang it up at the church door, to the end that not only men then living, but also their posterity might understand, how greatly God's grace did work with him upon his first renouncing of the world.

It was all too much for Benedict, who wanted peace and a quiet life in Christ. So he went, alone, approximately 10 miles north to Subiaco. On his way, he met a monk named Romanus who was going his way, and they finished the trip together. Once in the city, Romanus gave to Benedict the monk's habit, and then Benedict crossed the deep, narrow valley in Subiaco, where he found a cave --  il Sacro Speco.  Now there are a sanctuary and monastery built up against it -- il Santuario del Sacro Speco and il Monastero di San Benedetto respectively -- but in Benedict's time, it was a simple cave, and he lived there alone for three years, during which time, Romanus would periodically bring him bread, lowering it down in a basket from a rock above the cave's opening. A little bell attached to the rope would alert Benedict to retrieve it.

Benedict was not only holy, he was gifted with the ability to prophesy, to heal,  to read souls, to exorcise demons, and what moderns would call "extrasensory perception." And though he lived in a cave, word of him got around, so much so that the monks of the nearby abbey asked him to lead them when their own abbot died. Benedict knew it wouldn't work, that the discipline he'd expect would be too much, but he tried it anyway and found he was right: the monks even tried to poison his wine. Pope St. Gregory the Great tells us,

the glass wherein that wine was, according to the custom, offered to the Abbot to bless, he, putting forth his hand, made the sign of the cross, and straightway the glass, that was holden far off, brake in pieces, as though the sign of the cross had been a stone thrown against it : upon which accident the man of God by and by perceived that the glass had in it the drink of death, which could not endure the sign of life: and therefore rising up, with a mild countenance and quiet mind, he called the monks together, and spake thus unto them  "Almighty God have mercy upon you, and forgive you: why have you used me in this manner? Did not I tell you before hand, that our manner of living could never agree together? Go your ways, and seek ye out some other father suitable to your own conditions, for I intend not now to stay any longer amongst you." 

So he returned to the cave, and miracles -- and temptations -- followed. Once a devil took on the shape of a black bird and tormented him, after which he felt himself overcome by concupiscence, haunted by the thought of a woman he'd once seen. Like St. Francis would do centuries later, he mortified his flesh by throwing himself into a thicket of briers and nettles.

Eventually, men of much better will than the monks who'd tried to poison him came around, looking to emulate his sanctity -- so many that, in the valley where his cave was located, he built twelve monasteries, each with twelve new monks led by their own superior.

And miracles abounded. Once, Brother Placidus went to the lake to fetch water, but fell in and got swept away, far from land. Benedict, at the monastery, turned to Brother Maurus and told him, ""Brother Maurus, run as fast as you can, for Placidus, that went to the lake to fetch water, is fallen in, and is carried a good way off!" Maurus ran to the lake -- and then, without thinking, ran onto the lake until he reached Placidus. He saved his life, and only then realized that he, like Christ and St. Peter, actually walked on the water. Maurus credited this to St. Benedict.

He once, by the power of God, raised a child from the dead. Pope St. Gregory the Great tells the tale:

Being upon a day gone out with his monks to work in the field, a country man carrying the corpse of his dead son, came to the gate of the Abbey, lamenting the loss of his child: and inquiring for holy Bennet, they told him that he was abroad with his monks in the field. Down at the gate he laid the dead body, and with great sorrow of soul ran in haste to seek out the venerable father. At the same time, the man of God was returning homeward from work with his monks: whom so soon as he saw, he began to cry out: " Give me my son, give me my son!"

The man of God, amazed at these words, stood still, and said: "What, have I taken away your son?"

"No, no," quoth the sorrowful father, "but he is dead come for Christ Jesus' sake and restore him to life."

The servant of God, hearing him speak in that manner, and seeing his monks upon compassion to solicit the poor man's suit, with great sorrow of mind he said: " Away, my good brethren, away: such miracles are not for us to work, but for the blessed Apostles: why will you lay such a burthen upon me, as my weakness cannot bear?"

