June 1: Our Lady of the Star, at Aquileia, in Italy
Aquileia was Roman city that was founded as a stronghold along the Natissa River on the frontier of the growing Roman Empire in about the year 180 BC. It soon became an important trade center, and there were many roads that were soon built leading to this city. In time, peoples of all nations and races began to settle there and produce goods for trade.
The city maintained its importance, and centuries later the Emperor Constantine was known to have visited Aquileia on several occasions, as it had become recognized as one of the greatest cities in the world. Such prominence attracted Attila the Hun, who attacked the city twice. In the year 452 he took the city, demolishing it to the point that none of the structures still stood after his passing.
The city was promptly rebuilt, however, as the residents returned from hiding. Charlemagne made the priest at Aquileia a new patriarch, though eventually that Patriarchate was passed to the Republic of Venice, a city that was founded by the people of Aquileia during the time of Attila’s second invasion.
The present Cathedral at Aquileia, the location of the miracle of Our Lady of the Star, was built by the Patriarch Poppo in the 11th century, and rebuilt in the beautiful Gothic style in the 14th century. As the cathedral was built over the remains of the previous church, the floor has magnificent mosaic paves dating from the 4th century, as well as ancient frescos.
This feast day, Our Lady of the Star, is so called because of a miracle that occurred at Aquileia when Saint Bernardine arrived and began to preach. It is affirmed that a bright light similar to a star was seen on the head of St Bernardine, a star that was easily visible even during the hours of daylight when he preached at Aquileia, applying to the Blessed Virgin that passage of the Apocalypse where it is said that there were twelve stars on her head.
From the book of Revelation:
"A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God, that there she might be taken care of for twelve hundred and sixty days. Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night. They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; love for life did not deter them from death. Therefore, rejoice you heavens, and you who dwell in them. But woe to you, earth and sea, for the Devil has come down to you in great fury, for he knows he has but a short time.”
Saint Bernardine preached that this glorious woman is the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was in the mind of God before the time of creation, and who is the Mother of God and of the Church, as well as the Queen of Heaven. The miracle of Our Lady of the Star seems to confirm Saint Bernadine's teaching that Pope Saint Pius X and other popes later affirmed.
James Fitzhenry, roman-catholic-saints.com, Marian Calendar
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