Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Church of Sant`Agostino, Rome

"Martin V. also sought to increase devotion to the relics existing in the Eternal City, and carefully provided for their fitting custody.

A new and precious relic, the body of St. Monica, the mother of the great St. Augustine, was brought to Rome, from Ostia, by his desire. [In 1424] He caused its arrival to be celebrated by a special solemn function, at which he himself offered the Holy Sacrifice. Afterwards he addressed a striking discourse to the Augustinian Hermits whom he appointed guardians of the sacred remains, and to the assembled crowd. A passage in this discourse has a peculiar interest, inasmuch as it proves Martin V. to have been completely uninfluenced by the Humanistic tendencies of his day.

After describing the virtues of St. Monica, her sweetness, her patience, her maternal solicitude, which found its reward in the holiness of such a son, he exclaims, " then, while we possess Augustine, what care we for the sagacity of Aristotle, the eloquence of Plato, the prudence of Varro, the dignified gravity of Socrates, the authority of Pythagoras, or the skill of Empedocles? We do not need these men; Augustine is enough for us. He explains to us the utterances of the prophets, the teaching of the Apostles, and the holy obscurity of Scripture. The excellences and the doctrine of all the Fathers of the Church and all wise men are united in him. If we look for truth, for learning, and for piety, whom shall we find more learned, wiser, and holier than Augustine? "

After this discourse, which may be considered as St. Monica's Bull of Canonization, Martin V proceeded to place the precious remains in a sculptured sarcophagus of white marble. This had been provided, at great cost, by Maffeo Veggio, a pious Humanist, and two noble Roman ladies also gave three silver-gilt lamps, which were lighted before the sacred relic and kept burning night and day."

From L. Pastor, The History of the Popes Volume 1, pages 230-231