But the poor man, whom excessive grief enforced, wovdd not give over his petition, but swore that he would never depart, except he did raise up his son. "Where is he, then?'' quoth God's servant.

He answered that his body lay at the gate of the Abbey to which place when the man of God came with his monks, he kneeled down and lay upon the body of the little child, and rising, he held up his hands towards heaven, and said: "Behold not, O Lord, my sins, but the faith of this man, that desireth to have his son raised to life, and restore that soul to the body, which Thou hast taken away." He had scarce spoken these words, and behold the soul returned back again, and therewith the child's body began to tremble in such sort that all which were present did behold it in strange manner to pant and shake. Then he took it by the hand and gave it to his father, but alive and in health.

And there was yet another attempt at poisoning Benedict that was miraculously thwarted. This time, a priest,  jealous of St. Benedict's fame, poisoned a loaf of bread and sent it to him as a gift. Benedict, though, used to share his food with a crow that would come visit him daily at supper time. And he knew that something was wrong with the bread he'd been sent, so he threw it to the crow, telling it, "In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, take up that loaf, and leave it in some such place where no man may find it." The crow balked, so Benedict asked him again. This time, the crow flew off, and returned three hours later to get his share of food. The same evil priest then tried to corrupt Benedict's monks by sending seven women to tempt them by dancing naked in the courtyard of the abbey.

To get away from his tormenter, Benedict moved 70 miles southeast to Cassino, Italy, to a mountain there -- Monte Cassino --- which was the site of a temple to Apollo. He smashed the pagan altar and toppled their idols, and then he built his great abbey, a most fitting symbol of the Christianization of Europe to come, thanks to the flourishing of Benedict's work.  Pope St. Gregory tells us that the Evil One became filled with fury and revealed himself to the monks, who were able to hear his roars and blasphemies, and to Benedict who was able to not only hear the devil, but see him as well.

It was here, at Monte Cassino, that he wrote his religious rule that formally began the Benedictine congregations and would become the basis of Western monasticism, shaping the lives of monks and nuns for centuries. His rule was less austere than those in use in Egypt; it was formed for men and women who would live in community as opposed to living as hermits, and who would work and, so, needed to be healthy and strong. Indeed, the Benedictine motto is "ora et labora" -- "pray and work." The work could be anything from teaching to farming to making illuminated manuscripts or cheeses or beers -- whatever was needed in a given location. This malleability allowed the Benedictine Order to fit in anywhere, helping it to flourish all over Europe and beyond, and bringing us some of our greatest saints and heroes, including St. Boniface,
St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Gertude the Great, St. Walburga, St. Justina, Pope St. Gregory VII, St. Peter Damian, and Dom Prosper Gueranger, among others.

Benedict's sister, St. Scholastica, would visit him at a place very near his abbey once a year. During their last visit, Scholastica asked him to stay all night, but he said he couldn't. She then bent her head down and prayed, and suddenly, lightning and thunder, accompanied by a torrent of rain, filled the skies. “God forgive you, Sister. What have you done?” Benedict asked. Scholastica replied, “I asked a favor of you and you refused. I asked it of God and He granted it.” Her prayer was answered, and her brother ended up staying the night. They both returned to their abbeys the next day.

Three days later, Benedict was in his cell when he realized his sister had died: he saw her soul rise up to Heaven in the form of a beautiful, white dove.

He had yet another vision one very early morning, before Matins, while it was still dark out. He stood by his window, and, as St. Gregory tells us,

all on a sudden in the dead of the night, as he looked forth, he saw a light, which banished away the darkness of the night, and glittered with such brightness, that the light which did shine in the midst of darkness was far more clear than the light of the day. Upon this sight, a strange thing followed, for, as himself did afterward report, the whole world, gathered as it were under one beam of the sun, was presented before his eyes, and while the venerable father stood attentively beholding the brightness of that glittering light, he saw the soul of Germanus, the Bishop of Capua, in a fiery globe to be carried by the Angels into heaven.

His last vision occurred six days before his death. He knew his time was at hand, and had his monks open his sepulchre so it would be ready. He then fell sick, and died on March 21, 547, forty days after the death of his sister. St. Benedict is called on for protection against poisoning and curses, and is the patron saint of Europe, monks, spelunkers, and civil engineers.

