Monday, March 29, 2010

St Berthold, O.Carm.

A long time ago today was the feast of St Berthold, "Confessor of the Carmelite Order". He was accounted one of the early founders of the Latin evolution of the Order. He no longer appears in the calendar and no one pays him or his successor St Brocard any mind at all.

Except maybe here where we love forgotten saints. Here's what appeared in his old second nocturn:

Lectio IV

Berthold gave himself to the service of God from his childhood. His love of sacred learning won for him the degree of Doctor in Paris. Whilst engaged in holy warfare for the recovery of the Holy Land, he made a vow to enter a Religious Order, if God would vouchsafe to snatch the Christian armies from the pressing dangers with which they were surrounded. His prayer having been heard, he went up to Mount Carmel to accomplish his vow to the Most High, and he there asked and received the habit of the Order. In the training school of religious life the new wrestler strove to outdo his companions in the practice of virtue, and particuarly in the austerity of life. He lived upon herbs and roots, and contented himself with one meal a day. His progress was so great that he shone in the midst of his companions, with a holiness all his own.

Lectio V

It happened at that time that Aymericus, who was Patriarch of Antioch, and a relation of Berthold's by blood, was sent to the Holy Land as Legate “a latere” of the Apostolic See. Having visited Mount Carmel and witnessed the heavenly way of life of the Brothers, he heaped great favours upon them, and drew up new laws to make their rule of life more perfect. When, upon the death of the Superior of the Order, Saint Berthold was elected by general consent, on account of his remarkable prudence and holiness, the Legate placed him over his Brethren, and proclaimed him Prior General according to the custom of the Latins. Berthold strongly resisted, for he held himself unequal to the charge; but at length, overcome by the prayers of his Brethren, he was inspired by the Holy Ghost to take the burthen upon his shoulders.

Lectio VI

From that time Berthold observed the rules of monastic discipline with greater exactness than ever, and, by word and example, he taught others to shape their lives according to the Rule. So great was his love for the Blessed Virgin, the especial Patroness of his Order, that he let no hour of the day pass without prostrating himself on the ground and saluting her with devout prayers. He burned with charity towards all, so that his face often seemed to shine as if lighted up by the beams of the sun. By the light which he received form on high, he foretold many circumstances of the misfortunes which were to come upon the Holy Land, and of the evils that threatened her through the persecution of the infidels. Moreover, he saw the souls of a number of the brethren, who had been put to death by the sword of the Saracen, carried by angels up to Heaven, wearing he martyr's crown. When this illustrious man had ruled the Order prudently for forty-five years, and had become celebrated for his many merits and miracles, he fell happily asleep in the Lord at the age of one hundred and fifteen years.

The translation is from The Proper Offices of the Saints Granted to the Barefooted Carmelites (1896).

The collect from the same translator:

May the venerable Feast of Saint Berthold, Thy Confessor, protect us, O Lord! and since he ruled the Order of Carmelites with marked holiness, and gave to it increase, may we feel the perpetual effects of his protection. Through our Lord. Amen.

The EWTN website has a little essay on the saint here. It's not much different from the 2d nocturn's account, but without the extravagant penances and unnamed miracles.


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