Friday, August 07, 2009

St Albert of Trapani

The seventh of August is the feast of St Albert of Trapani in the Carmelite calendar. He isn't very well known but if you happen to have an old Roman Ritual to hand you'll find it contains a blessing for St Albert's water. He's that St Albert. He's also sometimes known as St Albert of Sicily. What follows is most of the old second nocturn of the Carmelite breviary which tells his life in the grand old medieval style, full of miracles and wonders. I left out a few miracles but you'll get the idea.

Albert, the Carmelite, was born of noble parents: of Benedict Adaltibo; and Joanna of Mount Trapani, in Sicily. A holy impulse led to his birth. His parents had been married 26 years , and were still without children. They therefore made a vow to the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, binding themselves, in case she would obtain for them a son, to consecrate him to her in the Carmelite monastery which stood near to Mount Trapani. Their prayer was heard, and in their sleep they saw a torch which came forth from the mother's womb. On account of this vision the latter foretold to her husband that the boy would be great before God, and this hath been proved by the event. For while, as a boy, he was being trained in the liberal sciences, the blessing of God fell upon him, and he entered the monastery of Trapani at the age of eight years. Rejoicing in the rudeness of the life, as well as in the strict discipline of the Rule, his progress was such that he soon showed himself an example of virtue to the rest.

Albert wore haircloth next to the skin, and clothed himself with coarse cloth and in wretched garments. . . . He was most exact in the practice of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Filled with divine wisdom and possessed of the constant enjoyment of heavenly delights, he was likewise illustrious by the gift of miracles. Zeal for the salvation of souls was strong within him, and his preaching converted great numbers of Jews, and other unbelievers to the faith of Christ . He was sent to Messina to preach, and he was there raised to the Order of the Priesthood, although his great humility led him to refuse this dignity. Thence forward grace was so surpassing in him that he became the admiration of all. As Robert, King of Naples, had laid siege to the city, and famine wasted it, he poured forth his prayers to God, urged thereto by the entreaties of the citizens. Suddenly, and contrary to all expectations three, three-oared galleys, laden with supplies landed at the city through the midst of the enemy. Thus did he save the town from the danger which threatened it.

He set out for Girgenti. . . . Upon his return to Messina , he withdrew into a hut to pray. There he was seized with a violent illness; and calling together the Brethren, he foretold that he and his sister, who was then at a distance of two hundred and sixty miles, would die upon the same day. It came to pass as he had said. In the evening, feeling that his death was at hand, he fell upon his knees on the ground; and lifting his eyes to God, he repeated the Psalm "In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped." At the words, "Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my Spirit," he breathed forth his soul, which was seen, by the Brethren who stood round him, to go out from his mouth in the form of a snow-white dove, and to take flight to Heaven. Albert was glorified by numberless miracles, wherefore the people desired that the Mass of a holy Confessor should be celebrated. The clergy, on the other hand, wished to celebrate the Mass for the dead. Accordingly, the Bishop ordered that they should await a divine answer from the Lord. While they were praying, two angels were seen to be present, clad in white robes, who made them understand that they were to celebrate the Mass of a holy Confessor: "The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom." This Mass therefore having been solemnly celebrated, the sacred body was buried with honor.

The translation is from the 1896 volume "Proper Offices of the Saints Granted to the Barefoot Carmelites". Whoever the unknown translator was he was fonder of commas even than I.