He can be recognized in art by his black habit and crozier, and is sometimes shown with a crow or raven, bell, book, a bundle of sticks, and/or a goblet (sometimes a shattered goblet) from which a serpent, representing poison, rises.

Some little -- and not so little -- things you should note:
  • While traditional Catholics celebrate his feast during Lent, on March 21, it is celebrated on July 11 per the Novus Ordo calendar.

  • St. Benedict is often referred to as "St. Bennet" in some writings, especially older ones.

  • It's not strictly accurate to refer to the Benedictine "Order" because there is no superior over the entire group. The Benedictines consist of individual "congregations." But, informally, people refer to "the Benedictine Order" all the time.

  • St. Benedict's abbey -- the "Abbey of abbeys" -- in Cassino, Italy has been destroyed four times over the centuries, most recently during the Battle of Monte Cassino in World War II. The Germans made clear to its men, the Allies, and the Vatican that, because of the abbey's cultural and historical significance, they would not use it as a hide-out. But C. L. Sulzberger -- nephew of the publisher of the New York Times and, later, a CIA asset -- insisted that the abbey was being used as such. "Though there was no firm evidence that the Germans were using the abbey for military purposes, Sulzberger would hit on this theme repeatedly, and with increasing certitude." 1 So Allied forces shattered the place under the pretense that Germans were hiding inside. There were no Germans there, however, and the only ones killed were monks and other Italian civilians who took refuge in the holy place.
To locate the sites in Italy relevant to St. Benedict's life, see this map. Start at the topmost marker; that is Norcia (Nursia). Then follow the red line to Rome, then to Affile, where Benedict went with his nurse. Make a little jog north to Subiaco, where he holed up in a cave and built 12 monasteries. If you zoom in and look to the southeast of the Subiaco marker, you'll find St. Benedict's holy cave -- il "Sacro Speco di San Benedetto." Click it to see pictures. Then move down to Cassino, the site of his great Abbey of Monte Cassino. To the left of the Cassino marker, if you zoom in, you'll see a green pin marking the Montecassino Abbey. Click it, and photographs of the Abbey will appear. (For information's sake: if you are zoomed in enough and look just 7 miles west of Cassino, you will see Aquino, from which St. Thomas Aquinas gets his name. He was born 6 miles northwest of Aquino, in the town of Roccasecca). 2


To prepare for this feast, you might wish to pray the Novena to St. Benedict starting on March 12 and ending on March 20, the eve of his feast.

A good prayer for the day itself is this prayer to St. Benedict by his spiritual daughter, St. Gertrude the Great:

O most glorious patriarch, holy father Benedict, I recall to thy mind now that great and glorious grace bestowed on thee by our Lord, of breathing out thy last breath as thou stoodst praying, on which account thy lips now exhale a fragrance which ravishes all the saints with delight; beseeching thee to be with me in the hour of my death with loving fidelity, and to place thyself between me and my enemies round about, wheresoever thou seest them rage most furiously against me; so that, protected by thy presence, I may escape all their snares, and reach the joys of heaven safe and blessed for ever. Amen.

And there is, of course, a Litany to St. Benedict.

As to music for the day, this Hymn to St. Benedict -- Gemma Caelstis, chanted here by the Gregorian Chant Academy -- is perfect:

Gemma caelestis pretiosa regis,
Norma iustorum, via monachorum,
Nos ab immundi, Benedicte, mundi,
Subtrahe caeno.

Tuum solum spernens, cor in astra figens,
Cogis haeredes fieri parentes,
Vas Deo plenum reparare fractum

Magnus in parvis Eremetia membris,
Vincis aetatem, superas laborem;
Arcta districtae rudimenta vitae
Fervidus imples.

Strage saxorum puerum sepultum
Mox ut orasti, preces suscitasti,
Sensus hinc carni, caro sanitati
Redditur aeque.

Iure sub blandae specie columbae,
Nesciam fellis animarum sororis,
Summa stellati penetrare caeli
Culmina cernis.

