• On Free Will

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    On Free Will

    "The good God toils, painfully as it were: for while He does not wish
    to coerce our liberty, yet neither does He permit us to be negligent.
    For were He to use coercion He would be taking away our power of
    choice; were He to leave us to our negligence He would be depriving
    our souls of His help. The Lord, then, knowing that if He coerces us
    He robs us, if he withdraws His help He loses us, but that if He
    teaches us He gains us, neither coerces nor withdraws His help as does
    the evil one, but teaches, instructs and so gains us, since He is the
    Good One."
    --Sermon from St. Ephrem

    23 June – Saint Lanfranco Beccari

    (c 1134-1198)
    Bishop of Pavia, Italy, Defender of the Rights of the Church, Apostle
    of prayer of the poor and those in situations of distress,
    miracle-worker – born in c 1124 at Gropello, Pavia, Italy and died on
    23 June 1198 at the Vallombrosan Monastery of the Holy Sepulchre near
    Pavia, Italy of natural causes. Also known as St Lanfranco of Pavia.

    Born of a noble family in Gropello in the province of Pavia around
    1134, Lanfranco was assigned the role of Bishop for his city by
    Alexander III.

    Very kind to good people but uncompromising to the unjust, he led an
    exemplary life, characterised by a devoted life of intense prayer and
    charity towards the needy.

    He had heated discussions against the city civil authorities who
    wanted to take possession of various ecclesiastical goods. For this
    reason, finding himself almost forced to leave Pavia, he went to Rome
    to find comfort and support from the Pope.

    When he returned to Pavia, now tired of the constant problems that
    public life was giving him, he decided to retire to the Vallombrosan
    Monastery of the Holy Sepuchre, where he remained until his death,
    which took place on 23 June 1198.

    The above passage comes from what is written in the letter sent by
    Pope Innocent III to the Bishop of Faenza, Bernardo, on 8 August 1198,
    in which the passage to the Diocese of Pavia, Bernardo was proposed as successor to the late Lanfranco. And it was Bernardo himself who, as
    successor Bishop, wrote the first biography of Lanfranco.

    St Lanfranco di Pavia between saints Giovanni Battista and Liberius,
    Cima da Conegliano, Fitzwilliam Museum , Cambridge

    There is little information relating to the first years of the
    Monastery’s life. The most significant period coincided with the years
    in which Lanfranco Beccari was Bishop of Pavia. Lanfranco, Consecrated
    Bishop of Pavia by Pope Alexander III in 1159, was often a guest of
    the Monastery.  Lanfranco decided to spend the last years of his life
    in the Monastery and was buried here, in a reputation for holiness.
    After his death on 23 June 1198, the Church and Monastery were
    dedicated to him.

    In the Church there is a sepulchral marble ark which houses the body
    of San Lanfranco Beccari. It is the work of Giovanni Antonio Amadeo ,
    the great Italian sculptor and architect who worked in Pavia for both
    the Certosa and the Cathedral together with Bramante. The construction
    of the ark dates back to 1489 and took place on commission of the
    abbot and cardinal Pietro Pallavicini de ‘Scipione.

    See pictures at

    The sarcophagus is divided into squares with depictions of the Saint’s life: On the left:  Lanfranco heals a mute young man.
    On the front: In the Atrium of San Siro he receives the consuls (you
    can see the two cathedrals and the statue of the Regisole). On his
    return from exile, he is welcomed by the new consuls (the character on
    the right, half hidden by a figure from behind, would have the
    appearance of Amadeo). Praying to the Virgin in her retreat with the Vallombrosan monks .
    Right: The young Gelasia condemned on the false charge of poisoning
    her brother comes out of the stake .
    In the back: Healing of the Pavese jurisconsult Pietro Negri; Giovanni
    Brunelli attacked by brigands and tied in the bush, manages to untie
    himself with the help of the Saint. Alberto da Novara, a repentant
    criminal, is saved from hanging .
    There are also other relief panels with scenes from the life of Christ
    and the Blessed Virgin – the Annunciation , the Visitation , the
    Nativity , the Presentation in the temple , Jesus healing the sick,
    the Crucifixion.

    In the central nave, in the middle of the right side, a fresco,
    unfortunately only partially extant, painted between 1173 and 1198 is particularly interesting. It depicts the assassination of the
    Archbishop of Canterbury St Thomas á Becket on 29 December 1170 in
    Canterbury Cathedral, at the hands of some assassins sent by King
    Henry II of England. The king decided to commission the murder as
    Becket, much loved by the people and once his special adviser, had
    begun to reproach him for his dissolute and violent life and divorce
    choices.  In the fresco there are three knights with a sword in the
    act of killing the Archbishop.

    The fresco was created to indicate the parallel between the events of
    the life of St Thomas á Becket and those of the Pavese Bishop
    Lanfranco Beccari – as Becket had opposed King Henry of England who
    limited the freedom of the English clergy, an opposition that pushed
    him to Rome to ask help to the Pope and who, in the end, paid with his
    life.  In the same way, St Lanfranco, a few decades later, came into
    sharp conflict with the Pavia authorities and was forced to ask the
    Pope for help – he was not killed but retired to the Monastery leading
    a solitary life.

    Next to Becket’s fresco, on the left, the figure of the same Bishop
    Lanfranco is repeated, with red chasuble and pallium, mitre and
    pastoral, in a blessing gesture with ring finger and little finger
    joined to the Greek.

    Saint Quote:
    The heavens are not pure in the sight of Him Whom I serve;
    how then shall I, a sinful man, stand before Him?
    -- Saint Nicholas of Tolentino

    Bible Quote:
    Now there are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit. And there
    are diversities of operations, but the same God, who worketh all in
    all. And the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man unto
    profit.  [1 Cor 12:4-7] DRB


    Great art thou, O Lady, and exceedingly to be praised:
    in the city of the God of Heaven: in the entire Church of His elect.

    Thou hast ascended, hymned by the angelic choirs: buoyed by the
    archangels, crowned with lilies and roses.

    Meet her, ye Powers and Principalities: go to welcome her, ye Virtues
    and Dominations.
    Cherubim, and Thrones, and Seraphim, exalt her: and place her at the
    right hand of the Spouse, her most loving Son.

    Oh, with how joyful a soul, with how serene an aspect hast thou
    received her, O God of angels and men: and given her the principality
    over every place of thy domination.

    Glory be to the Father who created Heaven and earth; His only Son who
    lived and died for all of us; and the Holy Spirit the Lord giver of
    life, Who proceeds from the Father and Son, with the Father and Son He
    is Worshiped and Glorified, and He has spoken through the prophets:

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