Ipse post clarum referens triumphum,
Celsa devicto petis astra mundo,
Luce flammantem radiante cellam
Pallia sternunt.

Laus honor Patri, parilique Proli
Una Maiestas, eadem Potestas,
Cum quibus Sanctus simul implet omnem
Spiritus orbem. Amen.
Benedict, precious jewel of the King of Heaven,
Model for the just and way for monks,
Call us forth
From this troubled world.

Spurning what was base,
You set your heart on the stars.
You made heirs of your parents,
For you, God's perfect vessel,
Were fit to repair a shattered one.

Great among a small company of hermits
You overcame your youthfulness
And excelled in your labor
As you fervently undertook
The narrow beginnings of the strict life.

When a youth was buried
In the rubble of a collapsing wall,
He was raised up as soon as you prayed;
With your prayer you restored
Sense to his flesh and health to his body.

You saw your sister's soul, unknown to sin,
Attain the very heights
Of starry heaven
In the form of a gentle dove.

After this marvel you in turn
Sought starry heights, having mastered this life;
Your cloak shone forth
A flaming path charged with light.

Glory to the Father, to the Only Begotten,
And to You, loving Spirit,
Always their equal,
One God for all ages.  Amen

In both Norcia, Italy, where St. Benedict was born, and Cassino, where the Montecassino Abbey in which St. Benedict died can be found, big festivals are held in our Saint's honor at this time. In the former, there are historical parades made of people in medieval garb representing the various villages in the area, donkey racing, a medieval fair, crossbow shooting and other games, and, of course, a procession. In Cassino, the feasting ends in a solemn procession of our Saint's relic through the streets.

As to celebrating this feast in the home, it's a good day to teach your children how Europe was evangelized. Pull out an atlas and trace St. Benedict's route from Norcia to Rome to Subiaco to Cassino. Then tell them how in in A.D. 595, St. Augustine of Canterbury took 40 monks with him from Rome to evangelize England, setting up the first English monastery in Canterbury, and how they spread Benedict's Rule to France (Gaul) on their way there; how the Benedictine St. Boniface (and his niece, St. Walburga) evangelized Germany in the 7th and 8th centuries, and how Christianity spread from there to the Scandinavian countries; how Charles Martel's son -- and Charlemagne's father -- Pepin the Short spread the Benedictine Rule in continental Celtic areas; and how the Bohemians and Poles were baptized by Benedictine missionaries in the 10th and 11th centuries, etc. Praise God for the great work of St. Benedict!

There are no special foods for the day, but given St. Benedict's Rule, which disallowed red meat except for the sick, but which emphasized fish (and sometimes chicken) and vegetables, this fish dish would do the trick:

Cod Cacciatore

3 lbs. cod, pollock, or other firm white fish, cut into 3 inch chunks and patted dry (if frozen, thaw)
a few TBSP olive oil
2 red bell peppers, sliced into strips
2 yellow bell peppers, sliced into strips
2 medium onions, sliced
2 yellow summer squash or 1 zucchini, sliced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
tomato paste, a good 4 or 6 tablespoons
red pepper flakes, to taste (start with a tsp)
1/3 c. dry white wine
15 cherry (or grape) tomatoes
4 TBSP capers
large handful of pitted kalamata olives
2 tsp dried oregano
fresh chopped basil and parsley -- 4 TBSP of each + extra parsley for garnish
vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste

In a big, heavy pot over medium heat, saute the peppers, onions, and squash/zucchini in olive oil until softened. Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Add the white wine and let it cook for a minute or so. Add the tomatoes, capers, olives, herbs, and then broth to cover the vegetables plus some extra -- enough to cook the fish in later -- and let it simmer til vegetables cook and the sauce thickens. When the sauce is all heated through and a good consistency, season with salt and pepper. Add the fish, spooning some of the sauce over the top. Cover the pan lightly, turn the heat down a little, and simmer until the fish is done ('til it's opaque). Sprinkle with more of the parsley for garnish. Serve with crusty bread for sopping up the sauce. To make it go further, serve with rice,  pasta, or buttered, boiled new potatoes.

See also: St. Benedict Medal

And for even further reading, see these pdf format books from this site's Catholic Library:


From Dom Prosper Gueranger's "The Liturgical Year"

The Greek Church has not forgotten, in her Liturgy, the praise of the Great Patriarch of the Monks of the West. We take from the Mensea some of the stanzas, in which she celebrates the name of Saint Benedict.


Oholy Benedict! pray to the holy God for me, who now begin to sing a hymn to thy praiseworthy name. Obtain for me, that I may receive grace and the forgiveness of all my sins.

From thy childhood, O most Blessed one, thou didst carry thy cross in the desert, walking in the footsteps of the Omnipotent. Thou didst merit life, by putting thy flesh to death.

Treading the narrow path, O truly Blessed, thou didst take thy stand in the spaciousness of Paradise, and didst elude the craft and snares of the devils.

Watered by the streams of thy tears, O Benedict, thou, like unto a fruitful tree, didst, by God's power, bring forth in abundance the divine fruits of virtues and miracles.

O Blessed one ! by the struggle of continency, thou didst mortify thy bodily members: thy prayers raised the dead to life, gave to the lame the power to walk, and cured every disease, for men were in admiration with thee and had faith in thee, O Father!

Thy life-giving words, O Blessed one, and the sight of thy miracles, gave fruitf ulness to souls that, before, were parched and dry. Thou wast the divinely inspired Shepherd, and the fairest glory of the monastic life.

O wise Father! thou didst beseech the God of mercy, and, like Elias, thou didst suddenly fill the vessel with oil, for men were in admiration with thee, and had faith in thee, O most blessed Benedict!

Because of thy clean-heartedness, and because thou wast out of thyself with rapture, thou didst behold the whole earth, for God honoured thee with a ray of his own light, O most blessed Benedict!

Thou didst command in the name of Christ, thou didst pray to the Giver of all good gifts, and a fountain of water sprang up at thy bidding : it still exists, O Benedict, the abiding witness of thy miracle.

Enlightened by the bright rays of the Holy Spirit, thou didst dispel the darkness of the wicked devils, O Benedict, thou worker of miracles, thou fairest light of monasticism!

Those foolish men, that madly plotted to destroy thy life, by poison, were confounded, for thou wast guarded, O Blessed one, by the divine hand of the great Creator. The knowledge thou hadst from the Holy Spirit forewarned thee of their plot.

The choirs of monks, whom thou hast called, celebrate thy name day and night. They possess thy body, which is enshrined in their midst, and from which flow abundant streams of miracles, and an unfading light that illumines their path, O Father, full of wisdom!

By thine obedience to the divine precepts, O Father! thou hast been made brighter than the sun, and hast been taken to the land where the light sets not. Pray for them that have confidence in thee and honour thee; pray that they may receive the forgiveness of their sins, O Benedict, thou whose name is known throughout the world!

O Benedict! thou Vessel of Election! thou Palm of the Wilderness! thou Angel of Earth! — we offer thee the salutation of our love! What man was ever chosen to work on the earth more wonders than thou hast done! The Saviour has crowned thee as one of his principal co-operators in the work of the salvation and sanctincation of men. Who could count the millions of souls, who owe their eternal happiness to thee? — thy immortal Rule having sanctified them in the Cloister, and the zeal of thy Benedictines having been the means of their knowing and serving the great God, who chose thee.

Around thee, in the realms of glory, a countless number of the Blessed acknowledge themselves indebted to thee, after God, for their eternal happiness; and, upon the earth, whole nations profess the true faith, because the Gospel was first preached to them by thy disciples.

O Father of so many people! look down upon thine inheritance, and once more bless this ungrateful Europe, which owes everything to thee, yet has almost forgotten thy name! The light, which thy Children imparted to it, has become dimmed; the warmth they imparted to the societies they founded, and civilized by the Cross, has grown cold; thorns have covered a large portion of the land in which they sowed the seed of salvation. Come and forward thine own work; and, by thy prayers, keep in its expiring life. Give firmness to what has been shaken. May a new Europe, — a Catholic Europe — spring up in place of that which heresy and false doctrines have formed.

O Patriarch of the Servants of God! look down from heaven on the Vineyard, which thy hand hath planted, and see into what a state of desolation it has fallen. There was a time, when thy name was honoured as that of a Father in thirty thousand Monasteries, from the shores of the Baltic to the borders of Syria, and from the green Erin to the steppes of Poland. Now, alas! few and feeble are the prayers that ascend to thee from the whole of that immense patrimony, which the faith and gratitude of the people had once consecrated to thee. The blight of heresy and the rapaciousness of avarice have robbed thee of these harvests of thy glory. The work of sacrilegious spoliation is now centuries old, and unceasingly has it been pursued; at one time, having recourse to open violence, and at another, pleading the urgency of political interests. Sainted Father of our Faith! thou hast been robbed of those thousands of sanctuaries, which, for loug ages, were fountains of life and light to the people. The race of thy children has become almost extinct: watch over them that still remain, and are labouring to perpetuate thy Rule. An ancient tradition tells us how our Lord revealed to thee, that thy Order would last to the end of the world, and that thy children would console the Church of Rome and confirm the faith of many in the last great trials: — deign to protect, by thy powerful intercession, the remnants of that Family, which still calls thee its Father. Raise it up again; multiply it; sanctify it: let the Spirit, which thou hast deposited in thy Holy Rule, flourish in its midst, and show, by thus blessing it, that thou art ever "Benedict," the servant of God.

Support the Holy Church by thy powerful intercession, dear Father! Assist the Apostolic See, which has been so often occupied by Disciples of thy School. Father of so many Pastors of thy people! obtain for us Bishops like those sainted ones, whom thy Rule has formed. Father of so many Apostles ! ask for the countries, which have no faith, preachers of the Grospel, who may convert the people by their blood and by their words, as did those who went out Missioners from thy Cloisters. Father of so many holy Doctors! pray that the science of sacred literature may revive, to aid the Church and confound error. Father of so many sublime Ascetics ! rekindle the zeal of Christian perfection, which has grown so cold among the Christians of our days. Patriarch of the Religious Life in the Western Church! bless all the Religious Orders, which the Holy Spirit has given successively to the Church ; they all look on thee with admiration, as their venerable predecessor : do thou pour out upon them the influence of thy fatherly love.

Lastly, O Blessed favourite of God! pray for all the Faithful of Christ, during these days which are consecrated to thoughts and works of penance. It was in the midst of the holy austerities of Lent that thou didst mount to the abode of everlasting delight ; ah! help us Christians, who are, at this very time, in the same campaign of penance. Rouse our courage by thy example and precepts. Teach us to keep down the flesh, and subject it to the spirit, as thou didst. Obtain for us a little of thy blessed spirit, that turning away from this vain world, we may think on the eternal years. Pray for us, that our hearts may never love, nor our thoughts ever dwell, on joys so fleeting as are those of time.

Catholic piety invokes thee as one of the patrons, as well as one of the models, of a dying Christian. It loves to tell men of the sublime spectacle thou didst present at thy death, when standing at the foot of the Altar, leaning on the arms of thy disciples, and barely touching the earth with thy feet, thou didst give back, in submission and confidence, thy soul to its Creator. Obtain for us, dear Saint! a death courageous and sweet as was thine. Drive from us, at our last hour, the cruel enemy, who will seek to ensnare us. Visit us by thy presence, and leave us not, till we have breathed forth our soul into the bosom of the God, who has made thee so glorious a Saint.


1 Source:

2 If you go about 20 miles almost due South from Cassino to the coast of Italy, but about 15 degrees to the West, you'll find Minturno, my Grandpa's village (Minturno was called Traetto in more olden times). It sits on the border of Lazio and Campania, on the northern bank of the Garigliano River that separates them. The Garigliano is made of the Gari and Liri Rivers that come together in Cassino. Back in the day, the river also marked the southern border of the papal states. The Appian Way (Via Appia) also goes through Minturno, so SS. Peter and Paul walked through the town to get to Rome. Grandpa was born in 1881 there, and lived as a shepherd before he immigrated to America, where he worked on the NYC Railroad in Indiana until he retired.

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